One blogger’s view of “Libya vs. Afghanistan” ceremonies: “…. After decades of Liberal governments treating the military like high-grade bathroom attendants, the Harper Tories have moved in the opposite direction. Now even a light bombing campaign is worthy of celebration. Oddly the Afghan mission has not yet rated such a grand ceremony. The cynical might suggest this has something to do with our efforts in Afghanistan being unpopular ….” (h/t to Mark for pointing to this one)
“The Canadian Forces is slowing its pace of recruitment after the Afghanistan mission, because of a lower turnover and a troubled economy. Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson said the military’s regular force strength is now in “very healthy” shape at about 68,000 members. Attrition is also down — with economic uncertainty and excitement for the job likely factors — which can make matching desired targets tricky. “That’s a very tough machine to manage,” Donaldson told the national defence committee Thursday. “But we have not stopped recruiting. In fact, we continue to recruit, because you need to keep the machine oiled and to keep new blood coming through, but fewer than before.” The Canadian Forces is now focused on finding people with specialties and technical trades, and providing spots for reservists who served in Afghanistan and want to switch to regular forces ….”
Remember the Minister needing a helicopter ride from a lodge to another engagement? Well, some e-mails seem to suggest the chopper ride may have been more…. requested by the Minister than offered by the CF(well done to the Toronto Star for sharing the e-mails in question (PDF), obtained via an Access to Information Act request). One officer’s e-mail is intriguingly prescient:“…. The request from MacKay’s office went out to senior air force officials on Tuesday July 6 at 8:49 a.m. It took just a few hours for then-Col. Bruce Ploughman, director of the Combined Aerospace Operations Centre in Winnipeg, to raise a red flag. “So, when the guy who’s fishing at the fishing hole next to the minister sees the big yellow helicopter arrive and decides to use his cellphone to video the minister getting on board and post it on Youtube (sic), who will be answering the mail on that one,” he wrote to colleagues in Ottawa and Winnipeg. “If we are tasked to do this we of course will comply,” Ploughman continued. “Given the potential for negative press though, I would likely recommend against it.” ….” More from CBC.ca, the Globe & Mail and Postmedia News (they haven’t shared their obtained documents yet). Here’s the back-and-forth during yesterday’s Question Period in the House of Commons.
If you believe this historian and this web page, Canada may be working with other NATO and Middle Eastern countries to at least discuss “humanitarian corridors” in strife-filled Syria. “…. Monday, Nov. 28, debkafile reported a group of military officers from NATO and Persian Gulf nations had quietly established a mixed operational command at Iskenderun in the Turkish Hatay province on the border of North Syria: Hailing from the United States, France, Canada, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with Turkish officers providing liaison, they do not represent NATO but are self-designated “monitors.” Their mission is to set up “humanitarian corridors” inside Syria to serve the victims of Bashar Assad’s crackdown. Commanded by ground, naval, air force and engineering officers, the task force aims to move into most of northern Syria. Laying the groundwork for the legitimacy of the combined NATO-Arab intervention in Syria, the UN Independent International Commission set up to assess the situation in Syria published a horrendous report Monday, Nov. 28 on the Assad regime’s brutalities. It documented “gross violations of human rights” and “patterns of summary execution, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture including sexual violence, as well as violations of children’s rights.” ….” Caveat lector.
F-35 Tug o’ War: More on the pricetag. “The federal government is under attack again over the true costs of buying stealth fighter jets for the air force. “Apparently the Norwegians are getting 52 F-35s for $10 billion while we’re getting 65 for $9 billion,” said Liberal MP Frank Valeriote in a Thursday defence committee meeting, citing comments from Norway’s defence minister in November. Asking Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino to explain the discrepancy, Valeriote raised anew the possibility that the government has lowballed the estimated purchase price. “I too spoke with the secretary of defence of Norway and they’re into a different kind of a world in Europe, requiring different armaments and so forth to what we are, in fact, looking at,” said Fantino. “It’s very difficult to compare dollar for dollar, but at some point in time we’ll be able to speak all these issues more fully.” ….” More here, here and a bit more (from the archives) from Mark Collins.
