News Highlights – January 5, 2016


Everyone Else Against ISIL


Internal Security

Sexual Assault/Harassment in the CF

What’s Canada Buying?


Way Up North

Veterans & Helping Veterans


World War One News Highlights – 15 Jul 11

  • Libya Mission (1)  Minister of National Defence drops by“Canadian troops in Libya are saving lives and helping to mount pressure on the country’s dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Thursday. MacKay praised the Canadian Forces personnel involved in the NATO-led mission in Libya during a teleconference Thursday from Naples, Italy, calling them “our greatest citizens and our best ambassadors.” The defence minister met Wednesday with some of the 650 troops stationed at bases in Italy for the operation. Despite the ongoing violence in Libya, MacKay said the Canadian military is helping to achieve “tangible results.” ….”  A bit more in the official CF statement here.
  • Libya Mission (2)  Canadian commander:  what suicide plan to blow up Tripoli?  “Moammar Gadhafi plans to blow up facilities such as oil refineries as the embattled leader’s forces retreat from Western-backed rebels in Libya, the Canadian commander leading NATO’s mission said Thursday. However, Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard said he had not heard of any plan by the dictator to blow up the capital Tripoli before giving it up — a possibility recently acknowledged by a Russian envoy. Speaking from a base in Italy and accompanied by Defence Minister Peter MacKay, Bouchard said the “Gadhafi regime has given direction to his forces to destroy certain facilities as they withdraw back, such as fuel refineries. “This is a government, this is a leader who will not hesitate to kill his own population to achieve his own personal goals,” he said via video conference. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean government forces will comply, he said ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  Compare and contrast two models of media coverage of troops at war (h/t to Mark Collins).
  • CF helps evacuate folks from remote northern Ontario communities, again“The Government of Canada, through the work of the Canadian Forces, evacuated 125 residents of Cat Lake First Nation, Ontario, overnight, after wildfires in the area were threatening their welfare. This operation was undertaken at the request of the Government of Ontario …. Within an hour of the province’s request for airlift support, two CC-130 Hercules; one from 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, based at 17 Wing Winnipeg and one from 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, based at 8 Wing Trenton, were en route to the affected community. Less than three hours later, all the residents identified as a priority for evacuation by local authorities were safely on the ground in Kapuskasing, Ontario ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Former General facing Court Martial for alleged dalliances in Afghanistan“…. Retired Brig.-Gen. Ménard has been charged with two counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline contrary to section 129 of the National Defence Act. The first charge relates to his alleged inappropriate conduct by engaging in an intimate personal relationship with another member of the Task Force at Kandahar Airfield contrary to Theatre Standing Orders. The second charge relates to alleged attempts by the accused to hinder efforts to find out the facts about that relationship ….”  Here’s what he was originally charged with late last year“…. The charges facing Brig.-Gen. Ménard are two counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline, laid in the alternative, contrary to section 129 of the National Defence Act (NDA), related to alleged inappropriate conduct as outlined in the Canadian Forces Personal Relationships and Fraternization directives; and four counts of obstructing justice contrary to section 130 of the NDA, pursuant to section 139(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada….”  More from Postmedia News here and here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Great flick from the CF Info-Machine’s multimedia section on Canada’s training and mentoring mission that’s just wrapped up.  Shame it didn’t get out sooner – good job!
  • Afghanistan (3)  More video from the CF Info-Machine on how shuras helped get the job done in Kandahar.  Again, shame it didn’t get out sooner.
  • Afghanistan (4)  The Toronto Star picks up the “garage sale” story and runs with it.
  • Afghanistan (5)  One opponent of the war’s “black or white” assessment“The narrative of Canada’s role in the Afghan civil war as told by the country’s mainstream media is designed to lead readers and viewers to two inescapable conclusions: First, that after 10 years, Canada’s involvement in the conflict has come to a definitive end. Second, that thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of Canada’s troops, at least 157 of whom have died with scores more maimed physically and mentally, the West has triumphed unconditionally in Afghanistan. Alas, the balance of probability is high that both these yarns are baloney ….”  A “definitive” end?  “Unconditionally” triumphed?  I’d be happy to see some mainstream media sources using words that specific.  Anyone?  Anyone?
  • Paratroopers from around the world meeting, and jumping, around Quinte. “Beach-goers at Sandbanks Provincial Park had some added scenery Thursday as military skydivers took part in an international parachuting operation over Lake Ontario. Military skydivers from Chile, United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Mexico and Canada have been in the Quinte region since the weekend, taking part in Exercise Quinte Dipper, an international exercise, aimed at familiarizing the skydivers with other country’s training methods. Capt. Christopher Nobrega, an adjutant from the Land Advanced Warfare Centre at 8 Wing Trenton said the week-long exercise helps the military personnel familiarize themselves with their counterparts from other countries ….”
  • Special Forces helicopter ops over Windsor over and done with “Nighttime military exercises over Windsor, Ont., this week have come to an end. And both the Canadian Forces and local residents who came out to watch were pleased with how the manoeuvres went. On two nights this week, two CH-146 Griffon helicopters with the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command buzzed the top of the downtown Chrysler building in the dark. Lights on the choppers were turned off, and the pilots wore night-vision goggles as they approached the building from all directions on Tuesday and Wednesday nights ….”
