MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 27 Aug 11

  • A new study shows that a majority of Canadians think the Canadian Forces are important, but would like to see the military return to a more traditional peacekeeping role instead of a combat one. An Ipsos-Reid study, published in June 2011 for the Department of National Defence and titled: Views of the Canadian Forces 2011 Tracking Study, surveyed 1,651 Canadians across the country between March 21 and 24 on their knowledge and opinions about Canada’s military and its missions, primarily in Afghanistan and Libya. When asked to describe the mission in Afghanistan, such words as “deadly,” “expensive,” “underfunded” and “endless” were used. “There was a also a sense of “enough is enough,” the study authors wrote. “In general, many participants seemed to feel that they were under-informed about the Canadian Forces’ role in Afghanistan, and that they did not know why the Canadian Forces was still there,” the study said ….”
  • Way Up North (x)  Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sent a signal to Beijing that Ottawa will not relinquish its sovereignty over the portions of the Arctic lying within its territory. Countries around the world are looking northward as the sea passage across the top of Canada becomes increasingly navigable and exploration for new energy and mineral sources suggests the Arctic could contain a wealth of untapped natural resources. One of those countries is China, which has begun to take a hard look at the potential that lies under what was once a frozen ocean, especially the commercial and shipping possibilities, and has asked for special observer status in the Arctic Council. On Friday, a reporter with the official Chinese news service who is accompanying the Prime Minister on his annual summer tour, asked him to clarify his position. “It seems like there are some local media reports that the Arctic region belongs to the Arctic countries and it’s not the business of the rest of the world,” the Chinese reporter said. “What is your comment on this opinion and what role do you think the rest of the world can play in the Arctic region affairs?” Mr. Harper responded by saying that vast areas of land and significant territorial waters within the Arctic are under the sovereignty of various countries, including Canada. “The government of Canada, working with our partners and the people in this region, intend to assert our sovereignty in these regions,” said the Prime Minister ….”
  • Way Up North (x)  Wired.com’s Danger Room blog on the CF’s tender call for quiet snowmobiles“The Canadian government wants a stealth snowmobile. Just, apparently, because. It’s not as if Canada has any alpine enemies to sneak up on with shadowy, frigid cavalry. But that’s not going to stop the Canadian Department of National Defence from spending a half million dollars on a prototype ….”
  • The body of a former Ottawa resident was found this week among over 150 others in a Tripoli warehouse, members of Canada’s Libyan community report. Abdulhamid Darrat, who first came to Ottawa in the early 1980s, ran a successful Internet company in Libya called Baitaslxams. He was taken by government officers along with five co-workers and shoved into the back of a van, while at work in May. His daughter, Khadija, 16, said the last time she saw her father was at 3 a.m. on May 19 before he headed into the office for the day. Khadija said Libyan officials led the family to believe that Darrat was taken out of Tripoli in order to do some sort of Internet work for the government. She said relatives with contacts in the Gadhafi regime told them Darrat was well looked after and doing well ….”
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be at the table when world leaders decide the future of Libya. A conference dubbed “Friends of Libya” is set for Sept. 1, in Paris, France. French President Nicolas Sarkozy invited all NATO member countries, including Canada, and added China, Russia, India and Brazil to the invite list. Sarkozy said he called the conference “to help a free Libya, tomorrow’s Libya, and to really show that we are going forward and passing from military collaboration to civil collaboration to resolve the situation.” ….”
  • How’d the Libyan rebels get that expensive Canadian-built micro-UAV“…. Start-up Aeryon is mainly focused on the consumer uses of drones, such as replacing satellite mapping with drone mapping. Their drones are dual-purpose products — intended for commercial use, but also usable for military operations as demonstrated below. Canadian law only prohibits them from selling drones to North Korea or Iran. “Because it’s a dual-purpose product, rather than just intended for military use, we face fewer restrictions when sending them to other countries,” says (Aeryon CEO David) Kroetsch ….”
