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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 17 Sept 11

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  • Libya Mission (1)  One of the things to look out for in the next session of Parliament “…. What they’re saying: Harper promises the military will stay in the region until peace is achieved. Opposition parties have indicated they would oppose an extension. What to expect: Another extension of Canada’s military presence in the region is likely – after a symbolic parliamentary debate. No big contributions of foreign aid; the billions in unfrozen assets are seen as more than enough.”
  • Libya Mission (2)  “Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that he will travel to New York City from September 20 to 21, 2011, to participate in a High-level Meeting on Libya, as well as the Every Woman Every Child event, and a business roundtable hosted at the New York Stock Exchange …. The High-level Meeting on Libya will bring together representatives from countries and international organizations determined to help Libya rebuild and transition to a democratic society. The Conference will also include senior members of Libya’s National Transitional Council ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  What the Liberals want:  “While the future of Libya must be decided by the Libyans themselves, Canada must not miss an opportunity to play a proactive and constructive role in offering support to the Libyan people during this transitional period, Liberals say. “The U.N. backed military mission paved the way for the fall of the Qaddafi regime, which is an opportunity for Canada to help ensure human rights, democracy and the rule of law are upheld in Libya,” said Liberal Defence Critic John McKay. “Canada’s future role, including a further extension of the military mission, must be openly and transparently debated in Parliament with these goals in mind. Failure to do so will potentially negate all the hard work of the international community and the sacrifices of the Libyan people.” ….”
  • Anatomy of a Story (1)  CTV ask for and receives travel logs, so it does a story“Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walt Natynczyk has spent more than $1 million since 2008 flying on government VIP aircraft as an expensive alternative to regular commercial flights — travelling to sporting events and fundraising dinners, as well as a trip to join his family on a cruise vacation in the Caribbean. Passenger logs obtained by CTV News under the Access to Information Act show that in January 2010, Natynczyk used a CC-144 Challenger to fly to St. Maarten Island in the Caribbean to begin a vacation. He attended a repatriation ceremony a day earlier in Trenton, Ont., and missed his flight for a cruise holiday with his family ….”  Shares this tidbit in Story #1:  “…. The Challenger cost $10,104 per flying hour to operate in 2009/2010, National Defence figures show. At 9.2 hours, the return trip between the St. Maarten Island and Canada cost $92,956.80. Natynczyk is in Europe this week for a NATO meeting and was unavailable to comment. His spokesman, Lt.-Col. Norbert Cyr, defended the cost, saying in a written statement that Natynczyk “was authorized to use a Challenger aircraft to join his family, who were already sailing aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean.” The trip, Cyr says, was “not deemed to be a personal trip as the vacation delay was service-related.” ….”
  • Anatomy of a Story (2)  Globe & Mail copies CTV.ca story (without any indication of having seen the logs themselves), including this tidbit of context:  “…. In January of 2010, for instance, a repatriation ceremony at CFB Trenton caused him to miss a flight to Saint Maarten Island, in the Antilles, for a cruise with his family. So, he took a government Challenger jet to the island, CTV reported, at a cost of $92,956.80 ….”
  • Anatomy of a Story (3)  CTV.ca (and others) get PM to comment, sharing the reason why the CDS had to fly to Saint Maarten, adding this bit:  “Prime Minister Stephen Harper says government staff are expected to reimburse Ottawa for the costs of any personal travel they undertake using Crown-owned aircraft, after a CTV report revealed that a senior military leader has incurred hefty travel costs in recent years ….”  More from Globe & Mail and CBC.ca.
  • Anatomy of a Story (4)  QMI/Sun Media shares another tidbit“Prime Minister Stephen Harper says officials will look into the use of government jets after Canada’s top military man was outed for high flying ….”  More on this angle from Postmedia News.
  • Anatomy of a Story (5)  The editorial to set a tone for at least one media outlet “We’re not advocating that he take the bus, or a geriatric Sea King, but the $1 million spent since 2008 by Canada’s top general on VIP government flights, including to hockey and football games — and $200,000 to come to the Calgary Stampede in 2010 — is too rich ….”
  • Way Up North  This, from boss of Canada Command, Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw:  “In an opinion piece, Peter McKenna questions why the Canadian Forces (CF) is operating in the North and its relationship with the Canadian Coast Guard …. As the commander responsible for CF operations throughout Canada, I can assure you that the Canadian military is focusing its attention on the North for all the right reasons – to exercise sovereignty and contribute to the safety, security and defence of Canadians. Further, despite McKenna’s assertions to the contrary, the CF supports having a strong Canadian Coast Guard, which possesses the expertise necessary to operate in Canada’s icy waterways. It is only through co-operation and unity of purpose in employing our respective capabilities that we can accomplish as much as we do in Canada’s North in service to Canadians who live there ….”
