MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 13 Oct 11

  • What’s Canada (Not) Buying?  An answer from DND regarding the cancellation of the process to replace the Canadian Ranger Rifle and General Service Pistol:  the process apparently needs more work.  “The DND Small Arms Modernization (SAM) Project Management Office (PMO) requested that Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) cancel both the (General Service Pistol) and the (New Canadian Ranger Rifle) Price and Availability (P&A) requests on MERX as a result of questions, and requests for clarification, from industry. The feedback from industry brought the DND SAM PMO to re-evaluate its procurement strategy. The DND SAM PMO is now focusing efforts on clarifying the procurement strategy for the GSP and NCRR with the intent to facilitate future communication with industry. The comments and observations received from industry in response to the P&A requests will be considered when the final requirements are written. The replacement of the GSP and NCRR remain a priority for DND. The next step of the project will be to obtain Preliminary Project Approval (PPA). No additional solicitations will be posted on MERX until after PPA is obtained and an approved procurement strategy is in place ….”  Full response (2 page PDF) here – you read it here first!
  • Afghanistan  Medical trainers among the training teams.  “Operation ATTENTION began in April 2011 with the arrival in the Kabul area of the first of some 950 Canadian Forces members who will deploy with the Canadian Contingent Training Mission–Afghanistan, Canada’s contribution to the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan. Their mission is to work with the training cadre of the Afghan National Army (ANA) to build a force capable of meeting Afghanistan’s security needs after 2014. In July 2011, a group of Canadian Forces health-care providers deployed on Op ATTENTION with a Training Development Officer to serve as advisor-mentors to their Afghan counterparts at the Armed Forces Academy of Medical Sciences (AFAMS) in Kabul ….”
  • CBC sends reporter to see what’s happening in Jamaica with Operation Jaguar.  “For over four decades, Canada trained the helicopter pilots and mechanics of the Jamaica Defence Force. But last year, Jamaica decided to bring home the training and do all the work itself. However, its mechanics couldn’t keep up with the demand and after a while the Jamaicans found themselves in the very uncomfortable position of not having enough working helicopters, meaning no way to conduct high-stakes rescues and medical evacuations. With a very bad hurricane season predicted, officials there were worried. So they called up Canada and asked if we could send down some of our world-class search and rescue crews. Canada agreed and, in mid-August, sent along three Griffon helicopters and 65 Canadian Forces personnel — only the second time in history that Canada’s search and rescue teams have been deployed in another country ….”  CBC coverage of Canada’s training mission in Afghanistan?  Not so much lately….
  • Just because the combat mission in Afghanistan is over doesn’t mean the training stops for thousands of Canadian soldiers who are involved a record-setting exercise operation in this east-central Alberta military base. Roughly 3,000 troops from the Petawawa-based 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group are involved in a month-long training operation dubbed Exercise Maple Resolve at the base roughly 230 km east of Edmonton. Colonel Lowell Thomas, commander of Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre based in CFB Wainwright, said training is no longer focused on efforts in Afghanistan. “We’ve now moved to train troops for operations anywhere in the world, in any type of operation as well,” said Thomas. The month-long operation is the largest undertaking for the training command centre, which has been based at CFB Wainwright since 2004 ….”
  • The Royal Canadian Legion says veterans’ programs should be protected from proposed government spending cuts. Legion president Pat Varga says the government has a moral debt to veterans and should exempt their benefits from the cuts. The government has asked all departments to offer budget cuts of five per cent and 10 per cent in a major spending review. The proposals are being studied by the cabinet. But Varga says any programs, services or benefits for vets should be exempt both from the review and any eventual spending reductions ….”
  • HMCS Ottawa back home on the west coast after “a four and a half month operational deployment and goodwill tour in the Asia Pacific region” – welcome home!
  • What one columnist says came out of the Toronto Maple Leafs spending three days practicing at the arena at CFB Trenton this week
  • Way Up North  Mark Collins on “One Less Threat to Our “Arctic Sovereignty” “
  • Here’s something to be careful about with the impending “perimeter security” deal between Canada and the U.S.  “…. If the new $1-billion perimeter security deal, dubbed Beyond the Border, is an example of big-picture thinking, then its reception may have got fuzzy for many Canadians. Proponents have praised the deal’s measures to reduce cross-border red tape, expand border infrastructure and generally speed up bilateral trade. However, other U.S. actions, such as musings about possibly levying new tariffs on rail cargo from Canadian ports or passing legislation saddling non-U.S. banks with costs associated with new tax reporting requirements for non-resident U.S. citizens, have raised fears our largest trading partner is increasingly retreating behind protectionist and isolationist walls ….”
  • Amnesty International wants Canada to arrest former U.S. President George W. Bush while he’s here for an economic summit later this month – more here, here and here Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight….
  • A bit of government money ($39,980) for an exhibit about a Canadian General.  “The Museum Strathroy-Caradoc will be able to share the story of General Sir Arthur Currie with Canadians, thanks to an investment from the Government of Canada. This was announced today by Bev Shipley, Member of Parliament (Lambton-Kent-Middlesex), on behalf of the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. The Museum will create, present, and circulate a travelling exhibition about the life and career of Strathroy native General Sir Arthur Currie. This project will trace Currie’s journey to become Canada’s top military leader during World War I and the first Canadian to attain the rank of full general ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 16 Sept 11

  • Afghanistan (1)  Canada’s spy agency has been cleared of wrongdoing in connection with the abuse of Afghan detainees. But the Security Intelligence Review Committee raised two issues for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to consider in future overseas operations — even though CSIS operations on foreign soil are limited by law. The spy watchdog chided CSIS for not keeping adequate records and cautioned it to “assess and qualify with care and consistency” the intelligence it receives from agencies that may be party to human rights abuses. It also recommended that if CSIS continues to operate abroad, its standards of accountability and professionalism should live up to those on Canadian soil ….”  Since The Canadian Press isn’t sharing the report, here it is at the Security Intelligence Review Committee’s web page (21 pages of redacted PDF) – here, also, is the news release announcing the findings.  Also, more from Postmedia News and the Globe & Mail here and here.
