Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘Canadian Rangers News Highlights – 9 Nov 11

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  • Libya Mission  AFRICOM boss says they could be wrapping up pretty soon?  “The military mission in Libya is largely complete and NATO’s involvement could begin to wrap up as soon as this coming week after allied leaders meet in Brussels, according to the top U.S. commander for Africa. Army Gen. Carter Ham, head of U.S. Africa Command, told The Associated Press that American military leaders are expected to give NATO ministers their assessment of the situation during meetings late in the week. NATO could decide to end the mission even though ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi is still at large and his forces are still entrenched in strongholds such as Sirte and Bani Walid ….”
  • Afghanistan  What Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney had to say at the ceremony honouring ROTO 10 troops in Valcartier back from Afghanistan“At an event such as this, words are often unable to fully convey what we feel. This is an occasion for celebration, pride, and perhaps even sorrow. Your return home is a source of joy to all of us, especially to your families, who have hoped and prayed for this day. It is an occasion for pride, because you have completed a demanding and perilous mission with the same courage and selflessness as those generations of Canadian soldiers who have marked the history of our country with their valour. Please accept our congratulations and our thanks ….”
  • Pile On the Defence Minister About The Planes/Choppers!  If Defence Minister Peter MacKay felt any pressing need to defend his use of government-owned Challenger jets, it certainly wasn’t evident in his first trip the U.S. since the controversy about flying habits erupted. MacKay, meeting Friday at the Pentagon with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, was asked by a reporter whether he flew aboard a Challenger for the short jaunt to the American capital. “I certainly didn’t,” MacKay responded during a media availability with Panetta. Why not? “Because there’s commercial flights available.” And with that, MacKay changed the subject. After a brief speech about how it was “wonderful to be a reliable, robust security partner” with the U.S., MacKay turned to Panetta and said a quick farewell before jumping in a waiting van. “I’ve got to catch a plane,” he said. “I am flying commercial.” ….”
  • Defence Research and Development Canada paper (129 page PDF):  what did users have to say about Counter IED Operator training via distance ed?
  • Way Up North  One QMI reporter’s ideas for a new rifle for the Canadian Rangers.  “…. One option would be for the government to contract Colt Canada, the Canadian Forces’ small arms manufacturer in Kitchener, Ont., to build a new generation of improved, modernized Lee-Enfields chambered in .308 Winchester, or buy Enfield replicas currently produced by an Australian firm. But concerns about quality, and the need for an off-the-shelf product rule both of these out. Another option still — proposed by this writer — would be the Ruger Gunsite Scout with a few notable modifications: a 20-inch barrel, and a light, durable fiberglass stock in army green with the Ranger emblem embedded in the buttstock. Whatever gun the government decides to buy for the Canadian Rangers, one thing is certain, it should be the best firearm available to them for the self-defence, military, and hunting applications they need it for ….”  Follow the progress of the hunt for a new Ranger rifle here (via
  • Veterans Affairs Minister joins the troops (for a while, anyway).  “The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, took part in a military training exercise in the Charlevoix area, organized by the infantry primary training audience of 35 Canadian Brigade Group. Minister Blaney spent last night at the camp with members of the Canadian Forces. Today, he joined approximately 800 members of the Reserve Force in field operations, which included crossing the St. Lawrence River between Les Éboulements and Isle-aux-Coudres in military craft ….”
  • Compare and contrast War of 1812 prep – this from an American editorial“…. The war ended in a draw, but the contest to conduct the most comprehensive commemoration isn’t even close. The Canadians have appropriated millions, the Americans hardly anything. At this rate, the Canadians will appropriate the war entirely, at least for the next several years. Which brings us to a lesson for our time: Even forgotten wars can be lost 200 years later.” News Highlights – 16 Sept 11

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  • Afghanistan (1)  Canada’s spy agency has been cleared of wrongdoing in connection with the abuse of Afghan detainees. But the Security Intelligence Review Committee raised two issues for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to consider in future overseas operations — even though CSIS operations on foreign soil are limited by law. The spy watchdog chided CSIS for not keeping adequate records and cautioned it to “assess and qualify with care and consistency” the intelligence it receives from agencies that may be party to human rights abuses. It also recommended that if CSIS continues to operate abroad, its standards of accountability and professionalism should live up to those on Canadian soil ….”  Since The Canadian Press isn’t sharing the report, here it is at the Security Intelligence Review Committee’s web page (21 pages of redacted PDF) – here, also, is the news release announcing the findings.  Also, more from Postmedia News and the Globe & Mail here and here.
  • Afghanistan (2a)  Finally, a bit of news (albeit sounding a bit like a briefing note) from the CF Info-Machine on the training mission under way in Afghanistan!  “Captain (Navy) Haydn Edmundson arrived here on 18 July 2011 as part of the initial rotation of the Canadian Contribution Training Mission–Afghanistan (CCTM-A), the task force deployed on Operation ATTENTION to serve with the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A). As Chief of Staff to the Deputy Commanding General–Police (DCOM-Police) at NTMA Headquarters, Capt(N) Edmundson has a prominent role in the training and development of the Afghan National Police (ANP) ….”
