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Posts Tagged ‘Veterans Affairs Canada

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 8 Nov 11

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  • Royal Military College Academic:  Iran strikes might be the CF’s next shooting stint“Canada may get pulled into military strikes against Iran if it comes to a showdown between western powers and the rogue state. And things could get messy considering a new report from the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog that’s expected to indicate Tehran is on the brink of being able to develop a nuclear warheads, said Houchang Hassan-Yari, an expert in military and strategic issues at the Royal Military College of Canada. “If it gets to a military campaign, I think Canada will participate with the Americans and their allies,” the international relations professor said. “If sanctions are the next avenue, Canada will participate in that.” ….”
  • What a surprise:  the military appears to be planning and weighing how to deal with evacuating Canadians in trouble overseas“Plucking Canadians out of the world’s hot spots is a growing area of concern and study for military planners, who until a few years ago didn’t have their own tools or the resources to carry out such missions.  Internal Defence Department documents obtained by The Canadian Press show that in the aftermath of the Libyan crisis, the Canadian military is examining not only its war-fighting skills, but its newly enhanced ability to quickly organize evacuation and rescue missions.  Planners have been quietly taking stock of the world’s flash points and considering how to get military forces into those troubled regions, while at the same time smoothly getting civilians out of harm’s way …. internally at the Defence Department there has been angst about future evacuations, especially in light of expected budget cuts, suggest the documents obtained under Access to Information.  Among the most worrisome trouble spots is South Korea, where frequent and increasingly violent outbursts from the hermit kingdom in the North have military planners concerned and looking for guidance.  “With over 20,000 Canadian citizens resident in the (Republic of South Korea), in the event of a full-scale crisis (censored) the evacuation efforts required could significantly exceed those of the Lebanon evacuation,” said a Nov. 30, 2010 briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay ….”  I’ve asked if CP plans to share the obtained documents online for anyone interested to read – no word back yet.
  • Canada is taking part in U.S. Northern Command Exercise Operation Vigilant Shield ’12.  The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, as well as the Canadian military, have begun an extensive annual field training exercise for the U.S. Northern Command. “Operation Vigilant Shield 12” is the biggest multi-spectrum, high-level exercise for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. Northern Command is a Unified Combatant Command of the United States military, formed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 to protect the United States homeland and support local, state, and federal authorities. Operation Vigilant Shield 12, or VS 12, is a joint exercise supported by the Joint Coalition Warfare Center and conducted as a command post exercise with a supporting field training exercise in Key West, FL. The exercise is also linked to a Canada Command exercise called “Determined Dragon,” and runs concurrently with the Arizona’s “Vigilant Guard” exercise. It runs Nov. 1-10 ….”  More from the Pentagon Info-Machine here.
  • Scumbags, continued.  A recently restored First World War memorial that stands outside an east end high school has been vandalized. Neighbours of Malvern Collegiate, near Victoria Park Avenue and Kingston Road, awoke Sunday morning to find the granite statue wrapped in blue duct tape. With the help of about $44,000 in donations and grants, the statue had been restored and rededicated days before, just in time for Remembrance Day ….”
  • Remembrance Day (1)  Veterans’ Ombudsman on Veteran’s Week.
  • Remembrance Day (2)  Unambiguously Ambidextrous on Remembrance Day and Canada’s newest vets“…. There is a new generation of soldiers returning from war, something that has not been seen in Canada in about 50 years, or two generations. That’s not to trivialize Rwanda or Bosnia, but our country hasn’t had to deal with the reality of war dead in a half century and we have not handled their sacrifices very well. In fact, it would be fair to say we have broken faith with the dead, choosing not to carry on their torch and honour their sacrifices by seeing through the mission to success. It was a political decision made to pacify the pacifists created by two generations of peace. Today’s young people know nothing of war, and so their only reaction to it is revulsion ….”
  • An audit into Veterans Affairs Canada and how it handles privacy issues will be released in early 2012, Canada’s privacy commissioner said Monday. The news came as a third veteran went public with complaints into the number of times civil servants accessed his file, and how his file was handled at the agency. Sylvain Chartrand, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Bosnia, says his file was accessed more than 4,000 times between 2003 and 2010. HIs complaint is similar to one by Sean Bruyea, another veteran who advocates for veterans’ rights, and whose private medical information was shared with both Liberal and Conservative ministers of veterans affairs. A statement by a spokeswoman for Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart says an audit into how Veterans Affairs handles private information is coming soon ….”
