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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 16 Sept 11

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  • Afghanistan (1)  Canada’s spy agency has been cleared of wrongdoing in connection with the abuse of Afghan detainees. But the Security Intelligence Review Committee raised two issues for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to consider in future overseas operations — even though CSIS operations on foreign soil are limited by law. The spy watchdog chided CSIS for not keeping adequate records and cautioned it to “assess and qualify with care and consistency” the intelligence it receives from agencies that may be party to human rights abuses. It also recommended that if CSIS continues to operate abroad, its standards of accountability and professionalism should live up to those on Canadian soil ….”  Since The Canadian Press isn’t sharing the report, here it is at the Security Intelligence Review Committee’s web page (21 pages of redacted PDF) – here, also, is the news release announcing the findings.  Also, more from Postmedia News and the Globe & Mail here and here.
  • Afghanistan (2a)  Finally, a bit of news (albeit sounding a bit like a briefing note) from the CF Info-Machine on the training mission under way in Afghanistan!  “Captain (Navy) Haydn Edmundson arrived here on 18 July 2011 as part of the initial rotation of the Canadian Contribution Training Mission–Afghanistan (CCTM-A), the task force deployed on Operation ATTENTION to serve with the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A). As Chief of Staff to the Deputy Commanding General–Police (DCOM-Police) at NTMA Headquarters, Capt(N) Edmundson has a prominent role in the training and development of the Afghan National Police (ANP) ….”
  • Afghanistan (2b)  More from the CF Info-Machine on the training mission: “On 23 August 2011, Colonel Peter Dawe, the deputy commander of the Canadian Contribution Training Mission – Afghanistan (CCTM-A) paid a visit to Camp Souter to meet the small but vital team that lives and works there, and tour their facility. Camp Souter is a British support base conveniently situated near Kabul International Airport. The Canadians assigned there work diligently behind the scenes to meet the support requirements of CCTM-A, the large and growing mission deployed with the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A) under Operation ATTENTION. NTM-A is the international effort to help the Afghan national security forces prepare for the transition to full responsibility for security throughout Afghanistan in 2014 ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  The Royal Canadian Legion says it will have to debate whether it supports adding Afghanistan to the National War Memorial. Spokesman Bob Butt says it is a matter for the various Legion commands to decide and the subject has yet to be discussed among the organization’s 340,000 active members. A proposal circulated around National Defence last year called for the word Afghanistan and the dates 2001-2011 to be added to the memorial that sits in the shadow of Parliament Hill. The $2.1 million dollar plan included the addition of an eternal flame and a national commemoration ceremony. But a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay says it would be inappropriate to commemorate Afghanistan right now because soldiers are still there on a training mission. Butt initially indicated the Legion favoured revamping the memorial, however he says the matter is best debated among the members when the federal government has a specific proposal ….”
  • Way Up North  During CDS visit to Russia, Canada and Russia agree to exchange port visits with naval ships.  “…. Both sides also discussed situation in the North Africa and Middle East, as well as European security. They also agreed to exchange visits of their warships between Canada’s Vancouver and the Murmansk port of Russia.  The visiting Canadian delegation visited several military facilities in Moscow Wednesday ….
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Defence Minister Peter MacKay was warned the manufacturer of the air force’s new maritime helicopters might be tempted to cut corners in the rush to get the long-delayed program back on track, say internal documents. “The remaining elements for the interim (maritime helicopter) delivery are all safety related and it is crucial that DND remain diligent to ensure Sikorsky does not take inappropriate risks to keep schedule,” said a Nov. 23 briefing note. The advice came soon after a scathing report by the auditor general, who’d singled out the CH-148 Cyclone program for delays and cost overruns. Less than three weeks after Sheila Fraser’s assessment, U.S. helicopter giant Sikorsky advised the federal government it wouldn’t meet a Nov. 30, 2010, deadline to land the first helicopter for “limited training and operational testing.” Officials vented their frustration in the note, portions of which were underlined for emphasis. It urged both politicians and defence officials to take a deep breath and not get involved in any further debate — or request changes. “It is also paramount that DND not interfere or influence the conduct of activities, as this would provide Sikorsky rationale for excusable delay.” Ottawa’s $5.7-billion plan to buy 28 new helicopters to replace the geriatric Sea Kings, which fly off the decks of warships, have been hit with repeated delays ….”  The Canadian Press doesn’t appear to be sharing this briefing note with the public, who may want to see more of the bigger picture of the document.
