MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 22 Nov 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 24 Oct 11

  • Libya Mission (1)  The Canadian commander who leads NATO’s mission in Libya says he’s worried about the North African country’s stockpile of surface-to-air missiles. “There are many weapons left over in that country,” Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard told CTV’s Question Period in an exclusive interview. While a large portion of those are small arms, such as Kalashnikov rifles, others are surface-to-air missiles that Bouchard said “are of concern, and they will remain of concern throughout.” There are believed to be more than 20,000 shoulder-fired missiles in Libya, which Moammar Gadhafi had purchased over the years. The fear is that those weapons could wind up on the black market where terrorist groups could buy them ….”
  • Libya Mission (2)  PM Harper on Libya’s opposition claiming “liberation”:  “Today, Canadians join with the Libyan people in celebrating the liberation of their country. “The Libyan people have courageously risen up against decades of tyranny. Canada’s involvement, as sanctioned by the United Nations and led by NATO, has supported their aspirations for the future. “We join Libyans in welcoming the post-Gaddafi era and the transition of the country to a democratic society – one that respects human rights and the rule of law ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  Meanwhile, on that respecting human rights and rule of law thing….  “…. An official who opened the ceremony at Freedom Square in Benghazi said, “We declare to the whole world that we have liberated our beloved country, with its cities, villages, hill-tops, mountains, deserts and skies.” …. Another formal declaration was made by NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil, who saluted all the martyrs who died in search of this day. He also thanked the Arab League, the UN and the EU.  During his speech, delivered to tens of thousands in festival mood, he said that Islamic law, including polygamy, would be upheld in Libya.  “We as a Muslim nation have taken Islamic sharia as the source of legislation, therefore any law that contradicts the principles of Islam is legally nullified,” he said, according to Reuters Africa.  He called on Libyans to follow the law and not to use force anymore. He asked for tolerance and patience from people as they enter a new era ….”
  • Libya Mission (4)  “The day of reckoning for Moammar Gadhafi — what would be the last day of his life — was in the mission commander’s crosshairs.  Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard could have watched, in real time, as the deposed dictator was run to ground in a sewer, yanked bloody but alive from his hidey-hole, and set upon by revolutionary fighters. It was the bloody climax to a long, often second-guessed, campaign.  Yet the Operation Unified Protector boss from Chicoutimi took his eyes off the drama, visible to him by sophisticated surveillance technology …. “Was I watching? No, I wasn’t. If I had, then I’m not looking at the whole country,’’ Bouchard told the Star by telephone Sunday from his NATO headquarters in Naples.  “The death of Gadhafi was not something that I had included in my strategic planning. To be honest, I was surprised that he was still in Sirte. I thought he was probably somewhere in the southern Libyan desert.’’ ….”  More on this here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Canada’s new multibillion-dollar stealth fighters are expected to arrive without the built-in capacity to communicate from the country’s most northerly regions — a gap the air force is trying to close. A series of briefings given to the country’s top air force commander last year expressed concern that the F-35’s radio and satellite communications gear may not be as capable as that of the current CF-18s, which recently went through an extensive modernization. Military aircraft operating in the high Arctic rely almost exclusively on satellite communications, where a pilot’s signal is beamed into space and bounced back down to a ground station. The F-35 Lightning will eventually have the ability to communicate with satellites, but the software will not be available in the initial production run, said a senior Lockheed Martin official, who spoke on background. It is expected to be added to the aircraft when production reaches its fourth phase in 2019, but that is not guaranteed because research is still underway. “That hasn’t all been nailed down yet,” said the official. “As you can imagine there are a lot of science projects going on, exploring what is the best . . . capability, what satellites will be available.” ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  The Department of National Defence CFB Wainwright has a requirement for the supply of Ballistic Shield Kits, Ballistic Shield Panels, and Ballistic Floor Boards …. Vendor Name and Address:  CAPTEURS DE BALLES CBBT INC, 95 Route Duchesnay, Ste-Catherine de la Jacques-Cartier, Quebec, Canada …. The estimated value of the contract including shipping is $104,309.65 (GST extra) ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  The Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces require the services of a Contractor, on an “as and when requested” basis, to operate the Polar Epsilon (PE) Near Real-Time Ship Detection (NRTSD) System, which delivers to the Canadian East and West Regional Joint Operations Centres (RJOC) a capability to exploit RADARSAT 2 for all-weather, day and night, wide area surveillance, for purposes of contributing to the wide area situational awareness of the maritime approaches to Canada and North America and to foreign littoral areas where the Canadian Forces may be deployed ….”  More details in excerpt from bid document (21 page PDF) here.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (3)  Belt, Trousers, Nylon webbing x (at least) 15,000
  • What’s Canada Buying? (4)  The Department of National Defence (DND) has a requirement for the management, administrative and technical services related to video pre-production, production, and post-production to the Chief of the Maritime Staff (CMS) through the Manager of Broadcast Media Production of Director Naval Public Affairs DNPA) ….
  • Once a week Hugh MacPhee and about a dozen or so former shipmates gather for coffee, swap stories as old friends do, and sometimes share memories that 42 years on remain as dark as the brew in their cups. They are survivors of the Canadian navy’s worst peacetime disaster, the Oct. 23, 1969 explosion and fire that crippled the HMCS Kootenay, killing nine and injuring 55. The destroyer was doing power trials in the English Channel when its starboard gearbox exploded, sending a fireball through the engine room and along the main passageway. McPhee was among almost 100 members of the original crew who gathered at a seaside park on Sunday to lay wreaths and remember their fallen friends. “Our ship’s motto was ‘We are as one’ and we still gather strength from that,” he said his voice shaking a bit. “We talk about it, help each other, because a lot of the guys suffered from post-traumatic stress afterwards.” ….”  More here, here and here.
  • German POW internal justice while interred in Canada. “The order filtered down in the summer of 1944: Karl Lehmann was a traitor who had to die. Like other prisoner of war camps in Canada, Medicine Hat, Alta. camp No. 132 had its own internal police force, its own hierarchies and government, its own systems of discipline. Though the camp was guarded on the outside by Canadian soldiers, daily life inside the wire was entirely dictated by the German inmates themselves. After an attempt was made on Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s life that July at his field headquarters in East Prussia, rumours circulated that a revolutionary movement was planning to take over the Medicine Hat camp by force. Canada’s highest-ranking prisoner of war decreed from Ontario that anyone suspected of traitorous activities against the German army was to be identified and killed in a way that looked like a suicide. One of those suspected traitors was Karl Lehmann ….”
  • Theatre review“Billy Bishop Goes to War is a 100 percent, pure maple leaf saga. It is the colourful and sometimes controversial story of how an unlikely young man from Owen Sound, Ontario, became Canada’s most famed First World War flying ace after flunking out of Royal Military College of Canada for cheating. The Toronto City Airport on Toronto Island is now named for him ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 8 Sept 11

  • Libya Mission (1)  Missed him by >>THAT<< much.  “Just as we’d always suspected, if more wryly than with alarm: the rat was in the cellar. Moammar Gadhafi did indeed bivouac in the basement of the posh Rixos Hotel — compulsory Tripoli lodgings for foreign journalists through months of the stalled Libyan revolution — confident that NATO planes would not bomb that location. “Absolutely,’’ confirms Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, the Canadian in command of Operation Unified Protector, formal name of the interventionist NATO mission mandated by the United Nations Security Council. “He was there,’’ Bouchard told the Star during an interview this week at Joint Force Command headquarters here. “It’s not a secret anymore. He could drive in a golf cart through the tunnels that stretched all the way from (his compound) Bab al-Aziziya, under the zoo next door and into the hotel. That’s how he would appear out of nowhere, disappear, and pop up somewhere else.’’ It might also explain why reporters were held hostage at the Rixos for five days by Gadhafi loyalists, even as the capital was falling to surging rebel forces a fortnight ago ….”
