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.” ….”
One blogger’s view of “Libya vs. Afghanistan” ceremonies: “…. After decades of Liberal governments treating the military like high-grade bathroom attendants, the Harper Tories have moved in the opposite direction. Now even a light bombing campaign is worthy of celebration. Oddly the Afghan mission has not yet rated such a grand ceremony. The cynical might suggest this has something to do with our efforts in Afghanistan being unpopular ….” (h/t to Mark for pointing to this one)
“The Canadian Forces is slowing its pace of recruitment after the Afghanistan mission, because of a lower turnover and a troubled economy. Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson said the military’s regular force strength is now in “very healthy” shape at about 68,000 members. Attrition is also down — with economic uncertainty and excitement for the job likely factors — which can make matching desired targets tricky. “That’s a very tough machine to manage,” Donaldson told the national defence committee Thursday. “But we have not stopped recruiting. In fact, we continue to recruit, because you need to keep the machine oiled and to keep new blood coming through, but fewer than before.” The Canadian Forces is now focused on finding people with specialties and technical trades, and providing spots for reservists who served in Afghanistan and want to switch to regular forces ….”
Remember the Minister needing a helicopter ride from a lodge to another engagement? Well, some e-mails seem to suggest the chopper ride may have been more…. requested by the Minister than offered by the CF(well done to the Toronto Star for sharing the e-mails in question (PDF), obtained via an Access to Information Act request). One officer’s e-mail is intriguingly prescient:“…. The request from MacKay’s office went out to senior air force officials on Tuesday July 6 at 8:49 a.m. It took just a few hours for then-Col. Bruce Ploughman, director of the Combined Aerospace Operations Centre in Winnipeg, to raise a red flag. “So, when the guy who’s fishing at the fishing hole next to the minister sees the big yellow helicopter arrive and decides to use his cellphone to video the minister getting on board and post it on Youtube (sic), who will be answering the mail on that one,” he wrote to colleagues in Ottawa and Winnipeg. “If we are tasked to do this we of course will comply,” Ploughman continued. “Given the potential for negative press though, I would likely recommend against it.” ….” More from CBC.ca, the Globe & Mail and Postmedia News (they haven’t shared their obtained documents yet). Here’s the back-and-forth during yesterday’s Question Period in the House of Commons.
If you believe this historian and this web page, Canada may be working with other NATO and Middle Eastern countries to at least discuss “humanitarian corridors” in strife-filled Syria. “…. Monday, Nov. 28, debkafile reported a group of military officers from NATO and Persian Gulf nations had quietly established a mixed operational command at Iskenderun in the Turkish Hatay province on the border of North Syria: Hailing from the United States, France, Canada, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with Turkish officers providing liaison, they do not represent NATO but are self-designated “monitors.” Their mission is to set up “humanitarian corridors” inside Syria to serve the victims of Bashar Assad’s crackdown. Commanded by ground, naval, air force and engineering officers, the task force aims to move into most of northern Syria. Laying the groundwork for the legitimacy of the combined NATO-Arab intervention in Syria, the UN Independent International Commission set up to assess the situation in Syria published a horrendous report Monday, Nov. 28 on the Assad regime’s brutalities. It documented “gross violations of human rights” and “patterns of summary execution, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture including sexual violence, as well as violations of children’s rights.” ….” Caveat lector.
F-35 Tug o’ War: More on the pricetag. “The federal government is under attack again over the true costs of buying stealth fighter jets for the air force. “Apparently the Norwegians are getting 52 F-35s for $10 billion while we’re getting 65 for $9 billion,” said Liberal MP Frank Valeriote in a Thursday defence committee meeting, citing comments from Norway’s defence minister in November. Asking Associate Defence Minister Julian Fantino to explain the discrepancy, Valeriote raised anew the possibility that the government has lowballed the estimated purchase price. “I too spoke with the secretary of defence of Norway and they’re into a different kind of a world in Europe, requiring different armaments and so forth to what we are, in fact, looking at,” said Fantino. “It’s very difficult to compare dollar for dollar, but at some point in time we’ll be able to speak all these issues more fully.” ….” More here, here and a bit more (from the archives) from Mark Collins.
