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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – June 27, 2014

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – September 8, 2012

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  • Iran (1)  No Embassy for YOU“The Harper government’s surprise decision Friday to suspend diplomatic relations with Iran is being seen as a pre-emptive move in anticipation of tougher action against the Islamic Republic.  Exactly what that will entail is unclear, with analysts predicting everything from Canada listing the infamous Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group to preparing for an Israeli military strike against Iran.  The unexpected decision has prompted mixed reactions at home and abroad, with Israel’s prime minister offering applause but former Canadian ambassadors warning Canada has lost a vital “window” into what’s happening inside the Islamic Republic.  Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, in Russia attending an APEC summit with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, announced Friday that Canada was closing its embassy in Tehran, primarily over concerns for the safety of Canadian diplomats.  “Our diplomats serve Canada as civilians and their safety is my number one priority,” he told reporters. “They don’t sign up to be put in harm’s way.”  In addition, Baird said all Iranian diplomats in Canada had been ordered out of the country within the next five days.  The government also officially listed Iran as a terrorist state, meaning victims of terrorism can sue the Islamic Republic under Canadian law.  Baird did not specify what threats Canadian diplomats are facing, prompting rampant speculation among analysts ….”  More from the Foreign Affairs Info-machine here, and from media here.
  • Iran (2)  Israel pleased ….
  • Iran (3) …. while Iran, not so much.
  • Well done to all who made it through!  Forming up at the start line at 4 a.m. yesterday morning, over 200 military personnel embarked on the non-competitive ‘ironman.’  Marking its 29th year the 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) Ironman competition held at CFB Petawawa had a record number of participants. With almost 600 people wanting to compete in the event, the brigade expanded it to two days. Sept. 6 was designated the non-competitive race and today the competitive one.  For both races, participants are required to carry a 40 pound rucksack,while marching 32 kilometres, carry a canoe four kilometres, paddle the canoe eight kilometres and complete the race with a six kilometre rucksack run to the finish line.  2 CMBG Brigade Commander Colonel Simon Hetherington described the Sept. 6 participants as “people who have set a personal challenge for themselves.” ….”
  • Ooopsie…. A Canadian Forces member stationed at 19 Wing Comox is on trial for one count each of accessing and possessing child pornography.  The man’s trial began Monday, Aug 27 but was adjourned the next day. Lawyers for both sides will meet again in court Sept. 13 to set a date for the continuation of the trial.  The accused is alleged to have used the Internet to view and download child pornography images and videos, though counsel for the defense maintains that any such images or videos that may have been found, if any, were not obtained through criminal measures or for criminal purposes ….”
  • Sun Media column picks on academic who hunts for Canadian information, but won’t share his own  “…. The man who wanted all of Canada’s sensitive documents on the prosecution of a war made public is continuing a fight to stop an independent Ottawa researcher from finding out how Attaran spends tax dollars. Last year, a freedom of information request was made to the University of Ottawa seeking Attaran’s expense reports since Jan. 1, 2006. Rather than comply, the man who demanded openness from the Harper government cried foul and claimed this was an attempt to silence him. The university backed him up and fought the request.  I’m not sure how, but he eventually won and the Information Commissioner agreed that how a university professor spends tax dollars is not something the public should know. Yet somehow the inner workings of Canada’s war effort is something Attaran and his media allies think the public should know ….”

Written by milnewsca

8 September 12 at 9:00

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 20 June 12

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  • CF member wounded in Alberta armoured car inside job heist holding on (more here and here), man accused of murder faces more charges
  • Why the CF plane to bring Luka Magnotta back to Canada for trial“Luka Rocco Magnotta, handcuffed and shackled, sat quietly on a military plane bound for Canada, in part because no commercial airline was willing to transport the first-degree murder suspect from Berlin. “We had been asking different airliners and no one was extremely happy to transport him,” Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière told CBC News. The international transfer of Magnotta, who was accompanied on the military transport by six Montreal police officers, highlights a number of factors and challenges that law enforcement officials face when transporting a prisoner by air. The Defence Department provided the plane on short notice, and Magnotta was flown from Germany to Quebec’s Mirabel airport on Monday, in a tightly controlled extradition operation ….”
  • CF in Kosovo for another year  “One of Canada’s longest peacekeeping missions will go on for another year. Five soldiers comprising a headquarters detachment for NATO’s Kosovo Force, who were set to turn out the lights on the Canadian commitment in September, will be replaced by fresh troops. Defence sources tell The Canadian Press the military alliance has asked for another year-long commitment out of Ottawa, bringing the mission to a formal close at Pristina in September 2013. Their presence was symbolic when compared with the size of other overseas assignments, such as the 950-man Afghan training mission. Their now-delayed exit is steeped in significance because closing the Kosovo detachment brings to a complete end to the Canadian military presence in the Balkans — a mission that began in 1992 ….” - more on the CF’s Operation KOBOLD here (via the CEFCOM Info-machine) and NATO’s KFOR here (via the NATO Info-machine).
  • Canada-Israel  No sign of the document in question yet, so no word what else is in it, but here’s what’s out there“Israel has received private assurances Canada stands ready to help defend the Jewish state, but just how far the Harper government intends to take that commitment is unclear. Newly released documents say Defence Minister Peter MacKay told Israel’s top military commander, Maj.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, during a 2011 visit to the Middle East, that “a threat to Israel is a threat to Canada.” The statement could have important implications given the increasing military co-operation between the two countries. The declaration appeared in an internal summary of MacKay’s trip ….” - a bit of back story here.
  • Canada unfriends Middle Eastern pirate-terrorist base country “Canada has pulled out of the Friends of Yemen assistance group, but the government says it has committed to more than double its aid to the troubled Arab country by the end of this year. Although the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade would not comment about what sparked the decision to leave the group, Yemen’s ambassador to Canada said he understands Canada’s decision and is confident that Canada remains passionate about helping his country. Meanwhile, one analyst said that Canada could do more to get involved in Yemen, which is fragile and facing security problems, poverty, and malnourishment. Canada was absent from the most recent Friends of Yemen meeting on May 23 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Pledges to Yemen from contributing members totalled an estimated $4 billion at the gathering, according to the UN. Yemeni Ambassador Khaled Bahah was understanding of Canada’s absence. “Sometimes the priority of every country changes,” he said. “We consider that. Canada has other priorities at the moment.” Yemen is very appreciative of Canada’s increased aid, he added. “I feel how much they’re passionate, how much they care of Yemen, and helping Yemen.” Canada doubled its humanitarian aid this year to Yemen to $11.5 million through multilateral partners to address the needs of Yemen’s people, wrote DFAIT spokesperson Jean-Bruno Villeneuve in an email to Embassy …..”
  • Syria story unwraps “Canada as peacekeeper” meme  “The suspension of the United Nations observer mission in Syria last weekend bolsters Canada’s decision to not send its forces there, says a Foreign Affairs spokesperson. But Canada’s decision has critics, academics, and politicians debating the country’s commitment level to the UN, and to maintaining international peace. Canada’s decision not to get involved in the Syrian mission was “based upon the safety and well-being of our men and women,” wrote Jean-Bruno Villeneuve, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, in an email. “As evidenced by the UN’s decision this weekend to suspend the observer mission, it simply wasn’t safe any longer for the UN observers.” For many years, peacekeeping was seen as part of the Canadian identity, with the country being the top contributor to UN missions in the early 1990s. But UN statistics from May show that Canada ranked 55 of 117 countries on the list of suppliers of UN peacekeeping missions, with only 158 military and police officers in service. At the heart of this ‘should we stay or should we go’ debate is a discussion about what a peacekeeper in 2012 should be ….”
