MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 19 Oct 11

  • What’s Canada Buying?  Big Honkin’ Ship contract announcement creeping closer.  Shipbuilders across the country will find out (today) who will share $35 billion to revitalize the navy and coast guard over the next 30 years. Two massive contracts are up for grabs: $25 billion to build 15 military vessels, such as destroyers, frigates and offshore and Arctic patrol vessels; as well as $8 billion to build non-combat ships, including scientific vessels for the coast guard and a new Arctic icebreaker. The announcement is expected (today) at 4 p.m. ET. Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding and Vancouver’s Seaspan Marine Corp. are bidding on both, while Quebec’s Davie Shipyard is bidding on the $8-billion contract. Davie, which had been idle and on the brink of bankruptcy, put together a last-minute bid with Ontario’s Upper Lakes Group, international giant SNC-Lavalin and Korea’s Daewoo ….”  More on the wait here, here, here, here, here and here.
  • Honkin’ big exercise coming to CFB Wainwright. “CFB Wainwright is partaking in a historical exercise this month at the base’s Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre as part of a progressive shift to prepare troops for any battle they may face in the near or distant future. The Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre in Wainwright officially opened in 2004 with only 30 permanent staff. In 2006 the CMTC held its first large-scale military exercise and since then has grown to incorporate more challenging exercises and learning methods. Enter MAPLE RESOLVE. On Oct. 11 CFB Wainwright held a media day to showcase CMTC’s latest exercise called MAPLE RESOLVE 1101 (MR 1101), a month-long exercise running from Oct. 1 to 28. During the exercise CFB Wainwright will be hosting about 4,000 soldiers from Canada, the United States and The United Kingdom and more than 900 military vehicles and other assets such as Air Force support, making this the largest exercise in CMTC’s history ….”
  • Members of the Order of Military Merit are now eligible to preside at citizenship ceremonies, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced (Tuesday) …. Although citizenship judges preside at most citizenship ceremonies, occasions arise where they are not available. On such occasions, recipients of the Order of Military Merit may be invited to preside at a ceremony. This is an honorary role, in which the volunteer ceremony presiding official speaks to new citizens about the responsibilities and privileges of Canadian citizenship, administers the Oath of Citizenship and presents a citizenship certificate to each new Canadian ….”  More on this here.
  • What’s the Veterans Affairs Minister have to say when asked in the House of Commons about $226M being cut from the budget?  “…. on the contrary, we are investing in our veterans. With the new veterans charter, we are investing an additional $189 million for our veterans. However, there is a reality we must all face in the House and that is that our Korean War and World War II veterans are aging and, unfortunately, will be passing away in greater numbers over the coming decades. I invite the hon. member to support this government’s initiatives. She can support our “Helmets to Hardhats” initiative to encourage our soldiers ….”
  • Remember this story, with no shared documentation?  “The Canadian military is keeping a watch on aboriginal groups through an intelligence unit that is meant to protect the Forces and the Department of National Defence from espionage, terrorists and saboteurs. The Canadian Forces’ National Counter-Intelligence Unit assembled at least eight reports on the activities of native organizations between January, 2010, and July, 2011, according to records released under access to information law ….”  Since the Globe & Mail doesn’t appear to want to share, I will – documents in question downloadable (21 page PDF) here – you’re welcome.
  • Head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Alan Bersin:  it doesn’t HAVE to be “increased security” VERSUS “harder trade”“On the eve of a perimeter security deal between Ottawa and Washington, the top U.S. customs official is championing the idea of a “thinner” border for low-risk traffic as he seeks to reassure Canadians he understands what they want from the controversial agreement. Alan Bersin, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says he wants to make it easier for legitimate travellers and cargo to enter the United States so both countries can focus on high-risk traffic instead …. “The message I hope to be helping spread during this trip is that the old dichotomy between the promotion of trade and heightening of security … is a false choice,” he said ….”
  • Barnett “Barney” Danson, 1921-2011, R.I.P.  Barney Danson’s life was forged on the battlefields of Normandy, where he was wounded, lost his three best friends and the sight in one eye, and found himself as a person. Danson, who died Monday in Toronto, returned from the Second World War to found a successful business and an equally successful political career that saw him become defence minister. He went on to win many awards, help build the Canadian War Museum and be named a companion of Order of Canada. But it was his experiences at war with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, where he rose to lieutenant from ordinary rifleman, that had the greatest impact on him. “Many of the things from my military experience were invaluable in shaping the rest of my life,” he said in a 2002 interview. “Certainly it was a great motivating factor in getting into politics in the first place.” ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 30 Sept 11

  • Pile On the Defence Minister About The Planes/Choppers! (1a)  PM Stephen Harper continues to back his man (the Minister, anyway) “…. Mr. Harper, however, said all Mr. MacKay’s flights were legitimate. “When he has used them, they’ve been for important government business,” the Prime Minister told the Commons. He invoked fallen soldiers in defending his minister, saying half of Mr. MacKay’s flights were to attend repatriation ceremonies where the remains of dead troopers were returned to Canada. “Half of those flights are for repatriation ceremonies so that he can meet the families of those who have lost their loved ones in the service of this country. He goes there to show that we understand their sacrifice, we share their pain and we care about them,” the Prime Minister said ….”  And this was so different from the CDS’s work before the much-maligned, and un-PM-supported, trip to rejoin his family how?  More from the guys who started the pile on here.
