MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 19 Oct 11

  • What’s Canada Buying?  Big Honkin’ Ship contract announcement creeping closer.  Shipbuilders across the country will find out (today) who will share $35 billion to revitalize the navy and coast guard over the next 30 years. Two massive contracts are up for grabs: $25 billion to build 15 military vessels, such as destroyers, frigates and offshore and Arctic patrol vessels; as well as $8 billion to build non-combat ships, including scientific vessels for the coast guard and a new Arctic icebreaker. The announcement is expected (today) at 4 p.m. ET. Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding and Vancouver’s Seaspan Marine Corp. are bidding on both, while Quebec’s Davie Shipyard is bidding on the $8-billion contract. Davie, which had been idle and on the brink of bankruptcy, put together a last-minute bid with Ontario’s Upper Lakes Group, international giant SNC-Lavalin and Korea’s Daewoo ….”  More on the wait here, here, here, here, here and here.
  • Honkin’ big exercise coming to CFB Wainwright. “CFB Wainwright is partaking in a historical exercise this month at the base’s Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre as part of a progressive shift to prepare troops for any battle they may face in the near or distant future. The Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre in Wainwright officially opened in 2004 with only 30 permanent staff. In 2006 the CMTC held its first large-scale military exercise and since then has grown to incorporate more challenging exercises and learning methods. Enter MAPLE RESOLVE. On Oct. 11 CFB Wainwright held a media day to showcase CMTC’s latest exercise called MAPLE RESOLVE 1101 (MR 1101), a month-long exercise running from Oct. 1 to 28. During the exercise CFB Wainwright will be hosting about 4,000 soldiers from Canada, the United States and The United Kingdom and more than 900 military vehicles and other assets such as Air Force support, making this the largest exercise in CMTC’s history ….”
  • Members of the Order of Military Merit are now eligible to preside at citizenship ceremonies, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced (Tuesday) …. Although citizenship judges preside at most citizenship ceremonies, occasions arise where they are not available. On such occasions, recipients of the Order of Military Merit may be invited to preside at a ceremony. This is an honorary role, in which the volunteer ceremony presiding official speaks to new citizens about the responsibilities and privileges of Canadian citizenship, administers the Oath of Citizenship and presents a citizenship certificate to each new Canadian ….”  More on this here.
  • What’s the Veterans Affairs Minister have to say when asked in the House of Commons about $226M being cut from the budget?  “…. on the contrary, we are investing in our veterans. With the new veterans charter, we are investing an additional $189 million for our veterans. However, there is a reality we must all face in the House and that is that our Korean War and World War II veterans are aging and, unfortunately, will be passing away in greater numbers over the coming decades. I invite the hon. member to support this government’s initiatives. She can support our “Helmets to Hardhats” initiative to encourage our soldiers ….”
  • Remember this story, with no shared documentation?  “The Canadian military is keeping a watch on aboriginal groups through an intelligence unit that is meant to protect the Forces and the Department of National Defence from espionage, terrorists and saboteurs. The Canadian Forces’ National Counter-Intelligence Unit assembled at least eight reports on the activities of native organizations between January, 2010, and July, 2011, according to records released under access to information law ….”  Since the Globe & Mail doesn’t appear to want to share, I will – documents in question downloadable (21 page PDF) here – you’re welcome.
  • Head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Alan Bersin:  it doesn’t HAVE to be “increased security” VERSUS “harder trade”“On the eve of a perimeter security deal between Ottawa and Washington, the top U.S. customs official is championing the idea of a “thinner” border for low-risk traffic as he seeks to reassure Canadians he understands what they want from the controversial agreement. Alan Bersin, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says he wants to make it easier for legitimate travellers and cargo to enter the United States so both countries can focus on high-risk traffic instead …. “The message I hope to be helping spread during this trip is that the old dichotomy between the promotion of trade and heightening of security … is a false choice,” he said ….”