  • Libya Mission (2)  “…. with the military mission apparently mostly over, any extension requires a goal for the end: calling back the fighters and the warship when the last major Gadhafi strongholds are gone.”
  • Canadian pilots taking part in Exercise Bold Quest in Indiana. Fighter pilots often have seconds to decide whether to open fire, and this month they will train at Camp Atterbury to know how to make that choice. The post, in southern Johnson county and northwestern Brown County, is hosting a major NATO training exercise involving pilots and soldiers from Germany, Finland, France and 11 other countries. The allies will train on how to avoid shooting at troops who are on their side and use high-tech sensors that allow them to distinguish friend from foe, Navy Capt. Kent Davis said. Residents who live nearby should expect to hear the roar of fighter jets and the whir of helicopters both day and night when the training exercise starts Thursday, Maj. Lisa Kopczynski said. More aircraft than normal will fly over Camp Atterbury through Sept. 25. Pilots will practice using radar that warns them not to bomb or shoot at troops from other countries who are assisting in combat or on peacekeeping missions, Davis said …. “
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  “…. The Canadian Forces (CF) are looking to replace all current types of pistols in use with a newer weapon and is gathering information on the Price and Availability of weapons and the number of potential contenders as part of its planning and budget process. Personnel from all services of the CF will use these pistols for self-DEFENCE. The GSP will replace the 9mm Browning High Power (HP) and the 9mm Sig Sauer Model 225 pistol ….”  More details available in bid package here (PDF via Army.ca) re:  what the CF is looking for, as well as a projected timeline (Requests for Proposals expected to be issued summer 2015, with pistols expected to be purchased Fall 2015).
  • What’s Canada Buying (2)  Honkin’ expensive long-range thermal weapon sights“…. The Department of National Defence has a requirement for a compact, lightweight, weapon-mountable thermal imager that works in conjunction with the optical day sight to provide target detection and recognition in the thermal band at long range.  This capability will be referred as a Long Range Thermal Weapon Sight (LRTWS) system. The LRTWS system will also serve to complement other optical handheld observation devices.  You are hereby notified that the Government of Canada intends to negotiate with FLIR Systems Ltd, 25 Esquire Road, North Billerica, MA, who manufacturers and possesses the intellectual property rights as the OEM for the ThermoSight™ S150 (links to PDF fact sheet), part number #26986-201, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) Long Range Thermal Weapon Sight (LRTWS) system.  Deliverables:  Forty-nine (49) cryogenically cooled sensor, thermal video channeled single bodied systems, including accessories and remote control systems …. An optional twenty-five (25) units including accessories and remote control systems …. Total estimate cost of all deliverables:  $7,350,000.00 CAD HSTI ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Interesting, especially in a city with an infantry unit based there.  “I received a news release recently that really bothered me. It had nothing to do with Alberta politics or the two leadership races now underway for the Liberals and Conservatives. It had to do with a dinner this Saturday to honour the 157 Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan during our combat mission there. The dinner will be attended by Alberta Lt.-Gov. Donald Ethell and hear a keynote address by Maj.-Gen. Jonathan Vance, who commanded coalition troops in Kandahar province for nine months. However, according to the news release, the event was “in jeopardy of cancellation.” Simply put, not enough people had bought tickets. The dinner had room for 500 and would financially break even with 350 – but only 60 people had bought tickets when the news release crossed my desk. “We’re surprised that we’ve sold less than 60 tickets to an event dedicated to honouring the brave men and women who have died while serving in our Canadian Forces,” wrote the event organizer, Mike McMurray. “We need to sell at least 300 more tickets to the gala dinner or we’re going to be left with little choice but to cancel the event. We simply can’t put on a poor show for our troops or the families of our fallen soldiers that we’ve invited.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Another “combat mission wrapping up” story, this time about Canada’s helicopters in theatre.
  • Stuart Langridge, R.I.P  The mother of a soldier who took his own life at the Edmonton Garrison hopes a public hearing will answer the questions she has had for more than three years. After several suicide attempts, Cpl. Stuart Langridge hanged himself in March 2008. 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. On Tuesday, the Military Police Complaints Commission called a public hearing into his death ….”
  • The Leslie Report/CF Reorg  One ex-officer’s view of what should happen, presented without comment. “…. Canadian politicians have a history of economizing on the backs of the military — the most flagrant example being Pierre Trudeau soon after he became PM and seemed eager to disband the military and withdraw from NATO. The regimental system saved the quality of our army in those days. Rather than maintain large conventional units, the Canadian army seems ideally suited to becoming something like the British SAS — highly-trained individuals able to function in small units or larger units, doing clandestine operations or open combat ….”
  • Someone’s unhappy with Canada’s “Royalizing” the CF and other highlighting of Canada’s military history“…. History belongs to everyone equally and as such is–or should be–open to unfettered enquiry and defended against deliberate distortion. To borrow a medical metaphor, history constitutes the genes that make up a citizen’s “cultural DNA.” Unfortunately, cultural DNA is vulnerable to “genetic engineering.” In the hands of an ignoble government, historical images and events can be manipulated to serve political objectives …. Behind the propaganda curtain of “restoring” Canada’s military pride and tradition is the appropriation of military history to justify the sort of aggression honourable Canadians gave their lives to defeat.”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (1)  PM (apparently) to declare 11 Sept a “National Day of Service”, while Canada’s Defence Minister prepares to speak to a memorial forum in Washington today.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (2a)  “…. Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the biggest security threat to Canada a decade after 9/11 is Islamic terrorism …. Harper says Canada is safer than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda attacked the U.S., but that “the major threat is still Islamicism.”  “There are other threats out there, but that is the one that I can tell you occupies the security apparatus most regularly in terms of actual terrorist threats,” Harper said. Harper cautioned that terrorist threats can “come out of the blue” from a different source, such as the recent Norway attacks, where a lone gunman who hated Muslims killed 77 people. But Harper said terrorism by Islamic radicals is still the top threat, though a “diffuse” one ….”  More on this one here, and some discussion at Army.ca here.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (2b)  Controversial clauses expanding the powers of police to combat terrorism are going to be reintroduced by the new Conservative majority government, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in an interview with CBC. Harper said for the first time since the Tories took control of the House of Commons the government plans to bring back measures in the Anti-Terrorism Act that expired in 2007. “We think those measures are necessary. We think they’ve been useful,” Harper said of the expired parts of the act. “They’re applied rarely, but there are times where they’re needed.” ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (3a)  Canada’s national security spending skyrocketed in the post-9/11 decade and it may be time to start cutting back, said a report released Wednesday by an Ottawa-based think tank. “The government has created a national security establishment in Canada,” Steven Staples, president of the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute, told a press conference. “A decade after the attacks of 9/11 it’s time to re-evaluate whether we should continue the high level of national security spending.” In total, Canada devoted an additional CAN$92 billion (US$93 billion) to keep Canadians safe, the report said ….”  More along this story line here and here.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (3b)  Calculating what it cost Canadian taxpayers to respond to the Sept. 11 terror attacks has proven to be a difficult task for the Rideau Institute. The left-wing think tank has released a report that concludes $92 billion in new military, public safety, foreign affairs, and other spending since 2001 is linked to creating a post-9-11 national security establishment. Still, report author and economist David Macdonald admits it’s not easy to draw a clear line between the spending and al-Qaida terrorism that shook the world. “I suppose we could argue about whether (the spending) would have happened anyway,” Macdonald said. He insisted at least part of the justification for the spending was due to “the 9-11 agenda.” Candice Hoeppner, parliamentary secretary to the public safety minister, agreed some increased spending was tied to dealing with Afghanistan and the U.S. Homeland Security, but not all of it. “It also has to do with trade,” said Hoeppner. “It has to do with the movements of goods and services and individuals.” ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (3c)  Want to decide for yourself about the latest cost estimates?  Download the Rideau Institute report here (12 page PDF) – news release here.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (4)  Columnist Gwynne Dyer’s view on whether Osama Bin Laden won. “…. So bin Laden dug a trap, and the United States fell into it. In that sense his strategy succeeded, and the guerilla war that ensued in Afghanistan did much to turn Arab and Muslim popular opinion against America. (The invasion of Iraq did even more damage to America’s reputation, but that really wasn’t about terrorism at all.) In the long run, however, bin Laden’s strategy failed simply because his project was unacceptable and implausible to most Muslims. And the most decisive rejection of his strategy is the fact that the oppressive old Arab regimes are now being overthrown, for the most part nonviolently, by revolutionaries who want democracy and freedom, not Islamist rule.”