  • New bosses for Royal Military College and 1 Canadian Air Division.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Someone to do a survey of what’s where at the CFB Stadacona Naval Cemetery, research into biomarkers spotting acute low-level radiation poisoning and heated innerwear for divers for delivery to Richmond, Ontario.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  “L-3 Communications Corporation, Arlington, Texas, is being awarded approximately $22 million for the hardware and software to upgrade the Canadian Air Force’s training system from the existing Advanced Distributed Combat Training System to the current U.S. Navy Tactical Operation Flight Trainers Roadmap Procurement Program baseline. In addition, this contract includes the installation and testing of the hardware and software for six networked CF-18 nine-panel Tactical Operational Flight trainers; 10 Part Task Trainers and six brief and debrief systems; a theater specific visual database; Simulated Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System; new personal computer-based image generation; and operator, maintenance and user defined file training for approximately 10 students ….”
  • Preserving Korea’s stories.  “Capt. Mort Lightstone spent 6,600 hours in the air during the Korean War. He doesn’t want that to be forgotten. “As time goes by, we lose memory of those bad times,” said the 78-year-old veteran, who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force when he was 18. Today, he takes pride in talking to students around the country about his experience as a navigator in the war, and teaching them how to “salute veterans.” Lightstone, who served for 28 years in the Canadian military, still remembers how terrifying it could get. “We knew dying was part of the game,” he said, adding it shows the determination to defend people’s rights abroad. Lightstone believes every Canadian should have a chance to know what veterans went through as they fought during World War II and the Korean War. He is among the war vets who have joined the Historica-Dominion Institute’s Memory Project to help get their stories heard and shared by Canadians ….” News Highlights – 26 May 11

  • Libya Mission (1):  Canadian fighter jets have dropped 240 bombs over Libya in 324 flights, the military says. The figure was released in a defence department briefing one week after air force officials said such information might compromise the safety of Canadian pilots and the success of the mission to support rebels who are trying to topple Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi. But as doubts grow about the political and military purpose of the mission, the Canadian Forces is still refusing to say where Canadian bombs have been dropped, whether they’ve successfully struck their targets and how much the whole endeavour has cost taxpayers so far ….”  More from the Canadian Press here and here.
  • Libya Mission (2):  “…. A spokesman for the Libyan rebels said he wanted to see Canada supply more fighter jets to the mission and more support to the rebels fighting forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. “It’s the people trying to protect themselves against an army and it’s not equal at all. If NATO suspends its mission, there will be a slaughter,” said Sufyan Maghur, who is the liaison between the rebels and the Canadian government. The Canadian Libya Council, organized in response to the conflict, said it believes an increase in NATO strikes is necessary to avoid a prolonged conflict ….”
  • Libya Mission (3):  A Canadian frigate stopped and boarded a ship off the coast of Libya, but then let the vessel go despite the fact it was ferrying a large amount of arms and explosives to the rebel movement fighting Moammar Gaddafi’s regime. The revelation, stemming from a video posted on NATO’s website on May 24, has some experts fearing Canada and the military alliance are picking and choosing how they apply the UN-mandated arms embargo—and effectively allowing the ongoing Libyan civil war to continue. The video, which was also posted on YouTube follows the men and women of the HMCS Charlottetown in early April as they stop a tugboat in international waters near the Libyan port of Misrata. The Charlottetown has been patrolling in the Mediterranean since April and is Canada’s major contribution to enforcing the UN arms embargo. In the video, the Charlottetown’s captain, Craig Skjerpen, says he has received information that the ship—flying the flag of the Libyan rebels and appearing in the video jam-packed with people—is carrying weapons. The Canadians subsequently send a boarding team that uncovers what the video’s narrator describes as “lots of weapons and munitions on board,” including “small ammunition to 105mm Howitzer rounds and lots of explosives.” However, when the Canadians relay the findings up the chain of command to NATO headquarters, they are ordered to let the tugboat go without confiscating the arms. When asked to explain why NATO chose not to enforce the resolution in this instance, a NATO official who asked not to be named said “obviously it’s a fairly fine line.” NATO says it does not consider internal movements between Libyan cities to be a breach of the arms embargo at sea, especially between Misratah and Benghazi, two rebel-controlled cities that the alliance says has fairly frequent maritime traffic now ….”
  • Libya Mission (4):  Two Canadian soldiers in Italy were under medical observation Wednesday after they walked away from a car crash that killed an Italian fighter pilot. The Department of National Defence said the two Canadians were unharmed in the accident. The accident happened a little after 9 p.m. Tuesday about 100 metres outside the entrance to the Trapani-Birgi airbase where Canada’s air force for the Libyan mission is stationed, the department said. Local Trapani newspaper Telesud reported Wednesday that the two Canadian women were in a car that collided with a Ducati motorcycle. Telesud reported that 33-year-old Francesco Rinciari, a sergeant in the Italian air force, was killed in the accident. On Wednesday, Canadian Forces spokesman Brig-Gen. Richard Blanchette expressed his condolences to Rinciari’s family ….”  Note to Postmedia editors:  Telesud 3 is a local TV station, not a newspaper (check the video of the story here about 9:15 into the newscast).  Also, although I stand to be corrected, Italian media aren’t saying the man killed was a pilot, they’re saying he was a senior NCO (who don’t tend to fly planes).  More in the Italian media here, here, here, here and here.
