News Highlights – 4 Oct 11

  • Canada’s defence department must shed top military brass and bureaucrats today to focus on front-line troops for the priorities of tomorrow: the Arctic, cyber defence, space and special operations, says the author of a controversial report on transforming the armed forces. Retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie told senators on the national security and defence committee Monday it’s time to make “moderately tough choices to invest in the future.” National headquarters in Ottawa has become too bloated and overall structure has too much overhead and “tail,” Leslie said, recommending an administrative overhaul to trim $1 billion by cutting the number of full-time reservists, civilians and officers and slashing by 30 per cent of the $2.7 billion now spent on consultants, contractors and other service providers. “Transformation is all about the future – reducing the overhead and investing in the front-line troops, making the Canadian Forces and Department of National Defence leaner, better able to respond and more deployable,” Leslie said ….”  More on this here and here.
  • The Canadian Taxpayers Federation seems to agree.  “…. It’s time for the Harper government to act on Leslie’s cost-cutting ideas and move more of Canada’s military muscle off seat cushions at headquarters and into the field, where it is needed.”
  • Afghanistan (1)  A bit more mainstream media coverage of the training mission, or at least part of it“…. It’s amazing watching …. woman train in that they are not wearing veils and every day fly in the face of what radical Islam sees as the role of women. “They are very brave and we are proud of them,” said Canadian Major General Michael Day, who heads the training program here. “Back in their villages some of them would be killed for just coming here.” Day knows there is a long way to go. But you have to start somewhere. By the end of this year, there will be 195,000 members of the ANA and already in most parts of the country they are taking the lead in security here. Canadians, Americans, Danes, Georgians are here more as trainers and mentors.” 
  • Afghanistan (2)  More mainstream media coverage, this time at least showing a photo of troops doing the training. 
  • Afghanistan (3a)  Minister of National Defence denies he was kept out of the loop by PMOthis from Question Period (QP) in the House of Commons yesterday“…. that is false …. we have always worked closely with the Prime Minister and with cabinet ….”  More on that here.
  • Afghanistan (3b)  Tying in the planes with Afghanistan – this again from QPMr. Matthew Kellway (Beaches—East York, NDP):  Mr. Speaker, the Department of National Defence continues to spring leaks about the minister’s misuse of DND assets. By now we have all heard that the minister takes government jets like most Canadians take the bus. Now we find out that the Prime Minister personally kept the Minister of National Defence out of the loop on the Afghan war. Why is the Prime Minister defending a minister that he himself has so little confidence in?  Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC):  Mr. Speaker, as I and the Prime Minister have said, we use government assets for government business. That is exactly what has happened. With respect to Afghanistan, we have made a magnificent effort on behalf of Canadians. They can be very proud of the work our men and women in uniform and our professional public servants have put forth in Afghanistan. As a government we have supported them. We have given them the resources. Unfortunately, the member’s party opposite cannot say the same thing …. ”  More on the layest QP back & forth here.
  • Afghanistan (4)  A couple of events (Toronto and Ottawa) linked to a new book on Afghanistan by commentator Terry Glavin. “Solidarity: Calling all friends of Afghanistan in the GTA. COME FROM THE SHADOWS. “Join Terry Glavin and friends to celebrate the publication of his new book, Come from the Shadows: The Long and Lonely Struggle for Peace in Afghanistan,” at Dora Keogh’s Trad Irish Pub, 141 Danforth Ave, Toronto, Tuesday, October 11 · 7:00pm – 8:30pm, plus whatever happens afterwards (free admission). Official Launch: Army Ottawa Officer’s Mess, 149 Somerset Street W., Ottawa, Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 7:00 PM, Admission: $15.00 (students $10.00). Tickets for Terry’s book launch are now available at Compact Music (190 Bank, 785 Bank), and Collected Works (1242 Wellington) ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  One reporter doesn’t buy the $65M per plane price tag being promoted by the company. “…. the Pentagon, Lockheed Martin and allied governments around the globe are thinking hard now. The plan could still fly if buyers hang in. But will the bargain prices come true? For a clue, check the Israeli defence budget. The Israelis, like John McCain, know something about fighters, and currently their budget for 20 planes is not anywhere close to $65 million each. It’s more than double that: $137 million each. Perhaps they don’t believe in deals that seem too good to be true.”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Meanwhile, the company’s latest estimates“The F-35s in low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot 4 are expected to exceed their contracted cost target, but fall below the negotiated ceiling price, says Tom Burbage, vice president of F-35 program integration for Lockheed Martin …. The LRIP 4 per-unit cost targets are as follows: $111.6 million (CAD$ 117.7M) for the conventional takeoff-and-landing (CTOL) version; $109.4 million (CAD$ 115.4M) for the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (Stovl) aircraft; $142.9 (CAD$ 150.7M) for the first production carrier variant (CV) ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Medical fridges, a.k.a. “Mobile Temperature Management Units”.
  • Well done to Rick Mercer (who also happens to be Honorary Colonel of 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron at 12 Wing Shearwater)!  A leap of faith is not in his job description, but Rick Mercer will try just about anything for the TV camera. For a segment on Tuesday’s The Rick Mercer Report on CBC-TV, Mercer jumped from a plane while in the arms of a Canadian Forces Skyhawk at the Windsor International Airshow, held on the weekend of Sept. 10-11. “I’m not the kind of guy who would willingly jump out of a plane,” Mercer said. “It took a lot of psyching myself up. But if I was going to do it, I would do it only with members of the Skyhawks.” ….”
  • “…. (Saskatchewan’s) Status of Women Office in the Ministry of Social Services is proclaiming October as Women’s History Month in Saskatchewan. This year’s theme, “Women in the Canadian Military Forces: A Proud Legacy,” celebrates women’s contributions, now and throughout history, to the Canadian military forces ….”

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