“GenDyn Canada contracted to connect military to WGS system — General Dynamics Canada is building a network of antenna anchor stations for the Canadian military’s access to the Wideband Global Satellite system. The WGS system is a constellation of communications satellites that provides extra bandwidth for deployed military forces. Canada has signed on for the U.S. and Australian program ….”
Wanted: scientific help to develop really, really tiny things to help detect nasty chemicals “Defence Research and Development Canada – Suffield Research Centre, Ralston, AB has a requirement for the development and testing of nanotechnology based biochemical identification device. A great deal of progress has been realised in the field of nanotechnology-based sensors for sensing and identifying toxic compounds. DRDC has an ongoing research effort to exploit nanotechnologies for sensing applications to monitor the environment for the presence of toxic materials that may present a health and safety risk to the military. The aim of the project is to build and test the performance of biochemical sensing and identification device that exploits nano-wire technology ….”
Wanted:“Temporary Ground Surface Panels …. The Department of National Defence (DND), 440 Transport Squadron, operates Twin Otter Aircraft in remote locations throughout the Canadian Arctic. When landing and taxiing on unprepared surfaces, there are occasions when the ground is not stable enough to support the aircraft which could disable the aircraft from launching and continuing its mission. 440 Squadron currently has no means of recovering a disable aircraft from remote unstable ground situations. Plywood has proven heavy and ineffective. DND has a requirement for six (6) 2m x 4m (+/- 20%) portable composite temporary surface panels effective for self-help extracting of Twin Otter aircraft from remote unstable ground conditions ….”
Libya Mission (2) PM Harper on Libya’s opposition claiming “liberation”:“Today, Canadians join with the Libyan people in celebrating the liberation of their country. “The Libyan people have courageously risen up against decades of tyranny. Canada’s involvement, as sanctioned by the United Nations and led by NATO, has supported their aspirations for the future. “We join Libyans in welcoming the post-Gaddafi era and the transition of the country to a democratic society – one that respects human rights and the rule of law ….”
Libya Mission (3) Meanwhile, on that respecting human rights and rule of law thing…. “…. An official who opened the ceremony at Freedom Square in Benghazi said, “We declare to the whole world that we have liberated our beloved country, with its cities, villages, hill-tops, mountains, deserts and skies.” …. Another formal declaration was made by NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil, who saluted all the martyrs who died in search of this day. He also thanked the Arab League, the UN and the EU. During his speech, delivered to tens of thousands in festival mood, he said that Islamic law, including polygamy, would be upheld in Libya. “We as a Muslim nation have taken Islamic sharia as the source of legislation, therefore any law that contradicts the principles of Islam is legally nullified,” he said, according to Reuters Africa. He called on Libyans to follow the law and not to use force anymore. He asked for tolerance and patience from people as they enter a new era ….”
Libya Mission (4) “The day of reckoning for Moammar Gadhafi — what would be the last day of his life — was in the mission commander’s crosshairs. Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard could have watched, in real time, as the deposed dictator was run to ground in a sewer, yanked bloody but alive from his hidey-hole, and set upon by revolutionary fighters. It was the bloody climax to a long, often second-guessed, campaign. Yet the Operation Unified Protector boss from Chicoutimi took his eyes off the drama, visible to him by sophisticated surveillance technology …. “Was I watching? No, I wasn’t. If I had, then I’m not looking at the whole country,’’ Bouchard told the Star by telephone Sunday from his NATO headquarters in Naples. “The death of Gadhafi was not something that I had included in my strategic planning. To be honest, I was surprised that he was still in Sirte. I thought he was probably somewhere in the southern Libyan desert.’’ ….” More on this here.
F-35 Tug o’ War “Canada’s new multibillion-dollar stealth fighters are expected to arrive without the built-in capacity to communicate from the country’s most northerly regions — a gap the air force is trying to close. A series of briefings given to the country’s top air force commander last year expressed concern that the F-35’s radio and satellite communications gear may not be as capable as that of the current CF-18s, which recently went through an extensive modernization. Military aircraft operating in the high Arctic rely almost exclusively on satellite communications, where a pilot’s signal is beamed into space and bounced back down to a ground station. The F-35 Lightning will eventually have the ability to communicate with satellites, but the software will not be available in the initial production run, said a senior Lockheed Martin official, who spoke on background. It is expected to be added to the aircraft when production reaches its fourth phase in 2019, but that is not guaranteed because research is still underway. “That hasn’t all been nailed down yet,” said the official. “As you can imagine there are a lot of science projects going on, exploring what is the best . . . capability, what satellites will be available.” ….”
