MILNEWS.ca Blog

Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘John Baird

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 12 Oct 11

leave a comment »

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 4 Sept 11

leave a comment »

  • 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.”
  • A former member of the Guatemalan military who holds both Canadian and American passports and who is accused of war crimes in Guatemala will be extradited to the United States, a Canadian court ruled Friday. Alberta’s Chief Justice in Neil Wittmann ruled that Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes, 53, should be sent to the US for trial on charges of false statements made in government application forms to become a naturalized American citizen ….”  A bit more here.
  • Mid-Canada Line cleanup on Hudson Bay under way.  Crews and local residents in the northern Ontario First Nations community of Peawanuck are teaming up to begin the long-awaited cleanup at a Cold War-era military base. Site 500 is the largest of 16 mid-Canada radar sites scattered across northern Ontario. The base was home to several hundred people who worked at the site when it operated in the 1950s and 1960s. Now the site is home to a small camp of contractors starting the long-awaited project of cleaning up the mess left behind — a junkyard filled with abandoned vehicles, thousands of leaky fuel barrels and barracks with asbestos in the walls….”  A bit of the backstory here.
  • When street names were contemplated for a new housing development in the west England town of Pershore, councillors initially decided to honour several varieties of plums — the main fruit grown in the area, and the focus of an annual harvest festival. But planning officials have squashed that plan in favour of a street-name tribute to about a dozen of the war dead buried in the adjacent Pershore Cemetery — most of them Canadian servicemen killed in accidents at a nearby airfield during the Second World War. Dismissing the proposal to celebrate the Purple Pershore, Pershore Yellow and other plum varieties as “boring and banal,” elected planning chief Judy Pearce has ruled that fallen Canadian airmen such as RCAF Sgt. Ernie Desjardins of Climax, Sask. — who died in the botched landing of a Wellington bomber near the town in 1942 — are more deserving of recognition than the tender fruit farmed in the region ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 3 Sept 11

leave a comment »

  • Libya Mission (1)  Welcome home, HMCS Charlottetown, from “Fighting The Gaddafi Regime” – good to see you and yours back safe and sound – more from the media here.
  • Libya Mission (2)  Canada must help Libya make sure its weapons of mass destruction don’t get into the wrong hands, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Friday …. “There’s significant stockpiles of mustard gas and other chemical weapons that have been secure for a number of years, but we want to make sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands,” Baird said. “So there’s another area where we can help demilitarize a country so hopefully it’ll have a peaceful future.” ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  An editorial isn’t happy with the PM’s speech to the troops in Sicily this week.  “…. it’s well worth thinking about what kind of role we want our nation to have in the world, and how we want to be seen by other nations. With our presence in Afghanistan and Libya — despite whatever good those missions may have achieved — we have still clearly moved from a country best known for supplying troops for peacekeeping missions to a nation willing to ride with countries that see interventionist military missions as the way to go in international affairs. In his own way, Harper referenced that change in his speech as well: “They used to claim that in international affairs, and you’ve heard the quote many times: ‘Canada punched above its weight.’ Well, to punch above your weight, you first have to be able to punch. And that is what you have done here.” It is more than a little unsettling, and Canadians should rightfully question whether this is the direction we wish to head ….”  Note to writer: without being able to engage in full combat operations (translation: being able to shoot and maybe kill if needed), peacekeepers can’t do their job fully. It’s sorta like a cop without a gun – some work is doable, but the ultimate sanction to get all sides to play nice is not there.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (1)  Let’s not forget the Canadians killed in the 9/11 attack ten years ago.
  • 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 ….”
  • Afghanistan (2a)  Combat tour’s still over (via the CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (2b)  Combat tour’s still over (via the CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (3)  Packing Team boss has links to northwestern Ontario.
  • 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.
  • Way Up North  OP Nanook 2011 wraps up.
  • Defence Minister making an announcement in Halifax Tuesday.
  • Helping Kids of the Fallen  More on the Canada Company offering scholarships to children of CF members killed on duty here and here.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 31 Aug 11

