Libya Mission (1) Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is leaving open the possibility of continuing Canadian military involvement in Libya after the scheduled Sept. 27 end date. Canada’s participation in NATO’s air mission over Libya has been extended once, but the government hasn’t yet said whether it will propose another extension. The NDP, the official Opposition, is against another extension. Asked what happens after Sept. 27, Baird said he’s taking the situation one day at a time. “This is quickly coming to an end. It’s not over yet. Canada will obviously be there in theatre to support the Libyan people,” Baird told (CBC) …. “The end is in sight. We’re not there yet, but let’s take it one day at a time,” he said. Pressed again on whether the troops will return to Canada on Sept. 27, Baird reiterated “the job is not yet complete.” “I would think that once the people of Libya are safe, that’ll be something that we’ll consider,” he said ….” More on this here.
Libya Mission (2) “Canada is heading into high-level talks on Libya this week without formal offers of assistance for the country as it rebuilds after a bloody uprising. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief spokesman says the intent of the meeting in Paris is to determine what the rebels’ National Transitional Council needs. Dimitri Soudas says Canada can contribute in several ways but the international community first needs to co-ordinate assistance. “Before you just start putting things into force and implementing them, you actually have to make sure everyone is going the same direction,” he said in a briefing Tuesday. Mr. Soudas said Thursday’s meeting is also not a victory lap for NATO forces, even as military officials say their sustained campaign is seeing life slowly return to normal in many areas. “The definition of victory is always something that people try to establish,” he said. “Victory to a large extent is democracy in Libya.” ….” If the Government of Canada really means that bit in red, we may be there a while….
Libya Mission (3) Academic: Canada should have own eyes, ears on the ground, not just sharing intelligence from NATO partners. “…. When asked where Canada is getting its information, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, referenced the NATO-led mission in which Canadian fighter aircraft and a navy frigate have been participating since March. “Don’t forget this is a co-ordinated effort,” he said, “and information is shared internally.” Walter Dorn, a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., said he was surprised to hear that Canada doesn’t have anyone on the ground in Libya given the importance the government has attached to the mission, both militarily and politically. “It is critical to have Canadian eyes and ears on the ground in order to make informed decisions,” he said. “We have to evaluate those in charge, provide humanitarian assistance and help build the peace.” ….”
Libya Mission (4) “Canada is looking at how to “unfreeze” up to $2 billion in frozen Libyan assets for re-construction efforts in Libya, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman Dimitri Soudas. The assets were frozen in February following a United Nations sanctions resolution and now Ottawa, following the lead of the United States, is trying to determine whether the money can be released and channelled toward “humanitarian and other needs” to help establish a transition to a democratic government in Libya. Ottawa is “looking at options at how to proceed to unfreeze those assets and for them to be put towards that use,” said Soudas ….”
Libya Mission (5) And for all those calling for a U.N. mission in Libya, this, from the rebels. “Libya is rejecting the idea of deploying United Nations military personnel to help stabilize the country. A 10-page document written by the UN Secretary General’s special adviser on Libya that was leaked and published online recently calls for the deployment of 200 unarmed UN military observers and 190 UN police to help stabilize the country …. that could include monitoring or mentoring police officers. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chairman of the transitional council, said Tuesday he had met a day earlier with NATO officials in Qatar, where it was decided that no foreign soldiers would be needed in Libya. “We decided that we do not need any forces to maintain security, be it international, Muslim or other,” he said ….”
Way Up North (1) Lookit what the South Koreans are up to (hat tip to Mark Collins for sharing this one) “Commercial ships able to route through the Northwest Passage without ice breaker assistance are a step closer to becoming a reality. Korean shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), announced a few days ago that a model of their 190,000 dwt iron ore bulk carrier had finished its test program in the world’s largest – 90 meters long – ice test tank at Canada’s Institute for Ocean Technology (IOT). With an awareness that the traditional ice-breaker bow construction (where the mass of the ship’s bow structure bears down to break up pack ice) acts as a drag on efficient progress in open waters, international collaboration between IOT and Korean researchers from Pusan National University aimed at finding the optimal bow design for a ship operating in various ice conditions. Numerical computer analysis by the team culminated in manoeuvring and resistance performance tests of the model bulk carrier in the special ice-test tank ….”
Way Up North (2) One academic’s view, post-Nanook 2011: “…. one could argue that the senior military leadership views the Arctic (especially in a post-Afghanistan milieu) as a means of further justifying its reason for being. Stated differently, it gives them a mission priority that has the firm backing of the Conservative government in Ottawa. This is critical because it allows the military to make the case to political masters that the defence budget should be insulated from any deep cuts in the rush to balance the books …. It would be better for the military to wrap itself in an Arctic mission (and to secure the requisite procurement) rather than have the Coast Guard squeeze out more money for sovereignty patrols, scientific investigation and a polar-class icebreaker. In short, the Canadian military is perfectly content to play around in the Arctic just as long as the money taps stay open and they can use their training there for other “hot spots” around the world. And if this is the case, you can look for the Canadian Forces to deepen its military footprint in the Arctic.”