  • HMCS Protecteur headed to warmer climes. “A CFB Esquimalt naval supply ship will leave home Monday morning and head south of the border to work with the U.S. Navy. HMCS Protecteur will rendezvous with HMCS Algonquin and HMCS Ottawa to take part in an annual task group exercise, which will enhance the crew’s ability to operate as a bi-national team, said Lt.-Cmdr. Nathalie Garcia, navy public affairs officer. Protecteur, which will be gone for two months, will work alongside the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group, and Algonquin and Ottawa will join the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group for the training mission in southern Californian waters ….”
  • Cleaning up CFB Greenwood’s drinking water. “Atlantic Canada’s largest air force base is upgrading its infrastructure to address water problems, but a ban on drinking the water remains in some areas, says a base spokesman. A new deepwater supply well has been drilled near the residential housing units on the east side of 14 Wing Greenwood, Lt. Sylvain Rousseau said in a news release Friday. The well will provide potable drinking water for the residences and the support area of the base. A contract has been tendered to install the pumping equipment and connect the well to the existing water distribution system. It’s expected to be completed by December. A second well will be drilled for the operations area next year. In the meantime, personnel there will have to continue drinking bottled water until the project is finished in the summer of 2013, Rousseau said ….”
  • Defence Minister Peter MacKay wraps up visit to New Zealand“…. During his time in New Zealand, Minister MacKay met his New Zealand counterpart, Minister of Defence, Dr. Wayne Mapp, Secretary of Defence, Mr. John McKinnon, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Honourable Murray McCully. They discussed, among other topics, the state of current defence operations, defence reform and procurement …. This Asia-Pacific visit provided an opportunity to deepen Canada-Australia and Canada- New Zealand bilateral ties, to discuss military operations and defence transformation, and to exchange views on regional and international matters of operational and strategic importance ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Wanted:  someone to “to collect and supply Aerial Imagery and the Light Detecting and Ranging (LiDAR) data for CFB/ASU Wainwright, Alberta”
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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 10 Sept 11

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  • Libya Mission (1)  INTERPOL wants to have a chat with Mohamar, his son and the former head of military intelligence.
  • Libya Mission (2)  Happy 18th Birthday HMCS Vancouver (even if you’re downrange).  “No cake, no singing, no champagne. Grapefruit juice was the strongest available beverage. In an atmosphere more vigilant than festive, the ship’s company marked the 18th anniversary of HMCS Vancouver’s commissioning as the frigate headed out of Agusta Bay on the east coast of Sicily for her first patrol of Operation MOBILE. Her destination: Libyan territorial waters, off the port of Misrata ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  Welcome back!  “Hugs and tears were shared on Friday at a Winnipeg air force base as 24 military men and women returned to their families from a summer assisting a NATO mission in Libya. Largely part of the Winnipeg-based 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, the Canadian Forces contingent landed at the 17 Wing base on a Hercules CC-130 plane as their family members watched on the tarmac. Six-year-old Kayden Maher held a welcome sign for his father. Master Cpl. Ryan Maher, an air frame technician, told reporters they “have no idea” how much he had missed his children during the past four months. “It’s just so nice to see them again, and be part of their lives,” Maher said, also with two-year-old daughter MacKenzie and wife Shauna ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (1)  7 Sept 11:  MILNEWS.ca tells you 9-11 is going to become a “National Day of Service.”  9 Sept 11:  PM says 9-11 is going to become a “National Day of Service”.  More on this here.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (2)  The threat level for a terror attack in Canada has not increased following information of a possible plot of a car bombing in Washington or New York on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 the RCMP says. “The RCMP has no information at this time that indicates that Canadians are more at risk than usual,” RCMP Sgt. Julie Gagnon told CBC News. Counterterrorism officials in the U.S. have been chasing a credible but unconfirmed tip that al-Qaeda has plans to set off a car bomb in New York City or Washington, with bridges or tunnels as potential targets. It was the first word of a possible “active plot” timed to coincide with commemoration of the group’s attacks in the United States a decade ago. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews backed the RCMP assessment. “In respect of Canada, I can’t point to any specific threat that might occur during this weekend but I think that all of our agencies are on full alert on a weekend like this,” Toews (said)….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (3)  “Soldiers paid price for war on terror in blood, Trauma: Each day in Afghanistan a roll of the dice”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (4)  The CF Info-Machine’s “Domestic and Continental Defence and Security Accomplishments Post 9/11”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (5)  U.S. President Barack Obama thanked Canadians on Friday for their hospitality and support in the wake of the 9-11 attacks, recalling the “comfort of friendship and extraordinary assistance” in a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “It is often said that the United States and Canada are great neighbors, trading partners and the best of friends,” Obama wrote in a letter that was delivered to the prime minister on Friday. “In one of the darkest moments in our history, Canada stood by our side and showed itself to be a true friend.” ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (6)  Even the Taliban has to make itself heard for the anniversary, suggesting we don’t REALLY know what happened during the 9/11 attacks – riiiiiiiiight…. (link to non-terrorist site)
  • Andrew (Boomer) Eykelenboom, 1982-2006, R.I.P.  “Just over five years ago, Cpl. Andrew (Boomer) Eykelenboom was killed by a suicide bomber while serving as a medic in Afghanistan. Today, more than 50 cyclists will take part in a 180-kilometre bike ride to raise money for the Boomer’s Legacy foundation. The Boomer’s Legacy Ride has been taking place annually on Vancouver Island for the last four years. Today will be the first Atlantic ride, which starts at CFB Greenwood and ends at CFB Halifax ….”
