MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 29 May 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 27 May 11

  • 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 (1):  More from the CF Info Machine on ISAF Commander General David Petraeus’ visit to Canadians in southern Afghanistan.
  • 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 ….”
  • Taliban Propaganada Watch:  Still with the attacks claimed across Kandahar and Zabul.
  • Libya Mission (1):  “…. It is entirely proper that the Armed Forces exercise caution in what they reveal. But the need for discretion when publishing potentially compromising information of use to the enemy should not be used as carte blanche to withhold virtually all information …. The Royal Air Force has released dramatic gun-camera footage of British bombs destroying Libyan warships. And yet our military refuses even to disclose how much the operations in Libya are costing the Canadian taxpayer — information of dubious value of the Libyan military, but of potential concern to us. Canadians value their military, and understand that sometimes, force is necessary to safeguard lives. The Forces, and the federal government, have nothing to fear from disclosure.”
  • Libya Mission (2):  The CF’s Info Machine is cranking out material from the Mediterranean, including features on how flexible the HMCS Charlottetown is, how the Charlottetown helped gun down a boat looking like it was attacking a Libyan port, and the Charlottetown as “babysitter.
  • 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 ….”
  • Canada and the United States will have a plan in place by this summer on how to achieve the long-awaited perimeter security deal, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday. Harper met U.S. President Barack Obama to discuss the plan on the sidelines of broader G8 discussions this week in the seaside resort of Deauville, France. “The president and I are committed to pursuing a perimeter approach to enhance our security and accelerate the legitimate flow of people, goods and services between our two countries,” Harper said in a statement following the meeting. “We are pleased that discussions are on track, and we expect to have an ambitious joint action plan ready this summer following public consultations.” The plan is expected to lay out priorities for the border deal and what both countries will do together and separately to make it happen ….”
  • 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 pressCanada’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 ….”
  • Revision, leading developer of ballistic protective eyewear for militaries worldwide, has secured a $2.7 million contract with the Canadian DND to supply Air Force members with Ballistic Eyewear (BEW), also known as the Sawfly Spectacle System. The initial contract is to supply 33,000 kits and 40,000 additional lenses in 2011 with a 5 year option period ….”
  • 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.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 15 May 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 13 May 11

  • Libya Mission (1):  HMCS Charlottetown helps drive away Libyan government small boat attack on Misrata – more here, here, here and here.
  • Meanwhile, one wonders if journalists randomly tested for drugs would lead to headlines if they showed a 3 per cent positive response?  Eight Canadian Forces members were kicked off a Canadian frigate for failing drug tests before their ship’s deployment to waters off the coast of Libya. The sailors from HMCS Charlottetown were replaced just before the ship left Halifax in March. The ship’s overall mission to help NATO enforce a no-fly zone was not affected. “Forty-eight hours before HMCS Charlottetown went on Operation Mobile, they did safety-sensitive drug testing on all the crew members,” a Navy spokeswoman, Lieutenant Heather McDonald, told The Globe and Mail. Nine of the 235 crew members tested positive for drugs, she said. One was on prescription medication, but the rest were using illicit substances. “The other eight were repatriated to Canada and they were replaced with other sailors,” said Lt. McDonald. “Each member will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.” ….”
  • As many as 1,500 Canadian soldiers will remain in southern Afghanistan until the end of the year, as the military embarks on a complex mission close-out expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The non-combat troops will be confined to Kandahar Airfield as they undertake a mammoth task that is part akin to moving a small town half-way around the world and part holding a giant garage sale. Buildings, weapons, ammunition, vehicles, radios, computers, desks and a vast array of other equipment have to be sold, transferred or packed up and shipped back to Canada. The logistics are daunting, said Lt.-Col. Steve Moritsugu, who is among the leaders of the close-out mission. The situation is made even more complex because Canadian soldiers are still involved in regular patrols and combat missions. The combat troops will all be “inside the wire” at Kandahar Airfield or will have left the country by July 31, Moritsugu said ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  Attacks on contractors, police alleged in Kandahar, Zabul.
  • A mother waits and hopes. “Before he enlisted with the military, Master Cpl. Richard Curnow wanted to train as an actor at the Vancouver Film School. “Acting was his first thought after school,” said his mother, Susan Curnow. “I could see that he likes to work with people together, in a team.” However, his love of camaraderie also made a military career appealing. While Susan was surprised by her son’s decision, she took him to a recruitment office to enlist with the Canadian Forces.  “He served his country and he loved doing it,” she said. Curnow, 25, disappeared May 5 while jogging along the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton. He was training with eight other soldiers for the Canadian Death Race, a 125-kilometre summer trek through the mountains near Grande Cache, Alta ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War:  The latest report to the U.S. Congress (via the Federation of American Scientists Secrecy News blog) is showing some not insignificant cost increases in the Joint Strike Fighter project.  Let’s hope that doesn’t happen to Canada’s fighters, right?
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Big building work at CFB Esquimalt, and “let’s try again” seeking expertise to summarize Canada’s Arctic military research.
  • Helping veterans get a civilian job“There are times when entrepreneurs do something because it strikes them as the right thing to do. For Ken Seville, the “right thing” emerged three years ago when the Canadian Forces reservist launched a website to help fellow reservists connect with potential employers. Soon after the business got going, Mr. Seville started to get calls from army veterans also looking for support in finding new jobs. The business, then known as CiviSide.com, took a major turn about a year ago when the company received an e-mail from Ty Shattack, president and chief executive of Hamilton, Ont.-based PV Labs Intelligent Imaging, who was exploring with about 30 other CEOs how they might be able to help military veterans transition to civilian life. After a series of discussions, CiviSide.com just last month became GuaranteedInterview.com. It will guarantee at least one interview to a veteran who meets the qualifications of a job listing ….”