  • Afghanistan (2b)  More from the CF Info-Machine on the training mission: “On 23 August 2011, Colonel Peter Dawe, the deputy commander of the Canadian Contribution Training Mission – Afghanistan (CCTM-A) paid a visit to Camp Souter to meet the small but vital team that lives and works there, and tour their facility. Camp Souter is a British support base conveniently situated near Kabul International Airport. The Canadians assigned there work diligently behind the scenes to meet the support requirements of CCTM-A, the large and growing mission deployed with the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A) under Operation ATTENTION. NTM-A is the international effort to help the Afghan national security forces prepare for the transition to full responsibility for security throughout Afghanistan in 2014 ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  The Royal Canadian Legion says it will have to debate whether it supports adding Afghanistan to the National War Memorial. Spokesman Bob Butt says it is a matter for the various Legion commands to decide and the subject has yet to be discussed among the organization’s 340,000 active members. A proposal circulated around National Defence last year called for the word Afghanistan and the dates 2001-2011 to be added to the memorial that sits in the shadow of Parliament Hill. The $2.1 million dollar plan included the addition of an eternal flame and a national commemoration ceremony. But a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay says it would be inappropriate to commemorate Afghanistan right now because soldiers are still there on a training mission. Butt initially indicated the Legion favoured revamping the memorial, however he says the matter is best debated among the members when the federal government has a specific proposal ….”
  • Way Up North  During CDS visit to Russia, Canada and Russia agree to exchange port visits with naval ships.  “…. Both sides also discussed situation in the North Africa and Middle East, as well as European security. They also agreed to exchange visits of their warships between Canada’s Vancouver and the Murmansk port of Russia.  The visiting Canadian delegation visited several military facilities in Moscow Wednesday ….
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Defence Minister Peter MacKay was warned the manufacturer of the air force’s new maritime helicopters might be tempted to cut corners in the rush to get the long-delayed program back on track, say internal documents. “The remaining elements for the interim (maritime helicopter) delivery are all safety related and it is crucial that DND remain diligent to ensure Sikorsky does not take inappropriate risks to keep schedule,” said a Nov. 23 briefing note. The advice came soon after a scathing report by the auditor general, who’d singled out the CH-148 Cyclone program for delays and cost overruns. Less than three weeks after Sheila Fraser’s assessment, U.S. helicopter giant Sikorsky advised the federal government it wouldn’t meet a Nov. 30, 2010, deadline to land the first helicopter for “limited training and operational testing.” Officials vented their frustration in the note, portions of which were underlined for emphasis. It urged both politicians and defence officials to take a deep breath and not get involved in any further debate — or request changes. “It is also paramount that DND not interfere or influence the conduct of activities, as this would provide Sikorsky rationale for excusable delay.” Ottawa’s $5.7-billion plan to buy 28 new helicopters to replace the geriatric Sea Kings, which fly off the decks of warships, have been hit with repeated delays ….”  The Canadian Press doesn’t appear to be sharing this briefing note with the public, who may want to see more of the bigger picture of the document.
  • Speaking of “geriatric” Sea Kings:  The venerable Sea King will be 50 years old in 2013 and plans are already underway to celebrate the milestone. Tim Dunne, a retired army major, says a committee was formed about a year ago to work on a reunion, a book, a memorial service and other events. Plans are also underway to place a Sea King in the Shearwater Aviation Museum ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying:  Big Honkin’ Ships Edition  Blogger Mark Collins underwhelmed with the prospect of unarmed poor compromise design Navy ships in the Arctic.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War One writer’s feelings:  “…. despite assurances from Department of National Defence officials that the F-35 is the right aircraft for Canada, the only way to really know which aircraft can best meet Canadian requirements — and at what cost — would be to put out an open, fair and transparent statement of requirements and request for proposals, and conduct a rigorous evaluation of the bidders’ responses. Denmark, which is a Level 3 partner in the F-35 program, like Canada is, has decided on an open competition to select its next-generation fighter aircraft. People are questioning why Canada is not doing the same thing. Only then will Canadians know the right fighter has been selected, at the right price.”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Paraclete tactical pouches for delivery to Richmond, Ontario and Kingston, Ontario, and up to +7K vials of injectable tetracycline-style antibiotic for CFB Petawawa.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (3)  CF starting to ask manufacturers for information on what rifle should replace the Lee Enfield for use by Canadian Rangers (via
  • Canadian Rangers got a chance to share their stories at the CNE in Toronto. “Six Canadian Rangers from northern Ontario told thousands of visitors to a military display at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto what Canadian Rangers do across Canada’s North. “I’ve never talked to so many people in my life,” said Master Cpl. Bill Morris from Kingfisher Lake, which has a population of 420. “People asked us who the Rangers are and what we do. They were pretty amazed when we told them.” The Ranger exhibit, centred around a traditional tipi, helped attract visitors to a large display of military equipment showcasing the army, navy and air force. The display attracted about one million people to it during the 17 days of the CNE, the biggest fair of its kind in Canada ….”