  • A military veteran on a hunger strike collapsed momentarily during the third day of his protest against the federal government Monday. (Pascal) Lacoste is trying to convince the government to recognize that he and other soldiers were poisoned while serving overseas. The 38-year-old former soldier was leaving a camper lent to him by a friend and heading back to his SUV when he fell to the ground. An ambulance was called as his mother rushed to hold him, clutching him to her chest. Lacoste eventually recovered after taking gasps of air from an oxygen mask. But the exhausted-looking man refused to go to hospital. He decided to continue his hunger strike instead ….”
  • All of a sudden, Canada’s Liberal Party is keen on helping veterans – more in an online petition here and an e-mail soliciting signatures to said petition here (PDF).
  • Libya Mission  How intelligence from HMCS Vancouver helped in the battle for Sirte (via the CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan  Author/blogger Terry Glavin reminds us that it’s Pakistan, the puppetmaster, that should be talked to, not the puppets.
  • CF testing new helmets (via Army News)
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Technical help in improving how explosives are detected via electronic beams (more details in excerpt from bid documents – PDF – here), and VICTORIA-class sub periscope simulators.
  • CF looking for more military artists.  The Canadian Forces Artists Program allows Canadian artists the opportunity to record Canada’s soldiers in Canada and around the world. It follows the long-standing tradition of Canadian war artists and is designed to portray today’s Canadian military experience through art while providing artists with a taste of military life. These artists, all volunteers, are helping usher in a new era of Canadian military art …. A new competition is currently being held for the selection of a new group of Canadian artists who wish to participate in the program. Selected artists will be able to participate in a military-related exercise for a period of approximately seven to ten days. This opportunity is designed to springboard their creativity, create works of art depicting military life and to provide memorable military experiences. There is no payment for artists, who in turn are not required to provide works to the program. However, artists may be asked to lend some works for promotional art tours or other uses. Deadline for applications is November 30, 2011 ….”
  • Canada and Foreign Intelligence (1)  “As the Harper government prepares to re-introduce the anti-terrorism measures that were allowed to lapse because of opposition concerns about privacy and Charter rights, there are whispers Conservative plans to expand the role of Canada’s spy service to operate overseas are being dusted off. Currently, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is largely concerned with domestic intelligence and is able to conduct covert operations overseas only if there is a direct threat to Canada. In their 2006 election platform, the Tories promised to overturn this arrangement and set up a separate foreign intelligence service. Once elected, they were persuaded by the bureaucracy that it would be quicker and cheaper to allow CSIS to take on the role ….”
  • Canada and Foreign Intelligence (2)  Why blogger/info curator Mark Collins is underwhelmed with the above-mentioned idea.
  • Unlike how media treat reporters being kidnapped, right?  “Former Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler, whose kidnapping by al-Qaida made international headlines, says media “blackouts” of such events can prevent ransom demands from escalating to the point where they cannot be met. Fowler, then a United Nations special envoy in Niger, was abducted Dec. 14, 2008 on a highway outside the country’s capital, Niamey. He spent the next 130 days in the Sahara Desert with his captors, members of a shadowy jihadist group known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Fowler told the Ottawa Citizen’s editorial board Monday that his web-savvy captors viewed media coverage of his kidnapping on laptop computers and Nokia cellphones. From it, he said, they came to believe he was on a “secret mission” in Niger, a suggestion reported in the Globe and Mail. “Was it harmful to me? Yes, likely,” he said. “The idea that you can write things here that won’t impact there is just — in this globalized world — crazy.” ….” 
  • A Canadian man has been indicted in Seattle for allegedly conspiring to support the Sri Lankan terrorist group the Tamil Tigers nearly six years ago. The single-count indictment against Ramanan Mylvaganam, 34, is the result of a jurisdictional dispute between federal prosecutors in New York City’s Brooklyn borough and Mylvaganam’s attorneys. Mylvaganam is a former Bellevue resident. Brooklyn prosecutors in 2006 had indicted Mylvaganam along with nine others in connection with an alleged plot to pay to import surface-to-air missiles and other military equipment to the Tamil Tigers. The charges also alleged the group was attempting to bribe U.S. officials to have the Tamil Tigers removed from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Mylvaganam’s attorneys had argued that federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York had no jurisdiction over Mylvaganam’s alleged crimes because he was living at the time in Bellevue, according to court papers ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 6 Nov 11

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  • Libya Mission (1)  They’re home!  More here.
