News Highlights – August 21, 2013

  • Think tank op-ed  “The Canada First Defence Strategy, released in May 2008, remains unchanged even though many of the circumstances that existed when it was written have evolved …. By almost any measure, then, it is time to review, modify and re-issue the Canada First Defence Strategy.  A failure to recognize that circumstances have changed since it was issued will almost certainly result in the procurement of capabilities that are less relevant to future operations than they were initially thought to be ….”
  • Way Up North (1)  Stephen Harper took up arms — albeit antique arms — on the Arctic tundra late Tuesday in a round of target practice meant as a show of solidarity with Canadian Rangers.  Both the prime minister and newly appointed Defence Minister Rob Nicholson went shooting with the First World War vintage .303 Lee Enfield rifles.  They are the standard issue weapon for the aboriginal reservists — or part-time soldiers — who patrol the vast, desolate tundra.  Harper clearly relished the bonding exercise, firing from several different positions, including laying down.  Shots from the rifle demonstration reverberated for kilometres over the empty limestone and sand landscape.  But it was as much a political statement as a chance to share the rigours of Northern life for a prime minister who’s mantra has been to assert and defend Canada’s claim to the Arctic ….”  FYI, here’s a thread here talking about the process to replace the Rangers’ WW2-era rifles with something a bit more modern, including a paper on what’s needed in a new rifle, as well as various bid documents through the process here, here, here and here, as well as an interesting explanation of why Rangers can’t just be issued with whatever rifle the rest of the military is using here (DISCLOSURE:  I’m a moderator at
  • Way Up North (2)  “Prime Minister Stephen Harper is touting the Canadian Rangers as a pillar of search and rescue in the North — even as a newly released defence report warns of “glaring weaknesses” in Canada’s ability to respond to Arctic emergencies.  The comprehensive Defence Science Advisory Board report describes rescue missions in the Far North as “significant and complex,” noting Ottawa wants to cobble together a series of new international partnerships to address the challenge.  The wide-ranging study points out that while the Canadian Coast Guard and the RCMP have significant roles to play in an Arctic crisis, they are sometimes not on the same page as National Defence.  “A lack of integration could hinder an effective response to a crisis or emergency,” said the review ….”
  • Way Up North (3a)  From the Info-machine’s latest Backgrounder on “Northern Defence And Security  “…. While the Arctic once provided a natural buffer between southern Canada and the world beyond its northern borders, with climate change and the increasing demand for shorter trade routes, fossil fuels, and minerals from gold to diamonds, the Arctic is now drawing unprecedented national and international interest.  With a renewed commitment to maintaining a presence in the region and enhancing military capabilities CAF is contributing to the Government of Canada’s Northern Strategy.  At the same time, exercising Canadian sovereignty in the Arctic can only be achieved through a whole-of-government approach ….”
  • Way Up North (3b)  Column:  PM’s Arctic approach evolving?  “…. The Prime Minister will stress continuity in his government’s efforts to fulfill its Arctic platform, introduced in 2005 – but its priorities have quietly changed. Mr. Harper’s team built its initial strategy around the problematic idea that Arctic sovereignty boils down to “use it or lose it” – a simple way of differentiating his plans from the Liberals’ supposedly misguided emphasis on co-operative diplomacy and environmental stewardship. Accordingly, he announced a spate of measures to give the Canadian Forces the purported tools of sovereignty assertion: more ships, “boots on the ground” and flag-waving exercises. A promised Coast Guard icebreaker, quickly named the John G. Diefenbaker, conjured up an image of long-standing commitment to the North.  Now, it seems, things have changed ….”
  • Remember the calls to move Canada’s navy mostly to the west coastHere’s what the boss of the Navy has to say (highlights mine): ” …. There are no plans to redistribute RCN ships from the Atlantic fleet to the Pacific fleet as the current distribution meets our strategic and operational requirements. As seen in recent deployments overseas, our ability to deploy our ships abroad when and where needed on behalf of the Government of Canada is not restricted by where our ships are based …. In the last decade, the Canadian Government has repeatedly deployed the Canadian Armed Forces to the Middle East and to the Caribbean and these regions will remain the most likely areas of operations for the CAF for years to come ….”
  • Afghanistan  There’s a new film festival coming to town and it’s going to offer the kind of insight into Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan that no private civilian has had before.  Edmonton Garrison’s Military Family Resource Centre (also known as the MFRC) is presenting its first ever Afghan Mission Film Festival on Friday. The educational event is the first stop on a cross-country tour to bring a broader awareness of our military’s involvement in the Middle East.  “Oftentimes, you just hear about it in the news and for a lot of us who aren’t in the military, it’s a distant concept to us,” explained Christina Weichel, marketing and communications co-ordinator.  These films are also being used to promote a historical legacy document. Lt. (Navy) Melanie Graham is working on a project to compile personal stories on the military effort for a book. Since this is the last tour in Afghanistan (scheduled for wrap up next March), the importance of preserving these stories has never been more important.  “This fest is meant to shed light on that. What that’s doing is collecting soldiers’ stories from when they were in Afghanistan. She’s trying really hard to just get people to share those stories.” …. To learn more about the Afghan Mission Film Festival and the Afghanistan: A Soldier’s Story book project, visit online at:”  More on the list of films being shown, and where they’ll be when here.
  • Andrew Nuttall, 1979-2009, R.I.P.  The latest, from Canada’s War Poet  “to Vancouver for the 4th annual Nutts Cup Crossfit Competition to watch teams of Gods and Goddesses, all muscles and camaraderie competing in honour of Lt. Andrew Nuttall (KIA 23 Dec/09 A’stan) and the Lt. Andrew Nuttall Youth At Risk Foundation.  I was first in contact with Andrew’s family when his aunt emailed me to ask if her daughter could read a poem of mine at his funeral. I’d written it for Lt. Nuttall upon hearing of his death having been in his rifle company during 2008-2009 ….”
  • A Conservative MPP from Ontario says he’s received a letter from the PM thanking him for his support for moving the Canadian Army to Pips & Crowns as rank badges – he’s also the Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of a Reserve unit in Northern Ontario Enjoy!
  • If you have noticed an unusual amount of military activity around Meaford this week – don’t be alarmed; Canadian troops have been busy in the local area practicing a defense of Canada exerciseClose to 1,400 Canadian soldiers from the regular and reserve forces are in Meaford this week for Operation Stalwart Guardian 2013.  The training exercise is a large-scale military effort that concludes a summer of training for reserve and regular soldiers. The exercises are occurring at 4th Canadian Division Training Centre Meaford and later this week will be moving into the civilian areas around Meaford ….”
  • From the Pentagon’s Info-machine  “A Canadian Alpha Jet flies over the tower at Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center during Operation Northern Strike. The second annual exercise showcased not only the integrated combat capability of the Michigan Air and Army National Guard, but also highlighted the state’s primary training facilities at Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, both located in northern Lower Michigan. Units and personnel from Selfridge Air National Guard Base and the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base also participated in the operation, along with support from Army ….” – more pix here and here, and more about the exercise here.

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