  • Barnett “Barney” Danson, 1921-2011, R.I.P.  Barney Danson’s life was forged on the battlefields of Normandy, where he was wounded, lost his three best friends and the sight in one eye, and found himself as a person. Danson, who died Monday in Toronto, returned from the Second World War to found a successful business and an equally successful political career that saw him become defence minister. He went on to win many awards, help build the Canadian War Museum and be named a companion of Order of Canada. But it was his experiences at war with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, where he rose to lieutenant from ordinary rifleman, that had the greatest impact on him. “Many of the things from my military experience were invaluable in shaping the rest of my life,” he said in a 2002 interview. “Certainly it was a great motivating factor in getting into politics in the first place.” ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 30 Sept 11

  • Pile On the Defence Minister About The Planes/Choppers! (1a)  PM Stephen Harper continues to back his man (the Minister, anyway) “…. Mr. Harper, however, said all Mr. MacKay’s flights were legitimate. “When he has used them, they’ve been for important government business,” the Prime Minister told the Commons. He invoked fallen soldiers in defending his minister, saying half of Mr. MacKay’s flights were to attend repatriation ceremonies where the remains of dead troopers were returned to Canada. “Half of those flights are for repatriation ceremonies so that he can meet the families of those who have lost their loved ones in the service of this country. He goes there to show that we understand their sacrifice, we share their pain and we care about them,” the Prime Minister said ….”  And this was so different from the CDS’s work before the much-maligned, and un-PM-supported, trip to rejoin his family how?  More from the guys who started the pile on here.
  • Pile On the Defence Minister About The Planes/Choppers! (1b)  Here’s Hansard’s version of what the PM said in the House of Commons yesterday“…. the Minister of National Defence has participated in some 55 repatriation ceremonies for over 80 lost Canadian service personnel …. This minister uses government aircraft 70% less than his predecessors. Half the time, he does so to attend repatriation ceremonies for soldiers who gave their lives for our country. That is why we have such great respect for the Minister of National Defence on this side of the House of Commons …. When this minister pays his respects to the families of our fallen soldiers I expect the official opposition to support us and the minister by showing respect for these families.”
  • On the CDS and plane trips.  “…. Tradition suggests Gen. Natynczyk is heading into the final months of his term as Chief of the Defence Staff. He led our Canadian Forces through the successful completion of our combat mission in Afghanistan — one that elevated Canada’s military reputation around the world. We should allow him to bask in the afterglow that follows a job well done.”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Columnist Joe O’Connor seems underwhelmed at how Canada handled fast-tracking Afghan translators to move to Canada.  “…. Interpreters, or ’terps, in the dusty lingo of life in the Afghan war theatre, were vital to our mission as translators, cultural guides — and as Afghans — who understood what Afghanistan was all about. One imagines that these Afghans thought they knew what Canada was all about after Mr. Kenney launched the program: a land of opportunity, of safety — and a just reward for a job well done. It is a pity that isn’t true.”  Not exactly – it was only true for 1 out of 3 who applied (glass half empty version), or it was true for more than 500 terps (glass half full version).
  • Afghanistan (2)  NDP MP Anne-Marie Day congratulates ROTO 10 in the House of Commons“I am deeply honoured today to draw attention to the difficult commitment undertaken by our Canadian troops on Afghan soil during Rotation 10 of Joint Task Force Afghanistan, which took place from October 2010 to July 2011. We ought to commend and applaud the sacrifices and efforts made during this mission. In 2001, when Canada became involved in this mission, Canadians already suspected that our involvement would be long and arduous. In total, 10 years went by before we considered our work to be done. Tomorrow there will be a ceremony at Valcartier to mark our soldiers’ return. They lived up to the Canadian promise. We can all celebrate their work, be proud of it and honoured by it as well.”