  • Libya Mission (2)  Some hairy times.  “It was early in the Libya mission when Italian authorities picked up the distress call. By the next morning, HMCS Charlottetown had gone from enforcing an arms embargo to providing humanitarian assistance. It was March and at the time the Canadian frigate was operating off the coast of Tripoli, part of a ring of NATO warships tasked with making sure weapons and ammunition didn’t get into the country and the hands of Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. But when the Italians relayed the distress call to NATO commanders, who in turn ordered the Canadian frigate to investigate, the Charlottetown’s crew leaped into action ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Byron Greff, R.I.P.  A town in central Alberta is paying tribute to a fallen soldier who died in a suicide attack in Afghanistan last week. Master Cpl. Byron Greff was among 17 people killed in Kabul last Saturday when a suicide bomber slammed a vehicle fill with explosives into a NATO bus. Friends and family in Greff’s hometown of Lacombe, Alta. plan to honour his life during a public memorial service on Saturday. The service will be held at 1 p.m. local time at Canadian University College and will occur shortly after Greff is laid to rest at a private family ceremony ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Debut of new film – “The Vandoos in Afghanistan” on the National Film Board’s web page this week (watch it for free this week).
  • Afghanistan (3)  What Remembrance Day means to one Canadian officer downrange (via Army News & Facebook)
  • Afghanistan (4)  Canadians among troops winning German shooting medals in northern Afghanistan base competition (via NATO Info-Machine)
  • Afghanistan (5)  Canadian ambassador with Eid al-Adha greetings.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  He says, they say“The F-35 program is progressing well and on track,” associate minister of defence Julian Fantino told the House Thursday, while answering a question from the Opposition on the fighter jet program. However, other countries continue to make moves that suggest the program is not doing as well as he claims ….”
  • In spite of Don MacLean suggesting he take the honourary degree from RMC, Grapes continues to decline with thanks.  Further proof here that he’s damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.
  • Remembrance Day (1)  All I can say is:  scumbags!  “City and military officials are shocked after learning one of Calgary’s newest war memorials was vandalized only days before Remembrance Day. Bill Bruce, the city’s chief bylaw officer, said graffiti was sprayed across the riverside wall of Poppy Plaza on Thursday night. Phil MacAulay, president of the No. 1 Royal Canadian Legion, said he was disappointed to learn of the damage. “It’s bad,” MacAulay said. “It’s disrespectful. “You just don’t think something like that would happen any time of year, but especially now. “It’s so close to Remembrance Day, you’d think they’d know,” added MacAulay, who spent five years in the Canadian Navy. “Unfortunately, some lamebrains don’t think of the consequences or anything like that ….”  More here.
  • Remembrance Day (2)  For the last 19 years, students at Ottawa’s Catholic Notre Dame High School have benefitted from a remarkable community program. Every Remembrance Day, local military veterans would come to the school and set up exhibits that the school’s students would visit throughout the day. The students could interact with Canadian military veterans, and examine military antiques, including uniforms, items of personal gear and some disabled military weapons loaned from museums …. what would have been the 20th Remembrance Day Symposium (and was set to include veterans from our war in Afghanistan) has been cancelled. The reason given: The school doesn’t want “guns or tanks” on its property.  Ridiculous. Displaying harmless military memorabilia, in the respectful hands of the men and women who carried it in our country’s wars, is a wonderful way to make Canada’s proud military history come alive to a generation that will, we hope, never come closer than a deactivated rifle to the horrors of total war …. “
  • Veterans’ advocates said Saturday they achieved their goal despite modest turnouts at some demonstrations to protest proposed cuts to the budget of Veterans Affairs Canada. Dozens of protesters, most of them veterans, gathered on Parliament Hill on Saturday afternoon to call attention to what they call the government’s lack of compassion for those who have fought for their country. A rally in Halifax drew some 30 protesters and onlookers to city hall despite the frigid fall weather. A similar demonstration was held outside the department’s headquarters in Charlottetown on Friday. “People on the Hill have come up and said, ‘I never knew,’ and that’s the object,” organizer Mike Blais of the group Canadian Veterans Advocacy said from Ottawa. “The object is to draw attention to the situation and I think … we’ve certainly accomplished our goal today,” he said Saturday afternoon …. ”  More here and here.
  • The Royal Canadian Legion appears to be taking a stronger stance on veterans’ issues.  “The Royal Canadian Legion fired a shot across the federal government’s bow last month. Canada’s veterans, it said sternly, should be exempt from cuts under the government’s program review. “Getting our financial house in order should not be done on the backs of our wounded warriors and their families,” declared Pat Varga, the Legion’s dominion president. It was an unusually blunt public stance for an organization that has traditionally preferred to do its advocacy in private. But it also reflected a new determination by the Legion to speak up in the political arena in order to sharpen its image and help arrest decades of membership decline. “We do want to be able to inject into that debate. That should be our role,” says Brad White, the organization’s dominion secretary …. “
  • A former soldier who is staging a hunger strike to protest the way the federal government has handled his case is expected to meet today with Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney. Pascal Lacoste says he was poisoned while serving overseas and launched his hunger strike on Saturday outside Blaney’s riding office in this community near Quebec City. Lacoste blames his declining health, including chronic pain and a degenerative neurological disorder, on depleted-uranium poisoning he believes he contracted in Bosnia in the 1990s. The 38-year-old Quebec City resident vowed not to eat again until Blaney recognizes that he and other soldiers were contaminated with depleted uranium ….”
