MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 26 Mar 11

  • 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, ceasefire.ca 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.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 25 Mar 11

  • 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 Wired.com’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 ceasefire.ca: “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 ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 24 Mar 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 23 Mar 11

  • 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, CTV.ca 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 — http://t.co/A3LcuhU — 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 ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 21 Mar 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 20 Mar 11

  • 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 ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 19 Mar 11

  • No Fly Zone Libya (1) – CF-18’s from Bagotville on their way.
  • No Fly Zone Libya (2) – Libya declares ceasefire. Sort of.
  • No Fly Zone Libya (3) – Column:  ceasefire a ruse?
  • No Fly Zone Libya (4) – PM Harper heads to Paris to talk Libya. More from CBC.ca here.
  • No Fly Zone Libya (5) – DefMin MacKay: “…. Our response to the instability in Northern Africa demonstrates once again that our Canadian Forces are a highly trained and motivated team that is ready to deploy anywhere in the world on short notice. I am sure I speak for all Canadians when I say how proud I am that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen stand for freedom and democracy. oday’s deployment shows the readiness and professionalism of the Canadian Forces as we work with our allies in this important mission to protect Libya’s civilian population against tyranny. The agility of our Canadian Forces personnel and the support of their families make this rapid deployment possible.”
  • No Fly Zone Libya (6) – What Libyan ceasefire? “Pro-Gaddafi tanks are inside Libya’s rebel stronghold of Benghazi, a BBC journalist has witnessed, as the city came under attack. A jet appears to have been shot down over the city in spite of a declared ceasefire and a UN no-fly resolution. World leaders are due to meet in Paris to discuss military action. The rebel leader has appealed to the international community to stop the pro-Gaddafi bombardment, but the government denies claims of attacks. “Now there is a bombardment by artillery and rockets on all districts of Benghazi,” Mustafa Abdul Jalil told Al Jazeera television. “There will be a catastrophe if the international community does not implement the resolutions of the UN Security Council. “We appeal to the international community, to the all the free world, to stop this tyranny from exterminating civilians.” ….” Can you say “human shields”?  More from Bloomberg here, Reuters here, and Xinhua here.
  • No Fly Zone Libya (7) – Libyan fighter plane drops from sky. More from CNN here.
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), and here (BBC).
  • In other CF-related news, Alberta’s policing watchdog and the CF’s National Investigation Service is looking into the death of a Canadian soldier in custody at CFB Edmonton. “A Canadian soldier is in hospital after being found without any vital signs in a detention cell at the Edmonton Garrison. The soldier, who was under military police custody, was found Wednesday evening and rushed to hospital. There is no word on the soldier’s condition or extent of injuries. The Alberta Serious Incident Reponse Team (ASIRT) is investigating with the help of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service. Part of ASIRT’s investigation will focus on the actions of the military police in relation to the incident.” More from the Globe & Mail here.  An online obituary for soldier in question is here.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 15 Mar 11

