MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Mar 11

  • If anyone can make a case for how Canada’s treating its wounded warriors, it’s a wounded warriorA major who lost both his legs in Afghanistan says the Harper government’s financial treatment of injured war veterans is an “abject betrayal” of a new generation of soldiers.  Maj. Mark Campbell, who stepped on a bomb in June 2008 near a Canadian base west of Kandahar city, says the New Veteran’s Charter established in 2006 robs wounded soldiers of about 40 per cent of their income …. “This New Veteran’s Charter is a grotesque travesty. It is an abject betrayal by the government of Canada to our new generation of disabled and wounded veterans,” said Campbell …. “What kind of deal is that? The people of Canada should be outraged.”  Campbell believes the new lump-sum payments and income replacement pale in comparison to the practice after the Second World War of granting lifetime pensions …. “Why are we saying people who sacrificed limbs in the service of their country should be subjected to a 25 per cent reduction in their families’ means of living? It’s ridiculous,” he said ….” More from Postmedia News here and CBC.ca here.
  • Veterans Affairs bureaucrats who rifled through the personal files of a department critic were handed written reprimands and three-day suspensions — penalties the victim calls a “slap on the wrist.” An internal investigation found 54 veterans bureaucrats improperly snooped through Sean Bruyea’s personal files, including medical and psychiatric reports. Some of them used the information to smear the outspoken critic.  “These employees have been disciplined and department officials consider this matter has been successfully addressed and closed,” said a Feb. 25 letter to Bruyea, obtained by The Canadian Press.  The two-month internal investigation determined that 614 employees handled his file over a number of years, but many had no need to do so.  Some of his personal information was included in briefing notes to former veterans affairs minister Greg Thompson in 2006 as the Conservative government prepared to implement the New Veterans Charter, which substantially overhauled benefits for former soldiers ….”
  • Interesting research from a university in Alberta: “Video games often get a bad rap, but their ability to desensitise players to violence could help soldiers sleep better. According to an online survey of 98 military personnel, regularly playing games that involve war and combat – like Call of Duty – decreased the level of harm and aggression experienced when they dreamed about war. Soldiers who didn’t play video games reported having more violent dreams combined with a sense of helplessness, says Jayne Gackenbach of Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada ….” More on that here.  Also, here’s a paper from the same researcher on the subject from last summer.
  • More Canadians (and others) GTFO Libya.  This from the PM’s chief spokesperson’s Twitter feed:  “Another Canadian Armed Forces plane has left Tripoli with 10 Canadians, UK, Australians, Romanian and other evacuees.”
  • A National Post editorial calls for NATO to do SOMETHING about Libya“Pressure is growing for Western nations to intervene militarily in Libya’s emerging civil war …. there are good reasons to be wary about such a campaign. But Muammar Gaddafi’s apparent willingness to exterminate large numbers of his citizens in recent days has served to marginalize such concerns: Whatever the risks that attend military intervention, we must not permit a North African Srebrenica …. The heavy lifting associated with the no-fly mission should be performed by Italy, France, Germany and Spain — which, collectively, import 90% of Libya’s oil exports. Britain, too, has a well-established trade relationship with Libya. It is in these countries’ interests to remove Col. Gaddafi as quickly as possible and stabilize the country around a new government. There are roles for Canada, the United States and other Western nations, too. Even as the Canadian air force seeks to acquire a controversial new multi-purpose fighter jet, our old CF-18s are more than a match for anything the Libyans have to throw up against them.  In the best case scenario, NATO will not have to fire a single shot or scramble a single aircraft — because Libyans will end Gaddafi’s cruel tyranny all by themselves. But failing that, we cannot stand by and permit a Libyan genocide to unfold.”