  • What’s anti-military, pro-disarmament group ceasefire.ca up to in the coming year?  “…. This year we will be concentrating our efforts on opposing the growing National Security Establishment: that web of politicians, lobby groups, old generals and corporations that are robbing the treasury of public dollars for themselves and their own special interests. In the coming days I’ll be letting you know how the pro-war lobby is funded by the military, and how their influence reaches deep into the best-known news organizations in Canada ….”  We wait with interest.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 28 Oct 11

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  • Libya Mission (1)  U.N. mandate wrapping up end of Hallowe’en Day – Security Council resolution text here NATO defence ministers meeting today to discuss end of mission.
  • Libya Mission (2)  What’s NOT expected:  guerilla fighting“…. Brig.-Gen. Craig King, military operations chief, told MPs on Thursday he does not expect to see an insurgency grow out of the conflict between Col. Gadhafi’s now-defeated forces and the victorious rebels. “In order for an insurgency to exist, you have to have popular support of some kind and it has to be coalesced around some kind of leadership,” Mr. King told the Commons defence committee. “We’re not anticipating that. And, certainly, the former regime has no legitimacy or credibility that would lend itself to an insurgency to which we would have to apply a counter-insurgency.” ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  Still stuff left to be done, though“Weapons, untrained militias and enshrining women’s rights are key hurdles Libya faces as it transitions towards democracy, MPs were told Thursday. Foreign Affairs bureaucrats and Canadian Forces staff testified before the national defence committee on the situation unfolding in post-Moammar Gadhafi Libya. “Clearly we’re in a period of transition,” said Brig.-Gen. Craig King, highlighting the need for rebel militias spread out across the country to be organized into a cohesive and professional national military ….”  A bit more along these lines here.
  • Libya Mission (4)  CF Info-Machine on CF-18’s dropping first JDAM bombs 3 weeks ago, one sailor’s first ship boarding mission and HMCS Vancouver wrapping up its first patrol.
  • Afghanistan (1)  More from CF Info-Machine on still packing up in Kandahar – not so much yet on the training mission.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Breaking News:  bad guys attack base where Canadians USED TO be (more here) – Taliban claims responsibility (usual caveats about linking to terrorist web pages).
  • Operation JAGUAR in Jamaica:  CF passes 200 mission mark 15 Oct 11 (CF Info-Machine shares the news 27 Oct 11)
  • Mark Collins on “What States Might the (Royal Canadian Navy) Fight?”
  • DRDC Paper (PDF):  How best to patrol the Gulf of Aden to hunt for pirates – abstract and executive summary downloadable here.
  • CBC:  Canada eyeing nuke subs?  “CBC News has learned the Harper government is considering buying nuclear submarines to replace its problem-plagued fleet of diesel-powered subs, all of which are currently awash in red ink and out of service for major repairs …. High-ranking sources tell CBC News the government is actively considering cutting its losses on the dud subs, and mothballing some if not all of them. Defence Minister Peter MacKay is hinting they might be replaced with nuclear submarines that could patrol under the Arctic ice, something the existing diesel-electric subs cannot do. Outside the Commons this week, MacKay told CBC the government is anxious to have its submarine fleet fully operational as soon as possible, providing a “very important capability for the Canadian Forces.” But asked whether the government might look at other subs, MacKay said: “Well there was a position taken some time ago to go with diesel-electric. “But you know, in an ideal world, I know nuclear subs are what’s needed under deep water, deep ice.” ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  NDP presses government during Question Period on buying into U.S. satellite comms system that may have some problems.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  Unnamed insider says project’s “a mess”.  “The Conservative government’s controversial F-35 jet fighter project, plagued by delays, cost overruns and now economic turmoil in Europe, is at growing risk of being sharply curtailed or shelved — the defence minister’s protestations notwithstanding. “It just seems like it’s slowly unravelling,” said an industry insider who specializes in aircraft procurement. “It’s a mess.” ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Underwhelming news from the U.S. on the planes.
