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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 Mar 11

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  • No-Fly Zone Libya (1) – The U.N. Security Council straps on a pair. “The Security Council (has) effectively authorized the use of force in Libya to protect civilians from attack …. ” Here’s a link to the official resolution (PDF).
  • No-Fly Zone Libya (2) – More on Canada’s F-18’s headed into the fight, from unnamed sources. “A source told the Ottawa Citizen Thursday night that six CF-18s originally tasked for a NATO patrol off Iceland have now been ordered to take part in the Libyan mission ….” (Postmedia News) More, from unnamed sources: “Canada is poised to send in fighter jets to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, defence sources told The Canadian Press.  Six CF-18 fighter-bombers are being readied at Canadian Forces Base Bagotville, Que. and are expected to deploy overseas once the Harper government gives the official green light ….” (Canadian Press)  Yet more from unnamed sources“The six CF-18 fighter jets Canada is sending to help enforce the new United Nations no-fly zone over Libya could leave as early as Friday to join an assembling international force, and will be based out of Southern Europe, possibly Italy. Ottawa will also send between 120 and 200 military personnel to support the planes …..” One more version from unnamed sources: “Canada is expected to announce that it will deploy six CF-18 fighter jets to help enforce the UN’s just-approved no-fly zone over Libya, CBC News has learned. The jets would take at least 24 hours to arrive at their destination, which has yet to be determined, but defence sources told CBC that Malta and Italy were possibilities. Between 100 and 200 support personnel would be involved, the sources said, adding the announcement was imminent ….” (CBC.ca).  Here’s some background information on the CF-188 Hornet, and on 425 Squadron based in Bagotville.
  • No-Fly Zone Libya (3) – Q & A on what one wire service says it could look like.
  • No-Fly Zone Libya (4) – How quickly?  Could be pretty damned quick. Even if Libya HAS closed its airspace.
  • Advice to Libyan insurgents, from Canada’s man at the US Army/USMC Counterinsurgency Center: “….  You have lost round one. Disperse and hide your weapons and ammo- you will need them in the future.  Get organized – figure out who’s in charge and who has the plan.  Get some external support – a lot of countries have a beef with Kadhafi. Exploit that.  Get some training- learn to move, shoot and communicate.  Get disciplined – we all want to be Che but you need some Sgt Rocks too. Dig in.  Come back to fight another day, but this time try the indirect approach – the guerrilla approach.  Don’t go conventional until you are ready – insurgencies lose because they move too fast.  Read your Mao and Michael Collins – learn the lessons from someone else’s past ….”
  • Canada’s Defence Minister on Afghanistan (1) – I’m back!
  • Canada’s Defence Minister on Afghanistan (2) – A few more details about Canada’s “Kabul-centred” mission later this year. “In addition to lessons on marksmanship and bomb detection, Canadian soldiers will be teaching Afghan forces to read, write and practice medicine when the country’s new training mission begins later this year.  Exactly when and where that instruction will occur remains undecided, but Defence Minister Peter MacKay promised quick answers during a visit to Kandahar Airfield on Thursday.  The airbase was the final stop on a four-day Afghanistan tour for the minister and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk, during which they scouted places where the troop trainers could be stationed.  “The determination has yet to be made as to the exact numbers and configuration and location but I’ll tell you I’m able to go back now with a much more informed view and make a recommendation to the cabinet and the prime minister for a final decision,” MacKay said.  “There is some urgency. We clearly recognize that the sooner we can get on with having trainers in place, the more this will increase our ability to give the Afghans capacity.” ….” More from the Canadian Press here.
  • In a surprisingly glowing assessment of the district where Canadian troops are concentrated, the new governor of Panjwaii, in southern Afghanistan, has declared the area “100-per-cent secure” from insurgents. “We have peace and stability in Panjwaii,” Haji Fazluddin Agha said Tuesday, referring to the region southwest of Kandahar City. “I can say Panjwaii is now 100-per-cent secure. We have government presence and influence all over the district, we can travel anywhere in the district, people are supporting us and we have created a level of good understanding with Canadian Forces.” ….”
