News Highlights – 25 May 11

  • Families of Canada’s fallen visit Kandahar one last time before Canada shifts its mission in Afghanistan – more here and here.
  • Wounded former IED dismantler/investigator helping others in the same situation. “Andy Tiffin’s left hand was mangled when the roadside bomb he was dismantling exploded last October. He was working in an “exploitation” lab, informally known as CSI Kandahar, as part of his deployment to Afghanistan. “(It’s) where people take things apart and try to figure out what the enemy did right, what they did wrong,” said Tiffin, a chief petty officer in the Canadian navy, in an interview Tuesday. He downplays the injury, speaking of the far more serious wounds suffered by other soldiers he saw while in hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. When he got home to Bedford, “my wife took care of just about all (the necessary tasks). I didn’t have to drive back and forth back to the hospital. Since she works out of our house, taking care of our little one, it gives us a lot of flexibility as a guy that deploys a lot.” But many soldiers and families do need help, whether with the extraordinary challenges of dealing with a serious injury or with the day-to-day challenges of military life. Those families have been getting support since 2008 from an organization called the True Patriot Love Foundation. A fundraising dinner for the foundation was announced at a launch event in Halifax on Tuesday attended by Tiffin, other members of the military, organizers and supporters. “Their families really do serve right along with them,” said Elisabeth Rybak, the chairwoman of the Atlantic Maple Leaf 2011 Nova Scotia Tribute Dinner, after the event was announced at the law offices of McInnes Cooper ….”
  • In Afghanistan, Francophone troops get a chance to train Afghans and practice their English at the same time. “Since August 2005, Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams (OMLT) have been deployed in Kandahar province, where experienced military personnel offer instruction, mentoring and liaison services to Afghan soldiers. Although the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the coalition have been working together for eight consecutive years, few Afghan soldiers have learned and mastered English, while some have learned only a few words. Communication is always a challenge, but the use of English is also an excellent opportunity for Francophone soldiers who wish to practice their second language ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  More attacks alleged in Kandahar, Zabul, and Taliban calls on Kandahar bosses to admit someone else’s in charge.
  • Survey says majority of Canadians polled OK with Osama killed.  “A staggering number of Canadians feel Osama bin Laden got his just reward when U.S. Navy SEALs shot the world’s most-wanted terrorist in the head and chest and dumped his body into the Arabian Sea, says a new poll. The survey conducted by Abacus Data suggested that the killing this month of the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and other bloodbaths was a unique case, and that terrorists in general should be treated like other criminals when it comes to justice and punishment. Asked whether bin Laden got what he deserved, 82% of respondents said yes and 18% said no ….”
  • Quebec Flooding (1):  CF agrees to help, sending more troops….  “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement (Tuesday): “The Canadian Forces doubled the number of its personnel and equipment in the Montérégie region last night in order to assist the people in the flooded areas. The Canadian Forces are there to respond immediately should the floodwaters of the Richelieu River cause damage to the dikes, or place Canadians in danger. Given the concern of local and provincial officials that the public may be at a heightened risk, the Canadian Forces may be asked to assist with evacuating citizens, or assist provincial authorities where lives could be in danger. As such, I requested Lieutenant-General Walter Semianiw, Commander of Canada Command, to approve the immediate deployment of the Task Force Reserve, which was positioned at a state of high-readiness at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier and in St Jean, Quebec, along with follow-on forces, bringing the total number to approximately 500 ….” “
  • Quebec Flooding (2):  … but not to take down sandbag dykes.  “The federal government has refused a request to have the Canadian Forces help with the cleanup once flood waters recede in Quebec. A letter from Public Safety Minister Vic Toews suggests that placing sandbags might be part of the military’s role — but removing them isn’t part of their job description. The Quebec government, which received the letter dated May 20, provided the correspondence to reporters Tuesday. It was released on a day of growing anger and finger pointing over the emergency response to the floods, which have affected 3,000 homes and forced 1,000 people to be evacuated. The release of the correspondence was meant to prove that the Quebec government — which is being questioned for its performance — had actually requested federal help in a timely manner ….”  More from the Canadian Press here.
