Remembering (1) Different generations remember different things (but aren’t entirely different). “Gus MacGillivray spent four years on Canadian and British ships in the North Atlantic during the Second World War, hunting submarines and fighting off the navy of one of the world’s most powerful militaries. Mat Belear served two tours of duty in the desert of Afghanistan, trying to push back the Taliban’s guerrilla army and give the Afghans a fighting chance at establishing a democratic government. The experiences of these two men illustrate just how much warfare has changed over the decades and the extent to which the notion of veteranhood is being steadily redefined. But when they met for the first time, at the Amherstview Legion near Kingston, they had a lot of things in common ….”
Remembrance (3) What happens down the road?“Approximately 10 per cent of the one million Canadians who fought in the Second World War are alive today, and according to Veterans Affairs Canada, they’re dying at a rate of about 50 every day. Factor in their average age of 87 years old — which tops the average Canadian’s life expectancy of 79 years for men and 83 for women — and at that rate, the numbers suggest the 125,000 surviving Second World War veterans will be gone soon — very soon. When the “Greatest Generation,” as they are known, has disappeared Canadians will lose the faces and voices most closely associated with Remembrance Day ….”
Afghanistan (3) More from the CF Info-Machine on packing up in Kandahar. “In October 2011, the Mission Transition Task Force (MTTF) fielded a team of specialist technicians to service the airfield lights on the civilian side of Kandahar International Airport. Mounted on poles in banks soaring to 75 feet, the lights help ensure safe landings for aircraft and their crews and passengers. None had seen any maintenance in more than a year ….”
More on Cherry & RMC. “…. One teacher is not the principal villain here. The fault lies with RMC’s leadership for not rallying with a fighting spirit to defend its decision. One hopes that RMC has sufficient battlefield courage to see off the fabrications of a lowly French teacher. It was likely the motion of the faculty board, comprising all the professors and chaired by the principal, which cowed the administration. That poses a rather more disturbing question. Does the faculty board motion accurately express the professoriate at RMC? If so, our future officers are being trained by those significantly out of step with the Canadian people and the rank-and-file members of the armed forces ….” Good questions.
Bosnia vet’s hunger strike ends.“The federal government will create a new committee to study veterans’ health in the wake of a hunger strike by an ex-soldier who insists he was contaminated by depleted uranium while serving in Bosnia. Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney made the announcement in Levis, Que., after Pascal Lacoste ended his protest and allowed himself to be taken away in an ambulance Tuesday. Lacoste …. battled to get Ottawa to recognize his uranium poisoning while serving overseas …. Further details of the board will be announced in the next 30 days, said Blaney. The minister said the body will comprise academics, medical researchers and soldiers. “It’s a committee that will have a broad mandate,” Blaney said, adding that he wants to see Lacoste’s health get better, along with the health of other veterans ….” More here. We’ll see about the bit in red – one hopes the committee will be allowed to do more than just create a report that gathers dust on the shelf.
“The Harper Government is facing controversy over its pending budget cuts to the Department of Veterans Affairs at a particularly awkward time — as the country prepares for Remembrance Day ceremonies Friday. On Tuesday, federal Liberals announced they’ve gathered nearly 9,000 signatures on a petition protesting cutbacks that will total $226 million. That sum is to be added to another $175 million to $350 million that is to be eliminated as a result of the Conservatives’ strategic review — a government-wide federal austerity process aimed at balancing the federal books in the next few years …. The Harper government should not be fiddling with this sacred trust. Canadians should give this some thought on a week when they’ll be remembering those who have fallen for Canada.”
Remembering (4) Honouring the fallen, 140 characters at a time, courtesy of the Ottawa Citizen.“There is one line from the poem In Flanders Fields that in recent times, above all, commands our attention with its call, from the dead to the living, to remember. “If ye break faith with us who die,” wrote Lt.-Col. John McCrae, “We shall not sleep.” Starting Wednesday and continuing well into the next decade, the Ottawa Citizen will keep this ancient faith through the modern channel of social media. Beginning at 11 minutes after 11 a.m., the Twitter account “@WeAreTheDead” will begin reciting the names of Canada’s war dead, one each hour of every day. A computer algorithm will select at random, each name from an electronic scroll of military dead and post it to Twitter. It will take more than 13 years to tweet all the names, finishing sometime in late June 2025, depending on the number of new entries added to the list ….”
