What the Minister is quoted saying 4-5 days ago: “Canada is watching violence in Syria but stepping in would require more thought and possibly a UN resolution, Defence Minister Peter MacKay says. MacKay spoke about Syria hours before meeting with Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak to talk about regional security and a series of agreements on defence cooperation between Canada and Israel. As France pulls its ambassador from Damascus, Syria’s capital, and the country’s suspension from the Arab League takes effect, MacKay says any possible military action needs “further contemplation” and possibly a UN Security Council resolution “to mirror the path that we followed with respect to Libya.” “There’s a number of things that would have to happen. It is a much more complex situation in many ways, given the circumstances on the ground in Syria,” MacKay said Wednesday morning. “But I can assure you in our capital and in capitals around the world, NATO countries are discussing what is happening in Syria.” ….”
Brian Good, 1965-2009, R.I.P.“Sandra Good wants to be able to visit a cenotaph in the city to remember her late husband, a fallen soldier. But there is no memorial in Ottawa honouring Trooper Brian Good, who was killed by a roadside bomb outside Kandahar City on Jan. 7, 2009. Good, a member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, serving with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment stationed at CFB Petawawa, was 43. “It would be quite powerful to see that (cenotaph) in person. For the girls, too,” said Sandra Good, referring to daughters Jessica, 17, and Kayla, 16. “That would be great to have it here. We have friends and family who would like to see it.” ….”
Cuts at Veterans Affairs Canada (2) Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Eve Adams: no benefit cuts are in the works. “The minister could not have been clearer in answering the question about whether or not veterans’ benefits would be cut. The expert witnesses we heard today at committee could not have been clearer on whether or not veterans’ benefits would be cut. So I will add my voice to answer the question for the member for Charlottetown and let me say it very simply and very clearly. There will be no cuts to veterans’ benefits.”
Highway of Heroes coin to be unveiled soon by the Royal Canadian Mint. “Since the start of the Afghanistan war, thousands of Canadians have stood on bridges and lined streets to watch motorcades head west on the Highway of Heroes. The motorcades include hearses carrying the remains of Canada’s war dead. Family members ride in other vehicles. To commemorate those ultimate sacrifices and the groundswell of public tribute, the Royal Canadian Mint has struck a commemorative coin. The mint will unveil the Highways of Heroes silver commemorative coin at a ceremony Monday at Quinte West City Hall in Trenton. The coin was the brainchild of QMI Agency visual journalist Pete Fisher. He’s also the author of the recently released book Highway of Heroes, True Patriot Love ….”
“A Canadian war amputee and Canucks legend Richard Brodeur will come together …. to announce the Heroes Hockey Challenge, a national charity benefiting wounded soldiers and their families. “Remember that these families weren’t drafted into this. These individuals chose to go into it, but it’s much more difficult for their families,” said Master Cpl. Paul Franklin, a double amputee. In January 2006, a convoy Franklin was riding in was hit by a suicide bomber in Kandahar, Afghanistan, severing his left leg. He later underwent 26 surgeries before his right leg was also amputated …. The charity will see galas and charity hockey games in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and Halifax in the early new year. The events will feature auctions, celebrity guests, NHL stars and live entertainment. The games, taking place in each city’s official NHL arena, will pit former NHL greats against Canadian soldiers ….” More on the Heroes Hockey Challenge here (Facebook) and here.
F-35 Tug o’ War (2) Defence Minister takes softball question in the House of Commons on the Joint Strike Fighter. “Ms. Joyce Bateman (Winnipeg South Centre, CPC): Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government has made unprecedented investments in Canada’s armed forces. Our commitment to rebuilding their capacity, after a decade or darkness, is ensuring that our brave men and women have the tools they need. The work to supply this equipment is also providing an incredible boost to the Canadian economy. Could the Minister of National Defence please inform the House of recent developments on the economic benefits of the F-35 program? Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, my friend from Winnipeg is right. Our government has committed to provide the air force with the F-35 and has enabled Canadian companies to compete for large-scale contracts to help build the aircraft for the global supply chain. Today, Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg celebrated the opening of its new advanced composites manufacturing centre, which will house the production lines for parts as well as the assembly of the horizontal tail structure for the F-35. This work at Bristol, we are told, will create 100 new jobs. Our government is proud to stand with Canadians and for the Canadian economy and the Canadian Forces. We wish the opposition would stop fearmongering and support— “
Big Honkin’ Ships Globe & Mail column:“…. the shipbuilding contract broke with a long Canadian tradition, produced a rational, fact-based decision, bullet-proofed the government from any charge of political interference, and gives Canada a chance to build a more streamlined and efficient industry. Hats off to the Harper government.”
If the socialists aren’t happy with the big honkin’ ships and the F-35’s, they MUST be good! “…. The expenditures fit with Canada’s increasingly aggressive military posture in the world. From its combat roles in Afghanistan and Libya to its police/military occupation role in Haiti, Canada is joining the front ranks of imperialist countries that are increasingly turning to military force to advance their economic interests and maintain the unequal and unfair international status quo ….”
