News Highlights – 2 Dec 11

  • Afghanistan  Canadian flag coming down from over Kandahar Airfield – more here (photos from the CF Info-Machine), here and here.
  • One blogger’s view of “Libya vs. Afghanistan” ceremonies:  “…. After decades of Liberal governments treating the military like high-grade bathroom attendants, the Harper Tories have moved in the opposite direction. Now even a light bombing campaign is worthy of celebration. Oddly the Afghan mission has not yet rated such a grand ceremony. The cynical might suggest this has something to do with our efforts in Afghanistan being unpopular ….” (h/t to Mark for pointing to this one)
  • The Canadian Forces is slowing its pace of recruitment after the Afghanistan mission, because of a lower turnover and a troubled economy. Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson said the military’s regular force strength is now in “very healthy” shape at about 68,000 members. Attrition is also down — with economic uncertainty and excitement for the job likely factors — which can make matching desired targets tricky. “That’s a very tough machine to manage,” Donaldson told the national defence committee Thursday. “But we have not stopped recruiting. In fact, we continue to recruit, because you need to keep the machine oiled and to keep new blood coming through, but fewer than before.” The Canadian Forces is now focused on finding people with specialties and technical trades, and providing spots for reservists who served in Afghanistan and want to switch to regular forces ….”
  • The CF’s Top Doc Commodore Hans Jung on waiting times for troops to get psychological counseling “…. The timing for an initial specialist mental-health-care appointment depends on whether a case is emergent, urgent or routine. In emergency situations, patients are accommodated the same day through the base clinic or civilian emergency care. If a case is urgent, the patient is seen within two weeks. And if the case is routine, the target is for the patient to see a specialist within 30 days ….”
  • Remember the Minister needing a helicopter ride from a lodge to another engagement?  Well, some e-mails seem to suggest the chopper ride may have been more…. requested by the Minister than offered by the CF (well done to the Toronto Star for sharing the e-mails in question (PDF), obtained via an Access to Information Act request).  One officer’s e-mail is intriguingly prescient:  “…. The request from MacKay’s office went out to senior air force officials on Tuesday July 6 at 8:49 a.m. It took just a few hours for then-Col. Bruce Ploughman, director of the Combined Aerospace Operations Centre in Winnipeg, to raise a red flag. “So, when the guy who’s fishing at the fishing hole next to the minister sees the big yellow helicopter arrive and decides to use his cellphone to video the minister getting on board and post it on Youtube (sic), who will be answering the mail on that one,” he wrote to colleagues in Ottawa and Winnipeg. “If we are tasked to do this we of course will comply,” Ploughman continued. “Given the potential for negative press though, I would likely recommend against it.” ….”  More from, the Globe & Mail and Postmedia News (they haven’t shared their obtained documents yet).  Here’s the back-and-forth during yesterday’s Question Period in the House of Commons.
  • If you believe this historian and this web page, Canada may be working with other NATO and Middle Eastern countries to at least discuss “humanitarian corridors” in strife-filled Syria.  “…. Monday, Nov. 28, debkafile reported a group of military officers from NATO and Persian Gulf nations had quietly established a mixed operational command at Iskenderun in the Turkish Hatay province on the border of North Syria: Hailing from the United States, France, Canada, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with Turkish officers providing liaison, they do not represent NATO but are self-designated “monitors.” Their mission is to set up “humanitarian corridors” inside Syria to serve the victims of Bashar Assad’s crackdown. Commanded by ground, naval, air force and engineering officers, the task force aims to move into most of northern Syria. Laying the groundwork for the legitimacy of the combined NATO-Arab intervention in Syria, the UN Independent International Commission set up to assess the situation in Syria published a horrendous report Monday, Nov. 28 on the Assad regime’s brutalities. It documented “gross violations of human rights” and “patterns of summary execution, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture including sexual violence, as well as violations of children’s rights.” ….”  Caveat lector.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War:  More on the pricetag“The federal government is under attack again over the true costs of buying stealth fighter jets for the air force. “Apparently the Norwegians are getting 52 F-35s for $10 billion while we’re getting 65 for $9 billion,” said Liberal MP Frank Valeriote in a Thursday defence committee meeting, citing comments from Norway’s defence minister in November. Asking Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino to explain the discrepancy, Valeriote raised anew the possibility that the government has lowballed the estimated purchase price. “I too spoke with the secretary of defence of Norway and they’re into a different kind of a world in Europe, requiring different armaments and so forth to what we are, in fact, looking at,” said Fantino. “It’s very difficult to compare dollar for dollar, but at some point in time we’ll be able to speak all these issues more fully.” ….”  More here, here and a bit more (from the archives) from Mark Collins.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  You might call it good blood money. Defence departments in Canada and the U.S. are jointly funding a scientific study to examine the optimal ratio for plasma and platelet to red blood cells. Work will be carried out by the Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium, which includes health research organizations from both sides of the border that conduct clinical research in areas of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and traumatic injury. Canada will contribute $220,000 to the study, which Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson believes is critical to the troops Canada sends into harm’s way. “We’re funding it to keep people alive,” he said Thursday during an appearance at the defence committee. “Loss of blood is the greatest risk of death to the wounded soldiers on the battlefield, so it’s very much in our interests to tend to our people, to fund research in different ways of replacing blood, and stopping bleeding.” ….”
  • A Korean War veteran living in Regina is disappointed after someone spray painted obscene graffiti on the east side of the cenotaph in Victoria Park. Ken Garbutt says the people who did it are “idiots” and the act is sacrilegious. The City of Regina has since cleaned it up, but Garbutt is not impressed. “Our cemetery, the U.N. cemetery, is in Busan (City, South Korea) and you never hear of anything of this nature. They are kept in the best shape possible,” said Garbutt. Garbutt maintains there should be stiffer penalties for people who deface war memorials ….”  Veterans Affairs Minister agrees this is not goodTory MP from Saskatchewan says he’s glad to see federal government supporting new law to impose harsher penalties against those who do this sort of thing.
  • A bit of mainstream media coverage of the proposed “opt out of paying for the military” Private Members Bill (now including proposed text (PDF) of the bill) making its way through the Parliamentary sausage machine.  A fair bit of wide-ranging discussion and option consideration, as well, over at Army.caCaveat:  These bills have VERY little chance of passing without government party support.
  • That time of year again:  NORAD’s Santa Tracking web page – – is good to go. News Highlights – 18 Sept 11