Afghanistan (3a) Toronto Star continues pressing story of Afghan interpreter rejected for “fast-track move to Canada” program. “An Afghan interpreter turned away from Canada says he has been hunted by insurgents on motorcycles because of his work with the Canadian military. Sayed Shah Sharifi disputes the accounts of Canadian officials who have played down the threat he faces for aiding allied forces in Kandahar. Indeed, Sharifi, 23, says he was forced to move his family out of Kandahar for more than two months last year for safety after motorcycle-borne insurgents left a chilling warning with his father. “Your son works with the Canadian Forces and we will kill him,” Sharifi recalled Wednesday in a telephone interview with the Star ….”
Afghanistan (3b) TorStar back stops coverage with letters.
Armenian media reports Canadians (military and/or civilian staff) helping NATO help Armenia. “The NATO-sponsored international expert group is in the Armenian capital Yerevan, from Wednesday to Saturday, within the framework of assistance to Armenia’s reforms in military education. The group comprises military and civil representatives from US, Canada, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Romania, Switzerland, and NATO ….”
Canadian plane engine company STILL gets some business from an American buy.“An unusual turn of events on a U.S. military procurement contract has lightly side-swiped three of Quebec’s largest aerospace firms. Wichita-based aircraft maker Hawker Beechcraft Corp. was excluded without explanation last week from a competition to supply 20 AT-6 Texan II light-attack and training planes to the Afghan air force. Its four main suppliers on the bid to the U.S. air force – which would then turn the aircraft over to the Afghan forces – were all Canadian: Longueuil’s Pratt & Whitney Canada for the PT6A-68D 1,600-horsepower engine, St. Laurent’s CAE Inc. for the crew training, St. Laurent’s CMC Esterline for the flight management system, as well as Burling-ton, Ont.-based L-3 Wescam, which was to provide day-light sensors, infrared cameras with zoom and various lasers. The elimination of Hawker Beechcraft apparently makes a winner of the Super Tucano trainer and light-attack aircraft produced by Brazil’s Embraer, the only other bidder for the contract. Matthew Perra, spokes-person for Pratt & Whitney Canada, said by email that “as with any competition there was some investment made, but this amount is not material to P&W Canada.” But it does not signify a loss for Pratt & Whitney Canada – it also supplies the same engine for Embraer’s Super Tucano ….”
My favourite bit from this piece from CBC.ca on monitoring efforts during the G8/G20: “…. (an undercover police officer) told the court about how he attended a meeting prior to the Toronto summit. There, a protest-planning group that included several of the 17 main G20 defendants was discussing whether to lend their support to a First Nations rally. Adam Lewis, one of the 17 accused conspirators in the G20 case, interjected, “Kill whitey!” The group chuckled. Lewis, like all but one of his co-accused, is white. When a Crown lawyer asked the officer what he thought Lewis meant, Showan said in complete seriousness, to “kill white people.” “Deliberately or accidentally, the undercover officers misinterpreted hyperbolic jokes as literal statements of belief,” said Kalin Stacey, a community organizer, friend and supporter of the defendants ….” Really? I’m guessing is a similar statement was made about the protesters, it would NOT be taken as “hyperbolic jokes”.
Credit where credit is due: CBC.ca shared the documents it’s writing about in the above-mentioned story via documentcloud.org (like here for example). Hello? Reporters? News outlets? Are you listening about sharing ATIP’ed documents?
Private Members Bill C-354, An Act respecting the establishment and award of a Defence of Canada Medal (1946-1989), makes it through First Reading in Parliament after being introduced by NDP MP Carol Hughes: “Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be able to reintroduce this bill for the establishment and award of a defence of Canada medal for the men and women who served in the defence of Canada during the cold war. This act represents the hard work and vision of one of my constituents, retired Captain Ulrich Krings of Elliot Lake, who presented me with this proposal shortly after I was elected in 2008. Its purpose is to formally honour the people who defended Canada from within Canada for the period from 1946 to 1989. As such, it is intended to be awarded to individuals who served in the regular and reserve forces, police forces, emergency measures organizations, as well as civil organizations, such as St. John Ambulance, all of whom were concerned with the protection of Canada from the threat posed by the countries behind the Iron Curtain. This medal will recognize the support of the men and woman who gave countless hours to Canadians as they trained and prepared in case of an attack on Canadian soil, which fortunately never took place. Their service to our country came at a time when we became aware of how fragile peace can be and how vulnerable we may become to advances in weapons of warfare. This medal would give something back to all those who worked in those years to keep us safe and prepared. I thank my colleague from Thunder Bay—Rainy River (John Rafferty) for his continued support on this bill and for seconding this item for a second time.” Caveat: most Private Members Bills do not end up becoming law. Discussion at Army.ca here.
