News Highlights – 17 Aug 11

  • “Royalizing” the CF (1)  “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, announced today that the Government of Canada has restored the use of the historic designations of the three former services: the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), the Canadian Army (CA), and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) ….”  More from the CF Info-machine in Backgrounders and Fact Sheets here (general), here (Navy), here (Army) and here (Air Force).
  • “Royalizing” the CF (2)  What did the Queen’s representative in Canada and Commander-in-Chief have to say?  Not all that much, actually.  “As commander-in-chief, I welcome the Department of National Defence’s decision to restore the historic names of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force. These historic titles, unused since the integration of the Canadian Forces in 1968, represent a proud tradition in Canada and an important part of Canada’s military heritage.”
  • “Royalizing” the CF (3)  Mainstream media and editorial response from the Toronto Sun (“No longer will we have the bureaucratic nothingness of Maritime Command, Air Command and Land Force Command.”), the Hamilton Spectator (“It seems a retrograde move to hearken back to colonial times, despite the fact that royal themes are ingrained elements in the fabric of our parliamentary democracy.”), Postmedia News, the Ottawa Citizen, The Canadian Press (“In the province of Quebec, not many people like to think of the royal connection and there’s a lot of French Canadians in the navy as well.”), (outlining what has to be done/changed), Agence France-Presse, BBC and the Associated Press.
  • “Royalizing the CF” (4)  And what does Citizens for a Canadian Republic have to say?  “…. The government may be vastly overestimating the size of the demographic this kind of action appeals to,” said CCR spokesperson, Tom Freda. “This isn’t the 1950s, nor do we have 1950s values, he adds. “Canada has been accustomed to moving away from colonialist symbols, not toward them. I can’t imagine the mainstream public in 2011 seeing this decision as positive.” The group also believes there will be a considerable financial cost for the changeover. Access to Information documents have revealed consistent under-reporting of the true cost to taxpayers of royal visits, so that policy is expected to continue this time as well. Regarding the potential constitutional implications, Freda said, “Australia’s military still has the royal designation and they’re further ahead in the republican debate than Canada. So, in the larger scope of things, it has no relevence to our inevitable evolution to a one hundred percent Canadianized head of state.” “
  • Way Up North  “If you happen to be feeling sick, you’ll be in good hands at Camp Nanook, where more than 400 members of the Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian Rangers have lived since Aug. 4, when Operation Nanook started. In fact, such high-quality health care is available at the camp that many Canadian Rangers from Nunavut are drawn to the white medical tent on site. Canadian Rangers are more than twice as likely go there than the other members of the military at the camp: although Canadian Rangers make up about 10 per cent of the people at the camp, they account for 25 per cent of those who attend the clinic. More Nunavut Rangers come to the clinic likely because “they don’t have such a high quality of medical care,” suggests Maj. Stephane Roux, the chief physician and head of the clinic ….”
  • More on Operation Jaguar in Jamaica.  “Minister of National Security, Senator Dwight Nelson last week announced that the Canadian Government, through its Ministry of National Defence, is deploying three CH-146 Griffon tactical helicopters and 65 Canadian Forces personnel to support the Jamaica Defence Force during the 2011 hurricane season. The deployment follows a request from the Jamaican Government. Minister Nelson said he was most appreciative of the Canadian initiative, noting that the three helicopters will shore up the JDF’s capabilities. In welcoming the deployment, Nelson added that JDF personnel will also benefit from training with the Canadian Forces. Minister Nelson pointed to the extremely successful long-standing alliance between the Canadian Forces and the Jamaica Defence Force ….”  More on the operation in the CF Info-Machine’s fact sheet here.
  • New boss for CFB Gagetown.  “…. Col. Michael Pearson said goodbye to the base after two years of progressive leadership. While maintaining a home in New Maryland, the colourful commander is packing his bags and heading to New York City where he will assume the position of military adviser to the Canadian ambassador at the United Nations. Switching places with Col. Pearson is Col. Paul Rutherford, fresh from a stint as army adviser with the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff in London, England ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  The CF Info-Machine on Canada’s last chopper mission winding up and on the last combat logistics patrol.
  • Afghanistan (2)  It appears at least one writer (and whoever checked said writer’s material) didn’t read the memo re:  how long Canada’s been in Afghanistan fighting the good fight.  According to the article, For more than 10 years now, Canada has been supporting the action of the international community in Afghanistan….”  The CF fact sheet says Canada’s first boots hit the ground as part of Operation Apollo in early 2002 said on 14 Jan 02 that what appears to be the advance party was in Afghanistan.  By my math, that’s closer to about 8 or 9 years back.  Oopsie….
  • Toronto Star editorial on possible cuts to Canada’s military:  “…. Earlier governments slashed across the board, insisting for example that the forces kept open bases for political reasons long after they had outlived their usefulness. What all the services need is a government willing to let the generals and admirals cut the fat that has built up over the past few years, and strengthen the muscle.”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  More on the potential privatizing of some or all of Canada’s (what is now) military search and rescue work – this following an “industry consultation day …. “for the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) Project”.  “The Conservative government is looking at all options to replace the military’s search and rescue fleet, including turning to private industry contractors to tackle some work. Since 2004, the government has been looking at replacing the ageing CC-115 Buffalo and the CC-130 Hercules aircraft, which have been central components in Canada’s search and rescue system. “Thorough consultation is necessary to fulfil the government’s duty to ensure all options have been considered before any decision is made,” said Chris McCluskey, a spokesman for Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino. Consultations between aerospace firms and government procurement officials took place in Gatineau, Que., on Tuesday. Air Force vets are not fighting the move to outsource some of the work – they just want to see the project take flight. “If industry is able to provide input that will get this moving, fine – love it,” said retired Maj.-Gen. Marc Terreau. “The real, fundamental issue in search and rescue is human lives. Time is of the essence. The faster you get there, the higher the chances of people being rescued alive.” ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Someone to make a better respirator faceplate (more in the Statement of Work – PDF – here) and someone to develop “a low burden protective fabric and protective tactical assault (uniform),” aka a better CBRN protective suit (more in the Statement of Work – PDF – here).
  • The first pirates Capt. Steve Waddell encountered weren’t wearing puffy shirts, tri-cornered hats or as much dark eyeliner as Disney’s Jack Sparrow. Instead they were decked out in Gucci watches and ill-fitting Armani suits, claiming to be Somali fishermen aboard a small, open-decked skiff Waddell and his crew confronted in the treacherous seas off the Horn of Africa. “I’m not sure why they considered that pirate attire,” said Waddell, who in 2009 commanded the frigate HMCS Fredericton on one of Canada’s first anti-piracy naval missions to the region. A Canadian boarding party confronted the skiff, confiscated guns and gasoline from the group, and sent them back to the Somali coast. Waddell watched as the Somalis high-fived each other, happy to be released, as they motored away from the warship. “That’s the reality of anti-piracy operations off Somalia,” Waddell told an audience of lawyers with the Canadian Bar Association ….”

