Former military doctor disses available mental health support at CFB Petawawa when he was there. “…. Although I can’t speak to the entire military, I worked for at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa as a military physician from 2007-10 and can attest that the resources for mental health care on that base and the capacity of the medical system in Petawawa to handle mental illness are abysmal at best. There is a massive shortage of mental health workers and psychiatrists, as well as a total disconnect between the primary care physicians and the mental health care team ….”
What’s Canada Buying? More robot control work: “…. Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) – Suffield, Medicine Hat, Alberta has a requirement to develop control algorithms for the Micro Hydraulic Toolkit (MHT) robot that will allow it to perform a variety of locomotion behaviours focusing on stability and performance. These control algorithms will be developed in simulation, under different terrain surfaces and tested on the real robot. The motion of the simulated robot and real robot will be compared to refine the model and provide quantitative data. Finally, the control behaviours will be integrated with a vision based leader/follower software and man machine interface ….” A bit more detail in the Statement of Work from the bid document (7 page PDF) here.
F-35 Tug o’ War Quakers take a stand. “The Kitchener Area Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) believes that public policy, as well as the lives of individuals, should aim to take away the occasion for war. Therefore, we oppose the Canadian government’s proposed purchase of 65 F-35 joint-strike fighter jets. The procurement of joint-strike aircraft not only fails to reduce the possibility of armed conflict, it ties Canadian policy to future military intervention overseas, without public discussion of the ramifications of this major shift in Canada’s role in world affairs ….”
“The Harper Government today launched the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. This War helped establish our path toward becoming an independent and free country, united under the Crown with a respect for linguistic and ethnic diversity …. Over the next four years, the Government will invest to increase Canadians’ awareness of this defining moment in our history. This will include support for: a pan-Canadian educational campaign focused on the importance of the War of 1812 to Canada’s history; support for up to 100 historical re-enactments, commemorations, and local events; a permanent 1812 memorial located in the National Capital Region; interactive tours, six exhibits, and improvements to three national historic sites across the country; investments in infrastructure at key 1812 battle sites, such as Fort Mississauga and Fort York, Ontario; celebrating and honouring the links that many of our current militia regiments in Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada have to the War of 1812. October 2012 will also be designated as a month of commemoration of the heroes and key battles of the War of 1812 ….” More on this here, here, here, here and here.
Libya Mission (1) Ooopsie….“Government House Leader Peter Van Loan “misspoke” Saturday when he told a radio program the Conservative government wants to extend Canada’s military role in Libya beyond its scheduled end date. The Conservative MP for York-Simcoe was asked about comments made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week, which indicated that Canada would stick with the NATO-led mission until the end. “Yes, it will be our intention to extend the mission for a little bit, at least, and we’ll have to do that by going to Parliament,” Van Loan said on CBC Radio’s The House. “That’s what we have done for the previous motions where we have gained all-party support for the mission, and I think, I’d be optimistic that there’d be good support for that.” an Loan’s director of communications, Fraser Malcolm, later clarified that the MP had “misspoke,” saying that the decision to seek an extension is in the hands of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Defence Minister Peter MacKay, to then be put to Parliament for approval ….”
Libya Mission (2) HMCS Charlottetown crew members share their memories of the mission now that they’re home. “At night, crew aboard HMCS Charlottetown could see and feel the explosive blasts as troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi fired at Libyan citizens within the city of Misrata. “On the flight deck you could feel the vibration from bombs exploding. It would go right through your body,” Ordinary Seaman Ashton Metcalf said Friday, after officers and crew of the warship enjoyed a rousing and emotional welcome home at the Halifax navy dockyard after their six-month deployment ….”
Libya Mission (3) One African’s perspective on Canada’s role:“…. Whether seen as a victory for NATO or the triumph of democracy, Canada has been part of Libya’s success story. This event will go down in history as Ottawa’s contribution to the fight against tyranny in Africa.”
Afghanistan Canadian General says things have to change with training Afghan troops. “…. At one point this summer, the pace of desertions climbed to an annualized rate of 35 percent, though it has since declined. NATO’s training command has developed an extensive plan to attempt to lower attrition further, saying an acceptable goal would be 1.4 percent per month — or about 17 percent a year. July’s attrition rate was 2.2 percent. “If we’re in the same situation in 3.5 years” — when Afghans are scheduled to be in charge of their security — “then we have a problem,” said Canadian Maj. Gen. D. Michael Day, a deputy commander in NATO’s training mission in Kabul.”
