Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘Libya no-flight zone News Highlights – 26 Mar 11

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  • No Fly Zone in Libya (1) – A Canadian General is taking the lead on NATO’s no fly mission. “A Canadian general was thrust Friday into the command role of NATO’s mission in Libya, taking responsibility for enforcing the no-fly zone and arms embargo as the United States continued to hand over control of the week-old campaign against Moammar Gadhafi. Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard will lead NATO forces in a mission Defence Minister Peter MacKay acknowledged Friday was “yet to be fully defined” by leaders of the international coalition tasked with protecting Libyans from forces loyal to Gadhafi. At a press briefing on Canada’s operations in Libya Friday, MacKay said the appointment of Bouchard to this key role is a testament to the respect Canada’s military enjoys around the world ….” The General’s official bio is here.  More from Canadian Press here, Postmedia News here and the Globe & Mail here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (2) –  For once, mentions a good point. “…. The Alliance has not yet formally agreed to run the civilian-protection element of the mission, which is attempting to prevent attacks on Libyan civilians by conducting airstrikes on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. NATO spokespersons stated on Friday that “NATO is actively considering whether to take on a broader role under the UN Security Council Resolution. Without prejudging the deliberations, we would expect a decision to take over all operations in the next few days.” ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (3) – More on the CP-140 Aurora’s headed downrange.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (4) – Retired General Lew-Mac raises a good point. “…. Absent well-defined political leadership for the implementation of UN Resolution 1973, we now have a number of coalition military actions that arguably go beyond the letter and the intent of the resolution and seem to be more in support of regime change than protecting civilian population centres. If that is the case, the Security Council should meet and sanction the current military actions in Libya in support of Resolution 1973 and clearly state the removal of Colonel Gadhafi as the mission’s objective. In the meantime, a ground invasion force led and dominated by Arab countries should be organized to deal with the inevitable, near-term stalemate.”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (5) – The Globe & Mail’s Margaret Wente also raises a good point. “Why is Canada at war in Libya? You won’t get the answer from our elected leaders. They’re too busy fighting an election to explain it to us. You can’t count on the opposition parties to raise awkward questions, either. They have better things to do at a crucial time like this. Besides, it’s just a little war. It will be over soon, unless it isn’t. If all goes well, perhaps Canadians won’t notice that our political class has committed us to an open-ended military action in North Africa without a clue about what the mission is, who’s in charge, or how deep the quagmire might get ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (6) – QMI’s Larry Cornies raises yet another intriguing question. “Canada’s military firepower is modest; its presence in the Mediterranean more symbolic than essential. Is there an opportunity here for Canada to lead on the diplomatic front to negotiate a post-Gadhafi solution with the same zeal it once displayed in advocating R2P?”
  • In case you haven’t heard yet, we’re going into a federal election next month.
  • Rash o’ Pre-Election Announcements (1) Meanwhile, the PM announces non-military help for Libya as well. “…. Through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Government is immediately providing nearly $3 million to support the efforts of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to address the repatriation of people displaced into neighbouring countries. This is in addition to the $5 million in humanitarian assistance that the Government announced on March 2, 2011 for the people of Libya. Today’s announcement raises Canada’s total humanitarian assistance to the crisis in Libya to almost $8 million ….”
  • Rash o’ Pre-Election Announcements (2) – This one from Defence Minister Peter MacKay: “…. A new career transition support policy for severely ill and injured Canadian Forces (CF) personnel will come into effect on May 1, 2011. Under this policy, severely ill and injured personnel with complex career transition needs, and who can no longer serve in the Regular Force or Primary Reserve, will be provided a longer transition period before returning to civilian life. For each of these individuals, the CF will develop a tailored and flexible plan that features comprehensive health care, career transition assistance, and the social support of the military community over a period of up to three years. The Minister also announced a change to the CF promotion policy whereby any qualified CF member who has been severely injured in Afghanistan with a battlefield injury will also be eligible for promotion if they continue serving with the CF ….”