  • QMI reporter learns about “no fraternization” rule (even within married couples) in Afghanistan.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – The Defence Department has joined the Harper government in questioning the credibility of the parliamentary budget officer’s report on the costs of stealth jet fighter program.  A top military official said Thursday the cost of buying 65 high-tech fighters would be about $15 billion over 20 years, including maintenance costs.  That differs from the recent report of PBO Kevin Page that pegged the entire cost to taxpayers at $22.6 billion over 20 years.  Page has been a thorn in the side of the Conservative government. His fighter jet assessment was criticized by Laurie Hawn, the junior defence minister, who called it speculative and illogical.  Dan Ross, a Defence Department assistant deputy, said Thursday the military has requested a meeting with Page’s office to discuss his figures.  Ross told a briefing at Defence Department headquarters in Ottawa that the PBO made a “mathematical error” in calculating the unit cost of the planes, and that its maintenance numbers were off too. His briefing was augmented by an array of slides, and documentation that was distributed to journalists ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) – You want the our cost figures?  Here you go, then. The federal government has finally made public a detailed cost estimate for its controversial F-35 fighter jet purchase in the wake of a committee hearing examining whether the Conservatives may be in contempt of Parliament for failing to disclose the material. The document dump follows a similar one a day earlier in which the government tabled a cost breakdown for its package of anti-crime bills. Some 55 F-35-related documents were apparently tabled before the Parliamentary Procedure and House Affairs Committee Thursday, however, those inside the committee room were not immediately aware of it. Shortly after, Dan Ross, the defence department’s assistant deputy minister of materiel, met with reporters to explain the cost breakdown, its methodology and to offer a few more details about why government figures differ from those released last week by Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page ….”
  • London, Ontario is getting “…. a new facility to house the Integrated Personnel Support Centre (IPSC) and 2 Area Support Group Signal Squadron Detachment London (2 ASG Sig Sqn Det). This facility at Area Support Unit (ASU) London will address the current lack of infrastructure needed to house the two units …. This project, valued at approximately $1.3 million, includes the construction of a new 871 m2 facility that will address current accessibility issues and be more conducive to providing the services required for ill or injured Canadian Forces personnel. The project also entails the demolition of the facility that currently houses 2 ASG Sig Sqn Det London ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  “Spaceborne Ocean Intelligence Network (SOIN) Operations and Research” (via Milnet.ca)
  • Ooopsie (1) – Military police are investigating a Canadian Forces reservist from Winnipeg who is alleged to have been planning to attend a white-pride demonstration this weekend in Calgary. Capt. Karina Holder says the military can take action even if the reservist doesn’t actually attend the event, providing investigators find evidence. “Having that attitude alone is completely incompatible with the military culture,” Holder said Thursday from Ottawa. “It runs contrary to effective military service. You have to have that basic respect for your fellow human beings, otherwise you cannot function in this organization.” She said they received a complaint from a member of the public but can’t confirm that it was that complaint which prompted the investigation ….”
  • Oopsie (2) – Someone Postmedia News thinks is quoted denying the claim. “A Winnipeg teenage military reservist under investigation by the Canadian Forces says allegations of racist activity levied against him aren’t true.  The 17-year-old also said while he’d considered attending the white pride march in Calgary Saturday to watch — not participate — he cancelled the plans weeks ago.  The teenager says while he is proud of his German-Ukrainian heritage, he does not believe in white supremacy.  “I do not believe the white race is the master race. I do not believe any races are inferior. I don’t want any harm to happen to anyone,” he said.  The teenager said he upholds all military values. “I don’t care if you’re homosexual, Asian, Muslim — we’re all there for the same reason, and that’s the defence of Canada.” …. The teenager said he’s since taken down postings on his Facebook page, including quotes from Hitler and Mussolini.  He said he put them up because he sees them as “powerful,” in the sense of being willing to stand up and fight for beliefs.  “I don’t want to give the wrong impression,” he said. “Just because an evil person did and said many evil things, does not mean everything he said was wrong.”  He said he’d previously posted on a white supremacist forum, but doesn’t belong to any such groups and has since “matured” in his beliefs ….”
