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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 11 Mar 11

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  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  Parliament’s Budget Office (PBO):  Our estimates (based on production price per pound of plane and a longer service timeline – 30 years vs. the CF’s 20 years) show the F-35 will cost more than the Canadian government is saying now. (1.1 MB PDF, 65 pg).  The executive summary is downloadable here via Army.ca.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) Both the Liberals and the NDP started poking the government almost immediately during Question Period in the House of Commons on this one yesterday.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (3) MSM are full of stories on this one as well this from the Canadian Press, this from the Toronto Star, this from the National Post/Postmedia News, this from CTV.ca, and this from Reuters.
  • Mideast Unpleasantness (1)Canada is defending the effectiveness of sanctions against Libya, despite their apparent failure after Moammar Gadhafi’s troops managed to drive rebel forces out of a key oil port. Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Thursday that he thinks sanctions against Libya are working, but more are needed. He said all options for Libya remain on the table as he and fellow G8 foreign ministers prepare to meet in France early next week for talks on the crisis. “I think the sanctions regime is working. Obviously it has its merits and its objectives. There needs to be more, I believe. That is why we’re still examining the options.” Cannon rejected a suggestion that sanctions are failing because Gadhafi is still holding power and reclaiming rebel-held territory ….”
  • Mideast Unpleasantness (2) Retired General Lew Mackenzie with a reminder that a no-fly zone could morph into more than JUST a no-fly zone in Libya. “…. once you decide to militarily intervene in another country’s civil conflict, you have to be prepared to escalate even if it’s the wrong thing to do, because quitting your commitment when the initial plan fails is just not on …. Col. Gadhafi doesn’t need his air force to prevail, so its grounding or destruction would merely shift the fighting to the backs of his army. Libya is a big country, with 2,000 kilometres of coastline, so the major fighting would take place along the main coastal road. The opposition forces would be no match for even poorly organized army units if Col. Gadhafi decides to get serious.  Watching this unfold from 20,000 feet, the countries enforcing any no-fly zone would be unable to ignore the carnage below them. Backed into a corner, their political leaders would be forced to escalate and authorize attacks against the Libyan army – thereby becoming, in effect, the opposition’s air force. By so doing, they would assume a much larger role in Libya’s future, including reconstruction of the damage they inflicted ….”
  • Mideast Unpleasantness (3)  Speaker of the House of Commons:  Not unpleasant enough for an emergency debate right now.
  • A little more information on Canada coming through with more funding a school project in Kandahar. “…. the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, announced $250,000 in additional funding for the Afghan Canadian Community Centre (ACCC). This funding will allow the ACCC to continue providing successful literacy courses and training in Kandahar city …. The ACCC is a private training centre in Kandahar City that provides professional education in such subjects as business management, information technology, English and health care. This additional support will enable the Centre to continue delivering valuable training, establish a resource centre, and implement a self-sustainability plan. Translation of that last bit of government-speak in red:  some of the money the school is getting is to be used to come up with a plan to be able to run without any more outside funding (or at least from us).
  • A friend of Colin Rutherford, the Canadian reportedly being held hostage by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, sees world for what it is“…. We as students need to recognize that terrorism does not only happen to other people. Terrorists exist to cause fear, and through that fear they gain power. Colin was not afraid to go into a place that has been torn by war to try to help people who are different from himself, and to help them on their terms instead of his. It may not have been the brightest thing to do, but it was brave and motivated by a good heart. He may not come home alive or, if alive, not whole and sound. I pray every day for him. I hope I will get to see him again and hug him and tell him that I am proud of him for wanting to bring something positive into a bastion of terror ….”
  • Remember the “MMA Visits Afghanistan to Fight for the Troops?” story earlier this week (eighth bullet here) Here’s the U.S. military information machine’s story on the event.
  • Ooopsie…. “At a time of unprecedented tension between the west and Hamid Karzai over the killing of civilians, Nato has accidentally shot dead one of the Afghan president’s own family members during a botched night raid. Officials in the southern province of Kandahar said Haji Yar Mohammad Karzai, a second cousin of the president, was killed during an operation by US special forces in Karz, the ancestral Karzai home on the outskirts of Kandahar city. In what appears to have been a major intelligence failure, the 63-year-old tribal elder was mistaken for the father of a Taliban commander …. Mahmoud Karzai, one of the president’s brothers, said he “smelled a very deep conspiracy” over the killing of Haji Yar Mohammad and said he feared Nato had been fed false information by someone from within the Karzai family ….” Here’s ISAF’s first statement on the incident, with a follow-up update here.  More on the touchiness of the situation from the Canadian Press here.
