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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 8 Nov 11

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  • Royal Military College Academic:  Iran strikes might be the CF’s next shooting stint“Canada may get pulled into military strikes against Iran if it comes to a showdown between western powers and the rogue state. And things could get messy considering a new report from the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog that’s expected to indicate Tehran is on the brink of being able to develop a nuclear warheads, said Houchang Hassan-Yari, an expert in military and strategic issues at the Royal Military College of Canada. “If it gets to a military campaign, I think Canada will participate with the Americans and their allies,” the international relations professor said. “If sanctions are the next avenue, Canada will participate in that.” ….”
  • What a surprise:  the military appears to be planning and weighing how to deal with evacuating Canadians in trouble overseas“Plucking Canadians out of the world’s hot spots is a growing area of concern and study for military planners, who until a few years ago didn’t have their own tools or the resources to carry out such missions.  Internal Defence Department documents obtained by The Canadian Press show that in the aftermath of the Libyan crisis, the Canadian military is examining not only its war-fighting skills, but its newly enhanced ability to quickly organize evacuation and rescue missions.  Planners have been quietly taking stock of the world’s flash points and considering how to get military forces into those troubled regions, while at the same time smoothly getting civilians out of harm’s way …. internally at the Defence Department there has been angst about future evacuations, especially in light of expected budget cuts, suggest the documents obtained under Access to Information.  Among the most worrisome trouble spots is South Korea, where frequent and increasingly violent outbursts from the hermit kingdom in the North have military planners concerned and looking for guidance.  “With over 20,000 Canadian citizens resident in the (Republic of South Korea), in the event of a full-scale crisis (censored) the evacuation efforts required could significantly exceed those of the Lebanon evacuation,” said a Nov. 30, 2010 briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay ….”  I’ve asked if CP plans to share the obtained documents online for anyone interested to read – no word back yet.
  • Canada is taking part in U.S. Northern Command Exercise Operation Vigilant Shield ’12.  The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, as well as the Canadian military, have begun an extensive annual field training exercise for the U.S. Northern Command. “Operation Vigilant Shield 12” is the biggest multi-spectrum, high-level exercise for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. Northern Command is a Unified Combatant Command of the United States military, formed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 to protect the United States homeland and support local, state, and federal authorities. Operation Vigilant Shield 12, or VS 12, is a joint exercise supported by the Joint Coalition Warfare Center and conducted as a command post exercise with a supporting field training exercise in Key West, FL. The exercise is also linked to a Canada Command exercise called “Determined Dragon,” and runs concurrently with the Arizona’s “Vigilant Guard” exercise. It runs Nov. 1-10 ….”  More from the Pentagon Info-Machine here.
  • Scumbags, continued.  A recently restored First World War memorial that stands outside an east end high school has been vandalized. Neighbours of Malvern Collegiate, near Victoria Park Avenue and Kingston Road, awoke Sunday morning to find the granite statue wrapped in blue duct tape. With the help of about $44,000 in donations and grants, the statue had been restored and rededicated days before, just in time for Remembrance Day ….”
  • Remembrance Day (1)  Veterans’ Ombudsman on Veteran’s Week.
  • Remembrance Day (2)  Unambiguously Ambidextrous on Remembrance Day and Canada’s newest vets“…. There is a new generation of soldiers returning from war, something that has not been seen in Canada in about 50 years, or two generations. That’s not to trivialize Rwanda or Bosnia, but our country hasn’t had to deal with the reality of war dead in a half century and we have not handled their sacrifices very well. In fact, it would be fair to say we have broken faith with the dead, choosing not to carry on their torch and honour their sacrifices by seeing through the mission to success. It was a political decision made to pacify the pacifists created by two generations of peace. Today’s young people know nothing of war, and so their only reaction to it is revulsion ….”