  • The Calgary Homeless Foundation wants to turn a small apartment building into housing units for homeless military veterans. The Royal Canadian Legion says there are at least 25 people living on Calgary streets that have been identified as Canadian Forces veterans. Cindy Green-Muse of the Legion’s Back In Step program said she knows of 25 to 30 veterans who don’t have a roof over their heads. They range in age from a few in their 20’s to one man who is over 80 years old ….”
  • The CF’s Commander-in-Chief is taking part in the Army Run this weekend.  Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston will lace up their running shoes this weekend for this year’s Canada Army Run, being held on Sunday, September 18, 2011, in Ottawa. At 7:30 a.m., His Excellency will address all athletes competing in the five-kilometre run, and will also cheer on his wife at the starting line. At 8:40 a.m., the Governor General will wish all athletes competing in the half marathon ‘good luck’, and join them in this 21-kilometre challenge ….”
  • Meanwhile,On Sunday, for the second year in a row, the annual Terry Fox Run is sharing its date with the Army Run, and there’s no sign the two charity events will be run on separate dates any time soon. The Terry Fox Run, in its 31st year, is a volunteer-run, non-competitive event to raise money for cancer research. Over the course of its history, the Ottawa, Orléans, Kanata and Gatineau runs have together raised more than $5.75 million. Runs are held across Canada on the same day and they all share a marketing budget geared to that date. The Army Run is a hugely popular newcomer to the charity run scene. Organized by Run Ottawa in collaboration with the Department of National Defence, the competitive run offers five-kilometre and half-marathon events to raise money for two military charities, Soldier On and the Military Families Fund. From its inception in 2008, the Army Run has grown to have up to 14,000 entrants in subsequent years ….”
  • Canada’s most decorated military hero, the First World War flying ace William Barker, will be honoured next week in Toronto with a gravesite monument aimed at reviving knowledge of his unmatched exploits above Europe’s battlefields nearly a century ago. Barker, a Manitoba farmboy who went on to be awarded the Victoria Cross, three Military Crosses and a host of other medals for his wartime feats, was credited with destroying 50 enemy aircraft in just the last two years of the 1914-18 war. He later became the founding director of the Royal Canadian Air Force – a designation recently restored to the aviation branch of Canada’s military – before dying tragically, at age 35, in a 1930 crash on the frozen Ottawa River while demonstrating a new aircraft in Canada’s capital ….” News Highlights – 19 Aug 11

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  • Report leaked to QMI:  CF way too top heavy.  The Department of Defence and the Canadian Forces are top heavy with too many civilian bosses in Ottawa and need to shift resources to the front lines, according to a secret defence report. Between 2004 and 2010, civilian hires at DND and the CF outpaced hires in the regular forces three to one, and while the number of sailors fell, staff at DND/CF headquarters in Ottawa ballooned by 38%. But the government says those hires were necessary to backfill positions left vacant by Canada’s heavy involvement in Afghanistan, “so that military members could focus their efforts on operational matters,” wrote Jay Paxton, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, in an e-mail Thursday. The transformation report, authored by Gen. Andrew Leslie, was submitted in early July but has yet to be released publicly. QMI Agency obtained a copy from a military source ….”  No word on sharing the report with anyone who wants to read it themselves.
  • Report leaked to Globe & Mail:  CF way too top heavy.  National Defence must take an axe to its bloated headquarters by dismissing or reassigning thousands of workers if the military is to meet its future obligations, concludes a landmark report charged with transforming the Canadian Forces. This scathing assessment by Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, who commanded the Canadian army during the Afghanistan war, arrives at a pivotal moment for the military, as the army returns from its troubled mission in Kandahar, the navy and air force seek new ships and aircraft, and the Conservative government vows to eliminate the federal deficit in a gloomy economy. “If we are serious about the future – and we must be – the impact of reallocating thousands of people and billions of dollars from what they are doing now to what we want them to do …will require some dramatic changes,” Gen. Leslie writes in Report on Transformation 2011. A copy of the report has been obtained by The Globe and Mail ….”  No word on sharing the report with anyone who wants to read it themselves.
  • Libya Mission (1)  More on HMCS Vancouver replacing HMCS Charlottetown from the CF Info-Machine.
