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Posts Tagged ‘Craig Skjerpen

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 26 May 11

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  • Libya Mission (1):  Canadian fighter jets have dropped 240 bombs over Libya in 324 flights, the military says. The figure was released in a defence department briefing one week after air force officials said such information might compromise the safety of Canadian pilots and the success of the mission to support rebels who are trying to topple Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi. But as doubts grow about the political and military purpose of the mission, the Canadian Forces is still refusing to say where Canadian bombs have been dropped, whether they’ve successfully struck their targets and how much the whole endeavour has cost taxpayers so far ….”  More from the Canadian Press here and CBC.ca here.
  • Libya Mission (2):  “…. A spokesman for the Libyan rebels said he wanted to see Canada supply more fighter jets to the mission and more support to the rebels fighting forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. “It’s the people trying to protect themselves against an army and it’s not equal at all. If NATO suspends its mission, there will be a slaughter,” said Sufyan Maghur, who is the liaison between the rebels and the Canadian government. The Canadian Libya Council, organized in response to the conflict, said it believes an increase in NATO strikes is necessary to avoid a prolonged conflict ….”
  • Libya Mission (3):  A Canadian frigate stopped and boarded a ship off the coast of Libya, but then let the vessel go despite the fact it was ferrying a large amount of arms and explosives to the rebel movement fighting Moammar Gaddafi’s regime. The revelation, stemming from a video posted on NATO’s website on May 24, has some experts fearing Canada and the military alliance are picking and choosing how they apply the UN-mandated arms embargo—and effectively allowing the ongoing Libyan civil war to continue. The video, which was also posted on YouTube follows the men and women of the HMCS Charlottetown in early April as they stop a tugboat in international waters near the Libyan port of Misrata. The Charlottetown has been patrolling in the Mediterranean since April and is Canada’s major contribution to enforcing the UN arms embargo. In the video, the Charlottetown’s captain, Craig Skjerpen, says he has received information that the ship—flying the flag of the Libyan rebels and appearing in the video jam-packed with people—is carrying weapons. The Canadians subsequently send a boarding team that uncovers what the video’s narrator describes as “lots of weapons and munitions on board,” including “small ammunition to 105mm Howitzer rounds and lots of explosives.” However, when the Canadians relay the findings up the chain of command to NATO headquarters, they are ordered to let the tugboat go without confiscating the arms. When asked to explain why NATO chose not to enforce the resolution in this instance, a NATO official who asked not to be named said “obviously it’s a fairly fine line.” NATO says it does not consider internal movements between Libyan cities to be a breach of the arms embargo at sea, especially between Misratah and Benghazi, two rebel-controlled cities that the alliance says has fairly frequent maritime traffic now ….”
  • Libya Mission (4):  Two Canadian soldiers in Italy were under medical observation Wednesday after they walked away from a car crash that killed an Italian fighter pilot. The Department of National Defence said the two Canadians were unharmed in the accident. The accident happened a little after 9 p.m. Tuesday about 100 metres outside the entrance to the Trapani-Birgi airbase where Canada’s air force for the Libyan mission is stationed, the department said. Local Trapani newspaper Telesud reported Wednesday that the two Canadian women were in a car that collided with a Ducati motorcycle. Telesud reported that 33-year-old Francesco Rinciari, a sergeant in the Italian air force, was killed in the accident. On Wednesday, Canadian Forces spokesman Brig-Gen. Richard Blanchette expressed his condolences to Rinciari’s family ….”  Note to Postmedia editors:  Telesud 3 is a local TV station, not a newspaper (check the video of the story here about 9:15 into the newscast).  Also, although I stand to be corrected, Italian media aren’t saying the man killed was a pilot, they’re saying he was a senior NCO (who don’t tend to fly planes).  More in the Italian media here, here, here, here and here.
  • Afghanistan:  After nearly a decade of “tremendously successful work” in Afghanistan, the general commanding Canada’s elite, secret special forces says they are to end combat operations here at the same moment as the country’s regular combat forces. “The Taliban cannot operate with impunity anywhere in Kandahar largely because of all the SOF (special operations force) community, because it is an alliance, but certainly because CANSOF was focused on it,” Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson, commander of the country’s clandestine military community, said in a rare interview. After the Taliban lost badly on the battlefield to mostly Canadian troops in 2006 and early 2007, the insurgents “essentially changed their tactics from holding ground and trying to be the shadow government in a large part of the province and directly challenging the authorities with formed units” to using “intimidation tactics,” Thompson said. “They started to go after the Afghan leadership and upped the ante with IEDs and suicide bombings and became much more asymmetrical. “That’s when their leadership became the more critical component and that’s when SOF began to play its role.” ….”
  • Robert Giruourd, 1960-2006, Michelle Mendes, 1978-2009, R.I.P.:  Planting trees to remember the fallen.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  More attacks claimed in Kandahar, Zabul.