  • Northwestern Ontario Canadian Rangers help train southern Ontario Reservists on how to fight in the winter in northeastern Ontario “Sixteen Canadian Rangers from Constance Lake were an important part of a major military exercise to improve the ability of southern soldiers to operate in the North in the winter.  The Rangers taught a range of winter survival skills to 115 soldiers from 32 Canadian Brigade Group, including members of the Grey and Simcoe Foresters. That group is part of the Canadian Forces Arctic Response Company Group, which is charged with responding to emergencies in the North.  “They’ve taught everything from ice water rescue right down to ice fishing, food preparation, fire starting, improvised shelter building, snaring, and helping the soldiers stay out overnight in shelters the soldiers put together themselves,” said Master Warrant Officer Robert Patterson, Canadian Ranger sergeant major with 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group.  Rangers also accompanied the soldiers when they went into the bush in two groups for the tactical phase of the week-long exercise. “They went out to ensure the movement of the soldiers was safe,” Master Warrant Officer Patterson said. “They’ve done a fantastic job. This is the first time the Constance Lake patrol has ever hosted an exercise of this magnitiude and they’ve done an outstanding job under the leadership of their patrol leader, Sgt. Albert Sutherland ….” More from the local paper here.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 4 Jan 11

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  • In spite of all the poking around Russia seems to do in Canadian airspace (recent examples here, here and here), all seems to have gone well in a joint Canadian-American-Russian air interception exercise. “A first-of-its-kind hijacking exercise involving the U.S., Canadian and Russian militaries went so well that a similar drill is planned for 2011, an American officer said. Jet fighters from Russia and the North American Aerospace Defence Command pursued a small passenger jet playing the role of a hijacked jetliner across the Pacific and back during the August exercise. The aim: To practice handing off responsibility for a hijacked jet between Russia and NORAD, a joint U.S.-Canadian command that for decades devoted its efforts to tracking Soviet forces. Officers reviewed the exercise in November at NORAD headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. The verdict: It “was pretty much carried on flawlessly,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Lee Haefner, who was the lead planner. NORAD and Russian officers will meet in Russia in February to begin planning a second exercise, Haefner said ….” More on last year’s Exercise VIGILANT EAGLE here, here and here.  A reminder:  Canada bowed out of the exercise in 2008 because of Russia’s “visit” to neighbouring Georgia.
  • Some interesting discussion at Army.ca here on what wounded warrior Paul Franklin suggests about Canada doing more in southern Sudan. Meanwhile, the Globe & Mail shares some of the factors to be considered if Canada wants to do more.
  • Only 32 veterans were interviewed in a University of Western Ontario study, so it may not be statistically robust, but some of the findings remain disturbing. “Dozens of largely middle-aged veterans in Southwestern Ontario are battling homelessness after years of valiantly fighting to stay off the streets, a first-of-its-kind study in Canada finds. Nationwide, the number of homeless vets may number in the hundreds or thousands. And despite improvements in care over the past decade, a London, Ont., researcher leading the study warns new veterans may face the same challenges. “Veterans Affairs is getting better, but many could still slip through the cracks,” said Susan Ray, an assistant nursing professor at the University of Western Ontario (UWO). “A lot of the veterans I spoke to said, ‘I don’t know if anything can help me, but maybe it could help somebody now’.” Her more immediate concern is the group of vets, average age 52, who find themselves homeless several years after leaving the military structure. “Everything is looked after for you. It is a big family with the commander who is the big father,” Ray said. “They found it difficult to make the transition to civilian life. They found it difficult to have freedom and make choices.” ….” Other research conducted by the same investigator:  “The Experience of Contemporary Peacekeepers Healing from Trauma,” “Contemporary Treatments for Psychological Trauma From the Perspective of Peacekeepers,” and “The Impact of PTSD on Veterans’ Family Relationships: An Interpretative Phenomenological Inquiry.”
  • Remember the several hearings into how Canada is said to have treated Afghan detainees?  Here’s an update on one of them“Whether the Military Police Complaints Commission makes findings that sizzle or fizzle, the panel will claim an important place in the Afghan detainees affair. The quasi-judicial commission is the only forum to conduct a methodical examination of any element of the detainees issue amid repeated rejections by the federal government of opposition calls for a full-scale independent public inquiry. After a year of public hearings end early February with final arguments by lawyers, the commission says its “top priority” will be writing a report on whether Canada’s military police should have investigated military officers’ orders to transfer suspected Taliban captives to Afghan authorities despite a risk of torture ….” Here’s a chronology to help you keep track of the different proceedings.