Latest on Grapes and his Honourary RMC (declined with thanks) degree, from QMI/Sun Media:“I was hoping to be able to report today how those Royal Military College faculty members who don’t agree with a French teacher’s protest of Don Cherry’s doctorate had rallied to say she does not speak for them. It did not happen Monday. Same goes for a petition from the 800 officer cadets, indicating they did not agree with their French teacher and that they want Don to attend the Nov. 17 convocation to receive the honorary degree he so richly deserves. This also did not happen Monday ….”
Добро пожаловать на борт! “An imposing display of Russian military might is anchored at Canada Place for the next three days. The Russian missile cruiser Varyag and tanker Irkut, which will be here until Friday, are open for public tours between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. today and Thursday ….”
Libya Mission (2) Some hairy times.“It was early in the Libya mission when Italian authorities picked up the distress call. By the next morning, HMCS Charlottetown had gone from enforcing an arms embargo to providing humanitarian assistance. It was March and at the time the Canadian frigate was operating off the coast of Tripoli, part of a ring of NATO warships tasked with making sure weapons and ammunition didn’t get into the country and the hands of Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. But when the Italians relayed the distress call to NATO commanders, who in turn ordered the Canadian frigate to investigate, the Charlottetown’s crew leaped into action ….”
Afghanistan (1) Byron Greff, R.I.P. “A town in central Alberta is paying tribute to a fallen soldier who died in a suicide attack in Afghanistan last week. Master Cpl. Byron Greff was among 17 people killed in Kabul last Saturday when a suicide bomber slammed a vehicle fill with explosives into a NATO bus. Friends and family in Greff’s hometown of Lacombe, Alta. plan to honour his life during a public memorial service on Saturday. The service will be held at 1 p.m. local time at Canadian University College and will occur shortly after Greff is laid to rest at a private family ceremony ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War He says, they say. “The F-35 program is progressing well and on track,” associate minister of defence Julian Fantino told the House Thursday, while answering a question from the Opposition on the fighter jet program. However, other countries continue to make moves that suggest the program is not doing as well as he claims ….”
Remembrance Day (1) All I can say is: scumbags!“City and military officials are shocked after learning one of Calgary’s newest war memorials was vandalized only days before Remembrance Day. Bill Bruce, the city’s chief bylaw officer, said graffiti was sprayed across the riverside wall of Poppy Plaza on Thursday night. Phil MacAulay, president of the No. 1 Royal Canadian Legion, said he was disappointed to learn of the damage. “It’s bad,” MacAulay said. “It’s disrespectful. “You just don’t think something like that would happen any time of year, but especially now. “It’s so close to Remembrance Day, you’d think they’d know,” added MacAulay, who spent five years in the Canadian Navy. “Unfortunately, some lamebrains don’t think of the consequences or anything like that ….” More here.
Remembrance Day (2)“For the last 19 years, students at Ottawa’s Catholic Notre Dame High School have benefitted from a remarkable community program. Every Remembrance Day, local military veterans would come to the school and set up exhibits that the school’s students would visit throughout the day. The students could interact with Canadian military veterans, and examine military antiques, including uniforms, items of personal gear and some disabled military weapons loaned from museums …. what would have been the 20th Remembrance Day Symposium (and was set to include veterans from our war in Afghanistan) has been cancelled. The reason given: The school doesn’t want “guns or tanks” on its property. Ridiculous. Displaying harmless military memorabilia, in the respectful hands of the men and women who carried it in our country’s wars, is a wonderful way to make Canada’s proud military history come alive to a generation that will, we hope, never come closer than a deactivated rifle to the horrors of total war …. “
“Veterans’ advocates said Saturday they achieved their goal despite modest turnouts at some demonstrations to protest proposed cuts to the budget of Veterans Affairs Canada. Dozens of protesters, most of them veterans, gathered on Parliament Hill on Saturday afternoon to call attention to what they call the government’s lack of compassion for those who have fought for their country. A rally in Halifax drew some 30 protesters and onlookers to city hall despite the frigid fall weather. A similar demonstration was held outside the department’s headquarters in Charlottetown on Friday. “People on the Hill have come up and said, ‘I never knew,’ and that’s the object,” organizer Mike Blais of the group Canadian Veterans Advocacy said from Ottawa. “The object is to draw attention to the situation and I think … we’ve certainly accomplished our goal today,” he said Saturday afternoon …. ” More here and here.