Afghanistan (3) QMI/Sun Media editorial: “If there was a truly down moment during Jack Layton’s funeral on Saturday, it was Stephen Lewis praising Layton for wanting to negotiate with the Taliban. And, worst of all, this venture into the absurd got a generous and lasting applause. Can you imagine anyone but the elite left giving a generous and lasting applause to something so offensive and so wrong-headed? Yet, they lapped up the Orange Crush like it was cultist Kool-Aid. How sad is that knowing those same Taliban that Lewis and Layton think would give credence to a negotiated end to their terror have taken the lives of more than 150 of our Canadian soldiers, plus a diplomat, plus a Canadian journalist? And that’s not counting the hell and death they have brought down on the Afghan people. But everybody Rise Up! Rise Up! ….”
Afghanistan (4) I screwed up, missing this film from the CF Info-Machine: “…. You don’t have to wait for a telling, warts-and-all documentary made about one Canadian military experience in Kandahar. Desert Lions: Canadian Forces Mentors in Kandahar is a great piece of reporting and surprise, it’s a Canadian army production. A reservist with the Calgary Highlanders regiment and a former CBC television reporter, Mike Vernon spent several weeks in 2010 shooting footage and collecting stories in the volatile Panjwaii district of Kandahar. This was a hairy time for the Canadian Forces, especially in Nakhonay, the small, Taliban-infested village where Mr. Vernon found himself encamped with nine members of an Operational Mentor Liason Team (OMLT), reservists like himself, assigned to a complex and dangerous mission: To hold Nakhonay while helping “enable” a company of Afghan soldiers, some of them good, some of them awful. All of the men struggled with cultural barriers and stupid military politics, inside a deadly combat environment where the enemy was always present but seldom seen. Scary ….”
Royalizing the CF Survey says….“According to (Harris Decima) Senior Vice-President Doug Anderson “By and large, Canadians agree with reverting to the traditional names for Canada’s Navy and Air Force and only one in ten are strongly opposed to the change. As might have been predicted based on historical evidence, Quebec residents find the lowest level of agreement on this point, but even there, opinion is fairly evenly split.” ….” More from The Canadian Press here.
“Ministers responsible for Veterans Affairs and senior officials from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Germany, Denmark, France and the Netherlands today completed two days of meetings to discuss support for Veterans. Ministers emphasized the need for collaborative research, policy development and programs for Veterans. The meetings were hosted in Ottawa by the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs …. The following statement was released by the Summit participants at the conclusion of the meetings: Honouring and providing services to Veterans is a shared goal around the world. All of our governments have programs in place to meet the needs of those transitioning from military to civilian life. Research is playing a growing part in allowing us to better understand the transition experience. By agreeing to collaborate more closely on common research projects, we will be able to develop improved ways of supporting Veterans throughout their lives ….”
Libya Mission (1) “Canada has a moral obligation to financially assist Libya’s transition towards democracy, a local expert says. “There’s a major chance that Canadians will be able to play a (huge) role,” said Christian Leuprecht, a fellow at the Centre for International and Defence Policy at Queen’s University, and an associate professor at Royal Military College. Providing assistance to Libya through funding giants such as the World Bank will be essential to the North African country when the revolution ends, he said ….”
Libya Mission (1a) PM: We’re not there forever, folks.“Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not sure how long Canada’s military needs to remain in Libya, but he said Tuesday that he doesn’t anticipate an “indefinite” mission in the North African country. “This is the beginning of the end of the (Moammar) Gadhafi regime,” Harper told reporters after launching a tour of Canada’s Arctic region. “I don’t say it is the end. I think we saw last night a couple of surprises. We anticipate it will be at least a few days for the process of a regime change to actually take place.” Harper said Canada is sitting down with its allies to determine pressing needs for the country in the days to come ….”
Libya Mission (1b) PM: We’re not there for too much longer, folks. “Stephen Harper says the mounting success of rebel forces battling Moammar Gadhafi’s regime means Canada’s military mission to Libya could end in the near future – but the Prime Minister cautions the North African country will need international help for some time to come. “We anticipate it will be at least a few days for the process of regime change to actually take place so obviously our military will remain there through this period, respond there accordingly during this period and in the days to follow,” Mr. Harper told reporters who accompanied him to the Arctic. “Our anticipation is that the military mission will obviously not be indefinite, that it will terminate some time in the not-too-distant future. But we will first make sure the job is actually finished before that occurs.” ….” More from the Toronto Star here.
Libya (1c) Recycling an old script – where “Afghanistan”, read “Libya”. “…. NATO has said any post-Gadhafi mission would not involve ground forces, would be secondary to an effort led by the U.N., and would only take place in response to an official request. Col. Roland Lavoie, military spokesman for Operation Unified Protector, says NATO must stay involved in Libya as long as Gadhafi is in power. “There’s nobody who could predict when exactly the Gadhafi forces will drop their weapons,” said Lavoie during a briefing in Brussels. “They will do so probably when there will be a political settlement to their conflicts.” Harper added Canada may need to play a post-Gadhafi role in Libya. “This country needs a whole range of assistance — all the way from monetary assistance to capacity building,” he said. “We stand ready to help any way we can. I don’t think, to be frank, it’s been decided yet who will do what, but the entire international community is prepared to help and see a peaceful transition here.” ….”