  • Afghanistan (3)  U.S. blogger Michael Yon continues to make no friends – this time, assessing Canada’s impact in Kandahar.  “…. the history of the Canadian troops is softly being rewritten as successful in Afghanistan. Reality differs. The Canadians troops have an excellent reputation and they served with distinction, but after nearly being swallowed whole, they were ordered to abandon their battlespace. There were many causes. The Canadian combat forces could have prevailed, but Ottawa is weak. The prime cause for the Canadian defeat was that tough men in mud homes without electricity defeated comfortable politicians in Ottawa, who seem to think that manufactured history will make them victorious ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Detainee probe by Military Police Complaints Commission plods on, slowly“The Federal Court has dismissed complaints from military police officers over hearings conducted by the Military Police Complaints Commission into issues relating to the treatment of Afghan detainees. Eight current and former officers with the Canadian military police had argued they were being denied the right to a fair hearing with regard to whether they were at fault in their transfer of detainees to Afghan authorities or for not investigating how they were treated once transferred, given accounts about abuse of such prisoners at the hands of Afghan authorities ….”  Federal Court decision here, decision summary here and more media coverage here and here.
  • Paeta Derek Hess-Von Kruedener, 1962-2006, R.I.P.  Remembering, five years later.  “…. On 25 July 2011, the fifth anniversary of the attack on Patrol Base KHIAM, the fourth annual memorial service was held in El Khiam, led this year by New Zealand Army Lieutenant-Colonel Helen Cooper, the current chief of Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) ….”
  • On how much veteran families get for funerals:  “Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.):  Mr. Speaker, a Canadian Forces member receives $13,000 for funeral costs. A veteran receives $3,600. Nineteen months ago we raised this issue. The answer we received was that it was under review. Last year we asked the minister again to fix this problem. Even though his own officials raised it with him, he told a Senate hearing that it was not the time to talk about the matter. Yesterday we received another non-answer. Our veterans have done their job. They served and defended Canada. Why will the minister not do his and fix the situation now?  Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC):  Mr. Speaker, I am glad to say that on this side of the House we not only speak for veterans, but we act for veterans. As I told the member yesterday, this program is managed by the Last Post Fund. It is doing an outstanding job. We fund the Last Post Fund. We are making sure that every military member who is killed or injured during service, whatever his or her rank, is well-served and will be treated with respect until the last moment of his or her life.”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Remember the “rent a UAV” bid request A new Statement of Work and Evaluation Criteria document is out (via Army.ca).
  • What’s the U.S. Buying?  A Canadian company is getting more work from additions to this big job“Canadian Commercial Corp., General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada, Ontario, Canada, is being awarded an $87,335,007 firm-fixed-priced modification under previously awarded contract (M67854-07-D-5028) for procurement of 425 of the following engineering change proposal upgrades: upgraded transfer case kit; hood/bonnet assembly kit; exhaust system kit; central tire inflation system upgrade kit; skydex flooring material kit; electrical harness kit; route clearance digirack kit; remote weapon station joystick kit; front door assist kit; wheel and tire upgrade kit; and independent suspension axel system kit. Work will be performed in Benoni, South Africa (70 percent); Trenton, N.J. (20 percent); Chandler, Ariz. (6 percent); and Halifax, Canada (4 percent) ….”
  • Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino chats up defence industry reps at the Canadian Association of Defence and Securities Industries about buying stuff.
  • Whazzup with the General who wrote the transformation/reorganization report that all the reporters got“CGI Group Inc., a leading provider of information technology and business process services, today announced the opening of a new Canadian Defence, Public Safety and Intelligence business unit based in Ottawa with capabilities to serve the Canadian Armed Forces around the globe. In addition, the Company also announced the appointment of Lieutenant General Andrew Leslie to lead the new Defence, Public Safety and Intelligence unit. The offering will build on the corporation’s global expertise to develop and implement innovative, world-class solutions tailored to specific knowledge and requirements of Canada’s modern-day defence and security challenges ….”  A bit more here.