The Canadian Forces apparently beat out CBC in Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa. “The Conservative government’s overhaul of the 2011 Canada Day celebrations, which included scrapping plans to honour the CBC’s 75th anniversary, drew ire from the opposition Tuesday. As reported by iPolitics Tuesday morning, Conservative officials drastically changed what the Canadian Heritage department had in mind for the Canada Day show on Parliament Hill. A suggestion to celebrate the CBC was rebuffed, and a renewed emphasis was placed on the Canadian Armed Forces ….” This, from Heritage Minister James Moore during Question Period yesterday: “I think my colleague is talking about my speech on Canada Day last year, which I wrote myself. Instead of celebrating the CBC, which the member is free to do as he wants, what I chose to say instead in my speech was, “On this Canada Day…to those men and women of the Canadian Forces serving in Afghanistan, in Libya, and other difficult places in the world: to put it simply, you are the bravest and the best, we are proud of your service, and we are honoured by the work that you do for Canada”. That is what I said instead of praising the CBC. I had two minutes, and I stand by my decision.”
“George W. Bush’s visit to Surrey, B.C., on Thursday was met with a protest and an unsuccessful courtroom bid to have him detained for torture during his presidency. Roughly 200 demonstrators chanted for his detainment, many waving their shoes in the air, in reference to a 2008 incident at Baghdad press conference, when Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi hurled a sneaker at the former president …. As Bush arrived …. the Canadian Centre for International Justice filed a private prosecution in a Surrey provincial court to have him arrested. Made on behalf of four plaintiffs the unsuccessful attempt joined calls by Amnesty International, as well as a 4,000-page legal submission to Canada’s Attorney General …. He and other members of his administration insist their measures were both legal under international law, and necessary to prevent terrorism after September 11, 2001. In one exchange with demonstrators yesterday, one RCMP officer guarding the Surrey Regional Economic Forum — where Bush was to speak alongside another former U.S. president, Bill Clinton — said the former president could not be arrested because he is an “internationally protected person.” ….”
Honkin’ Big Ship (HBS) contracts awarded:“…. The combat package includes the Royal Canadian Navy’s Arctic Offshore Patrol ships and the Canadian Surface Combatants ships. The non-combat package includes the Navy’s joint support ships, the Canadian Coast Guard’s off-shore science vessels and the new polar icebreaker. Small ship construction (116 vessels), an estimated value of $2 billion, will be set aside for competitive procurement amongst Canadian shipyards other than the yards selected to build large vessels. Regular maintenance and repair, valued at $500 million annually, will be open to all shipyards through normal procurement processes. Irving Shipbuilding Inc. has been selected to build the combat vessel work package (21 vessels), and Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd. has been selected to build the non-combat vessel work package (7 vessels). The total value of both packages is $33 billion and will span 20 to 30 years ….” More in the government backgrounder here.
HBS editorial from the National Post:“…. The Tories are to be congratulated for devising a tamper-proof, corruption-free, unbiased system for awarding such large contracts. We realize that they originally built this process in large part as a means to cover themselves from the political fallout of hard, unpopular contracting decisions. Nevertheless, they are to be congratulated for sticking with it to the end, despite the potentially controversial result in this case ….”
A more “glass is half empty” HBS opinion. “The denouement of the great multi-billion-dollar shipbuilding bonanza has left almost everyone popping Champagne corks —except perhaps Quebec, and the poor, bloody taxpayer who will end up footing the bill for the inevitable cost overruns and delays that will result from the government’s made-in-Canada national strategy ….”
More HBS commentary: “…. It’s almost a no-win situation for the government. Still, the only way to prevent this from becoming the Harper government’s CF-18 moment is for them to hew scrupulously to their technocratic bid process.”
More HBS analysis: “…. Despite efforts taken to eliminate appearances of partisan interference, it continues to swirl around the billions of dollars in contracts. “Whatever the outcome, the decision is likely to unleash a firestorm,” said Christian Leuprecht from the Queen’s University Centre for International and Defence Policy. “There are no obvious pork-barrel political choices here,” he said, noting the ridings around the Halifax shipyard are all NDP, as are those around the Vancouver shipyard — although some of the neighbouring ridings went Conservative — and around the Davie Shipyard in Quebec City. “If you’re trying to prop up Canada’s industrial heartland, Ontario and Quebec, which has been hurting pretty bad economically and where the Conservatives would be likely to get the most political bang for their buck in terms of votes, the core bid would go to the Davie shipyard.” ….”
“Canadian federal officials will participate in an annual crisis management exercise organized by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from October 19 to 26, 2011. Canada’s part in the international exercise will be played from government offices in Ottawa and linked to Canada’s NATO delegation. Crisis Management Exercise 2011 (CMX 11) provides an international forum to test, evaluate and improve coordination, intelligence and information sharing amongst federal departments and agencies with NATO Allies. It will ensure that we work effectively with our international partners to respond to emergencies in Canada or abroad. …. This exercise will involve civilian and military officials from all 28 NATO member nations, NATO Headquarters and NATO Strategic Commands, as well as participants from Sweden and Finland. Lessons learned from the exercise will enhance Canada’s ability to work together with Allies to confront threats of all kinds ….”
