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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – February 5, 2014

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  • Canada’s military becoming a bit more arm’s length from military buying?  More on that tomorrow morning in “What’s Canada Buying?”
  • Meanwhile,  Canada’s Arctic Army has no more mukluks?  (CAVEAT:  I’m a moderator at Milnet.ca)
  • Way Up North (1)  The White House releases its Arctic plans - more on that in the document here, and in an interview with a U.S. government official here
  • Way Up North (2)  Russia:  military co-operation =/= militarization of Arctic  Development of military cooperation among the Arctic countries should not be considered a militarization of the region, Russia’s Arctic Ambassador Anton Vasiliev says“Higher attention from the Arctic Council member states towards the military factor in the Arctic should not be considered as militarization,” Russia’s Ambassador at Large and representative at the Arctic Council Anton Vasiliev said in an interview with ITAR-TASS. “It is implementation of national sovereignties of the countries, which share responsible approaches to the region’s security”, he explained ….” – more here
  • Way Up North (3)  Two Tu-95MS strategic bombers of the Russian Air Force have successfully fulfilled their patrolling mission in the Arctic, Air Force spokesperson, Colonel Igor Klimov told Itar-Tass  …. “The plane took off from the aviation base in Engels, the Saratov region, southeast of European Russia. The flight took place through neutral waters over the Norwegian Sea, the Arctic Ocean and along the Kola Peninsula, far northern Russia,” he said.  “During their patrolling mission Tu-95MS bombers mastered flights over a featureless area,” Klimov said. “The planes covered over 8,000 kilometers at the speed of 850 km/h and at the height of up to 10,000 meters. The flight continued around 11 hours.” ….”
  • Way Up North (4)  Scotland pissed at U.K.  The Scottish Government should develop its own policy on the Arctic after it was snubbed by Westminster, say experts and environmentalistsScottish ministers were not consulted by the UK Government when it drew up its first strategy on conservation and development in the Arctic last year.  “Yet Scotland is the nearest part of the UK to the Arctic, with a larger proportional stake both in fishing and the hydrocarbon sector, and more natural ports of call for Arctic shipping,” says former British diplomat Professor Alyson Bailes in a paper published today by the Scottish Global Forum think tank.  “It is more directly exposed to the working of Arctic climate change, and is far more likely to be affected – and asked to help – in any major disasters affecting the European High North.” ….” – more here
  • A search and rescue (SAR) team from 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron from 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, evacuated three patients from an isolated community on Christian Island, in Georgian Bay, approximately …. 24 kilometres northwest of Midland Island, Ontario, on January 29ORNGE Air Ambulance requested the support of Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) Trenton to medevac the patients. At the time, the ice road was deemed unsafe and the ferry was running into thick ice.  A CH-146 Griffon SAR helicopter was launched from 8 Wing and successfully transported the patients to Georgian Bay General Hospital in Midland ….”
  • Olympic Hockey Teams give CF an “atta boy/girl”  “…. On behalf of the players and staff members with Canada’s men’s, women’s and sledge hockey teams, we want to send our best wishes to the men and women representing all Canadians overseas as part of the Canadian Armed Forces.  At Hockey Canada, we take great pride in representing Canada on the international hockey stage, and we take great inspiration from Canadian troops who do the same all over the world, in much more challenging circumstances ….”
  • Some Canadian soldiers given medical discharges find they don’t qualify for benefits because Veterans Affairs uses different, more stringent criteria in an “unfair” process, the military ombudsman told a Senate committee WednesdayPierre Daigle, whose term ends in a few weeks, testified many ex-soldiers have to fight to prove the conditions that made them ineligible to serve are a result of their service.  Once released, Veterans Affairs demands the ill and injured be subject to a separate assessment above and beyond whatever examination has been conducted at National Defence.  For veterans it can be a bureaucratic conundrum that often leads to a denial of benefits and a lengthy appeals process.  “This is an area of unfairness which needs to be looked at,” Daigle said.  His comments echo complaints from the country’s veterans ombudsman, Guy Parent.  Daigle said he has had heard from former members directly, even though his mandate doesn’t extend to Veterans Affairs, and told senators one individual described the process “as the equivalent of being pushed off a cliff.” ….” - more here