What’s Canada Buying? A roundup

A few (belated) mentions of interesting stuff Canada’s military is buying.  Needed:

Merging Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Incident Information…

….into one system for military commanders to use for managing any such incidents – that’s what the Canadian Forces is seeking, and they’re asking industry if there’s anything out there already that can do the job, via MERX:

“This Request for Information (RFI) is issued to determine the extent to which there exists or is in-development an integrated CBRN <Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear> planning, hazard prediction, warning and reporting, decision support, and CBRN incident management capability that meets the requirements ….”

This, from the RFI Requirements highlights what’s there now, and what more is needed (plain text translation follows):

“The existing system utilizes stand-alone computer systems that require manual input of sensor data and output information in Message Text Format (MTF), which require CBRN specialists to interpret and explain the data. Domestic and expeditionary C4ISR <Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance> systems either lack a CBRN Information Management (IM) component or have developed their own independent systems in the absence of a National standard. There remains the problem of passing unclassified CBRN sensor data from the unsecure environment to the C4ISR backbone. Lack of a standardized CBRN IM system across all users serving the entire theatre of operations increases the complexity of W&R <warning and reporting> activities. Hazard prediction does not have the required accuracy to free forces not effectively threatened by the hazard, thereby unnecessarily restricting freedom of action leading to loss of initiative.”

Plain text translation:

Right now, experts on the scene can pass messages on to commanders with explanations about what the information means.  While a few systems bringing together this and other information are in place, there’s no national system to do this, making it more complicated to make decisions and respond.  There’s also the question of how to bring in publicly-available information (like, say, weather reports) directly into the system for the commander to consider.  Bringing together more information could make predicting what happens next easier and more accurate, making it easier for commanders to decide if they can spare forces for other work.

Once the military has an idea of what systems are out there that could possibly do the job (current deadline for businesses to submit information is 6 Nov 09), it will figure out next steps about how to buy and/or develop such a system.

If you want to read more of the bid package, the best bits are available here.