What’s Canada (Not) Buying? An answer from DND regarding the cancellation of the process to replace the Canadian Ranger Rifle and General Service Pistol: the process apparently needs more work.“The DND Small Arms Modernization (SAM) Project Management Office (PMO) requested that Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) cancel both the (General Service Pistol) and the (New Canadian Ranger Rifle) Price and Availability (P&A) requests on MERX as a result of questions, and requests for clarification, from industry. The feedback from industry brought the DND SAM PMO to re-evaluate its procurement strategy. The DND SAM PMO is now focusing efforts on clarifying the procurement strategy for the GSP and NCRR with the intent to facilitate future communication with industry. The comments and observations received from industry in response to the P&A requests will be considered when the final requirements are written. The replacement of the GSP and NCRR remain a priority for DND. The next step of the project will be to obtain Preliminary Project Approval (PPA). No additional solicitations will be posted on MERX until after PPA is obtained and an approved procurement strategy is in place ….” Full response (2 page PDF) here – you read it here first!
Afghanistan Medical trainers among the training teams.“Operation ATTENTION began in April 2011 with the arrival in the Kabul area of the first of some 950 Canadian Forces members who will deploy with the Canadian Contingent Training Mission–Afghanistan, Canada’s contribution to the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan. Their mission is to work with the training cadre of the Afghan National Army (ANA) to build a force capable of meeting Afghanistan’s security needs after 2014. In July 2011, a group of Canadian Forces health-care providers deployed on Op ATTENTION with a Training Development Officer to serve as advisor-mentors to their Afghan counterparts at the Armed Forces Academy of Medical Sciences (AFAMS) in Kabul ….”
CBC sends reporter to see what’s happening in Jamaica with Operation Jaguar.“For over four decades, Canada trained the helicopter pilots and mechanics of the Jamaica Defence Force. But last year, Jamaica decided to bring home the training and do all the work itself. However, its mechanics couldn’t keep up with the demand and after a while the Jamaicans found themselves in the very uncomfortable position of not having enough working helicopters, meaning no way to conduct high-stakes rescues and medical evacuations. With a very bad hurricane season predicted, officials there were worried. So they called up Canada and asked if we could send down some of our world-class search and rescue crews. Canada agreed and, in mid-August, sent along three Griffon helicopters and 65 Canadian Forces personnel — only the second time in history that Canada’s search and rescue teams have been deployed in another country ….” CBC coverage of Canada’s training mission in Afghanistan? Not so much lately….
Here’s something to be careful about with the impending “perimeter security” deal between Canada and the U.S. “…. If the new $1-billion perimeter security deal, dubbed Beyond the Border, is an example of big-picture thinking, then its reception may have got fuzzy for many Canadians. Proponents have praised the deal’s measures to reduce cross-border red tape, expand border infrastructure and generally speed up bilateral trade. However, other U.S. actions, such as musings about possibly levying new tariffs on rail cargo from Canadian ports or passing legislation saddling non-U.S. banks with costs associated with new tax reporting requirements for non-resident U.S. citizens, have raised fears our largest trading partner is increasingly retreating behind protectionist and isolationist walls ….”
A bit of government money ($39,980) for an exhibit about a Canadian General.“The Museum Strathroy-Caradoc will be able to share the story of General Sir Arthur Currie with Canadians, thanks to an investment from the Government of Canada. This was announced today by Bev Shipley, Member of Parliament (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex), on behalf of the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. The Museum will create, present, and circulate a travelling exhibition about the life and career of Strathroy native General Sir Arthur Currie. This project will trace Currie’s journey to become Canada’s top military leader during World War I and the first Canadian to attain the rank of full general ….”
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.
Boss of CFB Trenton on to other tasks. “The current commanding officer here has always been proud to call the air base his home. He helped heal it. He helped put it on the global map. Taking the lead of the largest and busiest air force base in the country 18 months ago, outgoing commanding officer Col. Dave Cochrane helped launch Canada’s new emergency response mission Op Jaguar along with minister of National Defence Peter MacKay Wednesday morning – a day before relinquishing his command to Col. Sean Friday. “Since taking command last February we have done continuous operations,” said Cochrane. “It is because of efforts like Op Hestia in Haiti, our support to the Vancouver Olympic Games, the ongoing support to Afghanistan, and most recently our response to the wild fires in Northern Ontario where thousand of residents were evacuated that our emergency response units and personnel here at 8 Wing that I am proud to call this wing home and being its commander.” …. “It’s been truly amazing,” said the commanding officer, who will proceed on the advanced training list to attend the Defence and Strategic Studies Course – a top level curriculum for senior military officers and government officials engaged in national security issues – at the Australian Defence College later this year ….”