9/11 Plus Ten (2) “On Sept. 11, 2001, Angus Watt walked into the Canadian NORAD regional headquarters at CFB Winnipeg at about 7:30 a.m., just back from a two-week leave. A career air force man, he was a brigadier general who, on that day, was the operations officer for the entire air force. Within an hour, one of his staff told him to turn on the news. A plane had struck the World Trade Centre in New York. “Of course, the first thought was ‘What a tragic accident. ‘There just didn’t seem to be any other explanation at the time.” “Then the second one hit.” Within 30 minutes, the operations centre, normally manned by a skeletal crew, was fully staffed. The secure room features display screens that monitor air traffic and connect NORAD and governments. But even with the most sophisticated tracking systems, the military officers were forced to make life-or-death decisions on incomplete information ….”
The Leslie Report/CF Reorg CDS further refines his position on the report.“Canada’s top soldier says a report calling for personnel reductions needs further study to ensure the recommendations won’t hurt the military’s ability to carry out operations. According to media reports, Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie wrote a review calling for savings of $1 billion annually by reorganizing the Canadian Forces and chopping up to 11,000 personnel. Gen. Walt Natynczyk, the chief of defence staff, says while he believes it’s a strong report, he’ll need to consider the impact of reducing the number of full-time reservists or contractors hired to replace personnel sent to serve overseas. Natynczyk says he doesn’t want to implement cuts that will hurt the military’s ability to fulfil its commitments abroad. “I knew the ideas would be novel. I knew the ideas would be contentious and I accept the report,” he said. “From my point of view, it’s a very good report. It’s a question now of parsing through it. What can we do in the short-term? What needs more study? What I don’t want is to recommend a cut to the government that has a second-order effect that affects our operational capability.” ….”
Afghanistan (1)A Canadian General appears to be one of several NATO types who tried to get Afghan military hospital corruption (patients having to bribe staff to food, meds) cleared up(PDF of article here if link doesn’t work). “…. (Afghan army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Sher Mohammed) Karimi was invited to attend an Afghan shura, a traditional meeting, at the hospital with Canadian Brigadier Gen. David Neasmith, the assistant commander for army development at the NTM-A. NATO officials pressed Gen. Karimi to address the problem of staff absenteeism and missing medicine, a U.S. mentor who was present says. But Afghan hospital and army officials who attended the meeting steered the conversation away from such issues and asked for raises and promotions, the mentor says. As weeks passed without progress, the mentors say they assembled more evidence of neglect, including detailed medical charts and photos showing emaciated patients and bedsores a foot long and so deep that bones protruded from them. In an Oct. 4 document emailed by the mentors to Gen. Neasmith, they complained about the hospital’s intensive-care unit, among other issues: “The most dynamic and ill affected is the ICU, whereby favoritism, ambivalence, incompetence coupled with understaffing lead to the untimely deaths of patients daily, occasionally several times per day.” …. By mid-December (2010), Gen. Yaftali, the Afghan army’s surgeon-general, was moved out of his job without explanation—after the coalition’s commander at the time, Gen. David Petraeus, personally raised the problems at the hospital during a meeting with President Karzai, people familiar with the matter said. The hospital has seen major improvements since then ….”
Big military cleanup projects coming to Newfoundland.“The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, along with the Honourable Peter Penashue, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, today announced three new projects valued at $62 million for environmental remediation work at 5 Wing Goose Bay …. Since the Second World War, 5 Wing Goose Bay has had a continuous international military presence, which has brought significant socio-economic benefits and stability for the local communities. The three new projects include the removal of fuel and contaminants from the ground at the Survival Tank Farm, the Former Hydrant Area, and the Dome Mountain sites. Together, these three projects represent $62 million in contracts at 5 Wing Goose Bay, and create 335 jobs in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay community, and throughout Labrador ….” More details in the Backgrounder document here, and in media coverage here.
Libya Mission (1) Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is leaving open the possibility of continuing Canadian military involvement in Libya after the scheduled Sept. 27 end date. Canada’s participation in NATO’s air mission over Libya has been extended once, but the government hasn’t yet said whether it will propose another extension. The NDP, the official Opposition, is against another extension. Asked what happens after Sept. 27, Baird said he’s taking the situation one day at a time. “This is quickly coming to an end. It’s not over yet. Canada will obviously be there in theatre to support the Libyan people,” Baird told (CBC) …. “The end is in sight. We’re not there yet, but let’s take it one day at a time,” he said. Pressed again on whether the troops will return to Canada on Sept. 27, Baird reiterated “the job is not yet complete.” “I would think that once the people of Libya are safe, that’ll be something that we’ll consider,” he said ….” More on this here.