  • Here’s a bit more information and context behind at least one of the Challenger trips Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk in the media lately.
  • Afghanistan (1)  What the CF is doing about cleaning up the ground underneath what’s soon to be their former base in Kandahar.  “Master Corporal Ken Stewart has an important job. The water, fuel and environment technician (WFE tech) is responsible for soil remediation at Kandahar Airfield (KAF) as part of the Mission Transition Task Force (MTTF) working to close down Canadian operations there by the end of the year. Soil contamination from the daily activities of thousands of Canadian soldiers and hundreds of commercial and tactical vehicles is a major concern. Consequently, mitigation of soil degradation is a priority task for the MTTF, a responsibility being undertaken by a team of WFE techs, field engineers and infantry soldiers ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  The Army Run’s not JUST in Ottawa today.  “More than 600 civilians and military personnel representing multiple allied nations are expected to run tomorrow in the heat, dust and altitude of Kandahar Air Field (KAF), Afghanistan in the KAF Canada Army Run ….”  Good luck to all the participants.
  • Afghanistan (3)  A bit of one Canadian Forces Info-Machine worker’s story in Kabul.  “…. It is a somewhat surreal experience to be standing here in Afghanistan. The hot barren mountains of the Hindu Kush which surround the city have been witness to a dramatic stream of human history. I am now part of that history. As I ride in a convoy through the streets of Kabul I am amazed at the differences, and the similarities between here and Canada. On a side street, for example, I see a young father holding the seat of a bicycle while his son learns to ride. The feeling that most consumes me is an overwhelming sense of responsibility. I have a responsibility to the Afghan people who smile and wave to me on the street. I have a responsibility to the mission, and I have an inherent responsibility to those Canadians who have preceded me here. It is their dedication and sacrifice that passes the torch to me. I do not accept it lightly ….”
  • The Royal Canadian Mint has donated $10,000 to the Military Families Fund, raised from sales of its 2010 25-cent poppy coin collector card. The Military Families Fund is a non-profit organization that assist military families who land on unforeseen needs resulted from conditions of service. When launching the 25-cent collector card last October, it was announced all profits would be donated ….”
  • Way Up North  Senator Colin Kenny on how Canada can show that the Arctic is important. “…. If Canadians want to maintain our sovereignty in the Arctic, we should start demonstrating that we give a damn about the Arctic. Imposing tough environmental regulations on drilling would signal that we are not only in control in our portion of the Arctic, but that we deserve to be.”
  • Historian Jack Granatstein on what REALLY drives Canadian foreign and defence policy:  “…. for the Harper government, the new reality is that Alberta attitudes drive defence policy, not Quebec opinions. Virtually every opinion poll over recent decades has shown attitudes in Alberta consistently more hawkish than quasi-pacifist opinion in French Canada. The Tories have little support in Quebec, and the last election confirmed that they don’t need Quebec M.P.s to create a parliamentary majority. The coming addition of some thirty more seats in the House of Commons for Ontario and the West will entrench this new reality. In the circumstances, the Conservatives have a free hand to build the defence and foreign policy that suits their view of the world. And they will ….”
  • Remembering the Battle of Britain, 71 years later, with a renewed name” “For the first time in more than 40 years, we will celebrate the Battle of Britain with the restored name of the Royal Canadian Air Force,” said the Honorable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence …. The Battle of Britain, the first major campaign to be conducted entirely in the air, took place in the skies over south eastern Britain and the English Channel from July to October 1940. Vastly outnumbered by the German Luftwaffe, allied pilots and aircrews, including more than 100 Canadian pilots, held the enemy at bay and prevented Hitler’s planned invasion of Great Britain ….” News Highlights – 22 Aug 11