  • Whazzup with the meetings of the House of Commons committee on veterans’ affairs?  “Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.):  Mr. Speaker, my question is not to the minister but to the chair of the veterans affairs committee. Public hearings about the cuts at the Veterans Affairs Department were terminated today, cancelled without hearing from one veteran, the ombudsman, and not even the Royal Canadian Legion. Veterans fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice for the right and freedom to be heard, and to be heard in public. Secret meetings to avoid accountability are anti-democratic and a slap in the face to veterans. Why the secrecy?  Mr. Greg Kerr (West Nova, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I know a chair must be fair and neutral, but the bizarre behaviour of this member forces me to answer with what he has been trying to do in the last number of days. Our committee has been looking very carefully at the accusations he made about great cutbacks and loss of opportunity for veterans. That was proven by the witnesses to be absolutely wrong. Our government has made major commitments to veterans and will continue to do so because it is so important. The fact that the member continues to disrupt the committee is something he has to look within himself for. The committee membership—“

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 26 Oct 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 Oct 11

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  • The military’s second-in-command has defended the size of the bureaucracy in the Canadian Forces, including the large number of civilians and executives who have been become a veritable army at National Defence headquarters. And while acknowledging reductions will be necessary in light of planned budget cuts and the end of combat operations in Afghanistan, Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson told members of the Senate defence committee Monday that across-the-board slashing would be unrealistic. “I agree that we need to reduce it,” said Donaldson, the vice-chief of defence staff. “It’s just very difficult sometimes to know what it is that can be reduced.” ….”
  • Libya  U.S. and Italian defense chiefs on Oct. 17 said they examined prospects for ending the allied air campaign over Libya and how to support the country’s post-Gadhafi transition in talks at the Pentagon. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who expressed thanks for Italy’s role in the NATO-led operation, said alliance commanders favored pressing on with bombing raids as Moammar Gadhafi’s loyalists were still putting up resistance in Sirte. “We are looking for our commanders to… recommend when they believe that the mission comes to an end,” Panetta told reporters after meeting his Italian counterpart, Ignazio La Russa. “As you know, there’s still fighting going on in Sirte. And as long as that continues to be the case, our commanders feel the need for us to maintain our presence.” ….”  More details of Canada’s assets in the air (and sea) fight there here.
  • CF visits Africa for communications exercise“Africa Endeavor is the largest communications interoperability exercise on the African continent. Held this year from 7 July to 12 July, it’s an annual “Command, Control, Communications and Computer” — C4 — integration exercise sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to foster interoperability between Canada, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States and 35 African countries. Africa Endeavor comes together over the course of three conferences hosted by participant countries throughout the year, and culminates in a two-week exercise. This year, the Canadian delegation was led by Colonel Pierre Lamontagne, the Canadian Forces Liaison Officer at AFRICOM Headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, and included communication specialists Master Warrant Officer Serge Boily, Warrant Officer François Pitre and Sergeant Eric Viau of 3 ASG Signals Squadron in Gagetown, and Warrant Officer Pierre Paradis from CEFCOM Headquarters in Ottawa ….”
  • Worries in the home of Veterans Affairs Canada about coming cuts. “The Department of Veterans Affairs is planning to cut over $222 million from its budget over the next two years, a move that some believe will have a huge impact on employees in Charlottetown. The cuts are outlined in the department’s plans and priorities report, which details spending and programming plans up to 2014 ….”
  • New B.C. group pushing for better compensation for Canada’s wounded. “They sat quietly in the corner of a room that overflowed with more than 250 supporters of Equitas Society and considered the levels of justice, fairness and equity that injured soldiers like them experience. Formed just three weeks ago, the Equitas Society was holding its first fundraiser Friday at Hazelmere Golf Club, MC’d by Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg. While the evening was considered a financial success, it was a rude awakening for some just learning about financial compensation for wounded members of Canada’s military. Lawyer Don Sorochan was quick to put a fine point on the disparity between settlements in civil cases and the level of financial support afforded soldiers ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1a)  Stand by for Big Honkin’ Ship contracts soon“It is Ottawa’s best-kept secret but the biggest defence procurement contract since World War II is expected to be unveiled as soon as this week, according to a government source. In the coming days, about $35 billion worth of shipbuilding contracts will be announced. There are two deals to be handed out and three shipyards battling for the contracts. The contenders include Nova Scotia’s Halifax Shipyard, British Columbia’s Seaspan Marine Corp. and the Davie shipyard of Levis, Que. The largest contract is worth $25-billion and will be spent on combat vessels for the navy. The other contract is worth $8 billion and will go towards building non-combat ships, including a new Arctic icebreaker. The shipyard which loses out on the big contracts can make a bid for smaller contract of about $2 billion ….”  More on Ottawa’s bracing for blowback from the award here and here.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1b)  “…. The (Big Honkin’ Ship contract) selection is being overseen by a panel of deputy ministers, and KPMG will vet the final decision. Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose says the decision will be 100 per cent on merit and is “completely at arm’s length of politics.’’ But in Ottawa, there is no such thing as politics at an arm’s length.”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  “…. The Department of National Defence (DND), requires the purchase and delivery of miscellaneous inert weapon simulation supplies for CFB Wainwright, Alberta. Items are required in support of LFWA training centre courses and will only be used in a training environment ….”  More in the list of (mostly bad-guy) goodies from the bid document (PDF) here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  Canadian fighter pilots selected to fly the new F-35 could find themselves trained by either the Americans or a private contractor, according to internal air force documents. The staggering multibillion-dollar purchase price means the Conservative government can only afford 65 of the multi-role stealth fighters. The number — Canada currently has 79 aging CF-18s — stretches the ability of the air force to meet its commitments, says a series of briefings given to the air force chief last year. Internal air force memos from the fall of 2010 lay out the “potential for NO pilot training in Canada.” ….”  No indication of Canadian Press sharing the documents for you to see.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Aussie DefMin still mulling F-35 vs. upgraded F-18s.
