MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 15 Nov 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 14 Nov 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 3 Nov 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 24 Oct 11

  • Libya Mission (1)  The Canadian commander who leads NATO’s mission in Libya says he’s worried about the North African country’s stockpile of surface-to-air missiles. “There are many weapons left over in that country,” Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard told CTV’s Question Period in an exclusive interview. While a large portion of those are small arms, such as Kalashnikov rifles, others are surface-to-air missiles that Bouchard said “are of concern, and they will remain of concern throughout.” There are believed to be more than 20,000 shoulder-fired missiles in Libya, which Moammar Gadhafi had purchased over the years. The fear is that those weapons could wind up on the black market where terrorist groups could buy them ….”
  • Libya Mission (2)  PM Harper on Libya’s opposition claiming “liberation”:  “Today, Canadians join with the Libyan people in celebrating the liberation of their country. “The Libyan people have courageously risen up against decades of tyranny. Canada’s involvement, as sanctioned by the United Nations and led by NATO, has supported their aspirations for the future. “We join Libyans in welcoming the post-Gaddafi era and the transition of the country to a democratic society – one that respects human rights and the rule of law ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  Meanwhile, on that respecting human rights and rule of law thing….  “…. An official who opened the ceremony at Freedom Square in Benghazi said, “We declare to the whole world that we have liberated our beloved country, with its cities, villages, hill-tops, mountains, deserts and skies.” …. Another formal declaration was made by NTC chairman Mustafa Abdul Jalil, who saluted all the martyrs who died in search of this day. He also thanked the Arab League, the UN and the EU.  During his speech, delivered to tens of thousands in festival mood, he said that Islamic law, including polygamy, would be upheld in Libya.  “We as a Muslim nation have taken Islamic sharia as the source of legislation, therefore any law that contradicts the principles of Islam is legally nullified,” he said, according to Reuters Africa.  He called on Libyans to follow the law and not to use force anymore. He asked for tolerance and patience from people as they enter a new era ….”
  • Libya Mission (4)  “The day of reckoning for Moammar Gadhafi — what would be the last day of his life — was in the mission commander’s crosshairs.  Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard could have watched, in real time, as the deposed dictator was run to ground in a sewer, yanked bloody but alive from his hidey-hole, and set upon by revolutionary fighters. It was the bloody climax to a long, often second-guessed, campaign.  Yet the Operation Unified Protector boss from Chicoutimi took his eyes off the drama, visible to him by sophisticated surveillance technology …. “Was I watching? No, I wasn’t. If I had, then I’m not looking at the whole country,’’ Bouchard told the Star by telephone Sunday from his NATO headquarters in Naples.  “The death of Gadhafi was not something that I had included in my strategic planning. To be honest, I was surprised that he was still in Sirte. I thought he was probably somewhere in the southern Libyan desert.’’ ….”  More on this here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Canada’s new multibillion-dollar stealth fighters are expected to arrive without the built-in capacity to communicate from the country’s most northerly regions — a gap the air force is trying to close. A series of briefings given to the country’s top air force commander last year expressed concern that the F-35’s radio and satellite communications gear may not be as capable as that of the current CF-18s, which recently went through an extensive modernization. Military aircraft operating in the high Arctic rely almost exclusively on satellite communications, where a pilot’s signal is beamed into space and bounced back down to a ground station. The F-35 Lightning will eventually have the ability to communicate with satellites, but the software will not be available in the initial production run, said a senior Lockheed Martin official, who spoke on background. It is expected to be added to the aircraft when production reaches its fourth phase in 2019, but that is not guaranteed because research is still underway. “That hasn’t all been nailed down yet,” said the official. “As you can imagine there are a lot of science projects going on, exploring what is the best . . . capability, what satellites will be available.” ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  The Department of National Defence CFB Wainwright has a requirement for the supply of Ballistic Shield Kits, Ballistic Shield Panels, and Ballistic Floor Boards …. Vendor Name and Address:  CAPTEURS DE BALLES CBBT INC, 95 Route Duchesnay, Ste-Catherine de la Jacques-Cartier, Quebec, Canada …. The estimated value of the contract including shipping is $104,309.65 (GST extra) ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  The Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces require the services of a Contractor, on an “as and when requested” basis, to operate the Polar Epsilon (PE) Near Real-Time Ship Detection (NRTSD) System, which delivers to the Canadian East and West Regional Joint Operations Centres (RJOC) a capability to exploit RADARSAT 2 for all-weather, day and night, wide area surveillance, for purposes of contributing to the wide area situational awareness of the maritime approaches to Canada and North America and to foreign littoral areas where the Canadian Forces may be deployed ….”  More details in excerpt from bid document (21 page PDF) here.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (3)  Belt, Trousers, Nylon webbing x (at least) 15,000
  • What’s Canada Buying? (4)  The Department of National Defence (DND) has a requirement for the management, administrative and technical services related to video pre-production, production, and post-production to the Chief of the Maritime Staff (CMS) through the Manager of Broadcast Media Production of Director Naval Public Affairs DNPA) ….
  • Once a week Hugh MacPhee and about a dozen or so former shipmates gather for coffee, swap stories as old friends do, and sometimes share memories that 42 years on remain as dark as the brew in their cups. They are survivors of the Canadian navy’s worst peacetime disaster, the Oct. 23, 1969 explosion and fire that crippled the HMCS Kootenay, killing nine and injuring 55. The destroyer was doing power trials in the English Channel when its starboard gearbox exploded, sending a fireball through the engine room and along the main passageway. McPhee was among almost 100 members of the original crew who gathered at a seaside park on Sunday to lay wreaths and remember their fallen friends. “Our ship’s motto was ‘We are as one’ and we still gather strength from that,” he said his voice shaking a bit. “We talk about it, help each other, because a lot of the guys suffered from post-traumatic stress afterwards.” ….”  More here, here and here.
