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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 21 Sept 11

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  • Libya Mission (1a)  Three more months?  “Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he believes that the Canadian Forces will be able to wrap up their mission in Libya “well before” their next three-month mandate is over. Mr. Harper will ask the House of Commons this week to approve a three-month extension after NATO countries agreed to stay with the mission beyond the Sept. 27 deadline, but he said Canada’s goal is to wipe out the remaining threat of pro-Gadhadi forces and it should be over sooner ….” More from CBC.ca here and The Canadian Press here.  The PM’s officialese statements here and here.
  • Libya Mission (1b)  Here’s how the PM’s official statement put it:  “Canada has been at the forefront of international efforts to protect civilians in Libya against the oppressive Gaddafi regime and provide them with humanitarian assistance …. Canada will continue to support the people of Libya, standing ready to promote effective governance and institutions, a secure environment founded on the rule of law, economic development and prosperity, and respect for human rights.”  More in the “Lookit everything we’ve done” bit here.
  • Libya Mission (1c)  Softball question from the Conservative backbenches to the Parliamentary Secretary Deepak Obhrai, with a well-messaged response:  Mr. Peter Braid (Kitchener—Waterloo, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the situation in Libya this past summer has seen the toppling of the Gadhafi regime and the emergence of a real democratic hope. However, despite these gains we recognize that the situation does remain unstable. Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs please update the House on the situation in Libya?  Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, today the Prime Minister attended the high-level meeting on Libya at the United Nations chaired by the Secretary-General. Canada has been at the forefront of the international effort to protect civilians in Libya against the oppressive Gadhafi regime. Canada stands ready to support the new Libyan government through the UN coordinated efforts committed to helping the people of Libya.”  Far better than when he said Afghanistan wasn’t really a war, but more like “providing a secure environment in a country in which there was a complete loss of security.”
  • Afghanistan (1a)  Former president, head of the Afghanistan High Peace Council and, in some eyes, warlord hard man Burhanuddin Rabbani killed by a explosives-packed turban on a suicide bomber.  Here’s Postmedia News’ take on what the killing means, and here’s the PM’s condolences (noticeably longer than these condolences from Canada’s envoy to Afghanistan for an even tougher warlord).
  • Afghanistan (1b)  Here’s former OMLT-eer Bruce Ralston’s take on the Rabbani assassination“There’s no question the Taliban’s improvement in their pursuit of “high value targets” this year has mirrored, if not exceeded the coalition’s.”
  • Afghanistan (2)  The combat mission in Kandahar is over, but Force Protection Company is still keeping busy (via CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (3)  Canadian General bearing still-useful leftovers for the Afghan National Army (via CF Info-Machine).
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (1)  Opinion, from a former subordinate George Petrolekas:  The CDS can’t get the work done on Air Canada that he can get done on a military executive jet.
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (2)  Opinion, from Senator Colin Kenny“…. General Walter Natynczyk, Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff, has been skewered by simplistic reporting this week. He is right to be indignant, wrong to be surprised, and out of luck if he thinks many in the media are going to stop and put everything in perspective ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (3)  Opinion, from QMI/Sun Media columnist Joe Warmington “Only in Canada would you see our top soldier sucker-punched in this way. Gen. Walter Natynczyk has looked into the crying eyes of the parents of many of the 157 hero warriors killed in action in Afghanistan, and now the same people who condoned millions for a fake lake and a giant fence are worried about our top soldier’s travel expenses? Only coming out of NDP critics could such hypocrisy reign. It’s funny how we have taxpayers’ money for their leader’s state funeral but we must count every penny for the man leading our troops, not in peace time but in the middle of war ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (3)  Opinion, from QMI/Sun Media columnist Charles Adler “…. So what about this trip to the Caribbean? Natynczyk had spent the previous two Christmases with our troops serving in Afghanistan. He was about to miss a much-deserved holiday with his family in order to pay respects to more of our fallen soldiers at a repatriation ceremony. The minister of defence ordered him to join his family, and approved the use of the jet to get there. It was a classy move on Peter MacKay’s part, and was completely justifiable ….”
