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 – 6 Mar 11

  • The PM’s Office is keeping the world updated via Twitter about Canadians GTFO’ing Libya. Most recent examples:  “Canadian C130 has landed in Malta with 9 Cdn citizens, US, UK, Ukrainian, and others evacuated from Libya.”  “Almost 330 Cdns have been evacuated from Libya thus far. Canadian Armed Forces flight scheduled today (Saturday) to continue evacuation.”  Shame the politicians didn’t Tweet about the Afghan mission….  More on this from MSM coverage here and here.
  • Conrad Black’s take on what Canada should do“…. The best solution to Libya, as I suggested here recently, would be an Arab one; the fraternal invasion of Libya by Egypt, in support of an amenable regime, as all friendly parties engaged in the expulsion of Gaddafi would welcome such an initiative, and Egypt could negotiate in advance a revenue-producing arrangement for itself in securing the pacification of the country and the full resumption of oil flows …. At least all indications are that in the buzz of collegiality with which the West is noisily worrying about the dangers of doing anything about Libya except imitating King Canute from the White House balcony, Canada is being consulted. And there is something Canada can do, which would be noticed by our allies: We should recognize the provisional government of Libya as legitimate, and make contact with it. This could have a catalytic effect, inspirit the rebels, nudge the Americans and Europeans into doing something, and generally start a rockslide around Gaddafi.  The Europeans, who are disposed to do something, would be grateful, and so would the U.S. Republicans, at the moment the majority party in the United States. Even President Obama says that Gaddafi lacks legitimacy; so let us confer legitimacy on those who have earned it. A gangster and terrorist regime is slaughtering its own population, which is fighting back gallantly. We owe them our support, and every day’s delay is shameful and could make a benign outcome more doubtful.  For once, Canada could make a difference and be seen by the world to do so. There is no excuse for waiting.” The only problem:  who’s in charge of the other side?
  • Anti-Gadhafi Libyans in Regina highlight the situation.  “People in Regina with roots in Libya have rallied for the third weekend in a row to show support for anti-Gadhafi protests.  About 30 people carrying signs calling for the downfall of the Libyan leader marched and talked with passersby on Saturday during a demonstration at Victoria Park in the city’s downtown.  They said they want to ensure people in Saskatchewan know what family and friends are facing in Libya …. Muftah said the group will continue to hold demonstrations in Regina every week until major change happens in Libya ….”
  • Meanwhile, some British special forces troops and a diplomatic team seem to be…. guests? …. of anti-Gaddafi forces“Details of a UK operation to rebel-held Benghazi in Libya in which eight men – six reportedly SAS – were arrested, have been disclosed to the BBC.  Defence Secretary Liam Fox told the BBC a small diplomatic team was in Benghazi and “they were in touch with them”.   The BBC’s Jon Leyne said eyewitnesses saw six men in black overalls land in a helicopter near the city early on Friday who were met by two others. They were later arrested when it was discovered they were carrying weapons.  According to an earlier report in the Sunday Times the unit was trying to put UK diplomats in touch with rebels trying to topple the Gaddafi regime.  In a statement, the MoD said: “We neither confirm nor deny the story and we do not comment on the special forces.” ….”
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • What’s Canada Buying? More details on the scrapping of 2 (maybe 3) Oberon-class submarines in the Statement of Work from the bid documents downloadable at Milnet.ca here.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks and assassinations alleged in Kandahar.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 4 Mar 11

  • Canadians continue to GTFO LibyaA Canadian military transport made it to Malta safely on Thursday with another 31 evacuees and more flights were planned as a botched Dutch rescue operation underscored the perils of western military actions in Libya. A spokesman for Canada’s overseas headquarters said 14 of the passengers aboard the Hercules aircraft were Canadians and the rest were foreign nationals. The plane returned from Tripoli without incident, said Maj. Andre Salloum. As of Thursday, the Foreign Affairs Department said 327 Canadians, including those on the military flight, had found their way out of the Libya crossfire. The Harper government dispatched a frigate, HMCS Charlottetown, this week to take part in a possible blockade to enforce sanctions ….”
  • Commentariat on Libya (1): “…. the (HMCS) Charlottetown could turn its attention to ill-defined humanitarian relief operations or to the enforcement of a potential international embargo against the Libyan regime. Whatever the ultimate mission, it will likely come as a surprise — just as much of one as the decision to deploy the warship …. How Canadian assets could be used to alleviate the exodus from Libya or to deliver relief supplies remains to be seen. But clearly, Ottawa is committing to stay on the job long after its primary objective of securing Canadian lives is met. This is commendable, and not just from a humanitarian point of view. It also sends a strong signal to our European allies that their interests are vital to us …. The rapid downfall of Col. Moammar Gadhafi is the best way to prevent a full-blown refugee crisis inside and outside Libya. Whatever Canada can do to help tip the scales — short of direct military intervention — is worth doing.”
  • Commentariat on Libya (2): “…. The West should tread carefully in Libya. While it is tempting to imagine the country’s conflict as a simple struggle between good and evil that can be brought to a speedy and decisive conclusion, the reality is more complicated than that. Aggressive intervention might easily end up doing more harm than good.”
