News Highlights – October 12, 2014



Way Up North


World War One News Highlights – 27 Aug 11

  • A new study shows that a majority of Canadians think the Canadian Forces are important, but would like to see the military return to a more traditional peacekeeping role instead of a combat one. An Ipsos-Reid study, published in June 2011 for the Department of National Defence and titled: Views of the Canadian Forces 2011 Tracking Study, surveyed 1,651 Canadians across the country between March 21 and 24 on their knowledge and opinions about Canada’s military and its missions, primarily in Afghanistan and Libya. When asked to describe the mission in Afghanistan, such words as “deadly,” “expensive,” “underfunded” and “endless” were used. “There was a also a sense of “enough is enough,” the study authors wrote. “In general, many participants seemed to feel that they were under-informed about the Canadian Forces’ role in Afghanistan, and that they did not know why the Canadian Forces was still there,” the study said ….”
  • Way Up North (x)  Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sent a signal to Beijing that Ottawa will not relinquish its sovereignty over the portions of the Arctic lying within its territory. Countries around the world are looking northward as the sea passage across the top of Canada becomes increasingly navigable and exploration for new energy and mineral sources suggests the Arctic could contain a wealth of untapped natural resources. One of those countries is China, which has begun to take a hard look at the potential that lies under what was once a frozen ocean, especially the commercial and shipping possibilities, and has asked for special observer status in the Arctic Council. On Friday, a reporter with the official Chinese news service who is accompanying the Prime Minister on his annual summer tour, asked him to clarify his position. “It seems like there are some local media reports that the Arctic region belongs to the Arctic countries and it’s not the business of the rest of the world,” the Chinese reporter said. “What is your comment on this opinion and what role do you think the rest of the world can play in the Arctic region affairs?” Mr. Harper responded by saying that vast areas of land and significant territorial waters within the Arctic are under the sovereignty of various countries, including Canada. “The government of Canada, working with our partners and the people in this region, intend to assert our sovereignty in these regions,” said the Prime Minister ….”
  • Way Up North (x)’s Danger Room blog on the CF’s tender call for quiet snowmobiles“The Canadian government wants a stealth snowmobile. Just, apparently, because. It’s not as if Canada has any alpine enemies to sneak up on with shadowy, frigid cavalry. But that’s not going to stop the Canadian Department of National Defence from spending a half million dollars on a prototype ….”
  • The body of a former Ottawa resident was found this week among over 150 others in a Tripoli warehouse, members of Canada’s Libyan community report. Abdulhamid Darrat, who first came to Ottawa in the early 1980s, ran a successful Internet company in Libya called Baitaslxams. He was taken by government officers along with five co-workers and shoved into the back of a van, while at work in May. His daughter, Khadija, 16, said the last time she saw her father was at 3 a.m. on May 19 before he headed into the office for the day. Khadija said Libyan officials led the family to believe that Darrat was taken out of Tripoli in order to do some sort of Internet work for the government. She said relatives with contacts in the Gadhafi regime told them Darrat was well looked after and doing well ….”
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be at the table when world leaders decide the future of Libya. A conference dubbed “Friends of Libya” is set for Sept. 1, in Paris, France. French President Nicolas Sarkozy invited all NATO member countries, including Canada, and added China, Russia, India and Brazil to the invite list. Sarkozy said he called the conference “to help a free Libya, tomorrow’s Libya, and to really show that we are going forward and passing from military collaboration to civil collaboration to resolve the situation.” ….”
  • How’d the Libyan rebels get that expensive Canadian-built micro-UAV“…. Start-up Aeryon is mainly focused on the consumer uses of drones, such as replacing satellite mapping with drone mapping. Their drones are dual-purpose products — intended for commercial use, but also usable for military operations as demonstrated below. Canadian law only prohibits them from selling drones to North Korea or Iran. “Because it’s a dual-purpose product, rather than just intended for military use, we face fewer restrictions when sending them to other countries,” says (Aeryon CEO David) Kroetsch ….”
  • One old warhorse’s glass-is-half-empty view of Libya: “…. is Libya a “victory”? We don’t know much about the rebel leadership and the National Transitional Council (NTC) that Canada, for one, is pledged to support. What we do know is that the rebels have gotten rid of one of their military leaders – former Interior Minister Abdul Younis — who was assassinated by his own fighters in Benghazi for reason unknown. That’s an uncomfortable omen for the future. Also known is that with total victory, tribal and ideological factionalisms surface, and scores beg to be settled ….”
  • Exercise PANAMAX 2011 in, around Panama is winding down.
