Afghanistan(2) “The international community’s 2014 exit strategy from Afghanistan rests on two pillars: training an Afghan security force that can stand on its own feet, and fostering regional co-operation on a conflict that defies borders. Forging a political settlement with the Taliban is considered by most to be the indispensable third pillar of this strategy, even if U.S. and NATO officials are reticent to recognize it as such. Unfortunately, an assessment of progress in all three areas gives cause for serious concern ….”
What’s Canada Buying? (1) East coast firm to get some work if their partners get the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV) contract. “L-3 Electronic Systems has teamed up with Elbit Systems Land in a bid to bring portions of two large military projects to Nova Scotia. L-3, which has about 170 employees in this province, could add another 30 people to the roster at its Enfield plant if it is successful in its bid to help put together and maintain the army’s new tactical armoured patrol vehicles. “We’re in the hundreds of millions of dollars for the total contract of dual (remote weapons systems),” Gerry Morey, a former air force officer who now works for L-3 in Nova Scotia, said Wednesday. “And then there’s the export options as well that we’re obviously interested in.” L-3, a subsidiary of New York City’s L-3 Communications, and Israel’s Elbit — working together as Canterra Solutions — are hoping to supply weapon systems for Force Protection’s contender in the race to provide the army with about $1 billion worth of new armoured vehicles. “Basically it’s a dual remote weapons system, which means it’s two guns, a 40-millimetre gun and a 12.76-(millimetre) gun with camera systems and laser-warning systems and 40-millimetre smoke grenades on it,” Morey said. “It’s remotely controllable from inside the cabin without any external exposure of personnel.” The work here would largely involve maintaining the weapons and then handing them over to an assembler in New Brunswick, he said. “A lot of the supply chain might be outside the province.” In September, Dieppe’s Malley Industries Inc. announced it could be adding 120 new manufacturing jobs if Ottawa picks Force Protection’s Timberwolf as the army’s new vehicle. Other companies competing to build Canada’s new tactical armoured patrol vehicles include Oshkosh, BAE Systems and Textron Marine & Land Systems ….” More info on the TAPV project here.
Permieter Security Deal (1) How this new deal is going to help Canada, via the Government of Canada Info-Machine (LOADS of backgrounders on various elements of the deal at the link, too): “…. “Billions of dollars worth of goods and hundreds of thousands of people cross our shared border every day,” said Prime Minister Harper. “Moving security to the perimeter of our continent will transform our border and create jobs and growth in Canada by improving the flow of goods and people between our two countries.” ….” More here, here,
Permieter Security Deal (2) How it’s helping U.S. President Obama: “…. Canada is going to help him achieve his political objectives thanks to the $1 billion border perimeter deal aimed at streamlining trade while protecting the continent from the type of terrorist attacks that still haunt Americans 10 years after Sept. 11, 2001. The deal will not only improve screening procedures for travellers and passengers before they arrive in North America, it will also create domestic jobs, the president said. “Canada is key to achieving my goal of doubling American exports and putting folks back to work,” Obama said. “Put simply, we’re going to make it easier to conduct the trade and travel that creates jobs, and we’re going to make it harder for those who would do us harm and threaten our security.” ….”
Afghanistan Canadian General now second-in-command of NATO’s Afghan training effort.“Canada’s senior general in Afghanistan has been given a much bigger assignment in a reshuffle of NATO’s top command in Kabul. Maj.-Gen. Mike Day was named deputy commander of NATO Training Mission Afghanistan (NTM-A) last week. Five American generals, a British general and three police generals now report to Day, who will be responsible for the training of hundreds of thousands of Afghan troops and police officers. “Form needed to follow function,” Day said in explaining the changes to the NTM-A, which were made by U.S. army Lt.-Gen Daniel Bolger to streamline the training command in Afghanistan by eliminating a large number of senior staff positions ….”
“The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, congratulates the crews of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships St. John’s, Athabaskan, Algonquin, and the submarine HMCS Corner Brook, and those of the ship-borne CH-124 Sea King helicopters and the CP-140 Aurora long-range patrol aircraft, for their outstanding contributions to Operation Caribbe …. Op Caribbe is the standing US-led multinational counter-drug surveillance and law enforcement interdiction operation in the international waters of the Caribbean Basin and Eastern Pacific ….” Well done, folks!