  • Quebec Flooding (3):  An impressive Canadian Forces (CF) team was mobilized to repair a damaged dike in the agricultural sector of Henryville in Montérégie May 10. The dike ruptured when Lake Champlain overflowed. “We would like the dike to stay at least three months, to give farmers time to re-establish themselves,” said the engineer in charge of the repair work, Major Claire Bramma, 5 Combat Engineer Regiment (5 CER). The Quebec provincial police collaborated with the military to block off roads to traffic in order to facilitate the work of the soldiers and avoid endangering civilian lives ….”
  • Will Associate Minister of NatDef Julian Fantino be the real power holder as time goes on?  So says one QMI columnist:  “…. One military expert told me with the Afghanistan mission winding down, the real power and most important action in the years to come with the defence department is in the re-booting of it and that responsibility has been handed to Fantino. “How Canada moves ahead with the purchase new (F-35) fighter jets and frigates is the number one defence priority going forward and the prime minister has selected his man to do that job,” he said. That person does not seem to be MacKay or, at least, not all by himself ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1):  The company that will sell the jets to Canada says Canadian cost estimates are bang on!  “The Conservative government’s figures on the F-35 stealth fighter jets are accurate despite many reports to the contrary, according to Lockheed Martin’s executive vice president in charge of the program. And Tom Burbage told QMI Agency here Tuesday that the Canadian government’s support of the F-35 is important to the program as a whole ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2):  Meanwhile, in the U.S., “The House is expected to consider changes to the F-35 fighter program as questions swirl about the jet’s cost and long-term viability. The chamber is expected to consider a number of measures related to the F-35 during debate on the 2012 defense authorization bill. Those votes will come just days after conflicting assessments were given on the status of testing and the expected costs of operating the jets. Prime contractor Lockheed Martin — while acknowledging that challenges remain — last week sounded upbeat about the often-delayed and altered testing of the three variants of the war plane. “Early testing has allowed us to understand our main technical challenges and develop resolution paths for them,” said Tom Burbage, Lockheed’s vice president for F-35 program integration. “The performance of the [vertical takeoff-and-landing] variant in flight test has been very good since November.” ….”
  • Force Protection Industries, Inc., a Force Protection Inc. group company, today announced the addition of Elbit Systems and Lockheed Martin Canada as additional providers for the Canadian Forces requirement for the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV) project. Force Protection Industries, Inc. previously announced that it has been selected by the Canadian Government as one of the competitor companies qualified to provide up to 600 wheeled combat vehicles and related long term support services. CAE was announced recently as Force Protection’s main Canadian partner with responsibility for providing the in-service support solution. The Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) expects to award a contract to the final selected bidder by early 2012 ….”
  • The former CFB Rockcliffe site has been sold to the Canada Lands Company for $27.2 million, QMI Agency has learned. “We’re the land owner and developer,” said CLC vice-president Gordon McIvor. Redevelopment of the lucrative real estate in north Ottawa is back on the table after being tied up in a land claim with the Algonquins of Ontario (AOO) since 2007. “That was resolved,” said McIvor. The CLC and the AOO have entered into a participation agreement. “We want them to be able to, if they want, develop a piece of the property following the guidelines that have been approved by the city and by Canada Lands,” said CLC president and CEO Mark Laroche. The deal between the land company and natives is worth $10 million ….”
  • Canada has cracked the top 10 in a global security assessment that ranks countries based on how peaceful they are. The Global Peace Index ranked Canada eighth out of 153 countries, a six spot jump over last year. The index, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), suggests North America overall has improved slightly thanks in part to Canada’s rise in the rankings. The United States was placed at 82, compared to its ranking of 85 last year. The index says if the U.S. reduced its violent crime rates to that of Canada’s, the U.S. economy and its state governments could save billions of dollars on correctional services, health care and lost tax revenue ….”  A bit more on this here. News Highlights – 30 Mar 11