Libya Mission (2) “Canada is heading into high-level talks on Libya this week without formal offers of assistance for the country as it rebuilds after a bloody uprising. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief spokesman says the intent of the meeting in Paris is to determine what the rebels’ National Transitional Council needs. Dimitri Soudas says Canada can contribute in several ways but the international community first needs to co-ordinate assistance. “Before you just start putting things into force and implementing them, you actually have to make sure everyone is going the same direction,” he said in a briefing Tuesday. Mr. Soudas said Thursday’s meeting is also not a victory lap for NATO forces, even as military officials say their sustained campaign is seeing life slowly return to normal in many areas. “The definition of victory is always something that people try to establish,” he said. “Victory to a large extent is democracy in Libya.” ….” If the Government of Canada really means that bit in red, we may be there a while….
Libya Mission (3) Academic: Canada should have own eyes, ears on the ground, not just sharing intelligence from NATO partners. “…. When asked where Canada is getting its information, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, referenced the NATO-led mission in which Canadian fighter aircraft and a navy frigate have been participating since March. “Don’t forget this is a co-ordinated effort,” he said, “and information is shared internally.” Walter Dorn, a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., said he was surprised to hear that Canada doesn’t have anyone on the ground in Libya given the importance the government has attached to the mission, both militarily and politically. “It is critical to have Canadian eyes and ears on the ground in order to make informed decisions,” he said. “We have to evaluate those in charge, provide humanitarian assistance and help build the peace.” ….”
Libya Mission (4) “Canada is looking at how to “unfreeze” up to $2 billion in frozen Libyan assets for re-construction efforts in Libya, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman Dimitri Soudas. The assets were frozen in February following a United Nations sanctions resolution and now Ottawa, following the lead of the United States, is trying to determine whether the money can be released and channelled toward “humanitarian and other needs” to help establish a transition to a democratic government in Libya. Ottawa is “looking at options at how to proceed to unfreeze those assets and for them to be put towards that use,” said Soudas ….”
Libya Mission (5) And for all those calling for a U.N. mission in Libya, this, from the rebels. “Libya is rejecting the idea of deploying United Nations military personnel to help stabilize the country. A 10-page document written by the UN Secretary General’s special adviser on Libya that was leaked and published online recently calls for the deployment of 200 unarmed UN military observers and 190 UN police to help stabilize the country …. that could include monitoring or mentoring police officers. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chairman of the transitional council, said Tuesday he had met a day earlier with NATO officials in Qatar, where it was decided that no foreign soldiers would be needed in Libya. “We decided that we do not need any forces to maintain security, be it international, Muslim or other,” he said ….”
Way Up North (1) Lookit what the South Koreans are up to (hat tip to Mark Collins for sharing this one) “Commercial ships able to route through the Northwest Passage without ice breaker assistance are a step closer to becoming a reality. Korean shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), announced a few days ago that a model of their 190,000 dwt iron ore bulk carrier had finished its test program in the world’s largest – 90 meters long – ice test tank at Canada’s Institute for Ocean Technology (IOT). With an awareness that the traditional ice-breaker bow construction (where the mass of the ship’s bow structure bears down to break up pack ice) acts as a drag on efficient progress in open waters, international collaboration between IOT and Korean researchers from Pusan National University aimed at finding the optimal bow design for a ship operating in various ice conditions. Numerical computer analysis by the team culminated in manoeuvring and resistance performance tests of the model bulk carrier in the special ice-test tank ….”
Way Up North (2) One academic’s view, post-Nanook 2011: “…. one could argue that the senior military leadership views the Arctic (especially in a post-Afghanistan milieu) as a means of further justifying its reason for being. Stated differently, it gives them a mission priority that has the firm backing of the Conservative government in Ottawa. This is critical because it allows the military to make the case to political masters that the defence budget should be insulated from any deep cuts in the rush to balance the books …. It would be better for the military to wrap itself in an Arctic mission (and to secure the requisite procurement) rather than have the Coast Guard squeeze out more money for sovereignty patrols, scientific investigation and a polar-class icebreaker. In short, the Canadian military is perfectly content to play around in the Arctic just as long as the money taps stay open and they can use their training there for other “hot spots” around the world. And if this is the case, you can look for the Canadian Forces to deepen its military footprint in the Arctic.”