  • German POW internal justice while interred in Canada. “The order filtered down in the summer of 1944: Karl Lehmann was a traitor who had to die. Like other prisoner of war camps in Canada, Medicine Hat, Alta. camp No. 132 had its own internal police force, its own hierarchies and government, its own systems of discipline. Though the camp was guarded on the outside by Canadian soldiers, daily life inside the wire was entirely dictated by the German inmates themselves. After an attempt was made on Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s life that July at his field headquarters in East Prussia, rumours circulated that a revolutionary movement was planning to take over the Medicine Hat camp by force. Canada’s highest-ranking prisoner of war decreed from Ontario that anyone suspected of traitorous activities against the German army was to be identified and killed in a way that looked like a suicide. One of those suspected traitors was Karl Lehmann ….”
  • Theatre review“Billy Bishop Goes to War is a 100 percent, pure maple leaf saga. It is the colourful and sometimes controversial story of how an unlikely young man from Owen Sound, Ontario, became Canada’s most famed First World War flying ace after flunking out of Royal Military College of Canada for cheating. The Toronto City Airport on Toronto Island is now named for him ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 4 Oct 11

  • Canada’s defence department must shed top military brass and bureaucrats today to focus on front-line troops for the priorities of tomorrow: the Arctic, cyber defence, space and special operations, says the author of a controversial report on transforming the armed forces. Retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie told senators on the national security and defence committee Monday it’s time to make “moderately tough choices to invest in the future.” National headquarters in Ottawa has become too bloated and overall structure has too much overhead and “tail,” Leslie said, recommending an administrative overhaul to trim $1 billion by cutting the number of full-time reservists, civilians and officers and slashing by 30 per cent of the $2.7 billion now spent on consultants, contractors and other service providers. “Transformation is all about the future – reducing the overhead and investing in the front-line troops, making the Canadian Forces and Department of National Defence leaner, better able to respond and more deployable,” Leslie said ….”  More on this here and here.
  • The Canadian Taxpayers Federation seems to agree.  “…. It’s time for the Harper government to act on Leslie’s cost-cutting ideas and move more of Canada’s military muscle off seat cushions at headquarters and into the field, where it is needed.”
  • Afghanistan (1)  A bit more mainstream media coverage of the training mission, or at least part of it“…. It’s amazing watching …. woman train in that they are not wearing veils and every day fly in the face of what radical Islam sees as the role of women. “They are very brave and we are proud of them,” said Canadian Major General Michael Day, who heads the training program here. “Back in their villages some of them would be killed for just coming here.” Day knows there is a long way to go. But you have to start somewhere. By the end of this year, there will be 195,000 members of the ANA and already in most parts of the country they are taking the lead in security here. Canadians, Americans, Danes, Georgians are here more as trainers and mentors.” 
  • Afghanistan (2)  More mainstream media coverage, this time at least showing a photo of troops doing the training. 
  • Afghanistan (3a)  Minister of National Defence denies he was kept out of the loop by PMOthis from Question Period (QP) in the House of Commons yesterday“…. that is false …. we have always worked closely with the Prime Minister and with cabinet ….”  More on that here.
  • Afghanistan (3b)  Tying in the planes with Afghanistan – this again from QPMr. Matthew Kellway (Beaches—East York, NDP):  Mr. Speaker, the Department of National Defence continues to spring leaks about the minister’s misuse of DND assets. By now we have all heard that the minister takes government jets like most Canadians take the bus. Now we find out that the Prime Minister personally kept the Minister of National Defence out of the loop on the Afghan war. Why is the Prime Minister defending a minister that he himself has so little confidence in?  Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC):  Mr. Speaker, as I and the Prime Minister have said, we use government assets for government business. That is exactly what has happened. With respect to Afghanistan, we have made a magnificent effort on behalf of Canadians. They can be very proud of the work our men and women in uniform and our professional public servants have put forth in Afghanistan. As a government we have supported them. We have given them the resources. Unfortunately, the member’s party opposite cannot say the same thing …. ”  More on the layest QP back & forth here.
  • Afghanistan (4)  A couple of events (Toronto and Ottawa) linked to a new book on Afghanistan by commentator Terry Glavin. “Solidarity: Calling all friends of Afghanistan in the GTA. COME FROM THE SHADOWS. “Join Terry Glavin and friends to celebrate the publication of his new book, Come from the Shadows: The Long and Lonely Struggle for Peace in Afghanistan,” at Dora Keogh’s Trad Irish Pub, 141 Danforth Ave, Toronto, Tuesday, October 11 · 7:00pm – 8:30pm, plus whatever happens afterwards (free admission). Official Launch: Army Ottawa Officer’s Mess, 149 Somerset Street W., Ottawa, Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 7:00 PM, Admission: $15.00 (students $10.00). Tickets for Terry’s book launch are now available at Compact Music (190 Bank, 785 Bank), and Collected Works (1242 Wellington) ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  One reporter doesn’t buy the $65M per plane price tag being promoted by the company. “…. the Pentagon, Lockheed Martin and allied governments around the globe are thinking hard now. The plan could still fly if buyers hang in. But will the bargain prices come true? For a clue, check the Israeli defence budget. The Israelis, like John McCain, know something about fighters, and currently their budget for 20 planes is not anywhere close to $65 million each. It’s more than double that: $137 million each. Perhaps they don’t believe in deals that seem too good to be true.”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Meanwhile, the company’s latest estimates“The F-35s in low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot 4 are expected to exceed their contracted cost target, but fall below the negotiated ceiling price, says Tom Burbage, vice president of F-35 program integration for Lockheed Martin …. The LRIP 4 per-unit cost targets are as follows: $111.6 million (CAD$ 117.7M) for the conventional takeoff-and-landing (CTOL) version; $109.4 million (CAD$ 115.4M) for the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (Stovl) aircraft; $142.9 (CAD$ 150.7M) for the first production carrier variant (CV) ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Medical fridges, a.k.a. “Mobile Temperature Management Units”.
