Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘CF-18 News Highlights – October 10, 2014

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What’s Canada Buying?

Way Up North



Advertisements News Highlights – 4 Nov 11

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  • Janick Gilbert, R.I.P.  Funeral of rescue technician killed in rescue attempt set for tomorrow.
  • Libya Mission (1a)  CF members returning home from Libyan mission – welcome back!
  • Libya Mission (1b)  Canada’s Defence Minister set to welcome returning CF members at CFB Greenwood in Nova Scotia.
  • Libya Mission (1c)  Canada’s Associate Defence Minister set to welcome returning CF members at CFB Bagotville in Quebec.
  • Libya Mission (1d)  Canada’s Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence set to welcome returning CF members at CFB Trenton in Ontario.
  • Afghanistan (1)  How Canadian military engineers are training up Afghan military engineers (via the CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (2)  Former diplomat, political communicator reminds us of Canada’s legacy (while reminding us whose job it is now to keep it going) (PDF).  “In 2009-10, former political aide Renée Filiatrault volunteered for a tour of duty as a foreign service officer in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Here she provides a glimpse of the realities that Canada’s civilian and military team faced while fighting an insurgency on the ground. As Canada stood down its combat mission in Kandahar this summer, she says, despite some bitter lessons, it is a legacy of which Canada can be proud. Ultimately, she adds, “while we can set the conditions for success, winning is not up to us, but up to the government of Afghanistan, which all efforts are ultimately intended to support.”
  • Afghanistan (3)  An update on Captain Trevor Greene, who has been recovering from an axe to the head during a shura in Afghanistan in March 2006.
  • Taliban Propganada Watch:  What the Taliban Info-Machine has to say about the coward chap who killed 17 people, including one Canadian, in a homicide bombing attack in Kabul and tying the attack in to a coming Loya Jirga (both links to non-terrorist page).
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  More from The Canadian Press’s obtained (but not shared with the readers) stack o’ briefing notes.  “Canadian pilots are expected to receive training for the F-35 stealth jet at a U.S. Air Force base in Florida, a plan that raises questions about the future of the country’s existing advanced fighter training school. Internal Defence Department documents show that a fee-for-service plan involving an international training centre, already constructed at Eglin Air Force Base by manufacturer Lockheed Martin, has been the main option under consideration. Several air force briefings compiled last year and obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information laws show that not only is there “potential for NO pilot training in Canada,” but that “pooled” training with international partners is likely the most cost-effective plan ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  CDS:  more would sure be nice“Canada’s top soldier says the 65 stealth fighters the government is planning to buy are the minimum number the military needs – but he hinted the back-up if jets are destroyed is that more will be for sale later. General Walter Natynczyk, the Chief of Defence Staff, told members of the Commons defence committee Thursday that the 65 F-35 fighters the government is planning to buy “is the minimum operational essential for the needs of Canada.” ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (3)  CDS:  pilots want the F-35“Pilots with the Royal Canadian Air Force want to fly in F-35 stealth fighter jets when the current CF-18s are retired, according to the chief of defence staff. Walt Natynczyk, the military’s top boss, appeared before Parliament’s defence committee Thursday to talk about military preparedness but was peppered instead with questions about the controversial purchase of the multi-role fighter jets. “Let me tell you that when I go to Cold Lake and I go to Bagotville and I talk to those young men and women who get in the F-18 and I ask them ‘What aircraft so you want?’ they tell me that they want the F-35 because it is the only fifth-generation, capable fighter for that next phase,” Natynczyk told reporters after his committee appearance ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (4)  Yet AGAIN with the Questions in the House of Commons.
  • A reminder from the Chief of Defence Staff:  to a certain extent, anyway, you get what you pay for.  “The country’s top soldier says that the speed with which Canada contributed to the mission in Libya and post-earthquake relief in Haiti would not have been possible without a trained and well-equipped military. But Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk, whose department is struggling with pending budget cuts during the first real lull in combat operations since 2006, said such capabilities do not come cheap. “If you ask me how we’re doing in maintaining our readiness, I’d say we’re doing the best we can with all the resources we have,” Natynczyk told members of the Commons’ defence committee Thursday. “Readiness is a perishable commodity and it’s expensive.” ….”
  • This year’s Public Accounts are out, and at least one reporter noticed 42 “weapons and accessories” missing.  You can download the DND’s list o’ missing cash & property here (via and the entire government list o’ lost cash and stuff here (28 page small-print PDF).