German POW internal justice while interred in Canada. “The order filtered down in the summer of 1944: Karl Lehmann was a traitor who had to die. Like other prisoner of war camps in Canada, Medicine Hat, Alta. camp No. 132 had its own internal police force, its own hierarchies and government, its own systems of discipline. Though the camp was guarded on the outside by Canadian soldiers, daily life inside the wire was entirely dictated by the German inmates themselves. After an attempt was made on Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s life that July at his field headquarters in East Prussia, rumours circulated that a revolutionary movement was planning to take over the Medicine Hat camp by force. Canada’s highest-ranking prisoner of war decreed from Ontario that anyone suspected of traitorous activities against the German army was to be identified and killed in a way that looked like a suicide. One of those suspected traitors was Karl Lehmann ….”
Theatre review: “Billy Bishop Goes to War is a 100 percent, pure maple leaf saga. It is the colourful and sometimes controversial story of how an unlikely young man from Owen Sound, Ontario, became Canada’s most famed First World War flying ace after flunking out of Royal Military College of Canada for cheating. The Toronto City Airport on Toronto Island is now named for him ….”
“For the sixth year in a row, friends and families of Canadian troops deployed overseas will be able to send their holiday letters and parcels for free via Canada Post. The program, which started in 2006, has delivered close to 90,000 parcels to members of the Canadian Forces serving overseas in war zones. “Serving your country so far from home is particularly difficult during the holiday season,” said Steven Fletcher, Minister of State (Transport). “With the help of Canada Post, this program has enabled us to bring some extra holiday cheer to our men and women serving this country.” …. With capacity limitations on military aircraft carrying supplies to deployed forces, this program is restricted to family and friends of the deployed service men and women serving overseas in war zones. That includes members of the Canadian Forces serving, for example, in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Sudan, Sinai, Jerusalem, etc. Troops serving on any of the deployed Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships are also included in the program ….” More here.
What’s Canada Buying? Defensive electronics for Chinooks. “The Department of National Defence (DND) requires the equipment and support services to install a Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite (DEWS) Laboratory for the Electronic Warfare Operational Support (EWOS) facility. The EWOS facility is located at the Canadian Forces Aerospace Warfare Centre at the Shirley’s Bay Campus, Ottawa. To provide the necessary operational support for the Medium-to-Heavy Lift Helicopter Project (MHLH), a DEWS laboratory must be established at EWOS ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War More U.S. jitters?“Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told House lawmakers Thursday that he supports the “concept” of a fifth-generation fighter, but he wavered more than any Pentagon official in recent history in questioning whether DoD can afford all three flavors of the F-35 Lightning II. Appearing with Secretary Panetta before the House Armed Services Committee, Dempsey said “I’m concerned about the three variants, whether we can afford all three.” In doing so, the chairman took a dramatically different line from other DoD leaders, saying not ‘We must have the jets and we’ll get their costs down,’ but ‘We need an airplane but we might not be able to buy the ones we’re trying to roll out.’ ….”
Libya Mission Latest ROTO takes first flight downrange. “The CP 140 Aurora aircraft continued to add to an impressive list of firsts, flying its first mission over Libya and its first strike coordination and armed reconnaissance-coordinator (SCAR-C) mission during Operation MOBILE. On 22 September 2011, crew from 405 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 14 Wing Greenwood, flew its first intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission over Libyan soil ….” (via CEFCOM Info-Machine)
“NATO defense ministers are exploring ways Wednesday of ending the alliance’s aerial campaign in Libya and training Afghan security forces for a larger role in their country’s war. In a speech before the meeting, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged NATO member states to cooperate more closely and pool their resources in order to make up for the shortfalls that have plagued the alliance’s operations in Libya and Afghanistan. “It would be a tragic outcome if the alliance shed the very capabilities that allowed it to successfully conduct these operations,” said Panetta, who is making his first visit to Europe after taking over from Robert Gates as Pentagon chief in July. European members and Canada provided most of the strike aircraft used in the Libya campaign. But the war exposed shortages in their capabilities in strategic transport, aerial surveillance, air refueling, and unmanned drones, most of which had to be supplied by the U.S. ….” More on the U.S. poking allies to crank up the military capabilities here.
Afghanistan (3) Editorial: “Part of the rationale for military intervention in Afghanistan was the deplorable state of women’s rights, and the need to free women from the gender apartheid practised by the Taliban. This was a country where women could not have direct contact with men after the age of eight, could not go to school or work outside the home, visit public baths to stay clean, wear nail polish, high heels or be seen in public without a burqa, or a male relative. As the 10th anniversary of the military invasion approaches on Oct. 7, the hard-won gains that women have made over the past decade must be safeguarded. They cannot be sacrificed for the larger goal of ending Afghanistan’s protracted conflict ….”
Provincial politicians use CF search & rescue as provincial campaign lighting rod. “Newfoundland nd Labrador’s premier and the opposition leader say search and rescue services provided by the federal government must be investigated to see if improvements are necessary. Progressive Conservative Leader Kathy Dunderdale said a recent episode of CBC’s The Fifth Estate on search and rescue has left her with concerns about the military’s service. “It is not satisfactory to the people of this province, to the people who earn their living on the sea, to be at further risk because of a slow response time or policies that affect response time in marine search and rescue,” she said. Dunderdale said she plans to vigorously pursue the issue of search and rescue with the federal government. Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward agreed and went further, calling for a full inquiry into federal search and rescue services. Both Aylward and Dunderdale are campaigning in preparation for the provincial election on Oct. 11 ….”