  • “No” to expanding the Mo’?  “Canada’s bloated military bureaucracy has consistently defied explicit orders from government ministers to increase the size of the army militia as directed. The accusation is made in a scorching but carefully documented report by pre-eminent military scholar Jack English for the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and obtained in advance of its release Wednesday by only a few media outlets, including Postmedia ….”
  • DND changing how it funds research. “The Department of National Defence is changing how it pays for public research on the military, cutting funding by 80 per cent and moving to a new “agile” model that would mimic private consulting, according to scholars involved. By doing so, many of them charge that the department is squeezing the lifeblood out of almost three-quarters of research centres across Canada that are supported by the program, known as the Security and Defence Forum. DND, however, says it is only acting in the best interests of taxpayers. It says the move will transform the way it interacts with military experts, ultimately providing better value. Directors of the SDF, a decades-long effort by the government to link the military and universities to foster debate and research on security and defence issues, were disappointed to learn in July that their $2.5-million program would be shut down and replaced with a $0.5-million successor. They say DND will likely forge the new program into a system where it can commission work quickly, drawing in expert analysis on current affairs, or on subjects that immediately interest the government ….”
  • Somalia’s PM, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, is in Canada, asking for help (including military help)  “(Q) You spoke of the need for more military and police trainers in Somalia, and suggested this is an area where Canada could specifically contribute. Aren’t there already such trainers in Somalia? (A) No, we don’t have those. Not inside Somalia. The European Union is providing some training for the Somali national army. They are training outside the country but we don’t have American, British or Canadian trainers. We need these because security institutions are essential to law and order. We also need logistical support – communication, transportation, even providing salary in the short term – so that once we have a bigger, broader tax base we will be able to provide salaries for our soldiers. We need a lot of financial help.”  More from the Toronto Star here, and Agence France-Presse here.  Given Canada’s military track record in the country (let’s also remember this was a case a small number of very, very, very bad apples making the whole group look bad), this might be hard for the government to sell and message – we’ll have to wait and see what unfolds and how.
  • What’s Canada Buying: Big Honkin’ Ships Edition  Getting ready for mo’ shipbuilding work on the east coast.  “A baker’s dozen of employers and the Dexter government have contributed more than $400,000 in cash and equipment to double the number of metal fabrication students at the Nova Scotia Community College this fall. An Irving Shipbuilding official said he couldn’t say whether a further expansion would be needed if Irving Shipbuilding wins one of the huge federal government contracts for new combat and non-combat ships, to be announced within weeks. “It’s difficult to say,” Mike Roberts, Irving’s vice-president of corporate development, said after an announcement in Dartmouth ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Sept 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 21 Jul 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 11 Jul 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 2 Jun 11

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  • Libya Mission (1):  NATO extends its mission 90 days.  “NATO and partners have just decided to extend our mission for Libya for another 90 days. This decision sends a clear message to the Qadhafi regime: We are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya. We will sustain our efforts to fulfil the United Nations mandate. We will keep up the pressure to see it through. Our decision also sends a clear message to the people of Libya: NATO, our partners, the whole international community, stand with you. We stand united to make sure that you can shape your own future. And that day is getting closer.”
  • Libya Mission (2):  Canada’s envoy to NATO approves NATO extension.  “Ambassadors from NATO’s 28-member states, including Canada, have unanimously decided to extend the military campaign in Libya for an additional 90 days. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance’s secretary-general made the announcement on Wednesday, saying it “sends a clear message to the Gadhafi regime: We are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya.” NATO took command of the international military campaign in Libya at the end of March, in the hopes of protecting Libyan civilians caught up in fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The alliance originally agreed to head the military campaign for 90 days, which would expire June 27 ….”
