MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 14 Nov 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 19 Aug 11

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

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 Aug 11

  • I know that you now know about the revived Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force by now.  Therefore, I’m done with multiple duplicate coverage – on to other news.
  • Libya Mission  Safe travels home!  “When HMCS Charlottetown first patrolled the waters off Misrata, Libya, in the spring, sailors could feel the blast waves coming from shells that pounded the city daily. Fires and black smoke above Libya’s third-largest city were constants. The warship helped clear a path for vessels carrying medical supplies, food and other humanitarian aid. But as the Charlottetown left its patrol area Tuesday, the start of the journey back to Halifax, the atmosphere was much different, said Cmdr. Craig Skjerpen. There could be days-long interruptions in the port shelling, and even then it was only sporadic, as the battlefield moved to the west. The shipments of food and medical supplies continued, but Skjerpen said building materials such as rebar and commercial goods had started to arrive ….”
  • Way Up North (1)  Members of the Canadian Forces say military capabilities are growing and becoming more complex in the North – a key component of reasserting claim to the region. Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw, who leads Operation NANOOK, will head to the Arctic next week with Prime Minister Stephen Harper for military exercises. Harper has made habit of visiting the North each summer to assert Canadian presence in the area. During August, navy, army and air force personnel will come together to complete annual military exercises including air, land and sea patrols, and the simulation of major air and maritime disasters. “The Canadian military is not looking at what the issues are today but what are the threats and hazards that Canadians could see, governments could see, not only today, but in the future, to see what capabilities we could need to address those threats and hazards,” Semianiw said ….”
  • Way Up North (2)  Interesting headline verb:  Minister of National Defence busy “overseeing” Operation Nanook
  • Way Up North (3)  Imagine you’re getting ready to dive into the Arctic Ocean and a piece of your equipment breaks. You can’t rush to a store, says Cpl. Larry Lyver, one of 23 divers involved in Operation Nanook’s Aug. 4 to 26 military exercises. Here, if you can’t buy it, you can’t have it, and you have to do without it, he says. That’s why he has a motto “one is none, two is one.” This explains why the diving team arrives with more than enough equipment to do any dives — during Op Nanook this includes navigating around icebergs and raising the sunken wing of a crashed aircraft to the surface ….”
  • Way Up North (4)  Meanwhile, south of the border ….  “The Navy has completed its latest assessment of the Arctic region, where melting ice is raising strategic questions as well as commercial opportunities. “In the past, the Arctic was largely inaccessible, but increased seasonal melting of the sea ice is opening the region and creating opportunities for oil and gas exploration, maritime shipping, commercial fishing and tourism,” Rear Adm. David Titley, director of the Navy’s task force for climate change, said in a statement Tuesday. “We are confronted by a new ocean for the first time in 500 years.” The assessment is part of a five-year plan, released in May 2009, to guide Navy policy, actions and investment regarding the Arctic ….”  A bit more in a U.S. Navy Info-Machine feature article (but no link to the environmental assessment yet) here.
  • Afghanistan (1)  A doc returns home.  “His nickname was Bob 42. To Maj. Sandeep Dhesi, though, the 10-year-old Afghan boy was so much more. “Not a day goes by when I don’t think about him,” says the native Calgarian, who just returned from a three-month tour of combat hospital duty in Afghanistan. “He never complained about the pain he was going through,” says Dhesi, the only oral and maxillofacial surgeon during his stint at Kandahar Airfield (KAF), of the innocent child whose face was severely injured by shrapnel from an improvised explosive device or IED. Only a day into his transition to life back in Calgary — which includes getting reacquainted with his lawyer wife Gurinder and their two young boys — the 34-year-old officer and I meet in a southwest coffee shop to talk about his profound experience of treating the critically wounded in Afghanistan, which included coalition and Afghan national army soldiers, civilians and even suspected Taliban insurgents ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  How ammunition technicians are helping the pack-up-clean-up work at KAF (via the CF Info-Machine)  “While the rest of Supply Company of the Mission Transition Task Force (MTTF) works to ensure that continuing International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations receive all the assets they need, Ammunition Platoon is busy destroying unsafe ordnance, and preparing and packaging ammunition for return to Canada or transfer to Operation ATTENTION in Kabul. With hundreds of line items in stock, Ammo Platoon faces a major task. “One by one, we have to hand-inspect thousands of small arms rounds, and it’s a time consuming job,” explained Sergeant Dominic Boisvert. Members of the Ammo Platoon inspect each item for serviceability and safety, and on 3 August they left the base to conduct a large-scale disposal ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  A new fact sheet on the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) project is out.  