Stuart Landridge, R.I.P. (1) “A public hearing into the suicide of Edmonton-based soldier Cpl. Stuart Langridge will start in Ottawa on Feb. 27. Langridge hanged himself in March 2008 following several earlier suicide attempts. The young soldier suffered from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and struggled with substance abuse after he returned from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2005. The Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) announced last month that a hearing would be held. The date was set on Wednesday. The hearing comes after Langridge’s parents filed a formal complaint with the commission. Sheila and Shaun Fynes allege the probe conducted by the Canadian Forces National Investigations Service was not impartial or independent, and aimed to absolve the military of any responsibility for their son’s death ….”
Ooopsie….“Some Canadian soldiers are feeling a little unappreciated after home improvement retail giant Lowe’s announced it would pull its discount program it said was offered by mistake – the discount program was only intended for U.S. military members. The U.S.-based company had offered the 10% discount since 2008 to members of the Canadian Armed Forces at four stores – two in Ottawa, one in Kingston, Ont., and one in Belleville, near CFB Trenton. The company said the program was never intended for Canada and just recently realized its error. “I’m not able to get into the specifics of our (Lowe’s) systems and processes, but it (the discount) was a combination of misunderstanding and miscommunication that unfortunately went undetected until now,” Joanne Elson, corporate communications manager with Lowe’s Canada, said Wednesday ….”
More back and forth in the House of Commons on east coast search and rescue.“Mr. Ryan Cleary (St. John’s South—Mount Pearl, NDP): Mr. Speaker, Canada has one of the worst search and rescue response times in the world. A recent incident off Bell Island, Newfoundland showed just how bad it was. After emergency flares were fired in the area, the Coast Guard called in a provincial ferry, full of passengers, to help the search and rescue effort. It then took the Canadian Coast Guard vessel over three hours to arrive on the scene. This is not about a limo service from a fishing lodge; this is about human lives. How long would the minister be prepared to wait in icy water before being rescued? Hon. Keith Ashfield (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows full well that the search and rescue system is made up of a network of potential responders that includes the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard auxiliary, the Canadian Forces and any vessel of opportunity. Any vessel within the vicinity of a search and rescue call can be asked to assist. When the flares are discharged, the CCG will treat it as a matter of distress. If the member would like to be constructive, he would help us to take this message back to the public so that lives are not put at unnecessary risk.”
Tory MP Tilly O’Neill Gordon (Miramichi) salutes women in the CF in the House of Commons. “October is Women’s History Month in Canada. This year’s theme, Women in Canadian Military Forces: A Proud Legacy, highlights the important contributions of women to the Canadian military forces throughout Canada’s history. It is an ideal time to learn about the work of outstanding women who serve and protect Canada and Canadians through key roles in the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Women such as Elizabeth Gregory MacGill, the first woman aircraft designer in the world, Josée Kurtz, the first woman to command a warship, and Marie Louise Fish, the first woman to serve as a naval officer at sea, are inspiring leaders. Their milestone achievements helped pave the way for women in the Canadian military. On behalf of all Canadians, we thank them for being an important part of our national military history.”
A Conservative MP presents a nuclear disarmament petition in the House. “Canadians are well aware of the destructive power of nuclear weapons, a power that the world’s worst dictators and terrorists are trying to acquire. I would like to present to the House a petition from the Oakville chapter of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The petition is signed by 330 residents of Oakville. The petitioners ask the government to commit to the motion passed by the House on December 7, 2010, regarding the global disarmament of nuclear weapons. I am happy to present this petition for a response from our government.” The text of the December 2010 motion: “By unanimous consent, it was resolved, — That the House of Commons: (a) recognize the danger posed by the proliferation of nuclear materials and technology to peace and security; (b) endorse the statement, signed by 500 members, officers and companions of the Order of Canada, underlining the importance of addressing the challenge of more intense nuclear proliferation and the progress of and opportunity for nuclear disarmament; (c) endorse the 2008 five-point plan for nuclear disarmament of Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and encourage the Government of Canada to engage in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention as proposed by the United Nations Secretary-General; (d) support the initiatives for nuclear disarmament of President Obama of the United States of America; and (e) commend the decision of the Government of Canada to participate in the landmark Nuclear Security Summit and encourage the Government of Canada to deploy a major world-wide Canadian diplomatic initiative in support of preventing nuclear proliferation and increasing the rate of nuclear disarmament.”
Letter to the editor: let’s not forget the Aboriginal contribution to the War of 1812. “Canadians are unaware of the full import of the role of First Nations and the pivotal role the War of 1812 played in the history of Canada’s treatment of aboriginal peoples. Many historians believe that Britain would have lost the war without the aboriginal military strength. Canada’s very existence depended on First Nations co-operation …. Native leaders like Tecumseh hoped for an alliance with Britain to help prevent the elimination of First Nations at the hands of the U.S. The British proclamation of 1763 had meant recognition and accommodation of aboriginal peoples by Britain. First Nations were military allies against the Americans ….”
Former military doctor disses available mental health support at CFB Petawawa when he was there. “…. Although I can’t speak to the entire military, I worked for at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa as a military physician from 2007-10 and can attest that the resources for mental health care on that base and the capacity of the medical system in Petawawa to handle mental illness are abysmal at best. There is a massive shortage of mental health workers and psychiatrists, as well as a total disconnect between the primary care physicians and the mental health care team ….”