9/11 Plus Ten (2) “On Sept. 11, 2001, Angus Watt walked into the Canadian NORAD regional headquarters at CFB Winnipeg at about 7:30 a.m., just back from a two-week leave. A career air force man, he was a brigadier general who, on that day, was the operations officer for the entire air force. Within an hour, one of his staff told him to turn on the news. A plane had struck the World Trade Centre in New York. “Of course, the first thought was ‘What a tragic accident. ‘There just didn’t seem to be any other explanation at the time.” “Then the second one hit.” Within 30 minutes, the operations centre, normally manned by a skeletal crew, was fully staffed. The secure room features display screens that monitor air traffic and connect NORAD and governments. But even with the most sophisticated tracking systems, the military officers were forced to make life-or-death decisions on incomplete information ….”
The Leslie Report/CF Reorg CDS further refines his position on the report.“Canada’s top soldier says a report calling for personnel reductions needs further study to ensure the recommendations won’t hurt the military’s ability to carry out operations. According to media reports, Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie wrote a review calling for savings of $1 billion annually by reorganizing the Canadian Forces and chopping up to 11,000 personnel. Gen. Walt Natynczyk, the chief of defence staff, says while he believes it’s a strong report, he’ll need to consider the impact of reducing the number of full-time reservists or contractors hired to replace personnel sent to serve overseas. Natynczyk says he doesn’t want to implement cuts that will hurt the military’s ability to fulfil its commitments abroad. “I knew the ideas would be novel. I knew the ideas would be contentious and I accept the report,” he said. “From my point of view, it’s a very good report. It’s a question now of parsing through it. What can we do in the short-term? What needs more study? What I don’t want is to recommend a cut to the government that has a second-order effect that affects our operational capability.” ….”
Afghanistan (1)A Canadian General appears to be one of several NATO types who tried to get Afghan military hospital corruption (patients having to bribe staff to food, meds) cleared up(PDF of article here if link doesn’t work). “…. (Afghan army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Sher Mohammed) Karimi was invited to attend an Afghan shura, a traditional meeting, at the hospital with Canadian Brigadier Gen. David Neasmith, the assistant commander for army development at the NTM-A. NATO officials pressed Gen. Karimi to address the problem of staff absenteeism and missing medicine, a U.S. mentor who was present says. But Afghan hospital and army officials who attended the meeting steered the conversation away from such issues and asked for raises and promotions, the mentor says. As weeks passed without progress, the mentors say they assembled more evidence of neglect, including detailed medical charts and photos showing emaciated patients and bedsores a foot long and so deep that bones protruded from them. In an Oct. 4 document emailed by the mentors to Gen. Neasmith, they complained about the hospital’s intensive-care unit, among other issues: “The most dynamic and ill affected is the ICU, whereby favoritism, ambivalence, incompetence coupled with understaffing lead to the untimely deaths of patients daily, occasionally several times per day.” …. By mid-December (2010), Gen. Yaftali, the Afghan army’s surgeon-general, was moved out of his job without explanation—after the coalition’s commander at the time, Gen. David Petraeus, personally raised the problems at the hospital during a meeting with President Karzai, people familiar with the matter said. The hospital has seen major improvements since then ….”
Big military cleanup projects coming to Newfoundland.“The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, along with the Honourable Peter Penashue, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, today announced three new projects valued at $62 million for environmental remediation work at 5 Wing Goose Bay …. Since the Second World War, 5 Wing Goose Bay has had a continuous international military presence, which has brought significant socio-economic benefits and stability for the local communities. The three new projects include the removal of fuel and contaminants from the ground at the Survival Tank Farm, the Former Hydrant Area, and the Dome Mountain sites. Together, these three projects represent $62 million in contracts at 5 Wing Goose Bay, and create 335 jobs in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay community, and throughout Labrador ….” More details in the Backgrounder document here, and in media coverage here.