  • Libya Mission (2)  More on Canadian boss reorg in Italy (via CF Info-Machine)
  • Way Up North (1)  “Peter Mackay, Canada’s defence minister, who arrived in Resolute Bay in the early hours of Aug. 18, made the most of his day-long visit to observe Operation Nanook, the Canadian Forces’ military exercise, shoring up support from every direction for his department’s increased visibility in Nunavut and the North. Mackay even managed to cram in a dive from an iceberg lodged in the bay outside Resolute with divers who have been learning how to work around icebergs. That, said Mackay, who donned a dry suit and full divers gear, was “disorienting,” but “incredible” as light shone through the iceberg into the water ….”
  • Way Up North (2)  CF Info-Machine coverage of Operation Nanook“Operation Nanook is well underway with Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aircraft and personnel providing valuable airlift during this major national and international operation. A combined Naval Task Group set sail from St. John’s, N.L. on Aug. 5, towards Canada’s Eastern and High Arctic, where other personnel and equipment from the Canadian Army, RCAF, and Canadian Rangers converged for the month-long, annual Arctic sovereignty exercise. In addition to the Canadian Forces, simulated major air disaster and maritime emergency scenarios involve the Canadian Coast Guard, Transportation Safety Board, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Public Safety Canada as well as the Government of Nunavut, the community of Resolute Bay and our private sector partners. Op Nanook, named for the Inuit word for polar bear, is the centerpiece of three annual northern sovereignty operations conducted by the Canadian Forces and its partners who share interest in Canada’s North ….”  More on Op NANOOK at the Canada Command page here.
  • Way Up North (3)  “A senior Canadian Army officer – Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw – is to travel to Moscow and other northern European capitals this fall for discussions about the Arctic. This development mocks the ludicrous media hype suggesting that there is a bitter rivalry involving Canada, Russia, the United States and Denmark (Greenland) over their sometimes competing claims and interests in the Arctic. To be sure, there are differences of opinion about the top of the world. But the reality is there is actually far more co-operation than there is friction. “This is beyond search and rescue,” the chief of Canada Command told me in a recent interview upon his European travel plans. “We are going to be talking about military co-operation in the North.” Officials from Russia and other Arctic Council countries will “table top” an international search-andrescue exercise in the Yukon in October. At this moment, Canadian and Danish warships and U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers are working together in Arctic waters after some of the vessels paid a courtesy call on a Greenlandic port. U.S. Coast Guard divers are on an exercise with Canadians on Cornwallis Island ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Canada’s air contingent in Afghanistan basically shuts down, after a very busy few years – these stats from the CF on how busy the planes and crews were since December 2008:   More from QMI’s David Akin here, and here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  How Canadian air force folks are helping create an Afghan air force (via CF Info-Machine).  “Kabul International Airport covers a vast area on the north side of the city. The sprawling complex includes civilian and military air terminals, air cargo centres, and International Security Assistance Force facilities. One military unit located on the airport grounds represents the future of the Afghan Air Force. The Afghan Air Training School (or Pohantoon e Hawayee, which means Big Air School) is where new members of the Afghan Air Force learn the basics of flying and maintaining aircraft and running an air unit. They also participate in literacy training, which is incorporated into nearly every course conducted by the Afghan national security forces. Ten advisors from Canada’s Air Force serve at the training school as part of the Canadian Forces contribution to the NATO training mission in Afghanistan. The Canadian staff are part of 738 Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron (738 AEAS), a NATO unit assigned to advise the the (school’s) Afghan commander and his senior staff ….”
  • The sacrifices made by members of the Canadian military and their families are being honoured with 26 bronze commemorative plaques that will be placed at intervals along the Highway of Heroes, which runs from Trenton, Ont., to Toronto. Announcement of the plaques took place Thursday in Toronto and was observed by at least 100 people, including Canadian soldiers, their families, parliamentarians and corporate sponsors. Each plaque is sponsored by a company, whose logo is visible below the image depicted on the plaque. Money raised through the sponsorship goes toward helping military families send children to summer camps, provide psychological counseling, retrofit homes and vehicles for soldiers returning with injuries or amputations and rehabilitate soldiers through athletics. Creation of the plaque program is a joint effort between the provincial Ministry of Transportation and True Patriot Love, a national foundation created by civilians with the aim of fostering better understanding between Canadians, the military and its endeavours ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Well, at least SOME of the U.S. Joint Strike Fighters are able to fly again.  “The F-35 Lightning II test fleet has been cleared for flight, the Pentagon announced Thursday. An Air Force safety investigation board is continuing its investigation of the failure of the AF-4’s Integrated Power Package on Aug. 2, which led to the grounding of the entire fleet of 20 aircraft. The AF-4 is the fourth conventional takeoff and landing variant produced by Lockheed Martin. A government and contractor engineering team determined that flight operations of the test aircraft could continue after reviewing data from ground and flight tests, and revised the test monitoring procedures that govern the IPP. Ground operations of the test fleet resumed Aug. 10 ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Here’s a taste of what happened at the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue industry day“…. A full complement of the right ADM’s and DG’s from Industry, Public Works and DND turned out, and it was noteworthy that they stayed until the end of the day.  In a procurement with this kind of history, little things can mean a lot, so government representatives handed out all their slide decks and notes in advance …. industry has until September 16 to get back to the government with its feedback, with a major focus on where the fixed-wing purchase can and should sit on a spectrum from full government ownership and ISS all the way through to full ASD, provided it still delivers the same ‘world-class’ capability as today.  This does not appear to be the only interaction the Crown intends, as this briefing is being followed by individual one on one corporate briefings, with the promise of follow-up sessions once inputs have been received and digested ….”
