Poochies helping those with hidden wounds. “Dave Desjardins says he’s convinced a Rottweiler named Maggie helped save his life. The 41-year-old retired soldier was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder in 2005, a few months after he returned from Afghanistan. When he first met the dog last year, he was addicted to morphine and afraid to leave his home for anything more than a quick cigarette in the backyard ….”
Libya Mission Softball question in the House of Commons on when the troops are coming home from the Libyan theatre o’ operations: “Mr. Speaker, earlier this year Canada responded rapidly and strongly after the UN Security Council passed a resolution to protect civilians who were being attacked by the Gadhafi regime in Libya. In less than 24 hours CF-18s were airborne from 3 Wing Bagotville en route to their operating base in Trapani, Italy, along with strategic air-to-air refueling support from 8 Wing Trenton’s Polaris aircraft. Canada also sent a frigate to patrol the central Mediterranean. Could the associate minister of national defence please inform the House when our heroes are coming home?” I guess the Conservative member for Chatham-Kent—Essex missed the news release here, not to mention all the media advisories here, here and here.
While troops return from Libya, veterans will be pressing for better benefits. “There will plenty of celebration Friday and Saturday as cabinet ministers travel to air-force bases around the country to welcome home Canadian Forces personnel from a mission in Libya that saw rebels overthrow long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The 630 members of Canada’s military are returning home from Operation Mobile and NATO-led Operation Unified Protector, which saw them enforce an arms embargo and a no-fly zone around the North African nation for most of this year. Julian Fantino, the Associate Minister of National Defence, has been dispatched to Bagotville, Que., to greet troops Friday afternoon. Chris Alexander, the parliamentary secretary to the Defence Minister, will be waiting for them on Friday night in Trenton, Ont. And Defence Minister MacKay will be at 14 Wing Greenwood in Nova Scotia on Saturday, an event that was delayed by weather. At exactly the same time that Mr. MacKay is shaking hands with the folks getting off the plane from Libya, veterans from Afghanistan and other conflicts will be on Parliament Hill protesting what they say are unfair benefits for people who have put their lives on the line for their country. It is the second Veterans National Day organized by Canadian Veterans Advocacy against the New Veterans Charter, which the group says discriminates against military personnel who were injured after April, 2006 – a time when Canada suffered most of the casualties in Afghanistan ….”
House of Commons debate on proposed changes to the CF’s legal system via Hansard here and here.
Don Cherry declines honourary degree from RMC with thanks(you can still vote here on a CBC.ca poll, though). “Concerned controversy may take away from “a special day,” Don Cherry has declined an honorary degree from the Royal Military College. “I can’t accept the degree and I won’t attend the convocation,” Cherry said in an interview Friday about the Nov. 17 ceremony in Kingston. “I am sad because I was really looking forward to spending time with the 800 cadets.” Perhaps instead they can line up to get their picture taken with French Professor Catherine Lord. It is because of her bizarre and vitriolic complaints that the legendary hockey coach and commentator wont be there. “On many occasions he publicly expressed his contempt for many groups of the Canadian population, notably for the French-speaking Canadians, for the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) community and for the immigrants,” Lord wrote in an open letter. “What message will RMC send, in celebrating Don Cherry, to the students coming from these groups? And what will the Canadian people remember from RMC, as a serious and prestigious institution?” The message would be: “Thanks, Don, for all you have done.” ….”
Big spending by the U.K. to train its troops in Western Canada.“The Army spends an average of almost £45 million a year (CDN$ 74 million) training British soldiers on a Canadian prairie, the Government said today. Seven thousand troops are sent to British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS), on a prairie in Alberta, each year ahead of deployment to war zones, including Afghanistan. They are able to fire live weapons more freely than in the UK because of the vast size of the prairie in Alberta. But figures revealed by the Ministry of Defence show spending on BATUS totalled £224.5 million over the past five years, peaking at £58 million in 2009/10. It works out at an average of £44.9 million annually since 2006 ….” (Article also downloadable as PDF here if link doesn’t work)
Libya Mission (2) What’s NOT expected: guerilla fighting. “…. Brig.-Gen. Craig King, military operations chief, told MPs on Thursday he does not expect to see an insurgency grow out of the conflict between Col. Gadhafi’s now-defeated forces and the victorious rebels. “In order for an insurgency to exist, you have to have popular support of some kind and it has to be coalesced around some kind of leadership,” Mr. King told the Commons defence committee. “We’re not anticipating that. And, certainly, the former regime has no legitimacy or credibility that would lend itself to an insurgency to which we would have to apply a counter-insurgency.” ….”
Libya Mission (3) Still stuff left to be done, though. “Weapons, untrained militias and enshrining women’s rights are key hurdles Libya faces as it transitions towards democracy, MPs were told Thursday. Foreign Affairs bureaucrats and Canadian Forces staff testified before the national defence committee on the situation unfolding in post-Moammar Gadhafi Libya. “Clearly we’re in a period of transition,” said Brig.-Gen. Craig King, highlighting the need for rebel militias spread out across the country to be organized into a cohesive and professional national military ….” A bit more along these lines here.
DRDC Paper (PDF): How best to patrol the Gulf of Aden to hunt for pirates – abstract and executive summary downloadable here.
