Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – 17 Apr 12

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  • Afghanistan (1a)  The number of Canadian soldiers deployed to Afghanistan may shrink in the coming months as Afghan forces take more responsibility and NATO looks to pull out up to 1,000 military trainers, a senior NATO officer confirmed Monday. The revelation comes amid widespread praise for Afghanistan’s army and police following a major insurgent attack on Kabul over the weekend that has stoked already tense relations between the international community and Afghan government. About 950 Canadian soldiers have been stationed in the capital Kabul and two other central Afghan cities since last year, the vast majority of them contributing to the NATO effort to train 352,000 Afghan soldiers and police officers by 2014. Canada has the second largest contingent of military trainers after the U.S. ….”
  • Afghanistan (1b)  “Australia expects to pull most of its troops out of Afghanistan nearly a year earlier than planned, the prime minister announced Tuesday, saying Australian soldiers have nearly completed their mission to transfer security responsibilities to Afghan forces in the decade-long war. Prime Minister Julia Gillard cited security improvements and the death of Osama bin Laden and many of al-Qaida’s senior leaders among the reasons behind the accelerated withdrawal, which will likely see most troops home by the end of 2013 ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Commander of CF Expeditionary Command on the latest change-round  “…. Rotation 1 of Operation ATTENTION is now fully deployed and working shoulder-to-shoulder with their Afghan and NATO partners. This kind of relief in place in Afghanistan has been done twice a year since January 2004, back in the early days of Operation ATHENA. This outwardly seamless transition between our rotating task forces is achieved through sustained effort in garrisons, bases, wings, training areas and communities across Canada. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and other force-generators work in concert with families and communities to give our troops the best possible preparation for a safe and successful tour ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  NATO ministers will discuss strategy for the military withdrawal from Afghanistan at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, even as violence inside the country mounts and more allies prepare to head for the exits. The two-day gathering of defense and foreign ministers is intended to pave the way for a conference of NATO leaders in Chicago on May 20-21. Ministers also will tackle the thorny topic of funding the Afghan army and police after NATO’s planned withdrawal at the end of 2014 — one of the top items on the summit agenda ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Terry Glavin on “This Is What “Peace Talks & Troops Out” Gets You”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch  More Taliban lies on the latest attacks in Kabul (more here, too)
  • Way Up North (1)  Canada and the United States need to join forces when it comes to the Arctic, former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy said Monday. Axworthy delivered the message to Americans last week at a conference on the Arctic hosted by the U.S. Coast Guard Foundation. He said there is a window of opportunity opening for the U.S. and Canada to do something big when Canada takes over as chair of the Arctic Council in 2013. The U.S. will follow suit, becoming chair for two years in 2015. Those four years together could be a chance for the only two North American nations on the council to work together on everything from oil and gas development to joint shipping plans. There should even be discussions about Canada and the U.S. working jointly to build new ice breakers, said Axworthy. Russia, said Axworthy, is spending $10 billion on Arctic infrastructure and ice breakers. Canada and the U.S. are barely in the game ….”
  • Way Up North (2)  What else is happening in the Arctic“…. the Russian and Norwegian navies are preparing for joint exercise POMOR-2012, which will take place in Russian and Norwegian waters and be focused on anti-terror and anti-piracy operations (Barents Observer), while the Russian Border Patrol and the US Coast Guard had a series of meetings in Juneau this week, after which they signed a “document of understanding” covering cooperation on fisheries and law enforcement, among other issues (Juneau Empire). The US Coast Guard definitely recognizes that the Arctic presents a daunting challenge (Sea Power, San Francisco Chronicle), and the Canadian military of course sees the Arctic as a core concern. See an overview of Canada’s largest ongoing military deals HERE from the CBC. Also in Canada, 150 soldiers, divers and rangers are taking part in Operation Nunalivut 2012, working on a couple of different possible scenarios (Nunatsiaq Online). Side note: had you heard about a project to install underwater listening devices along the Northwest Passage (  Russia’s foreign minister appears to have said that for Russia, too, the presence of a strong military in the Arctic is critical to protecting the sovereignty of Northern states (Interfax, subscription necessary). The world’s largest country is considering both permitting foreign companies to invest in its military sector (Barents Nova) and adding mercenaries or “military contractors” to its staff (RIA Novosti).  It’s somehow disconcerting to note how the language for this form of employ has changed since the 1970s. The recent Ladoga exercise near the Finnish border brought together pilots from all across Russia’s western military district this week (ITAR-TASS) and might also have inspired some reports of UFOs. And, as an entertaining side note, I’m quite sure everyone will enjoy hearing about the Kazakh paratrooper, now a national hero of sorts, who planted a Kazakh flag at the North Pole and, in his interview, expresses the possibility of building yurts there ( ….”