For some reason, it appears to be difficult (if not impossible) to get poppies on NHL jerseys as a symbol of remembrance. A wide-ranging discussion on Army.ca here on what should be done (and through who) to get this to change.
War of 1812 “A Newfoundland soldier who died almost 200 years ago and is interred on a remote Ohio island has been remembered. In late October, Lt.-Col. Alex Brennan, commander of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, laid a wreath at the monument where Lt. James Garden rests with other officers who died during the Battle of Lake Erie. “There was a great sense of pride knowing that a generation of soldiers lost 200 years ago has not been forgotten,” Brennan said of the experience. Garden was a member of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, which fought for the British during the War of 1812. The Battle of Lake Erie took place Sept. 10, 1813 as part of the conflict between the Brits and the Americans ….”
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….
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 ….”
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 ….”
Libya Mission Latest ROTO takes first flight downrange. “The CP 140 Aurora aircraft continued to add to an impressive list of firsts, flying its first mission over Libya and its first strike coordination and armed reconnaissance-coordinator (SCAR-C) mission during Operation MOBILE. On 22 September 2011, crew from 405 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 14 Wing Greenwood, flew its first intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission over Libyan soil ….” (via CEFCOM Info-Machine)
“NATO defense ministers are exploring ways Wednesday of ending the alliance’s aerial campaign in Libya and training Afghan security forces for a larger role in their country’s war. In a speech before the meeting, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged NATO member states to cooperate more closely and pool their resources in order to make up for the shortfalls that have plagued the alliance’s operations in Libya and Afghanistan. “It would be a tragic outcome if the alliance shed the very capabilities that allowed it to successfully conduct these operations,” said Panetta, who is making his first visit to Europe after taking over from Robert Gates as Pentagon chief in July. European members and Canada provided most of the strike aircraft used in the Libya campaign. But the war exposed shortages in their capabilities in strategic transport, aerial surveillance, air refueling, and unmanned drones, most of which had to be supplied by the U.S. ….” More on the U.S. poking allies to crank up the military capabilities here.
Afghanistan (3) Editorial: “Part of the rationale for military intervention in Afghanistan was the deplorable state of women’s rights, and the need to free women from the gender apartheid practised by the Taliban. This was a country where women could not have direct contact with men after the age of eight, could not go to school or work outside the home, visit public baths to stay clean, wear nail polish, high heels or be seen in public without a burqa, or a male relative. As the 10th anniversary of the military invasion approaches on Oct. 7, the hard-won gains that women have made over the past decade must be safeguarded. They cannot be sacrificed for the larger goal of ending Afghanistan’s protracted conflict ….”
Provincial politicians use CF search & rescue as provincial campaign lighting rod. “Newfoundland nd Labrador’s premier and the opposition leader say search and rescue services provided by the federal government must be investigated to see if improvements are necessary. Progressive Conservative Leader Kathy Dunderdale said a recent episode of CBC’s The Fifth Estate on search and rescue has left her with concerns about the military’s service. “It is not satisfactory to the people of this province, to the people who earn their living on the sea, to be at further risk because of a slow response time or policies that affect response time in marine search and rescue,” she said. Dunderdale said she plans to vigorously pursue the issue of search and rescue with the federal government. Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward agreed and went further, calling for a full inquiry into federal search and rescue services. Both Aylward and Dunderdale are campaigning in preparation for the provincial election on Oct. 11 ….”
Wounded Warriors, Mental Health & Suicide (1) “For decades, the issue of suicide in active soldiers and retired veterans was something that no one wanted to talk about. But a number of programs both within and outside the military are finally focusing attention on the issue. How big a problem is suicide in Canada’s military? It’s difficult to say. The Canadian Forces reports that the suicide rate among currently active soldiers is actually lower than that of the general public. But once many of those soldiers are released from the military, research shows their suicide risk can rise to higher levels than that of civilians. Assessing the toll can be difficult, because beyond the clear-cut suicides are the more subtle instances in which soldiers end their own lives. A veteran who drinks heavily to dull mental pain might be engaging in a slow form of suicide. A soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder and anger issues might take reckless risks if he’s lost his will to live. And how about the veteran with depression who ends up homeless and dies far too young? None of these deaths would register on the books as a suicide, but all might well be traced back to the soldier’s time in service ….”
