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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 2 Nov 11

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  • MCPL Byron Greff, 3PPCLI, R.I.P.  He’s home – more here.  Photos of his ramp ceremony in Afghanistan on Facebook here (thanks to Senior Airman Kat Lynn Justen of the USAF Info-machine).
  • Afghanistan (1)  Meanwhile, the CF Info-machine shares a backgrounder on part of the training mission“The Kabul Military Training Centre (KMTC) is the Afghan National Army’s (ANA) flagship training institution. Located on the eastern outskirts of Afghanistan’s capital city, the KMTC can house and train up to 12,000 trainees at a time. Over 60,000 soldiers graduate from courses at the KMTC annually. Two hundred and thirty-five Canadian Forces advisors serve at the KMTC as part of the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan. Thirty-five members have been with the KMTC since mid-June and the remaining 200 recently arrived in October ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Canadian ingenuity as we continue to pack up in Kandahar.  “The Armour Removal Platoon of the Mission Closure Unit is responsible for removing the armour added to the combat vehicles used by Canadian troops in Kandahar Province and packing it for shipment back to Canada. The process of dismounting the armour from the vehicles is difficult, labour-intensive and inherently dangerous. Because safety had to be our highest priority, it was difficult to achieve any speed on the production line. That was the case until Private Bryan Capiak and Corporal Bradley Van Olm developed a new way to take the heaviest pieces of armour — the four Z bars — off the Light Armoured Vehicle Mk III (LAV III) ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  Well done“On October 20th, 2011, Canada’s Acting Head of Mission Philip MacKinnon and Detective Ken Brander, a member of the Edmonton Police Service (EPS), donated 11 Kobo e-readers to a group of female students of the School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA). Each e-reader comes with 50 classic books pre-loaded, which will greatly increase the number of books available at the SOLA library and allow young Afghan students to perfect their reading skills. The funds to purchase the e-readers were raised by Detective Brander’s EPS colleagues including a group of dedicated resource officers, local business, friends, and family, on behalf of Ross Sheppard High School in Edmonton, Alberta ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  The Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary does not appeal to all students. But some are more interested in war studies than peace studies. For them, the interest and focus they bring to class ensures an enormously fulfilling experience, particularly for us who teach them. Ryan Flavelle is one such student. Like several others, he is also a member of the military. Unlike his colleagues, he has written a riveting book. It deals with his service in the southern Panjwaii district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Flavelle’s motives for writing The Patrol: Seven Days in the Life of a Canadian Soldier in Afghanistan were both universal and personal. Like every historian from Thucydides to the present, he wanted to ensure the memory of the immediacy of his experiences would not be lost in oblivion. But the personal side of his story is far more compelling ….”
  • Libya  NATO flies its last air mission.  “…. a NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Aircraft (AWACS) conlcuded the last flight of Operation Unified Protector. With this, a successful chapter in NATO’s history has come to an end. Since the beginning of the NATO operation, NATO air assets conducted over 26,500 sorties, including over 9,700 strike sorties to protect the people of Libya from attack or the threat of attack ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  LOADS o’ questions on the F-35 (transcripts from Hansard here, here, here and here) during Question Period in the House of Commons so far this week.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Military planners are concerned the Harper government is buying too few F-35 fighters with almost no room for any loss of the stealth jets throughout their projected lifetimes, according to internal Defence Department briefings. “Canada is the only country that did not account (for) attrition aircraft” in its proposal, said an undated capability-and-sustainment briefing given to senior officers late last year ….” No indication of The Canadian Press sharing the briefing notes in question.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (3)  Postmedia News Columnist“…. Harper has often shown an ability to execute tactical retreats with lightning speed, if he feels he’s lost the high ground. Look for that to happen with the F-35, sooner rather than later, as the economic gloom deepens south of the border.”
  • Big Honkin’ Ships  Duelling academics“…. Marc Milner, naval history professor at the University of New Brunswick, said the vessels will let the navy cruise the Canada’s Arctic waters later in the fall and earlier in the spring, though winter access will still be the domain of the Coast Guard. The ships also give the navy full year-round access to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. He said that, while the new Arctic patrol vessels fit into the Harper government’s Canada First Defence Policy, which is looking to expand the reach and scope of the country’s military, the ships are not designed for serious combat. “Nobody anticipates getting into a real big dustup in the Arctic,” Milner said. “More effort will be put into their sensor suite and communications equipment than in their weapons.” The Arctic vessels will fulfil a constabulary rather than a combat role, Milner said. The icebreakers will let the navy patrol emerging shipping routes in the melting Arctic ice. The Russian route through the Arctic, from Europe to China, is “pretty much commercialized,” he said, with several ships having passed through this summer escorted by Russian icebreakers. “There’s good reason for us to be up there with a little more presence than we have at the moment,” Milner said. Paul Mitchell, a naval historian with the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., said the Arctic ships will likely have little more than an anti-aircraft Bofors gun on their bows. “Despite the growing interests in the Arctic, the area is well handled by diplomatic efforts,” Mitchell said ….”
  • Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino set to say something in Richmond, B.C. today.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Event recorders for armoured vehicles in Afghanistan, loads o’ flashlights and rain jackets for sailors.
  • A new silver coin will commemorate Canada’s Highway of Heroes, as a tribute to the country’s war dead and the people who line the route to honour them. The Royal Canadian Mint says $20 from the sale of each coin will be shared between the Afghanistan Repatriation Memorial and the Military Families Fund. The silver coin, which has a face value of $10, will retail for $69.95 and only 25,000 will be produced ….”  More from the Royal Canadian Mint here and here.
  • New Library of Parliament paper:  “Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and the Mental Health of Military Personnel and Veterans”
  • Remember the chap threatening a hunger strike over how he’s been treated by Veterans Affairs CanadaHere’s what the Minister is saying about the issue in Question Period“When our brave soldiers are deployed to theatres of operation, such as Rwanda or Bosnia, they may suffer serious injuries. That is why we are implementing specific and effective programs and services that are based on the most recent scientific data. When we implemented improvements to the new veterans charter, it was specifically to help veterans who had the most serious injuries or illnesses. As soon as I was made aware of this situation, I asked the officials in my department to take the necessary measures.”
  • Whazzup with Khadr Boy’s return?  The Conservatives are continuing to play coy over whether or not they’ll allow convicted war criminal Omar Khadr return to Canada. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said Tuesday he will decide in good time if and when Toronto-born Khadr can return home to finish his sentence for murdering a U.S. Army medic in Afghanistan. “I put the safety of Canadians first,” he said. “A decision will be made on this file, as on all applications, in due course.” The Conservatives were in the firing line from opposition parties, who accuse the Tories of trying to back out of a commitment they made with the U.S. government a year ago to allow Khadr to return to Canada after serving a year of his eight year sentence. “This fellow was arrested when he was 14-years-old and held since then and ought to have the benefit of Canadian laws,” said NDP justice critic Jack Harris ….”  More from Question Period on Khadr here, from QMI/Sun Media here and from Agence France-Presse here.
  • Canadians should “absolutely” be concerned about a call for young Somalis in Canada to kill non-Muslims made by a terrorist group linked to al-Qaida, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews warned Monday. Toews was responding to Al Shabaab, which released a recording on the weekend from a suicide bomber calling for a jihad in Canada and other countries. “If there are individuals with information that can assist us detecting any terrorist threat we would ask them to provide us with that information,” Toews said, adding that the Somali community works with Ottawa on security matters. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the RCMP, the Communications Security Establishment and the Privy Council Office – the bureaucratic arm of the Prime Minister’s Office – are Canada’s terrorist watchdogs. “We are aware of, and take very seriously, the threat posed by Al-Shabaab,” said CSIS spokesperson Tahera Mufti ….”
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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 20 Oct 11

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  • Honkin’ Big Ship (HBS) contracts awarded:  “…. The combat package includes the Royal Canadian Navy’s Arctic Offshore Patrol ships and the Canadian Surface Combatants ships. The non-combat package includes the Navy’s joint support ships, the Canadian Coast Guard’s off-shore science vessels and the new polar icebreaker. Small ship construction (116 vessels), an estimated value of $2 billion, will be set aside for competitive procurement amongst Canadian shipyards other than the yards selected to build large vessels. Regular maintenance and repair, valued at $500 million annually, will be open to all shipyards through normal procurement processes. Irving Shipbuilding Inc. has been selected to build the combat vessel work package (21 vessels), and Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd. has been selected to build the non-combat vessel work package (7 vessels). The total value of both packages is $33 billion and will span 20 to 30 years ….”  More in the government backgrounder here.
  • Media coverage of HBS contracts:  QMI/Sun Media, Victoria Times-Colonist, Vancouver Sun, CBC.ca, Globe & Mail, CTV.ca, Charlottetown Guardian, Toronto Star, Reuters and canadianbusines.com.