  • A showcase moment in the history of Canadian diplomacy – the topsecret spiriting of six Americans out of Tehran during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis – appears destined for blockbuster treatment in Hollywood. At least three years in development, the spy thriller Argo will focus on how CIA agent Tony Mendez – played by Ben Affleck, who also directs – plotted with Canada’s ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor, to rescue the trapped Americans by having them pose as Canadian location scouts for a fake movie supposedly being shot in Iran. Another Hollywood A-lister, George Clooney, is producing and acting in the film. Like the Affleck-helmed film that started shooting last week in Los Angeles – and which will also be shot in Washington and Istanbul – the title of the bogus movie in the CIA-hatched scheme 32 years ago was Argo ….”  The Internet Movie Database listing for Argo is already up here.  For more details from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. interviewed Mendez on the rescue (as well as a couple of the hostages), and shares the interview on podcasts here and here.
  • Saskatchewan airfield named after D-Day Spitfire pilot – Flight Lieutenant (Ret’d) Barry Needham was a young man when he flew four sorties over the beaches of Normandy, France, on D-Day during the Second World War. As a member of 412 Transport Squadron, he flew with some of the most celebrated wartime aviators in history, including Charley Fox (known for strafing the staff car of Field Marshall (Erwin) Rommel from his Spitfire) and American John Gillespie Magee, author of the celebrated poem “High Flight”. Although F/L Needham has attended several squadron functions over the past few years, it was the most recent event in his hometown of Wynyard, Sask. that has the 90-year-old veteran more than a little choked up. Wynyard recently named its unmanned airfield the W. B. Needham Field in a ceremony that included tributes from the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Lieutenant-General André Deschamps, the commanding officer of 412 (T) Sqn, Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Philippouci, and Major Chris Strawson, chief multi-engine instructor at 3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School, Portage-La-Prairie, Man. who has become quite close with F/L Needham in recent years ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 29 Aug 11

  • Libya Mission  Way to go, what can we do next?  “…. Successful intervention takes military muscle as well as political will, and the disposition and the capacity of the Harper government to contribute militarily to the NATO effort was crucial, as has been the active diplomacy of Foreign Minister John Baird. Canadians can take special satisfaction from the professionalism with which Canadian Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard commanded the NATO operation within the constraints of the authorizing UN resolution …. If the aspirations of the Libyan people are to be achieved and the country is not to fall back into civil conflict, the international community, including Canada, will need to stay engaged, less as guarantors of security, although that might be necessary for a little while, but in the long, trying process of state-building. Canada – government, civil society and industry – can help with drafting a constitution, “standing up” a Libyan administration and military, advising on the creation of an inclusive, pluralistic parliamentary system, supporting human rights, and generating economic growth so that young Libyans at last have a future ….”
  • Toronto Sun editorial on “cutting the CF at the top” “…. While Sun Media has always respected and supported our troops, that respect and support is targeted mainly on those whose boots go to war, and not those at the top who use the fog of war to expand their bureaucracies for personal insulation …. The Harper government, which has insisted all departments pay a price to bring the deficit under control, cannot look upon DND as an exception.  It is one of the biggest ticket items in the federal budget and, if Leslie is to be believed — and there is no reason to doubt him other than his superb timing — there is scads of room to cut.  With or without military precision.”
  • Way Up North  Globe & Mail editorial“…. Canada, despite having a federal government committed to its own Arctic strategy and sustainable development in that largely untapped region, is unprepared for commercial shipping in the Northwest Passage. The infrastructure needed to support such activity does not exist, and there is little sign that will change. (France’s ambassador for the polar regions, Michel) Rochard, a former French prime minister, said he has the “impression that Canada has given up on the competition to attract a large part of the (shipping) traffic in 25 or 30 years.” Russia, by contrast, is actively pursuing the opportunity. It may be that Canadians are content with this situation, as the costs would be substantial and such development would alter the fundamental nature of Canada’s North. But isn’t it at least a discussion we should be having?”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  MF/HF radios for Victoria-class submarines.
  • Happy 70th anniversary CFS Leitrim!  Now you see it, soon you won’t. When it was built, the top-secret Canadian Forces Station Leitrim property was nowhere near Ottawa. Urban sprawl has surrounded the intelligence-gathering facility of 500 sworn-to-secrecy staffers in a Greenbelt-ringed suburban landscape. Just as astronomers need darkness to see the stars, signals intelligence pros need quiet to hear the enemy and track their attempts to hack defence computer networks. According to Lt.-Col. Mark Lilienthal, outgoing CFS Leitrim Operations Chief of Staff, there has been some very preliminary talk of building a new facility somewhere else — from scratch. For now, they’re just going to move the road. This just as the facility celebrates its 70th anniversary — officially Canada’s oldest operational signals intelligence station ….”
  • Canada’s merchant mariners spent almost half a century fighting for recognition. Now they’re asking for one more courtesy: A badge of pride. The Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans Association is pushing for a small addition to the volunteer service medal, given to former military personnel who actively completed 18 months of voluntary service. They want a silver bar to be added to their medals identifying them as merchant mariners. “It tells people where ever our fellows go, when we wear our medals, that they’re merchant navy men,” said the association’s national president, Bruce Ferguson, speaking in Ottawa on Sunday prior to a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate merchant navy vets. “But we’re running into difficulty,” he admitted. “The government seems willing to do it, but it’s the chancellery of the governor general that controls the issuance of these medals and they’ve not co-operated with us.” A spokeswoman for the governor general’s office said she was looking into the issue, but was unable to get a response by press time ….”
  • On the shores on Onagaway Bay, Japan, stands a monument just metres away from where a foreign airman crashed in 1945. It’s a tribute to the courage displayed on the final mission of the only foreign serviceman to have a memorial on Japanese soil. Such is the admiration abroad for Robert Hampton Gray (VC). “Even though he attacked Japan, Japanese schoolchildren learn of Robert Hampton Gray (VC) due to the Japanese respect for his bravery,” explained Robert Fleck, president of Vintage Wings of Canada. “The problem we have is nobody in Canada has heard of him.” It’s partly to remedy such oversight that Fleck’s organization is in the midst of the Yellow Wings tour, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the creation of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, whose training planes were painted yellow ….”
  • Letter:  seeking anyone who helped build Hawker Hurricanes during World War 2.  “I wish to contact anyone who worked for the Canadian Car and Foundry Company of Fort William in 1940 and built Hawker Hurricane fighters, which were shipped to England for the Battle of Britain; or any friends or family members, or Elsie MacGill, the chief engineer at the time.  The reason for my search is that one such Hurricane fighter was found several years ago in an Indian jungle. It has been restored to flying condition in England and is now entertaining the public at air shows. We are very keen to get in touch with anyone who built those Hurricanes back then, or any of their family or friends …. Please write to me at jegd@uvic.ca, or telephone me at (250) 595-1266. (Signed) Jack Dixon, Victoria, B.C.”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 23 Aug 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 19 Aug 11

  • Report leaked to QMI:  CF way too top heavy.  The Department of Defence and the Canadian Forces are top heavy with too many civilian bosses in Ottawa and need to shift resources to the front lines, according to a secret defence report. Between 2004 and 2010, civilian hires at DND and the CF outpaced hires in the regular forces three to one, and while the number of sailors fell, staff at DND/CF headquarters in Ottawa ballooned by 38%. But the government says those hires were necessary to backfill positions left vacant by Canada’s heavy involvement in Afghanistan, “so that military members could focus their efforts on operational matters,” wrote Jay Paxton, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, in an e-mail Thursday. The transformation report, authored by Gen. Andrew Leslie, was submitted in early July but has yet to be released publicly. QMI Agency obtained a copy from a military source ….”  No word on sharing the report with anyone who wants to read it themselves.
