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Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 19 May 12

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  • The CF is setting up a new Squadron for its fleet of Chinooks  “The reactivation of 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, which is to be the home of the Canadian Forces’ Chinook Medium-to-Heavy Lift Helicopter, was formalized on May 2, 2012, by an official Canadian Forces order. As confirmed on May 2, 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, under the command of 1 Wing and based in Petawawa, Ontario, will be home to 15 F-Model Chinooks – more modern and capable versions of the D-Model Chinooks recently flown in Afghanistan. 450 Squadron was also the designation of the original RCAF unit which operated Chinook helicopters until the early 1990s, at which time these aircraft were phased out …. The first aircraft is expected to be delivered to Petawawa in June 2013, and 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron is expected to employ approximately 400 military personnel by 2016 ….” - more on the evolution of the squadron and its number here at Army.ca
  • Meanwhile, new unit colours for 436 Squadron in Trenton
  • Afghanistan (1)  The man who said in 2009 that Afghanistan wasn’t a war seems a bit more on message about the mission now – this from Question Period yesterdayMr. Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre, NDP): Mr. Speaker, when it comes to extending Canada’s military role in Afghanistan past 2014, the Prime Minister says he is considering all options. That was news to Canadians, but then again it is not the first time the government has flip-flopped on mission extension. At the NATO summit this weekend, will the Prime Minister stand firm on his commitment to end Canada’s involvement in this war, or will he continue his habit of making unpopular announcements while in other countries? Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, Canada is committed until 2014 to participating in an international mission to train Afghanistan security forces to prevent that country from becoming a safe haven for terrorists. We will assess what is necessary to meet these objectives and we have not made any final decisions at this time.
  • Afghanistan (2) Projects Director for Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan, Lauren Oates, takes apart “feminist” arguments for leaving Afghanistan “…. By advocating for the abandonment of Afghans, one advocates for leaving Afghans to fight off the Taliban—fascism—on their own, which will inevitably lead to an even bloodier civil war. This is not just a reasonable projection based on the current situation, it’s what still-armed groups who oppose the Taliban have said they are going to do if left to fend for themselves: they will re-arm and fight the Taliban. That will mean more war, not less. It will mean more victimization of Afghan women, not less. The “anti-war” stance as embodied by Canadian anti-war groups like StopWar.ca, and as exhibited in Rounding’s paper, suffers from a short-sightedness of monumental proportions. As George Orwell has said, pacifism is objectively pro-fascist ….”  Hat tip to Mark Collins for the pointer
  • The general who is currently in charge of Canada’s overseas headquarters is expected to be named to lead a newly combined organization that’s at the centre of the Harper government’s overhaul of National Defence. The Canadian Press has learned the appointment of Lt.-Gen. Stuart Beare could come next week. Beare’s appointment as head of the newly created Canadian Joint Operations Command is expected to mark the beginning of a series of command appointments and changes. The shuffling comes in the wake of a major re-organization that will see the department lose about one-quarter of its headquarters overhead. Senior government and military sources confirmed Beare’s appointment to The Canadian Press late Friday, calling him a natural choice after nearly a year of leading the military’s expeditionary command. It potentially removes him from contention for the job of chief of defence staff ….”
  • CF’s Ombudsman speaks out about some recent complaints about the atmosphere in the office  “…. I was appointed Ombudsman in 2009 – a couple of years after the organization had conducted a workplace assessment. Following this assessment, it was clear that changes were required – capacity and skill sets needed to be improved and the organizational culture needed to change …. Change is not always uniformly welcomed within an organization and we always understood that, unfortunately, some employees would be unhappy and choose to leave. Others may not have the capacity to learn, change and develop as the organization needs them to. However, as the head of this dedicated office, I had no choice but to make the changes that would allow us to serve our constituents more effectively – we owe it to them ….”
  • More on Canada’s latest promises about 5 Wing Goose Bay  “Defence Minister Peter MacKay has issued a statement highlighting his support for 5 Wing Goose Bay, without reiterating past Conservative promises to bolster staffing levels at the Labrador base. “I wish to reaffirm that the defence team is working to fulfil our commitment for an operational mandate for Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay so that the base, and the community, prospers for years to come,” MacKay said in a statement emailed to CBC News late Thursday. “Minister [Peter] Penashue and I look forward to announcing this operational mandate as soon as work is complete.” MacKay highlighted federal investments in runway improvements and the cleanup of contaminated sites at the Labrador base ….”
  • By the way, it appears the DND/CF Info-machine has fixed up the headline of the Minister’s statement on 5 Wing Goose Bay – the old version is still available here (via Army.ca).