CBC: Canada eyeing nuke subs?“CBC News has learned the Harper government is considering buying nuclear submarines to replace its problem-plagued fleet of diesel-powered subs, all of which are currently awash in red ink and out of service for major repairs …. High-ranking sources tell CBC News the government is actively considering cutting its losses on the dud subs, and mothballing some if not all of them. Defence Minister Peter MacKay is hinting they might be replaced with nuclear submarines that could patrol under the Arctic ice, something the existing diesel-electric subs cannot do. Outside the Commons this week, MacKay told CBC the government is anxious to have its submarine fleet fully operational as soon as possible, providing a “very important capability for the Canadian Forces.” But asked whether the government might look at other subs, MacKay said: “Well there was a position taken some time ago to go with diesel-electric. “But you know, in an ideal world, I know nuclear subs are what’s needed under deep water, deep ice.” ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War (1) Unnamed insider says project’s “a mess”.“The Conservative government’s controversial F-35 jet fighter project, plagued by delays, cost overruns and now economic turmoil in Europe, is at growing risk of being sharply curtailed or shelved — the defence minister’s protestations notwithstanding. “It just seems like it’s slowly unravelling,” said an industry insider who specializes in aircraft procurement. “It’s a mess.” ….”
Whazzup with the meetings of the House of Commons committee on veterans’ affairs?“Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is not to the minister but to the chair of the veterans affairs committee. Public hearings about the cuts at the Veterans Affairs Department were terminated today, cancelled without hearing from one veteran, the ombudsman, and not even the Royal Canadian Legion. Veterans fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice for the right and freedom to be heard, and to be heard in public. Secret meetings to avoid accountability are anti-democratic and a slap in the face to veterans. Why the secrecy? Mr. Greg Kerr (West Nova, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I know a chair must be fair and neutral, but the bizarre behaviour of this member forces me to answer with what he has been trying to do in the last number of days. Our committee has been looking very carefully at the accusations he made about great cutbacks and loss of opportunity for veterans. That was proven by the witnesses to be absolutely wrong. Our government has made major commitments to veterans and will continue to do so because it is so important. The fact that the member continues to disrupt the committee is something he has to look within himself for. The committee membership—“
Former military doctor disses available mental health support at CFB Petawawa when he was there. “…. Although I can’t speak to the entire military, I worked for at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa as a military physician from 2007-10 and can attest that the resources for mental health care on that base and the capacity of the medical system in Petawawa to handle mental illness are abysmal at best. There is a massive shortage of mental health workers and psychiatrists, as well as a total disconnect between the primary care physicians and the mental health care team ….”
What’s Canada Buying? More robot control work: “…. Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) – Suffield, Medicine Hat, Alberta has a requirement to develop control algorithms for the Micro Hydraulic Toolkit (MHT) robot that will allow it to perform a variety of locomotion behaviours focusing on stability and performance. These control algorithms will be developed in simulation, under different terrain surfaces and tested on the real robot. The motion of the simulated robot and real robot will be compared to refine the model and provide quantitative data. Finally, the control behaviours will be integrated with a vision based leader/follower software and man machine interface ….” A bit more detail in the Statement of Work from the bid document (7 page PDF) here.
F-35 Tug o’ War Quakers take a stand. “The Kitchener Area Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) believes that public policy, as well as the lives of individuals, should aim to take away the occasion for war. Therefore, we oppose the Canadian government’s proposed purchase of 65 F-35 joint-strike fighter jets. The procurement of joint-strike aircraft not only fails to reduce the possibility of armed conflict, it ties Canadian policy to future military intervention overseas, without public discussion of the ramifications of this major shift in Canada’s role in world affairs ….”
“The Harper Government today launched the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. This War helped establish our path toward becoming an independent and free country, united under the Crown with a respect for linguistic and ethnic diversity …. Over the next four years, the Government will invest to increase Canadians’ awareness of this defining moment in our history. This will include support for: a pan-Canadian educational campaign focused on the importance of the War of 1812 to Canada’s history; support for up to 100 historical re-enactments, commemorations, and local events; a permanent 1812 memorial located in the National Capital Region; interactive tours, six exhibits, and improvements to three national historic sites across the country; investments in infrastructure at key 1812 battle sites, such as Fort Mississauga and Fort York, Ontario; celebrating and honouring the links that many of our current militia regiments in Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada have to the War of 1812. October 2012 will also be designated as a month of commemoration of the heroes and key battles of the War of 1812 ….” More on this here, here, here, here and here.
Libya Mission (1) “Canada has a moral obligation to financially assist Libya’s transition towards democracy, a local expert says. “There’s a major chance that Canadians will be able to play a (huge) role,” said Christian Leuprecht, a fellow at the Centre for International and Defence Policy at Queen’s University, and an associate professor at Royal Military College. Providing assistance to Libya through funding giants such as the World Bank will be essential to the North African country when the revolution ends, he said ….”