  • Report leaked to Globe & Mail:  CF way too top heavy.  National Defence must take an axe to its bloated headquarters by dismissing or reassigning thousands of workers if the military is to meet its future obligations, concludes a landmark report charged with transforming the Canadian Forces. This scathing assessment by Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, who commanded the Canadian army during the Afghanistan war, arrives at a pivotal moment for the military, as the army returns from its troubled mission in Kandahar, the navy and air force seek new ships and aircraft, and the Conservative government vows to eliminate the federal deficit in a gloomy economy. “If we are serious about the future – and we must be – the impact of reallocating thousands of people and billions of dollars from what they are doing now to what we want them to do …will require some dramatic changes,” Gen. Leslie writes in Report on Transformation 2011. A copy of the report has been obtained by The Globe and Mail ….”  No word on sharing the report with anyone who wants to read it themselves.
  • Libya Mission (1)  More on HMCS Vancouver replacing HMCS Charlottetown from the CF Info-Machine.
  • Libya Mission (2)  More on Canadian boss reorg in Italy (via CF Info-Machine)
  • Way Up North (1)  “Peter Mackay, Canada’s defence minister, who arrived in Resolute Bay in the early hours of Aug. 18, made the most of his day-long visit to observe Operation Nanook, the Canadian Forces’ military exercise, shoring up support from every direction for his department’s increased visibility in Nunavut and the North. Mackay even managed to cram in a dive from an iceberg lodged in the bay outside Resolute with divers who have been learning how to work around icebergs. That, said Mackay, who donned a dry suit and full divers gear, was “disorienting,” but “incredible” as light shone through the iceberg into the water ….”
  • Way Up North (2)  CF Info-Machine coverage of Operation Nanook“Operation Nanook is well underway with Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aircraft and personnel providing valuable airlift during this major national and international operation. A combined Naval Task Group set sail from St. John’s, N.L. on Aug. 5, towards Canada’s Eastern and High Arctic, where other personnel and equipment from the Canadian Army, RCAF, and Canadian Rangers converged for the month-long, annual Arctic sovereignty exercise. In addition to the Canadian Forces, simulated major air disaster and maritime emergency scenarios involve the Canadian Coast Guard, Transportation Safety Board, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Public Safety Canada as well as the Government of Nunavut, the community of Resolute Bay and our private sector partners. Op Nanook, named for the Inuit word for polar bear, is the centerpiece of three annual northern sovereignty operations conducted by the Canadian Forces and its partners who share interest in Canada’s North ….”  More on Op NANOOK at the Canada Command page here.
  • Way Up North (3)  “A senior Canadian Army officer – Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw – is to travel to Moscow and other northern European capitals this fall for discussions about the Arctic. This development mocks the ludicrous media hype suggesting that there is a bitter rivalry involving Canada, Russia, the United States and Denmark (Greenland) over their sometimes competing claims and interests in the Arctic. To be sure, there are differences of opinion about the top of the world. But the reality is there is actually far more co-operation than there is friction. “This is beyond search and rescue,” the chief of Canada Command told me in a recent interview upon his European travel plans. “We are going to be talking about military co-operation in the North.” Officials from Russia and other Arctic Council countries will “table top” an international search-andrescue exercise in the Yukon in October. At this moment, Canadian and Danish warships and U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers are working together in Arctic waters after some of the vessels paid a courtesy call on a Greenlandic port. U.S. Coast Guard divers are on an exercise with Canadians on Cornwallis Island ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Canada’s air contingent in Afghanistan basically shuts down, after a very busy few years – these stats from the CF on how busy the planes and crews were since December 2008:   More from QMI’s David Akin here, and ipolitics.ca here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  How Canadian air force folks are helping create an Afghan air force (via CF Info-Machine).  “Kabul International Airport covers a vast area on the north side of the city. The sprawling complex includes civilian and military air terminals, air cargo centres, and International Security Assistance Force facilities. One military unit located on the airport grounds represents the future of the Afghan Air Force. The Afghan Air Training School (or Pohantoon e Hawayee, which means Big Air School) is where new members of the Afghan Air Force learn the basics of flying and maintaining aircraft and running an air unit. They also participate in literacy training, which is incorporated into nearly every course conducted by the Afghan national security forces. Ten advisors from Canada’s Air Force serve at the training school as part of the Canadian Forces contribution to the NATO training mission in Afghanistan. The Canadian staff are part of 738 Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron (738 AEAS), a NATO unit assigned to advise the the (school’s) Afghan commander and his senior staff ….”
  • The sacrifices made by members of the Canadian military and their families are being honoured with 26 bronze commemorative plaques that will be placed at intervals along the Highway of Heroes, which runs from Trenton, Ont., to Toronto. Announcement of the plaques took place Thursday in Toronto and was observed by at least 100 people, including Canadian soldiers, their families, parliamentarians and corporate sponsors. Each plaque is sponsored by a company, whose logo is visible below the image depicted on the plaque. Money raised through the sponsorship goes toward helping military families send children to summer camps, provide psychological counseling, retrofit homes and vehicles for soldiers returning with injuries or amputations and rehabilitate soldiers through athletics. Creation of the plaque program is a joint effort between the provincial Ministry of Transportation and True Patriot Love, a national foundation created by civilians with the aim of fostering better understanding between Canadians, the military and its endeavours ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Well, at least SOME of the U.S. Joint Strike Fighters are able to fly again.  “The F-35 Lightning II test fleet has been cleared for flight, the Pentagon announced Thursday. An Air Force safety investigation board is continuing its investigation of the failure of the AF-4’s Integrated Power Package on Aug. 2, which led to the grounding of the entire fleet of 20 aircraft. The AF-4 is the fourth conventional takeoff and landing variant produced by Lockheed Martin. A government and contractor engineering team determined that flight operations of the test aircraft could continue after reviewing data from ground and flight tests, and revised the test monitoring procedures that govern the IPP. Ground operations of the test fleet resumed Aug. 10 ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Here’s a taste of what happened at the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue industry day“…. A full complement of the right ADM’s and DG’s from Industry, Public Works and DND turned out, and it was noteworthy that they stayed until the end of the day.  In a procurement with this kind of history, little things can mean a lot, so government representatives handed out all their slide decks and notes in advance …. industry has until September 16 to get back to the government with its feedback, with a major focus on where the fixed-wing purchase can and should sit on a spectrum from full government ownership and ISS all the way through to full ASD, provided it still delivers the same ‘world-class’ capability as today.  This does not appear to be the only interaction the Crown intends, as this briefing is being followed by individual one on one corporate briefings, with the promise of follow-up sessions once inputs have been received and digested ….”
  • What’s Canada (Not) Buying?  Canada reportedly pulling out of Global Hawk UAV project“…. Canada has become the second country to withdraw from the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 alliance ground surveillance (AGS) program, but the remaining NATO partners are “very close” to signing a contract, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. The decision means AGS will lose another source of funding that must be compensated for by the 13 NATO members still committed …. Denmark also decided to withdraw from the partnership acquiring a six-aircraft RQ-4 fleet in June 2010. Meanwhile, Northrop and NATO officials are likely to sign a contract to launch the development phase of the AGS programme within several days. The contract award may still have to be approved by each of the national partners before it becomes official ….”