What’s Canada Buying? More robot control work: “…. Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) – Suffield, Medicine Hat, Alberta has a requirement to develop control algorithms for the Micro Hydraulic Toolkit (MHT) robot that will allow it to perform a variety of locomotion behaviours focusing on stability and performance. These control algorithms will be developed in simulation, under different terrain surfaces and tested on the real robot. The motion of the simulated robot and real robot will be compared to refine the model and provide quantitative data. Finally, the control behaviours will be integrated with a vision based leader/follower software and man machine interface ….” A bit more detail in the Statement of Work from the bid document (7 page PDF) here.
F-35 Tug o’ War Quakers take a stand. “The Kitchener Area Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) believes that public policy, as well as the lives of individuals, should aim to take away the occasion for war. Therefore, we oppose the Canadian government’s proposed purchase of 65 F-35 joint-strike fighter jets. The procurement of joint-strike aircraft not only fails to reduce the possibility of armed conflict, it ties Canadian policy to future military intervention overseas, without public discussion of the ramifications of this major shift in Canada’s role in world affairs ….”
“The Harper Government today launched the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. This War helped establish our path toward becoming an independent and free country, united under the Crown with a respect for linguistic and ethnic diversity …. Over the next four years, the Government will invest to increase Canadians’ awareness of this defining moment in our history. This will include support for: a pan-Canadian educational campaign focused on the importance of the War of 1812 to Canada’s history; support for up to 100 historical re-enactments, commemorations, and local events; a permanent 1812 memorial located in the National Capital Region; interactive tours, six exhibits, and improvements to three national historic sites across the country; investments in infrastructure at key 1812 battle sites, such as Fort Mississauga and Fort York, Ontario; celebrating and honouring the links that many of our current militia regiments in Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada have to the War of 1812. October 2012 will also be designated as a month of commemoration of the heroes and key battles of the War of 1812 ….” More on this here, here, here, here and here.
Afghanistan (1) “Canada’s spy agency has been cleared of wrongdoing in connection with the abuse of Afghan detainees. But the Security Intelligence Review Committee raised two issues for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to consider in future overseas operations — even though CSIS operations on foreign soil are limited by law. The spy watchdog chided CSIS for not keeping adequate records and cautioned it to “assess and qualify with care and consistency” the intelligence it receives from agencies that may be party to human rights abuses. It also recommended that if CSIS continues to operate abroad, its standards of accountability and professionalism should live up to those on Canadian soil ….” Since The Canadian Press isn’t sharing the report, here it is at the Security Intelligence Review Committee’s web page (21 pages of redacted PDF) – here, also, is the news release announcing the findings. Also, more from Postmedia News and the Globe & Mail here and here.
Afghanistan (2a) Finally, a bit of news (albeit sounding a bit like a briefing note) from the CF Info-Machine on the training mission under way in Afghanistan! “Captain (Navy) Haydn Edmundson arrived here on 18 July 2011 as part of the initial rotation of the Canadian Contribution Training Mission–Afghanistan (CCTM-A), the task force deployed on Operation ATTENTION to serve with the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A). As Chief of Staff to the Deputy Commanding General–Police (DCOM-Police) at NTMA Headquarters, Capt(N) Edmundson has a prominent role in the training and development of the Afghan National Police (ANP) ….”
Afghanistan (2b) More from the CF Info-Machine on the training mission: “On 23 August 2011, Colonel Peter Dawe, the deputy commander of the Canadian Contribution Training Mission – Afghanistan (CCTM-A) paid a visit to Camp Souter to meet the small but vital team that lives and works there, and tour their facility. Camp Souter is a British support base conveniently situated near Kabul International Airport. The Canadians assigned there work diligently behind the scenes to meet the support requirements of CCTM-A, the large and growing mission deployed with the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A) under Operation ATTENTION. NTM-A is the international effort to help the Afghan national security forces prepare for the transition to full responsibility for security throughout Afghanistan in 2014 ….”
Afghanistan (3) “The Royal Canadian Legion says it will have to debate whether it supports adding Afghanistan to the National War Memorial. Spokesman Bob Butt says it is a matter for the various Legion commands to decide and the subject has yet to be discussed among the organization’s 340,000 active members. A proposal circulated around National Defence last year called for the word Afghanistan and the dates 2001-2011 to be added to the memorial that sits in the shadow of Parliament Hill. The $2.1 million dollar plan included the addition of an eternal flame and a national commemoration ceremony. But a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay says it would be inappropriate to commemorate Afghanistan right now because soldiers are still there on a training mission. Butt initially indicated the Legion favoured revamping the memorial, however he says the matter is best debated among the members when the federal government has a specific proposal ….”
What’s Canada Buying? (1) “Defence Minister Peter MacKay was warned the manufacturer of the air force’s new maritime helicopters might be tempted to cut corners in the rush to get the long-delayed program back on track, say internal documents. “The remaining elements for the interim (maritime helicopter) delivery are all safety related and it is crucial that DND remain diligent to ensure Sikorsky does not take inappropriate risks to keep schedule,” said a Nov. 23 briefing note. The advice came soon after a scathing report by the auditor general, who’d singled out the CH-148 Cyclone program for delays and cost overruns. Less than three weeks after Sheila Fraser’s assessment, U.S. helicopter giant Sikorsky advised the federal government it wouldn’t meet a Nov. 30, 2010, deadline to land the first helicopter for “limited training and operational testing.” Officials vented their frustration in the note, portions of which were underlined for emphasis. It urged both politicians and defence officials to take a deep breath and not get involved in any further debate — or request changes. “It is also paramount that DND not interfere or influence the conduct of activities, as this would provide Sikorsky rationale for excusable delay.” Ottawa’s $5.7-billion plan to buy 28 new helicopters to replace the geriatric Sea Kings, which fly off the decks of warships, have been hit with repeated delays ….” The Canadian Press doesn’t appear to be sharing this briefing note with the public, who may want to see more of the bigger picture of the document.
