MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 11 Mar 11

  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  Parliament’s Budget Office (PBO):  Our estimates (based on production price per pound of plane and a longer service timeline – 30 years vs. the CF’s 20 years) show the F-35 will cost more than the Canadian government is saying now. (1.1 MB PDF, 65 pg).  The executive summary is downloadable here via Army.ca.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) Both the Liberals and the NDP started poking the government almost immediately during Question Period in the House of Commons on this one yesterday.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (3) MSM are full of stories on this one as well this from the Canadian Press, this from the Toronto Star, this from the National Post/Postmedia News, this from CTV.ca, and this from Reuters.
  • Mideast Unpleasantness (1)Canada is defending the effectiveness of sanctions against Libya, despite their apparent failure after Moammar Gadhafi’s troops managed to drive rebel forces out of a key oil port. Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Thursday that he thinks sanctions against Libya are working, but more are needed. He said all options for Libya remain on the table as he and fellow G8 foreign ministers prepare to meet in France early next week for talks on the crisis. “I think the sanctions regime is working. Obviously it has its merits and its objectives. There needs to be more, I believe. That is why we’re still examining the options.” Cannon rejected a suggestion that sanctions are failing because Gadhafi is still holding power and reclaiming rebel-held territory ….”
  • Mideast Unpleasantness (2) Retired General Lew Mackenzie with a reminder that a no-fly zone could morph into more than JUST a no-fly zone in Libya. “…. once you decide to militarily intervene in another country’s civil conflict, you have to be prepared to escalate even if it’s the wrong thing to do, because quitting your commitment when the initial plan fails is just not on …. Col. Gadhafi doesn’t need his air force to prevail, so its grounding or destruction would merely shift the fighting to the backs of his army. Libya is a big country, with 2,000 kilometres of coastline, so the major fighting would take place along the main coastal road. The opposition forces would be no match for even poorly organized army units if Col. Gadhafi decides to get serious.  Watching this unfold from 20,000 feet, the countries enforcing any no-fly zone would be unable to ignore the carnage below them. Backed into a corner, their political leaders would be forced to escalate and authorize attacks against the Libyan army – thereby becoming, in effect, the opposition’s air force. By so doing, they would assume a much larger role in Libya’s future, including reconstruction of the damage they inflicted ….”
  • Mideast Unpleasantness (3)  Speaker of the House of Commons:  Not unpleasant enough for an emergency debate right now.
  • A little more information on Canada coming through with more funding a school project in Kandahar. “…. the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, announced $250,000 in additional funding for the Afghan Canadian Community Centre (ACCC). This funding will allow the ACCC to continue providing successful literacy courses and training in Kandahar city …. The ACCC is a private training centre in Kandahar City that provides professional education in such subjects as business management, information technology, English and health care. This additional support will enable the Centre to continue delivering valuable training, establish a resource centre, and implement a self-sustainability plan. Translation of that last bit of government-speak in red:  some of the money the school is getting is to be used to come up with a plan to be able to run without any more outside funding (or at least from us).
  • A friend of Colin Rutherford, the Canadian reportedly being held hostage by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, sees world for what it is“…. We as students need to recognize that terrorism does not only happen to other people. Terrorists exist to cause fear, and through that fear they gain power. Colin was not afraid to go into a place that has been torn by war to try to help people who are different from himself, and to help them on their terms instead of his. It may not have been the brightest thing to do, but it was brave and motivated by a good heart. He may not come home alive or, if alive, not whole and sound. I pray every day for him. I hope I will get to see him again and hug him and tell him that I am proud of him for wanting to bring something positive into a bastion of terror ….”
  • Remember the “MMA Visits Afghanistan to Fight for the Troops?” story earlier this week (eighth bullet here) Here’s the U.S. military information machine’s story on the event.