  • Latest recommended no-go-zone for Canadians:  Bahrain “Ottawa has upgraded its travel warning for Bahrain, telling Canadians to avoid all travel to the island nation. Bahrain has faced a month of nonstop unrest which has killed seven people as the country’s majority Shiite Muslims call for the ouster of the long-standing Sunni monarchy. Canada’s department of foreign affairs is advising against all travel to Bahrain due to the “unpredictable security situation” in the country. Canadians already in Bahrain are advised to stay indoors, avoid all political gatherings and keep away from the particularly tumultuous capital Manama. The department is also advising all Canadians in the middle-eastern country to register with the consulate in Manama or the Canadian embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia ….” DFAIT’s latest Travel Report on Bahrain here.
  • Canada’s Foreign Minister on Libya (1) Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon took a cautious approach Monday as some of Canada’s allies demanded tough military action to halt the advances against rebels by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces.  Cannon said Canada will consider all options — from tougher sanctions to a no-fly zone targeting Libyan aircraft and air defences — to oust the dictator.  But he added that Canada is looking for greater detail on how a no-fly operation would work against the Libyan military, which continued to drive back rebel forces Monday with air power followed by artillery and ground forces. “We all agree that Gadhafi must leave, we all agree there has to be a stop and an end to the bloodshed and the violence that this individual is bringing upon his population,” Cannon told reporters prior to the start of a two-day meeting here of G8 foreign ministers. “But we have to be able to come together with an option that is viable.” ….”
  • Canada’s Foreign Minister on Libya (2) “Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said Monday that Canada will consider all options, from tougher sanctions to military intervention, to rid Libya of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Cannon, speaking before the launch of a two-day G8 foreign ministers meeting here, said he plans to meet with rebel leaders either Monday in Paris or in Egypt on Tuesday after the conclusion of the G8 gathering. He said the world is now seeing the same Gadhafi implicated in the Lockerbie terrorist bombing. “What we are witnessing is the Lockerbie Gadhafi,” he told reporters ….”
  • Blogger Mark Collins on Libya “…. Very many criticize the US, often severely, sometimes stridently, for what they judge an American obsession with military strength. Yet. Libya is close to Europe and far from the US (and Canada). It is Europe that fears a mass migrant influx and loss of oil (along with arms contracts with Libya). The EU in terms of population and GDP is quite equivalent to the US. Its members still have numerically very large armed forces, technically far more advanced than Col. Gadhafi’s. At the same time many in the EU (and in Canada) see themselves, socially and morally, even economically, as an alternative beacon to the “shining city on a hill”. But when something military may be required EU members (as a Union, as part of NATO, or in some coalition of their own) are unable, unprepared, and ill-equipped in fact to do much of anything on their own ….”
  • More border security information is now out there, this time in the form of a new joint Canada-U.S. risk & threat assessment“The Honourable Vic Toews, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, today announced the release of the United States–Canada Joint Border Threat and Risk Assessment. The report helps enhance our understanding of common threats and risks in the areas of national security, criminal enterprises, migration, agriculture and health at our shared border. “The Government of Canada is committed to a safe, secure and efficient border. This is vital to Canada’s economy and to the safety and security of all Canadians,” said Minister Toews. “Canada and the U.S. are working closely to ensure that our shared border remains open to the legitimate movement of people and goods, and closed to those who would do either country harm.” “The United States and Canada have a long history of productive collaboration,” said U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano. “The Joint Border Threat and Risk Assessment reflects our ongoing commitment to enhancing security along our shared border while facilitating legitimate travel and trade that is critical to the economies of both countries.” ….” The full report is here.
  • Most young Canadians know little or nothing about most of the wars and peacekeeping missions their countrymen have served in, according to a survey done one year ago for Veterans Affairs Canada. While a bare majority of the 13-to-17-year-olds surveyed claimed to know at least a moderate amount about the Second World War, their knowledge fell off rapidly beyond that. More than two-thirds said they knew very little or nothing at all about the First World War, and nearly as many were equally unaware of Canadian peacekeeping efforts since 1960. Their ignorance peaked with the Korean War, about which 82 per cent said they knew nothing or very little. Even for the best-known conflict, the Second World War, 37 per cent of the youth said they knew very little and nine per cent knew nothing at all. The 514 youth were surveyed last March by Phoenix Strategic Perspectives as part of a $47,600 project for Veterans Affairs designed to assess Canadians’ awareness, engagement and satisfaction with Remembrance Day programming ….”
  • Maybe the bit in red at the end will help young people learn history better…. “The Conservative government is planning a $100-million national celebration to mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812 next year. It is understood that the current plans for the commemoration include re-enactments of famous battles, the repair of monuments and plaques, a new visitor centre at Fort York in Toronto, a documentary, a national essay-writing competition and a dedicated website. Dean Del Mastro, the parliamentary secretary for Canadian Heritage, confirmed the government is keen to make the bicentennial a major event …. many of the events will celebrate 200 years of peaceful co-existence with a former adversary. “These were events that forged our future and made us able to continue as a separate nation,” said Sandra Shaul, project manager for the City of Toronto’s bicentennial commemorations. One of the challenges identified by some event organizers is how to interest recent immigrants to Canada. Ms. Shaul said one proposal is to tell the story of 1812 using puppets accompanied by south-east Asian music ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 14 Mar 11