Wounded Warriors, Mental Health & Suicide (2) From Question Period (QP): “Hon. John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, last week, the Minister of National Defence and I, along with others, attended a conference put on by the military called “Caring for our Own”. One of the concerns raised by some of the soldiers was the fear that the military would not be there for them in their hour of need. Specific worries included PTSD, suicide ideation and suicide itself. The next budget will be under severe pressure for cutting these “soft services”. Could the minister give the House assurances that our vulnerable soldiers and their families will be protected from these budgetary pressures? Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, my colleague is correct. My friend was in attendance, along with many members who are specifically tasked with how we deal with the scourge of post-traumatic stress and many of the challenges related to overseas deployments. I am very pleased to report that Canada has in fact become a world leader in fighting the stigmatization and raising awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder and other operational stress injuries. As well, we have increased mental health awareness and we have increased the number of mental health professionals who are dealing specifically with these challenges.”
Wounded Warriors, Mental Health & Suicide (3) More from QP: “Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is a great need to enhance suicide prevention programs in Canada. With respect to our veterans, the data is alarming. The suicide rate in the armed services is nearly three times that of the general population. According to a departmental study of all males who enrolled in the regular forces after 1972 and were released before 2007, a total of 2,620 died and almost 700 of them were suicides. Could the minister outline new steps or strategies that his department is undertaking to tackle this crisis among veterans? Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his important question. While mental health was taboo then, it is a priority for our government now. That is why we have established, in conjunction with the Department of National Defence, 17 operational stress injury clinics that provide services to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress across the country and at various levels that they might experience. This approach is working. As of June, Veterans Affairs Canada is helping more than 14,300 veterans with mental health conditions and their families ….”
New fur hats for the troops (and the animal rights activists are unhappy). “The Department of National Defence has decided to add fur to the winter gear of the Canadian Forces, a move that’s getting a frosty reception from animal-rights advocates. The government says fur is part of Canada’s heritage and the winter tuque currently in use doesn’t stand up to the rigours of the Canadian winter. So it’s buying an initial run of 1,000 fur-trimmed caps at a cost of $65,000, for use by guards of honour and Canadian Forces starting this winter …. “There are synthetics that are just as good and that don’t necessitate the killing of animals,” Elizabeth Sharpe of the World Society for the Protection of Animals said from Toronto. “Killing animals for their fur is completely unnecessary and cruel.” Lesley Fox of the British Columbia-based Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals says muskrats are known to chew off their limbs to free themselves from leg-hold traps ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War (1) Defence Minister Peter MacKay, facing questions from the NDP on the upcoming F-35 buy: “These aircraft, as the House will know, will replace our aging CF-18 fleet of fighter jets. These aircraft, like other aircraft, have served our country extremely well. They are used in Libya today. They have been used in previous missions, but that they aging. As a matter of course we are taking the responsible step of following a procurement process that has been in place for a significant period of time in which a number of countries are participating …. We committed $9 billion for the replacement of the CF-18. In fact, it not only includes the cost of the aircraft, this will include: spares, weapons systems, infrastructure and training simulators as well as the contingency associated with this important procurement. We are purchasing the most cost-effective variant at the prime of peak production when the costs will be at their lowest. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer has admitted to that. Why are the NDP members constantly against getting the best equipment for the best forces in the world?”
F-35 Tug o’ War (2) The latest from the Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino: “An overall $9 billion cost estimate is more honest than relying on individual plane costs, says the minister handling the purchase of Canada’s new fighter jets. Despite a promise by manufacturer Lockheed Martin that Canada will get its F-35 fighter jets at a cost of $65 million each, Julian Fantino, Associate Minister of National Defence, says the government’s overall $9 billion estimate is the more honest number. The cost of the F-35 depends on the number of planes ordered by other countries, as well as on how early Canada wants to get its order. The manufacturing cost goes down as more planes come off the assembly line, with Canada expecting the U.S. to absorb the bulk of the F-35’s development costs. “There are just so many variables, and that’s why I think the more honest, ethical response to all these issues is the $9 billion figure, which in fact will be the ceiling that Canada will be investing in these particular aircraft,” Fantino told Evan Solomon, host of CBC’s Power & Politics ….”