  • The Winnipeg Free Press is even more specific about a no-fly zone. “As Libyan rebels, until recently rolling towards Tripoli, now reel under a fierce counter-attack by the military forces of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the world wonders what to do. It can sit back and do nothing other than shout encouragement to the revolutionaries from the sidelines, which is mostly what it is has done up until now — some nations have given humanitarian aid to the insurgents, a few have sent military aid and moral support to Col. Gadhafi …. The …. choice, and one that paradoxically has the strongest support and the strongest opposition, is to declare a “no-fly zone” over Libya. The arguments in favour of this are most persuasively that it would be an unmistakable statement of international support for the revolution that Col. Gadhafi could not ignore. It would ground the Libyan air force that has in recent days been a devastating psychological as well as tactical weapon in the government counter-attack. And it can be implemented without UN consent or the even the united approval of NATO. In short, it is doable and effective …. such a declaration still seems the best and most effective way of aiding the revolution. There is a real chance for democracy in Libya, and thousands of Libyans have died in its pursuit. If the West does nothing, then Carney’s prophecy will be self-fulfilling: If we don’t at least stay apace of events, we will be so far behind them that the next diplomatic mission to Tripoli may well be to pay respects to a rejuvenated Col. Gadhafi.”
  • One of the standard MSM stories out of Afghanistan:  the hockey stars drop by.  Postmedia News’ version here and the Canadian Press’ version here.
  • An interesting variation on the “sports for the troops” theme:  a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) match is set for Afghanistan today. More on the match here.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Attacks claimed in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Fixing up radar at CFB Trenton: “Sensis Corporation’s modernization program for the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) Terminal Radar and Control System (TRACS) Area Surveillance Radar (ASR-3) has been formally accepted and is now commissioned and in use by the DND. The fully redundant ASR-3 radar modernization solution features a high performance signal/data processor and solid state L-band transmitter replacement along with six level National Weather Service (NWS) weather data processing capability embedded in the software. The modernization solution will extend the service life of 8 Wing/Canadian Forces Base Trenton’s radar by a minimum of 15 years while reducing life cycle, maintenance and operating costs ….”
  • (Belated) bye, bye Arcturus.The Aurora community marked the end of an era on Dec. 15, 2010, when the last of the CP-140A Arcturus aircraft, a variant of the CP-140 Aurora, performed its final operational mission for the Canadian Forces. Its 4,600 horsepower engines fired up one last time before it took off from 14 Greenwood, N.S., for a 16.1 hour mission – pushing the outer limit of endurance and setting a record for the longest flight in a CP-140A Arcturus. The crew of nine, composed mainly of members of 404 Long Range Patrol and Training Squadron, flew along the boundary of the eastern Canadian airspace to test the communications coverage of NORAD’s installations. The Arcturus departed Greenwood on a flight plan that took it north to a point near Frobisher Bay, Nunavut, and then south to a point near Yarmouth, N.S ….”
  • In spite of how much Ottawa is pushing the F-35 fighter, a recent speech by Canada’s Defence Minister points to a different threat. “…. after Mr. MacKay had finished laying out what appeared to be the critical importance of cutting-edge air power in Canadian sovereignty, the minister said Canada was actually most vulnerable to maritime threats. “Not to sound too foreboding, [but] at the risk of being too honest, I think our greatest vulnerability, in my estimation, is waterborne,” he said. With the longest coastline in the world, “beware the water.” Mr. MacKay’s office says his comment about the overriding “vulnerability” of the maritime environment was a reference to the government’s plan to spend $35-billion—even more money than the projected costs of the F-35—on several new vessels for its navy. And his spokesperson Josh Zanin expanded on why Canada’s greatest vulnerability is maritime by noting that waterborne security not only involves military threats, but “directly affects the availability—and the cost—of essential goods, especially food and fuel, all over the world” by affecting international shipping, of which 95 per cent is done over water. Other defence experts agreed with this view ….”
