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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 5 Apr 11

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  • Election Promises (1) A Liberal government would restore full university status to the Royal Military College in St-Jean, Que., the party said Monday. If elected May 2, the Liberals would immediately invest $25 million to pay for infrastructure to boost the campus from what is now a CEGEP-level facility, to university status ….”
  • Election Promises (2)Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff pledged Monday to deliver a two-year $120 million plan to help Canadian military veterans return to school and find work. Ignatieff, backed by local candidates and a couple of veterans, said the plan would be increasingly important in the near future with thousands of Canadian soldiers returning from the mission in Afghanistan. “We get a lot of veterans coming home and end up on the street,” Ignatieff said. “One of the things I want to do is make sure those brave, young Canadians get the education that allow them to get the great jobs of the future.” ….” Liberal Party statement here, a critique of the pledge here.
  • Election Promises (3)  Blogger Mark Collins quickly sums up the Liberal’s defence platform (hint:  there’s a reason he can do it quickly).
  • Libya Ops  Columnist says it’s time for Canada to GTFO Libya. “…. this has now become a matter of power and prestige for the U.S. It is no longer about enforcing a UN resolution. It has, instead, become a showdown between America and Gadhafi. Canada was quick to deploy fighter jets and to take overall command of the NATO-led, UN-sanctioned no-fly zone. However, now that this situation has quickly morphed into yet another American intervention in yet another oil-rich Middle Eastern quagmire of tribal warfare, it is time for us to cut bait.”
  • Meanwhile, in AfghanistanThe Arghandab River is barely a trickle as Claude Desilets scrambles down the bank to inspect recent repairs on the Dahla Dam water network — arguably the most important infrastructure project in southern Afghanistan. Of particular interest are recently installed gates at the diversion weir, a vital control point for the entire irrigation system Canada is spending $50 million to refurbish. While the river lapping at the gates is currently more reminiscent of a lazy creek, Desilets knows big changes are coming. “In a week, all of this will be under water,” he said. The project field manager notes the traditional agricultural season in Kandahar province is set to begin, at which point the Dahla Dam reservoir 17 kilometres to the north will begin unleashing its contents into the Arghandab ….”
  • More on how the Government of Canada wants one of the probes into how Afghan detainees were treated to exclude non-military sources here (Toronto Star).
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  The company says things are looking good for the new jet. “Lockheed Martin Corp said on Monday it made considerable progress on testing three variants of the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the first quarter, conducting 57 more test flights than planned. Lockheed said the short takeoff version of the new radar-evading fighter, put on probation by Defense Secretary Robert Gates for ongoing technical issues, logged 61 vertical landings in the first three months of 2011, six times more than the 10 landings done in all of 2010. The F-35 test program remained ahead of plan, despite a dual generator failure on March 9 that grounded the entire U.S. fleet of 10 F-35 fighter planes for 4 to 15 days during the quarter, the company said. “The vector is moving in the right direction,” said Lockheed’s F-35 program manager Larry Lawson ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) As an American, I am extremely reluctant to presume to offer Canada advice on how to proceed with the purchase of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. However, the airplane is the culmination of such malevolent trends in my own country that I believe all allies and neighbours should be warned about going down the same path ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Anyone interested in providing professional services for designing/building new honkin’ ships for the CF gets a bit more time to submit a bid (via Army.ca).
  • Remember how the CF’s top cop would be getting more control over some parts of the military police apparatus (fourth item)?  Here’s the CF’s new fact sheet on what the new organization looks like.
  • I’m.  NOT.  Making.  This.  Up. A second military court martial is being convened against a Canadian Forces seaman accused of disgraceful conduct after a prank involving a glass of milk and a sailor’s penis. The unusual case happened aboard the HMCS Nanaimo when the coastal defence vessel was visiting Seattle in 2009. A leading seaman in the ship’s mess poured the last of the chocolate milk; mess protocol dictates he refill it. Master Seamen W.L. Boyle told him to refill it and the sailor of a slightly lesser rank said he would do it after lunch. An argument ensued and the junior sailor left, presumably to get fresh milk. While he was gone, MS Boyle took the glass of milk, unzipped his overalls and, according to one witness, inserted his penis into the drink, swirled it around and returned the glass to the table. The sailor was warned by a shipmate not to drink it. MS Boyle was charged with disgraceful conduct and conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline, under the National Defence Act, which he was found not guilty of almost a year later. The military appealed, however, and won a retrial on the disgraceful conduct count ….” The Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada decision is here.
  • A bit of a reminder from a Sun Media columnist. “Canadians are not capable of terrorism. We are the mild mannered and polite people of the Great White North who apologize to furniture when we bump into it. Surely we are not a nation capable of producing people who are willing to kill innocents in the name of an ideology. Reality, however, tells another story. There is a long, disturbing list of Canadians who have been arrested on terror charges both at home and abroad. Many have been convicted, Canadians with darkness in their hearts and violence on their minds: Members of the Toronto 18, Mohammad Momin Khawaja, Mohammed Jabarah among them. Since August 2010 alone, five Canadians have been arrested on terrorism charges. Yet Canadians continue to delude themselves into believing that terrorism doesn’t exist here, that every arrest is an aberration and that Canada is somehow an island in a world of instability ….”
  • Speaking of which….The Toronto family of a young woman who has sparked an international panic over her sudden travels to Somalia says that she has called home to tell them that she is not affiliated with terrorists. “Based on direct contact with her, they are assured she is safe with family in Somalia and that she is not with al-Shabab,” a source who spoke to the woman’s close relatives on Monday told The Globe and Mail. He asked that neither he nor the family members be named ….”
  • A Spanish judge has issued an international arrest warrant seeking the extradition from Canada of a former Guatemalan soldier suspected of involvement in a brutal 1982 massacre during Guatemala’s civil war, a court official said Monday. Judge Santiago Pedraz ordered the arrest of 53-year-old Jorge Sosa Orantes for his alleged role in the massacre in the village of Dos Erres in 1982 in which more than 100 people died, the court official said. Sosa faces charges of crimes against humanity, according to the court official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with policy. The more-than-three-decade civil war in Guatemala claimed at least 200,000 lives before it ended in 1996. The U.S.-backed army was responsible for most of the deaths, according to the findings of a truth commission set up to investigate the bloodshed Sosa has been in custody in Alberta since January on U.S. charges of lying about his role in Guatemala’s war when he applied for American citizenship in 2008. He lived for many years in Southern California, working as a martial arts instructor ….”
  • How some troops in the Dominican Republic seem to be supplementing their wagesA dozen soldiers in the Dominican Republic have been arrested in an alleged plot to ship cocaine to Canada in a child’s suitcase.  Prosecutor Elvis Garcia says the 12 soldiers include a lieutenant colonel. Eight work with the national anti-drug agency at the airport in Puerto Plata and four with the airport security agency. Two civilians have also been arrested.  The arrests stem from the discovery last month 33 kilograms of cocaine in the suitcase of a Canadian child at the airport. The girl was traveling with her parents to Toronto ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 11 Mar 11