  • Pile On the Defence Minister About The Planes/Choppers! (1b)  Here’s Hansard’s version of what the PM said in the House of Commons yesterday“…. the Minister of National Defence has participated in some 55 repatriation ceremonies for over 80 lost Canadian service personnel …. This minister uses government aircraft 70% less than his predecessors. Half the time, he does so to attend repatriation ceremonies for soldiers who gave their lives for our country. That is why we have such great respect for the Minister of National Defence on this side of the House of Commons …. When this minister pays his respects to the families of our fallen soldiers I expect the official opposition to support us and the minister by showing respect for these families.”
  • On the CDS and plane trips.  “…. Tradition suggests Gen. Natynczyk is heading into the final months of his term as Chief of the Defence Staff. He led our Canadian Forces through the successful completion of our combat mission in Afghanistan — one that elevated Canada’s military reputation around the world. We should allow him to bask in the afterglow that follows a job well done.”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Columnist Joe O’Connor seems underwhelmed at how Canada handled fast-tracking Afghan translators to move to Canada.  “…. Interpreters, or ’terps, in the dusty lingo of life in the Afghan war theatre, were vital to our mission as translators, cultural guides — and as Afghans — who understood what Afghanistan was all about. One imagines that these Afghans thought they knew what Canada was all about after Mr. Kenney launched the program: a land of opportunity, of safety — and a just reward for a job well done. It is a pity that isn’t true.”  Not exactly – it was only true for 1 out of 3 who applied (glass half empty version), or it was true for more than 500 terps (glass half full version).
  • Afghanistan (2)  NDP MP Anne-Marie Day congratulates ROTO 10 in the House of Commons“I am deeply honoured today to draw attention to the difficult commitment undertaken by our Canadian troops on Afghan soil during Rotation 10 of Joint Task Force Afghanistan, which took place from October 2010 to July 2011. We ought to commend and applaud the sacrifices and efforts made during this mission. In 2001, when Canada became involved in this mission, Canadians already suspected that our involvement would be long and arduous. In total, 10 years went by before we considered our work to be done. Tomorrow there will be a ceremony at Valcartier to mark our soldiers’ return. They lived up to the Canadian promise. We can all celebrate their work, be proud of it and honoured by it as well.”
  • Afghanistan (3)  U.S. blogger Michael Yon continues to make no friends – this time, assessing Canada’s impact in Kandahar.  “…. the history of the Canadian troops is softly being rewritten as successful in Afghanistan. Reality differs. The Canadians troops have an excellent reputation and they served with distinction, but after nearly being swallowed whole, they were ordered to abandon their battlespace. There were many causes. The Canadian combat forces could have prevailed, but Ottawa is weak. The prime cause for the Canadian defeat was that tough men in mud homes without electricity defeated comfortable politicians in Ottawa, who seem to think that manufactured history will make them victorious ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Detainee probe by Military Police Complaints Commission plods on, slowly“The Federal Court has dismissed complaints from military police officers over hearings conducted by the Military Police Complaints Commission into issues relating to the treatment of Afghan detainees. Eight current and former officers with the Canadian military police had argued they were being denied the right to a fair hearing with regard to whether they were at fault in their transfer of detainees to Afghan authorities or for not investigating how they were treated once transferred, given accounts about abuse of such prisoners at the hands of Afghan authorities ….”  Federal Court decision here, decision summary here and more media coverage here and here.
  • Paeta Derek Hess-Von Kruedener, 1962-2006, R.I.P.  Remembering, five years later.  “…. On 25 July 2011, the fifth anniversary of the attack on Patrol Base KHIAM, the fourth annual memorial service was held in El Khiam, led this year by New Zealand Army Lieutenant-Colonel Helen Cooper, the current chief of Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) ….”
  • On how much veteran families get for funerals:  “Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.):  Mr. Speaker, a Canadian Forces member receives $13,000 for funeral costs. A veteran receives $3,600. Nineteen months ago we raised this issue. The answer we received was that it was under review. Last year we asked the minister again to fix this problem. Even though his own officials raised it with him, he told a Senate hearing that it was not the time to talk about the matter. Yesterday we received another non-answer. Our veterans have done their job. They served and defended Canada. Why will the minister not do his and fix the situation now?  Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC):  Mr. Speaker, I am glad to say that on this side of the House we not only speak for veterans, but we act for veterans. As I told the member yesterday, this program is managed by the Last Post Fund. It is doing an outstanding job. We fund the Last Post Fund. We are making sure that every military member who is killed or injured during service, whatever his or her rank, is well-served and will be treated with respect until the last moment of his or her life.”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Remember the “rent a UAV” bid request A new Statement of Work and Evaluation Criteria document is out (via Army.ca).