  • Rash o’ Pre-Election Announcements (3) – One more from the Defence Minister: “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, in conjunction with The Ottawa Hospital and The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, today helped unveil the Rehabilitation Virtual Reality Laboratory, housing the CAREN system, at The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre …. This initiative is another example of CF’s excellent partnership with The Ottawa Hospital that ensures ill and injured CF personnel receive excellent care when they need it the most …. The installation of this system was made possible through the funding efforts of the community, which raised $500,000 for the laboratory at the General Campus of The Ottawa Hospital, and the CF, which contributed $1.5 million to the CAREN system. The Ottawa Hospital Foundation is proud to play a role in making this state-of-the-art tool a reality at the Hospital, said Foundation President and CEO Susan Doyle ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – More on the price/cost wrangling.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) – Blogger Mark Collins asks how the Liberals are going to deal with future fighter buys if they get back at the helm.
Advertisements News Highlights – 25 Mar 11

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  • No Fly Zone in Libya (1) – Two Canadian surveillance aircraft have been sent to the Libyan coast to help coalition forces keep ships from bringing weapons and mercenaries into the North African country. The Auroras departed 14 Wing Greenwood in Nova Scotia and are in the midst of travelling to a military base in Trapani, Italy. Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced the deployment plans on Thursday afternoon, saying that two CP-140 Aurora planes will soon be engaged in the “evolving” mission against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi ….” More from the Canadian Press here, Postmedia News here and here, and QMI Media here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (2) – NATO’s agreed to run the no-fly zone show. “NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced today the alliance will assume command and control of coalition operations enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya authorized by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. “We are taking action as part of the broad international effort to protect civilians against the attacks by the [Moammar] Gadhafi regime,” Rasmussen said in a statement released today. “We will cooperate with our partners in the region and welcome their contributions.” All NATO allies are committed to fulfill their obligations under the U.N. resolution, Rasmussen said. “That is why we have decided to assume responsibility for the no-fly zone,” He added ….” NATO’s short & sweet statement on this here, some background from the U.S. State Department here, and some commentary from’s Danger Room here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – Again with a question in the House of Commons! Defence Minister MacKay’s response:  “…. the reality is that the professional, non-partisan bureaucrats who work in the Department of National Defence disagree with the Parliamentary Budget Officer. In fact, they said that the methodology was wrong. They said that the cost of an aircraft should not be calculated based on its weight, that one does not go on historical analysis that is 50 years old and that one does not push it out 30 years. DND officials would be pleased to meet with the Parliamentary Budget Officer to discuss his methodologies and correct some of his flawed findings ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) – Former CBC journalist wades in: “…. this UN-sponsored mission raises new questions about the wisdom of buying 65 of these Lockheed-Martin “Joint Strike Fighters,” which are still in the test phase. Particularly when the price tag ranges from a low of $14.7 billion (government estimate) to a stunning $29 billion (Parliamentary Budget Office prediction). And when the Libya campaign drives home an awkward historical point – that Canada has never used more than a handful of jet fighters in foreign conflicts and there’s no reason to suspect this will change in the coming decades ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (3) – More from “According to the latest CTV/Globe/Nanos Poll, when asked about the Harper government’s plan to purchase F-35 jet fighters, 68% of Canadians believe that now is not the right time to purchase the aircraft. Canadians identified healthcare as their number one unprompted issue of concern. 29% of respondents named it their top priority, next to 18% who consider jobs/economy their main concern. Military and foreign policy issues do not appear among the top five issues named by respondents ….”
  • Teens in military families are often burdened by additional emotional stress when a parent is deployed to Afghanistan, according to a new Canadian study. Researchers from the University of New Brunswick, the University of Alberta, Ryerson University, and York University released the findings of their groundbreaking research on Thursday that examined students at Oromocto High School near Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, who recently had a parent serving in the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. The researchers reported the teens worried their parents would not return home or would come back “different.” The study found that stress caused concerns at home. The young people felt a sense of responsibility for the emotional stability of their other parent and for any younger siblings at home. The teen felt additional stress if the parent remaining in Canada was having difficulty with the other parent being away on the military mission ….” More on the study from the Fredericton Telegraph-Journal here, Postmedia News here, and from the University of New Brunswick here.