  • Mali  West African leaders are intensifying their plans for military intervention in Mali, mobilizing a force of nearly 3,300 soldiers to spearhead the mission, despite their failure to win approval from the United Nations. Senior military officers are expected to arrive in Mali this week to begin detailed planning for the military intervention. One of their goals, according to Ivory Coast’s army chief, is the “re-conquest of the north” – where Islamists and separatist rebels have seized power. If the West African troops enter Mali, their first task will be to protect and stabilize its fragile democratic institutions, which were badly weakened by an army coup in March …. Until recently, Mali was a favourite of Canada and other Western countries, widely seen as democratic and liberal. It received more than $100-million in aid annually from Canada alone, and Canadian mining companies have been heavily involved in Mali ….”
  • Meanwhile, Canadian politician set to visit Africa “The Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) (La Francophonie), will lead a Canadian delegation on a visit to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Côte d’Ivoire from June 19 to 27, 2012. He will then visit France from June 28 to 29, 2012. In DRC, Minister Valcourt will meet with key members of the Congolese government, as well as with representatives of civil society and the private sector. During these meetings, the minister will discuss issues related to democracy and human rights leading up to the 14th Francophonie Summit, which is taking place in Kinshasa from October 12 to 14, 2012 ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Congrats!!!  “For the first time since the Second World War, a serving Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry Highlander is being awarded a decoration for military valour. It was July 9, 2010, and the 1 RCR Charles Company 7 Platoon had the task of checking for a possible firing spot in Afghanistan. They got their answer once they arrived. “I was in the armoured vehicle called a LAV 3,” said Cpl. Eric Monnin. Monnin was going to with his Warrant Officer (WO) to check the area when he was told stay behind. “I was about to go with them and the officer told me not to go because it’s only going to take a few minutes,” he said. As the WO began checking the perimeter, the platoon was ambushed. The WO was hit in the shoulder by an RPG with an entry wound of about three to four inches and an exit wound the size of a fist. “When this happend I immediately thought he was dead,” Monnin said. “But when I saw him slowly trying to crawl away, I jumped out of the LAV and ran to him. Once I got there, I saw he got hit in the shoulder so I started working on him.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  How Canada’s special forces helped Afghan troops get better at their job  (courtesy of the U.S. Air Force Info-machine)
  • Afghanistan (3)  New boss settling in  “MGen Jim Ferron is settling into his new year-long posting as commander of the Canadian Training Mission in Afghanistan and Deputy Commanding General for the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan (NTM-A). Wearing a number of hats during his tenure has its advantages. “In many ways, with my NTM-A hat, I will be setting the conditions for all contributing nations, of which Canada is one; it will be a great challenge,” he says. “And if something goes wrong, I’ll only have myself to blame,” he adds jokingly ….”
  • Stuart Langridge, R.I.P.  Defence Minister Peter MacKay is refusing to relinquish his right to withhold documents from a military commission investigating the 2008 suicide of Afghan veteran Stuart Langridge. MacKay rejected opposition calls in the House of Commons Tuesday to waive the solicitor-client confidentiality he says prevents him from releasing key documents to the Military Police Complaints Commission. “The Military Police Complaints Commission can, and should, accomplish its stated mandate without access to communications between lawyers and their clients,” he said ….” - more from the exchange in the House of Commons here.
  • Remember this Liberal bash at the Conservatives’ record on the CF?  The Minister and Associate Minister of Defence, with the Minister of Veterans Affairs tagging along, write back“…. It is telling that Mr. Garneau himself identifies the Liberals as having made the willful decision to move forward with “sustained significant cutbacks” in support provided for our brave men and women in uniform. This confession undermines his argument. As he knows, while in power, the Liberal government slashed the budget of our Canadian Armed Forces by over 20%. This negligence by the previous Liberal government was perhaps best reflected by their decision to send our troops into Afghanistan wearing green uniforms and black boots in a desert setting. It is simply unbelievable that a government would approach the management of our military with such irresponsible and careless abandon ….” (Keep that bit in red in mind for a sec)    Note how quickly the government’s track record on how wounded vets are treated gets commented on over at Army.ca.
  • Another Liberal attack on the Conservatives and their treatment of the CF (especially with budget cuts), this time in the Senate.  Here’s the government’s response (with a bit of their own dig, and some consistent messaging – note the bit in red, again):  “I thank the honourable senator for the question. One of the facts that tends to get overlooked in this discussion with regard to budgeting at National Defence and other departments, but particularly with National Defence, is that this government has made unprecedented investments in the Canadian Forces in recent years. Since we took office, the defence budget has grown by an average of $1 billion a year. Obviously, all departments have come to the government with their proposals, which the government has accepted, by and large. We will continue to fund the department at a level far greater than it has ever been funded in the past. We believe that National Defence can operate within the budgeting envelope that they have requested …. When the honourable senator was referring to the Liberals, I guess he was referring to that period which the former Chief of the Defence Staff declared a decade of darkness. I guess that is why soldiers were sent into the field in Afghanistan with green uniforms ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  “An outside review at the centre of the government’s promise to verify the reliability of F-35 stealth fighter jet costs produced by the Department of National Defence will be denied access to the original information that National Defence is using to come up with the figures, according to an obscure footnote in the plan Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose released last week. Critics and opposition MPs say the exclusion—which will prevent a private-sector firm the government plans to hire for the review from seeing cost assumptions and forecasts from the main F-35 project office in the U.S.—will prevent the experts conducting the review from being able to judge whether the National Defence cost estimates for buying and maintaining the stealth jets are accurate ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Wanted:  “Supply and delivery of Building Materials in support of OP Nanook” to Inuvik, “a Ground Penetrating Radar System and a Wall Imaging System, included all software, training” for CFB Petawawa, new fridges for all four of Canada’s subs,
  • Congrats!  David Jacobson, United States Ambassador to Canada, presented Colonel Todd Balfe, Royal Canadian Air Force, with the United States Legion of Merit (Degree of Officer) for his outstanding leadership as the deputy commander of NORAD’s Alaska Region. The decoration was presented June 5, at the United States Embassy in Ottawa. Colonel Balfe was commended for his exceptional devotion to duty, and his significant contributions both to the maintenance of North American air security as well as to the close relationship between United States and Canadian Forces in NORAD ….”
  • CF about 1/2 way through National Gay and Lesbian Pride Month
  • Warren Bate wanted more than anything to be a cop. But the former Canadian soldier’s dream was shattered two years ago when Durham Regional Police invited him to come in and talk about a job — and instead accused him of attempted murder. The 35-year-old has lived under a cloud of suspicion ever since because investigators allege they found his old army foot locker — evidence they claim ties him to several shootings. I just want my life back,” an emotional Bate said recently after reaching out to the Toronto Sun, believing his only remaining option was to go public with his story ….” - more here
  • Concerns raised in the House of Commons about the closure of search and rescue stations in Newfoundland and Quebec
  • Canada’s public safety minister has ordered the Canada Border Services Agency to halt audio monitoring of travellers until a privacy assessment can be completed. The announcement follows concerns from the federal privacy commissioner’s office about reports that the CBSA had installed cameras and microphones at the Macdonald-Cartier airport in Ottawa to watch and eavesdrop on travellers. On Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews ordered a temporary stop to the audio monitoring ….”