Editorial on need for more help for homeless vets: “…. as important as it is to find and fund a solution, correctly identifying the problem is just as crucial. For the most part, we don’t even know who these veterans are and how they ended up on our streets. Scant research has been done in this country. But a recent study by Susan Ray and Cheryl Forchuk, two nursing professors at the University of Western Ontario, challenges the assumption that these veterans are down and out because they suffer from addictions or mental health problems that can be traced back to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Few among the dozens of homeless vets they interviewed had ever been deployed overseas. Their average age was 52 and it often took a decade or more after their release from the Forces before they ended up on the street. Many said they learned to drink while in the military and that alcoholism helped drive them to ruin. What this points to, according to the Western Ontario researchers, is that Veterans Affairs is having some success in identifying and assisting veterans with PTSD. Primarily, those falling through the cracks in Canada seem to be a different group who have trouble making the transition to civilian life — from a highly structured environment to one with much more freedom to make choices …. the phenomenon might be more complex than we imagine and that we need harder data if we are to respond effectively and proactively over the long term ….”
Libya Mission Some of what HMCS Charlottetown was up to. “…. The ship’s superior combat co-ordination and communications systems led to its periodic assignment as Surface Action Group Commander, in which Charlottetown directed the tactical employment of allied warships and maritime patrol aircraft in the area while co-ordinating patrol areas and alert levels for shipborne helicopters. These same capabilities, summarized under the rubric “C4ISR” — standing for the command, control, communications, computing, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems — allowed the ship’s combat control centre to alert NATO to a major offensive on April 26 against Misrata by Gadhafi forces. Working with NATO air controllers, Charlottetown’s operations staff assisted with the co-ordination of air strikes that blunted the attack and eliminated several dozen assault vehicles, artillery pieces and a main battle tank. The ship had repeat performances on May 8 and 24. This Canadian frigate is responsible for saving Libyan lives and preventing Libyan military offensives against the residents of Misrata — big achievements for one ship of Canada’s navy.”
Afghanistan Macleans before-and-after in Kandahar. “…. In the weeks and months of the transition from Canadian to American control, much has changed in Kandahar. The heavy hand of the American war machine has devastated the lives of many villagers. In the Arghandab valley, one elder tells Maclean’s that before the Americans came, there was peace. “Sure, the Taliban were in control,” says the 80-year-old Haji Abdul Jabar, “but they never bothered us. They treated us with respect. Now the Americans have come and they are destroying our gardens with their tanks. When they patrol the village they trample over our irrigation canals. And now war has come. Wherever the Americans go, war follows them.” ….”
PM’s got a new (acting) foreign & security advisor. “Prime Minister Stephen Harper has brought in Christine Hogan as his acting foreign and defence policy adviser to replace Claude Carrière, who moved out of the position last month to become associate deputy minister at Agriculture Canada. Ms. Hogan, who is usually the assistant secretary to the Cabinet, foreign and defence policy, stepped into the key role temporarily after the departure of Mr. Carrière on July 11. A permanent replacement has yet to be named and the PCO has been tight-lipped on when that would happen, but former diplomats say that the next person to step into the role must be knowledgeable, well-connected, and experienced ….”
Libya Ops (1) – An overview of how much Canada is helping out in/around Libya: “… Looking at the numbers reveals the extent to which Canada is committed. The country’s 15 aircraft—seven CF-18 fighter jets, two Polaris refueling tankers, two Aurora maritime surveillance planes, two Hercules transport aircraft, one Globemaster airlift plane, as well as one Sea King helicopter, according to CF public affairs official Maj. Andre E. Salloum—makes Canada the largest air force from any mid-sized contributing nation. As well, there are now 531 Canadian military personnel working on the Libya file—250 aboard the Canadian warship HMCS Charlottetown deployed in the region, 246 at a variety of airbases, 23 more at NATO’s headquarters in Naples, Italy, and a further 12 around the world, said Maj. Salloum. Add to this Special Forces like JTF2 who are widely reported to be in Libya (although this is neither confirmed nor denied by officials) and the fact that Canadian Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard is now running NATO’s entire Libya operation ….”