The Royal Canadian Legion appears to be taking a stronger stance on veterans’ issues.“The Royal Canadian Legion fired a shot across the federal government’s bow last month. Canada’s veterans, it said sternly, should be exempt from cuts under the government’s program review. “Getting our financial house in order should not be done on the backs of our wounded warriors and their families,” declared Pat Varga, the Legion’s dominion president. It was an unusually blunt public stance for an organization that has traditionally preferred to do its advocacy in private. But it also reflected a new determination by the Legion to speak up in the political arena in order to sharpen its image and help arrest decades of membership decline. “We do want to be able to inject into that debate. That should be our role,” says Brad White, the organization’s dominion secretary …. “
Election 2011 – One NDP candidate’s views on defence issues: “…. Set amidst a backdrop of anti-war demonstrators, (federal NDP candidate Alex) Atamanenko took the microphone and delivered the NDP message of Canada’s military at peace. He expressed solidarity with the peace activists, stating that (Canadian’s must) “take back our democracy,” and not participate in the “American war machine.” When pressed to clarify the NDP stance on this topic, Atamanenko pointed to Canadian outrage over the billions budgeted for the purchase of F-35 fighter jets, “these are bomber planes,” indicating they will not be used for national defence, but rather offence ….”
Helping our Caribbean neighbours. “More than 150 United States military personnel and military and civilian officials from Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, Canada, the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, and the Republic of Suriname are gathered in Trinidad to participate in the annual Fuerzas Alidas Humanitarias (FAHUM 2011) or Allied Forces Humanitarian Exercise. FAHUM 2011 is conducted to enhance a nation’s response capabilities and interoperability with regional and international military forces and humanitarian assistance agencies. This year’s two week exercise will simulate a catastrophic earthquake in Trinidad and Tobago, requiring assistance from outside countries ….” More on FAHUM 2011 here.
Libya Ops (1) – An overview of how much Canada is helping out in/around Libya: “… Looking at the numbers reveals the extent to which Canada is committed. The country’s 15 aircraft—seven CF-18 fighter jets, two Polaris refueling tankers, two Aurora maritime surveillance planes, two Hercules transport aircraft, one Globemaster airlift plane, as well as one Sea King helicopter, according to CF public affairs official Maj. Andre E. Salloum—makes Canada the largest air force from any mid-sized contributing nation. As well, there are now 531 Canadian military personnel working on the Libya file—250 aboard the Canadian warship HMCS Charlottetown deployed in the region, 246 at a variety of airbases, 23 more at NATO’s headquarters in Naples, Italy, and a further 12 around the world, said Maj. Salloum. Add to this Special Forces like JTF2 who are widely reported to be in Libya (although this is neither confirmed nor denied by officials) and the fact that Canadian Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard is now running NATO’s entire Libya operation ….”
Libya Ops (2) – Good question from historian Jack Granatstein. “While nothing is certain yet, it seems increasingly likely that the Gadhafi regime will survive in Libya, at least in the west of the country and possibly with much of the nation’s oil wealth. Survival will be a victory for Gadhafi, a triumph over the Americans and NATO, and that will give Gadhafi himself great credibility with the community of dictators. All will be emboldened by his resistance. But what will his survival mean for the West? ….”
Election Promises – More critique of the Liberals’ defence platform here and here (Postmedia News).
Still more on how the Government of Canada wants one of the probes into how Afghan detainees were treated to exclude non-military sources here (Postmedia News).
“Col. Dave Cochrane is leaving his post as commander of Canada’s largest air base, but defence ministry officials have refused to comment on his move until after the federal election. Cochrane is the base commander appointed in the days following the conviction of Russell Williams on two counts of murder, sex assaults and a litany of fetish break-ins. His primary role in early days of his command was to lift the spirits of base personnel whose morale was in the dumps following Williams’ crimes. A request by QMI Agency to interview Cochrane regarding his departure to take on “professional development and advanced training” in Australia was denied by the Department of National Defence (DND). Suggesting a phone interview with the air base’s commanding officer “could affect the outcome” of the federal election, a public affairs officer at DND’s media liaison office in Ottawa said Tuesday the Canadian Forces’ communication department will not allow an interview with the colonel ….” More here.
Cpl. Yannick Scherrer, Royal 22e Régiment, R.I.P. A Canadian soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated during a dismounted partnered patrol in the Panjwa’i district of Kandahar Province at approximately 12 p.m. (noon) Kandahar time on Sunday, March 27, 2011. More from the Canadian Press here, Postmedia News here and the Globe & Mail here. Statements from the Governor General here, the PM here and Minister of Defence here. An Army.ca condolences thread can be read and posted to here.
