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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 16 Aug 11

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  • Big story of the week:  a swack of announcements set for today across Canada announcing the reinstitution of the names “Royal Canadian Navy” and “Royal Canadian Air Force” Very active discussion on Army.ca on the change.  More from The Canadian Press, the Globe & Mail (including an editorial), the National Post (including an editorial), Postmedia News, Sun News/QMI Media, the Toronto Star, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, the Huffington Post blog, Reuters and United Press International.
  • CBC.ca survey:  whadya think of the new names?
  • As some way smarter than myself have opined, let’s see if this distracts reporters and other people when word of cuts to Canada’s military comes down the pipe eventually.
  • Supporting the Troops vs. Supporting the War:  Belatedly, I’ve spotted a very interesting blog post by a social work expert in dealing with shame and guilt.  “…. In my graduate course on shame resilience, students form groups based on their interests and research how shame resilience applies to the populations of their choice. In this class one of the groups applied Shame Resilience Theory to military veterans. The group was made up of two veterans (one from Vietnam and one from Afghanistan), two partners of deployed soldiers, and two children of vets. All shame work becomes very personal very fast, but this was different. Our entire class of 70 graduate students had to process through some very difficult feelings, assumptions, and even shame. Here’s what I learned:  When I let my politics dictate my level of compassion for veterans, I contribute to their pain and to the suffering that is happening in the world (and) When I step up (and through my beliefs about war) to hold space for the grief and trauma that they are holding, it changes their lives and creates a more loving and less violent world (which is ironically the goal that holds us back from reaching out to them) ….”  Well said, Dr. Brené Brown.
  • Afghanistan  More coverage of the clean-up/transition crew in Kandahar.  “While the Mission Transition Task Force (MTTF) prepares to close down operations at Kandahar Airfield (KAF), a number of specialized military personnel are ensuring the Canadian Forces (CF) leaves little trace behind of an almost 10 year presence. Master Corporal (MCpl) Ken Stewart, a Comox resident, is a Water, Fuel, Environment (WFE) Commander in KAF. He is part of the MTTF Engineer Support Squadron. His job is to organize, test and oversee the Soil Remediation project which ensures any contaminated soil as the result of activities at KAF, is remediated. As a WFE Commander his overall job involves dealing with water, and waste water treatment, ensuring clean dry fuel for aircraft operations, and ensuring there is nothing as a result of CF activities that will have an ill effect on the environment ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Canada’s armed forces are receiving Falcon III AN/PRC-117G wideband manpack radio systems from Harris Corp. of Florida. The order, worth $4.7 million, includes the RF-7800B tactical Broadband Global Area Networking satellite terminals. Integration of the AN/PRC-117G with the Harris RF-7800B terminals will provide Canadian personnel with unique end-to-end, Type-1 secure beyond-line-of-sight wideband communications connectivity. “The AN/PRC-117G and RF-7800B will provide Canada’s military with new communications capabilities that will lead to enhanced command and control and situational awareness,” said Andy Start, president, international business unit, Harris RF Communications ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Defence Minister:  Arm-twisting lobbying won’t help get big honkin’ ship contracts“A provincial lobby effort will have no impact on who gets the biggest chunk of $35 billion worth of shipbuilding work, Defence Minister Peter MacKay insisted Monday. MacKay said Ottawa has taken politics and lobbying out of the equation by leaving the decision in the hands of bureaucrats. “While we appreciate the interest and the enthusiasm of our province and others on this federal initiative, the decision for the two centres of excellence will be made by professional public servants judging the competence and best value of the bids,” MacKay said during a speech to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. “To be clear, it will not be affected by politics, political pressure, or advertising. This will ensure that our men and women in uniform are getting the absolute best ships possible.” The Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard is on the short list for contracts to build new ships for the navy and coast guard ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (3)  Airbus simulator training, Leopard 2A4 simulators/trainers and signaling flags and pennants (specs – 6.7MB PDF – downloadable here).
