Afghanistan Canadian General now second-in-command of NATO’s Afghan training effort.“Canada’s senior general in Afghanistan has been given a much bigger assignment in a reshuffle of NATO’s top command in Kabul. Maj.-Gen. Mike Day was named deputy commander of NATO Training Mission Afghanistan (NTM-A) last week. Five American generals, a British general and three police generals now report to Day, who will be responsible for the training of hundreds of thousands of Afghan troops and police officers. “Form needed to follow function,” Day said in explaining the changes to the NTM-A, which were made by U.S. army Lt.-Gen Daniel Bolger to streamline the training command in Afghanistan by eliminating a large number of senior staff positions ….”
“The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, congratulates the crews of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships St. John’s, Athabaskan, Algonquin, and the submarine HMCS Corner Brook, and those of the ship-borne CH-124 Sea King helicopters and the CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft, for their outstanding contributions to Operation Caribbe …. Op Caribbe is the standing US-led multinational counter-drug surveillance and law enforcement interdiction operation in the international waters of the Caribbean Basin and Eastern Pacific ….” Well done, folks!
For some reason, it appears to be difficult (if not impossible) to get poppies on NHL jerseys as a symbol of remembrance. A wide-ranging discussion on Army.ca here on what should be done (and through who) to get this to change.
War of 1812 “A Newfoundland soldier who died almost 200 years ago and is interred on a remote Ohio island has been remembered. In late October, Lt.-Col. Alex Brennan, commander of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, laid a wreath at the monument where Lt. James Garden rests with other officers who died during the Battle of Lake Erie. “There was a great sense of pride knowing that a generation of soldiers lost 200 years ago has not been forgotten,” Brennan said of the experience. Garden was a member of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, which fought for the British during the War of 1812. The Battle of Lake Erie took place Sept. 10, 1813 as part of the conflict between the Brits and the Americans ….”
Afghanistan (1)“Upon arriving in Mazar-e-Sharif, we met the U.S. Army team that we would be replacing. It didn’t take much time for a U.S. Army sergeant to tell me, “I hope you have thick skin because we haven’t had a female adviser down at Camp Shaheen, so I don’t know how they will act toward you.” My first reaction was to shake my head, throw my hands up and say, “Really? Aren’t we past this – females in the military — by now!” In Canada perhaps we are, but welcome to Afghanistan ….”
DND allowed to keep some money it didn’t spend (but don’t get used to it). “…. up to $11 billion in approved funding remained in public coffers. In 2009, the government approved $6.3 billion, $9.4 billion in 2010 and $11.2 billion in 2011. When pressed on why the funding was never spent, Flaherty said rebuilding the Canadian Forces was a factor. “We have a very large program to rebuild the Canadian Armed Forces and found repeatedly that they cannot get as much done in a given year as they perhaps thought they were going to,” said Flaherty, who was in Honolulu, Hawaii for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. “At the end of the year, we look at what is happening within the departments. We let them carry over some cash from year to year, but it’s limited because we don’t want to create that kind of expectation that if you don’t use the money that is allocated to it, you get to use it the next year,” he added ….”
Federal politicians join the CFL in honouring vets – an MP in Edmonton and a Senator in Montreal.
Again with the “end of the beginning” messaging on the Victoria-class subs (previous occurances here and here)!“Canada’s navy is promising its Victoria-class submarines will by fully operational by 2013 — nearly 15 years after the boats were purchased from the United Kingdom. Speaking with W5’s Lloyd Robertson on Oct. 28, navy commander Vice Admiral Paul Maddison said he understands Canadians’ frustration with the submarine program. “I understand why they would feel impatient. I ask all Canadians for patience. We are at the end of a long beginning,” Maddison said ….”
David Braun, 1979-2006, R.I.P. This year’s National Silver Cross Mother named: “The mother of a Saskatchewan infantryman killed in Afghanistan in 2006 will be the National Silver (Memorial) Cross Mother, the Royal Canadian Legion has announced. Patty Braun is the mother of Cpl. David Braun, a member of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. While on patrol in Kandahar on Aug. 22, 2006, he was killed in an explosion triggered by a suicide bomber. She lives in Raymore, north of Regina. In her new role, she will lay a wreath at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Remembrance Day on behalf of all mothers who have lost sons or daughters in the military, para-military or RCMP in the service of Canada. Originally from Semans, Mrs. Braun works for the Horizon School Division in the Raymore School ….” More here.