  • Afghanistan:  After nearly a decade of “tremendously successful work” in Afghanistan, the general commanding Canada’s elite, secret special forces says they are to end combat operations here at the same moment as the country’s regular combat forces. “The Taliban cannot operate with impunity anywhere in Kandahar largely because of all the SOF (special operations force) community, because it is an alliance, but certainly because CANSOF was focused on it,” Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson, commander of the country’s clandestine military community, said in a rare interview. After the Taliban lost badly on the battlefield to mostly Canadian troops in 2006 and early 2007, the insurgents “essentially changed their tactics from holding ground and trying to be the shadow government in a large part of the province and directly challenging the authorities with formed units” to using “intimidation tactics,” Thompson said. “They started to go after the Afghan leadership and upped the ante with IEDs and suicide bombings and became much more asymmetrical. “That’s when their leadership became the more critical component and that’s when SOF began to play its role.” ….”
  • Robert Giruourd, 1960-2006, Michelle Mendes, 1978-2009, R.I.P.:  Planting trees to remember the fallen.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  More attacks claimed in Kandahar, Zabul.
  • Flooding/Quebec:  Defence Minister Peter MacKay toured the flood-ravaged Richelieu Valley south of Montreal on Wednesday, but his appearance did little to tamp down a controversy over the military not taking a role in the eventual flood cleanup. While hundreds of Canadian troops have been in the area for weeks sandbagging and helping out locals, the Quebec provincial government has requested that the troops stick around to help with the aftermath, too. The request comes as both the provincial and federal governments deal with anger and resentment over the way the flooding of 3,000 local homes has been handled by authorities in both Quebec City and Ottawa ….”  More from here, and the Canadian Press here.  The CF’s Fact Sheet on the flood assistance work in Quebec, OP Lotus, is here.
  • Canada’s defence minister says information about the delivery of the country’s new maritime helicopters will be released at a news conference Thursday. Peter MacKay made the comments Tuesday night in New Glasgow, where he and Gen. Walter Natynczyk, chief of the defence staff, met with a group of cadets and reservists from MacKay’s Central Nova riding. The helicopters, the CH-148 Cyclone, are being produced by Sikorsky and are to replace the aging fleet of Sea Kings. MacKay admitted the helicopter program has faced a number of challenges. “There’s a long and, dare I say it, tortured history when it comes to the maritime helicopter program,” he said, calling it “one of the worst examples of a military procurement that went badly.” ….”  Last week’s announcement that “we finally have one (but not for using on ops just yet) here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War:  As Mark Collins asks, who do you believe?
  • General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., a leading manufacturer of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, tactical reconnaissance radars, and surveillance systems, and CAE today announced that the companies have signed an exclusive teaming agreement to offer the Predator® B UAS to meet Canada’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance needs …. Under the program presently referred to as the JUSTAS program, the Canadian Government will establish a requirement to field and support interoperable, network-enabled UASs to provide ISTAR and all-weather precision-strike capabilities in support of its operations worldwide. GA-ASI and CAE will jointly compete for this program, with GA-ASI serving as the prime contractor supporting a U.S. Foreign Military Sale procurement. The teaming arrangement between GA-ASI and CAE is designed to offer the best combination of experience and proven capability to meet program and Canadian-specific requirements while reducing technical, cost, and schedule risks ….”  A bit more on this here. News Highlights – 14 Mar 11

  • Interested in being heard about a proposed joint border security deal between Canada and the United States Here’s your chance! “…. The Government of Canada will engage with all levels of government and with communities, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, as well as with our citizens, on innovative approaches to security and competitiveness. This consultation will inform the development of a joint Canada-United States action plan that will set out a range of initiatives in four key areas of cooperation to promote security and support trade and economic growth ….” You have a bit more than five weeks (until 21 Apr 11, just before Good Friday) to send your ides in writing on these topics in to the government.  If you can keep it to 10,000 characters (about 2,000 words) or less, you can send it via this page.  Need a bit more scope?  Here’s some ways to share files no larger than 4MB.
  • Canada’s offering all sorts of help to Japan to help deal with its earthquake problems. “The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, outlined an array of expertise and technical assistance that the Government of Canada has offered to the Government of Japan as part of international efforts to help Japan respond to and recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck the country on Friday, March 11. “Our government has been actively engaged since learning of this tragic event,” said Minister Cannon. “As Prime Minister Harper stated, Canada stands ready to provide any and all possible assistance to the people of Japan. Canada has put a range of capabilities at Japan’s disposal, including a 17-member Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team, which is currently on standby and ready to be deployed. “In addition, we are offering chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) technical expertise and equipment, Canadian Forces assets—including strategic airlift and personnel—to facilitate humanitarian relief efforts, Government of Canada relief stocks, and emergency medical and engineering capabilities,” added Minister Cannon ….” Why aren’t these assets moving out yet?  Because Japan hasn’t asked for anything specific yet.  More on a potential DVI team that could head to Afghanistan here, Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) here, and a lesser-known part of Canada’s special forces who might be able to help, the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit (CJIRU), here.
  • Arab League:  UN, approve a no-fly zone over Libya, please.  Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister:  Way to go, Arab League: “Canada welcomes the decision by the Arab League calling for a no-fly zone over Libya. In light of the grave and deteriorating situation in Libya, and Muammar Qadhafi’s reckless disregard for the lives of the Libyan people, this resolution clearly signals that Qadhafi does not have support in the region. He is isolated and ignoring the will of the international community. Canada again calls on the Qadhafi regime to cease its appalling attacks on the Libyan people. We reiterate our call that Qadhafi step down immediately. Canada will continue to work closely with our like-minded partners to explore the full range of options that might be available to us.” More from QMI here.