What the Minister is quoted saying 4-5 days ago: “Canada is watching violence in Syria but stepping in would require more thought and possibly a UN resolution, Defence Minister Peter MacKay says. MacKay spoke about Syria hours before meeting with Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak to talk about regional security and a series of agreements on defence cooperation between Canada and Israel. As France pulls its ambassador from Damascus, Syria’s capital, and the country’s suspension from the Arab League takes effect, MacKay says any possible military action needs “further contemplation” and possibly a UN Security Council resolution “to mirror the path that we followed with respect to Libya.” “There’s a number of things that would have to happen. It is a much more complex situation in many ways, given the circumstances on the ground in Syria,” MacKay said Wednesday morning. “But I can assure you in our capital and in capitals around the world, NATO countries are discussing what is happening in Syria.” ….”
Brian Good, 1965-2009, R.I.P.“Sandra Good wants to be able to visit a cenotaph in the city to remember her late husband, a fallen soldier. But there is no memorial in Ottawa honouring Trooper Brian Good, who was killed by a roadside bomb outside Kandahar City on Jan. 7, 2009. Good, a member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, serving with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment stationed at CFB Petawawa, was 43. “It would be quite powerful to see that (cenotaph) in person. For the girls, too,” said Sandra Good, referring to daughters Jessica, 17, and Kayla, 16. “That would be great to have it here. We have friends and family who would like to see it.” ….”
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 ….”
Afghanistan (1)“Upon arriving in Mazar-e-Sharif, we met the U.S. Army team that we would be replacing. It didn’t take much time for a U.S. Army sergeant to tell me, “I hope you have thick skin because we haven’t had a female adviser down at Camp Shaheen, so I don’t know how they will act toward you.” My first reaction was to shake my head, throw my hands up and say, “Really? Aren’t we past this – females in the military — by now!” In Canada perhaps we are, but welcome to Afghanistan ….”
DND allowed to keep some money it didn’t spend (but don’t get used to it). “…. up to $11 billion in approved funding remained in public coffers. In 2009, the government approved $6.3 billion, $9.4 billion in 2010 and $11.2 billion in 2011. When pressed on why the funding was never spent, Flaherty said rebuilding the Canadian Forces was a factor. “We have a very large program to rebuild the Canadian Armed Forces and found repeatedly that they cannot get as much done in a given year as they perhaps thought they were going to,” said Flaherty, who was in Honolulu, Hawaii for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. “At the end of the year, we look at what is happening within the departments. We let them carry over some cash from year to year, but it’s limited because we don’t want to create that kind of expectation that if you don’t use the money that is allocated to it, you get to use it the next year,” he added ….”
Federal politicians join the CFL in honouring vets – an MP in Edmonton and a Senator in Montreal.
Again with the “end of the beginning” messaging on the Victoria-class subs (previous occurances here and here)!“Canada’s navy is promising its Victoria-class submarines will by fully operational by 2013 — nearly 15 years after the boats were purchased from the United Kingdom. Speaking with W5’s Lloyd Robertson on Oct. 28, navy commander Vice Admiral Paul Maddison said he understands Canadians’ frustration with the submarine program. “I understand why they would feel impatient. I ask all Canadians for patience. We are at the end of a long beginning,” Maddison said ….”
Afghanistan (2) Former diplomat, political communicator reminds us of Canada’s legacy (while reminding us whose job it is now to keep it going) (PDF). “In 2009-10, former political aide Renée Filiatrault volunteered for a tour of duty as a foreign service officer in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Here she provides a glimpse of the realities that Canada’s civilian and military team faced while fighting an insurgency on the ground. As Canada stood down its combat mission in Kandahar this summer, she says, despite some bitter lessons, it is a legacy of which Canada can be proud. Ultimately, she adds, “while we can set the conditions for success, winning is not up to us, but up to the government of Afghanistan, which all efforts are ultimately intended to support.”