Globe & Mail columnist keeps an eye out for the budget cutting axe at Defence.“This week, for the first time since Stephen Harper took office, there are no Canadian Forces on combat operations overseas. Now, the military is being thrust into the peacetime battle over budgets. But the map of the battlefield is out of date. The government’s 2008 long-term defence strategy still rests on spending budgets which are currently being cut. The strategy needs an update …. soon, before the choices shrink, the government’s going to have to say how it’s going to fit the military it planned for in 2008 into the realities of 2011.”
F-35 Tug o’ War (1a)“The Conservative government’s approval of the multi-billion dollar F-35 plan was held up for over a year by reluctant Industry Canada officials who were angry with the U.S. manufacturer of the stealth fighter, say internal Defence Department documents. Frustrated air force planners said the delay damaged the program and the country’s aerospace industry, which was left hanging while the dispute over a previous purchase played out behind closed doors. Industry Canada blocked the federal cabinet’s “consideration/decision” of a replacement for the country’s aging CF-18s because of “concerns over a C130-J In-Service Support contract issue with Lockheed Martin,” said a May 17, 2010 briefing note prepared for the chief of air staff. The document, obtained under access to information laws by The Canadian Press, was written just weeks before cabinet finally agreed to purchase the F-35. The decision was announced publicly in July 2010 and set off firestorm of criticism that continues to this day ….” Guess what? No indication The Canadian Press is going to share the “obtained” documents.
F-35 Tug o’ War (3) “Staff from the federal auditor general’s office travelled to Texas in September to review progress on the F-35 stealth fighter program for a report that will be released next spring, Postmedia News has learned. The news comes as Australia prepares to ask Canada and other allies to perform a joint study of the program’s delays, and amid concerns from the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester over the speed with which the project is being pushed through safety checks. Officials within the auditor general’s office and Lockheed Martin, the company leading the multi-billion-dollar F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, confirmed the Canadian visit to Fort Worth, but would not say much else. “We do site visits during the normal course of our audits,” said Celine Bissonnette, a spokeswoman at the Office of the Auditor General. “We are planning a report in the spring of 2012, tentatively titled, ‘Replacing Canada’s Fighter Jets.’ However, we regret that we are not able to comment any further on audits in progress until our report has been tabled in the House of Commons.” Bissonnette said the audit’s terms of reference, which outline exactly what is being investigated, will be revealed about a month before the final report is made public. Lockheed Martin spokesperson Kim Testa said the Canadian officials were conducting an “assessment of program progress.” ….”
Editorial on subs for Canada: “…. Eventually Canada will have to decide whether it wants to purchase nuclear subs at $3 billion a copy, or stay with the diesel-electric variety, which have limited capability in the Arctic because of their need to surface to recharge batteries, although new technology has extended their ability to remain submerged for longer periods of time …. Canada should, however, remain committed to the platform, since submarines provide a variety of valuable services, including patrolling the coasts, intercepting smugglers, guarding our economic rights, contributing to scientific research and assisting our allies. With three coasts to defend and worldwide interests to monitor, the submarine is still relevant to Canada’s overall defence requirements.”
“Master Corporal Paul Franklin has become well known across Canada for conquering many challenges, but none as difficult as his passion and purpose in life after losing both legs. Paul was nearing the end of a second tour of duty in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber attacked his convoy. His left leg was gone; the second had to be amputated. That was in January 2006 and three months later, Master Corporal Franklin walked with artificial legs for the first time. On Thursday, Nov. 3rd you can meet Paul Franklin, a Canadian hero, then ask why he supports the Canada-wide Heroes Hockey Challenge series …. Heroes Hockey Challenge™ is a series of national hockey charitable fundraising events to take place in six cities across Canada. The funds raised by Heroes Hockey Challenge will benefit all wounded Canadian soldiers and their families with particular emphasis on amputees. The six Heroes Hockey Challenge events during the winter of 2012 are designed to motivate Canadians to support our heroes ….”
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.” ….”
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 ….”
“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.
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 (3b) Tying in the planes with Afghanistan – this again from QP: “Mr. 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.