  • Afghanistan (2a)  Finally, a bit of news (albeit sounding a bit like a briefing note) from the CF Info-Machine on the training mission under way in Afghanistan!  “Captain (Navy) Haydn Edmundson arrived here on 18 July 2011 as part of the initial rotation of the Canadian Contribution Training Mission–Afghanistan (CCTM-A), the task force deployed on Operation ATTENTION to serve with the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A). As Chief of Staff to the Deputy Commanding General–Police (DCOM-Police) at NTMA Headquarters, Capt(N) Edmundson has a prominent role in the training and development of the Afghan National Police (ANP) ….”
  • Afghanistan (2b)  More from the CF Info-Machine on the training mission: “On 23 August 2011, Colonel Peter Dawe, the deputy commander of the Canadian Contribution Training Mission – Afghanistan (CCTM-A) paid a visit to Camp Souter to meet the small but vital team that lives and works there, and tour their facility. Camp Souter is a British support base conveniently situated near Kabul International Airport. The Canadians assigned there work diligently behind the scenes to meet the support requirements of CCTM-A, the large and growing mission deployed with the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A) under Operation ATTENTION. NTM-A is the international effort to help the Afghan national security forces prepare for the transition to full responsibility for security throughout Afghanistan in 2014 ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  The Royal Canadian Legion says it will have to debate whether it supports adding Afghanistan to the National War Memorial. Spokesman Bob Butt says it is a matter for the various Legion commands to decide and the subject has yet to be discussed among the organization’s 340,000 active members. A proposal circulated around National Defence last year called for the word Afghanistan and the dates 2001-2011 to be added to the memorial that sits in the shadow of Parliament Hill. The $2.1 million dollar plan included the addition of an eternal flame and a national commemoration ceremony. But a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay says it would be inappropriate to commemorate Afghanistan right now because soldiers are still there on a training mission. Butt initially indicated the Legion favoured revamping the memorial, however he says the matter is best debated among the members when the federal government has a specific proposal ….”
  • Way Up North  During CDS visit to Russia, Canada and Russia agree to exchange port visits with naval ships.  “…. Both sides also discussed situation in the North Africa and Middle East, as well as European security. They also agreed to exchange visits of their warships between Canada’s Vancouver and the Murmansk port of Russia.  The visiting Canadian delegation visited several military facilities in Moscow Wednesday ….
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Defence Minister Peter MacKay was warned the manufacturer of the air force’s new maritime helicopters might be tempted to cut corners in the rush to get the long-delayed program back on track, say internal documents. “The remaining elements for the interim (maritime helicopter) delivery are all safety related and it is crucial that DND remain diligent to ensure Sikorsky does not take inappropriate risks to keep schedule,” said a Nov. 23 briefing note. The advice came soon after a scathing report by the auditor general, who’d singled out the CH-148 Cyclone program for delays and cost overruns. Less than three weeks after Sheila Fraser’s assessment, U.S. helicopter giant Sikorsky advised the federal government it wouldn’t meet a Nov. 30, 2010, deadline to land the first helicopter for “limited training and operational testing.” Officials vented their frustration in the note, portions of which were underlined for emphasis. It urged both politicians and defence officials to take a deep breath and not get involved in any further debate — or request changes. “It is also paramount that DND not interfere or influence the conduct of activities, as this would provide Sikorsky rationale for excusable delay.” Ottawa’s $5.7-billion plan to buy 28 new helicopters to replace the geriatric Sea Kings, which fly off the decks of warships, have been hit with repeated delays ….”  The Canadian Press doesn’t appear to be sharing this briefing note with the public, who may want to see more of the bigger picture of the document.
  • Speaking of “geriatric” Sea Kings:  The venerable Sea King will be 50 years old in 2013 and plans are already underway to celebrate the milestone. Tim Dunne, a retired army major, says a committee was formed about a year ago to work on a reunion, a book, a memorial service and other events. Plans are also underway to place a Sea King in the Shearwater Aviation Museum ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying:  Big Honkin’ Ships Edition  Blogger Mark Collins underwhelmed with the prospect of unarmed poor compromise design Navy ships in the Arctic.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War One writer’s feelings:  “…. despite assurances from Department of National Defence officials that the F-35 is the right aircraft for Canada, the only way to really know which aircraft can best meet Canadian requirements — and at what cost — would be to put out an open, fair and transparent statement of requirements and request for proposals, and conduct a rigorous evaluation of the bidders’ responses. Denmark, which is a Level 3 partner in the F-35 program, like Canada is, has decided on an open competition to select its next-generation fighter aircraft. People are questioning why Canada is not doing the same thing. Only then will Canadians know the right fighter has been selected, at the right price.”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Paraclete tactical pouches for delivery to Richmond, Ontario and Kingston, Ontario, and up to +7K vials of injectable tetracycline-style antibiotic for CFB Petawawa.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (3)  CF starting to ask manufacturers for information on what rifle should replace the Lee Enfield for use by Canadian Rangers (via Army.ca)
  • Canadian Rangers got a chance to share their stories at the CNE in Toronto. “Six Canadian Rangers from northern Ontario told thousands of visitors to a military display at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto what Canadian Rangers do across Canada’s North. “I’ve never talked to so many people in my life,” said Master Cpl. Bill Morris from Kingfisher Lake, which has a population of 420. “People asked us who the Rangers are and what we do. They were pretty amazed when we told them.” The Ranger exhibit, centred around a traditional tipi, helped attract visitors to a large display of military equipment showcasing the army, navy and air force. The display attracted about one million people to it during the 17 days of the CNE, the biggest fair of its kind in Canada ….”
  • The Calgary Homeless Foundation wants to turn a small apartment building into housing units for homeless military veterans. The Royal Canadian Legion says there are at least 25 people living on Calgary streets that have been identified as Canadian Forces veterans. Cindy Green-Muse of the Legion’s Back In Step program said she knows of 25 to 30 veterans who don’t have a roof over their heads. They range in age from a few in their 20’s to one man who is over 80 years old ….”
  • The CF’s Commander-in-Chief is taking part in the Army Run this weekend.  Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston will lace up their running shoes this weekend for this year’s Canada Army Run, being held on Sunday, September 18, 2011, in Ottawa. At 7:30 a.m., His Excellency will address all athletes competing in the five-kilometre run, and will also cheer on his wife at the starting line. At 8:40 a.m., the Governor General will wish all athletes competing in the half marathon ‘good luck’, and join them in this 21-kilometre challenge ….”