  • Remembrance Day (1)  No “tanks”, no guns, no displays at Ottawa Catholic school for Remembrance Day“For the past 19 years, students at an Ottawa high school have hoisted 10-pound military rifles to feel what it may be like to lug one around in the muddy trenches. They’ve met veterans and heard their stories, learning how their families were affected and what it was like to fight so far from home. But this year — the year that was supposed to mark the 20th Remembrance Day Symposium at Notre Dame High School — they will get no such chance. The traditional school event, scheduled for Nov. 10, has been cancelled because of a school committee decision to ensure there were “no tanks or guns” at the event, its co-ordinator told participants in an email last Friday …. The event was cancelled because some students who hail from countries touched by war raised concerns about it last year, said Lauren Rocque, a spokeswoman for the Ottawa Catholic School Board. “There are many students in that school that come from war-torn countries and when they saw replica guns in the hallway, it did upset them.” Ms. Rocque was unable to say whether the students had complained to the principal directly. “The tanks on the front lawn, that upset them too, so the committee decided to take this different direction,” she added. Mr. Mac Culloch said he doesn’t remember any tanks — just a variety of other military vehicles ….”  More on this from QMI/Sun Media here, a good question from the Globe & Mail here and discussion over at here.
  • Remembrance Day (2)  Editorial:  “In Toronto and Hamilton, human scum steal poppy boxes filled with donated money to help war vets and their families, leading up to Remembrance Day on Nov. 11. In London, a war vet coming in to man his poppy station at a local mall finds a cartoon describing Canadian soldiers as “hired killers”. In Ottawa, a high school cancels a two-decade old program in which vets share their war-time experiences with students and show them the equipment they used, because of a decision to ban “tanks and guns” from the school, even though no tanks have been displayed and the guns are inoperable. That this is happening in the year Canada ends its 10-year military mission in Afghanistan, in which 158 of our soldiers died, is a disgrace ….”
  • Remembrance Day (3)  Conservative MP reminds the House of Commons“Mr. Speaker, July 2011 marked the end of Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan. While the combat mission has come to an end, the Canadian Forces continue to play an active role in training their Afghan counterparts. The past 10 years have brought about many changes for Afghanistan. Afghanistan has held three elections, government agencies have been improved, its economy has gained momentum, girls are going to school and the Afghan security forces have been provided with invaluable training and mentoring. One hundred and fifty-nine Canadian Forces members have made the ultimate sacrifice to help Afghans obtain a taste of the freedoms that we hold so dear, tragically, joined recently by Master Corporal Byron Greff, of Edmonton’s Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. In addition to Afghanistan, Canadian Forces are serving in 15 overseas missions, including Libya, Haiti, and Sudan. At home, they save lives during search and rescue missions, provide assistance when natural disasters strike, and protect our nation’s sovereignty on a daily basis. This Veterans’ Week, let us remember the service and sacrifice of our Canadian Forces members and their families. “To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die”.
  • Remembrance Day (4)  Politicians set to kick off Veterans Week this morning.
  • More on the soon-to-be hunger-striking vet wanting action on the depleted uranium in his body, from Question Period in the House of Commons.
  • A Canadian indicted in the U.S. on charges he supplied al-Qaida with weapons in Pakistan will not be extradited to the United States after Canada’s Supreme Court said Thursday it wouldn’t hear the case. Abdullah Khadr had been held in Canada on a U.S. warrant after his December 2005 arrest before he was released in 2010. He was released after two provincial courts in Ontario suspended his extradition, ruling his rights were violated during his detention in Pakistan. Dennis Edney, his lawyer, said the top court’s decision not to hear the Canadian government’s appeal means the case is over. The government had argued it was wrong to prevent an “admitted” terrorist from facing trial in the U.S. ….”  More from The Canadian Press,, Agence France-Presse, Reuters and lots of others.
  • Ottawa is bungling rescue missions by not telling families in Canada whether their loved ones are alive or dead, a Canadian diplomat once held hostage overseas says. Robert Fowler says that Ottawa’s mission to free him is tarnished by the fact that his wife, Mary, was kept in emotional limbo for much of his 130-day ordeal. She got so frustrated by official silence in Ottawa that she went to the United Nations complex in Manhattan to demand answers. “Mary stormed down to the UN headquarters in New York, where she had arranged to meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,” reads Mr. Fowler’s new memoir. The world’s top diplomat told Ms. Fowler what the Canadian government had not. “‘We have good and explicit reason to believe they [the hostages] are alive and in good health.’” ….”
  • Don Cherry is getting an honourary degree from Royal Military College (and some profs are pissed).  “…. The college’s senate approved awarding the controversial hockey commentator with the honour at a recent closed-door meeting. But now at least one protesting member of the faculty is protesting the decision publicly. French professor Catherine Lord criticized the college’s decision to honour Cherry in a letter sent to local media. “On many occasions he publicly expressed his contempt for many groups of the Canadian population, notably for the French-speaking Canadians, for the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) community and for the immigrants,” Lord wrote. “RMC is increasingly representative of the diverse society in which we live. RMC is a strong and unifying place.” Lord questioned what kind of message granting the honorary doctorate would send to the rest of the country. “What message will RMC send, in celebrating Don Cherry, to the students coming from these groups? And what will the Canadian people remember from RMC, as a serious and prestigious institution?” ….” News Highlights – 5 Oct 11

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  • We have a border security deal (reportedly)!  A much-ballyhooed perimeter security deal between Canada and the United States will come with a $1-billion price tag for new border facilities and programs to make trade and travel easier, The Canadian Press has learned. The Conservative government will use money cut from existing programs to cover the hefty cost of the international pact — an attempt to protect the continent from terrorist threats while speeding the flow of people and products across the 49th parallel. The deal, as described by several sources, is more evolutionary than revolutionary, falling short of the grand vision outlined with fanfare eight months ago when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama announced negotiations ….”  More here.