Libya Mission (1) “There’s no way to tell right now whether NATO will have to extend its Libyan operation past the end of September, a top Canadian general told MPs on Friday. In June, the Commons overwhelmingly voted to extend Canadian participation in the operation to September 27. Maj.-Gen. Jonathan Vance, the director of the strategic joint staff, said, however, that a rushed withdrawal by NATO, without some kind of political settlement, would be disastrous. Vance, who once commanded Canadian troops in Afghanistan, told MPs on the Commons defence committee that diplomatic and political efforts are vital now to produce a solution. He says no one can predict how things will unfold over the next six weeks …. Newfoundland MP Jack Harris, the NDP defence critic, said he believes that NATO has done the job it set out to do, which was to protect Libyan civilians from Gadhafi. “The capability of Col. Gadhafi to mount this kind of activity has been degraded to the point where that’s no longer the issue,” he said. “The problem that we have is that we don’t want this to morph into some sort of prolonged mission.” It’s time to go, said the New Democrat ….”
Libya Mission (2) “Top Canadian military and diplomatic authorities are saying little about whether they will be able to pull out of the UN-led military mission in Libya by the end of September as planned. Maj.-Gen. John Vance could not give a direct answer when asked Friday morning by MPs if officials will stick to Canada’s mandated exit date of Sept. 27, 2011, based on how stable Libya is today. “There are a lot of factors at play,” Vance told the informal parliamentary committee meeting. “The efforts of NATO today are essential.” If the military withdrew today — without a negotiated settlement with dictator Moammar Gadhafi — Vance said it would be an “absolute calamity.” The general, along with Sandra McCardell, Canada’s ambassador to Libya, and other officials were testifying at the defence committee meeting on Canada’s role in the Libyan mission to protect its citizens from Gadhafi’s military attacks …. Diplomats, meanwhile, are striving to hammer out a “verifiable” ceasefire, McCardell said. Gadhafi has announced a ceasefire in the past, but his forces kept shooting. She said envoys are still looking for the right person within the regime to come to the negotiating table. Vance said the military has no plans to “put boots on the ground” in Libya and become an occupying force …. Neither McCardell, Vance nor other witnesses could say for sure if the rebel group would be able to maintain security after NATO leaves, if Gadhafi would ever accept a ceasefire, or if the conflict is on its way to becoming a stalemate ….”
CFB Borden getting two new dining halls and kitchens, CF Info-Machine version – emphasis mine: “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, today announced plans to construct two new All Ranks Kitchen and Dining Facilities at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden. In total, these projects are valued at approximately $77 million and involve the construction of two new 6,133 m2 facilities that will replace four kitchen facilities …. The construction of the two new single-story kitchen and dining facilities will replace both existing Junior Ranks dining halls, the Officers’ Mess, and Senior NCO Mess currently being used at CFB Borden by 3,000 military personnel daily. This project is part of the CFB Borden Master Real Property Development Plan which aims to consolidate all training and quarters functions into two separate areas. Each facility will be able to serve approximately 1,500 persons per meal, and will be located on the north and south sides of the base. These new buildings will address existing deficiencies found at the current facilities, some of which are over 50 years old ….” More in Backgrounder here.
CFB Borden getting two new dining halls and kitchens, media version: “…. Critics called it a questionable expense, especially at a time when the government says it intends to cut expenditures. “We do have to question how they’re setting their priorities in terms of dealing with the deficit,” NDP defence critic Jack Harris told Postmedia News. “It seems — on the surface — an outrageous amount of money for dining facilities,” Harris said. The government recently announced the closure of two search-and-rescue co-ordinating centres in Quebec City and St. John’s to save “probably a couple of million dollars a year” and yet it can find the cash to replace existing buildings, he added. “Canadians are going to question the timing of this announcement,” said Gregory Thomas of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. While the armed forces should have up-to-date equipment and infrastructure, the country is running a $30-billion deficit and this type of spending will be difficult to justify to the public, Thomas said ….”
Way Up North (1) The Kingston Whig-Standard appears to have a reporter with the CF in the north for Operation Nanook 2011. “The engines on the Twin Otter came up to full power and the aircraft started rolling along the gravel runway. In a remarkably short distance, the aircraft was airborne and on its way. The flight took the plane about 100 km from Resolute Bay, where it delivered three barrels of aviation fuel, part of a fuel cache being set up to support helicopters that are to fly out of the base in the coming weeks. Resolute Bay, at 74 degrees North latitude, is a five-hour flight from southern Ontario. It takes about as long to fly to Vancouver, and Resolute Bay is still almost 1,100 km south of Alert, Canada’s most northern point. Flying in Canada’s Arctic is largely ruled by the extremes of two factors: distance and weather. “The Arctic is difficult because there are so few communities up here. Especially with small aircraft, you have to plan better,” said Capt. Tom Turk, a pilot with the Canadian Forces’ 440 Squadron based in Yellowknife, N.W.T. ….”
Way Up North (2) CF research arm paper on proposed staging bases in Canada’s Arctic: “Optimal RSOM-hub Locations for Northern Operations: A MAJAID Scenario Analysis” (PDF). Part of the executive summary (abstract and executive summary is downloadable here (PDF) via Army.ca): “…. The study indicated that the RSOM-hub concept could offer potential cost avoidance and response time reduction on deployment lift for MAJAID operations in the North and could be a potential strategy for improvement of the CF domestic support capability. For a single RSOM-hub solution, Yellowknife would be the time effective RSOM-hub location. From a cost avoidance perspective, Iqaluit would the optimal hub location. Both airfields have the required capability and resources (e.g., fuel, maintenance) for supporting strategic lift aircraft (CC-177) and tactical helicopter (CH-146) operations. For a multiple RSOM-hub solution, the analysis indicates that the optimal number of RSOM-hubs would be two, corresponding to Iqaluit and Yellowknife, when response time and cost avoidance are both considered ….”