  • Meanwhile,On Sunday, for the second year in a row, the annual Terry Fox Run is sharing its date with the Army Run, and there’s no sign the two charity events will be run on separate dates any time soon. The Terry Fox Run, in its 31st year, is a volunteer-run, non-competitive event to raise money for cancer research. Over the course of its history, the Ottawa, Orléans, Kanata and Gatineau runs have together raised more than $5.75 million. Runs are held across Canada on the same day and they all share a marketing budget geared to that date. The Army Run is a hugely popular newcomer to the charity run scene. Organized by Run Ottawa in collaboration with the Department of National Defence, the competitive run offers five-kilometre and half-marathon events to raise money for two military charities, Soldier On and the Military Families Fund. From its inception in 2008, the Army Run has grown to have up to 14,000 entrants in subsequent years ….”
  • Canada’s most decorated military hero, the First World War flying ace William Barker, will be honoured next week in Toronto with a gravesite monument aimed at reviving knowledge of his unmatched exploits above Europe’s battlefields nearly a century ago. Barker, a Manitoba farmboy who went on to be awarded the Victoria Cross, three Military Crosses and a host of other medals for his wartime feats, was credited with destroying 50 enemy aircraft in just the last two years of the 1914-18 war. He later became the founding director of the Royal Canadian Air Force – a designation recently restored to the aviation branch of Canada’s military – before dying tragically, at age 35, in a 1930 crash on the frozen Ottawa River while demonstrating a new aircraft in Canada’s capital ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 6 Sept 11

  • Afghanistan  Finally, a bit of info (from a visiting Canadian academic) from Herat, one of the spots where Canadian troops are helping train Afghan security forces during Operation Attention.  “…. Our participation in this training process, while likely the best course of action in a very challenging situation, simply adds to both the moral responsibility we owe Afghanistan and the strategic corner we have backed ourselves into. If we build this army, we had better be willing to fund it and support it long into the future. This will be added to the long-term development and humanitarian engagement we also have rightly committed to and have the obligation to maintain. Afghans, of course, have been taught to shoot RPGs before.”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch  New statement (link to non-terrorist web site):  child suicide bombers?  What child suicide bombers?  We have rules against that kinda stuff, ya know….  Meanwhile, here’s what Human Rights Watch has to say about using kids to blow themselves up:  “The Taliban’s use of children as suicide bombers is not only sickening, but it makes a mockery of Mullah Omar’s claim to protect children and civilians. Any political movement or army that manipulates or coerces children into becoming human bombs has lost touch with basic humanity.”
  • Libya Mission  Sun Media columnist says time to go home, not extend mission.  “…. Do Canadians really need to be mixed up in another protracted foreign military effort with an uncertain outcome? We may be headed into another recession. The federal government should keep its powder dry and focus now on the home front.”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (1)  “Canada is better positioned today to thwart a terrorist attack than before 9-11, but remains vulnerable to ever-evolving threats to national security — especially those targeted from within the country, says Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. Billions invested in beefed-up security measures, more information-sharing with allies and tighter controls on the movement of passengers, cargo and vehicles since Sept. 11, 2001, have all helped detect threats before they become too far advanced. But Canada must keep “alert” to new sources of danger — including home-grown terrorists and cyber-attackers. “Relatively speaking, we’re in a better position. I think back in 2001 we had no idea about the possibilities and types of threats,” Toews told iPolitics. “I think we’ve become much more sophisticated in recognizing potential threats than we were able to 10 years ago, so in that sense we’re in better shape. We’re also in better shape because we share information with our allies on a more regular and consistent basis.” ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (2)  “…. The consequences of 9/11 are a bit like the tip of an iceberg.  What you see is less important than what lies below the surface.  The most visible reminder of 9/11 is the inconvenience travellers face crossing the border …. The other major legacy of 9/11 is the resuscitation of hard power in Canada’s foreign policy …. That horrible day 10 years ago is a lasting reminder that Canada needs both hard and soft power to advance its interests in the world.”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (3)  EU, NATO:  World is safer post-9/11“…. A decade after Al-Qaeda traumatised the United States, the terror network has lost its leader, Osama bin Laden, and proved irrelevant in the revolutions sweeping the Arab world, said EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove. “The main finding is the real failure of the Al-Qaeda project,” he said. The once mighty group has been worn down by the NATO-led war in Afghanistan, which served as its safe haven prior to 9/11, and reinforced international cooperation, de Kerchove said. “Today an attack of the scale and sophistication of 9/11 is no longer possible,” he told a news conference. “Does it mean that we’re completely out of the threat? Probably not.” He added: “Are we safer today than before? I can say yes.” ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Wanted:  someone to plan and develop the next CF recruiting media campaign.  This from the bid document’s Statement of Work (PDF available here):  “…. the focus of advertising messaging will shift with the evolving focus of Canada’s military. Ongoing recruitment continues to be the priority and the emphasis will change to accurately reflect the reality of life in the CF. As Fight portrays the CF with a combat focus, and Priority Occupations promotes specific careers, future advertisement campaigns propose to showcase the CF’s readiness and proficiency in humanitarian efforts and domestic defence and support.  The readiness message should demonstrate that CF personnel are trained and the right equipment and necessary infrastructure are available when and where it is needed ….”  Check out the Statement of Work for suggested key messages and target audiences.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Jobs for east coast folks from one of the wanna-be TAPV competitors?  “A Dieppe company could be adding at least 120 new jobs to its roster if the Canadian government picks the Timberwolf as the newest tactical armoured patrol vehicle for the Canadian Forces. A prototype of the Timberwolf, a tactical armoured patrol vehicle designed specifically for the Canadian Forces, is seen in action. Dieppe’s Malley Industries Inc. will be the vehicle’s manufacturer if the design is selected. Specialty vehicle manufacturer Malley Industries Inc. will announce Tuesday that it has penned a deal with Force Protection Industries Inc., a leading United States designer and developer of military tactical vehicles. Malley Industries now joins a team of companies to potentially manufacture the Timberwolf – a tactical armoured patrol vehicle designed specifically for the Canadian Forces. There are at least three other teams vying for their vehicles to be picked. The government has until next July to choose a design. Up to 600 vehicles could be purchased ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying (3)  Wanted:  someone to build Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) building in Petawawa.