  • HBS editorial from the National Post:  “…. The Tories are to be congratulated for devising a tamper-proof, corruption-free, unbiased system for awarding such large contracts. We realize that they originally built this process in large part as a means to cover themselves from the political fallout of hard, unpopular contracting decisions. Nevertheless, they are to be congratulated for sticking with it to the end, despite the potentially controversial result in this case ….”
  • A more “glass is half empty” HBS opinion“The denouement of the great multi-billion-dollar shipbuilding bonanza has left almost everyone popping Champagne corks —except perhaps Quebec, and the poor, bloody taxpayer who will end up footing the bill for the inevitable cost overruns and delays that will result from the government’s made-in-Canada national strategy ….”
  • More HBS commentary“…. It’s almost a no-win situation for the government. Still, the only way to prevent this from becoming the Harper government’s CF-18 moment is for them to hew scrupulously to their technocratic bid process.”
  • More HBS analysis“…. Despite efforts taken to eliminate appearances of partisan interference, it continues to swirl around the billions of dollars in contracts. “Whatever the outcome, the decision is likely to unleash a firestorm,” said Christian Leuprecht from the Queen’s University Centre for International and Defence Policy. “There are no obvious pork-barrel political choices here,” he said, noting the ridings around the Halifax shipyard are all NDP, as are those around the Vancouver shipyard — although some of the neighbouring ridings went Conservative — and around the Davie Shipyard in Quebec City. “If you’re trying to prop up Canada’s industrial heartland, Ontario and Quebec, which has been hurting pretty bad economically and where the Conservatives would be likely to get the most political bang for their buck in terms of votes, the core bid would go to the Davie shipyard.” ….”
  • What (else is) Canada Buying?  “Sleds, self-propelled” for Shilo, Petawawa – more technical details in excerpt from bid document (11 page PDF) here.
  • Libya Mission  Canada’s Sea Kings busy over the Med (via CEFCOM Info-Machine)
  • Afghanistan  Canadians take part in German Unity Day parade in northern Afghanistan (via Regional Support Command-North/NTM-A Info-Machine)
  • Canadian federal officials will participate in an annual crisis management exercise organized by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from October 19 to 26, 2011. Canada’s part in the international exercise will be played from government offices in Ottawa and linked to Canada’s NATO delegation. Crisis Management Exercise 2011 (CMX 11) provides an international forum to test, evaluate and improve coordination, intelligence and information sharing amongst federal departments and agencies with NATO Allies. It will ensure that we work effectively with our international partners to respond to emergencies in Canada or abroad. …. This exercise will involve civilian and military officials from all 28 NATO member nations, NATO Headquarters and NATO Strategic Commands, as well as participants from Sweden and Finland. Lessons learned from the exercise will enhance Canada’s ability to work together with Allies to confront threats of all kinds ….”
  • Stuart Landridge, R.I.P. (1)  A public hearing into the suicide of Edmonton-based soldier Cpl. Stuart Langridge will start in Ottawa on Feb. 27. Langridge hanged himself in March 2008 following several earlier suicide attempts. The young soldier suffered from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and struggled with substance abuse after he returned from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2005. The Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) announced last month that a hearing would be held. The date was set on Wednesday. The hearing comes after Langridge’s parents filed a formal complaint with the commission. Sheila and Shaun Fynes allege the probe conducted by the Canadian Forces National Investigations Service was not impartial or independent, and aimed to absolve the military of any responsibility for their son’s death ….”
  • Stuart Landridge, R.I.P. (2)  Family seeking help from CF for lawyers to represent them – more here.
  • Ooopsie….  “Some Canadian soldiers are feeling a little unappreciated after home improvement retail giant Lowe’s announced it would pull its discount program it said was offered by mistake – the discount program was only intended for U.S. military members. The U.S.-based company had offered the 10% discount since 2008 to members of the Canadian Armed Forces at four stores – two in Ottawa, one in Kingston, Ont., and one in Belleville, near CFB Trenton. The company said the program was never intended for Canada and just recently realized its error. “I’m not able to get into the specifics of our (Lowe’s) systems and processes, but it (the discount) was a combination of misunderstanding and miscommunication that unfortunately went undetected until now,” Joanne Elson, corporate communications manager with Lowe’s Canada, said Wednesday ….”
  • Mark Collins’ impressions of testimony on organization of the CF at a recent Senate Standing Committee hearing.