Canada’s top military cop to chair NATO committee. “The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM), Colonel Tim Grubb assumed the post of Chairman of the NATO Nations Military Police (MP) Chiefs’ Committee at a brief ceremony last week in Prague, Czech Republic. The ceremony concluded the committee’s annual meeting …. Colonel Grubb has been the CFPM since 2009 and during his tenure has overseen significant transformation in the Canadian Forces Military Police organization ….”
How some of the Americans are doing the War of 1812 anniversary. “Out of the murk of history and the trough of government funding, here comes the War of 1812 again, 200 years old and as ambiguous as ever on both sides of the Canada-U.S. frontier. “The festivities reach a crescendo!” trumpets the Maryland Bicentennial Commission, as if three years of bombarding, cannonading, spearing, shooting, scalping, burning, sinking, drowning, pillaging, invading, retreating, ambushing, marching, fleeing, starving, freezing, and occupying had been a holiday for all concerned. Undeterred by the carnage – after all, the war didn’t kill THAT many guys, compared to, like, Gettysburg or Hitler or whatever – we are going to have “a Star-Spangled tribute to the defense of America” down here, a display at the U.S. Naval Academy of “the British flag captured at Fort York (Toronto),” plus “a week-long maritime event to kick off the bicentennial celebration.” In other words, there are going to be a lot of people in pantaloons hoisting mainsails and firing muskets before this thing is put away for another century ….”
Libya Mission (2) “Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the work of Canadian forces in Libya has given the country new hope. He says Canada punched above its weight in the international military effort to oust Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. And he says NATO’s success proves soldiers, not diplomacy, were the only way to end his bloody regime. “For the Gadhafis of this world pay no attention to the force of argument,” he told around 100 soldiers gathered at the NATO military base in southern Italy. “The only thing they get is the argument of force itself. And that you have delivered in a cause that is good and right.” But Mr. Harper told the troops the fighting isn’t over yet ….”
Libya Mission (3) QMI/Sun Media columnist: “Enough. Bring them home. For the most part, Canadians have accepted the rationale for our military’s involvement in the Libyan civil war, now apparently winding down. We know that, as NATO partners, we must stand alongside our allies when the shooting starts. We’ve done that for nearly a decade in Afghanistan. Moammar Gadhafi was a madman and one of the most cruel tyrants in a part of the world known for producing them. His role in the Lockerbie bombing alone justifies Canada’s active participation in his ouster. To date, that participation has included 650 Canadian forces personnel, a flight of CF-18 fighters, refueling planes, surveillance craft and a ship. At last count, Canada has dropped 550 bombs in the Libyan campaign. We’re proud of our pilots and their support crews. We’re proud of our sailors. We applaud the work they’ve done in bringing, we hope, democracy to Libya. We’re happy that Gadhafi is no longer running Libya. Now bring them home ….”
Afghanistan “Canada’s last air wing commander at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan says the Royal Canadian Air Force is well positioned for future missions abroad. Col. Al Meinzinger told Postmedia News his time in Afghanistan, in one of the country’s busiest airbases, showed him the versatility and professionalism of the air force. “The air force is positioned very well based on its most recent experiences to be employed in whatever area the government seeks to use us,” Meinzinger said. “I think the future is exceptionally bright for the RCAF.” Meinzinger said Afghanistan was “the most challenging and difficult (operation) that one would find on the planet.” High temperatures and an abundance of dust added to the pressures of operating within a combat zone. “As I look to the future, I see us as being capable of being deployed in the full gamut of campaigns,” Meinzinger said. “I think it’s that expeditionary mindset that is the legacy of Afghanistan. We’ve proven we can operate under a very austere, difficult, harsh environment.” ….”