with one comment

  • 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 ….”
  • The CF’s Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) is getting a new boss tomorrow.
  • 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.”
  • NATO’s mission boss in Kosovo:  we’re not ready to cut back troops just yet because of violence here.  Canada has five troops there with Operation KOBOLD – stay safe, folks.
  • Afghanistan (1)  Federal Court of Canada to Amir Attaran seeking pictures of detainees:  no photos for YOU! (via Army.ca)
  • Afghanistan (2a)  Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing shuts down (via CEFCOM Info-Machine  news release, 18 Aug 11)
  • Afghanistan (2b)  Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing shuts down (via CEFCOM Info-Machine feature story, 30 Aug 11)
  • 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 ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Vendors aiming to sell the CF a quiet electric snowmobile have a bit more time to send in their bids (via Army.ca).
  • What’s Canada Buying (2)  Wanted:  someone to build a cold storage building in Petawawa.
  • 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 ….”
  • Border Security:  Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird releases two reports on consultation results with Canadians – one here, the other here.  Media coverage:  folks seem to worry about privacy, information sharing/civil liberties (more on that here) and sovereignty (more on that here), while business wants a more open border.
  • Vancouver PD to public:  recognize any of these rioters?  Vancouver police have already received more than 50 tips after launching a website Tuesday aimed at identifying participants in the June 15 Stanley Cup riot. So far, police have posted photos of 40 suspected rioters, and scores more are expected to be added to the riot2011.vpd.ca site over the coming weeks. Police Chief Jim Chu said Tuesday that the riot investigation was proceeding carefully to ensure suspects could be charged with participating in a riot, rather than lesser crimes such as looting or mischief. “We’re not pulling our punches. We’re going for the most serious charges we can give,” said Chu. The first 40 suspects posted to the Riot 2011 website were randomly selected from a group of some 200 unidentified people police are investigating ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 29 Aug 11

leave a comment »

  • 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?”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  MF/HF radios for Victoria-class submarines.
  • 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 ….”
  • On the shores on Onagaway Bay, Japan, stands a monument just metres away from where a foreign airman crashed in 1945. It’s a tribute to the courage displayed on the final mission of the only foreign serviceman to have a memorial on Japanese soil. Such is the admiration abroad for Robert Hampton Gray (VC). “Even though he attacked Japan, Japanese schoolchildren learn of Robert Hampton Gray (VC) due to the Japanese respect for his bravery,” explained Robert Fleck, president of Vintage Wings of Canada. “The problem we have is nobody in Canada has heard of him.” It’s partly to remedy such oversight that Fleck’s organization is in the midst of the Yellow Wings tour, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the creation of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, whose training planes were painted yellow ….”
  • 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 jegd@uvic.ca, or telephone me at (250) 595-1266. (Signed) Jack Dixon, Victoria, B.C.”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 26 Aug 11

leave a comment »

  • 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?
  • Interesting prediction.  “…. events in Libya suggest we may be moving (toward) something very different, perhaps a war that is above and beyond the people. That’s as close as we want to get to raging conflicts. Among the officers I talk with, the strategic thinkers are straining to better understand these scenarios, and what they will mean for Canadian and other forces. No one knows the future, but critical spending decisions have to be made. The current mood strongly suggests that should we again become involved in foreign actions, we will want to rely more on airpower and naval supremacy, while the armies stay home. (Diplomats may also discover their talents are again in high demand.) ….”
  • 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?”
  • Ronald Kevin Megeney, 1982-2007, R.I.P.:  A Canadian soldier says he handled two weapons immediately after a fellow soldier was fatally shot at a military base in Afghanistan in 2007 and noticed that one of the pistols was loaded. Master Cpl. Andrew Noseworthy told the court martial Thursday of former reservist Matthew Wilcox that he was on the opposite side of a partition in a tent watching a movie on a laptop with another soldier when he heard a shot at the Kandahar Airfield. He said he ran around to the other side of the tent where he saw Cpl. Kevin Megeney lying next to his bed and Wilcox kneeling beside him. “I can’t recall what he (Wilcox) was doing,” Noseworthy said ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Finally, all of the U.S. Joint Strike Fighters can fly again.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 10 Aug 11

leave a comment »

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Aug 11

leave a comment »

  • 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 ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  “Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement: “Canada declares all remaining diplomats at the Libyan embassy in Ottawa personae non gratae, effective immediately. This is the latest step Canada has taken to isolate and delegitimize the Qadhafi regime. “These people now have five business days to vacate the embassy and leave the country. “As part of this declaration, we are also cutting off these diplomats’ access to the embassy’s bank accounts.” “
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch  Taliban making hay over downing of Chinook full o’ special forces troops.
  • 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? (1)  Wanted:  someone to determine the latest formula for Post Living Differential allowance and study CFB Suffield’s ecosystem.
  • 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 ….”
  • Way Up North (3)  “It’s taken 15 years and nearly a half a billion dollars, but the curtain is beginning to come down on one of Canada’s largest environmental cleanup projects. By the end of the summer, cleanup at 19 of 21 abandoned Distant Early Warning Line radar sites across the North will have been completed, according to the Department of National Defence ….”
  • 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? ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 5 Aug 11

leave a comment »

