MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Mar 11

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

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 21 Feb 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 14 Jan 11

  • NDP leader Jack Layton calls for people to tell the PM “Canada’s troops outta Afghanistan!” “The federal New Democratic Party is urging those angry at the government’s decision to extend the Afghan mission to send their complaints directly to the Prime Minister’s Office. In a speech to be delivered Friday, party leader Jack Layton will rail against the decision by the Conservative government — and backed by the Liberals — to launch a three-year training mission in the war-scarred country after the Kandahar combat mission ends later this year. He will spell out his own party’s view of the way forward, one that starts with military disengagement. That must be followed by diplomacy to broker peace deals and ceasefires among warring factions, and development efforts to rebuild Afghanistan, Layton will argue ….” Question to Jack: who’s going to protect Canadians who will carrying out this diplomacy?
  • A bit of a story about how a Canadian is helping a U.S. research team defeat IEDs. “It’s a question that haunts Maj. Daniel Hilliker: Why do Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan continue to be killed by cheap roadside bombs, known as improvised explosive devices? The Canadian exchange officer is working in the U.S. as part of a multibillion-dollar international project to defeat a Taliban weapon that costs just a few dollars to make. The challenge has mystified the world’s most powerful militaries — with deadly consequences. “I’m an explosives-disposal guy by background and that’s a question I ask myself every day,” Hilliker said in an interview Thursday from Washington, D.C. He is six months into a three-year spell with the Joint IED Defeat Organization, set up by the Pentagon in 2006 to help defeat the Taliban’s weapon of choice ….”
  • The Harper government has put on hold its search for bidders to operate and maintain the chain of early-warning radars that guards against foreign incursions into Canadian and U.S. airspace in the Far North, Postmedia News has learned.  The North Warning System, a chain of 47 unmanned radars that lines the Arctic coast from Alaska to Labrador, is operated and maintained by Nasittuq Corp. under a 10-year, $624-million contract that ends Sept. 30 this year …. the Canadian government, which originally hoped to award a new contract this April, has shelved the bidding process as it consults with aboriginal groups, as required under land-claim settlements. The consultation process is expected to take months or even years ….”
  • Does the PM’s “Air Force One” really need to be repainted to cover up the military colours?  Someone at the Privy Council Office seems to think so.
  • PM Stephen Harper “condemns international violence against Coptic Christians, commits to protecting religious freedom in Canada“Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Thursday) participated in a round table discussion with several Coptic Christian leaders at a church in Mississauga about the safety and security of Canadians following that faith.  He was joined by Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.  The Prime Minister condemned the heinous bombing which killed 23 Coptic Christians during a New Year’s Eve mass in Egypt and which prompted a number of churches in Canada to go on high alert during the holidays this year …. The Prime Minister also noted the Government is continuing to monitor the situation closely.  “Our Government is aware of the challenges Coptic Christians face, and we will remain vigilant to ensure that they continue to feel safe in their communities,” the Prime Minister added.”