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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 16 Feb 11

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  • Canada-US Border Security:  This gives you a sense of how seriously American legislators take the border security issue (and how likely Canada is to have to give up loads in any coming joint security negotiations?) “Every inch of the Canada-U.S. border and the American boundary with Mexico should be under “operational control” of American border officials, a U.S. lawmaker told a congressional hearing into border security on Tuesday. “The acceptable level for the American citizen is total control of our southern border, our northern border, our natural ports of entry,” said Republican Jeff Duncan, a South Carolina lawmaker and a member of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on border and maritime security. Such control would allow Americans to protect “this beacon of freedom,” Duncan said, “where we determine who comes into this country, how many folks come here through legal means annually, what they come for, whether they’re seeking citizenship.” ….”
  • Oopsie….. “…. A hankering for Tim Hortons after a hard day of training went horribly wrong for some of Canada’s super-secret commandos, who wound up handcuffed and face down along a major highway. The elite special-forces soldiers, travelling in a convoy of civilian vehicles, were pulled over in late 2009 along Highway 401 in southern Ontario after a panicked member of the public spotted the burly men at a coffee shop. Ontario Provincial Police were called, though it’s not clear whether it was because someone had spotted a weapon or some other reason. Officers from the Brighton detachment, west of Belleville, Ont., followed the vehicles east along the highway, where they executed “a high-risk takedown,” with weapons drawn. The incident came to light through military records obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act ….”
  • F-35 Fight: “The gruelling political battle over the government’s decision to purchase 65 F-35 fighter jets has drawn a line in the sand, with opposition parties standing on one side, and the government and Canadian Forces on the other. In many ways, the military is the government’s most valuable asset in the fight, with current and retired senior officers coming out strongly in favour of the stealth aircraft, arguing it is the best plane for Canada’s future needs. Yet largely overlooked in the debate is that military officials recommended the F-35 in 2006—four years before they completed what is called a “statement of requirements,” the centerpiece of any military procurement process. Even now, the whereabouts of that statement is crucial because the Conservative government has repeatedly cited military officials’ public statements as proof that their decision to commit to the F-35 is the right one. They have also criticized the Liberal Party for not listening to the country’s armed forces. But experts and former defence officials say that until a statement of requirements is released—if one even exists—the entire effort to purchase the F-35 will be subject to politicking based on speculation and allegations ….”
  • Yet MORE on the PM’s Plane’s Paint Job: “…. The reported tussle is interesting in other ways. MacKay is arguably among the most visible and qualified replacements for Harper, should his quest for a majority government fail next time round. What does it say about the internal dynamics of the Conservatives’ top leadership, if MacKay’s wishes are continually rebuffed by the PMO? If Stephen Harper doesn’t like the advice he is getting from his defence minister, he should shuffle the cabinet. Granted, that would be an unpopular move given MacKay’s high visibility in the Conservative Party. Such a move would also further expose the PM to allegations that he is a micromanager ….”
  • Agreed. “…. A group of students at the University of Toronto are trying to stop the Canadian Forces from holding information sessions on campus on the grounds that they felt it was wrong to recruit students to be trained “to kill and to fight wars.”  With all due respect to the 30 students who felt strongly enough about the issue to show up and protest the information seminar: you’re all wrong.  The seminar being protested was being held behind closed doors and only students interested in hearing the information were in attendance. Recruiters did not station themselves in the middle of campus with megaphones, they did not stage drills in the quad as demonstrations of active duty and they did not interrupt class time.  What they did do was provide information on a legitimate career option for interested students ….”
  • A Canadian researcher is lending credence to the idea that the Cold War-era concept of deterrence can and does work against terrorists. In an article to be published this month in the Journal of Strategic Studies, Alex Wilner rejects the post 9/11 theory that serious threats of punishment without use of force won’t work against an enemy whose assets aren’t defined by geography. Rather, he argues that by incorporating deterrence theory into the war on terror by undermining the cost-to-benefit ratio of executing an attack, “we might not only be able to defeat terrorist groups, but we may be able to manipulate their behaviour pre-emptively …. he argues, terrorist groups like al-Qaida are comprised of individuals who are vulnerable to manipulation. For example, future leaders might be deterred from engaging in terrorism if they see current leaders being punished by death or incarceration ….”
