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Posts Tagged ‘Military Police Complaints Commission

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 20 Oct 11

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  • Honkin’ Big Ship (HBS) contracts awarded:  “…. The combat package includes the Royal Canadian Navy’s Arctic Offshore Patrol ships and the Canadian Surface Combatants ships. The non-combat package includes the Navy’s joint support ships, the Canadian Coast Guard’s off-shore science vessels and the new polar icebreaker. Small ship construction (116 vessels), an estimated value of $2 billion, will be set aside for competitive procurement amongst Canadian shipyards other than the yards selected to build large vessels. Regular maintenance and repair, valued at $500 million annually, will be open to all shipyards through normal procurement processes. Irving Shipbuilding Inc. has been selected to build the combat vessel work package (21 vessels), and Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd. has been selected to build the non-combat vessel work package (7 vessels). The total value of both packages is $33 billion and will span 20 to 30 years ….”  More in the government backgrounder here.
  • Media coverage of HBS contracts:  QMI/Sun Media, Victoria Times-Colonist, Vancouver Sun, CBC.ca, Globe & Mail, CTV.ca, Charlottetown Guardian, Toronto Star, Reuters and canadianbusines.com.
  • HBS editorial from the National Post:  “…. The Tories are to be congratulated for devising a tamper-proof, corruption-free, unbiased system for awarding such large contracts. We realize that they originally built this process in large part as a means to cover themselves from the political fallout of hard, unpopular contracting decisions. Nevertheless, they are to be congratulated for sticking with it to the end, despite the potentially controversial result in this case ….”
  • A more “glass is half empty” HBS opinion“The denouement of the great multi-billion-dollar shipbuilding bonanza has left almost everyone popping Champagne corks —except perhaps Quebec, and the poor, bloody taxpayer who will end up footing the bill for the inevitable cost overruns and delays that will result from the government’s made-in-Canada national strategy ….”
  • More HBS commentary“…. It’s almost a no-win situation for the government. Still, the only way to prevent this from becoming the Harper government’s CF-18 moment is for them to hew scrupulously to their technocratic bid process.”
  • More HBS analysis“…. Despite efforts taken to eliminate appearances of partisan interference, it continues to swirl around the billions of dollars in contracts. “Whatever the outcome, the decision is likely to unleash a firestorm,” said Christian Leuprecht from the Queen’s University Centre for International and Defence Policy. “There are no obvious pork-barrel political choices here,” he said, noting the ridings around the Halifax shipyard are all NDP, as are those around the Vancouver shipyard — although some of the neighbouring ridings went Conservative — and around the Davie Shipyard in Quebec City. “If you’re trying to prop up Canada’s industrial heartland, Ontario and Quebec, which has been hurting pretty bad economically and where the Conservatives would be likely to get the most political bang for their buck in terms of votes, the core bid would go to the Davie shipyard.” ….”
  • What (else is) Canada Buying?  “Sleds, self-propelled” for Shilo, Petawawa – more technical details in excerpt from bid document (11 page PDF) here.
  • Libya Mission  Canada’s Sea Kings busy over the Med (via CEFCOM Info-Machine)
  • Afghanistan  Canadians take part in German Unity Day parade in northern Afghanistan (via Regional Support Command-North/NTM-A Info-Machine)
  • Canadian federal officials will participate in an annual crisis management exercise organized by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from October 19 to 26, 2011. Canada’s part in the international exercise will be played from government offices in Ottawa and linked to Canada’s NATO delegation. Crisis Management Exercise 2011 (CMX 11) provides an international forum to test, evaluate and improve coordination, intelligence and information sharing amongst federal departments and agencies with NATO Allies. It will ensure that we work effectively with our international partners to respond to emergencies in Canada or abroad. …. This exercise will involve civilian and military officials from all 28 NATO member nations, NATO Headquarters and NATO Strategic Commands, as well as participants from Sweden and Finland. Lessons learned from the exercise will enhance Canada’s ability to work together with Allies to confront threats of all kinds ….”
  • Stuart Landridge, R.I.P. (1)  A public hearing into the suicide of Edmonton-based soldier Cpl. Stuart Langridge will start in Ottawa on Feb. 27. Langridge hanged himself in March 2008 following several earlier suicide attempts. The young soldier suffered from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and struggled with substance abuse after he returned from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2005. The Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) announced last month that a hearing would be held. The date was set on Wednesday. The hearing comes after Langridge’s parents filed a formal complaint with the commission. Sheila and Shaun Fynes allege the probe conducted by the Canadian Forces National Investigations Service was not impartial or independent, and aimed to absolve the military of any responsibility for their son’s death ….”
  • Stuart Landridge, R.I.P. (2)  Family seeking help from CF for lawyers to represent them – more here.
  • Ooopsie….  “Some Canadian soldiers are feeling a little unappreciated after home improvement retail giant Lowe’s announced it would pull its discount program it said was offered by mistake – the discount program was only intended for U.S. military members. The U.S.-based company had offered the 10% discount since 2008 to members of the Canadian Armed Forces at four stores – two in Ottawa, one in Kingston, Ont., and one in Belleville, near CFB Trenton. The company said the program was never intended for Canada and just recently realized its error. “I’m not able to get into the specifics of our (Lowe’s) systems and processes, but it (the discount) was a combination of misunderstanding and miscommunication that unfortunately went undetected until now,” Joanne Elson, corporate communications manager with Lowe’s Canada, said Wednesday ….”
  • Mark Collins’ impressions of testimony on organization of the CF at a recent Senate Standing Committee hearing.
  • More back and forth in the House of Commons on east coast search and rescue.  Mr. Ryan Cleary (St. John’s South—Mount Pearl, NDP):  Mr. Speaker, Canada has one of the worst search and rescue response times in the world. A recent incident off Bell Island, Newfoundland showed just how bad it was.  After emergency flares were fired in the area, the Coast Guard called in a provincial ferry, full of passengers, to help the search and rescue effort. It then took the Canadian Coast Guard vessel over three hours to arrive on the scene.  This is not about a limo service from a fishing lodge; this is about human lives. How long would the minister be prepared to wait in icy water before being rescued?  Hon. Keith Ashfield (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway, CPC):  Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows full well that the search and rescue system is made up of a network of potential responders that includes the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard auxiliary, the Canadian Forces and any vessel of opportunity. Any vessel within the vicinity of a search and rescue call can be asked to assist.  When the flares are discharged, the CCG will treat it as a matter of distress. If the member would like to be constructive, he would help us to take this message back to the public so that lives are not put at unnecessary risk.”
  • Tory MP Tilly O’Neill Gordon (Miramichi) salutes women in the CF in the House of Commons“October is Women’s History Month in Canada. This year’s theme, Women in Canadian Military Forces: A Proud Legacy, highlights the important contributions of women to the Canadian military forces throughout Canada’s history. It is an ideal time to learn about the work of outstanding women who serve and protect Canada and Canadians through key roles in the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Women such as Elizabeth Gregory MacGill, the first woman aircraft designer in the world, Josée Kurtz, the first woman to command a warship, and Marie Louise Fish, the first woman to serve as a naval officer at sea, are inspiring leaders. Their milestone achievements helped pave the way for women in the Canadian military. On behalf of all Canadians, we thank them for being an important part of our national military history.”
  • A Conservative MP presents a nuclear disarmament petition in the House.  “Canadians are well aware of the destructive power of nuclear weapons, a power that the world’s worst dictators and terrorists are trying to acquire. I would like to present to the House a petition from the Oakville chapter of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The petition is signed by 330 residents of Oakville. The petitioners ask the government to commit to the motion passed by the House on December 7, 2010, regarding the global disarmament of nuclear weapons. I am happy to present this petition for a response from our government.”  The text of the December 2010 motion:  “By unanimous consent, it was resolved, — That the House of Commons: (a) recognize the danger posed by the proliferation of nuclear materials and technology to peace and security; (b) endorse the statement, signed by 500 members, officers and companions of the Order of Canada, underlining the importance of addressing the challenge of more intense nuclear proliferation and the progress of and opportunity for nuclear disarmament; (c) endorse the 2008 five-point plan for nuclear disarmament of Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and encourage the Government of Canada to engage in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention as proposed by the United Nations Secretary-General; (d) support the initiatives for nuclear disarmament of President Obama of the United States of America; and (e) commend the decision of the Government of Canada to participate in the landmark Nuclear Security Summit and encourage the Government of Canada to deploy a major world-wide Canadian diplomatic initiative in support of preventing nuclear proliferation and increasing the rate of nuclear disarmament.”