  • Interested in being heard about a proposed joint border security deal between Canada and the United States Here’s your chance! “…. The Government of Canada will engage with all levels of government and with communities, non-governmental organizations and the private sector, as well as with our citizens, on innovative approaches to security and competitiveness. This consultation will inform the development of a joint Canada-United States action plan that will set out a range of initiatives in four key areas of cooperation to promote security and support trade and economic growth ….” You have a bit more than five weeks (until 21 Apr 11, just before Good Friday) to send your ides in writing on these topics in to the government.  If you can keep it to 10,000 characters (about 2,000 words) or less, you can send it via this page.  Need a bit more scope?  Here’s some ways to share files no larger than 4MB.
  • Canada’s offering all sorts of help to Japan to help deal with its earthquake problems. “The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, outlined an array of expertise and technical assistance that the Government of Canada has offered to the Government of Japan as part of international efforts to help Japan respond to and recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck the country on Friday, March 11. “Our government has been actively engaged since learning of this tragic event,” said Minister Cannon. “As Prime Minister Harper stated, Canada stands ready to provide any and all possible assistance to the people of Japan. Canada has put a range of capabilities at Japan’s disposal, including a 17-member Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team, which is currently on standby and ready to be deployed. “In addition, we are offering chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) technical expertise and equipment, Canadian Forces assets—including strategic airlift and personnel—to facilitate humanitarian relief efforts, Government of Canada relief stocks, and emergency medical and engineering capabilities,” added Minister Cannon ….” Why aren’t these assets moving out yet?  Because Japan hasn’t asked for anything specific yet.  More on a potential DVI team that could head to Afghanistan here, Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) here, and a lesser-known part of Canada’s special forces who might be able to help, the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit (CJIRU), here.
  • Arab League:  UN, approve a no-fly zone over Libya, please.  Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister:  Way to go, Arab League: “Canada welcomes the decision by the Arab League calling for a no-fly zone over Libya. In light of the grave and deteriorating situation in Libya, and Muammar Qadhafi’s reckless disregard for the lives of the Libyan people, this resolution clearly signals that Qadhafi does not have support in the region. He is isolated and ignoring the will of the international community. Canada again calls on the Qadhafi regime to cease its appalling attacks on the Libyan people. We reiterate our call that Qadhafi step down immediately. Canada will continue to work closely with our like-minded partners to explore the full range of options that might be available to us.” More from QMI here.
  • Canada’s military in Afghanistan has agreed, despite some initial discomfort, to help launch a controversial program in the Panjwaii district that will enlist and arm local civilians to defend their villages against insurgents. Canadian soldiers may even assist with training for the Afghan Local Police initiative, despite the fact Canada’s commander in Kandahar, Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, previously expressed hesitancy about the program. Brig.-Gen. Milner told media back in November that ALP forces might not be necessary in Panjwaii if the coalition could build up the numbers of Afghan National Police, who are better trained, better paid and fall under a more formal command structure. Four months later, with Afghan National Police recruitment still behind target, Brig.-Gen. Milner says he is now fully behind the idea of community-based forces to help protect areas recently cleared of insurgents ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch More attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
  • What’s Canada Buying? Wanted:  Someone to train west coast Search and Rescue (SAR) Technicians about “mountain (and) glacier climbing and rescue”.
  • Another one of the Khadr lads makes the news again. “A terrorist collaborator is walking the streets because a Canadian judge wrongly decided to stay extradition proceedings against him, the federal government asserts. In documents filed with Ontario’s highest court ahead of an appeal hearing, Ottawa maintains Abdullah Khadr should be handed over to the United States to face terror-related charges. Instead, by ordering the stay, Ontario Supreme Court Justice Christopher Speyer put Canada’s security at risk and damaged the fight against terrorism, the government argues on behalf of the U.S. “Because of the extradition judge’s errors, an admitted al-Qaida collaborator walks free,” the documents state. “The security of Canada and the international community is put at risk, Canada’s fight against terrorism is undermined, and the interests of justice are not served.” The U.S. wants to try the Ottawa-born Khadr, whose younger brother Omar is serving time in Guantanamo Bay for war crimes, on charges of supplying weapons to al-Qaida in Pakistan ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 11 Mar 11

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