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Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘HMCS Charlottetown

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 21 Nov 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 4 Sept 11

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  • Libya Mission (1)  Ooopsie….  “Government House Leader Peter Van Loan “misspoke” Saturday when he told a radio program the Conservative government wants to extend Canada’s military role in Libya beyond its scheduled end date. The Conservative MP for York-Simcoe was asked about comments made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week, which indicated that Canada would stick with the NATO-led mission until the end. “Yes, it will be our intention to extend the mission for a little bit, at least, and we’ll have to do that by going to Parliament,” Van Loan said on CBC Radio’s The House. “That’s what we have done for the previous motions where we have gained all-party support for the mission, and I think, I’d be optimistic that there’d be good support for that.” an Loan’s director of communications, Fraser Malcolm, later clarified that the MP had “misspoke,” saying that the decision to seek an extension is in the hands of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Defence Minister Peter MacKay, to then be put to Parliament for approval ….”
  • Libya Mission (2)  HMCS Charlottetown crew members share their memories of the mission now that they’re home. “At night, crew aboard HMCS Charlottetown could see and feel the explosive blasts as troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi fired at Libyan citizens within the city of Misrata. “On the flight deck you could feel the vibration from bombs exploding. It would go right through your body,” Ordinary Seaman Ashton Metcalf said Friday, after officers and crew of the warship enjoyed a rousing and emotional welcome home at the Halifax navy dockyard after their six-month deployment ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  One African’s perspective on Canada’s role:  “…. Whether seen as a victory for NATO or the triumph of democracy, Canada has been part of Libya’s success story. This event will go down in history as Ottawa’s contribution to the fight against tyranny in Africa.”
  • Afghanistan  Canadian General says things have to change with training Afghan troops.  “…. At one point this summer, the pace of desertions climbed to an annualized rate of 35 percent, though it has since declined. NATO’s training command has developed an extensive plan to attempt to lower attrition further, saying an acceptable goal would be 1.4 percent per month — or about 17 percent a year. July’s attrition rate was 2.2 percent. “If we’re in the same situation in 3.5 years” — when Afghans are scheduled to be in charge of their security — “then we have a problem,” said Canadian Maj. Gen. D. Michael Day, a deputy commander in NATO’s training mission in Kabul.”
  • A former member of the Guatemalan military who holds both Canadian and American passports and who is accused of war crimes in Guatemala will be extradited to the United States, a Canadian court ruled Friday. Alberta’s Chief Justice in Neil Wittmann ruled that Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes, 53, should be sent to the US for trial on charges of false statements made in government application forms to become a naturalized American citizen ….”  A bit more here.
  • Mid-Canada Line cleanup on Hudson Bay under way.  Crews and local residents in the northern Ontario First Nations community of Peawanuck are teaming up to begin the long-awaited cleanup at a Cold War-era military base. Site 500 is the largest of 16 mid-Canada radar sites scattered across northern Ontario. The base was home to several hundred people who worked at the site when it operated in the 1950s and 1960s. Now the site is home to a small camp of contractors starting the long-awaited project of cleaning up the mess left behind — a junkyard filled with abandoned vehicles, thousands of leaky fuel barrels and barracks with asbestos in the walls….”  A bit of the backstory here.
  • When street names were contemplated for a new housing development in the west England town of Pershore, councillors initially decided to honour several varieties of plums — the main fruit grown in the area, and the focus of an annual harvest festival. But planning officials have squashed that plan in favour of a street-name tribute to about a dozen of the war dead buried in the adjacent Pershore Cemetery — most of them Canadian servicemen killed in accidents at a nearby airfield during the Second World War. Dismissing the proposal to celebrate the Purple Pershore, Pershore Yellow and other plum varieties as “boring and banal,” elected planning chief Judy Pearce has ruled that fallen Canadian airmen such as RCAF Sgt. Ernie Desjardins of Climax, Sask. — who died in the botched landing of a Wellington bomber near the town in 1942 — are more deserving of recognition than the tender fruit farmed in the region ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 3 Sept 11

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  • Libya Mission (1)  Welcome home, HMCS Charlottetown, from “Fighting The Gaddafi Regime” – good to see you and yours back safe and sound – more from the media here.