Afghanistan (3) QMI/Sun Media editorial: “If there was a truly down moment during Jack Layton’s funeral on Saturday, it was Stephen Lewis praising Layton for wanting to negotiate with the Taliban. And, worst of all, this venture into the absurd got a generous and lasting applause. Can you imagine anyone but the elite left giving a generous and lasting applause to something so offensive and so wrong-headed? Yet, they lapped up the Orange Crush like it was cultist Kool-Aid. How sad is that knowing those same Taliban that Lewis and Layton think would give credence to a negotiated end to their terror have taken the lives of more than 150 of our Canadian soldiers, plus a diplomat, plus a Canadian journalist? And that’s not counting the hell and death they have brought down on the Afghan people. But everybody Rise Up! Rise Up! ….”
Afghanistan (4) I screwed up, missing this film from the CF Info-Machine: “…. You don’t have to wait for a telling, warts-and-all documentary made about one Canadian military experience in Kandahar. Desert Lions: Canadian Forces Mentors in Kandahar is a great piece of reporting and surprise, it’s a Canadian army production. A reservist with the Calgary Highlanders regiment and a former CBC television reporter, Mike Vernon spent several weeks in 2010 shooting footage and collecting stories in the volatile Panjwaii district of Kandahar. This was a hairy time for the Canadian Forces, especially in Nakhonay, the small, Taliban-infested village where Mr. Vernon found himself encamped with nine members of an Operational Mentor Liason Team (OMLT), reservists like himself, assigned to a complex and dangerous mission: To hold Nakhonay while helping “enable” a company of Afghan soldiers, some of them good, some of them awful. All of the men struggled with cultural barriers and stupid military politics, inside a deadly combat environment where the enemy was always present but seldom seen. Scary ….”
Royalizing the CF Survey says….“According to (Harris Decima) Senior Vice-President Doug Anderson “By and large, Canadians agree with reverting to the traditional names for Canada’s Navy and Air Force and only one in ten are strongly opposed to the change. As might have been predicted based on historical evidence, Quebec residents find the lowest level of agreement on this point, but even there, opinion is fairly evenly split.” ….” More from The Canadian Press here.
“Ministers responsible for Veterans Affairs and senior officials from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Germany, Denmark, France and the Netherlands today completed two days of meetings to discuss support for Veterans. Ministers emphasized the need for collaborative research, policy development and programs for Veterans. The meetings were hosted in Ottawa by the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs …. The following statement was released by the Summit participants at the conclusion of the meetings: Honouring and providing services to Veterans is a shared goal around the world. All of our governments have programs in place to meet the needs of those transitioning from military to civilian life. Research is playing a growing part in allowing us to better understand the transition experience. By agreeing to collaborate more closely on common research projects, we will be able to develop improved ways of supporting Veterans throughout their lives ….”
Libya Mission Way to go, what can we do next?“…. Successful intervention takes military muscle as well as political will, and the disposition and the capacity of the Harper government to contribute militarily to the NATO effort was crucial, as has been the active diplomacy of Foreign Minister John Baird. Canadians can take special satisfaction from the professionalism with which Canadian Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard commanded the NATO operation within the constraints of the authorizing UN resolution …. If the aspirations of the Libyan people are to be achieved and the country is not to fall back into civil conflict, the international community, including Canada, will need to stay engaged, less as guarantors of security, although that might be necessary for a little while, but in the long, trying process of state-building. Canada – government, civil society and industry – can help with drafting a constitution, “standing up” a Libyan administration and military, advising on the creation of an inclusive, pluralistic parliamentary system, supporting human rights, and generating economic growth so that young Libyans at last have a future ….”
Toronto Sun editorial on “cutting the CF at the top”: “…. While Sun Media has always respected and supported our troops, that respect and support is targeted mainly on those whose boots go to war, and not those at the top who use the fog of war to expand their bureaucracies for personal insulation …. The Harper government, which has insisted all departments pay a price to bring the deficit under control, cannot look upon DND as an exception. It is one of the biggest ticket items in the federal budget and, if Leslie is to be believed — and there is no reason to doubt him other than his superb timing — there is scads of room to cut. With or without military precision.”