Libya Ops (2) – Good question from historian Jack Granatstein. “While nothing is certain yet, it seems increasingly likely that the Gadhafi regime will survive in Libya, at least in the west of the country and possibly with much of the nation’s oil wealth. Survival will be a victory for Gadhafi, a triumph over the Americans and NATO, and that will give Gadhafi himself great credibility with the community of dictators. All will be emboldened by his resistance. But what will his survival mean for the West? ….”
Election Promises – More critique of the Liberals’ defence platform here and here (Postmedia News).
Still more on how the Government of Canada wants one of the probes into how Afghan detainees were treated to exclude non-military sources here (Postmedia News).
“Col. Dave Cochrane is leaving his post as commander of Canada’s largest air base, but defence ministry officials have refused to comment on his move until after the federal election. Cochrane is the base commander appointed in the days following the conviction of Russell Williams on two counts of murder, sex assaults and a litany of fetish break-ins. His primary role in early days of his command was to lift the spirits of base personnel whose morale was in the dumps following Williams’ crimes. A request by QMI Agency to interview Cochrane regarding his departure to take on “professional development and advanced training” in Australia was denied by the Department of National Defence (DND). Suggesting a phone interview with the air base’s commanding officer “could affect the outcome” of the federal election, a public affairs officer at DND’s media liaison office in Ottawa said Tuesday the Canadian Forces’ communication department will not allow an interview with the colonel ….” More here.
If anyone can make a case for how Canada’s treating its wounded warriors, it’s a wounded warrior. “A 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.
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.
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.
Things don’t seem to be getting better in Libya, so Canada’s getting ready to fly people out of there. “The federal government is sending flights to Libya to rescue stranded Canadians, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Tuesday. Evacuees will be flown to Europe and, as with flights arranged earlier this month to bring home Canadians in Egypt, Canada is working with “like-minded” countries to share flights. The first plane is expected to arrive in Tripoli, the country’s capital, on Thursday. At a news conference in Ottawa, Cannon said 331 Canadians are registered with the embassy in Tripoli, Libya’s capital, and 91 have told Canadian staff they plan to leave ….” More from Canada’s Foreign Affairs department on those flights here, as well as from Postmedia News, Reuters, Agence France Presse, the Globe & Mail and CTV.ca.
More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief: Libya), here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
A 14-year-old gets it on Afghanistan. “…. Afghan teachers and the girls they’re teaching tell us how grateful they are to have the chance to finally live a freer life, with access to education. These are the voices we must listen to. We obviously couldn’t do the work we do without security. But when NATO eventually leaves, Canadians must not abandon Afghanistan. We should continue to support the aid projects that are changing lives, especially the right to education – because that’s the only way we’ll create and sustain peace.”
What Canadian troops are up to in Southern Sudan. “CF observers deployed on Operation SAFARI pack their kit and head out into the bush on five- or six-day patrols. They carry not only food, water and tents but also a generator, because there is no electricity or telephone service in small Sudanese villages. Op SAFARI is Canada’s contribution to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). It is also the military component of the Canadian whole-of-government engagement in southern Sudan that also includes activities by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Canadian International Development Agency and the RCMP. “We spend six days in the bush,” says Major Ed Smith, a UN military observer (UNMO) at Team Site (TS) Rumbek in the Sudan. “Our job is to know what is going on everywhere in this state, and send reports back to the United Nations. There are no lines of communication, no phones, no electricity, no running water, nothing – not even paved roads in this state. The only way the UN has of monitoring situations is through the UNMO, so we go and spend our time in the bush, then write up reports on what we see.” ….”
“A Defence Department study says it’s risky for the air force to continue using Griffon helicopters for search and rescue in Central Canada. The review by the chief of air force development cites limitations of the CH-146, pressed into service in 2005 at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ont., because the military’s principal search helicopter is often not available. The air force intends to keep using the Griffon at the base until at least 2014, say briefing notes for Defence Minister Peter MacKay. But the 2009 air force study, obtained under the Access to Information Act, said the helicopter’s “capabilities are challenged” when employed as a front-line rescue aircraft and its use constitutes a “risk.” The CH-146, a military version of the Bell 412 civilian chopper, is too small and lacks the range to reach wilderness sites in Northern Ontario and Quebec without refuelling. Having to stop for gas “increases the response time to an incident site, and the amount of time the helicopter can remain on the scene to perform rescue tasks,” said the 20-page censored report. It noted one incident where search-and-rescue technicians were lowered to a crash site “and the helicopter departed the scene to refuel before extracting the casualties.” ….” Re: the bit in red, any chance of anybody reading the paper or the internet being able to read the report for themselves? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?