  • What’s the U.S. Buying?  A Canadian company is getting more work from additions to this big job“Canadian Commercial Corp., General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada, Ontario, Canada, is being awarded an $87,335,007 firm-fixed-priced modification under previously awarded contract (M67854-07-D-5028) for procurement of 425 of the following engineering change proposal upgrades: upgraded transfer case kit; hood/bonnet assembly kit; exhaust system kit; central tire inflation system upgrade kit; skydex flooring material kit; electrical harness kit; route clearance digirack kit; remote weapon station joystick kit; front door assist kit; wheel and tire upgrade kit; and independent suspension axel system kit. Work will be performed in Benoni, South Africa (70 percent); Trenton, N.J. (20 percent); Chandler, Ariz. (6 percent); and Halifax, Canada (4 percent) ….”
  • Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino chats up defence industry reps at the Canadian Association of Defence and Securities Industries about buying stuff.
  • Whazzup with the General who wrote the transformation/reorganization report that all the reporters got“CGI Group Inc., a leading provider of information technology and business process services, today announced the opening of a new Canadian Defence, Public Safety and Intelligence business unit based in Ottawa with capabilities to serve the Canadian Armed Forces around the globe. In addition, the Company also announced the appointment of Lieutenant General Andrew Leslie to lead the new Defence, Public Safety and Intelligence unit. The offering will build on the corporation’s global expertise to develop and implement innovative, world-class solutions tailored to specific knowledge and requirements of Canada’s modern-day defence and security challenges ….”  A bit more here.
  • An interesting idea from the Royal Canadian Legion as an alternative to recognizing Afghanistan’s war dead on the national cenotaph in Ottawa.  “…. some veterans argue that singling out those who died in Afghanistan for special recognition on the memorial does a disservice to the more than 100 Canadian peacekeepers who have lost their lives in various other conflicts. For that reason, the Royal Canadian Legion said Thursday that, instead of specifically acknowledging the toll in Afghanistan, the monument should be dedicated to all of those who died “In the Service of Canada.” That’s the same inscription that is found in the Seventh Book of Remembrance, which records the names of all of the Canadians who died in military action since the Korean War. “We think that an inscription that covers the sacrifice made in all wars or missions would be acceptable to most people instead of etching the individual wars or missions,” said Patricia Varga, the Legion’s dominion president ….”
  • The World Socialists’ take on “royalizing” the branches:  “…. Though the rose of the Canadian military will smell no sweeter under its new designation, the name change exemplifies the ideological shift pursued by the new Conservative majority government. As the Canadian capitalist class has ever more vigorously asserted its imperialist interests abroad, and employed increasingly anti-democratic methods of rule to enforce its agenda of austerity domestically, its servants in the Harper government have contemptuously discarded the “peaceful” and “liberal- social democratic” Canadian nationalism promoted by the Liberal governments of the 1960s and 1970s and sought to promote the military and the Crown as sacrosanct elements of “what it means to be Canadian.” ….”
  • They’re not “war resisters”, they’re volunteers who ran away and aren’t brave enough to face the music – this from the House of Commons yesterday“Mr. Speaker, decorated Iraq war veteran Rodney Watson has lived in limbo for two years in sanctuary at an East Vancouver church with his wife Natasha and young son Jordan, both Canadian citizens. I have come to know Rodney and know him to be strong in his conviction for peace and justice, and brave in his commitment to go up against an illegal war. It has been a tough two years, and the strong support from the war resisters support campaign has been enormously important. If Rodney were to return to the U.S., he would likely be charged, which would make his return to Canada inadmissible, tearing him apart from his family. As many as 40 other war resisters like Rodney are currently fighting to stay in Canada. This Parliament has passed two motions in support of war resisters, yet the government is still trying to deport them. I encourage Canadians to write to the immigration minister and their MPs about Rodney and all war resisters to support the call for their permanent residence in Canada.”
  • Fence along the Canada-U.S. border?  Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?  “The United States has distanced itself from its own report that suggested it is considering beefing up its security at the Canadian border — possibly through the construction of “selective fencing” and trenches as well as enhanced electronic surveillance. The proposed options are contained in a detailed draft report released Aug. 31 in Washington, D.C., by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. The proposals will be aired at public meetings in American cities this fall, before the U.S. government considers how to further tighten the border to keep out terrorists and other criminals. But late Thursday afternoon, after reports about the possible fence hit the Canadian media, the U.S. agency released a carefully worded statement. “A border fence along the northern border is not being considered at this time,” it said ….”  A summary of the report (PDF) is available here, the news release linked to the report here, and more in the Globe & Mail here.
  • Meanwhile, the UAV’s drone on looking for bad guys and bad stuff going from Canada to the U.S.  “The unmanned planes look north toward the long, lightly defended and admittedly porous Canada-U.S. border – the best route many Americans believe for jihadists seeking to attack the United States to sneak across. Like their missile-carrying military cousins prowling Pakistan’s skies targeting al-Qaeda suspects, the unarmed Predator aircraft that have patrolled the 49th parallel since 2009 are high-tech, sophisticated and little understood. And they are part of the same diffuse and determined effort the Unites States is making to secure its borders and defend itself. “We’re here to protect the nation from bad people doing bad things,” says John Priddy, U.S. National Air Security Operations director for the Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Air and Marine. He heads the Predator operation guarding American’s northern airspace. “This is the equivalent of the Cold War in terms of a new type of vigilance,” says Mr. Priddy, who has flown everything from Boeing 747 cargo jets to Apache helicopters ….”