  • The Leslie Report/CF Reorg (1)  You can now download the report and read it yourself here (PDF at CF page) or here (PDF at alternate download site)
  • The Leslie Report/CF Reorg (2)  What the Minister of National Defence has to say about the report:  “…. our government will be taking a close look at spending right across government to identify the savings needed to eliminate the deficit: this includes the Department of National Defence …. This report will inform our approach to the Government’s Deficit Reduction Action Plan, the results of which will be presented in Budget 2012. At all times, support for our frontline troops will be our priority ….”  More on this here (Postmedia News) and here (QMI/Sun Media).
  • The Leslie Report/CF Reorg (3)  What the Chief of Defence Staff has to say about the report (via Army.ca – PDF downloadable here if link doesn’t work):  “…. The fiscal and operational environment in which the recommendations must be assessed and implemented has become even more complex. As well, while the report was being prepared, new budgetary reduction targets were announced as part of the government s deficit reduction action plan. Taken together, this creates a difficult backdrop for interpreting the potential advantages and drawbacks of recommendations made in the transformation report …. A concerted analysis has been underway since the transformation report was submitted, involving both CF and DND personnel. The goal of this effort has been to determine which elements of transformation are already being implemented through the Strategic Review, which options merit implementation in concert with the deficit reduction action plan, and which options have second and third-order consequences that require additional study. This level of analysis takes time, but only when it is complete will it be possible to decide and communicate which parts of the transformation report should be implemented right away, which must be phased in over the medium term, and which will be deferred ….” 
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Could Mark Collins be a touch skeptical re:  the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard getting new ships anytime soon?
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Remember the new JPSU building for CFB Petawawa (bullet 9) (map and floorplan downloadable here via Army.ca) ?  Here’s the Ottawa Citizen’s update“A new building to house military staff who work in a unit that provides help for ill and injured military personnel and their families is to be built at CFB Petawawa. The building is to replace a trailer currently used for staff members of the regional element of the Joint Personnel Support Unit for Eastern Ontario, according to a military spokesman. It’s expected that six staff members will work in the new building, although there will be space for a few others. Defence Construction Canada, a Crown corporation responsible for Department of National Defence construction, has issued a $1.3-million tender for the one-storey building to be built. The start and end dates of the construction are unknown, but the contract is to be awarded within the next three months ….”
  • The Canadian Forces have confirmed a body was found on the grounds at Canadian Forces Base Borden, Thursday morning. The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is investigating, but details regarding the cause of death, gender or identity have not been released. “They are investigating the discovery of a body on the grounds,” Canadian Forces Capt. Karina Holder said. “We never speculate on timing or when an investigation may or may not be completed.” “
  • The Canada Army Run is proving to be a big hit with runners. The Sept. 18 event in Ottawa has already attracted more than 16,000 participants and is sold out. The event is the fastest-growing run in Canada and the second-largest running event in Ottawa after Ottawa Race Weekend. It started four years ago with 7,000 participants. The Canada Army Run has five-kilometre and half-marathon events and raises money for Soldier On and the Military Families Fund ….”  More info on the run at the Army Run website here.
  • A bit of mechanical Canadian military history being honoured this weekend.  “During the final months of the Second World War, as Allied armies waged a brutal campaign to liberate Europe, a rough-hewn band of Canadian soldiers revolutionized ground warfare with an unusual new technology.  They were called the 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment, assembled to drive Kangaroos, tanks modified to carry troops. The unit laid the groundwork for the tactics of today’s light armoured vehicles, protecting soldiers from gunfire while they travelled to enemy lines, but was swiftly dissolved at war’s end and its history was largely forgotten …. In a ceremony this weekend, the regiment will get some overdue credit. After decades of obscurity, veterans alerted the Department of National Defence that they wanted formal recognition of the unit, and found a serving regiment to take up the Kangaroos’ battle honours, ensuring its story will be perpetuated …. At a ceremony in St. Thomas, Ont., on Saturday, the (31 Combat Engineer Regiment, also known as the) Elgins will accept a standard listing the Kangaroos’ honours to hang in their armoury. A Kangaroo bought by the Canadian War Museum – one of only a handful that still exist – will be paraded in the streets ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 8 Jul 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Mar 11

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