  • Not one, but two Ministers on Canada getting tougher on immigration fraud
  • How Quebec students are using social media to get the crowds (including the knuckleheads causing damage) out  “In the social media battleground of Quebec’s tuition fee dispute, the students have conquered the strategic high-tech terrain while the provincial government remains mired in the trenches. Twitter dominates as the main weapon in the students’ arsenal and a survey by Sciencetech Communications said three hashtags — #ggi, #manifencours and #casserolesencours — produced 700,000 posts in one month alone. Conversations focused on the time, place, and location of demonstrations, the tuition fee increases, Bill 78, Premier Jean Charest, the police and journalists. It’s a trend that began to blossom with pro-democracy uprisings in the Middle East during the so-called Arab Spring and elsewhere with the Occupy movement as people turned to social media to organize and get their message out. But Twitter isn’t the only method used by Quebec students. Facebook and blogs are also employed and an online community TV station, which is unabashedly in their camp, gives them live coverage. One man even came up with an Android app to track the protest marches ….’
  • Six people have been arrested amid a rash of cyber-attacks launched by the activist group Anonymous against Quebec government websites. The arrests were made in different Quebec cities in an operation that involved five police forces – the RCMP, the Surete du Quebec, and three municipal forces. Those arrested faced a variety of charges Tuesday, including mischief, conspiracy, and unlawful use of a computer. Three of them were minors. The arrests took place in Rimouski, Sherbrooke, Forestville, Montreal and Longueuil, Que. Police offered no other clues about the case, other than to say the attacks were on “public” and “parapublic” websites. They said they did not want to jeopardize their ongoing case by sharing details, such as whether those arrested operated under the “Anonymous” name ….”
  • A Canadian war cemetery in Belgium has been desecrated, including damage to the headstone of a Second World War fighter pilot from Ottawa. Eleven headstones overseen by a Commonwealth cemeteries commission were damaged in three separate attacks by vandals at the Leopoldsburg War Cemetery about 85 kilometres east of Brussels. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission said the attacks appear random, but caught up in the vandalism was the gravestone of Joseph Beasley, who died on Christmas Eve 1944. He was 24. Of the 11 broken headstones, nine were from the British Army, one was from the RAF, as well as Beasley, a flying officer and pilot from the Royal Canadian Air Force. “These things happen from time to time,” said Brad Hall, who heads up the commission’s Ottawa office. “National authorities are just as concerned as we are and they work very hard to make sure people are caught.” ….”
  • War of 1812  On the 200th anniversary of the U.S. declaration of war on Britain and its colonies, representatives of the United States, Britain and Canada gathered at Fort McHenry to sign a “declaration of peace.” “Much … has changed in 200 years,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told a crowd of politicians, diplomats and military leaders Monday. “Today, we stand together as inseparable friends, as we have for decades. We work together. We advance together. We fight together.” The War of 1812 was the last conflict among the United States, Britain and Canada. The three nations were allies in both world wars, the Korean War and the Gulf War, and now fight side by side in Afghanistan. “Our leaders today at the G20 meeting are discussing how we can keep our world safe with the conflict in Syria,” said Gary Doer, the Canadian ambassador to the United States. “They’re looking at what the positive results were in working together in Libya. And we are also together in dealing with the potential threat of nuclear capacity in the country of Iran.” Sir Peter Westmacott, the British ambassador to the United States, spoke of the “many positive things” that came out of the War of 1812. He said these included not simply “The Star-Spangled Banner” — which he described as having been written “in response to some minor skirmish … just sort of off the coast here” — but “this extraordinary sense of union” that emerged within the young United States ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 30 May 12

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  • Syria (1)  Canada (among other countries) give all Syrian diplomats the boot over latest violence – more here
  • Syria (2)  Australia backing France re:  possible military action (but not the U.S.)
  • Syria (3)  Former Syrian detainee underwhelmed  “…. Syrian-Canadian Maher Arar — for one — is wondering why, 14 months after the start of the uprising and after 13,000 alleged deaths at the hands of the Assad regime, Ottawa is waiting until now to act. Arar, who was detained and tortured in Syria as a terrorist suspect for more than a year after being extradited by American officials, says Canada is doing “too little too late.” “The Syrian [Canadian] community — at least the majority — have been asking the Canadian government since the last year to expel the Syrian diplomats from the Embassy,” he told Yahoo! Canada News in an interview, Tuesday. “People forget that [the Houla incident] is not the first time children are being slaughtered by the [Assad] regime. People forget that this is what the regime is. So why would Canada wait until now to take this action?” Arar argues that Canada and the international community is not doing enough. He says the Assad regime is buoyed by the fact that the UN has no appetite to intervene and that its ‘peace plan’ is essentially a joke ….”
  • Well done  The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, (Tuesday) announced that the Government of Canada will not appeal the Federal Court’s May 1, 2012 decision regarding the offset of Pension Act disability benefits from the Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP). “The men and women who serve and sacrifice in Canada’s name need to know that their Government will stand behind them and provide the benefits they need when their service is complete,” said Minister MacKay. “I am pleased to announce our government will discontinue the offset for Long Term Disability benefits.” Since 2006, the Government of Canada has put in place a wide range of programs and benefits to support ill and injured Veterans, military personnel and their families. These complement the Long Term Disability group insurance plan for Canadian Forces (CF) members that is administered under SISIP. This program has done a tremendous amount of good by giving veterans with a long-term disability a benefit equal to 75 per cent of their pre-release salary. “I am happy to announce that our Government is taking action to harmonize our disability benefits at Veterans Affairs to reflect the planned changes to SISIP,” said Minister Blaney. “With these changes, Veterans Affairs’ disability pension will no longer be deducted from the Earnings Loss Benefit, as will be the case with the War Veterans Allowance and the Canadian Forces Income Support Benefit. This is a very positive change for our men and women injured in service to Canada who will now receive the benefits and services they are entitled to. Our Government will continue to stand up for them the same way they have stood up for our great country.” ….” - more from mainstream media here
  • What the Minister of National Defence said in the House of Commons yesterday on the SISIP lawsuit  “…. This morning I had the opportunity to speak with Dennis Manuge, who was part of the class action. I informed him of our government’s decision not to appeal the recent ruling regarding the long-term disability insurance plan. We sought the court’s clarification. We agreed with the decision. We will act expeditiously to ensure that these benefits are provided to our veterans and our current members who need it as soon as possible. We will extend this approach, as well, to the earnings loss benefit program, as well as two other relevant programs in the Department of Veterans Affairs. We care for our veterans. This is the right thing to do.”
  • From the lawyers leading the SISIP legal fight  “Following a long five-year class action lawsuit between disabled veterans and the Government of Canada, disabled veterans expressed relief that the Federal Court of Canada decision in their favour will not be appealed. “This has been a long five-year class action lawsuit between disabled veterans and the Government of Canada and its is great to see that they are doing the right thing,” said Canadian veteran and lead plaintiff Dennis Manuge. “They have listened to Canada’s disabled veterans, and clearly they wanted to do the right thing.” …. the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veteran’s Affairs, announced that the Federal Government of Canada will not appeal the Federal Court Decision. “The Federal Court of Canada ruling and the acceptance of the ruling by the Government of Canada, provides hope for Canada’s disabled, ill and disadvantaged veterans who have been taken advantage of for far too long,” said Manuge. “This has been a very difficult experience for Canada’s disabled veterans, including me, on a personal, emotional and financial level and it is a relief to know that we are one step closer to being reimbursed.” ….”