Wounded Warriors, Mental Health & Suicide (1) “For decades, the issue of suicide in active soldiers and retired veterans was something that no one wanted to talk about. But a number of programs both within and outside the military are finally focusing attention on the issue. How big a problem is suicide in Canada’s military? It’s difficult to say. The Canadian Forces reports that the suicide rate among currently active soldiers is actually lower than that of the general public. But once many of those soldiers are released from the military, research shows their suicide risk can rise to higher levels than that of civilians. Assessing the toll can be difficult, because beyond the clear-cut suicides are the more subtle instances in which soldiers end their own lives. A veteran who drinks heavily to dull mental pain might be engaging in a slow form of suicide. A soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder and anger issues might take reckless risks if he’s lost his will to live. And how about the veteran with depression who ends up homeless and dies far too young? None of these deaths would register on the books as a suicide, but all might well be traced back to the soldier’s time in service ….”
Wounded Warriors, Mental Health & Suicide (2) From Question Period (QP): “Hon. John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, last week, the Minister of National Defence and I, along with others, attended a conference put on by the military called “Caring for our Own”. One of the concerns raised by some of the soldiers was the fear that the military would not be there for them in their hour of need. Specific worries included PTSD, suicide ideation and suicide itself. The next budget will be under severe pressure for cutting these “soft services”. Could the minister give the House assurances that our vulnerable soldiers and their families will be protected from these budgetary pressures? Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, my colleague is correct. My friend was in attendance, along with many members who are specifically tasked with how we deal with the scourge of post-traumatic stress and many of the challenges related to overseas deployments. I am very pleased to report that Canada has in fact become a world leader in fighting the stigmatization and raising awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder and other operational stress injuries. As well, we have increased mental health awareness and we have increased the number of mental health professionals who are dealing specifically with these challenges.”
Wounded Warriors, Mental Health & Suicide (3) More from QP: “Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is a great need to enhance suicide prevention programs in Canada. With respect to our veterans, the data is alarming. The suicide rate in the armed services is nearly three times that of the general population. According to a departmental study of all males who enrolled in the regular forces after 1972 and were released before 2007, a total of 2,620 died and almost 700 of them were suicides. Could the minister outline new steps or strategies that his department is undertaking to tackle this crisis among veterans? Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his important question. While mental health was taboo then, it is a priority for our government now. That is why we have established, in conjunction with the Department of National Defence, 17 operational stress injury clinics that provide services to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress across the country and at various levels that they might experience. This approach is working. As of June, Veterans Affairs Canada is helping more than 14,300 veterans with mental health conditions and their families ….”
New fur hats for the troops (and the animal rights activists are unhappy). “The Department of National Defence has decided to add fur to the winter gear of the Canadian Forces, a move that’s getting a frosty reception from animal-rights advocates. The government says fur is part of Canada’s heritage and the winter tuque currently in use doesn’t stand up to the rigours of the Canadian winter. So it’s buying an initial run of 1,000 fur-trimmed caps at a cost of $65,000, for use by guards of honour and Canadian Forces starting this winter …. “There are synthetics that are just as good and that don’t necessitate the killing of animals,” Elizabeth Sharpe of the World Society for the Protection of Animals said from Toronto. “Killing animals for their fur is completely unnecessary and cruel.” Lesley Fox of the British Columbia-based Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals says muskrats are known to chew off their limbs to free themselves from leg-hold traps ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War (1) Defence Minister Peter MacKay, facing questions from the NDP on the upcoming F-35 buy: “These aircraft, as the House will know, will replace our aging CF-18 fleet of fighter jets. These aircraft, like other aircraft, have served our country extremely well. They are used in Libya today. They have been used in previous missions, but that they aging. As a matter of course we are taking the responsible step of following a procurement process that has been in place for a significant period of time in which a number of countries are participating …. We committed $9 billion for the replacement of the CF-18. In fact, it not only includes the cost of the aircraft, this will include: spares, weapons systems, infrastructure and training simulators as well as the contingency associated with this important procurement. We are purchasing the most cost-effective variant at the prime of peak production when the costs will be at their lowest. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer has admitted to that. Why are the NDP members constantly against getting the best equipment for the best forces in the world?”
F-35 Tug o’ War (2) The latest from the Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino: “An overall $9 billion cost estimate is more honest than relying on individual plane costs, says the minister handling the purchase of Canada’s new fighter jets. Despite a promise by manufacturer Lockheed Martin that Canada will get its F-35 fighter jets at a cost of $65 million each, Julian Fantino, Associate Minister of National Defence, says the government’s overall $9 billion estimate is the more honest number. The cost of the F-35 depends on the number of planes ordered by other countries, as well as on how early Canada wants to get its order. The manufacturing cost goes down as more planes come off the assembly line, with Canada expecting the U.S. to absorb the bulk of the F-35’s development costs. “There are just so many variables, and that’s why I think the more honest, ethical response to all these issues is the $9 billion figure, which in fact will be the ceiling that Canada will be investing in these particular aircraft,” Fantino told Evan Solomon, host of CBC’s Power & Politics ….”