  • The federal government is spending more on the military today than at any point since the end of the Second World War, according to a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives that argues Canada isn’t getting enough bang for its buck. This country is expected to spend more than $23 billion on the military in 2010-11, about 2% more than it did the previous year and about 26% more than it did the year the Berlin Wall came down. That said, Canada’s status as an international player has been undermined by its failure to win a seat on the UN Security Council. Author Bill Robinson argues that Canada has no real military power or influence despite being the world’s 13th biggest military spender and NATO’s sixth biggest spender, so ought shift to consider a drastic shift in priorities. “That kind of money would allow us to operate in a much more significant manner in other ways in the world, most notably through things like development assistance,” he said Tuesday ….” As of this post, no word of the study at the CCPA site yet.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 6 Mar 11

  • The PM’s Office is keeping the world updated via Twitter about Canadians GTFO’ing Libya. Most recent examples:  “Canadian C130 has landed in Malta with 9 Cdn citizens, US, UK, Ukrainian, and others evacuated from Libya.”  “Almost 330 Cdns have been evacuated from Libya thus far. Canadian Armed Forces flight scheduled today (Saturday) to continue evacuation.”  Shame the politicians didn’t Tweet about the Afghan mission….  More on this from MSM coverage here and here.
  • Conrad Black’s take on what Canada should do“…. The best solution to Libya, as I suggested here recently, would be an Arab one; the fraternal invasion of Libya by Egypt, in support of an amenable regime, as all friendly parties engaged in the expulsion of Gaddafi would welcome such an initiative, and Egypt could negotiate in advance a revenue-producing arrangement for itself in securing the pacification of the country and the full resumption of oil flows …. At least all indications are that in the buzz of collegiality with which the West is noisily worrying about the dangers of doing anything about Libya except imitating King Canute from the White House balcony, Canada is being consulted. And there is something Canada can do, which would be noticed by our allies: We should recognize the provisional government of Libya as legitimate, and make contact with it. This could have a catalytic effect, inspirit the rebels, nudge the Americans and Europeans into doing something, and generally start a rockslide around Gaddafi.  The Europeans, who are disposed to do something, would be grateful, and so would the U.S. Republicans, at the moment the majority party in the United States. Even President Obama says that Gaddafi lacks legitimacy; so let us confer legitimacy on those who have earned it. A gangster and terrorist regime is slaughtering its own population, which is fighting back gallantly. We owe them our support, and every day’s delay is shameful and could make a benign outcome more doubtful.  For once, Canada could make a difference and be seen by the world to do so. There is no excuse for waiting.” The only problem:  who’s in charge of the other side?
  • Anti-Gadhafi Libyans in Regina highlight the situation.  “People in Regina with roots in Libya have rallied for the third weekend in a row to show support for anti-Gadhafi protests.  About 30 people carrying signs calling for the downfall of the Libyan leader marched and talked with passersby on Saturday during a demonstration at Victoria Park in the city’s downtown.  They said they want to ensure people in Saskatchewan know what family and friends are facing in Libya …. Muftah said the group will continue to hold demonstrations in Regina every week until major change happens in Libya ….”
  • Meanwhile, some British special forces troops and a diplomatic team seem to be…. guests? …. of anti-Gaddafi forces“Details of a UK operation to rebel-held Benghazi in Libya in which eight men – six reportedly SAS – were arrested, have been disclosed to the BBC.  Defence Secretary Liam Fox told the BBC a small diplomatic team was in Benghazi and “they were in touch with them”.   The BBC’s Jon Leyne said eyewitnesses saw six men in black overalls land in a helicopter near the city early on Friday who were met by two others. They were later arrested when it was discovered they were carrying weapons.  According to an earlier report in the Sunday Times the unit was trying to put UK diplomats in touch with rebels trying to topple the Gaddafi regime.  In a statement, the MoD said: “We neither confirm nor deny the story and we do not comment on the special forces.” ….”
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • What’s Canada Buying? More details on the scrapping of 2 (maybe 3) Oberon-class submarines in the Statement of Work from the bid documents downloadable at Milnet.ca here.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks and assassinations alleged in Kandahar.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 28 Feb 11

  • Canada’s Foreign Affairs department confirms it’s working on the “safe release” of a Canadian, Colin MacKenzie, in AfghanistanThe Taliban has issued a statement claiming a captured “Canadian national” is a spy, saying they’ll be releasing a video shortly.  A bit more from the Canadian Press here, CBC.ca here, CTV.ca here, Agence France-Presse here and the BBC here.