  • Well done to Rick Mercer (who also happens to be Honorary Colonel of 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron at 12 Wing Shearwater)!  A leap of faith is not in his job description, but Rick Mercer will try just about anything for the TV camera. For a segment on Tuesday’s The Rick Mercer Report on CBC-TV, Mercer jumped from a plane while in the arms of a Canadian Forces Skyhawk at the Windsor International Airshow, held on the weekend of Sept. 10-11. “I’m not the kind of guy who would willingly jump out of a plane,” Mercer said. “It took a lot of psyching myself up. But if I was going to do it, I would do it only with members of the Skyhawks.” ….”
  • “…. (Saskatchewan’s) Status of Women Office in the Ministry of Social Services is proclaiming October as Women’s History Month in Saskatchewan. This year’s theme, “Women in the Canadian Military Forces: A Proud Legacy,” celebrates women’s contributions, now and throughout history, to the Canadian military forces ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 19 Aug 11

  • Report leaked to QMI:  CF way too top heavy.  The Department of Defence and the Canadian Forces are top heavy with too many civilian bosses in Ottawa and need to shift resources to the front lines, according to a secret defence report. Between 2004 and 2010, civilian hires at DND and the CF outpaced hires in the regular forces three to one, and while the number of sailors fell, staff at DND/CF headquarters in Ottawa ballooned by 38%. But the government says those hires were necessary to backfill positions left vacant by Canada’s heavy involvement in Afghanistan, “so that military members could focus their efforts on operational matters,” wrote Jay Paxton, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, in an e-mail Thursday. The transformation report, authored by Gen. Andrew Leslie, was submitted in early July but has yet to be released publicly. QMI Agency obtained a copy from a military source ….”  No word on sharing the report with anyone who wants to read it themselves.
  • Report leaked to Globe & Mail:  CF way too top heavy.  National Defence must take an axe to its bloated headquarters by dismissing or reassigning thousands of workers if the military is to meet its future obligations, concludes a landmark report charged with transforming the Canadian Forces. This scathing assessment by Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, who commanded the Canadian army during the Afghanistan war, arrives at a pivotal moment for the military, as the army returns from its troubled mission in Kandahar, the navy and air force seek new ships and aircraft, and the Conservative government vows to eliminate the federal deficit in a gloomy economy. “If we are serious about the future – and we must be – the impact of reallocating thousands of people and billions of dollars from what they are doing now to what we want them to do …will require some dramatic changes,” Gen. Leslie writes in Report on Transformation 2011. A copy of the report has been obtained by The Globe and Mail ….”  No word on sharing the report with anyone who wants to read it themselves.
  • Libya Mission (1)  More on HMCS Vancouver replacing HMCS Charlottetown from the CF Info-Machine.
  • Libya Mission (2)  More on Canadian boss reorg in Italy (via CF Info-Machine)
  • Way Up North (1)  “Peter Mackay, Canada’s defence minister, who arrived in Resolute Bay in the early hours of Aug. 18, made the most of his day-long visit to observe Operation Nanook, the Canadian Forces’ military exercise, shoring up support from every direction for his department’s increased visibility in Nunavut and the North. Mackay even managed to cram in a dive from an iceberg lodged in the bay outside Resolute with divers who have been learning how to work around icebergs. That, said Mackay, who donned a dry suit and full divers gear, was “disorienting,” but “incredible” as light shone through the iceberg into the water ….”
  • Way Up North (2)  CF Info-Machine coverage of Operation Nanook“Operation Nanook is well underway with Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aircraft and personnel providing valuable airlift during this major national and international operation. A combined Naval Task Group set sail from St. John’s, N.L. on Aug. 5, towards Canada’s Eastern and High Arctic, where other personnel and equipment from the Canadian Army, RCAF, and Canadian Rangers converged for the month-long, annual Arctic sovereignty exercise. In addition to the Canadian Forces, simulated major air disaster and maritime emergency scenarios involve the Canadian Coast Guard, Transportation Safety Board, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Public Safety Canada as well as the Government of Nunavut, the community of Resolute Bay and our private sector partners. Op Nanook, named for the Inuit word for polar bear, is the centerpiece of three annual northern sovereignty operations conducted by the Canadian Forces and its partners who share interest in Canada’s North ….”  More on Op NANOOK at the Canada Command page here.
  • Way Up North (3)  “A senior Canadian Army officer – Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw – is to travel to Moscow and other northern European capitals this fall for discussions about the Arctic. This development mocks the ludicrous media hype suggesting that there is a bitter rivalry involving Canada, Russia, the United States and Denmark (Greenland) over their sometimes competing claims and interests in the Arctic. To be sure, there are differences of opinion about the top of the world. But the reality is there is actually far more co-operation than there is friction. “This is beyond search and rescue,” the chief of Canada Command told me in a recent interview upon his European travel plans. “We are going to be talking about military co-operation in the North.” Officials from Russia and other Arctic Council countries will “table top” an international search-andrescue exercise in the Yukon in October. At this moment, Canadian and Danish warships and U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers are working together in Arctic waters after some of the vessels paid a courtesy call on a Greenlandic port. U.S. Coast Guard divers are on an exercise with Canadians on Cornwallis Island ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Canada’s air contingent in Afghanistan basically shuts down, after a very busy few years – these stats from the CF on how busy the planes and crews were since December 2008:   More from QMI’s David Akin here, and ipolitics.ca here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  How Canadian air force folks are helping create an Afghan air force (via CF Info-Machine).  “Kabul International Airport covers a vast area on the north side of the city. The sprawling complex includes civilian and military air terminals, air cargo centres, and International Security Assistance Force facilities. One military unit located on the airport grounds represents the future of the Afghan Air Force. The Afghan Air Training School (or Pohantoon e Hawayee, which means Big Air School) is where new members of the Afghan Air Force learn the basics of flying and maintaining aircraft and running an air unit. They also participate in literacy training, which is incorporated into nearly every course conducted by the Afghan national security forces. Ten advisors from Canada’s Air Force serve at the training school as part of the Canadian Forces contribution to the NATO training mission in Afghanistan. The Canadian staff are part of 738 Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron (738 AEAS), a NATO unit assigned to advise the the (school’s) Afghan commander and his senior staff ….”