  • Libya Mission (1)  PM’s take on the latest in Libya (via PMO’s Twitter feed):   Prime Minister Stephen Harper is receiving regular updates on the situation in Libya and continues to monitor the situation closelyCda is hopeful that the end is near for the Qadhafi regime & that authority will soon transition to the Ntnl Transitional Council of LibyaWe are hopeful that the end is near for the Qadhafi regime & authority will soon transition to the National Transitional Council of Libya.”  More from Postmedia News here.
  • Libya Mission (2)  For the latest on what appears to be rebels fighting at Gadhafi’s doorstep, check here (Google News) and here (European Commission’s EMM Explorer).
  • Libya Mission (3)  What are some opponents of Canada’s & NATO’s work in Libya saying“…. while NATO partners like Canada and the United States can safely shirk some of their duties on this one — owing to the strategically convenient location of the Atlantic Ocean between them and the problem in North Africa — the financially strapped European members of NATO’s southern flank are about to experience all over again the reality of Gen. Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn Rule: “If you break it you own it!” First of course, there is the matter of preventing an embarrassing massacre in tribally divided Libya. NATO has decreed that the transition must be peaceful, so — whatever actually happens on the ground in Tripoli over the next few days — that is presumably what we will be told before the cell-phone videos start leaking out. Longer term — and more significantly — is the reality that someone is going to have to maintain order in the North African country, and it seems highly likely that the rag-tag and disorganized rebels backed by NATO and slavishly praised by Canada’s foreign minister, John Baird of Benghazi, are not up to the job ….”
  • Way Up North (1)  PM’s (and company) headed for another tour o’ the North“Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that he will travel to Canada’s North for the sixth consecutive year. The Prime Minister will tour the North from August 23 to 26, 2011 …. The Prime Minister will visit Resolute Bay on Tuesday, where he will meet with community members and first responders involved in rescue and recovery efforts for First Air Flight 6560 ….  Following Resolute, the Prime Minister will stop in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon, where he will meet with Premiers, visit initiatives that are benefiting Northerners, and make several announcements that will further contribute to the economic and social development of Canada’s North. The Prime Minister will be accompanied by: Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) and Minister of Health; John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development; and Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources.”  More from the Globe & Mail here and here.
  • Way Up North (2a)  Minister of National Defence’s statement on First Air crash near Resolute Bay.
  • Way Up North (2b)  Three survivors of a plane crash in Canada’s Arctic region were recovering from their injuries Sunday as investigators sifted through the wreckage to determine what caused the Boeing 737-200 jet to slam into a hill in foggy weather, killing 12 people. First Air charter flight 6560 crashed Saturday afternoon as it was approaching the airport near the tiny hamlet of Resolute Bay in the Arctic territory of Nunavut. Local residents and soldiers from a nearby military exercise rushed to the scene in a effort to rescue survivors from the wreckage. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Angelique Dignard said two of the survivors _ a seven-year-old girl and a 48-year-old man _ were transported to a hospital in Ottawa from a medical facility in the Nunavut territorial capital of Iqaluit. A 23-year-old woman remains in a hospital in Iqaluit. Dignard said all three are in stable condition, but she would not comment on the nature of their injuries ….”  More here.
  • Way Up North (3)  To the naked eye, Canada’s North is largely remote and untouched, but what is buried beneath the earth and ice could turn it into an economic powerhouse. As the Arctic warms, a wealth of oil, natural gas, minerals, and potential shipping opportunities could be unveiled. “There’s really tremendous resources that are completely untapped in the North,” said Conference Board of Canada economist Jacqueline Palladini. As new prospects open up, concerns have also been sparked about the need to reaffirm Canada’s sovereignty. Stephen Harper will trek north of 60 on Monday – an annual trip the prime minister makes to assert Canadian presence in the area ….”
  • Report Leaked to the Globe & Mail (Propose) Cut(s) and run?  “A major report that advocates streamlining the Canadian military by chopping headquarters staff sits in limbo, awaiting a champion to drive its recommendations home. But with its author, Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, leaving the military next month, that report’s future is very much in doubt. On Aug. 3, Lt.-Gen. Leslie submitted his resignation to Gen. Walter Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff. “My military duty is complete,” wrote the former head of the army. He and his wife are currently on vacation in the Aegean. “On our return I have been invited to join a great Canadian corporation in the private sector,” Lt.-Gen. Leslie said in his letter. He could not be reached for comment ….”
  • Cuts to the CF (1):  One commentator’s hope regarding the recent “Royalizing” of Canada’s military branches.  “…. Let’s hope this time the retro-nostalgia of the Conservatives is genuine and not a distraction before the budget axe falls on long-promised expenditures.”
  • Cuts to the CF (2):  A Canadian historian is concerned about a possible cut – the CF’s Security and Defence Forum (SDF).  “…. The SDF program has had its funding guaranteed for 2011-12, but DND has said the program will be cut to $500,000 on the way to future extinction. Most of the university SDF programs – except for a few that have developed private support – will disappear or, at a minimum, shrink into insignificance. And the money saved will be swallowed by the paper-clip budget at DND headquarters, producing yet another triumph for the bean-counters at Fort Fumble on the Rideau.”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Someone to spruce up DND’s security plan, manual.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Discussion about the CF’s proposed “silent Ski Doo” at here. 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 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
  • 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 ….” News Highlights – 12 Aug 11