No Fly Zone in Libya (2) – Here’s what the first wave o’ cruise missiles looked like to some on the HMCS Charlottetown.“A small crowd is gathered on the port bridge wing of HMCS Charlottetown. Slowly heading west, the ship is following a shimmering path of light laid on the water by the full moon, now low on the horizon. The clear sky is full of stars from horizon to horizon, a sight rarely seen ashore. Warships ride the waves, visible only as dim shapes punctuated by the red and green dots of their navigation lights. Abruptly, a large plume of flame rises from the sea some distance to the south. After a few seconds of climbing, the bright glow vanishes as the cruise missile jettisons its booster and begins flying its programmed course. The first Tomahawk is on its way ….”
No Fly Zone in LIbya (3) – So far, so good, according to the U.S. Secretary of State and Defense Secretary.“U.S. and coalition forces have accomplished the no-fly zone aspect of the United Nations mission in Libya, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said during a television interview …. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and discussed what coalition nations have achieved as actions in Libya enter a second week. U.S. and coalition partners have suppressed Moammar Gadhafi’s air defenses in Libya and have not seen his planes in the air since the no-fly zone was put in place March 19, Gates said …. “
No Fly Zone in Libya (4) – Some good questions from the Toronto Star: “…. Is a stalemate that lets Gadhafi hang on in a partitioned Libya a viable option? Should the world follow France and recognize the Benghazi-based rebel leadership? If not now, when? Finally, how will NATO react if Libyans who live in Tripoli or other areas under his control also rise up? At the end of the day it isn’t likely to matter much whether these essentially political questions are answered by the regular NATO club, or by the nominally wider “coalition of the willing” that includes such Arab states as Qatar and the Emirates. What’s important is that things be clarified, sooner rather than later ….”
One CF wife’s story.“You don’t know what it’s like until you get in. It’s such a tight-knit community. Usually military families are friends with other military families. It was different at first to realize that you no longer control where you live, but it’s a lifestyle I would never give up. I love the closeness. I love that there is always someone there for you. Everyone watches everyone’s back.”
A swack of senior Canadian officers are in line for big international jobs. “Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, who was chosen on Friday to navigate NATO’s immensely complex air war against Moammar Gadhafi’s Libyan regime, is not the only Canadian flag officer getting an immensely challenging international command. It is expected that a Canadian army general will soon be named to a big UN peacekeeping posting in the Middle East. These two developments follow by a few weeks the announcement that Maj.-Gen. Mike Day is to take over responsibility for training the Afghan army for NATO. Day joins Maj.-Gen. Stu Beare, who is to continue running Afghan police training for the alliance until he takes up a senior appointment in Ottawa this fall that will draw heavily on his overseas experience ….”
No Fly Zone in Libya (1) – A Canadian General is taking the lead on NATO’s no fly mission.“A Canadian general was thrust Friday into the command role of NATO’s mission in Libya, taking responsibility for enforcing the no-fly zone and arms embargo as the United States continued to hand over control of the week-old campaign against Moammar Gadhafi. Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard will lead NATO forces in a mission Defence Minister Peter MacKay acknowledged Friday was “yet to be fully defined” by leaders of the international coalition tasked with protecting Libyans from forces loyal to Gadhafi. At a press briefing on Canada’s operations in Libya Friday, MacKay said the appointment of Bouchard to this key role is a testament to the respect Canada’s military enjoys around the world ….” The General’s official bio is here. More from Canadian Press here, Postmedia News here and the Globe & Mail here.
No Fly Zone in Libya (2) – For once, ceasefire.ca mentions a good point. “…. The Alliance has not yet formally agreed to run the civilian-protection element of the mission, which is attempting to prevent attacks on Libyan civilians by conducting airstrikes on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. NATO spokespersons stated on Friday that “NATO is actively considering whether to take on a broader role under the UN Security Council Resolution. Without prejudging the deliberations, we would expect a decision to take over all operations in the next few days.” ….”
No Fly Zone in Libya (4) – Retired General Lew-Mac raises a good point.“…. Absent well-defined political leadership for the implementation of UN Resolution 1973, we now have a number of coalition military actions that arguably go beyond the letter and the intent of the resolution and seem to be more in support of regime change than protecting civilian population centres. If that is the case, the Security Council should meet and sanction the current military actions in Libya in support of Resolution 1973 and clearly state the removal of Colonel Gadhafi as the mission’s objective. In the meantime, a ground invasion force led and dominated by Arab countries should be organized to deal with the inevitable, near-term stalemate.”
