MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 22 Nov 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 21 Nov 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 8 Nov 11

  • Royal Military College Academic:  Iran strikes might be the CF’s next shooting stint“Canada may get pulled into military strikes against Iran if it comes to a showdown between western powers and the rogue state. And things could get messy considering a new report from the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog that’s expected to indicate Tehran is on the brink of being able to develop a nuclear warheads, said Houchang Hassan-Yari, an expert in military and strategic issues at the Royal Military College of Canada. “If it gets to a military campaign, I think Canada will participate with the Americans and their allies,” the international relations professor said. “If sanctions are the next avenue, Canada will participate in that.” ….”
  • What a surprise:  the military appears to be planning and weighing how to deal with evacuating Canadians in trouble overseas“Plucking Canadians out of the world’s hot spots is a growing area of concern and study for military planners, who until a few years ago didn’t have their own tools or the resources to carry out such missions.  Internal Defence Department documents obtained by The Canadian Press show that in the aftermath of the Libyan crisis, the Canadian military is examining not only its war-fighting skills, but its newly enhanced ability to quickly organize evacuation and rescue missions.  Planners have been quietly taking stock of the world’s flash points and considering how to get military forces into those troubled regions, while at the same time smoothly getting civilians out of harm’s way …. internally at the Defence Department there has been angst about future evacuations, especially in light of expected budget cuts, suggest the documents obtained under Access to Information.  Among the most worrisome trouble spots is South Korea, where frequent and increasingly violent outbursts from the hermit kingdom in the North have military planners concerned and looking for guidance.  “With over 20,000 Canadian citizens resident in the (Republic of South Korea), in the event of a full-scale crisis (censored) the evacuation efforts required could significantly exceed those of the Lebanon evacuation,” said a Nov. 30, 2010 briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay ….”  I’ve asked if CP plans to share the obtained documents online for anyone interested to read – no word back yet.
  • Canada is taking part in U.S. Northern Command Exercise Operation Vigilant Shield ’12.  The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, as well as the Canadian military, have begun an extensive annual field training exercise for the U.S. Northern Command. “Operation Vigilant Shield 12” is the biggest multi-spectrum, high-level exercise for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. Northern Command is a Unified Combatant Command of the United States military, formed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 to protect the United States homeland and support local, state, and federal authorities. Operation Vigilant Shield 12, or VS 12, is a joint exercise supported by the Joint Coalition Warfare Center and conducted as a command post exercise with a supporting field training exercise in Key West, FL. The exercise is also linked to a Canada Command exercise called “Determined Dragon,” and runs concurrently with the Arizona’s “Vigilant Guard” exercise. It runs Nov. 1-10 ….”  More from the Pentagon Info-Machine here.
  • Scumbags, continued.  A recently restored First World War memorial that stands outside an east end high school has been vandalized. Neighbours of Malvern Collegiate, near Victoria Park Avenue and Kingston Road, awoke Sunday morning to find the granite statue wrapped in blue duct tape. With the help of about $44,000 in donations and grants, the statue had been restored and rededicated days before, just in time for Remembrance Day ….”
  • Remembrance Day (1)  Veterans’ Ombudsman on Veteran’s Week.
  • Remembrance Day (2)  Unambiguously Ambidextrous on Remembrance Day and Canada’s newest vets“…. There is a new generation of soldiers returning from war, something that has not been seen in Canada in about 50 years, or two generations. That’s not to trivialize Rwanda or Bosnia, but our country hasn’t had to deal with the reality of war dead in a half century and we have not handled their sacrifices very well. In fact, it would be fair to say we have broken faith with the dead, choosing not to carry on their torch and honour their sacrifices by seeing through the mission to success. It was a political decision made to pacify the pacifists created by two generations of peace. Today’s young people know nothing of war, and so their only reaction to it is revulsion ….”