  • An audit into Veterans Affairs Canada and how it handles privacy issues will be released in early 2012, Canada’s privacy commissioner said Monday. The news came as a third veteran went public with complaints into the number of times civil servants accessed his file, and how his file was handled at the agency. Sylvain Chartrand, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Bosnia, says his file was accessed more than 4,000 times between 2003 and 2010. HIs complaint is similar to one by Sean Bruyea, another veteran who advocates for veterans’ rights, and whose private medical information was shared with both Liberal and Conservative ministers of veterans affairs. A statement by a spokeswoman for Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart says an audit into how Veterans Affairs handles private information is coming soon ….”
  • A military veteran on a hunger strike collapsed momentarily during the third day of his protest against the federal government Monday. (Pascal) Lacoste is trying to convince the government to recognize that he and other soldiers were poisoned while serving overseas. The 38-year-old former soldier was leaving a camper lent to him by a friend and heading back to his SUV when he fell to the ground. An ambulance was called as his mother rushed to hold him, clutching him to her chest. Lacoste eventually recovered after taking gasps of air from an oxygen mask. But the exhausted-looking man refused to go to hospital. He decided to continue his hunger strike instead ….”
  • All of a sudden, Canada’s Liberal Party is keen on helping veterans – more in an online petition here and an e-mail soliciting signatures to said petition here (PDF).
  • Libya Mission  How intelligence from HMCS Vancouver helped in the battle for Sirte (via the CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan  Author/blogger Terry Glavin reminds us that it’s Pakistan, the puppetmaster, that should be talked to, not the puppets.
  • CF testing new helmets (via Army News)
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Technical help in improving how explosives are detected via electronic beams (more details in excerpt from bid documents – PDF – here), and VICTORIA-class sub periscope simulators.
  • CF looking for more military artists.  The Canadian Forces Artists Program allows Canadian artists the opportunity to record Canada’s soldiers in Canada and around the world. It follows the long-standing tradition of Canadian war artists and is designed to portray today’s Canadian military experience through art while providing artists with a taste of military life. These artists, all volunteers, are helping usher in a new era of Canadian military art …. A new competition is currently being held for the selection of a new group of Canadian artists who wish to participate in the program. Selected artists will be able to participate in a military-related exercise for a period of approximately seven to ten days. This opportunity is designed to springboard their creativity, create works of art depicting military life and to provide memorable military experiences. There is no payment for artists, who in turn are not required to provide works to the program. However, artists may be asked to lend some works for promotional art tours or other uses. Deadline for applications is November 30, 2011 ….”
  • Canada and Foreign Intelligence (1)  “As the Harper government prepares to re-introduce the anti-terrorism measures that were allowed to lapse because of opposition concerns about privacy and Charter rights, there are whispers Conservative plans to expand the role of Canada’s spy service to operate overseas are being dusted off. Currently, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is largely concerned with domestic intelligence and is able to conduct covert operations overseas only if there is a direct threat to Canada. In their 2006 election platform, the Tories promised to overturn this arrangement and set up a separate foreign intelligence service. Once elected, they were persuaded by the bureaucracy that it would be quicker and cheaper to allow CSIS to take on the role ….”
  • Canada and Foreign Intelligence (2)  Why blogger/info curator Mark Collins is underwhelmed with the above-mentioned idea.
  • Unlike how media treat reporters being kidnapped, right?  “Former Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler, whose kidnapping by al-Qaida made international headlines, says media “blackouts” of such events can prevent ransom demands from escalating to the point where they cannot be met. Fowler, then a United Nations special envoy in Niger, was abducted Dec. 14, 2008 on a highway outside the country’s capital, Niamey. He spent the next 130 days in the Sahara Desert with his captors, members of a shadowy jihadist group known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Fowler told the Ottawa Citizen’s editorial board Monday that his web-savvy captors viewed media coverage of his kidnapping on laptop computers and Nokia cellphones. From it, he said, they came to believe he was on a “secret mission” in Niger, a suggestion reported in the Globe and Mail. “Was it harmful to me? Yes, likely,” he said. “The idea that you can write things here that won’t impact there is just — in this globalized world — crazy.” ….” 
