- Afghanistan “The women of the Canadian Forces played a much bigger combat role in Afghanistan than they did in earlier overseas missions, according to a research paper to be presented this week. The study found 310 Canadian women were deployed to Afghanistan in combat positions such as infantry in 2001-11, more than triple the number that had frontline fighting roles in the 1990s. “So they are making a significant contribution, for example, to the Afghan mission, more so I think than the public is aware,” said Krystel Carrier-Sabourin, a doctoral student at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont ….”
- Cuts at Veterans Affairs Canada (1) “An opposition manoeuvre that prompted a public exploration of the effects of cuts at the Veterans Affairs department could come to a quick end. The Commons committee investigating the issue went behind closed doors Tuesday after hearing from just one set of witnesses in its study of the reduction of $226-million over two years to the department’s $3.5-billion budget ….”
- Cuts at Veterans Affairs Canada (2) Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Eve Adams: no benefit cuts are in the works. “The minister could not have been clearer in answering the question about whether or not veterans’ benefits would be cut. The expert witnesses we heard today at committee could not have been clearer on whether or not veterans’ benefits would be cut. So I will add my voice to answer the question for the member for Charlottetown and let me say it very simply and very clearly. There will be no cuts to veterans’ benefits.”
- Highway of Heroes coin to be unveiled soon by the Royal Canadian Mint. “Since the start of the Afghanistan war, thousands of Canadians have stood on bridges and lined streets to watch motorcades head west on the Highway of Heroes. The motorcades include hearses carrying the remains of Canada’s war dead. Family members ride in other vehicles. To commemorate those ultimate sacrifices and the groundswell of public tribute, the Royal Canadian Mint has struck a commemorative coin. The mint will unveil the Highways of Heroes silver commemorative coin at a ceremony Monday at Quinte West City Hall in Trenton. The coin was the brainchild of QMI Agency visual journalist Pete Fisher. He’s also the author of the recently released book Highway of Heroes, True Patriot Love ….”
- “A Canadian war amputee and Canucks legend Richard Brodeur will come together …. to announce the Heroes Hockey Challenge, a national charity benefiting wounded soldiers and their families. “Remember that these families weren’t drafted into this. These individuals chose to go into it, but it’s much more difficult for their families,” said Master Cpl. Paul Franklin, a double amputee. In January 2006, a convoy Franklin was riding in was hit by a suicide bomber in Kandahar, Afghanistan, severing his left leg. He later underwent 26 surgeries before his right leg was also amputated …. The charity will see galas and charity hockey games in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and Halifax in the early new year. The events will feature auctions, celebrity guests, NHL stars and live entertainment. The games, taking place in each city’s official NHL arena, will pit former NHL greats against Canadian soldiers ….” More on the Heroes Hockey Challenge here (Facebook) and here.
- F-35 Tug o’ War (1) Associate Minister of National Defence drops by Winnipeg to tell everyone the benefits of the F-35 deal – more here.
- F-35 Tug o’ War (2) Defence Minister takes softball question in the House of Commons on the Joint Strike Fighter. “Ms. Joyce Bateman (Winnipeg South Centre, CPC): Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government has made unprecedented investments in Canada’s armed forces. Our commitment to rebuilding their capacity, after a decade or darkness, is ensuring that our brave men and women have the tools they need. The work to supply this equipment is also providing an incredible boost to the Canadian economy. Could the Minister of National Defence please inform the House of recent developments on the economic benefits of the F-35 program? Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, my friend from Winnipeg is right. Our government has committed to provide the air force with the F-35 and has enabled Canadian companies to compete for large-scale contracts to help build the aircraft for the global supply chain. Today, Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg celebrated the opening of its new advanced composites manufacturing centre, which will house the production lines for parts as well as the assembly of the horizontal tail structure for the F-35. This work at Bristol, we are told, will create 100 new jobs. Our government is proud to stand with Canadians and for the Canadian economy and the Canadian Forces. We wish the opposition would stop fearmongering and support— “
- Big Honkin’ Ships Globe & Mail column: “…. the shipbuilding contract broke with a long Canadian tradition, produced a rational, fact-based decision, bullet-proofed the government from any charge of political interference, and gives Canada a chance to build a more streamlined and efficient industry. Hats off to the Harper government.”
- If the socialists aren’t happy with the big honkin’ ships and the F-35’s, they MUST be good! “…. The expenditures fit with Canada’s increasingly aggressive military posture in the world. From its combat roles in Afghanistan and Libya to its police/military occupation role in Haiti, Canada is joining the front ranks of imperialist countries that are increasingly turning to military force to advance their economic interests and maintain the unequal and unfair international status quo ….”
- Mark Collins on “The CF and Canadian Western Hemisphere Neo-Imperialism”
- “…. Numbers still matter, of course, but the static budgetary and counting exercises of the Cold War count for much less when what matters most is whether you are prepared to fight for something other than your own immediate defence. In retrospect, it seems clear that many Europeans’ commitment to collective defence during the standoff with the Soviets wasn’t much more than a commitment to their own defence. In a post-Cold War era, when the burdens of NATO membership entail sending one’s troops to actually fight in faraway places, most European governments are decidedly less interested. So who’s a “free rider” now? And how long, in an era of prolonged economic austerity, will Canada and the few other allies who actually contribute to the fighting be prepared to accept these costs when so many others are not?“
- What’s Canada Buying? Wanted: someone to “supply …. labour, material, supervision and equipment necessary to construct a new urban assault course including concrete, carpentry, roofing and foundations in Petawawa, Ontario …. The estimated cost for this opportunity is in the order of $401,600.00 ….”