  • Canada’s military in Afghanistan has agreed, despite some initial discomfort, to help launch a controversial program in the Panjwaii district that will enlist and arm local civilians to defend their villages against insurgents. Canadian soldiers may even assist with training for the Afghan Local Police initiative, despite the fact Canada’s commander in Kandahar, Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, previously expressed hesitancy about the program. Brig.-Gen. Milner told media back in November that ALP forces might not be necessary in Panjwaii if the coalition could build up the numbers of Afghan National Police, who are better trained, better paid and fall under a more formal command structure. Four months later, with Afghan National Police recruitment still behind target, Brig.-Gen. Milner says he is now fully behind the idea of community-based forces to help protect areas recently cleared of insurgents ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch More attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
  • What’s Canada Buying? Wanted:  Someone to train west coast Search and Rescue (SAR) Technicians about “mountain (and) glacier climbing and rescue”.
  • Another one of the Khadr lads makes the news again. “A terrorist collaborator is walking the streets because a Canadian judge wrongly decided to stay extradition proceedings against him, the federal government asserts. In documents filed with Ontario’s highest court ahead of an appeal hearing, Ottawa maintains Abdullah Khadr should be handed over to the United States to face terror-related charges. Instead, by ordering the stay, Ontario Supreme Court Justice Christopher Speyer put Canada’s security at risk and damaged the fight against terrorism, the government argues on behalf of the U.S. “Because of the extradition judge’s errors, an admitted al-Qaida collaborator walks free,” the documents state. “The security of Canada and the international community is put at risk, Canada’s fight against terrorism is undermined, and the interests of justice are not served.” The U.S. wants to try the Ottawa-born Khadr, whose younger brother Omar is serving time in Guantanamo Bay for war crimes, on charges of supplying weapons to al-Qaida in Pakistan ….” News Highlights – 12 Mar 11

  • DefMin MacKay in Brussels for NATO Meeting (1) – He’s back from a defence ministers’ meeting with this to say about Libya: “…. “Since the crisis began in Libya, Canada has been actively engaged in responding to requests for evacuation and for humanitarian assistance,” said Minister MacKay. “Canada has also emphasized the importance of NATO planning, so the Alliance can stand ready to respond to humanitarian crises as required.” Minister MacKay informed Canada’s allies that Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Charlottetown is joining the NATO Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR, patrolling the Mediterranean Sea in response to the crisis in Libya. The ships of NATO and other like-minded nations will be monitoring shipping and providing a maritime presence during this time of ongoing instability in North Africa. “Canada is standing with our allies to monitor the current situation in North Africa and will keep working with our allies as the situation continues to develop,” said Minister MacKay. “The versatility of HMCS Charlottetown and her crew allows Canada to be ready at a moment’s notice to carry out humanitarian missions and whatever mandate the international community calls for.” ….”
  • NATO’s read of what happens next in & around Libya“NATO Defence Ministers …. agreed to increase the presence of NATO Maritime assets in the Central Mediterranean using ships from two of NATO’s Standing Maritime Groups.  “It has been decided to increase the presence of NATO maritime assets in the Central Mediterranean under the command of Supreme Allied Commander Admiral Stavridis, “said the Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen,  in a news conference following the meeting.  “These ships will improve NATO’s situational awareness which is vital in the current circumstances and  they will contribute to our surveillance and monitoring  capability, including with regard to the arms embargo established by the UN Security Council  Resolution 1970”.  Admiral Stavridis will determine the number of ships required to provide this enhanced presence and it is expected that these ships, drawn from the Standing NATO Maritime Group and the Standing Mine Countermeasures Group, will begin moving to the region in the very near term.  Defence Ministers also agreed to have more detailed planning options for humanitarian assistance and support to the arms embargo.  “We  have  also directed NATO military authorities to develop, as a matter of urgency, detailed planning with regard to humanitarian assistance and ,  provided there is a further UN Security Council Resolution, more active measures to enforce the arms embargo”, the Secretary General highlighted.  The topic of a possible no-fly zone over Libya was also discussed and it was agreed that further planning will be required  in case NATO were to receive a clear UN mandate ….”
  • DefMin MacKay in Brussels for NATO Meeting (2) – He also did a bit of work with the Americans there as well. “…. While in Brussels, Minister MacKay and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates also took the opportunity to sign a joint Statement of Principles for a Space Situational Awareness Partnership, building on the long history of close defence cooperation between the two countries ….” What are those principles?  Here’s what they were when Australia signed on to the partnership in November of last year.
  • NATO DefMins on Afghanistan:  At the same NATO defence ministers’ meeting, the gang decided on which areas in Afghanistan can be protected by Afghan security forces.  Here’s the NATO-speak version“….Ministers took a crucial step towards the implementation of Transition – the process by which security responsibility for Afghanistan is gradually transferred to Afghan leadership.  The recommendation will now be conveyed to the Afghan government to decide on the areas that will initiate transition. Transition will commence only once it has been approved by the Afghan government and announced by President Karzai.  They endorsed the recommendations of the Joint Afghan NATO Inteqal (Transition) Board for the first areas to be transitioned to Afghan lead. In doing so, NATO has taken its own decision to move to Phase 4, or the Transition Phase of the operation, in those recommended areas ….” Here’s the easier MSM version: “NATO defence ministers on Friday endorsed a list of the first cities and provinces where Afghan police and soldiers will take control of security — a key element in the West’s exit strategy from the decade-old war. The areas include the provincial capitals of Lashkar Gah, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, as well as all of Bamiyan and Panshir provinces, and Kabul province except for the restive Surobi district. The list was provided by officials and diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue ….”
