Russia greatest short-term threat to North America: Norad deputy commander

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OTTAWA — A senior Canadian general says while a military attack is unlikely in the immediate future, Russia is still the greatest short-term threat to North American security.

Lt.-Gen. Christopher Coates made the case this morning for modernizing the North American Aerospace Defence Command, the Canadian-American defensive system better known as Norad where he is the deputy commander.

Coates says Russia and other potential adversaries have been racing to get ahead of Canada and the U.S. by developing a variety of non-nuclear weapons and identifying gaps in North America’s ability to defend against cyber, information and economic attacks.

Coates says Canada and the U.S. took their “eye off the ball” by failing to keep up with potential threats and are now playing catch-up.

The general’s comments come amid handwringing within military circles over the state of the Norad system, which was built to detect an attack by Russia and was last upgraded in the 1980s.

While it will ultimately be up to the government to decide what Norad looks like in the future — and how much it will cost to get there — Coates says updating the system is required to ensure North America can defend itself and not be held hostage by threats from Russia or others.

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