  • An interesting idea from the Royal Canadian Legion as an alternative to recognizing Afghanistan’s war dead on the national cenotaph in Ottawa.  “…. some veterans argue that singling out those who died in Afghanistan for special recognition on the memorial does a disservice to the more than 100 Canadian peacekeepers who have lost their lives in various other conflicts. For that reason, the Royal Canadian Legion said Thursday that, instead of specifically acknowledging the toll in Afghanistan, the monument should be dedicated to all of those who died “In the Service of Canada.” That’s the same inscription that is found in the Seventh Book of Remembrance, which records the names of all of the Canadians who died in military action since the Korean War. “We think that an inscription that covers the sacrifice made in all wars or missions would be acceptable to most people instead of etching the individual wars or missions,” said Patricia Varga, the Legion’s dominion president ….”
  • The World Socialists’ take on “royalizing” the branches:  “…. Though the rose of the Canadian military will smell no sweeter under its new designation, the name change exemplifies the ideological shift pursued by the new Conservative majority government. As the Canadian capitalist class has ever more vigorously asserted its imperialist interests abroad, and employed increasingly anti-democratic methods of rule to enforce its agenda of austerity domestically, its servants in the Harper government have contemptuously discarded the “peaceful” and “liberal- social democratic” Canadian nationalism promoted by the Liberal governments of the 1960s and 1970s and sought to promote the military and the Crown as sacrosanct elements of “what it means to be Canadian.” ….”
  • They’re not “war resisters”, they’re volunteers who ran away and aren’t brave enough to face the music – this from the House of Commons yesterday“Mr. Speaker, decorated Iraq war veteran Rodney Watson has lived in limbo for two years in sanctuary at an East Vancouver church with his wife Natasha and young son Jordan, both Canadian citizens. I have come to know Rodney and know him to be strong in his conviction for peace and justice, and brave in his commitment to go up against an illegal war. It has been a tough two years, and the strong support from the war resisters support campaign has been enormously important. If Rodney were to return to the U.S., he would likely be charged, which would make his return to Canada inadmissible, tearing him apart from his family. As many as 40 other war resisters like Rodney are currently fighting to stay in Canada. This Parliament has passed two motions in support of war resisters, yet the government is still trying to deport them. I encourage Canadians to write to the immigration minister and their MPs about Rodney and all war resisters to support the call for their permanent residence in Canada.”
  • Fence along the Canada-U.S. border?  Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?  “The United States has distanced itself from its own report that suggested it is considering beefing up its security at the Canadian border — possibly through the construction of “selective fencing” and trenches as well as enhanced electronic surveillance. The proposed options are contained in a detailed draft report released Aug. 31 in Washington, D.C., by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. The proposals will be aired at public meetings in American cities this fall, before the U.S. government considers how to further tighten the border to keep out terrorists and other criminals. But late Thursday afternoon, after reports about the possible fence hit the Canadian media, the U.S. agency released a carefully worded statement. “A border fence along the northern border is not being considered at this time,” it said ….”  A summary of the report (PDF) is available here, the news release linked to the report here, and more in the Globe & Mail here.
  • Meanwhile, the UAV’s drone on looking for bad guys and bad stuff going from Canada to the U.S.  “The unmanned planes look north toward the long, lightly defended and admittedly porous Canada-U.S. border – the best route many Americans believe for jihadists seeking to attack the United States to sneak across. Like their missile-carrying military cousins prowling Pakistan’s skies targeting al-Qaeda suspects, the unarmed Predator aircraft that have patrolled the 49th parallel since 2009 are high-tech, sophisticated and little understood. And they are part of the same diffuse and determined effort the Unites States is making to secure its borders and defend itself. “We’re here to protect the nation from bad people doing bad things,” says John Priddy, U.S. National Air Security Operations director for the Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Air and Marine. He heads the Predator operation guarding American’s northern airspace. “This is the equivalent of the Cold War in terms of a new type of vigilance,” says Mr. Priddy, who has flown everything from Boeing 747 cargo jets to Apache helicopters ….”
  • Former U.S. VP Dick Cheney’s in Canada, worried about a biological or nuclear terrorist attack.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 19 May 11

  • New Federal Cabinet (1a):  Former OPP boss Julian Fantino has been named Associate Minister of National Defence (and he’s already told reporters he’s NOT the “junior defence minister”).