  • Libya Mission (2)  Canada must help Libya make sure its weapons of mass destruction don’t get into the wrong hands, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Friday …. “There’s significant stockpiles of mustard gas and other chemical weapons that have been secure for a number of years, but we want to make sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands,” Baird said. “So there’s another area where we can help demilitarize a country so hopefully it’ll have a peaceful future.” ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  An editorial isn’t happy with the PM’s speech to the troops in Sicily this week.  “…. it’s well worth thinking about what kind of role we want our nation to have in the world, and how we want to be seen by other nations. With our presence in Afghanistan and Libya — despite whatever good those missions may have achieved — we have still clearly moved from a country best known for supplying troops for peacekeeping missions to a nation willing to ride with countries that see interventionist military missions as the way to go in international affairs. In his own way, Harper referenced that change in his speech as well: “They used to claim that in international affairs, and you’ve heard the quote many times: ‘Canada punched above its weight.’ Well, to punch above your weight, you first have to be able to punch. And that is what you have done here.” It is more than a little unsettling, and Canadians should rightfully question whether this is the direction we wish to head ….”  Note to writer: without being able to engage in full combat operations (translation: being able to shoot and maybe kill if needed), peacekeepers can’t do their job fully. It’s sorta like a cop without a gun – some work is doable, but the ultimate sanction to get all sides to play nice is not there.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (1)  Let’s not forget the Canadians killed in the 9/11 attack ten years ago.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (2)  On Sept. 11, 2001, Angus Watt walked into the Canadian NORAD regional headquarters at CFB Winnipeg at about 7:30 a.m., just back from a two-week leave. A career air force man, he was a brigadier general who, on that day, was the operations officer for the entire air force. Within an hour, one of his staff told him to turn on the news. A plane had struck the World Trade Centre in New York. “Of course, the first thought was ‘What a tragic accident. ‘There just didn’t seem to be any other explanation at the time.” “Then the second one hit.” Within 30 minutes, the operations centre, normally manned by a skeletal crew, was fully staffed. The secure room features display screens that monitor air traffic and connect NORAD and governments. But even with the most sophisticated tracking systems, the military officers were forced to make life-or-death decisions on incomplete information ….”
  • The Leslie Report/CF Reorg  CDS further refines his position on the report. “Canada’s top soldier says a report calling for personnel reductions needs further study to ensure the recommendations won’t hurt the military’s ability to carry out operations. According to media reports, Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie wrote a review calling for savings of $1 billion annually by reorganizing the Canadian Forces and chopping up to 11,000 personnel. Gen. Walt Natynczyk, the chief of defence staff, says while he believes it’s a strong report, he’ll need to consider the impact of reducing the number of full-time reservists or contractors hired to replace personnel sent to serve overseas. Natynczyk says he doesn’t want to implement cuts that will hurt the military’s ability to fulfil its commitments abroad. “I knew the ideas would be novel. I knew the ideas would be contentious and I accept the report,” he said. “From my point of view, it’s a very good report. It’s a question now of parsing through it. What can we do in the short-term? What needs more study? What I don’t want is to recommend a cut to the government that has a second-order effect that affects our operational capability.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  A Canadian General appears to be one of several NATO types who tried to get Afghan military hospital corruption (patients having to bribe staff to food, meds) cleared up (PDF of article here if link doesn’t work).  “…. (Afghan army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Sher Mohammed) Karimi was invited to attend an Afghan shura, a traditional meeting, at the hospital with Canadian Brigadier Gen. David Neasmith, the assistant commander for army development at the NTM-A. NATO officials pressed Gen. Karimi to address the problem of staff absenteeism and missing medicine, a U.S. mentor who was present says. But Afghan hospital and army officials who attended the meeting steered the conversation away from such issues and asked for raises and promotions, the mentor says. As weeks passed without progress, the mentors say they assembled more evidence of neglect, including detailed medical charts and photos showing emaciated patients and bedsores a foot long and so deep that bones protruded from them. In an Oct. 4 document emailed by the mentors to Gen. Neasmith, they complained about the hospital’s intensive-care unit, among other issues: “The most dynamic and ill affected is the ICU, whereby favoritism, ambivalence, incompetence coupled with understaffing lead to the untimely deaths of patients daily, occasionally several times per day.” …. By mid-December (2010), Gen. Yaftali, the Afghan army’s surgeon-general, was moved out of his job without explanation—after the coalition’s commander at the time, Gen. David Petraeus, personally raised the problems at the hospital during a meeting with President Karzai, people familiar with the matter said. The hospital has seen major improvements since then ….”