Canadian Rangers got a chance to share their stories at the CNE in Toronto. “Six Canadian Rangers from northern Ontario told thousands of visitors to a military display at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto what Canadian Rangers do across Canada’s North. “I’ve never talked to so many people in my life,” said Master Cpl. Bill Morris from Kingfisher Lake, which has a population of 420. “People asked us who the Rangers are and what we do. They were pretty amazed when we told them.” The Ranger exhibit, centred around a traditional tipi, helped attract visitors to a large display of military equipment showcasing the army, navy and air force. The display attracted about one million people to it during the 17 days of the CNE, the biggest fair of its kind in Canada ….”
“Canada’s most decorated military hero, the First World War flying ace William Barker, will be honoured next week in Toronto with a gravesite monument aimed at reviving knowledge of his unmatched exploits above Europe’s battlefields nearly a century ago. Barker, a Manitoba farmboy who went on to be awarded the Victoria Cross, three Military Crosses and a host of other medals for his wartime feats, was credited with destroying 50 enemy aircraft in just the last two years of the 1914-18 war. He later became the founding director of the Royal Canadian Air Force – a designation recently restored to the aviation branch of Canada’s military – before dying tragically, at age 35, in a 1930 crash on the frozen Ottawa River while demonstrating a new aircraft in Canada’s capital ….”
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 (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)….”
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 yourselfhere (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? (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 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 ….”
Taliban Propaganda Watch New statement (link to non-terrorist web site): child suicide bombers? What child suicide bombers? We have rules against that kinda stuff, ya know…. Meanwhile, here’s what Human Rights Watch has to say about using kids to blow themselves up: “The Taliban’s use of children as suicide bombers is not only sickening, but it makes a mockery of Mullah Omar’s claim to protect children and civilians. Any political movement or army that manipulates or coerces children into becoming human bombs has lost touch with basic humanity.”
Libya Mission Sun Media columnist says time to go home, not extend mission. “…. Do Canadians really need to be mixed up in another protracted foreign military effort with an uncertain outcome? We may be headed into another recession. The federal government should keep its powder dry and focus now on the home front.”
9/11 Plus Ten (1) “Canada is better positioned today to thwart a terrorist attack than before 9-11, but remains vulnerable to ever-evolving threats to national security — especially those targeted from within the country, says Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. Billions invested in beefed-up security measures, more information-sharing with allies and tighter controls on the movement of passengers, cargo and vehicles since Sept. 11, 2001, have all helped detect threats before they become too far advanced. But Canada must keep “alert” to new sources of danger — including home-grown terrorists and cyber-attackers. “Relatively speaking, we’re in a better position. I think back in 2001 we had no idea about the possibilities and types of threats,” Toews told iPolitics. “I think we’ve become much more sophisticated in recognizing potential threats than we were able to 10 years ago, so in that sense we’re in better shape. We’re also in better shape because we share information with our allies on a more regular and consistent basis.” ….”
9/11 Plus Ten (2) “…. The consequences of 9/11 are a bit like the tip of an iceberg. What you see is less important than what lies below the surface. The most visible reminder of 9/11 is the inconvenience travellers face crossing the border …. The other major legacy of 9/11 is the resuscitation of hard power in Canada’s foreign policy …. That horrible day 10 years ago is a lasting reminder that Canada needs both hard and soft power to advance its interests in the world.”
9/11 Plus Ten (3) EU, NATO: World is safer post-9/11. “…. A decade after Al-Qaeda traumatised the United States, the terror network has lost its leader, Osama bin Laden, and proved irrelevant in the revolutions sweeping the Arab world, said EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove. “The main finding is the real failure of the Al-Qaeda project,” he said. The once mighty group has been worn down by the NATO-led war in Afghanistan, which served as its safe haven prior to 9/11, and reinforced international cooperation, de Kerchove said. “Today an attack of the scale and sophistication of 9/11 is no longer possible,” he told a news conference. “Does it mean that we’re completely out of the threat? Probably not.” He added: “Are we safer today than before? I can say yes.” ….”
What’s Canada Buying? (1) Wanted: someone to plan and develop the next CF recruiting media campaign. This from the bid document’s Statement of Work (PDF available here): “…. the focus of advertising messaging will shift with the evolving focus of Canada’s military. Ongoing recruitment continues to be the priority and the emphasis will change to accurately reflect the reality of life in the CF. As Fight portrays the CF with a combat focus, and Priority Occupations promotes specific careers, future advertisement campaigns propose to showcase the CF’s readiness and proficiency in humanitarian efforts and domestic defence and support. The readiness message should demonstrate that CF personnel are trained and the right equipment and necessary infrastructure are available when and where it is needed ….” Check out the Statement of Work for suggested key messages and target audiences.