- “It will take up to 150 days to answer an access-to-information request for the costs of adding the word “royal” to the air and maritime divisions of the Canadian Forces, says the Defence Department. In a request dated Sept. 27, The Canadian Press asked for documentation of the costs to restore the words “Royal Canadian” to the air force and navy. However, the Canadian Forces says it needs more time because it has to consult with the Privy Council Office about possible cabinet confidentiality issues. The department has extended the 30-day deadline for a response to March 26. Defence Minister Peter MacKay repeatedly declined to give a cost estimate during the Aug. 16 news conference announcing the change, saying the value of restoring the traditional names was “priceless.” ….” We’ll see how long we’ll have to wait for the media outlet to release the material to the public once it reaches the media’s hands….
- “Lieutenant General Walter Semianiw, the Commander of Canada Command, will visit Finland from 25-26 October 2011. Canada Command is the organisation responsible for the national defence of Canada. General Semianiw’s host in Finland will be Rear Admiral Juha Rannikko, Chief of Defence Command Finland ….”
- The Canadian Forces apparently beat out CBC in Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa. “The Conservative government’s overhaul of the 2011 Canada Day celebrations, which included scrapping plans to honour the CBC’s 75th anniversary, drew ire from the opposition Tuesday. As reported by iPolitics Tuesday morning, Conservative officials drastically changed what the Canadian Heritage department had in mind for the Canada Day show on Parliament Hill. A suggestion to celebrate the CBC was rebuffed, and a renewed emphasis was placed on the Canadian Armed Forces ….” This, from Heritage Minister James Moore during Question Period yesterday: “I think my colleague is talking about my speech on Canada Day last year, which I wrote myself. Instead of celebrating the CBC, which the member is free to do as he wants, what I chose to say instead in my speech was, “On this Canada Day…to those men and women of the Canadian Forces serving in Afghanistan, in Libya, and other difficult places in the world: to put it simply, you are the bravest and the best, we are proud of your service, and we are honoured by the work that you do for Canada”. That is what I said instead of praising the CBC. I had two minutes, and I stand by my decision.”
- “The iconic poem In Flanders Fields immortalized the poppy as a symbol of remembrance for Canadian soldiers since the First World War. But it’s also a registered trademark, owned and so closely guarded by the Royal Canadian Legion that a motorcycle club of veterans isn’t allowed to include a small one in its own logo without lawyers threatening legal action. Capt. Michael Blow, president of the Canadian Veteran Freedom Riders (CVFR), who devoted 35 years of his life to the military, has one in his club’s crest. It’s a little difficult to see, but it’s there. And the Legion doesn’t like that one bit ….” Discussion on this at Army.ca here.
- “George W. Bush’s visit to Surrey, B.C., on Thursday was met with a protest and an unsuccessful courtroom bid to have him detained for torture during his presidency. Roughly 200 demonstrators chanted for his detainment, many waving their shoes in the air, in reference to a 2008 incident at Baghdad press conference, when Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi hurled a sneaker at the former president …. As Bush arrived …. the Canadian Centre for International Justice filed a private prosecution in a Surrey provincial court to have him arrested. Made on behalf of four plaintiffs the unsuccessful attempt joined calls by Amnesty International, as well as a 4,000-page legal submission to Canada’s Attorney General …. He and other members of his administration insist their measures were both legal under international law, and necessary to prevent terrorism after September 11, 2001. In one exchange with demonstrators yesterday, one RCMP officer guarding the Surrey Regional Economic Forum — where Bush was to speak alongside another former U.S. president, Bill Clinton — said the former president could not be arrested because he is an “internationally protected person.” ….”
- Alexander Johnston, 1885-1918, R.I.P “Private Alexander Johnston, a Canadian casualty of the First World War whose remains were identified last spring, was buried today with full military honours at Cantimpré Canadian Cemetery, in Sailly-lez-Cambrai, France. In attendance were members of Private Johnston’s family, a Canadian Forces contingent, Mr. Marc Lortie, Canadian Ambassador to France as well as other French dignitaries ….” More here, here and here.
- What’s Canada (Not) Buying? An answer from DND regarding the cancellation of the process to replace the Canadian Ranger Rifle and General Service Pistol: the process apparently needs more work. “The DND Small Arms Modernization (SAM) Project Management Office (PMO) requested that Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) cancel both the (General Service Pistol) and the (New Canadian Ranger Rifle) Price and Availability (P&A) requests on MERX as a result of questions, and requests for clarification, from industry. The feedback from industry brought the DND SAM PMO to re-evaluate its procurement strategy. The DND SAM PMO is now focusing efforts on clarifying the procurement strategy for the GSP and NCRR with the intent to facilitate future communication with industry. The comments and observations received from industry in response to the P&A requests will be considered when the final requirements are written. The replacement of the GSP and NCRR remain a priority for DND. The next step of the project will be to obtain Preliminary Project Approval (PPA). No additional solicitations will be posted on MERX until after PPA is obtained and an approved procurement strategy is in place ….” Full response (2 page PDF) here – you read it here first!
- Afghanistan Medical trainers among the training teams. “Operation ATTENTION began in April 2011 with the arrival in the Kabul area of the first of some 950 Canadian Forces members who will deploy with the Canadian Contingent Training Mission–Afghanistan, Canada’s contribution to the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan. Their mission is to work with the training cadre of the Afghan National Army (ANA) to build a force capable of meeting Afghanistan’s security needs after 2014. In July 2011, a group of Canadian Forces health-care providers deployed on Op ATTENTION with a Training Development Officer to serve as advisor-mentors to their Afghan counterparts at the Armed Forces Academy of Medical Sciences (AFAMS) in Kabul ….”