  • New Federal Cabinet (1b):  Defence Minister Peter MacKay says he will remain responsible for Canada’s military procurement, despite the creation of a new associate minister’s position. MacKay said the government will also be moving “full speed ahead” with its planned purchase of F-35 fighter aircraft. Speaking to reporters after being returned as Canada’s defence minister, MacKay said Julian Fantino, the former police chief turned associate minister of defence, will focus on procurement. However, MacKay made it clear he will still get the last word. “We’ll be working very closely together,” MacKay explained. “He’ll be reporting up through me on these procurement files and Julian has tremendous experience within a chain of command, as you know, having worked in law enforcement and he has been associated with the military in many ways throughout his career.” ….”
  • New Federal Cabinet (2):  Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Cabinet overhaul reveals he intends to “move and move quickly” with steep public service cuts and plans to extend his notorious personal control over government affairs into a surprising arena—the oversight of national security and intelligence gathering by a range of military and civilian agencies and departments ….”  More on that here, and from Mark Collins here.
  • Libya Mission (1):  Dollar figures for the war in Libya will be made public soon, a Canadian Forces general said Wednesday, but the final cost may not be known for months to come. One military expert says Canadian spending could easily amount to millions of dollars per day. “I’d be surprised if it was anything less than $100 million (per month),” said retired Col. Michel Drapeau. “It needs to be asked: What are we getting for all that? It’s not an omnipotent pool of resources. Someone’s got to pay for that.” Canada currently has 11 planes, one frigate and approximately 560 military personnel deployed for the Libyan mission, which began at the end of March. Since that time, CF-18 fighter jets have conducted some 300 bombing missions to take out targets that NATO says have helped forces loyal to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi attack civilians ….”
  • Libya Mission (2a):  The Canadian government has ordered 1,300 replacement laser-guided bombs to use in its NATO mission in Libya, defense officials in Ottawa said. Since the United Nations authorized NATO to impose a no-fly zone to curb Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s military from harming civilians at the end of March, Canadian CF-18 fighter jets have flown about 300 sorties, dropping so-called smart bombs on artillery positions, the Ottawa Citizen reported. While the defense department wouldn’t disclose how many bombs have been used in Libya or the order for new bombs, it’s known they are 500-pound Paveway GBU-12 bombs. Various defense groups say each of the bombs cost about $100,000, the report said ….”
  • Libya Mission (2b):  “The Canadian military is refusing to say how many bombs its fighter pilots have dropped on Libyan targets. The Canadian Forces lead spokesman Wednesday told reporters the information was protected because of operational security concerns. Brig.-Gen. Richard Blanchette says disclosing the number of bombs dropped might be useful to Libyan intelligence agents, though he couldn’t really say why. “How could they use it?” Blanchette asked. “It’s not necessarily clear right off the bat. But, it could be used in a way that would be going against the effort that we’re having in the theatre of operation.” ….”
  • Libya Mission (3):  A more detailed account of the HMCS Charlottetown shooting back.
  • Afghanistan:  The REST of the Chinook crash story.  “Canadian and U.S. forces safely recovered a downed Canadian Forces CH-47 Chinook helicopter during a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel mission in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, May 17. Utilizing a trio CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461, with assistance from 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s helicopter support team, the Canadian and American team was able to transport the damaged aircraft back to its home at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  Taliban denies (one more time) talks going on with U.S., and claims responsibility for loads o’ attacks across Zabul.