  • Libya Mission  Latest ROTO takes first flight downrange“The CP 140 Aurora aircraft continued to add to an impressive list of firsts, flying its first mission over Libya and its first strike coordination and armed reconnaissance-coordinator (SCAR-C) mission during Operation MOBILE. On 22 September 2011, crew from 405 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 14 Wing Greenwood, flew its first intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission over Libyan soil ….” (via CEFCOM Info-Machine)
  • NATO defense ministers are exploring ways Wednesday of ending the alliance’s aerial campaign in Libya and training Afghan security forces for a larger role in their country’s war. In a speech before the meeting, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged NATO member states to cooperate more closely and pool their resources in order to make up for the shortfalls that have plagued the alliance’s operations in Libya and Afghanistan. “It would be a tragic outcome if the alliance shed the very capabilities that allowed it to successfully conduct these operations,” said Panetta, who is making his first visit to Europe after taking over from Robert Gates as Pentagon chief in July. European members and Canada provided most of the strike aircraft used in the Libya campaign. But the war exposed shortages in their capabilities in strategic transport, aerial surveillance, air refueling, and unmanned drones, most of which had to be supplied by the U.S. ….”  More on the U.S. poking allies to crank up the military capabilities here.
  • Afghanistan (1)  Poking the Defence Minister in Question Period – again – on (based on a book that’s not out yet) being out of the loop on Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Canada fighting the fight (against polio) in Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan (3)  Editorial“Part of the rationale for military intervention in Afghanistan was the deplorable state of women’s rights, and the need to free women from the gender apartheid practised by the Taliban. This was a country where women could not have direct contact with men after the age of eight, could not go to school or work outside the home, visit public baths to stay clean, wear nail polish, high heels or be seen in public without a burqa, or a male relative. As the 10th anniversary of the military invasion approaches on Oct. 7, the hard-won gains that women have made over the past decade must be safeguarded. They cannot be sacrificed for the larger goal of ending Afghanistan’s protracted conflict ….”
  • Provincial politicians use CF search & rescue as provincial campaign lighting rod. Newfoundland nd Labrador’s premier and the opposition leader say search and rescue services provided by the federal government must be investigated to see if improvements are necessary. Progressive Conservative Leader Kathy Dunderdale said a recent episode of CBC’s The Fifth Estate on search and rescue has left her with concerns about the military’s service. “It is not satisfactory to the people of this province, to the people who earn their living on the sea, to be at further risk because of a slow response time or policies that affect response time in marine search and rescue,” she said. Dunderdale said she plans to vigorously pursue the issue of search and rescue with the federal government. Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward agreed and went further, calling for a full inquiry into federal search and rescue services. Both Aylward and Dunderdale are campaigning in preparation for the provincial election on Oct. 11 ….”
  • Wounded Warriors, Mental Health & Suicide (1)  For decades, the issue of suicide in active soldiers and retired veterans was something that no one wanted to talk about. But a number of programs both within and outside the military are finally focusing attention on the issue. How big a problem is suicide in Canada’s military? It’s difficult to say. The Canadian Forces reports that the suicide rate among currently active soldiers is actually lower than that of the general public. But once many of those soldiers are released from the military, research shows their suicide risk can rise to higher levels than that of civilians. Assessing the toll can be difficult, because beyond the clear-cut suicides are the more subtle instances in which soldiers end their own lives. A veteran who drinks heavily to dull mental pain might be engaging in a slow form of suicide. A soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder and anger issues might take reckless risks if he’s lost his will to live. And how about the veteran with depression who ends up homeless and dies far too young? None of these deaths would register on the books as a suicide, but all might well be traced back to the soldier’s time in service ….”
  • Wounded Warriors, Mental Health & Suicide (2)  From Question Period (QP)“Hon. John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, last week, the Minister of National Defence and I, along with others, attended a conference put on by the military called “Caring for our Own”. One of the concerns raised by some of the soldiers was the fear that the military would not be there for them in their hour of need. Specific worries included PTSD, suicide ideation and suicide itself. The next budget will be under severe pressure for cutting these “soft services”. Could the minister give the House assurances that our vulnerable soldiers and their families will be protected from these budgetary pressures? Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, my colleague is correct. My friend was in attendance, along with many members who are specifically tasked with how we deal with the scourge of post-traumatic stress and many of the challenges related to overseas deployments. I am very pleased to report that Canada has in fact become a world leader in fighting the stigmatization and raising awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder and other operational stress injuries. As well, we have increased mental health awareness and we have increased the number of mental health professionals who are dealing specifically with these challenges.”