  • An audit into Veterans Affairs Canada and how it handles privacy issues will be released in early 2012, Canada’s privacy commissioner said Monday. The news came as a third veteran went public with complaints into the number of times civil servants accessed his file, and how his file was handled at the agency. Sylvain Chartrand, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Bosnia, says his file was accessed more than 4,000 times between 2003 and 2010. HIs complaint is similar to one by Sean Bruyea, another veteran who advocates for veterans’ rights, and whose private medical information was shared with both Liberal and Conservative ministers of veterans affairs. A statement by a spokeswoman for Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart says an audit into how Veterans Affairs handles private information is coming soon ….”
  • A military veteran on a hunger strike collapsed momentarily during the third day of his protest against the federal government Monday. (Pascal) Lacoste is trying to convince the government to recognize that he and other soldiers were poisoned while serving overseas. The 38-year-old former soldier was leaving a camper lent to him by a friend and heading back to his SUV when he fell to the ground. An ambulance was called as his mother rushed to hold him, clutching him to her chest. Lacoste eventually recovered after taking gasps of air from an oxygen mask. But the exhausted-looking man refused to go to hospital. He decided to continue his hunger strike instead ….”
  • All of a sudden, Canada’s Liberal Party is keen on helping veterans – more in an online petition here and an e-mail soliciting signatures to said petition here (PDF).
  • Libya Mission  How intelligence from HMCS Vancouver helped in the battle for Sirte (via the CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan  Author/blogger Terry Glavin reminds us that it’s Pakistan, the puppetmaster, that should be talked to, not the puppets.
  • CF testing new helmets (via Army News)
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Technical help in improving how explosives are detected via electronic beams (more details in excerpt from bid documents – PDF – here), and VICTORIA-class sub periscope simulators.
  • CF looking for more military artists.  The Canadian Forces Artists Program allows Canadian artists the opportunity to record Canada’s soldiers in Canada and around the world. It follows the long-standing tradition of Canadian war artists and is designed to portray today’s Canadian military experience through art while providing artists with a taste of military life. These artists, all volunteers, are helping usher in a new era of Canadian military art …. A new competition is currently being held for the selection of a new group of Canadian artists who wish to participate in the program. Selected artists will be able to participate in a military-related exercise for a period of approximately seven to ten days. This opportunity is designed to springboard their creativity, create works of art depicting military life and to provide memorable military experiences. There is no payment for artists, who in turn are not required to provide works to the program. However, artists may be asked to lend some works for promotional art tours or other uses. Deadline for applications is November 30, 2011 ….”
  • Canada and Foreign Intelligence (1)  “As the Harper government prepares to re-introduce the anti-terrorism measures that were allowed to lapse because of opposition concerns about privacy and Charter rights, there are whispers Conservative plans to expand the role of Canada’s spy service to operate overseas are being dusted off. Currently, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is largely concerned with domestic intelligence and is able to conduct covert operations overseas only if there is a direct threat to Canada. In their 2006 election platform, the Tories promised to overturn this arrangement and set up a separate foreign intelligence service. Once elected, they were persuaded by the bureaucracy that it would be quicker and cheaper to allow CSIS to take on the role ….”
  • Canada and Foreign Intelligence (2)  Why blogger/info curator Mark Collins is underwhelmed with the above-mentioned idea.
  • Unlike how media treat reporters being kidnapped, right?  “Former Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler, whose kidnapping by al-Qaida made international headlines, says media “blackouts” of such events can prevent ransom demands from escalating to the point where they cannot be met. Fowler, then a United Nations special envoy in Niger, was abducted Dec. 14, 2008 on a highway outside the country’s capital, Niamey. He spent the next 130 days in the Sahara Desert with his captors, members of a shadowy jihadist group known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Fowler told the Ottawa Citizen’s editorial board Monday that his web-savvy captors viewed media coverage of his kidnapping on laptop computers and Nokia cellphones. From it, he said, they came to believe he was on a “secret mission” in Niger, a suggestion reported in the Globe and Mail. “Was it harmful to me? Yes, likely,” he said. “The idea that you can write things here that won’t impact there is just — in this globalized world — crazy.” ….” 
