Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – November 29, 2012

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  • Joshua Baker, 1985-2010, R.I.P.   A military prosecutor says a Calgary reservist turned a blind eye to safety standards and abdicated his duty as a leader during a training exercise in Afghanistan that saw one soldier killed and four others wounded.  “Command has to mean something,” argued military prosecutor Maj. Tony Tamburro during final arguments at the court martial of Maj. Darryl Watts. “It’s not about wearing stripes or going to the officers club. It means being responsible to those under your command.  “It was his duty to stop the range. He followed his troops to an area of danger. He should have led his troops to an area of safety.”  Watts, 44, faces six charges, including manslaughter, unlawfully causing bodily harm, breach of duty and negligent performance of duty in the Feb. 12, 2010 accident on a training range four kilometres north of Kandahar city.  Cpl. Josh Baker, 24, died when a Claymore anti-personnel mine, packed with 700 steel balls, peppered a platoon of Canadian troops working on the range.  Baker was struck four times and one of the steel balls penetrated his chest. Four other soldiers were seriously injured ….”
  • Is Canada now eyeing more than one kind of search and rescue plane?  Stay tuned for “What’s Canada Buying?” ….
  • Opposition attempts to shed light on spending cuts at National Defence were met by lawyerly objections from Conservative members of the House of Commons committee charged with overseeing the military.  Government MPs, led by junior defence minister Chris Alexander, tried to limit the scope of questions put to Defence Minister Peter MacKay by New Democrats and Liberals to a table of supplementary budget documents.  Both opposition parties were stymied in their efforts to find out precisely what is being cut and how the department will meet its budget targets.  MacKay assured them the budget was shipshape, and that Defence wouldn’t be asking for any more cash over and above the $19 billion it expects to spend this year.  The department is holding the line, MacKay said, even though Defence faced increased costs for some equipment projects and payouts to injured soldiers for ending the clawback on their pensions.  “We have identified ways to meet these specific funding needs through decreases in spending in other areas of National Defence and reallocations of previously approved budgetary resources,” he said.  But when opposition members tried to probe planned cuts, or ask why certain projects were not being funded, they were told it was outside the field of what the all-party committee met to discuss.  The chairman supported those arguments ….”
  • What’s missing from this tidbit from the CF’s Info-machine?  “On behalf of the Defence family, Brigadier-General Jean-Robert Bernier, the Surgeon General, presented the Major Sir Frederick Banting Award at the 2012 Military and Veteran’s Health Research Forum today to recognize and encourage high-quality research that addresses military health issues.  “It is with great pride that I present this award to Dr. Jacqueline Hebert, MD, Professor at the University of Alberta,” said Brigadier-General Bernier. “This prestigious award honours Sir Frederick Banting’s decorated career as a world-renowned researcher and medical officer in the Canadian Army and bestows the winner with appropriate recognition for their valuable research contribution to military and veterans’ health.” Sir Frederick Banting was a world-renowned physician, researcher, Nobel Prize winner and the discoverer of insulin.  The award is presented to the Canadian whose research paper is deemed to be of the greatest overall value to military health ….”  Quick, after getting through quotes from the Minister and from the CF Health Service’s Chief Warrant Officer, can anyone find any reference in the news release to what Dr. Hebert’s award-winning paper is about?  But of COURSE it’s all about the work being done, right?  After all, they DID mention the title of the then-winning paper in last year’s news release.
  • One of Canada’s (jinxed?) subs closer to being operational  “The refit of Canada’s secondhand submarines is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.  However, it seems the East Coast is now only months away from having an operational submarine.  HMCS Windsor has been in refit since 2007 but Defence Minister Peter MacKay tells CTV News it completed a key dive, called a camber dive, on Nov. 7 and is now being readied for sea trials.  “The camber dive is a key milestone in the program to verify the submarine’s watertight integrity, its functionality,” explains MacKay. “All of these trials will continue through the winter.”  The dive takes place in a shallow, protected area in Halifax Harbour.  “It’s completing a series of tests now,” says MacKay. “We have had the crew training underway for some time. We hope to have it operational by next year.” ….”  More on this at the Halifax Shipping News blog here.