  • Changes coming to CFB Gagetown.  “Later this summer, Col. Michael Pearson will hand control of Canadian Forces Base Gagetown over to Col. Paul Rutherford. The changeover will mark the conclusion of two busy years at one of the army’s most used facilities. The last 24 months saw scores of extra soldiers flood through the main gates to receive various kinds of training in support of this country’s mission in Afghanistan. While the base is expected to remain active over the coming months, it will be a busy of a different kind. With Canada’s military effort in the central Asian country changing its focus from fighting Taliban to training Afghan soldiers, activity at CFB Gagetown will also go through an adjustment. More attention will now be placed on recruiting and soldier qualifications ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War: U.S. reassessing numbers, timeline. “Officials at the Joint Strike Fighter Joint Program Office are preparing to present a series of briefings to the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) led by Ashton Carter in the coming weeks. The outcome and decisions made by Carter, the Pentagon’s acquisition chief, will establish the new procurement baseline for the $380 billion, single-engine, stealthy fighter program. Carter’s issuance of a memorandum following the DAB meeting next week will trigger a series of activities crucial to moving the multinational program forward, Vice Adm. David Venlet, program executive officer for JSF, tells Aviation Week. The DAB will be asked to approve a new path for development, or Milestone B in Pentagon parlance. The development phase had previously been approved for the F-35 but was revoked last year when the program declared a massive breach of its original cost estimate. Though already in production – the Pentagon is under contract for four low-rate-initial-production (LRIP) lots – the reissuing of the development plan is crucial to continuing the program ….”
  • US authorities are conducting an international hunt for potential Al-Qaeda operatives named in files recovered at Osama bin Laden’s compound, a US television network reported. Officials are trying to determine if the names are real or aliases, and whether bin Laden’s plots have moved from planning to implementation stages, ABC News reported, citing anonymous government sources. US officials have contacted Britain and Canada for help identifying operatives named in bin Laden’s computer files and handwritten journal, the network reported ….”
  • Canada reportedly to start sharing radar information of planes leaving Canadian airspace.  “The U.S. and Canada are expected to begin coordinating the use of radar to detect low-flying aircraft by November, a top U.S. customs official said Tuesday. Alan Bersin, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said 22 military radar facilities operated by Canada will be combined with the radar the U.S. military and the Federal Aviation Administration use to track low-flying aircraft crossing the border illegally.  “We have a longstanding relationship,” Bersin said at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing chaired by Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York. He noted that the U.S. and Canada have jointly operated the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) for decades. The Canadian information on low-flying aircraft will be received by Customs and Border Protection facility in Riverside, Calif. that monitors unauthorized aircraft crossing both the northern and southern borders ….”  More on that here and here.
  • Pull your toes in the boat, Victoria. For the past couple of weeks local waters have been infested with U.S. Navy attack dolphins. OK, they’re not actually attack dolphins since, as the navy points out on its website, they play only defensive roles. But they are part of a straight-out-of-Hollywood unit of dolphins and sea lions that have been taught to find mines, recover high-tech gizmos, guard against terrorist frogmen and perform a variety of other Jack Bauer jobs. No, I’m not making this up. nd yes, they were deployed off Victoria before being loaded on a big grey U.S. military transport plane Monday and sent winging away, presumably to San Diego, where the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program is based. No one advertised the dolphins’ presence here, but they made enough of a splash (as it were) that their visit was difficult to conceal. The U.S. Navy acknowledged Tuesday that the animals took part in the just-completed Operation Trident Fury (Exercise Facebook page), a joint U.S.-Canadian training exercise held off Victoria and Esquimalt harbours and up the coast ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Feb 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 27 Jan 11

  • Oopsie. ” …. The Canadian military investigated what appears to be the inadvertent leak of a trove of secret documents from a secure work station at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. The electronic records, containing “specifics of Canadian capabilities and Canadian objectives or targets” in the war, were forwarded to an undisclosed number of “unauthorized recipients,” say military police records obtained by The Canadian Press. The work station was located at the sensitive All Source Intelligence Centre, a critical hub at the Canadian headquarters that supplies intelligence to troops in the field as well as Ottawa. Military police were alerted on May 14 last year by a soldier working at the centre. The incident took place months before whistleblowing website WikiLeaks began releasing hundreds of thousands of classified — often embarrassing — U.S. military and diplomatic cables. None of the Canadian documents in the Kandahar leak are reported to have made their way into the public domain or to Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks group ….”