  • A Canadian man has been indicted in Seattle for allegedly conspiring to support the Sri Lankan terrorist group the Tamil Tigers nearly six years ago. The single-count indictment against Ramanan Mylvaganam, 34, is the result of a jurisdictional dispute between federal prosecutors in New York City’s Brooklyn borough and Mylvaganam’s attorneys. Mylvaganam is a former Bellevue resident. Brooklyn prosecutors in 2006 had indicted Mylvaganam along with nine others in connection with an alleged plot to pay to import surface-to-air missiles and other military equipment to the Tamil Tigers. The charges also alleged the group was attempting to bribe U.S. officials to have the Tamil Tigers removed from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Mylvaganam’s attorneys had argued that federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York had no jurisdiction over Mylvaganam’s alleged crimes because he was living at the time in Bellevue, according to court papers ….”
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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 6 Nov 11

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  • Libya Mission (1)  They’re home!  More here.
  • Libya Mission (2)  Some hairy times.  “It was early in the Libya mission when Italian authorities picked up the distress call. By the next morning, HMCS Charlottetown had gone from enforcing an arms embargo to providing humanitarian assistance. It was March and at the time the Canadian frigate was operating off the coast of Tripoli, part of a ring of NATO warships tasked with making sure weapons and ammunition didn’t get into the country and the hands of Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. But when the Italians relayed the distress call to NATO commanders, who in turn ordered the Canadian frigate to investigate, the Charlottetown’s crew leaped into action ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Byron Greff, R.I.P.  A town in central Alberta is paying tribute to a fallen soldier who died in a suicide attack in Afghanistan last week. Master Cpl. Byron Greff was among 17 people killed in Kabul last Saturday when a suicide bomber slammed a vehicle fill with explosives into a NATO bus. Friends and family in Greff’s hometown of Lacombe, Alta. plan to honour his life during a public memorial service on Saturday. The service will be held at 1 p.m. local time at Canadian University College and will occur shortly after Greff is laid to rest at a private family ceremony ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Debut of new film – “The Vandoos in Afghanistan” on the National Film Board’s web page this week (watch it for free this week).
  • Afghanistan (3)  What Remembrance Day means to one Canadian officer downrange (via Army News & Facebook)
  • Afghanistan (4)  Canadians among troops winning German shooting medals in northern Afghanistan base competition (via NATO Info-Machine)
  • Afghanistan (5)  Canadian ambassador with Eid al-Adha greetings.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  He says, they say“The F-35 program is progressing well and on track,” associate minister of defence Julian Fantino told the House Thursday, while answering a question from the Opposition on the fighter jet program. However, other countries continue to make moves that suggest the program is not doing as well as he claims ….”
  • In spite of Don MacLean suggesting he take the honourary degree from RMC, Grapes continues to decline with thanks.  Further proof here that he’s damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.
  • Remembrance Day (1)  All I can say is:  scumbags!  “City and military officials are shocked after learning one of Calgary’s newest war memorials was vandalized only days before Remembrance Day. Bill Bruce, the city’s chief bylaw officer, said graffiti was sprayed across the riverside wall of Poppy Plaza on Thursday night. Phil MacAulay, president of the No. 1 Royal Canadian Legion, said he was disappointed to learn of the damage. “It’s bad,” MacAulay said. “It’s disrespectful. “You just don’t think something like that would happen any time of year, but especially now. “It’s so close to Remembrance Day, you’d think they’d know,” added MacAulay, who spent five years in the Canadian Navy. “Unfortunately, some lamebrains don’t think of the consequences or anything like that ….”  More here.