  • Afghanistan (1)  Four Chinook helicopters flown by the Canadian military in the deserts of southern Afghanistan soon will be headed to another desert — in Arizona. Unable to sell the aging aircraft, the federal government has decided to ship the Chinooks to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, a U.S. air force installation known as “The Boneyard.” The helicopters will be stored at the open-air facility outside Tucson until the government can find a buyer, said Tracy Poirier, a spokeswoman for the Defence Department. The department, however, declined to provide a cost estimate for the storage, saying it is prohibited from revealing the details of contracts made with a foreign governments. “This was the most economical option available to us,” Poirier said. “This facility is the biggest of its kind in North America and very specialized at storing and reinstating old aircraft.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Last Canadian Air Wing boss back home.
  • Afghanistan (3)  Canadian reporter discovers it’s damned expensive bringing stuff to fight a war 1/2 way around the world“Summer in (southern) Afghanistan is a blast furnace. Temperatures rise over 50C. Air conditioning is what allows the frenzied pace of NATO’s war during the fighting season. The price is astronomical. The Americans have calculated that in the past two years they have spent $20 billion on AC. If you add the rest of NATO, that figure is probably well over $24 billion. That means that coalition forces spend more to keep themselves cool each year than Afghanistan’s gross national product. Every drop of fuel, drinking water as well as every morsel of food consumed on NATO bases is imported into this landlocked country – most of it trucked in through Pakistan. The cost is enormous ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Chatting up surrendered Taliban.
  • Ronald Kevin Megeney, 1982-2007, R.I.P.:  The trial of former Nova Scotia reservist Matthew Wilcox, charged in the shooting death of his friend and comrade in Afghanistan in 2007, has been adjourned until Sept. 12. Wilcox has pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal negligence causing death and negligent performance of a military duty in the death of Cpl. Kevin Megeney, a fellow reservist from Nova Scotia ….”  More here.
  • Some U.S. Army LAV work for a Canadian companyGeneral Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, a business unit of General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE:GD), received a contract worth $49.2 million from the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. Per the contract, General Dynamics will provide training and field service support for Light Armored Vehicles (“LAV”) that was previously supplied under a Foreign Military Sale (“FMS”) contract. Support activities under this contract include the provision of field support teams to conduct operator and maintenance training, technical support and fleet status monitoring. The five-year contract was awarded through the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Crown Agency of the Canadian Government and is expected to be completed by July 2016 ….”
  • Postmedia News offers up a series of terrorism profiles of different countries, including Canada.
  • This from the Veterans Affairs Info-MachineOn behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of National Revenue, announced today up to $5,000 in funding for the official opening of the Air Force Heritage Park in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. “Our government is proud to support great community projects like this one,” said Minister Blaney. “We commend all those involved with the creation of the Air Force Heritage Park for doing their part to recognize the men and women who have served our country, past and present.” ….” News Highlights – 14 Jul 11

  • Afghanistan (1)  Title of Canadian Ambassador’s statement on the assassination of Ahmed Wali Karzai is one word longer than the statement itself“Canada strongly condemns the killing of Kandahar Provincial Council Chair Ahmad Wali Karzai and extends its condolences to his family and to President Hamid Karzai.”  Am I the only one thinking of this Dilbert cartoon when reading a statement this brief?
  • Afghanistan (2)  CF Info-Machine’s take on the Vandoos packing up Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan, including three days of ceremonies.
  • Afghanistan (3)  One of the other victims?  “Dodging bullets from children, stumbling across a boy with his face blown off and grasping a dead friend in his arms — the horror was more than Stefan Jankowski could bear. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and hooked on prescription drugs, the 25-year-old Windsor soldier returned home from the war in Afghanistan to face a losing battle with his own demons. His family said he died Saturday from a prescription drug overdose, after getting little help from the military he dreamt of serving from boyhood. They want answers, saying the military “washed their hands of him” and didn’t give Jankowski the help he needed after he was discharged ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Canadian Senator, again, points out how he thinks the mission was not a success.  “…. the UN says 2,579 NATO troops have died in Afghanistan since 2001. UN figures show that 8,832 Afghan civilians have been killed as a result of military operations since 2007 (nobody had deemed it essential to count before then). I don’t think this adds up to success. Then again, if you believe that it is important to look at this war through rose-coloured glasses to make everyone feel better, I guess we should just forget about all these repugnant little numbers ….”  Note to the Senator:  on this stat alone, let’s remember that between 7 and 8 out of 10 of the civilians killed were killed by the Taliban – more on that here and here.
  • Libya Mission (1)  Media are invited to attend a video-teleconference (this morning) with the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, Commander, Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) Op Unified Protector, the NATO-led effort to impose on Libya the arms embargo and no-fly zone authorized for the protection of civilians in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 ….”