  • Speaking of “geriatric” Sea Kings:  The venerable Sea King will be 50 years old in 2013 and plans are already underway to celebrate the milestone. Tim Dunne, a retired army major, says a committee was formed about a year ago to work on a reunion, a book, a memorial service and other events. Plans are also underway to place a Sea King in the Shearwater Aviation Museum ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying:  Big Honkin’ Ships Edition  Blogger Mark Collins underwhelmed with the prospect of unarmed poor compromise design Navy ships in the Arctic.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War One writer’s feelings:  “…. despite assurances from Department of National Defence officials that the F-35 is the right aircraft for Canada, the only way to really know which aircraft can best meet Canadian requirements — and at what cost — would be to put out an open, fair and transparent statement of requirements and request for proposals, and conduct a rigorous evaluation of the bidders’ responses. Denmark, which is a Level 3 partner in the F-35 program, like Canada is, has decided on an open competition to select its next-generation fighter aircraft. People are questioning why Canada is not doing the same thing. Only then will Canadians know the right fighter has been selected, at the right price.”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Paraclete tactical pouches for delivery to Richmond, Ontario and Kingston, Ontario, and up to +7K vials of injectable tetracycline-style antibiotic for CFB Petawawa.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (3)  CF starting to ask manufacturers for information on what rifle should replace the Lee Enfield for use by Canadian Rangers (via Army.ca)
  • Canadian Rangers got a chance to share their stories at the CNE in Toronto. “Six Canadian Rangers from northern Ontario told thousands of visitors to a military display at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto what Canadian Rangers do across Canada’s North. “I’ve never talked to so many people in my life,” said Master Cpl. Bill Morris from Kingfisher Lake, which has a population of 420. “People asked us who the Rangers are and what we do. They were pretty amazed when we told them.” The Ranger exhibit, centred around a traditional tipi, helped attract visitors to a large display of military equipment showcasing the army, navy and air force. The display attracted about one million people to it during the 17 days of the CNE, the biggest fair of its kind in Canada ….”
  • The Calgary Homeless Foundation wants to turn a small apartment building into housing units for homeless military veterans. The Royal Canadian Legion says there are at least 25 people living on Calgary streets that have been identified as Canadian Forces veterans. Cindy Green-Muse of the Legion’s Back In Step program said she knows of 25 to 30 veterans who don’t have a roof over their heads. They range in age from a few in their 20’s to one man who is over 80 years old ….”
  • The CF’s Commander-in-Chief is taking part in the Army Run this weekend.  Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston will lace up their running shoes this weekend for this year’s Canada Army Run, being held on Sunday, September 18, 2011, in Ottawa. At 7:30 a.m., His Excellency will address all athletes competing in the five-kilometre run, and will also cheer on his wife at the starting line. At 8:40 a.m., the Governor General will wish all athletes competing in the half marathon ‘good luck’, and join them in this 21-kilometre challenge ….”
  • Meanwhile,On Sunday, for the second year in a row, the annual Terry Fox Run is sharing its date with the Army Run, and there’s no sign the two charity events will be run on separate dates any time soon. The Terry Fox Run, in its 31st year, is a volunteer-run, non-competitive event to raise money for cancer research. Over the course of its history, the Ottawa, Orléans, Kanata and Gatineau runs have together raised more than $5.75 million. Runs are held across Canada on the same day and they all share a marketing budget geared to that date. The Army Run is a hugely popular newcomer to the charity run scene. Organized by Run Ottawa in collaboration with the Department of National Defence, the competitive run offers five-kilometre and half-marathon events to raise money for two military charities, Soldier On and the Military Families Fund. From its inception in 2008, the Army Run has grown to have up to 14,000 entrants in subsequent years ….”
  • Canada’s most decorated military hero, the First World War flying ace William Barker, will be honoured next week in Toronto with a gravesite monument aimed at reviving knowledge of his unmatched exploits above Europe’s battlefields nearly a century ago. Barker, a Manitoba farmboy who went on to be awarded the Victoria Cross, three Military Crosses and a host of other medals for his wartime feats, was credited with destroying 50 enemy aircraft in just the last two years of the 1914-18 war. He later became the founding director of the Royal Canadian Air Force – a designation recently restored to the aviation branch of Canada’s military – before dying tragically, at age 35, in a 1930 crash on the frozen Ottawa River while demonstrating a new aircraft in Canada’s capital ….”