  • Remembrance Day (2)  For the last 19 years, students at Ottawa’s Catholic Notre Dame High School have benefitted from a remarkable community program. Every Remembrance Day, local military veterans would come to the school and set up exhibits that the school’s students would visit throughout the day. The students could interact with Canadian military veterans, and examine military antiques, including uniforms, items of personal gear and some disabled military weapons loaned from museums …. what would have been the 20th Remembrance Day Symposium (and was set to include veterans from our war in Afghanistan) has been cancelled. The reason given: The school doesn’t want “guns or tanks” on its property.  Ridiculous. Displaying harmless military memorabilia, in the respectful hands of the men and women who carried it in our country’s wars, is a wonderful way to make Canada’s proud military history come alive to a generation that will, we hope, never come closer than a deactivated rifle to the horrors of total war …. “
  • Veterans’ advocates said Saturday they achieved their goal despite modest turnouts at some demonstrations to protest proposed cuts to the budget of Veterans Affairs Canada. Dozens of protesters, most of them veterans, gathered on Parliament Hill on Saturday afternoon to call attention to what they call the government’s lack of compassion for those who have fought for their country. A rally in Halifax drew some 30 protesters and onlookers to city hall despite the frigid fall weather. A similar demonstration was held outside the department’s headquarters in Charlottetown on Friday. “People on the Hill have come up and said, ‘I never knew,’ and that’s the object,” organizer Mike Blais of the group Canadian Veterans Advocacy said from Ottawa. “The object is to draw attention to the situation and I think … we’ve certainly accomplished our goal today,” he said Saturday afternoon …. ”  More here and here.
  • The Royal Canadian Legion appears to be taking a stronger stance on veterans’ issues.  “The Royal Canadian Legion fired a shot across the federal government’s bow last month. Canada’s veterans, it said sternly, should be exempt from cuts under the government’s program review. “Getting our financial house in order should not be done on the backs of our wounded warriors and their families,” declared Pat Varga, the Legion’s dominion president. It was an unusually blunt public stance for an organization that has traditionally preferred to do its advocacy in private. But it also reflected a new determination by the Legion to speak up in the political arena in order to sharpen its image and help arrest decades of membership decline. “We do want to be able to inject into that debate. That should be our role,” says Brad White, the organization’s dominion secretary …. “
  • A former soldier who is staging a hunger strike to protest the way the federal government has handled his case is expected to meet today with Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney. Pascal Lacoste says he was poisoned while serving overseas and launched his hunger strike on Saturday outside Blaney’s riding office in this community near Quebec City. Lacoste blames his declining health, including chronic pain and a degenerative neurological disorder, on depleted-uranium poisoning he believes he contracted in Bosnia in the 1990s. The 38-year-old Quebec City resident vowed not to eat again until Blaney recognizes that he and other soldiers were contaminated with depleted uranium ….”
  • What’s anti-military, pro-disarmament group ceasefire.ca up to in the coming year?  “…. This year we will be concentrating our efforts on opposing the growing National Security Establishment: that web of politicians, lobby groups, old generals and corporations that are robbing the treasury of public dollars for themselves and their own special interests. In the coming days I’ll be letting you know how the pro-war lobby is funded by the military, and how their influence reaches deep into the best-known news organizations in Canada ….”  We wait with interest.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 5 Nov 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 4 Nov 11

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  • Janick Gilbert, R.I.P.  Funeral of rescue technician killed in rescue attempt set for tomorrow.
  • Libya Mission (1a)  CF members returning home from Libyan mission – welcome back!
  • Libya Mission (1b)  Canada’s Defence Minister set to welcome returning CF members at CFB Greenwood in Nova Scotia.
  • Libya Mission (1c)  Canada’s Associate Defence Minister set to welcome returning CF members at CFB Bagotville in Quebec.
  • Libya Mission (1d)  Canada’s Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence set to welcome returning CF members at CFB Trenton in Ontario.
  • Afghanistan (1)  How Canadian military engineers are training up Afghan military engineers (via the CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (2)  Former diplomat, political communicator reminds us of Canada’s legacy (while reminding us whose job it is now to keep it going) (PDF).  “In 2009-10, former political aide Renée Filiatrault volunteered for a tour of duty as a foreign service officer in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Here she provides a glimpse of the realities that Canada’s civilian and military team faced while fighting an insurgency on the ground. As Canada stood down its combat mission in Kandahar this summer, she says, despite some bitter lessons, it is a legacy of which Canada can be proud. Ultimately, she adds, “while we can set the conditions for success, winning is not up to us, but up to the government of Afghanistan, which all efforts are ultimately intended to support.”