  • Way Up North (3)  Divers with the Canadian military will make their way under the sea ice to explore a Franklin-era shipwreck. The exercise is part of the annual Operation Nunalivut, which takes place in the High Arctic near Resolute. Divers from three provinces will head down with remote-operated vehicles to look at the HMS Breadalbane. In 1853, the ship sank off Beechey Island in Lancaster Sound. It had been part of the search for John Franklin’s lost ships, the Erebus and Terror, and their crews. The Breadalbane’s crew had to abandon ship when it became trapped in an ice floe, and the crew was later rescued by another ship. “We don’t think anybody’s conducted any (dive) operations on it in about 10 years, and the last time that they did it looked to be in really good shape,” said Lt. Col. Glen MacNeil, who is leading the operation. “You could clearly see the outline of the ship and the masts were still there on it with sails so it’ll be interesting to see what type of images we get.” ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  “Prime Minister Stephen Harper dismissed a question Sunday about whether his government lied about the cost of owning a fleet of F-35 fighter jets, arguing it always talked about the $9-billion acquisition cost. He defended the fact the government provided only the cost to buy the planes, despite months of questions about what the planes will cost to fly, beyond the initial purchase cost …. Asked Sunday in Cartagena, Colombia, whether the government lied about its estimates, Harper again focused on the cost to buy the planes. “The numbers you talk about are different numbers costing different things. The number that I have talked about is the number we have budgeted for the acquisition of the F-35,” he said. “Other numbers cited … obviously have to do with not just the acquisition of the F-35, but operations of the F-35. There’s more than one number, there’s more than one cost depending on what you’re counting. These things have all been well known for some time. But in terms of our numbers, we’ve been very clear — we are going to operate within the budget that we have set.” ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  The F-35 debate has been a case study in bad accounting, bad journalism and bad communication planning. But mostly, it’s a case study in bad decision framing. Everyone’s focus has been only on the total cost of the F-35 program. As was predictable, this approach to framing the problem has provoked a national paroxysm of sticker shock. But no one is questioning whether Canada needs fighter jets. The question is, which fighter jets to buy? So perhaps the Auditor-General, or the government, could take a different approach to framing this problem: Rather than focusing on the project’s total cost, we should instead examine how much more this option costs versus other realistic options ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (3)  Liberal MP/former astronaut’s take“…. To this day, Canadians have not been shown a clearly stated set of requirements for the CF-18 replacement. Instead, they have been told that Canada needs the only “fifth-generation” aircraft available — a requirement which, as the Auditor-General points out, is not an operational one. The government has failed to tell us what mission capabilities it expects from the CF-18 replacement. It has failed to hold on open competition in order to select the best aircraft possible based on performance, cost, availability and industrial benefits ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (4)  “…. if in coming decades, God forbid, Canada needs to fly combat missions against enemies with the latest technology, do we intend to win, or to send our pilots into combat with outdated equipment that was “good enough” years ago when we bought them in a time of technological ferment? You have now gone through the thought process that led most of our allies, the Canadian military, and governments, both Liberal and Tory, to conclude that there is no realistic alternative to the F-35. They are right and the government should have the courage to say so and defend the price tag that goes with it.”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1a)  The CF Info-machine’s update on the CH-148 Cyclone chopper (Sea King replacement) buying process“…. Current Status:  DND continues to closely monitor progress towards achieving all delivery requirements for the interim maritime helicopters, as well as the potential impact on the schedule for delivery of the final version of the Cyclone. The Canadian Forces expect to take formal delivery of the interim maritime helicopters later this summer ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1b)  No sign of said documents shared anywhere yet, so no word on what else was in them.  