  • A couple of more versions of the Taliban’s “we have a Canadian spy” statement, in Arabic and Pashto (with a Google translation of the Arabic version) here.
  • It appears, according to media accounts here and here, that the missing man, 1)  has been missing for 3 months (with RCMP involvement since November), and 2)  wanted to learn Pashto. In case one needs reminding, here’s DFAIT’s recommendations about touristing in Afghanistan” …. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against all travel to Afghanistan. Canadians undertaking travel despite this warning take serious risks. Canadians already in Afghanistan should leave. The security situation remains extremely volatile and unpredictable ….”
  • A U.S. squadron will head to Kandahar’s Dand district next month in a move that will enable the Canadian military to start “saturating” the western neck of Panjwaii before the conclusion of combat operations, Canada’s top soldier in Afghanistan says. The 1st squadron of the 2nd Stryker Regiment will leave the Uruzgan province and take command of the Dand battle space in mid-March from the 1-71 Cavalry of 10th Mountain Division. The 500-member cavalry has been under the command of Task Force Kandahar, stationed alongside Canadian and Afghan forces in the relatively calm district since May. The 700-member Stryker squadron will fall under Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner’s command until the Canadian military mission ends in July. Two companies of soldiers will go to Dand and a third will be deployed to Panjwaii ….”
  • A snapshot of Canadian mentoring work with Afghan troops: “A hint of irritation is evident in Capt. Eric Bouchard’s voice as he tries to figure out where his counterpart in the Afghan National Army is going.  Canadian and Afghan forces have barely begun a two-day mission to search villages and fields in the central Panjwaii district, and already there’s confusion between the two groups. It seems the Afghan platoon commander paired with Bouchard has neglected to bring a proper map, and he’s leading his troops off the planned route.  Bouchard’s first instinct is to tell him to get back on track, but he restrains himself. After all, this operation has been organized by the Afghans and Bouchard’s job is to mentor their soldiers, not lecture them. Showing respect is paramount.  “Tell him the first objective is over that way,” Bouchard instructs his interpreter. “But … but, ask him where he wants to go.”  Such interactions are common for Canadians serving in the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team, also known as the OMLT or “omelette,” which provides on-the-job training for Afghan soldiers in the field ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda WatchMore attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan.
  • Wounded warrior preparing for run on artificial leg“When army Sergeant Jamie MacIntyre joined Toronto’s annual run in support of St. John’s Rehab Hospital two years ago, he had a special reason for taking part: Among those getting a new lease on life from the widely acclaimed facility was his friend Master Corporal Jody Mitic, who’d lost both legs in 2007 in Afghanistan after stepping on a land mine.  This year, Sgt. MacIntyre has a still better incentive for participating: Last June, two months into his second tour of Afghanistan, he too trod on a roadside bomb and his left foot was blown off. So when he does the Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K Run/Walk on March 13, together with his wife and some military colleagues, this time he’ll be running with an artificial leg …”
  • Operation GTFO Libya More details are coming to light about why Canadian planes had to leave empty from Libya last week. “…. MacKay said Sunday the two aircraft had arrived in the middle of the night and officials were having difficulty both identifying Canadians who were waiting at the airport and determining if they were allowed to leave the country. The planes had been given a limited amount of time to remain at the airport, so aircraft from other countries could land. “There was very little co-operation being extended to Canadians by officials at the airport,” MacKay told CTV’s Question Period in an interview from Halifax. “And so they were then told they had to leave because there were specific time slots that were being given to countries at that time.” ….”