  • Cpl. Yannick Scherrer, Royal 22e Régiment, R.I.P. Arriving back in Canada this afternoon – more here.
  • Libya Ops (1) – Canadian General says all good to go in transfer of ops to NATO command.
  • Libya Ops (2) – American General on who’s in charge of what in Libya, the short version (“#NATO is now in charge of ALL military operations in #Libya: Humanitarian, Arms Embargo, No-Fly Zone, and Protection of Civilians.”) and the longer version.
  • Libya Ops (3) – Enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya required four sorties by NATO aircraft in the past 24 hours, the Pentagon said Tuesday. As of 1000 GMT (6am EDT Tuesday), NATO carried out four flights to police the no-fly zone against the Libyan regime, along with four other sorties in support of the mission, according to information released by the Pentagon. The figures followed comments from US and allied commanders that the regime’s air defenses have been knocked out in earlier coalition raids, with Moamer Kadhafi’s aircraft effectively shut down under a no-fly zone now firmly in place. The four no-fly zone sorties were flown by Canada and Spain, using F-18 fighter jets, said a US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity ….”
  • Libya Ops (4) – Guess which Foreign Affairs Minister wasn’t at a big meeting on Libya this week?
  • Libya Ops (5) – TorStar columnist“The life and death issue that no major party leader wants to talk about in this election campaign is war. Canada is involved in two now. But to listen to the leaders you’d never know. Our latest war is being waged against Libya. Like the endless adventure in Afghanistan, this one, too, slipped by beneath the radar of public consciousness. Yes, there was a debate of sorts in Parliament. But it was short and perfunctory. The Conservative government and all three opposition parties agreed that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is a bad dude, that the United Nations was right to authorize attacks against his country and that Canadian fighter jets should join in with gusto. Then they got back to the real business of Canadian politics: slagging one another over which party is the most dishonest ….”
  • One man’s “gag order” is another man’s “be very careful what you say during an election campaign.”The federal government has restricted media interviews of officials in Afghanistan because of the election campaign, a move that one critic says hampers the public’s understanding of Canada’s mission in the war-torn country. The restrictions became known after The Canadian Press requested an interview this week with Tim Martin, Canada’s top diplomat in Kandahar. The request was for a story about a transfer of command ceremony that took place Tuesday at Camp Nathan Smith on the outskirts of Kandahar city. Such events happen from time to time and Tuesday’s ceremony was expected to mark a major milestone as Canada was set to hand over command of the Provincial Reconstruction Team’s training centre to Afghanistan’s Ministry of the Interior and NATO forces …. A spokesman for the Canadian International Development Agency rejected the interview request, saying Martin would not be granting interviews in the duration of the five-week election campaign. Adam Sweet said an order was in effect restricting federal officials from talking to the media aimed at preventing them from making public comments that could influence, or appear to influence, the outcome of the election. “We act with as much restraint as possible, confining ourselves to public business and this rule applies to our communications activities as well,” Sweet said. Nina Chiarelli, the acting director of communications for the prime minister, denied there was an order in place that prevented federal officials from speaking with reporters. But she said communications with the media are restricted during an election ….”
  • Former OMLT’eer Bruce Ralston sounds off on his blog about the recent Rolling Stones article on American soldiers accused of assassinating innocent Afghans“…. Like the vast majority of soldiers in the theatre, these sick little f__ks had as little contact as possible throughout their tour with local nationals, who were about as real to them as sprites in a video game. This was a predictable consequence of all the distance we have put in this military context between Us and Them, the “Them” in this case being the people we were sent to protect. Our whole approach to force protection, with all of its interacting with the host nation only across razor wire or through gunsights, is a concomitant cause of these atrocities ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff promised Monday to re-examine a deal to buy the next-generation F-35 stealth fighter plane, but military experts say it would be pointless for a Liberal government to hold a “fly-off” competition to replace Canada’s deteriorating CF-18 fighter-bombers given that there is no alternative that would suit the Canadian Forces’ needs. “We are going to replace the CF-18 -we care about the sovereignty of Canada. But we’ve got time to get this right. [The Conservatives] tried to hustle the country into a purchase without a competitive process” ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) –  New fighter jets Canada plans to buy will be more than $100 million each — at least $25 million more per plane than government estimates — according to a top U.S. budget watchdog. Conservative government officials have said 65 new joint strike fighters being built to replace Canada’s F-18 jets will cost about $75 million each, about $9 billion with training and an additional $200-$300 million a year in maintenance. But Mike Sullivan, director of acquisition management at the US General Accountability Office, said he doesn’t know where that estimate comes from. “That’s not a number that I am familiar with at all,” he said in an interview Tuesday with CBC’s Power & Politics with Evan Solomon, cautioning he hasn’t seen the methodology behind the numbers. Sullivan said the estimated cost of the F-35A model that Canada is buying is “in the low 100 millions.” “Probably somewhere between $110-115 million,” he said. A prominent Conservative admitted to CBC that the cost of the F-35 fight jets might not be as the government has promised. Earlier on Power & Politics, Conservative MP Laurie Hawn said Canada is buying the planes at the peak of their production, making them cheaper than the $133 million the U.S. estimates their jets will cost. Hawn also said the $133 million estimate is an average of three models being built, of which the Canadian jet is the cheapest ….”
  • Poochies helping Canada’s wounded warriors.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Lockheed Martin Canada gets big (+$22M) gig building battle simulators for Gagetown, Valcartier, Petawawa and Wainwright.
  • A bit of plaid military history being made. “An elite unit of Second World War commandos with a reputation for daring and stealth that earned it the nickname The Black Devils are being honoured with the creation of an original Scottish tartan. A new tartan design will be officially filed with the Scottish national tartan registry for the First Special Service Force, a Canadian-American unit created in 1942 and disbanded after barely a year of intense warfare. The creation of the tartan is being spearheaded by the Helena, Montana-based Shining Thistle Pipe Band and the First Special Service Force Association, which represents the remaining members of the unit and their descendants. The force trained at Fort William Henry Harrison in Helena before heading into combat. “We want to not only recognize and honour them, but to hear their stories before they are lost,” said Bill Woon, the executive director of the association and the son of a Canadian member of the commando unit ….” FYI, today’s Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) perpetuates the Canadian element of the First Special Service Force.
  • More class acts from a classy guy (and an… interesting interpretation of the military environment from an unidentified source). Police found child porn on serial sex criminal Russell Williams’ computer but laid no charges in exchange for him pleading guilty to murder and sexual assault, a new book says. The former commander of Canada’s largest military airfield wouldn’t admit to downloading pictures of teenaged girls in sexual positions, Globe and Mail reporter Timothy Appleby writes in “A New Kind of Monster.” A source quoted in the book said Williams couldn’t face the stigma attached to child pornography, though he was willing to plead guilty to murder, rape and a series of bizarre sexually motivated break-ins. “This is a guy who structured his life around how he saw others act, and that’s how his morality base came about,” said the source, who was involved in the case. “In the military, you can kill people, it’s accepted … it’s within the realm of human behaviour. And in war, rape is within that realm as well. The one thing that isn’t, and stands outside that, is (sexual abuse of) children.” ….” Note to book author Tim Appleby and whoever his source is:  if the source is quoted correctly, and if the source really thinks this, s/he’s wrong.  Rape is NEVER acceptable in any context in the CF, and killing is ONLY to be carried out when following accepted rules of engagement (usually as a measure of last resort).  If this reflects what the source thinks, that source is sadly mistaken.