  • More back and forth in the House of Commons on east coast search and rescue.  Mr. Ryan Cleary (St. John’s South—Mount Pearl, NDP):  Mr. Speaker, Canada has one of the worst search and rescue response times in the world. A recent incident off Bell Island, Newfoundland showed just how bad it was.  After emergency flares were fired in the area, the Coast Guard called in a provincial ferry, full of passengers, to help the search and rescue effort. It then took the Canadian Coast Guard vessel over three hours to arrive on the scene.  This is not about a limo service from a fishing lodge; this is about human lives. How long would the minister be prepared to wait in icy water before being rescued?  Hon. Keith Ashfield (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway, CPC):  Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows full well that the search and rescue system is made up of a network of potential responders that includes the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard auxiliary, the Canadian Forces and any vessel of opportunity. Any vessel within the vicinity of a search and rescue call can be asked to assist.  When the flares are discharged, the CCG will treat it as a matter of distress. If the member would like to be constructive, he would help us to take this message back to the public so that lives are not put at unnecessary risk.”
  • Tory MP Tilly O’Neill Gordon (Miramichi) salutes women in the CF in the House of Commons“October is Women’s History Month in Canada. This year’s theme, Women in Canadian Military Forces: A Proud Legacy, highlights the important contributions of women to the Canadian military forces throughout Canada’s history. It is an ideal time to learn about the work of outstanding women who serve and protect Canada and Canadians through key roles in the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Women such as Elizabeth Gregory MacGill, the first woman aircraft designer in the world, Josée Kurtz, the first woman to command a warship, and Marie Louise Fish, the first woman to serve as a naval officer at sea, are inspiring leaders. Their milestone achievements helped pave the way for women in the Canadian military. On behalf of all Canadians, we thank them for being an important part of our national military history.”
  • A Conservative MP presents a nuclear disarmament petition in the House.  “Canadians are well aware of the destructive power of nuclear weapons, a power that the world’s worst dictators and terrorists are trying to acquire. I would like to present to the House a petition from the Oakville chapter of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The petition is signed by 330 residents of Oakville. The petitioners ask the government to commit to the motion passed by the House on December 7, 2010, regarding the global disarmament of nuclear weapons. I am happy to present this petition for a response from our government.”  The text of the December 2010 motion:  “By unanimous consent, it was resolved, — That the House of Commons: (a) recognize the danger posed by the proliferation of nuclear materials and technology to peace and security; (b) endorse the statement, signed by 500 members, officers and companions of the Order of Canada, underlining the importance of addressing the challenge of more intense nuclear proliferation and the progress of and opportunity for nuclear disarmament; (c) endorse the 2008 five-point plan for nuclear disarmament of Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and encourage the Government of Canada to engage in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention as proposed by the United Nations Secretary-General; (d) support the initiatives for nuclear disarmament of President Obama of the United States of America; and (e) commend the decision of the Government of Canada to participate in the landmark Nuclear Security Summit and encourage the Government of Canada to deploy a major world-wide Canadian diplomatic initiative in support of preventing nuclear proliferation and increasing the rate of nuclear disarmament.”
  • Letter to the editor:  let’s not forget the Aboriginal contribution to the War of 1812.  “Canadians are unaware of the full import of the role of First Nations and the pivotal role the War of 1812 played in the history of Canada’s treatment of aboriginal peoples. Many historians believe that Britain would have lost the war without the aboriginal military strength. Canada’s very existence depended on First Nations co-operation …. Native leaders like Tecumseh hoped for an alliance with Britain to help prevent the elimination of First Nations at the hands of the U.S. The British proclamation of 1763 had meant recognition and accommodation of aboriginal peoples by Britain. First Nations were military allies against the Americans ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 19 Oct 11

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  • What’s Canada Buying?  Big Honkin’ Ship contract announcement creeping closer.  Shipbuilders across the country will find out (today) who will share $35 billion to revitalize the navy and coast guard over the next 30 years. Two massive contracts are up for grabs: $25 billion to build 15 military vessels, such as destroyers, frigates and offshore and Arctic patrol vessels; as well as $8 billion to build non-combat ships, including scientific vessels for the coast guard and a new Arctic icebreaker. The announcement is expected (today) at 4 p.m. ET. Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding and Vancouver’s Seaspan Marine Corp. are bidding on both, while Quebec’s Davie Shipyard is bidding on the $8-billion contract. Davie, which had been idle and on the brink of bankruptcy, put together a last-minute bid with Ontario’s Upper Lakes Group, international giant SNC-Lavalin and Korea’s Daewoo ….”  More on the wait here, here, here, here, here and here.