  • Worries about Cadet spending in some places – AND they shared the documents!  “…. Documents obtained by Global news and conversations with concerned members and their parents have revealed concerns about how the program is run.  An inspection of the Northwest Division, which includes the Prairies and northern Canada, found questionable expense claims. Flight change fees were charged without documentation, hotel rooms were paid for and not used, and during regular trips to Cadet camps, a commanding officer paid hundreds of dollars for hotel rooms instead of staying on site.  “We do need to get a handle on how money is spent and where it is spent,” said Rear Admiral Jennifer Bennett, who oversees the Cadets in the Department of National Defence.  A recent Department of National Defence review of Cadets found the program should be fundamentally re-engineered to simplify governance and command and reduce administrative overhead ….”
  • PM’s messaging in the House on Veterans Affairs  “Mr. Speaker, as I have said repeatedly, this government has recognized like none other before it the serious challenges that do exist from time to time with mental health issues in the Canadian Armed Forces. That is why we provided record investments into these services and why we always encourage men and women who are former or present serving members and who need any assistance not to be afraid to seek that assistance …. The money allocated to veterans’ services has increased by $5 billion thanks to this government.  We have only cut bureaucracy in order to ensure that there is funding for services for our veterans. I hope that next time, the NDP will finally vote in favour of that funding for our veterans.”
  • NDP summary of VAC’s week  “Mr. Speaker, let us recap the sordid week of the Minister of Veterans Affairs.  First, the minister showed up late for a meeting with veterans. Then, when he did show up, he was disrespectful and insulted them. The following day, the minister was forced to read an apology. Then, a couple of days later, the minister went on the radio and boasted that he wears resignation calls like “a badge of honour”. He then retracted his previously forced apology, saying, “I’ve done nothing wrong, why should I resign?” To top it off, the minister then went on to insinuate that these veterans were nothing more than “union pawns”.  The fact is, the Conservatives have betrayed our veterans by making it harder for those suffering from post-traumatic stress to get help. The minister has to stop insulting our veterans. It is time for him to finally do the honourable thing, and resign.”
  • Ooopsie …. After years of impersonating a Canadian military officer at events in and around Kingston, Ont., Carl Dale turned in his uniform to military officials on WednesdayDale met with Lt.-Col. Ron Bell of the Royal Canadian Regiment and was said to be remorseful for his actions and joining several veteran motorcycle groups under false pretences.  His actions were first brought to the attention of QMI Agency by several former military members, including Dave Banks, president of the Kingston Branch of Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry Association (PPCLI) and retired lieutenant-colonel.  Calls to Dale’s home on Wednesday went unanswered and messages were not returned ….”
  • Afghanistan  If La Presse is to be believed, some Afghans aren’t happy with Canada’s schools in Kandahar (Google English version here – original in French here)
  • Liberal tries an opposition motion in the House of Commons  “That the House express its deep concern over reports that Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) has been actively and illegally monitoring Canadians and call on the government to immediately order CSEC to cease all such activities and increase proper oversight of CSEC, through the establishment of a National Security Committee of Parliamentarians as laid out in Bill C-551, An Act to establish the National Security Committee of Parliamentarians ….”
  • Defence Minister’s “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” defence of CSEC’s metadata mining  “…. this organization respects Canadians’ privacy and complies with the law.   Here is what why we do disagree. I know this organization is in the business of protecting Canadians from foreign terrorists, cyberhackers, and kidnappers. That has our support, if not the support of the NDP.”
  • Recent allegations about domestic spying and the collection of “metadata” by one of Canada’s security agencies have inspired a great deal of confusion about the precise nature of the surveillanceJohn Forster, head of the Communications Security Establishment Canada, appeared before the Senate security and defence committee Feb. 3 and answered questions about a CBC report that said CSEC had used airport Wi-Fi to follow the movements of Canadian travellers.  CSEC is supposed to monitor only foreign communications for intelligence that may be of interest to Canada. The agency has said it does not spy on Canadians nor anyone in Canada.  In this particular case, Forster denied that CSEC had snooped on Canadians, saying the agency had accessed airport Wi-Fi to capture “a snapshot of historical metadata.” ….”
  • Editorial  “Metadata spying is spying”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – February 4, 2014