  • Nanook 2011  Canada is deploying unmanned surveillance aircraft to the High Arctic for the first time, as part of the largest military exercise ever in the Far North. Catapult-launched Boeing ScanEagle unarmed drones similar to those used by the Canadian army for surveillance in Afghanistan are to assist in a major air disaster scenario in an extremely remote area near Resolute, which is about 3,000 kilometres north of Ottawa. They will also assist in a major maritime disaster exercise being overseen by the Canadian Coast Guard in waters between Canada and Greenland. “It’s precedent setting. There will be small UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) in the High Arctic,” Defence Minister Peter MacKay said in an interview. “They are a harbinger of things to come” ….”
  • Afghanistan  NATO trainers will continue to mentor and train Afghan army and police for years past the pullout deadline of 2014, said Col. Peter Dawe, deputy commander of the Canadian contribution to the NATO training mission. Dawe told Postmedia News that as many as half of NATO’s total training contingent will remain after 2014 to continue their job of helping Afghans build a professional security force that by 2012 will number 352,000 strong, including 157,000 police. NATO’s goal is to withdraw gradually all combat troops by March 2014. There are 132,000 coalition forces in Afghanistan. Building and sustaining Afghan security forces beyond 2014, however, requires continued NATO commitment in Afghanistan, Dawe said in an interview. “You can’t view 2014 as an absolute deadline,” he said. He added however that “it is unequivocal” that Canada’s 950 trainers and support staff, whose main job is to train Afghan trainers, will be gone by 2014. “NATO will continue to be engaged for the long haul,” he added ….”
  • Canada and the United States oppose military intervention in Somalia despite evidence the Islamic militant group al-Shabab is blocking famine relief in parts of the drought-ravaged nation that are under its control. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emerged from their first bilateral meeting on Thursday united in their approach to ending the humanitarian disaster in Somalia and responding to the Syrian regime’s violent crackdown on protesters. “At this time, we are not contemplating military action” in Somalia, Mr. Baird said. “Obviously, both countries have experience from that.” He was referring to the participation of Canadian and U.S. troops in the 1992-93 United Nations-sanctioned effort to clear the way for food and medical aid after the Somali government’s collapse ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  “…. The Department of National Defence (DND) has a requirement for the supply of 24 Chemical Identification System (Chem-IS) kits; Spare Parts and Consumables up to a maximum cost specified in the RFP; Initial Cadre Training (ICT); Repair and Overhaul services for a perod of three (3) years; 24/7 Reachback services for three (3) years; and clearance decontamination. The Chem-IS will be manufactured in accordance with DND’s Statement of Work (SOW). The goods are to be delivered to Canadian Forces Base Montreal, Quebec. Delivery is to commence no later than 9 months after contract award and be completed within 18 months after contract award ….”
  • Convicted war criminal Omar Khadr stunned his longtime Canadian lawyers …. by giving them the boot just months before he is due to be repatriated to Canada from Guantanamo Bay. For years, Dennis Edney and Nate Whitling championed Khadr’s cause, fighting protracted and successful legal battles on his behalf in Canada. His decision to fire them took both men by surprise. “I have no idea what pressures are being placed on Omar Khadr in Guantanamo to make that decision,” Edney told The Canadian Press. “I presume he made the decision with full information and Nate and I wish him all the best.” ….”  More here.
  • Canada has the lowest risk of terrorism among major western economies, says a new global security report. The 2011 Terrorism Risk Index, by the respected British risk analysis company Maplecroft, ranks Canada 86th out of 197 countries. The United Kingdom placed 38th, the highest among major western nations, which Maplecroft attributes to deteriorating security conditions in Northern Ireland, with 25 reported terrorist attacks last year, none fatal. Greece had the worst showing of any western nation, placing 27th with a “high risk” classification. No major western economies, however, fell within the “high” or “extreme risk” risk bracket — the U.S. (ranked 61), Germany (62), France (45) and U.K. all remain in the “medium risk” category. China, meanwhile, ranked 39th ….”  More here and here.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 930 other followers