  • Letter to the editor:  let’s not forget the Aboriginal contribution to the War of 1812.  “Canadians are unaware of the full import of the role of First Nations and the pivotal role the War of 1812 played in the history of Canada’s treatment of aboriginal peoples. Many historians believe that Britain would have lost the war without the aboriginal military strength. Canada’s very existence depended on First Nations co-operation …. Native leaders like Tecumseh hoped for an alliance with Britain to help prevent the elimination of First Nations at the hands of the U.S. The British proclamation of 1763 had meant recognition and accommodation of aboriginal peoples by Britain. First Nations were military allies against the Americans ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 30 Sept 11

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  • Pile On the Defence Minister About The Planes/Choppers! (1a)  PM Stephen Harper continues to back his man (the Minister, anyway) “…. Mr. Harper, however, said all Mr. MacKay’s flights were legitimate. “When he has used them, they’ve been for important government business,” the Prime Minister told the Commons. He invoked fallen soldiers in defending his minister, saying half of Mr. MacKay’s flights were to attend repatriation ceremonies where the remains of dead troopers were returned to Canada. “Half of those flights are for repatriation ceremonies so that he can meet the families of those who have lost their loved ones in the service of this country. He goes there to show that we understand their sacrifice, we share their pain and we care about them,” the Prime Minister said ….”  And this was so different from the CDS’s work before the much-maligned, and un-PM-supported, trip to rejoin his family how?  More from the guys who started the pile on here.
  • Pile On the Defence Minister About The Planes/Choppers! (1b)  Here’s Hansard’s version of what the PM said in the House of Commons yesterday“…. the Minister of National Defence has participated in some 55 repatriation ceremonies for over 80 lost Canadian service personnel …. This minister uses government aircraft 70% less than his predecessors. Half the time, he does so to attend repatriation ceremonies for soldiers who gave their lives for our country. That is why we have such great respect for the Minister of National Defence on this side of the House of Commons …. When this minister pays his respects to the families of our fallen soldiers I expect the official opposition to support us and the minister by showing respect for these families.”
  • On the CDS and plane trips.  “…. Tradition suggests Gen. Natynczyk is heading into the final months of his term as Chief of the Defence Staff. He led our Canadian Forces through the successful completion of our combat mission in Afghanistan — one that elevated Canada’s military reputation around the world. We should allow him to bask in the afterglow that follows a job well done.”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Columnist Joe O’Connor seems underwhelmed at how Canada handled fast-tracking Afghan translators to move to Canada.  “…. Interpreters, or ’terps, in the dusty lingo of life in the Afghan war theatre, were vital to our mission as translators, cultural guides — and as Afghans — who understood what Afghanistan was all about. One imagines that these Afghans thought they knew what Canada was all about after Mr. Kenney launched the program: a land of opportunity, of safety — and a just reward for a job well done. It is a pity that isn’t true.”  Not exactly – it was only true for 1 out of 3 who applied (glass half empty version), or it was true for more than 500 terps (glass half full version).
  • Afghanistan (2)  NDP MP Anne-Marie Day congratulates ROTO 10 in the House of Commons“I am deeply honoured today to draw attention to the difficult commitment undertaken by our Canadian troops on Afghan soil during Rotation 10 of Joint Task Force Afghanistan, which took place from October 2010 to July 2011. We ought to commend and applaud the sacrifices and efforts made during this mission. In 2001, when Canada became involved in this mission, Canadians already suspected that our involvement would be long and arduous. In total, 10 years went by before we considered our work to be done. Tomorrow there will be a ceremony at Valcartier to mark our soldiers’ return. They lived up to the Canadian promise. We can all celebrate their work, be proud of it and honoured by it as well.”
  • Afghanistan (3)  U.S. blogger Michael Yon continues to make no friends – this time, assessing Canada’s impact in Kandahar.  “…. the history of the Canadian troops is softly being rewritten as successful in Afghanistan. Reality differs. The Canadians troops have an excellent reputation and they served with distinction, but after nearly being swallowed whole, they were ordered to abandon their battlespace. There were many causes. The Canadian combat forces could have prevailed, but Ottawa is weak. The prime cause for the Canadian defeat was that tough men in mud homes without electricity defeated comfortable politicians in Ottawa, who seem to think that manufactured history will make them victorious ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Detainee probe by Military Police Complaints Commission plods on, slowly“The Federal Court has dismissed complaints from military police officers over hearings conducted by the Military Police Complaints Commission into issues relating to the treatment of Afghan detainees. Eight current and former officers with the Canadian military police had argued they were being denied the right to a fair hearing with regard to whether they were at fault in their transfer of detainees to Afghan authorities or for not investigating how they were treated once transferred, given accounts about abuse of such prisoners at the hands of Afghan authorities ….”  Federal Court decision here, decision summary here and more media coverage here and here.
  • Paeta Derek Hess-Von Kruedener, 1962-2006, R.I.P.  Remembering, five years later.  “…. On 25 July 2011, the fifth anniversary of the attack on Patrol Base KHIAM, the fourth annual memorial service was held in El Khiam, led this year by New Zealand Army Lieutenant-Colonel Helen Cooper, the current chief of Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) ….”
  • On how much veteran families get for funerals:  “Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.):  Mr. Speaker, a Canadian Forces member receives $13,000 for funeral costs. A veteran receives $3,600. Nineteen months ago we raised this issue. The answer we received was that it was under review. Last year we asked the minister again to fix this problem. Even though his own officials raised it with him, he told a Senate hearing that it was not the time to talk about the matter. Yesterday we received another non-answer. Our veterans have done their job. They served and defended Canada. Why will the minister not do his and fix the situation now?  Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC):  Mr. Speaker, I am glad to say that on this side of the House we not only speak for veterans, but we act for veterans. As I told the member yesterday, this program is managed by the Last Post Fund. It is doing an outstanding job. We fund the Last Post Fund. We are making sure that every military member who is killed or injured during service, whatever his or her rank, is well-served and will be treated with respect until the last moment of his or her life.”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Remember the “rent a UAV” bid request A new Statement of Work and Evaluation Criteria document is out (via Army.ca).
  • What’s the U.S. Buying?  A Canadian company is getting more work from additions to this big job“Canadian Commercial Corp., General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada, Ontario, Canada, is being awarded an $87,335,007 firm-fixed-priced modification under previously awarded contract (M67854-07-D-5028) for procurement of 425 of the following engineering change proposal upgrades: upgraded transfer case kit; hood/bonnet assembly kit; exhaust system kit; central tire inflation system upgrade kit; skydex flooring material kit; electrical harness kit; route clearance digirack kit; remote weapon station joystick kit; front door assist kit; wheel and tire upgrade kit; and independent suspension axel system kit. Work will be performed in Benoni, South Africa (70 percent); Trenton, N.J. (20 percent); Chandler, Ariz. (6 percent); and Halifax, Canada (4 percent) ….”
  • Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino chats up defence industry reps at the Canadian Association of Defence and Securities Industries about buying stuff.
  • Whazzup with the General who wrote the transformation/reorganization report that all the reporters got“CGI Group Inc., a leading provider of information technology and business process services, today announced the opening of a new Canadian Defence, Public Safety and Intelligence business unit based in Ottawa with capabilities to serve the Canadian Armed Forces around the globe. In addition, the Company also announced the appointment of Lieutenant General Andrew Leslie to lead the new Defence, Public Safety and Intelligence unit. The offering will build on the corporation’s global expertise to develop and implement innovative, world-class solutions tailored to specific knowledge and requirements of Canada’s modern-day defence and security challenges ….”  A bit more here.
  • An interesting idea from the Royal Canadian Legion as an alternative to recognizing Afghanistan’s war dead on the national cenotaph in Ottawa.  “…. some veterans argue that singling out those who died in Afghanistan for special recognition on the memorial does a disservice to the more than 100 Canadian peacekeepers who have lost their lives in various other conflicts. For that reason, the Royal Canadian Legion said Thursday that, instead of specifically acknowledging the toll in Afghanistan, the monument should be dedicated to all of those who died “In the Service of Canada.” That’s the same inscription that is found in the Seventh Book of Remembrance, which records the names of all of the Canadians who died in military action since the Korean War. “We think that an inscription that covers the sacrifice made in all wars or missions would be acceptable to most people instead of etching the individual wars or missions,” said Patricia Varga, the Legion’s dominion president ….”
  • The World Socialists’ take on “royalizing” the branches:  “…. Though the rose of the Canadian military will smell no sweeter under its new designation, the name change exemplifies the ideological shift pursued by the new Conservative majority government. As the Canadian capitalist class has ever more vigorously asserted its imperialist interests abroad, and employed increasingly anti-democratic methods of rule to enforce its agenda of austerity domestically, its servants in the Harper government have contemptuously discarded the “peaceful” and “liberal- social democratic” Canadian nationalism promoted by the Liberal governments of the 1960s and 1970s and sought to promote the military and the Crown as sacrosanct elements of “what it means to be Canadian.” ….”