CF troops headed south – 12 Aug 11 (2): “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, is pleased to announce the participation of the Canadian Forces in Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships Athabaskan and Algonquin in Exercise PANAMAX, a multinational exercise that focuses on the defence of this important region and the Panama Canal …. Approximately 500 Canadian Forces members will participate in this exercise. HMCS Athabaskan and HMCS Algonquin, each carrying approximately 240 sailors, will work with seventeen countries, including the United States, as part of this multinational exercise aimed at defending the Panama Canal from threat of terrorist attack, natural disaster or pandemic outbreak in order to maintain free and open access to the Panama Canal. HMC Ships Athabaskan and Algonquin are Iroquois-class destroyers, based in Halifax and Esquimalt respectively. These ships are area air defence destroyers and command and control platforms. They are fitted with sophisticated anti-air weapons systems, advanced weapons and communications systems and are capable of leading national and international task groups such as those in Panama. In addition to the naval assets, a CP-140 Aurora aircraft will deploy to Panama airport to participate in the exercise ….”
Afghanistan “She grew up and went to school in Winnipeg, now Alexandra “Ali” Lamont is trying to make it safe for kids in Afghanistan to go to school. “I’ll be assisting with the institutional development of Afghan police,” said Lamont, who leaves for Kabul next week. Making Afghanistan safe for people to get around is key to its future, said the 45-year-old with a law degree and masters in economics who works with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. “It’s fulfilling over there, trying to make some kind of difference,” said Lamont, who spent five months in Kandahar last year. “You see flocks of kids going to school.” There’s so many kids enrolled, some schools run in three shifts. “Afghans are keen to move forward — girls and boys — to take advantage of this opportunity.” Her one-year term is in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital. The diplomat and policy analyst will work with experts from a number of countries to establish a police force to serve and protect Afghans ….”
A reminder: The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Canada’s constitution, guarantees the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. That said, what’s worse than someone faking s/he has served in the military? Someone faking military service AND lying about an illness to rip people off. “A B.C. man wanted for allegedly posing as a member of the military and seeking donations to pay for his health costs has been charged with fraud. Douglas Archie Clark, 64, of Burnaby, was charged with 13 counts of fraud, police said in a news release Friday. Police allege Clark has defrauded 40 or more victims out of more than $1 million. Complaints dating back to the 1990s claim Clark portrayed himself as either an active or retired member of the Canadian military – and was even seen in a military-style uniform, police said. It’s alleged he asked for money to pay for cancer treatments that were not covered by his medical plan. After an investigation spanning three and a half years, police arrested and charged Clark in June. The court released him under the conditions he not contact any of the alleged victims or wear any military uniform. He was also ordered to stay in B.C. and return to court July 11. When he failed to appear at that court date, a warrant was issued for his arrest, and he was picked up again Thursday ….”
Here here. “…. The Department of National Defence currently offers programs for serving members to address operational stress, addictions, mental health and wellness. There are also 32 Military Family Resource Centres across Canada and more in other countries. The centres run a full range of services on youth, parenting, wellness, deployment, and family separation and reunion. Like all programs, they need independent evaluations of their effectiveness. No doubt, they could work better and reach more people. They also could better target participants by working more closely with veteran’s organizations. Nonetheless, they are essential tools of support for military families — especially for the thousands of spouses who are fighting for their partners, and for us, on the new front line of troop reintegration. (M)inister Mackay, General Natynczyk: Don’t touch the funding of these programs.“
Afghanistan (1a) Survey says…. “As QMI Agency followed the last Canadian combat troops out of Afghanistan last month, there was one question that seemed to get under the thick skin of even the toughest soldier. In fact, after repeatedly being asked by media in the combat zone, it became a catch phrase among some combatants — tossed about with shrugs and often rolled eyes. The question wondered: “Was it worth it?” Now, in the settling dust of Canada’s combat exit from Afghanistan — our soldiers now remain in logistical and training missions only — an exclusive Sun Media national poll has found almost three in five Canadians doubt whether the sacrifice asked of our country was worthwhile. Only 30% of respondents to the Leger Marketing survey felt it was. As well, 58% of Canadians thought the mission could not be categorized as fully accomplished after we pulled out last month ….” More poll details here (PDF).
What’s Canada Buying? (1) “Remember the Used Subs” editorial: “…. As they go about their work, each member of the bureaucracy in charge of military procurement would do well to keep a photo of Canada’s woebegone subs close at hand, as a caution against false economies. In the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme Allied commander in the Second World War: “There is no victory at bargain basement prices.” “
F-35 Tug o’ War: Troubles in the U.S.“All 20 F-35 Lightning IIs have been grounded following a failure of the aircraft’s integrated power package (IPP). The incident took place at about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., during a ground maintenance run of aircraft AF-4, the fourth conventional takeoff and landing version of the triservice Joint Strike Fighter. Following the failure of the IPP — which combines the functions performed by an auxiliary power unit, emergency power system and environmental controls — the crew shut down the aircraft as per standard operating procedures, according to a press release by the JSF program office. There were no injuries ….”