Ooopsie….“One of the Canadian navy’s four Victoria-class submarines will be restricted in its ability to dive deep beneath the seas because of rust, according to a document obtained by The Canadian Press. A Feb. 9, 2010, briefing note prepared by Lt.-Cmdr. Helga Budden recommends repairing seven areas of general rust and three regions of localized pitting rust on HMCS Windsor. Budden recommends the repair be carried out through a “protect and monitor” option which calls for grinding away and priming the corroded areas, with regular checks of those areas to be conducted once the submarine is operational. But her note says that option would result in a new depth limitation for the submarine. “Materiel safety of the submarine would be maintained through a depth limitation caveat on the Windsor’s submarine safety document register,” says the note, obtained under federal access-to-information legislation. The note was based on research done by defence research scientists in Halifax ….”
The Winnipeg Jets logo fracas continues. “…. If you feel uncomfortable cheering for a team with a fighter jet on its jersey, why do you feel comfortable cheering for a team of large men who run around a sheet of ice hitting other large men — and occasionally punching them? So at the risk of upsetting the legacy of J.S. Woodsworth and all the other great pacifists in Winnipeg’s history, I am no more troubled by the fighter plane on the Jets jersey than I am troubled by the fang-toothed dinosaur on the Toronto Raptors’ shirts. And I’m a lot less troubled by a jet than I am by the implied message behind the Edmonton Oilers’ nickname, which celebrates non-renewable energy. And herein lies the crux of my argument: “Edmonton sucks.” Did I mention pro sport could be mindless?”
Afghanistan (2) Purple prose team – UP!“Wild dogs howl warnings at night outside the Bulldog’s pen. The Canadian soldiers answer loudly back come morning — moving swiftly from this dusty Afghanistan forward operating base and into an area where insurgents don’t want them to be. By the end of the day’s operation, the Canadians — along with an embedded QMI Agency team — will come under small arms fire. But only after the Quebec-based Van Doos have successfully taken away — then later destroyed — a cache of materials that were likely to be made into deadly improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The fighters from the 1st Battalion of the Royal 22e Régiment — and more specifically, Bravo Company, who have earned the hard-earned war mantle of Bulldog Company — will soon leave this earthen fortress for good. Just like the Soviets, who actually built it decades ago. An approaching end to Canada’s combat role hasn’t seen our troops give an inch to insurgents, who often bark and sometimes try to take a bite when patrols roll out through the front gates ….”
Libya Mission: Canada’s Foreign Minister drops by to visit the rebels. “Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird was politically surprised and personally moved by his first-hand look at Libya’s rebel council members after a secret trip to meet them Monday. Baird said the group preparing to take power once the country’s dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, is ousted has a strong dedication to democracy, but he added no one should expect that transition to take place overnight. “Our vision is a strong, prosperous Libya, living in freedom and living peacefully with its neighbours,” Baird said after meeting with anti-Gadhafi rebels and delivering trauma kits to help their cause ….” – more here, here, here, and here.
Honouring Canada’s help during World War 2 in the U.K. “With Canada poised to celebrate the country’s birthday this week after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive from Britain, a more sombre ceremony symbolizing the deep bond between the two countries – a tribute to fallen Canadian airmen from the Second World War – is quietly taking shape in the U.K. Britain’s Royal Air Force is preparing to unveil a “long overdue” national memorial to Canadian aircrews that helped achieve the Allied victory in the Second World War – including some 10,000 RCAF personnel who lost their lives battling Germany and other Axis enemies. The poignant, maple leaf-inspired monument to this country’s air forces, made of granite cut from the Canadian Shield and transported to Britain earlier this year, is to be dedicated July 8 at the U.K.’s National Memorial Arboretum in the central English countryside ….”
