Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – February 4, 2013

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  • Algeria  Algerian security forces are thwarting efforts by Canadian police and intelligence agents to confirm whether Canadian citizens were among the Islamic jihadis who attacked a gas plant in a brazen terrorist assault that killed dozens – including Americans and Europeans – at a remote Sahara desert site.  Nearly two weeks after Algerian Prime Minster Abdelmalek Sellal said a Canadian played a key leadership role in the attack, RCMP and CSIS agents sent to Algiers have been denied access to documents, bodies, witnesses and tissue samples, according to multiple sources familiar with the ongoing, and so far unsuccessful, attempts to help the Algerian investigation.  “A Canadian was among the militants,” Mr. Sellal said after the battle to retake the remote plant near the Libyan border. “He was co-ordinating the attack,” he added, giving the Canadian’s name only as “Chedad.”  And he is a Canadian of Chechen origin, according to a report published Friday by the respected French newspaper Le Monde (screen capture, in French) after one of its journalists toured the gas plant.  Other Algerian officials and freed hostages said a second Canadian was among the al-Qaeda-linked jihadis who held hundreds hostage in what they claimed was retaliation for the French military assault on Islamic militants in northern Mali. Some who survived the four-day siege said a hostage taker had a North American or Canadian accent. And unconfirmed reports said Canadian passports were among documents found on two of the dead jihadis ….” – more here
  • Mali  Columnist  “…. Whatever the next move in Mali, Ottawa will be involved with its allies. If we don’t get it right, we risk a return with a much bigger challenge at hand.”
  • Columnist:  Canada colonizing Africa?  “What do we call the thing Canada is doing in Africa?  It involves our largest corporations, the federal government, public- and private-sector aid agencies, and sometimes the military. And their activities are increasingly connected, sometimes by choice, often by force of circumstance.  This week saw Ed Fast, the Minister of International Trade, touring some of the scores of city-sized mining, oil and infrastructure developments that Canada is creating in Nigeria and Ghana, and the development and aid activities that we’ve brought in to surround them. He’s the third cabinet minister to visit those countries since October.  If you follow his steps, you realize Canada is no longer simply “doing business” or “providing aid” in Africa. What we’re doing is something that bears a striking resemblance to the things Britain and France were doing in Canada two centuries ago ….”
  • The Harper government’s new focus on the Americas means a dramatic change of effort for the Canadian Forces and an overt participation in the U.S. war on drugs.  The commander of Canada’s operational forces, Lt.-Gen. Stuart Beare, says Canada is now focusing new efforts on Central America and the Caribbean.  In an exclusive interview with CBC News, Beare said Canada was active in attempts to sever the Central American drug artery pumping narcotics northwards into the United States and Canada.  “We’re partnered with our U.S. partners in the counter-narcotic effort on the southern flank, in Central and South America, as the flow goes north,” Beare revealed.  For years, Canada has participated in naval operations in the Caribbean Sea designed to thwart narcotics-smuggling efforts. Canada has also provided specialized radar and reconnaissance patrol aircraft to that fight.  But Beare suggests much more is being done in the region now than ever before ….”
  • Three of Canada’s four Victoria-class, diesel-electric submarines are to be operational by the end of the year.  But there are still questions about whether Canada still has the personnel to handle a submarine fleet, and if the subs are even worth fixing.  HMCS Victoria, which has been docked since 2005, was declared operational last year on the West Coast after sinking a decommissioned United States navy ship in a live torpedo test.  HMCS Windsor, docked since 2007, has already started live tests in Halifax Harbour. Last November, it completed a live diving exercise in the harbour, known as a camber dive. It made its first run out to sea in December.  HMCS Chicoutimi, on which a navy officer died after it caught fire during its 2004 maiden voyage, is also undergoing extensive work. Despite its tragic past, the Defence Department says the refit in Victoria, B.C., will have it ready for operation later this year.  “What that is is really heavy maintenance on more than 200 systems,” said department spokeswoman Jocelyn Sweet. “So absolutely everything gets looked at and either replaced or fixed or repaired or overhauled.”  With three of the four subs operational, the Defence Department will consider it at a “steady state” of operation.  The fourth submarine, HMCS Corner Brook, ran aground in a test last year. It will undergo repairs until 2016 ….”
  • In an interview with CBC News last June, then associate defence minister Julian Fantino wasn’t telling the truth — but he wasn’t lying either.  Fantino had gone on camera to deny that Canada’s 17 new Hercules military transport planes are infected with fake Chinese parts, like the kind found on the same type of aircraft in the U.S. Air Force.  The minister’s denial was in response to a damning U.S. congressional report that had just exposed the existence of the bogus parts in the cockpits of the American C-130J Hercules.  The U.S. investigation reported that a malfunction of the parts could cause the cockpit instrument panels in the giant aircraft to go blank in mid-flight with potentially “catastrophic” consequences.  Officials at National Defence headquarters in Ottawa have now admitted to CBC News that the department had known at least four months before Fantino’s interview that the same counterfeit parts were also in Canada’s brand new Hercules planes.  No one at the time, apparently, shared that information with the minister, even when Fantino’s office asked DND officials point-blank if Canada had fake parts in its planes ….”
  • The Canadian Forces is finding it difficult to attract new recruits in Alberta, where a thriving energy sector is competing for the same demographic of skilled young people.  Canadian Forces Capt. Isabelle Jean said military pay doesn’t match the range of pay available to oil and gas workers.  “The people that are going into the oilfield, we are competing with them on a salary basis, basically, so we can’t compete with that,” Jean said.  Last year, the Edmonton detachment recruited 254 regular force personnel from across Alberta, Saskatchewan and the North. Of those who sign up, fewer than 50 per cent are accepted.  Jean says the pitch to young people is increasingly one that highlights career flexibility.  “They can come in, get the skills. And [if] they realize that the military is not made for them then they can go back in the civilian industry and still have those skills,” she said ….”