  • Afghanistan (3)  An update on Captain Trevor Greene, who has been recovering from an axe to the head during a shura in Afghanistan in March 2006.
  • Taliban Propganada Watch:  What the Taliban Info-Machine has to say about the coward chap who killed 17 people, including one Canadian, in a homicide bombing attack in Kabul and tying the attack in to a coming Loya Jirga (both links to non-terrorist page).
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  More from The Canadian Press’s obtained (but not shared with the readers) stack o’ briefing notes.  “Canadian pilots are expected to receive training for the F-35 stealth jet at a U.S. Air Force base in Florida, a plan that raises questions about the future of the country’s existing advanced fighter training school. Internal Defence Department documents show that a fee-for-service plan involving an international training centre, already constructed at Eglin Air Force Base by manufacturer Lockheed Martin, has been the main option under consideration. Several air force briefings compiled last year and obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information laws show that not only is there “potential for NO pilot training in Canada,” but that “pooled” training with international partners is likely the most cost-effective plan ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  CDS:  more would sure be nice“Canada’s top soldier says the 65 stealth fighters the government is planning to buy are the minimum number the military needs – but he hinted the back-up if jets are destroyed is that more will be for sale later. General Walter Natynczyk, the Chief of Defence Staff, told members of the Commons defence committee Thursday that the 65 F-35 fighters the government is planning to buy “is the minimum operational essential for the needs of Canada.” ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (3)  CDS:  pilots want the F-35“Pilots with the Royal Canadian Air Force want to fly in F-35 stealth fighter jets when the current CF-18s are retired, according to the chief of defence staff. Walt Natynczyk, the military’s top boss, appeared before Parliament’s defence committee Thursday to talk about military preparedness but was peppered instead with questions about the controversial purchase of the multi-role fighter jets. “Let me tell you that when I go to Cold Lake and I go to Bagotville and I talk to those young men and women who get in the F-18 and I ask them ‘What aircraft so you want?’ they tell me that they want the F-35 because it is the only fifth-generation, capable fighter for that next phase,” Natynczyk told reporters after his committee appearance ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (4)  Yet AGAIN with the Questions in the House of Commons.
  • A reminder from the Chief of Defence Staff:  to a certain extent, anyway, you get what you pay for.  “The country’s top soldier says that the speed with which Canada contributed to the mission in Libya and post-earthquake relief in Haiti would not have been possible without a trained and well-equipped military. But Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk, whose department is struggling with pending budget cuts during the first real lull in combat operations since 2006, said such capabilities do not come cheap. “If you ask me how we’re doing in maintaining our readiness, I’d say we’re doing the best we can with all the resources we have,” Natynczyk told members of the Commons’ defence committee Thursday. “Readiness is a perishable commodity and it’s expensive.” ….”
  • This year’s Public Accounts are out, and at least one reporter noticed 42 “weapons and accessories” missing.  You can download the DND’s list o’ missing cash & property here (via Army.ca) and the entire government list o’ lost cash and stuff here (28 page small-print PDF).
  • Remembrance Day (1)  No “tanks”, no guns, no displays at Ottawa Catholic school for Remembrance Day“For the past 19 years, students at an Ottawa high school have hoisted 10-pound military rifles to feel what it may be like to lug one around in the muddy trenches. They’ve met veterans and heard their stories, learning how their families were affected and what it was like to fight so far from home. But this year — the year that was supposed to mark the 20th Remembrance Day Symposium at Notre Dame High School — they will get no such chance. The traditional school event, scheduled for Nov. 10, has been cancelled because of a school committee decision to ensure there were “no tanks or guns” at the event, its co-ordinator told participants in an email last Friday …. The event was cancelled because some students who hail from countries touched by war raised concerns about it last year, said Lauren Rocque, a spokeswoman for the Ottawa Catholic School Board. “There are many students in that school that come from war-torn countries and when they saw replica guns in the hallway, it did upset them.” Ms. Rocque was unable to say whether the students had complained to the principal directly. “The tanks on the front lawn, that upset them too, so the committee decided to take this different direction,” she added. Mr. Mac Culloch said he doesn’t remember any tanks — just a variety of other military vehicles ….”  More on this from QMI/Sun Media here, a good question from the Globe & Mail here and discussion over at Army.ca here.