  • Afghanistan (2a)  Combat tour’s still over (via the CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (2b)  Combat tour’s still over (via the CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (3)  Packing Team boss has links to northwestern Ontario.
  • Big military cleanup projects coming to Newfoundland.  The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, along with the Honourable Peter Penashue, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, today announced three new projects valued at $62 million for environmental remediation work at 5 Wing Goose Bay …. Since the Second World War, 5 Wing Goose Bay has had a continuous international military presence, which has brought significant socio-economic benefits and stability for the local communities. The three new projects include the removal of fuel and contaminants from the ground at the Survival Tank Farm, the Former Hydrant Area, and the Dome Mountain sites. Together, these three projects represent $62 million in contracts at 5 Wing Goose Bay, and create 335 jobs in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay community, and throughout Labrador ….”  More details in the Backgrounder document here, and in media coverage here.
  • Way Up North  OP Nanook 2011 wraps up.
  • Defence Minister making an announcement in Halifax Tuesday.
  • Helping Kids of the Fallen  More on the Canada Company offering scholarships to children of CF members killed on duty here and here.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 2 Sept 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 19 Aug 11

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  • 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 – 11 Aug 11

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  • Canadian military helicopters, support staff headed to Jamaica to help out in case of hurricanes.  Dozens of Canadian troops are heading to the Caribbean this week to assist the Jamaican military with medevacs and search and rescue during the region’s annual hurricane season, Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced Wednesday in Trenton, Ont. As part of Operation Jaguar, which could last until the end of November, Canada will deploy three CH-146 Griffon helicopters as well as 65 Canadian Forces personnel from Canadian Forces bases in Goose Bay, N.L., Bagotville, Que., and Trenton ….” - more on OP Jaguar here (CF Info-Machine version), here, here, here, here and here.
  • Helping out Colombia.Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced Canadian support for new and ongoing projects that will enhance peace, security and justice in Colombia and the region. Areas of focus include preventing conflict, combating transnational criminal activity, facilitating access to justice, responding to the global threat of terrorism, ensuring security at major events and land restitution. The announcement was made during an official visit with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos ….” – more in backgrounder here.
  • Boss of CFB Trenton on to other tasks“The current commanding officer here has always been proud to call the air base his home.  He helped heal it. He helped put it on the global map.  Taking the lead of the largest and busiest air force base in the country 18 months ago, outgoing commanding officer Col. Dave Cochrane helped launch Canada’s new emergency response mission Op Jaguar along with minister of National Defence Peter MacKay Wednesday morning – a day before relinquishing his command to Col. Sean Friday.  “Since taking command last February we have done continuous operations,” said Cochrane. “It is because of efforts like Op Hestia in Haiti, our support to the Vancouver Olympic Games, the ongoing support to Afghanistan, and most recently our response to the wild fires in Northern Ontario where thousand of residents were evacuated that our emergency response units and personnel here at 8 Wing that I am proud to call this wing home and being its commander.” …. “It’s been truly amazing,” said the commanding officer, who will proceed on the advanced training list to attend the Defence and Strategic Studies Course – a top level curriculum for senior military officers and government officials engaged in national security issues – at the Australian Defence College later this year ….”
  • Letter writer doesn’t seem to get it.  1)  Writer worried about brutality of Canada’s military police after the Provost Marshal’s annual report says there’s been more investigations of sexual assault, assault and death.  2)  CF Provost Marshal writes back saying:  “These are complaints investigated by or reported to Military Police; the way the letter is written would suggest that these complaints were against the Military Police. This is clearly wrong.”  3)  Original letter writer:  “I am still unclear though as to who committed more than 700 alleged crimes, in 2010, that Grubb stated in the press that he himself was concerned about.” >>insert banging head on wall smiley here<<
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Boots, first for “user acceptance trials”, then loads if OK – more here in part of bid document (PDF).