Way Up North Globe & Mail editorial: “…. Canada, despite having a federal government committed to its own Arctic strategy and sustainable development in that largely untapped region, is unprepared for commercial shipping in the Northwest Passage. The infrastructure needed to support such activity does not exist, and there is little sign that will change. (France’s ambassador for the polar regions, Michel) Rochard, a former French prime minister, said he has the “impression that Canada has given up on the competition to attract a large part of the (shipping) traffic in 25 or 30 years.” Russia, by contrast, is actively pursuing the opportunity. It may be that Canadians are content with this situation, as the costs would be substantial and such development would alter the fundamental nature of Canada’s North. But isn’t it at least a discussion we should be having?”
Happy 70th anniversary CFS Leitrim!“Now you see it, soon you won’t. When it was built, the top-secret Canadian Forces Station Leitrim property was nowhere near Ottawa. Urban sprawl has surrounded the intelligence-gathering facility of 500 sworn-to-secrecy staffers in a Greenbelt-ringed suburban landscape. Just as astronomers need darkness to see the stars, signals intelligence pros need quiet to hear the enemy and track their attempts to hack defence computer networks. According to Lt.-Col. Mark Lilienthal, outgoing CFS Leitrim Operations Chief of Staff, there has been some very preliminary talk of building a new facility somewhere else — from scratch. For now, they’re just going to move the road. This just as the facility celebrates its 70th anniversary — officially Canada’s oldest operational signals intelligence station ….”
“Canada’s merchant mariners spent almost half a century fighting for recognition. Now they’re asking for one more courtesy: A badge of pride. The Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans Association is pushing for a small addition to the volunteer service medal, given to former military personnel who actively completed 18 months of voluntary service. They want a silver bar to be added to their medals identifying them as merchant mariners. “It tells people where ever our fellows go, when we wear our medals, that they’re merchant navy men,” said the association’s national president, Bruce Ferguson, speaking in Ottawa on Sunday prior to a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate merchant navy vets. “But we’re running into difficulty,” he admitted. “The government seems willing to do it, but it’s the chancellery of the governor general that controls the issuance of these medals and they’ve not co-operated with us.” A spokeswoman for the governor general’s office said she was looking into the issue, but was unable to get a response by press time ….”
Letter: seeking anyone who helped build Hawker Hurricanes during World War 2.“I wish to contact anyone who worked for the Canadian Car and Foundry Company of Fort William in 1940 and built Hawker Hurricane fighters, which were shipped to England for the Battle of Britain; or any friends or family members, or Elsie MacGill, the chief engineer at the time. The reason for my search is that one such Hurricane fighter was found several years ago in an Indian jungle. It has been restored to flying condition in England and is now entertaining the public at air shows. We are very keen to get in touch with anyone who built those Hurricanes back then, or any of their family or friends …. Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone me at (250) 595-1266. (Signed) Jack Dixon, Victoria, B.C.”
Libya Mission “NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity” says Canada punching above its weight in Libya. “Canadian fighter jets were in the air again this week, striking at the Gaddafi regime’s tanks and artillery, part of this country’s surprisingly substantial contribution to the five-month-long NATO bombing campaign in Libya. As one of three nations carrying out the bulk of the sometimes-controversial air war, Canada with its aging CF-18 fighters has made a contribution clearly disproportionate to the compact size of its air force, say alliance and academic sources. While Britain and France have about three times as many fighter-bombers in the operation as this country and are usually credited with most of the fighting, Canada has been close behind in its role, said a NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity ….”
“New” Libyan diplomat recognized by Canada.“Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird (Thursday) issued the following statement: I am pleased to welcome Abubaker Karmos, appointee of the National Transitional Council (NTC) of Libya, as chargé d’affaires ad interim at the Embassy of Libya in Canada. Mr. Karmos’ accreditation by Canada was completed this morning and he has already assumed his functions ….” In case the name sounds familiar, here’s why: “Former Libyan diplomat Abubaker Karmos, who defected from the Libyan Embassy in Ottawa in February, has been confirmed as the Libyan National Transitional Council’s representative in Ottawa, Foreign Minister John Baird announced Thursday ….”
A Canadian national has reportedly been killed fighting with the anti-regime rebels in Libya. “A Canadian man died on the frontlines of the Libyan conflict this week while fighting with the rebels trying to oust Moammar Gadhafi from power. A friend has revealed that Nader Benrewin was shot dead by a sniper as he took part in a raid on Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, which Libyan rebels stormed on Tuesday. Benrewin, 24, was born in Edmonton, but worked in Ottawa for the past three years, Haitham Alabadleh told The Canadian Press. The Ottawa man made the decision to go back to Libya where his family was living and he pledged to fight with the rebels ….” More from CBC.ca and Postmedia News.