F-35 Tug o’ War (1) More from The Canadian Press’s obtained (but not shared with the readers) stack o’ briefing notes.“Canadian pilots are expected to receive training for the F-35 stealth jet at a U.S. Air Force base in Florida, a plan that raises questions about the future of the country’s existing advanced fighter training school. Internal Defence Department documents show that a fee-for-service plan involving an international training centre, already constructed at Eglin Air Force Base by manufacturer Lockheed Martin, has been the main option under consideration. Several air force briefings compiled last year and obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information laws show that not only is there “potential for NO pilot training in Canada,” but that “pooled” training with international partners is likely the most cost-effective plan ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War (2) CDS: more would sure be nice. “Canada’s top soldier says the 65 stealth fighters the government is planning to buy are the minimum number the military needs – but he hinted the back-up if jets are destroyed is that more will be for sale later. General Walter Natynczyk, the Chief of Defence Staff, told members of the Commons defence committee Thursday that the 65 F-35 fighters the government is planning to buy “is the minimum operational essential for the needs of Canada.” ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War (3) CDS: pilots want the F-35. “Pilots with the Royal Canadian Air Force want to fly in F-35 stealth fighter jets when the current CF-18s are retired, according to the chief of defence staff. Walt Natynczyk, the military’s top boss, appeared before Parliament’s defence committee Thursday to talk about military preparedness but was peppered instead with questions about the controversial purchase of the multi-role fighter jets. “Let me tell you that when I go to Cold Lake and I go to Bagotville and I talk to those young men and women who get in the F-18 and I ask them ‘What aircraft so you want?’ they tell me that they want the F-35 because it is the only fifth-generation, capable fighter for that next phase,” Natynczyk told reporters after his committee appearance ….”
A reminder from the Chief of Defence Staff: to a certain extent, anyway, you get what you pay for.“The country’s top soldier says that the speed with which Canada contributed to the mission in Libya and post-earthquake relief in Haiti would not have been possible without a trained and well-equipped military. But Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk, whose department is struggling with pending budget cuts during the first real lull in combat operations since 2006, said such capabilities do not come cheap. “If you ask me how we’re doing in maintaining our readiness, I’d say we’re doing the best we can with all the resources we have,” Natynczyk told members of the Commons’ defence committee Thursday. “Readiness is a perishable commodity and it’s expensive.” ….”
Remembrance Day (1) No “tanks”, no guns, no displays at Ottawa Catholic school for Remembrance Day. “For the past 19 years, students at an Ottawa high school have hoisted 10-pound military rifles to feel what it may be like to lug one around in the muddy trenches. They’ve met veterans and heard their stories, learning how their families were affected and what it was like to fight so far from home. But this year — the year that was supposed to mark the 20th Remembrance Day Symposium at Notre Dame High School — they will get no such chance. The traditional school event, scheduled for Nov. 10, has been cancelled because of a school committee decision to ensure there were “no tanks or guns” at the event, its co-ordinator told participants in an email last Friday …. The event was cancelled because some students who hail from countries touched by war raised concerns about it last year, said Lauren Rocque, a spokeswoman for the Ottawa Catholic School Board. “There are many students in that school that come from war-torn countries and when they saw replica guns in the hallway, it did upset them.” Ms. Rocque was unable to say whether the students had complained to the principal directly. “The tanks on the front lawn, that upset them too, so the committee decided to take this different direction,” she added. Mr. Mac Culloch said he doesn’t remember any tanks — just a variety of other military vehicles ….” More on this from QMI/Sun Media here, a good question from the Globe & Mail here and discussion over at Army.ca here.
Remembrance Day (2) Editorial:“In Toronto and Hamilton, human scum steal poppy boxes filled with donated money to help war vets and their families, leading up to Remembrance Day on Nov. 11. In London, a war vet coming in to man his poppy station at a local mall finds a cartoon describing Canadian soldiers as “hired killers”. In Ottawa, a high school cancels a two-decade old program in which vets share their war-time experiences with students and show them the equipment they used, because of a decision to ban “tanks and guns” from the school, even though no tanks have been displayed and the guns are inoperable. That this is happening in the year Canada ends its 10-year military mission in Afghanistan, in which 158 of our soldiers died, is a disgrace ….”