  • Wounded Warriors, Mental Health & Suicide (3)  More from QP“Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.):  Mr. Speaker, there is a great need to enhance suicide prevention programs in Canada. With respect to our veterans, the data is alarming. The suicide rate in the armed services is nearly three times that of the general population. According to a departmental study of all males who enrolled in the regular forces after 1972 and were released before 2007, a total of 2,620 died and almost 700 of them were suicides. Could the minister outline new steps or strategies that his department is undertaking to tackle this crisis among veterans?  Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC):  Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his important question. While mental health was taboo then, it is a priority for our government now. That is why we have established, in conjunction with the Department of National Defence, 17 operational stress injury clinics that provide services to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress across the country and at various levels that they might experience. This approach is working. As of June, Veterans Affairs Canada is helping more than 14,300 veterans with mental health conditions and their families ….”
  • New fur hats for the troops (and the animal rights activists are unhappy)“The Department of National Defence has decided to add fur to the winter gear of the Canadian Forces, a move that’s getting a frosty reception from animal-rights advocates. The government says fur is part of Canada’s heritage and the winter tuque currently in use doesn’t stand up to the rigours of the Canadian winter. So it’s buying an initial run of 1,000 fur-trimmed caps at a cost of $65,000, for use by guards of honour and Canadian Forces starting this winter …. “There are synthetics that are just as good and that don’t necessitate the killing of animals,” Elizabeth Sharpe of the World Society for the Protection of Animals said from Toronto. “Killing animals for their fur is completely unnecessary and cruel.” Lesley Fox of the British Columbia-based Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals says muskrats are known to chew off their limbs to free themselves from leg-hold traps ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  Defence Minister Peter MacKay, facing questions from the NDP on the upcoming F-35 buy:   “These aircraft, as the House will know, will replace our aging CF-18 fleet of fighter jets. These aircraft, like other aircraft, have served our country extremely well. They are used in Libya today. They have been used in previous missions, but that they aging. As a matter of course we are taking the responsible step of following a procurement process that has been in place for a significant period of time in which a number of countries are participating …. We committed $9 billion for the replacement of the CF-18. In fact, it not only includes the cost of the aircraft, this will include: spares, weapons systems, infrastructure and training simulators as well as the contingency associated with this important procurement. We are purchasing the most cost-effective variant at the prime of peak production when the costs will be at their lowest. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer has admitted to that. Why are the NDP members constantly against getting the best equipment for the best forces in the world?”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  The latest from the Associate Minister of National Defence Julian FantinoAn overall $9 billion cost estimate is more honest than relying on individual plane costs, says the minister handling the purchase of Canada’s new fighter jets. Despite a promise by manufacturer Lockheed Martin that Canada will get its F-35 fighter jets at a cost of $65 million each, Julian Fantino, Associate Minister of National Defence, says the government’s overall $9 billion estimate is the more honest number. The cost of the F-35 depends on the number of planes ordered by other countries, as well as on how early Canada wants to get its order. The manufacturing cost goes down as more planes come off the assembly line, with Canada expecting the U.S. to absorb the bulk of the F-35’s development costs. “There are just so many variables, and that’s why I think the more honest, ethical response to all these issues is the $9 billion figure, which in fact will be the ceiling that Canada will be investing in these particular aircraft,” Fantino told Evan Solomon, host of CBC’s Power & Politics ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Someone to make fake explosives to test detection equipment (more in Statement of Work – 4 page PDF – here), upgrading the range at CFB Valcartier, someone to manage Canada’s presence at the Farnborough Air Show, and CADPAT rank slip-ons.
  • Canada’s top military cop to chair NATO committee“The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM), Colonel Tim Grubb assumed the post of Chairman of the NATO Nations Military Police (MP) Chiefs’ Committee at a brief ceremony last week in Prague, Czech Republic. The ceremony concluded the committee’s annual meeting …. Colonel Grubb has been the CFPM since 2009 and during his tenure has overseen significant transformation in the Canadian Forces Military Police organization ….”
  • The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre engaged in some diplomacy of its own recently when its leaders invited ambassadors and military attachés to its Carleton University headquarters to update them on its activities. Michael Snell, project manager for the centre, told the group of about 30 diplomats about the work the centre has been doing with the 10 training centres that compose the Association of Latin America Peacekeeping Centres. The centre’s three causes, Snell said, are: women and peacekeeping; supporting new training centres; and enhancing police participation in UN missions from Latin America ….”
