MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 6 Nov 11

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

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 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 ….”