  • Two Canadian Forces members were listed on the National Sex Offender Registry, as of this spring, the Chief of the Defence Staff, has confirmed. “As of 11 May 2011, two Canadian Forces members were known to be subject to a SOIRA (Sex Offender Information Registration Act) order,” Gen. Walter Natynczyk said in a letter to Defence Minister Peter MacKay that was tabled in Parliament this week. Gen. Natynczyk said he has the power to temporarily exempt CF members from certain sex offender registry obligations, but noted he has never done so. Although a top government official told Huffington Post Canada the two members are still serving, Capt. Scott Costen, a Department of National Defence spokesman cautioned that administrative reviews, which are are launched after court martials or civilian criminal proceedings call into question the suitability of a member’s continued service, may be underway to release individuals from their military positions ….”
  • Some Twitter updates from the boss of Canada’s Army.  1) Senior Canadian medic recognized by U.S.  “BGen Hilary Jaeger was awarded the US Meritorious Service Medal for her outstanding leadership and great contribution to ISAF mission.”  2)  Change of assignment for senior Canadian officer working with U.S. forces.  “Great visit III Corps and Fort Hood. Atkinson‘s were awesome ambassadors for Canada. Welcome Milner‘s” (more on the senior Canadian appointment switch-around from the Fort Hood base newspaper here)
  • PM on Syria  Time for the boss to go.  “…. The Assad regime has lost all legitimacy by killing its own people to stay in power. I join with President Obama and other members of the international community in calling on President Assad to vacate his position, relinquish power and step down immediately. The Syrian people have a right to decide for themselves the next steps for Syria’s future ….”  More from Postmedia News here and Agence France-Presse here.
  • Lew-Mac on NATO“…. (Historian Jack) Granatstein rightly points out that, “In diplomacy as in baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out. Afghanistan was strike one; Libya was strike two. And strike three?” he asks. I suggest strike three already happened in 1999 during NATO’s 50th birthday celebrations when it was frantically searching for a role and an enemy now that the Cold War was over. It found an out of area mission bombing Serbia and Kosovo in support of the Kosovo Liberation Army, at the time a terrorist movement according to the CIA. Seventy-nine days of bombing later, Serbian infrastructure was devastated but her security forces were still defiant and little damaged. Diplomacy took over and NATO capitulated on the two poison pills in the Rambouillet Agreement that “justified” the bombing campaign in the first place, that is to say, NATO freedom of movement throughout Serbia and a referendum on Kosovo independence within three years. As a result of this Russian-led diplomacy Serbian forces pulled out of Kosovo. NATO’s military mission had failed which in my book makes it three strikes in 12 years ….”
  • MORE criminals (not just war criminals) on the CBSA “help us find these folks” web site – more from CTV.ca.
  • Meanwhile,Anyone defending foreign criminals remaining here are naively ignoring their potential threat or are driven by unknown motives, Canada’s public safety minister warned Thursday. Vic Toews said some Canadians “condemn our soldiers as war criminals,” but not foreigners evading deportation to face charges of crimes against humanity. On Sun News, he said such stances — including Amnesty International objecting to the government seeking public help to catch 30 suspected war criminals, plus the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) seeking killer Omar Khadr’s return — exhibit a “culture gap. “Don’t you people understand what is going on in the world … there are some bad people out there,” Toews told Ezra Levant, host of The Source ….”
  • Several Canadian cities will be receiving artifacts from Hangar 17 — a makeshift museum inside New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport that houses pieces from the 9/11 wreckage. Thousands of meticulously catalogued steel beams, crushed cars and fire trucks can be found inside the 80,000-square-foot hangar that’s rarely open to the public. Tom Doucette, executive director of The Military Museums in Calgary, said they will be receiving a 15-foot long piece of steel from one of the fallen World Trade Center towers that weighs just under 3,000 pounds ….”
  • Just as they did during active duty, the Olympus and Okanagan continue to slip silently along Canada’s waterways. These days, however, they’re not doing so unnoticed. After all, it’s difficult to miss the 1,250-tonne submarines that are taking a voyage from Halifax to Port Maitland – especially when they’re travelling above the water. Decommissioned by the Canadian Department of National Defense, the former submarines are being transported on floating drydocks towed by barges. At the end of the journey, they’ll meet their fate. The Oberon class submarines are scheduled to be scrapped by Port Colborne-based Marine Recycling Corp. at the company’s Port Maitland shipyard. Now it’s just a matter of getting them there ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 6 Aug 11

  • OP Nanook 2011 (1)  Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay:  Let the exercise begin! 
  • OP Nanook 2011 (2)  Who’s providing the base camp facilities?
  • Afghanistan (1)  Condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the fallen.  Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday 31 U.S. soldiers and 7 Afghan troops had been killed in a helicopter crash overnight, one of the worst incidents of its kind in the 10-year-old war in Afghanistan. The statement from the presidential palace said the helicopter had crashed in central Maidan Wardak province, just to the west of the capital, Kabul. The Taliban claimed to have shot down the troop-carrying helicopter ….”  More from ISAF, the AFG president’s office, the Taliban (with a PDF of the statement downloadable here) and other mainstream media here and here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  The “Afghanistan CSI” storyline.  “When U.S. troops came to the village of Armul in eastern Afghanistan in June, 2007, there wasn’t much left of three insurgents who had been blown up by their own bomb – torn clothes, body parts, a damaged AK-47, bits of metal and blue plastic. But among the remains was a severed hand. The soldiers took it back to their base and, using the sensor of a special biometric camera called the HIIDE, scanned the fingertips and retrieved two prints. Even in death, the insurgent wouldn’t escape the gigantic biometric net that the U.S. military had cast over the country. Canada has ended its combat mission and left Kandahar. Other nations are scaling down their presence. A decade of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq is closing in uncertain, ambiguous fashion. But the two major conflicts of the new century have altered military tactics, making them the first forensic wars. The introduction of scientific methods has reshaped counterinsurgency tactics, mixing police and military work, creating a seamless bridge between evidence collected on the battlefield and courtroom prosecutions years from now ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  One Ottawa-area Legion welcoming troops home.  “(Carleton Place) residents can show their appreciation to the men and women of the armed forces, who are coming home from Afghanistan after Canada’s longest armed conflict. Iain Davidson, the past president of the Carleton Place Royal Canadian Legion Branch 192, is hoping residents from the town and beyond will be on hand to welcome the troops home for Afghanistan Veterans Appreciation Day on Sunday, Aug. 14, just as they did for Victory in Europe – VE Day – in 1945 and to celebrate the end of the First World War in 1918, “The town turned out to welcome the troops home and that’s why we’re encouraging the churches in town, to ring their bells at 1 p.m.,” said Davidson ….”
  • Libya Mission (1)  “The Canadian heading NATO military operations against Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi refuses to accept that the battle between the regime and rebel forces is at a “stalemate.” “I disagree with the term stalemate,” Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard told Postmedia News on a busy day Friday as NATO dealt with conflicting reports about the possible death of Gadhafi’s son and fended off criticism from Italy on the handling of fleeing migrants. Numerous allied officials and analysts, including top U.S. military officer Mike Mullen, have used the word to describe the state of the conflict since allied air and naval firepower came to the assistance of the rebels in March. But Bouchard said the West still views western military offensives through the prism of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, which included ground troops and bombardment of national infrastructure and which led to the quick collapse Saddam Hussein’s regime ….”
  • Libya Mission (2)  Canada’s navy may be small in comparison with other nations’ maritime forces, but the work of HMCS Charlottetown off the coast of Libya is an indication of the value of our navy to Canada and to international stabilization operations. Unlike Canada’s CF-188 fighter aircraft operating from two Italian air bases in Sicily, HMCS Charlottetown is not easily accessible to news media, and her operations and contributions are largely unseen by the Canadian public — and regrettably, out of sight means out of mind ….”