Here’s the CF Info-Machine’s version of the history:  “…. The planning for this program has evolved. A Statement of Operational Requirements (SOR) was first developed in 2004 outlining the technical requirements for an aircraft to effectively carry out search and rescue missions in Canada’s harsh and vast environment. In fall 2009, industry feedback was solicited on the high level considerations for the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue SOR. This consultation demonstrated the commitment to an open dialogue with Canadian industry and helped assess its ability to support the procurement of a new fleet. Following the industry consultation, the National Research Council (NRC) was engaged to conduct an independent review of the SOR. In its review, NRC focused on the technical requirements as well as the assumptions and constraints underlying them. The Government received the NRC report in March 2010 and then proceeded to review the report’s findings and recommendations. Based on the NRC review, the SOR has been amended to allow for a wider range of Fixed Wing Search and Rescue solutions and to reflect a capability-based rationale.”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2) Logistical support for up to a year (and up to $4.5 million) for Jamaican hurricane season chopper deployment and chemical and explosives detection kits.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Aussies getting cold feet?  “Australia will decide in 2012 whether to continue with a $16.8 billion purchase of 100 of Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters or seek an alternative amid continuing delivery delays and cost overruns, the government said on Wednesday. Repeated delays and ballooning costs in the F-35 programme were bumping against delivery and cost limits set by the government and military planners, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith told parliament. “I will not allow and the government will not allow a gap in the capability of our air combat capability,” Smith said, pointing to 2013 as the last possible decision deadline given a looming air combat gap in the country’s military ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Not looking entirely great in U.S., either“…. Already facing the prospect of $350 billion in defense cuts over 10 years, the Pentagon could look to scale back some projects, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the stealthy aircraft that has been plagued by cost overruns and delays ….”
  • Two alleged cases of sexual misconduct involving military members from CFB Esquimalt have prompted the commander of Canada’s Pacific fleet to warn personnel about their alcohol use. “There were two incidents in a relatively short period of time and (Commodore Peter Ellis) had a town hall meeting in which he reminded people of their responsibility with respect to drinking responsibly and looking out for your buddies, and basically the rules and regulations that surround this kind of incident,” said Lt.-Cmdr. Nathalie Garcia, public affairs officer for Maritime Forces Pacific ….”
  • Ali Dirie, the gunrunner of the so-called Toronto 18 terrorist cell, continues to pose “a high risk of violent reoffending,” the National Parole Board has concluded, ordering the 28-year-old to serve out his full sentence at the Special Handling Unit in Ste. Anne Des Plaines, north of Montreal. It is not clear, however, what will happen to the would-be jihadist when his sentence at the top-security prison is over in six weeks. A spokesperson for the National Parole Board said that once Dirie is released Oct. 1, he will be out of their hands. “The parole board has the mandate to impose special conditions, if they do provide parole, within the framework of protecting society within an acceptable level of risk to the public,” said Leyla Mavaddat, a regional communications officer for the NPB. “Once the sentence is completed, they will have no authority.” ….”
  • If you’re a veteran or a serving CF member, you can get into some Parks Canada facilities for free this weekend“…. As part of Parks Canada’s 100th anniversary, the Government of Canada is offering Canada’s military, Veterans and their families free admission to Parks Canada sites from August 19 to 21, 2011. Dubbed the “Fab Forts Weekend,” access includes national historic sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas administered by Parks Canada …. Earlier this month, Parks Canada announced that 38 of Canada’s historic fortifications will celebrate Parks Canada’s centennial with a “Fab Forts Weekend.” Special activities include concerts, picnics, archaeology-related activities, markets, tours and much more. The highlight of the weekend will be a 100-gun salute that will ripple across the country from coast to coast on Sunday afternoon.  A complete list of participating sites and events across the country is available at www.parkscanada.gc.ca/fabforts ….”  Here’s another link to the list of sites & events – no word on what I.D. veterans would have to present to get the freebie.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 17 Aug 11

  • “Royalizing” the CF (1)  “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, announced today that the Government of Canada has restored the use of the historic designations of the three former services: the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), the Canadian Army (CA), and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) ….”  More from the CF Info-machine in Backgrounders and Fact Sheets here (general), here (Navy), here (Army) and here (Air Force).