New Federal Cabinet (1b):“Defence Minister Peter MacKay says he will remain responsible for Canada’s military procurement, despite the creation of a new associate minister’s position. MacKay said the government will also be moving “full speed ahead” with its planned purchase of F-35 fighter aircraft. Speaking to reporters after being returned as Canada’s defence minister, MacKay said Julian Fantino, the former police chief turned associate minister of defence, will focus on procurement. However, MacKay made it clear he will still get the last word. “We’ll be working very closely together,” MacKay explained. “He’ll be reporting up through me on these procurement files and Julian has tremendous experience within a chain of command, as you know, having worked in law enforcement and he has been associated with the military in many ways throughout his career.” ….”
Libya Mission (1): “Dollar figures for the war in Libya will be made public soon, a Canadian Forces general said Wednesday, but the final cost may not be known for months to come. One military expert says Canadian spending could easily amount to millions of dollars per day. “I’d be surprised if it was anything less than $100 million (per month),” said retired Col. Michel Drapeau. “It needs to be asked: What are we getting for all that? It’s not an omnipotent pool of resources. Someone’s got to pay for that.” Canada currently has 11 planes, one frigate and approximately 560 military personnel deployed for the Libyan mission, which began at the end of March. Since that time, CF-18 fighter jets have conducted some 300 bombing missions to take out targets that NATO says have helped forces loyal to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi attack civilians ….”
Libya Mission (2a): “The Canadian government has ordered 1,300 replacement laser-guided bombs to use in its NATO mission in Libya, defense officials in Ottawa said. Since the United Nations authorized NATO to impose a no-fly zone to curb Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s military from harming civilians at the end of March, Canadian CF-18 fighter jets have flown about 300 sorties, dropping so-called smart bombs on artillery positions, the Ottawa Citizen reported. While the defense department wouldn’t disclose how many bombs have been used in Libya or the order for new bombs, it’s known they are 500-pound Paveway GBU-12 bombs. Various defense groups say each of the bombs cost about $100,000, the report said ….”
Libya Mission (2b): “The Canadian military is refusing to say how many bombs its fighter pilots have dropped on Libyan targets. The Canadian Forces lead spokesman Wednesday told reporters the information was protected because of operational security concerns. Brig.-Gen. Richard Blanchette says disclosing the number of bombs dropped might be useful to Libyan intelligence agents, though he couldn’t really say why. “How could they use it?” Blanchette asked. “It’s not necessarily clear right off the bat. But, it could be used in a way that would be going against the effort that we’re having in the theatre of operation.” ….”
Afghanistan: The REST of the Chinook crash story. “Canadian and U.S. forces safely recovered a downed Canadian Forces CH-47 Chinook helicopter during a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel mission in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, May 17. Utilizing a trio CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461, with assistance from 2nd Marine Logistics Group’s helicopter support team, the Canadian and American team was able to transport the damaged aircraft back to its home at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan ….”
Changes coming to CFB Gagetown.“Later this summer, Col. Michael Pearson will hand control of Canadian Forces Base Gagetown over to Col. Paul Rutherford. The changeover will mark the conclusion of two busy years at one of the army’s most used facilities. The last 24 months saw scores of extra soldiers flood through the main gates to receive various kinds of training in support of this country’s mission in Afghanistan. While the base is expected to remain active over the coming months, it will be a busy of a different kind. With Canada’s military effort in the central Asian country changing its focus from fighting Taliban to training Afghan soldiers, activity at CFB Gagetown will also go through an adjustment. More attention will now be placed on recruiting and soldier qualifications ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War: U.S. reassessing numbers, timeline.“Officials at the Joint Strike Fighter Joint Program Office are preparing to present a series of briefings to the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) led by Ashton Carter in the coming weeks. The outcome and decisions made by Carter, the Pentagon’s acquisition chief, will establish the new procurement baseline for the $380 billion, single-engine, stealthy fighter program. Carter’s issuance of a memorandum following the DAB meeting next week will trigger a series of activities crucial to moving the multinational program forward, Vice Adm. David Venlet, program executive officer for JSF, tells Aviation Week. The DAB will be asked to approve a new path for development, or Milestone B in Pentagon parlance. The development phase had previously been approved for the F-35 but was revoked last year when the program declared a massive breach of its original cost estimate. Though already in production – the Pentagon is under contract for four low-rate-initial-production (LRIP) lots – the reissuing of the development plan is crucial to continuing the program ….”