  • North American defence ministers are meeting in Ottawa (but not Mexico’s) this week.  Guess what U.S. Sec-Def Gates’ll be chatting with Peter MacKay about? “US Defense Secretary Robert Gates departed for Canada on Wednesday for talks on the war in Afghanistan as well Ottawa’s plans to purchase F-35 fighter jets, the Pentagon said on Wednesday. Gates initially was due to meet both his Canadian and Mexican counterparts at a first-ever summit of North American defense ministers but Mexico’s secretary of national defense, General Guillermo Galvan Galvan, could not attend due to illness, press secretary Geoff Morrell said. An earlier attempt at a three-way meeting of the defense chiefs in July had to be scrapped because of a spike in violence in Mexico, he told a news conference. Talks on Thursday with Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay would cover “ongoing US-Canada defense issues and areas of cooperation, including, of course, our mutual efforts in Afghanistan,” Morrell said ….” More from the American side here.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Taliban worrying about trees, and say teaching women to read, write would only expose them to bad, bad stuff.
  • What’s Canada Buying? Fake explosives, and a small UAV for research (via Army.ca)
  • Meanwhile, a Canadian General says better vehicles with more protection are on their way“…. New vehicles set to make their way to the army over the next few years are not only welcomed but needed, says one of this country’s leading military minds. Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance, a former two-time commander of Canada’s troops in Afghanistan, said it’s essential that ground forces have the equipment they need to carry out their tasks. “We know from our experience in Afghanistan, facing an enemy of a certain type, that there’s a premium on protection and firepower and mobility,” Vance said in an interview. “We have every reason to believe that, sometime in the future, Canada will employ its armed forces overseas to face a wide range of threats.” Vance, the director general of land capability development and chief of staff land strategy, made the comments this week while attending the Capability Development Experiment 2010 at the Combat Training Centre ….”
  • Canadian Forces personnel are getting fatter, more sedentary in their work, less physically active and becoming heavier drinkers, according to a new military study. The Health and Lifestyle Information Survey also found that members are still reluctant to seek out mental health services for fear it will hurt their military careers, despite several new Defence initiatives to reduce the stigma of doing so. The document, which surveyed about 3,700 full-time Forces members for the 2008-2009 period, found there was a three per cent increase in the number of obese people since the last survey in 2004, even with a renewed push on fitness promotion. Almost 29 per cent were of normal weight, while 48 per cent were overweight and an alarming 23.5 per cent were deemed obese. “The study results certainly indicate to us that, like the rest of the Canadian population, we’re not immune to this epidemic of obesity,” Col. Colin MacKay, the military’s director of health protection, said Tuesday from Ottawa ….”
  • Like the Friendly Giant used to say, “Look up, look WAAAAAY up“An unmanned plane the U.S. government has been using to patrol North Dakota’s northern border since 2009 is now flying along a greater section of America’s northern frontier, stretching from Spokane, Washington, to the Lake of the Woods region in Minnesota. Officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection say the aircraft can transmit live, streaming video and radar images from above the huge swaths of rugged — and remote — terrain that are a haven for criminals sneaking marijuana and ecstasy into the U.S. and cocaine into Canada. “We’re trying to work the border smarter, not harder,” said John Priddy, director of National Air Security Operations Center-Grand Forks in North Dakota, where the aircraft is based. “There’s new technology being deployed, which will make it more difficult to conduct illicit activities.” …. “
  • Speaking of borders, it appears the speech writing team for Canada’s defence minister may need some remedial geography lessons“…. The defence minister came out with this in Winnipeg Tuesday evening: “California and British Columbia have a shared border, a strong relationship. And some would say that our countries are probably as close as any two nations on the planet.” MacKay was speaking with California’s “Governator,” former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, at a Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce dinner at the Fairmont Hotel. The former Mr. Universe and Conan the Barbarian put his acting skills to good use, remaining stoic at the border blunder, with only a small sideways glance indicating he’d heard MacKay’s slip-up ….”