  • The first batch of papers related to the handling of Afghan detainees is expected to be released within two weeks – a mid-election document dump that could damage both Liberals and Conservatives, or absolve them of wrongdoing in a matter that once dominated parliamentary debate. Bloc Québecois Leader Gilles Duceppe insists the documents must be made public by April 15 and says his MPs will withdraw from the closed-door Commons committee that has been vetting them if his demands are not met. When asked this week if he would expect that release to occur even if it coincided with an election campaign, Mr. Duceppe replied: “Yes, yes, yes.” Bryon Wilfert, a Liberal MP who sits on the committee, said Thursday he does not know when the release will occur but it will be “soon.” There is “obviously a fervent attempt” to meet Mr. Duceppe’s deadline, Mr. Wilfert said. And election, he said, “will not preclude or hamper the release.” ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? – “…. The Department of National Defence (DND) currently have over 70,000 C79 Optical Sights in use and plans to sustain the fleet by purchasing replacement sights matching existing equipment. CF personnel have been trained using the C79 optical sights. Weapon and sight units cannot be replaced with “cloned/substitute” items due to possible life endangerment. These sight units represent a soldier’s security and the security around him, which makes consideration of multiple versions of similar sight units unacceptable. In addition, it is essential for commonality purposes and to minimize in-service support costs that the same sight be purchased. Given the large inventory it would not be operationally feasible or affordable to replace every sight or to carry a mixed inventory ….” Who’s doing the replacing?  Armament Technology Incorporated of Halifax, N.S.
  • Almost a decade after 9/11, the many arms of Canada’s national security network still do not share all their intelligence about terrorist threats with sister agencies, says a parliamentary report. The fix, says the new interim report by the special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism, is to clarify and expand the mandate of the national security adviser (NSA) to the prime minister, giving the office statutory powers to co-ordinate national security activities and share counter-terrorism intelligence across government ….” More in a news release from the Special Senate Committee on Anti-Terrorism here, and from the report, “Security, Freedom and the Complex Terrorist Threat: Positive Steps Ahead”, here (PDF).
  • What a surprise!  Chinese spies are keeping an eye on what they consider opposition groups here in Canada! “There are spies from China operating in Canada, members of the Chinese-Canadian community told QMI Agency Thursday. “We came here for freedom and find ourselves still under the oppression of the Chinese regime,” said Lucy Zhou, spokesman for a Falun Gong group in Ottawa. “What has happened in the past 10 years is that we have been victimized by the Chinese regime, including by the Chinese Embassy and missions here in Canada.” Zhou, who came to Canada as a student in 1989, says China regularly spies on Chinese citizens in Canada. “Going back to China, people are stopped right away and interrogated and they (Chinese officials) know everything that happens here in Canada,” Zhou said ….”