  • One old warhorse’s glass-is-half-empty view of Libya: “…. is Libya a “victory”? We don’t know much about the rebel leadership and the National Transitional Council (NTC) that Canada, for one, is pledged to support. What we do know is that the rebels have gotten rid of one of their military leaders – former Interior Minister Abdul Younis — who was assassinated by his own fighters in Benghazi for reason unknown. That’s an uncomfortable omen for the future. Also known is that with total victory, tribal and ideological factionalisms surface, and scores beg to be settled ….”
  • Exercise PANAMAX 2011 in, around Panama is winding down.
  • Afghanistan (1)  Four Chinook helicopters flown by the Canadian military in the deserts of southern Afghanistan soon will be headed to another desert — in Arizona. Unable to sell the aging aircraft, the federal government has decided to ship the Chinooks to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, a U.S. air force installation known as “The Boneyard.” The helicopters will be stored at the open-air facility outside Tucson until the government can find a buyer, said Tracy Poirier, a spokeswoman for the Defence Department. The department, however, declined to provide a cost estimate for the storage, saying it is prohibited from revealing the details of contracts made with a foreign governments. “This was the most economical option available to us,” Poirier said. “This facility is the biggest of its kind in North America and very specialized at storing and reinstating old aircraft.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Last Canadian Air Wing boss back home.
  • Afghanistan (3)  Canadian reporter discovers it’s damned expensive bringing stuff to fight a war 1/2 way around the world“Summer in (southern) Afghanistan is a blast furnace. Temperatures rise over 50C. Air conditioning is what allows the frenzied pace of NATO’s war during the fighting season. The price is astronomical. The Americans have calculated that in the past two years they have spent $20 billion on AC. If you add the rest of NATO, that figure is probably well over $24 billion. That means that coalition forces spend more to keep themselves cool each year than Afghanistan’s gross national product. Every drop of fuel, drinking water as well as every morsel of food consumed on NATO bases is imported into this landlocked country – most of it trucked in through Pakistan. The cost is enormous ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Chatting up surrendered Taliban.
  • Ronald Kevin Megeney, 1982-2007, R.I.P.:  The trial of former Nova Scotia reservist Matthew Wilcox, charged in the shooting death of his friend and comrade in Afghanistan in 2007, has been adjourned until Sept. 12. Wilcox has pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal negligence causing death and negligent performance of a military duty in the death of Cpl. Kevin Megeney, a fellow reservist from Nova Scotia ….”  More here.
  • Some U.S. Army LAV work for a Canadian companyGeneral Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, a business unit of General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE:GD), received a contract worth $49.2 million from the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. Per the contract, General Dynamics will provide training and field service support for Light Armored Vehicles (“LAV”) that was previously supplied under a Foreign Military Sale (“FMS”) contract. Support activities under this contract include the provision of field support teams to conduct operator and maintenance training, technical support and fleet status monitoring. The five-year contract was awarded through the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Crown Agency of the Canadian Government and is expected to be completed by July 2016 ….”
  • Postmedia News offers up a series of terrorism profiles of different countries, including Canada.
  • This from the Veterans Affairs Info-MachineOn behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of National Revenue, announced today up to $5,000 in funding for the official opening of the Air Force Heritage Park in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. “Our government is proud to support great community projects like this one,” said Minister Blaney. “We commend all those involved with the creation of the Air Force Heritage Park for doing their part to recognize the men and women who have served our country, past and present.” ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 26 Aug 11

  • Libya Mission  “NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity” says Canada punching above its weight in Libya“Canadian fighter jets were in the air again this week, striking at the Gaddafi regime’s tanks and artillery, part of this country’s surprisingly substantial contribution to the five-month-long NATO bombing campaign in Libya. As one of three nations carrying out the bulk of the sometimes-controversial air war, Canada with its aging CF-18 fighters has made a contribution clearly disproportionate to the compact size of its air force, say alliance and academic sources. While Britain and France have about three times as many fighter-bombers in the operation as this country and are usually credited with most of the fighting, Canada has been close behind in its role, said a NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity ….”
  • “New” Libyan diplomat recognized by Canada.  “Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird (Thursday) issued the following statement: I am pleased to welcome Abubaker Karmos, appointee of the National Transitional Council (NTC) of Libya, as chargé d’affaires ad interim at the Embassy of Libya in Canada. Mr. Karmos’ accreditation by Canada was completed this morning and he has already assumed his functions ….”  In case the name sounds familiar, here’s why:  “Former Libyan diplomat Abubaker Karmos, who defected from the Libyan Embassy in Ottawa in February, has been confirmed as the Libyan National Transitional Council’s representative in Ottawa, Foreign Minister John Baird announced Thursday ….”