What’s Canada Buying? (2) Jobs for east coast folks from one of the wanna-be TAPV competitors?“A Dieppe company could be adding at least 120 new jobs to its roster if the Canadian government picks the Timberwolf as the newest tactical armoured patrol vehicle for the Canadian Forces. A prototype of the Timberwolf, a tactical armoured patrol vehicle designed specifically for the Canadian Forces, is seen in action. Dieppe’s Malley Industries Inc. will be the vehicle’s manufacturer if the design is selected. Specialty vehicle manufacturer Malley Industries Inc. will announce Tuesday that it has penned a deal with Force Protection Industries Inc., a leading United States designer and developer of military tactical vehicles. Malley Industries now joins a team of companies to potentially manufacture the Timberwolf – a tactical armoured patrol vehicle designed specifically for the Canadian Forces. There are at least three other teams vying for their vehicles to be picked. The government has until next July to choose a design. Up to 600 vehicles could be purchased ….”
What’s Canada Selling? “CAE today announced that it has been awarded a series of military contracts valued at more than C$100 million, including a subcontract to design and manufacture four additional C-130J simulators for the United States Air Force (USAF) as well as contracts in Germany to provide support services for the German Air Force’s Eurofighter simulators and to upgrade Tornado flight simulators …. Under terms of a subcontract from the prime contractor, CAE will design and manufacture four C-130J weapon systems trainers (WSTs) to support the USAF’s Air Mobility Command (AMC), Air Combat Command (ACC), and Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). Three of the simulators will be HC/MC-130J WSTs for ACC and AFSOC, and one will be a C-130J simulator for AMC ….”
Libya Mission (2) “Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the work of Canadian forces in Libya has given the country new hope. He says Canada punched above its weight in the international military effort to oust Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. And he says NATO’s success proves soldiers, not diplomacy, were the only way to end his bloody regime. “For the Gadhafis of this world pay no attention to the force of argument,” he told around 100 soldiers gathered at the NATO military base in southern Italy. “The only thing they get is the argument of force itself. And that you have delivered in a cause that is good and right.” But Mr. Harper told the troops the fighting isn’t over yet ….”
Libya Mission (3) QMI/Sun Media columnist: “Enough. Bring them home. For the most part, Canadians have accepted the rationale for our military’s involvement in the Libyan civil war, now apparently winding down. We know that, as NATO partners, we must stand alongside our allies when the shooting starts. We’ve done that for nearly a decade in Afghanistan. Moammar Gadhafi was a madman and one of the most cruel tyrants in a part of the world known for producing them. His role in the Lockerbie bombing alone justifies Canada’s active participation in his ouster. To date, that participation has included 650 Canadian forces personnel, a flight of CF-18 fighters, refueling planes, surveillance craft and a ship. At last count, Canada has dropped 550 bombs in the Libyan campaign. We’re proud of our pilots and their support crews. We’re proud of our sailors. We applaud the work they’ve done in bringing, we hope, democracy to Libya. We’re happy that Gadhafi is no longer running Libya. Now bring them home ….”
Afghanistan “Canada’s last air wing commander at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan says the Royal Canadian Air Force is well positioned for future missions abroad. Col. Al Meinzinger told Postmedia News his time in Afghanistan, in one of the country’s busiest airbases, showed him the versatility and professionalism of the air force. “The air force is positioned very well based on its most recent experiences to be employed in whatever area the government seeks to use us,” Meinzinger said. “I think the future is exceptionally bright for the RCAF.” Meinzinger said Afghanistan was “the most challenging and difficult (operation) that one would find on the planet.” High temperatures and an abundance of dust added to the pressures of operating within a combat zone. “As I look to the future, I see us as being capable of being deployed in the full gamut of campaigns,” Meinzinger said. “I think it’s that expeditionary mindset that is the legacy of Afghanistan. We’ve proven we can operate under a very austere, difficult, harsh environment.” ….”
9/11 Plus Ten (1) One Canadian aid worker’s view of Afghanistan, tying in with the coming anniversary of 9/11: “…. When the international community gave up on Afghanistan after a feeble effort at a peace process, during the civil war of the 1990s led by the mujahedeen who decided to eat their own, a bloodbath ensued, followed by the Taliban, followed by bin Laden, al- Qaida, and the atrocities of 9/11. It’s not long enough ago to warrant forgetting. There are lessons there that we need now, desperately. We ignore that history at our peril, and to leave Afghanistan in disarray is to dishonour those lost 10 years ago in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.”
Thunder Bay-Superior North NDP MP Bruce Hyer was one of a number of MPs flying (a bit) with the RC Air Force.“…. “It’s a real honour – and a real eye-opener – to be training here at 8 Wing Trenton with the Royal Canadian Air Force,” said Hyer on his third day of training. “As a former bush pilot, I was especially eager to have the opportunity to go up in some of the aircraft, and learn from the flight crews.” Hyer flew in a CH-146 Griffon helicopter, a CC-177 Globemaster, and piloted a CC-130 Hercules heavy transport in simulator. But the training wasn’t all about flying aircraft. “Seeing the base and touring air traffic control really showed the top shape our Canadian Forces personnel keep their facilities and equipment in,” noted Hyer. “But it was meeting and talking with those personnel that was the really valuable part of the experience. The professionalism and dedication of our personnel is immediately evident, including the ground crews and support personnel.” ….”