- CBC sends reporter to see what’s happening in Jamaica with Operation Jaguar. “For over four decades, Canada trained the helicopter pilots and mechanics of the Jamaica Defence Force. But last year, Jamaica decided to bring home the training and do all the work itself. However, its mechanics couldn’t keep up with the demand and after a while the Jamaicans found themselves in the very uncomfortable position of not having enough working helicopters, meaning no way to conduct high-stakes rescues and medical evacuations. With a very bad hurricane season predicted, officials there were worried. So they called up Canada and asked if we could send down some of our world-class search and rescue crews. Canada agreed and, in mid-August, sent along three Griffon helicopters and 65 Canadian Forces personnel — only the second time in history that Canada’s search and rescue teams have been deployed in another country ….” CBC coverage of Canada’s training mission in Afghanistan? Not so much lately….
- “Just because the combat mission in Afghanistan is over doesn’t mean the training stops for thousands of Canadian soldiers who are involved a record-setting exercise operation in this east-central Alberta military base. Roughly 3,000 troops from the Petawawa-based 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group are involved in a month-long training operation dubbed Exercise Maple Resolve at the base roughly 230 km east of Edmonton. Colonel Lowell Thomas, commander of Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre based in CFB Wainwright, said training is no longer focused on efforts in Afghanistan. “We’ve now moved to train troops for operations anywhere in the world, in any type of operation as well,” said Thomas. The month-long operation is the largest undertaking for the training command centre, which has been based at CFB Wainwright since 2004 ….”
- “The Royal Canadian Legion says veterans’ programs should be protected from proposed government spending cuts. Legion president Pat Varga says the government has a moral debt to veterans and should exempt their benefits from the cuts. The government has asked all departments to offer budget cuts of five per cent and 10 per cent in a major spending review. The proposals are being studied by the cabinet. But Varga says any programs, services or benefits for vets should be exempt both from the review and any eventual spending reductions ….”
- HMCS Ottawa back home on the west coast after “a four and a half month operational deployment and goodwill tour in the Asia Pacific region” – welcome home!
- What one columnist says came out of the Toronto Maple Leafs spending three days practicing at the arena at CFB Trenton this week.
- Way Up North Mark Collins on “One Less Threat to Our “Arctic Sovereignty” “
- Here’s something to be careful about with the impending “perimeter security” deal between Canada and the U.S. “…. If the new $1-billion perimeter security deal, dubbed Beyond the Border, is an example of big-picture thinking, then its reception may have got fuzzy for many Canadians. Proponents have praised the deal’s measures to reduce cross-border red tape, expand border infrastructure and generally speed up bilateral trade. However, other U.S. actions, such as musings about possibly levying new tariffs on rail cargo from Canadian ports or passing legislation saddling non-U.S. banks with costs associated with new tax reporting requirements for non-resident U.S. citizens, have raised fears our largest trading partner is increasingly retreating behind protectionist and isolationist walls ….”
- Amnesty International wants Canada to arrest former U.S. President George W. Bush while he’s here for an economic summit later this month – more here, here and here. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight….
- A bit of government money ($39,980) for an exhibit about a Canadian General. “The Museum Strathroy-Caradoc will be able to share the story of General Sir Arthur Currie with Canadians, thanks to an investment from the Government of Canada. This was announced today by Bev Shipley, Member of Parliament (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex), on behalf of the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. The Museum will create, present, and circulate a travelling exhibition about the life and career of Strathroy native General Sir Arthur Currie. This project will trace Currie’s journey to become Canada’s top military leader during World War I and the first Canadian to attain the rank of full general ….”
- Libya Mission (1) Canada coughing up $10M for securing WMD, blowing up unblown-up stuff (reopens Libyan embassy in Tripoli, too) – a bit of what the Minister said via the DFAIT Info-Machine here, and more from the media here and here.
- Libya Mission (2) “Canada can do more for new UN mission in Libya: Analysts – Police and judicial training, constitutional and electoral support, funding for human rights agencies—the list goes on.”
- Afghanistan U.N.: Afghan int service not very good at handling prisoners nicely. Amnesty International (AI): Canada should look into EVERY prisoner handed over to Afghan authorities – more here. AI and BC Civil Liberties Association: we need an enquiry, dammit!
- CF in Jamaica/OP Jaguar Mission number 100 completed (about 3 weeks ago), courtesy of the CEFCOM Info-Machine.
- Israel’s cabinet has approved a deal for a prisoner swap to free Gilad Shalit, who’s been a “guest” of Hamas since being kidnapped June 25, 2006. Here’s what Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird had to say: “Canada welcomes the announcement of the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and calls on his captors to adhere to the terms of the agreement. Canada has consistently called for the release of Gilad Shalit over the course of his imprisonment and hopes that he will soon be reunited with his family after being held in captivity by Hamas for more than five years.”
- Former military doctor disses available mental health support at CFB Petawawa when he was there. “…. Although I can’t speak to the entire military, I worked for at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa as a military physician from 2007-10 and can attest that the resources for mental health care on that base and the capacity of the medical system in Petawawa to handle mental illness are abysmal at best. There is a massive shortage of mental health workers and psychiatrists, as well as a total disconnect between the primary care physicians and the mental health care team ….”
- Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino drops by CFB Trenton, talks about what a good job the CF is doing of buying stuff.
