News Highlights – 10 May 12

  • More from the “2012-13 Report on Plans and Priorities – National Defence”A shortage of trained pilots means it will take the Royal Canadian Air Force an extra two years to get its long-awaited Chinook helicopters into full service, say documents tabled as part of the latest federal budget. The revelation in the plans and priorities section of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s March 29 budget also outlines delays in a string of other big-ticket equipment purchases at National Defence. It comes as military procurement is under the microscope because of the politically charged F-35 project. Originally ordered as part of sole-source contract with Boeing aircraft in 2006, the first Chinook is supposed to arrive next month, but it will be a test aircraft only. The shortage of pilots is expected to delay bringing the Chinooks up to full combat capability until June 2017. The helicopters were considered an absolute priority for the now-concluded combat mission in Afghanistan, but delays in buying the 15 new aircraft forced the Conservative government to spend nearly $300 million on six used Chinooks from the U.S. Army. The surviving four helicopters from that batch, at last word, are up for sale and sitting at a military aircraft junkyard outside of Tucson, Ariz ….”
  • LOADS of questions, debate and discussion in the House of Commons yesterday as National Defence was one of the biggie topics the House decided to debate in detail as part of the budget process.
  • Budget 2012  Minister of Veterans Affairs:  closing front-line VAC offices=getting rid of bureaucracy  “Mr. Speaker, it is very clear. What we are taking away from veterans are the millions of unnecessary transactions for veterans who need our services. We are simply cutting the red tape, cutting the routine and repetitive tasks that waste paper and in no way serve our veterans. That is what we are doing. If the member really wants to help veterans, he should support budget 2012, because it maintains veterans’ benefits.”
  • NORAD ex coming to the St. Lawrence  “Residents in Québec along the St. Lawrence River may see Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft starting from 2 p.m. on Wednesday, 9 May as they exercise NORAD intercept and identification procedures. During the flight, NORAD-controlled CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft will fly in close proximity to a civilian-looking aircraft. The exercise is part of NORAD’s continuing training to test responses, systems and equipment. All NORAD training flights are carefully planned and closely controlled ….”
  • Let the speculation over who the new Chief of Defence Staff will be begin!  The government is expected to launch a search for Canada’s next top soldier to replace Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk in the coming weeks. Insiders have told Postmedia News that no official timeline has been given for making a decision and Gen. Natynczyk, who has held his post since July 2008, has not publicly declared he is stepping down. There is also no set limit to the amount of time he can hold the position, as he serves at the prime minister’s pleasure. But those spoken to believe a new chief of defence staff will be in place by the end of the summer, which would correspond with the historical trend of three- and four-year terms. Whoever takes over is widely expected to be of a different breed from Gen. Natynczyk — and his predecessor, Gen. Rick Hillier ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  A bit of GOOD acquisition news for a change….  “Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMT – Analyst Report) has delivered the 17th and final CC-130J Super Hercules aircraft to the Royal Canadian Air Force (“RCAF”). In December 2007, the company had entered into an agreement worth $1.4 billion with the Government of Canada. Per the contract, Lockheed Martin had to deliver 17 CC-130J Super Hercules aircrafts and allied equipments and services to the RCAF by 2012. The company delivered the first CC-130J Super Hercules aircraft in June 2010. The RCAF deployed these aircrafts in Canada and several other nations including Libya and Afghanistan for humanitarian relief and military missions ….”
  • Big Honkin’ Ships  Associate Minister Fantino’s response to a question in the House“Mr. Speaker, unlike the 10 years of darkness attributed to the previous Liberal government, we are moving forward on a whole array of assets to support our military men and women in doing their jobs as Canadians expect them to. As for the Arctic ships, our government is following through on our commitment to build ships in Canada. Irving Shipbuilding is currently building midshore patrol vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard, with the first completed ships expected this year.”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Question in the House of Commons with Associate Minister Fantino sharing the usual messaging
  • Stuart Langridge, R.I.P.  The former girlfriend of a soldier who committed suicide is expected to testify today at a military hearing. The Military Police Complaints Commission is continuing its review of how the Forces handled the death of Cpl. Stuart Langridge. Among the issues raised after the 28-year-old Afghan vet killed himself was figuring out his next-of-kin. There was confusion as to whether Langridge and Rebecca Starr were in a common-law relationship or not. Langridge’s parents said they weren’t, but the military decided they were and that gave Starr control over the soldier’s funeral and access to benefits. But later paperwork called into question that decision and eventually that became the subject of one of the investigations into Langridge’s death.”