  • A Canadian man has been indicted in Seattle for allegedly conspiring to support the Sri Lankan terrorist group the Tamil Tigers nearly six years ago. The single-count indictment against Ramanan Mylvaganam, 34, is the result of a jurisdictional dispute between federal prosecutors in New York City’s Brooklyn borough and Mylvaganam’s attorneys. Mylvaganam is a former Bellevue resident. Brooklyn prosecutors in 2006 had indicted Mylvaganam along with nine others in connection with an alleged plot to pay to import surface-to-air missiles and other military equipment to the Tamil Tigers. The charges also alleged the group was attempting to bribe U.S. officials to have the Tamil Tigers removed from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Mylvaganam’s attorneys had argued that federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York had no jurisdiction over Mylvaganam’s alleged crimes because he was living at the time in Bellevue, according to court papers ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 10 Sept 11

  • Libya Mission (1)  INTERPOL wants to have a chat with Mohamar, his son and the former head of military intelligence.
  • Libya Mission (2)  Happy 18th Birthday HMCS Vancouver (even if you’re downrange).  “No cake, no singing, no champagne. Grapefruit juice was the strongest available beverage. In an atmosphere more vigilant than festive, the ship’s company marked the 18th anniversary of HMCS Vancouver’s commissioning as the frigate headed out of Agusta Bay on the east coast of Sicily for her first patrol of Operation MOBILE. Her destination: Libyan territorial waters, off the port of Misrata ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  Welcome back!  “Hugs and tears were shared on Friday at a Winnipeg air force base as 24 military men and women returned to their families from a summer assisting a NATO mission in Libya. Largely part of the Winnipeg-based 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, the Canadian Forces contingent landed at the 17 Wing base on a Hercules CC-130 plane as their family members watched on the tarmac. Six-year-old Kayden Maher held a welcome sign for his father. Master Cpl. Ryan Maher, an air frame technician, told reporters they “have no idea” how much he had missed his children during the past four months. “It’s just so nice to see them again, and be part of their lives,” Maher said, also with two-year-old daughter MacKenzie and wife Shauna ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (1)  7 Sept 11:  MILNEWS.ca tells you 9-11 is going to become a “National Day of Service.”  9 Sept 11:  PM says 9-11 is going to become a “National Day of Service”.  More on this here.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (2)  The threat level for a terror attack in Canada has not increased following information of a possible plot of a car bombing in Washington or New York on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 the RCMP says. “The RCMP has no information at this time that indicates that Canadians are more at risk than usual,” RCMP Sgt. Julie Gagnon told CBC News. Counterterrorism officials in the U.S. have been chasing a credible but unconfirmed tip that al-Qaeda has plans to set off a car bomb in New York City or Washington, with bridges or tunnels as potential targets. It was the first word of a possible “active plot” timed to coincide with commemoration of the group’s attacks in the United States a decade ago. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews backed the RCMP assessment. “In respect of Canada, I can’t point to any specific threat that might occur during this weekend but I think that all of our agencies are on full alert on a weekend like this,” Toews (said)….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (3)  “Soldiers paid price for war on terror in blood, Trauma: Each day in Afghanistan a roll of the dice”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (4)  The CF Info-Machine’s “Domestic and Continental Defence and Security Accomplishments Post 9/11”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (5)  U.S. President Barack Obama thanked Canadians on Friday for their hospitality and support in the wake of the 9-11 attacks, recalling the “comfort of friendship and extraordinary assistance” in a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “It is often said that the United States and Canada are great neighbors, trading partners and the best of friends,” Obama wrote in a letter that was delivered to the prime minister on Friday. “In one of the darkest moments in our history, Canada stood by our side and showed itself to be a true friend.” ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (6)  Even the Taliban has to make itself heard for the anniversary, suggesting we don’t REALLY know what happened during the 9/11 attacks – riiiiiiiiight…. (link to non-terrorist site)
  • Andrew (Boomer) Eykelenboom, 1982-2006, R.I.P.  “Just over five years ago, Cpl. Andrew (Boomer) Eykelenboom was killed by a suicide bomber while serving as a medic in Afghanistan. Today, more than 50 cyclists will take part in a 180-kilometre bike ride to raise money for the Boomer’s Legacy foundation. The Boomer’s Legacy Ride has been taking place annually on Vancouver Island for the last four years. Today will be the first Atlantic ride, which starts at CFB Greenwood and ends at CFB Halifax ….”