No Fly Zone in Libya (5) – The Globe & Mail’s Margaret Wente also raises a good point. “Why is Canada at war in Libya? You won’t get the answer from our elected leaders. They’re too busy fighting an election to explain it to us. You can’t count on the opposition parties to raise awkward questions, either. They have better things to do at a crucial time like this. Besides, it’s just a little war. It will be over soon, unless it isn’t. If all goes well, perhaps Canadians won’t notice that our political class has committed us to an open-ended military action in North Africa without a clue about what the mission is, who’s in charge, or how deep the quagmire might get ….”
No Fly Zone in Libya (6) – QMI’s Larry Cornies raises yet another intriguing question. “Canada’s military firepower is modest; its presence in the Mediterranean more symbolic than essential. Is there an opportunity here for Canada to lead on the diplomatic front to negotiate a post-Gadhafi solution with the same zeal it once displayed in advocating R2P?”
Rash o’ Pre-Election Announcements (1) – Meanwhile, the PM announces non-military help for Libya as well.“…. Through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Government is immediately providing nearly $3 million to support the efforts of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to address the repatriation of people displaced into neighbouring countries. This is in addition to the $5 million in humanitarian assistance that the Government announced on March 2, 2011 for the people of Libya. Today’s announcement raises Canada’s total humanitarian assistance to the crisis in Libya to almost $8 million ….”
Rash o’ Pre-Election Announcements (2) – This one from Defence Minister Peter MacKay: “…. A new career transition support policy for severely ill and injured Canadian Forces (CF) personnel will come into effect on May 1, 2011. Under this policy, severely ill and injured personnel with complex career transition needs, and who can no longer serve in the Regular Force or Primary Reserve, will be provided a longer transition period before returning to civilian life. For each of these individuals, the CF will develop a tailored and flexible plan that features comprehensive health care, career transition assistance, and the social support of the military community over a period of up to three years. The Minister also announced a change to the CF promotion policy whereby any qualified CF member who has been severely injured in Afghanistan with a battlefield injury will also be eligible for promotion if they continue serving with the CF ….”
Rash o’ Pre-Election Announcements (3) – One more from the Defence Minister: “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, in conjunction with The Ottawa Hospital and The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, today helped unveil the Rehabilitation Virtual Reality Laboratory, housing the CAREN system, at The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre …. This initiative is another example of CF’s excellent partnership with The Ottawa Hospital that ensures ill and injured CF personnel receive excellent care when they need it the most …. The installation of this system was made possible through the funding efforts of the community, which raised $500,000 for the laboratory at the General Campus of The Ottawa Hospital, and the CF, which contributed $1.5 million to the CAREN system. The Ottawa Hospital Foundation is proud to play a role in making this state-of-the-art tool a reality at the Hospital, said Foundation President and CEO Susan Doyle ….”
They were just good kids – riiiiiiiiiiiight….“While members of the Winnipeg’s Islamic community were stunned to learn two former University of Manitoba students are wanted on terror charges, a long-time local scholar of terrorism said it’s no surprise Canadian Muslims are being recruited by al-Qaida. “It’s shocking,” said Shahina Siddiqui, president of Islamic Social Services Association of Canada, which is headquartered in Winnipeg. Siddiqui was at Tuesday’s RCMP announcement of the charges against ex-Winnipeggers Ferid Ahmed Imam, 30, and Maiwand Yar, 27, that relate to a plot to bomb subways in New York City. “There’s a lot of questions and there’s fear and anxiety of how the community will be treated because there’s always a few people who would take this opportunity to target or malign Muslims,” she said. “Like all Canadians, our major concern is the security of the country and there is absolutely no tolerance for anything that would jeopardize it.” Siddiqui said she was acquainted with the family of one of the men charged, but wouldn’t say which. “All we know about them is they came from good families, they were doing well in university, they played soccer,” she said. “They were like regular Canadian kids.” ….”