  • What’s Canada (Not) Buying?  Canada reportedly pulling out of Global Hawk UAV project“…. Canada has become the second country to withdraw from the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 alliance ground surveillance (AGS) program, but the remaining NATO partners are “very close” to signing a contract, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. The decision means AGS will lose another source of funding that must be compensated for by the 13 NATO members still committed …. Denmark also decided to withdraw from the partnership acquiring a six-aircraft RQ-4 fleet in June 2010. Meanwhile, Northrop and NATO officials are likely to sign a contract to launch the development phase of the AGS programme within several days. The contract award may still have to be approved by each of the national partners before it becomes official ….”
  • Two Canadian Forces members were listed on the National Sex Offender Registry, as of this spring, the Chief of the Defence Staff, has confirmed. “As of 11 May 2011, two Canadian Forces members were known to be subject to a SOIRA (Sex Offender Information Registration Act) order,” Gen. Walter Natynczyk said in a letter to Defence Minister Peter MacKay that was tabled in Parliament this week. Gen. Natynczyk said he has the power to temporarily exempt CF members from certain sex offender registry obligations, but noted he has never done so. Although a top government official told Huffington Post Canada the two members are still serving, Capt. Scott Costen, a Department of National Defence spokesman cautioned that administrative reviews, which are are launched after court martials or civilian criminal proceedings call into question the suitability of a member’s continued service, may be underway to release individuals from their military positions ….”
  • Some Twitter updates from the boss of Canada’s Army.  1) Senior Canadian medic recognized by U.S.  “BGen Hilary Jaeger was awarded the US Meritorious Service Medal for her outstanding leadership and great contribution to ISAF mission.”  2)  Change of assignment for senior Canadian officer working with U.S. forces.  “Great visit III Corps and Fort Hood. Atkinson‘s were awesome ambassadors for Canada. Welcome Milner‘s” (more on the senior Canadian appointment switch-around from the Fort Hood base newspaper here)
  • PM on Syria  Time for the boss to go.  “…. The Assad regime has lost all legitimacy by killing its own people to stay in power. I join with President Obama and other members of the international community in calling on President Assad to vacate his position, relinquish power and step down immediately. The Syrian people have a right to decide for themselves the next steps for Syria’s future ….”  More from Postmedia News here and Agence France-Presse here.
  • Lew-Mac on NATO“…. (Historian Jack) Granatstein rightly points out that, “In diplomacy as in baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out. Afghanistan was strike one; Libya was strike two. And strike three?” he asks. I suggest strike three already happened in 1999 during NATO’s 50th birthday celebrations when it was frantically searching for a role and an enemy now that the Cold War was over. It found an out of area mission bombing Serbia and Kosovo in support of the Kosovo Liberation Army, at the time a terrorist movement according to the CIA. Seventy-nine days of bombing later, Serbian infrastructure was devastated but her security forces were still defiant and little damaged. Diplomacy took over and NATO capitulated on the two poison pills in the Rambouillet Agreement that “justified” the bombing campaign in the first place, that is to say, NATO freedom of movement throughout Serbia and a referendum on Kosovo independence within three years. As a result of this Russian-led diplomacy Serbian forces pulled out of Kosovo. NATO’s military mission had failed which in my book makes it three strikes in 12 years ….”
  • MORE criminals (not just war criminals) on the CBSA “help us find these folks” web site – more from
  • Meanwhile,Anyone defending foreign criminals remaining here are naively ignoring their potential threat or are driven by unknown motives, Canada’s public safety minister warned Thursday. Vic Toews said some Canadians “condemn our soldiers as war criminals,” but not foreigners evading deportation to face charges of crimes against humanity. On Sun News, he said such stances — including Amnesty International objecting to the government seeking public help to catch 30 suspected war criminals, plus the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) seeking killer Omar Khadr’s return — exhibit a “culture gap. “Don’t you people understand what is going on in the world … there are some bad people out there,” Toews told Ezra Levant, host of The Source ….”
  • Several Canadian cities will be receiving artifacts from Hangar 17 — a makeshift museum inside New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport that houses pieces from the 9/11 wreckage. Thousands of meticulously catalogued steel beams, crushed cars and fire trucks can be found inside the 80,000-square-foot hangar that’s rarely open to the public. Tom Doucette, executive director of The Military Museums in Calgary, said they will be receiving a 15-foot long piece of steel from one of the fallen World Trade Center towers that weighs just under 3,000 pounds ….”