Some Canadian government systems are included in a report of systems found to be attacked or hacked. “Security experts have discovered an unprecedented series of cyber attacks on the networks of 72 organizations globally, including the United Nations, governments and corporations, over a five-year period. Security company McAfee, which uncovered the intrusions, said it believed there was one “state actor” behind the attacks but declined to name it, though several other security experts said the evidence points to China. The long list of victims in the extended campaign include the governments of the United States, Taiwan, India, South Korea, Vietnam and Canada; the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); the International Olympic Committee (IOC); the World Anti-Doping Agency; and an array of companies, from defense contractors to high-tech enterprises ….” More from the McAfee blog here, and a Q&A here.
Pack o’ Wanted War Criminals (2) “It’s not up to Canada to prosecute people suspected of crimes against humanity, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Wednesday. The federal government has been publicly stepping up deportations of people found inadmissible to Canada because of a suspicion they may have participated in war crimes. But Toews said it’s not realistic for Canada to investigate, prosecute and imprison people who commit crimes against humanity in other countries. “Canada is not the UN. It’s not our responsibility to make sure each one of these faces justice in their own countries,” he (said) …. “What we are doing with [the Canada Border Services Agency] is ensuring that Canadian law is obeyed ….”
A bit of perspective on the Winnipeg Jets logo: “…. drawing political conclusions from a sports logo — racial issues aside — can point you down a long and winding road to insanity. Where does it end? Can’t cheer for the Ottawa Senators, as it conflicts with views on Canada’s unelected Senate. Or the Edmonton Oilers, as it might imply you support the pillaging of our natural resources. Or the L.A. Kings, since that would mean acceptance of any atrocities committed throughout history under monarchist rule. Or the Carolina Hurricanes, because it would be insensitive to those who have suffered at the hands of natural disaster. Forget the Calgary Flames, as too many people perish in house fires and to wear that sweater would be disrespectful. Or the Minnesota Wild. Nothing against the outdoors, they’re just ugly f*%kin’ sweaters.”
CF flying even MORE folks out of northern Ontario communities threatened by forest fire & smoke.“The Canadian Forces evacuated over 500 more people today from the communities of Sandy Lake and Kingfisher Lake, which are among the communities in northern Ontario threatened by wildfires. Working alongside municipal and provincial authorities in the forest fire-ravaged parts of northern Ontario, Canadian Forces aircrew flew residents to safety aboard CC-130 Hercules transport aircraft. Canadian Rangers, activated in 14 communities throughout the area, participated in several of the evacuations. Hundreds more Canadian Forces personnel were involved in the detailed planning and coordination of logistics for this complex operation. …. The air evacuations were conducted by Canada Command’s Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC), located at 1 Canadian Air Division Headquarters in Winnipeg. The Canadian Forces aircraft flown in today’s operations originated from 14 Wing in Greenwood, Nova Scotia, 8 Wing in Trenton, Ontario, and 17 Wing in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Canada Command’s Joint Task Force Centre, based in Toronto, mobilized members of the 3rd Canadian Patrol Ranger Group, which assisted in evacuation efforts at Sandy Lake by coordinating the logistical plans, loading aircraft and communicating with the families of community members throughout the operation. …. Canada Command, which is responsible for Canadian Forces operations in Canada, is continuing to work together with other federal, provincial and municipal authorities to assist those Canadians who are still at risk of smoke or threatened by the wildfires. The evacuation is continuing with more flights planned for tomorrow. Since the beginning of July, the Canadian Forces has flown over 2,500 residents of Deer Lake, Cat Lake, Fort Hope, Keewaywin, Kingfisher Lake, and Sandy Lake to safety.”
What’s Canada Buying? (3)Does this bit in an invitation to companies interested in providing a new Fixed Wing Search and Rescue Plane mean the CF is considering privatizing search and rescue operations? Or does it mean the CF’ll consider leasing instead of buying? Or both? “…. The Government of Canada will consider all options to ensure the best possible SAR service to Canadians and best value for taxpayers. The main goals of this consultation include: reviewing project status; reviewing the updated requirements; and seeking Industry opinions on Alternate Service Delivery options. During the consultation, Government of Canada officials will discuss the outcome of the NRC independent review and provide a summary of the revised key requirements followed by a discussion on potential procurement approaches for FWSAR including Alternate Service Delivery options ….” We’ll have to wait and see – more on that here.
Meanwhile, Senator Colin Kenny explains why Canada needs a decent navy.“…. Countries with navies matter. Countries without them matter mostly to themselves. Canada is never going to rule the world. But while defending itself it can help keep the world from falling apart. Without a navy, we can’t pull our weight on the global stage. If the government wants Canada to matter, it needs to take the navy seriously.”
Any chance of sharing this report with the readership, QMI Media? “Criminals have smuggled drugs into Canada’s ports by hiding it in everything from sofas to cat food, water chestnuts, cotton, plastic thermoses, Moroccan pottery, foot spas and bongo drums, according to a new report. The draft government report, obtained through access to information, probes the vulnerability of Canadian marine ports to organized crime and compiles some 20 years of criminal activity in the Montreal, Vancouver and Halifax ports. It paints a portrait of Canadian ports as a gateway for hash, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines smuggled in through shipping containers sent from Venezuela, Guyana, Turkey, Afghanistan, Mozambique, Kenya, Jamaica, with Pakistan reportedly a primary source of hash. Drugs also move out of Canada through the ports, with reports of ecstasy, meth, and cocaine heading from here to Asia-Pacific markets. Records of police arrests suggest counterfeit goods are also coming in, especially through Vancouver’s seaport, from credit cards to cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, electronics and fake designer duds ….”