  • GG presents valour, other decorations (anonymously) to Canadian special forces troops for work in Afghanistan.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Protest alleged in Kandahar over civilian casualties, and other claimed attacks.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War PM visits Ontario high-tech company to highlight jobs coming from F-35 buy (more), and companies in the biz “saluted” PM, saying F-35 is good news.
  • Lasers, even the hand-held ones, are not a joke – they CAN damage peoples’ eyes“A 26-year-old man accused of pointing a green laser at the Winnipeg police whirlybird says he didn’t realize it was dangerous. Sheldon Friesen had just wrapped up a shift as a cook early Thursday and noticed a helicopter circling near his West End street. He said he recently bought a laser pointer with a green beam for 99 cents on eBay and wanted to test it out. “Just to see the distance. You point it up into the sky and see the beam go forever. I don’t know how far forever is, so I see something in the sky that’s worth reflecting, well why not?” he said. Friesen got something of an answer — fast. From about 1,000 feet up in the sky, the police chopper crew quickly zeroed in on a suspect with a laser, while officers on the ground were dispatched to the 200-block of Toronto Street. “There was about three cars in about five minutes. They weren’t really impressed. They were trying to figure out why I did it,” Friesen said. “It was supposed to be for simple entertainment rather than having to cause someone danger like that.” ….” More on this from the Winnipeg Free Press here. News Highlights – 16 Feb 11

  • Canada-US Border Security:  This gives you a sense of how seriously American legislators take the border security issue (and how likely Canada is to have to give up loads in any coming joint security negotiations?) “Every inch of the Canada-U.S. border and the American boundary with Mexico should be under “operational control” of American border officials, a U.S. lawmaker told a congressional hearing into border security on Tuesday. “The acceptable level for the American citizen is total control of our southern border, our northern border, our natural ports of entry,” said Republican Jeff Duncan, a South Carolina lawmaker and a member of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on border and maritime security. Such control would allow Americans to protect “this beacon of freedom,” Duncan said, “where we determine who comes into this country, how many folks come here through legal means annually, what they come for, whether they’re seeking citizenship.” ….”
  • Oopsie….. “…. A hankering for Tim Hortons after a hard day of training went horribly wrong for some of Canada’s super-secret commandos, who wound up handcuffed and face down along a major highway. The elite special-forces soldiers, travelling in a convoy of civilian vehicles, were pulled over in late 2009 along Highway 401 in southern Ontario after a panicked member of the public spotted the burly men at a coffee shop. Ontario Provincial Police were called, though it’s not clear whether it was because someone had spotted a weapon or some other reason. Officers from the Brighton detachment, west of Belleville, Ont., followed the vehicles east along the highway, where they executed “a high-risk takedown,” with weapons drawn. The incident came to light through military records obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act ….”
  • F-35 Fight: “The gruelling political battle over the government’s decision to purchase 65 F-35 fighter jets has drawn a line in the sand, with opposition parties standing on one side, and the government and Canadian Forces on the other. In many ways, the military is the government’s most valuable asset in the fight, with current and retired senior officers coming out strongly in favour of the stealth aircraft, arguing it is the best plane for Canada’s future needs. Yet largely overlooked in the debate is that military officials recommended the F-35 in 2006—four years before they completed what is called a “statement of requirements,” the centerpiece of any military procurement process. Even now, the whereabouts of that statement is crucial because the Conservative government has repeatedly cited military officials’ public statements as proof that their decision to commit to the F-35 is the right one. They have also criticized the Liberal Party for not listening to the country’s armed forces. But experts and former defence officials say that until a statement of requirements is released—if one even exists—the entire effort to purchase the F-35 will be subject to politicking based on speculation and allegations ….”
  • Yet MORE on the PM’s Plane’s Paint Job: “…. The reported tussle is interesting in other ways. MacKay is arguably among the most visible and qualified replacements for Harper, should his quest for a majority government fail next time round. What does it say about the internal dynamics of the Conservatives’ top leadership, if MacKay’s wishes are continually rebuffed by the PMO? If Stephen Harper doesn’t like the advice he is getting from his defence minister, he should shuffle the cabinet. Granted, that would be an unpopular move given MacKay’s high visibility in the Conservative Party. Such a move would also further expose the PM to allegations that he is a micromanager ….”
  • Agreed. “…. A group of students at the University of Toronto are trying to stop the Canadian Forces from holding information sessions on campus on the grounds that they felt it was wrong to recruit students to be trained “to kill and to fight wars.”  With all due respect to the 30 students who felt strongly enough about the issue to show up and protest the information seminar: you’re all wrong.  The seminar being protested was being held behind closed doors and only students interested in hearing the information were in attendance. Recruiters did not station themselves in the middle of campus with megaphones, they did not stage drills in the quad as demonstrations of active duty and they did not interrupt class time.  What they did do was provide information on a legitimate career option for interested students ….”
