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 (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 ….”
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 ….”
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 ….”
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 ….”\
No Fly Zone Libya (2) – According to CBC.ca’s live blog feed, “Canada’s six CF-18 fighters remain stationed in Trapani, Italy, and are awaiting orders on how they will be deployed, says (Canadian Defence Minister Peter) MacKay. The CF-18’s will be used primarily to take out airport runways, crippling access for the Libyan Air Force.” According to the Minister on CTV’s “Question Period”, ““The purpose here is clearly to disable the airfields and the use of Libyan air assets that could be brought to bear and used against civilians. So the clear indication is that we want to disable their air force and ensure that civilians are given the maximum protection,” he said.”
No Fly Zone in Libya (3) – According to CBC.ca, “The CF-18s from CFB Bagotville, along with 150 personnel, arrived at a small airbase in Trapani, Sicily, around noon local time Saturday. The military had been considering moving the aircraft to a larger base in France, but defence sources said the jets are staying in Italy ….”
No Fly Zone in Libya (6) – Commentary: “…. With only six fighter jets and one warship deployed to the Mediterranean, Canada’s participation will carry limited military and political risks but is still large enough to earn Canada kudos from allies and from its own citizens for being on the side of the angels ….”
No Fly Zone Libya (7) – Who’s going to end up in charge of the mission?“…. U.S. Africa Command has taken the military lead in the initial fighting, (Defense Secretary Robert M.) Gates cited possibilities for a transition to leadership by the international coalition. “One is British and French leadership, another is the use of the NATO machinery, he said. “We just have to work out the command and control that is most accommodating to all coalition members.” Gates said the Arab League reaffirmed its support today of the military effort in Libya and that this action was “very important, because the initiative first came from those in the region.” The coalition is not operating as a NATO mission, Gates said, because of sensitivity on the part of the Arab League to being seen to be operating under a NATO umbrella. He added it may be possible to “work out NATO’s command and control machinery without it being a NATO mission and without a NATO flag.” ….”
No-Fly Zone Libya (2) – More on Canada’s F-18’s headed into the fight, from unnamed sources. “A source told the Ottawa Citizen Thursday night that six CF-18s originally tasked for a NATO patrol off Iceland have now been ordered to take part in the Libyan mission ….” (Postmedia News) More, from unnamed sources: “Canada is poised to send in fighter jets to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, defence sources told The Canadian Press. Six CF-18 fighter-bombers are being readied at Canadian Forces Base Bagotville, Que. and are expected to deploy overseas once the Harper government gives the official green light ….” (Canadian Press) Yet more from unnamed sources: “The six CF-18 fighter jets Canada is sending to help enforce the new United Nations no-fly zone over Libya could leave as early as Friday to join an assembling international force, and will be based out of Southern Europe, possibly Italy. Ottawa will also send between 120 and 200 military personnel to support the planes …..” One more version from unnamed sources: “Canada is expected to announce that it will deploy six CF-18 fighter jets to help enforce the UN’s just-approved no-fly zone over Libya, CBC News has learned. The jets would take at least 24 hours to arrive at their destination, which has yet to be determined, but defence sources told CBC that Malta and Italy were possibilities. Between 100 and 200 support personnel would be involved, the sources said, adding the announcement was imminent ….” (CBC.ca). Here’s some background information on the CF-188 Hornet, and on 425 Squadron based in Bagotville.
Advice to Libyan insurgents, from Canada’s man at the US Army/USMC Counterinsurgency Center: “…. You have lost round one. Disperse and hide your weapons and ammo- you will need them in the future. Get organized – figure out who’s in charge and who has the plan. Get some external support – a lot of countries have a beef with Kadhafi. Exploit that. Get some training- learn to move, shoot and communicate. Get disciplined – we all want to be Che but you need some Sgt Rocks too. Dig in. Come back to fight another day, but this time try the indirect approach – the guerrilla approach. Don’t go conventional until you are ready – insurgencies lose because they move too fast. Read your Mao and Michael Collins – learn the lessons from someone else’s past ….”
Canada’s Defence Minister on Afghanistan (1) – I’m back!