Canada’s top military cop to chair NATO committee. “The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM), Colonel Tim Grubb assumed the post of Chairman of the NATO Nations Military Police (MP) Chiefs’ Committee at a brief ceremony last week in Prague, Czech Republic. The ceremony concluded the committee’s annual meeting …. Colonel Grubb has been the CFPM since 2009 and during his tenure has overseen significant transformation in the Canadian Forces Military Police organization ….”
How some of the Americans are doing the War of 1812 anniversary. “Out of the murk of history and the trough of government funding, here comes the War of 1812 again, 200 years old and as ambiguous as ever on both sides of the Canada-U.S. frontier. “The festivities reach a crescendo!” trumpets the Maryland Bicentennial Commission, as if three years of bombarding, cannonading, spearing, shooting, scalping, burning, sinking, drowning, pillaging, invading, retreating, ambushing, marching, fleeing, starving, freezing, and occupying had been a holiday for all concerned. Undeterred by the carnage – after all, the war didn’t kill THAT many guys, compared to, like, Gettysburg or Hitler or whatever – we are going to have “a Star-Spangled tribute to the defense of America” down here, a display at the U.S. Naval Academy of “the British flag captured at Fort York (Toronto),” plus “a week-long maritime event to kick off the bicentennial celebration.” In other words, there are going to be a lot of people in pantaloons hoisting mainsails and firing muskets before this thing is put away for another century ….”
“Canada’s defence department must shed top military brass and bureaucrats today to focus on front-line troops for the priorities of tomorrow: the Arctic, cyber defence, space and special operations, says the author of a controversial report on transforming the armed forces. Retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie told senators on the national security and defence committee Monday it’s time to make “moderately tough choices to invest in the future.” National headquarters in Ottawa has become too bloated and overall structure has too much overhead and “tail,” Leslie said, recommending an administrative overhaul to trim $1 billion by cutting the number of full-time reservists, civilians and officers and slashing by 30 per cent of the $2.7 billion now spent on consultants, contractors and other service providers. “Transformation is all about the future – reducing the overhead and investing in the front-line troops, making the Canadian Forces and Department of National Defence leaner, better able to respond and more deployable,” Leslie said ….” More on this here and here.
Afghanistan (1) A bit more mainstream media coverage of the training mission, or at least part of it. “…. It’s amazing watching …. woman train in that they are not wearing veils and every day fly in the face of what radical Islam sees as the role of women. “They are very brave and we are proud of them,” said Canadian Major General Michael Day, who heads the training program here. “Back in their villages some of them would be killed for just coming here.” Day knows there is a long way to go. But you have to start somewhere. By the end of this year, there will be 195,000 members of the ANA and already in most parts of the country they are taking the lead in security here. Canadians, Americans, Danes, Georgians are here more as trainers and mentors.”
Afghanistan (3b) Tying in the planes with Afghanistan – this again from QP: “Mr. Matthew Kellway (Beaches—East York, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the Department of National Defence continues to spring leaks about the minister’s misuse of DND assets. By now we have all heard that the minister takes government jets like most Canadians take the bus. Now we find out that the Prime Minister personally kept the Minister of National Defence out of the loop on the Afghan war. Why is the Prime Minister defending a minister that he himself has so little confidence in? Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, as I and the Prime Minister have said, we use government assets for government business. That is exactly what has happened. With respect to Afghanistan, we have made a magnificent effort on behalf of Canadians. They can be very proud of the work our men and women in uniform and our professional public servants have put forth in Afghanistan. As a government we have supported them. We have given them the resources. Unfortunately, the member’s party opposite cannot say the same thing …. ” More on the layest QP back & forth here.
F-35 Tug o’ War (1) One reporter doesn’t buy the $65M per plane price tag being promoted by the company.“…. the Pentagon, Lockheed Martin and allied governments around the globe are thinking hard now. The plan could still fly if buyers hang in. But will the bargain prices come true? For a clue, check the Israeli defence budget. The Israelis, like John McCain, know something about fighters, and currently their budget for 20 planes is not anywhere close to $65 million each. It’s more than double that: $137 million each. Perhaps they don’t believe in deals that seem too good to be true.”
F-35 Tug o’ War (2) Meanwhile, the company’s latest estimates? “The F-35s in low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot 4 are expected to exceed their contracted cost target, but fall below the negotiated ceiling price, says Tom Burbage, vice president of F-35 program integration for Lockheed Martin …. The LRIP 4 per-unit cost targets are as follows: $111.6 million (CAD$ 117.7M) for the conventional takeoff-and-landing (CTOL) version; $109.4 million (CAD$ 115.4M) for the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (Stovl) aircraft; $142.9 (CAD$ 150.7M) for the first production carrier variant (CV) ….”