  • Column on SISIP litigation  “…. it took the court decision earlier this week for Ottawa to end the clawback. The real test of fairness will come with the next step in the process: Determining compensation for injured military members whose disability benefits were stripped away by an uncaring government.”
  • CF Ombudsman on Canada’s decision on the SISIP legal fight  “I welcome the Government of Canada’s announcement today that it will accept the Federal Court decision of May 1, 2012 and put an end to the clawback of disability benefits from Canada’s veterans. Our office identified this government policy as grossly unfair in 2003 and we have continued to push for its elimination since then. Those who have suffered as a result of this policy – former Canadian Forces members who have had to retire as a result of their injuries – are the most disadvantaged of our veterans. They often suffer from serious psychological or physical injuries incurred while serving their country. And yet they have been penalized – in some cases, severely penalized – by rules that are unfair. As the Government of Canada begins to work with veterans to find a satisfactory resolution, I call on the Minister of National Defence to fully rectify this fundamental unfairness by reimbursing injured Canadian veterans as soon as possible.”
  • Veteran’s Ombudsman getting ready to speak to politicians  “On Thursday, May 31, I will be appearing before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs to speak to the Transformation underway within Veterans Affairs Canada. My appearances before parliamentary committees, both in the House of Commons and the Senate, allow me the opportunity to speak directly to decision-makers, promote Veterans’ issues and raise awareness of the challenges faced in the Veterans’ community. My statements, along with those of the other witnesses called before the Committee, will be reviewed and compiled by committee members who will then draft a report and recommendations based on our testimony …. The parliamentary committee process is a powerful enabler for citizen engagement and in an upcoming blog I will explain how we can use this process to pursue change. I’ll be back in touch after my committee appearance to discuss this further.”
  • Congrats to Canadians sharing an award for brain research helping wounded warriors!The Brain Mapping Foundation Awards a US Army colonel and 3 Distinguished U.S. and Canadian Scientists at its Gala in Toronto: The 2012 Humanitarian Award of the Foundation goes to Colonel Geoffrey S.F. Ling (United States Army/DARPA) and the Golden Axon Leadership Award will be shared by Drs. Mike Y. Chen (USA), Michael Fehlings (Canada) and Cheryl Rogers (Canada) – The Brain Mapping Foundation is one of the world’s leading cutting-edge scientific organizations, focused on pushing the boundaries of science, technology and medicine in order to rapidly advance the treatment of neurological conditions such as traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, brain tumors and neurodegenerative diseases. The organization works closely with the Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics (SBMT) in order to help both wounded warriors and civilians afflicted with such neurological conditions …. Dr. Fehlings is a world-class neurosurgeon with multidisciplinary vision. He showed his remarkable leadership skills as local chairman of the 9th Annual World Congress of SBMT in Toronto, Canada. “Dr. Fehlings’ strong character and leadership has served the University of Toronto as well as his patients very well because he has brought some of the world’s finest neuroscientists to Toronto in order to advance state-of-the art clinical care for his patients,” said Dr. Jay Pillai, who is Director of Functional MRI in the Neuroradiology Division of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, as well as the Secretary of the SBMT. Dr. Roger’s leadership was critical for success of the 9th Annual World Congress of SBMT, which has brought together more than 700 of the world’s finest scientists, engineers, and physicians  across many specialties and disciplines in the neurosciences from Canada and abroad. “Dr. Cheryl Rogers’ passion for helping humanity is remarkable. She has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help bring the finest technology, science and medicine to Canadian wounded soldiers and civilians who are suffering from a variety of neurological disorders,” said Dr. Michael Roy, President Elect of SBMT …. ”
  • Afghanistan  More (from the CEFCOM Info-machine) on an American Special Forces unit receiving an award for helping out in Operation Medusa  “The Green Berets of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) have the rare honour of being the first non-Canadian unit to receive the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation. Representing Governor General David Johnston in a ceremony held at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on 23 May 2012, Lieutenant-General Stuart Beare, Commander of Canadian Expeditionary Force Command, presented the scroll, pennant and personal insignia of Canada’s highest honour for valour in combat by a military unit to current and former members of the Green Beret battalion. Major-General Charles T. Cleveland presided at the ceremonial presentation in his capacity as in-coming Commanding General of U.S. Army Special Operations Command ….”
  • “The Canadian Forces are filled with brave men and women, but those in the military’s search-and-rescue units have a special kind of courage. Known in the trade as SAR techs — search-and-rescue technicians — they train to jump out of the backs of airplanes in the worst kinds of conditions in order to save someone else’s life. But our SAR techs are being horribly let down by their political masters who, for nearly a decade, from Jean Chretien through to Stephen Harper, have failed to provide them with the aircraft they need to do their jobs safely and effectively …. It’s high time federal leaders were seized with the urgency of fixing our broken search-and-rescue system.”
  • The military has confirmed that two search and rescue technicians with the Canadian Forces were involved in a training exercise when a fire broke out at an air base in central Labrador. However, 5 Wing Goose Bay is not commenting on what role the training exercise had in the start of the fire, which is now the subject of two investigations. Both the Department of National Defence and Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Natural Resources are investigating the fire that started Friday and expanded through the weekend before being brought under control. Capt. Dave Bowen, the public affairs officer with 5 Wing Goose Bay, said in an email to CBC News that the two members of the forces who had been training “immediately reported the fire and responded with the equipment they had with them, and worked alongside firefighters to help contain the fire.” DND is not commenting, for now, on what type of training the technicians were conducting ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  Opposition MPs are asking whether the government has something to hide, after a Conservative motion to wrap up the public accounts committee’s investigation into the controversial F-35 fighter jets purchase. The motion, introduced during a closed-door meeting of the Commons public accounts committee, would ensure the committee proceeded to write its report without hearing from any more witnesses. “We’ll do everything that we can to prevent it,” Liberal MP Gerry Byrne told CBC News. “This is too substantive, this is too important… these are issues that need to be in the public domain.” During question period on both Monday and Tuesday, opposition MPs asked why the government wanted to stop the committee from getting to the bottom of the controversy. “We have heard from the auditor general not once, not twice, but three times. We have heard from departmental officials not once but twice,” Andrew Saxton, the parliamentary secretary to the president of the treasury board, told the House of Commons Monday. “It is time to get on with writing the report.” Saxton’s Monday Commons statement, the essence of which he repeated on Tuesday, was the first public indication that the committee’s work may be nearly over ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Still more message discipline in Question Period “…. we have had a thorough study of the Auditor General’s report. In fact, we have had the Auditor General come to committee on three separate occasions to discuss this chapter. We have had senior officials from the departments come to committee on two separate occasions. We have had the Parliamentary Budget Officer come to committee to discuss his calculations. We have had ministers also come before the committee of the whole for hours to answer all of the questions of the opposition. It is time to get going and for the opposition to quit playing political games and get this report written.” – more here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (3)  One reporter’s take  “With no disrespect intended to Canada’s auditor general, the debate over the F-35 stealth fighter is starting to give me a headache. What started as a well-meaning exercise in fiscal accountability has developed into almost a daily buzz saw of claims, accusations, innuendo, exaggeration, outright lies and verbal flatulence. That’s not to say what has been unfolding in Ottawa is unimportant. Quite the contrary, it’s incredibly serious and depending on how it all ends, the debate over this yet-to-be-proven, supposedly radar-evading, very, very, very expensive aircraft could have far-reaching implications for how we are governed ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  “Chemical Agent Sensor Simulator(s),” someone to clean up lead, asbestos and mould in/around Trenton/Belleville, Petawawa, Kingston, Borden and North Bay, 100 x “Pack, Life Raft and Survival Equipment”, 60 x sandbag filling machines and someone to do the drapes at the Brits’ single quarters in Suffield.