9/11 Plus Ten (1) One Canadian aid worker’s view of Afghanistan, tying in with the coming anniversary of 9/11: “…. When the international community gave up on Afghanistan after a feeble effort at a peace process, during the civil war of the 1990s led by the mujahedeen who decided to eat their own, a bloodbath ensued, followed by the Taliban, followed by bin Laden, al- Qaida, and the atrocities of 9/11. It’s not long enough ago to warrant forgetting. There are lessons there that we need now, desperately. We ignore that history at our peril, and to leave Afghanistan in disarray is to dishonour those lost 10 years ago in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.”
Thunder Bay-Superior North NDP MP Bruce Hyer was one of a number of MPs flying (a bit) with the RC Air Force.“…. “It’s a real honour – and a real eye-opener – to be training here at 8 Wing Trenton with the Royal Canadian Air Force,” said Hyer on his third day of training. “As a former bush pilot, I was especially eager to have the opportunity to go up in some of the aircraft, and learn from the flight crews.” Hyer flew in a CH-146 Griffon helicopter, a CC-177 Globemaster, and piloted a CC-130 Hercules heavy transport in simulator. But the training wasn’t all about flying aircraft. “Seeing the base and touring air traffic control really showed the top shape our Canadian Forces personnel keep their facilities and equipment in,” noted Hyer. “But it was meeting and talking with those personnel that was the really valuable part of the experience. The professionalism and dedication of our personnel is immediately evident, including the ground crews and support personnel.” ….”
Border Security Toronto Star editorial:“…. Ottawa is quite right to work with Washington to ease U.S. security fears and see that our vital cross-border trade continues to flourish. But there is a natural Canadian suspicion of getting too cozy with the Americans that could lead to knee-jerk rejection of any deal. The best way to address that is to share as much information about these talks, as quickly as possible.”
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 ….”
Here’s hoping for a full and speedy recovery. “Two sailors were injured as a Canadian submarine hit bottom near Nootka Sound, off the west coast of the Island.HMCS Corner Brook, under the command of Lt. Cmdr. Paul Sutherland, struck bottom while conducting submerged manoeuvers during advanced submarine officer training, said Navy spokesman Gerry Pash. “The submarine’s crew, in accordance with their training, brought the submarine to the surface, conducted an internal damage assessment and carried out a series of safety checks. Two sailors suffered some bruising as a result of the incident. No fuel was released into the environment,” Pash said. “The boat is now underway and scheduled to return to Esquimalt tonight for further assessment,” Pash said. An investigation will be ordered to determine the cause of the incident. There were 60 personnel on board at the time of the incident which is a lot for the sub which would normally carry a crew of 49 plus a few trainees, Pash said. They were doing advanced officer training which is probably the most challenging training exercises conducted in submarines because it focuses on developing the skills of potential submarine officers,” Pash said ….”
Yesterday was Canadian Armed Forces Day – message from the Governor General/Commander in Chief here, the PM here and the Minister of National Defence here. A bit more on this here.
What’s Canada Buying? (1) Some editorial advice from the East Coast on how shipbuilding contracts should be parcelled out: “…. Let’s not rattle on about what we’ll get from the big contract. Let’s make an honest case on what a good deal Canada gets by choosing the Halifax bid. Let’s agree right now the Irving group should win the contract by guaranteeing it can produce the ships on time, on budget and with unassailable quality assurance. Anything short of that is nothing more than special pleading and entitlement. We don’t “deserve” the contract. Arguing that Nova Scotia should get the work because we need it is just as bogus as Duffy’s implication that voting Conservative should make the difference. The Irving shipyard should win the lead contract based on its capabilities, its record of building naval ships, the investment of its owners and their sincere commitment to deliver value for money for Canadians. There is no other fair and just measure by which these contracts should be awarded ….”
Russian eyes in Canadian skies. “A Russian Federation aircraft will conduct an aerial observation mission over Canada under the Treaty on Open Skies between 7 and 9 Jun 2011. A Tupolev TU-154M aircraft, which arrived at 8 Wing Trenton yesterday will conduct an unimpeded observation overflight of Canadian territory, in fulfillment of Canada’s obligations as a State Party to the Treaty on Open Skies. The Treaty on Open Skies is one example of how Canada exercises its commitment to reducing the threat of armed conflict by increasing trust and confidence though developing greater openness and transparency amongst states. The Treaty on Open Skies, entered-into-force on January 1, 2002. Canada and 33 other nations has exercised its treaty rights in having conducted a number of observation flights over other states, including the Russian Federation, Belarus, Croatia, Georgia, Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina ….”