  • This SUCKS (but there may be more to this than meets the eye).  “A Veterans Affairs Canada policy that denies veterans funding for long-term care if they choose private care is both ludicrous and heartless. Marie Goodfellow of Red Deer, who is 102, has had her federal government long-term care funding cut off because she moved from Bethany CollegeSide, a facility run by a not-for-profit society, and into a private nursing home run by Home Nursing Service Inc. Her care now costs $3,400 a month, or $40,800 a year. In the past, Veterans Affairs covered half that cost. Not anymore. Goodfellow, who served as a nurse during the Second World War, and two other veterans in Home Nursing Service’s care in Red Deer, have lost their federal benefits simply because they chose a private caregiver. In a growing atmosphere of public responsibility being off-loaded to private providers, through P3s and other means, it is astonishing that one arm of the federal government works at cross-purposes to the mandate of a Conservative government that espouses free enterprise at every turn. The irony is painful: Conservative leaders want the business community to provide a broader range of services to the public, but an arm of the government is preventing that from happening and punishing Canadians who make those choices ….”
  • A Nova Scotia man who helps veterans living on the street called on the federal government to fund emergency services for former military personnel, accusing Ottawa of failing the growing number of homeless vets. Jim Lowther urged the Conservatives on Friday to support a transition facility for veterans in Halifax, where he says he has come across at least 10 homeless former members since starting his group in February. Lowther, who retired from the military in 2005, said he knows of only one shelter in the country devoted to former Canadian Forces personnel and it’s run by volunteers. “Canadians need to know how dire the situation is and that it’s only going to get worse,” he said following a press conference. “We’re in desperate need.” NDP MP Peter Stoffer echoed the call for help from the Department of Veterans Affairs, claiming it has done little to help homeless vets since Col. Pat Stogran, a former veterans ombudsman, identified homelessness among veterans as a serious concern in 2008 ….”  More from CBC.ca here.
  • Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino back from Italy.
  • Peering into the fog of war: Journalists in the Second World War battled poor equipment, censors and the realities of modern warfare ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 15 Jul 11

  • Libya Mission (1)  Minister of National Defence drops by“Canadian troops in Libya are saving lives and helping to mount pressure on the country’s dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Thursday. MacKay praised the Canadian Forces personnel involved in the NATO-led mission in Libya during a teleconference Thursday from Naples, Italy, calling them “our greatest citizens and our best ambassadors.” The defence minister met Wednesday with some of the 650 troops stationed at bases in Italy for the operation. Despite the ongoing violence in Libya, MacKay said the Canadian military is helping to achieve “tangible results.” ….”  A bit more in the official CF statement here.
  • Libya Mission (2)  Canadian commander:  what suicide plan to blow up Tripoli?  “Moammar Gadhafi plans to blow up facilities such as oil refineries as the embattled leader’s forces retreat from Western-backed rebels in Libya, the Canadian commander leading NATO’s mission said Thursday. However, Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard said he had not heard of any plan by the dictator to blow up the capital Tripoli before giving it up — a possibility recently acknowledged by a Russian envoy. Speaking from a base in Italy and accompanied by Defence Minister Peter MacKay, Bouchard said the “Gadhafi regime has given direction to his forces to destroy certain facilities as they withdraw back, such as fuel refineries. “This is a government, this is a leader who will not hesitate to kill his own population to achieve his own personal goals,” he said via video conference. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean government forces will comply, he said ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  Compare and contrast two models of media coverage of troops at war (h/t to Mark Collins).
  • CF helps evacuate folks from remote northern Ontario communities, again“The Government of Canada, through the work of the Canadian Forces, evacuated 125 residents of Cat Lake First Nation, Ontario, overnight, after wildfires in the area were threatening their welfare. This operation was undertaken at the request of the Government of Ontario …. Within an hour of the province’s request for airlift support, two CC-130 Hercules; one from 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, based at 17 Wing Winnipeg and one from 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, based at 8 Wing Trenton, were en route to the affected community. Less than three hours later, all the residents identified as a priority for evacuation by local authorities were safely on the ground in Kapuskasing, Ontario ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Former General facing Court Martial for alleged dalliances in Afghanistan“…. Retired Brig.-Gen. Ménard has been charged with two counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline contrary to section 129 of the National Defence Act. The first charge relates to his alleged inappropriate conduct by engaging in an intimate personal relationship with another member of the Task Force at Kandahar Airfield contrary to Theatre Standing Orders. The second charge relates to alleged attempts by the accused to hinder efforts to find out the facts about that relationship ….”  Here’s what he was originally charged with late last year“…. The charges facing Brig.-Gen. Ménard are two counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline, laid in the alternative, contrary to section 129 of the National Defence Act (NDA), related to alleged inappropriate conduct as outlined in the Canadian Forces Personal Relationships and Fraternization directives; and four counts of obstructing justice contrary to section 130 of the NDA, pursuant to section 139(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada….”  More from Postmedia News here and CBC.ca here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Great flick from the CF Info-Machine’s multimedia section on Canada’s training and mentoring mission that’s just wrapped up.  Shame it didn’t get out sooner – good job!
  • Afghanistan (3)  More video from the CF Info-Machine on how shuras helped get the job done in Kandahar.  Again, shame it didn’t get out sooner.
  • Afghanistan (4)  The Toronto Star picks up the “garage sale” story and runs with it.
  • Afghanistan (5)  One opponent of the war’s “black or white” assessment“The narrative of Canada’s role in the Afghan civil war as told by the country’s mainstream media is designed to lead readers and viewers to two inescapable conclusions: First, that after 10 years, Canada’s involvement in the conflict has come to a definitive end. Second, that thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of Canada’s troops, at least 157 of whom have died with scores more maimed physically and mentally, the West has triumphed unconditionally in Afghanistan. Alas, the balance of probability is high that both these yarns are baloney ….”  A “definitive” end?  “Unconditionally” triumphed?  I’d be happy to see some mainstream media sources using words that specific.  Anyone?  Anyone?
  • Paratroopers from around the world meeting, and jumping, around Quinte. “Beach-goers at Sandbanks Provincial Park had some added scenery Thursday as military skydivers took part in an international parachuting operation over Lake Ontario. Military skydivers from Chile, United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Mexico and Canada have been in the Quinte region since the weekend, taking part in Exercise Quinte Dipper, an international exercise, aimed at familiarizing the skydivers with other country’s training methods. Capt. Christopher Nobrega, an adjutant from the Land Advanced Warfare Centre at 8 Wing Trenton said the week-long exercise helps the military personnel familiarize themselves with their counterparts from other countries ….”
  • Special Forces helicopter ops over Windsor over and done with “Nighttime military exercises over Windsor, Ont., this week have come to an end. And both the Canadian Forces and local residents who came out to watch were pleased with how the manoeuvres went. On two nights this week, two CH-146 Griffon helicopters with the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command buzzed the top of the downtown Chrysler building in the dark. Lights on the choppers were turned off, and the pilots wore night-vision goggles as they approached the building from all directions on Tuesday and Wednesday nights ….”
  • New bosses for Royal Military College and 1 Canadian Air Division.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Someone to do a survey of what’s where at the CFB Stadacona Naval Cemetery, research into biomarkers spotting acute low-level radiation poisoning and heated innerwear for divers for delivery to Richmond, Ontario.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  “L-3 Communications Corporation, Arlington, Texas, is being awarded approximately $22 million for the hardware and software to upgrade the Canadian Air Force’s training system from the existing Advanced Distributed Combat Training System to the current U.S. Navy Tactical Operation Flight Trainers Roadmap Procurement Program baseline. In addition, this contract includes the installation and testing of the hardware and software for six networked CF-18 nine-panel Tactical Operational Flight trainers; 10 Part Task Trainers and six brief and debrief systems; a theater specific visual database; Simulated Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System; new personal computer-based image generation; and operator, maintenance and user defined file training for approximately 10 students ….”