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  • With federal budget season approaching (scheduled for 11 Feb 14, in case you hadn’t heard) …. “The Royal Canadian Legion is calling on the federal Government to end the talk and respond to the urgent financial shortcomings of the New Veterans Charter in the upcoming budget. For six years now the Legion has been advocating for changes in four key areas. “The Legion was singled out in the 2013 Budget in that the Government stated it would work with us and now is the time for action,” says Gordon Moore, Dominion President of The Royal Canadian Legion ….”
  • The recent closure of eight Veterans Affairs offices has ignited a war of words between former soldiers and the Harper government over access to benefits and other servicesVeterans and their supporters say they’ll have a harder time getting the help they need.  The Conservatives counter that moving more services online and to Service Canada outlets will actually make them more widely available ….”
  • One NDP MP’s statement in the House of Commons on the closure of VAC offices  Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Veterans Affairs has already earned a spot in the Conservatives’ hall of sheer incompetence for his handling of the F-35 fiasco and for believing that Haiti’s problem is the garbage in the streets. Even though his incompetence is legendary, he continues to be rewarded by the Prime Minister for who knows what reason.  This minister’s most recent exploits are the closure of veterans’ service offices and the insults he hurled at the men and women who fought for our country. After shedding crocodile tears last week, the minister still believes that veterans’ complaints are all a union ploy. For heaven’s sake. He still believes that closing these offices will not result in cuts to services. The reality is that there have been massive cuts in his department.  Veterans deserve better than the minister’s wishful thinking. After everything they have done for us, they deserve much better than Conservative MPs who are trying to save money at their expense.”
  • Another NDP MP’s online statement  This week was a tough one.  On Friday the Thunder Bay Veterans Affairs office closed its doors for the final time.  It was an undignified slap in the face to local veterans and those across the country.  Over the past year, New Democrat MPs joined with the Public Service Alliance of Canada and hundreds of veterans to try and stop the closure of the Thunder Bay office and eight others like it across the country.  In the end, they were closed despite our best efforts.  I’m sure some may wonder why we fought so hard to keep these offices open, but the answer is simple.  We fought for our veterans because they were promised, require, and frankly deserve face-to-face service from their own government ….”
  • The Parliamentary Secretary for Vets Affairs, continuing to share the message  “Mr. Speaker, our government has created 600 additional new points of service across this great nation. The member opposite mentioned Thunder Bay. I can assure him that the Service Canada office is within only four kilometres of the district office that was there. We will make sure that we have a fully trained VAC employee present, along with Service Canada employees, to assist veterans in need.”
  • Commentary When one of Canada’s most senior politicians — a federal cabinet minister — disgraces himself and by extension, all of us by acting with disrespect for a our country’s veterans, it’s time to speak upVeterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino’s behaviour towards a group of veterans last week disgusted me. And, when he blamed his behaviour on the actions of a union I became outraged ….”
  • Best of luck!  “Corporal Dominic Larocque will represent Canada with pride at the XI Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia in March.  “I would like to acknowledge and congratulate Cpl Dominic Larocque for making the Canadian National Sledge Hockey Team! Cpl Larocque’s drive and determination serves as an inspiring example for us all. This March I urge you to join me cheering on Cpl Larocque, and all of the men and women who will represent Canada as part of our Paralympics teams,” said General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff.  In 2007, Cpl Larocque was deployed with the 3rd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment in the Panjwayi District of Afghanistan. While on patrol, he was wounded in an improvised explosive device attack. As a result, he had to have his left leg amputated above the knee ….” - more on links between sports and the CF here