  • Column  “…. The Cold War’s Iron Curtain does not have a modern face or façade and the military operations in which our forces engage give us little or no notice, and involve forms of fighting that are not governed by modern laws of armed conflict.  We are fortunate that our Canadian Forces, while small, are flexible and resilient, and have demonstrated that they are able to take the fight to the enemy, so that the enemy cannot take the fight to us.”
  • No docs shared = no word on what else is there  Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilots of the future could be spending almost as much time in a simulator as they do in the cockpit under a revised training regime that has its eyes on the bottom line as much as technology, say internal documents.  The idea was just one of a series of options being examined as military planners look towards the eventual replacement of the CF-18 fleet, possibly by the end of the decade.  Air force officials consulted widely throughout last year with the defence industry about what type of training aircraft might be needed, and what sort of “ground-based systems” were available, say several briefing notes prepared for senior military commanders and top civilian defence officials.  The current training regime is tailored to the CF-18s and will have to be revamped, regardless of whether the Harper government chooses to go ahead with the controversial purchase of F-35 stealth fighters.  The documents, released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, show the training review was ordered by the now-current head of the air force, Lt.-Gen. Yvan Blondin, while he was still deputy commander ….”
  • The Canadian Journal of Surgery has appointed Major Vivian McAlister, a Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) surgeon, as co-editor, highlighting the high esteem in which CAF doctors are held in the medical community.  When not engaged in military duties, Major McAlister works at Western University in London, Ontario as a Professor of Surgery. He is also a member of the Council of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada ….”
  • PM’s wife helps support the troops  “When Laureen Harper makes a rare public appearance on her home turf and throws down an even rarer challenge to Calgary’s corporate jet set, people tend to show up and listen.  Harper, wife of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, spoke Friday night to a small, yet influential crowd of this city’s business, political and philanthropic leaders to throw their weight behind a planned fundraiser in Calgary for Canada’s military men and women and their families.  Established in 2009, the True Patriot Love Foundation has raised more than $14 million for Canadian Forces members, veterans and their families. Each year the foundation has hosted a fundraising dinner in a Canadian city.  It raised more than $2.3 million at its annual Tribute Dinner last year in Toronto and aims to surpass that benchmark at this year’s event in Calgary slated for Oct. 9.  “This is a great cause,” said Laureen Harper. “This is a way for ordinary Canadians to give back to provide support for military members and their families. They sacrifice so much, the least we can do is buy a seat at a banquet.” ….”
  • The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, (yesterday) concluded his participation in the 49th Munich Security Conference, which took place from February 1 to 3, 2013 in Germany.  The Munich Security Conference is a premier forum where world leaders, ministers, parliamentarians, government officials, senior military officers, academics, journalists, and other security experts meet to exchange views on current international security issues and concerns ….” – here’s more about the conference, and here’s the Minister’s speech.
  • Thank you, Globe & Mail, for sharing a document you’re writing about.  “Violent Canadian extremists are more likely to be citizens than immigrants, according to a “secret” study by the federal intelligence service. And these radicals tend to be relatively young and well-integrated members of society.  These findings appear in “A Study of Radicalization: The Making of Islamist Extremists in Canada Today,” a 21-page study released to The Globe and Mail under the Access to Information Act.  The Canadian Security Intelligence Service study is released as global concerns about terrorists from Canada are growing.  The Prime Minister of Algeria this month said two unnamed Canadians were among the al-Qaeda-aligned guerrillas who took hostage oil workers from the West, before the four-day standoff ended in dozens of deaths. Canadian officials are on the ground in Algeria investigating the claims, but have reached no conclusions.  In Ottawa, CSIS analysts are tasked with a putting together a big-picture view of the trends that lead to terrorism.  The path to violent zealotry is ultimately a “idiosyncratic, individual process,” the study says. The precise reasons why people want to become terrorists defy explanation, but the CSIS analysis does offer some observations ….”
  • These guys, on the other hand ….The splashy home pages for the Harper government’s elaborate War of 1812 website were by far the most popular feature for visitors who crowded into the online museum last year, thanks to an ad blitz during the Olympics.  The next most popular page? The exit …. Statistics gathered by Canadian Heritage and released under the Access to Information Act showed an average of 6,052 visits a day to the site between July 27 and Aug. 12 last year, during the Olympics.  A week before the Games, the average was only 1,741 visits. The site registered 2,463 visits the week after the Games.  A deeper look at which pages were visited the most during a slightly broader period revealed — perhaps not surprisingly — the site’s English and French home pages as the most popular.  The English home page registered 83,458 visits between July 22 and Aug. 19, compared with 22,897 at the French home page.  The page letting people know they were leaving the site was next on the list, registering 17,693 visits between July 22 and Aug. 19, the statistics show ….”

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4 February 13 at 7:45

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  1. […] there’s this related to the F-35, er, “National Fighter” acquisition at […]

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