  • The Leslie Report/CF Reorg (1)  You can now download the report and read it yourself here (PDF at CF page) or here (PDF at alternate download site)
  • The Leslie Report/CF Reorg (2)  What the Minister of National Defence has to say about the report:  “…. our government will be taking a close look at spending right across government to identify the savings needed to eliminate the deficit: this includes the Department of National Defence …. This report will inform our approach to the Government’s Deficit Reduction Action Plan, the results of which will be presented in Budget 2012. At all times, support for our frontline troops will be our priority ….”  More on this here (Postmedia News) and here (QMI/Sun Media).
  • The Leslie Report/CF Reorg (3)  What the Chief of Defence Staff has to say about the report (via Army.ca – PDF downloadable here if link doesn’t work):  “…. The fiscal and operational environment in which the recommendations must be assessed and implemented has become even more complex. As well, while the report was being prepared, new budgetary reduction targets were announced as part of the government s deficit reduction action plan. Taken together, this creates a difficult backdrop for interpreting the potential advantages and drawbacks of recommendations made in the transformation report …. A concerted analysis has been underway since the transformation report was submitted, involving both CF and DND personnel. The goal of this effort has been to determine which elements of transformation are already being implemented through the Strategic Review, which options merit implementation in concert with the deficit reduction action plan, and which options have second and third-order consequences that require additional study. This level of analysis takes time, but only when it is complete will it be possible to decide and communicate which parts of the transformation report should be implemented right away, which must be phased in over the medium term, and which will be deferred ….” 
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Could Mark Collins be a touch skeptical re:  the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard getting new ships anytime soon?
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Remember the new JPSU building for CFB Petawawa (bullet 9) (map and floorplan downloadable here via Army.ca) ?  Here’s the Ottawa Citizen’s update“A new building to house military staff who work in a unit that provides help for ill and injured military personnel and their families is to be built at CFB Petawawa. The building is to replace a trailer currently used for staff members of the regional element of the Joint Personnel Support Unit for Eastern Ontario, according to a military spokesman. It’s expected that six staff members will work in the new building, although there will be space for a few others. Defence Construction Canada, a Crown corporation responsible for Department of National Defence construction, has issued a $1.3-million tender for the one-storey building to be built. The start and end dates of the construction are unknown, but the contract is to be awarded within the next three months ….”
  • The Canadian Forces have confirmed a body was found on the grounds at Canadian Forces Base Borden, Thursday morning. The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is investigating, but details regarding the cause of death, gender or identity have not been released. “They are investigating the discovery of a body on the grounds,” Canadian Forces Capt. Karina Holder said. “We never speculate on timing or when an investigation may or may not be completed.” “
  • The Canada Army Run is proving to be a big hit with runners. The Sept. 18 event in Ottawa has already attracted more than 16,000 participants and is sold out. The event is the fastest-growing run in Canada and the second-largest running event in Ottawa after Ottawa Race Weekend. It started four years ago with 7,000 participants. The Canada Army Run has five-kilometre and half-marathon events and raises money for Soldier On and the Military Families Fund ….”  More info on the run at the Army Run website here.
