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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 25 Mar 11

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  • No Fly Zone in Libya (1) – Two Canadian surveillance aircraft have been sent to the Libyan coast to help coalition forces keep ships from bringing weapons and mercenaries into the North African country. The Auroras departed 14 Wing Greenwood in Nova Scotia and are in the midst of travelling to a military base in Trapani, Italy. Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced the deployment plans on Thursday afternoon, saying that two CP-140 Aurora planes will soon be engaged in the “evolving” mission against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi ….” More from the Canadian Press here, Postmedia News here and here, and QMI Media here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (2) – NATO’s agreed to run the no-fly zone show. “NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced today the alliance will assume command and control of coalition operations enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya authorized by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. “We are taking action as part of the broad international effort to protect civilians against the attacks by the [Moammar] Gadhafi regime,” Rasmussen said in a statement released today. “We will cooperate with our partners in the region and welcome their contributions.” All NATO allies are committed to fulfill their obligations under the U.N. resolution, Rasmussen said. “That is why we have decided to assume responsibility for the no-fly zone,” He added ….” NATO’s short & sweet statement on this here, some background from the U.S. State Department here, and some commentary from Wired.com’s Danger Room here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – Again with a question in the House of Commons! Defence Minister MacKay’s response:  “…. the reality is that the professional, non-partisan bureaucrats who work in the Department of National Defence disagree with the Parliamentary Budget Officer. In fact, they said that the methodology was wrong. They said that the cost of an aircraft should not be calculated based on its weight, that one does not go on historical analysis that is 50 years old and that one does not push it out 30 years. DND officials would be pleased to meet with the Parliamentary Budget Officer to discuss his methodologies and correct some of his flawed findings ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) – Former CBC journalist wades in: “…. this UN-sponsored mission raises new questions about the wisdom of buying 65 of these Lockheed-Martin “Joint Strike Fighters,” which are still in the test phase. Particularly when the price tag ranges from a low of $14.7 billion (government estimate) to a stunning $29 billion (Parliamentary Budget Office prediction). And when the Libya campaign drives home an awkward historical point – that Canada has never used more than a handful of jet fighters in foreign conflicts and there’s no reason to suspect this will change in the coming decades ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (3) – More from ceasefire.ca: “According to the latest CTV/Globe/Nanos Poll, when asked about the Harper government’s plan to purchase F-35 jet fighters, 68% of Canadians believe that now is not the right time to purchase the aircraft. Canadians identified healthcare as their number one unprompted issue of concern. 29% of respondents named it their top priority, next to 18% who consider jobs/economy their main concern. Military and foreign policy issues do not appear among the top five issues named by respondents ….”
  • Teens in military families are often burdened by additional emotional stress when a parent is deployed to Afghanistan, according to a new Canadian study. Researchers from the University of New Brunswick, the University of Alberta, Ryerson University, and York University released the findings of their groundbreaking research on Thursday that examined students at Oromocto High School near Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, who recently had a parent serving in the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. The researchers reported the teens worried their parents would not return home or would come back “different.” The study found that stress caused concerns at home. The young people felt a sense of responsibility for the emotional stability of their other parent and for any younger siblings at home. The teen felt additional stress if the parent remaining in Canada was having difficulty with the other parent being away on the military mission ….” More on the study from the Fredericton Telegraph-Journal here, Postmedia News here, and from the University of New Brunswick here.
  • The first batch of papers related to the handling of Afghan detainees is expected to be released within two weeks – a mid-election document dump that could damage both Liberals and Conservatives, or absolve them of wrongdoing in a matter that once dominated parliamentary debate. Bloc Québecois Leader Gilles Duceppe insists the documents must be made public by April 15 and says his MPs will withdraw from the closed-door Commons committee that has been vetting them if his demands are not met. When asked this week if he would expect that release to occur even if it coincided with an election campaign, Mr. Duceppe replied: “Yes, yes, yes.” Bryon Wilfert, a Liberal MP who sits on the committee, said Thursday he does not know when the release will occur but it will be “soon.” There is “obviously a fervent attempt” to meet Mr. Duceppe’s deadline, Mr. Wilfert said. And election, he said, “will not preclude or hamper the release.” ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? – “…. The Department of National Defence (DND) currently have over 70,000 C79 Optical Sights in use and plans to sustain the fleet by purchasing replacement sights matching existing equipment. CF personnel have been trained using the C79 optical sights. Weapon and sight units cannot be replaced with “cloned/substitute” items due to possible life endangerment. These sight units represent a soldier’s security and the security around him, which makes consideration of multiple versions of similar sight units unacceptable. In addition, it is essential for commonality purposes and to minimize in-service support costs that the same sight be purchased. Given the large inventory it would not be operationally feasible or affordable to replace every sight or to carry a mixed inventory ….” Who’s doing the replacing?  Armament Technology Incorporated of Halifax, N.S.
  • Almost a decade after 9/11, the many arms of Canada’s national security network still do not share all their intelligence about terrorist threats with sister agencies, says a parliamentary report. The fix, says the new interim report by the special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism, is to clarify and expand the mandate of the national security adviser (NSA) to the prime minister, giving the office statutory powers to co-ordinate national security activities and share counter-terrorism intelligence across government ….” More in a news release from the Special Senate Committee on Anti-Terrorism here, and from the report, “Security, Freedom and the Complex Terrorist Threat: Positive Steps Ahead”, here (PDF).
  • What a surprise!  Chinese spies are keeping an eye on what they consider opposition groups here in Canada! “There are spies from China operating in Canada, members of the Chinese-Canadian community told QMI Agency Thursday. “We came here for freedom and find ourselves still under the oppression of the Chinese regime,” said Lucy Zhou, spokesman for a Falun Gong group in Ottawa. “What has happened in the past 10 years is that we have been victimized by the Chinese regime, including by the Chinese Embassy and missions here in Canada.” Zhou, who came to Canada as a student in 1989, says China regularly spies on Chinese citizens in Canada. “Going back to China, people are stopped right away and interrogated and they (Chinese officials) know everything that happens here in Canada,” Zhou said ….”
  • Looky who’s poking around in the Arctic. “The United States is staging high-profile submarine exercises in the Arctic Ocean this month as evidence mounts that global warming will lead to more mining, oil production, shipping and fishing in the world’s last frontier. Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and a Who’s Who of other VIPs braved below-zero temperatures this month to visit a temporary camp on the ice about 150 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, where two nuclear-powered U.S. submarines are conducting military training exercises. It is important for us to continue to train and operate in the Arctic,” said U.S. Navy Captain Rhett Jaehn, the No. 2 official overseeing U.S. submarine forces ….”
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