Libya Mission (2) “Stephen Harper’s new brand of Canadian foreign policy – one that chooses sides over sidelines and replaces peacekeeper with “courageous warrior” – is poised to have its clearest illustration yet as Libyan rebels celebrate the beginning of the end of the Gadhafi regime. Support at the United Nations for military intervention, a quick decision to approve Canadian Forces bombing raids and the move to expel Libyan diplomats while the status of the North African nation remained uncertain gave observers a chance to see a very different Canada on display. “This is a significant shift in Canadian foreign policy,” said Queen’s University professor Christian Leuprecht, a fellow with the school’s Centre for International and Defence Policy. “In the past, our objectives really in foreign policy have been defined by international stability and open trade routes. And what we see in Libya, previous governments very likely would have sat out.” ….”
Libya Mission (3) Globe & Mail editorial: “…. By the skin of their teeth, Canada and the other Operation Unified Protector countries have managed to avoid a long war of attrition. All’s reasonably well that ends fairly well. But, next time, the implications of the responsibility to protect civilians should be thought through more carefully.”
A Canadian company is helping Libyan rebels, one micro UAV at a time (company news release also available here (PDF) if link doesn’t work).“While NATO countries fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) high above Libya, none of these UAVs, or the vital intelligence they provide, was available to the Libyans fighting to free their country – they were fighting blind. So, they got one of their own. It can now be disclosed that the Libyan rebels have been using the Aeryon Scout Micro UAV to acquire intelligence on enemy positions and to coordinate their resistance efforts. Representatives from the Transitional National Council (TNC) were looking for an imagery solution to provide to the troops on the ground. They evaluated a series of micro UAVs and chose the Aeryon Scout – and they needed it delivered immediately to those fighting at the front. Large UAVs are often flown far away from the frontline – often overseas – making it difficult to get the imagery to troops in combat. With the Aeryon Scout, the operator has direct control over the UAV and is able to see imagery in real-time ….” More from the Globe & Mail, Wired.com’s Danger Room blog and the Financial Post on this, as well as a link to a British media article on the hardware from May of this year (8th bullet).(Hat tip to Mark Collins for sharing this one).
Way Up North (1) “A simulated major air crash was only hours away when word came to soldiers, coast guard personnel and RCMP that they were faced with the real thing in remote Resolute. Saturday’s deadly crash of a chartered Boeing 737 barely a kilometre from the High Arctic hamlet’s windswept airport came smack in the middle of the largest Arctic military exercise ever conducted by the Canadian Forces. The final phase of Operation Nanook was to designed to simulate a mid-air collision between a small bush plane and cargo plane, the “signature piece” of the three-week exercise, according to a government official. The Canadian Forces had even positioned the wreckage of a long-ago crash on a plateau above the village of 250 people. Officers were sitting down to lunch in the mess on Saturday when someone burst in to report a jetliner was down. Lieutenant-commander Albert Wong, the senior public affairs officer for Op Nanook, said he sat for a brief moment in stunned disbelief. “Someone said, ‘No duff’ — which is military code for, this is real,” Wong told reporters who arrived Tuesday with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “All of us started running to our posts.” ….” More from the Globe & Mail here.
Way Up North (2) “Deployment of full emergency resources across Canada’s North is impossible, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday after meeting with rescue workers who responded to a fatal plane crash last weekend. “Part of the drill here is how quickly things can be moved up and deployed from the south as well,” said Harper, who is on his sixth annual summer tour of the region. “We have to be realistic. There is no possible way in the vastness of the Canadian Arctic we could ever have all of the resources necessary close by. It’s just impossible.” ….” More on this from the Toronto Star here.
Way Up North (4) One academic’s view: “…. the Canadian military is perfectly content to play around in the Arctic just as long as the money taps stay open and they can utilize their training there for other “hot spots” around the world. And if this is the case, you can look for the CF. to deepen its military footprint in the Arctic going forward.”
Canada’s defence minister Peter MacKay met with his British counterpart Liam Fox in England this week – this from the UK MoD’s Info-Machine: “Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox welcomed the Canadian Defence Minister, the Honourable Peter MacKay, to London yesterday with a ceremonial guard formed by members of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. Defence Reform, Libya, Afghanistan and NATO were among the main topics discussed and both Defence Ministers agreed on the importance of the enduring bilateral relationship between their two countries ….” Nothing yet on the DND/CF web page on the meeting.
A former Aussie officer makes the case for the Australian PM to stop attending every funeral of a fallen soldier, looking at how Canada does things. “…. The full glare of the parliamentary press gallery will blaze as military colleagues say final goodbyes. Because, by convention, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott will take no other media appearances that day, the military funeral will become the only vision TV networks have of our political leaders. By virtue of the politicians’ attendance, a private funeral will become a nationally televised political event. For the next two weeks, when Australians think about the war in Afghanistan they will think of the only military event important enough to unite political and Defence leaders — the death of another young soldier. AusAID’s development progress won’t be in their minds, nor will the pressure on the Taliban being applied by our special forces. If form is any guide, media networks will run polls on our involvement in Afghanistan right at the time when coverage is dominated by terrible news. Australians, when asked what our Afghan strategy should be, will make an emotional decision framed by a military funeral ….”
R.I.P. Jack Layton. I didn’t agree with many of his policies, but you have to admire his commitment and passion – awfully big shoes to fill.