  • Editorial on need for more help for homeless vets“…. as important as it is to find and fund a solution, correctly identifying the problem is just as crucial.  For the most part, we don’t even know who these veterans are and how they ended up on our streets. Scant research has been done in this country. But a recent study by Susan Ray and Cheryl Forchuk, two nursing professors at the University of Western Ontario, challenges the assumption that these veterans are down and out because they suffer from addictions or mental health problems that can be traced back to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Few among the dozens of homeless vets they interviewed had ever been deployed overseas. Their average age was 52 and it often took a decade or more after their release from the Forces before they ended up on the street. Many said they learned to drink while in the military and that alcoholism helped drive them to ruin.  What this points to, according to the Western Ontario researchers, is that Veterans Affairs is having some success in identifying and assisting veterans with PTSD. Primarily, those falling through the cracks in Canada seem to be a different group who have trouble making the transition to civilian life — from a highly structured environment to one with much more freedom to make choices …. the phenomenon might be more complex than we imagine and that we need harder data if we are to respond effectively and proactively over the long term ….”
  • Libya Mission  Some of what HMCS Charlottetown was up to. “…. The ship’s superior combat co-ordination and communications systems led to its periodic assignment as Surface Action Group Commander, in which Charlottetown directed the tactical employment of allied warships and maritime patrol aircraft in the area while co-ordinating patrol areas and alert levels for shipborne helicopters. These same capabilities, summarized under the rubric “C4ISR” — standing for the command, control, communications, computing, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems — allowed the ship’s combat control centre to alert NATO to a major offensive on April 26 against Misrata by Gadhafi forces. Working with NATO air controllers, Charlottetown’s operations staff assisted with the co-ordination of air strikes that blunted the attack and eliminated several dozen assault vehicles, artillery pieces and a main battle tank. The ship had repeat performances on May 8 and 24. This Canadian frigate is responsible for saving Libyan lives and preventing Libyan military offensives against the residents of Misrata — big achievements for one ship of Canada’s navy.”
  • Afghanistan  Macleans before-and-after in Kandahar. “…. In the weeks and months of the transition from Canadian to American control, much has changed in Kandahar. The heavy hand of the American war machine has devastated the lives of many villagers. In the Arghandab valley, one elder tells Maclean’s that before the Americans came, there was peace. “Sure, the Taliban were in control,” says the 80-year-old Haji Abdul Jabar, “but they never bothered us. They treated us with respect. Now the Americans have come and they are destroying our gardens with their tanks. When they patrol the village they trample over our irrigation canals. And now war has come. Wherever the Americans go, war follows them.” ….”
  • PM’s got a new (acting) foreign & security advisor“Prime Minister Stephen Harper has brought in Christine Hogan as his acting foreign and defence policy adviser to replace Claude Carrière, who moved out of the position last month to become associate deputy minister at Agriculture Canada. Ms. Hogan, who is usually the assistant secretary to the Cabinet, foreign and defence policy, stepped into the key role temporarily after the departure of Mr. Carrière on July 11. A permanent replacement has yet to be named and the PCO has been tight-lipped on when that would happen, but former diplomats say that the next person to step into the role must be knowledgeable, well-connected, and experienced ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  The good news:  American F-35′s back at work.  The bad news:  not flying yet, though.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 6 Aug 11

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  • OP Nanook 2011 (1)  Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay:  Let the exercise begin! 
  • OP Nanook 2011 (2)  Who’s providing the base camp facilities?
  • Afghanistan (1)  Condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the fallen.  Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday 31 U.S. soldiers and 7 Afghan troops had been killed in a helicopter crash overnight, one of the worst incidents of its kind in the 10-year-old war in Afghanistan. The statement from the presidential palace said the helicopter had crashed in central Maidan Wardak province, just to the west of the capital, Kabul. The Taliban claimed to have shot down the troop-carrying helicopter ….”  More from ISAF, the AFG president’s office, the Taliban (with a PDF of the statement downloadable here) and other mainstream media here and here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  The “Afghanistan CSI” storyline.  “When U.S. troops came to the village of Armul in eastern Afghanistan in June, 2007, there wasn’t much left of three insurgents who had been blown up by their own bomb – torn clothes, body parts, a damaged AK-47, bits of metal and blue plastic. But among the remains was a severed hand. The soldiers took it back to their base and, using the sensor of a special biometric camera called the HIIDE, scanned the fingertips and retrieved two prints. Even in death, the insurgent wouldn’t escape the gigantic biometric net that the U.S. military had cast over the country. Canada has ended its combat mission and left Kandahar. Other nations are scaling down their presence. A decade of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq is closing in uncertain, ambiguous fashion. But the two major conflicts of the new century have altered military tactics, making them the first forensic wars. The introduction of scientific methods has reshaped counterinsurgency tactics, mixing police and military work, creating a seamless bridge between evidence collected on the battlefield and courtroom prosecutions years from now ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  One Ottawa-area Legion welcoming troops home.  “(Carleton Place) residents can show their appreciation to the men and women of the armed forces, who are coming home from Afghanistan after Canada’s longest armed conflict. Iain Davidson, the past president of the Carleton Place Royal Canadian Legion Branch 192, is hoping residents from the town and beyond will be on hand to welcome the troops home for Afghanistan Veterans Appreciation Day on Sunday, Aug. 14, just as they did for Victory in Europe – VE Day – in 1945 and to celebrate the end of the First World War in 1918, “The town turned out to welcome the troops home and that’s why we’re encouraging the churches in town, to ring their bells at 1 p.m.,” said Davidson ….”