Canada reportedly to start sharing radar information of planes leaving Canadian airspace.“The U.S. and Canada are expected to begin coordinating the use of radar to detect low-flying aircraft by November, a top U.S. customs official said Tuesday. Alan Bersin, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said 22 military radar facilities operated by Canada will be combined with the radar the U.S. military and the Federal Aviation Administration use to track low-flying aircraft crossing the border illegally. “We have a longstanding relationship,” Bersin said at a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing chaired by Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York. He noted that the U.S. and Canada have jointly operated the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) for decades. The Canadian information on low-flying aircraft will be received by Customs and Border Protection facility in Riverside, Calif. that monitors unauthorized aircraft crossing both the northern and southern borders ….” More on that here and here.
“Pull your toes in the boat, Victoria. For the past couple of weeks local waters have been infested with U.S. Navy attack dolphins. OK, they’re not actually attack dolphins since, as the navy points out on its website, they play only defensive roles. But they are part of a straight-out-of-Hollywood unit of dolphins and sea lions that have been taught to find mines, recover high-tech gizmos, guard against terrorist frogmen and perform a variety of other Jack Bauer jobs. No, I’m not making this up. nd yes, they were deployed off Victoria before being loaded on a big grey U.S. military transport plane Monday and sent winging away, presumably to San Diego, where the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program is based. No one advertised the dolphins’ presence here, but they made enough of a splash (as it were) that their visit was difficult to conceal. The U.S. Navy acknowledged Tuesday that the animals took part in the just-completed Operation Trident Fury (Exercise Facebook page), a joint U.S.-Canadian training exercise held off Victoria and Esquimalt harbours and up the coast ….”
If anyone can make a case for how Canada’s treating its wounded warriors, it’s a wounded warrior. “A 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.
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.
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.
It appears the NDP are also worried about the Candaa-U.K. ship talks. “Mr. Speaker, shipbuilders on the west coast are nervous about talks with Britain to jointly discuss the building of Canadian naval ships. The government promised that these new vessels would be made in Canada, yet workers are worried that they may be sold out in these closed door negotiations. Workers at the shipyards of Victoria, Esquimalt and Nanaimo are looking for answers. Will the Minister of Public Works come clean and recommit to an inclusive, fair and made-in-Canada shipbuilding strategy?” The government’s response? “…. I can tell her that our government is fully committed to the national shipbuilding strategy. It is a historic commitment. Our strategy will create more than 75 million person hours of work for the Canadian shipbuilding industry. At the end of the day, this is great news for shipbuilders across the country. Our ships for our navy and our coast guard will be built by Canadians.”
One of the wanna-be vendors unveils a prototype for the proposed Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle. “Oshkosh Defense, a division of Oshkosh Corporation, today unveiled its prototype for Canada’s Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV) program, as well as the company’s plans to work with its subsidiary, London Machinery, Inc. (LMI), to leverage that company’s new facility in London, Ontario, in pursuit of Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) vehicle programs. LMI, the leading manufacturer of concrete mixer trucks in London, Ontario, provides local advanced manufacturing capabilities and a highly skilled workforce to the Oshkosh Defense and General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada team’s bids for the TAPV and Medium Support Vehicle System (MSVS) programs ….” More on this one here, here and here. More from the CF on the TAPV project here.