- What’s Canada Buying? More robot control work: “…. Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) – Suffield, Medicine Hat, Alberta has a requirement to develop control algorithms for the Micro Hydraulic Toolkit (MHT) robot that will allow it to perform a variety of locomotion behaviours focusing on stability and performance. These control algorithms will be developed in simulation, under different terrain surfaces and tested on the real robot. The motion of the simulated robot and real robot will be compared to refine the model and provide quantitative data. Finally, the control behaviours will be integrated with a vision based leader/follower software and man machine interface ….” A bit more detail in the Statement of Work from the bid document (7 page PDF) here.
- What’s Canada (Not) Buying? Still no word on why the general service pistol and Canadian Ranger rifle replacement processes are on hold – folks are working on some answers, though.
- F-35 Tug o’ War Quakers take a stand. “The Kitchener Area Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) believes that public policy, as well as the lives of individuals, should aim to take away the occasion for war. Therefore, we oppose the Canadian government’s proposed purchase of 65 F-35 joint-strike fighter jets. The procurement of joint-strike aircraft not only fails to reduce the possibility of armed conflict, it ties Canadian policy to future military intervention overseas, without public discussion of the ramifications of this major shift in Canada’s role in world affairs ….”
- “The Harper Government today launched the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. This War helped establish our path toward becoming an independent and free country, united under the Crown with a respect for linguistic and ethnic diversity …. Over the next four years, the Government will invest to increase Canadians’ awareness of this defining moment in our history. This will include support for: a pan-Canadian educational campaign focused on the importance of the War of 1812 to Canada’s history; support for up to 100 historical re-enactments, commemorations, and local events; a permanent 1812 memorial located in the National Capital Region; interactive tours, six exhibits, and improvements to three national historic sites across the country; investments in infrastructure at key 1812 battle sites, such as Fort Mississauga and Fort York, Ontario; celebrating and honouring the links that many of our current militia regiments in Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada have to the War of 1812. October 2012 will also be designated as a month of commemoration of the heroes and key battles of the War of 1812 ….” More on this here, here, here, here and here.
- Meanwhile, “It’s been almost 200 years since the War of 1812 broke out, but the smoke hasn’t cleared yet in a fight over whether present-day Canadian military regiments should be awarded official “battle honours” recognizing their links to Canadian defence units that took part in the historic conflict. A group including historians and retired military personnel is lobbying the Canadian government to end decades of official resistance and finally bestow the symbolic honours as part of the country’s War of 1812 bicentennial commemorations, a $28-million program of fort refurbishments, battle re-enactments and monument-building announced Tuesday by Heritage Minister James Moore ….” LOADS of discussion on this one here at Milnet.ca.
- Messages from the Prime Minister, Defence Minister and Premier of Ontario for National Peacekeepers’ Day.
- Libya Mission (1) “At least one Libyan diplomat is claiming refugee status in an attempt to stay in Canada, after the Department of Foreign Affairs moved to kick out the country’s diplomats, CBC News has learned. Making a refugee claim in Canada entitles a person to a hearing with the Immigration and Refugee Board before any attempt to remove them from the country. While the Libyan Embassy in Ottawa is closed, it doesn’t mean diplomatic relations with the country have officially been severed. The Department of Foreign Affairs said late Monday night that Canada had declared all remaining diplomats at the Libyan Embassy in Ottawa personae non gratae and that they have five business days to get out of Canada. Their access to the embassy’s bank accounts was also cut off by Ottawa ….”
- Libya Mission (2) “The Canadian military and NATO are pursuing a Libyan end-game more advanced than the “political settlement” Canada is pushing for diplomatically, which critics say is undermining the pursuit of political goals more in line with relevant UN Security Council resolutions. At the same time, there are increasing signs of a draw-down in Western military forces in the region—and Canada may not be far behind its allies ….”
- Afghanistan (1) Last transition troops in (via CF Info-Machine – video and transcript)
- Afghanistan (2) Last of chopper squadron troops out.
- Minister of Defence in Trenton for “international co-operation” announcement today.
- Helping wounded warriors. “Gary Vienneau has seen first hand how the family is affected when a soldier in the Canadian Forces comes home with an injury. “There are really two casualties – the CF member and the family,” he says. As coordinator of the Integrated Personnel Support Centre (IPSC) that serves communities across Southwestern Ontario, Vienneau has seen first hand the physical and psychological injuries that troops can bring home when they have been deployed. He works closely with a range of service providers that assist with post-deployment transitions, both for the soldier and for their family members ….”
- What’s Canada Buying? X-ray screening machines (2, maybe as many as 6) for Air Force base passenger terminals, someone to “adapt, modify and program the DRDC Versatile Tracking System (VTS) unit to emulate the processing of multicolor electro optical missile warning systems” and someone to fine tune and improve ultrasound brain scanners.
- F-35 Tug o’ War The “glass is half empty” assessment of the Joint Strike Fighter project in the U.S. “…. test flights for the newer F-35 were suspended, too, because of a valve problem in the plane’s integrated power package. It’s the third time this year that JSFs have been grounded. Tests may resume as early as next week. Then again, they may not. Yesterday, the U.S. military committed to spending another $535 million to buy 38 more Joint Strike Fighters — a family of stealth jets that are supposed to become the multipurpose, affordable workhorses of tomorrow’s fleet. Ninety percent of America’s combat aviation power is eventually supposed to come from the jets’ three variants. But the jets have been anything but cheap. The current cost for the JSF program is $382 billion and rising for more than 2,400 aircraft. No wonder just about every major deficit reduction plan scales back the JSF effort in some way. And, at the moment, they’re not producing any combat power, either. Back in 2002, the plan was to have more than 90 JSFs flying by next year. As things currently stand, the Air Force and Navy might not get their variants until 2016. The Marines — who knows? ….”