F-35 Tug o’ War (1) “…. Stephen Harper threw down the gauntlet Tuesday to his critics who question his government’s military spending, including $16 billion for 65 F-35 stealth fighter jets. That purchase is expected to be a major election issue for the Liberals and NDP in the next campaign, whenever it’s called. While announcing a new $155 million helicopter base in B.C., Harper warned against “willful naivete” in national security, and said Canada has to be ready to defend itself from any and all threats. “If you don’t do that, you soon don’t have a country and you don’t have any of the other good things you once thought were more important,” he said. “Our country has certainly never gone and will never go looking for trouble. However, many times during the past 200 years, trouble has come looking for us. While Canada does not aspire to be an armed camp, neither is their any place in national defence for willful naivety.” ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War (2) “The Department of National Defence says it is hiding a key F-35 document from the public because that type of document is classified. Yet its own website hosts many of these same types of papers for public downloading, almost all of which are marked as “unclassified.” This has prompted allegations the Harper government and military have “twisted” Canada’s procurement process so it can buy the billion-dollar planes. The document, called a “Statement of Operational Requirements,” is a well-established centerpiece of the military’s procurement process. Save for certain classified bits of information, it is typically released publicly so Canadians can examine what their armed forces need before their tax dollars are spent. However in an unusual step, the Harper government did not release an operational requirements statement before announcing its plan to replace Canada’s fleet of ageing CF-18 fighter jets with the F-35. In fact, the military has admitted it chose the F-35 before it even drew up the Statement of Operational Requirements. Despite this, the department has continued to hide the document from public view, saying in an email that “an Air Force project’s Statement of Operational Requirements is an internal Department of National Defence document.” “SORs are classified documents” that are “not disclosed publicly,” added spokesperson Evan Koronewski ….”
Sigh…. “One of the doctors charged last week with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in downtown Toronto hotel is a long-serving member of the Canadian military, CBC News has learned. Dr. Amitabh Chauhan, 32, of Ancaster, Ont., has been closely associated with the Canadian Forces since 1997, when he became a cadet. The following year he enrolled in the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., as an officer cadet. Chauhan, received his undergraduate degree from RMC in 2002 with an honours BA in politics and economics. “Following his education with RMC, he began his training to become a pilot in January 2004. He ceased training in July 2005 and undertook a variety of duties,” the Department of National Defence said in a written statement to CBC News. He did his pilot training at CFB Moose Jaw. On Monday, Toronto police said that when he was arrested Chauhan had a Saskatchewan driver’s licence. Chauhan left the military in 2007 but continued his association as a member of the naval reserve, which he joined three years ago. “Mr. Chauhan is a naval reservist who works part-time at the naval reserve division HMCS Star in Hamilton [Ont.] and holds the rank of acting sub-lieutenant,” according to the military. He is currently a post-graduate student in the plastic surgery department at McMaster University in Hamilton ….” I can’t wait for the CBC to start writing about the university history of future criminals.
Corporal Jean-Michel Déziel, R.I.P.“A soldier died at approximately 10:00 hrs Monday morning after falling from the roof of a building at CFB Valcartier. Corporal Jean-Michel Déziel, a member of the Headquarters and Signals Squadron, was in the process of installing a telecommunications antenna when the incident occurred. The soldier was immediately evacuated to the Laval Hospital, where he was pronounced dead ….” More from CBC.ca here and QMI Media here.
Canada’s military research arm has just published a military chronology of Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan – downloaable here (via Army.ca).
Remember this guy who said an unarmed Afghan teenager had been killed by Canadian troops in 2007? The investigation says not so. “The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS), the independent investigative arm of the Canadian Forces Military Police, has concluded its investigation into the allegations made by Mr. Ahmadshah Malgarai before the House of Commons’ Special Committee on Afghanistan on April 14, 2010 with respect to his time spent employed as a language and cultural advisor in Afghanistan from July 2007 to July 2008. The CFNIS investigation determined that no service or criminal offences were committed ….” More from MSM outlets here, here, here, here, here and here (note the CBC’s choice of headline – “No proof of Afghan adviser’s shooting claims” – compared to the wording of the CF statement above).