  • Just as they did during active duty, the Olympus and Okanagan continue to slip silently along Canada’s waterways. These days, however, they’re not doing so unnoticed. After all, it’s difficult to miss the 1,250-tonne submarines that are taking a voyage from Halifax to Port Maitland – especially when they’re travelling above the water. Decommissioned by the Canadian Department of National Defense, the former submarines are being transported on floating drydocks towed by barges. At the end of the journey, they’ll meet their fate. The Oberon class submarines are scheduled to be scrapped by Port Colborne-based Marine Recycling Corp. at the company’s Port Maitland shipyard. Now it’s just a matter of getting them there ….” News Highlights – 14 Aug 11

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  • Way Up North  More from the Kingston Whig-Standard on Operation Nanook:  “At midnight, the sun skirts the northern horizon but it does not set. On a barren hill overlooking the Canadian Forces’ camp, Peter Oolateeta turns into the setting sun. Polar bears often wander into the area looking for food, and routine patrols of the camp perimeter are designed to discourage them from getting any closer. Armed with a Second World War-vintage No. 4 Lee Enfield .303 bolt-action rifle, Oolateeta is looking for signs of the area’s top predator. Oolateeta, from Pond Inlet on Baffin Island, is a member of the Canadian Rangers, a largely Inuit army reserve force that serves as Canada’s military presence in the North ….”
  • Lew-Mac on Syria:  “Don’t expect NATO to launch a campaign against the Syrian government, as it has against the Libyan government, at least according to one of Canada’s most senior military veterans. Retired Major General Lewis Mackenzie says military intervention in Syria would be a much more difficult mission politically. “They share a border with Turkey in particular. It would generate problems with displaced people. Syria gets support from Saudi Arabia which maybe shouldn’t be an ally of ours, but is certainly an ally to the United States,” he explains ….”  Meanwhile, a bit of the latest from Syria here.
  • Afghanistan (1)  One of the U.S. Navy SEALS killed in the recent Chinook downing in Afghanistan was born in Quebec – American home-town obit here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Another Royal Canadian Legion welcomes Afghan vets home“It was the colour that struck him first. Face pressed against the window, Master Cpl. Charles Lavers soaked in the reds and yellows and greens of Quebec’s hardwood forests as his plane landed in November 2010. After serving seven months in Afghanistan, the then 23-year- old was returning home a war veteran. “The smell of the air when I got back to Nova Scotia was the next thing to hit me,” said Lavers. “I’d lived everyday with a 9-millimetre (pistol) on my leg and a C-7 (rifle) in hand, so it was kind of strange not carrying a gun . . . a good strange.” On Saturday, his was one of eight, relatively young faces at the Afghan veterans’ appreciation day held by the Royal Canadian Legion in Truro ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  Whazzup for a Canadian helicopter company in Afghanistan as countries talk about winding down, getting outCanadian Helicopters Group is more than two years into its mission supporting the U.S. military in Afghanistan but is already thinking ahead to the next stage after hostilities end. “We are striving to be involved on a post-war basis to assist with reconstruction efforts,” president and CEO Don Wall said Friday in a conference call. The Montreal-based helicopter transportation company has been active in the country since early 2009. Options on current contracts could extend its military presence until the end of 2016 ….”
  • Canadian company gets a good chunk of U.S. military business.  RTS Cos. Inc., Saint Clements, Canada, won a $523,179.37 federal contract from the Defense Commissary Agency’s Contracting Business Unit/Equipment and Maintenance Division, Fort Lee, Va., for specialty shopping carts with toy body designs.”  Could this be the item being built and sold by the southwestern Ontario company?
  • When Quinte’s volunteer rescuers save their next life, they’ll do it in the name of Bruce Sutcliffe. Dignitaries christened the new Quinte Search and Rescue (QSAR) boat the Bruce A. Sutcliffe on Friday, a special tribute to the commanding officer of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment who was killed in action in Sicily in 1943. The ceremony was held at Belleville’s Stu Meeks Rescue Dock near the foot of Church Street on the west side of Meyers Pier. “We’re very, very proud. It’s a great tribute,” said Sutcliffe’s daughter, Pat Hariton of Cobourg. “It is going to serve as a memorial for a very special son of the Quinte region,” Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Leona Dombrowsky told the crowd of several dozen people ….”