- Way Up North “It took a major Arctic military exercise to help thaw old Cold War suspicions between Canada, the U.S. and Russia, according to a Canadian Forces report. And despite an “immense” language barrier, the Department of National Defence heralded the success of last summer’s groundbreaking joint exercise with its former Cold War adversary. The report offers a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes tensions that led up to the historic attempt at military co-operation, dubbed Exercise Vigilant Eagle. It comes as the second version of Vigilant Eagle took place this week in Alaskan airspace. The exercise was originally set for 2008 but had to be cancelled when relations between Russia and the West plummeted after Moscow’s invasion of neighbouring Georgia ….”
- CF budget worries (maybe unwarranted)? “A fear is haunting the defence community and the Canadian Forces; fear of deep cuts to the defence budget. These fears are largely unwarranted. The current reductions called for in the 2011 budget are far from unique to Canada. Instead, the cuts follow the example of the United States and Great Britain in calling for restraint and an overall reduction in spending over the coming years. The trepidation throughout the defence community is that we are headed for the massive cuts that defined the so-called “decade of darkness,” but after a close look at the numbers these concerns seem to be largely unfounded. Yet, the budget still hangs ominously as the defence community has already seen budget cuts, didn’t like it and don’t want to go through it again ….”
- CF stars in new IMAX film about rescues (via CF Info-Machine).
- Kicking War Criminals Outta Canada: Amnesty International’s point to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s counterpoint – more here.
- “The government has enlisted Crime Stoppers to help create a large-scale, most-wanted list for fugitives sought for deportation. In an interview with Postmedia News, Public Safety Minster Vic Toews said his department is still in discussions to expand its list of 30 suspected war criminals to become a much broader list for individuals convicted of crimes both in Canada and abroad. Toews said there were a number of things left to consider before the Canada Border Services Agency moves forward with expanding its most-wanted list. “Are there partnerships that we need to establish in order to make this effective? Could we put more than 30 on the list? Could we highlight a few hundred (individuals), for example. What is the impact from a public communications point of view if you put on too many?” he said. Toews said this is where Crime Stoppers, a non-profit organization that solicits the public’s help in solving crimes, comes in ….”
- More non-surprises about the C.I.A. keeping an eye on neighbours as well as bad guys. “The Central Intelligence Agency closely tracked Canadian satellite and imaging research during the Cold War as part of the U.S. spy agency’s efforts to keep apace of global technology advances, declassified records show. The CIA saw Canada’s fledgling telecommunications satellite network as an influential project that would set the standard for other nations planning to launch their own systems. The agency also took a special interest in research by an Ottawa university on Soviet commercial enterprises, reveals a still heavily censored memorandum. The records are among several CIA reports and memos dealing with Canada that were released to The Canadian Press under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. The CIA drafted a confidential 1972 intelligence memo on Canada’s Telesat communications system and attended high-tech mapping conferences in Ottawa and Montreal the same year ….”
- Who’s taking part in Operation Nanook this year (1)? “Three Canadian navy ships and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter are being outfitted in St. John’s for an extended mission to the Arctic. The Canadian Forces says the frigate HMCS St. John’s will be joined by the coastal defence vessels HMCS Moncton and HMCS Summerside, as well as the American coast guard cutter USCGC Willow ….”
- Who’s taking part in Operation Nanook this year (2)? “Frostbite, trench foot, snow blindness and wild animal attacks aren’t things Peter McKenna usually has to worry about while he’s at work. But they are on the list of things the UPEI professor might encounter when he heads to the Arctic as an observer in the Operation Nanook 11 sovereignty exercise. McKenna said before he could go on the trip, he had to sign a waiver acknowledging the risks involved, which included falling through ice, hypothermia, dehydration and geographic disorientation. “I’m mildly concerned but I think that I’m in capable hands when it comes to the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence,” he said ….”
- Here here. “…. The Department of National Defence currently offers programs for serving members to address operational stress, addictions, mental health and wellness. There are also 32 Military Family Resource Centres across Canada and more in other countries. The centres run a full range of services on youth, parenting, wellness, deployment, and family separation and reunion. Like all programs, they need independent evaluations of their effectiveness. No doubt, they could work better and reach more people. They also could better target participants by working more closely with veteran’s organizations. Nonetheless, they are essential tools of support for military families — especially for the thousands of spouses who are fighting for their partners, and for us, on the new front line of troop reintegration. (M)inister Mackay, General Natynczyk: Don’t touch the funding of these programs.“
- Afghanistan (1a) Survey says…. “As QMI Agency followed the last Canadian combat troops out of Afghanistan last month, there was one question that seemed to get under the thick skin of even the toughest soldier. In fact, after repeatedly being asked by media in the combat zone, it became a catch phrase among some combatants — tossed about with shrugs and often rolled eyes. The question wondered: “Was it worth it?” Now, in the settling dust of Canada’s combat exit from Afghanistan — our soldiers now remain in logistical and training missions only — an exclusive Sun Media national poll has found almost three in five Canadians doubt whether the sacrifice asked of our country was worthwhile. Only 30% of respondents to the Leger Marketing survey felt it was. As well, 58% of Canadians thought the mission could not be categorized as fully accomplished after we pulled out last month ….” More poll details here (PDF).