The latest on Canada’s effort to pack up in Kandahar in preparation to leave. “The biggest challenge for the man planning Canada’s move out of Kandahar is not loading hundreds of vehicles or packing thousands of weapons away. It’s the clock. “Time is going to be the big thing,” Lt.-Col. Steve Moritsugu said in an interview. “We could put more people, we could put more effort, we could put more hours … but we’re done that day. That’s the one constant.” Since July, Moritsugu has led a liaison and planning team of up to 10 members responsible for ensuring all Canadian-issued property — everything from pencils to planes — is out of Kandahar by Dec. 31. It is a massive undertaking. More than 1,000 sea containers must be emptied. Close to 1,000 vehicles must be maintained and cleaned — easier said than done in an environment where dust is everywhere. And thousands of rounds of ammunition must be properly stored or disposed of before the big move ….”
Another way to help out wounded warriors, shared via Army.ca. “Operation Never Quit is a project designed to send 7 wounded Canadian Soldiers and a 12 year-old Army Cadet to UFC 129 in Toronto. Op Never Quit is raising money through Sponsorship to fund a full red carpet experience at UFC 129 for these deserving Canadian Heroes. With the remaining money left at the end of the event OP never Quit will be making a donation to the Charity of choice of the wounded Soldiers, in their name ….”
Good point here about Canadian defence spending, those who want to cut it, and those wanting to send in the troops – anywhere.“…. When Libya erupted, Prime Minister Stephen Harper dispatched three military transport planes, while the navy’s current rapid reaction warship, Halifax-based HMCS Charlottetown, made haste to put to sea. These actions, however, weren’t taken fast enough for the political opposition, the media and several self-style defence think-tanks – the same crowd that is up in arms over the Harper government’s plan to buy F-35 fighter jets, and over what they say is too much military spending. How odd that, on the one hand, these critics give the Harper regime hell for being slow off the mark to deploy military assets while on the other repeatedly condemn them for spending money on the military ….”
Speaking of the HMCS Charlottetown, it’s now part of a different operation now that OP Mobile to get Canadians outta Libya’s seems to be done with. “…. On 2 March 2011, the frigate HMCS Charlottetown (FFH 339) left her home port of Halifax for the central Mediterranean as part of Operation MOBILE, Canada’s participation in the multinational effort to evacuate foreign nationals from Libya. The military evacuation concluded on 8 March, when Charlottetown was still in the mid-Atlantic, and the frigate was consequently reassigned to Op SIRIUS. Charlottetown’s tasks include locating, tracking, reporting and boarding of vessels suspected of involvement in terrorism. Commanded by Commander Craig Skjerpen, with a crew about 240 officers and sailors and a CH-124 Sea King helicopter detachment, HMCS Charlottetown is a highly ready and technologically advanced ship capable of the full spectrum of maritime operations ….”
Check out the CF-18 demonstration team’s new web page here.
“The Goose Bay air base in central Labrador has spent millions of dollars to prepare for a military exercise that has now been cancelled for the second time in as many years. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization exercise was scheduled to train forward air controllers – people on the ground who help guide planes to bomb targets. The Canadian military has spent millions upgrading the practice target area for the exercise, which would have brought hundreds of people to Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay for part of the summer. The exercise was originally scheduled for last summer, but was held in the U.S. instead. Now NATO has backed out of plans to hold the exercise at CFB Goose Bay again. A military spokesperson said NATO will still hold the exercise, but it will be held in the U.S. where it is expected to cost less.”
F-35 Tug o’ War “…. The pertinent question not being addressed is that any possible alternatives would mean settling for generation-four or upgraded generation “four and a half” fighter replacements – essentially what the current CF-18s are, after several airframe and avionics upgrades over their long service life …. The CF-18s will be pushing 40 by the time new aircraft are deployed. Canada will still likely still be flying whatever fighters replace them in 2040 and beyond, so it makes no logical sense to buy aircraft that will be essentially obsolete before the first one is delivered – paying for upgraded mid-20th-century technology with 21st-century money ….”
CF to Libya (1a): Canada’s Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) now has a page with information on Operation MOBILE, Canada’s mission to Libya: “The Canadian Forces launched Operation MOBILE on 25 February 2011 to assist the departure of Canadians and other foreign nationals from Libya. Op MOBILE is part of a whole-of-government effort led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) ….” The CF’s Combat Camera folks have pages with photos and video from OP Mobile, too.
CF to Libya (2a): So, what’s the job of the HMCS Charlottetown, exactly? “…. Cmdr. Craig Skjerpen, addressing his crew before departure, said they were heading into an “emerging humanitarian crisis” in North Africa, along with the navies of the United States, Britain and other Western nations. The country is in revolt over the 41-year reign of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Skjerpen told reporters little is yet known about the Charlottetown’s actual role once it arrives off Libya, which will come following a week-long Atlantic crossing. He doesn’t know yet whether the ship will join an existing NATO fleet or a U.S. naval task force, both now in the Mediterranean. Skjerpen also said he has no orders to begin enforcing United Nations trade sanctions against Libya. Nor does the frigate have stocks of humanitarian aid on board. “It’s a very dynamic situation over there right now, so we’ll have to adapt to whatever happens.” ….” More from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald here.