  • Looky who’s poking around in the Arctic. “The United States is staging high-profile submarine exercises in the Arctic Ocean this month as evidence mounts that global warming will lead to more mining, oil production, shipping and fishing in the world’s last frontier. Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and a Who’s Who of other VIPs braved below-zero temperatures this month to visit a temporary camp on the ice about 150 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, where two nuclear-powered U.S. submarines are conducting military training exercises. It is important for us to continue to train and operate in the Arctic,” said U.S. Navy Captain Rhett Jaehn, the No. 2 official overseeing U.S. submarine forces ….” News Highlights – 24 Mar 11

leave a comment » News Highlights – 23 Mar 11

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  • No Fly Zone in Libya (1) – Canadian military aircraft joined in a mission against ground targets in Libya on Tuesday, but did not drop their bombs amid concern there might be civilian casualties, military officials said.  Officials said two CF18 aircraft were assigned to attack a unspecified Libya airfield along with other aircraft from the U.S.-led coalition.  “Upon arrival on the scene in the target area, the air crew became aware of a risk (of collateral damage) they deemed as too high,” Major General Tom Lawson, Canada’s Assistant Chief of the Air Staff told reporters.  The Canadian jets returned safely to base …. It was the second mission for Canadian planes in the campaign to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya to halt attacks on rebels and civilians and open the way for humanitarian help. It was the first time they had been assigned to attack a target ….” More from the Canadian Press here, QMI Media here, Postmedia News here, here and the Toronto Star here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (2) – Military blogger & observer Bruce Ralston raises interesting points about those French jets blowing up Libyan tanks early on in the fight. “…. It’s hard not to wonder if that attack wasn’t a unilateral, or at least somewhat disjointed-from-the-rest-of-NATO French effort, trusting solely in surprise and speed of action… either that or it was a very deliberate attempt to bait the Libyans into some kind of hasty response, turning on their radars, even scrambling planes, that the still-assembling coalition could take advantage of. Gutsy, either way, though ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (3) – Former senior advisor to Prime Minister Harper and diplomat Derek Burney wonders why we’re doing what we’re doing in Libya. “…. There is every reason to deplore Gadhafi’s conduct and use sanctions, arms embargos and the threat of International Court prosecution to deter him from further outrages against his own people. But why should the onus for military action fall exclusively on the West, especially when the consequences of action – the end game – belie easy analysis. And why Canada? We are already doing much of the heavy-lifting in Afghanistan whereas several NATO allies have taken a pass. Is it because we were snubbed for a Security Council seat and want to re-establish our credentials for “peace-keeping”? Is it because we regard ourselves as an architect of the Responsibility to Protect concept adopted by the UN? If so, where will it lead – to Iran? Zimbabwe? North Korea? There is a long waiting list ….” More from Postmedia News here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (4) – Al Jazeera English is maintaining an interesting summary of open source information regarding who’s doing what in/over Libya at Google Docs – worth a look.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (5) – Good one from the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence on Twitter: “Good job BBC don’t aim cruise missiles — — Naval base is in eastern corner of Tripoli harbour, 3.5km from Green Sq”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (6) – NATO steps in with help to enforce an arms embargo. “NATO has now decided to launch an operation to enforce the arms embargo against Libya. All Allies are committed to meet their responsibilities under the United Nations resolution to stop the intolerable violence against Libyan civilians. Our top operational commander, Admiral Stavridis, is activating NATO ships and aircraft in the Central Mediterranean. They will conduct operations to monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries. This will be done in close coordination with commercial shipping and regional organisations. And we will welcome contributions from NATO partners to our common endeavour ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – Defence Minister Peter MacKay on the back-and-forth on cost estimates for the F-35 cranked out by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO). “Mr. Speaker, the non-partisan, professional DND procurement experts stand by their cost projections. In fact, those costs are based on actual detailed estimates that were calculated from a multinational joint strike fighter program. They were not based on extrapolations that were made from drawing upon historical data of other aircraft from 50 years ago. They were not based on a flawed calculation that included the weight of the aircraft. They did not project out 30 years. They went with the 20 year standard.” Interesting message, but not quite complete.  Look at this footnote on page 10 of the PBO’s report: “Additional Costs include costs for project management, infrastructure, weapons, and a contingency. The PBO has not included these costs in its estimate. In addition, while the PBO operating and support cost is based on a 30-year program life, DND’s operating and support cost is based on a 20-year program life. For purposes of comparability, PBO has increased the DND’s forecast operating and support cost on a pro-rata basis to reflect a 30-year program life.” That means the figures in the PBO report really are comparing apples to apples.  That said, the criticism of the approach taken to figure out costs compared to other jet fighter acquisitions (by the kilogram?) still stands.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) – A former DND official who signed off on part of the F-35 process has these caveats“One of the main difficulties with the debate regarding the costs of the F-35 is that there are so many definitions of “cost.” For example, there is the “unit recurring flyaway cost”, the “total flyaway cost”, the “procurement cost”, the “acquisition cost”, the “life-cycle cost”, to name just a few. The fact is, only when Canada signs a contract will we know for certain how much money we will spend to buy and to sustain the aircraft we choose …. while it is important to understand the costs of this program, it is even more important to have a public debate on the aircraft requirements and their linkage to the role and mission of our military. To date, this has been lacking.”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (3) – A columnist is sharing the new message track that “sending the CF-18’s into Libya proves we need a new F-35 fighter because you never know when we need fighters to help out.” Really?  Silly me – all I take from Canada’s action in Libya is that we need fighters, not that we need these specific fighters.