- Afghanistan (1b) “…. Despite the costs and the human loss, Canada’s role in Afghanistan, its combat assignment now over, has at least given the people of that tortured country a chance at a better life. What the Afghan people do with that opportunity is now up to them. It goes without question, however, that our soldiers did their uniform proud and, while only 30% of Canadians may ultimately see the cause as worthwhile, it will never negate the fact that no soldier has ever been more supported at home, despite the war’s unpopularity ….”
- Afghanistan (2) Bringing home the signs, flags, letters and other paraphenalia.
- Afghanistan (3) Guess where the last Canadian flag that flew over Kandahar’s Provincial Reconstruction Team base Camp Nathan Smigh has ended up?
- What’s Canada Buying? (1) “Remember the Used Subs” editorial: “…. As they go about their work, each member of the bureaucracy in charge of military procurement would do well to keep a photo of Canada’s woebegone subs close at hand, as a caution against false economies. In the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme Allied commander in the Second World War: “There is no victory at bargain basement prices.” “
- What’s Canada Buying? (2) Remember earlier this year when the CF research arm said it was hiring someone to do taser weapon research (second item)? There’s a bit more time to offer an alternative the companies proposed.
- F-35 Tug o’ War: Troubles in the U.S. “All 20 F-35 Lightning IIs have been grounded following a failure of the aircraft’s integrated power package (IPP). The incident took place at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., during a ground maintenance run of aircraft AF-4, the fourth conventional takeoff and landing version of the triservice Joint Strike Fighter. Following the failure of the IPP — which combines the functions performed by an auxiliary power unit, emergency power system and environmental controls — the crew shut down the aircraft as per standard operating procedures, according to a press release by the JSF program office. There were no injuries ….”
- Some Canadian government systems are included in a report of systems found to be attacked or hacked. “Security experts have discovered an unprecedented series of cyber attacks on the networks of 72 organizations globally, including the United Nations, governments and corporations, over a five-year period. Security company McAfee, which uncovered the intrusions, said it believed there was one “state actor” behind the attacks but declined to name it, though several other security experts said the evidence points to China. The long list of victims in the extended campaign include the governments of the United States, Taiwan, India, South Korea, Vietnam and Canada; the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); the International Olympic Committee (IOC); the World Anti-Doping Agency; and an array of companies, from defense contractors to high-tech enterprises ….” More from the McAfee blog here, and a Q&A here.
- Pack o’ Wanted War Criminals (1) Number six nabbed, Amnesty International wants war crime trials here.
- Pack o’ Wanted War Criminals (2) “It’s not up to Canada to prosecute people suspected of crimes against humanity, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Wednesday. The federal government has been publicly stepping up deportations of people found inadmissible to Canada because of a suspicion they may have participated in war crimes. But Toews said it’s not realistic for Canada to investigate, prosecute and imprison people who commit crimes against humanity in other countries. “Canada is not the UN. It’s not our responsibility to make sure each one of these faces justice in their own countries,” he (said) …. “What we are doing with [the Canada Border Services Agency] is ensuring that Canadian law is obeyed ….”
- Pack o’ Wanted War Criminals (3) The courts say you shouldn’t hear what group one of the nabbed from Pakistan is allegedly associated with.
- A bit of perspective on the Winnipeg Jets logo: “…. drawing political conclusions from a sports logo — racial issues aside — can point you down a long and winding road to insanity. Where does it end? Can’t cheer for the Ottawa Senators, as it conflicts with views on Canada’s unelected Senate. Or the Edmonton Oilers, as it might imply you support the pillaging of our natural resources. Or the L.A. Kings, since that would mean acceptance of any atrocities committed throughout history under monarchist rule. Or the Carolina Hurricanes, because it would be insensitive to those who have suffered at the hands of natural disaster. Forget the Calgary Flames, as too many people perish in house fires and to wear that sweater would be disrespectful. Or the Minnesota Wild. Nothing against the outdoors, they’re just ugly f*%kin’ sweaters.”
- Ooopsie…. (Wonder if we can see the briefing note now that the media has shared what it considers the important highlights?) “The Department of National Defence plans to drop the use of a dedicated civilian cargo ship for hauling military supplies and equipment after discovering that Ottawa lost millions of dollars in the arrangement. The existing contract for the use of the container ship will be allowed to lapse in October, according to internal federal documents. The ship has been used 13 times since October 2007, most notably to move Canadian military equipment and humanitarian supplies to Haiti in January 2010 following the earthquake. The documents say that most of the time, the ship has either been waiting for orders or sailing empty, at a cost of $21.3 million to taxpayers “Of that, only $3.4 million is directly attributed to the movement of cargo with the remainder for empty transits, standby while awaiting tasking as well as support to two Naval exercises,” said a briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay and obtained by The Canadian Press ….”
- A feature article on 412 Transport Squadron in Belleville’s hometown paper (although I think the headline means “they fly everything from patients all the way to the PM”)
- The good news: four alleged war criminals now nabbed, 27 more to go. “A fourth fugitive whose face was posted online by border authorities has been nabbed. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says Henry Pantoja Carbonel was arrested in Toronto. He was one of 30 people whose names and faces were posted online by the Canadian Border Services Agency earlier this month. Carbonel is a 53-year-old Peruvian. Toews says the website has generated a lot of tips from the public, although he didn’t say if the latest arrest was the result of such a tip ….” More from United Press International here.