  • A Canadian national has reportedly been killed fighting with the anti-regime rebels in Libya“A Canadian man died on the frontlines of the Libyan conflict this week while fighting with the rebels trying to oust Moammar Gadhafi from power. A friend has revealed that Nader Benrewin was shot dead by a sniper as he took part in a raid on Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, which Libyan rebels stormed on Tuesday. Benrewin, 24, was born in Edmonton, but worked in Ottawa for the past three years, Haitham Alabadleh told The Canadian Press. The Ottawa man made the decision to go back to Libya where his family was living and he pledged to fight with the rebels ….”  More from CBC.ca and Postmedia News.
  • A Canadian “independent journalist” is now free again.  “Dozens of journalists, including a Canadian, who were stranded in a hotel in downtown Tripoli by the fighting were released Wednesday. Journalists had been holed up inside the Rixos hotel under the watch of armed men loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi. Among those released from the hotel was Mahdi Nazemroaya, a 29-year-old freelance journalist from the Ottawa area. His friend, Briton Amos, said Wednesday that Nazemroaya left the hotel with the other journalists and was “out of danger.” The Centre for Research on Globalization, for which Nazemroaya works as a correspondent, said in a statement Wednesday that he was safe aboard a chartered boat from the International Organization for Migration. It said Nazemroaya was set to return to Canada ….”  Funny, the statement issued by the Centre doesn’t mention the bit I highlighted above in red.  I guess that kinda wrecks the “NATO as bad guy” story line, right?
  • Interesting prediction.  “…. events in Libya suggest we may be moving (toward) something very different, perhaps a war that is above and beyond the people. That’s as close as we want to get to raging conflicts. Among the officers I talk with, the strategic thinkers are straining to better understand these scenarios, and what they will mean for Canadian and other forces. No one knows the future, but critical spending decisions have to be made. The current mood strongly suggests that should we again become involved in foreign actions, we will want to rely more on airpower and naval supremacy, while the armies stay home. (Diplomats may also discover their talents are again in high demand.) ….”
  • Gwynne Dyer on what (may) happen next in Libya“…. Britain and France, in particular, have committed a great deal of political capital to the success of the Libyan revolution. They carried out more than half of the air strikes in support of the rebels, while other European democracies and Canada, all NATO members, did the rest. (The United States only contributed surveillance capabilities and occasional Predator drone strikes after the first few weeks.) These European allies need to justify their intervention to their own people, so they will do everything in their power to make sure that there are no massacres, that Gadhafi and his close allies, when caught, are handed over to the International Criminal Court for trial (much better for the stability of the country than trying him in Libya), and that the process of building a democratic government in Libya goes as smoothly as possible. They have a great deal of leverage over the rebel forces at the moment, and they will use it to keep the revolution on the tracks. Despite all the obstacles to a smooth transition that Libya faces, the outcome here could be surprisingly positive.”  One hopes.
  • Way Up North  How it’s not all competition and conflict in the Arctic “…. Together, the CCGS Louis S. St. Laurent and USCGC Healy will map the Alpha Ridge, a 2,000 kilometre-long range of underwater mountains running from the northwest flank of Canada’s Ellesmere Island toward Russia’s (Wrangel) Island. The Alpha Ridge parallels the more famous Lomonosov Ridge, which lies between it and the geographic North Pole. The Healy is equipped with an advanced multi-beam sonar system that provides detailed information about the shape of the ocean floor. The Louis S. St. Laurent carries a sophisticated seismic array that measures the character and thickness of seabed sediments. However, vibrations from icebreaking can affect the accuracy of these instruments. And so the two ships take turns clearing a path for each other, with the resulting sonar and seismic data being shared between the U.S. and Canada. It’s a partnership born of necessity. Neither country has two icebreakers capable of the task, and both require a complete scientific picture of the seabed in order to determine their rights over offshore oil and gas ….”