  • Libya Mission (2) “As part of Canada’s “enhanced engagement strategy” in Libya, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will for the first time Friday meet with allies dedicated to mapping out the political future of the embattled North African country. Baird announced Wednesday that he’s headed to Istanbul for the fourth meeting of the Contact Group on Libya — a body that includes foreign ministers from Western and Arab countries, Libyan rebel leaders as well as representatives from the United Nations, NATO and various non-governmental organizations. “We need to maintain political and military pressure on the regime to end its violence against civilians as well as to continue to demonstrate international solidarity in support of the Libyan people,” Baird’s spokesman Chris Day told Postmedia News ….”
  • Ministers of Defence, Public Safety:  Thanks, troops, for the hard work in the Manitoba floods.  “…. A total of 375 Canadian Forces members, drawn from the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery and Land Force Western Area Primary Reserve courses, assisted the Province of Manitoba in their operations to mitigate the effects of the flood, including the reinforcement of existing dikes and water embankments in the general vicinity of Souris. More than 1,800 Regular and Reserve Force personnel from the Navy, Army, and Air Force earlier assisted Provincial authorities by conducting extensive repairs to both the Assiniboine River dikes and the Assiniboine Diversion dikes, monitoring dikes on the ground and from the air, evacuating affected residents, producing more than 167,000 sandbags and placing more that 48 per cent of the total of 891,000 sandbags produced in the Province. More than 160 private residences were protected from flooding as a result of CF efforts …. On behalf of our government and all those Canadians who have been helped by Canadian Forces’ efforts this spring, we thank the men and women in uniform.”
  • More details about Canada’s (at least proposed) plans for the Arctic?  “It is costly to operate in the vast and inhospitable Arctic. But the Canadian military is exploring a way to cut costs and speed up the movement of troops and equipment by building several new northern bases. Along the way it could help to strengthen the country’s Arctic sovereignty claims by placing additional boots on the tundra throughout the year. The plan, sketched out in a study that was commissioned by the force’s operational support command, is a variation of the one put in place for overseas operations. Barebones transportation hubs — essentially a suitable landing strip and storage facility — at strategic spots around the globe make it more efficient when soldiers are called out to a global hot spot in a pinch …. The military is looking at a domestic variant of those overseas hubs. The plan could result in remote bases and a small-but-permanent military presence in far-off communities. Locations could include Alert, Inuvik, Whitehorse, Rankin Inlet, Iqaluit or Nanisivik, according to the technical memorandum prepared by the research wing of the military last year ….” The Canadian Forces says no decision has been made to go ahead with the construction of new hubs. That could change. “The hub concept referred to in this report is just one of many ideas being examined at the time to enhance our capabilities up in the North,” said Navy Lt. Greg Menzies….”  Since the Toronto Star isn’t sharing the full study, here it is (150 page PDF) if you’re interested (or here if the other link doesn’t work), and here’s a call from earlier this year (second-last bullet) for someone to summarize Canadian military research done in the Arctic.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  This from “prolific blogger” Mark Collins: “Boeing is trying to take advantage of F-35 production delays ….”
  • Troops of Canada’s Army of the West prepare to practice mountain warfare.  “With its mountainous terrain and warm climate, Kamloops is an ideal place for the Canadian Armed Forces to conduct training exercises in anticipation of duties overseas. Which is why soldiers from the Third Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry will be in the region from July 17-28 to conduct mountaineering training. Capt. Tony Meier of 3 PPCLI said about 60 troops will form a base camp near the New Gold Mine site, west of Kamloops, but the majority of training will take place at Roche Lake. The contingent will grow to about 180 troops for a major exercise north of Lac Du Bois from July 24-28 ….”
  • The CF’s apparently having trouble recruiting Chinese and other visible minorities.  “More new Canadian citizens hail from China than almost any other country in the world, but military brass in Ottawa are facing an uphill battle in persuading a significantly greater proportion of Chinese-Canadians to embrace a career in the armed forces. Chinese-Canadians are among the fastest-growing visible minority groups in the country, and the People’s Republic of China has ranked first or second as a source of new citizens in recent years. But getting Chinese Canadians to don a uniform isn’t easy – part of the same challenge the military faces with all visible minorities even as the country becomes more ethnically diverse ….”
  • A send off parade was held today at the Canadian War Museum to mark the upcoming participation of a contingent of 205 Canadian Forces (CF) members in the 95th annual International Four Days Marches Nijmegen, to be held from July 19 to July 22. Canadian military contingents have participated in this prestigious long-distance marching event, held in the Netherlands since 1952 ….”  More on the March here.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  R&D sought for a new coastal radar facility (maybe two) in Nova Scotia and someone to cook/pouch LOADS (as many as “a minimum of one million pouches of entrées and fruit pouches totaling two million pouches within a six (6) to eight (8) month period”) of ration packs.