A Canadian “independent journalist” is now free again. “Dozens of journalists, including a Canadian, who were stranded in a hotel in downtown Tripoli by the fighting were released Wednesday. Journalists had been holed up inside the Rixos hotel under the watch of armed men loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi. Among those released from the hotel was Mahdi Nazemroaya, a 29-year-old freelance journalist from the Ottawa area. His friend, Briton Amos, said Wednesday that Nazemroaya left the hotel with the other journalists and was “out of danger.” The Centre for Research on Globalization, for which Nazemroaya works as a correspondent, said in a statement Wednesday that he was safe aboard a chartered boat from the International Organization for Migration. It said Nazemroaya was set to return to Canada ….” Funny, the statement issued by the Centre doesn’t mention the bit I highlighted above in red. I guess that kinda wrecks the “NATO as bad guy” story line, right?
Gwynne Dyer on what (may) happen next in Libya. “…. Britain and France, in particular, have committed a great deal of political capital to the success of the Libyan revolution. They carried out more than half of the air strikes in support of the rebels, while other European democracies and Canada, all NATO members, did the rest. (The United States only contributed surveillance capabilities and occasional Predator drone strikes after the first few weeks.) These European allies need to justify their intervention to their own people, so they will do everything in their power to make sure that there are no massacres, that Gadhafi and his close allies, when caught, are handed over to the International Criminal Court for trial (much better for the stability of the country than trying him in Libya), and that the process of building a democratic government in Libya goes as smoothly as possible. They have a great deal of leverage over the rebel forces at the moment, and they will use it to keep the revolution on the tracks. Despite all the obstacles to a smooth transition that Libya faces, the outcome here could be surprisingly positive.” One hopes.
Way Up North How it’s not all competition and conflict in the Arctic. “…. Together, the CCGS Louis S. St. Laurent and USCGC Healy will map the Alpha Ridge, a 2,000 kilometre-long range of underwater mountains running from the northwest flank of Canada’s Ellesmere Island toward Russia’s (Wrangel) Island. The Alpha Ridge parallels the more famous Lomonosov Ridge, which lies between it and the geographic North Pole. The Healy is equipped with an advanced multi-beam sonar system that provides detailed information about the shape of the ocean floor. The Louis S. St. Laurent carries a sophisticated seismic array that measures the character and thickness of seabed sediments. However, vibrations from icebreaking can affect the accuracy of these instruments. And so the two ships take turns clearing a path for each other, with the resulting sonar and seismic data being shared between the U.S. and Canada. It’s a partnership born of necessity. Neither country has two icebreakers capable of the task, and both require a complete scientific picture of the seabed in order to determine their rights over offshore oil and gas ….”
Senator: Now’s the time to grasp the nettle and close bases to save money. “…. Stephen Harper should take advantage of a moment in Canada’s political history that isn’t likely to come along again for some time: a majority government, with at least four more years in power guaranteed. If the Prime Minister moved quickly, he could put a plan in place that would rationalize Canada’s military infrastructure without paying an enormous price at the ballot box. Harper doesn’t even have to finger the infrastructure that should go – in fact, he shouldn’t. He should instruct his military leaders to do an assessment of what infrastructure is still needed, and what can be eliminated in the interests of efficiency and effectiveness. Once that report was in – and it would be a controversial one no matter what bases and installations were selected for closure – the government should enact it, on the military’s advice. The Prime Minister should make it clear to all Canadians that this is an arm’s-length operation – no interference from the Cabinet or other members of Parliament ….”
Report leaked to Postmedia News Editorial: “…. past attempts to bring needed change had failed because of internal resistance. People in the forces feared the loss of status, power and resources, or increased accountability. That’s not surprising. Any large organization likely faces the same challenge in making changes to increase effectiveness. Many people have a strong vested interest in the status quo and the ability to find no end of ways to delay and impede change …. The expertise of managers in the Canadian Forces, or anywhere else, should be respected. But Leslie, who is leaving the military for a private sector job next month, comes from those ranks. What’s needed is leadership at the very top. In this case, it must come from MacKay and Harper. Our troops – and taxpayers – deserve no less.”