  • Former U.S. VP Dick Cheney’s in Canada, worried about a biological or nuclear terrorist attack.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 10 Aug 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 16 Jul 11

  • Libya Mission (1)  Canada is looking at opening a line of credit worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the group orchestrating the overthrow of Libyan madman Moammar Gadhafi and establishing a diplomatic post in the rebel-held city where the Transitional National Council is based. Officials are looking at the feasibility of funnelling upwards of 20% of the value of Libyan assets frozen here and abroad in Canadian financial institutions to the council. A United Nations resolution prohibits Canada from unfreezing the assets — believed to be about $2.3 billion. The government would recoup the cash from the assets after the UN gives the green light to unlock the accounts. The Americans have seized about $30 billion in Gadhafi plunder ….”  More on this here, here and here.
  • Libya Mission (2) “…. Five months after a protest movement to oust Colonel Gadhafi in February turned into an all-out war with military support from NATO, nobody has a clear idea how the war might be brought to an end – and few nations place much trust in the Libyan actors who are promising to end it ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  The first of the stories about the new job.  “If Canada’s nine-year war in Afghanistan is over, nobody told Cpl. Austin Dickson. The 21-year-old Victorian is in a force-protection platoon, spends his days shepherding fellow Canadian soldiers from base to base in and around Kabul. Canada’s combat role might have ended with great fanfare this month, but now the next phase has begun, Ottawa committing up to 950 troops to help train the Afghan military in a mission due to last until March 2014. About 430 of the Canadians have arrived so far ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Niiiice……  Military police in Edmonton are tracking down soldiers in Afghanistan and asking if they are missing any campers, ATVs or snowmobiles back home. The call-out is to help an ongoing city police investigation of two soldiers accused of stealing and trying to sell recreational vehicles owned by three of their colleagues who were serving overseas. Capt. Derrick Forsythe, a spokesman at Edmonton Garrison, said there may well be more victims. But it’s been difficult reaching soldiers in Afghanistan who are busy and may not know if their toys are missing from a shared storage compound on the Edmonton base. “Trying to get a hold of them in Afghanistan with everything that’s going on over there with packing up of the kit and bringing it home — they’re kind of busy at the other end,” Forsythe said Friday …. Two of the soldiers robbed of recreational vehicles are still in Afghanistan. The third was recently injured and sent home. Forsythe said soldiers targeting other soldiers is disturbing. “There’s a pretty strong culture of trust inside the military. There has to be. It’s the nature of the job. So any time something like this happens, it’s particularly troubling.” Privates Varrel Fitz-Charles, 25, and Kieran Lawless-Johnston, 21, were charged last month with possession of stolen property, and break, enter and theft. They are to appear in court in August ….”  A reminder:  The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Canada’s constitution, guarantees the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.  More on this one here, here and here.
  • Afghanistan (3)  More on the Afghan interpreters being fast-tracked into Canada. “The federal government will resettle hundreds of Afghans who worked as interpreters for the Canadian military mission in Kandahar, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Friday in Calgary. A group of interpreters and their families — 56 people in total — have arrived since the special immigration program was first announced in 2009. Interpreters working in Kandahar province for Canadian soldiers and officials faced serious risks and threats from insurgents as a result of their work, Kenney said at the time of the program’s announcement. “There are Afghans who face extraordinary personal risk as a result of their work in support of Canada’s mission in Kandahar,” he said. “Their lives and those of their families may be threatened by insurgents, and some have suffered serious injury and can no longer work.” Another 33 Afghan nationals are expected to arrive in Canada over the summer, and 130 more in the fall, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada told Postmedia News in an email. The program allows for resettlement of 550 people in total and should wrap up in spring 2012, she said ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  “How Capt. Trevor Greene came back from an Afghan axe to the head
  • Afghanistan (5)  How other wounded warriors (and not-as-old-as-they-used-to-be vets) are coping.
  • Afghanistan (6)  Other allied nations have made no secret of their wish to follow suit, and the withdrawals will place a heavier burden on those troops left behind. Senior U.S. officials have been reassuring wary Afghans, who say violence is still rampant ….”
  • Afghanistan (7)  Uh, riiiiiight….  “…. If Canada were to be an integral part of stopping the New World Order agenda which would need to including stopping the Security and Prosperity and Partnership North American Union (SPP-NAU) agenda now, and rooting out the evil that exists and will persist, they might be able to save face with the rest of the world. 9/11 was an inside job, for sure. Bring home the troops Canada without any further delay, you’ve been fooled from the beginning. The people are waking to the truth. If you want the truth then seek it and it will set you free. No more innocent children and women need to die in Afghanistan ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch (1)  Taliban’s further take on the assassination of Karzai’s half-brother warlord/facilitator in Kandahar.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch (2)  The Canadian Press declares Taliban’s propaganda campaign a success based on speaking to two subject matter expertsIf having the west GTFO, yes, it’s succeeded.  I guess the mainstream media missed the 14:1 ratio of Canadians the Taliban said it had killed versus every one that had been killed.  They did catch the Taliban hitting Twitter (here, too) though.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) “Those Pesky F-35 Costs: “A Billion Here, A Billion There” “ (h/t to Mark Collins)
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  First one delivered to U.S. military “to fly in a non-testing role”.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Defence Construction Canada (DCC) has hired three Vancouver Island firms to complete $330,000 in upgrades at CFB Comox. DCC – the Crown corporation tasked with awarding infrastructure contracts on behalf of the Canadian military – awarded a $150,000 tender to Nelson Roofing and Sheet Metal Ltd. for replacement and removal of existing roofs on two buildings on the Base. Wacor Holdings Ltd., meanwhile, secured a $110,000 contract to complete a new parking lot next to CFB Comox’s child care centre. And Comox Consolidators Ltd. is being paid $70,000 to replace brick chimneys at the residential housing complex, near to the Base ….”