  • Alexander Johnston, 1885-1918, R.I.P  For 90 years, his final resting place was unknown. His service, however was commemorated on the Vimy Memorial near Arras, France, where the names of more than 11,000 other Canadians who have no known grave also appear. But next week, the remains of Pte. Alexander Johnston, which surfaced when a First World War battlefield became an industrial construction site in 2008, will be buried, with full military honours, at Le Cantimpre Canadian Cemetery in Sailly, France. And his Ottawa-based next of kin will be on hand to see it. Indeed his great grand-niece, Ann Gregory, who is a bugler with the Governor General’s Foot Guards, will play The Last Post as part of the ceremony. She’s travelling as part of the National Defence delegation and her father, Don Gregory, and brother, David, will also be on hand thanks to Veterans Affairs, which is providing funding for two family members to attend. In addition, three of Johnston’s relatives who live in Scotland, where he was born, will also travel to France for the ceremony ….”
  • War of 1812 (1)  The Americans got Wayne Gretzky ­and Pamela Anderson ­— but we won the War of 1812, right? I mean, that’s what we were taught. Damn Yankees declared war on us for no good reason. Plain greed. Some piddling trade dispute. And, sure, our British masters kept snatching sailors off American ships. But nothing serious. Deep down, they just lusted after our fish, trees and future hockey players. So they attacked like star-spangled skunks in the night. Lucky for us, they didn’t count on Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh and Laura Secord joining forces to whip their Yankee doodle derrieres. We even got some lovely chocolates out of the deal. Damn straight, we won. So why do many Americans call it their Second War of Independence — and insist they won ….”
  • War of 1812 (2)  Remembering the Aboriginal contribution to the fight.  “The Friends of Tecumseh Monument will soon have an opportunity to expand on their dream of telling Chief Tecumseh’s legacy and the events occurring in Chatham-Kent during the War of 1812. An announcement delivered from members of parliament Dave Van Kestern and Bev Shipley Friday, told the crowd gathered at Chief Tecumseh’s monument on Longwoods Road, near Thamesville, of available funding for the Canadian Heritage’s Celebration and Commemoration Program. $28 million will be available to communities to promote a greater awareness of Canada’s importance in the war and to aide with bi-centennial celebrations. A feasibility study, costing $49,500 from the $28 million, was completed last week to determine how to improve the site and how the changes can benefit the community as a whole ….”
  • War of 1812 (3)  Columnist on Ottawa’s spending plans to commemorate the war:  “…. I would have a greater measure of respect for the government if it spent our money strengthening the friendship between Canada and the U.S., rather than glorifying a war that ended with neither side richer in land or in purpose. The boundaries remained what they were before 1812. I await the influx of American tourists in the summer of 2012 who will be surprised to learn they are the bad guys in Canada’s so-called “most important war.” “

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 10 Oct 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 5 Oct 11

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  • We have a border security deal (reportedly)!  A much-ballyhooed perimeter security deal between Canada and the United States will come with a $1-billion price tag for new border facilities and programs to make trade and travel easier, The Canadian Press has learned. The Conservative government will use money cut from existing programs to cover the hefty cost of the international pact — an attempt to protect the continent from terrorist threats while speeding the flow of people and products across the 49th parallel. The deal, as described by several sources, is more evolutionary than revolutionary, falling short of the grand vision outlined with fanfare eight months ago when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama announced negotiations ….”  More here.