Exercises Coming Up (2)“On Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, February 22-25, 2011, numerous officials and staffs of The County of Essex, City of Windsor, City of Detroit Homeland Security, Municipalities of LaSalle, Essex, Lakeshore, and Tecumseh, as well as a large number of local community partners such as the Canadian Red Cross, 211 Call Centre, Social Services and Hotel Dieu-Grace Hospital, provincial and federal ministries (CRDC, CBSA, Environment Canada, Transport Canada, RCMP, MTO, OPP), the University of Windsor, St. Clair College and private industry will participate in a major emergency response and management exercise entitled Exercise CENTRAL GATEWAY I ….” More on link, a more detailed news release here, and Windsor Star coverage here and here.
So, how’s Haiti doing a year after the big earthquake, and a rash of cholera?“…. These days, most people in Port-au-Prince live in donated tents and dread the havoc wrought by the frequent strong winds of the storm season. The tents form in IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps ranging in size from 50 families to 50,000 and occupying what used to be the city’s open spaces: golf courses, soccer fields, mountainsides. Although a full year has passed since the earthquake, every street still has collapsed buildings and victims are still being found — on 11 January 2011, a Brazilian patrol dug yet another out of the rubble. And then, on 16 January, former dictator Jean-Paul “Baby Doc” Duvalier returned to Haiti after 25 years of exile, adding fuel to the smoldering election crisis. All in all, not much surprises your average Haitian any more. Canada has 10 staff officers deployed in Haiti under Operation HAMLET to work at the military headquarters of the Mission des Nations unies pour la stabilisation en Haïti (MINUSTAH), under the command of Major-General Luiz Guilherme Paul Cruz of Brazil ….”
Canada helps train Filipino first responders in how to deal with explosives, chemicals. “The Embassy of Canada is holding a training course for Mindanao’s first responders against explosives and other chemical attacks from February 22-25 in Davao City. The Chemical Explosive System Exploitation First Responders Training Program (CESE) aims to improve skills of first responders that include representatives from the various units in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, the Bureau of Fire Protection, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine Coast Guard. The training program addresses the need to manage improvised explosive (IED) or chemical devices and how to mitigate their possible effects since the lack of skills in appropriately responding to such attacks will pose serious threats to public security and infrastructure safety …. The CESE training course is part of the Government of Canada’s Counter-Terrorism Capacity-Building Program. It is an extension of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) First Responder Training that Canada started in 2005 ….”
U.S. Border Security Worries: “U.S. senators from states along and near the nation’s northern border requested Thursday that the Department of Defense provide military radar to crack down on what they said is a growing problem of using low-flying aircraft in drug trafficking. Drug smuggling across the border with Canada is much more prevalent than indicated by the number of cases in which drugs have been seized, according to a federal report from November …. Pennsylvania’s U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, who requested the study, said that’s “not acceptable.” “A multi-pronged attack is required to catch drug smugglers or terrorists before they can cross the border over Lake Erie into Pennsylvania or other northern states,” Casey said. Sen. Herb Kohl, from Wisconsin, said northern border smuggling “is a growing problem.” “We hear about the path of illegal drugs form Chicago and the spread of meth from our western borders,” Kohl said, “but securing our northern border is too often overlooked.” ….” OK, we’re supposed to have this newfangled work being done to co-ordinate common border protection, right? Is anybody asking the question, “And what is going to be done about all those illegal guns coming out of the U.S.?” Just sayin’….
Speaking of the new joint protective relationship …. “Sources suggest the North American perimeter security talks announced last week will include an intriguing proposal: expanding NORAD to cover land and sea operations. In this scenario, Canadian and U.S. navies and land forces would integrate their command structures, headquarters and operations when it comes to continental security. George Macdonald, a retired lieutenant-general in the Canadian Forces and a former deputy commander of NORAD, said the structure is in place to expand NORAD’s role beyond the air. “Trusted relationships have been built up over the past 50 years….There is no reason we couldn’t have a maritime NORAD of the North,” he said. A more comprehensive security arrangement that increased cooperation between the two armed forces was one of the key recommendations of a Canada-U.S. Bi-National Planning Group in 2002. The two governments did extend the aerospace warning regime to include a maritime traffic warning in 2006 but backed away from the more ambitious deal proposed by the planning group ….”