“When Private Richard Harold Armer first arrived at the newly-opened Camp Borden in July 1916, he was far from impressed. “This is an awful place, all trees and shrubs growing in sand… our tent was pitched where there had been a fire and there was plenty of black dust flying around,” he wrote to his wife. “I don’t like this place one bit [but] I am keeping well. I’m in the army now.” …. Pte. Armer, who strongly believed it was his duty to serve Canada and the old country, spent about four months at the Borden training camp west of Barrie. In late October 1916 he and other soldiers boarded a train to Halifax, and then a ship to Europe. Dick arrived in France to fight in April 1917. His journey and experiences were documented in approximately 400 letters he wrote to his wife during his time in service. These letters were kept by descendants of Dick’s children, who still reside in Middlesex County. Late last year the family made the letters available to Museum Strathroy-Caradoc for digitization by volunteer John Sargeant, who scanned each piece of correspondence and read Dick’s story with great interest ….”
Afghanistan (3) One of the other victims?“Dodging bullets from children, stumbling across a boy with his face blown off and grasping a dead friend in his arms — the horror was more than Stefan Jankowski could bear. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and hooked on prescription drugs, the 25-year-old Windsor soldier returned home from the war in Afghanistan to face a losing battle with his own demons. His family said he died Saturday from a prescription drug overdose, after getting little help from the military he dreamt of serving from boyhood. They want answers, saying the military “washed their hands of him” and didn’t give Jankowski the help he needed after he was discharged ….”
Afghanistan (4) Canadian Senator, again, points out how he thinks the mission was not a success.“…. the UN says 2,579 NATO troops have died in Afghanistan since 2001. UN figures show that 8,832 Afghan civilians have been killed as a result of military operations since 2007 (nobody had deemed it essential to count before then). I don’t think this adds up to success. Then again, if you believe that it is important to look at this war through rose-coloured glasses to make everyone feel better, I guess we should just forget about all these repugnant little numbers ….” Note to the Senator: on this stat alone, let’s remember that between 7 and 8 out of 10 of the civilians killed were killed by the Taliban – more on that here and here.
Libya Mission (1) “Media are invited to attend a video-teleconference (this morning) with the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, Commander, Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) Op Unified Protector, the NATO-led effort to impose on Libya the arms embargo and no-fly zone authorized for the protection of civilians in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 ….”
Ministers of Defence, Public Safety: Thanks, troops, for the hard work in the Manitoba floods. “…. A total of 375 Canadian Forces members, drawn from the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery and Land Force Western Area Primary Reserve courses, assisted the Province of Manitoba in their operations to mitigate the effects of the flood, including the reinforcement of existing dikes and water embankments in the general vicinity of Souris. More than 1,800 Regular and Reserve Force personnel from the Navy, Army, and Air Force earlier assisted Provincial authorities by conducting extensive repairs to both the Assiniboine River dikes and the Assiniboine Diversion dikes, monitoring dikes on the ground and from the air, evacuating affected residents, producing more than 167,000 sandbags and placing more that 48 per cent of the total of 891,000 sandbags produced in the Province. More than 160 private residences were protected from flooding as a result of CF efforts …. On behalf of our government and all those Canadians who have been helped by Canadian Forces’ efforts this spring, we thank the men and women in uniform.”
More details about Canada’s (at least proposed) plans for the Arctic? “It is costly to operate in the vast and inhospitable Arctic. But the Canadian military is exploring a way to cut costs and speed up the movement of troops and equipment by building several new northern bases. Along the way it could help to strengthen the country’s Arctic sovereignty claims by placing additional boots on the tundra throughout the year. The plan, sketched out in a study that was commissioned by the force’s operational support command, is a variation of the one put in place for overseas operations. Barebones transportation hubs — essentially a suitable landing strip and storage facility — at strategic spots around the globe make it more efficient when soldiers are called out to a global hot spot in a pinch …. The military is looking at a domestic variant of those overseas hubs. The plan could result in remote bases and a small-but-permanent military presence in far-off communities. Locations could include Alert, Inuvik, Whitehorse, Rankin Inlet, Iqaluit or Nanisivik, according to the technical memorandum prepared by the research wing of the military last year ….” The Canadian Forces says no decision has been made to go ahead with the construction of new hubs. That could change. “The hub concept referred to in this report is just one of many ideas being examined at the time to enhance our capabilities up in the North,” said Navy Lt. Greg Menzies….” Since the Toronto Star isn’t sharing the full study, here it is (150 page PDF) if you’re interested (or here if the other link doesn’t work), and here’s a call from earlier this year (second-last bullet) for someone to summarize Canadian military research done in the Arctic.
Troops of Canada’s Army of the West prepare to practice mountain warfare.“With its mountainous terrain and warm climate, Kamloops is an ideal place for the Canadian Armed Forces to conduct training exercises in anticipation of duties overseas. Which is why soldiers from the Third Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry will be in the region from July 17-28 to conduct mountaineering training. Capt. Tony Meier of 3 PPCLI said about 60 troops will form a base camp near the New Gold Mine site, west of Kamloops, but the majority of training will take place at Roche Lake. The contingent will grow to about 180 troops for a major exercise north of Lac Du Bois from July 24-28 ….”