  • They’re not “war resisters”, they’re volunteers who ran away and aren’t brave enough to face the music – this from the House of Commons yesterday“Mr. Speaker, decorated Iraq war veteran Rodney Watson has lived in limbo for two years in sanctuary at an East Vancouver church with his wife Natasha and young son Jordan, both Canadian citizens. I have come to know Rodney and know him to be strong in his conviction for peace and justice, and brave in his commitment to go up against an illegal war. It has been a tough two years, and the strong support from the war resisters support campaign has been enormously important. If Rodney were to return to the U.S., he would likely be charged, which would make his return to Canada inadmissible, tearing him apart from his family. As many as 40 other war resisters like Rodney are currently fighting to stay in Canada. This Parliament has passed two motions in support of war resisters, yet the government is still trying to deport them. I encourage Canadians to write to the immigration minister and their MPs about Rodney and all war resisters to support the call for their permanent residence in Canada.”
  • Fence along the Canada-U.S. border?  Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?  “The United States has distanced itself from its own report that suggested it is considering beefing up its security at the Canadian border — possibly through the construction of “selective fencing” and trenches as well as enhanced electronic surveillance. The proposed options are contained in a detailed draft report released Aug. 31 in Washington, D.C., by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. The proposals will be aired at public meetings in American cities this fall, before the U.S. government considers how to further tighten the border to keep out terrorists and other criminals. But late Thursday afternoon, after reports about the possible fence hit the Canadian media, the U.S. agency released a carefully worded statement. “A border fence along the northern border is not being considered at this time,” it said ….”  A summary of the report (PDF) is available here, the news release linked to the report here, and more in the Globe & Mail here.
  • Meanwhile, the UAV’s drone on looking for bad guys and bad stuff going from Canada to the U.S.  “The unmanned planes look north toward the long, lightly defended and admittedly porous Canada-U.S. border – the best route many Americans believe for jihadists seeking to attack the United States to sneak across. Like their missile-carrying military cousins prowling Pakistan’s skies targeting al-Qaeda suspects, the unarmed Predator aircraft that have patrolled the 49th parallel since 2009 are high-tech, sophisticated and little understood. And they are part of the same diffuse and determined effort the Unites States is making to secure its borders and defend itself. “We’re here to protect the nation from bad people doing bad things,” says John Priddy, U.S. National Air Security Operations director for the Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Air and Marine. He heads the Predator operation guarding American’s northern airspace. “This is the equivalent of the Cold War in terms of a new type of vigilance,” says Mr. Priddy, who has flown everything from Boeing 747 cargo jets to Apache helicopters ….”
  • Former U.S. VP Dick Cheney’s in Canada, worried about a biological or nuclear terrorist attack.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 8 Sept 11

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  • Libya Mission (1)  Missed him by >>THAT<< much.  “Just as we’d always suspected, if more wryly than with alarm: the rat was in the cellar. Moammar Gadhafi did indeed bivouac in the basement of the posh Rixos Hotel — compulsory Tripoli lodgings for foreign journalists through months of the stalled Libyan revolution — confident that NATO planes would not bomb that location. “Absolutely,’’ confirms Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, the Canadian in command of Operation Unified Protector, formal name of the interventionist NATO mission mandated by the United Nations Security Council. “He was there,’’ Bouchard told the Star during an interview this week at Joint Force Command headquarters here. “It’s not a secret anymore. He could drive in a golf cart through the tunnels that stretched all the way from (his compound) Bab al-Aziziya, under the zoo next door and into the hotel. That’s how he would appear out of nowhere, disappear, and pop up somewhere else.’’ It might also explain why reporters were held hostage at the Rixos for five days by Gadhafi loyalists, even as the capital was falling to surging rebel forces a fortnight ago ….”
  • Libya Mission (2)  “…. with the military mission apparently mostly over, any extension requires a goal for the end: calling back the fighters and the warship when the last major Gadhafi strongholds are gone.”
  • Canadian pilots taking part in Exercise Bold Quest in Indiana. Fighter pilots often have seconds to decide whether to open fire, and this month they will train at Camp Atterbury to know how to make that choice. The post, in southern Johnson county and northwestern Brown County, is hosting a major NATO training exercise involving pilots and soldiers from Germany, Finland, France and 11 other countries. The allies will train on how to avoid shooting at troops who are on their side and use high-tech sensors that allow them to distinguish friend from foe, Navy Capt. Kent Davis said. Residents who live nearby should expect to hear the roar of fighter jets and the whir of helicopters both day and night when the training exercise starts Thursday, Maj. Lisa Kopczynski said. More aircraft than normal will fly over Camp Atterbury through Sept. 25. Pilots will practice using radar that warns them not to bomb or shoot at troops from other countries who are assisting in combat or on peacekeeping missions, Davis said …. “
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  “…. The Canadian Forces (CF) are looking to replace all current types of pistols in use with a newer weapon and is gathering information on the Price and Availability of weapons and the number of potential contenders as part of its planning and budget process. Personnel from all services of the CF will use these pistols for self-DEFENCE. The GSP will replace the 9mm Browning High Power (HP) and the 9mm Sig Sauer Model 225 pistol ….”  More details available in bid package here (PDF via Army.ca) re:  what the CF is looking for, as well as a projected timeline (Requests for Proposals expected to be issued summer 2015, with pistols expected to be purchased Fall 2015).
  • What’s Canada Buying (2)  Honkin’ expensive long-range thermal weapon sights“…. The Department of National Defence has a requirement for a compact, lightweight, weapon-mountable thermal imager that works in conjunction with the optical day sight to provide target detection and recognition in the thermal band at long range.  This capability will be referred as a Long Range Thermal Weapon Sight (LRTWS) system. The LRTWS system will also serve to complement other optical handheld observation devices.  You are hereby notified that the Government of Canada intends to negotiate with FLIR Systems Ltd, 25 Esquire Road, North Billerica, MA, who manufacturers and possesses the intellectual property rights as the OEM for the ThermoSight™ S150 (links to PDF fact sheet), part number #26986-201, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) Long Range Thermal Weapon Sight (LRTWS) system.  Deliverables:  Forty-nine (49) cryogenically cooled sensor, thermal video channeled single bodied systems, including accessories and remote control systems …. An optional twenty-five (25) units including accessories and remote control systems …. Total estimate cost of all deliverables:  $7,350,000.00 CAD HSTI ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Interesting, especially in a city with an infantry unit based there.  “I received a news release recently that really bothered me. It had nothing to do with Alberta politics or the two leadership races now underway for the Liberals and Conservatives. It had to do with a dinner this Saturday to honour the 157 Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan during our combat mission there. The dinner will be attended by Alberta Lt.-Gov. Donald Ethell and hear a keynote address by Maj.-Gen. Jonathan Vance, who commanded coalition troops in Kandahar province for nine months. However, according to the news release, the event was “in jeopardy of cancellation.” Simply put, not enough people had bought tickets. The dinner had room for 500 and would financially break even with 350 – but only 60 people had bought tickets when the news release crossed my desk. “We’re surprised that we’ve sold less than 60 tickets to an event dedicated to honouring the brave men and women who have died while serving in our Canadian Forces,” wrote the event organizer, Mike McMurray. “We need to sell at least 300 more tickets to the gala dinner or we’re going to be left with little choice but to cancel the event. We simply can’t put on a poor show for our troops or the families of our fallen soldiers that we’ve invited.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Another “combat mission wrapping up” story, this time about Canada’s helicopters in theatre.
  • Stuart Langridge, R.I.P  The mother of a soldier who took his own life at the Edmonton Garrison hopes a public hearing will answer the questions she has had for more than three years. After several suicide attempts, Cpl. Stuart Langridge hanged himself in March 2008. The young soldier suffered from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and struggled with substance abuse after he returned from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2005. On Tuesday, the Military Police Complaints Commission called a public hearing into his death ….”
  • The Leslie Report/CF Reorg  One ex-officer’s view of what should happen, presented without comment. “…. Canadian politicians have a history of economizing on the backs of the military — the most flagrant example being Pierre Trudeau soon after he became PM and seemed eager to disband the military and withdraw from NATO. The regimental system saved the quality of our army in those days. Rather than maintain large conventional units, the Canadian army seems ideally suited to becoming something like the British SAS — highly-trained individuals able to function in small units or larger units, doing clandestine operations or open combat ….”