  • How some of the Americans are doing the War of 1812 anniversary.  Out of the murk of history and the trough of government funding, here comes the War of 1812 again, 200 years old and as ambiguous as ever on both sides of the Canada-U.S. frontier. “The festivities reach a crescendo!” trumpets the Maryland Bicentennial Commission, as if three years of bombarding, cannonading, spearing, shooting, scalping, burning, sinking, drowning, pillaging, invading, retreating, ambushing, marching, fleeing, starving, freezing, and occupying had been a holiday for all concerned. Undeterred by the carnage – after all, the war didn’t kill THAT many guys, compared to, like, Gettysburg or Hitler or whatever – we are going to have “a Star-Spangled tribute to the defense of America” down here, a display at the U.S. Naval Academy of “the British flag captured at Fort York (Toronto),” plus “a week-long maritime event to kick off the bicentennial celebration.” In other words, there are going to be a lot of people in pantaloons hoisting mainsails and firing muskets before this thing is put away for another century ….” News Highlights – 13 Sept 11

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  • Afghanistan (1)  Canadian General drops by northern training base in Afghanistan (courtesy of the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan/Combined Transition Command – Afghanistan Info-Machine)  “Regional Support Command – North recently hosted a visit by Canadian Army Maj. Gen. Michael Day, the deputy commander for army operations under NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan/Combined Transition Command – Afghanistan. NTM-A/CSTC-A, in coordination with key stakeholders, generates and sustains the Afghan National Security Forces, develops leaders, and establishes enduring institutional capacity in order to enable accountable Afghan-led security. This is Day’s second visit to RSC-N, and during his stop he viewed newly delivered D-30 artillery cannons and the Regional Basic Warrior Training center at Camp Shaheen, near Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan. He also received updates on proposed expansions to the Afghan National Army training facilities ….”
  • Afghanistan (2) has an online survey asking, Should Afghan translators who worked with Canadian forces be granted refuge?
  • Afghanistan (3)  Congrats to all.  “Michael Hornburg watched television coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks in his Calgary home with his son Nathan, who had become a reservist only weeks before. The 18-year-old had joined the King’s Own Calgary Regiment while still in high school. That day, Hornburg felt a personal, horrible feeling as his son sat next to him. “I somehow had a premonition that day that 9/11 would touch our family on a personal level, that it might directly affect us,” he said on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Cpl. Nathan Hornburg was killed in Afghanistan six years and two weeks after 9/11. Nathan had volunteered to go to war. He drove a tank equipped to rescue other vehicles, which he was doing when killed in a mortar attack. “My son’s vehicle had a crane on it, not a cannon,” Michael Hornburg said. “He was typical of a lot of the courage you see in all these military members.” On behalf of his son, Michael Hornburg received the Birchall Leadership Award on Sunday to recognize integrity and responsibility in the Canadian Forces. Usually given to one annual recipient, this year’s award was presented to seven individuals to represent Task Force Afghanistan. “This award is on behalf of all of those wounded or killed,” Hornburg said. “We take our losses as sources of pride. We use them to become better people, not bitter.” Other local recipients included Col. Omer Lavoie, commander of 1 Mechanized Brigade Group, and Warrant Officer David Schultz, a previous recipient of the Star of Military Valour for personal bravery ….”  More on the award here (from the Land ForcesWestern Area Info-Machine)
  • Afghanistan (3)  A new Canadian film, Afghan Luke, by the guy who brought you Trailer Park Boys.  “Trailer Park Boys” co-creator and director Mike Clattenburg isn’t offended by the suggestion that a nuanced satirical film on Canada’s role in the Afghan war is a bit of a surprise coming from him. “I guess people would expect me to do crazy, screwball stuff, but we did that for 10 years,” the Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia native tells me in a hotel room in downtown Toronto. “Guys in their underwear and housecoats, drunk trailer park supervisors . . . I’ve been doing that stuff for a while, that stoner comedy. “I was excited to do something I hadn’t done before.” Clattenburg was in Toronto Sunday for the premiere of his new movie “Afghan Luke” at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Afghan Luke” tells the story of ambitious journalist Luke Benning (Nick Stahl) who goes rogue in Afghanistan after his editor spikes a story on Canadian snipers who may be cutting off the fingers of their kills in the country. While that’s the synopsis, what follows is much more of satirical tale of loosely collected stories of a strange and distant land that cannot be understood, let alone tamed by Western military powers. As Clattenburg puts it, it’s “80 per cent drama, 20 per cent comedy.” ….”  Already some discussion of the film (mostly based on the trailer and advance media) at here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  More of what’s coming came out of Canada’s Defence Minister meeting with Australia’s “Australia and Canada share a common concern that the new Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) will be delayed, possibly requiring acquisition of an expensive interim air combat capability.  To present a united front, Australia and Canada will now conduct top level talks on procurement and capability issues of mutual concern.  As well as JSF, that will also touch on submarines, with both Australia and Canada experiencing big problems on maintaining submarine capability.  Visiting Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Canada wasn’t backing away from plans to acquire 65 JSF aircraft but shared all of the same concerns as Australia.  He said the good news was that the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant of JSF, to be acquired by both Canada and Australia, was progressing well, unlike the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) and carrier variants.  “We are purchasing them at a time when they will be in peak production around 2014-15. Our fleet of F-18 Hornets will have to be taken out of use in 2017,” he told reporters.  “So there is a degree of urgency for us when it comes to this procurement being on time and being on cost.”  …. Defence Minister Stephen Smith said he and Mr MacKay had agreed to conduct a regular strategic dialogue on shared procurement, acquisition, capability issues.  He said he was very concerned that delay in JSF meant it was rubbing up against the Australian schedule for retiring older F/A-18 Hornets around the end of the decade.  “I have always been of the view that this project will get up because the US is absolutely committed to the capability,” he said.  “But the risk for Australia and other partners like Canada is on the delivery side, on the schedule side and also on the cost side.” ….”  Nothing on the visit on Minister MacKay’s site yet – a nice picture, though.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Good question from Mark Collins.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Wanted:  folks who speak Spanish to act as bad guys, villagers for training in Wainwright, Alberta.