  • This Saturday’s men’s hockey game between the Nipissing Lakers and RMC Paladins promises to be a busy oneFirst and foremost, the Lakers will be looking for crucial points to help them secure a playoff position and with just three games remaining, and six points separating them from RMC – with Laurentian in the mix as well – but there will be more to the game than just points.  Saturday will mark the Lakers fifth annual Military Appreciation Night, a tradition that has always made for an enjoyable night celebrating all the Canadian Armed Forces do for the community of North Bay, and all of Canada.  Members of 22 Wing/CFB North Bay along with members of the Lakers men’s hockey team, Lakers athletics and the president of Nipissing University were all on hand for the announcement which took place Tuesday morning ….”
  • From the Pentagon Info-machine  “Members of Air Forces Southern have begun to trickle into Belize in preparation for New Horizons ’14, a U.S. Southern Command exercise focusing on improving the joint training readiness of U.S. military members, partner nation civil engineers, medical professionals and support personnel through humanitarian assistance activities.  This will be the second year in a row that the New Horizons exercise has taken place in Belize. Last year, members of the Belize Defence Force, contractors throughout Belize and Airmen, soldiers, and Marines worked side-by-side to build community centers, medical clinics and schools …. There will be multiple Medical Readiness Training Exercises in Belize City, Corozal and in areas surrounding Punta Gorda. During these Medical Readiness Training Exercises, teams of medical doctors and specialists with equipment and supplies will provide medical treatment to the local population. The doctors and specialists are comprised of U.S., Canadian, and Belizean professionals ….”
  • Way Up North  “Okalik Eegeesiak, an Inuk from Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, is expected to become the next chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. Eegeesiak is currently president of the Qikiqtani Inuit Association. The group represents the 14,000 Inuit in the Qikiqtani Region — also known as the Baffin Region — of Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut.  Canadian Inuit leaders asked Eegeesiak to assume the new position during an ICC-Canada board meeting on Friday ….”
  • Opposition MPs said Tuesday they aren’t convinced Canada’s intelligence agencies are not spying on law-abiding citizensNDP Leader Thomas Mulcair dismissed assurances from top officials at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Communications Security Establishment of Canada (CSEC) Canadians are not being watched, tracked and eavesdropped on.  The officials along with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s national security advisor testified at a Senate hearing Monday and dismissed a CBC report that said Canadians have been targeted in a nefarious Wi-Fi espionage exercise at airports ….”
  • Three “must reads” and one “don’t look” from the Lux Ex Umbra blog
  • The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, today launched the Cyber Security Cooperation Program (CSCP), a new five-year funding initiative to support projects that will contribute to the security of Canada’s vital cyber systems. Minister Blaney also announced the program’s first call for proposals ….” – more in the backgrounder here
  • A bit of WW2 history from the Info-machine here  A mere 21 years after the end of World War I, Canada once again found itself at war.  On 10 September 1939, Canada declared war on Germany following the invasion of Poland. As the war progressed, Canada also declared war on the other Axis powers, Italy and Japan, on 11 June 1940 and 7 December 1941 respectively.  The original 3rd Canadian Division fought with distinction during the Great War, but was disbanded shortly after the Armistice.  In the face of an ever-expanding conflict, the need to create additional divisions became evident; thus, on 24 May 1940, the formation of the 3rd Canadian Division was authorized by General Order 184/40.  The 3rd Canadian Division, which was later designated the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, carried the battle honors of its Great War predecessor and wore the French Grey divisional patch. The division headquarters was established in September 1940, under the command of Major-General E.W. Sansom ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – January 28, 2014

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Written by milnewsca

28 January 14 at 20:00

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – January 10, 2014

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – September 11, 2013

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Syria ….

…. and elsewhere

Written by milnewsca

11 September 13 at 7:45

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – September 10, 2013

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Syria ….
…. and Elsewhere

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – August 15, 2013

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