  • Libya Mission (1)  Forces loyal to Moamer Kadhafi are no longer able to launch a credible military offensive, NATO’s top Libya commander told AFP Thursday, as rebels look to gain momentum in overthrowing the strongman. “The Kadhafi regime’s forces continue to be weakened, both in strength and their will to fight,” Canada’s Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard said, speaking from his Italy headquarters, as rebel troops made new advances. “They are no longer able to launch a credible offensive,” he added ….”
  • Libya Mission (2)  Some blog-borne armchair quarterbacking“You might have been distracted by the riots in Britain, or the faux-scandal over NDP interim Leader Nycole Turmel, or the credit crisis in the U.S., or your vacation, but Canada is still dropping bombs on Libya with no end to the conflict in sight. Kelly McParland of the National Post takes a second to remind us just how committed the Conservative government is to the mission, and in particular the rebel leadership group, the Transitional National Council. “Even though the outcome of the upheaval in Libya is anything but clear, Ottawa is putting all its eggs in the rebel basket,” for example by booting out Moammar Gadhafi’s envoys out of Canada, handing over their embassy and assets to the TNC, recognizing the TNC as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, and providing financial assistance to the rebellion – and that’s not including the combat support the Canadian Forces have provided. “Caution does not appear to be a major element of the Harper government’s foreign policy,” says McParland in one of the bigger understatements of the year so far ….”
  • Operation Jaguar, from the Jamaican media’s perspective“The Canadian government has deployed three CH-146 Griffon tactical helicopters and 65 personnel to support the Jamaica Defence Force’s search and rescue team for the rest of the hurricane season. National Security Minister Dwight Nelson, who made the announcement yesterday, said the deployment followed a request by the Jamaican Government. Expressing his gratitude, the minister said the helicopters will shore up the capabilities of the JDF, while soldiers will benefit from training from the Canadian Forces. For his part, Canada’s Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay said his government was committed to ensuring that Canadian forces are ready to assist their allies on the world stage if and when the call comes. “The request from Jamaica addresses a specific capability gap in the Jamaica Defence Force, which currently does not have helicopters suitable for taskings such as search-and-rescue and medical evacuation flights,” said MacKay ….”
  • Canadian Taxpayers Federation underwhelmed with CF buying promotional give-away items (how little is $50K out of a budget of ~$21 billion?)  “The Canadian Forces spent close to $50,000 of taxpayers’ money last year on miniature cardboard fighter jets, according to documents obtained by QMI Agency through an access-to-information request.  The CF-18 replicas are 23.5 cm long, made of recycled material and were used to promote the Air Force at public events, particularly to children.  The documents reveal the special order for the planes cost taxpayers $47,449 dollars.  Paper planes aren’t the Forces’ only promotion material.  The Air Force alone has an annual marketing budget of $200,000 dollars.  Air Force spokesperson Lisa Evong said the paper planes are popular with children and Air Force enthusiasts.  “(The planes) are used to educate the public on the role and responsibilities of the Air Force,” she said.  Half the fun, Evong explained, is assembling all the pieces to form the plane.  Each plane costs about 29 cents, giving the Forces 158,000 to fly around …. The federal government doesn’t seem to have the right priorities, according to Gregory Thomas from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, an organization that advocates for low taxes and tight government spending of public funds.  “It is not the role of government to use taxpayer money to do publicity, especially towards children,” he said.  Thomas said public funds should go towards equipping soldiers with “quality, modern equipment.” “
  • Afghanistan   Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry“As the international community quietly welcomes the news that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has decided not to seek re-election, his departure raises many questions about what the future holds for a country that has claimed so much of Canada’s time, money and lives over the last decade. Originally one of Karzai’s strongest international supporters, Canada has been walking a diplomatic tightrope in terms of its relationship with the Afghan president for several years. Plagued by corruption, patronage and opportunism, the Afghan government has, by many accounts, lost its legitimacy, especially since the 2009 presidential election, which was fraught with allegations of fraud ….”
  • Congratulations Major General Vance (beware the huge photo on the page).  The (Conference of Defence Associations) Institute is pleased to announce that Major-General Jonathan Vance has been unanimously selected as the recipient of the Vimy Award for 2011. The award will be presented on Friday, 18 November at a mixed gala reception and dinner in the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa …. The Vimy Award honours the bravery and sacrifices of the Canadian soldiers who were victorious at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917. Fighting together for the first time, the battle won by the four divisions of the Canadian Corps brought global recognition to the nation’s arms and declared Canada a young nation entitled to a place at the councils of the world.  The CDA Institute is the sponsor of the Vimy Award. Since 1991, the Award recognizes one Canadian who has made a significant and outstanding contribution to the defence and security of our nation and the preservation of our democratic values ….”
  • Remember Canada’s Army boss presenting an American unit an award (9th item), and sharing the news via Twitter?  The CF Info-Machine now has the story – more from what appears to be the hometown paper here.
  • New boss for 9 Wing Gander“After two years of commanding Canada’s most easterly Air Force Wing, Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Conway is heading to Ottawa. During a ceremony at the Canadian Forces Base 9 Wing Gander last Wednesday, Lt.-Col. Conway was given a proper sendoff, while incoming wing commander, Lt.-Col. Gilbert Thibault, was introduced ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying: Big Honkin’ Ship Edition  Most people have never heard of François Guimont, Robert Fonberg, Richard Dicerni or Claire Dansereau. Yet, they hold Canada’s shipbuilding future in their hands. Some time this autumn, these four – they are the deputy ministers of Public Works, Defence, Industry and Fisheries and Oceans – will decide which Canadian shipyards will share a contract valued at a staggering $35-billion to provide the Canadian navy and Coast Guard with new fleets. Their decision is supposed to be apolitical. But there will be plenty of political fallout, regardless ….”
  • No politics for the moment for retired Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier.  “General Rick Hillier has shot down rumours that he is planning a bid to lead the Liberal Party in Newfoundland and Labrador, ending hours of confusion on a social media website over whether Canada’s former chief of the defence staff would run for the soon-to-be vacated post. “There has been some speculation over the last hours that I was going to run for the leadership of the Liberal party of Nfld,” Gen. Hillier, the province’s highest ranking officer in history, wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday morning. “I’m not! Just don’t see that, at this point, as where I am going in life.” ….”
  • Guess who the rights to the yellow ribbon with “Support Our Troops” written on it belong to?  “You can tie a yellow ribbon around your old oak tree for free. But if you want to use a yellow ribbon and the phrase “Support Our Troops” in your business, you’re going to have to pay Ottawa for the privilege. The Department of Natural Defence has owned the copyright to the phrase and the yellow ribbon image since 2007, said Department of National Defence public affairs officer Capt. Rob Bungay. “Although we appreciate and encourage individuals’ personal support of the Canadian Forces through the display of the yellow ribbon, the use of the department’s intellectual property in corporate promotional matter cannot be supported,” he said in an email. “The unauthorized use of the yellow ribbon in commercial advertising could mislead the public and Canadian Forces members with regard to the companies’ association with the official Support Our Troops program; and/or DND’s endorsement of the companies over that of their competitors.” ….”
  • Historian disses NATO“…. in diplomacy as in baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out. Afghanistan was strike one; Libya was strike two. And strike three? No one yet knows where the next call for action might be – Syria? – but if NATO funks it again, then the pressure from Ottawa and, possibly, Washington may be irresistible. NATO has lasted more than 60 years, but even historic alliances can become so attenuated and powerless that their irrelevance can no longer be ignored.”
  • Canadians headed over to Israel to join the Israeli Defence Force.
  • Isn’t this done yet“The Winnipeg Jets, when they unveiled their new set of logos last month, were open about drawing inspiration from Canada’s air force. That hasn’t sat well with all of their fans; John Samson, the singer and main songwriter for Winnipeg band The Weakerthans, expressed concern over the logo’s direct link to the military and would rather see a more nuanced design ….”  For a counterpoint, check out the Toronto Sun here. News Highlights – 5 Jul 11