  • An Edmonton Sun reporter tags along with troops on an exercise in Wainwright, Alberta (and seems to be enjoying himself) – more here, here and here
  • Will Canada follow the U.S. into China’s seas?   This summer, the largest international naval exercise in the world will see Canada’s navy take on the second-largest role and Canadian officers share key commands — a remarkable prominence that Ottawa seems uncharacteristically reluctant to boast about. Why so shy? Well, the exercise is called Rim of the Pacific or RIMPAC 2012. It is held every two years and is primarily concerned with a potentially hostile China — and Beijing is hardly pleased. China’s antipathy toward this exercise may explain why highly informed Canadian reporters, such as David Pugliese of Defence Watch, have complained of an almost total clampdown on information about Canada’s impressive participation. The federal government no doubt finds it a bit sensitive to be wooing Chinese business interests one moment, while embracing efforts to contain China’s naval ambitions the next ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  Some prognostication from a former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence  “A Conservative MP who has been deeply involved with the $25-billion F-35 stealth fighter jet project says the cost of operating Canada’s current fleet of CF-18 fighters is $12,000 less per flying hour for each plane than the current forecast costs for maintaining and operating the sophisticated F-35s. Conservative MP Laurie Hawn (Edmonton Centre, Alta.) made the comment on Thursday as he also disclosed that the Department of National Defence will likely have to delay the purchase of any F-35s by at least one or two years, possibly more, beyond its current initial acquisition target year of 2017 because of delays and rising costs. Furthermore, Mr. Hawn told The Hill Times he expects a top-level interdepartmental secretariat the government is establishing to take over management of the fighter acquisition project from the Department of National Defence will in the end verify that the F-35, still in testing and development stages, is the only aircraft that can meet top-secret operating requirements that the Air Force has established for Canada’s new fighter fleet, thus vindicating National Defence and the Public Works Department following a scathing report by Auditor General Michael Fraser in April ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  The usual messaging from Minister MacKay in the House of Commons: “Mr. Speaker, as I have said a number of times in this House, we are proceeding with this important replacement of the CF-18s. There is a need to do so because an operational gap would occur if we do not make these investments. The hon. member herself should know that these investments will happen over time. There has been no contract signed. There has been no money spent on the actual acquisition. It was, in fact, a previous government that entered us into an MOU to replace the CF-18s some years ago. Now a very comprehensive review is taking place, led by a secretariat. There will be independent oversight and greater reporting to Parliament and the public, and we are moving ahead on that basis.”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  A bit more detail on this one:  Wanted: someone to “to design and develop a knowledge-rich agent-based social simulation architecture and to carry out a parameter sweeping analysis of the system to fully understand social identity dynamics in the model and to see where various real world societies lie on this possibility-space of artificial worlds.”  You can check out an excerpt from the bid documents here.
  • A sleepy, sprawling armed forces base is being ripped apart by drugs, alcohol and suicides. Soldiers, still haunted by the horrors of war, are being left high and dry – leading to suggestions the military isn’t doing enough to combat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). At CFB Petawawa, with its population base of 14,000 (5,400 of them military) there is no base addictions counsellor and the psychologist is leaving. They’re undermanned and overwhelmed. One psychiatrist is on maternity leave, the other works part-time. The satellite mental health clinic in Ottawa will close July 1. As many as 60 soldiers are being treated there. The clinic’s psychologists will commute to Petawawa, but the visits will be infrequent. There is a fear that some soldiers, still suffering from PTSD, are being sent back overseas, untreated ….”
  • Here’s what Defence Minister MacKay is saying about Petawawa and help for those who need it:  “…. We are in fact relocating professionals to Petawawa, in order to have them closer to those members of the military who will need that support. We have had to do so because of retirements and because individuals have transferred to new jobs. This is common turnaround within the Canadian Forces. We are moving forward to hire more mental health professionals. We, in fact, have a goal of doubling the number. We are moving rapidly in that direction and will continue to support those soldiers, their families and our veterans when they need those services …. We are doubling the number of mental health professionals within the employment of the Canadian Forces. We have made significant investments through the legacy of care. We are locating mental health professionals at Petawawa to do exactly what the member suggests: to make them more accessible and to ensure that those investments are providing the service when and where it is needed ….”
  • The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walt Natynczyk, bid farewell (yesterday) to New Zealand’s Defence Force Chief, Lieutenant-General Richard Rhys Jones, upon the conclusion of Lt.-Gen. Jones’ week-long visit to Canada. The aim of the visit was to discuss regional security challenges, details of bilateral defence cooperation, and to share operational experiences and lessons learned ….”
  • The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walt Natynczyk, met with Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma, Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian Navy, during the Admiral’s recent visit to Canada. The visit supported Canada’s Global Engagement Strategy by building on its existing bilateral defence relationship with India ….”

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