CBC’s happy to be pretty declarative with this headline, though: “JTF2 command ‘encouraged’ war crimes, soldier alleges“. Note my highlights and what factoid is buried pretty far into the story: “A member of Canada’s elite special forces unit says he felt his peers were being “encouraged” by the Canadian Forces chain of command to commit war crimes in Afghanistan, according to new documents obtained by CBC News. The documents from the military ombudsman’s office show the member of the covert unit Joint Task Force 2, or JTF2, approached the watchdog in June 2008 to report the allegations of wrongdoing he had first made to his superior officers in 2006. The soldier told the ombudsman’s office “that although he reported what he witnessed to his chain of command, he does not believe they are investigating, and are being ‘very nice to him,’ ” according to the documents, which CBC News obtained through access to information. As such, the soldier alleged, the chain of command helped create an atmosphere that tolerated war crimes. The ombudsman’s documents state the soldier was subsequently directed to the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, CFNIS, which in turn launched its own investigation. The CFNIS told the ombudsman the investigation was “now their No. 1 priority.” The member alleged that a fellow JTF2 member was involved in the 2006 shooting death of an Afghan who had his hands up in the act of surrender. That CFNIS probe ended without any charges ….”
More reaction to Jack Layton’s criticism of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan: “…. By making exactly all the wrong comparisons to the Second World War and the great struggle against fascism’s European variants, Mr. Layton forgets that if we were fighting now the way we fought back then we would have turned Islamabad into Dresden by now and Tehran would be the name of a city we’d mention in the same breath with Hiroshima. We would have already forgotten the “war in Afghanistan” because it would have been over long ago ….”
Canadians and Americans are working together in search ways to help wounded warriors heal, especially the wounds we don’t see. “…. Lt. Col. Stephane Grenier, who returned from duty in Rwanda in 1994 isolated, depressed and eventually suicidal, said today’s language of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) puts too much emphasis on “combat.” Warfare has become the “culturally acceptable excuse,” but troops in any role can get an operational stress injury from fatigue, grief and moral stressors, he said. “What happens to the clerk who never steps outside Kandahar Airfield but whose job is to write those letters, write the inventory of the equipment being shipped back to mom and dad?” said Grenier, who now works on the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s peer project team. Grenier is among a group of Canadian and U.S. military experts who gathered Tuesday to collaborate on ways to help wounded soldiers. Canadian Forces physicians, psychiatrists, chaplains and injured soldiers met with their American counterparts to discuss innovative programs and treatments in a symposium at the University of Southern California called “Wounded Warriors – Healing the Mind, Body and Soul.” ….” More on the conference here.
Testing high-tech at Gagetown. “The future face of Canada’s army is being defined this week at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown. The scenario is being played out at the Combat Training Centre via computer war games based on a scenario in the Horn of Africa. Known as Capability Development Experiment 2010, it’s part of an effort to determine what shape this country’s ground forces will take by 2021. Lt.-Col. William Cummings, the experiment director, said the military is trying to validate what it describes as an “adapted dispersed operations scenario.” That involves four major events going on at the same time …. “
Anonymous source, but interesting information nonetheless – highlights mine. “…. Security intelligence authorities are warning that exiled Tamil rebel leaders are re-establishing their violent Sri Lankan separatist movement in Canada. “We don’t know how far advanced it is, but their intent is pretty clear — to set up a base-in-exile here for the leadership. Some leadership is already here,” a well-placed federal government official told the Ottawa Citizen. The warning accompanied a report late last week to senior government officials revealing that two southeast Asian smuggling syndicates are arranging the launch of two more shiploads of Tamil migrants to British Columbia in the coming weeks. The boats are expected to carry as many as 50 former Tamil Tiger rebel leaders and fighters, according to intelligence estimates. “Why here? It doesn’t make any sense because it is much easier to go to Australia,” said the official. “This is the reason.” Two previous cargo ships, Sun Sea and Ocean Lady, arrived off the West Coast last year and in 2009 carrying a total of 568 migrants, including several men the government suspects are former rebels. “How many have made it through, how advanced they are is not clear, (but) we’re concerned,” said the official. “Canadians expect us to avoid becoming a haven for terrorists.” ….”
