Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘Rona Ambrose News Highlights – 18 Oct 11

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  • The military’s second-in-command has defended the size of the bureaucracy in the Canadian Forces, including the large number of civilians and executives who have been become a veritable army at National Defence headquarters. And while acknowledging reductions will be necessary in light of planned budget cuts and the end of combat operations in Afghanistan, Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson told members of the Senate defence committee Monday that across-the-board slashing would be unrealistic. “I agree that we need to reduce it,” said Donaldson, the vice-chief of defence staff. “It’s just very difficult sometimes to know what it is that can be reduced.” ….”
  • Libya  U.S. and Italian defense chiefs on Oct. 17 said they examined prospects for ending the allied air campaign over Libya and how to support the country’s post-Gadhafi transition in talks at the Pentagon. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who expressed thanks for Italy’s role in the NATO-led operation, said alliance commanders favored pressing on with bombing raids as Moammar Gadhafi’s loyalists were still putting up resistance in Sirte. “We are looking for our commanders to… recommend when they believe that the mission comes to an end,” Panetta told reporters after meeting his Italian counterpart, Ignazio La Russa. “As you know, there’s still fighting going on in Sirte. And as long as that continues to be the case, our commanders feel the need for us to maintain our presence.” ….”  More details of Canada’s assets in the air (and sea) fight there here.
  • CF visits Africa for communications exercise“Africa Endeavor is the largest communications interoperability exercise on the African continent. Held this year from 7 July to 12 July, it’s an annual “Command, Control, Communications and Computer” — C4 — integration exercise sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) to foster interoperability between Canada, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United States and 35 African countries. Africa Endeavor comes together over the course of three conferences hosted by participant countries throughout the year, and culminates in a two-week exercise. This year, the Canadian delegation was led by Colonel Pierre Lamontagne, the Canadian Forces Liaison Officer at AFRICOM Headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, and included communication specialists Master Warrant Officer Serge Boily, Warrant Officer François Pitre and Sergeant Eric Viau of 3 ASG Signals Squadron in Gagetown, and Warrant Officer Pierre Paradis from CEFCOM Headquarters in Ottawa ….”
  • Worries in the home of Veterans Affairs Canada about coming cuts. “The Department of Veterans Affairs is planning to cut over $222 million from its budget over the next two years, a move that some believe will have a huge impact on employees in Charlottetown. The cuts are outlined in the department’s plans and priorities report, which details spending and programming plans up to 2014 ….”
  • New B.C. group pushing for better compensation for Canada’s wounded. “They sat quietly in the corner of a room that overflowed with more than 250 supporters of Equitas Society and considered the levels of justice, fairness and equity that injured soldiers like them experience. Formed just three weeks ago, the Equitas Society was holding its first fundraiser Friday at Hazelmere Golf Club, MC’d by Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg. While the evening was considered a financial success, it was a rude awakening for some just learning about financial compensation for wounded members of Canada’s military. Lawyer Don Sorochan was quick to put a fine point on the disparity between settlements in civil cases and the level of financial support afforded soldiers ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1a)  Stand by for Big Honkin’ Ship contracts soon“It is Ottawa’s best-kept secret but the biggest defence procurement contract since World War II is expected to be unveiled as soon as this week, according to a government source. In the coming days, about $35 billion worth of shipbuilding contracts will be announced. There are two deals to be handed out and three shipyards battling for the contracts. The contenders include Nova Scotia’s Halifax Shipyard, British Columbia’s Seaspan Marine Corp. and the Davie shipyard of Levis, Que. The largest contract is worth $25-billion and will be spent on combat vessels for the navy. The other contract is worth $8 billion and will go towards building non-combat ships, including a new Arctic icebreaker. The shipyard which loses out on the big contracts can make a bid for smaller contract of about $2 billion ….”  More on Ottawa’s bracing for blowback from the award here and here.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1b)  “…. The (Big Honkin’ Ship contract) selection is being overseen by a panel of deputy ministers, and KPMG will vet the final decision. Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose says the decision will be 100 per cent on merit and is “completely at arm’s length of politics.’’ But in Ottawa, there is no such thing as politics at an arm’s length.”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  “…. The Department of National Defence (DND), requires the purchase and delivery of miscellaneous inert weapon simulation supplies for CFB Wainwright, Alberta. Items are required in support of LFWA training centre courses and will only be used in a training environment ….”  More in the list of (mostly bad-guy) goodies from the bid document (PDF) here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  Canadian fighter pilots selected to fly the new F-35 could find themselves trained by either the Americans or a private contractor, according to internal air force documents. The staggering multibillion-dollar purchase price means the Conservative government can only afford 65 of the multi-role stealth fighters. The number — Canada currently has 79 aging CF-18s — stretches the ability of the air force to meet its commitments, says a series of briefings given to the air force chief last year. Internal air force memos from the fall of 2010 lay out the “potential for NO pilot training in Canada.” ….”  No indication of Canadian Press sharing the documents for you to see.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Aussie DefMin still mulling F-35 vs. upgraded F-18s.