  • Honkin’ big exercise coming to CFB Wainwright. “CFB Wainwright is partaking in a historical exercise this month at the base’s Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre as part of a progressive shift to prepare troops for any battle they may face in the near or distant future. The Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre in Wainwright officially opened in 2004 with only 30 permanent staff. In 2006 the CMTC held its first large-scale military exercise and since then has grown to incorporate more challenging exercises and learning methods. Enter MAPLE RESOLVE. On Oct. 11 CFB Wainwright held a media day to showcase CMTC’s latest exercise called MAPLE RESOLVE 1101 (MR 1101), a month-long exercise running from Oct. 1 to 28. During the exercise CFB Wainwright will be hosting about 4,000 soldiers from Canada, the United States and The United Kingdom and more than 900 military vehicles and other assets such as Air Force support, making this the largest exercise in CMTC’s history ….”
  • Members of the Order of Military Merit are now eligible to preside at citizenship ceremonies, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced (Tuesday) …. Although citizenship judges preside at most citizenship ceremonies, occasions arise where they are not available. On such occasions, recipients of the Order of Military Merit may be invited to preside at a ceremony. This is an honorary role, in which the volunteer ceremony presiding official speaks to new citizens about the responsibilities and privileges of Canadian citizenship, administers the Oath of Citizenship and presents a citizenship certificate to each new Canadian ….”  More on this here.
  • What’s the Veterans Affairs Minister have to say when asked in the House of Commons about $226M being cut from the budget?  “…. on the contrary, we are investing in our veterans. With the new veterans charter, we are investing an additional $189 million for our veterans. However, there is a reality we must all face in the House and that is that our Korean War and World War II veterans are aging and, unfortunately, will be passing away in greater numbers over the coming decades. I invite the hon. member to support this government’s initiatives. She can support our “Helmets to Hardhats” initiative to encourage our soldiers ….”
  • Remember this story, with no shared documentation?  “The Canadian military is keeping a watch on aboriginal groups through an intelligence unit that is meant to protect the Forces and the Department of National Defence from espionage, terrorists and saboteurs. The Canadian Forces’ National Counter-Intelligence Unit assembled at least eight reports on the activities of native organizations between January, 2010, and July, 2011, according to records released under access to information law ….”  Since the Globe & Mail doesn’t appear to want to share, I will – documents in question downloadable (21 page PDF) here – you’re welcome.
  • Head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Alan Bersin:  it doesn’t HAVE to be “increased security” VERSUS “harder trade”“On the eve of a perimeter security deal between Ottawa and Washington, the top U.S. customs official is championing the idea of a “thinner” border for low-risk traffic as he seeks to reassure Canadians he understands what they want from the controversial agreement. Alan Bersin, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says he wants to make it easier for legitimate travellers and cargo to enter the United States so both countries can focus on high-risk traffic instead …. “The message I hope to be helping spread during this trip is that the old dichotomy between the promotion of trade and heightening of security … is a false choice,” he said ….”
  • Barnett “Barney” Danson, 1921-2011, R.I.P.  Barney Danson’s life was forged on the battlefields of Normandy, where he was wounded, lost his three best friends and the sight in one eye, and found himself as a person. Danson, who died Monday in Toronto, returned from the Second World War to found a successful business and an equally successful political career that saw him become defence minister. He went on to win many awards, help build the Canadian War Museum and be named a companion of Order of Canada. But it was his experiences at war with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, where he rose to lieutenant from ordinary rifleman, that had the greatest impact on him. “Many of the things from my military experience were invaluable in shaping the rest of my life,” he said in a 2002 interview. “Certainly it was a great motivating factor in getting into politics in the first place.” ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 Oct 11

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  • The military’s second-in-command has defended the size of the bureaucracy in the Canadian Forces, including the large number of civilians and executives who have been become a veritable army at National Defence headquarters. And while acknowledging reductions will be necessary in light of planned budget cuts and the end of combat operations in Afghanistan, Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson told members of the Senate defence committee Monday that across-the-board slashing would be unrealistic. “I agree that we need to reduce it,” said Donaldson, the vice-chief of defence staff. “It’s just very difficult sometimes to know what it is that can be reduced.” ….”
  • Libya  U.S. and Italian defense chiefs on Oct. 17 said they examined prospects for ending the allied air campaign over Libya and how to support the country’s post-Gadhafi transition in talks at the Pentagon. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who expressed thanks for Italy’s role in the NATO-led operation, said alliance commanders favored pressing on with bombing raids as Moammar Gadhafi’s loyalists were still putting up resistance in Sirte. “We are looking for our commanders to… recommend when they believe that the mission comes to an end,” Panetta told reporters after meeting his Italian counterpart, Ignazio La Russa. “As you know, there’s still fighting going on in Sirte. And as long as that continues to be the case, our commanders feel the need for us to maintain our presence.” ….”  More details of Canada’s assets in the air (and sea) fight there here.