  • Preserving Korea’s stories.  “Capt. Mort Lightstone spent 6,600 hours in the air during the Korean War. He doesn’t want that to be forgotten. “As time goes by, we lose memory of those bad times,” said the 78-year-old veteran, who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force when he was 18. Today, he takes pride in talking to students around the country about his experience as a navigator in the war, and teaching them how to “salute veterans.” Lightstone, who served for 28 years in the Canadian military, still remembers how terrifying it could get. “We knew dying was part of the game,” he said, adding it shows the determination to defend people’s rights abroad. Lightstone believes every Canadian should have a chance to know what veterans went through as they fought during World War II and the Korean War. He is among the war vets who have joined the Historica-Dominion Institute’s Memory Project to help get their stories heard and shared by Canadians ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 22 Jun 11

  • More help coming for Canadian military families?  We’ll see later today.
  • A Winnipeg Free Press editorial on the Universality of Service provisions keeping some wounded warriors from being able to serve again. “Canadian military doctrine emphasizes flexibility and the ability to adapt to new circumstances, but when it comes to integrating wounded soldiers into the regular force, the generals and admirals at the National Defence Headquarters seem trapped in the past. The story of Cpl. Ryan Elrick is a case in point. Mr. Elrick was a combat soldier who lost both legs to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan five years ago. His combat days were over, but Mr. Elrick refused to throw in the towel and terminate his military career. Instead, he soldiered on, learned to walk with two prosthetic devices, and eventually found success in a new career as an air force intelligence analyst in Winnipeg. His superiors recommended him for promotion, but the brass in Ottawa sacked him instead. The case is now before the courts …. a policy of routine reintegration would be bad military policy. The military’s job is to prepare for the worst and its soldiers are trained to survive under harsh conditions with little food and no medical attention. The soldier-first policy doesn’t mean that seriously maimed soldiers cannot serve. Capt. Simon Mailloux lost a leg in Afghanistan but learned to run and carry heavy loads with his new prosthetic leg. As a result, he was redeployed as a brigade staff officer in Kandahar Airfield, basically an office job, albeit in a war zone …. Mr. Elrick is not a threat to the military or to its valid concerns about maintaining an effective fighting force, but the Armed Forces’ rigid attachment to doctrine could undermine the broad support it has received from Canadians.”
  • Libya Mission (1)  Update from the big boss there coming up today.
  • Libya Mission (2)  Good question“Canada’s involvement in Libya is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the country has in a short period of time boosted its international reputation and thus, its influence among the leaders in NATO. “(Canada’s contribution) is a very big effort for a military that still has a major presence in southern Afghanistan,” a senior NATO officer, who was not authorized to be quoted, told the Globe and Mail. Outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also heaped praise upon his country’s northern neighbour. In a speech at a NATO gathering in Brussels, he commended Canada for being among a handful of members that has “managed to punch well above their weight” in a transatlantic alliance that faces a “dim” future due to American belt-tightening and European indifference. The international community is undoubtedly paying attention. But, as the stalemate continues and the number of civilians killed continues to rise, Canada risks being part of an increasingly unpopular conflict ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  No surprises from a ceasefire.ca online survey on the Libyan mission.
  • Afghanistan (1)  Canada’s mission continues to shift.  “As the last troops dribble in from the former Taliban heartland of Panjwaii, ending Canada’s bloody five-year combat commitment in southern Afghanistan, the Canadian army has already begun tackling a new, less dangerous mission in the north. Nearly 50 Canadian trainers started working with Afghan army recruits two weeks ago at a joint Afghan-NATO Regional Military Training Centre on the outskirts of Kabul ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Brace for detainee political fracas!  “The heated political debate over whether Canada was complicit in the abuse of Afghan detainees will suddenly re-emerge Wednesday, as the federal government releases thousands of pages of documents related to the issue. The long-awaited release of the records comes a year after the Conservatives, Liberals and Bloc Quebecois formed an ad hoc committee of MPs to review 40,000 pages of uncensored documents. The records focus on how the Canadian Forces transferred detainees to Afghan authorities during this country’s military mission, and whether there is any truth to allegations that Canadian soldiers and officials knew — but failed to act — on abuse and torture of those detainees by Afghans ….”  More from the Canadian Press here.
  • Afghanistan (3)  Remember the Canadian kidnapped last year by the Taliban in Afghanistan?  Not much to say during Question Period about what Canada’s doing to help – this from the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs“…. the government is aware of this case. Due to security and privacy concerns, it would be absolutely inappropriate for us to comment on this case.”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Former CF soldier tells the War on Terror story via a chess set “A chess set of Taliban fighters featuring Osama bin Laden as the king and a suicide bomber as the knight is selling hundreds of copies to coalition troops in Afghanistan. The Terror Chess sets feature hand-painted Taliban militants with a woman in a burka as the queen. Ranged against the insurgents are soldiers from a choice of coalition countries including American, Canada and Britain. In the British set, the king is Tony Blair and the queen is Queen Elizabeth, while the rook is Big Ben. In the American set they are replaced by Barack Obama, the Statue of Liberty and the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Jeffrey Train, a 48-year-old former Canadian soldier who designed the figures, said he had sold around 1,500 sets, mainly as souvenirs to troops serving in the 140,000-strong international coalition in Afghanistan. Read it on Global News: Canadian-designed Taliban chess set latest craze for troops ….”  Global TV story here, and more from terrorchess.com here.
  • Afghanistan (5)  Wonder what folks who’ve been there, done that had to say about the season premier of “Combat Hospital” (usual Wikipedia caveats) on Global TV last night?  A bit of feedback here at Army.ca.
  • Andrew James Eykelenboom, 1982-2006, R.I.P.:  Mom of one of the fallen honoured for her work“Ninety-four strapped on helmets and sunglasses on Friday and spilled out from Courtenay Civic Cemetery onto Mission Hill to begin the two-day Boomer’s Legacy Bike Ride to Victoria. Their purpose was the same as last year and the year before – to raise as much money as possible for the Boomer’s Legacy fund. Cpl. Andrew “Boomer” Eykelenboom may well have been among the riders last week, were it not for the suicide bombing that claimed his life in Afghanistan back in 2006. The young medic had often asked his mother, Maureen, to send him items for the women and children he saw each day during his duties – many of whom would be in want of basic medical or other necessities. But after Andrew was killed, Maureen vowed to keep continue her son’s dream of helping vulnerable Afghan civilians, and founded Boomer’s Legacy in 2007. Four years and four cycles later, Boomer’s Legacy has raised over $400,000 – a benchmark that earned special recognition from Canada’s chief of defence staff, Gen. Walt Natynczyk, just a few feet away from Boomer’s grave. Natynczyk presented Maureen with the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service, the highest military honour for a civilian ….”
  • It appears Prince William will be doing a bit of military flying while visiting Canada later this summer.  “Prince William will help perform the daring manoeuvre of landing a (Sea King) helicopter on water during the royal visit to Canada. William and Kate arrive in the country next week on their first foreign trip, and details of their eight-day itinerary were released today by the Canadian government. William – who was at work as an RAF search and rescue pilot in Anglesey today, on his 29th birthday, – will join members of the Royal Canadian Air Force as a co-pilot, as they carry out the “waterbirding” technique in a Sea King. The prince’s private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, said: “The Sea King, which operates below 500 feet or in a hover when conducting anti-submarine warfare or search-and-rescue operations, does not always have a safe landing site should an emergency occur – the closest ship or land could be miles away ….”  In case you didn’t know, Prince William’s day job is flying search and rescue helicopters (Sea Kings, specifically) with the RAF.  More on the Royals’ itinerary here.