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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 11 Sept 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 20 Aug 11

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  • Report leaked to CBC:  CF way too top heavy“A major report from National Defence has identified ways to save the department $1 billion a year and calls for “dramatic changes” so the military can meet its future obligations. Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie led a “transformation team” at the request of Defence Minister Peter MacKay that spent nearly a year studying ways to overhaul the Canadian Forces and Department of National Defence to find efficiencies. The group’s Report on Transformation 2011 was completed in July but not made public. A copy of the report was obtained by CBC News. The report says that for the military to meet the demands upon it, while living within its means and with balanced books, it has to carefully reallocate its resources. Leslie calls for cuts to the bureaucratic side of the military’s operations, including the possible elimination of thousands of jobs so that the people on the front lines have the support and equipment they need ….”
  • Report leaked to Postmedia News:  CF way too top heavy“Bureaucrats tried to stymie a report by Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie that calls for deep cuts to civilian ranks at National Defence Headquarters, interfering in his study months before his still secret transformation document was finished. “The team was directed to stop further work on the civilian structures in late November,” says the report, parts of which were shared with Postmedia News on Friday. Leslie was named Chief of Transformation in June 2010, after finishing his term as chief of land staff. Assisted by a team of military and civilian staff, he spent the last year authoring a report on how to make the Canadian Forces a leaner, meaner and more cost-effective organization. But he began encountering resistance some six months before the tough report was finished. Leslie writes that his team had only examined the top two layers of the civilian bureaucracy — the deputy minister and assistant deputy ministers — before the order to halt was given in November. The report does not specify who gave the order to stop examining the civilian side of the department ….”
  • Way Up North (1)  APTN on Hornets over the North for OP Nanook 2011
  • Way Up North (2)  Good point, Your Worship.  Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern has two Twitter accounts on which she chronicles the ups and downs of the Nunavut capital. On the plus side of her online ledger is the recent catch of a 70-tonne bowhead whale by local hunters and the first visit north by Governor-General David Johnston. On the other side are the territory’s lamentable schooling levels and a stream of suicides, including a young man who took his life just days after his girlfriend killed herself. Arctic sovereignty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s annual summer visit to the north next week falls somewhere in between, with a lot of hope and hype about asserting Canadian control across the tundra. The everyday benefits for northerners are less apparent. “It is important that as Canadians we definitely support the federal government’s positions and initiatives to assert its sovereignty,” Redfern told the Star. “But (we) have some of the world’s highest suicide rates, high levels of teenage pregnancy, low graduation rates.” How, she asks, can Canada claim to be master of this vast land when so many basic services crucial to the well-being of northerners are absent? ….”
  • People living near the Canada-U.S. border worry about crime, smuggling in their back yard.  “Three hours from Parliament Hill via the Akwesasne Mohawk reserve, this pastoral corner of Quebec is descending into a version of northwest Pakistan, with tribal outlaws and mobsters controlling much of this remote borderland in defiance of the central authority. If you think that is melodramatic, consider this: On a recent visit by federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to listen to the fears of property owners about tobacco and drug smugglers hijacking the St. Lawrence River farming and cottage communities of southwest Quebec, the talk turned to shotguns, self-defence and possibly closing the international border crossing upriver at Cornwall altogether. “We’re changing the laws on self-defence and your right to protect your property,” Toews told the gathering. “I’m not advocating that people use (guns) but if there’s a legitimate …” The small group of summer cottagers, farmers and others gathered around him nodded approvingly ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 15 Aug 11

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  • Afghanistan (1)  Guess where defence spending appears to have been growing the most during Afghanistan?  “Canada’s defence department bulked up during war — but not where you think. Since 2004 — as the country’s mission in Afghanistan was ramping up — the defence department began swelling up, according to a Star analysis. But the dramatic growth happened far from the front lines with more civilians, more contractors and a ballooning headquarters staff. Military experts say the numbers tell the tale of a bureaucracy run amok, even as the uniform ranks — especially the navy — remain stretched for manpower. And it comes at a time when a radical plan to transform the defence department has been put in the hands of Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Gen. Walt Natynczyk. At its heart, the goal of this still-secret blueprint is to trim the size of defence headquarters, pushing thousands of military personnel out of Ottawa and on to the country’s air force bases, naval ports and army bases ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Another Legion welcomes home vets from downrange“The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 192 Carleton Place worked in conjunction with the town to host an Afghanistan Veterans’ Appreciation Day on Sunday, Aug. 14. Legion member Ron Goebel helped spearhead the event in which 15 to 18 military men and women were honoured for their work overseas ….”