  • CF visits Africa for communications exercise“Africa Endeavor is the largest communications interoperability exercise on the African continent. Held this year from 7 July to 12 July, it’s an annual “Command, Control, Communications and Computer” — C4 — integration exercise sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to foster interoperability between Canada, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States and 35 African countries. Africa Endeavor comes together over the course of three conferences hosted by participant countries throughout the year, and culminates in a two-week exercise. This year, the Canadian delegation was led by Colonel Pierre Lamontagne, the Canadian Forces Liaison Officer at AFRICOM Headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, and included communication specialists Master Warrant Officer Serge Boily, Warrant Officer François Pitre and Sergeant Eric Viau of 3 ASG Signals Squadron in Gagetown, and Warrant Officer Pierre Paradis from CEFCOM Headquarters in Ottawa ….”
  • Worries in the home of Veterans Affairs Canada about coming cuts. “The Department of Veterans Affairs is planning to cut over $222 million from its budget over the next two years, a move that some believe will have a huge impact on employees in Charlottetown. The cuts are outlined in the department’s plans and priorities report, which details spending and programming plans up to 2014 ….”
  • New B.C. group pushing for better compensation for Canada’s wounded. “They sat quietly in the corner of a room that overflowed with more than 250 supporters of Equitas Society and considered the levels of justice, fairness and equity that injured soldiers like them experience. Formed just three weeks ago, the Equitas Society was holding its first fundraiser Friday at Hazelmere Golf Club, MC’d by Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg. While the evening was considered a financial success, it was a rude awakening for some just learning about financial compensation for wounded members of Canada’s military. Lawyer Don Sorochan was quick to put a fine point on the disparity between settlements in civil cases and the level of financial support afforded soldiers ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1a)  Stand by for Big Honkin’ Ship contracts soon“It is Ottawa’s best-kept secret but the biggest defence procurement contract since World War II is expected to be unveiled as soon as this week, according to a government source. In the coming days, about $35 billion worth of shipbuilding contracts will be announced. There are two deals to be handed out and three shipyards battling for the contracts. The contenders include Nova Scotia’s Halifax Shipyard, British Columbia’s Seaspan Marine Corp. and the Davie shipyard of Levis, Que. The largest contract is worth $25-billion and will be spent on combat vessels for the navy. The other contract is worth $8 billion and will go towards building non-combat ships, including a new Arctic icebreaker. The shipyard which loses out on the big contracts can make a bid for smaller contract of about $2 billion ….”  More on Ottawa’s bracing for blowback from the award here and here.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1b)  “…. The (Big Honkin’ Ship contract) selection is being overseen by a panel of deputy ministers, and KPMG will vet the final decision. Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose says the decision will be 100 per cent on merit and is “completely at arm’s length of politics.’’ But in Ottawa, there is no such thing as politics at an arm’s length.”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  “…. The Department of National Defence (DND), requires the purchase and delivery of miscellaneous inert weapon simulation supplies for CFB Wainwright, Alberta. Items are required in support of LFWA training centre courses and will only be used in a training environment ….”  More in the list of (mostly bad-guy) goodies from the bid document (PDF) here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  Canadian fighter pilots selected to fly the new F-35 could find themselves trained by either the Americans or a private contractor, according to internal air force documents. The staggering multibillion-dollar purchase price means the Conservative government can only afford 65 of the multi-role stealth fighters. The number — Canada currently has 79 aging CF-18s — stretches the ability of the air force to meet its commitments, says a series of briefings given to the air force chief last year. Internal air force memos from the fall of 2010 lay out the “potential for NO pilot training in Canada.” ….”  No indication of Canadian Press sharing the documents for you to see.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Aussie DefMin still mulling F-35 vs. upgraded F-18s.
  • Alexander Johnston, 1885-1918, R.I.P  For 90 years, his final resting place was unknown. His service, however was commemorated on the Vimy Memorial near Arras, France, where the names of more than 11,000 other Canadians who have no known grave also appear. But next week, the remains of Pte. Alexander Johnston, which surfaced when a First World War battlefield became an industrial construction site in 2008, will be buried, with full military honours, at Le Cantimpre Canadian Cemetery in Sailly, France. And his Ottawa-based next of kin will be on hand to see it. Indeed his great grand-niece, Ann Gregory, who is a bugler with the Governor General’s Foot Guards, will play The Last Post as part of the ceremony. She’s travelling as part of the National Defence delegation and her father, Don Gregory, and brother, David, will also be on hand thanks to Veterans Affairs, which is providing funding for two family members to attend. In addition, three of Johnston’s relatives who live in Scotland, where he was born, will also travel to France for the ceremony ….”