  • A Canadian researcher is lending credence to the idea that the Cold War-era concept of deterrence can and does work against terrorists. In an article to be published this month in the Journal of Strategic Studies, Alex Wilner rejects the post 9/11 theory that serious threats of punishment without use of force won’t work against an enemy whose assets aren’t defined by geography. Rather, he argues that by incorporating deterrence theory into the war on terror by undermining the cost-to-benefit ratio of executing an attack, “we might not only be able to defeat terrorist groups, but we may be able to manipulate their behaviour pre-emptively …. he argues, terrorist groups like al-Qaida are comprised of individuals who are vulnerable to manipulation. For example, future leaders might be deterred from engaging in terrorism if they see current leaders being punished by death or incarceration ….”
  • A Facebook and Skype scammer used the name and photo of a high-ranking U.S. National Guard general to steal $3,000 from a Toronto woman in what’s believed to be one of a number of frauds that exploit the authority of the military. The woman made two wire transfers to London, believing she was helping Maj. Gen. Michael Dubie of Vermont pay for a shipment of money to Canada after a tour in Iraq. At least two other women, in Taiwan and Germany, have responded to pleas from someone they believed to be Dubie, the guard said. In October, a Skype user claiming to be Dubie asked to the Toronto woman to be friends, she said Tuesday, asking that her name not be used because she fears for the safety of her family. “I was kind of in awe of the whole thing, that someone like that was contacting me,” she said. “I wanted to help someone like that who is an honest, trustworthy person.” The person claiming to be Dubie refused to talk on the phone or video chat. “He was so adamant that it was him,” she said. “He said no, he can’t talk to me because he is in Iraq.” …. “…. “It has come to my attention that there are people using my identity to solicit money on FB and Skype,” Dubie wrote Friday on his legitimate Facebook page. “I will never ask for money from anyone in cyberspace.” …. Vermont guard spokesman Lt. Col. Lloyd Goodrow said the case has been referred to the FBI. Dubie, through Goodrow, declined to comment.  “He is quite upset by this,” said Goodrow.” “ News Highlights – 8 Feb 11 News Highlights – 23 Dec 10 News Highlights – 13 Dec 10

  • Canada is apparently continuing to use a controversial Afghan security company to help protect a big dam project in Afghanistan. “Canada is standing by a controversial Afghan security firm that’s controlled by Afghanistan’s ruling Karzai family despite a U.S. military decision to sever ties with it, The Star has learned.  The Watan Group, which safeguards Canada’s signature Dahla Dam restoration project in Kandahar, was blacklisted this week as part of a U.S. effort to stop aid dollars slipping into the hands of corrupt officials and Taliban commanders.  But Watan Risk Management, the specific subsidiary facing intense American scrutiny, will remain Canada’s security partner on the ground, according to Montreal-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, the lead partner in the project.  “For the moment, we have no plans to replace Watan. Until or unless we have evidence that these contractors have done something illegal we will continue to employ them,” SNC-Lavalin spokesman Leslie Quintan confirmed in an email to The Star.  “Our primary concern is, as always, the safety and security of our people and we will do nothing to put them in jeopardy.” ….” Meanwhile, the U.S. military is apparently blacklisting said security firm “to clean up a contracting process in Afghanistan that has been riddled with corruption and allowed U.S. funds to pass to insurgents.” A bit of the rocky history of the company protecting Canada’s signature dam project here at
  • The past (Canadian) chair of Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission says some progress is being made, and Canada can still help make the voting process there better. “…. Now is the precisely the time for Canada to renew and redouble our efforts in this area by working with Afghans as they continue to build their nascent democracy. Let’s use the momentum that the IEC has created so that the next elections are less fraudulent, more inclusive, credible and transparent than has been the case to date.”
  • Meanwhile, John Manley (of the 2008 Manley team report on Canada’s mission in Afghanistan) also says Canada can still help out there. “…. Afghanistan has surely taught us that there are limits to what can be achieved through traditional military/ civilian approaches to state-building. Canadians who have grown weary of the war in Afghanistan will welcome the shift to a new, less dangerous role for Canadian troops in that country — a role that will mean fewer ramp ceremonies and solemn processions along the Highway of Heroes in southern Ontario. So Afghanistan will fade from the daily news. But the chilling era of terror that we entered unexpectedly in 2001 will still be with us. We must be intelligent about how we deal with these risks. And we must not allow our will to weaken, nor our determination to flag.”
  • A number of authors and analysts have signed this open letter to U.S. President Obama, calling for the United States to “sanction and support a direct dialogue and negotiation with the Afghan Taliban leadership residing in Pakistan”. From the letter:  “The Taliban’s leadership has indicated its willingness to negotiate”.  Who put up the letter?  Good question, considering shows no stats or information to track for the address, and the URL is registered with a company that hosts addresses.  While I understand that public statements only show part of the picture, the public statements I’ve read all seem to say “no talks until foreign soldiers leave” (check here, here, here and here for some of the latest variations on the “you go, we talk” theme).  I’ve asked signers of the open letter for open source information showing the willingness mentioned in the letter – I’ll share that information as soon as I get it.  Meanwhile, a tidbit from a Taliban statement just posted this morning (links to  “(The Taliban) is determined that it would never show its readiness for negotiation in conditions that the foreign forces are stationing in the country.”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Taliban claims to have destroyed a new U.S. base in Kandahar.
  • More “Question the F-35 Purchase” copy from the Ottawa Citizen here, here and here.  Some supporting commentary here, and more partisan “Attack the F-35 Purchase” copy here.