  • Libya Mission (1)  “The Canadian heading NATO military operations against Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi refuses to accept that the battle between the regime and rebel forces is at a “stalemate.” “I disagree with the term stalemate,” Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard told Postmedia News on a busy day Friday as NATO dealt with conflicting reports about the possible death of Gadhafi’s son and fended off criticism from Italy on the handling of fleeing migrants. Numerous allied officials and analysts, including top U.S. military officer Mike Mullen, have used the word to describe the state of the conflict since allied air and naval firepower came to the assistance of the rebels in March. But Bouchard said the West still views western military offensives through the prism of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, which included ground troops and bombardment of national infrastructure and which led to the quick collapse Saddam Hussein’s regime ….”
  • Libya Mission (2)  Canada’s navy may be small in comparison with other nations’ maritime forces, but the work of HMCS Charlottetown off the coast of Libya is an indication of the value of our navy to Canada and to international stabilization operations. Unlike Canada’s CF-188 fighter aircraft operating from two Italian air bases in Sicily, HMCS Charlottetown is not easily accessible to news media, and her operations and contributions are largely unseen by the Canadian public — and regrettably, out of sight means out of mind ….”
  • This SUCKS (but there may be more to this than meets the eye).  “A Veterans Affairs Canada policy that denies veterans funding for long-term care if they choose private care is both ludicrous and heartless. Marie Goodfellow of Red Deer, who is 102, has had her federal government long-term care funding cut off because she moved from Bethany CollegeSide, a facility run by a not-for-profit society, and into a private nursing home run by Home Nursing Service Inc. Her care now costs $3,400 a month, or $40,800 a year. In the past, Veterans Affairs covered half that cost. Not anymore. Goodfellow, who served as a nurse during the Second World War, and two other veterans in Home Nursing Service’s care in Red Deer, have lost their federal benefits simply because they chose a private caregiver. In a growing atmosphere of public responsibility being off-loaded to private providers, through P3s and other means, it is astonishing that one arm of the federal government works at cross-purposes to the mandate of a Conservative government that espouses free enterprise at every turn. The irony is painful: Conservative leaders want the business community to provide a broader range of services to the public, but an arm of the government is preventing that from happening and punishing Canadians who make those choices ….”
  • A Nova Scotia man who helps veterans living on the street called on the federal government to fund emergency services for former military personnel, accusing Ottawa of failing the growing number of homeless vets. Jim Lowther urged the Conservatives on Friday to support a transition facility for veterans in Halifax, where he says he has come across at least 10 homeless former members since starting his group in February. Lowther, who retired from the military in 2005, said he knows of only one shelter in the country devoted to former Canadian Forces personnel and it’s run by volunteers. “Canadians need to know how dire the situation is and that it’s only going to get worse,” he said following a press conference. “We’re in desperate need.” NDP MP Peter Stoffer echoed the call for help from the Department of Veterans Affairs, claiming it has done little to help homeless vets since Col. Pat Stogran, a former veterans ombudsman, identified homelessness among veterans as a serious concern in 2008 ….”  More from CBC.ca here.
  • Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino back from Italy.
  • Peering into the fog of war: Journalists in the Second World War battled poor equipment, censors and the realities of modern warfare ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 1 Jul 11

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First off, Happy Canada Day!