  • Two more Canadian military planes are being dispatched to the eastern Mediterranean to help with the evacuation of Canadians in Libya. Defence Minister Peter MacKay tells CTV News’ Question Period the pair of Hercules transport aircraft were deployed and could be used to land in austere areas of Libya outside of the capital Tripoli. An estimated 100 Canadians are still trapped in the country, many of them believed to be oil workers. The British military, including members of its special forces, used a Hercules to fly under the Libyan radar and rescue 150 Britons and foreign nationals in a desert area. A spokesman for the prime minister said Stephen Harper was spending the day in briefings on the evolving situation in Libya ….” More on that from Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister here.
  • Here’s what the PM had to say about what happens next with Libya: “…. Canada earlier today implemented the following binding sanctions contained in the Resolution:
    • An arms embargo requiring all states to prevent the sale or supply of arms into Libya, or the export of arms from Libya;
    • The inspection of cargo going into Libya;
    • A travel ban on Muammar Qadhafi and 15 individuals closely associated with him; and
    • An asset freeze against Muammar Qadhafi and members of his family….” More from the Canadian Press here.
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • F-35 Tug o’ War The fighter plane at the centre of one of Ottawa’s hottest political debates has taken its first test flight over the skies of Texas.  The hour-long flight of the first production model of the Lockheed Martin F-35 II Lightning stealth fighter went off without a hitch, said test pilot Bill Gigliotti.  “The aircraft was rock-solid from takeoff to landing, and successfully completed all the tests we put it through during the flight,” Gigliotti said.  The flight was an important developmental milestone for the aircraft that Canada plans to begin using in 2016 to replace its aging CF-18 fleet ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 25 Feb 11

  • Whaddya do when you want to help Canadians GTFO Libya, but the insurance company won’t cover the charter plane you’ve hired go in? Send in the big honkin’ military plane instead! “Canada will send a military cargo plane to evacuate its citizens from Libya, where conditions are becoming more dangerous, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon told reporters on Thursday. The announcement came hours after plans to send a chartered civilian airliner on Thursday to the Libyan capital Tripoli fell through over insurance concerns. Cannon said nearly 200 Canadians had been, or were about to be, evacuated from Libya on planes and ships arranged by other nations. Cannon, speaking to reporters in the Canadian embassy in Rome, said a C-17 military transport plane with 156 seats was on its way to Italy from Germany and would fly to Tripoli as soon as Libyan authorities have permission. He also said a charter plane from Amman would arrive in Tripoli in the early hours of Friday. So far, 213 Canadians have expressed a desire to leave Libya ….” About the bit in red, if this is correct, I really hope a politician is not going to take up a seat in any of the planes flying out of Libya.  To be fair, I’ve also found this for his being there:  “…. Cannon is in Italy to discuss the situation in Libya and the region with his Italian counterpart….” More from CBC.ca here.
  • Other ways outta Libya: “…. Canada’s governor general …. has agreed to keep his aircraft on standby for possible use; he is due to be in Kuwait on Friday. Italy has also offered to welcome any Canadians trapped in Benghazi aboard its navy ships that have authorization to approach Libyan shores, he said. It’s not clear if and when the Italian vessels might arrive ….”
  • Here’s more on how the military does this sort of thing if the effort is cranked up further.
  • At least one observer with Canadian military experience is saying something more needs to be done about Egypt.
  • A Liberal and a Tory senator lay out how Canada can help in Libya. “…. Support from the international community, and Canada especially, should be offered for building Libyan civil society and the national institutions neglected and denied during Gadhafi’s four-decade, one-man rule.  Although the Security Council has expressed “grave concern” and called on Libya “to meet its responsibility to protect its population,” its issuance of a press statement is insufficient to communicate the gravity of the situation that Libyans face -namely, the threat of mass atrocities. Time is literally of the essence …. But strong words must be paired with strong action. Canada and the international community must stand by the people of Libya who, like so many others throughout the Arab world, seek the basic human rights that should be enjoyed by all who desire them. Whereas the protests elsewhere have led to relatively peaceful transitions or to dialogues for reform, Libya’s rulers have chosen repression and slaughter …. We have seen the cost of inaction, delay and obfuscation on innocent populations elsewhere. The Responsibility to Protect is about the world engaging when a civilian population is under attack -either from its own government or because its government lacks the means or will to protect it. Libya is one of the clearest examples yet of just such a circumstance.  Canada has an opportunity to help build a coalition at the UN for rapid engagement. This needs to be a matter of hours and days, not weeks and months.”