CF to Libya (2b): Well, here’s what SOME in Canada’s Libyan community want.“Edmonton’s Libyan community is calling for the removal of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and has asked the Canadian government to take an active role in supporting the Libyan people. Zachariah Mansour, a second-year science student at the University if Alberta, was among 60 protesters calling for these measures at a recent rally at Churchill Square. “Basically we want to see a similar response to what happened in Haiti during the earthquake and in Sri Lanka during the tsunami; we want humanitarian aid not military intervention,” he says ….” (Note to Edmonton Libyan community: a lot of the help sent to Haiti got there BECAUSE of the military.)
CF to Libya (3): Toronto think-tanker John Thompson’s take: “….Warships off the Libyan coast can be used to potentially interdict shipments to that country, provided that some sort of agreement between various nations decides to exclude — for example — shipping from Iran or North Korea, and can manage to do so under international law. If the war continues, warships might be used to escort shipments of humanitarian supplies. More interventionist roles, such as declaring that Libyan aircraft all remain grounded, or sending special forces to secure stocks of chemical weapons (which Libya has, and used in Chad in the 1980s) or to destroy Libya’s inventory of Scud Missiles to keep the conflict contained to Libya alone. However, such interventions might cause lasting resentment that will outlive the current situation and could easily be used as for propaganda purposes by any faction.”
CF to Libya (4): More “learning” of JTF-2 headed downrange. “…. the dispatch of Canada’s frigate HMCS Charlottetown, which sails Wednesday from Halifax with 240 Canadian Forces personnel aboard, represents a commitment of weeks or months of military presence. Its first job is to set up command-and-control for evacuation efforts if they’re still needed. Then it is likely to assist in aid operations to Libyans, and could finally end up as part of tougher international military “sanctions” against the regime, such as enforcing a blockade, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said. Canadian special forces troops are now based in Malta, The Globe and Mail has learned, and are believed to be playing an active role in assisting evacuation missions to rescue Canadians and citizens from other countries ….”
CF to Libya (5a): Retired General Lew MacKenzie, in his own words, on Canada sending fighters to help in any no-fly zone that’ll be imposed on Libya: “…. The immediate need for imposing a no-fly zone over Libya will only be achieved outside of the Security Council’s decision-making by a coalition of the willing. Some nation will have to assume a leadership role and as French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the first to recommend the idea, France would be an obvious choice. Canada should participate.”
CF to Libya (5b): Retired General Lew MacKenzie, quoted & paraphrased, on Canada sending fighters to help in any no-fly zone that’ll be imposed on Libya: “…. Retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie said deploying CF-18s would be “logistically possible,” but “extremely difficult and somewhat time-consuming.” He foresees a more humanitarian role for Canada’s troops, although even that could be difficult since Canada doesn’t have a lot of assets already in the area ….”
Canada isn’t sending JUST military help to Libya. “…. “Canada is acting swiftly to help meet the humanitarian needs of the people of Libya which are a result of recent violence in that country,” said Prime Minister Harper. “We are taking action to provide immediate humanitarian support to areas that need it most.” …. Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), will help to address urgent medical requirements, basic humanitarian needs, and the repatriation of people displaced into Tunisia and Egypt. Canada’s help will include improving access to food, water, sanitation, shelter and emergency medical care. The initial contribution being announced today will support humanitarian efforts through the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of the Red Cross and the International Organization for Migration ….” More on that from the Canadian Press, CBC.ca, Postmedia News, and QMI Media.
It didn’t take long for the usual suspects to come out against ANY kind of help for Libya involving people whose titles include ranks. “The Canadian Peace Alliance is opposed to any military intervention in Libya or in the region as a whole …. Western military deployment to Libya is a bit like asking the arsonist to put out their own fire. Far from being a shining light in a humanitarian crisis, western intervention is designed to maintain the status quo and will, in fact make matters worse for the people there …. The best way to help the people of Libya is to show our solidarity with their struggle. There are demonstrations planned this weekend. The people united will never be defeated!” I’m sorry, but WTF does “showing our solidarity with their struggle” mean, exactly? Ship over some freeze-dried, vacuum-sealed solidarity to drop on the masses? If you’re going to whine, how about some concrete solutions? Even the Libyan community in Edmonton was clear about what they want.
