MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 June 12
- Afghanistan It appears Canadian actor Paul Gross got to spend some quality time with troops way up forward in Afghanistan “Paul Gross is returning to the battlefield. Four years after his 2008 First World War epic “Passchendaele” hit the silver screen, the Canadian actor, writer and director will be using some of his own experiences overseas for a new film set in Afghanistan called “Hyena Road.” As Canada’s combat mission was winding down, Gross spent two weeks at the forward operating base at Sperwan Ghar, 30 kilometres from Kandahar City. “Outside the wire” is an expression soldiers use to describe venturing outside relatively safe and fortified bases, like the one at Kandahar Airfield where Canadian troops spent much of their mission. Gross actually put on the full battle gear and joined in a number of foot patrols. “It’s amazing. I’ve never been so conscious of my feet (than) the first time I went out. It’s interesting about the different levels of ‘outside the wire,’” Gross told The Canadian Press at an interview in Banff this week. “You can have a certain level of danger even in an (observation post), which is manned, but when you’re outside the base the phrase ‘outside the wire’ is something quite a bit different from whatever you thought it meant.” Gross has finished a script largely based on interviews he did with soldiers about their jobs — the film’s entire opening sequence, in fact, was based on the experiences of one master sniper. “It’s to do with a sniper (and) an intelligence officer — both Canadian soldiers and a legendary mujahedeen fighter and how their paths converge with unpredictable consequences,” he said. “Because that actually as far as I can see is at the centre of counter-insurgency.” Gross will play the role of the intelligence officer and he is holding out for Omar Sharif as the mujahed because “he looks completely wild now.” ….”
- Syria Column: “…. there is word that Russia may supply Assad with helicopter gunships so that his security forces might regain the upper hand. This has prompted demands from the western powers for the UN to authorize a no-fly zone over Syria, which would allow NATO’s air force to tip the balance in favour of the rebels, as they did in Libya. That strategy, of course, brings us to look at the ongoing violence and instability in Libya these days, where tribes and militias are still battling for control in the post-Gadhafi power vacuum. One other suggestion put forward was to furnish the Syrian rebels with sophisticated ground-to-air missiles so they could defeat the Russian helicopters in the same way the Afghan mujahedeen defeated the Soviets in the 1980s. Yeah. That couldn’t possibly backfire on us, could it?”
- From the Defence Minister’s statement on Mother’s Day last month (also available on Google Docs if original link doesn’t work): “…. I would like to pay particular homage to the mothers within the ranks of the Canadian Forces, the wives and partners of CF members, and to the mothers of our CF members, past and present. We thank you for your compassion, your encouragement and your guidance, and we are blessed to have you as a part of the CF family ….”
- From the Defence Minister’s statement on Father’s Day this month (also available on Google Docs if original link doesn’t work): “…. In the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence, we use this opportunity to reflect on the past year, and we honour all of the fathers who strive every day to ensure the safety and security of Canadians at home, or to protect our interests abroad. These brave soldiers, sailors and airmen are often required to put the needs of Canada and Canadians ahead of their own needs, interests and dreams while they are deployed on operations across Canada or around the world. We know that maintaining a balance between work and personal life can be especially difficult in the face of long hours at work, training and deployment and we are grateful for their dedication, their perseverance, and their sacrifices ….” I guess the fathers of CF members, or the dads that look after the kids while mom is deployed, weren’t worth mentioning – maybe next time?
- “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and Public Safety’s Parliamentary Secretary, Candice Hoeppner, on behalf of the Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, today announced the establishment of the Canadian Safety and Security Program (CSSP) in Regina, Saskatchewan. This program harmonizes the security work of different organizations and makes Canada safer. The Canadian Safety and Security Program strengthens Canada’s ability to anticipate, prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disaster, serious accidents, crime and acts of terrorism through the convergence of science and technology with policy, operations and intelligence. The new program improves the management and delivers greater impact for Canadians with the aim of making Canada’s streets safer and Canadian borders more secure …. With this $43.5 million investment supporting the development of science and technology capabilities to help prevent crisis, the Government of Canada is ensuring collaboration between all levels of government, industry and academia, as well as professionals in emergency management and response, public health, law enforcement and intelligence …. The CSSP investments will be managed through Defence Research and Development Canada to develop further capabilities in areas such as chemical, biological, radiological-nuclear and explosives threats, border and transportation security, emergency management, surveillance and intelligence, cybersecurity, interoperability and critical infrastructure.” More in the Backgrounder here.
- What’s Canada Buying? Chaplain services for CFB Suffield, medium-range radar to detect planes & indirect fire and Canadian companies interested in building radar sites for the Greek government in Crete, and someone who may be able to provide “Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) and MILITARY-Off-The-Shelf (MOTS) hardware and software to …. provide mobile explosive detection screening systems for vehicles, personnel and luggage, Electronic Counter Measure (ECM) systems against Remote Controlled IEDs (RCIED) and a IED-protected armoured vehicle pool.”
- Former int officer underwhelmed by appointment of new head of CSIS watchdog committee “…. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s choice to fill the position that has sat vacant for months was also depressingly predictable. Like his Liberal predecessors, Harper dipped into the ever-ready patronage bag to pluck former Tory cabinet minister Chuck Strahl to take on the chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC). I don’t know Strahl beyond his political résumé, but I have read that he is a decent man who continues to wage a valiant battle against lung cancer. However noble his private duel with a life-threatening disease, Strahl’s public responsibilities as a cabinet minister have had little, if anything, to do with the world of counter-intelligence or counter-espionage. Indeed, Strahl served as the minister of agriculture, minister of Indian and northern affairs, and minister of transport and infrastructure before retiring on the eve of the 2011 federal election to set up a consulting business in his hometown of Chilliwack, B.C. He joins a long list of retired Conservative and Liberal politicians who have been appointed to head the review agency largely because the part-time job has offered ex-politicians something seemingly intriguing to do in their spare time ….”
- “Airports and border crossings across Canada are being wired with high-definition cameras and microphones that can eavesdrop on travellers’ conversations, according to the Canada Border Services Agency. A CBSA statement said that audio-video monitoring and recording is already in place at unidentified CBSA sites at airports and border points of entry as part of an effort to enhance “border integrity, infrastructure and asset security and health and safety.” As part of the work, the agency is introducing audio-monitoring equipment as well. “It is important to note that even though audio technology is installed, no audio is recorded at this time. It will become functional at a later date,” CBSA spokesman Chris Kealey said in a written statement. But whenever that occurs, the technology, “will record conversations,” the agency said in a separate statement in response to questions from the Ottawa Citizen. At Ottawa’s airport, signs will be posted referring passersby to a “privacy notice” that will be posted on the CBSA website once the equipment is activated, and to a separate help line explaining how the recordings will be used, stored, disclosed and retained ….”
- War of 1812 Comment: “…. as a young country, Canada does not have a lot of history to spare. In times of fiscal restraint, there will never be enough government money for everything that it might wish to do. But on this, the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812’s beginning — a war that the Canadian government has repeatedly cited as a key, foundational moment in our history — it’s worth asking why only some parts of our history are preserved and celebrated while, just minutes away, equally valuable examples are left to rot into ruin.”