  • Remembrance Day (2)  Editorial:  “In Toronto and Hamilton, human scum steal poppy boxes filled with donated money to help war vets and their families, leading up to Remembrance Day on Nov. 11. In London, a war vet coming in to man his poppy station at a local mall finds a cartoon describing Canadian soldiers as “hired killers”. In Ottawa, a high school cancels a two-decade old program in which vets share their war-time experiences with students and show them the equipment they used, because of a decision to ban “tanks and guns” from the school, even though no tanks have been displayed and the guns are inoperable. That this is happening in the year Canada ends its 10-year military mission in Afghanistan, in which 158 of our soldiers died, is a disgrace ….”
  • Remembrance Day (3)  Conservative MP reminds the House of Commons“Mr. Speaker, July 2011 marked the end of Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan. While the combat mission has come to an end, the Canadian Forces continue to play an active role in training their Afghan counterparts. The past 10 years have brought about many changes for Afghanistan. Afghanistan has held three elections, government agencies have been improved, its economy has gained momentum, girls are going to school and the Afghan security forces have been provided with invaluable training and mentoring. One hundred and fifty-nine Canadian Forces members have made the ultimate sacrifice to help Afghans obtain a taste of the freedoms that we hold so dear, tragically, joined recently by Master Corporal Byron Greff, of Edmonton’s Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. In addition to Afghanistan, Canadian Forces are serving in 15 overseas missions, including Libya, Haiti, and Sudan. At home, they save lives during search and rescue missions, provide assistance when natural disasters strike, and protect our nation’s sovereignty on a daily basis. This Veterans’ Week, let us remember the service and sacrifice of our Canadian Forces members and their families. “To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die”.
  • Remembrance Day (4)  Politicians set to kick off Veterans Week this morning.
  • More on the soon-to-be hunger-striking vet wanting action on the depleted uranium in his body, from Question Period in the House of Commons.
  • A Canadian indicted in the U.S. on charges he supplied al-Qaida with weapons in Pakistan will not be extradited to the United States after Canada’s Supreme Court said Thursday it wouldn’t hear the case. Abdullah Khadr had been held in Canada on a U.S. warrant after his December 2005 arrest before he was released in 2010. He was released after two provincial courts in Ontario suspended his extradition, ruling his rights were violated during his detention in Pakistan. Dennis Edney, his lawyer, said the top court’s decision not to hear the Canadian government’s appeal means the case is over. The government had argued it was wrong to prevent an “admitted” terrorist from facing trial in the U.S. ….”  More from The Canadian Press, CBC.ca, Agence France-Presse, Reuters and lots of others.
  • Ottawa is bungling rescue missions by not telling families in Canada whether their loved ones are alive or dead, a Canadian diplomat once held hostage overseas says. Robert Fowler says that Ottawa’s mission to free him is tarnished by the fact that his wife, Mary, was kept in emotional limbo for much of his 130-day ordeal. She got so frustrated by official silence in Ottawa that she went to the United Nations complex in Manhattan to demand answers. “Mary stormed down to the UN headquarters in New York, where she had arranged to meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,” reads Mr. Fowler’s new memoir. The world’s top diplomat told Ms. Fowler what the Canadian government had not. “‘We have good and explicit reason to believe they [the hostages] are alive and in good health.’” ….”