  • The sacrifices made by members of the Canadian military and their families are being honoured with 26 bronze commemorative plaques that will be placed at intervals along the Highway of Heroes, which runs from Trenton, Ont., to Toronto. Announcement of the plaques took place Thursday in Toronto and was observed by at least 100 people, including Canadian soldiers, their families, parliamentarians and corporate sponsors. Each plaque is sponsored by a company, whose logo is visible below the image depicted on the plaque. Money raised through the sponsorship goes toward helping military families send children to summer camps, provide psychological counseling, retrofit homes and vehicles for soldiers returning with injuries or amputations and rehabilitate soldiers through athletics. Creation of the plaque program is a joint effort between the provincial Ministry of Transportation and True Patriot Love, a national foundation created by civilians with the aim of fostering better understanding between Canadians, the military and its endeavours ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Well, at least SOME of the U.S. Joint Strike Fighters are able to fly again.  “The F-35 Lightning II test fleet has been cleared for flight, the Pentagon announced Thursday. An Air Force safety investigation board is continuing its investigation of the failure of the AF-4’s Integrated Power Package on Aug. 2, which led to the grounding of the entire fleet of 20 aircraft. The AF-4 is the fourth conventional takeoff and landing variant produced by Lockheed Martin. A government and contractor engineering team determined that flight operations of the test aircraft could continue after reviewing data from ground and flight tests, and revised the test monitoring procedures that govern the IPP. Ground operations of the test fleet resumed Aug. 10 ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Here’s a taste of what happened at the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue industry day“…. A full complement of the right ADM’s and DG’s from Industry, Public Works and DND turned out, and it was noteworthy that they stayed until the end of the day.  In a procurement with this kind of history, little things can mean a lot, so government representatives handed out all their slide decks and notes in advance …. industry has until September 16 to get back to the government with its feedback, with a major focus on where the fixed-wing purchase can and should sit on a spectrum from full government ownership and ISS all the way through to full ASD, provided it still delivers the same ‘world-class’ capability as today.  This does not appear to be the only interaction the Crown intends, as this briefing is being followed by individual one on one corporate briefings, with the promise of follow-up sessions once inputs have been received and digested ….”
  • What’s Canada (Not) Buying?  Canada reportedly pulling out of Global Hawk UAV project“…. Canada has become the second country to withdraw from the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 alliance ground surveillance (AGS) program, but the remaining NATO partners are “very close” to signing a contract, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. The decision means AGS will lose another source of funding that must be compensated for by the 13 NATO members still committed …. Denmark also decided to withdraw from the partnership acquiring a six-aircraft RQ-4 fleet in June 2010. Meanwhile, Northrop and NATO officials are likely to sign a contract to launch the development phase of the AGS programme within several days. The contract award may still have to be approved by each of the national partners before it becomes official ….”
  • Two Canadian Forces members were listed on the National Sex Offender Registry, as of this spring, the Chief of the Defence Staff, has confirmed. “As of 11 May 2011, two Canadian Forces members were known to be subject to a SOIRA (Sex Offender Information Registration Act) order,” Gen. Walter Natynczyk said in a letter to Defence Minister Peter MacKay that was tabled in Parliament this week. Gen. Natynczyk said he has the power to temporarily exempt CF members from certain sex offender registry obligations, but noted he has never done so. Although a top government official told Huffington Post Canada the two members are still serving, Capt. Scott Costen, a Department of National Defence spokesman cautioned that administrative reviews, which are are launched after court martials or civilian criminal proceedings call into question the suitability of a member’s continued service, may be underway to release individuals from their military positions ….”
  • Some Twitter updates from the boss of Canada’s Army.  1) Senior Canadian medic recognized by U.S.  “BGen Hilary Jaeger was awarded the US Meritorious Service Medal for her outstanding leadership and great contribution to ISAF mission.”  2)  Change of assignment for senior Canadian officer working with U.S. forces.  “Great visit III Corps and Fort Hood. Atkinson‘s were awesome ambassadors for Canada. Welcome Milner‘s” (more on the senior Canadian appointment switch-around from the Fort Hood base newspaper here)
  • PM on Syria  Time for the boss to go.  “…. The Assad regime has lost all legitimacy by killing its own people to stay in power. I join with President Obama and other members of the international community in calling on President Assad to vacate his position, relinquish power and step down immediately. The Syrian people have a right to decide for themselves the next steps for Syria’s future ….”  More from Postmedia News here and Agence France-Presse here.
  • Lew-Mac on NATO“…. (Historian Jack) Granatstein rightly points out that, “In diplomacy as in baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out. Afghanistan was strike one; Libya was strike two. And strike three?” he asks. I suggest strike three already happened in 1999 during NATO’s 50th birthday celebrations when it was frantically searching for a role and an enemy now that the Cold War was over. It found an out of area mission bombing Serbia and Kosovo in support of the Kosovo Liberation Army, at the time a terrorist movement according to the CIA. Seventy-nine days of bombing later, Serbian infrastructure was devastated but her security forces were still defiant and little damaged. Diplomacy took over and NATO capitulated on the two poison pills in the Rambouillet Agreement that “justified” the bombing campaign in the first place, that is to say, NATO freedom of movement throughout Serbia and a referendum on Kosovo independence within three years. As a result of this Russian-led diplomacy Serbian forces pulled out of Kosovo. NATO’s military mission had failed which in my book makes it three strikes in 12 years ….”