WHAT’S CANADA BUYING? Training near Area 51 and Mannequins

Close quarter battle/airborne/recce practice zone, desert+urban, for ~150 folks (even if it IS near Area 51)

“…. Vendor Name and Address:  MATRIX INTERNATIONAL SECURITY, TRAINING, & INTELLIGENCE CENTER, 122 WILL ROGERS RD. BLDG. 1166, ROSWELL New Mexico, United States, 88203.  Nature of Requirements:  SIMULATION TRAINING FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENCE …. REQUIREMENT:  The Department of National Defence (DND) requires a training centre that encompasses ground live-fire and simulation training areas offering the possibility of conducting Direct Action, Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Airmobile and Airborne operations in an arid, complex terrain construct and urban terrain simultaneously. The training centre shall also offer live fire static ranges (short and long distance), Close Quarter Battle (CQB) ranges, Dud producing ammunition ranges, Contact ranges, Live fire driving ranges and Live fire village-like compounds.  The training centre shall be available for the training exercise in January 2011 for approximately 150 personnel. The facility shall offer accommodations, logistical support services and training support when required ….”

Buying mannequins as targets…..

“…. The Department of National DEFENCE (DND) has a requirement for a quantity of 4000 Mannequin Targets (NSN: 6920-01-449-7224) …. Government Contracts Regulations Exception and Limited Tendering Reason:  The sole source justification is based on the absence of competition for technical reasons and the goods can only be supplied by the proposed contractor and no alternative or substitute exists …. Proposed Contractor:  Lockheed Martin Canada Inc., 3001 Solandt Road, Kanata, Ontario, K2K 2M8, Canada ….”

…. and seeking mannequins as simulators

“…. The Department of National DEFENCE has a requirement for the supply of eight ( 8 ) Human Mannequin Simulators …. for delivery to Petawawa, Ontario with user training for up to six (6) persons. The requirement also includes an irrevocable option to purchase up to thirty (30) additional quantities and optional items within five (5) years after contract award. The delivery must be on or before 31st March 2011.  Delivery Date: 01/12/2010 ….”