  • A reminder:  under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, “any person charged with an offence has the right …. to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal”  ….  Two reserve soldiers in Winnipeg face weapons and explosives charges after police seized some stolen military training weapons, as well as firearms and ammunition. Winnipeg police say they found the weapons on Sunday from a home on Royal Mint Drive, in the southeast end of the city, after they went there on reports of a dispute. One of the items seized was a “thunderflash,” an explosive device that military officials believe was taken during a training exercise, says Lt. Donna Riguidel. “It’s to create battle noise when you’re on an exercise. So they found that,” Riguidel told CBC News on Tuesday. “That is considered a military training weapon because … it is an explosive.” Military officials have determined that no weapons were taken from Minto Armouries, where the two reservists trained, Riguidel said. “As soon as we found out that there were weapons and everything, there was actually a count done,” she said. “They didn’t even trust the paperwork. They brought people in to make sure that everything was there that’s supposed to be there.” ….” – more from the Winnipeg Police Service here (or here if the link doesn’t work) and from media here, here and here.
  • Big bosses will be no-shows for major military hardware trade show  “Canada’s defence minister and top soldier are both planning to skip this year’s CANSEC arms trade show in Ottawa, their offices have confirmed. For Mr. MacKay, who is jetting off to Singapore to attend a high-profile defence conference, it’s a break from a four-year tradition, as he has attended every CANSEC since he was shuffled into the job in August 2007. CANSEC is a yearly exhibition in Ottawa put on by the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries. It showcases weapons, armoured vehicles, ships, fighter jets, and other military technology that the big names in the sector are peddling. …. This year, there will likely be no LAV photo-ops for Mr. MacKay. He’s scheduled to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore from June 1 to 3, and to speak on the final day, said spokesperson Jay Paxton. To get there on time, he must leave the country on May 30, the same day this year’s CANSEC begins, the spokesperson said. The dialogue, put on by the British think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies, will feature United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin E. Dempsey, and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, according to media reports. Also not attending this year’s CANSEC is the country’s top soldier, Chief of Defence Staff General Walter Natynczyk. This year, the general is “otherwise completely booked for the first day, and will be out of the country for the remainder of the conference timeframe, and a little beyond, attending to business,” wrote Lieutenant-Commander Kris Phillips, his public affairs officer, in an email ….”
  • Editorial on former Manitoba MLA now doing military liaison work full-time  “The Manitoba government has not been very convincing in explaining why it is paying former MLA Bonnie Korzeniowski $85,000 a year, plus expenses of $105,000, to do a job she was doing for free as part of her legislative responsibilities …. The most important function, however, is keeping an ear to the ground for intelligence about the future of the Canadian Forces in Manitoba. The Department of National Defence employs 5,576 personnel in the province, including 3,154 regular force and 1,439 reserves. …. The military is the province’s largest employer and has a significant impact on the economy and social fabric. A full-time government job to monitor the military, however, is an abuse of the public purse. It should either be a part-time position, or, more appropriately, one of the legislative responsibilities of a government MLA.”
  • A new agreement between Seneca and the Canadian Forces (CF) will provide aspiring Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) pilots with the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Aviation Technology degree and their military wings certification in just four calendar years. “This partnership will provide future Royal Canadian Air Force pilots with a high-quality degree education,” said David Agnew, Seneca President. “For more than 40 years, Seneca has been a leader in the education and training of professional pilots for the global aviation industry.” This new partnership will blend the academic requirements for Seneca’s Aviation Technology degree with the training mandate for an RCAF pilot. Candidates who are accepted into the combined program will receive a completely subsidized Bachelor of Aviation Technology education in conjunction with state-of-the art Canadian Forces pilot training. Graduates will immediately gain job experience flying helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft or fighter jets as part of the RCAF ….”
  • The man accused of stealing a Confederation College plane in 2009 continues to wait to discover his fate. Adam Leon’s laywer, Neil McCartney, filed an argument in writing Monday morning on whether his client can be prosecuted in Canada after having already been convicted and jailed for two years in an American prison for illegally entering the United States and interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft. Leon, 33, has been charged with theft over $5,000 after taking the aircraft for an unscheduled flight from the Thunder Bay airport. He was arrested in Missouri, after being pursued by U.S. fighter jets and finally landing on a secondary highway. Following his release last year, Leon was deported back to Canada, and was charged with theft by Thunder Bay Police ….”
  • War of 1812  A New Brunswick regimental colour that flew proudly over what was possibly Canada’s first handpicked army during the War of 1812 is being restored. The six-foot-square colour survived a 1,100-kilometre trek during the winter of 1813 from Fredericton to Kingston to help defend Canada from American invaders and several battles during the two-year war. The restoration is expected to cost thousands of dollars. “The 104th Regiment of Foot was raised by Col. Martin Hunter, a British officer,” Gary Hughes, a curator of history and technology at the New Brunswick Museum, told the Toronto Star Tuesday. “In my mind, I think this was a Canadian regiment before there was a Canada … it was the only Canadian raised regiment to ascend to the line at that point,” Hughes said. About 600 men started out from Fredericton in mid-February, 1813, and 52 days later they arrived in Kingston in mid-April, having lost just one soldier. Not long after arriving they participated in an amphibious raid on Sackets Harbor, New York, across Lake Ontario from Kingston ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 May 12

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  • Whither Goose Bay? (1)  Remember the “Goose Bay may not be getting what was promised” story Defence Minister MacKay had this to say shortly after the story was published:  “I wish to reaffirm that the defence team is working to fulfill our commitment for an operational mandate for Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay so that the Base, and the community, prospers for years to come. Minister Penashue and I look forward to announcing this operational mandate as soon as work is complete. Our government is committed to ensuring a clear operational mandate for 5 Wing Goose Bay that takes advantage of its unique location and enhances the protection of Canadian sovereignty, including in the Arctic ….”  I wonder if that means “we’ll soon have a specific job for Goose Bay to do soon”?  I personally enjoy the thought and imagination that went into the title of the statement.
  • Whither Goose Bay? (2)  More on Goose Bay from the House of Commons yesterday, this time from Minister for the area Peter Penashue:  “Mr. Speaker, I can reaffirm that our government is working to fulfill our commitment for an operational mandate for 5 Wing Goose Bay that takes advantage of a unique location and enhances the protection of Canadian sovereignty, including in the Arctic. Since 2006, our government has consistently worked to ensure the future viability of 5 Wing Goose Bay through investments, such as runway resurfacing and decontaminating sites around the base.”  Well, the feds DID spend ~$16M to leverage more than $300M to do environmental clean-up in the area….