  • A Facebook and Skype scammer used the name and photo of a high-ranking U.S. National Guard general to steal $3,000 from a Toronto woman in what’s believed to be one of a number of frauds that exploit the authority of the military. The woman made two wire transfers to London, believing she was helping Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie of Vermont pay for a shipment of money to Canada after a tour in Iraq. At least two other women, in Taiwan and Germany, have responded to pleas from someone they believed to be Dubie, the guard said. In October, a Skype user claiming to be Dubie asked to the Toronto woman to be friends, she said Tuesday, asking that her name not be used because she fears for the safety of her family. “I was kind of in awe of the whole thing, that someone like that was contacting me,” she said. “I wanted to help someone like that who is an honest, trustworthy person.” The person claiming to be Dubie refused to talk on the phone or video chat. “He was so adamant that it was him,” she said. “He said no, he can’t talk to me because he is in Iraq.” …. “…. “It has come to my attention that there are people using my identity to solicit money on FB and Skype,” Dubie wrote Friday on his legitimate Facebook page. “I will never ask for money from anyone in cyberspace.” …. Vermont guard spokesman Lt. Col. Lloyd Goodrow said the case has been referred to the FBI. Dubie, through Goodrow, declined to comment.  “He is quite upset by this,” said Goodrow.” “

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 15 Feb 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 14 Feb 11

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  • More on Canadian generals helping train Afghan security forces“Two senior Canadian generals are to oversee critical multi-billion dollar training programs that NATO hopes will lead to Afghan security forces taking over the lead from alliance forces by the end of 2014. “That is an incredible compliment to Canada,” one of the officers, Maj-Gen. Stu Beare, said in a telephone interview from his police training headquarters in Kabul. Maj-Gen. Beare has run police training for the alliance since last fall. Some time in April or May he is to be joined on the army side of NATO’s training house by Maj.-Gen. Mike Day, who until a few days ago oversaw Canada’s secretive special forces. Maj.-Gen. Day will wear two hats as he will also lead a contingent of as many as 950 Canadian soldiers that Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided last November will continue Ottawa’s military participation in Afghanistan as trainers to assist Afghan forces in the north of the country ….”
  • Meanwhile, the boss of NATO’s training effort in Afghanistan says still MORE trainers are needed. “More nations are pledging support, yet NATO still faces a shortage of 740 trainers needed to get Afghan soldiers and policemen ready to take the lead in securing their nation, the coalition’s top training official says. Needed most are 290 police trainers, including those to work in new training centers opening in Afghanistan this year, U.S. Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, the commander of NATO’s training mission, told The Associated Press in an interview Saturday. Afghan President Hamid Karzai wants his nation’s police and army to take the lead in protecting and defending their homeland by 2014, a deadline that will be reached only if the training effort — already on a fast track — gets even more support from NATO and other nations. Caldwell said the coalition wants to have the additional 740 trainers in place by this summer ….”
  • If you believe the paper trail mentioned here (love to see some of those documents posted publicly with the articles), two years of bureaucratic and political energy were consumed on this? “Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been locked in a lengthy tug of war with his defence minister over the future of the military’s VIP Airbus, newly disclosed documents show. Peter MacKay has repeatedly rejected requests from the prime minister’s staff to have the Airbus painted a civilian white and red instead of its current military grey. MacKay and senior officers argue that the white colour scheme would be too visible whenever the passenger jet is sent on troop and cargo missions to risky locales, as happens now when the aircraft is not needed by the prime minister or the Governor General. Senior government officials say no final decision has been made. But internal emails indicate the Privy Council Office — Harper’s own department — in fact ordered the military last September to arrange for the new paint job at the next scheduled maintenance. Documents outlining the two-year tussle over the VIP plane were obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Taliban claims responsibility for more attacks in Kandahar City.