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • The leader of Canada’s last battle group in Afghanistan says his goal to establish a presence in every town and village in Kandahar’s Panjwaii district may not be attainable. Lt.-Col. Michel-Henri St-Louis said last month that it was his aim to be present in every Panjwaii community before Canada’s military mission ends in July. But St-Louis says that may have been overly optimistic. Still, he says the Canadian military and Afghan National Security Forces have eroded the insurgency’s freedom of movement in the violent district in recent weeks ….”
  • Taking a trick out of the Taliban’s play book to reassure Afghans. “The letter opens with a greeting seemingly ripped from a fairy tale: “Brothers and sisters, sleep soundly.” Beginning this week, Afghans in Kandahar province will wake up to those warm words posted on their front doors. The Canadian military is borrowing a Taliban tactic to counter the insurgency’s message, coming up with night letters of its own to be distributed in select communities in the Panjwaii district, where most of Canada’s battle group is based. The letter, written in Pashto, is an attempt to reassure locals that the Afghan National Security Forces are patrolling their villages at night. It also encourages them to report suspected insurgent activity, such as the planting of improvised explosive devices or stashing of weapons, and provides phone numbers where people can offer tips while maintaining their anonymity ….” More on the Taliban’s use of night letters here and here.
  • Poochie story o’ the week: “The Canadian Army has been employing sniffer dogs to detect mines and improvised explosive devices (IED) not only along routes, but also in buildings and vehicles. “We work with canine teams nearly every day, and the dogs form an integral part of our teams and sections,” explained Sergeant Alexandre Murgia, commander of a combat-engineer section of the 1st Battalion Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group (1 R22eR BG) ….”
  • 23 Feb 11: The head of Canada’s public service gives a Twitter atta boy to civil servants working in Afghanistan. 11 Jan 11: The date of the speech by the head of Canada’s public service in Afghanistan, giving them an atta boy about working in Afghanistan. The good news: good to see government using social media. The bad news: a bit more immediacy (something less than 6 weeks) would keep this sort of thing more timely.
  • Oopsie…. “The cost to refit one of Canada’s trouble-plagued submarines is skyrocketing, according to documents obtained under an access to information request by CBC News. In the year 2010 alone, the Canadian navy spent $45 million on repairs to HMCS Windsor. It had budgeted to spend just $17 million, the documents show. It appears that every system on the British-built submarine has major problems, according to the documents, including bad welds in the hull, broken torpedo tubes, a faulty rudder and tiles on the side of the sub that continually fall off ….” Broken record:  any links to the access to information documents obtained?  Nope (again).
  • Tracking down the identity of REALLY “old” soldiers. “The Honourable Laurie Hawn, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, announced today that Department of National Defence has identified the remains of a First World War soldier found in Avion, France, in 2003, as those of Private Thomas Lawless of Calgary, Alberta …. In October 2003, two sets of human remains were found at a construction site south of Avion, France, in the vicinity of Vimy Ridge. Over a period of six years, the Casualty Identification section of the Directorate of History and Heritage, sought the identity of the soldiers …. The first soldier was identified, in February 2007, as Private Herbert Peterson of Berry Creek, Alberta. Through continued genetic testing using inherited genetic material through the maternal line (mitochondrial DNA), osteology, facial reconstruction, military history and finally, stable isotopes – the second soldier was identified as Private Thomas Lawless on January 10, 2011. Veterans Affairs Canada has made contact with the members of Private Lawless’ family and will provide on-going support to the family as arrangements are made and carried out for the final interment ….” More on how this sort of thing is done.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Attacks alleged in Kandahar, and the Taliban like what the Washington Post has to say.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 23 Feb 11

  • Things don’t seem to be getting better in Libya, so Canada’s getting ready to fly people out of there. The federal government is sending flights to Libya to rescue stranded Canadians, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Tuesday. Evacuees will be flown to Europe and, as with flights arranged earlier this month to bring home Canadians in Egypt, Canada is working with “like-minded” countries to share flights. The first plane is expected to arrive in Tripoli, the country’s capital, on Thursday. At a news conference in Ottawa, Cannon said 331 Canadians are registered with the embassy in Tripoli, Libya’s capital, and 91 have told Canadian staff they plan to leave ….” More from Canada’s Foreign Affairs department on those flights here, as well as from Postmedia News, Reuters, Agence France Presse, the Globe & Mail and CTV.ca.