  • Manitoba/flood  Here’s hoping for a speedy and full recovery for all concerned Five Shilo, Man.-based military personnel and one civilian volunteer were injured Monday afternoon while working on flood-protection measures in the Souris, Man., area. A military spokesman said the soldiers and volunteer were resting about 3:30 p.m. when a hose blew on a dump truck, spraying hydraulic fluid onto them. All were taken for assessment medical treatment in Brandon, Man., but the extent of their injuries was unknown. The five soldiers are all new recruits, the spokesman said. Those injured were working along Plum Creek, a tributary of the rising Souris River, to shore up dikes ….”  More here.
  • Afghanistan (1a)  “It’s wrapping up” theme continues.  “Canadian troops formally end five years of combat and counterinsurgency in the dust-blown badlands of southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, heading home in the midst of a guerrilla war of steadily intensifying violence. They do not leave with any illusions that they have done more than create some breathing space for the Afghan government to assert itself. Nor do they venture any predictions beyond saying that they may have weakened, perhaps only fleetingly, the resilient Taliban insurgency. That realism is perhaps their strongest legacy for the allies who will continue the fight ….”
  • Afghanistan (1b)  “Canada’s desert war came to an end Tuesday when soldiers of the Royal 22e Regiment stood down and formally handed over their battlefield to American units. The country’s legal command responsibility for the western Kandahar district of Panjwaii will continue for several days, but Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner’s headquarters will be directing U.S. combat units. Almost all Canadian troops are now out of the killing fields of Kandahar, save for a handful of soldiers who will serve for a few more weeks, but attached to American platoons. Parliament ordered an end to the Canadian combat mission in southern Afghanistan back in 2008 and set July 2011 as the deadline. The Conservative government has since announced that 950 soldiers and support staff will carry out a training mission in the Afghan capital until 2014 ….”
  • Afghainstan (1c)After nine years, 157 troop deaths and more than $11 billion spent, Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan finally comes to an end this week. With popular support for the war sapped at home, some of the nearly 3,000 Canadian troops, based mainly in the dangerous battleground of Kandahar, have already started returning from Afghanistan, and the rest will follow soon. The official end of Canada’s hard-fought mission, which began in early 2002 a few months after the US-led invasion of the country, comes Thursday, and as other countries also announce partial troop withdrawals from the Afghan theatre as Western voters tire of nearly a decade of war ….”
  • Afghanistan (1d)  More on the “yard sale” of Canadian equipment.
  • Afghanistan (2)  The Afghan people know what this combat mission has cost Canada — and especially the families of our fallen troops — assures Kandahar’s provincial governor. In an exclusive interview with QMI Agency, Dr. Toryalai Wisa, a Afghan-Canadian academic who oversees the area our combat soldiers will soon be pulling out of, says the level of sacrifice is understood. Wisa recalls conversations he’s had with family members of dead Canadian soldiers: “My heart is still with them — I express my very deep, deep appreciation from the bottom of my heart. “(Canadians) did not spend only the taxpayers money here…they have sacrificed their youth here.” The governor added: “We shall never forget that. That will be part of Kandahar history.” But Wisa complains that while the Afghan people herald the toil of Canadians, the message seems lost before it reaches North America ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  Some day, if this country is truly lucky, it may be teaching school children about the role Canada played here. If it does, along with the stories of blood and battle, the history lessons should include the oh-so-very Canadian projects pulled off across a battlefield — from paved roads to bridges to a new ministry building that now sits ready for Afghan officials to use. Since April of last year, the Canadian Engineer Regiment for Task Force Kandahar (TFK) has helped oversee an estimated $51.5-million in projects. For now, it’s enough that a refurbished school set close to the peaks of the Mar Khaneh Ghar mountain range is slated to open again in the fall. Until recently, it was filled with Afghan police officers using it as a secure sub-station next to a busy road. The Canadian military helped prepare a new fortified position — constructed by an Afghan contractor — for them next door and then renovated the centre for local kids. It features a playground — almost unheard of here — and a soccer field ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  One columnist’s view on helping the wounded:  “…. with the Conservatives looking for $4 billion in budget cuts, and given the track record of the military as a source of easy “savings,” it will be up to the Canadian public to make it clear that veterans’ compensation needs to go up — not down. Our soldiers’ sacrifice in Afghanistan will not be worth the price if they are not cared for with all the resources that a prosperous, grateful nation can provide.”