  • Afghanistan (1)  “Whazzup for Canada Day?” meme.  “Every day is grey at Kandahar Airfield. The sprawling military base, known as KAF, is always covered in layers of dust from the crushed stone roads, the concrete walls, concrete buildings and bomb shelters, and the constant traffic of tanks, trucks and military aircraft. On top of that, you’ve got 30,000 soldiers, dressed in desert khakis, who, by design, blend into the landscape. Colour is almost like a dangerous outlier here. But there is one splash of colour that lights up this dull place — the Maple Leaf ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  The Treasure Hunter just knows where to search. As other Canadian soldiers are looking to get out of Afghanistan, he’s still combing every inch he can find. Combat Engineer Sgt. Stephane Mailloux has a particularly special knack for finding the weapons caches that insurgents try to hide here. On this day, he stands in front of the other members of Bulldog Company at this forward operating base, and accepts a special coin for finding an amazing number of weapons along with the ingredients for improvised explosive devices. At last count, the man they’ve dubbed the Treasure Hunter has sniffed out about 87 hidden stockpiles ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  “Sometimes, you have to travel far from home to fall in love with Canada again. Sometimes, the best of our dominion shines brightest in distant, deranged reaches. Sometimes, the qualities that make us a fine and honourable nation — a country of virtue — reveal themselves in the most benighted of places, where the word “Canada’’ is uttered with such envy, like a prayer. I came late to the concept of patriotism, a downtown Toronto kid of immigrant parents, who for the longest time believed herself to be American, or maybe second-class British, because of the Queen’s portrait on a classroom wall and God Save the Queen as anthem. It appears children of later generations suffer from no such identity confusion, weaned at an early age to the distinctiveness of their nationality, their birthright, a message pounded into their brains by teachers, mass media, Can-cult and Olympic gold medal hockey games. It’s almost unseemly — un-Canadian, dare I say — to take so much pleasure in ourselves ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  “Op OMID ATAL 09: Canada’s last partnered combat operation in Kandahar”  (Courtesy of the CF Info-Machine)
  • Afghanistan (5)  “Ribbon-cutting at Outpost Khyber: The Panjwa’i Road opens to traffic” (Courtesy of the CF Info-Machine)
  • Afghanistan (6)  The Canadian head of Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission, Grant Kippen, speaks out on recent electoral shenanigans. “…. President Karzai has the perfect opportunity to step back from the current precipice and provide the leadership that is required to decisively match actions with the words he delivered in a speech to the NATO Summit in Lisbon last November: “Our Constitution, a harmonious blend of our Islamic values of justice and the universal principles of human rights, is our most important achievement of the last nine years … we need to enhance the checks and balances among the three branches of the state. … We are also committed to strengthening Parliament as an institution. I will work with the future Parliament to strengthen their constitutional role.” ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  More than 20 claimed killed in alleged attacks in Kandahar, Zabul.
  • Joshua Caleb Baker, 1985-2010, R.I.P.  One of two soldiers charged with manslaughter in the death of a colleague is a Calgary-based firefighter and reservist with the King’s Own Calgary Regiment. Maj. Darryl Watts was the officer in charge on a training range near Kandahar city, Afghanistan, when an explosion killed Edmonton-based Cpl. Joshua Caleb Baker on Feb. 12, 2010. A longtime reservist, Watts has been a firefighter for more than 10 years and was on military leave from his job at that time. The fire department said Watts promptly informed his superiors of the charges and he remains on active duty. “As far as CFD is concerned, his performance has been exemplary with the Calgary Fire Department,” said acting fire Chief Ken Uzeloc. “His leadership amongst his crew, his professionalism, his competency as a firefighter, he’s very good and the department has never had an issue with Mr. Watts.” ….”
  • Libya Mission  HMCS Vancouver preparing to head out to replace HMCS Charlottetown.
  • The Conservative government is strengthening the symbolic power of the military in public life by having a member of the Canadian Forces play a prominent role in citizenship ceremonies. In an operational bulletin issued earlier this year, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration said highlighting the service of members of the armed forces is a way to underline to every new Canadian the rights and responsibilities that come with citizenship. The bulletin, which describes military service as one of the highest expressions of citizenship, states that members of the military should be seated on the main platform with the citizenship judge, that they can stand in the receiving line congratulating new citizens and that they may give a two- to three-minute speech. Where possible, the bulletin says the preference is for veterans of the war in Afghanistan …. Michael Fellman, a professor emeritus of history at Simon Fraser University, said it’s part of a gradual militarization of Canadian culture under the Conservatives. “The Tories are in a long-range campaign to change Canadian values and make them more conservative,” Prof. Fellman said. “This is a way to show that the military is at the core of the meaning of citizenship …. Major Pete Saunders, a member of the air force who served overseas in support of the war in Afghanistan, has participated in four citizenship ceremonies over the last year … “What we want to impress upon [the new citizens], much in the same way as the RCMP officer, is that we’re here to serve them. We’re not here to beat them down. We’re not here to cause them fear” ….”