  • One of the tidbits announced in this week’s federal budget“…. the Government will partner with the Building and Construction Trades Department, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, to support the Helmets to Hardhats program in Canada. This initiative will connect releasing Canadian Forces members and veterans with career opportunities in the construction industry. This will help provide many benefits for our armed services personnel as well as the Canadian economy. Details will be announced in the coming months.” So far, wounded warriors say they’re underwhelmed with this. More from Postmedia News here.
  • The mission in Afghanistan remains U.N. sanctioned for another year.
  • The (Senate’s) Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence today tabled Sovereignty & Security in Canada’s Arctic. The report calls on the Government to make acquisition of new fixed wing search and rescue (SAR) aircraft its top military procurement priority, and to make the procurement timeline public. These new aircraft, in the planning stage since 2004, will replace the Air Force’s aging CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130 Hercules aircraft. The Committee also recommends that the Government move some of its Canadian Forces SAR assets to a central Northern location so that there is always an aircraft on standby to respond quickly to emergencies. At present, Air Force search and rescue aircraft are based in southern Canada, many hours away from emergencies in the Arctic ….” More in a news release here, and from the Canadian Press here.
  • A London, Ontario MP with nice things to say about the Reserves in the House of Commons.
  • Oopsie….“A London mother has appealed directly to Defence Minister Peter MacKay, asking him to investigate how a pardoned sex offender became a cadet instructor at the 27 Air Squadron. “It is incumbent on all of us to ensure that this never happens again,” Rita Lepore said in a letter to MacKay dated Feb. 28, for which she has received no response. She told The Free Press local military and cadet officials downplayed the situation and “I don’t believe they will do anything until their hand is forced to do something.” So Lepore continues to wait for a reply from MacKay, whose department rejected Roger Micks when he applied to be a civilian instructor. Micks, now 50, was pardoned in June 2009 from a 1985 gross indecency conviction involving a 15-year-old boy. A volunteer with 27 Squadron for several years, Micks had been bestowed the “CI” ranking of a civilian instructor — despite the national-defence rejection. His photo appeared with that ranking on the squadron’s website ….” News Highlights – 22 Mar 11

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  • No Fly Zone in Libya (1) Canada’s CF-188’s fly their first mission over Libya. More from the Toronto Star here, the Globe & Mail here, here, Postmedia News here and here, Dow Jones wire service here and Agence France-Presse here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (2a)The Harper government rallied opposition parties to “war” Monday, casting Canada’s military intervention in the Libyan crisis as a moral imperative.  A House of Commons debate took place within hours of the air force carrying out its first combat patrol to enforce the UN-mandated no-fly zone over the embattled north African country …. MacKay couldn’t say how long the no-fly mission would last, but said no one wants to have forces in harm’s way any longer than necessary.  The motion, which sources said was the subject of feverish back room drafting among the parties, passed unanimously late Monday night ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (2b)Here’s the motion Parliament passed“In standing in solidarity with those seeking freedom in Libya, the House welcomes United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973; that the House deplores the ongoing use of violence by the Libyan regime against the Libyan people; acknowledges the demonstrable need, regional support and clear legal basis for urgent action to protect the people of Libya; consequently, the government shall work with our allies, partners and the United Nations to promote and support all aspects of UNSC Resolution 1973, which includes the taking of all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in Libya and to enforce the no-fly zone, including the use of the Canadian Forces and military assets in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1973; that the House requests that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Standing Committee on National Defence remain seized of Canada’s activities under UNSC Resolution 1973; that should the government require an extension to the involvement of the Canadian Forces for more than three months from the passage of this motion, the government shall return to the House at its earliest opportunity to debate and seek the consent of the House for such an extension; and that the House offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of the Canadian Forces.” Want to read the debate?  Click here for Hansard’s transcript or here for a PDF of the debate transcript (49 pages).