  • Afghanistan (5)  On the plan to bring Afghan interpreters to Canada“…. The federal government should stop blaming slow bureaucracy for allowing only a trickle of Afghans who worked with our Forces to find a new life in Canada. The requirement they show proof that the Taliban could harm them and their families is difficult and objectionable: that they have been working with Canada in the midst of a civil war for at least a year should be condition enough. Kenney should have his department look at ways of immediately speeding up visas, especially as the program draws to a close. The Americans, British, Australians and Danes have eased immigration rules for their Afghan aides. Leaving Sharifi, Zobaidi and others who helped us at risk to their own safety in administrative limbo is irresponsible. We owe them our soldiers’ lives.”
  • Afghanistan (6)  What snipers do“Breathe calmly, slow the heart rate, squint the eye and slowly, with gentle pressure, squeeze the trigger. With the Tac-50 bolt-action rifle, too heavy to lift and aim — even for hard-bodies — the shooter rests the weapon on a bipod and, optimally, flattens his rib cage against the ground at a slight incline. The 50-calibre bullet — size of a Tootsie roll — will hurtle out of the internally fluted barrel, rotating fiercely, and heave infinitesimally to the right, what’s call the spin-drift. Shooter and spotter will have corrected for that, and also the wind currents, the distance, the ambient temperature. Bullets go faster in high heat. The target — the victim — will feel that bullet before he hears it. And it will kill him. Less than a second and one “bad guy’’ removed, with no collateral damage done. No mental anguish either, for killing a fellow human being. For snipers, it’s the job. Their motto: “Without warning, without remorse”….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Zabul and Taliban disses Afghanistan’s Parliament.
  • CF-Royals Link (1)  Remember the talk about the PM’s office wanting the PM’s plane (a CF CC-150 Polaris) painted a prettier colour?  The Royal Visit has one “top government official” saying the current grey paint scheme makes it look like it like something “belonging to a third-world country.”  Could that person the media isn’t naming perhaps be from the PMO wanting a nice, pretty PM’s own “Air Force One”?
  • CF-Royals Link (2)  Prince William enjoyed showing off his military helicopter training with his first-ever water landing Monday to the delight of anxious crowds in Canada, where he and his wife, Kate, have been on their first official overseas trip since their wedding. The Duke of Cambridge climbed into the cockpit of a Sea King helicopter for the military training exercise at Dalvay by-the-Sea, a scenic resort along Prince Edward Island’s north shore. Prince William, a Royal Air Force rescue helicopter pilot, requested the simulated emergency landing procedure. Dressed in an olive flight suit and helmet, the prince settled the large helicopter on the water several times over the course of an hour. From the water, William piloted several takeoffs and hovered in the air before executing dual- and single-engine landings before taxiing around as Kate watched from the ground ….”  More on the check ride here, here and here.
  • Way Up North (1)  Canada’s latest military exercise in the Far North comes as the country is under growing pressure to keep up with other countries in an Arctic arms race. “You’re seeing a buildup of capabilities that simply hasn’t been there before, period,” said Rob Huebert, University of Calgary Arctic security expert. Canada’s northern neighbours have been very busy in the Arctic amid sometimes competing jurisdictional claims. Huebert notes the U.S. and Russia have increased submarine activity in the Far North, Sweden has mused about increasing its submarine capability, and Norway is looking to counter Russian air and sea power in the area ….”
  • Way Up North (2) “…. the question must be asked, are we headed for a confrontation with the Russians military or otherwise? It’s a distinct possibility depending on how the United Nations rules on who can actually lay claim to the Arctic’s resources and how much parties like Russia, Denmark and Canada are willing to negotiate. But if history provides any examples, oil tends to bring out the worst in people.”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Canada seeking someone to fly planes to simulate bad guys of various kinds, and Canada planning to offer CAE contract for upgrade of Hercules simulator hardware and software.
  • One columnist’s view of what to keep in mind about the future of the CF:  “…. Canadians don’t know when their military will be called upon next, or what they will be asked to do — so it must be prepared for anything. Granted, this is expensive. But the same planes that were bought to deliver equipment to soldiers in Afghanistan saved civilian lives in Haiti. Being prepared is half the battle. We can’t forget that, or accept arguments suggesting that the Canadian Forces no longer need the public’s support or continuing modernization. Even in these times of budgetary pressure, the one thing that we truly cannot afford is to forget the lessons learned in Kandahar. Nickel and diming ourselves into another decade of darkness will exact too high a price: the blood of Canadian soldiers in future conflicts. Putting the military on the back burner means death on the battlefield — a cost no Canadian or Canadian government should be willing to pay.”
  • A historian’s reminder:  “…. In peacetime, soldiers are routinely scorned. Rudyard Kipling’s Tommy captured this more than a century ago: “O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ‘Tommy, go away’; But it’s ‘Thank you, Mister Atkins,’ when the band begins to play.” We all hope that after Afghanistan and Libya, the band won’t begin to play for a long time. But if it does, (critics of the Canadian Forces) can expect that Canada’s Tommies will be there to protect (their) freedom.” News Highlights – 6 Apr 11 News Highlights – 22 Mar 11

