Halifax to host new NATO operation to pursue next-level defense technology

Halifax has been chosen by the federal government to host NATO’s new North American Defense Innovation Office, Defense Minister Anita Anand said Friday.

Canada agreed at the last meeting of military alliance leaders in Madrid to host the North American regional office of the Defense Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA). Other offices are located in the UK and Estonia.

The offices are intended to strengthen NATO’s technological edge by working with private sector companies and academics. Their mandate is to engage with high-tech startups and established companies to solve critical defense and security issues.

In remarks on a windy Halifax pier on Friday morning, Anand described DIANA as a “crucial initiative” that will be a perfect fit for Halifax, home to several top universities and a booming high-tech sector.

Admiral Rob Bauer of the Netherlands chairs the NATO Military Committee, made up of the military representatives of the Western alliance. He said technology would tip the balance in modern conflict – and the world is now demonstrating it in real time.

A High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in operation during military exercises at Spilve airport in Riga, Latvia, September 26, 2022. Ukraine used the mobile platform to force the Russian troops to withdraw in several areas. (Roman Koksarov/Associated Press)

“One of the reasons the Ukrainian Armed Forces successfully repelled the Russian invasion is their clever use of new technologies,” Bauer said.

“And we have all witnessed the vital role of tech companies supporting Ukraine. Help has come both from Ukraine’s well-developed tech sector, as well as large and small international players.”

The private sector plays a crucial role in the war in Eastern Europe, he added.

“A few months ago, when we thought of a company like Microsoft or Starlink, we thought of laptops or satellites. Now we think of them [as] companies that help win the war,” Bauer said.

Ukraine has relied heavily on Starlink’s internet satellite communications services to support the civil and military sectors.

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