  • The Canadian government is trying to spare hunting rifles and sporting arms from a United Nations one-size-fits-all international standard to regulate the flow of weapons around the world. Gun advocates in Canada praised the feds Friday, but gun control advocates and the opposition blasted the move as an irresponsible ploy to hamper the UN’s efforts to save lives. On Thursday, Canadian diplomats at the treaty’s preliminary negotiations in New York tried to exempt sporting and hunting firearms in the treaty’s preamble, remove ammunition and other high-volume items from the reporting requirements and add a clause that reads, in part, “small arms have certain legitimate civilian uses, including sporting, hunting and collecting purposes.” Tony Bernardo, a spokesman for the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, derided the UN as “incredibly anti-gun” and said Canada’s attempts to exempt sporting arms is the right call ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 4 Jul 11

  • Afghanistan (1)  Remember this program to fast-track Afghan interpreters in danger wanting to come to Canada (previous gripes here, here, here and here)?  Here’s the latest“….Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced a special visa program two years ago to reward and protect Afghan interpreters who were critical to Canada’s military and aid missions here. Other Afghans who worked in direct support of the Canadian government in Kandahar province, as well as spouses of any who died because of it, are also eligible for visas under the special program. Kenney said in September 2009 that he expected “a few hundred” to qualify by the time the program ends this month, as the last Canadian combat troops leave. His ministry estimated applicants would only have to wait an average six months to a year. But almost two years later, only 60 Afghans have made it to Canada under the special visa program. More than 475 Afghans applied, ministry spokesperson Rachelle Bédard said from Ottawa ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  One columnist’s assessment of the state of Afghan security force training “…. After nearly a decade of training, equipping and funding the Afghan army and police, we have yet to buy their loyalty — and we never will. They are paid by foreigners to wear western-style uniforms in order to prop up a hated and corrupt regime that failed to win a democratic mandate following the farcical 2009 elections. They will continue to pocket as much NATO cash as they can. And it should be noted that Afghan soldiers make a relatively lucrative salary that is three times that of Afghan teachers. Once the U.S. and NATO countries complete the projected withdrawal of all troops by 2014, the Afghan security forces will quickly dissolve back into the private militias of warlords. One has to hope they have enough remaining loyalty in the rental agreement to secure the airfields until the last of NATO’s planes are airborne.”
  • Afghanistan (3)  Outgoing troops blow off steam blowing shit up“…. “This was partly training exercise, partly an opportunity to field-test and clear out artillery before packing up the pieces, and partly — mostly, I dare say — one last chance for big boys to play with their big toys before departing a country deafened to the clatter of shelling. “That’s the most fun I’ve had since I got here,’’ roared Col. Todd Wood, commander of 1st Stryker Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, who joined the Canadian party of eight LAVs and a brace of Leopard 2 tanks on the make-shift firing range. “I fired them all,’’ boasted Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, out-going Task Force Kandahar commander, after moving along the flank of vehicles. “Hey, they’re all mine. Even the American ones are mine for another couple of days. And I’ve waited 11 months for this.’’ ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  Lotsa tanks allegedly killed in Kandahar, Zabul.
  • More on the upcoming Arctic exercise Operation Nanook 2011.
  • Canadian foreign policy, military policy getting closer?  “John Baird stepped off a stomach-churning, ear-splitting military flight from Libya, straightened his suit and walked briskly across the sun-blazed Sicilian tarmac. He went directly to address the Canadian troops on a break from their part in the NATO-led bombing campaign, taking their questions without censor, and replying with considered opinions. “We’ve got to be patient. We are making progress,” the newly-named foreign affairs minister told about 100 camouflage-clad men and women last week, shouting to be heard over the CF-18s soaring overhead. The frank exchange was more than a simple duty filled by a federal minister travelling through a military base. It tied together Canada’s foreign policy and military policy — a link that has been left untended for far too long, critics say. “I think it’s important for Canada that we more and more match what our military effort is, with the work that we need to do politically and diplomatically,” said Liberal Leader Bob Rae, who has a long history of observing Middle Eastern politics. “Frankly, I think they’re beginning to feel their way,” he said ….”