Someone in the translation contractor’s office has some ‘splainin’ to do….“A company that supplies Afghan translators for Canada’s mission in Kandahar may have mistakenly raised the interpreters’ hopes of emigrating to Canada, according to a newly released document. A contingent of Canadian military and civilian officials say International Management Services, or IMS, told interpreters that their immigration papers were being considered — even though not every application was. The officials noted the finding in a report to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, which they submitted in March after spending three weeks in Kandahar reviewing applications made under a special immigration program …. “Complications arose when (blank) contacted IMS, the prime contractor for many of the CF’s interpreters and other language assistants, to confirm employment records,” the report says. “(Blank) reported that IMS, staffed in Kandahar by local nationals, informed some program applicants that they were being considered. Given that the list submitted to IMS was only of individuals that were potentially eligible, this likely raised false expectations among applicants.” ….”
Ottawa is extending the deadline for applying for compensation for illnesses linked to the use of Agent Orange and other plant killers at CFB Gagetown in the mid- to late-1960’s. “A New Brunswick widow who lost her husband to cancer six years ago is praising a decision by the federal government that will allow more people to qualify for Agent Orange payments. Bette Hudson, whose husband Ralph died of bone cancer after two decades in the military, said Wednesday that Ottawa finally got it right in loosening the rules on who can get a $20,000 ex gratia payout. Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn announced in Fredericton that the government is removing a controversial condition that required applicants to be alive on Feb. 6, 2006 — the date the federal Conservatives came to power. “It makes me feel as if my husband is worthy,” she said at the announcement, moments after Blackburn outlined the changes ….” Here’s the Veterans Affairs Canada news release and backgrounder, the Order in Council approving the change and a Canadian Forces page with various history and documents on the issue.
Canada’s special forces are getting new vehicles (when there’s better ones to buy): “Canada’s special forces are holding off on buying new vehicles until technology catches up to its needs. The Ottawa-based Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) had been looking to replace its Humvee vehicles, now being used in Afghanistan by units such as Joint Task Force 2, but had to cut short its plans after the trucks being examined were determined not to meet various technical specifications. Industry sources say one company, U.S.-based Lockheed Martin, bid on the program, estimated to cost a little less than $80 million. The new vehicles were supposed to be acquired next year and were to be located with the Canadian Special Operations Regiment at Petawawa ….”
Who do people responding to an online survey trust more, Canada’s government or Canada’s military?“Canadians have more trust and confidence in Canada’s armed forces than they do in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government, according to a new study. The study, based on polling conducted by Leger Marketing for the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) and released exclusively to iPolitics, found that 75.7 per cent of respondents had trust and confidence in the Canadian Forces to do a good job compared to only 54.1 per cent who trusted the federal government. While faith in both the Armed Forces and the federal government tended to rise with age, one of the sharpest divides was among English-speaking respondents — 80.3 per cent of whom trusted the military and 52.7 per cent of whom trusted the federal government ….”
More end-of-year interview stories, this one from CBC.ca: “Defence Minister Peter MacKay is calling on the Afghan government to “pick up the slack” as the Canadian military hammers out the details and logistics of its new training mission in Afghanistan. As NATO allies continue to try to limit corruption and improve Afghanistan’s fledgling democracy and governance, the defence minister cited “incremental progress” in the country in 2010. “There are definitely improvements, tangible improvements that we can see, that we can point to,” MacKay told the CBC’s James Cudmore in a year-end interview. “And yet, all of it is tenuous as far as, will it last?” But MacKay insisted those gains translate into a “shifting of attitudes” among Afghans toward not only Canadian soldiers, but the tens of thousands of Afghan soldiers and police they are training ….”
First, NORAD pimps Santa for some good exposure and PR(followed by Canada’s Air Force). Next: NAV CANADA, the agency that runs air traffic control at civilian airports, gets into the act. The latest to hop on the “let’s milk Santa for some attention” bandwagon? Canada’s Minister of Immigration: “Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney today reaffirmed Santa Claus as a Canadian citizen during a special citizenship ceremony. “We wish Mr. Claus all the best in his Christmas Eve duties again this year,” said Minister Kenney. “And rest assured, as a Canadian citizen living in Canada’s North, he can re-enter Canada freely once his trip around the world is complete.” Santa was on hand to reaffirm his citizenship while 100 new citizens from 32 countries were sworn in ….”