Afghanistan (1) “Canada’s spy agency has been cleared of wrongdoing in connection with the abuse of Afghan detainees. But the Security Intelligence Review Committee raised two issues for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to consider in future overseas operations — even though CSIS operations on foreign soil are limited by law. The spy watchdog chided CSIS for not keeping adequate records and cautioned it to “assess and qualify with care and consistency” the intelligence it receives from agencies that may be party to human rights abuses. It also recommended that if CSIS continues to operate abroad, its standards of accountability and professionalism should live up to those on Canadian soil ….” Since The Canadian Press isn’t sharing the report, here it is at the Security Intelligence Review Committee’s web page (21 pages of redacted PDF) – here, also, is the news release announcing the findings. Also, more from Postmedia News and the Globe & Mail here and here.
Afghanistan (2a) Finally, a bit of news (albeit sounding a bit like a briefing note) from the CF Info-Machine on the training mission under way in Afghanistan! “Captain (Navy) Haydn Edmundson arrived here on 18 July 2011 as part of the initial rotation of the Canadian Contribution Training Mission–Afghanistan (CCTM-A), the task force deployed on Operation ATTENTION to serve with the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A). As Chief of Staff to the Deputy Commanding General–Police (DCOM-Police) at NTMA Headquarters, Capt(N) Edmundson has a prominent role in the training and development of the Afghan National Police (ANP) ….”
Afghanistan (2b) More from the CF Info-Machine on the training mission: “On 23 August 2011, Colonel Peter Dawe, the deputy commander of the Canadian Contribution Training Mission – Afghanistan (CCTM-A) paid a visit to Camp Souter to meet the small but vital team that lives and works there, and tour their facility. Camp Souter is a British support base conveniently situated near Kabul International Airport. The Canadians assigned there work diligently behind the scenes to meet the support requirements of CCTM-A, the large and growing mission deployed with the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A) under Operation ATTENTION. NTM-A is the international effort to help the Afghan national security forces prepare for the transition to full responsibility for security throughout Afghanistan in 2014 ….”
Afghanistan (3) “The Royal Canadian Legion says it will have to debate whether it supports adding Afghanistan to the National War Memorial. Spokesman Bob Butt says it is a matter for the various Legion commands to decide and the subject has yet to be discussed among the organization’s 340,000 active members. A proposal circulated around National Defence last year called for the word Afghanistan and the dates 2001-2011 to be added to the memorial that sits in the shadow of Parliament Hill. The $2.1 million dollar plan included the addition of an eternal flame and a national commemoration ceremony. But a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay says it would be inappropriate to commemorate Afghanistan right now because soldiers are still there on a training mission. Butt initially indicated the Legion favoured revamping the memorial, however he says the matter is best debated among the members when the federal government has a specific proposal ….”
What’s Canada Buying? (1) “Defence Minister Peter MacKay was warned the manufacturer of the air force’s new maritime helicopters might be tempted to cut corners in the rush to get the long-delayed program back on track, say internal documents. “The remaining elements for the interim (maritime helicopter) delivery are all safety related and it is crucial that DND remain diligent to ensure Sikorsky does not take inappropriate risks to keep schedule,” said a Nov. 23 briefing note. The advice came soon after a scathing report by the auditor general, who’d singled out the CH-148 Cyclone program for delays and cost overruns. Less than three weeks after Sheila Fraser’s assessment, U.S. helicopter giant Sikorsky advised the federal government it wouldn’t meet a Nov. 30, 2010, deadline to land the first helicopter for “limited training and operational testing.” Officials vented their frustration in the note, portions of which were underlined for emphasis. It urged both politicians and defence officials to take a deep breath and not get involved in any further debate — or request changes. “It is also paramount that DND not interfere or influence the conduct of activities, as this would provide Sikorsky rationale for excusable delay.” Ottawa’s $5.7-billion plan to buy 28 new helicopters to replace the geriatric Sea Kings, which fly off the decks of warships, have been hit with repeated delays ….” The Canadian Press doesn’t appear to be sharing this briefing note with the public, who may want to see more of the bigger picture of the document.
Canadian Rangers got a chance to share their stories at the CNE in Toronto. “Six Canadian Rangers from northern Ontario told thousands of visitors to a military display at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto what Canadian Rangers do across Canada’s North. “I’ve never talked to so many people in my life,” said Master Cpl. Bill Morris from Kingfisher Lake, which has a population of 420. “People asked us who the Rangers are and what we do. They were pretty amazed when we told them.” The Ranger exhibit, centred around a traditional tipi, helped attract visitors to a large display of military equipment showcasing the army, navy and air force. The display attracted about one million people to it during the 17 days of the CNE, the biggest fair of its kind in Canada ….”