  • Border Security (1)  “It may seem heartless to put a price tag on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people and affected the lives of so many more. But economic implications of that event and of the ongoing battle against terrorism cannot be ignored. While the United States incurred the lion’s share of costs related to 9/11 and the security measures – including military interventions – that came after, Canada has also coped with economic consequences. For the most part, the harm to Canada is manifest in impediments to trade ….”
  • Border Security (2)  “Glass is half full” view of border security talks between Canada, U.S.: “…. The goals of the initiative are pragmatic, not theoretical and the results need to be tangible and mutually beneficial. Success is not preordained but Canada should never refrain from bilateral agreements carrying the greatest potential for reward. With clear and consistent political will from the top and healthy doses of imagination and determination from officials, innovative solutions can be agreed that will serve the interests of both parties.”
  • Border Security (3)  “Glass is half emtpy” view of border security talks between Canada, U.S.: “…. The protection of privacy is the subtly acknowledged elephant in the room in these discussions. In the past few years there have been two commissions of inquiry on cases in which the privacy rights of Canadians were violated by the sharing of information with the United States. The men affected became guests of nasty regimes with life-changing consequences for them. Both the Auditor General and the Privacy Commissioner have added their voices on the need for greater privacy protections. This government and previous ones have ignored recommendations for changes and have been reluctant to improve existing protections by updating the out-of-date Privacy Act of 1983. If Canadians are not vigilant they may soon discover that the Americans have more control over their privacy rights than we do at home.”
  • Royal Canadian Artillery:  Helping prevent avalanches for 50 years. (via  “Canada Command honoured the centennial of Parks Canada and the 125th anniversary of Glacier and Yoho National Parks with the presentation of three retired 105 mm Artillery Howitizers at the Rogers Pass Discovery centre at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10 in Revelstoke, B.C. The guns are on display at the Rogers Pass as monuments and memorials in recognition of a half-century of avalanche control operations to protect the Trans-Canada Highway and the railway through Glacier National Park ….”  More from The Canadian Press here (YouTube video).
  • While 9-11 highlighted the bonds between Canada and the United States, another major anniversary will mark just how the two countries decided to become friendly in the first place. The Conservative government is gearing up to announce its bicentennial plans for the War of 1812, a major undertaking that will have Canadians reaching into their high-school memory vaults and municipalities vying for cash to spruce up their historical landmarks. “It has led to 200 years of peace between Canada and the United States,” Heritage Minister James Moore said in an interview. “We’re two countries with two very different identities and we obviously disagree from time to time, but we have the longest border and the most successful neighbouring relationship of probably any two countries in the world … and all of that started with the end of the War of 1812 and it’s something to be recognized.” The conflict, which lasted until 1815, pitted the growing United States against British forces mostly in Upper and Lower Canada. The U.S. had grown weary of British naval blockades hampering their trade abroad, and of First Nations armed by the British Empire stunting their expansion into the northwest of the continent ….” News Highlights – 29 Jul 11

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  • Libya Mission  What CF-18 pilots are up to“They are wars apart but while he never pounded the hard-baked fields of Panjwaii on foot, Lt.-Col. Daniel McLeod shares more with Canadian soldiers returning from Kandahar than he cares to admit. As a career fighter pilot flying the air force’s premier CF-18 jets, McLeod recently got a cold introduction to the stark choices that have to be made in the electronic-twilight environment of today’s wars. High above the vast deserts of Libya, McLeod spotted what he thought was rocket fire in the distance — an impression quickly confirmed by drones or other surveillance aircraft that crowd the sky near the embattled country in north Africa. He was what the air force calls “feet dry” over the coast on a interdiction mission _ an armed air patrol that looks for targets of opportunity on the ground. It’s a task that makes up about 80 per cent of the missions flown by Canada as part of the NATO operation to dislodge Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi. And on that day, McLeod thought he had a target ….”