- The bad news: will they face any kind of justice even if Canada kicks them out? “There are no guarantees that any of the suspected war criminals recently nabbed with the help of an online “wanted” list will actually face justice in their home countries. Federal ministers said Wednesday Canada simply wants to get rid of the men because their alleged crimes make them inadmissible. Human rights advocates say the federal government is dodging its responsibilities by deporting — not prosecuting — the suspects. “Our concern here is that this is furthering a long-established practice in Canada to overwhelmingly make use of our immigration system rather than our criminal justice system in dealing with cases of this sort,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada. “There doesn’t seem to be even any pretence of turning to the criminal justice system, or putting some measures in place to ensure that the people on this list, if the allegations are well-founded, will actually face justice.” ….”
- Norway attack backlash worries among some Canadian Muslims? “A national Muslim group is urging mosques across Canada to be extra vigilant during the upcoming religious month of Ramadan in the wake of Norway’s horrific massacre perpetrated by a right-wing extremist with anti-Islamic views. “We’ve noticed that these kind of incidents, high-profile international incidents, often are followed by hate crimes and discrimination targeted toward the Muslim community,” said Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, an Ottawa-based organization with a cross-country board of directors and volunteers. However, Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy said Wednesday he doesn’t see the need for such a warning, based on what happened in Norway. And a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said while he could not comment on specifics, he said there is no evidence that the Norway attacks — which included a bombing in the government section of Oslo and the shooting of dozens of people on nearby Utoya Island — present a widespread threat to Muslims in Canada ….”
- Somali Bad Guys in Canada (1) “A U.S. Congressional committee on terrorist recruitment of American Muslims turned its attention north on Wednesday, as a prominent Somali-Canadian leader testified that Ottawa had failed to tackle the ideology of extremists. Ahmed Hussen, president of the Canadian Somali Congress, told U.S. lawmakers that the Canadian government was concentrating on detecting and arresting terror suspects while leaving their rhetoric unchallenged. “The strategy of Canadian officials as they confront this phenomenon in my community has been to view this serious matter only through the prism of law enforcement,” he said. “There has not been a parallel attempt to counter the toxic anti-Western narrative that creates a culture of victimhood in the minds of members of our community.” Mr. Hussen was the lead witness at controversial Committee on Homeland Security hearings in Washington probing radicalization within the American Muslim community. Testimony Wednesday focused on the Somali militant group Al-Shabab ….”
- Somali Bad Guys in Canada (2) “Terrorist recruiters are targeting young Canadian Somali women to take up arms, the head of the Canadian Somali Congress told U.S. politicians Wednesday. In testimony before the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Ahmed Hussen suggested the reason might be increased police and security service attention over the recruitment of “dozens” of young Canadian Somali men from Ottawa and Toronto in recent years. “Lately, the recruiters have turned their attention to the facilitation of young Canadian Somali women into joining al-Shabab,” the radical Somali youth militia now fully integrated with al-Qaeda, Hussen said in a prepared statement. Much of the youth recruiting is believed to be through the Internet and an online mix of religious tracts, rap music, videos and recruiting pitches delivered in English. Visiting extremist clerics are another propaganda source ….”
- Somali Bad Guys in Canada (3) Here’s a link to the statement (PDF) read by the Canadian Somali Congress, and more on the Committee’s work on Somali bad guys here, here and here.
- More worries about “creeping Canadian militarism”. “…. Militarism is always premised on the notion that “real” nations and “real” men are grounded in warrior values. Real nations don’t sit on the sidelines; they participate. And those who oppose warrior values are told to shut up because they are not supporting our boys. End of discussion. We ought not to proceed further down this turn in the road without a robust national debate. That would begin with an honest and full assessment of the Afghanistan intervention. That would include scrutiny of placing Canadian forces and armaments in seven foreign bases (renamed “supply depots”), another Harper initiative that has gone undiscussed. That would demand an honest analysis of the social payoff of deflecting $30 billion that could be used to enhance our quality of life to purchase stealth fighters instead. Yes we need a military; that is a sad fact about which we should be vigilant and skeptical, not gung-ho.”
- Winnipeg Jets Logo Angst (1) “…. Why do we never get scenes of Canadian aid workers or doctors watching hockey with sketchy antennas in a far-flung desert village where they are distributing medicine? Because that doesn’t serve the new national interest. Meanwhile, most Canadian hockey teams sponsor special military nights, ranging in intensity from spectacles of soldiers rappelling down from the rafters (war is really neat, kids!) to sombre moments of silence for the fallen, insisting that we take their deaths as sacrifices for our freedom. No space is allowed to ask, ‘How is torturing prisoners in Kandahar protecting me?’ or, ‘If I’m so free, why do I get arrested for leading peaceful demonstrations in Canadian cities?’ ….”
- Winnipeg Jets Logo Angst (2) “…. These anti-war zealots see no distinction between being pro-war and pro-military when, in reality, the two can be mutually exclusive. It is quite easy to respect the work done by the people who serve in the military and air force – even if you don’t personally agree with the war or skirmish our government has them fight ….”
- Afghanistan (1) Again with the “what a great jobs the drones did” storyline.
- Afghanistan (2) Two Canadian foreign affairs experts (followable at Twitter here and here) comment on the Taliban’s latest rash of assassinations in Kandahar province.
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: A few more Taliban-friendly Twitter feeds out there.
- “Scores of veterans, dignitaries and members of the public turned out Wednesday for a parade and ceremony to remember the once “forgotten” Korean War. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was among those on hand at the Korea Veterans National Wall of Remembrance for the 58th anniversary of the armistice that ended the bloody conflict. “For too many years, Korea was called the ‘forgotten’ war,” Harper said. “But times are finally changing.” In all, 516 Canadian soldiers were killed in the conflict. Another 1,100 others were wounded in five major battles. Many of the Canadian dead are buried in Korea, prompting Harper to borrow from British war poet Rupert Brooke. “We may truly say that there is some corner of a foreign field that is forever Canada,” Harper said at the wreath-laying ceremony ….” More from the Government of Canada Info-Machine here and here.