  • A bit of mechanical Canadian military history being honoured this weekend.  “During the final months of the Second World War, as Allied armies waged a brutal campaign to liberate Europe, a rough-hewn band of Canadian soldiers revolutionized ground warfare with an unusual new technology.  They were called the 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment, assembled to drive Kangaroos, tanks modified to carry troops. The unit laid the groundwork for the tactics of today’s light armoured vehicles, protecting soldiers from gunfire while they travelled to enemy lines, but was swiftly dissolved at war’s end and its history was largely forgotten …. In a ceremony this weekend, the regiment will get some overdue credit. After decades of obscurity, veterans alerted the Department of National Defence that they wanted formal recognition of the unit, and found a serving regiment to take up the Kangaroos’ battle honours, ensuring its story will be perpetuated …. At a ceremony in St. Thomas, Ont., on Saturday, the (31 Combat Engineer Regiment, also known as the) Elgins will accept a standard listing the Kangaroos’ honours to hang in their armoury. A Kangaroo bought by the Canadian War Museum – one of only a handful that still exist – will be paraded in the streets ….”

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 – 1 Jul 11

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

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 3 Feb 11

  • VERY interesting questions from a wounded warrior…. “ …. What happened to the CDS’s promise (made to me in person) that no disabled WIA would be released before they are ready to transition?  …. those of us in uniform all know that there are personnel in various support trades who have never deployed because they are too obese to meet the basic fitness standard (Battle Fitness Test).  These folks seem to float from one T-Cat to another, with very few (if any) ever being released for failure to pass even the non-deployment basic fitness test (EXPRES test).  What is up with that?  …. Why does the CF even stock the extreme sizes of combat uniform that are as wide in the arse/gut as they are tall?  Grossly obese persons have no place in uniform, projecting a negative public image of the CF.  Orange jumpsuits would be more appropriate for the morbidly obese and would serve as an incentive to lose weight.  Rigid and timely application of the universality of service requirements and medical release procedures should also be applied to those obese members who cannot attain the deployment fitness standard.  At the end of the day, I would like to see disabled combat vets such as myself offered the opportunity to fill domestic support jobs so that those who are fit to fight are freed up for deployment.   If nothing else, I want assurance that our disabled WIA are offered the same degree of “rule-bending consideration” that the chain of command and the medical system quite evidently apply to the 1000 or so obese CF members who can’t even pass the basic XPRES test.”
  • Memorial visits to Kandahar by the families of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan will continue, but they’ll be financed by non-public funds, the Defence Department said Wednesday. A department spokesman said the visits, which had been briefly in limbo, won’t be billed to the taxpayer until new spending rules are in place. In the meantime, costs can be covered from the military families fund, which is financed by private donations and various fund-raisers, Andrew McKelvey, a department communications adviser, said in an email. “The military families fund is an agile and responsive fund with a broad mandate to assist families, especially where there is no authorized public program, benefit or service to do this,” he said. “Given the intent to seek public approval for (next-of-kin) travel, it is anticipated that the support required from the military families fund will be short term.” ….”
  • Blog Watch: Former OMLT-eer says NYT reporter needs to do more homework covering Afghanistan.
  • One set of hearings looking into Canadian treatment of Afghan detainees has wrapped upThe Military Police Complaints Commission has adjourned to sort through the sometimes explosive testimony of some 35 witnesses, as well as thousands of pages of documents reluctantly turned over by the federal government, after an oftentimes acrimonious hearing into the Afghan detainee scandal drew to a close Wednesday. The year-long hearing concluded with final arguments from civil rights lawyers who said eight military police officers were negligent in their failure to investigate potentially criminal decisions taken by Canadian Forces commanders to transfer detainees to Afghan custody, where they faced torture. Lawyers for Amnesty International Canada and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, which launched the complaint, argued there was an abundance of evidence to suggest Afghan secret police were abusive and, had military police been asking the right questions of task force commanders, they would have known something wasn’t right ….” More here and here.
  • Taliban Propaganda WatchAttacks alleged in Kandahar, and Taliban showing its green side.