  • Canadian paratroopers jumping out of Ukrainian planes on Exercise Rapid Trident 2011more on the exercise in Ukrainian and in Google English.
  • Three white P-3 Orion aircraft, each bearing an eye-catching red disk on the side near the fuselage, carrying over 60 members of the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force recently landed at the 19 Wing Comox Valley airstrip. They taxied down the Valley on Thursday afternoon, and upon embarking from the planes, they were welcomed by LCol. David Robinson along with other military personnel of the 407 MP Squadron. There was also a group of Japanese Canadian civilians from Comox Valley, Courtenay and the Mainland who came out to welcome the visitors from the Far East. The Japanese contingent stayed in the Comox Valley for a week, spent time with the Canadian Air Force as well as experiencing the local culture. “We came here to deepen the friendship as well as to train with Canadian Air Force,” said commander Hajime Urata, of the VP3 Atsugi in Japan, through an interpreter. “The other purpose is to understand the missions of both.” …. “
  • Reconnaisance course training in the woods and rocks of northwestern Ontario near Kenora.
  • What’s Canada Buying:  Big Honkin’ Ship Buliding  Quebec City’s Davie Yards’s bid for the federal government’s multi-year, $35-billion National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy has been approved by Ottawa. Davie’s eleventh-hour detailed bid was submitted just before the July 21 deadline expired. Its Lévis yards had just been acquired by a consortium of Upper Lakes Group, Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Montreal engineers SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. The major $25-billion portion of the government contract will be awarded to build about 20 warships. Another $8-billion contract will go to building Coast Guard icebreakers and navy supply ship replacements. Finally, $2 billion is to be spent on small craft and repair work. Davie’s bid is expected to focus on the $8-billion contract to build non-military vessels. The federal agency in charge of bid tendering accepted the Davie offer ….”  Public Works Canada news release on this here, and more from here.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (x)  “…. Cheryl Gallant, Member of Parliament for Renfrew–Nipissing–Pembroke, on behalf of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, and the Honourable Julian Fantino, Associate Minister of National Defence, announced the awarding of a contract for integrated heavy bomb suits to Allen-Vanguard Corporation of Ottawa, Ontario. Ms. Gallant made the announcement at the company’s manufacturing facility in Pembroke, Ontario …. Under the five-year contract, the company will provide 94 complete Med-Eng bomb suits. The Med-Eng bomb suit will provide Canadian Forces members with chemical and respiratory protection and cooling to mitigate heat stress before, during and after missions. The contract is valued at approximately $7.5 million and most of the work to produce the suits will be done at Allen-Vanguard Corporation’s manufacturing facility in Pembroke, Ontario. This contract will maintain more than 50 local Canadian jobs.”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War:  How’re the F-35’s doing in the U.S.?  Check Popular Mechanics here.
  • UpdateThe “From the Investigator” (FTI) initial flight safety report for the November 17, 2010, crash of CF-18 aircraft number CF188789 near Cold Lake, Alberta, is available on the Air Force Directorate of Flight Safety website …. This initial report indicates that the pilot was conducting a night training mission using Night Vision Goggles and became disoriented during an instrument approach when his landing light reflected off the falling snow. The reflected light also washed out the instrument indications in his Head Up Display. The pilot ejected safely without injury, and was recovered by a Search and Rescue crew. The aircraft crashed and was destroyed on impact. The Flight Safety investigation team continues to focus on human factors associated with the accident, including disorientation, organizational pressures, and training practices. 1 Canadian Air Division has already put in place measures to ensure that pilots have more night flying experience before undergoing Night Vision Goggle training ….”  More from mainstream media here and here.
  • A member of the so-called Toronto 18 terrorist cell who is scheduled to be released from prison this fall has renounced his right to a parole hearing. Ali Dirie exercised his right to cancel his appearance, officials with the Parole Board of Canada said Thursday. That means the board will now render a decision without hearing from Dirie, said spokeswoman Carole Menard. “The decision will be rendered on file,” she said. “At any time, it’s the right of all offenders (to renounce if) they don’t want to be seen in the time frame that we’re proposing.” Dirie was among 18 people named in 2006 for plotting to cause bloodshed and panic in Canada by bombing nuclear power plants and RCMP headquarters and attacking Parliament ….”