  • Whither Goose Bay? (3)  In fact, lookit all the recent MERX listings that pop up for “Goose Bay” and “5 Wing” (including a search for someone to provide “site support services” at 5 Wing Goose Bay, with more on that contract – including how DND’ll engage industry and Aboriginal groups as part of the work – in bid documents here)
  • Afghanistan  Interested in how many projects Canada funded to help women in Afghanistan, and how much each one cost?  Check out this written response to an MP’s question (via Google Docs)
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1a)  Remember this Canadian Press story“The Harper government called in the RCMP to investigate a politically embarrassing story involving the decision to sole-source the purchase of the F-35 stealth fighter, claiming it was a breach of national security, The Canadian Press has learned. The Mounties conducted a five-month review into an alleged leak of cabinet documents under the Security of Information Act, recently used to charge a naval intelligence officer in an apparent spy case ….”  CP Reporter Murray Brewster is kindly sharing the documents this story was based on – check here (Google Docs)  Special thanks to Murray and CP.  More discussion of this story over at Army.ca
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1b)  The Government’s Message on this, from the Public Works Minister “Mr. Speaker, the RCMP was asked by the Clerk of the Privy Council to look into a possible unauthorized disclosure of confidential information, which is done from time to time.”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Opposition MP’s getting antsy about costs again after some reported U.S. defence cuts  “A U.S. Congressional recommendation to cut $528-million from planned F-35 fighter jet acquisitions over the next year suggests the costly project the Conservative government has signed on to may be “crumbling before our eyes,” NDP MP Matthew Kellway says. Mr. Kellway (Beaches-East York, Ont.) and other critics said the reprimand from a powerful budget appropriations panel in the U.S. House of Representatives should make Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) take a serious look at “alternatives.” Despite increasing U.S. Department of Defense requests for spending by a total of $5-billion on a range of other weapons and system procurements, and other defence areas, the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee recommended $528.5-million in procurement cuts for the F-35, Gannet Company’s DefenseNews.com reported. The reduction would be a six per cent drop in the $8.9-billion U.S. Department of Defense request for funding in the 2013 fiscal year, including $5.2-billion for 25 F-35s. Opposition MPs said the U.S. procurement costs for 2013 are an indication of how much the estimated costs for the sophisticated new fighter jets have risen since the Harper government announced in 2010 it intended to acquire 65 air force versions of the F-35 at an initial purchase price of $5.58-billion with an additional $2.98-billion for add-ons and weapons in Canada ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Potential bidders get more time to send in a proposal to convert some armoured vehicles and artillery guns into display pieces (via Army.ca)
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  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” (software to simulate people from different societies and with different thought processes to help train troops to interact?) – more in bid document extract here
  • Way Up North (1)  Remember this CP story?  Six years after the Harper government declared the Arctic to be a new operations area for the Canadian military, the army has struggled to find enough parkas, cold-weather tents, lanterns and heaters to equip forces that take part in its annual summer exercise. The “critical equipment shortfalls” were so bad last year, the head of the army approved a request by area commanders to buy missing gear themselves, say internal briefing documents ….” More sharing from Murray Brewster/CP – documents here and here (via Scribd.com)
  • Way Up North (2)  Researcher wonders if it’s time to consider using more unmanned aerial vehicles to keep an eye on places  “In Canada, could drone technology help with Arctic surveillance? If so, should it lead us to re-think the acquisition of Arctic patrol vessels? What other Canadian military priorities could drones help us to meet at lower cost? These and other questions like them are wide-ranging. The answers could have transformative implications. Now is the time to think them through ….”
  • Way Up North (3)  Elsewhere in the Arctic neighbourhood….  “The largest military exercise in the High North, inside and immediately outside the Arctic Circle, since the end of the Cold War (and perhaps even before) was completed on March 21 in northern Norway. Except for the crash of a Norwegian military transport plane in Sweden during its course the world would have been unaware of it. Cold Response 2012 was conducted from March 12-21 primarily in Norway but also in Sweden with the participation of 16,300 troops from fifteen nations as part of full spectrum – air, sea, infantry and special forces – maneuvers against the backdrop of the past three years’ new scramble for the Arctic. The term High North is a translation of the Norwegian designation nordområdene which was adopted by NATO in January of 2009 for its two-day Seminar on Security Prospects in the High North in Reykjavík, Iceland attended by the bloc’s secretary general, chairman of its Military Committee and two top military commanders, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. Four of the five Arctic claimants – the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark – are members of NATO. The other, Russia, is not. In 2010 Norway became the first Arctic nation to move its military command center within the Arctic Circle, transferring the Norwegian Operational Command Headquarters from Stavanger to Bodø, a five-story complex built during the Cold War to withstand a nuclear attack. The preceding year Norway purchased 48 Lockheed Martin F-35 fifth generation multirole fighters ….”
  • Here’s why it’s called QUESTION Period, not “Answer Period”Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore, NDP): Mr. Speaker, when Canadian military personnel serve their country, they do not get to make up their minds. They follow orders. Unfortunately, many of them become disabled. Over 6,500 disabled veterans and their leader Dennis Manuge are asking the government to stop the appeal of Justice Barnes’ decision to end the SISIP clawback. These are the heroes of our country. Unfortunately, they served their country and became disabled. Two different judges have ruled to stop the SISIP clawback. Will the government now serve these disabled people by stopping the legal proceedings, meet with Dennis Manuge’s legal team and pay out the money they so rightfully deserve? Hon. Julian Fantino (Associate Minister of National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, we are committed to supporting our veterans and those who have served our country so ably. I would like to also point out for the member that the government has stood up for our veterans and brought a number of programs, which I can list. In that regard, we are also saying, once and for all, that we will not be second to anyone when it comes to looking after our men and women in uniform, those who serve today and those who have served very ably in the past.”
  • Former head Canadian civilian in Kandahar Elissa Golberg:  helping doesn’t always mean just sending the troops  “…. Canada does not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to disaster response, recognizing that needs vary from crisis to crisis, and that our mechanisms must do the same. Financial support, for instance, may include funding through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), civilian-led efforts, the United Nations, and/or, other humanitarian organizations such as the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement. This is often the most effective means of providing life-saving assistance, as these operations are on the ground, able to recognize the most urgent needs of the affected areas. However, Canada also maintains emergency relief stocks that can be shipped quickly, and can deploy pre-identified Canadian civilian technical and humanitarian experts – including a Canadian Red Cross field hospital – when additional support is needed. In certain situations, when local and international capacities to respond are overwhelmed, Canada can, and does, deploy Canadian Forces personnel and assets. In specific contexts, the Canadian Forces bring unique capabilities and can provide valued logistics support (including airlift), or medical, engineering, and communications expertise to assist in responding to natural disasters ….”