Canada’s Defence Minister on Afghanistan (2) – A few more details about Canada’s “Kabul-centred” mission later this year.“In addition to lessons on marksmanship and bomb detection, Canadian soldiers will be teaching Afghan forces to read, write and practice medicine when the country’s new training mission begins later this year. Exactly when and where that instruction will occur remains undecided, but Defence Minister Peter MacKay promised quick answers during a visit to Kandahar Airfield on Thursday. The airbase was the final stop on a four-day Afghanistan tour for the minister and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk, during which they scouted places where the troop trainers could be stationed. “The determination has yet to be made as to the exact numbers and configuration and location but I’ll tell you I’m able to go back now with a much more informed view and make a recommendation to the cabinet and the prime minister for a final decision,” MacKay said. “There is some urgency. We clearly recognize that the sooner we can get on with having trainers in place, the more this will increase our ability to give the Afghans capacity.” ….” More from the Canadian Press here.
F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – “The Defence Department has joined the Harper government in questioning the credibility of the parliamentary budget officer’s report on the costs of stealth jet fighter program. A top military official said Thursday the cost of buying 65 high-tech fighters would be about $15 billion over 20 years, including maintenance costs. That differs from the recent report of PBO Kevin Page that pegged the entire cost to taxpayers at $22.6 billion over 20 years. Page has been a thorn in the side of the Conservative government. His fighter jet assessment was criticized by Laurie Hawn, the junior defence minister, who called it speculative and illogical. Dan Ross, a Defence Department assistant deputy, said Thursday the military has requested a meeting with Page’s office to discuss his figures. Ross told a briefing at Defence Department headquarters in Ottawa that the PBO made a “mathematical error” in calculating the unit cost of the planes, and that its maintenance numbers were off too. His briefing was augmented by an array of slides, and documentation that was distributed to journalists ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War (2) – You want the our cost figures? Here you go, then. “The federal government has finally made public a detailed cost estimate for its controversial F-35 fighter jet purchase in the wake of a committee hearing examining whether the Conservatives may be in contempt of Parliament for failing to disclose the material. The document dump follows a similar one a day earlier in which the government tabled a cost breakdown for its package of anti-crime bills. Some 55 F-35-related documents were apparently tabled before the Parliamentary Procedure and House Affairs Committee Thursday, however, those inside the committee room were not immediately aware of it. Shortly after, Dan Ross, the defence department’s assistant deputy minister of materiel, met with reporters to explain the cost breakdown, its methodology and to offer a few more details about why government figures differ from those released last week by Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page ….”
Oopsie (2) – Someone Postmedia News thinks is quoted denying the claim. “A Winnipeg teenage military reservist under investigation by the Canadian Forces says allegations of racist activity levied against him aren’t true. The 17-year-old also said while he’d considered attending the white pride march in Calgary Saturday to watch — not participate — he cancelled the plans weeks ago. The teenager says while he is proud of his German-Ukrainian heritage, he does not believe in white supremacy. “I do not believe the white race is the master race. I do not believe any races are inferior. I don’t want any harm to happen to anyone,” he said. The teenager said he upholds all military values. “I don’t care if you’re homosexual, Asian, Muslim — we’re all there for the same reason, and that’s the defence of Canada.” …. The teenager said he’s since taken down postings on his Facebook page, including quotes from Hitler and Mussolini. He said he put them up because he sees them as “powerful,” in the sense of being willing to stand up and fight for beliefs. “I don’t want to give the wrong impression,” he said. “Just because an evil person did and said many evil things, does not mean everything he said was wrong.” He said he’d previously posted on a white supremacist forum, but doesn’t belong to any such groups and has since “matured” in his beliefs ….”
Northwestern Ontario Canadian Rangers help train southern Ontario Reservists on how to fight in the winter in northeastern Ontario. “Sixteen Canadian Rangers from Constance Lake were an important part of a major military exercise to improve the ability of southern soldiers to operate in the North in the winter. The Rangers taught a range of winter survival skills to 115 soldiers from 32 Canadian Brigade Group, including members of the Grey and Simcoe Foresters. That group is part of the Canadian Forces Arctic Response Company Group, which is charged with responding to emergencies in the North. “They’ve taught everything from ice water rescue right down to ice fishing, food preparation, fire starting, improvised shelter building, snaring, and helping the soldiers stay out overnight in shelters the soldiers put together themselves,” said Master Warrant Officer Robert Patterson, Canadian Ranger sergeant major with 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group. Rangers also accompanied the soldiers when they went into the bush in two groups for the tactical phase of the week-long exercise. “They went out to ensure the movement of the soldiers was safe,” Master Warrant Officer Patterson said. “They’ve done a fantastic job. This is the first time the Constance Lake patrol has ever hosted an exercise of this magnitiude and they’ve done an outstanding job under the leadership of their patrol leader, Sgt. Albert Sutherland ….” More from the local paper here.