  • Way Up North (1)  “Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister of the Arctic Council for Canada, and Villy Søvndal, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Denmark, met (yesterday) in Ottawa to discuss a range of issues of common interest and, in particular, engagement in Arctic matters.  The ministers announced that negotiators have reached a tentative agreement on where to establish the maritime boundary in the Lincoln Sea, the body of water north of Ellesmere Island and Greenland. This will resolve an issue between the two countries that arose in the 1970s. Once ratified, the agreement will also provide an opportunity to modernize provisions of the 1973 treaty that established the current boundary south of the Lincoln Sea …. The tentative agreement does not address the issue of sovereignty over Hans Island. That issue is the subject of continuing discussion intended to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution ….” – more here.
  • Way Up North (2)  Warrant Officer Darren Small of the Royal Canadian Air Force was recently awarded the Alaska Commendation Medal – the first Canadian Forces non-commissioned member to receive it.  It was presented for “outstanding meritorious service as Grizzly Flight’s Assistant Superintendent, 176th Air Control Squadron, 176th Wing, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson”.  The medal was presented by 176th Air Control Squadron’s commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Scott Howard of the Alaska Air National Guard, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) in September 2012 ….”
  • The man who firebombed an Ottawa bank in 2010 in the name of First Nations rights was denied parole a few months after CSIS met with him prison, APTN National News has learned.  According to a friend of the former federal civil servant, CSIS agents sat down with Roger Clement in September 2011 and told him they still considered him to be a domestic terrorism threat.  Clement was later denied parole after a hearing on Mar. 28, 2012.  At that hearing Clement was asked to name the other people involved in the May 18, 2010 firebombing of the Royal Bank branch on Bank St. in the city’s trendy Glebe neighbourhood.  Since his arrest Clement has refused to give up who helped him.  Police believe there are at least two other people involved but he’s the only person who has been convicted of the crime. Police arrested Claude Haridge and Mathew Morgan-Brown along with Clement but charges against them were dropped.  Police called the bombing domestic terrorism.  Clement was sentenced to four years in prison but was credited for five months time served.  “You have not disclosed the identity of your accomplices to the police and told the board today that to do so would violate your principles,” the parole board said in its decision obtained by APTN National News ….”
  • A reminder about what foreign policy should do  “…. In the real world, foreign policy is not about being on the side of the angels. That’s for churches, charities and charlatans. It’s about the state’s relations with its neighbours and with the world at large. Done well, foreign policy enhances the security and prosperity of citizens; done poorly, it compromises their safety and risks their economic well-being.  Foreign policy is about the people’s interests, the first and most important being security. If a state can’t protect its people from ruthless regimes or terrorist groups that want to disrupt their way of life or intimidate them or hurt them, not much else will matter ….”
  • Analyst on Canada-Mexico linkages  “…. Having Governor General David Johnston represent Canada at the Presidential Inauguration next week in Mexico City sets the right tone. The next step should be a series of visits by Canadian cabinet ministers to meet their new Mexican counterparts to discuss how we can mutually collaborate on our broad trade, economic and security agenda.  Mexico matters to Canada. Let’s use today’s visit of President-elect Peña Nieto to revitalize a relationship that deserves more attention.”
  • Well done!  The Canadian War Museum is proud to have received the 2012 Jacques Littlefield Award for Preservation and Education Excellence, awarded by the Military Vehicle Preservation Association. This honour is bestowed annually on an institution or organization whose efforts significantly raise the understanding and appreciation of historic military vehicles. Previous Jacques Littlefield Award recipients include the National Museum of the Marine Corps in the United States and The Tank Museum in Bovington, England ….”

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