  • The Conservative government’s choice of Ontario cottage country as the 2010 G8 Summit venue offered would-be snipers “ideal conditions” to assassinate a world leader, concludes an internal RCMP review. “It must be underlined that the location for the G8 was sub-optimal from a security perspective,” says the 353-page draft report completed in late May. The hilly, wooded terrain around Huntsville, Ont., featured not only excellent vantage points for gunmen, but also covered approaches for intruders, and problematic land and water routes leading in and out of the area, found the review released to The Canadian Press in response to an Access to Information request. In addition, the decision to host the G20 Summit in Toronto immediately afterwards “added a significant planning challenge” that prompted a “complete re-examination of the G8 Summit security” due to limited resources, says the review. “No host nation has ever conducted two world summits back-to-back in geographically different locations.” ….”  No indication Canadian Press is sharing the report so you can look it over yourself.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Remember the CF looking for someone to run and maintain buildings, as well as offer food and other support services, at Canadian Forces Station Alert TwiceMaybe third time’ll be the charm.
  • What’s Canada Buying (2)  “…. The Department of National Defence has a requirement to update the host computer on the CH146 Griffon Helicopter Full Motion Flight Simulator. The purpose of this Advance Contract Award Notice (ACAN) is to signal the government’s intention to award a contract for these goods to CAE Inc., Montreal, Quebec ….” 
  • What’s Canada Buying? (3)  Wanted:  someone to review literature dealing with spotting IED wires and someone to develop software to process swacks of imagery information coming in.
  • He also serves who is hairy and goes “baaaaaaaaa”.  “It has been said that there is nothing more handsome than a man in uniform. Whoever said that obviously never met Batisse, the Royal 22e Regiment’s mascot — a goat. As the Duke of Cambridge inspected the regiment at Quebec’s City Hall, Batisse stood there, doing goats around the world proud, in a blue robe with the regiment’s crest. Before Will and Kate arrived, he had a few moments of animal-like behaviour, where the soldier holding his leash had to get him under control. Batisse is a Persian goat descended from the Queen’s private stock of goats. He’s number 10 in the Batisse line, depending on who you talk to. Major Jean-Francois Lacombe said the original Batisse was gifted by the Queen in 1955. The Queen kept sending goats until it became impossible because of disease, around the era of Batisse the third, Lacombe explained. The regiment then purchased their goats from British Columbia, with the same lineage. They had to write the Queen for permission. She said yes. Goat enthusiasts rejoiced. The goat means, “will to succeed,” Lacombe explained ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 24 Feb 11

  • Canadians are starting to GTFO Libya. “The first group of Canadian evacuees left Libya Wednesday by boat and more are expected to fly out Thursday, the federal government says. Foreign Affairs confirmed at least 26 Canadians, along with several American and British citizens, left the Libyan capital of Tripoli on a U.S. charter ferry heading to Malta. The Canadian charter flight is scheduled to leave Thursday afternoon from Tripoli to Rome, Italy. Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon is expected to greet the flight, as well as meet with his Italian counterpart to discuss the situation in Libya. Evacuees are asked to bring food and water and will have to reimburse the federal government $500 for the cost of the flight. So far, 178 Canadians currently trapped in the North African nation have said they want to leave the country. Some 350 Canadians are registered with the embassy in Libya ….” More on the exodus from CTV.ca and Postmedia News.
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • I would f**king well HOPE so! “Troops who will be sent to Afghanistan for training missions later this year will include corporals, not just senior officers, Canada’s chief of land staff for the Canadian Forces has revealed. Canadian corporals have a “level of maturity and capability and pride that we think is important to share with the Afghans,” Lieutenant General Peter Devlin told QMI Agency in an exclusive interview. Devlin said the corporals will join officers and senior NCOs (non-commissioned officers such as sergeants and warrant officers), which will help spread out the work for Canadian troops. Corporals are ““gifted instructors, I would put them up against senior NCOs from other nations, and that is our approach,” he said. While corporals are among the more junior ranks of Canada’s Army, they posses valuable combat experience in Afghanistan, Devlin added ….”
  • What Canadian trainer/mentors are up to in Afghanistan.