  • A government spy agency that’s prohibited from monitoring Canadian citizens is now using “information about Canadians” to zero in on foreign threats. The ambiguous statement, found in a new government report detailing the activities of Communications Security Establishment Canada, could sanction a range of intelligence-gathering activities – including the controversial practice of mining “metadata” from digital communications. Metadata – often called data about data – are found in e-mails and their attachments, and contain digital signatures that can reveal when, where and by whom documents were created. The collection of metadata has caused controversy in other countries, but never in Canada, where the Communications Security Establishment Canada operates as an ultra-secretive agency. About the only thing that is known about the classified practices is that they were halted and resumed after some “major changes,” including directives signed by Defence Minister Peter MacKay. “I cannot comment on specific operational activities,” Adrian Simpson, a CSEC spokesman, told The Globe. He stressed that reviews upheld that the activities in question were “carried out in accordance with the law, ministerial requirements and CSEC’s policies and procedures.” ….”
  • After training generations of Canadian submariners, a proud warrior is on her way to a new life as car parts or razor blades. HMCS Olympus, one of Canada’s four retired submarines, was floated by special barge into Hamilton Harbour Thursday morning on her way to a “ship breaking” yard on Lake Erie to be turned into scrap metal. The sub’s journey from Halifax to Hamilton and on to Port Maitland was accomplished by two Hamilton companies, McKeil Marine and Heddle Marine Services Inc. Heddle provided a floating dry dock on which the sub was loaded while McKeil provided the tugboats that pushed and pulled the warship up the St. Lawrence River and across Lake Ontario ….” News Highlights – 14 Apr 11

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  • Libya Ops – Canada has boosted the number of personnel involved in the NATO-led mission in Libya by nearly 200, the military said Wednesday. There are now 570 Canadian army and navy personnel taking part in international efforts to crack down on Libyan despot Moammar Gaddafi. That’s compared to the 380 personnel originally posted when Canada joined the mission in March. Brig.-Gen Richard Blanchette made the comments during a media briefing on the mission. He also said Canadian CF-18 fighter jets had been on 14 flights since last week, targeting a number of ammunitions depots and military bunkers in Libya ….” More in the CF Backgrounder on the operation here.
  • Is Canada’s Navy considering centralizing its HQ in Halifax? Not according to British Columbia’s Premier. More here.
  • Hesco barriers to the rescue against flooding in Manitoba. “A new technology is being used for the first time in Manitoba’s flood fight. Crews put up a Hesco Bastion along River Road in the Rural Municipality of St. Andrews, just north of Winnipeg, on Wednesday. The one-metre-square wire cages can be unfolded and quickly filled with dirt or mud. They can also be linked for a long row that can be set up far quicker than it takes to sling sandbags. The dike along River Road, more than 300 metres long, will provide protection to several homes and can be built in a day ….”
  • Lt. Vanessa Harmon wraps a scarf around her head and atop her tan battle fatigues when attending shura meetings with Afghan elders and government officials, but not because she is required to. “It makes things easier,” is the Canadian officer’s brief explanation. Head scarves have recently become a controversial subject in the U.S. military, after a request last month by Central Command that its female soldiers in Afghanistan wear hijabs, or head coverings, in order to encourage better relations with the local population by demonstrating cultural sensitivity. Many critics in the U.S. have interpreted the CENTCOM request as being tantamount to an order. Such encouragement would appear to contradict the spirit of a law passed by Congress in 2002 banning the wearing of Muslim head garb by U.S. soldiers stationed in Saudi Arabia. There is no such expectation in the Canadian military, according to Brig.- Gen. Dean Milner, who commands Task Force Kandahar. “We haven’t changed our standards. Our women are soldiers,” Milner said. The few Canadian female soldiers who wear head coverings in Afghanistan have been allowed to do so, but as a matter of choice, not because of an order or a request ….”
  • Election 2011 – It’s amazing that we’re fighting two wars during an election campaign and nobody is talking about them as issues. People might just be tired of Afghanistan. Our troops have been fighting for nine years. We’re stepping back, sort of, this year. Still, it’s not clear how many Canadians will stay in the conflict, or whether anything lasting has been accomplished. Those should be campaign issues. Libya is brand new. Canada signed on to a military mission there March 19, just before the election campaign started. That should be a big decision. As citizens, we bear responsibility for government actions. And going to war should bring the greatest responsibility ….”
  • Former CF Ombudsman goes political. “The first commander of Canadian forces in Afghanistan says the country’s current democratic system is not working and needs an overhaul of the kind now taking place in the Arab world. Retired colonel Pat Stogran is urging young Canadians to get involved in the political process and engineer change from the ground up. “Canadians are sick of our democracy,” said Stogran, who launched a strident campaign protesting government treatment of former soldiers after his contract as veterans ombudsman wasn’t renewed. “Canadians call for change at every one of the elections. Yet Canadians keep doing the same old thing. “They keep voting for one side or the other, knowing full well that after all the promises are made and the votes are cast, whoever gets in there is going to get into crisis management and go from one flavour to the next to stay in power.” Stogran said the country needs parties with long-term vision, “grassroots movements like we saw in Cairo and Tunisia and Libya.” He has signed on with the fledgling Progressive Canadian party as an adviser on veterans affairs ….”