  • Way Up North  GG to show the flag with first official visit to Arctic, wishes we were there.  “Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife Sharon leave Monday for Nunavut, their first official visit to Canada’s Arctic as the vice-regal couple — but not their first as Canadians. Johnston is rekindling a love affair of sorts with the North, having previously visited the Yukon and Northwest Territories with his family after growing up in northern Ontario. But this will be Johnston’s maiden voyage to the Eastern Arctic, and also marks the first time any governor general has visited two isolated and traditional communities due north of Hudson’s Bay, Kugaaruk and Qikiqtarjuaq ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  More than a million bags to assemble ration packs and safety stickers for Canada’s Navy..
  • The biggest factors to juggle as Canada works with the U.S. on joint border security issues.  “…. at some point the Harper government is going to have to come out of the bunker and level with the Canadian electorate on the messy parts of such huge negotiations. When it does, it will be clear the toughest piece of this puzzle rests with Vic Toews. It is the security piece that is driving the American agenda, while the Canadian agenda is dominated by facilitating trade and easing the flow of goods across the border. It will fall to the public safety minister to hold the line on what many Canadians consider to be the perils of these talks — a potential loss of sovereignty, a sell-out of our privacy rights and a lack of transparency ….”
  • The agency responsible for airline security paid the RCMP $40 million a year to provide armed officers on domestic and international flights as a deterrent to terrorists. Newly released documents obtained by the Citizen show for the first time the high costs of the secretive air marshals program put in place after the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the United States. Billing records show that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority was invoiced by the Mounties about $10 million every quarter between 2004 and 2006, before the arrangement was restructured and the federal government began funding the program directly. Despite the cost, there is no indication a Canadian air marshal has ever had to intervene against a potential security threat while in flight. They are not allowed to get involved with instances of air rage or unruly passengers, in case the disruption is a ruse to draw them out ….”
  • More of a push for Canada to prosecute war criminals here instead of shipping them out. “Ramiro Cristales is still haunted by the brutal deaths of his parents and seven siblings at the hands of Guatemalan soldiers in Las Dos Erres, Guatemala. Overnight, 251 people were killed, leaving Cristales, then only 5, and another child the only survivors of the December 1982 massacre. Cristales was thrilled when he learned in January that one of the alleged perpetrators, Jorge Sosa Orantes, was picked up and arrested in Lethbridge, Alta. Now 34 and a Canadian citizen, Cristales is eager to see justice served in his adopted homeland. But he is not holding out much hope. Although Orantes, a dual Canadian and American citizen, has a court date in Calgary later this month, it is for his extradition to the United States where he faces charges not related to the mass murders but for lying on a citizenship application about his role in the Guatemalan military. “Deporting a criminal is not real justice,” said Cristales, who came here in 1999 under a witness protection program. Federal laws allow Ottawa to prosecute alleged war criminals for war crimes committed abroad. Yet, since Canada’s war crimes program was launched in 1998, only two individuals — both Rwandan genocide suspects — have been charged under the Criminal Code ….”
  • B.C. writer David Stafford wraps up WW2 spy history book for U.K. government.  “…. His latest book was released earlier this year with the satisfying title Mission Accomplished. In some ways, that is the case for Mr. Stafford, too, who is now taking a well-earned sabbatical. The British Cabinet Office commissioned the work, an official history of actions by Special Operations Executive in Italy from 1943 to the end of the Second World War. SOE was the force established for espionage, sabotage and subversion in lands of German occupation. As Churchill memorably ordered, their job was to “set Europe ablaze.” Written to be enjoyed by a general audience, Mr. Stafford also took as his responsibility to provide for scholars “a first sketch” of the secret war on the peninsula, seeding the ground of his research with footnotes to encourage further exploration. “I’ve given them all the signposts,” he said ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Aug 11

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  • Libya Mission (1)  The consensus around Canada’s military deployment in Libya looks set to unravel next month, unless there is a resolution on the ground. In late June, the NDP supported a three-and-a-half month extension to Canada’s involvement in the UN-sponsored mission in Libya. But Paul Dewar, the party’s foreign affairs critic, said he would like to see an end to the military mission when the current parliamentary mandate runs out on Sept. 27. “Come the end of the timeline we’ve set in Parliament, I think it’s time to say that’s enough on the military equation for Canada, and that we need to put our focus on the diplomatic and political side, as other countries have done. Norway has just finished its commitment. Canada should be there until September, then we should say we’ve done our bit,” he said …. ”  More on the NDP’s GTFO Libya desires here.