  • Meanwhile, “Randy Crowell wouldn’t make much of a soldier. He is, by his own estimation, past his prime – “too fat and too old” to join the ranks. The 51-year-old Edmonton dentist does, nevertheless, have a soft spot for those doing what he does not. He’s the type to shake the hands of soldiers he passes in the street, to raise his voice eagerly while singing their praises, and he itches to make a lasting tribute. So began Dr. Crowell’s populist mission: to persuade Edmonton, a military town, to rename a major road “Heroes Boulevard” in honour of its troops. However, his grassroots campaign has run up against unlikely opponents – the city and the Canadian ForcesLocal military leaders cringed at the name, city staff say – specifically, they thought that referring to all members of the military as “heroes” would dilute the tribute of Ontario’s Highway of Heroes, the route travelled by processions carrying the bodies of soldiers who died overseas. Local base officials also thought that soldiers, who generally consider themselves to be people doing a job rather than heroes, would be uncomfortable with such a name. The city, meanwhile, balked at the cost of changing signs ….”
  • CF-Royals Link (1)  “For royal tours to Canada, equerries are chosen from the commissioned officers of the Canadian Forces — typically a major or lieutenant-colonel is appointed for the Queen while a captain is selected for the child of a monarch. Prince William wanted a search and rescue pilot for his equerry ….”
  • CF-Royals Link (2)  “Prince William has been cleared to fly a Sea King helicopter during a flight demonstration Monday in Prince Edward Island, the Canadian military has confirmed. The 29-year-old prince has flown Sea Kings before, having served in the Royal Air Force as a search and rescue pilot since September 2010. The prince and his wife Kate are to arrive in Ottawa on Thursday to begin a tour that will also take them to Quebec, the Northwest Territories and Alberta, before leaving July 8 for California. The couple is slated to arrive in Charlottetown on Sunday night before departing the next morning for Dalvay by-the-Sea, the waterfront resort where William is expected to board a CH124 Sea King with at least two Canadian military pilots and a navigator. Military spokesman Lt. Tyrone Grande said Wednesday the prince will be on board the aircraft during a so-called waterbirding demonstration, which will involve landing the amphibious helicopter on Dalvay Lake ….”
  • Remember this explosion at a Quebec recruiting centre, with this group claiming responsiblity, last summer?  Police are still working on the case.  “Authorities are confident they will lay charges “in the near future” in the bombing of a military recruitment centre almost one year ago. Canada’s elite counter-terrorism squad set up a command post at the Canadian Forces facility in Trois-Rivieres, Que., Thursday to encourage new witnesses to step forward. “We don’t want to leave any stone unturned,” said Sgt. John Athanasiades, a spokesman for the elite Integrated National Security Enforcement team. “It’s advancing very well and I’m confident that in the near future we will lay charges in this investigation.” ….”  Lots of good information and discussion at Army.ca here.
  • Oooopsie.  “A Canadian sailor’s decision to sneak stun guns, switchblade knives and other prohibited weapons into the country aboard a warship was “an act of childish immaturity,” his lawyer says. Ordinary Seaman Andrew James Yakimak, 22, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Halifax provincial court to a Criminal Code charge of unauthorized possession of prohibited weapons and three Customs Act charges: attempting to smuggle prohibited items, failing to report imported goods and making false statements to border agents. Judge Brian Gibson accepted a joint recommendation from lawyers and gave Yakimak a 15-month conditional sentence. The young man was charged after customs officers searched the HMCS Athabaskan at the Halifax Dockyard on Dec. 2 and found two stun guns, two switchblades, a can of pepper spray and five brass knuckles. Yakimak purchased the weapons at a flea market while the ship was in Florida ….”
  • The U.N. extends its peacekeeping mission between Israel and Syria Canada has two officers involved in that one.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 30 Jun 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 4 Jun 11

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  • Karl Manning, R.I.P.:  Funeral set for today in Chicoutimi.
  • Libya Mission:  Aboard the HMCS Charlottetown as it monitors the Mediterranean and the playoffs.