Remembrance Day (3) Conservative MP reminds the House of Commons: “Mr. Speaker, July 2011 marked the end of Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan. While the combat mission has come to an end, the Canadian Forces continue to play an active role in training their Afghan counterparts. The past 10 years have brought about many changes for Afghanistan. Afghanistan has held three elections, government agencies have been improved, its economy has gained momentum, girls are going to school and the Afghan security forces have been provided with invaluable training and mentoring. One hundred and fifty-nine Canadian Forces members have made the ultimate sacrifice to help Afghans obtain a taste of the freedoms that we hold so dear, tragically, joined recently by Master Corporal Byron Greff, of Edmonton’s Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. In addition to Afghanistan, Canadian Forces are serving in 15 overseas missions, including Libya, Haiti, and Sudan. At home, they save lives during search and rescue missions, provide assistance when natural disasters strike, and protect our nation’s sovereignty on a daily basis. This Veterans’ Week, let us remember the service and sacrifice of our Canadian Forces members and their families. “To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die”.
Don Cherry is getting an honourary degree from Royal Military College (and some profs are pissed). “…. The college’s senate approved awarding the controversial hockey commentator with the honour at a recent closed-door meeting. But now at least one protesting member of the faculty is protesting the decision publicly. French professor Catherine Lord criticized the college’s decision to honour Cherry in a letter sent to local media. “On many occasions he publicly expressed his contempt for many groups of the Canadian population, notably for the French-speaking Canadians, for the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) community and for the immigrants,” Lord wrote. “RMC is increasingly representative of the diverse society in which we live. RMC is a strong and unifying place.” Lord questioned what kind of message granting the honorary doctorate would send to the rest of the country. “What message will RMC send, in celebrating Don Cherry, to the students coming from these groups? And what will the Canadian people remember from RMC, as a serious and prestigious institution?” ….”
Libya Mission (2) What’s NOT expected: guerilla fighting. “…. Brig.-Gen. Craig King, military operations chief, told MPs on Thursday he does not expect to see an insurgency grow out of the conflict between Col. Gadhafi’s now-defeated forces and the victorious rebels. “In order for an insurgency to exist, you have to have popular support of some kind and it has to be coalesced around some kind of leadership,” Mr. King told the Commons defence committee. “We’re not anticipating that. And, certainly, the former regime has no legitimacy or credibility that would lend itself to an insurgency to which we would have to apply a counter-insurgency.” ….”
Libya Mission (3) Still stuff left to be done, though. “Weapons, untrained militias and enshrining women’s rights are key hurdles Libya faces as it transitions towards democracy, MPs were told Thursday. Foreign Affairs bureaucrats and Canadian Forces staff testified before the national defence committee on the situation unfolding in post-Moammar Gadhafi Libya. “Clearly we’re in a period of transition,” said Brig.-Gen. Craig King, highlighting the need for rebel militias spread out across the country to be organized into a cohesive and professional national military ….” A bit more along these lines here.
DRDC Paper (PDF): How best to patrol the Gulf of Aden to hunt for pirates – abstract and executive summary downloadable here.
CBC: Canada eyeing nuke subs?“CBC News has learned the Harper government is considering buying nuclear submarines to replace its problem-plagued fleet of diesel-powered subs, all of which are currently awash in red ink and out of service for major repairs …. High-ranking sources tell CBC News the government is actively considering cutting its losses on the dud subs, and mothballing some if not all of them. Defence Minister Peter MacKay is hinting they might be replaced with nuclear submarines that could patrol under the Arctic ice, something the existing diesel-electric subs cannot do. Outside the Commons this week, MacKay told CBC the government is anxious to have its submarine fleet fully operational as soon as possible, providing a “very important capability for the Canadian Forces.” But asked whether the government might look at other subs, MacKay said: “Well there was a position taken some time ago to go with diesel-electric. “But you know, in an ideal world, I know nuclear subs are what’s needed under deep water, deep ice.” ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War (1) Unnamed insider says project’s “a mess”.“The Conservative government’s controversial F-35 jet fighter project, plagued by delays, cost overruns and now economic turmoil in Europe, is at growing risk of being sharply curtailed or shelved — the defence minister’s protestations notwithstanding. “It just seems like it’s slowly unravelling,” said an industry insider who specializes in aircraft procurement. “It’s a mess.” ….”