  • Libya Mission (3):  Canada going to extend mission?  “The federal government indicated Wednesday it will extend Canada’s mission in Libya, following a NATO decision to extend its bombing operations in the north African country. The fact the Conservatives support extending the mission may guarantee Canada stays in the war zone until September, the revised end date NATO set for its mission. A simple majority vote in the House of Commons or a cabinet decision can send troops to war, both of which the Tories can do without opposition support ….”  More from CBC.ca:  “…. Harper had announced Friday at the G8 summit in Deauville, France, that Parliament will be asked to agree to an extension after the new session opens Thursday. “The government is very committed to the mission and we can, I think, report to Parliament that it has both gone well so far and that its continuation is essential for the original reasons we embarked on it,” the prime minister told CBC Radio’s Susan Lunn ….”
  • Libya Mission (4):  Not sure yet (even though, with a majority government, we know how it would go) what Canada is doing on extending mission?  “NATO has extended its Libyan air war by three months, but Canada’s role in the prolonged mission remains unclear. In an email from Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s office, a spokesperson said the future of Canada’s role in the Libya mission rests on the shoulders of Parliament. “Prime Minister Harper has been clear that Parliament will decide whether to extend Canada’s contribution to the NATO mission beyond June 16,” the spokesperson said. Hours after NATO-led aircraft launched new raids on Tripoli, ambassadors of the military alliance decided to renew the mission for another 90 days, to late September ….”
  • Libya Mission (5):  “…. Critics urged the government to define Canada’s mandate in the mission going forward, suggesting that without clear guidelines, “mission creep” could end with Canada committed to another long-term mission similar to Afghanistan. “This is an instance where we’ll want to make sure the government is being clear,” said NDP critic Paul Dewar. Complicating issues is a UN Human Right Council report accusing both Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces and opposition forces of committing war crimes during the conflict. “That’s why we have to be clear on what we’re supporting,” Dewar said. The Libyan mission evolved from protecting civilians through the enforcement of a no-fly zone to strikes at ground targets and military advice to rebel forces, said former ambassador to Pakistan Louis Delvoie ….”
  • Libya Mission (6):  The Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs says it ain’t over until the guy with the funny clothes and hats is outta there“Canada’s military mission in Libya will last until the country’s violent leader is gone, says the parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs. Deepak Obhrai, who represents Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird when Baird isn’t available, said Wednesday that Canada’s mission won’t be done until Moammar Gadhafi is out of power. “The end of the mission is to bring peace, stability out there, and peace and stability can only be in the region if Mr. Gadhafi’s gone, due to his murderous actions,” Obhrai told Rosemary Barton on CBC’s Power & Politics. “The final outcome of this thing to bring peace and stability to the region is for Mr. Gadhafi to go because of his crimes against humanity.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (1):  CF Info Machine says new training mission good to go.
  • Afghanistan (2):  CF Info Machine highlights PM’s visit.
  • Afghanistan (3):  Hockey visitors for the troops.
  • Canadian Forces Cancer and Mortality Study (1):  The official word from the CF“…. In general, these results are encouraging and suggest that persons who served in the CF have lower mortality for most diseases and illnesses than civilians of the same age and sex. The results are consistent with findings from other studies examining mortality in populations with a history of military service ….”
  • Canadian Forces Cancer and Mortality Study (2):  More official word on suicides in the CF“…. The death of even one military member by suicide is one too many. The CF have an extensive suicide prevention program in place, which includes primary prevention programs, clinical intervention, non-clinical intervention, and mental health education. Great efforts are made to identify people at risk for mental health problems and to provide them with the assistance that they require ….”
