MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – October 25, 2012
- Afghanistan From one of the troops downrange via the Joint Ops Command Info-machine “Since I last wrote, the Kabul Military Training Centre Training Advisory Group (KMTC TAG) at Camp Alamo has maintained its high operational tempo. In my last article, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (or “”Ramazan”" as it is known here) had just about concluded, to be followed immediately by Eid al-Fitr, the “”Festival of Breaking the Fast.”" A three-day celebration, Eid is an occasion for giving thanks for the blessings of this life, and especially to meet family, friends and neighbors to share in the joy. Once again, our hosts of the Afghan National Army (ANA) invited us to celebrate with them. We were bidden for breakfast this time, so we brought along some of Camp Alamo’s world-renowned cinnamon rolls — seriously, these have to be eaten to be believed. The KMTC Commandant, Brigadier-General Patyani, recently thanked me for some little gifts of food I gave him at Eid, particularly the bakeapple jam — that is, jam made of Rubus chamaemorus, for the floral cognoscenti out there — so it’s nice to know he likes goodies from the Rock. Eid ul-Adha (or “”Big Eid”") is coming up in late October, after the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, so I’ll have to see if I can replenish my stocks ….”
- “A leaked letter shows the prime minister told Defence Minister Peter MacKay last spring that his initial budget proposals did not cut deep enough on the administrative side of National Defence. The three-page letter — dated June 15, 2012, and obtained by The Canadian Press — was written to provide “guidance” to MacKay and General Walt Natynczyk as the Conservatives embarked on a rewrite of their marquee defence policy. The document sheds light on the divide between Stephen Harper’s office, determined to wrestle the deficit to the ground, and a defence establishment resolved to protect the budget gains of the last five years. Harper’s missive sets out what cuts he was prepared to accept, what wouldn’t work, and even suggests National Defence unload some of its surplus property. “It is important that we reduce the current overhead in regular force military and civilian personnel, and in those activities that do not directly contribute to operational readiness,” he wrote. A spokesman for MacKay said the government doesn’t comment on leaked documents and remains focused on getting the military the resources and equipment it needs ….”
- “Internal documents obtained by CBC News (ed. comment – but not shared with readers/listeners) call into question the Harper government’s claim that Canadian military equipment is clear of counterfeit Chinese parts discovered in American aircraft, missiles and other weapons. Canada buys a majority of its military equipment from the U.S., but the documents indicate the federal government has no way of knowing if unreliable bogus parts have been bought by the Canadian Forces. At worst, the documents suggest the Canadian government may be ignoring a problem the Americans warn could have “catastrophic” consequences if fake parts fail on aircraft, missile systems and other military hardware. Copies of emails from officials in the National Defence procurement department indicate the military isn’t doing much to detect counterfeit Chinese parts, has no record of fakes it may have found and has no policy to deal with them …. In response to the U.S. congressional report, Canada’s then associate minister of defence, Julian Fantino, told CBC News: “We don’t have any particular concerns in this country. “I have been advised that the checks and balances we have in our country are sufficient.” But emails between his department and military officials suggest there was no way for Fantino to know that. In one email, Terry Crich, director of quality assurance at National Defence, says the department “doesn’t have any data source for counterfeit parts that may have been installed on CF [Canadian Forces] equipment or purchased in platforms that CF acquired.” Crich goes on to say he doubts “that there is any central repository anywhere with this information.” ….”
- Delisle Spy Case “The lawyer for a Canadian naval officer who confessed to selling military secrets to the Russians says he is stunned his client wasn’t caught sooner. Mike Taylor finds it baffling that Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle used floppy discs and thumb drives to smuggle sensitive data from his secure office in Halifax to his home and then on to Russian agents via an online email provider. Taylor says the way the 41-year-old spy was paid by the Russians should also have been picked up by Delisle’s superiors at HMCS Trinity, the Defence facility where he worked as a threat assessment analyst. The lawyer wouldn’t detail specific security lapses at the office, but he says some of that material might come up at Delisle’s two-day sentencing in Nova Scotia provincial court in January ….” According to the CSIS injury assessment report (with a hat tip to the Halifax Chronicle-Herald for sharing) on the leaks in question, Delisle is called a “Threat Assessment Officer” at the facility. I stand to be corrected, but I wonder if one of the jobs of someone with that sort of title is, I don’t know, figuring out who the bad guys might be?
- Mali More commentariat calls for Canada to do something about Islamic jihadis in western Africa “…. Until a coup in March, Mali was one of Canada’s biggest foreign-aid recipients. The Canadian Forces have played a major role in training Mail’s military, in regular officer training, and sending Special Forces trainers. Now, with a mission being planned, Mr. Harper’s government would find it hard to refuse to provide some help …. With all the complications, Mr. Pham said, an international mission is months away, and probably will not do much more than get a start in 2013. And after all those delays in dealing with a real threat in an area where Canada has a history, Mr. Harper must have an offer of help ready.”
- Commentary “The next global war is not going to be fought with bombs and bullets. It will be a battle of electrons that will be fought over the internet in cyberworld. And guess what, the war has already started. Canada is not ready for World War III ….”
- “Transit officials in Toronto must take seriously the security risks that will come with having cellphone service in underground subway stations and tunnels, a Canadian terrorism expert says. David Harris told QMI Agency Tuesday cellphones and the network signals used to connect them are common tools for terrorists, particularly when it comes to the detonation of explosives and the communication it takes to pull off such crimes. The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) is expected to have cell service in underground portions of its stations, as well as limited service within tunnels, in about two years. “If (the TTC) hasn’t taken seriously this possibility into account, then someone isn’t doing their job,” Harris said, adding that two phones could be used to set off an explosive, with one phone sending a signal to a second one, which then sets off a detonator. “I think this would certainly facilitate a terrorist operation, and particularly with regards to the remote triggering of devices,” Harris said, adding that with this, a terrorist could “leave a package” in one spot and detonate it from another ….”
- Happy 100th Can Scots!
- War of 1812 “His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, will preside over the War of 1812 National Recognition Ceremony for 48 First Nations and Métis communities with a heritage link to the War of 1812, on Thursday, October 25, 2012, at 10 a.m., in the Rideau Hall Ballroom. On this occasion, His Excellency, accompanied by the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, will present each community with a Commemorative War of 1812 medal and banner. “The diverse Aboriginal warriors and British and French-speaking soldiers and militias who fought alongside one another in the War of 1812 remind us that Canada is our common ground, and that we are stronger when we work together,” said the Governor General. “I am looking forward to commemorating the essential contributions of First Nations and Métis communities to this important chapter in our history.” This recognition ceremony will help to mark the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812, an important milestone in the lead-up to the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, in 2017 ….”