  • Ooopsie…. “At a time of unprecedented tension between the west and Hamid Karzai over the killing of civilians, Nato has accidentally shot dead one of the Afghan president’s own family members during a botched night raid. Officials in the southern province of Kandahar said Haji Yar Mohammad Karzai, a second cousin of the president, was killed during an operation by US special forces in Karz, the ancestral Karzai home on the outskirts of Kandahar city. In what appears to have been a major intelligence failure, the 63-year-old tribal elder was mistaken for the father of a Taliban commander …. Mahmoud Karzai, one of the president’s brothers, said he “smelled a very deep conspiracy” over the killing of Haji Yar Mohammad and said he feared Nato had been fed false information by someone from within the Karzai family ….” Here’s ISAF’s first statement on the incident, with a follow-up update here.  More on the touchiness of the situation from the Canadian Press here.
  • Canadian shipyard workers pipe in on Canada’s plans to look at foreign designs for new big honkin’ ships for the Navy. “Canada should not adapt foreign designs to replace its 40-year-old supply ships, says the man who represents over 1,000 workers at Halifax Shipyard. The navy is looking for consultants to assess the risks and cost of altering current German and Spanish military supply-ship designs to Canadian needs. They are also being told to be ready to assist federal officials with detailed drawings. “No matter what way you slice the pie, its Canadian tax dollars leaving Canada to go to another country to help them out in an economic crisis when we’re in our own,” Jamie Vaslet of the CAW/Marine Workers Federation, said Thursday. “Made in Canada is not a bad name, so designed in Canada is not a bad name, either. We designed and built some of, if not the best, world-class frigates.” ….”
  • Meanwhile, Mark Collins wonders how sloooooooooooooooooooow one can go to build new ships needed by Canada’s Navy.
  • Remember the shipload o’ Tamils dropped on the west coast by the MV Sun Sea last summerOne of the passengers admitted to being a bad guy, and has been ordered deported (eventually). “A passenger on the MV Sun Sea ship has admitted to being a member of the Tamil Tigers and ordered out of Canada, but don’t expect the unnamed man to be booted out anytime soon.  The man, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, initially denied being associated with the Tiger terrorist group but later admitted to officials with the Canadian Border Services Agency that he had been a member …. “We are pleased that these hearings are moving ahead,” said Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, the man in charge of the CBSA …. Toews has stated several times that the ship has terrorist links but this case is the first to come with a deportation order.  “That ship, that voyage was co-ordinated by the Tamil Tigers,” Toews told QMI Agency on Wednesday. “Our commitment has been to ensure that individuals who are associated with terrorist organizations do not find refuge in this country.” ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 Feb 11

  • For the latest on China’s alleged cyber attack on Canadian government systems (including Defence Research and Development Canada), check news streams on the story here (Google News), here (NewsNow) or here (Yahoo News).
  • Canada’s Defence Minister’s set to announce “support (for) the ill and injured Canadian Forces (CF) personnel, former CF personnel, their families and the families of the deceased” at CFB Trenton today. QMI/Sun Media’s estimation of what’s coming“The Conservative government is set to announce millions in new funding to ensure returning soldiers who need medical or employment help have a less frustrating experience, QMI Agency has learned. Defence Minister Peter MacKay will announce Friday in Trenton, Ont., $6.9 million in infrastructure costs over three years and $4 million a year to operate five new one-stop shops for soldiers, veterans and their families. “When you are ill or injured, you just have to go to one roof and everything is there for you,” a senior government source said. “It’s to improve the quality of care for those people who serve our country and defend our interests.” The new centres will be in Canadian Forces Bases in Comox, B.C., Cold Lake, Alta., Borden, Ont., Trenton, Ont., and Bagotville, Que ….”
  • Snagging drugs all part of a day’s work for Canadians working next to Afghan security forces. “A frail Afghan man is brought before Capt. Patrick Chartrand, begging for the return of five bags full of drugs that weigh about twice as much as him.  “All the people are growing opium,” the man, who appears to be in his 60s, says in Pashto.  “I am a poor man. What can I do?”  A group of Afghan National Army officers mentored by Canadians seized 108 kilograms of what’s believed to be opium earlier this week. Military officials will test it later for verification.  It is the largest drug haul in an eastern swath of Panjwaii district since the Royal 22e Regiment’s Bravo Company arrived in the area in early December.  “I was pretty surprised about this,” said Chartrand, 32. “I was not expecting that in my day when I woke up.” ….”