  • Some Canadian fighters are back in the U.S. training, and helping others train. “…. Salina (Kansas) residents have become more accustomed to the sounds of freedom and our neighbors to the north are feeling more at home as the Salina Municipal Airport is now a regular forward operating location for the Canadian Army and Air Force. CF-18s on the flightline in Salina. Canada’s Tactical Fighter Squadrons have an economic impact of close to $2 million each deployment. “Salina always treats us well,” said Capt. Tyler West, detachment commanding officer. “We really enjoy it here. It’s good training.” The Canadian Air Force is supporting the Army during forward air controller training. The Army FACs will be training to serve as the eyes on the ground for the Air Force pilots. Through a number of methods, FACs communicate with the inbound pilots, guiding them to destroy enemy targets and minimize collateral damage. A composite squadron of airmen and equipment from 409 and 425 Tactical Fighting Squadrons along with U.S. Navy and U.S. Army exchange pilots have come together for this vital mission ….”
  • (Belated on my part) Happy Air Force Appreciation Day, Canadian Air Force!
  • Remember this incident where Jamaican troops (trained, in part, by Canadian special forces) stormed a jet and arrested a man wanting to hijack the plane about two years ago?  The convicted hijacker is appealing his 20 year sentence.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 13 Jun 11

  • Libya Mission (1a)  “Politicians are preparing to discuss and vote on Canada’s role in combat efforts in Libya. A parliamentary debate on NATO military actions in the North African state will take place Tuesday and a vote will follow the next day. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has asked that the mission be extended by three and a half months, so the vote is expected to pass with ease now that the Conservatives have a majority. “It has a political significance,” said former United Nations ambassador Paul Heinbecker. “The government said it would put its decision to the House and that’s what happening … it’s easier to keep the support of the Canadian population if there is a bi- or tri-part consensus on a military intervention abroad.” ….”
  • Libya Mission (1b)  From a Calgary Herald editorial“…. readers -and the broader Canadian public -need to hear the position of our government. That position needs to be questioned, scrutinized and challenged to make sure we have thought through all the potential consequences before it is too late to easily back away. Parliament is a good place for that debate to begin.”
  • Libya Mission (2a)  The Conservative government will call for more diplomacy and humanitarian aid and will officially condemn the use of rape as a weapon of war as it moves to extend the military mission in Libya. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the government has worked to make the Libya intervention a non-partisan one, reaching out to the opposition parties and incorporating some of their views in the motion to keep Canada involved in the UN-backed mission for another three and a half months. “The motion we’ll be presenting Tuesday will particularly speak to the need for greater diplomacy, for greater humanitarian aid and particularly to tackle the growing challenge of rape as an instrument of war,” Baird told CTV’s Question Period Sunday. “This is something that is morally reprehensible to Canadian values.” Baird said the military objective of protecting civilians has not changed, but conceded that citizens and rebels won’t be safe until dictator Moammar Gadhafi is gone ….”
  • Libya Mission (2b)  Despite a growing perception that the United Nations-sanctioned NATO mission in Libya has evolved beyond its original objectives, Canada’s foreign affairs minister says its overall purpose remains the same. While NATO initially worked to establish a no-fly zone to protect civilians from forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, it appears that the mission has shifted its focus to removing Gadhafi from power. “The military mission hasn’t changed, we’re obviously there to protect civilians,” Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in an interview with CTV’s Question Period on Sunday. When pressed to explain whether that means directly targeting Libya’s embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi, Baird was less clear. “It is a reality on the political level that the people of Libya, including the rebels, won’t be safe as long as Col. Gadhafi is there. So the political objective, obviously, is we’d like to see him go,” he said ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  The Globe & Mail talks to the Canadian General in charge of the mission. “…. It’s a complex, 24-seven air and sea effort that can put a missile in a suddenly-spotted pickup truck or treat Col. Gadhafi, on his 69th birthday , to an intense series of daytime bombing runs in downtown Tripoli. Still, the general personally signs off on every last preselected target. It’s not just attention to detail, it’s a visceral sense of personal accountability. Gen. Bouchard may be determined but he is hardly gung-ho. He’s careful, deliberate and worries deeply about how to apply the big hammer of air power in the small circumstances of a brutal dictator clinging to power by indiscriminately killing and terrorizing his own citizens. “I must meet rules, the mandate, the political guidance,” but, he adds, and grows quietly pensive, “I look at every target … at the end of the day it’s a judgment call … and I’m accountable, I’m accountable to Canada, I’m accountable to NATO, and more importantly I’m accountable to myself,” he says. Make the wrong call and the wrong people, or maybe too many people, die. And, Gen. Bouchard adds: “I want those who know me best to be able to look at me and say, ‘you did the right thing.’” ….”
  • Libya Mission (4)  Ehab Sherif was serving customers at his St. John’s, N.L., pizzeria when rebels made their first strikes against Libya’s reigning regime this year. Friends in his home country started dying. His brother, who is also in Canada, went overseas to help. On the last week of April, 33-year-old Ehab put pizza-making on hold and jumped a plane to support rebels fighting Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s troops. Before returning to St. John’s 11 days ago, he saw mass graves, people riddled with bullets and other harrowing sights. By phone from Colossal Pizza and Donair, Mr. Sherif spoke to The Post’s Sarah Boesveld ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Uh, it’s not really a NEW threat because Canadian troops have been working side-by-side with Afghan forces carrying rifles and ammunition before now.  “When Canada’s last combat troops soon leave southern Afghanistan and the mission shifts to training Afghan security forces, Canadians will face a different, sinister enemy: the one from within. Taliban infiltrators are bringing the war inside the razor wire, and once reliably secure, northern compounds where Canadian troops and police will start work over the coming weeks in Kabul, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif are increasingly vulnerable. Afghan insurgents, usually dressed in police and army uniforms, have launched several spectacular attacks recently. They are striking far from their ethnic Pashtun power base in the south, where a surge of U.S. troops has thrown the Taliban off balance. “It’s a very real threat and it’s very disconcerting,” Col. Peter Dawe, deputy commander of Canada’s new military training mission, told the Toronto Star. “But you just keep doing what you’re doing. We’re all military professionals and the vast majority of us have been here before. We know the risks.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  “Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan is on track to end in July, and troops are beginning to wind down their military operations and prepare for the journey home. But for a group of specialized military “movers” tasked with staying behind to prepare, pack up, and ‘rack and stack’ the gear for shipping, months of work is just beginning. The Mission Closure Unit’s mammoth responsibility, which has been compared to packing up and moving a small town from Afghanistan to Canada, is in the early stages now but will hit full steam in July. The goal is to complete the move by the end of the year. But even then, due to the complexities of repatriating such vast quantities of equipment, it is expected that the Canadian Forces won’t be ready for another deployment of combat forces until November 2012, a full year later ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  Program to lure Taliban out of the fighting ranks back into the mainstream still not without glitches yet. “…. The Afghan government’s reconciliation program is dismally starved of cash and overwhelmed with red-tape. Insurgents who come in because of promises of amnesty, money and a fresh start with a job are quickly disillusioned. Graan, 23, who carried a machine gun and like many Afghans goes by only one name, surrendered with Azizullah. He said they received a lumpsum payment off the top, which has had to last them since the fall. “I am ready to go back (to the Taliban),” he said. “At least there we could eat.” Howard Coombs, the special advisor to Canada’s task force commander, said NATO is at a critical juncture in Kandahar where military operations that started last summer have ground down the Taliban’s fighting ability. “We are definitely at a tipping point right now,” he said in an interview. “The more people that come in terms of reintegration and reconciliation, the better.” The program has the potential to start winding down the conflict at a time when Canada is just about out the door and the U.S. is looking at its options to draw down troops ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  A reminder from Terry Glavin: “…. Canada’s mission in Kandahar will wrap up in July, to be replaced by a scaled-down training mission in Kabul. Much of the aid money for projects like Ehsan’s will join the Canadian exodus from Kandahar. The Canadian government has announced that it will cut aid funding to $100 million per year through 2014, for a total of $300 million. Another $75 million will be handed out over five years as part of the G8 initiative on maternal, newborn and child health. During the combat mission aid levels hovered between $200 million and $250 million each year, much of it with a strong focus on the Kandahar region where the Canadians were fighting.”