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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 Aug 11

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  • I know that you now know about the revived Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force by now.  Therefore, I’m done with multiple duplicate coverage – on to other news.
  • Libya Mission  Safe travels home!  “When HMCS Charlottetown first patrolled the waters off Misrata, Libya, in the spring, sailors could feel the blast waves coming from shells that pounded the city daily. Fires and black smoke above Libya’s third-largest city were constants. The warship helped clear a path for vessels carrying medical supplies, food and other humanitarian aid. But as the Charlottetown left its patrol area Tuesday, the start of the journey back to Halifax, the atmosphere was much different, said Cmdr. Craig Skjerpen. There could be days-long interruptions in the port shelling, and even then it was only sporadic, as the battlefield moved to the west. The shipments of food and medical supplies continued, but Skjerpen said building materials such as rebar and commercial goods had started to arrive ….”
  • Way Up North (1)  Members of the Canadian Forces say military capabilities are growing and becoming more complex in the North – a key component of reasserting claim to the region. Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw, who leads Operation NANOOK, will head to the Arctic next week with Prime Minister Stephen Harper for military exercises. Harper has made habit of visiting the North each summer to assert Canadian presence in the area. During August, navy, army and air force personnel will come together to complete annual military exercises including air, land and sea patrols, and the simulation of major air and maritime disasters. “The Canadian military is not looking at what the issues are today but what are the threats and hazards that Canadians could see, governments could see, not only today, but in the future, to see what capabilities we could need to address those threats and hazards,” Semianiw said ….”
  • Way Up North (2)  Interesting headline verb:  Minister of National Defence busy “overseeing” Operation Nanook
  • Way Up North (3)  Imagine you’re getting ready to dive into the Arctic Ocean and a piece of your equipment breaks. You can’t rush to a store, says Cpl. Larry Lyver, one of 23 divers involved in Operation Nanook’s Aug. 4 to 26 military exercises. Here, if you can’t buy it, you can’t have it, and you have to do without it, he says. That’s why he has a motto “one is none, two is one.” This explains why the diving team arrives with more than enough equipment to do any dives — during Op Nanook this includes navigating around icebergs and raising the sunken wing of a crashed aircraft to the surface ….”
  • Way Up North (4)  Meanwhile, south of the border ….  “The Navy has completed its latest assessment of the Arctic region, where melting ice is raising strategic questions as well as commercial opportunities. “In the past, the Arctic was largely inaccessible, but increased seasonal melting of the sea ice is opening the region and creating opportunities for oil and gas exploration, maritime shipping, commercial fishing and tourism,” Rear Adm. David Titley, director of the Navy’s task force for climate change, said in a statement Tuesday. “We are confronted by a new ocean for the first time in 500 years.” The assessment is part of a five-year plan, released in May 2009, to guide Navy policy, actions and investment regarding the Arctic ….”  A bit more in a U.S. Navy Info-Machine feature article (but no link to the environmental assessment yet) here.
  • Afghanistan (1)  A doc returns home.  “His nickname was Bob 42. To Maj. Sandeep Dhesi, though, the 10-year-old Afghan boy was so much more. “Not a day goes by when I don’t think about him,” says the native Calgarian, who just returned from a three-month tour of combat hospital duty in Afghanistan. “He never complained about the pain he was going through,” says Dhesi, the only oral and maxillofacial surgeon during his stint at Kandahar Airfield (KAF), of the innocent child whose face was severely injured by shrapnel from an improvised explosive device or IED. Only a day into his transition to life back in Calgary — which includes getting reacquainted with his lawyer wife Gurinder and their two young boys — the 34-year-old officer and I meet in a southwest coffee shop to talk about his profound experience of treating the critically wounded in Afghanistan, which included coalition and Afghan national army soldiers, civilians and even suspected Taliban insurgents ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  How ammunition technicians are helping the pack-up-clean-up work at KAF (via the CF Info-Machine)  “While the rest of Supply Company of the Mission Transition Task Force (MTTF) works to ensure that continuing International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations receive all the assets they need, Ammunition Platoon is busy destroying unsafe ordnance, and preparing and packaging ammunition for return to Canada or transfer to Operation ATTENTION in Kabul. With hundreds of line items in stock, Ammo Platoon faces a major task. “One by one, we have to hand-inspect thousands of small arms rounds, and it’s a time consuming job,” explained Sergeant Dominic Boisvert. Members of the Ammo Platoon inspect each item for serviceability and safety, and on 3 August they left the base to conduct a large-scale disposal ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  A new fact sheet on the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) project is out.  Here’s the CF Info-Machine’s version of the history:  “…. The planning for this program has evolved. A Statement of Operational Requirements (SOR) was first developed in 2004 outlining the technical requirements for an aircraft to effectively carry out search and rescue missions in Canada’s harsh and vast environment. In fall 2009, industry feedback was solicited on the high level considerations for the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue SOR. This consultation demonstrated the commitment to an open dialogue with Canadian industry and helped assess its ability to support the procurement of a new fleet. Following the industry consultation, the National Research Council (NRC) was engaged to conduct an independent review of the SOR. In its review, NRC focused on the technical requirements as well as the assumptions and constraints underlying them. The Government received the NRC report in March 2010 and then proceeded to review the report’s findings and recommendations. Based on the NRC review, the SOR has been amended to allow for a wider range of Fixed Wing Search and Rescue solutions and to reflect a capability-based rationale.”