  • Someone’s unhappy with Canada’s “Royalizing” the CF and other highlighting of Canada’s military history“…. History belongs to everyone equally and as such is–or should be–open to unfettered enquiry and defended against deliberate distortion. To borrow a medical metaphor, history constitutes the genes that make up a citizen’s “cultural DNA.” Unfortunately, cultural DNA is vulnerable to “genetic engineering.” In the hands of an ignoble government, historical images and events can be manipulated to serve political objectives …. Behind the propaganda curtain of “restoring” Canada’s military pride and tradition is the appropriation of military history to justify the sort of aggression honourable Canadians gave their lives to defeat.”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (1)  PM (apparently) to declare 11 Sept a “National Day of Service”, while Canada’s Defence Minister prepares to speak to a memorial forum in Washington today.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (2a)  “…. Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the biggest security threat to Canada a decade after 9/11 is Islamic terrorism …. Harper says Canada is safer than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda attacked the U.S., but that “the major threat is still Islamicism.”  “There are other threats out there, but that is the one that I can tell you occupies the security apparatus most regularly in terms of actual terrorist threats,” Harper said. Harper cautioned that terrorist threats can “come out of the blue” from a different source, such as the recent Norway attacks, where a lone gunman who hated Muslims killed 77 people. But Harper said terrorism by Islamic radicals is still the top threat, though a “diffuse” one ….”  More on this one here, and some discussion at Army.ca here.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (2b)  Controversial clauses expanding the powers of police to combat terrorism are going to be reintroduced by the new Conservative majority government, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in an interview with CBC. Harper said for the first time since the Tories took control of the House of Commons the government plans to bring back measures in the Anti-Terrorism Act that expired in 2007. “We think those measures are necessary. We think they’ve been useful,” Harper said of the expired parts of the act. “They’re applied rarely, but there are times where they’re needed.” ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (3a)  Canada’s national security spending skyrocketed in the post-9/11 decade and it may be time to start cutting back, said a report released Wednesday by an Ottawa-based think tank. “The government has created a national security establishment in Canada,” Steven Staples, president of the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute, told a press conference. “A decade after the attacks of 9/11 it’s time to re-evaluate whether we should continue the high level of national security spending.” In total, Canada devoted an additional CAN$92 billion (US$93 billion) to keep Canadians safe, the report said ….”  More along this story line here and here.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (3b)  Calculating what it cost Canadian taxpayers to respond to the Sept. 11 terror attacks has proven to be a difficult task for the Rideau Institute. The left-wing think tank has released a report that concludes $92 billion in new military, public safety, foreign affairs, and other spending since 2001 is linked to creating a post-9-11 national security establishment. Still, report author and economist David Macdonald admits it’s not easy to draw a clear line between the spending and al-Qaida terrorism that shook the world. “I suppose we could argue about whether (the spending) would have happened anyway,” Macdonald said. He insisted at least part of the justification for the spending was due to “the 9-11 agenda.” Candice Hoeppner, parliamentary secretary to the public safety minister, agreed some increased spending was tied to dealing with Afghanistan and the U.S. Homeland Security, but not all of it. “It also has to do with trade,” said Hoeppner. “It has to do with the movements of goods and services and individuals.” ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (3c)  Want to decide for yourself about the latest cost estimates?  Download the Rideau Institute report here (12 page PDF) – news release here.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (4)  Columnist Gwynne Dyer’s view on whether Osama Bin Laden won. “…. So bin Laden dug a trap, and the United States fell into it. In that sense his strategy succeeded, and the guerilla war that ensued in Afghanistan did much to turn Arab and Muslim popular opinion against America. (The invasion of Iraq did even more damage to America’s reputation, but that really wasn’t about terrorism at all.) In the long run, however, bin Laden’s strategy failed simply because his project was unacceptable and implausible to most Muslims. And the most decisive rejection of his strategy is the fact that the oppressive old Arab regimes are now being overthrown, for the most part nonviolently, by revolutionaries who want democracy and freedom, not Islamist rule.”
  • A showcase moment in the history of Canadian diplomacy – the topsecret spiriting of six Americans out of Tehran during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis – appears destined for blockbuster treatment in Hollywood. At least three years in development, the spy thriller Argo will focus on how CIA agent Tony Mendez – played by Ben Affleck, who also directs – plotted with Canada’s ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor, to rescue the trapped Americans by having them pose as Canadian location scouts for a fake movie supposedly being shot in Iran. Another Hollywood A-lister, George Clooney, is producing and acting in the film. Like the Affleck-helmed film that started shooting last week in Los Angeles – and which will also be shot in Washington and Istanbul – the title of the bogus movie in the CIA-hatched scheme 32 years ago was Argo ….”  The Internet Movie Database listing for Argo is already up here.  For more details from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. interviewed Mendez on the rescue (as well as a couple of the hostages), and shares the interview on podcasts here and here.
  • Saskatchewan airfield named after D-Day Spitfire pilot – Flight Lieutenant (Ret’d) Barry Needham was a young man when he flew four sorties over the beaches of Normandy, France, on D-Day during the Second World War. As a member of 412 Transport Squadron, he flew with some of the most celebrated wartime aviators in history, including Charley Fox (known for strafing the staff car of Field Marshall (Erwin) Rommel from his Spitfire) and American John Gillespie Magee, author of the celebrated poem “High Flight”. Although F/L Needham has attended several squadron functions over the past few years, it was the most recent event in his hometown of Wynyard, Sask. that has the 90-year-old veteran more than a little choked up. Wynyard recently named its unmanned airfield the W. B. Needham Field in a ceremony that included tributes from the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Lieutenant-General André Deschamps, the commanding officer of 412 (T) Sqn, Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Philippouci, and Major Chris Strawson, chief multi-engine instructor at 3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School, Portage-La-Prairie, Man. who has become quite close with F/L Needham in recent years ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 7 Sept 11

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  • Stuart Langridge, R.I.P  In late April 2011, the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) said it was doing an initial probe into the 2008 suicide of Corporal Langridge of CFB Edmonton.  Now, the MPCC says it’s going to hold public hearings into the suicide – no dates set yet.  More from the media here (Google News search).
  • Libya Mission  One columnist’s view:  “…. If the foreigners’ motives really were humanitarian — they wanted to stop Gadhafi’s atrocious regime from killing his own subjects, and thought that Libyans would be better off without him — then they actually were using force as an instrument of love. Not “love” as in the love songs, but love meaning a genuine concern for the welfare of others. Most resorts to force do not meet this criterion (although those using the force generally claim that they do). The United States did not invade Iraq out of concern for the welfare of Iraqis, for example. But once in a while there is a shining exception, and this is one of those times. The British, French, Canadians, Swedes, Qataris and so on would not have done it if it involved large casualties in their own forces. (In fact, they had no casualties.) Most Western soldiers didn’t think the operation would succeed in removing Gadhafi, and the outcome has been greeted with surprise and relief in most of the capitals that sent aircraft. But they did it, and that counts for a lot.”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (1)  Canadians are more concerned about a terrorist attack on Canada now than before 9/11, says a new (Ipsos-Reid poll conducted for Postmedia News and Global TV). Enhanced airport security, no-fly lists and Canada’s participation in the Afghanistan war are just some of the considerable measures taken after 9/11, but Canadians are still worried about potential terrorist attacks within our borders. Half of the respondents said they felt “no change” in safety levels with military intervention and just under half feel ‘more safe’ as a result of domestic security measures ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (2)  The CSIS Info-Machine is sharing some stories from officers about their feelings about 9/11 here and here – a bit of a “Canadian milestones in counter-terrorism since 9-11″ selected chronology here.
  • Wanted:  some damned good number crunchers and technogeeks for breaking codes.  “It boasts some of the top math minds in the country, it’s looking to recruit more, and you still won’t find its name listed among any universities. The Tutte Institute for Mathematics and Computing is like a school for spies – a government-backed “classified research institute” that exists to entice academics who can help the government create and crack codes in the service of national security. The federal government has actually employed a small stable of arms-length academic cryptographers for several years now, but this summer it opted to redouble and rebrand the effort. In doing so, Ottawa has stepped up its quiet drive to lure some of the smartest PhD-calibre mathematicians away from ivory towers and into applied government work ….”  And where’d the name of the new institute, part of Communications Security Establishment Canada, come from? “…. In the 1940s, William Tutte, a math genius, figured out ways to spy on encrypted, high-level Nazi communications, a contribution so profound that some observers now credit him and his British colleagues for helping hasten the end of the Second World War. After the war, Mr. Tutte moved to Canada and had a distinguished academic career at the University of Waterloo ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Canadian Major General Michael Day talks to Army News about the Afghan training mission (video of phone interview here), saying he sees some progress:  “…. Two years ago, the army was shrinking, literally we were losing more people than we were gaining. Today, not only are we growing by four to five thousand every single month, but we now have selection process that vets those individuals that are not suited. So we are in great shape on that ….”
  • Afghanistan (2a)  7 Jul 11:  CF Info-Machine tells us Canadian takes over command of Consolidated Fielding Centre in Afghanistan.  ~6 Sept 11:  Foreign Affairs Info-Machine sends RSS feed notice that it’s decided to share this “news” on Canada’s main web page about Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan (2b)  What the dental surgeon used to do in Afghanistan (via CF Info-Machine) – he’s been back for a couple of weeks now.
  • Afghanistan (3a)  A Macleans columnist reminds us to be wary about negotiating with the Taliban, even if that’s how things look to be unfolding. “…. In the event the Taliban do re-establish themselves in Kabul, those Afghans who go to the mountains will likely include those Afghans who most share our values and most desire our friendship. Then what will we do?”\
  • Afghanistan (3b)  Terry Glavin reminds us to be wary, too“…. The Taliban have made it quite plain, by word and deed, that they have no intention of negotiating anything except the general outlines of the civilized world’s capitulation to them and the forward-planning terms of NATO’s surrender of the Afghan people to their custody ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch  English-language propaganda sites back online – for now.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Wanted:  four-wheel light utility vehicles for 1 Canadian Division (more details in part of bid document here), and checking if CF is using the best test to see if patients receiving transfusions need more or not.