  • Afghanistan (1):  It’s too early to roll out the victory banners. Even though the combat mission in Afghanistan ends soon, Canada’s work is not over, and a national commemoration has not been confirmed. “It would be odd to have a great ceremony of ‘marching away’ because that’s not what we’re doing,” said Douglas Bland, a professor in the school of policy studies at Queen’s University and an expert in defence policy. While they will no longer be in combat, some Canadian Forces will remain in Afghanistan to train the Afghan army and police force until 2014. Bland said he expects the return of Canadian soldiers from Afghanistan at the end of the year will be marked “quietly” with remarks from officials and probably special recognition on Remembrance Day ….”
  • Afghanistan (2):  Postmedia News’ Matthew Fisher has been in and out of Afghanistan more than once, and shares this wrap-up series of articles about the history of the mission here and here, with a timeline of the mission here.
  • Speech from the Throne  Here’s what the Government had to say about it’s immediate plans for the CF in the 3 Jun 11 Speech from the Throne“…. The Canadian Armed Forces play a crucial role in defending our sovereignty and national security. As the Canadian mission in Afghanistan transitions to training, diplomacy and development, our Government joins Canadians in honouring those who gave their lives and in recognizing the sacrifice and achievements of all the men and women, both military and civilian, who have served and continue to serve in Afghanistan. Our Government will continue to recognize and support all veterans. Today, as North Africa and the Middle East are being transformed by their people, the Canadian Armed Forces are standing tall with our allies to protect civilians in Libya. Our Government will hold a parliamentary debate on the future of this important mission ….”
  • Building Big Honkin’ Canadian Ships (1):  One of Britain’s leading defence companies says it could still work with Canada on building new warships, even though the Harper government has slammed the door shut on collaboration with its NATO ally. A senior executive with BAE Systems told The Canadian Press it may be early days, but his firm and the British government hold designs for several warships — and they would be willing to share them with Canada in some sort of arrangement. The overture comes in the face of the Conservative government’s repeated declarations that its one-year-old National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy will be a made-in-Canada enterprise. And it will further anger Canadian shipyard workers, who have said that any collaboration with Britain would be bad for them. Canadian ships will be built in two yet-to-be selected Canadian shipyards, the government maintains. It even went so far as to publicly rebuff the British government’s lobbying for a joint ship building venture earlier this year ….”
  • Building Big Honkin’ Ships (2):  Premier Christy Clark will go to Ottawa this month as part of B.C.’s campaign to make a “big splash” as it champions the lone West Coast bid for a major federal shipbuilding contract. Details of the trip are still being worked out with the Prime Minister’s Office, Clark said in an interview Thursday. “It will be a focused agenda . . . and one of those focuses is going to be the shipbuilding contract,” Clark said. “It is fabulous news that she is heading out,” said Jonathan Whitworth, CEO of Vancouver’s Seaspan. Seaspan, owner of Victoria Shipyards, Vancouver Shipyards and Vancouver Drydock, is vying for a share of the 30-year, $35-billion national shipbuilding procurement strategy. Two main contractors, one for combat vessels and one for non-combat vessels, will be chosen ….”
  • Building Big Honkin’ Canadian Ships (3):  It makes strategic and practical sense to build the next generation of Canada’s combat vessels on the West Coast, retired Rear Admiral Roger Girouard, former commander of Maritime Forces Pacific, said Friday. “South Asia, East Asia are going to be where things happen for good and for ill,” said Girouard, who retired from the military in 2007 and now teaches human security and peacebuilding at Royal Roads University in Colwood. “Having numbers of ships and capacity to support those ships on our West Coast, I think for Canada, is geo-strategically a no-brainer,” he said. In just over a month, a shortlist of Canadian shipyards will submit bids to build large vessels within the $35-billion national shipbuilding procurement strategy ….”
  • Saving some military history from the trash heap – literally. “Thanks to the thoughftul actions of a good Samaritan, a precious piece of Canada’s military history has been salvaged from the dump. In March, Sylvan Lake resident Cade Graville found a scrapbook and a row of medals from the Second World War at Red Deer’s municipal waste management facility. This week, Graville brought the artifacts into the King’s Own Calgary Regiment Museum. The exceptional find has stunned officials of the Calgary museum. “To have something recovered from a landfill of this importance is incredible,” said Bruce Graham, collections manager for the museum ….”
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