Closing remarks.

AuthorParks, Michael
Position35th Annual Henry T. King Conference: The US-Canadian Border Action Plan



Ladies and gentlemen, for those of you whom I have not previously met, my name is Chi Carmody and I am the Canadian National Director of the Canada--United States Law Institute. (1) I would like to welcome you to this, our closing keynote, by Rear Admiral Michael Parks of the United States Coast Guard. Admiral Parks is a native of Long Island in New York. He is currently, and since April 2010, the District Commander, the Operational Commander of the 9th District Coast Guard which spans the five Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and parts of the surrounding states including 1,500 miles of international border. He leads a total compliment of over 6,000 coast guard active duty, reserve, civilian, and auxiliary men and women that serve in 77 subordinate units and on the district staff. He has asked me in my remarks to let you know that he most recently served, prior to this posting, as the Deputy Director of Operations for the headquarters of the United States Northern Command where he was the principle advisor to the United States NORTHCOM Commander on all operational matters. He provided strategic guidance to plan and execute missions within the United States NORTHCOM area of responsibility--very broad responsibilities there--and is somebody who has been tasked in the past with putting together a hi-lateral approach to security and defense issues. Rear Admiral Parks is a 1982 graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in government. In 1994, Rear Admiral Parks attended the George Washington University for further study where he received a Masters of Public Administration and in 2004 he was selected to attend the National War College in Washington, D.C. where he received a Master of Science in national security strategy and policy. He served in a wide range of afloat and staff/onshore assignments in Portsmouth, Virginia, Miami, Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida, and a number of other distant and approximate locations. He is the recipient of numerous awards for all of his work (2) and he speaks to us this afternoon on the subject of shared awareness, seamless operations, and synchronized priorities. I give you Rear Admiral Parks.



Thank you, Chi, for that kind introduction. It is great to be here. It is truly an honor to be here at an institution that is so passionately dedicated to our Canadian-United States relationship. One thing I think we say in the Coast Guard, and we do not take it lightly, is that everything we do operationally in the Coast Guard is watermarked by Canada.

I want to offer a few thoughts today and I just want to share, for example, that it was here in the Great Lakes region, on the shores of the St. Lawrence Seaway at Ogdensburg, NY, where President Roosevelt and Prime Minister King met in 1940 and laid the foundation for what would become an unprecedented period of cooperation. The Ogdensburg Declaration, as it was known, recognizes that neither country could do it alone. (3) The successful defense of North America required a United States-Canadian alliance that continues today. As a matter of fact, I had the opportunity to work at NORTHCOM. Our relationship continued to mature over the next few decades and was highlighted in 1961 when President Kennedy stated in his address to the Canadian Parliament, and I quote:

"Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder. What unites us is far greater than what divides us." (4)

I do not think any Canada-United States Law Institute event could be complete without that quote from President Kennedy. This partnership is absolutely essential in the 9th Coast Guard District found on the Great Lakes. All the endeavors that are truly important to us are grounded in six strategic objectives, and one of them is entitled simply, "Canada." That objective entails a promise that we will enhance bi-national cooperation and governance. It recognizes that the United States, much less the United States Coast Guard, does not own the entirety of the system on the Lakes, but we do face the challenges of the international border every day.

Our efforts to define and refine border policy and capability guide our thinking. Our shared border with Canada is unique. I do indeed use the term "shared border," and I applaud those who have used that term before me today, because I rail on the concept when the United States and my American colleagues say "the northern border." It bothers me greatly, because everything we do is so intricately linked with Canada, that when we say "northern border" and are working with our partners to the North, that statement in no way recognizes that it is not the Canadian northern border. So my preferred term is the "shared border," or at least to recognize it as the Canadian-United States border. I appreciate people who recognize that distinction. But border security on the Lakes is actually maritime border security. Aside from bridges and tunnels, our 1,500-mile border is indeed a maritime border. It is about the same length as the border from San Diego, California to Brownsville, Texas, which seems to get much more notoriety. Once a commercial vessel enters the Great Lakes system, it has equal opportunity access to both countries, because it is such an accessible border. (5) Also, we cannot forget that the eight states that surround the Great Lakes are home to four-and-a-half million registered vessels. (6) That is more than a third of the registered vessels in all of the United States. (7) In addition to the U.S. contribution, the two bordering Canadian provinces provide over a million recreational vessels, totaling more than five-and-a-half million vessels that ply the waters of the Great Lakes. Always mindful, I am sure, of the border. Moreover, seasonal changes and the diverse character of the Great Lakes present additional challenges to our security capabilities along this border.

Obviously, I am excited to speak to you about the Beyond the Border Initiative. This year's theme is particularly relevant to Coast Guard operations. (8) We are charged with both maritime security and facilitating maritime trade. The tension between these two priorities is something felt amidst Coast Guard commands throughout the Great Lakes. And we have seventy-five different United States Coast Guard commands, ranging from Massena, New York all the way to Lake of the Woods, Minnesota. (9)

The Beyond the Border Initiative (10) is indeed a massive undertaking that already has a great deal of momentum. At its heart is North America's need to remain competitive with the rest of the world. A transformation has begun. We see it in the growth of Canadian and American reciprocal agreements. We see it in how our treatment of people crossing the border is changing, even today. The bi-national cooperation we have today is unparalleled. It is already the envy of the world and on the horizon is a kind of border transparency like we have never seen before.

Now, as we all know, President Obama and Prime Minister Harper issued a "Beyond the Border" declaration that clearly articulates a shared vision for perimeter security and economic competitiveness. (11) It recognizes the interdependence of our security and economic relationships along our shared border. And as a Coast Guard commander keeping watch along that border, I can say confidently that I feel it is exactly the right approach.

It is an approach that upholds the sovereignty of each country. It values and respects the separate legal frameworks that protects privacy, civil liberties, and human rights. It encourages job creation and economic growth, and it forges us together in partnership to develop, implement, manage, and monitor security initiatives.

It is these initiatives that invoke our central question here today, "Will perimeter security trump trade?" Now, Ambassador Jacobson (12) unfortunately is not here, and he answered that question first-off this morning. But I did not have the value or the benefit of Ambassador Jacobson's insight and wisdom in answering the question. So, I came up with an answer, and that answer I thought could only please a room full of legal scholars. My answer to that question is, it depends.

It really does depend, because it depends on whether or not we do security right. If we do, we will not only preserve trade, we will enhance it. If we do it wrong, we risk seeing trade struggle against security, contrary to the best intentions of this great initiative.

As I see it, there are three principle keys to our success. These three principles are: shared awareness, seamless operations, and synchronized priorities. I will start with synchronized priorities, because...

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