  • Libya Mission (2)  It’s not up to anyone outside Libya to decide what happens to dictator Moammar Gadhafi if he’s forced from power, Canada’s ambassador to the country said Monday. Sandra McCardell, ambassador to Libya, says it’s Canada’s position, as well as that of NATO, that Gadhafi must go. But what happens next is up to Libyans, she told MPs at a briefing to the House of Commons foreign affairs committee. “What transition follows is for the Libyan people to determine. It’s their country and they’re responsible for developing a transitional government,” she said. “It will be up to them to determine their future.” Pushed on the question, McCardell said, “There’s no support for impunity” for Gadhafi, but the terms of an eventual peace settlement will come from the two sides on the ground. “I don’t believe the Libyan people … have any interest in returning [to the system under Gadhafi],” she said ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  “Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement: “Canada declares all remaining diplomats at the Libyan embassy in Ottawa personae non gratae, effective immediately. This is the latest step Canada has taken to isolate and delegitimize the Qadhafi regime. “These people now have five business days to vacate the embassy and leave the country. “As part of this declaration, we are also cutting off these diplomats’ access to the embassy’s bank accounts.” “
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch  Taliban making hay over downing of Chinook full o’ special forces troops.
  • With three of its four submarines undergoing expensive and delayed repairs, Canada’s role under the waves is the subject of renewed controversy. “We keep hearing from (the Defence Department) that the subs are OK, that they’re gonna be fine, but we’ve been hearing this for 10 years,” said NDP defence critic Peter Stoffer on Monday. “Whoever kicked the tires on these didn’t do a good job, and this is taking money away from other aspects and operations of (the Defence Department).” Canada bought its fleet of four Victoria-class submarines second-hand from Britain in 1998 for $851 million to replace its aging fleet of Oberon-class submarines. Stoffer said that “it seemed like an excellent deal” at the time to increase the navy’s capabilities but subsequent repairs have meant the submarines have spent little time operating ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Wanted:  someone to determine the latest formula for Post Living Differential allowance and study CFB Suffield’s ecosystem.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Why is it so hard to find someone to run & maintain CFS Alert?  Maybe this time will be more successful than these other times.
  • Way Up North (1)  GG dropping by Canada’s Arctic“Governor General David Johnston will make his first official visit to Nunavut on Aug. 15. Johnston and his wife Sharon will visit Iqaluit, Qikiqtarjuaq, Repulse Bay, Kugaaruk and Resolute Bay between Aug. 15-21, said a Rideau Hall news release. “As a vital part of our collective history, there is much we can learn from the Inuit culture,” Johnston said in a statement ….”  More in the GG’s statement here.
  • Way Up North (2)  Canada will lose out to Russia’s Arctic shipping routes because it is too small to finance the infrastructure, France’s ambassador for the polar regions said Monday. Melting polar ice will make Canada’s Northwest Passage more accessible in the next decades, but Canada does not seem interested in exploiting it for shipping, said Michel Rocard, who recently returned from a tour of the Arctic aboard the Canadian icebreaker Amundsen. “I have the impression that Canada has given up on the competition to attract a large part of the traffic in 25 or 30 years,” Rocard said. The former French prime minister said Canada is “too small to finance itself the infrastructure” needed to spur commercial shipping through its Northwest Passage — a shorter route between European and Asian markets than the Suez and Panama canals ….”
  • Way Up North (3)  “It’s taken 15 years and nearly a half a billion dollars, but the curtain is beginning to come down on one of Canada’s largest environmental cleanup projects. By the end of the summer, cleanup at 19 of 21 abandoned Distant Early Warning Line radar sites across the North will have been completed, according to the Department of National Defence ….”
  • PTSD:  it’s not just about soldiers“Diagnoses of an affliction once met with only stoicism and stigma within Canada’s national police force have skyrocketed as commanders encourage officers to seek treatment for post traumatic stress disorder. More than 1,700 Mounties have been diagnosed with PTSD, with nearly 300 officers joining the ranks last year alone. Within police circles, the RCMP’s new-found determination to tackle the disorder has quietly raised questions for policy makers at all levels of government. What can be done to better shield police from trauma? How should panels assess claims for taxpayer-funded compensation? And if police PTSD is truly pervasive, why are other police forces apparently doing relatively little about it? ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 10 Apr 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 25 Jan 11

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