Afghanistan What one Canadian says we could be doing. “…. if we in Canada can find some of the enthusiasm Afghans have for the possibilities education can breathe into the country, we can push for education to be at the fore of rebuilding there. Canada has invested precious human lives and billions of dollars in Afghanistan. What greater legacy could we leave than to advocate for, and invest generously in, a robust public education system that could finally put Afghanistan on the path to peace?”
Helping wounded warriors. “Gary Vienneau has seen first hand how the family is affected when a soldier in the Canadian Forces comes home with an injury. “There are really two casualties – the CF member and the family,” he says. As coordinator of the Integrated Personnel Support Centre (IPSC) that serves communities across Southwestern Ontario, Vienneau has seen first hand the physical and psychological injuries that troops can bring home when they have been deployed. He works closely with a range of service providers that assist with post-deployment transitions, both for the soldier and for their family members ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War The “glass is half empty” assessment of the Joint Strike Fighter project in the U.S.“…. test flights for the newer F-35 were suspended, too, because of a valve problem in the plane’s integrated power package. It’s the third time this year that JSFs have been grounded. Tests may resume as early as next week. Then again, they may not. Yesterday, the U.S. military committed to spending another $535 million to buy 38 more Joint Strike Fighters — a family of stealth jets that are supposed to become the multipurpose, affordable workhorses of tomorrow’s fleet. Ninety percent of America’s combat aviation power is eventually supposed to come from the jets’ three variants. But the jets have been anything but cheap. The current cost for the JSF program is $382 billion and rising for more than 2,400 aircraft. No wonder just about every major deficit reduction plan scales back the JSF effort in some way. And, at the moment, they’re not producing any combat power, either. Back in 2002, the plan was to have more than 90 JSFs flying by next year. As things currently stand, the Air Force and Navy might not get their variants until 2016. The Marines — who knows? ….”
Way Up North “It took a major Arctic military exercise to help thaw old Cold War suspicions between Canada, the U.S. and Russia, according to a Canadian Forces report. And despite an “immense” language barrier, the Department of National Defence heralded the success of last summer’s groundbreaking joint exercise with its former Cold War adversary. The report offers a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes tensions that led up to the historic attempt at military co-operation, dubbed Exercise Vigilant Eagle. It comes as the second version of Vigilant Eagle took place this week in Alaskan airspace. The exercise was originally set for 2008 but had to be cancelled when relations between Russia and the West plummeted after Moscow’s invasion of neighbouring Georgia ….”
CF budget worries (maybe unwarranted)? “A fear is haunting the defence community and the Canadian Forces; fear of deep cuts to the defence budget. These fears are largely unwarranted. The current reductions called for in the 2011 budget are far from unique to Canada. Instead, the cuts follow the example of the United States and Great Britain in calling for restraint and an overall reduction in spending over the coming years. The trepidation throughout the defence community is that we are headed for the massive cuts that defined the so-called “decade of darkness,” but after a close look at the numbers these concerns seem to be largely unfounded. Yet, the budget still hangs ominously as the defence community has already seen budget cuts, didn’t like it and don’t want to go through it again ….”
Kicking War Criminals Outta Canada: Amnesty International’s point to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s counterpoint – more here.
“The government has enlisted Crime Stoppers to help create a large-scale, most-wanted list for fugitives sought for deportation. In an interview with Postmedia News, Public Safety Minster Vic Toews said his department is still in discussions to expand its list of 30 suspected war criminals to become a much broader list for individuals convicted of crimes both in Canada and abroad. Toews said there were a number of things left to consider before the Canada Border Services Agency moves forward with expanding its most-wanted list. “Are there partnerships that we need to establish in order to make this effective? Could we put more than 30 on the list? Could we highlight a few hundred (individuals), for example. What is the impact from a public communications point of view if you put on too many?” he said. Toews said this is where Crime Stoppers, a non-profit organization that solicits the public’s help in solving crimes, comes in ….”
More non-surprises about the C.I.A. keeping an eye on neighbours as well as bad guys. “The Central Intelligence Agency closely tracked Canadian satellite and imaging research during the Cold War as part of the U.S. spy agency’s efforts to keep apace of global technology advances, declassified records show. The CIA saw Canada’s fledgling telecommunications satellite network as an influential project that would set the standard for other nations planning to launch their own systems. The agency also took a special interest in research by an Ottawa university on Soviet commercial enterprises, reveals a still heavily censored memorandum. The records are among several CIA reports and memos dealing with Canada that were released to The Canadian Press under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. The CIA drafted a confidential 1972 intelligence memo on Canada’s Telesat communications system and attended high-tech mapping conferences in Ottawa and Montreal the same year ….”