  • Egyptian officials have promised the federal government they will do “everything” they can to help Canadians still stranded in the North African nation, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Wednesday.  A plane carrying 29 Canadians and dozens of Australians, Britons and Americans left Alexandria for Amman, Jordan, on Wednesday as violent protests continued in the streets of Egypt’s major cities. A flight leaving Cairo, which is expected to carry about 90 Canadians, was scheduled to land in Paris Wednesday evening.  Cannon told reporters that he spoke with Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit Wednesday about the ongoing mass protests aimed at forcing President Hosni Mubarak from office after three decades in power …. “
  • Canada’s MPs spent much of last night in the House of Commons in an emergency debate on what’s up in Egypt these days – transcript via Hansard here.
  • Would-be Jihadist suicide bomber or playful loving family man? Those were the two starkly different ways suspected terrorist Sayfilden Tahir Sharif was portrayed Wednesday at his bail hearing in Edmonton. A photograph snapped by Cara Rain, his common-law wife, was entered as an exhibit showing Sharif clowning around with her children in the apartment they shared before his arrest last month by RCMP at the request of the FBI.  Wearing a black hijab, Rain told court there is no way the man she loves is guilty of U.S. allegations that he supported a multinational terrorist network that took part in a suicide bombing which killed five American soldiers in Iraq …. Sharif’s lawyer, Bob Aloneissi, is seeking bail conditions akin to house arrest as his client prepares to fight extradition to the U.S.  The federal Crown wants him held in custody pending the outcome of a long hearing process that may not begin until later this year. Crown prosecutor Jim Shaw entered a letter from the U.S. Justice Department dated Feb. 1 that warns Sharif poses an extreme danger to the community and a significant flight risk ….”
  • Border Worries (1): This from a U.S. government watchdog office“The challenges of securing the U.S.-Canadian border involve the coordination of multiple partners. The results of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) efforts to integrate border security among its components and across federal, state, local, tribal, and Canadian partners are unclear. GAO was asked to address the extent to which DHS has (1) improved coordination with state, local, tribal, and Canadian partners; (2) progressed in addressing past federal coordination challenges; and (3) progressed in securing the northern border and used coordination efforts to address existing vulnerabilities ….”
  • Border Worries (2) Canada and the United States are scrambling to quell fears that Canadians would soon need visas to cross the border, following a hard-hitting report to Congress that questioned security along the 49th parallel. Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Wednesday he had been assured by the U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, there is no plan to require visas. “Ambassador Jacobson phoned me up to let me know that that certainly is not the intention of the Obama administration,” Cannon told a news conference. Indeed, Jacobson took to Twitter shortly after the report’s release Tuesday to declare that co-operation between the U.S. and Canada on security and border management had been “exceptional for years.” ….”
  • Border Worries (3) Canada and the United States are poised to take a major step toward common border security controls that could lead to joint government facilities, sophisticated tracking of travellers, better cyber-security protection and improved oversight of overseas cargo shipped to both countries. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama are expected to give the green light Friday to a comprehensive shared review of border security aimed at tightening protection from terrorists and easing the flow of cross-border traffic ….” More on tomorrow’s coming talks here.  Let’s hope the issue of where many of those illegal guns that end up being seized here are coming from as well.
  • F-35 Tug of War (1) Firms report big risks to get onboard F-35 program: Firms say major ministerial public relations campaign as much about investor as public confidence.”
  • F-35 Tug of War (2) Canada’s defence minister accuses former CF member/Liberal MP Marc Garneau of not supporting the troops on this one“…. Mr. Speaker, I think the person who is worried is the member opposite because the more he talks against the F-35 the more he shows his true colours. He is against the aerospace industry in his own region. He is working against those men and women he used to serve with ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? More on running CFS Alert infrastructure, and pest control in/around Gagetown
  • Three Canadian Navy ships (and an Aurora patrol aircraft) are headed west to help on an exercise near Hawaii.