  • What’s Canada Selling?  “CAE today announced that it has been awarded a series of military contracts valued at more than C$100 million, including a subcontract to design and manufacture four additional C-130J simulators for the United States Air Force (USAF) as well as contracts in Germany to provide support services for the German Air Force’s Eurofighter simulators and to upgrade Tornado flight simulators …. Under terms of a subcontract from the prime contractor, CAE will design and manufacture four C-130J weapon systems trainers (WSTs) to support the USAF’s Air Mobility Command (AMC), Air Combat Command (ACC), and Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). Three of the simulators will be HC/MC-130J WSTs for ACC and AFSOC, and one will be a C-130J simulator for AMC ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 4 Sept 11

  • Libya Mission (1)  Ooopsie….  “Government House Leader Peter Van Loan “misspoke” Saturday when he told a radio program the Conservative government wants to extend Canada’s military role in Libya beyond its scheduled end date. The Conservative MP for York-Simcoe was asked about comments made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week, which indicated that Canada would stick with the NATO-led mission until the end. “Yes, it will be our intention to extend the mission for a little bit, at least, and we’ll have to do that by going to Parliament,” Van Loan said on CBC Radio’s The House. “That’s what we have done for the previous motions where we have gained all-party support for the mission, and I think, I’d be optimistic that there’d be good support for that.” an Loan’s director of communications, Fraser Malcolm, later clarified that the MP had “misspoke,” saying that the decision to seek an extension is in the hands of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Defence Minister Peter MacKay, to then be put to Parliament for approval ….”
  • Libya Mission (2)  HMCS Charlottetown crew members share their memories of the mission now that they’re home. “At night, crew aboard HMCS Charlottetown could see and feel the explosive blasts as troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi fired at Libyan citizens within the city of Misrata. “On the flight deck you could feel the vibration from bombs exploding. It would go right through your body,” Ordinary Seaman Ashton Metcalf said Friday, after officers and crew of the warship enjoyed a rousing and emotional welcome home at the Halifax navy dockyard after their six-month deployment ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  One African’s perspective on Canada’s role:  “…. Whether seen as a victory for NATO or the triumph of democracy, Canada has been part of Libya’s success story. This event will go down in history as Ottawa’s contribution to the fight against tyranny in Africa.”
  • Afghanistan  Canadian General says things have to change with training Afghan troops.  “…. At one point this summer, the pace of desertions climbed to an annualized rate of 35 percent, though it has since declined. NATO’s training command has developed an extensive plan to attempt to lower attrition further, saying an acceptable goal would be 1.4 percent per month — or about 17 percent a year. July’s attrition rate was 2.2 percent. “If we’re in the same situation in 3.5 years” — when Afghans are scheduled to be in charge of their security — “then we have a problem,” said Canadian Maj. Gen. D. Michael Day, a deputy commander in NATO’s training mission in Kabul.”
  • A former member of the Guatemalan military who holds both Canadian and American passports and who is accused of war crimes in Guatemala will be extradited to the United States, a Canadian court ruled Friday. Alberta’s Chief Justice in Neil Wittmann ruled that Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes, 53, should be sent to the US for trial on charges of false statements made in government application forms to become a naturalized American citizen ….”  A bit more here.
  • Mid-Canada Line cleanup on Hudson Bay under way.  Crews and local residents in the northern Ontario First Nations community of Peawanuck are teaming up to begin the long-awaited cleanup at a Cold War-era military base. Site 500 is the largest of 16 mid-Canada radar sites scattered across northern Ontario. The base was home to several hundred people who worked at the site when it operated in the 1950s and 1960s. Now the site is home to a small camp of contractors starting the long-awaited project of cleaning up the mess left behind — a junkyard filled with abandoned vehicles, thousands of leaky fuel barrels and barracks with asbestos in the walls….”  A bit of the backstory here.
  • When street names were contemplated for a new housing development in the west England town of Pershore, councillors initially decided to honour several varieties of plums — the main fruit grown in the area, and the focus of an annual harvest festival. But planning officials have squashed that plan in favour of a street-name tribute to about a dozen of the war dead buried in the adjacent Pershore Cemetery — most of them Canadian servicemen killed in accidents at a nearby airfield during the Second World War. Dismissing the proposal to celebrate the Purple Pershore, Pershore Yellow and other plum varieties as “boring and banal,” elected planning chief Judy Pearce has ruled that fallen Canadian airmen such as RCAF Sgt. Ernie Desjardins of Climax, Sask. — who died in the botched landing of a Wellington bomber near the town in 1942 — are more deserving of recognition than the tender fruit farmed in the region ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 Aug 11

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

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 5 Aug 11

  • Nanook 2011  Canada is deploying unmanned surveillance aircraft to the High Arctic for the first time, as part of the largest military exercise ever in the Far North. Catapult-launched Boeing ScanEagle unarmed drones similar to those used by the Canadian army for surveillance in Afghanistan are to assist in a major air disaster scenario in an extremely remote area near Resolute, which is about 3,000 kilometres north of Ottawa. They will also assist in a major maritime disaster exercise being overseen by the Canadian Coast Guard in waters between Canada and Greenland. “It’s precedent setting. There will be small UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) in the High Arctic,” Defence Minister Peter MacKay said in an interview. “They are a harbinger of things to come” ….”
  • Afghanistan  NATO trainers will continue to mentor and train Afghan army and police for years past the pullout deadline of 2014, said Col. Peter Dawe, deputy commander of the Canadian contribution to the NATO training mission. Dawe told Postmedia News that as many as half of NATO’s total training contingent will remain after 2014 to continue their job of helping Afghans build a professional security force that by 2012 will number 352,000 strong, including 157,000 police. NATO’s goal is to withdraw gradually all combat troops by March 2014. There are 132,000 coalition forces in Afghanistan. Building and sustaining Afghan security forces beyond 2014, however, requires continued NATO commitment in Afghanistan, Dawe said in an interview. “You can’t view 2014 as an absolute deadline,” he said. He added however that “it is unequivocal” that Canada’s 950 trainers and support staff, whose main job is to train Afghan trainers, will be gone by 2014. “NATO will continue to be engaged for the long haul,” he added ….”