  • CF Hercs headed to SK to help evacuate fire-threatened communities.  “The Harper government is dispatching military aircraft and helicopters to evacuate two northern Saskatchewan communities threatened by raging by forest fires. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Defence Minister Peter MacKay are deploying four CC-130 Hercules aircraft and four CH-146 Griffon helicopters to help residents of Wollaston Lake and Hatchet Lake First Nations communities “facing imminent danger” as a result of a major forest fire ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying (1)  When trade shows are outlawed, only outlaws will hold trade shows“A group of about 75 people from a coalition of peace organizations staged a sit-in at the gates of Lansdowne Park Wednesday to protest the opening of Canada’s largest military and security trade show. The protesters say they held the sit-in to make a point that Canada should get out of the arms trade. They plan to hold a peaceful demonstration outside the gates of Lansdowne Park each day of the event. The annual military trade show got underway Wednesday and is expected to attract between 8,000 and 10,000 people who want to look at the latest in hi-tech gear ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  As Canada’s troops prepare to come home from Afghanistan with their battered kit, the federal government is moving ahead with plans to buy the army a whole new fleet of armoured vehicles. One of the contenders for the Canadian Forces’ new tactical armoured patrol vehicles was on display at a defence industry trade show here Wednesday. Textron’s TAPV, a descendant of the U.S. army’s ASV M11-17, is a four-man mean-looking four-by-four machine that is built to withstand IED blasts and can reach speeds of 100 km/h. Company officials describe it as a workhorse. “It’s a very, very tested vehicle. We’ve been developing this vehicle for five years, and we’ve blown up a lot of them. That’s the only way you know it’s safe,” said Textron’s Neil Rutter, adding thousands of the older U.S. variant have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We know that this vehicle can equal it (the U.S. variant) and probably surpass it for reliability.” Textron is one of six companies short-listed to submit bids to the government in August. The feds are poised to buy 500 TAPVs, which will replace the fleet of soft-skinned Coyotes which have run out of room to be upgraded and are proving cramped for soldiers loaded up with gear in Afghanistan. The first vehicle could arrive in summer 2013 ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying (3)  A Halifax company has landed a contract that could be worth nearly $22 million over five years to help Canadian soldiers improve their aim. Armament Technology Inc. will provide the Defence Department with up to 4,500 sets of optical sighting and ranging equipment over the next year. The deal is expected to be worth $4.3 million this year, according to a federal contract award document made public Wednesday. The contract also includes the option of four one-year contract extensions for an additional 5,000 units annually, Armament president Andrew Webber said Wednesday. “It’s the standard sighting system for the standard Canadian service rifle,” he said in an interview from Ottawa, where he was attending a military trade show ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (4)  “The Conservative government wants lobbyists to butt out of Canada’s new shipbuilding industry. Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose managed to raise more than a few eyebrows at a large defence industry trade show in Ottawa on Wednesday with that pronouncement. She told a large gathering of defence industry insiders, military officials, business leaders — and lobbyists — that the government doesn’t want lobbyists to play a role in Canada’s new National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. “Companies involved in the NSPS implementation process have been asked not to engage lobbyists. It was our intention at the outset to ensure that the NSPS competition would be run through a process that is completely arms length of politics,” Ambrose told hundreds in her luncheon speech ….”  More on that here and here.
  • More paratroopers standing behind paratroopers.  “Members of the international brotherhood of paratroopers are defending the disbanded Canadian Airborne Regiment. “These guys have heroes dating from World War Two, it’s wrong to brand the whole unit for the crimes of a few,” retired Staff Sgt. Mike Stocker, a former U.S. Green Beret and president of the Special Forces Association of St. Louis, told QMI Agency. “They were super tight-knit, real tough and real professional. It’s unfair, it’s as if they have taken their swords, broken them and branded them all. As a paratrooper, I stand behind them.” ….”
  • VAC reminder:  you have until the end of this month to apply for Agent Orange payments.  “Veterans Affairs Canada would like to remind Canadians who may be eligible to receive Agent Orange ex gratia payments that they must submit their applications by June 30, 2011. In September 2007, the Government of Canada offered a one-time, tax-free, ex gratia payment of $20,000 related to the testing of unregistered U.S. military herbicides, including Agent Orange, at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Gagetown in New Brunswick during the summers of 1966 and 1967. In December 2010, the deadline for submitting an application was extended to June 30, 2011. Certain eligibility criteria were also modified. Applicants have until June 30, 2011, to get a relevant medical diagnosis, and no longer have to prove that they were expecting their medical diagnosis before February 6, 2006. The requirement for applicants to have been alive on February 6, 2006, has been removed. This allows more primary caregivers, including widows and widowers, to apply on behalf of a loved one who died before the ex gratia payment came into place. Veterans Affairs Canada encourages individuals to submit their completed application before June 30, 2011, with all necessary supporting information. For more information, visit the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site at veterans.gc.ca or call 1-866-522-2122.”
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