  • New Brunswick is looking for feedback on its ideas for job protection for Reservists.  “Finding the right balance can sometimes be a tricky and nerve-testing procedure. But efforts to do just that are exactly what’s happening these days within the part-time military community as officials juggle ideas in an effort to find ways to make the lives of reservist soldiers in this province a little more secure. In April, residents were asked to participate in a provincial government consultation process and provide their views on how to offer better leave protection to reservists working in civilian jobs or pursuing post-secondary studie …. Ideas were collected by the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour and placed in a preliminary report called What We Heard: Responses to the Review of Canadian Forces Reservist Employment and Education Leave Protection in New Brunswick. (PDF) …. If you have ideas on how you would like to see reservists protected in this province, now is the time to step forward. Contact the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour.”  Contact info:  labour-travail@gnb.ca, fax (506) 453-3618 or snail mail at Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, Review of Reservists Employment and Education Leave Protections, P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, NB, E3B 5H1.
  • Canada has has new deal for annual defence think tank get together.  “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, announced …. that Canada is hosting the third annual Halifax International Security Forum from November 18th to 20th in Halifax, Nova Scotia. With Foreign Affairs as the media partner, this year’s Halifax International Security Forum features over three hundred politicians, academics, policy makers, and journalists from forty countries around the world. Following the 10th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks and Canada’s recent transition to a non-combat training role in Afghanistan, this year’s forum is especially poignant, focusing on key sensitive and emerging global issues …. As the only event of its kind in North America, the Halifax International Security Forum fosters discussions covering a wide range of topics, including the future of the transatlantic alliance, security initiatives in the Middle East, revolutions, responsibility to protect and making better use of resources to deliver on key security and defence commitments. The Halifax International Security Forum is even stronger with Foreign Affairs, the conference’s media partner. Minister MacKay took the opportunity to announce a three year funding partnership for the Halifax International Security Forum from both the Department of National Defence and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency ….”
  • Remember the list o’ war criminals Canada was looking for your help in hunting downGuess where one of the guys on the original list is?  “An accused Serbian war criminal says his life has been ruined by an Ottawa-led manhunt, even though he left Canada for his homeland six years ago. Dimitrije Karic, also known as Dimitrije Mita, 51, of the Serbian municipality of Kovin, said he came to Canada in 2003 and filed a failed refugee claim. He complied with an order to leave Canada in 2005. “Is anyone, who was wearing a uniform in war in former Yugoslavia, a war criminal for you?” he said in an Aug. 30 e-mail to QMI Agency. “If it is so, there are several hundred thousand war criminals throughout Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia.” He lived and worked at two companies in Medicine Hat, Alta., during his time in Canada, documents show ….”
  • Remember Gilad Schalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas in June 2006?  His folks are telling reporters Canada should get Hamas to let him go.  What’s Canada saying so far?  “…. Chris Day, director of communications for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, told the Tribune in an email, “Hamas is a listed terrorist organization. The government of Canada has no contact with Hamas.” Canadian aid is supplied to the people of Gaza through “established aid channels and with established organizations” and not via Hamas. Should Hamas and Fatah form a unity government, Day said, “Canada cannot support a government that includes Hamas.” In May, Canada was a signatory to the G8 Declaration of Renewed Commitment for Freedom and Democracy, which stated in part, “We demand the unconditional release of the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit [sic] without delay.” When asked what concrete action Canada can or will take in regard to Gilad Schalit, Day said, “Minister Baird has been very clear in calling – as G8 leaders did at Deauville – for Gilad Shalit’s [sic] release…. We will continue to press this case at every opportunity.” ….”  But not directly to the folks holding him, given the bits in green.
  • The re-incarnated NHL’s Winnipeg Jets (have) unveiled their new uniforms …. The Jets, who returned to Winnipeg with the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to Manitoba’s True North Sports and Entertainment in May, held a news conference to unveil the team’s new uniforms at Royal Canadian Air Force base 17 Wing. The jerseys consist mostly of two shades of blue: Polar Night Blue, found on many of today’s RCAF aircraft, and Aviator Blue, which is similar to historical colours used by the RCAF ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 6 Apr 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 5 Apr 11

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  • Election Promises (1) A Liberal government would restore full university status to the Royal Military College in St-Jean, Que., the party said Monday. If elected May 2, the Liberals would immediately invest $25 million to pay for infrastructure to boost the campus from what is now a CEGEP-level facility, to university status ….”
  • Election Promises (2)Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff pledged Monday to deliver a two-year $120 million plan to help Canadian military veterans return to school and find work. Ignatieff, backed by local candidates and a couple of veterans, said the plan would be increasingly important in the near future with thousands of Canadian soldiers returning from the mission in Afghanistan. “We get a lot of veterans coming home and end up on the street,” Ignatieff said. “One of the things I want to do is make sure those brave, young Canadians get the education that allow them to get the great jobs of the future.” ….” Liberal Party statement here, a critique of the pledge here.
  • Election Promises (3)  Blogger Mark Collins quickly sums up the Liberal’s defence platform (hint:  there’s a reason he can do it quickly).
  • Libya Ops  Columnist says it’s time for Canada to GTFO Libya. “…. this has now become a matter of power and prestige for the U.S. It is no longer about enforcing a UN resolution. It has, instead, become a showdown between America and Gadhafi. Canada was quick to deploy fighter jets and to take overall command of the NATO-led, UN-sanctioned no-fly zone. However, now that this situation has quickly morphed into yet another American intervention in yet another oil-rich Middle Eastern quagmire of tribal warfare, it is time for us to cut bait.”
  • Meanwhile, in AfghanistanThe Arghandab River is barely a trickle as Claude Desilets scrambles down the bank to inspect recent repairs on the Dahla Dam water network — arguably the most important infrastructure project in southern Afghanistan. Of particular interest are recently installed gates at the diversion weir, a vital control point for the entire irrigation system Canada is spending $50 million to refurbish. While the river lapping at the gates is currently more reminiscent of a lazy creek, Desilets knows big changes are coming. “In a week, all of this will be under water,” he said. The project field manager notes the traditional agricultural season in Kandahar province is set to begin, at which point the Dahla Dam reservoir 17 kilometres to the north will begin unleashing its contents into the Arghandab ….”
  • More on how the Government of Canada wants one of the probes into how Afghan detainees were treated to exclude non-military sources here (Toronto Star).
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  The company says things are looking good for the new jet. “Lockheed Martin Corp said on Monday it made considerable progress on testing three variants of the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the first quarter, conducting 57 more test flights than planned. Lockheed said the short takeoff version of the new radar-evading fighter, put on probation by Defense Secretary Robert Gates for ongoing technical issues, logged 61 vertical landings in the first three months of 2011, six times more than the 10 landings done in all of 2010. The F-35 test program remained ahead of plan, despite a dual generator failure on March 9 that grounded the entire U.S. fleet of 10 F-35 fighter planes for 4 to 15 days during the quarter, the company said. “The vector is moving in the right direction,” said Lockheed’s F-35 program manager Larry Lawson ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) As an American, I am extremely reluctant to presume to offer Canada advice on how to proceed with the purchase of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. However, the airplane is the culmination of such malevolent trends in my own country that I believe all allies and neighbours should be warned about going down the same path ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Anyone interested in providing professional services for designing/building new honkin’ ships for the CF gets a bit more time to submit a bid (via Army.ca).
  • Remember how the CF’s top cop would be getting more control over some parts of the military police apparatus (fourth item)?  Here’s the CF’s new fact sheet on what the new organization looks like.
  • I’m.  NOT.  Making.  This.  Up. A second military court martial is being convened against a Canadian Forces seaman accused of disgraceful conduct after a prank involving a glass of milk and a sailor’s penis. The unusual case happened aboard the HMCS Nanaimo when the coastal defence vessel was visiting Seattle in 2009. A leading seaman in the ship’s mess poured the last of the chocolate milk; mess protocol dictates he refill it. Master Seamen W.L. Boyle told him to refill it and the sailor of a slightly lesser rank said he would do it after lunch. An argument ensued and the junior sailor left, presumably to get fresh milk. While he was gone, MS Boyle took the glass of milk, unzipped his overalls and, according to one witness, inserted his penis into the drink, swirled it around and returned the glass to the table. The sailor was warned by a shipmate not to drink it. MS Boyle was charged with disgraceful conduct and conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline, under the National Defence Act, which he was found not guilty of almost a year later. The military appealed, however, and won a retrial on the disgraceful conduct count ….” The Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada decision is here.