Libya Mission (1) “Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada will remain a part of NATO’s military mission in Libya for now, even as Moammar Gadhafi’s regime appears to be crumbling. “Today, Canada welcomes the news that the Gadhafi regime is at the beginning of its end,” Harper told reporters on Monday. Reports from Tripoli suggest most of Gadhafi’s security forces fled or surrendered when rebel forces took control of most of the capital Sunday night. But rebels are still fighting pockets of fierce resistance from regime loyalists firing mortars and anti-aircraft guns. The rebels say they will only declare victory when Gadhafi, whose whereabouts are not known, is captured. NATO has vowed to keep up its air campaign until all pro-Gadhafi forces surrender or return to their barracks. More than 600 Canadian troops are taking part in the military campaign led by Canadian Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard. “For now our military forces will remain in place and we’ll consult our allies on the next steps,” Harper said, adding that Canadians have every reason to be proud of their participation. “I’d like to thank the brave men and women of the Canadian armed forces for their impressive contribution to the allied effort.” ….” More from Postmedia News here, and in PM’s statement here.
Libya Mission (2) Don’t know where this guy’s getting his numbers, but here’s some alleged stats via Twitter.“Total Cdn sorties Op Unified Protector as of 0530Z 22 August 2011 CF-188 HORNET 721 CC-150 POLARIS 187 CC-130 HERCULES 128 CP-140 AURORA 129”
Libya Mission (4) Notwithstanding the Centre for Research on Globalization’s concerns about the mainstream media’s objectivity, check here (Google News) and here (European Commission news aggregator) for more of the latest out of Libya.
Way Up North (1) “Prime Minister Stephen Harper leaves this morning on his annual Arctic tour. It’s his sixth consecutive summer visit to the Far North as the government aims to exert greater territorial control over the region. The melting Arctic ice is seen as an opportunity for increasing international ship travel, mineral and gas exploration and scientific research ….”
Way Up North (2) Blogger/info curator Mark Collins on what sovereignty means, exactly. “…. the word “sovereignty” refers to whether or not Canada has a legal right to our northern lands. We do and no country disputes it. How well the area is governed, how its people fare, what military or physical presence the government has there, are completely unrelated issues–which this government and other interested parties do their best to associate, misleadingly, with sovereignty ….”
Report leaked to Postmedia News: “Administrative incoherence, blurred authorities and a resistance to accepting managerial risks at the Department of National Defence have all contributed to the “disturbing and increasing trend” of hundreds of millions of dollars of the department’s budget not being spent, Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie wrote in a report that has not yet been made public, despite being circulated within the military for more than a month and not being classified as secret. The 100-page report details the findings and recommendations of a “transformation team” that consisted of military and civilian staff. The team, which Leslie headed, was tasked with finding ways to make the Canadian Forces well-oiled, cost-effective organization. A list of 43 recommendations laid out how National Defence could save $1 billion annually with deep cuts to staff and a hefty reduction in spending on contractors, consultants and private service providers ….” No word on sharing the report with anyone who wants to read it themselves.
What’s Canada Buying? I missed this one last week: quiet electric snowmobiles. More in the Canadian Press here, and Statement of Work (since the Canadian Press isn’t sharing it) downloadable (PDF) here. Not the first time the CF’s been ordering snowmobiles – more here and here.
Interesting read… “…. Harper seeks to challenge Trudeau’s rejection of history and he has chosen the military as the vehicle to restore English-Canada’s connection with its past. Personally, I applaud this attempt to engage Canadians in their collective experience so long as it is done honestly. Commemorating the War of 1812 should require more than re-enactors in bright red uniforms and fireworks over the Niagara and Detroit rivers. The war, usually described as a stalemate, was the tragic and final chapter in the quest to establish an autonomous aboriginal state in what historian Richard White called The Middle Ground. Will this story be told? There are other issues at stake and lessons to be learned. The American declaration of war in 1812 was, like some recent wars we are more familiar with, prompted by the ideas and ambitions of a small group of men who were convinced that the conquest of Iraq, I mean Canada, was just a matter of marching ….”
Report leaked to QMI: CF way too top heavy. “The Department of Defence and the Canadian Forces are top heavy with too many civilian bosses in Ottawa and need to shift resources to the front lines, according to a secret defence report. Between 2004 and 2010, civilian hires at DND and the CF outpaced hires in the regular forces three to one, and while the number of sailors fell, staff at DND/CF headquarters in Ottawa ballooned by 38%. But the government says those hires were necessary to backfill positions left vacant by Canada’s heavy involvement in Afghanistan, “so that military members could focus their efforts on operational matters,” wrote Jay Paxton, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, in an e-mail Thursday. The transformation report, authored by Gen. Andrew Leslie, was submitted in early July but has yet to be released publicly. QMI Agency obtained a copy from a military source ….” No word on sharing the report with anyone who wants to read it themselves.
Report leaked to Globe & Mail: CF way too top heavy. “National Defence must take an axe to its bloated headquarters by dismissing or reassigning thousands of workers if the military is to meet its future obligations, concludes a landmark report charged with transforming the Canadian Forces. This scathing assessment by Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, who commanded the Canadian army during the Afghanistan war, arrives at a pivotal moment for the military, as the army returns from its troubled mission in Kandahar, the navy and air force seek new ships and aircraft, and the Conservative government vows to eliminate the federal deficit in a gloomy economy. “If we are serious about the future – and we must be – the impact of reallocating thousands of people and billions of dollars from what they are doing now to what we want them to do …will require some dramatic changes,” Gen. Leslie writes in Report on Transformation 2011. A copy of the report has been obtained by The Globe and Mail ….” No word on sharing the report with anyone who wants to read it themselves.