  • Libya Mission  Latest ROTO takes first flight downrange“The CP 140 Aurora aircraft continued to add to an impressive list of firsts, flying its first mission over Libya and its first strike coordination and armed reconnaissance-coordinator (SCAR-C) mission during Operation MOBILE. On 22 September 2011, crew from 405 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 14 Wing Greenwood, flew its first intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission over Libyan soil ….” (via CEFCOM Info-Machine)
  • NATO defense ministers are exploring ways Wednesday of ending the alliance’s aerial campaign in Libya and training Afghan security forces for a larger role in their country’s war. In a speech before the meeting, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged NATO member states to cooperate more closely and pool their resources in order to make up for the shortfalls that have plagued the alliance’s operations in Libya and Afghanistan. “It would be a tragic outcome if the alliance shed the very capabilities that allowed it to successfully conduct these operations,” said Panetta, who is making his first visit to Europe after taking over from Robert Gates as Pentagon chief in July. European members and Canada provided most of the strike aircraft used in the Libya campaign. But the war exposed shortages in their capabilities in strategic transport, aerial surveillance, air refueling, and unmanned drones, most of which had to be supplied by the U.S. ….”  More on the U.S. poking allies to crank up the military capabilities here.
  • Afghanistan (1)  Poking the Defence Minister in Question Period – again – on (based on a book that’s not out yet) being out of the loop on Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Canada fighting the fight (against polio) in Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan (3)  Editorial“Part of the rationale for military intervention in Afghanistan was the deplorable state of women’s rights, and the need to free women from the gender apartheid practised by the Taliban. This was a country where women could not have direct contact with men after the age of eight, could not go to school or work outside the home, visit public baths to stay clean, wear nail polish, high heels or be seen in public without a burqa, or a male relative. As the 10th anniversary of the military invasion approaches on Oct. 7, the hard-won gains that women have made over the past decade must be safeguarded. They cannot be sacrificed for the larger goal of ending Afghanistan’s protracted conflict ….”
  • Provincial politicians use CF search & rescue as provincial campaign lighting rod. Newfoundland nd Labrador’s premier and the opposition leader say search and rescue services provided by the federal government must be investigated to see if improvements are necessary. Progressive Conservative Leader Kathy Dunderdale said a recent episode of CBC’s The Fifth Estate on search and rescue has left her with concerns about the military’s service. “It is not satisfactory to the people of this province, to the people who earn their living on the sea, to be at further risk because of a slow response time or policies that affect response time in marine search and rescue,” she said. Dunderdale said she plans to vigorously pursue the issue of search and rescue with the federal government. Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward agreed and went further, calling for a full inquiry into federal search and rescue services. Both Aylward and Dunderdale are campaigning in preparation for the provincial election on Oct. 11 ….”
  • Wounded Warriors, Mental Health & Suicide (1)  For decades, the issue of suicide in active soldiers and retired veterans was something that no one wanted to talk about. But a number of programs both within and outside the military are finally focusing attention on the issue. How big a problem is suicide in Canada’s military? It’s difficult to say. The Canadian Forces reports that the suicide rate among currently active soldiers is actually lower than that of the general public. But once many of those soldiers are released from the military, research shows their suicide risk can rise to higher levels than that of civilians. Assessing the toll can be difficult, because beyond the clear-cut suicides are the more subtle instances in which soldiers end their own lives. A veteran who drinks heavily to dull mental pain might be engaging in a slow form of suicide. A soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder and anger issues might take reckless risks if he’s lost his will to live. And how about the veteran with depression who ends up homeless and dies far too young? None of these deaths would register on the books as a suicide, but all might well be traced back to the soldier’s time in service ….”
  • Wounded Warriors, Mental Health & Suicide (2)  From Question Period (QP)“Hon. John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, last week, the Minister of National Defence and I, along with others, attended a conference put on by the military called “Caring for our Own”. One of the concerns raised by some of the soldiers was the fear that the military would not be there for them in their hour of need. Specific worries included PTSD, suicide ideation and suicide itself. The next budget will be under severe pressure for cutting these “soft services”. Could the minister give the House assurances that our vulnerable soldiers and their families will be protected from these budgetary pressures? Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, my colleague is correct. My friend was in attendance, along with many members who are specifically tasked with how we deal with the scourge of post-traumatic stress and many of the challenges related to overseas deployments. I am very pleased to report that Canada has in fact become a world leader in fighting the stigmatization and raising awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder and other operational stress injuries. As well, we have increased mental health awareness and we have increased the number of mental health professionals who are dealing specifically with these challenges.”
  • Wounded Warriors, Mental Health & Suicide (3)  More from QP“Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.):  Mr. Speaker, there is a great need to enhance suicide prevention programs in Canada. With respect to our veterans, the data is alarming. The suicide rate in the armed services is nearly three times that of the general population. According to a departmental study of all males who enrolled in the regular forces after 1972 and were released before 2007, a total of 2,620 died and almost 700 of them were suicides. Could the minister outline new steps or strategies that his department is undertaking to tackle this crisis among veterans?  Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC):  Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his important question. While mental health was taboo then, it is a priority for our government now. That is why we have established, in conjunction with the Department of National Defence, 17 operational stress injury clinics that provide services to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress across the country and at various levels that they might experience. This approach is working. As of June, Veterans Affairs Canada is helping more than 14,300 veterans with mental health conditions and their families ….”