  • Next chopper pilots & crews headed downrange prepare in the U.S. “Exercise Desert Gander launched off station Feb. 1, 2011, marking the final step of predeployment training for approximately 220 members of Canadian military forces. During the exercise, 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron based with the Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, Alberta, practiced air-to-ground firing exercises, dust ball training and convoy operations at the ranges surrounding Yuma. “Dust ball training helps door gunners and pilots learn to deal with dust clouds that form when landing,” said Cpl. Ted McGirr, 408 Squadron flight engineer and right door gunner. “Another aspect to consider is the heat. When it is very hot the air is thin and it makes it difficult to lift off. By conducting these exercises we gain much needed experience.” The squadron has held their winter training here for the last three years, due to its ideal training environment and optimum facilities. “The terrain here is very similar to Afghanistan,” said Capt. Bob Hackett, executive officer and adjutant. “The heat and dust, something you don’t find in Canada, help our guys prepare for what we are going to see in our deployment.” ….”
  • Ronald Megeney, 1982-2007, R.I.P. A date has been set for a new court martial for a Nova Scotia reservist who successfully appealed his conviction in the fatal shooting of a fellow soldier in Afghanistan in 2007. The Defence Department says the new trial of Matthew Wilcox will begin on April 26 in Halifax before a military judge alone. Wilcox, who was a corporal, will face the same charges of manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death and negligent performance of a military duty. Wilcox, from Glace Bay, N.S., won an appeal of his earlier conviction at the Court Martial Appeal Court after his lawyers complained that the makeup of the military jury was unfair at his trial in Sydney, N.S ….” A bit more in the Canadian Forces news release here.
  • Column:  What else COULD Canada really do or say about Egypt? “…. So what should the Canadian position in all this be? The Harper government had it exactly right during the demonstrations: stability was important and an orderly transition was critical. That still remains the correct position, despite what the Jeffrey Simpsons and Jim Traverses might write in their columns. The reality is that Canada has never had much influence in the Middle East, and such as it has today should be directed toward promoting stability ….”
  • A bit of American gauge-fixing work for SOME Canadian company“$573,950 Federal Contract Awarded to Canadian Commercial WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 — Canadian Commercial Corp., Ottawa, Canada, won a $573,950.40 federal contract from the U.S. Naval Supply Systems Command, Philadelphia, for repair of digital indicators.”
  • More union worries about the (alleged) Canada-U.K. joint ship talks. “Shipyard workers say they don’t trust federal government assurances that new naval warships and coast guard cutters will be built in Canada. Jamie Vaslet, of the CAW Marine Workers Federation, told a news conference on Parliament Hill that the Harper government has broken its word before, namely over the elimination of a 25 per cent tariff on ships built outside the country. “They hung us out to dry once (and) I don’t believe they’ll answer any questions because there is a hidden agenda,” Vaslet said Thursday. “If they don’t then they shouldn’t have a problem answering the questions that are asked.” He said the idea that Canada is talking to Britain about participation in the Global Combat Ship Program — the Royal Navy’s plan to replace its frigate fleet — “scares the hell” out of him and his members …”
  • Military “Hesco” barriers to the rescue against flooding in Manitoba. “A portable barrier that’s been used to foil terrorist attacks has been recruited for use in Manitoba’s spring flood fight. The province and the city bought nine kilometres of the Hesco bastion from the United States to top up the province’s primary diking system. The large wire cages can be unfolded and quickly filled with dirt or mud.  Randy Hull, the City of Winnipeg’s emergency preparedness co-ordinator, says the mesh cages won’t replace sandbag dikes but there should be fewer clay dikes needed along places like North and South Drive in the Fort Garry neighbourhood. “It’s about rapid deployment, and it’s about logistics,” said Hull ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda WatchIt’s not the Taliban killing most of the kids, and it’s not the Taliban’s web page telling all the lies, honest!