Way Up North (1) “Peter Mackay, Canada’s defence minister, who arrived in Resolute Bay in the early hours of Aug. 18, made the most of his day-long visit to observe Operation Nanook, the Canadian Forces’ military exercise, shoring up support from every direction for his department’s increased visibility in Nunavut and the North. Mackay even managed to cram in a dive from an iceberg lodged in the bay outside Resolute with divers who have been learning how to work around icebergs. That, said Mackay, who donned a dry suit and full divers gear, was “disorienting,” but “incredible” as light shone through the iceberg into the water ….”
Way Up North (2) CF Info-Machine coverage of Operation Nanook: “Operation Nanook is well underway with Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aircraft and personnel providing valuable airlift during this major national and international operation. A combined Naval Task Group set sail from St. John’s, N.L. on Aug. 5, towards Canada’s Eastern and High Arctic, where other personnel and equipment from the Canadian Army, RCAF, and Canadian Rangers converged for the month-long, annual Arctic sovereignty exercise. In addition to the Canadian Forces, simulated major air disaster and maritime emergency scenarios involve the Canadian Coast Guard, Transportation Safety Board, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Public Safety Canada as well as the Government of Nunavut, the community of Resolute Bay and our private sector partners. Op Nanook, named for the Inuit word for polar bear, is the centerpiece of three annual northern sovereignty operations conducted by the Canadian Forces and its partners who share interest in Canada’s North ….” More on Op NANOOK at the Canada Command page here.
Way Up North (3) “A senior Canadian Army officer – Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw – is to travel to Moscow and other northern European capitals this fall for discussions about the Arctic. This development mocks the ludicrous media hype suggesting that there is a bitter rivalry involving Canada, Russia, the United States and Denmark (Greenland) over their sometimes competing claims and interests in the Arctic. To be sure, there are differences of opinion about the top of the world. But the reality is there is actually far more co-operation than there is friction. “This is beyond search and rescue,” the chief of Canada Command told me in a recent interview upon his European travel plans. “We are going to be talking about military co-operation in the North.” Officials from Russia and other Arctic Council countries will “table top” an international search-andrescue exercise in the Yukon in October. At this moment, Canadian and Danish warships and U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers are working together in Arctic waters after some of the vessels paid a courtesy call on a Greenlandic port. U.S. Coast Guard divers are on an exercise with Canadians on Cornwallis Island ….”
Afghanistan (2) How Canadian air force folks are helping create an Afghan air force (via CF Info-Machine).“Kabul International Airport covers a vast area on the north side of the city. The sprawling complex includes civilian and military air terminals, air cargo centres, and International Security Assistance Force facilities. One military unit located on the airport grounds represents the future of the Afghan Air Force. The Afghan Air Training School (or Pohantoon e Hawayee, which means Big Air School) is where new members of the Afghan Air Force learn the basics of flying and maintaining aircraft and running an air unit. They also participate in literacy training, which is incorporated into nearly every course conducted by the Afghan national security forces. Ten advisors from Canada’s Air Force serve at the training school as part of the Canadian Forces contribution to the NATO training mission in Afghanistan. The Canadian staff are part of 738 Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron (738 AEAS), a NATO unit assigned to advise the the (school’s) Afghan commander and his senior staff ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War Well, at least SOME of the U.S. Joint Strike Fighters are able to fly again.“The F-35 Lightning II test fleet has been cleared for flight, the Pentagon announced Thursday. An Air Force safety investigation board is continuing its investigation of the failure of the AF-4’s Integrated Power Package on Aug. 2, which led to the grounding of the entire fleet of 20 aircraft. The AF-4 is the fourth conventional takeoff and landing variant produced by Lockheed Martin. A government and contractor engineering team determined that flight operations of the test aircraft could continue after reviewing data from ground and flight tests, and revised the test monitoring procedures that govern the IPP. Ground operations of the test fleet resumed Aug. 10 ….”
What’s Canada Buying?Here’s a taste of what happened at the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue industry day: “…. A full complement of the right ADM’s and DG’s from Industry, Public Works and DND turned out, and it was noteworthy that they stayed until the end of the day. In a procurement with this kind of history, little things can mean a lot, so government representatives handed out all their slide decks and notes in advance …. industry has until September 16 to get back to the government with its feedback, with a major focus on where the fixed-wing purchase can and should sit on a spectrum from full government ownership and ISS all the way through to full ASD, provided it still delivers the same ‘world-class’ capability as today. This does not appear to be the only interaction the Crown intends, as this briefing is being followed by individual one on one corporate briefings, with the promise of follow-up sessions once inputs have been received and digested ….”
What’s Canada (Not) Buying? Canada reportedly pulling out of Global Hawk UAV project. “…. Canada has become the second country to withdraw from the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 alliance ground surveillance (AGS) program, but the remaining NATO partners are “very close” to signing a contract, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. The decision means AGS will lose another source of funding that must be compensated for by the 13 NATO members still committed …. Denmark also decided to withdraw from the partnership acquiring a six-aircraft RQ-4 fleet in June 2010. Meanwhile, Northrop and NATO officials are likely to sign a contract to launch the development phase of the AGS programme within several days. The contract award may still have to be approved by each of the national partners before it becomes official ….”