- “Norwegian Cruise Line launched an enhanced military program today offering special rates to members of the U.S. and Canada armed forces. The program features exclusive rates on select Freestyle Cruising vacations, including the line’s newest and most innovative ship Norwegian Epic, along with the only U.S. flagged cruise ship, Pride of America. Current featured destinations include seven-day cruises in the Western Mediterranean, Eastern Caribbean and Hawaii, along with Norwegian Epic’s 13-day transatlantic crossing from Barcelona to Miami on October 23, 2011. Active or retired members of the military can chose from numerous sailings in 2011 or 2012. In addition, new sailings will be added on a regular basis ….” The company tells MILNEWS.ca an ID card is required when booking – more at the company’s site here.
- Congrats to the latest batch of recipients of the Meritorious Service Decorations, including the founder of Soldier On, Warrant Officer Andrew McLean.
Always happy to see a turnaround, belated as it might be.
I’ve complained in the past about Amnesty International not paying as much public attention to the Taliban as it could. They have been getting better at highlighting the Taliban’s less-than-stellar track record.
This, from their latest:
Amnesty International calls on Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan Parliament to immediately suspend controversial legislation that will give immunity from prosecution for serious violations of human rights, including war crimes and crimes against humanity committed, in the past 30 years.
Under the provisions of this legislation, Taleban figures who agree to cooperate with the Afghan government would also be immune to prosecution. The Afghan government and its international supporters identified reconciliation with the Taleban as a priority during the London conference in January 2010.
“Short term expediency in the form of reconciliation with the Taleban should not trump the rights of the Afghan people, and in particular Afghan women and girls, who have suffered greatly under the Taleban’s repressive strictures. The Taleban have had a record of terrible human rights abuses, both when they ruled Afghanistan, and now in the areas they control. They should be held to account for their actions, not be granted official impunity,” (Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director) Sam Zarifi said ….
Better late than never.
With all the back and forth about reconciliation, reintegration, playing nice with the Taliban who want to play nice, NOW we’re hearing from people who remember how the Taliban conducted business when they were the winning team (emphasis mine):
“Any discussions with the Taleban must include clear commitments that they will respect and promote the rights of the Afghan people,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director. “The Taleban established a terrible record of violating human rights during their rule and they have done nothing since then to indicate they will act differently if they return to power.“ (Amnesty International, 26 Jan 10)
Groups representing Afghan women warned the international community on Wednesday against pursuing a peace deal with the Taliban, fearing a return to the austere Islamist rule that saw women banned from education and work …. “I have great fears, and I am greatly confused,” Homa Sabri, national officer-in-charge for UNIFEM Afghanistan, the U.N.’s women’s fund, told Reuters. “2001 was a very clear signal that there is no more room for conservative elements to rule in Afghanistan,” she said. She questioned how the international community could now regard dealing with these elements as acceptable, and how it could guarantee peaceful integration in a future government …. (Reuters, 27 Jan 10)
Good to see someone finally saying it out loud AND seeing MSM listening and writing about it. I won’t go quite as far as Mark does over at The Torch, but he’s got the right idea.
A little more grist for the mill following Amnesty International’s statement this week about the 28 Oct 09 attack on U.N. and election staff in Kabul – a reminder of Amnesty’s words (emphasis mine):
“Attacks targeting civilians constitute war crimes. (Amnesty) said that if, as the Taleban suggest, this attack is part of a strategy of widespread or systematic attacks on the civilian population, carried out in pursuit of the Taleban’s policy of disrupting the upcoming elections, this attack could also constitute a crime against humanity.“
In a little interview Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid reportedly did with the Taliban web site Al-Emarah (PDF of English and Arabic versions available at non-terrorist site here), he’s quoted saying this:
“The leadership has instructed all Mujahideen to foil the process, target the polling stations and workers. I believe the election process will fail, but we call on all our countrymen to avoid taking part in the elections and keep away from polling stations because the Mujahideen have hammered out plans of attacks on these centers.”
Plain English for any war crimes investigators: “We told insurgents to attack election polling stations, and they have plans to do so.”
I eagerly await the Taliban following the next two bits of advice from Amnesty International (which they must respect to some extent if they asked for their help in another little matter):
Amnesty International said that the Taleban must immediately end such attacks. Those suspected of carrying the attacks out or ordering them must be brought to justice.
According to reports, three heroic Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan carried out a martyrdom-seeking attack inside the guest house of UNAMA, killing a great number of workers of the runoff campaign. In the heart of the Kabul city, Share Naw, Mujahideen killed 50 foreigners in UNAMA guest house no. II as a result of martyrdom seeking attack. It is said that many foreigners who had come to observe the runoff election process, were staying in the guesthouse. The report adds, the attack was launched after the recent statement by the leadership council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, calling on Mujahideen to prevent the runoff election from taking place …. It should be said, that a great number of foreign observers were staying in the Hotel who had arrived a Kabul to monitor the November 7 runoff elections ….
OK, Amnesty Int’l (or anyone looking for a war crime to chase and prosecute), we know:
2) the group is claiming responsibilty for deliberate attacks on places where they appear to have known UN officials and election observers were living, and
3) instead of trying to stop the incident, the group called for it to be done.
What more do you need? Anyone? Anyone?