  • Analyst on how General Leslie’s recommendations on reorganizing DND’s “head shed” should be done“…. Leslie’s analysis was as meticulous as it was shocking. Between 2004 and 2010 the number of people in DND/CF grew by 18 per cent. The regular force grew by 11 per cent, but the number of full-time reservists at NDHQ grew by 22 per cent and the number of civilians by 33 per cent. In sum, the non-operational “tail” grew by 40 per cent; the front-line trigger-pullers — the “tooth” — by 10 per cent. His recommendations were obvious: reduce NDHQ staff, especially civilians, consultants, and full-time reservists, but maintain expenditures on spare parts, capital and infrastructure, to maintain future effectiveness. Unfortunately, the most valuable part of the DND/CF “diarchy,” namely the front-line forces, are also the most vulnerable when it comes to cuts. We all know that Canadians do not admire the Canadian Forces because of the valiant work of tweedy, bow-tied civilian consultants at NDHQ. We also know how good bureaucrats are at protecting themselves and that their measure of success has nothing to do with military effectiveness or taking care of veterans. This is the context within which to understand the F-35 controversy. Of course the RCAF requires an “affordable replacement” for the CF-18. The serious strategic question is this: 20 years hence, will Canadian pilots be flying an up-to-date or obsolete aircraft? Gen. Leslie’s report has provided the government with principles for decision and excellent detailed advice. They have an opportunity to act in the interest of all Canadians. Even with fiscal restraint, all it takes is leadership.”
  • Oopsie – glad nobody was injured  A Snowbird jet was damaged when it hit a bird during the aerobatic team’s first show of the season. The military precision flying team’s performance over 15 Wing Moose Jaw on Wednesday was going well until one of the Tutor jets struck the bird. Team lead Major Wayne Mott says they stopped the show so the pilot could land, then re-started the performance. Mott says the minor damage to the plane should be fixed by Friday when the team leaves for a Winnipeg show this weekend ….”
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper …. announced that he will travel to the United States to participate in the G-8 Leaders’ Summit at Camp David, Maryland, on May 18 and 19, 2012. He will then participate in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit in Chicago, Illinois, on May 20 and 21, 2012. At the G-8 Summit, Prime Minister Harper will reinforce Canada’s commitment to working with international partners to bring forward concrete solutions to the world’s most pressing economic, political, social and security challenges …. At the NATO summit, Prime Minister Harper will reinforce Canada’s commitment to helping advance ongoing issues that are central to the success of the Alliance. The Prime Minister will be joined by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay ….” - more from media here
  • Defence Minister speaks to Lithuania’s Defence Minister
  • Defence Ministers says “way to go” to latest Royal Military College graduating class

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Mar 12

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  • Conservative Nanaimo-area MP James Lunney speaks out in House of Commons on Reservist attack:  “Mr. Speaker, something happened on Tuesday that sparked outrage in Nanaimo and across the country. About 10:40 in the evening, a young Canadian Forces reservist was waiting for a bus. He was in uniform when he was attacked without warning and without provocation by a young assailant with a knife. Although his throat was slashed, he was able to summon help from a nearby restaurant. He was treated by paramedics, stitched up in hospital and has been released. While we are all relieved that the reservist will make a full recovery, news of the attack has shocked our community. Canadians are proud of the fine men and women who serve in our armed forces. The Nanaimo regiment is part of the Canadian Scottish Regiment. Reservists train one night a week and one weekend a month. Many of our reservists have volunteered for overseas deployment in places like Bosnia, the Middle East, Africa and for our current mission in Afghanistan. They have aided in domestic crises like the B.C. forest fires, the Manitoba flood and the Ontario and Quebec ice storm. Nanaimo citizens are proud of our reservists. We are calling for anyone with information to assist police in bringing this cowardly assailant to face the justice he deserves.”
  • Changes to military search and rescue rules out east, CF Info-machine version:  “At the request of the Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Peter MacKay, the Canadian Forces conducted a review of Canadian Forces protocols with regards to Ground Search and Rescue. The legal authority for Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR), including the response for missing or lost persons, belongs to provincial and territorial governments, and as such, the Canadian Forces reviewed its protocols in consultation with partner agencies. The review is now complete and the Department of National Defence has amended the protocol for its participation in support of Ground Search and Rescue (GSAR) operations. The amended protocol provides an additional layer of diligence, with all parties agreeing to implement a military feedback mechanism, to increase direct communications between agencies, to enhance situational awareness and to improve communication between GSAR partners ….”
  • Changes to military search and rescue rules out east, plain English:  “The Department of National Defence is changing how the military handles search and rescue calls following the tragic death of a teenage Labrador snowmobiler. Military officials will no longer wait for a call back from anyone needing assistance in a search ….”  More media here.
  • Remember last August’s Fixed Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) “Industry Day” as (an early) part of the process of replacing older Buffalo and Hercules aircraft?  It appears the CF has gotten back to the companies who were interested:  The Harper government’s plan to buy new fixed-wing search-and-rescue planes has been pushed off until next year, The Canadian Press has learned.  Despite years of study and preparation, National Defence has postponed until the spring of 2013 issuing a tender call to replace nearly 50-year-old C-115 Buffalos and C-130 Hercules transports, many of which are in their third decade of service.  The procurement branch of the military has notified companies interested in bidding that it will carry out “consultations” over the next 12 months, and there will be workshops to outline expectations …. A senior defence official, who asked not to be identified, said the specifications are now wide. Companies will be asked to submit proposals that demonstrate their aircraft will be able to cover the country’s three search-and-rescue geographic sectors; carry survival and life-saving gear; possess a rear-loading ramp; and be able to conduct operations within a 15-hour crew day.  The specifications would require the winning bidder to provide a single aircraft to be on stand by in each sector 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The parameters are so broad they even leave it up to the companies to suggest where the planes should be based.  Taken together the requirements have led to speculation the federal government is prepared to farm out fixed-wing search-and-rescue, possibly as an alternative service delivery contract ….”
  • Next step for FWSAR?  ANOTHER industry get-together!  This from MERX “The Government of Canada is now ready to resume industry engagement on FWSAR and will start by holding an Industry Workshop on April 11, 2012. For this workshop, attendance will be restricted to companies who can identify themselves and can attest their capability of playing a significant role in the context of the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue as an aircraft provider, or as a Canadian in-service support integrator ….”  Full posting here (3 page PDF) if link doesn’t work, and more in the “Industry Engagement Rules” (9 page PDF) here.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Snack cakes for CFB Bagotville – breakdown of treats (most popular by quantity:  Jos. Louis) desired here (Excel spreadsheet).
  • It appears the NDP read Postmedia Newsthis from Question Period yesterday“Ms. Christine Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives often use a company that is known for having killed many civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan for training our troops. Blackwater’s past was so dark and its image so bad that it had to change its name to Xe. Xe has become the Conservatives’ company of choice for training our soldiers. The government uses its services regularly on untendered contracts. Why is there no call for tenders when the government hires a foreign private company to train our troops? Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC): As always, Mr. Speaker, that is not true. Academi has facilities in North Carolina that offer a number of technical ranges that we do not have here in Canada. We contract facilities for short periods of time as a most cost-effective means of investing in our troops for training, as opposed to building fixed expensive infrastructure here in Canada. We use these technical ranges for specialized skill enhancement, such as defensive driving. We continue to invest in ensuring that we have the best trained forces in the world ….”  A bit more of the same on the link.
  • Still a bit of resistance to letting go of land north of CFB Trenton for a major base expansion for a new base (“they” say) for JTF-2  “A Quinte West family has filed an objection with the federal government in a last-ditch effort to save its ancestral farm from expropriation. “We’re are going to fight this the best we can,” John Meyers told QMI Agency Tuesday. His father, Frank Meyers, has vowed to fight the expropriation of 220 acres of farm land located on the south side of Meyers Creek Road. The feds finally moved in February to begin the expropriation process on the few remaining properties needed to build a massive training facility at the north end of Canadian Forces Base Trenton ….”  More on the history of the land issues since 2007 here (via Army.ca)
  • Afghanistan (1)  Canadian Senators agree to have the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence “examine and report on the status of, and lessons learned, during Canadian Forces operations in Afghanistan”, with a final report ready no later than December 31, 2012.