“Canada’s most decorated military hero, the First World War flying ace William Barker, will be honoured next week in Toronto with a gravesite monument aimed at reviving knowledge of his unmatched exploits above Europe’s battlefields nearly a century ago. Barker, a Manitoba farmboy who went on to be awarded the Victoria Cross, three Military Crosses and a host of other medals for his wartime feats, was credited with destroying 50 enemy aircraft in just the last two years of the 1914-18 war. He later became the founding director of the Royal Canadian Air Force – a designation recently restored to the aviation branch of Canada’s military – before dying tragically, at age 35, in a 1930 crash on the frozen Ottawa River while demonstrating a new aircraft in Canada’s capital ….”
Afghanistan (1) Canadian General drops by northern training base in Afghanistan (courtesy of the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan/Combined Transition Command – Afghanistan Info-Machine)“Regional Support Command – North recently hosted a visit by Canadian Army Maj. Gen. Michael Day, the deputy commander for army operations under NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan/Combined Transition Command – Afghanistan. NTM-A/CSTC-A, in coordination with key stakeholders, generates and sustains the Afghan National Security Forces, develops leaders, and establishes enduring institutional capacity in order to enable accountable Afghan-led security. This is Day’s second visit to RSC-N, and during his stop he viewed newly delivered D-30 artillery cannons and the Regional Basic Warrior Training center at Camp Shaheen, near Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan. He also received updates on proposed expansions to the Afghan National Army training facilities ….”
Afghanistan (3) Congrats to all.“Michael Hornburg watched television coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks in his Calgary home with his son Nathan, who had become a reservist only weeks before. The 18-year-old had joined the King’s Own Calgary Regiment while still in high school. That day, Hornburg felt a personal, horrible feeling as his son sat next to him. “I somehow had a premonition that day that 9/11 would touch our family on a personal level, that it might directly affect us,” he said on the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Cpl. Nathan Hornburg was killed in Afghanistan six years and two weeks after 9/11. Nathan had volunteered to go to war. He drove a tank equipped to rescue other vehicles, which he was doing when killed in a mortar attack. “My son’s vehicle had a crane on it, not a cannon,” Michael Hornburg said. “He was typical of a lot of the courage you see in all these military members.” On behalf of his son, Michael Hornburg received the Birchall Leadership Award on Sunday to recognize integrity and responsibility in the Canadian Forces. Usually given to one annual recipient, this year’s award was presented to seven individuals to represent Task Force Afghanistan. “This award is on behalf of all of those wounded or killed,” Hornburg said. “We take our losses as sources of pride. We use them to become better people, not bitter.” Other local recipients included Col. Omer Lavoie, commander of 1 Mechanized Brigade Group, and Warrant Officer David Schultz, a previous recipient of the Star of Military Valour for personal bravery ….” More on the award here (from the Land ForcesWestern Area Info-Machine)
Afghanistan (3) A new Canadian film, Afghan Luke, by the guy who brought you Trailer Park Boys.” “Trailer Park Boys” co-creator and director Mike Clattenburg isn’t offended by the suggestion that a nuanced satirical film on Canada’s role in the Afghan war is a bit of a surprise coming from him. “I guess people would expect me to do crazy, screwball stuff, but we did that for 10 years,” the Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia native tells me in a hotel room in downtown Toronto. “Guys in their underwear and housecoats, drunk trailer park supervisors . . . I’ve been doing that stuff for a while, that stoner comedy. “I was excited to do something I hadn’t done before.” Clattenburg was in Toronto Sunday for the premiere of his new movie “Afghan Luke” at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Afghan Luke” tells the story of ambitious journalist Luke Benning (Nick Stahl) who goes rogue in Afghanistan after his editor spikes a story on Canadian snipers who may be cutting off the fingers of their kills in the country. While that’s the synopsis, what follows is much more of satirical tale of loosely collected stories of a strange and distant land that cannot be understood, let alone tamed by Western military powers. As Clattenburg puts it, it’s “80 per cent drama, 20 per cent comedy.” ….” Already some discussion of the film (mostly based on the trailer and advance media) at Army.ca here.
F-35 Tug o’ War (1)More of what’s coming came out of Canada’s Defence Minister meeting with Australia’s. “Australia and Canada share a common concern that the new Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) will be delayed, possibly requiring acquisition of an expensive interim air combat capability. To present a united front, Australia and Canada will now conduct top level talks on procurement and capability issues of mutual concern. As well as JSF, that will also touch on submarines, with both Australia and Canada experiencing big problems on maintaining submarine capability. Visiting Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Canada wasn’t backing away from plans to acquire 65 JSF aircraft but shared all of the same concerns as Australia. He said the good news was that the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant of JSF, to be acquired by both Canada and Australia, was progressing well, unlike the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) and carrier variants. “We are purchasing them at a time when they will be in peak production around 2014-15. Our fleet of F-18 Hornets will have to be taken out of use in 2017,” he told reporters. “So there is a degree of urgency for us when it comes to this procurement being on time and being on cost.” …. Defence Minister Stephen Smith said he and Mr MacKay had agreed to conduct a regular strategic dialogue on shared procurement, acquisition, capability issues. He said he was very concerned that delay in JSF meant it was rubbing up against the Australian schedule for retiring older F/A-18 Hornets around the end of the decade. “I have always been of the view that this project will get up because the US is absolutely committed to the capability,” he said. “But the risk for Australia and other partners like Canada is on the delivery side, on the schedule side and also on the cost side.” ….” Nothing on the visit on Minister MacKay’s site yet – a nice picture, though.