  • A bit of a reminder from a Sun Media columnist. “Canadians are not capable of terrorism. We are the mild mannered and polite people of the Great White North who apologize to furniture when we bump into it. Surely we are not a nation capable of producing people who are willing to kill innocents in the name of an ideology. Reality, however, tells another story. There is a long, disturbing list of Canadians who have been arrested on terror charges both at home and abroad. Many have been convicted, Canadians with darkness in their hearts and violence on their minds: Members of the Toronto 18, Mohammad Momin Khawaja, Mohammed Jabarah among them. Since August 2010 alone, five Canadians have been arrested on terrorism charges. Yet Canadians continue to delude themselves into believing that terrorism doesn’t exist here, that every arrest is an aberration and that Canada is somehow an island in a world of instability ….”
  • Speaking of which….The Toronto family of a young woman who has sparked an international panic over her sudden travels to Somalia says that she has called home to tell them that she is not affiliated with terrorists. “Based on direct contact with her, they are assured she is safe with family in Somalia and that she is not with al-Shabab,” a source who spoke to the woman’s close relatives on Monday told The Globe and Mail. He asked that neither he nor the family members be named ….”
  • A Spanish judge has issued an international arrest warrant seeking the extradition from Canada of a former Guatemalan soldier suspected of involvement in a brutal 1982 massacre during Guatemala’s civil war, a court official said Monday. Judge Santiago Pedraz ordered the arrest of 53-year-old Jorge Sosa Orantes for his alleged role in the massacre in the village of Dos Erres in 1982 in which more than 100 people died, the court official said. Sosa faces charges of crimes against humanity, according to the court official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with policy. The more-than-three-decade civil war in Guatemala claimed at least 200,000 lives before it ended in 1996. The U.S.-backed army was responsible for most of the deaths, according to the findings of a truth commission set up to investigate the bloodshed Sosa has been in custody in Alberta since January on U.S. charges of lying about his role in Guatemala’s war when he applied for American citizenship in 2008. He lived for many years in Southern California, working as a martial arts instructor ….”
  • How some troops in the Dominican Republic seem to be supplementing their wagesA dozen soldiers in the Dominican Republic have been arrested in an alleged plot to ship cocaine to Canada in a child’s suitcase.  Prosecutor Elvis Garcia says the 12 soldiers include a lieutenant colonel. Eight work with the national anti-drug agency at the airport in Puerto Plata and four with the airport security agency. Two civilians have also been arrested.  The arrests stem from the discovery last month 33 kilograms of cocaine in the suitcase of a Canadian child at the airport. The girl was traveling with her parents to Toronto ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 4 Apr 11

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  • Libya Ops – The Canadian pilots steered their CF-18 Hornet fighter-bombers over the Libyan target with every intention of destroying it with their 225-kilogram smart bombs. But they saw something they didn’t like and hesitated:  Mission aborted. “We passed,” said the pilots’ commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Sylvain Ménard – call sign “Gogo” – referring to a mission flown shortly after the CF-18s from Bagotville, Que., arrived in Sicily on March. 19. “The target we were investigating was really close to some buildings. We didn’t know if they were military or civilian, so we did not drop on the target.” ….”
  • A bit of a reminder re:  the seriousness of war, from “George Jonas’ 10 commandments of war.” “…. 1.  Don’t go to war for any purpose but the defence of your country’s vital interests, and only if they cannot be secured any other way …. 8.  If hostilities become unavoidable, please let your soldiers fight ….”
  • Unfinished plates of lamb and rice are still being cleared away as the governor of Panjwaii, Haji Fazluddin Agha, receives a post-lunch briefing on security threats in his district.  An official with Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security stands on the shura room’s ornate red carpet to deliver his report, telling Agha his agency has identified a pair of insurgents who have been appointed to the new Taliban shadow government in Panjwaii.  The official says evidence was recently discovered proving both men are responsible for killing Canadian troops and laying “thousands” of roadside bombs. It also seems both men had been previously captured by coalition forces and then released, though the reasons for this are unclear. Agha takes in the information and a discussion ensues among the dozen or so Canadian and Afghan military commanders in the room. The idea is raised of re-arresting the men or killing them. But a consensus ultimately forms around another course of action, which is verbalized by Lt.-Col. Michel-Henri St-Louis, the commander of the Canadian battle group.  Instead of taking punitive measures, give the insurgents a chance to change their ways, St-Louis says.  “I think the district governor has a great opportunity to convince some of the fighters to live in peace, and maybe these two can be the start,” he tells Agha. “If these two individuals came here with their village elders, admitted to some of the choices they’ve made and vowed a future of peace, I think you could have the start of something very positive.” ….”
  • The Conservative government quietly went to Federal Court last week hoping to impose limits on what a military watchdog can say in its final report into torture allegations involving Afghan prisoners.  The Military Police Complaints Commission is currently reviewing evidence and writing its report after hearings into allegations that army cops turned a blind eye to suspected abuse in Afghan jails …. The Harper government …. (has) challenged the definition of what military cops could have known.  Justice Department lawyers also accused the commission of stepping “out of its narrow jurisdiction” and investigating Ottawa’s policy of handing over prisoners to Afghan authorities — something it was strictly forbidden from doing.  The government wants to exclude the testimony of diplomats and civilians who did not work for the Defence Department. Its lawyers also want any documents belonging to those officials, including reports that warned of torture or documented the abuse, excluded from the commissions findings ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)The (U.S.) Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress March 17 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Canada of 36 MK-48 Mod 7 Advanced Technology (AT) Torpedo Conversion Kits and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $125 million. The Government of Canada has requested the sale of 36 MK-48 Mod 7 Advanced Technology (AT) Torpedo Conversion Kits, containers, spare and repair parts, weapon system support & integration, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and technical, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical support These kits will upgrade their existing MK-48 torpedoes from Mod 4 to Mod 7 ….” (PDF)
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2) “…. The Department of National Defence intends to award a contract …. Aircraft Accident Investigator training …. to Cranfield University. The contract will be for the provision of a six-week Aircraft Accident Investigator course for one participant in 2011. The contract will also include one option period, for the provision of a six-week Aircraft Accident Investigator course for up to three participants in 2012, to be exercised at the discretion of the Crown. The contract, including the option period, has a total all-inclusive estimated value of £50,000 (~$77,700 Cdn) ….” More on where the training is expected to be conducted here.
  • Hope the air conditioning’s working. The nearly 500 Canadians currently in the Ivory Coast should stay indoors to keep away from the political violence engulfing the West African nation following a disputed election, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs. The statement followed a week of heightened fighting between supporters of president-elect Alassane Ouattara and those of Laurent Gbagbo — who has refused to step down since last November’s election — that’s brought the conflict’s death toll to at least 1,300, according to the Red Cross ….” More on what’s going on there here (from Canada’s Foreign Affairs department),  here (Google News) and here (EMM NewsBrief).
  • Oopsie…. “A military base commander who served with the UN has lost a bid to return to head CFB Borden after being stripped of his power for inappropriate behaviour. Capt. John Frederick Schmidt was removed from the top position in July 2008 following an incident in which he was drinking alcohol and inappropriately touched two junior female officers, according to court documents. Schmidt, a 30-year veteran, went to a federal court, seeking a review of his removal due to “procedural unfairness.” He wanted the decision set aside and for a new probe to be launched. Judge Robert Barnes recently tossed out the request, ruling that Schmidt admitted the incident to his commanding officer and did not answer questions about it when interviewed at another time ….” Full text of Federal Court of Canada decision here.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 3 Feb 11

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  • VERY interesting questions from a wounded warrior…. “ …. What happened to the CDS’s promise (made to me in person) that no disabled WIA would be released before they are ready to transition?  …. those of us in uniform all know that there are personnel in various support trades who have never deployed because they are too obese to meet the basic fitness standard (Battle Fitness Test).  These folks seem to float from one T-Cat to another, with very few (if any) ever being released for failure to pass even the non-deployment basic fitness test (EXPRES test).  What is up with that?  …. Why does the CF even stock the extreme sizes of combat uniform that are as wide in the arse/gut as they are tall?  Grossly obese persons have no place in uniform, projecting a negative public image of the CF.  Orange jumpsuits would be more appropriate for the morbidly obese and would serve as an incentive to lose weight.  Rigid and timely application of the universality of service requirements and medical release procedures should also be applied to those obese members who cannot attain the deployment fitness standard.  At the end of the day, I would like to see disabled combat vets such as myself offered the opportunity to fill domestic support jobs so that those who are fit to fight are freed up for deployment.   If nothing else, I want assurance that our disabled WIA are offered the same degree of “rule-bending consideration” that the chain of command and the medical system quite evidently apply to the 1000 or so obese CF members who can’t even pass the basic XPRES test.”
  • Memorial visits to Kandahar by the families of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan will continue, but they’ll be financed by non-public funds, the Defence Department said Wednesday. A department spokesman said the visits, which had been briefly in limbo, won’t be billed to the taxpayer until new spending rules are in place. In the meantime, costs can be covered from the military families fund, which is financed by private donations and various fund-raisers, Andrew McKelvey, a department communications adviser, said in an email. “The military families fund is an agile and responsive fund with a broad mandate to assist families, especially where there is no authorized public program, benefit or service to do this,” he said. “Given the intent to seek public approval for (next-of-kin) travel, it is anticipated that the support required from the military families fund will be short term.” ….”