“Tahawwur Rana is a 50-year-old Canadian businessman in a heap of trouble. For the past three weeks, Rana has been on trial in a Chicago courtroom charged with several counts of providing material support for terrorism. U.S. federal prosecutors have presented extensive wiretap and surveillance evidence they allege connects Rana to both the 2008 Mumbai attacks and a plot to murder journalists at Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten newspaper. The Danish paper enraged some Muslims by publishing controversial cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. In the coming days, his American lawyers, Patrick Blegan and Charlie Smith, will begin to mount a defence. But Rana’s personal fate is being overshadowed by sensational evidence that threatens to poison Washington’s already troubled relationship with its erstwhile ally Pakistan even further — evidence that appears to show that despite repeated denials, the Pakistani military is secretly training and financing militant groups ….”
“The prime minister and the president of the United States took time out from the recent G-8 meetings in France to discuss perimeter security. The Deauville talks between Barack Obama and Stephen Harper are the first time the issue has come onto the radar since early February when the two launched a commission to look into the issue -hardly surprising given assorted political distractions like wars and elections. But the government’s throne speech Friday places the issue back on top of the agenda. The topic is vast, complex, and carries massive baggage. How (for instance) are Canada’s immigration interests to be squared with the Americans’ when our domestic workforce is shrinking and theirs isn’t? How does that affect efforts to rationalize approaches to refugee and visa policy? ….”
Richard Curnow, R.I.P.: “Authorities have confirmed that a body found Sunday is that of Master Cpl. Richard Curnow, a soldier who went missing on May 5 during a training run. Master Cpl.
The identity was confirmed through dental records, Edmonton police said. “Based on autopsy results and the investigation, the death has been deemed non-criminal, therefore the [Edmonton Police Service] will not be releasing the cause of death,” police said in a statement. Curnow’s body was found in the North Saskatchewn River near Redwater, Alta., about 65 kilometres northeast of Edmonton. Curnow, 25, was last seen starting a 10-kilometre morning run with eight fellow soldiers through Emily Murphy Park in Edmonton’s river valley. He did not show up at the finish area and his vehicle was still in the parking lot ….” More here, here and here.
Afghanistan (2): “When Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan entered its final phase, Karen Wilson got on board. The Ontario grandmother doubled her electric bill and burned out a convection oven while producing more than 35,000 cookies as a show of support to the Canadian soldiers who were putting their lives on the line in the war-ravaged country. Labouring in her kitchen in Petrolia, Ont., Wilson churned out shortbread confections by the hundreds, devoting no less than eight hours a week to the task. On weekends, she sold baked goods and homemade “Support the Troops” buttons at community events to finance her project. As Canada prepares to end its combat role in Afghanistan for good, Wilson is looking forward to the first lull in her schedule since 2008 ….”
More on the CF in Sierra Leone on OP Sculpture.“While deployed in Sierra Leone, Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Steve Smith and I recently had the rare privilege of accompanying our Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) counterparts on staff visits to two forward operating bases (FOBs) on the country’s wild Atlantic coast, far from our base in the capital, Freetown, Just getting there was half the adventure. We travelled in two Land Rover Defenders on some of the roughest roads either of us had ever seen, through jungles and villages, and crossing waterways by ferry or on old, narrow bridges that held up without benefit of maintenance. The spectacular sunrises and sunsets rivalled Hawaii, and in places the scenery was like something out of The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ….”
Cuts coming?“Defence Minister Peter MacKay says his department is conducting a “strategic review” of its staff in response to unconfirmed media reports that his department will cut 2,100 of its public service positions over the next three years. MacKay, who was in Halifax to announce the impending arrival of Canada’s first Cyclone maritime helicopter, would not comment on the details of the report in the Ottawa Citizen. He said Canadians are going through a “belt-tightening exercise” across the country and all government departments are expected to do the same. “We’re looking at ways to achieve efficiencies and achieve maximum results from the Department of Defence,” MacKay told reporters on Thursday. “This refers specifically to civilian employees so we’re looking at ways to maximize the efficiency of the department and I think Canadians would respect and expect that.” ….” More on the allegedly coming “efficiencies” here.