“Omar Khadr has taken the first bureaucratic step in his bid to return to Canada, signing a prisoner transfer application that will be submitted to the Canadian government, one of his Canadian lawyers said Thursday. “I was just down there and Omar’s signed it, so it’s just about ready to go,” Nate Whitling said after returning from the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the Canadian-born convicted war criminal is being held behind the razor wire of one of the several detention camps. Insiders reveal that Khadr, 24 — who, because of his conviction, is no longer being held in the general detainee population — appears “relieved” that there is “light at the end of the tunnel.” But officials familiar with the case say he faces little hope of seeing his sentence shortened when his Pentagon-appointed lawyer, army Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, submits paperwork within the next two weeks that appeals for clemency ….”
Here’s what the new promotions mean: “With the Canadian Forces preparing to leave southern Afghanistan for the relative stability of Kabul, top Canadian military brass are starting to take top spots in the NATO-led training mission. Brig.-Gen. Michael Day was appointed Monday the deputy commanding army general, effectively putting him in charge of the army training mission. Brig.-Gen. Kelly Woiden is joining him as the assistant commanding general for Afghan national army development, replacing fellow Canadian Brig.-Gen. Dave Neasmith. The Canadian appointments Monday pave the way for the Canadian Forces’ involvement in the training mission, to begin in July, where around 950 Canadian Forces members will be training the Afghan army until 2014 ….”
Here’s what ELSE the promotions mean: “The military has named a new commander for its elite special operations unit, which includes the JTF2 counterterrorist force. The move, one of 15 appointments announced Monday by Defence Minister Peter MacKay, comes while the Canadian Forces is conducting a probe of complaints that the unit’s senior leaders may have encouraged the commission of war crimes in Afghanistan. Brig.-Gen. Michael Day, head of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, is heading to Afghanistan where he will work at the Kabul headquarters of the NATO force responsible for training the Afghan army and police …. Brig.-Gen. Dennis Thompson, who is currently the chief of the army’s land operations and formerly commanded Canadian troops in Afghanistan, will assume command of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM). A spokesman for the special forces said Thompson is expected to take over in April ….”
In spite of all the poking around Russia seems to do in Canadian airspace (recent examples here, here and here), all seems to have gone well in a joint Canadian-American-Russian air interception exercise.“A first-of-its-kind hijacking exercise involving the U.S., Canadian and Russian militaries went so well that a similar drill is planned for 2011, an American officer said. Jet fighters from Russia and the North American Aerospace Defence Command pursued a small passenger jet playing the role of a hijacked jetliner across the Pacific and back during the August exercise. The aim: To practice handing off responsibility for a hijacked jet between Russia and NORAD, a joint U.S.-Canadian command that for decades devoted its efforts to tracking Soviet forces. Officers reviewed the exercise in November at NORAD headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. The verdict: It “was pretty much carried on flawlessly,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Lee Haefner, who was the lead planner. NORAD and Russian officers will meet in Russia in February to begin planning a second exercise, Haefner said ….” More on last year’s Exercise VIGILANT EAGLE here, here and here. A reminder: Canada bowed out of the exercise in 2008 because of Russia’s “visit” to neighbouring Georgia.
Remember the several hearings into how Canada is said to have treated Afghan detainees? Here’s an update on one of them: “Whether the Military Police Complaints Commission makes findings that sizzle or fizzle, the panel will claim an important place in the Afghan detainees affair. The quasi-judicial commission is the only forum to conduct a methodical examination of any element of the detainees issue amid repeated rejections by the federal government of opposition calls for a full-scale independent public inquiry. After a year of public hearings end early February with final arguments by lawyers, the commission says its “top priority” will be writing a report on whether Canada’s military police should have investigated military officers’ orders to transfer suspected Taliban captives to Afghan authorities despite a risk of torture ….” Here’s a chronology to help you keep track of the different proceedings.