  • Blog Watch: Former OMLT-eer says NYT reporter needs to do more homework covering Afghanistan.
  • One set of hearings looking into Canadian treatment of Afghan detainees has wrapped upThe Military Police Complaints Commission has adjourned to sort through the sometimes explosive testimony of some 35 witnesses, as well as thousands of pages of documents reluctantly turned over by the federal government, after an oftentimes acrimonious hearing into the Afghan detainee scandal drew to a close Wednesday. The year-long hearing concluded with final arguments from civil rights lawyers who said eight military police officers were negligent in their failure to investigate potentially criminal decisions taken by Canadian Forces commanders to transfer detainees to Afghan custody, where they faced torture. Lawyers for Amnesty International Canada and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, which launched the complaint, argued there was an abundance of evidence to suggest Afghan secret police were abusive and, had military police been asking the right questions of task force commanders, they would have known something wasn’t right ….” More here and here.
  • Taliban Propaganda WatchAttacks alleged in Kandahar, and Taliban showing its green side.
  • Egyptian officials have promised the federal government they will do “everything” they can to help Canadians still stranded in the North African nation, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Wednesday.  A plane carrying 29 Canadians and dozens of Australians, Britons and Americans left Alexandria for Amman, Jordan, on Wednesday as violent protests continued in the streets of Egypt’s major cities. A flight leaving Cairo, which is expected to carry about 90 Canadians, was scheduled to land in Paris Wednesday evening.  Cannon told reporters that he spoke with Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit Wednesday about the ongoing mass protests aimed at forcing President Hosni Mubarak from office after three decades in power …. “
  • Canada’s MPs spent much of last night in the House of Commons in an emergency debate on what’s up in Egypt these days – transcript via Hansard here.
  • Would-be Jihadist suicide bomber or playful loving family man? Those were the two starkly different ways suspected terrorist Sayfilden Tahir Sharif was portrayed Wednesday at his bail hearing in Edmonton. A photograph snapped by Cara Rain, his common-law wife, was entered as an exhibit showing Sharif clowning around with her children in the apartment they shared before his arrest last month by RCMP at the request of the FBI.  Wearing a black hijab, Rain told court there is no way the man she loves is guilty of U.S. allegations that he supported a multinational terrorist network that took part in a suicide bombing which killed five American soldiers in Iraq …. Sharif’s lawyer, Bob Aloneissi, is seeking bail conditions akin to house arrest as his client prepares to fight extradition to the U.S.  The federal Crown wants him held in custody pending the outcome of a long hearing process that may not begin until later this year. Crown prosecutor Jim Shaw entered a letter from the U.S. Justice Department dated Feb. 1 that warns Sharif poses an extreme danger to the community and a significant flight risk ….”
  • Border Worries (1): This from a U.S. government watchdog office“The challenges of securing the U.S.-Canadian border involve the coordination of multiple partners. The results of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) efforts to integrate border security among its components and across federal, state, local, tribal, and Canadian partners are unclear. GAO was asked to address the extent to which DHS has (1) improved coordination with state, local, tribal, and Canadian partners; (2) progressed in addressing past federal coordination challenges; and (3) progressed in securing the northern border and used coordination efforts to address existing vulnerabilities ….”
  • Border Worries (2) Canada and the United States are scrambling to quell fears that Canadians would soon need visas to cross the border, following a hard-hitting report to Congress that questioned security along the 49th parallel. Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Wednesday he had been assured by the U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, there is no plan to require visas. “Ambassador Jacobson phoned me up to let me know that that certainly is not the intention of the Obama administration,” Cannon told a news conference. Indeed, Jacobson took to Twitter shortly after the report’s release Tuesday to declare that co-operation between the U.S. and Canada on security and border management had been “exceptional for years.” ….”
  • Border Worries (3) Canada and the United States are poised to take a major step toward common border security controls that could lead to joint government facilities, sophisticated tracking of travellers, better cyber-security protection and improved oversight of overseas cargo shipped to both countries. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama are expected to give the green light Friday to a comprehensive shared review of border security aimed at tightening protection from terrorists and easing the flow of cross-border traffic ….” More on tomorrow’s coming talks here.  Let’s hope the issue of where many of those illegal guns that end up being seized here are coming from as well.
  • F-35 Tug of War (1) Firms report big risks to get onboard F-35 program: Firms say major ministerial public relations campaign as much about investor as public confidence.”
  • F-35 Tug of War (2) Canada’s defence minister accuses former CF member/Liberal MP Marc Garneau of not supporting the troops on this one“…. Mr. Speaker, I think the person who is worried is the member opposite because the more he talks against the F-35 the more he shows his true colours. He is against the aerospace industry in his own region. He is working against those men and women he used to serve with ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? More on running CFS Alert infrastructure, and pest control in/around Gagetown
  • Three Canadian Navy ships (and an Aurora patrol aircraft) are headed west to help on an exercise near Hawaii.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 4 Jan 11

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  • In spite of all the poking around Russia seems to do in Canadian airspace (recent examples here, here and here), all seems to have gone well in a joint Canadian-American-Russian air interception exercise. “A first-of-its-kind hijacking exercise involving the U.S., Canadian and Russian militaries went so well that a similar drill is planned for 2011, an American officer said. Jet fighters from Russia and the North American Aerospace Defence Command pursued a small passenger jet playing the role of a hijacked jetliner across the Pacific and back during the August exercise. The aim: To practice handing off responsibility for a hijacked jet between Russia and NORAD, a joint U.S.-Canadian command that for decades devoted its efforts to tracking Soviet forces. Officers reviewed the exercise in November at NORAD headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. The verdict: It “was pretty much carried on flawlessly,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Lee Haefner, who was the lead planner. NORAD and Russian officers will meet in Russia in February to begin planning a second exercise, Haefner said ….” More on last year’s Exercise VIGILANT EAGLE here, here and here.  A reminder:  Canada bowed out of the exercise in 2008 because of Russia’s “visit” to neighbouring Georgia.
  • Some interesting discussion at Army.ca here on what wounded warrior Paul Franklin suggests about Canada doing more in southern Sudan. Meanwhile, the Globe & Mail shares some of the factors to be considered if Canada wants to do more.
  • Only 32 veterans were interviewed in a University of Western Ontario study, so it may not be statistically robust, but some of the findings remain disturbing. “Dozens of largely middle-aged veterans in Southwestern Ontario are battling homelessness after years of valiantly fighting to stay off the streets, a first-of-its-kind study in Canada finds. Nationwide, the number of homeless vets may number in the hundreds or thousands. And despite improvements in care over the past decade, a London, Ont., researcher leading the study warns new veterans may face the same challenges. “Veterans Affairs is getting better, but many could still slip through the cracks,” said Susan Ray, an assistant nursing professor at the University of Western Ontario (UWO). “A lot of the veterans I spoke to said, ‘I don’t know if anything can help me, but maybe it could help somebody now’.” Her more immediate concern is the group of vets, average age 52, who find themselves homeless several years after leaving the military structure. “Everything is looked after for you. It is a big family with the commander who is the big father,” Ray said. “They found it difficult to make the transition to civilian life. They found it difficult to have freedom and make choices.” ….” Other research conducted by the same investigator:  “The Experience of Contemporary Peacekeepers Healing from Trauma,” “Contemporary Treatments for Psychological Trauma From the Perspective of Peacekeepers,” and “The Impact of PTSD on Veterans’ Family Relationships: An Interpretative Phenomenological Inquiry.”
  • Remember the several hearings into how Canada is said to have treated Afghan detainees?  Here’s an update on one of them“Whether the Military Police Complaints Commission makes findings that sizzle or fizzle, the panel will claim an important place in the Afghan detainees affair. The quasi-judicial commission is the only forum to conduct a methodical examination of any element of the detainees issue amid repeated rejections by the federal government of opposition calls for a full-scale independent public inquiry. After a year of public hearings end early February with final arguments by lawyers, the commission says its “top priority” will be writing a report on whether Canada’s military police should have investigated military officers’ orders to transfer suspected Taliban captives to Afghan authorities despite a risk of torture ….” Here’s a chronology to help you keep track of the different proceedings.
  • Troops in Winnipeg are getting ready to train in Canada’s far North. “Soldiers from the Arctic Response Company Group (ARCG) spent the first week of December building komatiks (wooden sleighs) in preparation for Exercise NORTHERN BISON 2011 from February 15–28. The Canadian Forces (CF) will be contributing to a top government priority—protecting the territorial integrity of the Arctic—and the komatiks will play a crucial role in ensuring that the soldiers can successfully move, shoot, communicate and sustain themselves in austere northern conditions. “We will be packing a komatik with the UMS [unit medical station] and another komatik will be like a snow ambulance,” said Master Corporal Calin Ritchie, a medical technician with 17 Field Ambulance. The komatiks will be pulled by snowmobiles throughout the exercise that will see both Regular and Reserve force soldiers work together with 1 and 4 Canadian Ranger Patrol Groups as they conduct a 300-km trek from Churchill, Manitoba to Arviat, Nunavut ….”