  • MORE criminals (not just war criminals) on the CBSA “help us find these folks” web site – more from CTV.ca.
  • Meanwhile,Anyone defending foreign criminals remaining here are naively ignoring their potential threat or are driven by unknown motives, Canada’s public safety minister warned Thursday. Vic Toews said some Canadians “condemn our soldiers as war criminals,” but not foreigners evading deportation to face charges of crimes against humanity. On Sun News, he said such stances — including Amnesty International objecting to the government seeking public help to catch 30 suspected war criminals, plus the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) seeking killer Omar Khadr’s return — exhibit a “culture gap. “Don’t you people understand what is going on in the world … there are some bad people out there,” Toews told Ezra Levant, host of The Source ….”
  • Several Canadian cities will be receiving artifacts from Hangar 17 — a makeshift museum inside New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport that houses pieces from the 9/11 wreckage. Thousands of meticulously catalogued steel beams, crushed cars and fire trucks can be found inside the 80,000-square-foot hangar that’s rarely open to the public. Tom Doucette, executive director of The Military Museums in Calgary, said they will be receiving a 15-foot long piece of steel from one of the fallen World Trade Center towers that weighs just under 3,000 pounds ….”
  • Just as they did during active duty, the Olympus and Okanagan continue to slip silently along Canada’s waterways. These days, however, they’re not doing so unnoticed. After all, it’s difficult to miss the 1,250-tonne submarines that are taking a voyage from Halifax to Port Maitland – especially when they’re travelling above the water. Decommissioned by the Canadian Department of National Defense, the former submarines are being transported on floating drydocks towed by barges. At the end of the journey, they’ll meet their fate. The Oberon class submarines are scheduled to be scrapped by Port Colborne-based Marine Recycling Corp. at the company’s Port Maitland shipyard. Now it’s just a matter of getting them there ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 Aug 11

  • I know that you now know about the revived Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force by now.  Therefore, I’m done with multiple duplicate coverage – on to other news.
  • Libya Mission  Safe travels home!  “When HMCS Charlottetown first patrolled the waters off Misrata, Libya, in the spring, sailors could feel the blast waves coming from shells that pounded the city daily. Fires and black smoke above Libya’s third-largest city were constants. The warship helped clear a path for vessels carrying medical supplies, food and other humanitarian aid. But as the Charlottetown left its patrol area Tuesday, the start of the journey back to Halifax, the atmosphere was much different, said Cmdr. Craig Skjerpen. There could be days-long interruptions in the port shelling, and even then it was only sporadic, as the battlefield moved to the west. The shipments of food and medical supplies continued, but Skjerpen said building materials such as rebar and commercial goods had started to arrive ….”
  • Way Up North (1)  Members of the Canadian Forces say military capabilities are growing and becoming more complex in the North – a key component of reasserting claim to the region. Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw, who leads Operation NANOOK, will head to the Arctic next week with Prime Minister Stephen Harper for military exercises. Harper has made habit of visiting the North each summer to assert Canadian presence in the area. During August, navy, army and air force personnel will come together to complete annual military exercises including air, land and sea patrols, and the simulation of major air and maritime disasters. “The Canadian military is not looking at what the issues are today but what are the threats and hazards that Canadians could see, governments could see, not only today, but in the future, to see what capabilities we could need to address those threats and hazards,” Semianiw said ….”
  • Way Up North (2)  Interesting headline verb:  Minister of National Defence busy “overseeing” Operation Nanook
  • Way Up North (3)  Imagine you’re getting ready to dive into the Arctic Ocean and a piece of your equipment breaks. You can’t rush to a store, says Cpl. Larry Lyver, one of 23 divers involved in Operation Nanook’s Aug. 4 to 26 military exercises. Here, if you can’t buy it, you can’t have it, and you have to do without it, he says. That’s why he has a motto “one is none, two is one.” This explains why the diving team arrives with more than enough equipment to do any dives — during Op Nanook this includes navigating around icebergs and raising the sunken wing of a crashed aircraft to the surface ….”
  • Way Up North (4)  Meanwhile, south of the border ….  “The Navy has completed its latest assessment of the Arctic region, where melting ice is raising strategic questions as well as commercial opportunities. “In the past, the Arctic was largely inaccessible, but increased seasonal melting of the sea ice is opening the region and creating opportunities for oil and gas exploration, maritime shipping, commercial fishing and tourism,” Rear Adm. David Titley, director of the Navy’s task force for climate change, said in a statement Tuesday. “We are confronted by a new ocean for the first time in 500 years.” The assessment is part of a five-year plan, released in May 2009, to guide Navy policy, actions and investment regarding the Arctic ….”  A bit more in a U.S. Navy Info-Machine feature article (but no link to the environmental assessment yet) here.