Libya Mission (1) “The consensus around Canada’s military deployment in Libya looks set to unravel next month, unless there is a resolution on the ground. In late June, the NDP supported a three-and-a-half month extension to Canada’s involvement in the UN-sponsored mission in Libya. But Paul Dewar, the party’s foreign affairs critic, said he would like to see an end to the military mission when the current parliamentary mandate runs out on Sept. 27. “Come the end of the timeline we’ve set in Parliament, I think it’s time to say that’s enough on the military equation for Canada, and that we need to put our focus on the diplomatic and political side, as other countries have done. Norway has just finished its commitment. Canada should be there until September, then we should say we’ve done our bit,” he said …. ” More on the NDP’s GTFO Libya desires here.
Libya Mission (2) “It’s not up to anyone outside Libya to decide what happens to dictator Moammar Gadhafi if he’s forced from power, Canada’s ambassador to the country said Monday. Sandra McCardell, ambassador to Libya, says it’s Canada’s position, as well as that of NATO, that Gadhafi must go. But what happens next is up to Libyans, she told MPs at a briefing to the House of Commons foreign affairs committee. “What transition follows is for the Libyan people to determine. It’s their country and they’re responsible for developing a transitional government,” she said. “It will be up to them to determine their future.” Pushed on the question, McCardell said, “There’s no support for impunity” for Gadhafi, but the terms of an eventual peace settlement will come from the two sides on the ground. “I don’t believe the Libyan people … have any interest in returning [to the system under Gadhafi],” she said ….”
“With three of its four submarines undergoing expensive and delayed repairs, Canada’s role under the waves is the subject of renewed controversy. “We keep hearing from (the Defence Department) that the subs are OK, that they’re gonna be fine, but we’ve been hearing this for 10 years,” said NDP defence critic Peter Stoffer on Monday. “Whoever kicked the tires on these didn’t do a good job, and this is taking money away from other aspects and operations of (the Defence Department).” Canada bought its fleet of four Victoria-class submarines second-hand from Britain in 1998 for $851 million to replace its aging fleet of Oberon-class submarines. Stoffer said that “it seemed like an excellent deal” at the time to increase the navy’s capabilities but subsequent repairs have meant the submarines have spent little time operating ….”
What’s Canada Buying? (2) Why is it so hard to find someone to run & maintain CFS Alert? Maybe this time will be more successful than these other times.
Way Up North (1) GG dropping by Canada’s Arctic. “Governor General David Johnston will make his first official visit to Nunavut on Aug. 15. Johnston and his wife Sharon will visit Iqaluit, Qikiqtarjuaq, Repulse Bay, Kugaaruk and Resolute Bay between Aug. 15-21, said a Rideau Hall news release. “As a vital part of our collective history, there is much we can learn from the Inuit culture,” Johnston said in a statement ….” More in the GG’s statement here.
Way Up North (2)“Canada will lose out to Russia’s Arctic shipping routes because it is too small to finance the infrastructure, France’s ambassador for the polar regions said Monday. Melting polar ice will make Canada’s Northwest Passage more accessible in the next decades, but Canada does not seem interested in exploiting it for shipping, said Michel Rocard, who recently returned from a tour of the Arctic aboard the Canadian icebreaker Amundsen. “I have the impression that Canada has given up on the competition to attract a large part of the traffic in 25 or 30 years,” Rocard said. The former French prime minister said Canada is “too small to finance itself the infrastructure” needed to spur commercial shipping through its Northwest Passage — a shorter route between European and Asian markets than the Suez and Panama canals ….”
PTSD: it’s not just about soldiers. “Diagnoses of an affliction once met with only stoicism and stigma within Canada’s national police force have skyrocketed as commanders encourage officers to seek treatment for post traumatic stress disorder. More than 1,700 Mounties have been diagnosed with PTSD, with nearly 300 officers joining the ranks last year alone. Within police circles, the RCMP’s new-found determination to tackle the disorder has quietly raised questions for policy makers at all levels of government. What can be done to better shield police from trauma? How should panels assess claims for taxpayer-funded compensation? And if police PTSD is truly pervasive, why are other police forces apparently doing relatively little about it? ….”