Whazzup with the meetings of the House of Commons committee on veterans’ affairs?“Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, my question is not to the minister but to the chair of the veterans affairs committee. Public hearings about the cuts at the Veterans Affairs Department were terminated today, cancelled without hearing from one veteran, the ombudsman, and not even the Royal Canadian Legion. Veterans fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice for the right and freedom to be heard, and to be heard in public. Secret meetings to avoid accountability are anti-democratic and a slap in the face to veterans. Why the secrecy? Mr. Greg Kerr (West Nova, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I know a chair must be fair and neutral, but the bizarre behaviour of this member forces me to answer with what he has been trying to do in the last number of days. Our committee has been looking very carefully at the accusations he made about great cutbacks and loss of opportunity for veterans. That was proven by the witnesses to be absolutely wrong. Our government has made major commitments to veterans and will continue to do so because it is so important. The fact that the member continues to disrupt the committee is something he has to look within himself for. The committee membership—“
Cuts at Veterans Affairs Canada (2) Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Eve Adams: no benefit cuts are in the works. “The minister could not have been clearer in answering the question about whether or not veterans’ benefits would be cut. The expert witnesses we heard today at committee could not have been clearer on whether or not veterans’ benefits would be cut. So I will add my voice to answer the question for the member for Charlottetown and let me say it very simply and very clearly. There will be no cuts to veterans’ benefits.”
Highway of Heroes coin to be unveiled soon by the Royal Canadian Mint. “Since the start of the Afghanistan war, thousands of Canadians have stood on bridges and lined streets to watch motorcades head west on the Highway of Heroes. The motorcades include hearses carrying the remains of Canada’s war dead. Family members ride in other vehicles. To commemorate those ultimate sacrifices and the groundswell of public tribute, the Royal Canadian Mint has struck a commemorative coin. The mint will unveil the Highways of Heroes silver commemorative coin at a ceremony Monday at Quinte West City Hall in Trenton. The coin was the brainchild of QMI Agency visual journalist Pete Fisher. He’s also the author of the recently released book Highway of Heroes, True Patriot Love ….”
“A Canadian war amputee and Canucks legend Richard Brodeur will come together …. to announce the Heroes Hockey Challenge, a national charity benefiting wounded soldiers and their families. “Remember that these families weren’t drafted into this. These individuals chose to go into it, but it’s much more difficult for their families,” said Master Cpl. Paul Franklin, a double amputee. In January 2006, a convoy Franklin was riding in was hit by a suicide bomber in Kandahar, Afghanistan, severing his left leg. He later underwent 26 surgeries before his right leg was also amputated …. The charity will see galas and charity hockey games in Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and Halifax in the early new year. The events will feature auctions, celebrity guests, NHL stars and live entertainment. The games, taking place in each city’s official NHL arena, will pit former NHL greats against Canadian soldiers ….” More on the Heroes Hockey Challenge here (Facebook) and here.
F-35 Tug o’ War (2) Defence Minister takes softball question in the House of Commons on the Joint Strike Fighter. “Ms. Joyce Bateman (Winnipeg South Centre, CPC): Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government has made unprecedented investments in Canada’s armed forces. Our commitment to rebuilding their capacity, after a decade or darkness, is ensuring that our brave men and women have the tools they need. The work to supply this equipment is also providing an incredible boost to the Canadian economy. Could the Minister of National Defence please inform the House of recent developments on the economic benefits of the F-35 program? Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, my friend from Winnipeg is right. Our government has committed to provide the air force with the F-35 and has enabled Canadian companies to compete for large-scale contracts to help build the aircraft for the global supply chain. Today, Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg celebrated the opening of its new advanced composites manufacturing centre, which will house the production lines for parts as well as the assembly of the horizontal tail structure for the F-35. This work at Bristol, we are told, will create 100 new jobs. Our government is proud to stand with Canadians and for the Canadian economy and the Canadian Forces. We wish the opposition would stop fearmongering and support— “
Big Honkin’ Ships Globe & Mail column:“…. the shipbuilding contract broke with a long Canadian tradition, produced a rational, fact-based decision, bullet-proofed the government from any charge of political interference, and gives Canada a chance to build a more streamlined and efficient industry. Hats off to the Harper government.”
If the socialists aren’t happy with the big honkin’ ships and the F-35’s, they MUST be good! “…. The expenditures fit with Canada’s increasingly aggressive military posture in the world. From its combat roles in Afghanistan and Libya to its police/military occupation role in Haiti, Canada is joining the front ranks of imperialist countries that are increasingly turning to military force to advance their economic interests and maintain the unequal and unfair international status quo ….”