  • More on Canadian troops serving in Sudan, especially following the referendum creating the world’s newest country. “The Canadian Forces members of Task Force Sudan took part in efforts by United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to support the recent referendum in South Sudan: maintaining a constant patrol presence in all sectors of the country, both north and south, and facilitating the delivery of ballots to polling stations. UNMIS kept a low profile, focussing on security and support for the U.N. agencies that monitored and assisted the voting process directly.  The vote was largely free of violence or fraud, and the participation rate was much higher than we ever see in Canada. The international community has praised the people of South Sudan for their patient participation in a watershed decision.  Task Force Sudan is deployed under Operation SAFARI to provide UNMIS with staff officers and United Nations Military Observers (UNMOs). At any given time, Task Force Sudan comprises about 26 military personnel, including a small but mighty national support element in Khartoum supporting both the CF members of the task force and the Canadian police officers serving in Sudan with the U.N. Police (UNPOL) ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Who’s interested, qualified to refit HMCS PROTECTEUR? “The Department of National Defence has a requirement for a refit of HMCS PROTECTEUR; a West Coast Canadian based PROTECTEUR Class Auxiliary Oil Replenishment (AOR) ship based in Victoria, British Columbia. It is anticipated that the refit work will commence February 2012 with a completion date of December 2012 ….” (via Milnet.ca)
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2) Someone to set up a “temporary” camp at Resolute Bay for $6.5 million, and three organizations get contract to conduct Taser research. (via Milnet.ca)
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1a) From the Toronto Star:  “Federal Liberals plan to open a second front in their document war with the Harper government. The party’s defence critic, Dominic Leblanc, is demanding the release of a key air force report that lays out the justification for the purchase of F-35 stealth fighter jets. The statement of operational requirements was stamped classified by National Defence last year and the Conservative government has resisted calls by the opposition parties to make the document public. LeBlanc served notice to the House of Commons defence committee that he’ll table a motion demanding the release of the statement — a measure he hopes the NDP and Bloc Québécois will support. That sets the stage for another tug-of-war over document secrecy ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1b) From the Toronto Sun:  “Another day, another Liberal MP attacking the Conservatives for allegedly being too secretive and wasteful with public money. Liberal defence critic Dominic LeBlanc lashed out at the government Wednesday for hiding the true costs of their tough-on-crime agenda, and for going ahead with the F35 stealth fighter jet purchase amid fears the $16 billion figure for the 65 aircraft (including maintenance) is going to grow. “Despite repeated reasonable requests by Liberal MPs for precise cost estimates on the Conservative stealth fighter purchase and the prison expansion plans, the Harper government continues to hide these numbers,” LeBlanc said at a press conference Wednesday. “The bottom line for us is Canadians have a right to know before Parliament is asked to vote on important pieces of legislation or approve massive expenditures like those involved in the stealth fighter purchase.” ….”
  • Canada’s Air Force is pumping a bit of $ into the Kansas economy. “The sky of Salina may be a little louder than usual as our neighbors to the north with six CF-18 Hornets and two CH-146 Griffon helicopters from Canadian Air CF-18s on the flightline in Salina. Canada’s Tactical Fighter Squadrons have an economic impact of close to $2 million each deployment. Force 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron take advantage of the training and basing opportunities at the Salina Airport Authority and the Smoky Hill Weapons Range, through March 23 ….”
  • Loooongish service from an aviation workhorse. “Nine CC-138 Twin Otters have served with the Canadian Forces (CF) since 1971. In 1994, 440 Transport and Rescue Squadron was renamed 440 Transport Squadron (440 (T) Sqn), its fleet was reduced to four aircraft and the squadron relocated to Yellowknife, where it remains today. “[The Twin Otter] has supported a wide number of roles while supporting Canada, the Canadian Forces and Canadians,” explains Lieutenant-Colonel Dwayne Lovegrove, Commanding Officer, 440 (T) Sqn, “so it’s worthy of a little bit of celebration.” ….”
  • Uh, no they DON’T (corrections in terminology mine).  War resisters Deserters in Canada need our support …. Thank you for the eloquent article on Rodney Watson, the U.S. Army resister alleged deserter who is living in Vancouver under constant threat of deportation. Watson’s Canadian wife and their young son also suffer from this unconscionable situation. All of us who care about justice for military resister alleged deserters should besiege Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney’s office with requests for a humane resolution.” Anyone who volunteers for the military and runs away because they don’t like the mission is like a cop who won’t police in a certain area of town because s/he disagrees with protecting people living in that area.  Want to make a solid political statement that’ll impress people?  Don’t go, and face the music.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 7 Dec 10

  • First, a correction:  Remember the Canadian contract listing where the CF is looking for help to improve storytelling in yesterday’s update?  It seems I put the wrong link in – this is the correct one.  Many thanks to Richard, who drew my attention to this.
  • Vandoos into Zangabad: “Taliban fighters in the notorious village of Zangabad aren’t about to just melt away, the commander of NATO forces in southern Afghanistan warned Monday as Canadian troops officially took control of the long-standing insurgent stronghold.  “Yeah, they’re going to fight. This is their home turf,” Maj.-Gen. James Terry told The Canadian Press at a patrol base in southwestern Panjwaii, the troubled district where a combined force of coalition and Afghan soldiers is pushing forward.  So far, though, “it’s going real well,” Terry said ….”
  • Canada sending medicine, medical equipment to Afghanistan “…. the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation (CIDA), highlighted the first phase of Health Partners International Canada’s (HPIC) Capacity Building and Access to Medicines (CBAM) project, a five-year project that will provide Afghans with reliable access to medicine and medical supplies ….  For more information on the Capacity Building and Access to Medicines project visit www.hpicanada.ca and www.Afghanistan.gc.ca ….”
  • The Globe & Mail manages an e-mail interview with the commander of Canada’s Special Operations Forces, Brigadier-General Mike Day – this on the alleged lack of accountability we hear suggested from some out there“Q:  There’s nothing you’re doing that the Prime Minister wouldn’t know about, right?  A:  All the senior leaders hear what we’re doing. This idea that nobody knows – it’s [expletive]. ” More from the Globe here.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Taliban’s sites are down for now, but not before you get to see lies about Canadian deaths.
  • Remember this little bank firebombing incident around the G8/G20, aimed at sending a message to “resist the trampling of native rights, of the rights of us all, and resist the ongoing destruction of our planet”? Someone’s pleaded guilty, and now he’s about to be sentenced.