  • Canadian shipyard workers pipe in on Canada’s plans to look at foreign designs for new big honkin’ ships for the Navy. “Canada should not adapt foreign designs to replace its 40-year-old supply ships, says the man who represents over 1,000 workers at Halifax Shipyard. The navy is looking for consultants to assess the risks and cost of altering current German and Spanish military supply-ship designs to Canadian needs. They are also being told to be ready to assist federal officials with detailed drawings. “No matter what way you slice the pie, its Canadian tax dollars leaving Canada to go to another country to help them out in an economic crisis when we’re in our own,” Jamie Vaslet of the CAW/Marine Workers Federation, said Thursday. “Made in Canada is not a bad name, so designed in Canada is not a bad name, either. We designed and built some of, if not the best, world-class frigates.” ….”
  • Meanwhile, Mark Collins wonders how sloooooooooooooooooooow one can go to build new ships needed by Canada’s Navy.
  • Remember the shipload o’ Tamils dropped on the west coast by the MV Sun Sea last summerOne of the passengers admitted to being a bad guy, and has been ordered deported (eventually). “A passenger on the MV Sun Sea ship has admitted to being a member of the Tamil Tigers and ordered out of Canada, but don’t expect the unnamed man to be booted out anytime soon.  The man, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, initially denied being associated with the Tiger terrorist group but later admitted to officials with the Canadian Border Services Agency that he had been a member …. “We are pleased that these hearings are moving ahead,” said Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, the man in charge of the CBSA …. Toews has stated several times that the ship has terrorist links but this case is the first to come with a deportation order.  “That ship, that voyage was co-ordinated by the Tamil Tigers,” Toews told QMI Agency on Wednesday. “Our commitment has been to ensure that individuals who are associated with terrorist organizations do not find refuge in this country.” ….”
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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Mar 11

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  • If anyone can make a case for how Canada’s treating its wounded warriors, it’s a wounded warriorA major who lost both his legs in Afghanistan says the Harper government’s financial treatment of injured war veterans is an “abject betrayal” of a new generation of soldiers.  Maj. Mark Campbell, who stepped on a bomb in June 2008 near a Canadian base west of Kandahar city, says the New Veteran’s Charter established in 2006 robs wounded soldiers of about 40 per cent of their income …. “This New Veteran’s Charter is a grotesque travesty. It is an abject betrayal by the government of Canada to our new generation of disabled and wounded veterans,” said Campbell …. “What kind of deal is that? The people of Canada should be outraged.”  Campbell believes the new lump-sum payments and income replacement pale in comparison to the practice after the Second World War of granting lifetime pensions …. “Why are we saying people who sacrificed limbs in the service of their country should be subjected to a 25 per cent reduction in their families’ means of living? It’s ridiculous,” he said ….” More from Postmedia News here and CBC.ca here.
  • Veterans Affairs bureaucrats who rifled through the personal files of a department critic were handed written reprimands and three-day suspensions — penalties the victim calls a “slap on the wrist.” An internal investigation found 54 veterans bureaucrats improperly snooped through Sean Bruyea’s personal files, including medical and psychiatric reports. Some of them used the information to smear the outspoken critic.  “These employees have been disciplined and department officials consider this matter has been successfully addressed and closed,” said a Feb. 25 letter to Bruyea, obtained by The Canadian Press.  The two-month internal investigation determined that 614 employees handled his file over a number of years, but many had no need to do so.  Some of his personal information was included in briefing notes to former veterans affairs minister Greg Thompson in 2006 as the Conservative government prepared to implement the New Veterans Charter, which substantially overhauled benefits for former soldiers ….”
  • Interesting research from a university in Alberta: “Video games often get a bad rap, but their ability to desensitise players to violence could help soldiers sleep better. According to an online survey of 98 military personnel, regularly playing games that involve war and combat – like Call of Duty – decreased the level of harm and aggression experienced when they dreamed about war. Soldiers who didn’t play video games reported having more violent dreams combined with a sense of helplessness, says Jayne Gackenbach of Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada ….” More on that here.  Also, here’s a paper from the same researcher on the subject from last summer.
  • More Canadians (and others) GTFO Libya.  This from the PM’s chief spokesperson’s Twitter feed:  “Another Canadian Armed Forces plane has left Tripoli with 10 Canadians, UK, Australians, Romanian and other evacuees.”
  • A National Post editorial calls for NATO to do SOMETHING about Libya“Pressure is growing for Western nations to intervene militarily in Libya’s emerging civil war …. there are good reasons to be wary about such a campaign. But Muammar Gaddafi’s apparent willingness to exterminate large numbers of his citizens in recent days has served to marginalize such concerns: Whatever the risks that attend military intervention, we must not permit a North African Srebrenica …. The heavy lifting associated with the no-fly mission should be performed by Italy, France, Germany and Spain — which, collectively, import 90% of Libya’s oil exports. Britain, too, has a well-established trade relationship with Libya. It is in these countries’ interests to remove Col. Gaddafi as quickly as possible and stabilize the country around a new government. There are roles for Canada, the United States and other Western nations, too. Even as the Canadian air force seeks to acquire a controversial new multi-purpose fighter jet, our old CF-18s are more than a match for anything the Libyans have to throw up against them.  In the best case scenario, NATO will not have to fire a single shot or scramble a single aircraft — because Libyans will end Gaddafi’s cruel tyranny all by themselves. But failing that, we cannot stand by and permit a Libyan genocide to unfold.”