  • No Fly Zone in Libya (1) Canada’s CF-188’s fly their first mission over Libya. More from the Toronto Star here, the Globe & Mail here, here, Postmedia News here and here, Dow Jones wire service here and Agence France-Presse here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (2a)The Harper government rallied opposition parties to “war” Monday, casting Canada’s military intervention in the Libyan crisis as a moral imperative.  A House of Commons debate took place within hours of the air force carrying out its first combat patrol to enforce the UN-mandated no-fly zone over the embattled north African country …. MacKay couldn’t say how long the no-fly mission would last, but said no one wants to have forces in harm’s way any longer than necessary.  The motion, which sources said was the subject of feverish back room drafting among the parties, passed unanimously late Monday night ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (2b)Here’s the motion Parliament passed“In standing in solidarity with those seeking freedom in Libya, the House welcomes United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973; that the House deplores the ongoing use of violence by the Libyan regime against the Libyan people; acknowledges the demonstrable need, regional support and clear legal basis for urgent action to protect the people of Libya; consequently, the government shall work with our allies, partners and the United Nations to promote and support all aspects of UNSC Resolution 1973, which includes the taking of all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in Libya and to enforce the no-fly zone, including the use of the Canadian Forces and military assets in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1973; that the House requests that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Standing Committee on National Defence remain seized of Canada’s activities under UNSC Resolution 1973; that should the government require an extension to the involvement of the Canadian Forces for more than three months from the passage of this motion, the government shall return to the House at its earliest opportunity to debate and seek the consent of the House for such an extension; and that the House offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of the Canadian Forces.” Want to read the debate?  Click here for Hansard’s transcript or here for a PDF of the debate transcript (49 pages).
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (3) – Canadian warship HMCS Charlottetown is patrolling the waters north of Libya, as UN-backed airstrikes continue. Cmdr. Craig Skjerpen said Charlottetown is with NATO ships, but not with the convoy enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya. “We’re able to see some of the strikes commence but we’re a little farther back, so we’re in a safe area,” he told CBC News on Monday morning. Charlottetown and its 240 crew members left their home port of Halifax on March 2. At the time, the mission was to evacuate Canadian citizens from Libya and provide humanitarian assistance. By the time the ship was in the area, the mission had changed. Skjerpen said it’s possible the ship will be called on to help enforce an embargo. For now, there is no specific task other than to patrol. “We’re looking at the vessels and the aircraft that are in the area and we’re learning the traffic patterns to see if there’s anything abnormal,” he said ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (4) – Terry Glavin comments on how even with the U.N. sanctioning the mission, the “usual suspects” are opposed: “…. there was little in the way of singing and dancing going on in certain sections of the Toronto Danforth, it is an understatement to say. “The UN Security Council resolution which authorizes ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians from attack is dangerously vague and opens the door to a much larger western military intervention in the country,” the so-called Canadian Peace Alliance complains. This is what one might expect from some of the most conservative, narrow-minded, privileged and autocrat-fancying counterrevolutionaries to come along since the early Mussolinists. But in the days and weeks to come, how many degrees of separation will this posture mark from that of the New Democratic Party? ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (5) – The UN Security Council on Monday turned down a Libyan request for a special meeting to discuss Western air strikes on the country following the council’s imposition of a no-fly zone, diplomats said. The council decided instead simply to hold a briefing already planned for Thursday by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on how the resolution that set up the zone to protect civilians in Libya’s internal conflict is being implemented ….” More from the Globe & Mail here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (6) – Not EVERYONE in NATO wants the mission to become a NATO mission. “…. So far, the NATO alliance has been unable to reach an agreement on participation in the military implementation of the no-fly zone. Turkey is resisting the measure and is calling for a new review of other possible measures the alliance could take in Libya. Ankara has also called for an immediate Western cease-fire, with Turkish officials calling on NATO to give greater consideration in its discussions to the possibility of civilian deaths, a NATO diplomat told the news agency AFP under the condition of anonymity. Ankara has rejected any NATO intervention against Libya, including the implementation of a no-fly zone ….”
  • While Canadian eyes turn to the fighter planes scrambling over Libya, a Montreal conference will discuss how the country has turned a blind eye to a far deadlier conflict elsewhere in Africa. Canada has deep business interests in Congo, where millions have died in a war related to mining, and has resisted calls for more military involvement there. A panellist for Tuesday’s Concordia University event said Canada is intimately involved in the ongoing Congolese conflict. “Canada, unfortunately, has become a safe haven for multinationals who are exploiting different areas around the world,” said Kambale Musavuli of Friends of Congo in Washington, D.C. “Many of the mining companies in the Congo — who either work with the rebels directly (or) funded them — are actually trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.” ….”
  • Wounded warriors back in the fight in Afghanistan – well done! “Cpl. Maxime Emond-Pepin’s missing left eye and scarred face set him apart him from most of his peers, as does his ability to bounce back from devastating injuries. The 22-year-old from Longueuil, Que., refused to allow his battlefield scars to deter him from returning to the job he loves. His resolve was tested after a fellow soldier stepped on an improvised explosive device while the two were patrolling in Kandahar on Aug. 6, 2009. The soldier lost a leg and Emond-Pepin’s eye was damaged beyond repair. Gruelling rehabilitation sessions followed and he made a speedy recovery ….”
  • Afghan forces will take over security in seven areas in the country this summer, none of which are in Kandahar despite five years of fighting by Canadian troops in the southern province. President Hamid Karzai’s announcement today is a stark reminder that despite recent battlefield successes, much work remains before Kandahar’s security can be handed over to Afghan forces ….”
  • Some rule changes in Kandahar are being considered following a less-than-productive exchange at a vehicle accident. “The Afghan troops were manning a checkpoint near the Dand district centre in Deh-e-Bagh when a resupply convoy backed up and hit an Afghan army pickup truck, causing some damage. The Canadian convoy commander, whom the NATO assessment identifies only as a corporal, tried to give a compensation claims card to an Afghan army lieutenant. But the lieutenant refused to accept it, saying he wanted cash instead because he had been reprimanded by his supervisors in the past when he could not produce money for vehicle damage. “(There were) frustrations on both sides, because there’s a little bit of a language barrier,” said Lt.-Col. Webster Wright, a public affairs officer with RC-South ….”
  • A former Canadian civilian boss from the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team says “The stubborn Afghan theatre may very well be the incubator for new experiments in bottom-up stabilization of war-torn states.
  • New high tech for Canada’s navy, coast guard: “The Government of Canada has awarded a contract for an Interdepartmental Maritime Integrated Command, Control and Communications (IMIC3) system to Thales Canada. “This state of the art system will give navy and Coast Guard commanders the information they need as they work together to protect Canada’s coast line,” said Minister MacKay. “By equipping the Canadian Forces with the tools they need to do their jobs, our government is delivering on our commitment to protect Canada and Canadian interests.” The IMIC3 system will equip the navy and the Canadian Coast Guard with an advanced capability to gather and share data from coastal surveillance in near real time. Using sophisticated, integrated technologies, it will improve the secure exchange of positional information by providing operational commanders and other government departments — on shore and at sea — with the same satellite data at the same time. This will allow for more coordinated planning and execution of maritime operations in defence of Canada ….” More here.
  • Historian Jack Granatstein on the coming federal election:  don’t expect much defence talk. “…. What is almost certain is that it will be the only one as the politicians, the media, and the electorate focus in on domestic issues to the exclusion of everything else. Even the F-35 purchase will be framed in a “buy the aircraft or establish a national day care plan” terms. There will be no discussion of Afghanistan and the new training mission. There will be little talk of the Libyan operation unless a Canadian Air Force aircraft kills civilians. Nothing will be said about the Canada-US security talks unless the NDP feels that a burst of anti-Americanism might be helpful. And certainly no leader, no party, will say anything about Canadian national interests and how they might best be protected or advanced ….”\
  • F-35 Tug o’ War –The great majority of Canadians do not want the federal government to purchase new fighter jets, even though Prime Minister Stephen Harper is bound and determined to do just that. Nor is the Conservative lead on economic issues all that robust. These findings from a new Nanos poll for The Globe and Mail and CTV will put wind in the sails of opposition leaders during what appear to be the final days before a spring election campaign ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1) – Canada’s military engineering school is outsourcing “construction engineering technicians of the Canadian Forces (CF) on Operational level Drafting and Surveying”. (via
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2) – Test dummies for DRDC Valcartier (via News Highlights – 18 Jan 11