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • A 14-year-old gets it on Afghanistan“…. Afghan teachers and the girls they’re teaching tell us how grateful they are to have the chance to finally live a freer life, with access to education. These are the voices we must listen to. We obviously couldn’t do the work we do without security. But when NATO eventually leaves, Canadians must not abandon Afghanistan. We should continue to support the aid projects that are changing lives, especially the right to education – because that’s the only way we’ll create and sustain peace.”
  • What Canadian troops are up to in Southern Sudan“CF observers deployed on Operation SAFARI pack their kit and head out into the bush on five- or six-day patrols. They carry not only food, water and tents but also a generator, because there is no electricity or telephone service in small Sudanese villages. Op SAFARI is Canada’s contribution to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). It is also the military component of the Canadian whole-of-government engagement in southern Sudan that also includes activities by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Canadian International Development Agency and the RCMP. “We spend six days in the bush,” says Major Ed Smith, a UN military observer (UNMO) at Team Site (TS) Rumbek in the Sudan. “Our job is to know what is going on everywhere in this state, and send reports back to the United Nations. There are no lines of communication, no phones, no electricity, no running water, nothing – not even paved roads in this state. The only way the UN has of monitoring situations is through the UNMO, so we go and spend our time in the bush, then write up reports on what we see.” ….”
  • Remember this MERX listing from 2008, looking for someone interested in providing consulting services to build a new helicopter hangar on Canada’s west coast to replace a 60-year-old one? The PM has announced the building should be finished “in the winter prior to the arrival of nine new CH-148 Cyclone Helicopters in the spring of 2014.” More in the backgrounder here, and media coverage here, here and here.
  • A Defence Department study says it’s risky for the air force to continue using Griffon helicopters for search and rescue in Central Canada. The review by the chief of air force development cites limitations of the CH-146, pressed into service in 2005 at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ont., because the military’s principal search helicopter is often not available. The air force intends to keep using the Griffon at the base until at least 2014, say briefing notes for Defence Minister Peter MacKay. But the 2009 air force study, obtained under the Access to Information Act, said the helicopter’s “capabilities are challenged” when employed as a front-line rescue aircraft and its use constitutes a “risk.” The CH-146, a military version of the Bell 412 civilian chopper, is too small and lacks the range to reach wilderness sites in Northern Ontario and Quebec without refuelling. Having to stop for gas “increases the response time to an incident site, and the amount of time the helicopter can remain on the scene to perform rescue tasks,” said the 20-page censored report. It noted one incident where search-and-rescue technicians were lowered to a crash site “and the helicopter departed the scene to refuel before extracting the casualties.” ….” Re:  the bit in red, any chance of anybody reading the paper or the internet being able to read the report for themselves?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Anyone?