  • Senator:  Now’s the time to grasp the nettle and close bases to save money“…. Stephen Harper should take advantage of a moment in Canada’s political history that isn’t likely to come along again for some time: a majority government, with at least four more years in power guaranteed. If the Prime Minister moved quickly, he could put a plan in place that would rationalize Canada’s military infrastructure without paying an enormous price at the ballot box. Harper doesn’t even have to finger the infrastructure that should go – in fact, he shouldn’t. He should instruct his military leaders to do an assessment of what infrastructure is still needed, and what can be eliminated in the interests of efficiency and effectiveness. Once that report was in – and it would be a controversial one no matter what bases and installations were selected for closure – the government should enact it, on the military’s advice. The Prime Minister should make it clear to all Canadians that this is an arm’s-length operation – no interference from the Cabinet or other members of Parliament ….”
  • Report leaked to Postmedia News  Editorial“…. past attempts to bring needed change had failed because of internal resistance. People in the forces feared the loss of status, power and resources, or increased accountability. That’s not surprising. Any large organization likely faces the same challenge in making changes to increase effectiveness. Many people have a strong vested interest in the status quo and the ability to find no end of ways to delay and impede change …. The expertise of managers in the Canadian Forces, or anywhere else, should be respected. But Leslie, who is leaving the military for a private sector job next month, comes from those ranks. What’s needed is leadership at the very top. In this case, it must come from MacKay and Harper. Our troops – and taxpayers – deserve no less.”
  • Afghanistan  What one Canadian says we could be doing.  “…. if we in Canada can find some of the enthusiasm Afghans have for the possibilities education can breathe into the country, we can push for education to be at the fore of rebuilding there. Canada has invested precious human lives and billions of dollars in Afghanistan. What greater legacy could we leave than to advocate for, and invest generously in, a robust public education system that could finally put Afghanistan on the path to peace?”
  • Ronald Kevin Megeney, 1982-2007, R.I.P.:  A Canadian soldier says he handled two weapons immediately after a fellow soldier was fatally shot at a military base in Afghanistan in 2007 and noticed that one of the pistols was loaded. Master Cpl. Andrew Noseworthy told the court martial Thursday of former reservist Matthew Wilcox that he was on the opposite side of a partition in a tent watching a movie on a laptop with another soldier when he heard a shot at the Kandahar Airfield. He said he ran around to the other side of the tent where he saw Cpl. Kevin Megeney lying next to his bed and Wilcox kneeling beside him. “I can’t recall what he (Wilcox) was doing,” Noseworthy said ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Finally, all of the U.S. Joint Strike Fighters can fly again.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 Feb 11

  • For the latest on China’s alleged cyber attack on Canadian government systems (including Defence Research and Development Canada), check news streams on the story here (Google News), here (NewsNow) or here (Yahoo News).
  • Canada’s Defence Minister’s set to announce “support (for) the ill and injured Canadian Forces (CF) personnel, former CF personnel, their families and the families of the deceased” at CFB Trenton today. QMI/Sun Media’s estimation of what’s coming“The Conservative government is set to announce millions in new funding to ensure returning soldiers who need medical or employment help have a less frustrating experience, QMI Agency has learned. Defence Minister Peter MacKay will announce Friday in Trenton, Ont., $6.9 million in infrastructure costs over three years and $4 million a year to operate five new one-stop shops for soldiers, veterans and their families. “When you are ill or injured, you just have to go to one roof and everything is there for you,” a senior government source said. “It’s to improve the quality of care for those people who serve our country and defend our interests.” The new centres will be in Canadian Forces Bases in Comox, B.C., Cold Lake, Alta., Borden, Ont., Trenton, Ont., and Bagotville, Que ….”
  • Snagging drugs all part of a day’s work for Canadians working next to Afghan security forces. “A frail Afghan man is brought before Capt. Patrick Chartrand, begging for the return of five bags full of drugs that weigh about twice as much as him.  “All the people are growing opium,” the man, who appears to be in his 60s, says in Pashto.  “I am a poor man. What can I do?”  A group of Afghan National Army officers mentored by Canadians seized 108 kilograms of what’s believed to be opium earlier this week. Military officials will test it later for verification.  It is the largest drug haul in an eastern swath of Panjwaii district since the Royal 22e Regiment’s Bravo Company arrived in the area in early December.  “I was pretty surprised about this,” said Chartrand, 32. “I was not expecting that in my day when I woke up.” ….”