In other security news, scumbag anti-Semite who shared info on best way to kill Canadians is back online:“The resurrection of a website advocating the genocide of Jews and Canadians, founded by a Toronto extremist who is wanted by police, highlights the difficulties of policing the Internet, where public postings can be generated and disseminated from almost anywhere. The website was founded by Salman Hossain, 25, a Canadian extremist who fled Canada earlier this year during a police investigation into use of the Internet to promote terrorist violence in Canada. Police subsequently charged him with five hate crimes — two counts of advocating genocide and three counts of promoting hatred — but so far, have been unable to locate him. The site was shut down after the charges were laid. The National Post reported last month that the site had re-emerged on a U.S. free-speech server but was again shut down. This month, it found a new home, through Internet servers based in Switzerland ….” More details on who’s hosting the site now, and the Interpol notice for the chap in question here at Army.ca.
At least some families think this’ll be the last Christmas with their loved ones gone for a while.“…. “It’s nice knowing that this is it for us, and with the majority of our guys coming home next Christmas, hopefully not as many families will have to go through the separation,” Atkinson said from Hamilton. “Knowing next year it will be back to normal is always a nice thought -knowing that by summer he’ll be home and we can get back to camping and fishing and all the other things we do as a family.” ….” I guess this’ll also depend on what the next mission will look like, too.
Year end interview season: PM says (again) it was hard to change his mind and keep troops in Afghanistan.“Prime Minister Stephen Harper admitted the decision to extend Canada’s mission in Afghanistan was a tough one. “It’s always easy to leave a country and say, ‘We’re done,’ he said in a year-end interview with QMI Agency. “But these countries don’t disappear and the problems will remain. It’s important for Afghanistan to ensure the country doesn’t return to being a haven for international terrorists.” But the prime minister side-stepped a question on whether Ottawa had been pressured by allies into keeping troops in the country after the 2011 combat mission ended. “It was hard for me to prolong the mission, even in a non-combat capacity,” he said. “But I’ve said before that it is essential the Afghans control their own country.” ….”
Wanted:Someone to build an almost $16 million training and accommodation (almost 100 bedrooms) building at CFB Edmonton. Bids close 10 Feb 11.
Wanted:Airplane passenger seats to attach to pallets, which can be loaded into planes for temporarily carrying passengers. Bids close 18 Jan 11.
More on the coming apology by the CF to Mohawks for including Oka as a bit of a case study in a draft version of a counterinsurgency manual (PDF). “The Canadian army will apologize to the Mohawk Warrior Society for listing it as an insurgent group in a draft document almost five years ago. The apology is expected in early 2011. The military mentioned the group in a 2006 draft publication called “Counter-insurgency Operations.” Other groups mentioned several pages later in the counter-insurgency document were Hezbollah and the Taliban. At least one media outlet discovered the reference in 2007, drawing protest from First Nations groups. Then-defence minister Gordon O’Connor quickly announced it was just a draft and wouldn’t be in the final version …..” More from CBC.ca here, and APTN’s story from 7 Dec 10 here.
Suuuuuuure the Taliban tries to prevent civilian casualties….“A respected villager, his three brothers and his young son were walking home from early-morning prayers at their mosque when the man spotted something suspicious on the dusty road outside his family’s mud-walled compound. Crouching down to investigate, there was an eruption of dirt and shrapnel — the man, 38, was blown apart, the four others seriously wounded. The dull, concussive boom of the explosion shook awake the occupants of a nearby Canadian combat outpost camp, located in the Panjwaii district southwest of Kandahar City …. Was it a message to the village, a traditional Taliban safe haven, but in an area where the Van Doos and the Afghan security forces have announced their intentions to now stay? Or was it in response to a visit the previous day by Afghan and Canadian generals to a neighbouring village where the message was one of coming operations to chase out the insurgents? “It could have been for intimidation, but it was probably targeted at us, not the local population,” said Warrant Officer Claude Belisle of 5th platoon B Company, based at COP Imam Sahib …”
The latest (and a warning) on the change o’ mission for Canada in Afghanistan: “2011 will be a year of massive transition for Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, as troops close out the mission as combat warriors in Kandahar to open a new chapter as trainers in Kabul. After years of gruelling, costly and deadly warfare, the military will pull combat soldiers from the field. But the mission will continue — with up to 950 soldiers based around the Afghan capital – in a training and development capacity. Conservative Sen. Pamela Wallin, chair of the Senate defence committee that urged the government to maintain a role in Afghanistan post-2011, said the impact would have been “quite profound” had Canada completely withdrawn. “It would have been a loss for the world,” she told QMI Agency. “It would have been a loss for NATO, it would have been a loss for the Afghans and I think it would have been a loss for Canadians if we hadn’t agreed to stay to finish what we set out to do.” …. despite the move from Kandahar to the relatively safer region of Kabul, Wallin warned the entire country remains a war zone and Canada could still suffer casualties ….”