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) “…. Stephen Harper threw down the gauntlet Tuesday to his critics who question his government’s military spending, including $16 billion for 65 F-35 stealth fighter jets. That purchase is expected to be a major election issue for the Liberals and NDP in the next campaign, whenever it’s called. While announcing a new $155 million helicopter base in B.C., Harper warned against “willful naivete” in national security, and said Canada has to be ready to defend itself from any and all threats. “If you don’t do that, you soon don’t have a country and you don’t have any of the other good things you once thought were more important,” he said. “Our country has certainly never gone and will never go looking for trouble. However, many times during the past 200 years, trouble has come looking for us. While Canada does not aspire to be an armed camp, neither is their any place in national defence for willful naivety.” ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) The Department of National Defence says it is hiding a key F-35 document from the public because that type of document is classified. Yet its own website hosts many of these same types of papers for public downloading, almost all of which are marked as “unclassified.” This has prompted allegations the Harper government and military have “twisted” Canada’s procurement process so it can buy the billion-dollar planes. The document, called a “Statement of Operational Requirements,” is a well-established centerpiece of the military’s procurement process. Save for certain classified bits of information, it is typically released publicly so Canadians can examine what their armed forces need before their tax dollars are spent. However in an unusual step, the Harper government did not release an operational requirements statement before announcing its plan to replace Canada’s fleet of ageing CF-18 fighter jets with the F-35. In fact, the military has admitted it chose the F-35 before it even drew up the Statement of Operational Requirements. Despite this, the department has continued to hide the document from public view, saying in an email that “an Air Force project’s Statement of Operational Requirements is an internal Department of National Defence document.” “SORs are classified documents” that are “not disclosed publicly,” added spokesperson Evan Koronewski ….”
  • If this has been reported properly, apparently, the RCMP says a former military police officer (who’s served overseas in Bosnia and Cyprus) hasn’t been a Halifax cop long enough to qualify for a U.N. policing job in Haiti. “RCMP brass in Ottawa won’t allow a former Canadian military member and current Halifax cop who’s done two previous tours in wartorn countries to be a peacekeeper in Haiti. “It’s absolutely asinine,” said Dave Moore, president of the Municipal Association of Police Personnel, the union that represents the unnamed Halifax officer. “To me it’s making a statement that (he’s) substandard and that’s not true at all in our eyes.” The officer, who’s worked under the auspices of the UN in Bosnia and Cyprus, has been on the Halifax Regional Police force for more than two years. Before that, he spent 12 years in the Canadian military, seven of those as a military cop. “We’ve worked many, many years with the military police. They’re as well qualified as the federal force,” said Moore ….”
  • Over his 22 years in the Canadian Forces, Chris Hennebery saw not a single gunshot fired in anger. It’s only now, as a married father of two little girls and a successful software executive, that he’s going to find himself in a combat zone. Hennebery leaves at the end of next month to work as an artist in Afghanistan, capturing in his sketchbook and watercolours images of Canadian soldiers at war. After three weeks in NATO combat outposts and on patrols in the heartland of the Taliban insurgency, Hennebery will return to Canada to turn his preliminary works into a series of 10 large acrylic paintings. Accompanying the former professional artist will be photographer Shaun O’Mara, a former British commando and Canadian soldier whom Hennebery served with in the Royal Westminster Regiment ….”
  • Sigh….One of the doctors charged last week with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in downtown Toronto hotel is a long-serving member of the Canadian military, CBC News has learned. Dr. Amitabh Chauhan, 32, of Ancaster, Ont., has been closely associated with the Canadian Forces since 1997, when he became a cadet. The following year he enrolled in the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., as an officer cadet. Chauhan, received his undergraduate degree from RMC in 2002 with an honours BA in politics and economics. “Following his education with RMC, he began his training to become a pilot in January 2004. He ceased training in July 2005 and undertook a variety of duties,” the Department of National Defence said in a written statement to CBC News. He did his pilot training at CFB Moose Jaw. On Monday, Toronto police said that when he was arrested Chauhan had a Saskatchewan driver’s licence. Chauhan left the military in 2007 but continued his association as a member of the naval reserve, which he joined three years ago. “Mr. Chauhan is a naval reservist who works part-time at the naval reserve division HMCS Star in Hamilton [Ont.] and holds the rank of acting sub-lieutenant,” according to the military. He is currently a post-graduate student in the plastic surgery department at McMaster University in Hamilton ….” I can’t wait for the CBC to start writing about the university history of future criminals.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Taliban claim responsibility for killing translator for Americans in Mullah Omar’s (alleged) former compound in Kandahar City.