  • Flooding/Quebec:  Defence Minister Peter MacKay toured the flood-ravaged Richelieu Valley south of Montreal on Wednesday, but his appearance did little to tamp down a controversy over the military not taking a role in the eventual flood cleanup. While hundreds of Canadian troops have been in the area for weeks sandbagging and helping out locals, the Quebec provincial government has requested that the troops stick around to help with the aftermath, too. The request comes as both the provincial and federal governments deal with anger and resentment over the way the flooding of 3,000 local homes has been handled by authorities in both Quebec City and Ottawa ….”  More from CBC.ca here, and the Canadian Press here.  The CF’s Fact Sheet on the flood assistance work in Quebec, OP Lotus, is here.
  • Canada’s defence minister says information about the delivery of the country’s new maritime helicopters will be released at a news conference Thursday. Peter MacKay made the comments Tuesday night in New Glasgow, where he and Gen. Walter Natynczyk, chief of the defence staff, met with a group of cadets and reservists from MacKay’s Central Nova riding. The helicopters, the CH-148 Cyclone, are being produced by Sikorsky and are to replace the aging fleet of Sea Kings. MacKay admitted the helicopter program has faced a number of challenges. “There’s a long and, dare I say it, tortured history when it comes to the maritime helicopter program,” he said, calling it “one of the worst examples of a military procurement that went badly.” ….”  Last week’s announcement that “we finally have one (but not for using on ops just yet) here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War:  As Mark Collins asks, who do you believe?
  • General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., a leading manufacturer of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, tactical reconnaissance radars, and surveillance systems, and CAE today announced that the companies have signed an exclusive teaming agreement to offer the Predator® B UAS to meet Canada’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance needs …. Under the program presently referred to as the JUSTAS program, the Canadian Government will establish a requirement to field and support interoperable, network-enabled UASs to provide ISTAR and all-weather precision-strike capabilities in support of its operations worldwide. GA-ASI and CAE will jointly compete for this program, with GA-ASI serving as the prime contractor supporting a U.S. Foreign Military Sale procurement. The teaming arrangement between GA-ASI and CAE is designed to offer the best combination of experience and proven capability to meet program and Canadian-specific requirements while reducing technical, cost, and schedule risks ….”  A bit more on this here.
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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 3 Mar 11

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  • CF to Libya (1a):  Canada’s Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) now has a page with information on Operation MOBILE, Canada’s mission to LibyaThe Canadian Forces launched Operation MOBILE on 25 February 2011 to assist the departure of Canadians and other foreign nationals from Libya. Op MOBILE is part of a whole-of-government effort led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) ….” The CF’s Combat Camera folks have pages with photos and video from OP Mobile, too.
  • CF to Libya (1b):  CEFCOM’s first feature story about the evacuation mission so far.
  • CF to Libya (2a):  So, what’s the job of the HMCS Charlottetown, exactly? “…. Cmdr. Craig Skjerpen, addressing his crew before departure, said they were heading into an “emerging humanitarian crisis” in North Africa, along with the navies of the United States, Britain and other Western nations. The country is in revolt over the 41-year reign of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Skjerpen told reporters little is yet known about the Charlottetown’s actual role once it arrives off Libya, which will come following a week-long Atlantic crossing. He doesn’t know yet whether the ship will join an existing NATO fleet or a U.S. naval task force, both now in the Mediterranean. Skjerpen also said he has no orders to begin enforcing United Nations trade sanctions against Libya. Nor does the frigate have stocks of humanitarian aid on board. “It’s a very dynamic situation over there right now, so we’ll have to adapt to whatever happens.” ….” More from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald here.
  • CF to Libya (2b):  Well, here’s what SOME in Canada’s Libyan community want. “Edmonton’s Libyan community is calling for the removal of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and has asked the Canadian government to take an active role in supporting the Libyan people. Zachariah Mansour, a second-year science student at the University if Alberta, was among 60 protesters calling for these measures at a recent rally at Churchill Square. “Basically we want to see a similar response to what happened in Haiti during the earthquake and in Sri Lanka during the tsunami; we want humanitarian aid not military intervention,” he says ….” (Note to Edmonton Libyan community:  a lot of the help sent to Haiti got there BECAUSE of the military.)
  • CF to Libya (3):  Toronto think-tanker John Thompson’s take“….Warships off the Libyan coast can be used to potentially interdict shipments to that country, provided that some sort of agreement between various nations decides to exclude — for example — shipping from Iran or North Korea, and can manage to do so under international law.  If the war continues, warships might be used to escort shipments of humanitarian supplies.  More interventionist roles, such as declaring that Libyan aircraft all remain grounded, or sending special forces to secure stocks of chemical weapons (which Libya has, and used in Chad in the 1980s) or to destroy Libya’s inventory of Scud Missiles to keep the conflict contained to Libya alone.  However, such interventions might cause lasting resentment that will outlive the current situation and could easily be used as for propaganda purposes by any faction.”