  • OOOPSIE!  Canada’s defence department has recalled an internal booklet after discovering it contained a photo of convicted sex killer and ex-colonel Russell Williams. “This is a terrible mistake for which the Canadian Forces are truly sorry,” Defence Minister Peter MacKay said in a written statement. He promised a personal apology to the families of two local women killed by the disgraced airman. Williams, now 49, was imprisoned for life after pleading guilty in October 2010 to killing two women, attacking two more and committing a years-long series of break-ins and fetish thefts between Ottawa and Belleville. His most severe crimes were committed while Williams commanded CFB Trenton, Canada’s largest air force base. Yet he appears in the background in the first edition of a new professional development booklet produced last week by the Canadian Defence Academy, a branch of the federal Department of National Defence. A copy of the booklet was obtained by The (Belleville) Intelligencer. A military spokesman said the booklet was never released fully — and never will be. “We’ve recalled the booklet because of an editorial oversight,” Lt.-Cmdr. John Williston, the academy’s public affairs officer, told The Intelligencer. “It has been completely recalled. It was only distributed within the headquarters and to a few others and we are in the process of redoing it,” said Williston ….” – more from The Canadian Press,, QMI/Sun Media and
  • Way Up North (1)  Royal United Services Institute (Nova Scotia) paper, “Forward Operating Location Nanisivik: Halifax’s Gateway to Canada’s Arctic” (PDF) by Col. (Retd) Sylvain Lescoutre
  • Way Up North (2)  A scientist explains how tracking the thawing of Canada’s permafrost is harder than it looks, comparing it to defrosting a chicken  “…. At first, any frozen bird warms fairly quickly. About 12 hours took it from deep freeze to a point just below 0 C. “Then it takes a very long time to go from -1 up through the zero point,” he explains. “It doesn’t take much energy to take it from -15 to -1 (degrees). But it takes a huge amount of energy to take it from -1 up to plus a half. “Permafrost is like that, too.” And that brings a quandary. The permafrost may warm up, and then hover at the just-barely-frozen stage for a long time, until enough energy builds up to push it over the edge. When that last step will happen, though, is frustratingly unknowable for now. Sooner in the South, where it’s only a few metres thick; much later in the High Arctic, where it is 700 metres thick ….”
  • One artist makes a killing with his military art….  A famous photo by Canadian artist Jeff Wall has sold for more than US$3.6 million at auction in New York. Created in 1992, Dead Troops Talk (A vision after an ambush of a Red Army patrol, near Moqor, Afghanistan, winter 1986) is one of Wall’s most recognized and written-about works. Christie’s says the photograph sold Tuesday for US$3,666,500, setting a world auction record for the Vancouver artist. Wall, who is known for large-scale photographs of contemporary everyday genre scenes, arranged the image with actors in the studio, photographed in individual sections later assembled digitally, and finally simulated a monumental outdoor photograph ….”
  • …. while another military artist says he’s going to be killing some of his  A visual artist, previously hired by the Defence Department to work in Somalia and Afghanistan, plans to rip up five pieces of his war art to protest what he considers the destruction of Canadian parliamentary tradition. Allan Harding MacKay, 67, of Toronto, will destroy his work within sight of Parliament Hill on Thursday afternoon in what he’s calling an “art action.” “I guess, in a sense, the power I have is in the artwork I’ve done,” he said of his offbeat protest. “It does represent elements of the Canadian military heritage, but they belong to me, they’re my works.” MacKay will destroy three mixed-media works based on his Afghanistan assignment (July 2002) and two from his trip to Somalia (March 1993). He was commissioned as an artist by the Department of National Defence when Canadian troops were deployed to those countries ….”
  • Veterans Voices seeks donations – Veterans Voices of Canada, based in Sylvan Lake, Alberta produces on camera interviews with Canadian military Veterans for history and education. The recordings are donated to schools, museums and libraries across Canada. Because we are losing our Second World War and Korean War Veterans at an alarming rate, it is imperative that this be done as soon as possible. n May they will hold the first Annual Veterans Voices of Canada Silent Auction and Veteran Appreciation Day in Sylvan Lake from 12 to 5 p.m. This is to raise funds to continue the organization’s mission. n that day celebrity veterans will attend. Royal Canadian Air Force aces retired general Don Laubman (DFC/Bar) as well as retired colonel Doug Lindsay(DFC) will be on location autographing photos with their aircraft …. They are seeking silent auction item donations for this Veterans Voices of Canada auction. They are also accepting cash donations for the organization. Funds raised will go towards the continuation of Veterans Voices of Canada and its mission, however 10% of the end proceeds will be donated to the Canadian Veterans Advocacy. To help keep the history alive go to
  • Academic calls for less harsh line on Palestinians  “…. the Harper government’s contempt for diplomacy and honest brokerage is bound up with a rhetorical heightening of foreign antagonisms for political effect. In an interview this March, Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird declared, “Canada’s not going to be an honest broker between an international terrorist organization and a liberal democracy, when the great struggle of our generation is the struggle between liberal democracies and international terrorist organizations.” This statement casts any party at odds with Israel, any party with whom Israel might conceivably enter into mediation, as the embodiment of evil. Former Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Dayan famously said “You don’t make peace with your friends; you make it with your enemies.” Baird’s words effectively turn Israel’s enemies into evildoers with whom no peace can be made. It’s appalling for Canada to do so in the name of pro-Israel solidarity. With luck, our government will come to understand that such solidarity and the honest broker role can—and should—go hand in hand.”

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