  • Canada and the United States oppose military intervention in Somalia despite evidence the Islamic militant group al-Shabab is blocking famine relief in parts of the drought-ravaged nation that are under its control. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emerged from their first bilateral meeting on Thursday united in their approach to ending the humanitarian disaster in Somalia and responding to the Syrian regime’s violent crackdown on protesters. “At this time, we are not contemplating military action” in Somalia, Mr. Baird said. “Obviously, both countries have experience from that.” He was referring to the participation of Canadian and U.S. troops in the 1992-93 United Nations-sanctioned effort to clear the way for food and medical aid after the Somali government’s collapse ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  “…. The Department of National Defence (DND) has a requirement for the supply of 24 Chemical Identification System (Chem-IS) kits; Spare Parts and Consumables up to a maximum cost specified in the RFP; Initial Cadre Training (ICT); Repair and Overhaul services for a perod of three (3) years; 24/7 Reachback services for three (3) years; and clearance decontamination. The Chem-IS will be manufactured in accordance with DND’s Statement of Work (SOW). The goods are to be delivered to Canadian Forces Base Montreal, Quebec. Delivery is to commence no later than 9 months after contract award and be completed within 18 months after contract award ….”
  • Convicted war criminal Omar Khadr stunned his longtime Canadian lawyers …. by giving them the boot just months before he is due to be repatriated to Canada from Guantanamo Bay. For years, Dennis Edney and Nate Whitling championed Khadr’s cause, fighting protracted and successful legal battles on his behalf in Canada. His decision to fire them took both men by surprise. “I have no idea what pressures are being placed on Omar Khadr in Guantanamo to make that decision,” Edney told The Canadian Press. “I presume he made the decision with full information and Nate and I wish him all the best.” ….”  More here.
  • Canada has the lowest risk of terrorism among major western economies, says a new global security report. The 2011 Terrorism Risk Index, by the respected British risk analysis company Maplecroft, ranks Canada 86th out of 197 countries. The United Kingdom placed 38th, the highest among major western nations, which Maplecroft attributes to deteriorating security conditions in Northern Ireland, with 25 reported terrorist attacks last year, none fatal. Greece had the worst showing of any western nation, placing 27th with a “high risk” classification. No major western economies, however, fell within the “high” or “extreme risk” risk bracket — the U.S. (ranked 61), Germany (62), France (45) and U.K. all remain in the “medium risk” category. China, meanwhile, ranked 39th ….”  More here and here.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 30 Jul 11

  • Libya Mission  Canada has joined an air war of a different kind in the skies over Libya, one where persuasion and sometimes insults are the weapons. Canadian CP-140 Aurora surveillance planes recently started broadcasting propaganda messages aimed at forces loyal to Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi. “It’s a psychological warfare operation, or PSYOPS, initially started by the Americans but now overseen by NATO _ the kind of mission western militaries are reluctant to talk about openly. The Canadian broadcasts are relatively benign in comparison to some of the harsher messages NATO has aimed at Gadhafi’s troops, in which women’s voices are telling them to stop “killing the children.” The Canadian messages, in English, are read hourly during patrols along the Libyan coast over AM/FM frequencies that Libyans usually monitor. “For your safety return to your family and your home,” says the message, which can be heard over unencrypted frequencies the military uses to broadcast basic information. “The Gadhafi regime forces are violating United Nations resolution 1973.” The message goes on to urge Gadhafi’s troops not to take part in further hostilities and not to harm their fellow countrymen …. ”
  • Afghanistan (1)  CF Info-Machine is starting to share more info on the new mission.  “In every practical sense, the Consolidated Fielding Centre (CFC) is the birthplace of the Afghan National Army. Located in the expansive Pol-e-Charki military reserve in Kabul’s eastern outskirts, the CFC is where the ANA forms its units, equips and trains them, and then validates that training before deploying them to operational corps. More than 100 Canadian Forces members deployed in the Kabul area on Operation ATTENTION serve at CFC. Most of them are advisors to the experienced Afghan soldiers of the CFC training staff ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  More from the CF Info-Machine on the training mission (video transcript). 
  • Afghanistan (3)  It’s not just military folks leaving Afghanistan.  “A contractor for the Canadian military will be bringing its 370 employees home from Afghanistan as the Canadian mission there winds down. More than 60% of those employees call eastern Ontario home. “I would be lying if I said a lot of our folks weren’t looking for jobs online, even though they’re stationed in Afghanistan,” Derek Wills said from his Inverary home yesterday. Wills is a human resources manager with SNC-Lavalin PAE Inc. — the company with a $600- million contract to support Canadian Forces missions overseas. The company started with an office in Kingston in 2003. Since then, it has expanded from a one-person operation on Queen Street to the main civilian support system for the Canadian mission in Kandahar. Wills said employees in Afghanistan know their jobs will be terminated, but they don’t know when ….”
  • Canada’s military police received 784 complaints of physical and sexual assault, death and other incidents causing physical harm in 2010 — more than in any of the past four years, according to the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal’s annual report. The force received 176 reports of sexual assault and 518 of assault during the year — numbers one military expert says are worrisome. “Here, we have individuals who are well-paid, disciplined and operating within a hierarchical system,” said Michel Drapeau, a retired colonel who now practises and teaches military law. The numbers are up from 2009, when the police force received 166 reports of sexual assault and 514 of assault, according to the report. “Forces are there to protect Canadians and Canada . . . . Men and women are working alongside each other. There’s cause for alarm there.” ….”  The latest annual report is accessible here.
  • A Congolese man accused by the Canadian government of being complicit in war crimes, and facing deportation, says he’s never so much as killed a cat. Abraham Bahaty Bayavuge says he was a simple computer technician in his native land and has denied any wrongdoing during a detention review Friday before the Immigration and Refugee Board. Bayavuge is the fifth person arrested from a list of 30 alleged war criminals publicly posted last week by the Conservative government. But he scoffed at the attempt to depict him as a threat to society. In the seven years he lived here, openly and freely between 2000 and 2007, he said the worst thing he ever did was get parking tickets for failing to move his car. “Not yesterday, not today, not tomorrow, can anyone prove that I killed even one cat, one cat, he told the hearing. “I wouldn’t take a human life, I respect human beings” ….”