  • CF to Libya (4):  More “learning” of JTF-2 headed downrange. “…. the dispatch of Canada’s frigate HMCS Charlottetown, which sails Wednesday from Halifax with 240 Canadian Forces personnel aboard, represents a commitment of weeks or months of military presence. Its first job is to set up command-and-control for evacuation efforts if they’re still needed. Then it is likely to assist in aid operations to Libyans, and could finally end up as part of tougher international military “sanctions” against the regime, such as enforcing a blockade, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said. Canadian special forces troops are now based in Malta, The Globe and Mail has learned, and are believed to be playing an active role in assisting evacuation missions to rescue Canadians and citizens from other countries ….”
  • CF to Libya (5a):  Retired General Lew MacKenzie, in his own words, on Canada sending fighters to help in any no-fly zone that’ll be imposed on Libya “…. The immediate need for imposing a no-fly zone over Libya will only be achieved outside of the Security Council’s decision-making by a coalition of the willing. Some nation will have to assume a leadership role and as French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the first to recommend the idea, France would be an obvious choice. Canada should participate.”
  • CF to Libya (5b):  Retired General Lew MacKenzie, quoted & paraphrased, on Canada sending fighters to help in any no-fly zone that’ll be imposed on Libya: “…. Retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie said deploying CF-18s would be “logistically possible,” but “extremely difficult and somewhat time-consuming.” He foresees a more humanitarian role for Canada’s troops, although even that could be difficult since Canada doesn’t have a lot of assets already in the area ….”
  • Canada isn’t sending JUST military help to Libya. “…. “Canada is acting swiftly to help meet the humanitarian needs of the people of Libya which are a result of recent violence in that country,” said Prime Minister Harper.  “We are taking action to provide immediate humanitarian support to areas that need it most.” …. Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), will help to address urgent medical requirements, basic humanitarian needs, and the repatriation of people displaced into Tunisia and Egypt.  Canada’s help will include improving access to food, water, sanitation, shelter and emergency medical care.  The initial contribution being announced today will support humanitarian efforts through the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of the Red Cross and the International Organization for Migration ….” More on that from the Canadian Press, CBC.ca, Postmedia News, and QMI Media.
  • It didn’t take long for the usual suspects to come out against ANY kind of help for Libya involving people whose titles include ranks. “The Canadian Peace Alliance is opposed to any military intervention in Libya or in the region as a whole …. Western military deployment to Libya is a bit like asking the arsonist to put out their own fire. Far from being a shining light in a humanitarian crisis, western intervention is designed to maintain the status quo and will, in fact make matters worse for the people there ….  The best way to help the people of Libya is to show our solidarity with their struggle. There are demonstrations planned this weekend. The people united will never be defeated!” I’m sorry, but WTF does “showing our solidarity with their struggle” mean, exactly?  Ship over some freeze-dried, vacuum-sealed solidarity to drop on the masses?  If you’re going to whine, how about some concrete solutions?  Even the Libyan community in Edmonton was clear about what they want.
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • Ottawa’s patience has run its course as the federal government is set to impose penalties of up to $8-million against Sikorsky for the latest delays in the delivery of a new fleet of maritime helicopters. The aircraft manufacturer is facing a financial hit after failing to meet a schedule that already has been pushed back from the original 2008 deadline. The amount of the penalty is largely symbolic, representing up to 0.15 per cent of the $5.7-billion contract, but the move highlights Ottawa’s decision to take a tougher stand against the U.S.-based company ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War:  Ceasefire.ca has posted a web page allowing you to send a letter to prominent politicians to oppose purchase of the F-35 here. One wonders how many people “personalize” the letter to make it say something COMPLETELY different than what’s already there before sending it?  Just sayin’….
  • Wanna buy an old Snowbird? “A rare chance to acquire an iconic piece of Canadian aviation history is up for grabs when a Snowbirds Tutor Jet is auctioned in Toronto next month.  The Canadian Forces’ Snowbirds team, which claims Moose Jaw as its home, has entertained millions of air show spectators as international ambassadors for Canada for more than 40 years …. Now one of these rare aircraft will be offered at public auction for the first time at the annual Classic Car Auction of Toronto from April 8 to 10 held at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont., next to Pearson International Airport.  It is one of only four known CT-114s under private ownership …. Originally powered by the J85 jet engine, which has since been removed after being retired from service, the aircraft is expected to become a candidate for restoration or historical museum display.”
  • Know those pirates stealing boats and killing people around Somalia?  Now, ship owners here in Canada are starting to get more  worried, too. “The hijackings and kidnappings orchestrated by Somali pirates in waters halfway around the globe are rippling back to shores of this country, Canadian shipping companies say, and they’ve joined an international campaign urging world governments to do more to combat the problem.  Several international shipping associations and sailors’ unions have launched the Save Our Seafarers campaign, warning the “growing Somali piracy crisis” is threatening global trade and endangering those working on ships plying the waters off Africa’s east coast.  The campaign’s supporters include the Chamber of Shipping of B.C. and Fairmont Shipping (Canada) Ltd., which say Canadian companies have had to turn down business and make costly changes to shipping routes to avoid the precarious waters patrolled by pirates.  “This problem has been recurring and has been escalating to a degree that we don’t feel this is something the industry can resolve,” Samuel Tang, a Fairmont Shipping vice-president, said in an interview ….”