The Canadian Forces apparently beat out CBC in Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa. “The Conservative government’s overhaul of the 2011 Canada Day celebrations, which included scrapping plans to honour the CBC’s 75th anniversary, drew ire from the opposition Tuesday. As reported by iPolitics Tuesday morning, Conservative officials drastically changed what the Canadian Heritage department had in mind for the Canada Day show on Parliament Hill. A suggestion to celebrate the CBC was rebuffed, and a renewed emphasis was placed on the Canadian Armed Forces ….” This, from Heritage Minister James Moore during Question Period yesterday: “I think my colleague is talking about my speech on Canada Day last year, which I wrote myself. Instead of celebrating the CBC, which the member is free to do as he wants, what I chose to say instead in my speech was, “On this Canada Day…to those men and women of the Canadian Forces serving in Afghanistan, in Libya, and other difficult places in the world: to put it simply, you are the bravest and the best, we are proud of your service, and we are honoured by the work that you do for Canada”. That is what I said instead of praising the CBC. I had two minutes, and I stand by my decision.”
“George W. Bush’s visit to Surrey, B.C., on Thursday was met with a protest and an unsuccessful courtroom bid to have him detained for torture during his presidency. Roughly 200 demonstrators chanted for his detainment, many waving their shoes in the air, in reference to a 2008 incident at Baghdad press conference, when Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi hurled a sneaker at the former president …. As Bush arrived …. the Canadian Centre for International Justice filed a private prosecution in a Surrey provincial court to have him arrested. Made on behalf of four plaintiffs the unsuccessful attempt joined calls by Amnesty International, as well as a 4,000-page legal submission to Canada’s Attorney General …. He and other members of his administration insist their measures were both legal under international law, and necessary to prevent terrorism after September 11, 2001. In one exchange with demonstrators yesterday, one RCMP officer guarding the Surrey Regional Economic Forum — where Bush was to speak alongside another former U.S. president, Bill Clinton — said the former president could not be arrested because he is an “internationally protected person.” ….”
Speculation about where info on Challenger flights may be coming from. “Theories abound as to why personal flights on Canadian Forces aircrafts by Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Chief of Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk were the subject of a series of leaks last month. While there are competing theories circulating as to the motivation for the leaks, military experts say it goes back to Andrew Leslie’s transformation report, which was the subject of leaks over the summer ….”
Speaking of cuts and reorganization, a new carrot for senior officials making the cuts. “Axe-wielding executives in the public service stand to earn big bonuses based on how much they cut in the run-up to the 2012 federal budget. Treasury Board President Tony Clement says 40 per cent of “at risk” pay for senior managers will be based on how much they contribute to the Conservatives’ target of finding at least $4-billion a year in permanent savings. This is the first year the performance-based incentive has ever been tied to government cuts, and Mr. Clement says the 2012 budget – likely to be tabled in February or March – will be the ultimate yardstick for doling out the rewards ….”
On shipbuilding, history and politics. “Twenty-five years ago this month, the federal government brokered one of the ugliest procurement deals in Canadian history. In October 1986, Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative administration awarded a maintenance contract for CF-18 fighter jets. The $100-million project went to a firm in Quebec. However, internal documents showed a Winnipegbased company should have won the competition. Bristol Aerospace submitted a cheaper, better-supported bid. But Quebec had some thing to offer that Manitoba did not. The province boasted 60 Tory MPs – almost a third of Mulroney’s caucus. Although Ottawa promised to keep politics out of the decision, the fix was in from the start. A quarter of a century later, B.C. shipbuilders must be wondering if history is about to repeat itself. The Department of Public Works and Government Services is preparing to award several packages of contracts for naval and non-combat vessels. And once again, Quebec is flexing its political muscles ….”
Ensuring vets get a meal at the Canadian War Museum. “Paul Kavanagh had an epiphany in the cafeteria lineup. It was Remembrance Day, 2008, and Kavanagh and his wife had taken their four sons to Ottawa to attend ceremonies before heading over to the new Canadian War Museum. Standing in line for lunch, Kavanagh noticed a Second World War veteran just ahead. Medals gleamed on the older man’s navy blue blazer and his grey flannel pants were neatly pressed. On his tray was a cup of coffee and a bowl of soup. “His bill was $7.15. He opened his wallet and placed a $5 bill on the counter. It was all the money in his wallet. The cashier clapped his hands together and told this veteran to hurry up and pay the difference,” Kavanagh recalls. “This proud veteran went beet red and his hands began to shake.” Kavanagh, a Laval periodontist, waved at the cashier and picked up the rest of the man’s tab. “I remember thinking, ‘This is wrong. We spent tens of millions building this beautiful museum and we forgot the veterans.’ ” ….” More here.