No-Fly Zone Libya (1) – The U.N. Security Council straps on a pair. “The Security Council (has) effectively authorized the use of force in Libya to protect civilians from attack, specifically in the eastern city of Benghazi, which Colonel Muammar Al-Qadhafi has reportedly said he will storm tonight to end a revolt against his regime ….”
No-Fly Zone Libya (2) – CF-18’s headed into the fight?“Canada is expected to announce that it will deploy six CF-18 fighter jets to help enforce the UN’s just-approved no-fly zone over Libya, CBC News has learned. The jets would take at least 24 hours to arrive at their destination, which has yet to be determined, but defence sources told CBC that Malta and Italy were possibilities. Between 100 and 200 support personnel would be involved, the sources said, adding the announcement was imminent. A defence ministry spokesman declined to comment on the matter ….” More from the Globe & Mail here,
If anyone can make a case for how Canada’s treating its wounded warriors, it’s a wounded warrior. “A major who lost both his legs in Afghanistan says the Harper government’s financial treatment of injured war veterans is an “abject betrayal” of a new generation of soldiers. Maj. Mark Campbell, who stepped on a bomb in June 2008 near a Canadian base west of Kandahar city, says the New Veteran’s Charter established in 2006 robs wounded soldiers of about 40 per cent of their income …. “This New Veteran’s Charter is a grotesque travesty. It is an abject betrayal by the government of Canada to our new generation of disabled and wounded veterans,” said Campbell …. “What kind of deal is that? The people of Canada should be outraged.” Campbell believes the new lump-sum payments and income replacement pale in comparison to the practice after the Second World War of granting lifetime pensions …. “Why are we saying people who sacrificed limbs in the service of their country should be subjected to a 25 per cent reduction in their families’ means of living? It’s ridiculous,” he said ….” More from Postmedia News here and CBC.ca here.
“Veterans Affairs bureaucrats who rifled through the personal files of a department critic were handed written reprimands and three-day suspensions — penalties the victim calls a “slap on the wrist.” An internal investigation found 54 veterans bureaucrats improperly snooped through Sean Bruyea’s personal files, including medical and psychiatric reports. Some of them used the information to smear the outspoken critic. “These employees have been disciplined and department officials consider this matter has been successfully addressed and closed,” said a Feb. 25 letter to Bruyea, obtained by The Canadian Press. The two-month internal investigation determined that 614 employees handled his file over a number of years, but many had no need to do so. Some of his personal information was included in briefing notes to former veterans affairs minister Greg Thompson in 2006 as the Conservative government prepared to implement the New Veterans Charter, which substantially overhauled benefits for former soldiers ….”
Interesting research from a university in Alberta: “Video games often get a bad rap, but their ability to desensitise players to violence could help soldiers sleep better. According to an online survey of 98 military personnel, regularly playing games that involve war and combat – like Call of Duty – decreased the level of harm and aggression experienced when they dreamed about war. Soldiers who didn’t play video games reported having more violent dreams combined with a sense of helplessness, says Jayne Gackenbach of Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada ….” More on that here. Also, here’s a paper from the same researcher on the subject from last summer.
A National Post editorial calls for NATO to do SOMETHING about Libya. “Pressure is growing for Western nations to intervene militarily in Libya’s emerging civil war …. there are good reasons to be wary about such a campaign. But Muammar Gaddafi’s apparent willingness to exterminate large numbers of his citizens in recent days has served to marginalize such concerns: Whatever the risks that attend military intervention, we must not permit a North African Srebrenica …. The heavy lifting associated with the no-fly mission should be performed by Italy, France, Germany and Spain — which, collectively, import 90% of Libya’s oil exports. Britain, too, has a well-established trade relationship with Libya. It is in these countries’ interests to remove Col. Gaddafi as quickly as possible and stabilize the country around a new government. There are roles for Canada, the United States and other Western nations, too. Even as the Canadian air force seeks to acquire a controversial new multi-purpose fighter jet, our old CF-18s are more than a match for anything the Libyans have to throw up against them. In the best case scenario, NATO will not have to fire a single shot or scramble a single aircraft — because Libyans will end Gaddafi’s cruel tyranny all by themselves. But failing that, we cannot stand by and permit a Libyan genocide to unfold.”