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: Ceasefire.ca has posted a web page allowing you to send a letter to prominent politicians to oppose purchase of the F-35 here. One wonders how many people “personalize” the letter to make it say something COMPLETELY different than what’s already there before sending it? Just sayin’….
Wanna buy an old Snowbird?“A rare chance to acquire an iconic piece of Canadian aviation history is up for grabs when a Snowbirds Tutor Jet is auctioned in Toronto next month. The Canadian Forces’ Snowbirds team, which claims Moose Jaw as its home, has entertained millions of air show spectators as international ambassadors for Canada for more than 40 years …. Now one of these rare aircraft will be offered at public auction for the first time at the annual Classic Car Auction of Toronto from April 8 to 10 held at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont., next to Pearson International Airport. It is one of only four known CT-114s under private ownership …. Originally powered by the J85 jet engine, which has since been removed after being retired from service, the aircraft is expected to become a candidate for restoration or historical museum display.”
Know those pirates stealing boats and killing people around Somalia? Now, ship owners here in Canada are starting to get more worried, too.“The hijackings and kidnappings orchestrated by Somali pirates in waters halfway around the globe are rippling back to shores of this country, Canadian shipping companies say, and they’ve joined an international campaign urging world governments to do more to combat the problem. Several international shipping associations and sailors’ unions have launched the Save Our Seafarers campaign, warning the “growing Somali piracy crisis” is threatening global trade and endangering those working on ships plying the waters off Africa’s east coast. The campaign’s supporters include the Chamber of Shipping of B.C. and Fairmont Shipping (Canada) Ltd., which say Canadian companies have had to turn down business and make costly changes to shipping routes to avoid the precarious waters patrolled by pirates. “This problem has been recurring and has been escalating to a degree that we don’t feel this is something the industry can resolve,” Samuel Tang, a Fairmont Shipping vice-president, said in an interview ….”
You know things aren’t going well for the Libyan regime when they sic the air force on the crowds. PM Harper’s take? “Prime Minister Stephen Harper has denounced the violent crackdowns by security forces on anti-government protesters in Libya and called for them to stop immediately. “We find the actions of the government firing upon its own citizens to be outrageous and unacceptable,” Harper told reporters in Vancouver on Monday. “We call on the government to cease these actions immediately.” ….” More from the PM 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).
“A small contingent of the Canadian military will remain at Kandahar Airfield for several months after Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan comes to an end in July. A group of about 40 servicemen and women will continue to work for the commander of Kandahar Airfield until late October or early November. In that role, they are responsible for perimeter security, housing and runway maintenance at the sprawling military base, among other duties. The Canadian chief of airfield plans is hoping other countries will come forward and fulfil their roles ….” Hmmmm, does that meet the requirements of the March 2008 motion the government has been bringing up? It says, “…. Canada should continue a military presence in Kandahar beyond February 2009, to July 2011, in a manner fully consistent with the UN mandate on Afghanistan …”, defining that as troops to train Afghans, to protect development projects and to staff the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction team. Well, it seems KAF-ites not doing any of the above would be OK by my read.
Will Tim Horton’s leave with the last Canadian soldier from Kandahar?“…. The Canadian doughnut chain Tim Hortons at Kandahar Air Field was also allowed to stay, though it had to move from its prime location on the boardwalk to a more discreet locale near the Canadian section of the base. The fact that the U.S. was at the time trying to convince Canada not to pull its combat forces out of Kandahar in 2011 helped to keep Tim Hortons’ franchise there alive, said a coalition official at the time. He laughed when he explained the reasoning, but he wasn’t joking. Canadian forces are nonetheless leaving Kandahar this year. Whether Tim Hortons, which has become a favorite of all the uniformed doughnut lovers, will stay after the last Canadian soldier goes remains an open question ….”
Globe & Mail editorial warns Canada to help Afghan women. “…. Ottawa should heed the advice of CARE Canada, which has called on the government to measure its post-conflict engagement in Afghanistan through the lens of improved human rights. Specifically, Canada could help tackle the barriers girls face in attending primary and secondary school; help train Afghan police in human rights; protect female leaders; ensure women are included in public-policy debate and peace-building; and focus on maternal and child health ….” (Hat tip to Terry Glavin for spotting this one first).