  • Afghanistan (1)  A doc returns home.  “His nickname was Bob 42. To Maj. Sandeep Dhesi, though, the 10-year-old Afghan boy was so much more. “Not a day goes by when I don’t think about him,” says the native Calgarian, who just returned from a three-month tour of combat hospital duty in Afghanistan. “He never complained about the pain he was going through,” says Dhesi, the only oral and maxillofacial surgeon during his stint at Kandahar Airfield (KAF), of the innocent child whose face was severely injured by shrapnel from an improvised explosive device or IED. Only a day into his transition to life back in Calgary — which includes getting reacquainted with his lawyer wife Gurinder and their two young boys — the 34-year-old officer and I meet in a southwest coffee shop to talk about his profound experience of treating the critically wounded in Afghanistan, which included coalition and Afghan national army soldiers, civilians and even suspected Taliban insurgents ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  How ammunition technicians are helping the pack-up-clean-up work at KAF (via the CF Info-Machine)  “While the rest of Supply Company of the Mission Transition Task Force (MTTF) works to ensure that continuing International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations receive all the assets they need, Ammunition Platoon is busy destroying unsafe ordnance, and preparing and packaging ammunition for return to Canada or transfer to Operation ATTENTION in Kabul. With hundreds of line items in stock, Ammo Platoon faces a major task. “One by one, we have to hand-inspect thousands of small arms rounds, and it’s a time consuming job,” explained Sergeant Dominic Boisvert. Members of the Ammo Platoon inspect each item for serviceability and safety, and on 3 August they left the base to conduct a large-scale disposal ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  A new fact sheet on the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) project is out.  Here’s the CF Info-Machine’s version of the history:  “…. The planning for this program has evolved. A Statement of Operational Requirements (SOR) was first developed in 2004 outlining the technical requirements for an aircraft to effectively carry out search and rescue missions in Canada’s harsh and vast environment. In fall 2009, industry feedback was solicited on the high level considerations for the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue SOR. This consultation demonstrated the commitment to an open dialogue with Canadian industry and helped assess its ability to support the procurement of a new fleet. Following the industry consultation, the National Research Council (NRC) was engaged to conduct an independent review of the SOR. In its review, NRC focused on the technical requirements as well as the assumptions and constraints underlying them. The Government received the NRC report in March 2010 and then proceeded to review the report’s findings and recommendations. Based on the NRC review, the SOR has been amended to allow for a wider range of Fixed Wing Search and Rescue solutions and to reflect a capability-based rationale.”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2) Logistical support for up to a year (and up to $4.5 million) for Jamaican hurricane season chopper deployment and chemical and explosives detection kits.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Aussies getting cold feet?  “Australia will decide in 2012 whether to continue with a $16.8 billion purchase of 100 of Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters or seek an alternative amid continuing delivery delays and cost overruns, the government said on Wednesday. Repeated delays and ballooning costs in the F-35 programme were bumping against delivery and cost limits set by the government and military planners, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith told parliament. “I will not allow and the government will not allow a gap in the capability of our air combat capability,” Smith said, pointing to 2013 as the last possible decision deadline given a looming air combat gap in the country’s military ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Not looking entirely great in U.S., either“…. Already facing the prospect of $350 billion in defense cuts over 10 years, the Pentagon could look to scale back some projects, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the stealthy aircraft that has been plagued by cost overruns and delays ….”
  • Two alleged cases of sexual misconduct involving military members from CFB Esquimalt have prompted the commander of Canada’s Pacific fleet to warn personnel about their alcohol use. “There were two incidents in a relatively short period of time and (Commodore Peter Ellis) had a town hall meeting in which he reminded people of their responsibility with respect to drinking responsibly and looking out for your buddies, and basically the rules and regulations that surround this kind of incident,” said Lt.-Cmdr. Nathalie Garcia, public affairs officer for Maritime Forces Pacific ….”
  • Ali Dirie, the gunrunner of the so-called Toronto 18 terrorist cell, continues to pose “a high risk of violent reoffending,” the National Parole Board has concluded, ordering the 28-year-old to serve out his full sentence at the Special Handling Unit in Ste. Anne Des Plaines, north of Montreal. It is not clear, however, what will happen to the would-be jihadist when his sentence at the top-security prison is over in six weeks. A spokesperson for the National Parole Board said that once Dirie is released Oct. 1, he will be out of their hands. “The parole board has the mandate to impose special conditions, if they do provide parole, within the framework of protecting society within an acceptable level of risk to the public,” said Leyla Mavaddat, a regional communications officer for the NPB. “Once the sentence is completed, they will have no authority.” ….”
  • If you’re a veteran or a serving CF member, you can get into some Parks Canada facilities for free this weekend“…. As part of Parks Canada’s 100th anniversary, the Government of Canada is offering Canada’s military, Veterans and their families free admission to Parks Canada sites from August 19 to 21, 2011. Dubbed the “Fab Forts Weekend,” access includes national historic sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas administered by Parks Canada …. Earlier this month, Parks Canada announced that 38 of Canada’s historic fortifications will celebrate Parks Canada’s centennial with a “Fab Forts Weekend.” Special activities include concerts, picnics, archaeology-related activities, markets, tours and much more. The highlight of the weekend will be a 100-gun salute that will ripple across the country from coast to coast on Sunday afternoon.  A complete list of participating sites and events across the country is available at www.parkscanada.gc.ca/fabforts ….”  Here’s another link to the list of sites & events – no word on what I.D. veterans would have to present to get the freebie.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 27 Jul 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 1 Jun 11

  • Karl Manning, 5 RALC, R.I.P.:  He’s back in Canada – more here and here.
  • One American soldier’s view of Bdr Manning’s repatriation ceremony.  “U.S. Army Sgt. Cindy Curtis had never seen a repatriation ceremony.  But Tuesday, Curtis, a member of the 861st Quartermaster Company based in Nashville, Tennessee, and nine of her parachute rigger colleagues, watched as the flag-draped casket of Bombardier Karl Manning come home …. “We don’t hear much about the repatriation of our fallen soldiers in the United States,” she said, while keeping an eye on the C-17 Globemaster pulling up on the hot tarmac. “Unless you were serving with the man or woman who lost her or his life on mission, or are a family member, or a close friend … People know about it, but locally. The local newspaper and TV network of the town or city where the fallen soldier was from will cover the ceremony and report it the next day, but they (media) don’t publish any advance stories or anything as well documented as the work you guys do here today  …. As a public affairs officer myself with my unit in Tennessee, I asked if I could attend the ceremony with members of the press in order to learn more about how Canadian Forces hold this particular kind of ceremonies” …. Curtis thinks more people in the United States should see and know more about how Canadians Forces repatriate and honour the sacrifices their soldiers make when they are killed in action.  “I think attending those ceremonies is a good thing,” she said. “I think media in the United States should pay more attention to what’s going when one of us gets repatriated from Iraq or Afghanistan. It shows the reality of war. And I think it’s even more important that people can show their support to the families and to the military. I guess the mentality is just really different here in Canada.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (1):  The PM’s official release following his visit this week here.