“Two Canadian Forces members were listed on the National Sex Offender Registry, as of this spring, the Chief of the Defence Staff, has confirmed. “As of 11 May 2011, two Canadian Forces members were known to be subject to a SOIRA (Sex Offender Information Registration Act) order,” Gen. Walter Natynczyk said in a letter to Defence Minister Peter MacKay that was tabled in Parliament this week. Gen. Natynczyk said he has the power to temporarily exempt CF members from certain sex offender registry obligations, but noted he has never done so. Although a top government official told Huffington Post Canada the two members are still serving, Capt. Scott Costen, a Department of National Defence spokesman cautioned that administrative reviews, which are are launched after court martials or civilian criminal proceedings call into question the suitability of a member’s continued service, may be underway to release individuals from their military positions ….”
PM on Syria Time for the boss to go.“…. The Assad regime has lost all legitimacy by killing its own people to stay in power. I join with President Obama and other members of the international community in calling on President Assad to vacate his position, relinquish power and step down immediately. The Syrian people have a right to decide for themselves the next steps for Syria’s future ….” More from Postmedia News here and Agence France-Presse here.
Lew-Mac on NATO: “…. (Historian Jack) Granatstein rightly points out that, “In diplomacy as in baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out. Afghanistan was strike one; Libya was strike two. And strike three?” he asks. I suggest strike three already happened in 1999 during NATO’s 50th birthday celebrations when it was frantically searching for a role and an enemy now that the Cold War was over. It found an out of area mission bombing Serbia and Kosovo in support of the Kosovo Liberation Army, at the time a terrorist movement according to the CIA. Seventy-nine days of bombing later, Serbian infrastructure was devastated but her security forces were still defiant and little damaged. Diplomacy took over and NATO capitulated on the two poison pills in the Rambouillet Agreement that “justified” the bombing campaign in the first place, that is to say, NATO freedom of movement throughout Serbia and a referendum on Kosovo independence within three years. As a result of this Russian-led diplomacy Serbian forces pulled out of Kosovo. NATO’s military mission had failed which in my book makes it three strikes in 12 years ….”
“Just as they did during active duty, the Olympus and Okanagan continue to slip silently along Canada’s waterways. These days, however, they’re not doing so unnoticed. After all, it’s difficult to miss the 1,250-tonne submarines that are taking a voyage from Halifax to Port Maitland – especially when they’re travelling above the water. Decommissioned by the Canadian Department of National Defense, the former submarines are being transported on floating drydocks towed by barges. At the end of the journey, they’ll meet their fate. The Oberon class submarines are scheduled to be scrapped by Port Colborne-based Marine Recycling Corp. at the company’s Port Maitland shipyard. Now it’s just a matter of getting them there ….”
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 (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.”
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 ….”
“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.
“Royalizing” the CF (1)“The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, announced today that the Government of Canada has restored the use of the historic designations of the three former services: the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), the Canadian Army (CA), and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) ….” More from the CF Info-machine in Backgrounders and Fact Sheets here (general), here (Navy), here (Army) and here (Air Force).
“Royalizing” the CF (2) What did the Queen’s representative in Canada and Commander-in-Chief have to say? Not all that much, actually. “As commander-in-chief, I welcome the Department of National Defence’s decision to restore the historic names of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force. These historic titles, unused since the integration of the Canadian Forces in 1968, represent a proud tradition in Canada and an important part of Canada’s military heritage.”
“Royalizing” the CF (3) Mainstream media and editorial response from the Toronto Sun(“No longer will we have the bureaucratic nothingness of Maritime Command, Air Command and Land Force Command.”), the Hamilton Spectator (“It seems a retrograde move to hearken back to colonial times, despite the fact that royal themes are ingrained elements in the fabric of our parliamentary democracy.”), Postmedia News, the Ottawa Citizen, The Canadian Press (“In the province of Quebec, not many people like to think of the royal connection and there’s a lot of French Canadians in the navy as well.”), CBC.ca (outlining what has to be done/changed), Agence France-Presse, BBC and the Associated Press.
“Royalizing the CF” (4) And what does Citizens for a Canadian Republic have to say?“…. The government may be vastly overestimating the size of the demographic this kind of action appeals to,” said CCR spokesperson, Tom Freda. “This isn’t the 1950s, nor do we have 1950s values, he adds. “Canada has been accustomed to moving away from colonialist symbols, not toward them. I can’t imagine the mainstream public in 2011 seeing this decision as positive.” The group also believes there will be a considerable financial cost for the changeover. Access to Information documents have revealed consistent under-reporting of the true cost to taxpayers of royal visits, so that policy is expected to continue this time as well. Regarding the potential constitutional implications, Freda said, “Australia’s military still has the royal designation and they’re further ahead in the republican debate than Canada. So, in the larger scope of things, it has no relevence to our inevitable evolution to a one hundred percent Canadianized head of state.” “
More on Operation Jaguar in Jamaica.“Minister of National Security, Senator Dwight Nelson last week announced that the Canadian Government, through its Ministry of National Defence, is deploying three CH-146 Griffon tactical helicopters and 65 Canadian Forces personnel to support the Jamaica Defence Force during the 2011 hurricane season. The deployment follows a request from the Jamaican Government. Minister Nelson said he was most appreciative of the Canadian initiative, noting that the three helicopters will shore up the JDF’s capabilities. In welcoming the deployment, Nelson added that JDF personnel will also benefit from training with the Canadian Forces. Minister Nelson pointed to the extremely successful long-standing alliance between the Canadian Forces and the Jamaica Defence Force ….” More on the operation in the CF Info-Machine’s fact sheet here.