  • More on Canada’s JTF-2:  they’re more likely to nab bad guys than nail them. “Canadian special forces in Afghanistan capture more insurgents than they kill.  Surprised?  Well it’s true.  Like most issues surrounding the secretive Canadian special operations community, the truth is more nuanced and complex than the myth.  Contrary to popular belief, Joint Task Force Two (JTF2) is not Canada’s only special operations unit, nor does it spend most of its time shooting.  “You can’t kill your way to victory,” says Brig.-Gen. Michael Day, commander of Canadian Special Operations Command (CANSOFCOM).  Day shatters the shoot-’em-up, cowboy special forces image of popular culture.  Apparently, Canada’s elite commandos don’t go around kicking down doors and shooting up insurgent compounds.  Canadian special operations forces (known as SOF) “pull the trigger less than a quarter of the time,” Day explains ….” The information seems to come from a conference in Kingston last week (information on conference here and here, both via Google’s web cache, or here at of those links no longer work), where the author, Mercedes Stephenson, participated in a media panel.  An interesting message at the end of the column:  “…. This column isn’t long enough to smash every special operations myth, but there’s one more worth mentioning: SOF are expensive. The entire budget for Canadian special operations this year is $205 million. A number that small is peanuts in the defence budget. Now that’s value for money.” Out of a total budget of about $22 billion (according to Treasury Board budget documents), that’s just under 1%.
  • The Toronto Star uses the story of one Canadian military officer to seque into lamenting the loss of Canada’s “peacekeepers” “Unlike most other Canadian soldiers, Lt.-Col. Dalton Cote doesn’t carry a gun. He is a peacekeeper, one of 27 left in a military that used to be defined by that role.  For the past six months, while his comrades in arms were patrolling through Kandahar and sidestepping IEDs, Cote left his guns at home, donned a blue beret, climbed into a UN truck and negotiated his way through checkpoints in an effort to observe troop movements, monitor weapon stashes and investigate violent attacks on both sides of the makeshift border that could next month become the official partition between north and south Sudan.  As the leader of 20 Canadian peacekeepers sprinkled across the Sudanese countryside, Cote, a 45-year-old father of two, was, until five weeks ago, leading the largest Canadian peacekeeping contingent currently deployed ….” More on Canada’s mission in Sudan here, and how the CF’s helping out in Darfur here.
  • Oopsie at Veterans Affairs Canada or the Canadian Forces. ” The Department of Defence has launched an investigation after a former member of the Canadian Forces found sensitive health and personal information about other military personnel in his medical file. Wayne Finn said he was stunned to discover everything from other service members’ social insurance numbers, blood test results, X-ray reports to dates of birth mixed in with his military medical file. The 49-year-old Nova Scotia man said he still has information referring to about 20 people in his file, even after returning the files of eight others to the base in Halifax where he was serving ….”
  • Canada willing to help Haiti (but nobody’s asked for more troops at this point)“Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon says Canada is ready to do whatever it is asked to help maintain order in Haiti, but doubts that will mean sending more troops to the troubled Caribbean nation. Cannon told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday that Canadian soldiers and police officers are already part of a UN-led security force in Haiti, and Canada has not been asked to send more …” More on Canada’s military presence still in Haiti working under a U.N. mandate, and more on the current unpleasantness there here.
  • What’s Canada Buying? A review of a big plane contract review, and starches in pouches News Highlights – 9 Dec 10

  • It’s that time of year again“The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chair of the Cabinet Committee on Afghanistan, today released the Government of Canada’s 10th quarterly report on Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan. The report covers the period from July 1 to September 30, 2010, and focuses on the progress achieved on Canada’s six priorities and three signature projects in Afghanistan, through the lens of security.  “Improving security is at the core of Canada’s engagement in Afghanistan,” said Minister Cannon. “It is a factor in every element of daily life for Afghans, and has an impact on the delivery of basic services, the development of village-level governance and even the holding of national elections.” ….” Bitchiness Watch:  Guess how often the name of Canada’s Defence Minister is mentioned in the news release?  Check out the full report here.
  • The Royal Canadian Mint says a “Highway of Heroes” coin is in the works“In keeping with its proud tradition of issuing coins honouring Canada’s veterans and Remembrance, the Royal Canadian Mint today advised members of the Northumberland County Council that a collector coin commemorating the celebrated “Highway of Heroes” and Canada’s fallen in Afghanistan will once again illustrate these themes in 2011.  Further to our intention to introduce this coin at a future date, we are pleased to assure supporters of the “Highway of Heroes” that their tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice during Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan will be immortalized by the Mint in 2011 …. The Mint will report on the status of this project to the Northumberland County Council in the next four to five months and we look forward to the addition of this collector coin to a long line of Royal Canadian Mint coins honouring the men and women who proudly serve the Canadian Forces.”
  • More from the special forces conference taking place in Kingstonit’s safer having a lower profile as special forces, but it can also keep one out of the limelight when it’s time to dole out limited cash: “…. Domestic terrorism is a law-enforcement issue and the military works with Canadian intelligence, the RCMP and other police forces as it has no jurisdiction in Criminal Code matters. It considers a successful operation one in which it works at the invitation of local authorities and no one knows it was ever there.  The special forces are trying to figure out what shape that function will take with military budget cuts looming as Canada’s mission in Afghanistan winds down. An outfit whose work is secret can be an easy target for politicians who can rationalize that if no one sees it now, no one is going to notice if it is cut back ….”