Enjoy some of the latest speculation about the naming of Julian Fantino as Associate Minister of National Defence (and the naming of former Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan, Chris Alexander, as Parliamentary Secretary).“The anticipated slash and burn of the public service by the newly-minted Conservative majority government could be starting at the Department of National Defence. Reports Thursday morning say 2,100 jobs will be cut over the next three years. This as Defence Minister Peter MacKay attempts to defend what many see as his diminished role. In the cabinet swearing-in last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed Julian Fantino, the former top cop in Ontario, as Mr. MacKay’s Associate Minister in charge of procurement, which comes with a huge budget that is between 14 and 16 per cent of the department’s $22-billion total. And then Wednesday, the Prime Minister named up-and-coming rookie MP Chris Alexander, the former Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan, as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Defence. This one-two combo of Mr. Fantino and Mr. Alexander will give Mr. MacKay fierce competition ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War (x): “A stern warning from a top Pentagon official about the soaring cost of building the F-35 fighter jet has given Canada’s defence minister cause for concern, but Peter MacKay insists his plan to buy 65 aircraft is a sound proposition. MacKay, in Halifax to show off the latest test version of the military’s new Cyclone helicopter, was responding to reports that the Pentagon’s top acquisition official, undersecretary Ashton Carter, had revealed that the per-aircraft cost of the 2,443 jets the U.S. wants has almost doubled in real terms. Pentagon officials say the cost of the project has jumped to $385 billion U.S., about $113 million U.S. per plane in 2011 dollars. The original price was $69 million per airplane. “That’s what it’s going to cost if we keep doing what we’re doing,” Carter said last week. “And that’s unacceptable. It’s unaffordable at that rate.” …. MacKay confirmed he was aware of the U.S. undersecretary’s dim view of the project. “Of course it gives me cause for concern,” he said. “But … there are three configurations for the F-35. We are purchasing the conventional takeoff model. Much of the criticism has been directed at the vertical-takeoff model. … We’re not buying that plane.” ….”
More on the replacement for Canada’s Sea Kings that’s only here for training and certification purposes.“Canada recently received its first look at the potential future of the country’s maritime helicopter fleet, but Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the “interim” helicopter does not represent the formal delivery of the new fleet, which has been marred by lengthy delays. MacKay announced in Nova Scotia Thursday that a Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone was delivered to Canadian Forces Base Shearwater on May 13. Its primary use at this point is to train Canadian Forces aircrew members for the Maritime Helicopter Project. Later this summer, flight training is expected to take place …. MacKay said “formal delivery” of the helicopter is expected this summer once it gets a Canadian military airworthiness certificate ….” The text of the Minister’s statement is available here, and more on the Minister’s estimates for “formal delivery” here.
The “glass is half emtpy” version of the CH-148 Cyclone story, from the industry press: “Canada’s top defence official said on 26 May that Sikorsky has delayed formal delivery of the first of six interim CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters to the third quarter. The new timetable marks the latest in a long series of delays since Sikorsky was awarded the contract in 2004 to deliver 28 military derivatives of the S-92 under the maritime helicopter programme (MHP). The original contract called for first delivery in 2009, but Canada last year agreed to accept the first six aircraft with an “interim” capability in November 2010. That schedule was further delayed to the first half of 2011 ….”
No early release for Khadr Boy.“The U.S. military tribunal that oversaw Omar Khadr’s war crimes case has refused the Canadian’s bid for clemency with a statement Thursday that simply confirms the eight-year sentence he received in a plea deal. The Toronto native had, through his military lawyer, sought to have the sentence reduced, arguing in part that the prosecution had been guilty of “misconduct” in its calling of a key prosecution witness. The confirmation of the eight-year sentence — in exchange for which Khadr admitted to five war crimes, including the murder of a U.S. serviceman — was issued by retired Vice-Admiral Bruce MacDonald, who serves as the tribunal “convening authority,” or overseer ….” More on this here.