Border Security Toronto Star editorial:“…. Ottawa is quite right to work with Washington to ease U.S. security fears and see that our vital cross-border trade continues to flourish. But there is a natural Canadian suspicion of getting too cozy with the Americans that could lead to knee-jerk rejection of any deal. The best way to address that is to share as much information about these talks, as quickly as possible.”
Libya Mission (1) Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is leaving open the possibility of continuing Canadian military involvement in Libya after the scheduled Sept. 27 end date. Canada’s participation in NATO’s air mission over Libya has been extended once, but the government hasn’t yet said whether it will propose another extension. The NDP, the official Opposition, is against another extension. Asked what happens after Sept. 27, Baird said he’s taking the situation one day at a time. “This is quickly coming to an end. It’s not over yet. Canada will obviously be there in theatre to support the Libyan people,” Baird told (CBC) …. “The end is in sight. We’re not there yet, but let’s take it one day at a time,” he said. Pressed again on whether the troops will return to Canada on Sept. 27, Baird reiterated “the job is not yet complete.” “I would think that once the people of Libya are safe, that’ll be something that we’ll consider,” he said ….” More on this here.
Libya Mission (2) “Canada is heading into high-level talks on Libya this week without formal offers of assistance for the country as it rebuilds after a bloody uprising. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief spokesman says the intent of the meeting in Paris is to determine what the rebels’ National Transitional Council needs. Dimitri Soudas says Canada can contribute in several ways but the international community first needs to co-ordinate assistance. “Before you just start putting things into force and implementing them, you actually have to make sure everyone is going the same direction,” he said in a briefing Tuesday. Mr. Soudas said Thursday’s meeting is also not a victory lap for NATO forces, even as military officials say their sustained campaign is seeing life slowly return to normal in many areas. “The definition of victory is always something that people try to establish,” he said. “Victory to a large extent is democracy in Libya.” ….” If the Government of Canada really means that bit in red, we may be there a while….
Libya Mission (3) Academic: Canada should have own eyes, ears on the ground, not just sharing intelligence from NATO partners. “…. When asked where Canada is getting its information, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, referenced the NATO-led mission in which Canadian fighter aircraft and a navy frigate have been participating since March. “Don’t forget this is a co-ordinated effort,” he said, “and information is shared internally.” Walter Dorn, a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., said he was surprised to hear that Canada doesn’t have anyone on the ground in Libya given the importance the government has attached to the mission, both militarily and politically. “It is critical to have Canadian eyes and ears on the ground in order to make informed decisions,” he said. “We have to evaluate those in charge, provide humanitarian assistance and help build the peace.” ….”
Libya Mission (4) “Canada is looking at how to “unfreeze” up to $2 billion in frozen Libyan assets for re-construction efforts in Libya, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman Dimitri Soudas. The assets were frozen in February following a United Nations sanctions resolution and now Ottawa, following the lead of the United States, is trying to determine whether the money can be released and channelled toward “humanitarian and other needs” to help establish a transition to a democratic government in Libya. Ottawa is “looking at options at how to proceed to unfreeze those assets and for them to be put towards that use,” said Soudas ….”
Libya Mission (5) And for all those calling for a U.N. mission in Libya, this, from the rebels. “Libya is rejecting the idea of deploying United Nations military personnel to help stabilize the country. A 10-page document written by the UN Secretary General’s special adviser on Libya that was leaked and published online recently calls for the deployment of 200 unarmed UN military observers and 190 UN police to help stabilize the country …. that could include monitoring or mentoring police officers. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chairman of the transitional council, said Tuesday he had met a day earlier with NATO officials in Qatar, where it was decided that no foreign soldiers would be needed in Libya. “We decided that we do not need any forces to maintain security, be it international, Muslim or other,” he said ….”
Way Up North (1) Lookit what the South Koreans are up to (hat tip to Mark Collins for sharing this one) “Commercial ships able to route through the Northwest Passage without ice breaker assistance are a step closer to becoming a reality. Korean shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), announced a few days ago that a model of their 190,000 dwt iron ore bulk carrier had finished its test program in the world’s largest – 90 meters long – ice test tank at Canada’s Institute for Ocean Technology (IOT). With an awareness that the traditional ice-breaker bow construction (where the mass of the ship’s bow structure bears down to break up pack ice) acts as a drag on efficient progress in open waters, international collaboration between IOT and Korean researchers from Pusan National University aimed at finding the optimal bow design for a ship operating in various ice conditions. Numerical computer analysis by the team culminated in manoeuvring and resistance performance tests of the model bulk carrier in the special ice-test tank ….”
Way Up North (2) One academic’s view, post-Nanook 2011: “…. one could argue that the senior military leadership views the Arctic (especially in a post-Afghanistan milieu) as a means of further justifying its reason for being. Stated differently, it gives them a mission priority that has the firm backing of the Conservative government in Ottawa. This is critical because it allows the military to make the case to political masters that the defence budget should be insulated from any deep cuts in the rush to balance the books …. It would be better for the military to wrap itself in an Arctic mission (and to secure the requisite procurement) rather than have the Coast Guard squeeze out more money for sovereignty patrols, scientific investigation and a polar-class icebreaker. In short, the Canadian military is perfectly content to play around in the Arctic just as long as the money taps stay open and they can use their training there for other “hot spots” around the world. And if this is the case, you can look for the Canadian Forces to deepen its military footprint in the Arctic.”
