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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 Sept 11

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  • Here’s a bit more information and context behind at least one of the Challenger trips Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk in the media lately.
  • Afghanistan (1)  What the CF is doing about cleaning up the ground underneath what’s soon to be their former base in Kandahar.  “Master Corporal Ken Stewart has an important job. The water, fuel and environment technician (WFE tech) is responsible for soil remediation at Kandahar Airfield (KAF) as part of the Mission Transition Task Force (MTTF) working to close down Canadian operations there by the end of the year. Soil contamination from the daily activities of thousands of Canadian soldiers and hundreds of commercial and tactical vehicles is a major concern. Consequently, mitigation of soil degradation is a priority task for the MTTF, a responsibility being undertaken by a team of WFE techs, field engineers and infantry soldiers ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  The Army Run’s not JUST in Ottawa today.  “More than 600 civilians and military personnel representing multiple allied nations are expected to run tomorrow in the heat, dust and altitude of Kandahar Air Field (KAF), Afghanistan in the KAF Canada Army Run ….”  Good luck to all the participants.
  • Afghanistan (3)  A bit of one Canadian Forces Info-Machine worker’s story in Kabul.  “…. It is a somewhat surreal experience to be standing here in Afghanistan. The hot barren mountains of the Hindu Kush which surround the city have been witness to a dramatic stream of human history. I am now part of that history. As I ride in a convoy through the streets of Kabul I am amazed at the differences, and the similarities between here and Canada. On a side street, for example, I see a young father holding the seat of a bicycle while his son learns to ride. The feeling that most consumes me is an overwhelming sense of responsibility. I have a responsibility to the Afghan people who smile and wave to me on the street. I have a responsibility to the mission, and I have an inherent responsibility to those Canadians who have preceded me here. It is their dedication and sacrifice that passes the torch to me. I do not accept it lightly ….”
  • The Royal Canadian Mint has donated $10,000 to the Military Families Fund, raised from sales of its 2010 25-cent poppy coin collector card. The Military Families Fund is a non-profit organization that assist military families who land on unforeseen needs resulted from conditions of service. When launching the 25-cent collector card last October, it was announced all profits would be donated ….”
  • Way Up North  Senator Colin Kenny on how Canada can show that the Arctic is important. “…. If Canadians want to maintain our sovereignty in the Arctic, we should start demonstrating that we give a damn about the Arctic. Imposing tough environmental regulations on drilling would signal that we are not only in control in our portion of the Arctic, but that we deserve to be.”
  • Historian Jack Granatstein on what REALLY drives Canadian foreign and defence policy:  “…. for the Harper government, the new reality is that Alberta attitudes drive defence policy, not Quebec opinions. Virtually every opinion poll over recent decades has shown attitudes in Alberta consistently more hawkish than quasi-pacifist opinion in French Canada. The Tories have little support in Quebec, and the last election confirmed that they don’t need Quebec M.P.s to create a parliamentary majority. The coming addition of some thirty more seats in the House of Commons for Ontario and the West will entrench this new reality. In the circumstances, the Conservatives have a free hand to build the defence and foreign policy that suits their view of the world. And they will ….”
  • Remembering the Battle of Britain, 71 years later, with a renewed name” “For the first time in more than 40 years, we will celebrate the Battle of Britain with the restored name of the Royal Canadian Air Force,” said the Honorable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence …. The Battle of Britain, the first major campaign to be conducted entirely in the air, took place in the skies over south eastern Britain and the English Channel from July to October 1940. Vastly outnumbered by the German Luftwaffe, allied pilots and aircrews, including more than 100 Canadian pilots, held the enemy at bay and prevented Hitler’s planned invasion of Great Britain ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 Aug 11

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

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 16 Aug 11

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  • Big story of the week:  a swack of announcements set for today across Canada announcing the reinstitution of the names “Royal Canadian Navy” and “Royal Canadian Air Force” Very active discussion on Army.ca on the change.  More from The Canadian Press, the Globe & Mail (including an editorial), the National Post (including an editorial), Postmedia News, Sun News/QMI Media, the Toronto Star, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, the Huffington Post blog, Reuters and United Press International.
  • CBC.ca survey:  whadya think of the new names?
  • As some way smarter than myself have opined, let’s see if this distracts reporters and other people when word of cuts to Canada’s military comes down the pipe eventually.
  • Supporting the Troops vs. Supporting the War:  Belatedly, I’ve spotted a very interesting blog post by a social work expert in dealing with shame and guilt.  “…. In my graduate course on shame resilience, students form groups based on their interests and research how shame resilience applies to the populations of their choice. In this class one of the groups applied Shame Resilience Theory to military veterans. The group was made up of two veterans (one from Vietnam and one from Afghanistan), two partners of deployed soldiers, and two children of vets. All shame work becomes very personal very fast, but this was different. Our entire class of 70 graduate students had to process through some very difficult feelings, assumptions, and even shame. Here’s what I learned:  When I let my politics dictate my level of compassion for veterans, I contribute to their pain and to the suffering that is happening in the world (and) When I step up (and through my beliefs about war) to hold space for the grief and trauma that they are holding, it changes their lives and creates a more loving and less violent world (which is ironically the goal that holds us back from reaching out to them) ….”  Well said, Dr. Brené Brown.
  • Afghanistan  More coverage of the clean-up/transition crew in Kandahar.  “While the Mission Transition Task Force (MTTF) prepares to close down operations at Kandahar Airfield (KAF), a number of specialized military personnel are ensuring the Canadian Forces (CF) leaves little trace behind of an almost 10 year presence. Master Corporal (MCpl) Ken Stewart, a Comox resident, is a Water, Fuel, Environment (WFE) Commander in KAF. He is part of the MTTF Engineer Support Squadron. His job is to organize, test and oversee the Soil Remediation project which ensures any contaminated soil as the result of activities at KAF, is remediated. As a WFE Commander his overall job involves dealing with water, and waste water treatment, ensuring clean dry fuel for aircraft operations, and ensuring there is nothing as a result of CF activities that will have an ill effect on the environment ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Canada’s armed forces are receiving Falcon III AN/PRC-117G wideband manpack radio systems from Harris Corp. of Florida. The order, worth $4.7 million, includes the RF-7800B tactical Broadband Global Area Networking satellite terminals. Integration of the AN/PRC-117G with the Harris RF-7800B terminals will provide Canadian personnel with unique end-to-end, Type-1 secure beyond-line-of-sight wideband communications connectivity. “The AN/PRC-117G and RF-7800B will provide Canada’s military with new communications capabilities that will lead to enhanced command and control and situational awareness,” said Andy Start, president, international business unit, Harris RF Communications ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Defence Minister:  Arm-twisting lobbying won’t help get big honkin’ ship contracts“A provincial lobby effort will have no impact on who gets the biggest chunk of $35 billion worth of shipbuilding work, Defence Minister Peter MacKay insisted Monday. MacKay said Ottawa has taken politics and lobbying out of the equation by leaving the decision in the hands of bureaucrats. “While we appreciate the interest and the enthusiasm of our province and others on this federal initiative, the decision for the two centres of excellence will be made by professional public servants judging the competence and best value of the bids,” MacKay said during a speech to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. “To be clear, it will not be affected by politics, political pressure, or advertising. This will ensure that our men and women in uniform are getting the absolute best ships possible.” The Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard is on the short list for contracts to build new ships for the navy and coast guard ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (3)  Airbus simulator training, Leopard 2A4 simulators/trainers and signaling flags and pennants (specs – 6.7MB PDF – downloadable here).
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