  • Afghanistan (2)  How Canada made out selling their no-longer-needed stuff while getting out of Kandahar  “Private companies managed to wring major deals out of the Canadian military in the months leading up to the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan, purchasing nearly $2 million worth of equipment in Kandahar for less than $100,000, internal defence department documents show. Another $3.8 million worth of baseball gloves, computers, armoured SUVs and other supplies that couldn’t be sold ended up being donated or destroyed. The documents are part of a briefing package prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay and cover the period from June 1, 2011 to Oct. 15, 2011. The totals do not include items that were sold, donated or destroyed from Oct. 16 to Dec. 12, when the last Canadian troops left Kandahar airfield ….”
  • Afghanistan (3a)  “Statement of the Embassy of Canada in Afghanistan to Commemorate International Women’s Day”
  • Afghanistan (3b)  “Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Rona Ambrose, Minister for Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, today issued the following statement: “March 8 is International Women’s Day. This day celebrates the achievements of women around the world, and focuses on what must be done to achieve greater equality ….”
  • “Minister Of National Defence Statement On The Occasion Of International Women’s Day”
  • Syria  Tory Senator Hugh Segal says it’s time Canada should do something military  “…. Canada should act in concert with our Turkish, American and Arab League partners, and seek a substantive joint military engagement, preferably with Arab nations in the lead, in defence of the people of Syria and their right to self-determination ….”  Caveat:  let’s remember Libya, where the “good guys” might not be all that good after all….
  • Mark Collins on why Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk was visiting China
  • As the U.K. mourns six killed in Afghanistan this week, this blogger, a former Ministry of Defence staffer, is underwhelmed with the media’s behaviour:  “…. The author feels an immense sense of frustration today – not at the news, for that is a tragedy, but instead at the manner in which the media have conducted themselves. To his mind there is something deeply ghoulish about the way that the media have spent the entire day whipping up a frenzy of coverage over these deaths – chopping to different reporters at different times, merging speculation, with rumour, with idle gossip and a small sprinkling of fact. This has been a great day in their eyes – a tragic story with death, merged with the passing of a self imposed figure of total casualties. No doubt tonight the evening news shows will be full of people debating the wisdom of the war, the value of the operation, and whether the sacrifices paid by our troops was worth it. No doubt tomorrow the papers will be full of that combination of tributes, merged with analysis of the Warrior IFV, doubtless researched by a junior hack on Wikipedia who thinks the Warrior is in fact a tank. There will be breathless commentary from retired officers, demands that something must be done, conspiracies linking this to other events, and a general sense that a bad thing has happened. There is a media feeding frenzy going on here – Humphrey was repulsed at the sight of a reporter going ‘I’m not sure if it was an anti-tank mine, or a large Taleban roadside bomb’. The media are so desperate for a story, any story, that their humanity and basic common decency appears to have been sold out in a desire to come up with ever more sensational headlines and fill the large gaps of airtime demanded of a 24 hour rolling news channel. Personally Humphrey would really like to run up to a lot of these reporters, shake them by the shoulders and shout at them to STOP ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 8 Jan 12

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  • HMCS Charlottetown preparing to head back to the Med – safe travels!
  • Afghanistan (1)  What’s up with the training mission, from one of the troops “Since the last time I wrote, another Basic Warrior Training (BWT) course has been completed at the Afghan National Army’s Regional Military Training Centre – North near Mazar-e-Sharif, and another has started. To me it seems like Afghan National Army BWT courses go by very quickly, but I am sure the recruits would disagree. Basic Warrior Training is tough, but the faces of graduates show their satisfaction at the end of the training. It is interesting to watch ANA recruits arrive at the training centre. Some arrive with sandals and no winter clothes despite the snow on the ground and the wind that makes your hair stand on end. The recruits are able to handle the elements better after ANA staff is-sue them appropriate clothing and personal equipment. Usually, our team of training advisers will stand for a moment and gaze across at the faces of the people staring right back at us ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Point“What on earth were we doing in Kandahar? Now that it’s all over, that question hangs in the air. Decades hence, students will be stumped by that question in much the same way I was when my high-school textbook opened to Canada’s place in the Boer War. It was full of sound and fury, but signifying exactly what? How did we pour five years, more than $18-billion and 158 lives into something so large and nebulous? How do we avoid repeating the mistake? ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  Counterpoint:  “…. The CF had nothing to do with Kabul in 2001. Rather a combat battle group spent six months working with the Americans at Kandahar in the first half of 2002 and was then withdrawn. The CF returned to Afghanistan a year later in considerably greater strength as part of ISAF in Kabul, in what was generally a peacekeeping type of mission that lasted some two and a quarter years. So Mr Saunders gets our first military action in the country wrong and ignores the second quite major one ….”
  • There are Canadians who delight in accusing our military leaders of only being able to fight the last war. Our generals and admirals, they tell us, have no foresight and vision and cannot look ahead at the challenges that Canada faces in our uncertain future. These anti-military advocates fail to understand that our senior military staff are engaged in evaluating global trends and conflicts, assessing their impact on Canadian security, and developing appropriate responses should the Canadian Forces need to become engaged. Our military has admirably represented and defended Canadian interests and values in nearly three dozen peacekeeping and humanitarian missions, and conflicts such as the Gulf War of 1990 and the recent Libyan civil war. Our Defence Department’s Chief of Force Development (CFD) has prepared a comprehensive roadmap to understanding the complexities of the 21st-century’s global strategic environment with its paper The Future Security Environment 2008-2030 (FSE). The document looks at five sets of trends: economic and social; environmental and resource; geopolitical; science and technology; and military and security ….”
  • How America’s approach affects Canada (1):   TorStar Editorial“…. Canada has been a staunch U.S. partner in Afghanistan and Libya on Harper’s watch. But Washington’s new doctrine, which may outlive the Obama administration, places a significant premium on allies who can be helpful in a wide variety of diplomatic and military contexts. By neglecting the UN, shirking any honest broker role in the Mideast and waking late to Asia’s importance, Ottawa under Harper has less traction in areas that are increasingly important to our main ally. It’s not where we should aspire to be.”
  • How America’s approach affects Canada (2):  Blogger/info curator Mark Collins – “…. does the Canadian government share the Obama administration’s view that the Pacific (read China) should be the major focus for security–and hence military–attention? If so, how should the CF be shaped with that in mind? If not, towards what else should they be shaped?….”
  • Peter Worthington on how to deal with post-traumatic stress “…. (Romeo) Dallaire writes that soldiers returning from Afghanistan may feel “shock” at the “unseemly opulence of our country,” and the “posturing of politicians,” and the “security that envelopes civilians.” Frankly, I doubt many soldiers are as shocked as Dallaire claims. Indeed, many Canadians became soldiers to preserve Canada’s way of life. Maybe Romeo Dallaire was adversely affected, but his is an individual case and not applicable to everyone. As Smokey Smith said when questioned by the CBC about whether he had nightmares after winning the Victoria Cross in the Second World War: “Naw, I just put it behind me and went on with my life.” Maybe that’s what Dallaire should do.”

Written by milnewsca

8 January 12 at 9:00

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