Afghanistan (3) QMI/Sun Media editorial: “If there was a truly down moment during Jack Layton’s funeral on Saturday, it was Stephen Lewis praising Layton for wanting to negotiate with the Taliban. And, worst of all, this venture into the absurd got a generous and lasting applause. Can you imagine anyone but the elite left giving a generous and lasting applause to something so offensive and so wrong-headed? Yet, they lapped up the Orange Crush like it was cultist Kool-Aid. How sad is that knowing those same Taliban that Lewis and Layton think would give credence to a negotiated end to their terror have taken the lives of more than 150 of our Canadian soldiers, plus a diplomat, plus a Canadian journalist? And that’s not counting the hell and death they have brought down on the Afghan people. But everybody Rise Up! Rise Up! ….”
Afghanistan (4) I screwed up, missing this film from the CF Info-Machine: “…. You don’t have to wait for a telling, warts-and-all documentary made about one Canadian military experience in Kandahar. Desert Lions: Canadian Forces Mentors in Kandahar is a great piece of reporting and surprise, it’s a Canadian army production. A reservist with the Calgary Highlanders regiment and a former CBC television reporter, Mike Vernon spent several weeks in 2010 shooting footage and collecting stories in the volatile Panjwaii district of Kandahar. This was a hairy time for the Canadian Forces, especially in Nakhonay, the small, Taliban-infested village where Mr. Vernon found himself encamped with nine members of an Operational Mentor Liason Team (OMLT), reservists like himself, assigned to a complex and dangerous mission: To hold Nakhonay while helping “enable” a company of Afghan soldiers, some of them good, some of them awful. All of the men struggled with cultural barriers and stupid military politics, inside a deadly combat environment where the enemy was always present but seldom seen. Scary ….”
Royalizing the CF Survey says….“According to (Harris Decima) Senior Vice-President Doug Anderson “By and large, Canadians agree with reverting to the traditional names for Canada’s Navy and Air Force and only one in ten are strongly opposed to the change. As might have been predicted based on historical evidence, Quebec residents find the lowest level of agreement on this point, but even there, opinion is fairly evenly split.” ….” More from The Canadian Press here.
“Ministers responsible for Veterans Affairs and senior officials from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Germany, Denmark, France and the Netherlands today completed two days of meetings to discuss support for Veterans. Ministers emphasized the need for collaborative research, policy development and programs for Veterans. The meetings were hosted in Ottawa by the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs …. The following statement was released by the Summit participants at the conclusion of the meetings: Honouring and providing services to Veterans is a shared goal around the world. All of our governments have programs in place to meet the needs of those transitioning from military to civilian life. Research is playing a growing part in allowing us to better understand the transition experience. By agreeing to collaborate more closely on common research projects, we will be able to develop improved ways of supporting Veterans throughout their lives ….”
Afghanistan (2) Purple prose team – UP!“Wild dogs howl warnings at night outside the Bulldog’s pen. The Canadian soldiers answer loudly back come morning — moving swiftly from this dusty Afghanistan forward operating base and into an area where insurgents don’t want them to be. By the end of the day’s operation, the Canadians — along with an embedded QMI Agency team — will come under small arms fire. But only after the Quebec-based Van Doos have successfully taken away — then later destroyed — a cache of materials that were likely to be made into deadly improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The fighters from the 1st Battalion of the Royal 22e Régiment — and more specifically, Bravo Company, who have earned the hard-earned war mantle of Bulldog Company — will soon leave this earthen fortress for good. Just like the Soviets, who actually built it decades ago. An approaching end to Canada’s combat role hasn’t seen our troops give an inch to insurgents, who often bark and sometimes try to take a bite when patrols roll out through the front gates ….”
Libya Mission: Canada’s Foreign Minister drops by to visit the rebels. “Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird was politically surprised and personally moved by his first-hand look at Libya’s rebel council members after a secret trip to meet them Monday. Baird said the group preparing to take power once the country’s dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, is ousted has a strong dedication to democracy, but he added no one should expect that transition to take place overnight. “Our vision is a strong, prosperous Libya, living in freedom and living peacefully with its neighbours,” Baird said after meeting with anti-Gadhafi rebels and delivering trauma kits to help their cause ….” – more here, here, here, and here.
Honouring Canada’s help during World War 2 in the U.K. “With Canada poised to celebrate the country’s birthday this week after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive from Britain, a more sombre ceremony symbolizing the deep bond between the two countries – a tribute to fallen Canadian airmen from the Second World War – is quietly taking shape in the U.K. Britain’s Royal Air Force is preparing to unveil a “long overdue” national memorial to Canadian aircrews that helped achieve the Allied victory in the Second World War – including some 10,000 RCAF personnel who lost their lives battling Germany and other Axis enemies. The poignant, maple leaf-inspired monument to this country’s air forces, made of granite cut from the Canadian Shield and transported to Britain earlier this year, is to be dedicated July 8 at the U.K.’s National Memorial Arboretum in the central English countryside ….”