Speaking of training Afghan security forces, there still appears to be pretty big gaps to be filled.“NATO is not meeting its target for assembling specialized trainers to build up Afghanistan’s army and police forces, the key that would open the way to a withdrawal of coalition troops beginning next year. An internal progress report from the training mission headquarters here warned that it “does not have the required number of trainers, which threatens our ability to sustain momentum through the summer of 2011 to develop and professionalize the Afghan national security force.” The Dec. 12 report, obtained by The Globe and Mail, said NATO member countries have so far pledged to fill just half of the 819 “critical” trainer slots that need to be filled if Afghanistan is to begin to assume responsibility next year for its own security. Some nations that have made offers, including Canada, have yet to confirm their pledges or decide what kinds of skills and capabilities their trainers would bring. “It’s a huge jigsaw puzzle,” said a senior NATO officer in Kabul. “Some countries can confirm their pledges right away. Others say they need time to resolve political and budgetary issues.” ….”
Some work for armoured fighting vehicle builders in London, Ontario.“…. GM GDLS Defense Group, LLC, JV, Sterling Heights, Mich., was awarded on Dec. 16 a $9,614,102 firm-fixed-price/cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This award will provide for 350 Stryker retrofit video display electronic terminal A-kits. Work will be performed in Shelby Township, Mich., and London, Canada, with an estimated completion date of July 31, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. The U.S. Army TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-07-D-M112) ….”
The Globe & Mail‘s Geoffrey York (AGAIN) flogging his favourite question: why isn’t Canada helping the Congo?“It has become a grim Christmas ritual: hundreds of innocent civilians massacred in remote corners of Africa by the Lord’s Resistance Army, one of the world’s cruellest and bloodiest guerrilla forces. Now, fearing a Christmas attack for the third consecutive year, the United Nations is mobilizing 900 peacekeepers to protect villages in Congo, and the United States has promised its own action against the LRA. But activists are calling for a much stronger response to prevent another wave of gruesome attacks by LRA fighters, who routinely kidnap, rape, torture and mutilate their victims. More than 1,000 adults and children were killed by the LRA in the days around Christmas in 2008 and 2009, while hundreds more were kidnapped and conscripted into the rebel army …. Canadian Senator Roméo Dallaire, a former lieutenant-general who commanded the UN force in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, warned that there is an “imminent threat” of further massacres by the LRA this month. He joined a group of former high-ranking diplomats and UN officials in calling for a stronger strategy against the rebel army. “How many lives must be lost and destroyed before the international community agrees to take the threat seriously and act?” Mr. Dallaire said.” Since Mr. York didn’t mention it, the CF already HAS a presence in Democratic Republic of Congo. This isn’t the first time he’s asked for this – more here on his last call in AugustOctober(thanks Mark at Unambiguously Ambidextrous for the bit in red) for Canada to do more there. Also, more on Canada’s national interests (or lack thereof?) in Congo at Army.ca here.
The Canadian Press has been trolling jihadi online forums for some intriguing stories, the latest being one of Coptic Christians being named on these forums (maybe as possible targets?). “More than 100 Canadian-Arab Christians are listed on an al-Qaeda affiliated website, apparently targeted because of their alleged role in attempting to convert Muslims. Some of those named say concerned Canadian intelligence officials have contacted them. The Shumukh-al-Islam website, often considered to be al-Qaeda’s mouthpiece, listed pictures, addresses and cellphone numbers of Coptic Christians, predominantly Egyptian-Canadians, who have been vocal about their opposition to Islam. Three pages of the fundamentalist, Arabic-language website titled “Complete information on Coptics” sets to “identify and name all of the Coptics throughout the world who hope to defame Islam,” The website calls the Coptic Christians living abroad “dogs in diaspora,” a derogatory reference in Arabic. In a forum on the website, one member named Son of a Sharp Sword, says “We are going to return back to Islam and all of the Mujahedeen [holy warriors] will cut off their heads.” ….”