The Winnipeg Free Press is even more specific about a no-fly zone. “As Libyan rebels, until recently rolling towards Tripoli, now reel under a fierce counter-attack by the military forces of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the world wonders what to do. It can sit back and do nothing other than shout encouragement to the revolutionaries from the sidelines, which is mostly what it is has done up until now — some nations have given humanitarian aid to the insurgents, a few have sent military aid and moral support to Col. Gadhafi …. The …. choice, and one that paradoxically has the strongest support and the strongest opposition, is to declare a “no-fly zone” over Libya. The arguments in favour of this are most persuasively that it would be an unmistakable statement of international support for the revolution that Col. Gadhafi could not ignore. It would ground the Libyan air force that has in recent days been a devastating psychological as well as tactical weapon in the government counter-attack. And it can be implemented without UN consent or the even the united approval of NATO. In short, it is doable and effective …. such a declaration still seems the best and most effective way of aiding the revolution. There is a real chance for democracy in Libya, and thousands of Libyans have died in its pursuit. If the West does nothing, then Carney’s prophecy will be self-fulfilling: If we don’t at least stay apace of events, we will be so far behind them that the next diplomatic mission to Tripoli may well be to pay respects to a rejuvenated Col. Gadhafi.”
One of the standard MSM stories out of Afghanistan: the hockey stars drop by. Postmedia News’ version here and the Canadian Press’ version here.
What’s Canada Buying? Fixing up radar at CFB Trenton:“Sensis Corporation’s modernization program for the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) Terminal Radar and Control System (TRACS) Area Surveillance Radar (ASR-3) has been formally accepted and is now commissioned and in use by the DND. The fully redundant ASR-3 radar modernization solution features a high performance signal/data processor and solid state L-band transmitter replacement along with six level National Weather Service (NWS) weather data processing capability embedded in the software. The modernization solution will extend the service life of 8 Wing/Canadian Forces Base Trenton’s radar by a minimum of 15 years while reducing life cycle, maintenance and operating costs ….”
(Belated) bye, bye Arcturus. “The Aurora community marked the end of an era on Dec. 15, 2010, when the last of the CP-140A Arcturus aircraft, a variant of the CP-140 Aurora, performed its final operational mission for the Canadian Forces. Its 4,600 horsepower engines fired up one last time before it took off from 14 Greenwood, N.S., for a 16.1 hour mission – pushing the outer limit of endurance and setting a record for the longest flight in a CP-140A Arcturus. The crew of nine, composed mainly of members of 404 Long Range Patrol and Training Squadron, flew along the boundary of the eastern Canadian airspace to test the communications coverage of NORAD’s installations. The Arcturus departed Greenwood on a flight plan that took it north to a point near Frobisher Bay, Nunavut, and then south to a point near Yarmouth, N.S ….”
In spite of how much Ottawa is pushing the F-35 fighter, a recent speech by Canada’s Defence Minister points to a different threat. “…. after Mr. MacKay had finished laying out what appeared to be the critical importance of cutting-edge air power in Canadian sovereignty, the minister said Canada was actually most vulnerable to maritime threats. “Not to sound too foreboding, [but] at the risk of being too honest, I think our greatest vulnerability, in my estimation, is waterborne,” he said. With the longest coastline in the world, “beware the water.” Mr. MacKay’s office says his comment about the overriding “vulnerability” of the maritime environment was a reference to the government’s plan to spend $35-billion—even more money than the projected costs of the F-35—on several new vessels for its navy. And his spokesperson Josh Zanin expanded on why Canada’s greatest vulnerability is maritime by noting that waterborne security not only involves military threats, but “directly affects the availability—and the cost—of essential goods, especially food and fuel, all over the world” by affecting international shipping, of which 95 per cent is done over water. Other defence experts agreed with this view ….”
“The federal government is spending more on the military today than at any point since the end of the Second World War, according to a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives that argues Canada isn’t getting enough bang for its buck. This country is expected to spend more than $23 billion on the military in 2010-11, about 2% more than it did the previous year and about 26% more than it did the year the Berlin Wall came down. That said, Canada’s status as an international player has been undermined by its failure to win a seat on the UN Security Council. Author Bill Robinson argues that Canada has no real military power or influence despite being the world’s 13th biggest military spender and NATO’s sixth biggest spender, so ought shift to consider a drastic shift in priorities. “That kind of money would allow us to operate in a much more significant manner in other ways in the world, most notably through things like development assistance,” he said Tuesday ….” As of this post, no word of the study at the CCPA site yet.