Border Security (1) “It may seem heartless to put a price tag on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people and affected the lives of so many more. But economic implications of that event and of the ongoing battle against terrorism cannot be ignored. While the United States incurred the lion’s share of costs related to 9/11 and the security measures – including military interventions – that came after, Canada has also coped with economic consequences. For the most part, the harm to Canada is manifest in impediments to trade ….”
Border Security (2) “Glass is half full” view of border security talks between Canada, U.S.: “…. The goals of the initiative are pragmatic, not theoretical and the results need to be tangible and mutually beneficial. Success is not preordained but Canada should never refrain from bilateral agreements carrying the greatest potential for reward. With clear and consistent political will from the top and healthy doses of imagination and determination from officials, innovative solutions can be agreed that will serve the interests of both parties.”
Border Security (3) “Glass is half emtpy” view of border security talks between Canada, U.S.: “…. The protection of privacy is the subtly acknowledged elephant in the room in these discussions. In the past few years there have been two commissions of inquiry on cases in which the privacy rights of Canadians were violated by the sharing of information with the United States. The men affected became guests of nasty regimes with life-changing consequences for them. Both the Auditor General and the Privacy Commissioner have added their voices on the need for greater privacy protections. This government and previous ones have ignored recommendations for changes and have been reluctant to improve existing protections by updating the out-of-date Privacy Act of 1983. If Canadians are not vigilant they may soon discover that the Americans have more control over their privacy rights than we do at home.”
Royal Canadian Artillery: Helping prevent avalanches for 50 years. (via Army.ca) “Canada Command honoured the centennial of Parks Canada and the 125th anniversary of Glacier and Yoho National Parks with the presentation of three retired 105 mm Artillery Howitizers at the Rogers Pass Discovery centre at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10 in Revelstoke, B.C. The guns are on display at the Rogers Pass as monuments and memorials in recognition of a half-century of avalanche control operations to protect the Trans-Canada Highway and the railway through Glacier National Park ….” More from The Canadian Press here (YouTube video).
“While 9-11 highlighted the bonds between Canada and the United States, another major anniversary will mark just how the two countries decided to become friendly in the first place. The Conservative government is gearing up to announce its bicentennial plans for the War of 1812, a major undertaking that will have Canadians reaching into their high-school memory vaults and municipalities vying for cash to spruce up their historical landmarks. “It has led to 200 years of peace between Canada and the United States,” Heritage Minister James Moore said in an interview. “We’re two countries with two very different identities and we obviously disagree from time to time, but we have the longest border and the most successful neighbouring relationship of probably any two countries in the world … and all of that started with the end of the War of 1812 and it’s something to be recognized.” The conflict, which lasted until 1815, pitted the growing United States against British forces mostly in Upper and Lower Canada. The U.S. had grown weary of British naval blockades hampering their trade abroad, and of First Nations armed by the British Empire stunting their expansion into the northwest of the continent ….”
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 ….”
DefMin MacKay in Brussels for NATO Meeting (1) – He’s back from a defence ministers’ meeting with this to say about Libya:“…. “Since the crisis began in Libya, Canada has been actively engaged in responding to requests for evacuation and for humanitarian assistance,” said Minister MacKay. “Canada has also emphasized the importance of NATO planning, so the Alliance can stand ready to respond to humanitarian crises as required.” Minister MacKay informed Canada’s allies that Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Charlottetown is joining the NATO Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR, patrolling the Mediterranean Sea in response to the crisis in Libya. The ships of NATO and other like-minded nations will be monitoring shipping and providing a maritime presence during this time of ongoing instability in North Africa. “Canada is standing with our allies to monitor the current situation in North Africa and will keep working with our allies as the situation continues to develop,” said Minister MacKay. “The versatility of HMCS Charlottetown and her crew allows Canada to be ready at a moment’s notice to carry out humanitarian missions and whatever mandate the international community calls for.” ….”