  • War of 1812 (1)  The Americans got Wayne Gretzky ­and Pamela Anderson ­— but we won the War of 1812, right? I mean, that’s what we were taught. Damn Yankees declared war on us for no good reason. Plain greed. Some piddling trade dispute. And, sure, our British masters kept snatching sailors off American ships. But nothing serious. Deep down, they just lusted after our fish, trees and future hockey players. So they attacked like star-spangled skunks in the night. Lucky for us, they didn’t count on Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh and Laura Secord joining forces to whip their Yankee doodle derrieres. We even got some lovely chocolates out of the deal. Damn straight, we won. So why do many Americans call it their Second War of Independence — and insist they won ….”
  • War of 1812 (2)  Remembering the Aboriginal contribution to the fight.  “The Friends of Tecumseh Monument will soon have an opportunity to expand on their dream of telling Chief Tecumseh’s legacy and the events occurring in Chatham-Kent during the War of 1812. An announcement delivered from members of parliament Dave Van Kestern and Bev Shipley Friday, told the crowd gathered at Chief Tecumseh’s monument on Longwoods Road, near Thamesville, of available funding for the Canadian Heritage’s Celebration and Commemoration Program. $28 million will be available to communities to promote a greater awareness of Canada’s importance in the war and to aide with bi-centennial celebrations. A feasibility study, costing $49,500 from the $28 million, was completed last week to determine how to improve the site and how the changes can benefit the community as a whole ….”
  • War of 1812 (3)  Columnist on Ottawa’s spending plans to commemorate the war:  “…. I would have a greater measure of respect for the government if it spent our money strengthening the friendship between Canada and the U.S., rather than glorifying a war that ended with neither side richer in land or in purpose. The boundaries remained what they were before 1812. I await the influx of American tourists in the summer of 2012 who will be surprised to learn they are the bad guys in Canada’s so-called “most important war.” “

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 21 Sept 11

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  • Libya Mission (1a)  Three more months?  “Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he believes that the Canadian Forces will be able to wrap up their mission in Libya “well before” their next three-month mandate is over. Mr. Harper will ask the House of Commons this week to approve a three-month extension after NATO countries agreed to stay with the mission beyond the Sept. 27 deadline, but he said Canada’s goal is to wipe out the remaining threat of pro-Gadhadi forces and it should be over sooner ….” More from CBC.ca here and The Canadian Press here.  The PM’s officialese statements here and here.
  • Libya Mission (1b)  Here’s how the PM’s official statement put it:  “Canada has been at the forefront of international efforts to protect civilians in Libya against the oppressive Gaddafi regime and provide them with humanitarian assistance …. Canada will continue to support the people of Libya, standing ready to promote effective governance and institutions, a secure environment founded on the rule of law, economic development and prosperity, and respect for human rights.”  More in the “Lookit everything we’ve done” bit here.
  • Libya Mission (1c)  Softball question from the Conservative backbenches to the Parliamentary Secretary Deepak Obhrai, with a well-messaged response:  Mr. Peter Braid (Kitchener—Waterloo, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the situation in Libya this past summer has seen the toppling of the Gadhafi regime and the emergence of a real democratic hope. However, despite these gains we recognize that the situation does remain unstable. Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs please update the House on the situation in Libya?  Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, today the Prime Minister attended the high-level meeting on Libya at the United Nations chaired by the Secretary-General. Canada has been at the forefront of the international effort to protect civilians in Libya against the oppressive Gadhafi regime. Canada stands ready to support the new Libyan government through the UN coordinated efforts committed to helping the people of Libya.”  Far better than when he said Afghanistan wasn’t really a war, but more like “providing a secure environment in a country in which there was a complete loss of security.”
  • Afghanistan (1a)  Former president, head of the Afghanistan High Peace Council and, in some eyes, warlord hard man Burhanuddin Rabbani killed by a explosives-packed turban on a suicide bomber.  Here’s Postmedia News’ take on what the killing means, and here’s the PM’s condolences (noticeably longer than these condolences from Canada’s envoy to Afghanistan for an even tougher warlord).