The Harper government agreed to go easy on the maker of the air force’s long-delayed maritime helicopters after winning a series of economic concessions, new documents reveal. The ongoing saga involving the CH-148 Cyclones serves a cautionary tale for taxpayers in the raging debate over the F-35 stealth fighter, says a defence expert. In exchange for not receiving fully capable and operational helicopters on time in 2010, Public Works and National Defence managed to wring $110 million in extra industrial and economic promises out of U.S.-based Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., says a briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay. It also won concessions from the manufacturer on the cost of operating the helicopter, an extension to the long-term maintenance contract and a vague promise to “restructure liquidated damages,” which were the result of Sikorsky’s failure to deliver aircraft on time. The documents, dated June 2010, were released just recently to The Canadian Press under access-to-information laws ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying (2)  8 x inflatable rubber boats for delivery within 50 km of Ottawa (more details in bid document excerpt – 19 page PDF – here)
  • New Honoraries (1)  “…. the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, announced the appointment of Mr. John Gordon Leefe as Honorary Colonel of the West Nova Scotia Regiment (West NS Regt) ….”
  • New Honoraries (2)  The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, appointed Frank Wayne Adams, D.C.L., C.M., E.C.N.S., C.C., as an Honorary Colonel (HCol) of 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron (423 MH Sqn) based at 12 Wing Shearwater, Nova Scotia ….”
  • Alberta resident to be honoured by Veterans Affairs for his work with the Royal Canadian Legion and veterans
  • Canadian Senator to Bangladesh:  Coup, BAD!  “Senator Hugh Segal, Canada’s Special Envoy for Commonwealth Renewal, said in Dhaka Monday that the decision about the format of holding the next general elections in Bangladesh has to be made by the Bangladeshis, asserting that military coup is never a right answer anywhere in the world. “It’s not for us to offer any unsolicited opinion… you have to make the decision on your own on how the differences of opinion should be addressed,” he said in an interview with UNB at the Canadian High Commission. Senator Segal, who came here on Sunday, said Canada will be glad to send election observer mission or commonwealth parliamentarian delegation if there is a request from Bangladesh ….”
  • Chinese navy ship to visit Canada as it circles the globe  “A training vessel of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army navy embarked on a round-the-world voyage on Monday from Dalian, Northeast China’s Liaoning province. This is the first single-ship circumnavigation conducted by a Chinese training vessel. According to the commander, Liao Shining, deputy chief of staff of the PLA navy, the vessel Zhenghe has 308 military personnel aboard, including 110 cadets from Dalian Naval Academy. Over the next five months, they will journey more than 30,000 nautical miles (55,560 km) and visit 11 countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Italy, Spain and Canada. Military cadets from 13 other countries will be invited aboard the vessel for part of the voyage to live and train with their Chinese counterparts, Liao said ….”  More here
  • China has been moving the centre of gravity of human affairs for a generation towards Asia. Famines gave way to reforms and a business formula where growth has been relatively constant, sometimes alarming. Communist ideology seems to have reverted to the default Chinese type – clan-based mercantilism – with undeniable success. But what price do the rest of us pay for this transformation and resurgence on the world stage? What price might Canada bear? It is right to consider China’s growing presence in Canada’s oil patch, it’s impact on B.C. raw log exports and the overall direction of the flow of goods in Canada’s western ports; mainly into Canada and comparatively little out. But it is China’s impact on the commodities markets that demands careful attention ….”

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  1. […] answer seems to be that Sikorsky will pay mainly via Canadian companies. From […]

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