  • Afghanistan (2):  “…. Harper can and should take pride in his country’s accomplishments, but he should be careful not to overstate his case simply because Canada’s mission in Afghanistan is about to change. When George W. Bush spoke in front of a banner declaring “Mission Accomplished” in 2003, a month after U.S. troops were deployed to Iraq, he succeeded only in making himself look foolish and drawing attention to the very stubborn challenges the American military still faced there. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
  • Afghanistan (3):  First wave of new Canadian trainers arrive.  “…. Col. Peter Dawe, deputy commander of the training mission, said the army is “mitigating the risks in many ways.” Troops will often live and work in same compounds, will limit their movements and “won’t be travelling frivolously” around the countryside. “But in the end of the day it’s a difficult environment,” said Dawe who once commanded the 3rd battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, the unit selected as the core of the first training team. “Our troops are well-trained. They’re prepared for it. They’re going into this with eyes wide open. For the most part, we’re talking about combat veterans here.” The bulk of the 950 trainers will be deployed in Kabul, but 90 medical and military police advisers will be stationed in Mazar-e-Sharif, in the north. A further 15 soldiers will work out of NATO’s regional training centre in the western city of Herat ….”  More on Operation Attention here and here.
  • Afghanistan (4):  The PM’s said the danger is still not down to zero in Afghanistan – click here (Google search showing headlines only) if you want to see what the Taliban is saying it’s up to in and around Herat, one of the areas where Canadian troops will be training Afghan security forces.  Not sayin’ the claims are accurate (you know the Taliban’s track record if you check here from time to time), but the Taliban must be highlighting the area in its claims for some reason.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  Attacks and assassinations alleged across Kandahar (including some Canadians) – more claims here.
  • Afghanistan (5):  “…. It is a well-tested rule of counterinsurgency that the perception of time is always critical. If insurgents believe their adversaries – in this case the United States and the rest of NATO – have no stomach for the fight, they will eventually win at least some of their objectives. Countries such as Canada have lost their stomach for the fight, preferring the role of trainers. (The Dutch pulled out in 2010.) The Americans, in increasing their military presence, simultaneously announced a timetable for beginning to withdraw. Blowing and sucking at the same time, in other words. In every NATO country, the public wants out ….”
  • A new study says the military’s overall suicide rate is no higher than that of the general population, though some soldiers and ex-soldiers are more than twice as likely to take their own lives. The Statistics Canada study of 188,161 military personnel who enrolled between 1972 and 2006 found that women between the ages of 40 and 44 were more than twice as likely to die from suicide as their same–age counterparts in the general population. The report comes just days after what appears to have been the fourth suicide by a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan. The study period, however, predates the bulk of Canada’s major combat operations in the country’s Kandahar region and it does not include deaths that occurred outside Canada. It therefore excludes combat deaths and suicides in Afghanistan. The study found the risk of suicide was much higher among the 112,225 personnel who joined the military in 1972 and left before Dec. 31, 2006 ….”  More from CBC.ca here.  You can find the study at StatsCan here, and discussion on the issue at Army.ca here.
  • Computer simulation helps wounded warriors recover.  “…. The CF Health Services Group (CF H Svcs Gp) has teamed up with major Canadian rehabilitation centres in Ottawa and Edmonton to provide the best care to Canadian Forces personnel who have either lost limbs or suffered major injuries while serving. “With CAREN,” says physiotherapist Captain Pauline Godsell, CF H Svcs Gp, “the sky is the limit in creating new training programs that engage more than just the visual and auditory senses.” …. The system features real-time feedback, a wall-sized screen and a round, moving platform that makes it more exciting for users to practice walking, driving, swimming and skiing. The computer-controlled platform can be moved in any direction, bounced or sloped ….”
  • One MORE reason being opined about Julian Fantino’s appointment as Associate Minister of National Defence“…. Fantino’s new job quickly became known in the shorthand among Ottawa observers as the “Minister of Procurement”. But why was procurement taken off of the plate of Peter MacKay? A recently published Conference Board of Canada report notes that if the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy is anchored in Halifax’s Irving shipyards rather than on the West Coast, this would mean over 11,000 jobs for the region. If MacKay oversaw a windfall for the BC shipbuilding industry it would hurt tremendously at home. On the contrary, if he was personally responsible for the same for Halifax, that would be the very example of a conflict of interest ….”  More on this theory here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War:  Lockheed Martin is peddling untruths about the relative cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the Super Hornet, according to Boeing Military Aircraft president Chris Chadwick. In a Tuesday morning teleconference, Chadwick not only called Lockheed Martin’s claims “fundamentally untrue” but named business development vice-president Steve O’Bryan as the source, and the fact that the claims were denied formally also points to a developing war between the two programs. The offending statement, quoted in Air Force Magazine’s Daily Report last week …. claimed that a fully operational F-16E or F/A-18E would be “the same cost” as an F-35 at maturity, around $65 million in 2010 dollars. Not so, Chadwick says, claiming a comparable (recurring flyaway) cost of $53 million for a Super Hornet — including a set of external tanks, an ATFLIR targeting pod and “working” helmet mounted displays. Any F-35 cost figure, Chadwick pointed out, “is an estimate based on numbers of unsold aircraft.” ….” (Thanks to “prolific blogger” Mark Collins for this one).
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Renting canoes for Petawawa Ironman competition, anti-ship missile defence research help (as well as a trade show dealing with “Maritime Missile Defence), more research into swarming tiny UAVs, and someone to teach people how to investigate airplane accidents.