  • Remember those Coptic Christians named in jihadi forums not so long ago? Well, ever since a group of such Christians were suicide bombed in Egypt, Copts here in Canada have hired private security guards and want a wee bit more protection during their Orthodox Christmas season.
  • This, reportedly from a briefing note obtained by QMIThe RCMP wanted to stay involved with a controversial peace conference even as the minister in charge of the national police force ordered them out. Newly released documents also show that next time, the Mounties plan to stand their ground. A briefing note prepared for deputy commissioner Bob Paulson, the man in charge of federal and international policing, recommends that the Mounties not back out of future events deemed too hot to handle by the government. “It is recommended that in the future, the Minister of Public Safety supports the RCMP’s position with respect to National Security Community Outreach,” reads the memo. The conference in question was slated for the end of October at the Government Conference Centre, a federal building across the street from Parliament Hill. Among the participants were several Iranian academics tied to the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinehjad and Dr. Davood Ameri of the Islamic World Peace Forum ….” Since QMI doesn’t share said document with the world anyplace I looked, does the note say “we’ll disobey the Minister next time” or “we’ll give him the same advice next time”?
  • The Toronto Star is doing a bit of catch-up, finally talking to members of a militia in Quebec where some members consider the Canadian Forces their “adversary”“There’s no sign, per se, but there is a shirt in the window silkscreened with the image of militant Quebec separatist Pierre Falardeau and the words: “Now it’s your turn to be scared.” Inside, past a rack of nationalist books, including one called Quebec Bashing, which can be found alongside one on Mao Zedong, there is a wall of white, winter balaclavas and camouflage gas masks, another wall of boots and, to the right, a counter behind which hang realistic-looking paintball rifles. They hope to soon have a permit to sell real guns. This is the new recruitment centre for the Milice Patriotique Québécoise, a shadowy separatist militia that, after nearly a decade of existence, is only now coming into the light. The centre opened its doors at the end of November in a working class neighbourhood of east Montreal. The founder and leader, “Major” Serge Provost, is not out to make friends with this venture. Indeed, even other separatists are uncomfortable with him, mindful of Quebec’s painful history with the murderous Front de libération du Québec. But Provost says his group operates in a defensive mode only, “to protect the people of Quebec.” “The only entity able to protect Quebecers now is the Canadian army,” says Provost, 42. “So, the only ones who can help us are our adversaries.” ….” A bit more on this group from a previous MILNEWS.ca summary here.
  • To space, and beyond! “Canada has the technological capacity to build its own rocket to launch small satellites, officials and documents have revealed, highlighting a top priority for future research at the Defence Department as well as something that’s being studied at the Canadian Space Agency. Canada relies on other countries, such as the United States, India and Russia, to launch its spacecraft into orbit, but both the Defence Department and the space agency are looking at the option of constructing a Canadian-made launcher. The Defence Department’s science organization, Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), is examining what would be needed for a small rocket as well as looking at different potential mission scenarios ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 27 Nov 10

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  • A Canadian military briefing note for the Minister has come to light saying If war breaks out on the Korean peninsula, Canada could become embroiled due to a half-century-old United Nations military alliance …. The note by the Defence Department’s policy branch, which was obtained by The Canadian Press, says the UN alliance could be used to generate an international fighting force if war erupts …. Because Canada was one of the combatants in the Korean War, it became part of an organization known as the United Nations Command — or UNC — following the 1953 armistice that ended three years of war between North and South Korea ….” No word from the CF or politicians, but at least one political scientist says it’s not bloody likely” “It’s a technical legal question, rather than a political question, not an automatic reprise of 1950-53,” said Paul Evans, the director of the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia. “The technical legal side is that Canada is a part of the commission. But it does not commit Canada or the UN — we’re not locked into any role in the event that hostilities resume.” “
  • An officer, while on leave in Canada from a deployment to Afghanistan, died of natural causes.  He was awarded the Sacrifice Medal.  His name was added to the Book of Remembrance. His family was presented with the Memorial Cross.  Now, Captain Francis (Frank) Cecil Paul is on the official list of those fallen“Following a review of the Canadian Forces’ casualty policy, the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walt Natynczyk, today announced his decision to add the name of Captain Francis (Frank) Cecil Paul to the official list of Canadian Forces (CF) casualties sustained in support of the mission in Afghanistan. Capt Paul died in Canada last February while on leave from Kandahar.  “Although his death came suddenly while on leave from his deployment in Afghanistan, he was still on duty and considered part of the mission, and therefore his death is no less important than any other CF member who served and died while in Afghanistan,” said Gen Natynczyk. “It is important that his name be added to the list of fallen.”  …. Capt Paul’s photo has been placed on the CF’s Fallen Canadians web site and a minute of silence will be observed throughout Department of National Defence and CF facilities in the National Capital Region on Monday, November 29 ….”
  • If quoted correctly, the outgoing boss of Canada’s mentor-trainers in Afghanistan sounds optimistic“The outgoing commander of Canada’s mentoring team in Kandahar says the Taliban have been routed and won’t present a significant threat in the future.  Col. Ian Creighton, who was in charge of the operational mentor liaison team _ or OMLT _ says the lull in violence across southern Afghanistan over the last few weeks has nothing to do with onset of colder weather, as in previous years.  “This is not just a winter thing where some guys have gone back to Pakistan. They have been defeated on the battlefield,” he said Friday shortly after handing command to his replacement, Col. Hercule Gosselin …. Still, Creighton wasn’t reluctant to use an unambiguous word not often spoken here: “Victory” ….” I really, really hope he’s right – such certainty can always return to haunt one.
  • If you’re an Afghan working for Canada on contract in the “sandbox”, and you’ve been on contact for almost 3 years, it appears you’re about to lose your job. This from Postmedia News:  “The lives of Canadian soldiers could be put at greater risk because of Treasury Board regulations that prevent Task Force Kandahar from continuing to employ its best cultural advisers.  About half a dozen of Canada’s top advisers, who are ethnic Afghans with Canadian citizenship, have been told that they cannot be rehired when their current contracts expire. They are being let go because of government rules that state that if they work for more than three years for any federal department they must be offered permanent employment in the public service ….”
  • A reminder to journalists who want to talk about how “hard” they are for their embedded work in Afghanistan compared to politicians who had it softer:  the politician may have had it softer, but keep in mind men and women stayed there and get shot at after you left too. There’s ALWAYS someone harder than you.  Not being hard myself, I’m guessing those that really are don’t complain much, especially in public.
  • No, this hasn’t gone away. The inquiry by the Military Police Complaints Commission into whether military police failed to investigate if commanders illegally ordered the transfer of detainees to a known risk of torture in Afghanistan will hear the final witnesses next week. The hearings are based on complaints that were filed by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and Amnesty International Canada in 2007 and 2008. Since the filing of the complaints, startling information about the conditions prisoners faced and the Canadian Forces’ failure to investigate the legality of the transfers has been made public ….”
  • Blog Watch: More kudos for Liberal Bob Rae for his nuanced and intelligent debate on the Afghanistan mission. More on that here, too.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.  Also, a writer-analyst living in Kandahar has spotted a statement made by a former Taliban envoy to Pakistan saying Osama Bin Laden lied to the Taliban when asked directly if he was responsible for 9/11.  A way for the Afghan Taliban to distance themselves from OBL and become less nasty looking?  Time will tell, but an interesting thing to say out loud, nonetheless.
  • Agent Orange compensation for those exposed while spraying at CF bases?  One dollar out of every three earmarked for compensation is going back to general revenue“The Harper government has returned more than $33 million set aside to compensate veterans exposed to the defoliant Agent Orange to government coffers after many veterans failed to meet its strict qualifications for payments.  Liberal Senator Percy Downe said the veterans didn’t qualify because compensation was narrowly limited to those affected by the chemical spraying at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown between 1966 and 1967.  As a result, about one-third of the $96 million earmarked by the government for compensation was never paid out and has been returned to the Consolidated Revenue Fund ….”
  • Column:  Killer-rapist Russell Williams kit burning as “excorcism”
  • Canada’s (No Longer Nameless) Navy Mascot Update:  First was the tender process for the costume/character (with caveats in the Statement of Work like “His personality will be that of an average young boy of no particular age. He will be clean living, fun loving, bashful around girls, polite, brave and clever. He will not be a clown, nor silly or dumb.”)  Then, the contest to find the mascot, a Labrador poochie, a name.  Now, at long last, the Navy mascot has a name.  Welcome to the CF family, SONAR!
  • Watching the Grey Cup? Watch for these guys flying by.
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