  • Don Cherry is getting an honourary degree from Royal Military College (and some profs are pissed).  “…. The college’s senate approved awarding the controversial hockey commentator with the honour at a recent closed-door meeting. But now at least one protesting member of the faculty is protesting the decision publicly. French professor Catherine Lord criticized the college’s decision to honour Cherry in a letter sent to local media. “On many occasions he publicly expressed his contempt for many groups of the Canadian population, notably for the French-speaking Canadians, for the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) community and for the immigrants,” Lord wrote. “RMC is increasingly representative of the diverse society in which we live. RMC is a strong and unifying place.” Lord questioned what kind of message granting the honorary doctorate would send to the rest of the country. “What message will RMC send, in celebrating Don Cherry, to the students coming from these groups? And what will the Canadian people remember from RMC, as a serious and prestigious institution?” ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 3 Nov 11

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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 ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 29 Oct 11

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  • Janick Gilbert, 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, R.I.P.  A search and rescue technician (SAR Tech) from 8 Wing Trenton has died while participating in a rescue mission near Igloolik (Hall Bay), Nunavut on the evening of Thursday, October 27 …. Sergeant Janick Gilbert was a SAR Tech with 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron …. The incident is currently under investigation.”  Statements of condolence from the Commander-in-Chief, the PM and the Defence Minister – condolences thread at Army.ca here.  Media coverage (via Google News search) here.
  • Libya Mission  We’re done“As directed by the Government of Canada, Operation MOBILE (Canada’s military response to the crisis in Libya) will commence mission closure activities. This announcement comes as the North Atlantic Council agreed today to end Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, the NATO-led effort to impose on Libya the arms embargo and no-fly zone authorized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. This follows the UN Security Council’s unanimous adoption yesterday of UNSCR 2016 on Libya, terminating the protection of civilians and no fly zone provisions of UNSCR 1973, effective October 31, 2011 ….”  More on that here, here and here.
  • Afghanistan (1)  Another CF Info-Machine piece on how the transition mission is different from the others.
  • Afghanistan (2)  A Canadian Government Info-Machine product (podcast) on the mission – transcript here.
  • Way Up North  One of Canada’s competitors partners in the Arctic says China has at least some claim in the colder parts of the world.   “A new Great Game is making a quiet appearance in Canada’s Arctic. In a speech Friday in Beijing, the Danish ambassador to China, Friis Arne Peterson, said the communist country has “natural and legitimate economic and scientific interests in the Arctic” even though it lacks a coastline in the rapidly thawing polar region. He went on to say that his government would like to see China given permanent observer status in the eight-member Arctic Council, which currently includes Canada, Russia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and the United States. China has applied to become a permanent observer in the forum. “The Danish government would like to see China as a permanent observer, and I think that others (in the Arctic Council) are likewise willing to do that,” the ambassador told a group of journalists. That assumption is both questionable and problematic, according to scholars and analysts who specialize in Arctic affairs. Some suggest the Danish ambassador was not only trying to leverage Denmark’s influence in the Arctic Council, but soliciting Chinese investment to help the Danes exploit Greenland’s natural resources. And from China’s perspective, they say, the ambassador’s remarks reflect China’s interest in gaining access to resources and increasing its geopolitical clout ….”
  • Is Canada Buying Nuclear Subs (continued)? (1)  According to the Defence Minister and several others, nope.  More at Army.ca discussion thread here.  More from Question Period yesterday here.
  • Is Canada Buying Nuclear Subs (continued)? (2)  One option, according to an American blogger:  lease some American nuclear subs (assuming they’d be willing to lease to an ally in whose backyard the U.S. Navy has been allegedly playing in without permission).
  • Is Canada Buying Nuclear Subs (continued)? (3)  Another American defence purchasing blog’s take“…. defense issues are national issues for Canadians (and Australians) in ways they aren’t for Americans …. for the most part, voters just don’t care. Canada is different, though. Every couple of weeks, for example, the mainstream national newspapers have an item about Canada’s membership in Club F-35 — either political controversy or some new question about the jets’ capability. As you read on Defense Tech, the Winnepeg Free Press reported that Canada’s CF-35s may not be able to fully communicate when they’re patrolling their portions of the Arctic. The National Post had a column about the program “unraveling” on Friday. All this means that Ottawa can’t make big defense decisions such as buying or leasing nuclear submarines out of sight, the way our Pentagon mostly operates on its own. So given how much juice it’s already costing Canada’s Conservative government to buy 65 CF-35s, any discussion about nuclear submarines might prove to be a boat too far.”