  • Afghanistan (1b)  Here’s former OMLT-eer Bruce Ralston’s take on the Rabbani assassination“There’s no question the Taliban’s improvement in their pursuit of “high value targets” this year has mirrored, if not exceeded the coalition’s.”
  • Afghanistan (2)  The combat mission in Kandahar is over, but Force Protection Company is still keeping busy (via CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (3)  Canadian General bearing still-useful leftovers for the Afghan National Army (via CF Info-Machine).
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (1)  Opinion, from a former subordinate George Petrolekas:  The CDS can’t get the work done on Air Canada that he can get done on a military executive jet.
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (2)  Opinion, from Senator Colin Kenny“…. General Walter Natynczyk, Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff, has been skewered by simplistic reporting this week. He is right to be indignant, wrong to be surprised, and out of luck if he thinks many in the media are going to stop and put everything in perspective ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (3)  Opinion, from QMI/Sun Media columnist Joe Warmington “Only in Canada would you see our top soldier sucker-punched in this way. Gen. Walter Natynczyk has looked into the crying eyes of the parents of many of the 157 hero warriors killed in action in Afghanistan, and now the same people who condoned millions for a fake lake and a giant fence are worried about our top soldier’s travel expenses? Only coming out of NDP critics could such hypocrisy reign. It’s funny how we have taxpayers’ money for their leader’s state funeral but we must count every penny for the man leading our troops, not in peace time but in the middle of war ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (3)  Opinion, from QMI/Sun Media columnist Charles Adler “…. So what about this trip to the Caribbean? Natynczyk had spent the previous two Christmases with our troops serving in Afghanistan. He was about to miss a much-deserved holiday with his family in order to pay respects to more of our fallen soldiers at a repatriation ceremony. The minister of defence ordered him to join his family, and approved the use of the jet to get there. It was a classy move on Peter MacKay’s part, and was completely justifiable ….”
  • “No” to expanding the Mo’?  “Canada’s bloated military bureaucracy has consistently defied explicit orders from government ministers to increase the size of the army militia as directed. The accusation is made in a scorching but carefully documented report by pre-eminent military scholar Jack English for the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and obtained in advance of its release Wednesday by only a few media outlets, including Postmedia ….”
  • DND changing how it funds research. “The Department of National Defence is changing how it pays for public research on the military, cutting funding by 80 per cent and moving to a new “agile” model that would mimic private consulting, according to scholars involved. By doing so, many of them charge that the department is squeezing the lifeblood out of almost three-quarters of research centres across Canada that are supported by the program, known as the Security and Defence Forum. DND, however, says it is only acting in the best interests of taxpayers. It says the move will transform the way it interacts with military experts, ultimately providing better value. Directors of the SDF, a decades-long effort by the government to link the military and universities to foster debate and research on security and defence issues, were disappointed to learn in July that their $2.5-million program would be shut down and replaced with a $0.5-million successor. They say DND will likely forge the new program into a system where it can commission work quickly, drawing in expert analysis on current affairs, or on subjects that immediately interest the government ….”
  • Somalia’s PM, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, is in Canada, asking for help (including military help)  “(Q) You spoke of the need for more military and police trainers in Somalia, and suggested this is an area where Canada could specifically contribute. Aren’t there already such trainers in Somalia? (A) No, we don’t have those. Not inside Somalia. The European Union is providing some training for the Somali national army. They are training outside the country but we don’t have American, British or Canadian trainers. We need these because security institutions are essential to law and order. We also need logistical support – communication, transportation, even providing salary in the short term – so that once we have a bigger, broader tax base we will be able to provide salaries for our soldiers. We need a lot of financial help.”  More from the Toronto Star here, and Agence France-Presse here.  Given Canada’s military track record in the country (let’s also remember this was a case a small number of very, very, very bad apples making the whole group look bad), this might be hard for the government to sell and message – we’ll have to wait and see what unfolds and how.
  • What’s Canada Buying: Big Honkin’ Ships Edition  Getting ready for mo’ shipbuilding work on the east coast.  “A baker’s dozen of employers and the Dexter government have contributed more than $400,000 in cash and equipment to double the number of metal fabrication students at the Nova Scotia Community College this fall. An Irving Shipbuilding official said he couldn’t say whether a further expansion would be needed if Irving Shipbuilding wins one of the huge federal government contracts for new combat and non-combat ships, to be announced within weeks. “It’s difficult to say,” Mike Roberts, Irving’s vice-president of corporate development, said after an announcement in Dartmouth ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Sept 11

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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).