  • “Royalizing” the CF (2)  What did the Queen’s representative in Canada and Commander-in-Chief have to say?  Not all that much, actually.  “As commander-in-chief, I welcome the Department of National Defence’s decision to restore the historic names of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force. These historic titles, unused since the integration of the Canadian Forces in 1968, represent a proud tradition in Canada and an important part of Canada’s military heritage.”
  • “Royalizing” the CF (3)  Mainstream media and editorial response from the Toronto Sun (“No longer will we have the bureaucratic nothingness of Maritime Command, Air Command and Land Force Command.”), the Hamilton Spectator (“It seems a retrograde move to hearken back to colonial times, despite the fact that royal themes are ingrained elements in the fabric of our parliamentary democracy.”), Postmedia News, the Ottawa Citizen, The Canadian Press (“In the province of Quebec, not many people like to think of the royal connection and there’s a lot of French Canadians in the navy as well.”), CBC.ca (outlining what has to be done/changed), Agence France-Presse, BBC and the Associated Press.
  • “Royalizing the CF” (4)  And what does Citizens for a Canadian Republic have to say?  “…. The government may be vastly overestimating the size of the demographic this kind of action appeals to,” said CCR spokesperson, Tom Freda. “This isn’t the 1950s, nor do we have 1950s values, he adds. “Canada has been accustomed to moving away from colonialist symbols, not toward them. I can’t imagine the mainstream public in 2011 seeing this decision as positive.” The group also believes there will be a considerable financial cost for the changeover. Access to Information documents have revealed consistent under-reporting of the true cost to taxpayers of royal visits, so that policy is expected to continue this time as well. Regarding the potential constitutional implications, Freda said, “Australia’s military still has the royal designation and they’re further ahead in the republican debate than Canada. So, in the larger scope of things, it has no relevence to our inevitable evolution to a one hundred percent Canadianized head of state.” “
  • Way Up North  “If you happen to be feeling sick, you’ll be in good hands at Camp Nanook, where more than 400 members of the Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian Rangers have lived since Aug. 4, when Operation Nanook started. In fact, such high-quality health care is available at the camp that many Canadian Rangers from Nunavut are drawn to the white medical tent on site. Canadian Rangers are more than twice as likely go there than the other members of the military at the camp: although Canadian Rangers make up about 10 per cent of the people at the camp, they account for 25 per cent of those who attend the clinic. More Nunavut Rangers come to the clinic likely because “they don’t have such a high quality of medical care,” suggests Maj. Stephane Roux, the chief physician and head of the clinic ….”
  • More on Operation Jaguar in Jamaica.  “Minister of National Security, Senator Dwight Nelson last week announced that the Canadian Government, through its Ministry of National Defence, is deploying three CH-146 Griffon tactical helicopters and 65 Canadian Forces personnel to support the Jamaica Defence Force during the 2011 hurricane season. The deployment follows a request from the Jamaican Government. Minister Nelson said he was most appreciative of the Canadian initiative, noting that the three helicopters will shore up the JDF’s capabilities. In welcoming the deployment, Nelson added that JDF personnel will also benefit from training with the Canadian Forces. Minister Nelson pointed to the extremely successful long-standing alliance between the Canadian Forces and the Jamaica Defence Force ….”  More on the operation in the CF Info-Machine’s fact sheet here.
  • New boss for CFB Gagetown.  “…. Col. Michael Pearson said goodbye to the base after two years of progressive leadership. While maintaining a home in New Maryland, the colourful commander is packing his bags and heading to New York City where he will assume the position of military adviser to the Canadian ambassador at the United Nations. Switching places with Col. Pearson is Col. Paul Rutherford, fresh from a stint as army adviser with the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff in London, England ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  The CF Info-Machine on Canada’s last chopper mission winding up and on the last combat logistics patrol.
  • Afghanistan (2)  It appears at least one writer (and whoever checked said writer’s material) didn’t read the memo re:  how long Canada’s been in Afghanistan fighting the good fight.  According to the article, For more than 10 years now, Canada has been supporting the action of the international community in Afghanistan….”  The CF fact sheet says Canada’s first boots hit the ground as part of Operation Apollo in early 2002 CTV.ca said on 14 Jan 02 that what appears to be the advance party was in Afghanistan.  By my math, that’s closer to about 8 or 9 years back.  Oopsie….