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2) Logistical support for up to a year (and up to $4.5 million) for Jamaican hurricane season chopper deployment and chemical and explosives detection kits.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Aussies getting cold feet?  “Australia will decide in 2012 whether to continue with a $16.8 billion purchase of 100 of Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters or seek an alternative amid continuing delivery delays and cost overruns, the government said on Wednesday. Repeated delays and ballooning costs in the F-35 programme were bumping against delivery and cost limits set by the government and military planners, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith told parliament. “I will not allow and the government will not allow a gap in the capability of our air combat capability,” Smith said, pointing to 2013 as the last possible decision deadline given a looming air combat gap in the country’s military ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Not looking entirely great in U.S., either“…. Already facing the prospect of $350 billion in defense cuts over 10 years, the Pentagon could look to scale back some projects, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the stealthy aircraft that has been plagued by cost overruns and delays ….”
  • Two alleged cases of sexual misconduct involving military members from CFB Esquimalt have prompted the commander of Canada’s Pacific fleet to warn personnel about their alcohol use. “There were two incidents in a relatively short period of time and (Commodore Peter Ellis) had a town hall meeting in which he reminded people of their responsibility with respect to drinking responsibly and looking out for your buddies, and basically the rules and regulations that surround this kind of incident,” said Lt.-Cmdr. Nathalie Garcia, public affairs officer for Maritime Forces Pacific ….”
  • Ali Dirie, the gunrunner of the so-called Toronto 18 terrorist cell, continues to pose “a high risk of violent reoffending,” the National Parole Board has concluded, ordering the 28-year-old to serve out his full sentence at the Special Handling Unit in Ste. Anne Des Plaines, north of Montreal. It is not clear, however, what will happen to the would-be jihadist when his sentence at the top-security prison is over in six weeks. A spokesperson for the National Parole Board said that once Dirie is released Oct. 1, he will be out of their hands. “The parole board has the mandate to impose special conditions, if they do provide parole, within the framework of protecting society within an acceptable level of risk to the public,” said Leyla Mavaddat, a regional communications officer for the NPB. “Once the sentence is completed, they will have no authority.” ….”
  • If you’re a veteran or a serving CF member, you can get into some Parks Canada facilities for free this weekend“…. As part of Parks Canada’s 100th anniversary, the Government of Canada is offering Canada’s military, Veterans and their families free admission to Parks Canada sites from August 19 to 21, 2011. Dubbed the “Fab Forts Weekend,” access includes national historic sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas administered by Parks Canada …. Earlier this month, Parks Canada announced that 38 of Canada’s historic fortifications will celebrate Parks Canada’s centennial with a “Fab Forts Weekend.” Special activities include concerts, picnics, archaeology-related activities, markets, tours and much more. The highlight of the weekend will be a 100-gun salute that will ripple across the country from coast to coast on Sunday afternoon.  A complete list of participating sites and events across the country is available at www.parkscanada.gc.ca/fabforts ….”  Here’s another link to the list of sites & events – no word on what I.D. veterans would have to present to get the freebie.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 14 Dec 10

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  • The CF is reportedly reviewing the files of some of Canada’s most seriously war wounded to figure out if they can continue to stay in the Forces“The administrative review is expected to start in the spring but sources say as many as 18 of the soldiers, some severely wounded, could be asked to leave. Rear-Admiral Andy Smith, chief of military personnel, confirmed the reviews will take place but he said it is too early to determine the outcome. “Those who are wounded in action represent a special set of people who have gone out there and done the business and merit the full compassion of the institution and the country,” he said. But Smith said that the Canadian Forces still adhere to the principle of universality of service, which dictates that all members must be fit and capable of deploying on operations ….” How far we’ve come from then-CDS Rick Hillier, who in 2008 reportedly said “no soldier injured in Afghanistan is to be released from the military without his express authority.” (2008 G&M article via militaryphotos.net forum)
  • Some moves afoot to make sure wounded warriors are properly represented, by both legal counsel and by the Vets’ Ombudsman. “Moved by the stories of Canada’s wounded soldiers who’ve come home only to be forced to fight the federal government for benefits, Ontario’s trial lawyers say they’ll represent injured veterans for free.  And in Ottawa, sources tell the Star that the Liberals will present legislation Tuesday that, if passed, would elevate the Office of the Veterans’ Ombudsman so that it reports to Parliament, and not the minister of national defence, as is currently the case …. The 1,100-member Ontario Trial Lawyers Association told the Star it is astounded by the “hurdles, the runarounds and the hardships” Canada’s veterans face when they try to collect federal military service and disability benefits.  “These veterans fight for our country and they really should not have to fight for these benefits,” said lawyer Patrick Brown, chair of the new initiative called Trial Lawyers for Veterans ….”