  • Chilling admissions of machine-gunning villages, assisting in torture and throwing bodies from a helicopter were made by one man on the government’s recently released list of most-wanted suspected war criminals. And he’s still at large in Canada. “In November 1987 I was part of a helicopter crew involved in the murder of two civilians. They were shot in my helicopter, in my presence, by army personnel on suspicion of being terrorists,” Jose Domingo Malaga Arica admitted to immigration officials. “Their bodies were weighted down with rocks and pushed out of the aircraft into a river.” Malaga, a former soldier in the Peruvian army, described his years of service in a written statement to a Convention Refugee Determination Division board ….”
  • Niiiiiiiice….Emotions are running high in Forest Lawn where a group with ties to known white supremacists seems intent on recruiting like-minded people through a poster campaign. The black-and-white posters, with statements like “Immigration costs Canadian taxpayers $23 billion annually” coupled with statistics purporting to reflect Canadian immigration and unemployment, have been glued to bus stations, light standards and telephone poles throughout the southeast neighbourhood. At the bottom, the words “Does this seem right to you?” are followed by “If not, contact.” A phone number and e-mail address are printed, along with the website to the international white supremacist group known as Blood and Honour ….”
  • A watchdog has given Canada’s overseas eavesdropping agency a good report card, but has hinted that the secretive organization may occasionally push the boundaries when it comes to collecting information on Canadians. Communications Security Establishment Canada collects foreign intelligence for Ottawa, but is not allowed to spy on Canadians, whether they’re living at home or abroad. But an annual report by CSEC commissioner Robert Decary suggests the agency “may use information about Canadians” when seeking new sources of foreign intelligence. Decary says CSEC only pursues such methods “when other means have been exhausted” and when it believes they are likely to turn up new sources of information. “CSEC conducts these activities infrequently, but they can be a valuable tool in meeting Government of Canada intelligence priorities,” Decary writes in his latest report, which was released last week ….”  Full report available here.
  • Canada’s ability to comply with its international obligations could be compromised if a decision staying the extradition of Abdullah Khadr is allowed to stand, the federal government said Friday. In asking the Supreme Court of Canada to take up the case, Ottawa argues the lower courts were wrong to prevent an “admitted” terrorist from facing trial in the U.S. “This case raises issues of national importance that require consideration by this court,” Ottawa states in its leave-to-appeal request obtained by The Canadian Press. Principles of fundamental justice “should not be used to impose the technicalities of our criminal law on a foreign partner.” ….”  More on this here.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 12 Jul 11

  • Afghanistan (1)  A new staging area is being set up in Kuwait to replace Camp Mirage, in the country that dare not speak its name.  “…. the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, as part of two days of meetings in the Middle East, stewarded the signing of a Canada-Kuwait Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The Memorandum of Understanding is a framework document to allow for logistical support to Canadian operations in Afghanistan. Canada and Kuwait enjoy a steadfast friendship and strong bilateral relations …. The movement of equipment and vehicles from Afghanistan requires access to both an airport and sea terminal for the transhipment of materiel back to Canada. The establishment of this support presence in Kuwait allows this to happen in a safe and controlled environment ….”  More from a CF backgrounder here, The Canadian Press here, QMI/Sun Media here, the Globe & Mail here and Postmedia News here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Canada has finally kept its promise to a brave Afghan interpreter who served alongside Canadian combat troops in Kandahar. Just days after going public in the Sunday Star with his fears of being abandoned as the last Canadians pull out of southern Afghanistan this month, Sayed Shah Sharifi got word that he can have a visa to immigrate to Canada. Shah, 23, was sitting at the front gate of his family’s Kandahar home, with his brother and two cousins, when his cellphone beeped Saturday morning with the text message that not only changed his life, but may well have saved it. It told him to call an official from the International Organization for Migration, an intergovernmental agency that helps bring endangered Afghans to Canada ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  One B.C. Reservist’s story.  “A veteran of the conflict in Afghanistan says he wouldn’t think twice about leaving the Okanagan for another tour. Peachland’s Master Corporal Chris Hilland served 8 months running convoy missions with an armoured vehicle crew in 2008, and now works as a reservist with the BC Dragoons in Kelowna. “It was the most rewarding experience of my military career, if not my entire life,” says Hilland, “I got to go to another country to bring a bit of Canada with me and give people the opportunity to experience some of the freedoms that we have here in Canada,” he says. Hilland believes Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan has made the country a better place, making it safer and easier for working people to provide for their families. He adds most of the Afghans he would talk to on a daily basis were appreciative of Canada’s involvement in ousting the Taliban from power and attempting to establish democratic government ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  More legacy storyline, this time from families of the fallen.  “The battle may be over, but the sacrifices will never be forgotten. As Canada withdraws its combat troops from Kandahar, the families of Southwestern Ontario soldiers who paid the ultimate price agree Canada should be proud of its military legacy in Afghanistan ….”
  • Afghanistan (5)  Another legacy story, but this time, what the war has left behind in Edmonton“…. it felt, very much, like Edmonton’s war, in which soldiers and reservists based here played a disproportionately large role. Approximately one-third of those who served in Afghanistan were based here -as were 41 of the 157 who died. Every rotation of the mission included some troops from CFB Edmonton. This war hit close to home, especially in those north Edmonton neighbourhoods near the base, and in northern bedroom communities such as Bon Accord and Gibbons, St. Albert and Morinville. Of course, Edmonton was a garrison town long before the Afghan mission started. But these past 10 years have transformed our city’s relationship with the military, reminding us forcibly that the soldiers we sent off to fight were our neighbours, our workmates, our friends ….”
  • Afghanistan (6)  At least one organization in Manitoba is helping mobilize events honouring the just-wound-down mission.  “Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan has ended although some 900 service personnel will remain to train the Afghan Military and Police forces. Manitoba has deployed some 1000 soldiers to Afghanistan over the past years and an organization has been formed to welcome our troops home and thank them for their dedication, service and in seven cases, the ultimate sacrifice. Military Heritage of Manitoba Inc., has formed “Manitoba Salutes”.. It’s a program supported by community, business, government and military personnel, to stage and assist in the coordination of a series of events to publicly recognize and celebrate the service and sacrifice of military personnel. “Manitoba Salutes” will provide assistance to organizations that currently stage military recognition events and provide a military presence at annual fairs and other community events ….”