  • Toronto Star editorial on possible cuts to Canada’s military:  “…. Earlier governments slashed across the board, insisting for example that the forces kept open bases for political reasons long after they had outlived their usefulness. What all the services need is a government willing to let the generals and admirals cut the fat that has built up over the past few years, and strengthen the muscle.”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  More on the potential privatizing of some or all of Canada’s (what is now) military search and rescue work – this following an “industry consultation day …. “for the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) Project”.  “The Conservative government is looking at all options to replace the military’s search and rescue fleet, including turning to private industry contractors to tackle some work. Since 2004, the government has been looking at replacing the ageing CC-115 Buffalo and the CC-130 Hercules aircraft, which have been central components in Canada’s search and rescue system. “Thorough consultation is necessary to fulfil the government’s duty to ensure all options have been considered before any decision is made,” said Chris McCluskey, a spokesman for Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino. Consultations between aerospace firms and government procurement officials took place in Gatineau, Que., on Tuesday. Air Force vets are not fighting the move to outsource some of the work – they just want to see the project take flight. “If industry is able to provide input that will get this moving, fine – love it,” said retired Maj.-Gen. Marc Terreau. “The real, fundamental issue in search and rescue is human lives. Time is of the essence. The faster you get there, the higher the chances of people being rescued alive.” ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Someone to make a better respirator faceplate (more in the Statement of Work – PDF – here) and someone to develop “a low burden protective fabric and protective tactical assault (uniform),” aka a better CBRN protective suit (more in the Statement of Work – PDF – here).
  • The first pirates Capt. Steve Waddell encountered weren’t wearing puffy shirts, tri-cornered hats or as much dark eyeliner as Disney’s Jack Sparrow. Instead they were decked out in Gucci watches and ill-fitting Armani suits, claiming to be Somali fishermen aboard a small, open-decked skiff Waddell and his crew confronted in the treacherous seas off the Horn of Africa. “I’m not sure why they considered that pirate attire,” said Waddell, who in 2009 commanded the frigate HMCS Fredericton on one of Canada’s first anti-piracy naval missions to the region. A Canadian boarding party confronted the skiff, confiscated guns and gasoline from the group, and sent them back to the Somali coast. Waddell watched as the Somalis high-fived each other, happy to be released, as they motored away from the warship. “That’s the reality of anti-piracy operations off Somalia,” Waddell told an audience of lawyers with the Canadian Bar Association ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 21 Jul 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 20 Jul 11

  • An Aboriginal leader is calling for more help – including military – getting people out of northern Ontario communities threatened by forest fires, smoke.  “Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy today called on the governments of Canada and Ontario to commit all available emergency resources to assist First Nation communities under immediate threat by forest fires raging across Northwestern Ontario. “I am calling on the Government of Canada to mobilize all available resources, including the Armed Forces, to ensure that enough aircraft are available to evacuate First Nations at a moment’s notice ….”  How bad are the fires?  Check the map here – more here and here.
  • Afghanistan (1)  “…. “Many of the soldiers we’re going to send over from Gagetown have had tours of duty performed in Afghanistan already and that is important because they will have the credibility with the Afghans because they’ll be speaking from a position of knowledge and experience,” (Dr. Lee Windsor, the deputy director of the Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society) said. Almost 500 soldiers from The Second Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment (2RCR) are expected to deploy to Afghanistan in early 2012 for about eight months. They will make up the second rotation of troops as part of Canada’s new non-combat role in Afghanistan.”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Yet ANOTHER “packing up” story.  “It’s been 10 years since Canada first deployed troops in Afghanistan, and what was known grandly as Operation Enduring Freedom has now been reduced to dust. Dust from Kandahar province’s vast Red Desert, from the districts of Dand, Daman, Panjwaii and Arghandab, clings not only to the memories of Canadian troops, but also to every millimetre of equipment. The memories may be exported, but not the fine-grained sand that gets into everything. That stays here. A mountain of metal awaits Canada’s movers and one of their most difficult tasks is washing away a decade of desert dirt. The challenge, says Lt. Col. Virginia Tattersall, 45, of Ottawa, who is in charge of the packing and moving, is to ensure that “alien invasive species” can’t sneak into Canada ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  CDS: Well done, troops. “…. As the last combat troops prepare for their return home, Canada’s top soldier remains confident that the mission that began in early 2002, months after the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States, was accomplished. In an interview with Postmedia News Monday, Gen. Walt Natynczyk said the goal was to rid the restive southern region of al-Qaida and that’s exactly what troops did ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  One columnist’s take on what the return home should look like.  “…. Just as in Korea, our new veterans will return home with the vague sense that the job was not done, that there was more they could still do. Despite leaving 900 of their brethren behind to train the Afghanis, there will be vets who know we have left too soon. There will be no marching bands or public ceremonies welcoming our Afghanistan vets back. Instead, there will be those who ask, “Just what was it you were doing over there?” Too bad – they deserve better.”