  • It was a F-35 vs. Eurofighter Typhoon vs. Saab Gripen sales pitch to the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence (NDDN) this week” The makers of two different fighter jets Canada is not buying made their sales pitches anyway to Parliament’s defence committee Tuesday.  Representatives from the German-based Eurofighter Typhoon and Sweden’s Saab Gripen appeared at committee and told members their planes can meet Canada’s air force demands, and are far cheaper than the fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter stealth jet the government agreed to buy in July.  Canada intends to buy 65 F-35s for $9 billion — plus maintenance costs — to replace the aging fleet of CF-18s, with delivery expected to start in 2016.  Antony Ogilvie with Saab said they could supply Canada with 65 upgraded Gripens, with 40 years of maintenance costs included, for under $6 billion.  The Liberals have vowed, if elected, to cancel what they decry as a sole-sourced deal to buy the American F-35, and instead would open up the new jet purchase to a competition ….” More from QMI/Sun Media here.  More industry reps in front of the committee today as well.
  • Meanwhile, Canada’s Defence Minister Peter MacKay on the F-35sThe decision to buy is “firm”, and they’ll be on time, on budget.
  • In other jet flogging news: “Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day made a stop at a River Road facility (in British Columbia) last Friday that will manufacture components for the highly advanced Joint Strike fighter jet.  At the Asco Aerospace Ltd. plant, many military aircraft parts and the machinery that produces them were off limits to cameras, including some sensitive materials that were covered up, as the president of the Treasury Board and minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway announced the funding initiative.  Day said the company would receive a loan, called a “repayable investment” by the federal government, of $7.7 million toward a $19 million project that involves researching and developing innovative manufacturing technologies to produce aircraft bulkheads and specialized metal components ….”
  • Canada’s Auditor General is taking at how the New Veterans Charter was put into place“Auditor General Sheila Fraser is planning to investigate the New Veterans Charter and the lump-sum payments that became a flashpoint for growing numbers of wounded soldiers returning from Afghanistan. Fraser confirmed her planned audit in a Dec. 7 letter to Liberal Senator Percy Downe who pressed her office for an audit since studies came to light that predicted the new lump-sum disability payments would mean less money for veterans and save up to $40 million a year. “I’m concerned this became a cost-saving exercise rather than a service to veterans,” said Downe. In the letter, Fraser said the issue “is an important one” for her office and auditors responsible for Veterans Affairs are planning an audit on “aspects” of the charter. Her office expects to deliver the report on the audit in the fall of 2012 …. “ More from here.
  • Parliamentarians also took some heat (again) from Canada’s Auditor General over less-than-ideal helicopter buying processes“…. Canada’s favourite watchdog has again slammed National Defence for bungling two helicopter purchases.  Auditor General Sheila Fraser reiterated to Parliament’s public accounts committee Tuesday what she wrote in her fall report — that National Defence “underestimated and understated” the costs and complexities of both the Cyclone and Chinook helicopters, and in the latter’s case, failed to hold an “open, fair, or transparent” procurement process.  None of the new helicopters have been delivered.  Also, Fraser’s audit of the two defence purchases found National Defence failed to follow its own purchasing guidelines and failed to fully appreciate what these helicopters would actually cost.  “We found that National Defence underestimated and understated the complexity and developmental nature of these helicopters, describing both as non-developmental and using off-the-shelf technologies,” Fraser said Tuesday, adding modifications required to meet Canada’s needs has led to costly delays ….” A bit more in the A-G’s news release from 26 Oct 10 here.
  • CF “to say sorry for Mohawk inclusion in counter-insurgency manual”:   “ The Canadian military is expected to officially apologize early next year for including the Mohawk Warrior Society in a draft version of the military’s counter-insurgency manual (PDF), APTN National News has learned.  The text of the apology has been approved by the upper echelons of the military command, but details still need to be worked out on how to deliver the statement and on how big of an event should be staged.  A draft 2006 version of the military’s counter-insurgency manual was released publicly in March 2007 and it included a reference to the Mohawk Warrior Society in a section describing different types of insurgencies.  First Nations leaders immediately reacted with anger, saying it appeared to equate First Nations with terrorist groups like Hezbollah and the Taliban.  The apology is expected to be delivered in either January or February.  The Assembly of First Nations and representatives from Akwesasne are involved in the discussions ….”
  • Does Canada need a plane just for counterinsurgencies?
  • The Canadian Forces now has uniform rules for men becoming women and vice versa“…. the Canadian Forces have issued a new policy detailing how the organization should accommodate transsexual and transvestite troops specifically. Soldiers, sailors and air force personnel who change their sex or sexual identity have a right to privacy and respect around that decision, but must conform to the dress code of their *target* gender, says the supplementary chapter of a military administration manual …. Added as a chapter to a National Defence manual, the new document defines transsexual as someone with a psychological need to live as a member of the opposite sex, whether they have undergone sex-change surgery or not. Their unit must treat them with the “utmost privacy and respect,” meaning, for instance, that there is no need to explain why a person’s sex is being changed in computer records.  A transsexual service person must comply with the dress code and standards of deportment of the gender to which he or she is changing, the document says. It draws the line, though, at retroactively changing the name associated with any medals awarded to the individual before their change, saying “there is no legal authority for rewriting history.” ….” More on that here.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Almost 90 claimed killed in Kandahar, Zabul, and Taliban Info-Machine’s trying out direct, unsolicited e-mails to media outlets.