Troops in Winnipeg are getting ready to train in Canada’s far North.“Soldiers from the Arctic Response Company Group (ARCG) spent the first week of December building komatiks (wooden sleighs) in preparation for Exercise NORTHERN BISON 2011 from February 15–28. The Canadian Forces (CF) will be contributing to a top government priority—protecting the territorial integrity of the Arctic—and the komatiks will play a crucial role in ensuring that the soldiers can successfully move, shoot, communicate and sustain themselves in austere northern conditions. “We will be packing a komatik with the UMS [unit medical station] and another komatik will be like a snow ambulance,” said Master Corporal Calin Ritchie, a medical technician with 17 Field Ambulance. The komatiks will be pulled by snowmobiles throughout the exercise that will see both Regular and Reserve force soldiers work together with 1 and 4 Canadian Ranger Patrol Groups as they conduct a 300-km trek from Churchill, Manitoba to Arviat, Nunavut ….”
This, reportedly from a briefing note obtained by QMI: “The RCMP wanted to stay involved with a controversial peace conference even as the minister in charge of the national police force ordered them out. Newly released documents also show that next time, the Mounties plan to stand their ground. A briefing note prepared for deputy commissioner Bob Paulson, the man in charge of federal and international policing, recommends that the Mounties not back out of future events deemed too hot to handle by the government. “It is recommended that in the future, the Minister of Public Safety supports the RCMP’s position with respect to National Security Community Outreach,” reads the memo. The conference in question was slated for the end of October at the Government Conference Centre, a federal building across the street from Parliament Hill. Among the participants were several Iranian academics tied to the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinehjad and Dr. Davood Ameri of the Islamic World Peace Forum ….” Since QMI doesn’t share said document with the world anyplace I looked, does the note say “we’ll disobey the Minister next time” or “we’ll give him the same advice next time”?
The Toronto Star is doing a bit of catch-up, finally talking to members of a militia in Quebec where some members consider the Canadian Forces their “adversary”. “There’s no sign, per se, but there is a shirt in the window silkscreened with the image of militant Quebec separatist Pierre Falardeau and the words: “Now it’s your turn to be scared.” Inside, past a rack of nationalist books, including one called Quebec Bashing, which can be found alongside one on Mao Zedong, there is a wall of white, winter balaclavas and camouflage gas masks, another wall of boots and, to the right, a counter behind which hang realistic-looking paintball rifles. They hope to soon have a permit to sell real guns. This is the new recruitment centre for the Milice Patriotique Québécoise, a shadowy separatist militia that, after nearly a decade of existence, is only now coming into the light. The centre opened its doors at the end of November in a working class neighbourhood of east Montreal. The founder and leader, “Major” Serge Provost, is not out to make friends with this venture. Indeed, even other separatists are uncomfortable with him, mindful of Quebec’s painful history with the murderous Front de libération du Québec. But Provost says his group operates in a defensive mode only, “to protect the people of Quebec.” “The only entity able to protect Quebecers now is the Canadian army,” says Provost, 42. “So, the only ones who can help us are our adversaries.” ….” A bit more on this group from a previous MILNEWS.ca summary here.
To space, and beyond!“Canada has the technological capacity to build its own rocket to launch small satellites, officials and documents have revealed, highlighting a top priority for future research at the Defence Department as well as something that’s being studied at the Canadian Space Agency. Canada relies on other countries, such as the United States, India and Russia, to launch its spacecraft into orbit, but both the Defence Department and the space agency are looking at the option of constructing a Canadian-made launcher. The Defence Department’s science organization, Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), is examining what would be needed for a small rocket as well as looking at different potential mission scenarios ….”