  • Troops in Winnipeg are getting ready to train in Canada’s far North. “Soldiers from the Arctic Response Company Group (ARCG) spent the first week of December building komatiks (wooden sleighs) in preparation for Exercise NORTHERN BISON 2011 from February 15–28. The Canadian Forces (CF) will be contributing to a top government priority—protecting the territorial integrity of the Arctic—and the komatiks will play a crucial role in ensuring that the soldiers can successfully move, shoot, communicate and sustain themselves in austere northern conditions. “We will be packing a komatik with the UMS [unit medical station] and another komatik will be like a snow ambulance,” said Master Corporal Calin Ritchie, a medical technician with 17 Field Ambulance. The komatiks will be pulled by snowmobiles throughout the exercise that will see both Regular and Reserve force soldiers work together with 1 and 4 Canadian Ranger Patrol Groups as they conduct a 300-km trek from Churchill, Manitoba to Arviat, Nunavut ….”
  • Remember those Coptic Christians named in jihadi forums not so long ago? Well, ever since a group of such Christians were suicide bombed in Egypt, Copts here in Canada have hired private security guards and want a wee bit more protection during their Orthodox Christmas season.
  • This, reportedly from a briefing note obtained by QMIThe RCMP wanted to stay involved with a controversial peace conference even as the minister in charge of the national police force ordered them out. Newly released documents also show that next time, the Mounties plan to stand their ground. A briefing note prepared for deputy commissioner Bob Paulson, the man in charge of federal and international policing, recommends that the Mounties not back out of future events deemed too hot to handle by the government. “It is recommended that in the future, the Minister of Public Safety supports the RCMP’s position with respect to National Security Community Outreach,” reads the memo. The conference in question was slated for the end of October at the Government Conference Centre, a federal building across the street from Parliament Hill. Among the participants were several Iranian academics tied to the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinehjad and Dr. Davood Ameri of the Islamic World Peace Forum ….” Since QMI doesn’t share said document with the world anyplace I looked, does the note say “we’ll disobey the Minister next time” or “we’ll give him the same advice next time”?
  • The Toronto Star is doing a bit of catch-up, finally talking to members of a militia in Quebec where some members consider the Canadian Forces their “adversary”“There’s no sign, per se, but there is a shirt in the window silkscreened with the image of militant Quebec separatist Pierre Falardeau and the words: “Now it’s your turn to be scared.” Inside, past a rack of nationalist books, including one called Quebec Bashing, which can be found alongside one on Mao Zedong, there is a wall of white, winter balaclavas and camouflage gas masks, another wall of boots and, to the right, a counter behind which hang realistic-looking paintball rifles. They hope to soon have a permit to sell real guns. This is the new recruitment centre for the Milice Patriotique Québécoise, a shadowy separatist militia that, after nearly a decade of existence, is only now coming into the light. The centre opened its doors at the end of November in a working class neighbourhood of east Montreal. The founder and leader, “Major” Serge Provost, is not out to make friends with this venture. Indeed, even other separatists are uncomfortable with him, mindful of Quebec’s painful history with the murderous Front de libération du Québec. But Provost says his group operates in a defensive mode only, “to protect the people of Quebec.” “The only entity able to protect Quebecers now is the Canadian army,” says Provost, 42. “So, the only ones who can help us are our adversaries.” ….” A bit more on this group from a previous MILNEWS.ca summary here.
  • To space, and beyond! “Canada has the technological capacity to build its own rocket to launch small satellites, officials and documents have revealed, highlighting a top priority for future research at the Defence Department as well as something that’s being studied at the Canadian Space Agency. Canada relies on other countries, such as the United States, India and Russia, to launch its spacecraft into orbit, but both the Defence Department and the space agency are looking at the option of constructing a Canadian-made launcher. The Defence Department’s science organization, Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), is examining what would be needed for a small rocket as well as looking at different potential mission scenarios ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.