  • New fur hats for the troops (and the animal rights activists are unhappy)“The Department of National Defence has decided to add fur to the winter gear of the Canadian Forces, a move that’s getting a frosty reception from animal-rights advocates. The government says fur is part of Canada’s heritage and the winter tuque currently in use doesn’t stand up to the rigours of the Canadian winter. So it’s buying an initial run of 1,000 fur-trimmed caps at a cost of $65,000, for use by guards of honour and Canadian Forces starting this winter …. “There are synthetics that are just as good and that don’t necessitate the killing of animals,” Elizabeth Sharpe of the World Society for the Protection of Animals said from Toronto. “Killing animals for their fur is completely unnecessary and cruel.” Lesley Fox of the British Columbia-based Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals says muskrats are known to chew off their limbs to free themselves from leg-hold traps ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  Defence Minister Peter MacKay, facing questions from the NDP on the upcoming F-35 buy:   “These aircraft, as the House will know, will replace our aging CF-18 fleet of fighter jets. These aircraft, like other aircraft, have served our country extremely well. They are used in Libya today. They have been used in previous missions, but that they aging. As a matter of course we are taking the responsible step of following a procurement process that has been in place for a significant period of time in which a number of countries are participating …. We committed $9 billion for the replacement of the CF-18. In fact, it not only includes the cost of the aircraft, this will include: spares, weapons systems, infrastructure and training simulators as well as the contingency associated with this important procurement. We are purchasing the most cost-effective variant at the prime of peak production when the costs will be at their lowest. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer has admitted to that. Why are the NDP members constantly against getting the best equipment for the best forces in the world?”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  The latest from the Associate Minister of National Defence Julian FantinoAn overall $9 billion cost estimate is more honest than relying on individual plane costs, says the minister handling the purchase of Canada’s new fighter jets. Despite a promise by manufacturer Lockheed Martin that Canada will get its F-35 fighter jets at a cost of $65 million each, Julian Fantino, Associate Minister of National Defence, says the government’s overall $9 billion estimate is the more honest number. The cost of the F-35 depends on the number of planes ordered by other countries, as well as on how early Canada wants to get its order. The manufacturing cost goes down as more planes come off the assembly line, with Canada expecting the U.S. to absorb the bulk of the F-35’s development costs. “There are just so many variables, and that’s why I think the more honest, ethical response to all these issues is the $9 billion figure, which in fact will be the ceiling that Canada will be investing in these particular aircraft,” Fantino told Evan Solomon, host of CBC’s Power & Politics ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Someone to make fake explosives to test detection equipment (more in Statement of Work – 4 page PDF – here), upgrading the range at CFB Valcartier, someone to manage Canada’s presence at the Farnborough Air Show, and CADPAT rank slip-ons.
  • Canada’s top military cop to chair NATO committee“The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM), Colonel Tim Grubb assumed the post of Chairman of the NATO Nations Military Police (MP) Chiefs’ Committee at a brief ceremony last week in Prague, Czech Republic. The ceremony concluded the committee’s annual meeting …. Colonel Grubb has been the CFPM since 2009 and during his tenure has overseen significant transformation in the Canadian Forces Military Police organization ….”
  • The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre engaged in some diplomacy of its own recently when its leaders invited ambassadors and military attachés to its Carleton University headquarters to update them on its activities. Michael Snell, project manager for the centre, told the group of about 30 diplomats about the work the centre has been doing with the 10 training centres that compose the Association of Latin America Peacekeeping Centres. The centre’s three causes, Snell said, are: women and peacekeeping; supporting new training centres; and enhancing police participation in UN missions from Latin America ….”
  • How some of the Americans are doing the War of 1812 anniversary.  Out of the murk of history and the trough of government funding, here comes the War of 1812 again, 200 years old and as ambiguous as ever on both sides of the Canada-U.S. frontier. “The festivities reach a crescendo!” trumpets the Maryland Bicentennial Commission, as if three years of bombarding, cannonading, spearing, shooting, scalping, burning, sinking, drowning, pillaging, invading, retreating, ambushing, marching, fleeing, starving, freezing, and occupying had been a holiday for all concerned. Undeterred by the carnage – after all, the war didn’t kill THAT many guys, compared to, like, Gettysburg or Hitler or whatever – we are going to have “a Star-Spangled tribute to the defense of America” down here, a display at the U.S. Naval Academy of “the British flag captured at Fort York (Toronto),” plus “a week-long maritime event to kick off the bicentennial celebration.” In other words, there are going to be a lot of people in pantaloons hoisting mainsails and firing muskets before this thing is put away for another century ….”
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