  • Canada’s PM on the 50th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall:  “Fifty years ago, the world saw Germany divided in two, with Berlin severed by the construction of the Berlin Wall, with the West retaining its rights and freedoms and the East succumbing to Communist oppression. The Berlin Wall became symbolic of division in the 20th Century – an imposing cement slab that became an integral part of the Iron Curtain between Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc. It also became a symbol of tyranny and evil as many innocent people fleeing communism were gunned down in their attempt to find freedom on the other side of the Wall in West Berlin. During the Cold War, many apologists for the Communist regime tried to convince the world that their ideology was superior. Fortunately, talented and courageous artists, writers and ordinary citizens were able to expose that what went on behind the Wall ran counter to all the ideals the West had fought for and the truth began to trickle out ….” News Highlights – 25 Jul 11

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  • Supporting the troops, one steak at a time“It’s been a little over a year since Harvey Dann started his Sponsor a Steak campaign. Dann owns Alert Agri Distributors, a West St. Paul, Man., company that exports fat cattle to the U.S. It’s been a good business for Dann, and he’s been thankful for it. Last year, celebrating his 25th year in business, Dann decided to give something back. He started the campaign to feed steaks to Canadian soldiers who were serving overseas. In the past year, Dann has spread the word at various beef industry meetings, and gathered support, with a goal of raising about $110,000 to purchase the steaks. A couple of weeks ago, Dann accomplished his goal. He called the News with the word that he had succeeded in raising enough money for military base parties across Canada, including Edmonton; Shilo, Man.; Gagetown, N.B.; Valcartier, Que.; and Petawawa, Ont. The base parties for Edmonton and Shilo were held in June, 2010 ….”
  • Well done Winnipeg Jets!  “The new Winnipeg Jets logo is doing more for the Canadian Forces than just paying tribute. True North Sports and Entertainment, which owns the team, will give $1 million to military charities over the next ten years. Maj.-Gen. Alain Parent, commander of 1 Canadian Air Division, said it was easy to partner with the new hockey outfit. “Winnipeg has had a long association with the air force,” he said. “Blue Bombers and Jets are both aircraft that have served or are serving the air force.” “In turn, we consider Winnipeg to be the heart of the air force,” he said. Money will be donated to the Military Families Fund, the Air Force Heritage Fund and Soldier On ….”
  • Canada’s defence minister met Sunday with Canadian Rangers ahead of a major, annual Arctic sovereignty operation. Defence Minister Peter MacKay presented members of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group with Canadian Forces decoration medals in honour of their 12 years of service. Starting Aug. 8, the 1st Ranger patrol group will take part in Operation Nanook, the military’s annual northern training exercise. The Rangers, a sub-component of the Canadian Forces Reserve, patrol remote parts of Canada’s North, but were also called to Ontario last week to help evacuate First Nations communities threatened by forest fires ….”  More on the awards, as well as Ranger recruiting numbers, from the CF Info-Machine here.
  • Afghanistan  The loss of a not-so secret base in Dubai last year forced the Canadian military to use its unarmed Airbus planes for flights into Kandahar Airfield during the final phase of the combat mission, ministerial briefing notes say. “Pressures imposed by the closure of Camp Mirage and the need to maximize flexibility in providing strategic airlift to support OP Athena have culminated in the (censored) using C-150 flights in KAF,” said a Nov. 1, 2010, briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay. The Canadian military designates its Airbus passenger jets as the CC-150 Polaris but often refers to it simply as the C-150. The air force initially certified the Airbus aircraft to fly into the war zone in 2007. But their use, according to the documents, was considered a “last resort” and a “calculated risk” by commanders on the ground ….”  Um, the Hercules planes flying into and out of Kandahar are “unarmed”, too, although the article is a bit more specific about the risk later on:  “…. The Airbus planes do not have a defensive suite to deflect incoming missiles and are generally considered a civilian aircraft not suited for a war zone ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying:  Big Honkin’ Ship Edition (1)  Vancouver should brace itself for significant change if Vancouver Shipyards Company wins a portion of the $35-billion in federal contracts for new warships and other vessels this fall, a company executive says. In an interview shortly after the company submitted its bid, John Shaw, a vice-president at the parent company Seaspan Marine Corp., said winning the contract would mean expansion of training and apprenticeship programs, and a search for more than 2,000 new employees. “We would be rebuilding an industry. … We’re at a point where we would have to train a whole new generation on shipbuilding,” Mr. Shaw said. “It would be a huge change here.” ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying:  Big Honkin’ Ship Edition (2)  “…. That isn’t to say money won’t be wasted or mistakes made. This project is too big and too spread out across the country to work perfectly. But MacKay’s well-timed slap three years ago might have set the stage for a more effective and coherent shipbuilding program this time around. And that is what’s important. Expensive as it is, this project will provide much more than cash and jobs: It will encourage technology development and trade, and stimulate business right across Canada. It had better be done right.”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Remember research being done on mine plows from a few years back?  Looks like a bit more work’s being done.
  • Senator Yonah Martin, on behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, was joined by the Honourable Sung Choon Park, Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs for the Republic of Korea, to mark the 58th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice and the service and sacrifice of Veterans of the Korean War. A brief ceremony was held today at the Monument to Canadian Fallen followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the National War Memorial …. From 1950 to 1953, more than 26,000 Canadians served in Korea, working to restore peace and stability to the area. There were 516 Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of peace, freedom and justice for the people of South Korea ….”