On Generals Having Affairs

Rosie DiManno has done a kick-ass job covering the hard work Canadian troops have been doing overseas, but I have to disagree with her latest column on the Daniel Ménard court martial over an affair he had with a subordinate.  Here’s the e-mail I wrote and sent to Rosie:

On your Menard column:  while I’ve enjoyed your material from downrange, I have to say we’re not eye-to-eye on this one.

1)  You say it’s a “policy” not to have sex with colleagues.  In fact, I stand to be corrected, but my understanding is that Canadian troops sign a piece of paper saying they will not fraternize while in theatre.  This included the General, so this is, at one level, not living up to one’s word.

2)  You say “Proscriptions against physical intimacy may be intended to safeguard morale — or so the tall forehead brass claim — but the opposite is true in practice; a good fraternizing snog can do wonders for esprit de corps.” You think seeing a boss contravene orders everyone else is supposed to follow is good for morale?  How about if an affair leads to, say, the boss’ lover getting more goodie jobs and fewer shitty jobs?  How’s THAT for morale?  And that doesn’t JUST apply in the military – I’m guessing there’s all sorts of (and too many) private sector examples of that out there.  Except in the military, the bosses can have the power to choose who goes into situations where lives are threatened – I don’t want such decisions coloured by outside factors like romantic entanglements.

3)  You also say, “Far from home, living in close quarters, physically fit men and women coping with boredom punctuated by the occasional sharp up-tick of adrenalin and the very real threat of danger, it is entirely human nature to seek out comforts of the flesh.” Call me dinosaurish, but if someone can be ordered to run towards bullets when instinct says the healthier option is to run away, I think they can be trained to keep off the fraternization wagon temporarily.

I’m hoping this helps you frame the situation a bit differently.

Take care, and although I may not agree with you on this one, thanks for getting the message out about the work the CF does.

And here’s what else I should have added:

  • There may be a temptation to also say, “hey, if she wasn’t working directly for him, no biggie”.  Really?  To use a media example, if the publisher is “snogging” a junior sales person, is the sales manager (who, in many shops, reports to the publisher) free to assign and supervise said sales person the same way as the other sales persons?  Ideally, yes.  Realistically?  It would be a pretty compartmentalized publisher who would let one of his subordinates dish out crap jobs to his/her lover without even hinting that things could be different.
  • Re: “Menard, Canada’s former top soldier in Afghanistan, is facing — technically —prison time and dishonorable discharge if convicted on two charges of conduct prejudicial and four for obstructing justice … the latter, according to sources, arise from Menard allegedly asking the woman to delete email messages he’d sent her.” On this, we’ll see what the evidence and the verdict have to say.   That said, if any other government official deleted emails, or asked to delete emails, to prevent detection of wrong doing, how big a font would your paper or other media outlets use for the word “Cover Up” in a headline?  A lot of people see this – trying to cover one’s tracks in a position of very senior leadership – as at least as serious, if proven, as the relationship issue itself.

I’m not alone on this one, I see – here’s one Canadian historian’s take on this, and here’s the back-and-forth with Rosie (with a hat tip to Mark Collins).

Update (1)Soon to be EX-General….

Update (2):  Menard pleads guilty – no word on sentence yet.