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (3) – Canadian warship HMCS Charlottetown is patrolling the waters north of Libya, as UN-backed airstrikes continue. Cmdr. Craig Skjerpen said Charlottetown is with NATO ships, but not with the convoy enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya. “We’re able to see some of the strikes commence but we’re a little farther back, so we’re in a safe area,” he told CBC News on Monday morning. Charlottetown and its 240 crew members left their home port of Halifax on March 2. At the time, the mission was to evacuate Canadian citizens from Libya and provide humanitarian assistance. By the time the ship was in the area, the mission had changed. Skjerpen said it’s possible the ship will be called on to help enforce an embargo. For now, there is no specific task other than to patrol. “We’re looking at the vessels and the aircraft that are in the area and we’re learning the traffic patterns to see if there’s anything abnormal,” he said ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (4) – Terry Glavin comments on how even with the U.N. sanctioning the mission, the “usual suspects” are opposed: “…. there was little in the way of singing and dancing going on in certain sections of the Toronto Danforth, it is an understatement to say. “The UN Security Council resolution which authorizes ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians from attack is dangerously vague and opens the door to a much larger western military intervention in the country,” the so-called Canadian Peace Alliance complains. This is what one might expect from some of the most conservative, narrow-minded, privileged and autocrat-fancying counterrevolutionaries to come along since the early Mussolinists. But in the days and weeks to come, how many degrees of separation will this posture mark from that of the New Democratic Party? ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (5) – The UN Security Council on Monday turned down a Libyan request for a special meeting to discuss Western air strikes on the country following the council’s imposition of a no-fly zone, diplomats said. The council decided instead simply to hold a briefing already planned for Thursday by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on how the resolution that set up the zone to protect civilians in Libya’s internal conflict is being implemented ….” More from the Globe & Mail here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (6) – Not EVERYONE in NATO wants the mission to become a NATO mission. “…. So far, the NATO alliance has been unable to reach an agreement on participation in the military implementation of the no-fly zone. Turkey is resisting the measure and is calling for a new review of other possible measures the alliance could take in Libya. Ankara has also called for an immediate Western cease-fire, with Turkish officials calling on NATO to give greater consideration in its discussions to the possibility of civilian deaths, a NATO diplomat told the news agency AFP under the condition of anonymity. Ankara has rejected any NATO intervention against Libya, including the implementation of a no-fly zone ….”
  • While Canadian eyes turn to the fighter planes scrambling over Libya, a Montreal conference will discuss how the country has turned a blind eye to a far deadlier conflict elsewhere in Africa. Canada has deep business interests in Congo, where millions have died in a war related to mining, and has resisted calls for more military involvement there. A panellist for Tuesday’s Concordia University event said Canada is intimately involved in the ongoing Congolese conflict. “Canada, unfortunately, has become a safe haven for multinationals who are exploiting different areas around the world,” said Kambale Musavuli of Friends of Congo in Washington, D.C. “Many of the mining companies in the Congo — who either work with the rebels directly (or) funded them — are actually trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.” ….”
  • Wounded warriors back in the fight in Afghanistan – well done! “Cpl. Maxime Emond-Pepin’s missing left eye and scarred face set him apart him from most of his peers, as does his ability to bounce back from devastating injuries. The 22-year-old from Longueuil, Que., refused to allow his battlefield scars to deter him from returning to the job he loves. His resolve was tested after a fellow soldier stepped on an improvised explosive device while the two were patrolling in Kandahar on Aug. 6, 2009. The soldier lost a leg and Emond-Pepin’s eye was damaged beyond repair. Gruelling rehabilitation sessions followed and he made a speedy recovery ….”