  • Afghanistan (5)  Hamilton soldiers share their stories of Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan (6)  More on the upcoming court martial of a Canadian General charged with having sex with a subordinate while in theatre.
  • As thousands of Canadian soldiers adjust to home life after the battlefields of Kandahar, what looked like a flood of aid for the wounded among them and veterans of other wars is turning out to be only a trickle. The Conservative government made a $2-billion promise last September to increase disability benefits, just as veterans’ outrage began to boil over how survivors of past and present conflicts were being treated. Support for the military is a key priority for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government. But the pledge was for the lifetime of the program, meaning the money is meant to last until the last veteran alive needs it. Now, details are emerging about how much money current vets will actually see in their pockets. A government analysis of regulatory impacts resulting from changes to the Veterans Charter says $129.9 million will be spent over 10 years for three elements of the new program ….”
  • The Economist second-guesses Canada’s decision to ditch UAE and move to Kuwait as a staging base.  “…. Switching operations to Kuwait will cost the Canadian government hundreds of millions of dollars in moving expenses and rent payments. A souring of relations could also hurt Canada’s business dealings with its biggest trading partner in the Middle East. And Canadian travellers will be stuck paying higher fares: a round-trip from Toronto to Dubai last week cost C$1,000 more on Air Canada than on Air Emirates. The Canadian government seems to have realised belatedly that it had little to gain from squabbling with the UAE: John Baird, who became its minister of foreign affairs following a national election on May 2nd, met the Emirati ambassador at last on July 5th. Had his predecessor done so earlier, Canadian soldiers might still be based in Dubai today.”
  • A Globe & Mail columnist’s critique of the PM’s Arctic approach.  “Next month, as he has every summer since becoming Prime Minister, Stephen Harper will travel to the Arctic, trumpeting his Conservative government’s resolve to assert Canadian sovereignty in the Far North against all comers. Little of what he says will accord with reality. But it will all make for splendid political theatre, which is the whole point. This federal government employs a two-track policy in the Arctic: noisy confrontation and quiet co-operation. The latter track is the real policy, but it doesn’t profit the Prime Minister to acknowledge it much ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Interested vendors to discuss Fixed Wing Search and Rescue plane buy, someone to run a command post exercises for the 1 Canadian Air Division and help researching “pulse detonation engines”.
  • More calls for an apology for disbanding the Canadian Airborne Regiment.  “…. For a regiment with an impeccable record of service, it was an inglorious end – and entirely unwarranted, say the Canadian Airborne Forces Association (CAFA) and the Airborne Regiment Association of Canada (ARAC). They’ve mounted a campaign to restore the airborne regiment’s honour. In their view, the unprecedented decision to disband the airborne regiment “was a pernicious act without fairness and justice taken by a government prior to ascertaining the facts … Redressing the perception of the Canadian Airborne Regiment being in disgrace at the time of disbandment must be corrected.” “It was a great travesty of justice,” says Brighton resident Ian Douglas who commanded the regiment from 1975 to 1977. He worked on the original position paper, ‘Righting a Wrong,’ that’s at the heart of the two airborne associations’ demand for an apology and a “serious review” of Canada’s armed forces. They say there’s a strong argument to be made for “reconstituting” the regiment ….”
  • This time it’s not just the killer colonel and his wife being sued but the OPP and the Canadian Armed Forces, too. The Toronto Sun has learned surviving victim Laurie Massicotte is pitted against defendants David Russell Williams, Mary Elizabeth Harriman, the Attorney General of Canada on behalf of the Department of National Defence and her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario. The defendants were served with the notice of claim on July 13 and, in that, document Massicotte and her Belleville lawyer J. David M. Ross outline a number of accusations against them all. Massicotte will be making the claim that there was a “breach of duty of care by not warning her that a previous sexual assault had taken place on the same street where she lives only days before.” It also cites a “breach of duty of care by not warning her of previous break and enters that had taken place on the same street” since Sept. 9, 2007 where “items of female clothing were taken.” And “the police first described her assault by saying she was a copycat” which made her feel “betrayed” and with “fear and a sense of guilt” to go with suffering from “post traumatic stress and anxiety disorders.” ….”
  • A few additions to my military flicks collection.