  • Commentariat on Libya (3): Canadians who believe that their military’s primary purpose should not be to fight wars, but fervently want their troops to only be Boy Scouts, should be pleased by Ottawa’s evolving commitment to the crisis in Libya.  With China, Russia, Turkey and Germany having already strongly rejected any kind of military intervention – which could result in unpredictable and unwelcome outcomes – the West will have considerable trouble gathering a coalition of the willing to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. But western countries want to be seen to be helping in other ways.  So, just in time to give the Harper government a wee bit of an election boost, Canadian sailors and air force personnel will be drawn into international humanitarian operations in the Maghreb.  Canada’s part in potential Libyan humanitarian operations are to be much smaller than what its armed forces did in Haiti after last winter’s earthquake. But there will still be a feel-good factor ….”
  • Interesting pointIt’s curious, how the most vocal opponents of military spending go quiet whenever boats and planes and superbly trained soldiers suddenly come in handy. Where were the critics of Ottawa’s C17 purchase last January, when these massive air barns were deployed at a moment’s notice to transport aid into earthquake-struck Haiti? And where are they now, as Canadian Forces aircraft based in Malta and JTF2 special forces troops work to extract Canadians trapped by the fighting in Libya? What will critics of the government’s proposed CF-35 jet fighter purchase say if, as now appears possible, Canadian Air Force jets are involved in enforcing a no-fly zone in North Africa, to protect innocents from Gadhafi’s warplanes? Here’s what they’ll say: Not much, for the duration of the crisis. Then, when the smoke clears and the planes are back at CFB Trenton, they’ll start again with the mantra that spending money on warriors and their gear is needless and wasteful ….” Not ALL vocal opponents of military spending are staying silent – more here.
  • Canada’s post-military legacy in southern Afghanistan may well rest on the slender shoulders of Haji Hamdullah Nazak.  The 32-year-old governs the district of Dand, a relative model of stability compared to the violence and intimidation that permeates other regions of Kandahar province.  But as the Canadian military gradually shifts its focus away from patrols and towards packing boxes for a training mission said to be “Kabul-centric,” Nazak frets over the possibility of lost progress.  “I’m a little bit afraid of that,” Nazak says through a translator. “If they stopped helping us, assisting us in this major purpose, we will face some challenges, problems.” ….”
  • Meanwhile, opposition to the war in Afghanistan is higher in Britain and Canada than the United States, with at least 60 percent against it, a poll indicated Thursday …. Almost two-thirds, 63 percent, of Canadians said they oppose the war, while only 32 percent support it, a new low. Last year, 47 percent supported the war.   Albertans were most likely to back Afghan operations, but even there only 43 percent said they support it. In Quebec, 75 percent oppose the war.  Vision Critical, based in Toronto conducted the poll on line from Feb. 22 to Feb. 28, surveying 1,022 Angus Reid Forum panelists in Canada, 1,006 Springboard America panelists and 2,019 members of Springboard UK. The margin of error is 3.1 percentage points for Canada and the United States and 2.1 points for Britain.”
  • A parliamentary committee tasked with vetting documents related to the abuse of Afghan detainees could make the secret material public within the next two weeks, according to the Liberals. Amid mounting pressure from the Bloc Quebecois and New Democrats, Liberal defence critic Dominic LeBlanc suggested a report by the three-judge panel of legal experts advising the team of MPs should be available within a “week or two” along with “a considerable number of the documents” themselves. His comments come a day after Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe issued an ultimatum. Frustrated the uncensored documents still haven’t been released despite promises they’d be ready in January, Duceppe vowed to pull his two MPs from the committee. “The process has become bogged down and I don’t understand why,” he said ….”
  • Bye bye old subs“…. The Department of National Defence (DND), has a requirement for the removal, dismantling and disposal of the Oberon Class Submarines Olympus and Okanagan, and an option to dispose of a third, Ojibwa …. A bidders’ conference chaired by the Contracting Authority will be convened at HMC Dockyard, Jetty NL, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia on March 23, 2011 @ 0900 ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War:  Steven Staples’ top 10 list on why Canada shouldn’t buy the F-35.
  • Operation: Western Front (OWF) – a very special initiative organized by mission commanders and philanthropists Warren M. Spitz and W. Brett Wilson to raise awareness and funds for military causes – has collected a stunning $1.5 million in sponsorship and donations. The funds will be donated to various military programs – including Outward Bound for Veterans and Canada Company, a charitable, non-partisan organization that builds a bridge between business and community leaders and the Canadian Military Forces, including providing scholarships to surviving offspring of fallen Canadian Forces personnel. The funds will support a variety of other needs – from medical support to childcare and financial aid – and will be directed through Canada’s True Patriot Love Foundation ….”
  • Conservative MP pitches softball question to Minister in House of Commons on what government is doing to help veterans in Quebec (giving Minister a chance to bash the Bloc). “I would like to thank the hon. member from Lévis—Bellechasse for his excellent work and his concern for veterans. Our government is listening to the regions of Quebec and to veterans. We introduced Bill C-55 in the House, and it will serve as the enhanced new veterans charter and will help our modern-day veterans, who may come back wounded from Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the Bloc is still not co-operating as we would like, but we still hope to pass this bill before the upcoming budget ….”
  • Federal Crown prosecutors do not have to hand over a complete set of photographs used by French police to link former University of Ottawa professor Hassan Diab to a Paris terrorist bombing. Diab’s lawyer Donald Bayne had asked for the photographs to be entered into the record of the case, but federal Justice Department lawyers acting for the French government resisted. Only nine of 33 “mug shots” shown by Paris police to witnesses 30 years after the bombing have been used as evidence by the prosecution. All nine are of the 57-yearold Diab at various stages of adult life ….”