  • Afghan forces will take over security in seven areas in the country this summer, none of which are in Kandahar despite five years of fighting by Canadian troops in the southern province. President Hamid Karzai’s announcement today is a stark reminder that despite recent battlefield successes, much work remains before Kandahar’s security can be handed over to Afghan forces ….”
  • Some rule changes in Kandahar are being considered following a less-than-productive exchange at a vehicle accident. “The Afghan troops were manning a checkpoint near the Dand district centre in Deh-e-Bagh when a resupply convoy backed up and hit an Afghan army pickup truck, causing some damage. The Canadian convoy commander, whom the NATO assessment identifies only as a corporal, tried to give a compensation claims card to an Afghan army lieutenant. But the lieutenant refused to accept it, saying he wanted cash instead because he had been reprimanded by his supervisors in the past when he could not produce money for vehicle damage. “(There were) frustrations on both sides, because there’s a little bit of a language barrier,” said Lt.-Col. Webster Wright, a public affairs officer with RC-South ….”
  • A former Canadian civilian boss from the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team says “The stubborn Afghan theatre may very well be the incubator for new experiments in bottom-up stabilization of war-torn states.
  • New high tech for Canada’s navy, coast guard: “The Government of Canada has awarded a contract for an Interdepartmental Maritime Integrated Command, Control and Communications (IMIC3) system to Thales Canada. “This state of the art system will give navy and Coast Guard commanders the information they need as they work together to protect Canada’s coast line,” said Minister MacKay. “By equipping the Canadian Forces with the tools they need to do their jobs, our government is delivering on our commitment to protect Canada and Canadian interests.” The IMIC3 system will equip the navy and the Canadian Coast Guard with an advanced capability to gather and share data from coastal surveillance in near real time. Using sophisticated, integrated technologies, it will improve the secure exchange of positional information by providing operational commanders and other government departments — on shore and at sea — with the same satellite data at the same time. This will allow for more coordinated planning and execution of maritime operations in defence of Canada ….” More here.
  • Historian Jack Granatstein on the coming federal election:  don’t expect much defence talk. “…. What is almost certain is that it will be the only one as the politicians, the media, and the electorate focus in on domestic issues to the exclusion of everything else. Even the F-35 purchase will be framed in a “buy the aircraft or establish a national day care plan” terms. There will be no discussion of Afghanistan and the new training mission. There will be little talk of the Libyan operation unless a Canadian Air Force aircraft kills civilians. Nothing will be said about the Canada-US security talks unless the NDP feels that a burst of anti-Americanism might be helpful. And certainly no leader, no party, will say anything about Canadian national interests and how they might best be protected or advanced ….”\
  • F-35 Tug o’ War –The great majority of Canadians do not want the federal government to purchase new fighter jets, even though Prime Minister Stephen Harper is bound and determined to do just that. Nor is the Conservative lead on economic issues all that robust. These findings from a new Nanos poll for The Globe and Mail and CTV will put wind in the sails of opposition leaders during what appear to be the final days before a spring election campaign ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1) – Canada’s military engineering school is outsourcing “construction engineering technicians of the Canadian Forces (CF) on Operational level Drafting and Surveying”. (via
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2) – Test dummies for DRDC Valcartier (via News Highlights – 21 Mar 11

leave a comment » News Highlights – 20 Mar 11

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  • No Fly Zone Libya (1) – They call it Operation Odyssey Dawn.  First in:  100+ Tomahawk missiles, French ground attack planes.  Who’s running the show?  U.S. Africa Command for now – here’s AFRICOM’s boss’ initial word on the job..
  • No Fly Zone Libya (2) – Who’s who in the OP Odyssey Dawn zoo (including HMCS Charlottetown in the Med, and 6 x CF-18’s), courtesy of Reuters and the Associated Press.