  • Afghanistan (7)  Crystal balling what’s next for the CF“…. So at the end of the Kandahar mission — one which has entailed tragic human sacrifice and injury within the Canadian Forces and massive financial expenditures by the government of Canada — we have the positive by-product of a much more robust and capable, experienced, more internationally respected, and confident military force. Exactly what we do with this going forward will largely be determined by the flow of international events, which are far beyond Canada’s control or even influence ….”
  • Afghanistan (8)  A Sault Ste. Marie Reserve unit wonders how much it can help the new mission.  “…. “We committed a lot of people to the mission for a unit our size,” said Lt. Col. Blake Golder, commanding officer of the 49th Field Regiment, the Pine Street Armoury reserve unit that sent 33 personnel to Afghanistan since 2006. He believes as many as 50 reservists, about one third of the unit, may have volunteered for assignment but were denied because their skills were not required or because of medical problems. Usually, the Armed Forces were augmented by several hundred reservists for a six-month tour of Afghanistan, the 49th specializing in artillery, military police assistance and headquarters staffing. “I imagine there is a role for the regiment in Canada’s new mission, but I have yet to see anything on the qualifications needed for consideration,” said Golder ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  A couple of alleged attacks on Canadians from earlier this month.
  • Special ops choppers over Windsor starting tonight.  Helicopters from 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron will conduct urban night flying training in Windsor, Ontario from 12-14 July, 2011. This training will help familiarize the pilots with the challenges of flying in an urban environment at night. The training is scheduled to occur on 12 and 13 July between 10 p.m. and approximately 1 a.m. If the training is cancelled on either of these dates due to inclement weather, there may be flights on the 14 July. The helicopters will be visible operating at a low altitude in close proximity to the Chrysler Building at 1 Riverside Drive. The helicopters will approach the building at a low altitude from a variety of directions, hover over the building for a brief period of time and then depart and repeat the process until the pilots have become proficient ….”  More on that here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War:  Even Holland is slowing down its acquisition of F-35’s (thanks to Mark Collins for this one). “The Netherlands has decided to delay and stretch out its acquisition of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. In a July 1 letter to parliament, defense minister Hans Hillen says that a revised plan, reflecting the most recent schedule changes “starts the flow of production aircraft in 2019, and lasts until 2027″ ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying: Big Honkin’ Ship Edition  As Ottawa prepares to award two mega contracts for shipbuilding, a political bun fight has broken out regarding which provinces should get the $33-billion booty. Both the Conservative government and New Democrats initially declared the process must be free of political shenanigans, with the contracts being awarded transparently, purely on merit. But this is Canada. And there are four bids in a contest that will see only two provinces receive the thousands of jobs and industrial benefits that will flow from the work. Last week, several New Democrats from Quebec suggested the process is being too rushed to allow their province a fair shot in the bidding process. That prompted B.C. cabinet minister Ed Fast to step forward: “I don’t know where the NDP is coming from. We had hoped the whole process would be clear of political interference.” NDP press secretary Marc-Andre Viau defended his party’s politicking: “Our Quebec City MPs want sustainable shipbuilding jobs for the people of their region.” ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Wanted:  Someplace to house, feed visiting military bands for a big get-together in Quebec, help in researching use of UAVs over land and sea (Statement of Work downloadable here) and figuring out better ways to identify ships electronically.
  • Canada (reportedly) taking part in multi-national exercise in Chile.  “A multinational peaceful military exercise was launched in Chile on Monday to enhance the participating forces’ capability to handle peacetime missions. A total of 600 soldiers from Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, El Salvador, the United States, Mexico, Uruguay and Chile are involved in the joint exercise code-named “Huemul” that lasts till July 15. The drill is aimed at better preparing the forces for such tasks as humanitarian aid, peacekeeping and disaster relief, Chilean Defense Minister Andres Allamand said during the launching ceremony.”  More from the Chilean Army in Spanish here (Google translation of news release here) and Spanish-language media here (Google translation here).
  • Artcic Watch  A Coast Guard vessel is heading to the Arctic where scientists will map out another section of the continental shelf, staking out the undersea territory and resources that belong to Canada. The Louis St-Laurent will be accompanied on its four-month mission by the United States Coast Guard cutter Healy. This is the fourth year that a Canadian ship has spent mapping the shelf that lies below the Arctic waters to determine where it extends beyond the limit of 200 nautical miles from shore over which Canada already has exclusive jurisdiction to exploit and explore …”
  • One historian’s opinion:  It is entirely appropriate that the Canadian military play an important role in Canadian citizenship ceremonies and in all other manner of public celebrations in Canada from the welcome of foreign leaders, to major national sports celebrations, and even to provincial and civic ceremonious occasions. Such participation not only reflects historical reality, it also signifies that the Canadian Forces are a central institution of Canadian government, because the defence of the nation is key to both Canadian governance and independence ….”
  • A British soldier training in western Canada appears to have been shot during a live-fire training exercise.  “A British soldier has been shot twice by a fellow squaddie in a training-ground exercise. The lance sergeant was hit in the arm and leg. He suffered substantial blood loss from a severed artery. Army chiefs believe the shooting during live-fire training in the plains of Alberta, Canada, was a horrific accident. The victim, a Grenadier Guardsman, was flown to the UK for surgery at Selly Oak military hospital in Birmingham ….”  A bit more here.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 11 Jul 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 13 Jun 11

  • Libya Mission (1a)  “Politicians are preparing to discuss and vote on Canada’s role in combat efforts in Libya. A parliamentary debate on NATO military actions in the North African state will take place Tuesday and a vote will follow the next day. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has asked that the mission be extended by three and a half months, so the vote is expected to pass with ease now that the Conservatives have a majority. “It has a political significance,” said former United Nations ambassador Paul Heinbecker. “The government said it would put its decision to the House and that’s what happening … it’s easier to keep the support of the Canadian population if there is a bi- or tri-part consensus on a military intervention abroad.” ….”
  • Libya Mission (1b)  From a Calgary Herald editorial“…. readers -and the broader Canadian public -need to hear the position of our government. That position needs to be questioned, scrutinized and challenged to make sure we have thought through all the potential consequences before it is too late to easily back away. Parliament is a good place for that debate to begin.”