The CF’s apparently having trouble recruiting Chinese and other visible minorities. “More new Canadian citizens hail from China than almost any other country in the world, but military brass in Ottawa are facing an uphill battle in persuading a significantly greater proportion of Chinese-Canadians to embrace a career in the armed forces. Chinese-Canadians are among the fastest-growing visible minority groups in the country, and the People’s Republic of China has ranked first or second as a source of new citizens in recent years. But getting Chinese Canadians to don a uniform isn’t easy – part of the same challenge the military faces with all visible minorities even as the country becomes more ethnically diverse ….”
Libya Mission (2): I guess this letter writer thinks you can stop dictators from torturing and killing their own people by throwing flowers, right?“…. We have been told it had to be done for humanitarian and compassionate reasons.–And so, after a hundred days of bombing I wonder, are the humanitarian bombs used to eradicate Gaddafi, and the compassionate bombs used to help the rebels, depending on how you find out which groups are civilians or rebels?–It is all quite confusing! ….”
No more airport lounge privileges for YOU in Winnipeg, CF member. “When the new Winnipeg airport terminal opens this fall, members of the military will be left high and dry when it comes to complimentary access to a pre-boarding lounge. In the current terminal at Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, members of the military and their families awaiting flights are granted free access to the Palliser Travel Lounge, which is located past the central security checkpoint. …. “At this point there’s no plan to have a lounge with the same format,” said Winnipeg Airports Authority spokeswoman Christine Alongi. “Certainly if there was a party that wanted to approach us and create that sort of business opportunity, there’s definitely an interest.” ….”
Columnist: PM’s latest messaging not militaristic, just distracting.“…. Defence and foreign affairs analysts reject the notion that Mr. Harper is laying the groundwork for a new “Harper Doctrine” or that the government is engaging in a “new militarism.” Instead, they argue that the Prime Minister is participating in traditional politicking. He is trying to buttress his poll numbers going into the traditional summer doldrums, they say, by throwing some read meat to the Conservative base. And he is attempting to broadcast pro-military messages to distract the public from looming budget deficit cutbacks and a pullout from Afghanistan, both of which are threatening to actually reduce Canada’s military presence at home and on the world stage ….”
Scumbag, pure and simple.“A widow is asking the public for help after the theft of her wedding ring and other reminders of her late husband were stolen. Barb Stirling, of the town of Crossfield, is missing a jewelry box, bought by her husband T.J. Stirling while he was serving in Afghanistan. Inside were photos and a postcard sent from her husband to their son. Stirling died in 2009 after two tours in Afghanistan. The jewelry box was stolen from her home last week. “If anyone finds any articles of value, it’s best just to return them to police so we can connect them to the rightful owners,” said Airdrie RCMP Constable Francine Hennelly ….”
Afghanistan (1) Ladies and gentlemen, the Canadian flag no longer flies over Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar – this from the House of Commons yesterday: “Mr. Speaker, (Wednesday) was a momentous day in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. The Canadian flag was lowered for good at Camp Nathan Smith, where Canadian civilians have been serving for the last six years. This solemn moment marks both the achievements and sacrifices of all Canadians who have served in Afghanistan. It is a step forward in the transition of that country’s future to the Afghan people. It is also a chance to pay tribute to all those who have sacrificed, some with the ultimate price, in the fight against the Taliban and terror generally. Afghanistan today is a better, freer place than Canadians found it when they first arrived at Camp Nathan Smith. The people who have used the camp as a base for their work have helped tangibly to improve the lives of people in the region and the country as a whole. Canada’s commitment to Afghanistan’s future continues. I would ask all hon. members to join me in saluting the men and women who have served with honour and distinction at Camp Nathan Smith. Theirs is an impressive legacy, indeed.”
Afghanistan (2) “While the end of Canada’s combat mission is close, our soldiers are not taking the easy way home. Most sane people — weeks and days from the end of the combat mission — would opt to stay inside the wire more. Or avoid looking for trouble with insurgents. And while the Canadians have earned that small grace, professional soldiers rarely can take a soft option. Canadian officials here say as they make the transition from a combat to training mission — handing over hard won areas to American and Afghan forces — they are still bringing the fight to the enemy. “We are killing Taliban almost daily in the battle space,” says Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, the Canadian commander of Task Force Kandahar. “That’ll be the big focus for me to stay aggressive right until the point I have my troops out of the battle space.” ….”