  • No Fly Zone Libya (3) – PM Harper’s latest statement: “…. Canadian aircraft and HMCS Charlottetown have joined an international force assembling in the region. Faced with the threat of military action, the regime proclaimed a ceasefire. But the ceasefire was a lie, an obvious lie from the beginning. The facts on the ground are changing in the opposite direction. Canada has said, and leaders have agreed, that we must act urgently. “We must help the Libyan people, help them now, or the threat to them and to the stability of the whole region will only increase. “We must also ensure humanitarian needs are met, and that the humanitarian appeal is fully subscribed. “Finally, we should all acknowledge that ultimately, only the Libyan people can or should decide their future. “But we all have a mutual interest in their peaceful transition to a better future.”
  • More from the PM: “Canada needs to move quickly but tread carefully as it engages in “acts of war” against a defiant Col. Moammar Gadhafi and his brutal regime, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “We should not kid ourselves. Whenever you engage in military action, essentially acts of war, these are difficult situations,” Harper told reporters in Paris on Saturday following an emergency summit on the crisis in Libya, during which international partners, led by France, agreed to turn the screws on the dangerous despot. “We need to monitor this very closely and be very careful what we do every step of the way,” Harper said ….”
  • Commentary on Canadian-built LAVs being used by Saudi Arabia to help, uh, sort things out in Bahrain“…. It does regrettably tend to put Canada’s support for “Responsibility to Protect” policies in the Middle East these days in something of a different light. And yes, at around 2:30 in the video you see the distinctive boat hulls of LAVs, most with the 90mm main gun armament that is unique to the Saudi variant. Made in Canada? Yes, most likely …. This is not, however, an issue that any party courting the Ontario auto union vote is likely ever to bring up to the public, so this shouldn’t be an issue, at least until one of the Saudi drivers runs over a news crew or something.”
  • More parents of the fallen visit Afghanistan seeking some closure. “The families of 10 Canadians killed in Afghanistan paid tribute Sunday to their loved ones in what could be the last ceremony of its kind before combat operations end in the war-torn country. A next-of-kin memorial service was held at Kandahar Airfield’s Canadian compound. The parents, spouses and siblings of those killed placed wreaths at the foot of the monument dedicated to Canadians who have died as part of the Afghan mission. The father of Capt. Nichola Goddard, who was the first Canadian woman to be killed in action while serving in a combat role, said he felt compelled to visit Kandahar. “For me, it was quite peaceful, more than I anticipated,” Tim Goddard said ….”
  • What the troops are up to in Afghanistan: “A glance at a map of the Panjwai District tells you where the river is, because that’s where the people are. Villages speckle the landscape around the Arghandab River and its dozens of tributaries, which provide the irrigation water that makes agriculture possible. In winter, when the area receives almost its entire annual rainfall, streams swell with run-off from the mountains and the soil becomes saturated. Unless drainage is provided, many houses are damaged. When the District Governor received a petition from residents of Bazaar-e-Panjwa’i for help with recurring flood damage, he asked ISAF Regional Command (South) for engineering support to execute a drainage control project. Panjwai District is in the Task Force Kandahar (TFK) area of responsibility, so the project came to the TFK Engineer Regiment — specifically, the Engineer Construction Squadron (ECS), the regiment’s project management team ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Attacks, logistics convoy ambushes and assassinations claimed in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
  • The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, today announced plans to construct a new Integrated Personnel Support Center at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Halifax. Located at Windsor Park, the new facility will provide a 662 m2 facility that will equip the unit with the space they require to administer the full spectrum of services they can offer …. The new facility, valued at approximately $4.2 million, will accommodate the 27 members of the Integrated Personnel Support Centre at CFB Halifax. The new facility also addresses current accessibility issues and will meet the Universal Design and Barrier Free Access Guidelines, making it more conducive to providing the services required for ill or injured personnel ….” More from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald here.
  • (U.S.) Army officials are preparing to conduct what they say is a rare training event involving the U.S. military, the CIA, Canadian officers and other government agencies. The Joint Intermediate Staff Planning Exercise will be held March 21-25 at Fort Leavenworth’s Lewis and Clark Center, home of the Army Command and General Staff College. The weeklong event is designed to encourage participants to confront the challenges and uncertainties of joint, interagency and multinational operations ….”