  • Next chopper pilots & crews headed downrange prepare in the U.S. “Exercise Desert Gander launched off station Feb. 1, 2011, marking the final step of predeployment training for approximately 220 members of Canadian military forces. During the exercise, 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron based with the Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, Alberta, practiced air-to-ground firing exercises, dust ball training and convoy operations at the ranges surrounding Yuma. “Dust ball training helps door gunners and pilots learn to deal with dust clouds that form when landing,” said Cpl. Ted McGirr, 408 Squadron flight engineer and right door gunner. “Another aspect to consider is the heat. When it is very hot the air is thin and it makes it difficult to lift off. By conducting these exercises we gain much needed experience.” The squadron has held their winter training here for the last three years, due to its ideal training environment and optimum facilities. “The terrain here is very similar to Afghanistan,” said Capt. Bob Hackett, executive officer and adjutant. “The heat and dust, something you don’t find in Canada, help our guys prepare for what we are going to see in our deployment.” ….”
  • Ronald Megeney, 1982-2007, R.I.P. A date has been set for a new court martial for a Nova Scotia reservist who successfully appealed his conviction in the fatal shooting of a fellow soldier in Afghanistan in 2007. The Defence Department says the new trial of Matthew Wilcox will begin on April 26 in Halifax before a military judge alone. Wilcox, who was a corporal, will face the same charges of manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death and negligent performance of a military duty. Wilcox, from Glace Bay, N.S., won an appeal of his earlier conviction at the Court Martial Appeal Court after his lawyers complained that the makeup of the military jury was unfair at his trial in Sydney, N.S ….” A bit more in the Canadian Forces news release here.
  • Column:  What else COULD Canada really do or say about Egypt? “…. So what should the Canadian position in all this be? The Harper government had it exactly right during the demonstrations: stability was important and an orderly transition was critical. That still remains the correct position, despite what the Jeffrey Simpsons and Jim Traverses might write in their columns. The reality is that Canada has never had much influence in the Middle East, and such as it has today should be directed toward promoting stability ….”
  • A bit of American gauge-fixing work for SOME Canadian company“$573,950 Federal Contract Awarded to Canadian Commercial WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 — Canadian Commercial Corp., Ottawa, Canada, won a $573,950.40 federal contract from the U.S. Naval Supply Systems Command, Philadelphia, for repair of digital indicators.”
  • More union worries about the (alleged) Canada-U.K. joint ship talks. “Shipyard workers say they don’t trust federal government assurances that new naval warships and coast guard cutters will be built in Canada. Jamie Vaslet, of the CAW Marine Workers Federation, told a news conference on Parliament Hill that the Harper government has broken its word before, namely over the elimination of a 25 per cent tariff on ships built outside the country. “They hung us out to dry once (and) I don’t believe they’ll answer any questions because there is a hidden agenda,” Vaslet said Thursday. “If they don’t then they shouldn’t have a problem answering the questions that are asked.” He said the idea that Canada is talking to Britain about participation in the Global Combat Ship Program — the Royal Navy’s plan to replace its frigate fleet — “scares the hell” out of him and his members …”
  • Military “Hesco” barriers to the rescue against flooding in Manitoba. “A portable barrier that’s been used to foil terrorist attacks has been recruited for use in Manitoba’s spring flood fight. The province and the city bought nine kilometres of the Hesco bastion from the United States to top up the province’s primary diking system. The large wire cages can be unfolded and quickly filled with dirt or mud.  Randy Hull, the City of Winnipeg’s emergency preparedness co-ordinator, says the mesh cages won’t replace sandbag dikes but there should be fewer clay dikes needed along places like North and South Drive in the Fort Garry neighbourhood. “It’s about rapid deployment, and it’s about logistics,” said Hull ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda WatchIt’s not the Taliban killing most of the kids, and it’s not the Taliban’s web page telling all the lies, honest!