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

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 10 Mar 11

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  • How many Canadians have GTFO Libya so far? This from the PM’s chief spokesperson:  “More than 650 Canadians have departed from Libya since the beginning of the crisis.”
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • A popular learning centre in Kandahar City has received new financial backing from the Canadian government, temporarily ending fears that the facility might have to close. Though less than half of what facility directors requested, the $250,000 grant from the Canadian International Development Agency will allow classes to continue at the Afghan-Canadian Community Center. An announcement of the funding was made this week at a ceremony to mark International Women’s Day. The centre, though catering to both male and female students, is an especially important educational outlet for Kandahari women and girls who often risk their lives to go to school, centre director Ehsanullah Ehsan said ….”
  • Psychological Operations:  (Sorta kinda) “the marketing arm of the military”
  • U.N. stats (PDF report here) say 3 out of 4 civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2010 were caused by insurgents.  The Canadian Press’ take on the report: “More Afghan civilians were killed in Kandahar than any other province last year, while counterinsurgency operations within Canada’s area of command resulted in “large-scale” property destruction, the United Nations said Wednesday.  The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan called on both NATO and insurgent forces to strengthen their efforts to protect Afghans as it released a report examining the severe toll the war has exacted on civilian lives and livelihoods …. It said NATO forces were careful in avoiding civilian casualties in Kandahar, but clearance operations in districts under the command of the Canadian military were singled out for leaving behind “large-scale” property destruction.  “Elders’ fears that the Kandahar operations would involve the destruction of homes, crops, and irrigation systems were realized,” the 85-page report said ….”
  • More work from Canada’s war poet Suzanne Steele “limerick from OFMIK (our former man in KAF)”
  • Remember how keen border state Senators were last month about getting military radar to keep those little planes full of drugs out of the U.S.?  It appears they might be getting (at least some of) what they seek. “The US government will place military-grade radar along the border with Canada to thwart low-flying aircraft used to smuggle illegal drugs onto US soil, senators who sought the deployment said Wednesday …. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said Napolitano had indicated during a Senate Judiciary Committee that she was working to deploy the radar and called it “a critical step in the right direction.” …. In the hearing, Napolitano herself stopped well short of explicitly announcing such a step, though she did agree with Schumer that such a deployment would be a good idea.  She assured Schumer that her department was “working with” the Pentagon and the US military’s Northern Command “on radar and other related issues and technologies in efforts on the northern border.”  Asked whether that meant the deployment would go forward, Napolitano replied “this is moving very rapidly.” ….” More on this from American media here and here.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1) New (Military) Police Academy (~$29 million), and Pockets on Sleeves
  • What’s Canada Buying (2) Remember late last year, when Canada was going to explore adapting the designs of recently built naval fleet replenishment ships that are operating with other NATO Navies”?  Well, let’s try again, shall we?  This from MERX (via Army.ca)“…. Canada has a requirement to assess two NATO Navy ship designs to determine their viability in relation to the Canadian Navy operational requirements for naval fleet replenishment SHIPS: a. the Berlin Class; and b. the Cantabria Class Canada intends to award two separate contracts, one to ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada Inc. (TKMSC) and the other to Navantia, S.A. (Navantia) to conduct Risk Reduction Design Studies (RRDS) for each design. This will enable Canada to ascertain the feasibility and affordability of adapting these designs to meet Canadian requirements. Canada is deploying a team of government representatives to shipyards in Germany and Spain to perform the RRDS and a follow-on Detailed Design Activity (DDA) ….” Link above contains some downloadable bid document details – more from MERX here, and from the Canadian Press here.
  • More on Canada’s (still being-waited-for) new helicopters for the CF (hat-tip to Mark Collins for sharing this one): Sikorsky could deliver the first of Canada’s much-delayed CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters this month, said president Jeff Pino yesterday at the Heli-Expo show in Orlando. The initial helicopters will not be fully compliant with the Canadian requirement, but will allow training to begin ….”
  • Buzzword Watch:  What do CF wordsmiths call it when Reservists come home from Afghanistan to be greeted by the PM and Defence Minister?  “Reintegration”