  • A name change coming after all for Canada’s Navy? “…. Senators on the national security and defence committee recommended Monday evening that the Senate adopt a motion encouraging the national defence minister to change the name of Maritime Command to a new name that includes the word “Navy”. The motion, by Liberal Senator Bill Rompkey, originally called on the minister to change the name to “Canadian Navy,” a term already used by Maritime Command in much of its communication, including on its website. The compromise position allowed senators who favour a return the navy’s original name of “Royal Canadian Navy” to support Rompkey’s motion. The Senate is expected to pass the motion Tuesday, opening the door for National Defence Minister Peter MacKay to rename the naval force R.C.N. before the end of the navy’s centennial year.” Nice idea, but do we need to spend all that money changing letterhead, web pages and everything else to include one more word?  I’m as much for tradition as the next guy, but there ARE better things to spend the money on.
  • Remember this tidbit last week about Canada sending a party of ~150 to Roswell, New Mexico for interesting training Here’s the Globe & Mail‘s version: “It’s got a grounded 747 with no engine, fake villages that can be stocked with speakers of unfamiliar languages, and 300,000 acres of some of the most Afghanistan-like desert-and-mountain terrain that money can buy.  And next month, the training camp built upon a decommissioned army base in New Mexico will be taken over by about 150 visiting special-operations soldiers from north of the border.  There, Canada’s most secretive military units will get a respite from the winter, while they keep up with the kind of training that their military masters in Ottawa are loath to highlight.  According to a new $900,000 contract tender posted on a federal government procurement site, they will refine their standard special-operations skills – such as how to storm hijacked airplanes, how to parachute from aircraft, and how to fire and react to live ammunition.  They will also delve into specific lessons drawn from the Afghanistan conflict – including learning how to rappel from helicopters during night raids, how to capture and question foreign enemies, and how to make sense of surveillance drawn from drone planes ….” Remember, you read it here first!
  • A bit of late-night debate in the House of Commons last night over Haiti, and what to do there. “In Ottawa, House of Commons Speaker Peter Milliken granted Liberal MP Denis Coderre’s request for an emergency debate, held early Monday evening, on the “extremely tense” situation in Haiti. The MP, who said Haiti has “practically ceased to function,” reiterated the need for the federal government to create a special envoy to Haiti to work with all ministries and help get rid of red tape. “A wave of violence is now raging all over the country and we must, as responsible parliamentarians, look at Canada’s role in the outcome of this major crisis,” Coderre said. Coderre also suggested Canada send troops, such as the Disaster Assistance Response Team or DART, to provide additional security in Haiti ….” More on that from CTV.ca here and Agence France-Presse here.
  • If one believes reports from the Canadian Press based on briefing notes obtained through Access to Information requests, it was not smooth sailing flying for Canadians training Aussie UAV crews in Afghanistan. “Canadian aircrew played a significant, largely unheralded role in helping Australia get its unmanned aerial vehicle program off the ground in Afghanistan, federal documents show. The assistance, which continued for more than a year, involved teaching Australian pilots how to fly the Israeli-built Heron drones. The fact it went unheralded may not be a bad thing, considering the number of accidents the Aussies have had with their remote-controlled aircraft: two of them have crashed, while a third was damaged when its landing gear failed. Reports from the Australian defence ministry suggest one of the incidents forced the private Canadian company that leases the unmanned aircraft to both countries to temporarily suspend flights for two days early last month. Operations resumed once MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA), the B.C.-based defence contractor, checked the gear problem with the manufacturer …”
  • Note to headline writers:  I like to think ALL soldiers think before they shoot, not just special forces troops. Screen capture of headline also here in case link doesn’t work.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Taliban site says fight won’t end when NATO leaves, and (once more) rejects talking to the West until foreign troops are gone.
  • In other security-related news, the RCMP is looking for a consultant to help come up with a plan to fight human trafficking. Some details in the summary of a recent (September 2010) RCMP threat assessment here.