  • The government is expected to announce today a plan/strategy to prevent another Air India bombing from happening: “The Honourable Vic Toews, Canada’s Public Safety Minister, and the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism will release the Air India Inquiry Action Plan ….” More from the Globe & Mail here and Postmedia News here.
  • So, what’s the former head of the Military Police Complaints Commission, Peter Tinsley, up to these days? Running for office, it seems: “…. Peter Tinsley, the former chief of the Military Police Complaints Commission — one of several public servants who have parted ways with Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government — announced on Monday that he’ll be the Liberal candidate for the Ontario riding of Prince Edward-Hastings in the next election.  And Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is hinting that Tinsley may not be the only person the Liberals will be recruiting from among the swelling ranks of public servants and whistleblowers who have publicly sparred with Harper’s government.  “Will he be the only one? Watch this space,” Ignatieff said ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 13 Nov 10

  • The NDP’s Jack Layton, not surprisingly, is upset over the PM saying he’s reconsidering his position to pull all Canadian troops out of Afghanistan next year.  “Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, with help from the Michael Ignatieff Liberals, are turning their backs on a previous commitment to end the military mission in Afghanistan in 2011 and bring our troops home from Afghanistan. “Stephen Harper made a solemn commitment to bring the troops home next year, but he has again failed to live up to his words. And the Michael Ignatieff Liberals seem happy to join in and ignore their own promises,” lamented Layton. “New Democrats disagree, and we are demanding the Prime Minister bring this new extension to the House of Commons for public debate and a vote.” ….” Just because there’s (for now) not going to be a parliamentary vote doesn’t mean there can’t be debate in the House of Commons on this.  More from the Globe & Mail here.
  • The Globe & Mail‘s take on whether the House of Commons needs to vote on Canada’s new mission in Afghanistan:  “The Canadian government has made the decision to extend this country’s mission in Afghanistan. It will end its combat role and continue, in a more intensive way, to train the Afghan army and police. It is the right decision. Should it be put to Parliament to debate and vote on, as MP Paul Dewar, the New Democratic Party’s foreign affairs critic, says? No. Such a vote is not necessary or helpful. It is not required by law or custom, as Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae points out. It’s “the government’s choice,” said Mr. Rae, and he understands the choice in the circumstances ….”
  • Is Canada’s program to fast-track immigration of Afghan interpreters who helped Canadian troops in Afghanistan going to be extended? It better be if the mission is going to be extended.
  • Canada’s military is sharing some stories about Afghan security forces being trained to use heavy equipment and to do first aid.
  • Blog Watch: Mark Collins shares his take on a positive side to any training mission moving outside Kandahar, via the Unambiguous Ambidextrous blog:  One particular reason why moving the Canadian military mission to Kabul will be a Good Thing: without the prospect of fairly frequent deaths and ramp ceremonies to obsess over (which coverage has only undermined support for the mission), and with the much greater costs of being based in Kabul, the Canadian major media will rapidly lose interest in what the Canadian Forces are doing in Afghanistan ….”
  • I’ve spotted an interesting new news resource I want to share with you.  Afghanistan’s embassy in Canada is publishing a daily news summary here. Not comprehensive, by any means, but another way to gauge what Afghan embassy staff consider importent to share.
  • In other military related news, all are presumed innocent until proven guilty in our system, but I have to offer a hearty “way, to go fella (NOT)” for this from the Globe & MailA Canadian soldier could face charges under the National Defence Act after an explosive device used to blow up a McDonald’s garbage can in Gananoque, Ont., last month was traced to a military base outside of Barrie. On Oct. 24, police received a number of 911 calls about an explosion outside a fast food restaurant in downtown Gananoque, the reverberations of which had been heard blocks away.   “Judging by the damage done, it certainly wasn’t something you could buy at a corner store,” said police Chief Kai Liu.  Among the debris, officers found a piece of the explosive with part of a serial number.  They quickly discovered it a was a military training device, and traced it first to CFB Suffield, Alberta, home of Canadian Forces research and development, and then to CFB Borden ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged in Uruzgan, Zabul.

Canadian Fast-track Terp Immigration Progam to be Extended?

I’ve shared my concerns with the program to fast-track the immigration of Afghan interpreters who helped Canadians into Canada.

It appears common sense is prevailing – this, from the Canadian Press:

Ottawa may extend its fast-track immigration policy for Afghan translators who help the Canadian Armed Forces and aid workers in Kandahar if troops remain in Afghanistan beyond 2011.  Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Friday it would make sense to continue the program for as long as such translators work with Canadians.  “The basic principle is any Afghan whose life is at risk because they’ve assisted Canadian Forces or aid workers we’re going to give them fair consideration for expedited immigration to Canada,” Kenney said Friday.  “If there is some kind of extension of a non-combat mission, I’m sure we’ll extend the same principle in the future …. We’re on track to receive between 150 and 200 by the time the program is over.” ….

According to the Canadian Press, about 250 applications have come in so far.  There have apparently been delays in processing because some of the groups who provide input into the process have pulled out of Kandahar or Afghanistan because of security concerns.

Let’s hope common sense DOES prevail.

Earlier rants on this one: