MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 21 Sept 11

  • Libya Mission (1a)  Three more months?  “Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he believes that the Canadian Forces will be able to wrap up their mission in Libya “well before” their next three-month mandate is over. Mr. Harper will ask the House of Commons this week to approve a three-month extension after NATO countries agreed to stay with the mission beyond the Sept. 27 deadline, but he said Canada’s goal is to wipe out the remaining threat of pro-Gadhadi forces and it should be over sooner ….” More from CBC.ca here and The Canadian Press here.  The PM’s officialese statements here and here.
  • Libya Mission (1b)  Here’s how the PM’s official statement put it:  “Canada has been at the forefront of international efforts to protect civilians in Libya against the oppressive Gaddafi regime and provide them with humanitarian assistance …. Canada will continue to support the people of Libya, standing ready to promote effective governance and institutions, a secure environment founded on the rule of law, economic development and prosperity, and respect for human rights.”  More in the “Lookit everything we’ve done” bit here.
  • Libya Mission (1c)  Softball question from the Conservative backbenches to the Parliamentary Secretary Deepak Obhrai, with a well-messaged response:  Mr. Peter Braid (Kitchener—Waterloo, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the situation in Libya this past summer has seen the toppling of the Gadhafi regime and the emergence of a real democratic hope. However, despite these gains we recognize that the situation does remain unstable. Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs please update the House on the situation in Libya?  Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, today the Prime Minister attended the high-level meeting on Libya at the United Nations chaired by the Secretary-General. Canada has been at the forefront of the international effort to protect civilians in Libya against the oppressive Gadhafi regime. Canada stands ready to support the new Libyan government through the UN coordinated efforts committed to helping the people of Libya.”  Far better than when he said Afghanistan wasn’t really a war, but more like “providing a secure environment in a country in which there was a complete loss of security.”
  • Afghanistan (1a)  Former president, head of the Afghanistan High Peace Council and, in some eyes, warlord hard man Burhanuddin Rabbani killed by a explosives-packed turban on a suicide bomber.  Here’s Postmedia News’ take on what the killing means, and here’s the PM’s condolences (noticeably longer than these condolences from Canada’s envoy to Afghanistan for an even tougher warlord).
  • Afghanistan (1b)  Here’s former OMLT-eer Bruce Ralston’s take on the Rabbani assassination“There’s no question the Taliban’s improvement in their pursuit of “high value targets” this year has mirrored, if not exceeded the coalition’s.”
  • Afghanistan (2)  The combat mission in Kandahar is over, but Force Protection Company is still keeping busy (via CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (3)  Canadian General bearing still-useful leftovers for the Afghan National Army (via CF Info-Machine).
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (1)  Opinion, from a former subordinate George Petrolekas:  The CDS can’t get the work done on Air Canada that he can get done on a military executive jet.
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (2)  Opinion, from Senator Colin Kenny“…. General Walter Natynczyk, Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff, has been skewered by simplistic reporting this week. He is right to be indignant, wrong to be surprised, and out of luck if he thinks many in the media are going to stop and put everything in perspective ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (3)  Opinion, from QMI/Sun Media columnist Joe Warmington “Only in Canada would you see our top soldier sucker-punched in this way. Gen. Walter Natynczyk has looked into the crying eyes of the parents of many of the 157 hero warriors killed in action in Afghanistan, and now the same people who condoned millions for a fake lake and a giant fence are worried about our top soldier’s travel expenses? Only coming out of NDP critics could such hypocrisy reign. It’s funny how we have taxpayers’ money for their leader’s state funeral but we must count every penny for the man leading our troops, not in peace time but in the middle of war ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (3)  Opinion, from QMI/Sun Media columnist Charles Adler “…. So what about this trip to the Caribbean? Natynczyk had spent the previous two Christmases with our troops serving in Afghanistan. He was about to miss a much-deserved holiday with his family in order to pay respects to more of our fallen soldiers at a repatriation ceremony. The minister of defence ordered him to join his family, and approved the use of the jet to get there. It was a classy move on Peter MacKay’s part, and was completely justifiable ….”
  • “No” to expanding the Mo’?  “Canada’s bloated military bureaucracy has consistently defied explicit orders from government ministers to increase the size of the army militia as directed. The accusation is made in a scorching but carefully documented report by pre-eminent military scholar Jack English for the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and obtained in advance of its release Wednesday by only a few media outlets, including Postmedia ….”
  • DND changing how it funds research. “The Department of National Defence is changing how it pays for public research on the military, cutting funding by 80 per cent and moving to a new “agile” model that would mimic private consulting, according to scholars involved. By doing so, many of them charge that the department is squeezing the lifeblood out of almost three-quarters of research centres across Canada that are supported by the program, known as the Security and Defence Forum. DND, however, says it is only acting in the best interests of taxpayers. It says the move will transform the way it interacts with military experts, ultimately providing better value. Directors of the SDF, a decades-long effort by the government to link the military and universities to foster debate and research on security and defence issues, were disappointed to learn in July that their $2.5-million program would be shut down and replaced with a $0.5-million successor. They say DND will likely forge the new program into a system where it can commission work quickly, drawing in expert analysis on current affairs, or on subjects that immediately interest the government ….”
  • Somalia’s PM, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, is in Canada, asking for help (including military help)  “(Q) You spoke of the need for more military and police trainers in Somalia, and suggested this is an area where Canada could specifically contribute. Aren’t there already such trainers in Somalia? (A) No, we don’t have those. Not inside Somalia. The European Union is providing some training for the Somali national army. They are training outside the country but we don’t have American, British or Canadian trainers. We need these because security institutions are essential to law and order. We also need logistical support – communication, transportation, even providing salary in the short term – so that once we have a bigger, broader tax base we will be able to provide salaries for our soldiers. We need a lot of financial help.”  More from the Toronto Star here, and Agence France-Presse here.  Given Canada’s military track record in the country (let’s also remember this was a case a small number of very, very, very bad apples making the whole group look bad), this might be hard for the government to sell and message – we’ll have to wait and see what unfolds and how.
  • What’s Canada Buying: Big Honkin’ Ships Edition  Getting ready for mo’ shipbuilding work on the east coast.  “A baker’s dozen of employers and the Dexter government have contributed more than $400,000 in cash and equipment to double the number of metal fabrication students at the Nova Scotia Community College this fall. An Irving Shipbuilding official said he couldn’t say whether a further expansion would be needed if Irving Shipbuilding wins one of the huge federal government contracts for new combat and non-combat ships, to be announced within weeks. “It’s difficult to say,” Mike Roberts, Irving’s vice-president of corporate development, said after an announcement in Dartmouth ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 Sept 11

  • Here’s a bit more information and context behind at least one of the Challenger trips Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk in the media lately.
  • Afghanistan (1)  What the CF is doing about cleaning up the ground underneath what’s soon to be their former base in Kandahar.  “Master Corporal Ken Stewart has an important job. The water, fuel and environment technician (WFE tech) is responsible for soil remediation at Kandahar Airfield (KAF) as part of the Mission Transition Task Force (MTTF) working to close down Canadian operations there by the end of the year. Soil contamination from the daily activities of thousands of Canadian soldiers and hundreds of commercial and tactical vehicles is a major concern. Consequently, mitigation of soil degradation is a priority task for the MTTF, a responsibility being undertaken by a team of WFE techs, field engineers and infantry soldiers ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  The Army Run’s not JUST in Ottawa today.  “More than 600 civilians and military personnel representing multiple allied nations are expected to run tomorrow in the heat, dust and altitude of Kandahar Air Field (KAF), Afghanistan in the KAF Canada Army Run ….”  Good luck to all the participants.
  • Afghanistan (3)  A bit of one Canadian Forces Info-Machine worker’s story in Kabul.  “…. It is a somewhat surreal experience to be standing here in Afghanistan. The hot barren mountains of the Hindu Kush which surround the city have been witness to a dramatic stream of human history. I am now part of that history. As I ride in a convoy through the streets of Kabul I am amazed at the differences, and the similarities between here and Canada. On a side street, for example, I see a young father holding the seat of a bicycle while his son learns to ride. The feeling that most consumes me is an overwhelming sense of responsibility. I have a responsibility to the Afghan people who smile and wave to me on the street. I have a responsibility to the mission, and I have an inherent responsibility to those Canadians who have preceded me here. It is their dedication and sacrifice that passes the torch to me. I do not accept it lightly ….”
  • The Royal Canadian Mint has donated $10,000 to the Military Families Fund, raised from sales of its 2010 25-cent poppy coin collector card. The Military Families Fund is a non-profit organization that assist military families who land on unforeseen needs resulted from conditions of service. When launching the 25-cent collector card last October, it was announced all profits would be donated ….”
  • Way Up North  Senator Colin Kenny on how Canada can show that the Arctic is important. “…. If Canadians want to maintain our sovereignty in the Arctic, we should start demonstrating that we give a damn about the Arctic. Imposing tough environmental regulations on drilling would signal that we are not only in control in our portion of the Arctic, but that we deserve to be.”
  • Historian Jack Granatstein on what REALLY drives Canadian foreign and defence policy:  “…. for the Harper government, the new reality is that Alberta attitudes drive defence policy, not Quebec opinions. Virtually every opinion poll over recent decades has shown attitudes in Alberta consistently more hawkish than quasi-pacifist opinion in French Canada. The Tories have little support in Quebec, and the last election confirmed that they don’t need Quebec M.P.s to create a parliamentary majority. The coming addition of some thirty more seats in the House of Commons for Ontario and the West will entrench this new reality. In the circumstances, the Conservatives have a free hand to build the defence and foreign policy that suits their view of the world. And they will ….”
  • Remembering the Battle of Britain, 71 years later, with a renewed name” “For the first time in more than 40 years, we will celebrate the Battle of Britain with the restored name of the Royal Canadian Air Force,” said the Honorable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence …. The Battle of Britain, the first major campaign to be conducted entirely in the air, took place in the skies over south eastern Britain and the English Channel from July to October 1940. Vastly outnumbered by the German Luftwaffe, allied pilots and aircrews, including more than 100 Canadian pilots, held the enemy at bay and prevented Hitler’s planned invasion of Great Britain ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 15 Sept 11

  • Libya Mission (1)  “CTV News has learned Canada will extend its military mission to Libya by up to three months to help the country get back on its feet. CTV’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife reported the development, which is expected to be formally announced next week when Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with other NATO leaders in New York ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  More (again) from the Minister’s spokesperson on how the years of the Afghan fight aren’t going to be carved onto the National Cenotaph just yet.  “…. “These men and women in uniform are in harm’s way and it is clearly inappropriate to commemorate a mission which has yet to be completed,” wrote Joshua Zanin, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay said in an e-mail Wednesday. “When the last troops return home to their families at the conclusion of the mission, the full scope of Canada’s contributions in Afghanistan, including all the work of all those who have sacrificed and fallen in the service of their country, will be appropriately recognized and commemorated.” ….”  In case this looks familiar, here’s what the spokesperson told The Canadian Press earlier this week: “…. “These men and women in uniform are in harm’s way and it is clearly inappropriate to commemorate a mission which has yet to be completed,” said Joshua Zanin, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay. “When the last troops return home to their families at the conclusion of the mission, the full scope of Canada’s contributions in Afghanistan, including all the work of all those who have sacrificed and fallen in the service of their country, will be appropriately recognized and commemorated.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  On how long it’s taken to recognize previous wars“…. It took almost 20 years after the devastation of the Second World War for the federal government to design and erect the national war monument in Ottawa. The inclusion of that war as part of the monument didn’t take place until 37 years after it ended. The 26,971 Canadian soldiers who fought in the Korean War were ignored by both Canadian media and government until 1982 as well. “At the end of the war, Canadians returned to a peaceful nation that almost seemed to be unaware of the conflict across the ocean that had taken 516 Canadian and hundreds of thousands of others’ lives,” Senator Yonah Martin, who has championed the cause of recognizing Korean War veterans, said recently ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  One columnist’s view on why more Afghan interpreters should be allowed into Canada“…. This is not just an issue of fairness and moral obligation, but of national security. The world is an increasingly dangerous place, and there is every reason to expect that the Canadian Forces will again soon find themselves deployed abroad in hostile lands. Co-operation from the locals during these future missions will be essential. Giving the people of the world’s trouble spots reason to avoid dealings with our soldiers will make the jobs of our military personnel not only harder, but more dangerous.”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Something to look for as part of coming changes to the Canadian International Development Agency: “…. as Canada winds down its military involvement in Afghanistan, the Canadian International Development Agency will be “normalizing” aid to a level comparable to its 19 other “countries of focus.” This confirms a poorly-kept secret: aid to Afghanistan was always more about Canadians, candy and Kandahar than about sustainable long-term development. With aid levels frozen, there will be fierce competition for the freed-up funds. We should probably expect new assistance to Libya, where Canadian companies are already jockeying for important reconstruction and oil contracts ….”
  • Afghanistan (5a)  More CF story recycling – 27 Aug 11:  Army News tells us about how CF engineers are converting sea containers into lodging for ANA troops.  14 Sept 11:  CEFCOM Info-Machine uses same article to remind us CF engineers are converting sea containers into lodging for ANA troops.
  • Afghanistan (5b)  How is the ANA going to get those converted sea containers?  CF logisticians, UP!
  • Ronald Kevin Megeney, 1982-2007, R.I.P.:  Second trial of Reservist charged in killing Megeney continues, with reporter noting the blisteringly obvious.  “A Canadian soldier who was in Afghanistan when a member of his section was fatally shot at Kandahar Airfield in 2007 says everyone in the group had been given extensive weapons safety training …. everyone in the section of 10 soldiers had been given extensive briefings on weapons handling and safety before leaving Canada and again on arrival in theatre in December 2006 ….”
  • Canada’s CDS is dropping by to visit his Russian equivalent.  “The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walt Natynczyk, is conducting a three-day visit with his Russian counterpart, Army General Nikolay Yegorovich Makarov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation / First Deputy Minister of Defence and General of the Army. The purpose of the visit is to gain the Russian perspective on a range of issues to improve and develop Canada’s bilateral military relationship with Russia. “During my first meeting with General Makarov last January in Brussels, I received his invitation to visit Moscow to expand on our initial discussions,” said General Natynczyk. “This visit is an important opportunity to strengthen Canadian-Russian military ties, and exchange views on some of our common defence interests. I hope that General Makarov will honour us with a visit to Canada so we can continue to build on our relationship.” This is the first time in almost a decade that a Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff has visited Russia to meet its top military leadership ….”
  • Defence Minister Peter MacKay highlights the highlights of his visit to Australia“…. While in Australia, Minister MacKay met his counterpart, Australian Minister for Defence, Mr. Stephen Smith, Minister for Defence Materiel, The Honourable Jason Clare, Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, The Honourable Warren Snowdon, and Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd. During the meetings, they discussed defence reform, procurement practices, general Asia-Pacific defence issues, and the transformation of the Australian Defence department …. Canada and Australia worked closely together in Afghanistan, and continue to build on their strong bilateral defence relations. Minister MacKay agreed to loan two Husky armoured vehicles and one Buffalo mine-protected vehicle to Australia until the end of 2012, which will allow their engineers in Oruzgan province to detect explosive hazards with low metal content, such as mines and improvised explosive devices.”
  • What’s Canada Buying:  Used Sub Edition (1)  Harsh, but with a kernel of truth. “When Britain held a scratch-and-dent sale in 1998 to get rid of some surplus submarines, Canada went shopping. Our 30-year-old fleet was long past its prime and Ottawa wasn’t ready to commit to the cost of new ones. That was 13 years ago. The deal seemed too good to turn down at the start: Just $750 million for an eight-year lease/purchase — about a quarter of the estimated replacement value — for four barely-used diesel-electric submarines that had been mothballed only because Britain had moved to an all-nuclear fleet …. As with a lot of cool stuff we bring home from yard sales, it didn’t take long for the deal to seem a little less of a bargain. Within a year, the National Post was reporting that hidden costs and a wish list for upgrades had pushed the real tab for the four used subs to somewhere in the neighbourhood of $2 billion ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying:  Used Sub Edition (2)  Where “independent research, advocacy and consulting group”, read “think tank that has yet to take a pro-CF position”“Canada’s naval submarine program is a bust and the time is perfect for the federal government to scrap the four-vessel fleet, says the president of the Rideau Institute, an independent research, advocacy and consulting group in Ottawa. I don’t think we’ll ever see all four submarines operating all together and at their full capacity,” Steven Staples said Tuesday. Two weeks ago, the HMCS Corner Brook was put dockside until at least 2016 as a result of damage caused by hitting the ocean floor back in June. As a result, none of Canada’s four Victoria-class submarines are in action …. “I think an argument could be made by the government that they are still committed to the navy by spending upward of $30 billion on a new surface fleet …. I think it is becoming painfully clear that the sub fleet is providing no benefits to Canada in terms of our defence and, in fact, is probably more of a hazard to submariners than any benefit to the navy.” ….”
  • Didn’t MP Bob Dechert get the memo that Communist governments have been known to use journalists as spies, or have their spies pretend they’re journalists?
  • Ooopsie….  As a spy, he was said to be sloppy. So sloppy that his masters would complain he “compromised” security and “jeopardized” their credibility – just by showing up for work. But Marc-André Bergeron, fired four years ago for alleged incompetence, has been vindicated by winning his claim of wrongful dismissal. In doing so, he has revealed a rather remarkable state of affairs at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. CSIS, whose bosses lament that they are held to impossible legal standards in court cases involving terrorism, couldn’t muster sufficient proof to fire one of their own. “The employer failed to discharge its burden to present the necessary evidence,” a federal tribunal ruled in mid-August, ordering Mr. Bergeron’s reinstatement or an alternate “appropriate remedy.” ….”  Public Service Labour Relations Board decision here, decision summary here.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 8 Sept 11

  • Libya Mission (1)  Missed him by >>THAT<< much.  “Just as we’d always suspected, if more wryly than with alarm: the rat was in the cellar. Moammar Gadhafi did indeed bivouac in the basement of the posh Rixos Hotel — compulsory Tripoli lodgings for foreign journalists through months of the stalled Libyan revolution — confident that NATO planes would not bomb that location. “Absolutely,’’ confirms Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, the Canadian in command of Operation Unified Protector, formal name of the interventionist NATO mission mandated by the United Nations Security Council. “He was there,’’ Bouchard told the Star during an interview this week at Joint Force Command headquarters here. “It’s not a secret anymore. He could drive in a golf cart through the tunnels that stretched all the way from (his compound) Bab al-Aziziya, under the zoo next door and into the hotel. That’s how he would appear out of nowhere, disappear, and pop up somewhere else.’’ It might also explain why reporters were held hostage at the Rixos for five days by Gadhafi loyalists, even as the capital was falling to surging rebel forces a fortnight ago ….”
  • Libya Mission (2)  “…. with the military mission apparently mostly over, any extension requires a goal for the end: calling back the fighters and the warship when the last major Gadhafi strongholds are gone.”
  • Canadian pilots taking part in Exercise Bold Quest in Indiana. Fighter pilots often have seconds to decide whether to open fire, and this month they will train at Camp Atterbury to know how to make that choice. The post, in southern Johnson county and northwestern Brown County, is hosting a major NATO training exercise involving pilots and soldiers from Germany, Finland, France and 11 other countries. The allies will train on how to avoid shooting at troops who are on their side and use high-tech sensors that allow them to distinguish friend from foe, Navy Capt. Kent Davis said. Residents who live nearby should expect to hear the roar of fighter jets and the whir of helicopters both day and night when the training exercise starts Thursday, Maj. Lisa Kopczynski said. More aircraft than normal will fly over Camp Atterbury through Sept. 25. Pilots will practice using radar that warns them not to bomb or shoot at troops from other countries who are assisting in combat or on peacekeeping missions, Davis said …. “
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  “…. The Canadian Forces (CF) are looking to replace all current types of pistols in use with a newer weapon and is gathering information on the Price and Availability of weapons and the number of potential contenders as part of its planning and budget process. Personnel from all services of the CF will use these pistols for self-DEFENCE. The GSP will replace the 9mm Browning High Power (HP) and the 9mm Sig Sauer Model 225 pistol ….”  More details available in bid package here (PDF via Army.ca) re:  what the CF is looking for, as well as a projected timeline (Requests for Proposals expected to be issued summer 2015, with pistols expected to be purchased Fall 2015).
  • What’s Canada Buying (2)  Honkin’ expensive long-range thermal weapon sights“…. The Department of National Defence has a requirement for a compact, lightweight, weapon-mountable thermal imager that works in conjunction with the optical day sight to provide target detection and recognition in the thermal band at long range.  This capability will be referred as a Long Range Thermal Weapon Sight (LRTWS) system. The LRTWS system will also serve to complement other optical handheld observation devices.  You are hereby notified that the Government of Canada intends to negotiate with FLIR Systems Ltd, 25 Esquire Road, North Billerica, MA, who manufacturers and possesses the intellectual property rights as the OEM for the ThermoSight™ S150 (links to PDF fact sheet), part number #26986-201, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) Long Range Thermal Weapon Sight (LRTWS) system.  Deliverables:  Forty-nine (49) cryogenically cooled sensor, thermal video channeled single bodied systems, including accessories and remote control systems …. An optional twenty-five (25) units including accessories and remote control systems …. Total estimate cost of all deliverables:  $7,350,000.00 CAD HSTI ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Interesting, especially in a city with an infantry unit based there.  “I received a news release recently that really bothered me. It had nothing to do with Alberta politics or the two leadership races now underway for the Liberals and Conservatives. It had to do with a dinner this Saturday to honour the 157 Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan during our combat mission there. The dinner will be attended by Alberta Lt.-Gov. Donald Ethell and hear a keynote address by Maj.-Gen. Jonathan Vance, who commanded coalition troops in Kandahar province for nine months. However, according to the news release, the event was “in jeopardy of cancellation.” Simply put, not enough people had bought tickets. The dinner had room for 500 and would financially break even with 350 – but only 60 people had bought tickets when the news release crossed my desk. “We’re surprised that we’ve sold less than 60 tickets to an event dedicated to honouring the brave men and women who have died while serving in our Canadian Forces,” wrote the event organizer, Mike McMurray. “We need to sell at least 300 more tickets to the gala dinner or we’re going to be left with little choice but to cancel the event. We simply can’t put on a poor show for our troops or the families of our fallen soldiers that we’ve invited.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Another “combat mission wrapping up” story, this time about Canada’s helicopters in theatre.
  • Stuart Langridge, R.I.P  The mother of a soldier who took his own life at the Edmonton Garrison hopes a public hearing will answer the questions she has had for more than three years. After several suicide attempts, Cpl. Stuart Langridge hanged himself in March 2008. The young soldier suffered from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and struggled with substance abuse after he returned from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2005. On Tuesday, the Military Police Complaints Commission called a public hearing into his death ….”
  • The Leslie Report/CF Reorg  One ex-officer’s view of what should happen, presented without comment. “…. Canadian politicians have a history of economizing on the backs of the military — the most flagrant example being Pierre Trudeau soon after he became PM and seemed eager to disband the military and withdraw from NATO. The regimental system saved the quality of our army in those days. Rather than maintain large conventional units, the Canadian army seems ideally suited to becoming something like the British SAS — highly-trained individuals able to function in small units or larger units, doing clandestine operations or open combat ….”
  • Someone’s unhappy with Canada’s “Royalizing” the CF and other highlighting of Canada’s military history“…. History belongs to everyone equally and as such is–or should be–open to unfettered enquiry and defended against deliberate distortion. To borrow a medical metaphor, history constitutes the genes that make up a citizen’s “cultural DNA.” Unfortunately, cultural DNA is vulnerable to “genetic engineering.” In the hands of an ignoble government, historical images and events can be manipulated to serve political objectives …. Behind the propaganda curtain of “restoring” Canada’s military pride and tradition is the appropriation of military history to justify the sort of aggression honourable Canadians gave their lives to defeat.”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (1)  PM (apparently) to declare 11 Sept a “National Day of Service”, while Canada’s Defence Minister prepares to speak to a memorial forum in Washington today.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (2a)  “…. Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the biggest security threat to Canada a decade after 9/11 is Islamic terrorism …. Harper says Canada is safer than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, when al-Qaeda attacked the U.S., but that “the major threat is still Islamicism.”  “There are other threats out there, but that is the one that I can tell you occupies the security apparatus most regularly in terms of actual terrorist threats,” Harper said. Harper cautioned that terrorist threats can “come out of the blue” from a different source, such as the recent Norway attacks, where a lone gunman who hated Muslims killed 77 people. But Harper said terrorism by Islamic radicals is still the top threat, though a “diffuse” one ….”  More on this one here, and some discussion at Army.ca here.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (2b)  Controversial clauses expanding the powers of police to combat terrorism are going to be reintroduced by the new Conservative majority government, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in an interview with CBC. Harper said for the first time since the Tories took control of the House of Commons the government plans to bring back measures in the Anti-Terrorism Act that expired in 2007. “We think those measures are necessary. We think they’ve been useful,” Harper said of the expired parts of the act. “They’re applied rarely, but there are times where they’re needed.” ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (3a)  Canada’s national security spending skyrocketed in the post-9/11 decade and it may be time to start cutting back, said a report released Wednesday by an Ottawa-based think tank. “The government has created a national security establishment in Canada,” Steven Staples, president of the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute, told a press conference. “A decade after the attacks of 9/11 it’s time to re-evaluate whether we should continue the high level of national security spending.” In total, Canada devoted an additional CAN$92 billion (US$93 billion) to keep Canadians safe, the report said ….”  More along this story line here and here.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (3b)  Calculating what it cost Canadian taxpayers to respond to the Sept. 11 terror attacks has proven to be a difficult task for the Rideau Institute. The left-wing think tank has released a report that concludes $92 billion in new military, public safety, foreign affairs, and other spending since 2001 is linked to creating a post-9-11 national security establishment. Still, report author and economist David Macdonald admits it’s not easy to draw a clear line between the spending and al-Qaida terrorism that shook the world. “I suppose we could argue about whether (the spending) would have happened anyway,” Macdonald said. He insisted at least part of the justification for the spending was due to “the 9-11 agenda.” Candice Hoeppner, parliamentary secretary to the public safety minister, agreed some increased spending was tied to dealing with Afghanistan and the U.S. Homeland Security, but not all of it. “It also has to do with trade,” said Hoeppner. “It has to do with the movements of goods and services and individuals.” ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (3c)  Want to decide for yourself about the latest cost estimates?  Download the Rideau Institute report here (12 page PDF) – news release here.
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (4)  Columnist Gwynne Dyer’s view on whether Osama Bin Laden won. “…. So bin Laden dug a trap, and the United States fell into it. In that sense his strategy succeeded, and the guerilla war that ensued in Afghanistan did much to turn Arab and Muslim popular opinion against America. (The invasion of Iraq did even more damage to America’s reputation, but that really wasn’t about terrorism at all.) In the long run, however, bin Laden’s strategy failed simply because his project was unacceptable and implausible to most Muslims. And the most decisive rejection of his strategy is the fact that the oppressive old Arab regimes are now being overthrown, for the most part nonviolently, by revolutionaries who want democracy and freedom, not Islamist rule.”
  • A showcase moment in the history of Canadian diplomacy – the topsecret spiriting of six Americans out of Tehran during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis – appears destined for blockbuster treatment in Hollywood. At least three years in development, the spy thriller Argo will focus on how CIA agent Tony Mendez – played by Ben Affleck, who also directs – plotted with Canada’s ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor, to rescue the trapped Americans by having them pose as Canadian location scouts for a fake movie supposedly being shot in Iran. Another Hollywood A-lister, George Clooney, is producing and acting in the film. Like the Affleck-helmed film that started shooting last week in Los Angeles – and which will also be shot in Washington and Istanbul – the title of the bogus movie in the CIA-hatched scheme 32 years ago was Argo ….”  The Internet Movie Database listing for Argo is already up here.  For more details from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. interviewed Mendez on the rescue (as well as a couple of the hostages), and shares the interview on podcasts here and here.
  • Saskatchewan airfield named after D-Day Spitfire pilot – Flight Lieutenant (Ret’d) Barry Needham was a young man when he flew four sorties over the beaches of Normandy, France, on D-Day during the Second World War. As a member of 412 Transport Squadron, he flew with some of the most celebrated wartime aviators in history, including Charley Fox (known for strafing the staff car of Field Marshall (Erwin) Rommel from his Spitfire) and American John Gillespie Magee, author of the celebrated poem “High Flight”. Although F/L Needham has attended several squadron functions over the past few years, it was the most recent event in his hometown of Wynyard, Sask. that has the 90-year-old veteran more than a little choked up. Wynyard recently named its unmanned airfield the W. B. Needham Field in a ceremony that included tributes from the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Lieutenant-General André Deschamps, the commanding officer of 412 (T) Sqn, Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Philippouci, and Major Chris Strawson, chief multi-engine instructor at 3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School, Portage-La-Prairie, Man. who has become quite close with F/L Needham in recent years ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 3 Sept 11

  • 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 – 1 Sept 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 31 Aug 11

  • 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 – 27 Aug 11

  • A new study shows that a majority of Canadians think the Canadian Forces are important, but would like to see the military return to a more traditional peacekeeping role instead of a combat one. An Ipsos-Reid study, published in June 2011 for the Department of National Defence and titled: Views of the Canadian Forces 2011 Tracking Study, surveyed 1,651 Canadians across the country between March 21 and 24 on their knowledge and opinions about Canada’s military and its missions, primarily in Afghanistan and Libya. When asked to describe the mission in Afghanistan, such words as “deadly,” “expensive,” “underfunded” and “endless” were used. “There was a also a sense of “enough is enough,” the study authors wrote. “In general, many participants seemed to feel that they were under-informed about the Canadian Forces’ role in Afghanistan, and that they did not know why the Canadian Forces was still there,” the study said ….”
  • Way Up North (x)  Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sent a signal to Beijing that Ottawa will not relinquish its sovereignty over the portions of the Arctic lying within its territory. Countries around the world are looking northward as the sea passage across the top of Canada becomes increasingly navigable and exploration for new energy and mineral sources suggests the Arctic could contain a wealth of untapped natural resources. One of those countries is China, which has begun to take a hard look at the potential that lies under what was once a frozen ocean, especially the commercial and shipping possibilities, and has asked for special observer status in the Arctic Council. On Friday, a reporter with the official Chinese news service who is accompanying the Prime Minister on his annual summer tour, asked him to clarify his position. “It seems like there are some local media reports that the Arctic region belongs to the Arctic countries and it’s not the business of the rest of the world,” the Chinese reporter said. “What is your comment on this opinion and what role do you think the rest of the world can play in the Arctic region affairs?” Mr. Harper responded by saying that vast areas of land and significant territorial waters within the Arctic are under the sovereignty of various countries, including Canada. “The government of Canada, working with our partners and the people in this region, intend to assert our sovereignty in these regions,” said the Prime Minister ….”
  • Way Up North (x)  Wired.com’s Danger Room blog on the CF’s tender call for quiet snowmobiles“The Canadian government wants a stealth snowmobile. Just, apparently, because. It’s not as if Canada has any alpine enemies to sneak up on with shadowy, frigid cavalry. But that’s not going to stop the Canadian Department of National Defence from spending a half million dollars on a prototype ….”
  • The body of a former Ottawa resident was found this week among over 150 others in a Tripoli warehouse, members of Canada’s Libyan community report. Abdulhamid Darrat, who first came to Ottawa in the early 1980s, ran a successful Internet company in Libya called Baitaslxams. He was taken by government officers along with five co-workers and shoved into the back of a van, while at work in May. His daughter, Khadija, 16, said the last time she saw her father was at 3 a.m. on May 19 before he headed into the office for the day. Khadija said Libyan officials led the family to believe that Darrat was taken out of Tripoli in order to do some sort of Internet work for the government. She said relatives with contacts in the Gadhafi regime told them Darrat was well looked after and doing well ….”
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be at the table when world leaders decide the future of Libya. A conference dubbed “Friends of Libya” is set for Sept. 1, in Paris, France. French President Nicolas Sarkozy invited all NATO member countries, including Canada, and added China, Russia, India and Brazil to the invite list. Sarkozy said he called the conference “to help a free Libya, tomorrow’s Libya, and to really show that we are going forward and passing from military collaboration to civil collaboration to resolve the situation.” ….”
  • How’d the Libyan rebels get that expensive Canadian-built micro-UAV“…. Start-up Aeryon is mainly focused on the consumer uses of drones, such as replacing satellite mapping with drone mapping. Their drones are dual-purpose products — intended for commercial use, but also usable for military operations as demonstrated below. Canadian law only prohibits them from selling drones to North Korea or Iran. “Because it’s a dual-purpose product, rather than just intended for military use, we face fewer restrictions when sending them to other countries,” says (Aeryon CEO David) Kroetsch ….”
  • One old warhorse’s glass-is-half-empty view of Libya: “…. is Libya a “victory”? We don’t know much about the rebel leadership and the National Transitional Council (NTC) that Canada, for one, is pledged to support. What we do know is that the rebels have gotten rid of one of their military leaders – former Interior Minister Abdul Younis — who was assassinated by his own fighters in Benghazi for reason unknown. That’s an uncomfortable omen for the future. Also known is that with total victory, tribal and ideological factionalisms surface, and scores beg to be settled ….”
  • Exercise PANAMAX 2011 in, around Panama is winding down.
  • Afghanistan (1)  Four Chinook helicopters flown by the Canadian military in the deserts of southern Afghanistan soon will be headed to another desert — in Arizona. Unable to sell the aging aircraft, the federal government has decided to ship the Chinooks to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, a U.S. air force installation known as “The Boneyard.” The helicopters will be stored at the open-air facility outside Tucson until the government can find a buyer, said Tracy Poirier, a spokeswoman for the Defence Department. The department, however, declined to provide a cost estimate for the storage, saying it is prohibited from revealing the details of contracts made with a foreign governments. “This was the most economical option available to us,” Poirier said. “This facility is the biggest of its kind in North America and very specialized at storing and reinstating old aircraft.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Last Canadian Air Wing boss back home.
  • Afghanistan (3)  Canadian reporter discovers it’s damned expensive bringing stuff to fight a war 1/2 way around the world“Summer in (southern) Afghanistan is a blast furnace. Temperatures rise over 50C. Air conditioning is what allows the frenzied pace of NATO’s war during the fighting season. The price is astronomical. The Americans have calculated that in the past two years they have spent $20 billion on AC. If you add the rest of NATO, that figure is probably well over $24 billion. That means that coalition forces spend more to keep themselves cool each year than Afghanistan’s gross national product. Every drop of fuel, drinking water as well as every morsel of food consumed on NATO bases is imported into this landlocked country – most of it trucked in through Pakistan. The cost is enormous ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Chatting up surrendered Taliban.
  • Ronald Kevin Megeney, 1982-2007, R.I.P.:  The trial of former Nova Scotia reservist Matthew Wilcox, charged in the shooting death of his friend and comrade in Afghanistan in 2007, has been adjourned until Sept. 12. Wilcox has pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal negligence causing death and negligent performance of a military duty in the death of Cpl. Kevin Megeney, a fellow reservist from Nova Scotia ….”  More here.
  • Some U.S. Army LAV work for a Canadian companyGeneral Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, a business unit of General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE:GD), received a contract worth $49.2 million from the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. Per the contract, General Dynamics will provide training and field service support for Light Armored Vehicles (“LAV”) that was previously supplied under a Foreign Military Sale (“FMS”) contract. Support activities under this contract include the provision of field support teams to conduct operator and maintenance training, technical support and fleet status monitoring. The five-year contract was awarded through the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Crown Agency of the Canadian Government and is expected to be completed by July 2016 ….”
  • Postmedia News offers up a series of terrorism profiles of different countries, including Canada.
  • This from the Veterans Affairs Info-MachineOn behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of National Revenue, announced today up to $5,000 in funding for the official opening of the Air Force Heritage Park in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. “Our government is proud to support great community projects like this one,” said Minister Blaney. “We commend all those involved with the creation of the Air Force Heritage Park for doing their part to recognize the men and women who have served our country, past and present.” ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 24 Aug 11

  • Libya Mission (1a)  PM:  We’re not there forever, folks.  “Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not sure how long Canada’s military needs to remain in Libya, but he said Tuesday that he doesn’t anticipate an “indefinite” mission in the North African country. “This is the beginning of the end of the (Moammar) Gadhafi regime,” Harper told reporters after launching a tour of Canada’s Arctic region. “I don’t say it is the end. I think we saw last night a couple of surprises. We anticipate it will be at least a few days for the process of a regime change to actually take place.” Harper said Canada is sitting down with its allies to determine pressing needs for the country in the days to come ….”
  • Libya Mission (1b)  PM:  We’re not there for too much longer, folks “Stephen Harper says the mounting success of rebel forces battling Moammar Gadhafi’s regime means Canada’s military mission to Libya could end in the near future – but the Prime Minister cautions the North African country will need international help for some time to come. “We anticipate it will be at least a few days for the process of regime change to actually take place so obviously our military will remain there through this period, respond there accordingly during this period and in the days to follow,” Mr. Harper told reporters who accompanied him to the Arctic. “Our anticipation is that the military mission will obviously not be indefinite, that it will terminate some time in the not-too-distant future. But we will first make sure the job is actually finished before that occurs.” ….”  More from the Toronto Star here.
  • Libya (1c)  Recycling an old script – where “Afghanistan”, read “Libya”.  “…. NATO has said any post-Gadhafi mission would not involve ground forces, would be secondary to an effort led by the U.N., and would only take place in response to an official request. Col. Roland Lavoie, military spokesman for Operation Unified Protector, says NATO must stay involved in Libya as long as Gadhafi is in power. “There’s nobody who could predict when exactly the Gadhafi forces will drop their weapons,” said Lavoie during a briefing in Brussels. “They will do so probably when there will be a political settlement to their conflicts.” Harper added Canada may need to play a post-Gadhafi role in Libya. “This country needs a whole range of assistance — all the way from monetary assistance to capacity building,” he said. “We stand ready to help any way we can. I don’t think, to be frank, it’s been decided yet who will do what, but the entire international community is prepared to help and see a peaceful transition here.” ….”
  • Libya Mission (2)  “Stephen Harper’s new brand of Canadian foreign policy – one that chooses sides over sidelines and replaces peacekeeper with “courageous warrior” – is poised to have its clearest illustration yet as Libyan rebels celebrate the beginning of the end of the Gadhafi regime. Support at the United Nations for military intervention, a quick decision to approve Canadian Forces bombing raids and the move to expel Libyan diplomats while the status of the North African nation remained uncertain gave observers a chance to see a very different Canada on display. “This is a significant shift in Canadian foreign policy,” said Queen’s University professor Christian Leuprecht, a fellow with the school’s Centre for International and Defence Policy. “In the past, our objectives really in foreign policy have been defined by international stability and open trade routes. And what we see in Libya, previous governments very likely would have sat out.” ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  Globe & Mail editorial: “…. By the skin of their teeth, Canada and the other Operation Unified Protector countries have managed to avoid a long war of attrition. All’s reasonably well that ends fairly well. But, next time, the implications of the responsibility to protect civilians should be thought through more carefully.”
  • A Canadian company is helping Libyan rebels, one micro UAV at a time (company news release also available here (PDF) if link doesn’t work).  “While NATO countries fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) high above Libya, none of these UAVs, or the vital intelligence they provide, was available to the Libyans fighting to free their country – they were fighting blind. So, they got one of their own. It can now be disclosed that the Libyan rebels have been using the Aeryon Scout Micro UAV to acquire intelligence on enemy positions and to coordinate their resistance efforts. Representatives from the Transitional National Council (TNC) were looking for an imagery solution to provide to the troops on the ground. They evaluated a series of micro UAVs and chose the Aeryon Scout – and they needed it delivered immediately to those fighting at the front. Large UAVs are often flown far away from the frontline – often overseas – making it difficult to get the imagery to troops in combat. With the Aeryon Scout, the operator has direct control over the UAV and is able to see imagery in real-time ….”  More from the Globe & Mail, Wired.com’s Danger Room blog and the Financial Post on this, as well as a link to a British media article on the hardware from May of this year (8th bullet).  (Hat tip to Mark Collins for sharing this one).
  • Way Up North (1)  A simulated major air crash was only hours away when word came to soldiers, coast guard personnel and RCMP that they were faced with the real thing in remote Resolute. Saturday’s deadly crash of a chartered Boeing 737 barely a kilometre from the High Arctic hamlet’s windswept airport came smack in the middle of the largest Arctic military exercise ever conducted by the Canadian Forces. The final phase of Operation Nanook was to designed to simulate a mid-air collision between a small bush plane and cargo plane, the “signature piece” of the three-week exercise, according to a government official. The Canadian Forces had even positioned the wreckage of a long-ago crash on a plateau above the village of 250 people. Officers were sitting down to lunch in the mess on Saturday when someone burst in to report a jetliner was down. Lieutenant-commander Albert Wong, the senior public affairs officer for Op Nanook, said he sat for a brief moment in stunned disbelief. “Someone said, ‘No duff’ — which is military code for, this is real,” Wong told reporters who arrived Tuesday with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “All of us started running to our posts.” ….”  More from the Globe & Mail here.
  • Way Up North (2)  Deployment of full emergency resources across Canada’s North is impossible, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday after meeting with rescue workers who responded to a fatal plane crash last weekend. “Part of the drill here is how quickly things can be moved up and deployed from the south as well,” said Harper, who is on his sixth annual summer tour of the region. “We have to be realistic. There is no possible way in the vastness of the Canadian Arctic we could ever have all of the resources necessary close by. It’s just impossible.” ….”  More on this from the Toronto Star here.
  • Way Up North (3)  “…. If sovereignty is about responsibility, that means Canada as a whole has a duty to understand the needs of the North, to make sure a child born there has access to education, health care and basic, appropriate infrastructure. In a less tangible, cultural sense, sovereignty means that the North belongs to all Canadians, and with ownership comes pride and engagement.”
  • Way Up North (4)  One academic’s view: “…. the Canadian military is perfectly content to play around in the Arctic just as long as the money taps stay open and they can utilize their training there for other “hot spots” around the world. And if this is the case, you can look for the CF. to deepen its military footprint in the Arctic going forward.”
  • Canada’s defence minister Peter MacKay met with his British counterpart Liam Fox in England this week this from the UK MoD’s Info-Machine“Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox welcomed the Canadian Defence Minister, the Honourable Peter MacKay, to London yesterday with a ceremonial guard formed by members of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. Defence Reform, Libya, Afghanistan and NATO were among the main topics discussed and both Defence Ministers agreed on the importance of the enduring bilateral relationship between their two countries ….”  Nothing yet on the DND/CF web page on the meeting.
  • A former Aussie officer makes the case for the Australian PM to stop attending every funeral of a fallen soldier, looking at how Canada does things“…. The full glare of the parliamentary press gallery will blaze as military colleagues say final goodbyes. Because, by convention, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott will take no other media appearances that day, the military funeral will become the only vision TV networks have of our political leaders. By virtue of the politicians’ attendance, a private funeral will become a nationally televised political event. For the next two weeks, when Australians think about the war in Afghanistan they will think of the only military event important enough to unite political and Defence leaders — the death of another young soldier. AusAID’s development progress won’t be in their minds, nor will the pressure on the Taliban being applied by our special forces. If form is any guide, media networks will run polls on our involvement in Afghanistan right at the time when coverage is dominated by terrible news. Australians, when asked what our Afghan strategy should be, will make an emotional decision framed by a military funeral ….”
  • Those wild, wacky funsters over at the International Committee of the Fourth International on Canada’s NDP has helped fuel “imperialist war” from Yugoslavia to Haiti, and from Kandahar to LibyaNot the first time the NDP’s been accused of supporting the troops too much for the far left wing’s fancy.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 16 Aug 11

  • Big story of the week:  a swack of announcements set for today across Canada announcing the reinstitution of the names “Royal Canadian Navy” and “Royal Canadian Air Force” Very active discussion on Army.ca on the change.  More from The Canadian Press, the Globe & Mail (including an editorial), the National Post (including an editorial), Postmedia News, Sun News/QMI Media, the Toronto Star, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, the Huffington Post blog, Reuters and United Press International.
  • CBC.ca survey:  whadya think of the new names?
  • As some way smarter than myself have opined, let’s see if this distracts reporters and other people when word of cuts to Canada’s military comes down the pipe eventually.
  • Supporting the Troops vs. Supporting the War:  Belatedly, I’ve spotted a very interesting blog post by a social work expert in dealing with shame and guilt.  “…. In my graduate course on shame resilience, students form groups based on their interests and research how shame resilience applies to the populations of their choice. In this class one of the groups applied Shame Resilience Theory to military veterans. The group was made up of two veterans (one from Vietnam and one from Afghanistan), two partners of deployed soldiers, and two children of vets. All shame work becomes very personal very fast, but this was different. Our entire class of 70 graduate students had to process through some very difficult feelings, assumptions, and even shame. Here’s what I learned:  When I let my politics dictate my level of compassion for veterans, I contribute to their pain and to the suffering that is happening in the world (and) When I step up (and through my beliefs about war) to hold space for the grief and trauma that they are holding, it changes their lives and creates a more loving and less violent world (which is ironically the goal that holds us back from reaching out to them) ….”  Well said, Dr. Brené Brown.
  • Afghanistan  More coverage of the clean-up/transition crew in Kandahar.  “While the Mission Transition Task Force (MTTF) prepares to close down operations at Kandahar Airfield (KAF), a number of specialized military personnel are ensuring the Canadian Forces (CF) leaves little trace behind of an almost 10 year presence. Master Corporal (MCpl) Ken Stewart, a Comox resident, is a Water, Fuel, Environment (WFE) Commander in KAF. He is part of the MTTF Engineer Support Squadron. His job is to organize, test and oversee the Soil Remediation project which ensures any contaminated soil as the result of activities at KAF, is remediated. As a WFE Commander his overall job involves dealing with water, and waste water treatment, ensuring clean dry fuel for aircraft operations, and ensuring there is nothing as a result of CF activities that will have an ill effect on the environment ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Canada’s armed forces are receiving Falcon III AN/PRC-117G wideband manpack radio systems from Harris Corp. of Florida. The order, worth $4.7 million, includes the RF-7800B tactical Broadband Global Area Networking satellite terminals. Integration of the AN/PRC-117G with the Harris RF-7800B terminals will provide Canadian personnel with unique end-to-end, Type-1 secure beyond-line-of-sight wideband communications connectivity. “The AN/PRC-117G and RF-7800B will provide Canada’s military with new communications capabilities that will lead to enhanced command and control and situational awareness,” said Andy Start, president, international business unit, Harris RF Communications ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Defence Minister:  Arm-twisting lobbying won’t help get big honkin’ ship contracts“A provincial lobby effort will have no impact on who gets the biggest chunk of $35 billion worth of shipbuilding work, Defence Minister Peter MacKay insisted Monday. MacKay said Ottawa has taken politics and lobbying out of the equation by leaving the decision in the hands of bureaucrats. “While we appreciate the interest and the enthusiasm of our province and others on this federal initiative, the decision for the two centres of excellence will be made by professional public servants judging the competence and best value of the bids,” MacKay said during a speech to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. “To be clear, it will not be affected by politics, political pressure, or advertising. This will ensure that our men and women in uniform are getting the absolute best ships possible.” The Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard is on the short list for contracts to build new ships for the navy and coast guard ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (3)  Airbus simulator training, Leopard 2A4 simulators/trainers and signaling flags and pennants (specs – 6.7MB PDF – downloadable here).