  • More on the War of 1812 commemorations coming up. “Next year, Canada will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 — a three-year war that sent the invading Americans retreating home on the losing side of history. So will Canadians, known for their quiet patriotism, celebrate that victory with respect for our now closest ally and most valuable trading partner? Or, will it turn into a scene of chauvinistic triumphalism, a trait sometimes fairly or unfairly attributed to Canada’s neighbours to the south? “You don’t want to all of a sudden say, ‘We’ve kicked your butts,’ but there’s ways of presenting it,” said Clark Bernat, manager of Niagara Falls Museums, who is among the planners for local upcoming bicentennial celebrations in the city. “This is a war that has led to 200 years of peace between our two countries. There was a reason for them to do battle 200 years ago and we have to provide the reasons why it happened and what the results were.” ….” News Highlights – 19 Jul 11

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  • CF getting busier helping fly evacuees out of remote northern Ontario communities because of forest fires.  The Canadian Forces have supported municipal and provincial authorities in Ontario in evacuating 385 residents threatened by wildfires in the communities of Fort Hope and Sandy Lake. That number continues to climb as Canadian Forces aircraft continue the airlift of threatened Canadians out of Sandy Lake …. Beginning on Sunday, members of the Eabametoong First Nation were evacuated by the Canadian Forces from Fort Hope to Greenstone (Geraldton), Ontario using a CC-130 Hercules military transport aircraft tasked from 424 Squadron at 8 Wing Trenton. In total, 265 people were transported to safety, with the operation ceasing as of Monday morning. Ten members of the 3rd Canadian Rangers Patrol Group assisted in this evacuation effort by coordinating logistics, communicating with families and in the loading of the aircraft. Beginning today, members of the Sandy Lake First Nation were evacuated from Sandy Lake to Sioux Lookout using a CC-130 Hercules aircraft tasked from 435 Squadron at 17 Wing Winnipeg. In total, 120 people were transported to safety as of late Monday afternoon. Fourteen Canadian Rangers also supported the Sandy Lake evacuation ….”
  • Wanted:  Media up for a short (or longer) trip to the Arctic to watch the next Canadian Forces sovereignty exercise, Nanook 2011.
  • Libya Mission  Scott Taylor’s take on a possible future.  “…. From the outset of the campaign against Libya, the U.S. made it clear they were not going to become fully engulfed in yet another war. Within NATO, not all members agreed to contribute to the enforcement of the United Nations-authorized no-fly zone and only a handful conceded to launching bombing attacks. Of those that did, Norway has now backed out, the Netherlands is ceasing their bombing role and the Italians are hinting they want out of the whole affair. The French and Brits have been the most belligerent players in this game but now even they are looking for a face-saving political solution that may even include Gadhafi remaining in Libya. If that does transpire, Canada is going to have not just a big seat but the only seat left at the proverbial Libyan rebel table. One has to wonder, why?”
  • An Al Jazeera journalist based in Bethlehem opines about Canada’s nature.  “…. If the missions in Afghanistan and Libya say anything, it’s that an aggressive Canada intends to be taken seriously.”
  • Afghanistan (1)  More “so long, combat mission” coverage, this time from Agence France-Presse“Canada’s top general in Afghanistan held his head high as his combat troops flew out of the country on Monday, even if the long war against the Taliban shows little sign of ending. With a spotlight shining on a red maple leaf emblazoned on the aircraft taking them home, Brigadier General Dean Milner led 120 of his troops onto the tarmac of Kandahar’s sprawling airfield built on the same desert where the Taliban was born. It was a farewell of brief, but emotional, handshakes and embraces after nine years of fighting the Taliban which has left 157 Canadian troops dead — their names etched on a marble memorial left behind. “It feels good heading back to family,” said Milner, who refused a soldier’s offer to carry his bag under sand blasts from the desert. “It has been an outstanding mission, with a lot of great accomplishments and I hope there will be good transition,” he added, before giving a thumbs up and climbing aboard the plane ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  A bit more on fast-tracking Afghan interpreters coming into Canada.
  • Afghanistan (3)  This, from Mark Collins:  “This rather fatuous Canadian Press article in effect makes a case–with a distinct undertone of anti-Americanism–that if Canada had had its own foreign human intelligence (HUMINT) agency then we would have been much more aware of the
    likelihood of an upsurge in Taliban violence in Kandahar when the decision was made in 2005 to deploy the Canadian Forces for combat operations in that province ….”
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is expected to conduct a realignment of the bureaucracy after a winning a majority government on May 2, recently shuffled his foreign and defence policy adviser to Agriculture Canada, along with a number of other top changes. Critics say the foreign policy adviser position is an influential one, but that it’s up to the PM to determine the depth of that influence ….”  So far, the old adviser, Claude Carrier , has been moved without a new one being named yet.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Wanted:  someone with expertise in radar systems for research, design work.