New boss for CFB Gagetown.“…. Col. Michael Pearson said goodbye to the base after two years of progressive leadership. While maintaining a home in New Maryland, the colourful commander is packing his bags and heading to New York City where he will assume the position of military adviser to the Canadian ambassador at the United Nations. Switching places with Col. Pearson is Col. Paul Rutherford, fresh from a stint as army adviser with the Canadian Defence Liaison Staff in London, England ….”
Toronto Star editorial on possible cuts to Canada’s military:“…. Earlier governments slashed across the board, insisting for example that the forces kept open bases for political reasons long after they had outlived their usefulness. What all the services need is a government willing to let the generals and admirals cut the fat that has built up over the past few years, and strengthen the muscle.”
What’s Canada Buying? (1) More on the potential privatizing of some or all of Canada’s (what is now) military search and rescue work – this following an “industry consultation day …. “for the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) Project”.“The Conservative government is looking at all options to replace the military’s search and rescue fleet, including turning to private industry contractors to tackle some work. Since 2004, the government has been looking at replacing the ageing CC-115 Buffalo and the CC-130 Hercules aircraft, which have been central components in Canada’s search and rescue system. “Thorough consultation is necessary to fulfil the government’s duty to ensure all options have been considered before any decision is made,” said Chris McCluskey, a spokesman for Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino. Consultations between aerospace firms and government procurement officials took place in Gatineau, Que., on Tuesday. Air Force vets are not fighting the move to outsource some of the work – they just want to see the project take flight. “If industry is able to provide input that will get this moving, fine – love it,” said retired Maj.-Gen. Marc Terreau. “The real, fundamental issue in search and rescue is human lives. Time is of the essence. The faster you get there, the higher the chances of people being rescued alive.” ….”
“The first pirates Capt. Steve Waddell encountered weren’t wearing puffy shirts, tri-cornered hats or as much dark eyeliner as Disney’s Jack Sparrow. Instead they were decked out in Gucci watches and ill-fitting Armani suits, claiming to be Somali fishermen aboard a small, open-decked skiff Waddell and his crew confronted in the treacherous seas off the Horn of Africa. “I’m not sure why they considered that pirate attire,” said Waddell, who in 2009 commanded the frigate HMCS Fredericton on one of Canada’s first anti-piracy naval missions to the region. A Canadian boarding party confronted the skiff, confiscated guns and gasoline from the group, and sent them back to the Somali coast. Waddell watched as the Somalis high-fived each other, happy to be released, as they motored away from the warship. “That’s the reality of anti-piracy operations off Somalia,” Waddell told an audience of lawyers with the Canadian Bar Association ….”
Afghanistan (1) Guess where defence spending appears to have been growing the most during Afghanistan?“Canada’s defence department bulked up during war — but not where you think. Since 2004 — as the country’s mission in Afghanistan was ramping up — the defence department began swelling up, according to a Star analysis. But the dramatic growth happened far from the front lines with more civilians, more contractors and a ballooning headquarters staff. Military experts say the numbers tell the tale of a bureaucracy run amok, even as the uniform ranks — especially the navy — remain stretched for manpower. And it comes at a time when a radical plan to transform the defence department has been put in the hands of Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Gen. Walt Natynczyk. At its heart, the goal of this still-secret blueprint is to trim the size of defence headquarters, pushing thousands of military personnel out of Ottawa and on to the country’s air force bases, naval ports and army bases ….”
Afghanistan (2) Another Legion welcomes home vets from downrange. “The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 192 Carleton Place worked in conjunction with the town to host an Afghanistan Veterans’ Appreciation Day on Sunday, Aug. 14. Legion member Ron Goebel helped spearhead the event in which 15 to 18 military men and women were honoured for their work overseas ….”
Way Up North GG to show the flag with first official visit to Arctic, wishes we were there.“Gov. Gen. David Johnston and his wife Sharon leave Monday for Nunavut, their first official visit to Canada’s Arctic as the vice-regal couple — but not their first as Canadians. Johnston is rekindling a love affair of sorts with the North, having previously visited the Yukon and Northwest Territories with his family after growing up in northern Ontario. But this will be Johnston’s maiden voyage to the Eastern Arctic, and also marks the first time any governor general has visited two isolated and traditional communities due north of Hudson’s Bay, Kugaaruk and Qikiqtarjuaq ….”
The biggest factors to juggle as Canada works with the U.S. on joint border security issues. “…. at some point the Harper government is going to have to come out of the bunker and level with the Canadian electorate on the messy parts of such huge negotiations. When it does, it will be clear the toughest piece of this puzzle rests with Vic Toews. It is the security piece that is driving the American agenda, while the Canadian agenda is dominated by facilitating trade and easing the flow of goods across the border. It will fall to the public safety minister to hold the line on what many Canadians consider to be the perils of these talks — a potential loss of sovereignty, a sell-out of our privacy rights and a lack of transparency ….”
“The agency responsible for airline security paid the RCMP $40 million a year to provide armed officers on domestic and international flights as a deterrent to terrorists. Newly released documents obtained by the Citizen show for the first time the high costs of the secretive air marshals program put in place after the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the United States. Billing records show that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority was invoiced by the Mounties about $10 million every quarter between 2004 and 2006, before the arrangement was restructured and the federal government began funding the program directly. Despite the cost, there is no indication a Canadian air marshal has ever had to intervene against a potential security threat while in flight. They are not allowed to get involved with instances of air rage or unruly passengers, in case the disruption is a ruse to draw them out ….”
