West Coast navy intelligence unit shifting from Esquimalt to East Coast

Consolidation of naval units aims to save money for DND

The closure of an intelligence unit at CFB Esquimalt within the next two years won’t jeopardize the West Coast navy’s ability to gather data, says an Oak Bay-based intelligence expert.

The Department of National Defence said it has already begun the process of merging its Acoustic Data Analysis Centre (Pacific) within a similar, but larger unit at CFB Halifax, a move that will create a one-time savings of $378,000.

Defence officials say the consolidation will save money, but won’t impact the military’s ability “to meet operational objectives in the delivery of naval intelligence capability.”

The 27 military personnel who work at ADAC Pacific are responsible for providing acoustic analysis, operational support and training “to enhance the overall combat effectiveness of maritime surface, subsurface and air fleets,” the department said in a statement to the News.

Though the military remains tight-lipped about the exact nature of the work done at the unit, Alan Breakspear said personnel likely process and analyze sonar information, some of which is recorded at sea.

The navy’s ability to analyze this collected data won’t be impacted by the West Coast unit’s closure, because the information will instead be sent to ADAC Atlantic for analysis, said Breakspear.

For decades, he worked in intelligence analysis and policy development for such federal agencies as Communications Security Establishment Canada and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, among others.

“The aim of the military, and the government, generally, is to have as complete a picture of what’s coming towards Canadian territory as you possibly can,” he said. “The more holes you have in your collection system, the more likely it is that something dangerous will slip through.

“I see no indication here that they’re closing down a collection capability.”

In fact, the move will be advantageous, he said.

“What you’re getting is a stronger capability to do analysis, because you’ve got more people there (on the East Coast) with more experience.”

ADAC Atlantic opened in 1967. ADAC Pacific was established the following year as a detachment and became a unit 1994.

Technological advancements make their merger possible.

“With the technology available, there is less need to be tied to a specific geographic location, and West Coast units will receive similar service from ADAC Atlantic,” the defence department said.

emccracken@vicnews.com