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) ….”
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.
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 (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 ….”
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 ….”
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 ….”
“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 ….”
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 (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.”
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 ….”
“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.
Want to see photos of Vandoos (in this case, 3rd Battalion) preparing to jump out of Ukrainian helicopters after being trained by Ukrainian paratroopers on Exercise Rapid Trident 2011? Check them out here (via Army.ca)
F-35 Tug o’ War Aussies getting cold feet over Joint Strike Fighter? “Australia may reconsider a A$16 billion ($17.5 billion) plan to buy 100 of Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighters because of delivery delays and cost overruns, the government said on Wednesday. Repeated delays and ballooning costs in the F-35 program are now starting to rub against already generous delivery and cost limits set by the government and military planners, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith said. “We are running close up to those schedules, particularly on delivery. So I’ve made the point very clear that we are now monitoring very closely the delivery timetable and we are also monitoring very closely the cost,” Smith told Australian radio after meeting defence officials in Washington ….”
Libya Mission One man’s opinion. “…. Libya, like Kosovo, Somalia, Haiti and, by some accounts, Iraq and Afghanistan, has become a humanitarian war. The main point of such wars is to stop governments or factions that aim to become governments (such as the transitional council) from committing mass murder. They are not peacekeeping missions, though, like peacekeeping, they are optional – wars of choice they are often called. This means that Canada, NATO and the “international community” was in no way compelled to act. By insisting on the opposite, Baird and other advocates of humanitarian war involve themselves in paradoxes, dilemmas and incoherencies ….”
New Winnipeg Jets Logo (1) Defence Minister Peter MacKay seems to like it.“The new Winnipeg Jets logo, while not yet out on an actual jersey, continues to sell well in t-shirts, hats and other merchandise and in Winnipeg on July 26, 2011, the military themed logo got approval from a big player in Canada’s defence ministry. Peter MacKay, the country’s Minister of Defence, endorsed the logo while speaking to media after having announced some funding unrelated to the Jets. “I personally love it,” said MacKay who was at 17 Wing Winnipeg, an airforce base outside the city that has been part of Winnipeg in some way since 1922. “It very much associates with the history of the Canadian air force and the roots the air force have in the city of Winnipeg.””
New Winnipeg Jets Logo (2) Some sports commentary web sites, not so much. “…. This logo seems to be too safe and out-of-date when compared to other team logos. And even their presentation of the logo lacks any showmanship. I didn’t love the old logo, but I think its simple design fit that era and was a solid crest to support. This logo looks like some kid created it in Paint as a grade nine art project ….”
New Winnipeg Jets Logo (3a) Peaceniks, even less. “…. there can be no mistaking the inspiration for the new Jets logo. If the CF-18 fighter draped in a red maple leaf wasn’t obvious enough, the team’s new owner made no secret of the fact that the logo was designed in consultation with the Department of National Defence. In fact, Mark Chipman’s comments in the unveiling of the new logo had more to do with the air force than the hockey team. He noted in the press conference that he only felt comfortable with the “Jets” name when he determined that he could re-brand the team around the RCAF. In other words, my beloved Winnipeg Jets are being twisted into another cheap marketing ploy for the new Canadian militarism ….”
Some whining about Calgary’s decision to allow “Support the Troops” stickers on municipal vehicles. “…. “We oppose the decals because oppose using public resources for a political message,” said Dylan Penner, spokesperson for the (Council of Canadians). “This is not about support for our troops, it is about explicit endorsement of the war. In our view, it is impossible to separate the message of support for war from support for troops, despite the fact the Canadian troops are coming home now …. Canadians care about peace, and many of us recognize this as promoting war.” ….” Uh, the stickers say “Support Our Troops”, not “Support The War” – I guess that’s not clear enough.
More on the war poet John MacRae allegedly having been gay. Let’s see – four sources mentioned in the original article. In subsequent article in another media outlet, one says “WTF? that’s not what I said”, three who we haven’t heard from, the museum’s fundraising boss saying, “he knew of multiple, credible sources indicating the famed poet was gay”, and the writer of the original piece saying, “she did not contact any historian to substantiate the story (and) “We may have to print a correction.” …. ” Great journalism all ’round…
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 (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.
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).
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 ….”
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 ….”
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).