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Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – December 15, 2012

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  • No sign of documents being shared, so no word on what else might be in them  Military search-and-rescue experts may soon be resorting to “pencil and paper” to organize complex rescue missions because the outdated software they rely on now is facing “critical failure,” documents obtained by the Star warn.  Senior military commanders are sounding the alarm over the state of the outmoded software used to co-ordinate rescues nationwide, saying it is vital to a speedy response when Canadians call for help.  “Should this software fail . . . our (rescue centres) would be effectively crippled and have virtually no ability to prosecute SAR cases in an expeditious manner,” wrote air force Maj-Gen. Yvan Blondin in a memo from May, 2011.  Blondin, now a lieutenant-general and head of the Royal Canadian Air Force, wrote in a memo last year that the software is “rapidly approaching obsolescence and will be completely unsupportable within the next three years.”  Their worries centre on SAR Mission Management System, the software used by the search-and-rescue coordinators responsible for dispatching military rescuers on more than 9,000 missions a year. Those missions include saving people stranded in the mountains, lost in the bush or stuck on sinking ships.  “The importance of an electronic mission management system to the delivery of the (Canadian Forces search-and rescue) should be considered critical,” wrote air force Maj. Clarence Rainey in an email from June, 2011.  The concerns are outlined in documents obtained by the Star under Access to Information legislation ….”
  • SAR folks are still out there doing the job, though  “A crewmember on board a 690-foot bulk carrier, approximately 110 km west of Tofino, British Columbia, was evacuated by an RCAF Search and Rescue helicopter from 442 Squadron, after suffering an injury, Thursday evening, December 13th.  The crew of the Cormorant helicopter took off from their base at 19 Wing Comox at 6:00 p.m. after Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Victoria received a call for help from the “Rook”, indicating that one of their crew had suffered a potentially serious injury while performing maintenance.  Despite low clouds and poor visibility, the aircraft arrived over the ship at approximately 7:00 p.m., as it rolled in 20 ft waves and almost 50 km/h winds.  “We communicated a lot as a crew to determine the best place to hoist the Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs) on board,” said Captain Luc Coates, aircraft commander.  “We decided to hover over the centre of the ship, taking care to avoid the cranes and guide wires, as we hoisted them to the deck.”  Once on the ship, the SAR Techs moved to treat the injured crewman.  “The ship’s crew had already applied some first aid, so it was a matter of further stabilizing the patient,” said Sergeant Shawn Harrison, SAR Tech.  The crewman was later put into a rescue basket and hoisted into the helicopter ….”
  • Her Majesty’s Canadian Submarine (HMCS) Windsor returned to sea (Thursday) at Halifax, N.S., officially marking the completion of a deep maintenance cycle known as an Extended Docking Work Period  …. With the completion of the Extended Docking Work Period, HMCS Windsor will now conduct a series of sea trials, crew training and certifications to prepare for future operations, a process known as the Tiered Readiness Program.  HMCS Windsor’s Tiered Readiness Program will closely resemble the one conducted by HMCS Victoria, the first Victoria-class Submarine to become operational and weapons certified to fire MK 48 Heavyweight Torpedoes ….” – more on how Canada’s sub fleet is doing from the Info-machine here.
  • Speaking of RCN vessels, the Halifax Shipping News tells us that HMCS Toronto was removed from the nova dock this morning. She was undergoing a brief pre-dpeployment work period
  • Wayne Johnston of Wounded Warriors points out gaps in the system to the Toronto Star  “…. He points out two major blind spots in military training. “The biggest problem in the Canadian forces today is mental health. How do you prepare a guy for holding his friend’s head together when he’s been ripped in half?” In the armed forces, says Johnston, soldiers admitting to mental health issues are quickly removed from their units “like a cancer.”  “Depending on the level of being diagnosed, you get released from the Forces. Some of these kids, that’s all they know. When you get released at 32, what are you going to do?”  The other problem is fiscal literacy. Young men returning from duty spend their money on cars and video games.  “You get a lump sum from Veterans Affairs. Paltry is a polite word.” I ask if he can ballpark it. “Ten per cent disability is just slightly under 30K. Let’s say a guy comes back. He’s lost his soul and had his flesh torn from him, lost a couple legs. He’ll be 100 per cent disability. $293,000. At 23 years of age, you’ve got about another 60 years.” ….”
  • Way Up North  Mark Collins on “Senior US Commander Makes Pitch for Attention to the North”
  • Middle East  Even when Canada helps the Palestinians, it’s a bad thing among some of the “usual suspects”  “…. In effect, Canada has helped to build a security apparatus to protect a corrupt PA led by Mahmoud Abbas, whose electoral mandate expired in January 2009, but whom the Israeli government prefers over Hamas ….” – more on Operation Proteus, which helps train up Palestinian security forces, here.
  • Supreme Court says terrorism not protected by Charter  “The Supreme Court of Canada today unanimously upheld the country’s anti-terrorism law, rejecting an appeal from Momin Khawaja, the first person charged under the Anti-terrorism Act.  The top court on Friday also rejected the appeals of two men seeking to avoid extradition to the United States, where they are wanted on charges related to terrorism.  The top court justices ruled that violent acts are not protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The key issue in the appeals of Khawaja, and the two men seeking to avoid extradition, centred on the Anti-terrorism Act’s motive clause, which states that terrorist activity is committed “in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause.”  The three men argued the law has the effect of “chilling the exercise of freedom of expression, freedom of religion and freedom of association; and …it would legitimize law enforcement action aimed at scrutinizing individuals based on their religious, political or ideological beliefs.” ….” - a bit more in the Court’s decision, a news release from the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and other media coverage.
  • Update on Canada-U.S. “perimeter security”, from the PM’s Info-machine  “The Government of Canada is committed to working with the United States to improve trade and travel between our countries while strengthening security and economic competitiveness.  To this end, on December 14, 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Barack Obama, President of the United States, welcomed the release of the first annual Beyond the Border Action Plan Implementation Report and the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) Joint Action Plan Progress Report, which demonstrate progress made by Canada and the United States on perimeter security and economic competitiveness ….”
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