NATO’s read of what happens next in & around Libya: “NATO Defence Ministers …. agreed to increase the presence of NATO Maritime assets in the Central Mediterranean using ships from two of NATO’s Standing Maritime Groups. “It has been decided to increase the presence of NATO maritime assets in the Central Mediterranean under the command of Supreme Allied Commander Admiral Stavridis, “said the Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in a news conference following the meeting. “These ships will improve NATO’s situational awareness which is vital in the current circumstances and they will contribute to our surveillance and monitoring capability, including with regard to the arms embargo established by the UN Security Council Resolution 1970”. Admiral Stavridis will determine the number of ships required to provide this enhanced presence and it is expected that these ships, drawn from the Standing NATO Maritime Group and the Standing Mine Countermeasures Group, will begin moving to the region in the very near term. Defence Ministers also agreed to have more detailed planning options for humanitarian assistance and support to the arms embargo. “We have also directed NATO military authorities to develop, as a matter of urgency, detailed planning with regard to humanitarian assistance and , provided there is a further UN Security Council Resolution, more active measures to enforce the arms embargo”, the Secretary General highlighted. The topic of a possible no-fly zone over Libya was also discussed and it was agreed that further planning will be required in case NATO were to receive a clear UN mandate ….”
DefMin MacKay in Brussels for NATO Meeting (2) – He also did a bit of work with the Americans there as well.“…. While in Brussels, Minister MacKay and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates also took the opportunity to sign a joint Statement of Principles for a Space Situational Awareness Partnership, building on the long history of close defence cooperation between the two countries ….” What are those principles? Here’s what they were when Australia signed on to the partnership in November of last year.
NATO DefMins on Afghanistan: At the same NATO defence ministers’ meeting, the gang decided on which areas in Afghanistan can be protected by Afghan security forces. Here’s the NATO-speak version: “….Ministers took a crucial step towards the implementation of Transition – the process by which security responsibility for Afghanistan is gradually transferred to Afghan leadership. The recommendation will now be conveyed to the Afghan government to decide on the areas that will initiate transition. Transition will commence only once it has been approved by the Afghan government and announced by President Karzai. They endorsed the recommendations of the Joint Afghan NATO Inteqal (Transition) Board for the first areas to be transitioned to Afghan lead. In doing so, NATO has taken its own decision to move to Phase 4, or the Transition Phase of the operation, in those recommended areas ….” Here’s the easier MSM version: “NATO defence ministers on Friday endorsed a list of the first cities and provinces where Afghan police and soldiers will take control of security — a key element in the West’s exit strategy from the decade-old war. The areas include the provincial capitals of Lashkar Gah, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, as well as all of Bamiyan and Panshir provinces, and Kabul province except for the restive Surobi district. The list was provided by officials and diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue ….”
Lasers, even the hand-held ones, are not a joke – they CAN damage peoples’ eyes. “A 26-year-old man accused of pointing a green laser at the Winnipeg police whirlybird says he didn’t realize it was dangerous. Sheldon Friesen had just wrapped up a shift as a cook early Thursday and noticed a helicopter circling near his West End street. He said he recently bought a laser pointer with a green beam for 99 cents on eBay and wanted to test it out. “Just to see the distance. You point it up into the sky and see the beam go forever. I don’t know how far forever is, so I see something in the sky that’s worth reflecting, well why not?” he said. Friesen got something of an answer — fast. From about 1,000 feet up in the sky, the police chopper crew quickly zeroed in on a suspect with a laser, while officers on the ground were dispatched to the 200-block of Toronto Street. “There was about three cars in about five minutes. They weren’t really impressed. They were trying to figure out why I did it,” Friesen said. “It was supposed to be for simple entertainment rather than having to cause someone danger like that.” ….” More on this from the Winnipeg Free Press here.
Project management in Afghanistan appears to be very different than project management taught in business school. “In 2002, while I was studying project management at the École des hautes études commerciales in Montreal, I never imagined that I would someday apply the principles I was learning to a counter-insurgency campaign in the heart of one of the most volatile regions of Afghanistan. After only two weeks here, Lieutenant-Colonel Michel-Henri St.-Louis, commander of the 1st Battalion Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group, informed me of the full scope of the mission that would be my main effort for the coming months ….”
Meanwhile, a Canadian General checks out how projects are working out. “…. The alliance has also helped the Afghan Border Police build a new battalion headquarters on a vast, empty plain a couple of kilometres from the frontier, which follows the Durand Line, a British creation in the 19th century that few Afghans recognize. It was to check on construction at that new base in an area long notorious for smuggling and to see how some Afghan police officers at isolated checkpoints were faring that Brig.-Gen. Andre Corbould, of Edmonton, deputy commander of Regional Command South, had travelled more than an hour down a muddy, outrageously bumpy track in a U.S. army convoy. Leading what the military calls a “battlefield circulation” was Col. Jim Edwards, a career intelligence officer from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, who commands U.S. forces in Spin Boldak. Along the way, the officers met Afghan construction engineers who told them of threats from the Taliban, who accused them of building the border police base for American troops, although none was going to live there. “I told them I am an Afghan and I am building this for Afghanistan and not for Americans,” the chief engineer said. Searching for Afghan flags and only spotting one, Corbould suggested an easy way to help brand the base as Afghan would be to fly a lot more Afghan flags ….”