  • Libya Mission (2a)  The Conservative government will call for more diplomacy and humanitarian aid and will officially condemn the use of rape as a weapon of war as it moves to extend the military mission in Libya. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the government has worked to make the Libya intervention a non-partisan one, reaching out to the opposition parties and incorporating some of their views in the motion to keep Canada involved in the UN-backed mission for another three and a half months. “The motion we’ll be presenting Tuesday will particularly speak to the need for greater diplomacy, for greater humanitarian aid and particularly to tackle the growing challenge of rape as an instrument of war,” Baird told CTV’s Question Period Sunday. “This is something that is morally reprehensible to Canadian values.” Baird said the military objective of protecting civilians has not changed, but conceded that citizens and rebels won’t be safe until dictator Moammar Gadhafi is gone ….”
  • Libya Mission (2b)  Despite a growing perception that the United Nations-sanctioned NATO mission in Libya has evolved beyond its original objectives, Canada’s foreign affairs minister says its overall purpose remains the same. While NATO initially worked to establish a no-fly zone to protect civilians from forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, it appears that the mission has shifted its focus to removing Gadhafi from power. “The military mission hasn’t changed, we’re obviously there to protect civilians,” Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in an interview with CTV’s Question Period on Sunday. When pressed to explain whether that means directly targeting Libya’s embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi, Baird was less clear. “It is a reality on the political level that the people of Libya, including the rebels, won’t be safe as long as Col. Gadhafi is there. So the political objective, obviously, is we’d like to see him go,” he said ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  The Globe & Mail talks to the Canadian General in charge of the mission. “…. It’s a complex, 24-seven air and sea effort that can put a missile in a suddenly-spotted pickup truck or treat Col. Gadhafi, on his 69th birthday , to an intense series of daytime bombing runs in downtown Tripoli. Still, the general personally signs off on every last preselected target. It’s not just attention to detail, it’s a visceral sense of personal accountability. Gen. Bouchard may be determined but he is hardly gung-ho. He’s careful, deliberate and worries deeply about how to apply the big hammer of air power in the small circumstances of a brutal dictator clinging to power by indiscriminately killing and terrorizing his own citizens. “I must meet rules, the mandate, the political guidance,” but, he adds, and grows quietly pensive, “I look at every target … at the end of the day it’s a judgment call … and I’m accountable, I’m accountable to Canada, I’m accountable to NATO, and more importantly I’m accountable to myself,” he says. Make the wrong call and the wrong people, or maybe too many people, die. And, Gen. Bouchard adds: “I want those who know me best to be able to look at me and say, ‘you did the right thing.’” ….”
  • Libya Mission (4)  Ehab Sherif was serving customers at his St. John’s, N.L., pizzeria when rebels made their first strikes against Libya’s reigning regime this year. Friends in his home country started dying. His brother, who is also in Canada, went overseas to help. On the last week of April, 33-year-old Ehab put pizza-making on hold and jumped a plane to support rebels fighting Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s troops. Before returning to St. John’s 11 days ago, he saw mass graves, people riddled with bullets and other harrowing sights. By phone from Colossal Pizza and Donair, Mr. Sherif spoke to The Post’s Sarah Boesveld ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Uh, it’s not really a NEW threat because Canadian troops have been working side-by-side with Afghan forces carrying rifles and ammunition before now.  “When Canada’s last combat troops soon leave southern Afghanistan and the mission shifts to training Afghan security forces, Canadians will face a different, sinister enemy: the one from within. Taliban infiltrators are bringing the war inside the razor wire, and once reliably secure, northern compounds where Canadian troops and police will start work over the coming weeks in Kabul, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif are increasingly vulnerable. Afghan insurgents, usually dressed in police and army uniforms, have launched several spectacular attacks recently. They are striking far from their ethnic Pashtun power base in the south, where a surge of U.S. troops has thrown the Taliban off balance. “It’s a very real threat and it’s very disconcerting,” Col. Peter Dawe, deputy commander of Canada’s new military training mission, told the Toronto Star. “But you just keep doing what you’re doing. We’re all military professionals and the vast majority of us have been here before. We know the risks.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  “Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan is on track to end in July, and troops are beginning to wind down their military operations and prepare for the journey home. But for a group of specialized military “movers” tasked with staying behind to prepare, pack up, and ‘rack and stack’ the gear for shipping, months of work is just beginning. The Mission Closure Unit’s mammoth responsibility, which has been compared to packing up and moving a small town from Afghanistan to Canada, is in the early stages now but will hit full steam in July. The goal is to complete the move by the end of the year. But even then, due to the complexities of repatriating such vast quantities of equipment, it is expected that the Canadian Forces won’t be ready for another deployment of combat forces until November 2012, a full year later ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  Program to lure Taliban out of the fighting ranks back into the mainstream still not without glitches yet. “…. The Afghan government’s reconciliation program is dismally starved of cash and overwhelmed with red-tape. Insurgents who come in because of promises of amnesty, money and a fresh start with a job are quickly disillusioned. Graan, 23, who carried a machine gun and like many Afghans goes by only one name, surrendered with Azizullah. He said they received a lumpsum payment off the top, which has had to last them since the fall. “I am ready to go back (to the Taliban),” he said. “At least there we could eat.” Howard Coombs, the special advisor to Canada’s task force commander, said NATO is at a critical juncture in Kandahar where military operations that started last summer have ground down the Taliban’s fighting ability. “We are definitely at a tipping point right now,” he said in an interview. “The more people that come in terms of reintegration and reconciliation, the better.” The program has the potential to start winding down the conflict at a time when Canada is just about out the door and the U.S. is looking at its options to draw down troops ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  A reminder from Terry Glavin: “…. Canada’s mission in Kandahar will wrap up in July, to be replaced by a scaled-down training mission in Kabul. Much of the aid money for projects like Ehsan’s will join the Canadian exodus from Kandahar. The Canadian government has announced that it will cut aid funding to $100 million per year through 2014, for a total of $300 million. Another $75 million will be handed out over five years as part of the G8 initiative on maternal, newborn and child health. During the combat mission aid levels hovered between $200 million and $250 million each year, much of it with a strong focus on the Kandahar region where the Canadians were fighting.”