  • Another screed about banning military research at universities. “…. The main channel for military funding to social and political science departments is the Security Defence Forum (SDF). Established during the Cold War by DND, the SDF exists to distribute department funds to Canadian political and social science departments through “centres of expertise.” In return for funding, centres are expected to produce academic articles, conduct media interviews, publish Op-Ed articles, participate in conferences, and host a number of events to reach out to the public. The impartiality of funding allocation for research topics is seriously questionable, and casts doubt on the objectivity and academic freedom of these centres.” How about the freedom of researchers to study militay-related subjects? I guess that doesn’t matter, right?
  • It’s been nearly 200 years and it seems that Canada and the United States are still at odds over who was the victor in the War of 1812. That was apparent Monday morning at a U.S. Memorial Day ceremony held here in Halifax to honour the nearly 200 American prisoners of war buried in what is now a small park known as Deadmans Island on the shores of the Northwest Arm. The brief ceremony was attended by American sailors off the USS Boise, a Virginia-based sub, which is visiting Halifax Harbour, and a smattering of locals and Canadian military. “We have different views about exactly how we came out on that deal,” said Anton Smith, the U.S. consul general for the Atlantic provinces. “You guys ended up with more territory than we did, but a lot more ice,” Smith said. During the ceremony, Canadian Rear Admiral Dave Gardam clearly stated that the U.S. did not win the War of 1812. However, both are firmly in agreement of the benefits of the war’s outcome. “The important thing is . . . it settled our differences in a way that allowed us to join hands and become the friends and allies that we have since become. That is why it was an important conflict, no matter how you see the resolution,” Smith said ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 30 May 11

  • Karl Manning, 5 RALC, R.I.P.:  On his way home as family, colleagues wonder – more here.
  • Afghanistan (1):  An organization that keeps track of threats to aid workers in Afghanistan is bracing for a tough, desperate summer and warns of an “escalating stalemate” as it says the Karzai government is losing its grip on northern parts of the country. A new report from the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office suggested insurgent forces are growing in areas that have previously been assessed as calm. We anticipate 2011 will be the most violent year since we have been keeping records,” said the organization’s quarterly report, which was released over the weekend ….”  Afghanistan NGO Safety Office site here, latest report mentioned in story here (PDF).
  • Afghanistan (2):  The Canadian-funded textbooks and computers aren’t overly expensive — certainly not compared to the price Afghan women risk having to pay for using them.The sort of mundane learning most westerners have long taken for granted carries a persistent and very real threat for female students in southern Afghanistan: injury or death at the hands of the Taliban. For the determined, however, it’s no deterrent. “For sure, I am afraid,” says Heena Tariq, a teenager who’s taking an online accounting course at a school in Kandahar city. “It’s not fair we are afraid and stay home. We have to be brave. We have to study for the future and brighten our lives.” Tariq is one of about 700 women who have defied custom and the threat of insurgent thuggery to attend the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  Attacks claimed in Kandahar, Uruzgan.
  • Libya Mission (1):  One opinion.  “…. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said from the start that Canada was at “war” and Defence Minister Peter MacKay allowed that the mission “… isn’t without risk, let’s put it that way.” Canadians from coast to coast to coast, as they say, have a vested interest in the Libyan mission. And Harper recognized that when he committed Friday to consult Parliament on his wish to extend the Canadian military mission in Libya beyond the three-month limit approved by the Commons in mid-March …. But the need to draw all MPs into the debate isn’t founded on differing party philosophies alone, it’s also based on geography. Bombardier Karl Manning of Chicoutimi, Que. was the latest Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan, apparently as a result of suicide. An inordinate number of soldiers from Quebec and Atlantic Canada seem to have died in Afghanistan, likely reflecting the overall makeup of the Canadian military. So, it’s imperative that the voices of the MPs from those regions are heard, no matter what their party affiliations are ….”
  • Libya Mission (2):  Another opinion. “…. When Canada first committed military resources to support the UN-authorized intervention in Libya, all four political parties backed the proposal but agreed to review our participation after three months. While there was virtually no debate about Libya during the recent election, let’s hope that the lack of purpose and progress to date will be enough to convince the Harper government to abort this ill-fated venture before we get dragged into yet another costly unwinnable quagmire like Afghanistan.”
  • Environmental and funding concerns are adding years to the construction of an Arctic naval port considered crucial to enforcing Canadian control of the Northwest Passage. The Nanisivik port in Nunavut was originally supposed to be at least partially up and running by next summer, following a promise made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2007. But no construction is planned for this summer and defence officials admit that the refuelling station, intended to give the navy a permanent presence at the eastern gate of the contested passage, won’t be operating for years. “Construction work at the Nanisivik Naval Facility will begin in 2013,” said a defence department spokesman in an email. “It is forecasted that the (facility) will be operational in 2016.” Officials weren’t immediately available to explain why. But correspondence with the Nunavut Impact Review Board, which is conducting the project’s environmental review, suggests the extra years have been added to the project through a combination of bureaucratic delays, funding problems and environmental liabilities lingering from the site’s previous life as a lead-zinc mine. “There are many challenges operating in the North and DND now has a better understanding of the site condition,” wrote the spokesman ….”  Environmental screening documents on the project are available via the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s web page here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War:  “Everything is bigger in Texas — the cowboy hats, the belt buckles, the steaks, and the factories. Lockheed Martin’s production line here, where the U.S. defence giant manufacturers the F-35 stealth fighter jet, is actually more than two kilometres long. And putting aside the mounting concerns of the program, the F-35 and the factory here have a very high cool-factor. If it weren’t so restricted, a visit to the facility should definitely be on the to-do list of anyone who’s ever had a fighter jet poster on his wall. But critics aren’t swayed by the cool quotient, and are sounding the alarm bells that the jets’ price will skyrocket ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Round two of “we need Large Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device Disrupter Systems”.  More on round one from March 2011 here and here (bullet #9).