Afghanistan (3c) Why the alleged no more scrutiny?“…. Asked why the government did not strike the special committee reviewing the documents in the new Parliament, Pamela Stephens, press secretary to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson (Niagara Falls, Ont.) replied to The Hill Times in part in an email: “The current official opposition does not wish to restart the process.” That response suggested the government asked the NDP if it wished to continue the process, and the party declined. NDP MP Jack Harris (St. John’s East, Nfld.) said he was unaware of any discussions between his party and the government on the subject. He reiterated his call for a judicial inquiry. Ms. Stephens also said it was the opposition parties that ended the review when they forced the election through a confidence vote last March, and noted two of the original signatories—Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Ignatieff—lost their seats in the election …”
Afghanistan (3d) Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says there’s no need for a public inquiry, thanks. “…. our government is and has always been committed to handling Afghan Taliban prisoners in accordance with our international obligations. We have just been through a 12-month $12 million process where an unprecedented amount of information has been put before a number of parliamentarians of this place. It has been ruled upon by former members of the Supreme Court who have done an outstanding job for this country. I think Canadians have a clear picture that our men and women in uniform fully accepted all our international obligations and have done a heck of a good job representing this country …. I was, as I am sure many members in this place were, tremendously disappointed when the New Democratic Party refused to participate in this committee of parliamentarians. Yesterday some 4,200 pieces of documentation on this important issue were released. We offered a briefing to all three of the opposition parties and let me say that I was even more disappointed that not one person from the New Democratic Party bothered to show up for that briefing to have this information explained.” And who didn’t show up at a briefing on the released paperwork? Click here to find out.
Afghanistan (3d) No evidence of issues, but still a chance to use “war crimes” in a headline, right? It had to be “War-crimes evidence proves hard to find,” not “Documents: no evidence found of war crimes”. “One Taliban suspect was feared dragged to death. Another may have been driven to his grave in the back of a Ford Ranger. Still others were said to have been executed behind buildings. The secret probe of these complaints was known as Operation Centipede. The goal? Check out accounts of war crimes, ones allegedly committed by allied Afghan forces and witnessed by Canadians. In the end, military investigators usually concluded there was less to the allegations than first thought. While possible Canadian complicity in torture in Afghan jails has long gripped politicians in Ottawa, this week’s disclosure of 4,000 pages of released records failed to reveal any smoking guns ….”
Afghanistan (3e) More “glass is half empty” coverage:“A human-rights lawyer believes Canadian troops could hand over detainees from other countries only for them to be tortured, just as were the Afghans under Canada’s watch. “The question is, when Canadian forces are deployed into an armed conflict, we understand that they are going to have to necessarily partner up or be allies with—temporarily or for a longer period of time—militias or with state armies that might not have the best human-rights records,” Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ told the Straight by phone. “So, how do we navigate those relationships and how do our human-rights obligations affect what we do with individuals we capture? I don’t think there have been a lot of lessons learned from the Afghan-detainee transfer issue such that it wouldn’t happen again. And that’s what is most disturbing of all at this point.” ….”
Afghanistan (5) “…. As Canadian combat draws to a close next month, polls done for the Department of National Defence last year suggest that after nine years, billions of dollars and 156 soldiers killed as part of the mission, Canadians support their troops — but still wonder why they were in Afghanistan in the first place. The surveys — conducted by Ipsos Reid and quietly released online, though not widely reported — found that 92 per cent of respondents had a positive impression of the people who serve in the Canadian Forces, and 85 per cent cited the military as a source of pride ….” Wonder why the poll wasn’t “widely reported”? Too much work to find information supporting the CF?
Afghanistan (6) One columnist’s read of the Canadian campaign.“…. It is fair to ask of the Canadian generals who sent their troops into Zhari and Arghandab and Maywand whether they knew, in their bones, that these were futile offensives, with an indefensibly high cost in blood and treasure. Everywhere Canadians went, their gains were overturned, until Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance came along in 2008 and switched the mission to one of classic counter-insurgency. That was a seminal point in Canada’s Afghan adventure, troops no longer running around as if without strategic purpose, swatting at insurgents, yet too sparsely arrayed to nail down the battle space ….”
Congratulations Canadian Forces Health Service! “…. The CF Health Services Group is the first and only federal pan-Canadian primary and ambulatory health care system to (be granted system-wide Accredited status by Accreditation Canada). Accreditation Canada granted the Canadian Forces health system Accredited status for the first time on 18 January 2011. In past years, only individual clinics were accredited. This Accreditation reaffirms that Canadian Forces Health Services personnel are highly trained medical professionals committed to observing best practice and evidence-based interdisciplinary care. With the support of their health care partners, the Canadian Forces Health Services provides full spectrum and high standard health care to Canada’s military personnel, wherever and whenever they serve. Being accredited by a highly respected civilian organization demonstrates to Canadian Forces patients and leadership, to civilian health care organizations, and to community partners that the Canadian Forces Health Services is delivering high quality health care. We extend our sincere congratulations and thanks to Canadian Forces Health Services personnel for their continued commitment to delivering excellent care to the men and women of the Canadian Forces.” “
“Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Thursday) marked the seventh annual National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism by launching the Kanishka Project and unveiling the fourth and final memorial for the victims of the Air India Flight 182 atrocity, which occurred 26 years ago …. The Prime Minister was accompanied by Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety. “On this day, we pause to remember those who have lost their lives due to acts of terrorism, both here in Canada and around the world,” said Prime Minister Harper. “On June 23, 1985, Canadians experienced the worst terrorist attack in our history when a bomb on Air India Flight 182 killed all 329 passengers and crew members aboard, most of them Canadian.” The last of four memorials unveiled today for the victims of Air India Flight 182 honours the innocent lives that were lost and serves as a reminder of the need for continued vigilance. The Montreal memorial and three others in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver ensure that their deaths and the loss experienced by their loved ones will not be forgotten ….”