More of a push for Canada to prosecute war criminals here instead of shipping them out. “Ramiro Cristales is still haunted by the brutal deaths of his parents and seven siblings at the hands of Guatemalan soldiers in Las Dos Erres, Guatemala. Overnight, 251 people were killed, leaving Cristales, then only 5, and another child the only survivors of the December 1982 massacre. Cristales was thrilled when he learned in January that one of the alleged perpetrators, Jorge Sosa Orantes, was picked up and arrested in Lethbridge, Alta. Now 34 and a Canadian citizen, Cristales is eager to see justice served in his adopted homeland. But he is not holding out much hope. Although Orantes, a dual Canadian and American citizen, has a court date in Calgary later this month, it is for his extradition to the United States where he faces charges not related to the mass murders but for lying on a citizenship application about his role in the Guatemalan military. “Deporting a criminal is not real justice,” said Cristales, who came here in 1999 under a witness protection program. Federal laws allow Ottawa to prosecute alleged war criminals for war crimes committed abroad. Yet, since Canada’s war crimes program was launched in 1998, only two individuals — both Rwandan genocide suspects — have been charged under the Criminal Code ….”
B.C. writer David Stafford wraps up WW2 spy history book for U.K. government.“…. His latest book was released earlier this year with the satisfying title Mission Accomplished. In some ways, that is the case for Mr. Stafford, too, who is now taking a well-earned sabbatical. The British Cabinet Office commissioned the work, an official history of actions by Special Operations Executive in Italy from 1943 to the end of the Second World War. SOE was the force established for espionage, sabotage and subversion in lands of German occupation. As Churchill memorably ordered, their job was to “set Europe ablaze.” Written to be enjoyed by a general audience, Mr. Stafford also took as his responsibility to provide for scholars “a first sketch” of the secret war on the peninsula, seeding the ground of his research with footnotes to encourage further exploration. “I’ve given them all the signposts,” he said ….”
Way Up North More from the Kingston Whig-Standard on Operation Nanook:“At midnight, the sun skirts the northern horizon but it does not set. On a barren hill overlooking the Canadian Forces’ camp, Peter Oolateeta turns into the setting sun. Polar bears often wander into the area looking for food, and routine patrols of the camp perimeter are designed to discourage them from getting any closer. Armed with a Second World War-vintage No. 4 Lee Enfield .303 bolt-action rifle, Oolateeta is looking for signs of the area’s top predator. Oolateeta, from Pond Inlet on Baffin Island, is a member of the Canadian Rangers, a largely Inuit army reserve force that serves as Canada’s military presence in the North ….”
Lew-Mac on Syria: “Don’t expect NATO to launch a campaign against the Syrian government, as it has against the Libyan government, at least according to one of Canada’s most senior military veterans. Retired Major General Lewis Mackenzie says military intervention in Syria would be a much more difficult mission politically. “They share a border with Turkey in particular. It would generate problems with displaced people. Syria gets support from Saudi Arabia which maybe shouldn’t be an ally of ours, but is certainly an ally to the United States,” he explains ….” Meanwhile, a bit of the latest from Syria here.
Afghanistan (2) Another Royal Canadian Legion welcomes Afghan vets home. “It was the colour that struck him first. Face pressed against the window, Master Cpl. Charles Lavers soaked in the reds and yellows and greens of Quebec’s hardwood forests as his plane landed in November 2010. After serving seven months in Afghanistan, the then 23-year- old was returning home a war veteran. “The smell of the air when I got back to Nova Scotia was the next thing to hit me,” said Lavers. “I’d lived everyday with a 9-millimetre (pistol) on my leg and a C-7 (rifle) in hand, so it was kind of strange not carrying a gun . . . a good strange.” On Saturday, his was one of eight, relatively young faces at the Afghan veterans’ appreciation day held by the Royal Canadian Legion in Truro ….”
“When Quinte’s volunteer rescuers save their next life, they’ll do it in the name of Bruce Sutcliffe. Dignitaries christened the new Quinte Search and Rescue (QSAR) boat the Bruce A. Sutcliffe on Friday, a special tribute to the commanding officer of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment who was killed in action in Sicily in 1943. The ceremony was held at Belleville’s Stu Meeks Rescue Dock near the foot of Church Street on the west side of Meyers Pier. “We’re very, very proud. It’s a great tribute,” said Sutcliffe’s daughter, Pat Hariton of Cobourg. “It is going to serve as a memorial for a very special son of the Quinte region,” Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Leona Dombrowsky told the crowd of several dozen people ….”
Canada’s PM on the 50th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall:“Fifty years ago, the world saw Germany divided in two, with Berlin severed by the construction of the Berlin Wall, with the West retaining its rights and freedoms and the East succumbing to Communist oppression. The Berlin Wall became symbolic of division in the 20th Century – an imposing cement slab that became an integral part of the Iron Curtain between Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc. It also became a symbol of tyranny and evil as many innocent people fleeing communism were gunned down in their attempt to find freedom on the other side of the Wall in West Berlin. During the Cold War, many apologists for the Communist regime tried to convince the world that their ideology was superior. Fortunately, talented and courageous artists, writers and ordinary citizens were able to expose that what went on behind the Wall ran counter to all the ideals the West had fought for and the truth began to trickle out ….”