  • The Winnipeg Free Press is even more specific about a no-fly zone. “As Libyan rebels, until recently rolling towards Tripoli, now reel under a fierce counter-attack by the military forces of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the world wonders what to do. It can sit back and do nothing other than shout encouragement to the revolutionaries from the sidelines, which is mostly what it is has done up until now — some nations have given humanitarian aid to the insurgents, a few have sent military aid and moral support to Col. Gadhafi …. The …. choice, and one that paradoxically has the strongest support and the strongest opposition, is to declare a “no-fly zone” over Libya. The arguments in favour of this are most persuasively that it would be an unmistakable statement of international support for the revolution that Col. Gadhafi could not ignore. It would ground the Libyan air force that has in recent days been a devastating psychological as well as tactical weapon in the government counter-attack. And it can be implemented without UN consent or the even the united approval of NATO. In short, it is doable and effective …. such a declaration still seems the best and most effective way of aiding the revolution. There is a real chance for democracy in Libya, and thousands of Libyans have died in its pursuit. If the West does nothing, then Carney’s prophecy will be self-fulfilling: If we don’t at least stay apace of events, we will be so far behind them that the next diplomatic mission to Tripoli may well be to pay respects to a rejuvenated Col. Gadhafi.”
  • One of the standard MSM stories out of Afghanistan:  the hockey stars drop by.  Postmedia News’ version here and the Canadian Press’ version here.
  • An interesting variation on the “sports for the troops” theme:  a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) match is set for Afghanistan today. More on the match here.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Attacks claimed in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Fixing up radar at CFB Trenton: “Sensis Corporation’s modernization program for the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) Terminal Radar and Control System (TRACS) Area Surveillance Radar (ASR-3) has been formally accepted and is now commissioned and in use by the DND. The fully redundant ASR-3 radar modernization solution features a high performance signal/data processor and solid state L-band transmitter replacement along with six level National Weather Service (NWS) weather data processing capability embedded in the software. The modernization solution will extend the service life of 8 Wing/Canadian Forces Base Trenton’s radar by a minimum of 15 years while reducing life cycle, maintenance and operating costs ….”
  • (Belated) bye, bye Arcturus.The Aurora community marked the end of an era on Dec. 15, 2010, when the last of the CP-140A Arcturus aircraft, a variant of the CP-140 Aurora, performed its final operational mission for the Canadian Forces. Its 4,600 horsepower engines fired up one last time before it took off from 14 Greenwood, N.S., for a 16.1 hour mission – pushing the outer limit of endurance and setting a record for the longest flight in a CP-140A Arcturus. The crew of nine, composed mainly of members of 404 Long Range Patrol and Training Squadron, flew along the boundary of the eastern Canadian airspace to test the communications coverage of NORAD’s installations. The Arcturus departed Greenwood on a flight plan that took it north to a point near Frobisher Bay, Nunavut, and then south to a point near Yarmouth, N.S ….”
  • In spite of how much Ottawa is pushing the F-35 fighter, a recent speech by Canada’s Defence Minister points to a different threat. “…. after Mr. MacKay had finished laying out what appeared to be the critical importance of cutting-edge air power in Canadian sovereignty, the minister said Canada was actually most vulnerable to maritime threats. “Not to sound too foreboding, [but] at the risk of being too honest, I think our greatest vulnerability, in my estimation, is waterborne,” he said. With the longest coastline in the world, “beware the water.” Mr. MacKay’s office says his comment about the overriding “vulnerability” of the maritime environment was a reference to the government’s plan to spend $35-billion—even more money than the projected costs of the F-35—on several new vessels for its navy. And his spokesperson Josh Zanin expanded on why Canada’s greatest vulnerability is maritime by noting that waterborne security not only involves military threats, but “directly affects the availability—and the cost—of essential goods, especially food and fuel, all over the world” by affecting international shipping, of which 95 per cent is done over water. Other defence experts agreed with this view ….”
  • The federal government is spending more on the military today than at any point since the end of the Second World War, according to a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives that argues Canada isn’t getting enough bang for its buck. This country is expected to spend more than $23 billion on the military in 2010-11, about 2% more than it did the previous year and about 26% more than it did the year the Berlin Wall came down. That said, Canada’s status as an international player has been undermined by its failure to win a seat on the UN Security Council. Author Bill Robinson argues that Canada has no real military power or influence despite being the world’s 13th biggest military spender and NATO’s sixth biggest spender, so ought shift to consider a drastic shift in priorities. “That kind of money would allow us to operate in a much more significant manner in other ways in the world, most notably through things like development assistance,” he said Tuesday ….” As of this post, no word of the study at the CCPA site yet.