  • Is Canada Buying Nuclear Subs (continued)? (4)  One National Post columnist’s take“…. If we want to preserve our Arctic sovereignty, we need submarines capable of staying submerged for weeks. Only subs with nuclear powerplants can do that reliably. So if we want to patrol our northern ocean effectively we need nukes. Either that or we should just get out of the sub-owning business altogether ….”
  • Is Canada Buying Nuclear Subs (continued)? (5)  Ceasefire.ca’s take “…. Nuclear-powered submarines are definitely not part of Ceasefire’s vision of an ideal world, and neither for that matter is Peter MacKay as Minister of National Defence. But however that may be, in the real world there is not going to be any Canadian nuclear sub purchase. Indeed, the government is already apparently disavowing the notion. Even a minimal, one-to-one replacement of the Victorias with French or British nuclear submarines similar to those proposed when Perrin Beatty was Defence Minister in 1987 would cost around $10 billion, not counting lifetime operations and maintenance costs. And buying something like an American nuclear sub would be vastly more expensive, assuming we could convince the U.S. to sell some. All in order to create a bare minimum force of marginal use (if indeed it had any use at all)? Not even this government is that dumb. Right? ….”
  • Speaking of submarines….  “In the face of hard questions from the Harper government about Canada’s problem-plagued submarines, the navy’s top sailor is pledging fully operating boats will be on the East and West Coasts by the second half of 2012. This would be a breakthrough of sorts for the subs that Canada bought from Britain in 1998 – which for more than a decade have fallen exceedingly short of expectations ….”  More in this surprisingly well-timed backgrounder on subs issued by the CF Info-Machine yesterday.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  Associate Minister Julian Fantino confirms we’re NOT dumping the F-35 program (again) in the House of Commons“Mr. Speaker, there is no intent to pull the plug on an asset that is so critical to Canadian sovereignty and provides our men and women the assets they need well into the future to fulfill their missions and return home safe at the end of those missions to their families. As well, we are now into cutting steel. This is not a reversal item. This is the right plane, the right aircraft for the right time and well into the future. We made that decision. In fact, the Liberal government of the day in 1997 embarked on this very same project.”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Aussies auditing their F-35 program because of delivery delay worries.
  • The Access to Information Act:  Helping media ensure information vital to the needs of taxpayers gets out there since 1982!  Since 2006, the Canadian Forces has purchased about 1.5 million condoms for Canadian soldiers at a cost to taxpayers of $177,868According to an article in La Presse, the taxpayer funded initiative has been in place since World War I as a means to combat sexually transmitted diseases within Canadian military ranks. Despite strict rules against romantic liaisons during military deployments, soldiers can readily acquire condoms on military base clinics and pharmacies. Ostensibly, the condoms are meant for soldiers going on leave but the reality is another story ….”
  • What the Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent says he heard during a recent series of town-hall meetings on Veterans Affairs Canada programs and benefits.  “…. Two main themes emerged throughout these activities. Firstly, the communication from Veterans Affairs Canada to the Veterans’ community needs improvement. There is often either a lack of communication from the Department or the information that is provided is unclear, too complex, and bureaucratic. Secondly, access to programs is too complex and difficult. Often, Veterans in need of assistance are so disheartened by the process that they simply give up and suffer in silence. I want to assure the Veterans’ community that we hear these concerns loudly and clearly and that the Office will continue to raise these issues with the Department and the Minister ….”
  • A Charlottetown woman wants to honour her late husband by wearing his military medals for Remembrance Day, but she doesn’t want to break the law. Madrien Ferris said Friday she would like to wear the 10 medals her husband Albert, nicknamed Smiley, received during his 30 years in the Canadian Armed Forces. But Article 419 of the Criminal Code prohibits anyone other than the veteran from doing so …. She said she was surprised to learn that wearing his medals would be illegal …. A decade ago, an effort was made to change the law in Ottawa but it was voted down. Medals can be worn on the right side by family members of veterans in Britain and Australia ….”