  • Alexander Johnston, 1885-1918, R.I.P  For 90 years, his final resting place was unknown. His service, however was commemorated on the Vimy Memorial near Arras, France, where the names of more than 11,000 other Canadians who have no known grave also appear. But next week, the remains of Pte. Alexander Johnston, which surfaced when a First World War battlefield became an industrial construction site in 2008, will be buried, with full military honours, at Le Cantimpre Canadian Cemetery in Sailly, France. And his Ottawa-based next of kin will be on hand to see it. Indeed his great grand-niece, Ann Gregory, who is a bugler with the Governor General’s Foot Guards, will play The Last Post as part of the ceremony. She’s travelling as part of the National Defence delegation and her father, Don Gregory, and brother, David, will also be on hand thanks to Veterans Affairs, which is providing funding for two family members to attend. In addition, three of Johnston’s relatives who live in Scotland, where he was born, will also travel to France for the ceremony ….”
  • War of 1812 (1)  The Americans got Wayne Gretzky ­and Pamela Anderson ­— but we won the War of 1812, right? I mean, that’s what we were taught. Damn Yankees declared war on us for no good reason. Plain greed. Some piddling trade dispute. And, sure, our British masters kept snatching sailors off American ships. But nothing serious. Deep down, they just lusted after our fish, trees and future hockey players. So they attacked like star-spangled skunks in the night. Lucky for us, they didn’t count on Sir Isaac Brock and Tecumseh and Laura Secord joining forces to whip their Yankee doodle derrieres. We even got some lovely chocolates out of the deal. Damn straight, we won. So why do many Americans call it their Second War of Independence — and insist they won ….”
  • War of 1812 (2)  Remembering the Aboriginal contribution to the fight.  “The Friends of Tecumseh Monument will soon have an opportunity to expand on their dream of telling Chief Tecumseh’s legacy and the events occurring in Chatham-Kent during the War of 1812. An announcement delivered from members of parliament Dave Van Kestern and Bev Shipley Friday, told the crowd gathered at Chief Tecumseh’s monument on Longwoods Road, near Thamesville, of available funding for the Canadian Heritage’s Celebration and Commemoration Program. $28 million will be available to communities to promote a greater awareness of Canada’s importance in the war and to aide with bi-centennial celebrations. A feasibility study, costing $49,500 from the $28 million, was completed last week to determine how to improve the site and how the changes can benefit the community as a whole ….”
  • War of 1812 (3)  Columnist on Ottawa’s spending plans to commemorate the war:  “…. I would have a greater measure of respect for the government if it spent our money strengthening the friendship between Canada and the U.S., rather than glorifying a war that ended with neither side richer in land or in purpose. The boundaries remained what they were before 1812. I await the influx of American tourists in the summer of 2012 who will be surprised to learn they are the bad guys in Canada’s so-called “most important war.” “
Advertisements News Highlights – 2 Jun 11

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  • Libya Mission (1):  NATO extends its mission 90 days.  “NATO and partners have just decided to extend our mission for Libya for another 90 days. This decision sends a clear message to the Qadhafi regime: We are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya. We will sustain our efforts to fulfil the United Nations mandate. We will keep up the pressure to see it through. Our decision also sends a clear message to the people of Libya: NATO, our partners, the whole international community, stand with you. We stand united to make sure that you can shape your own future. And that day is getting closer.”
  • Libya Mission (2):  Canada’s envoy to NATO approves NATO extension.  “Ambassadors from NATO’s 28-member states, including Canada, have unanimously decided to extend the military campaign in Libya for an additional 90 days. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance’s secretary-general made the announcement on Wednesday, saying it “sends a clear message to the Gadhafi regime: We are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya.” NATO took command of the international military campaign in Libya at the end of March, in the hopes of protecting Libyan civilians caught up in fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The alliance originally agreed to head the military campaign for 90 days, which would expire June 27 ….”
  • Libya Mission (3):  Canada going to extend mission?  “The federal government indicated Wednesday it will extend Canada’s mission in Libya, following a NATO decision to extend its bombing operations in the north African country. The fact the Conservatives support extending the mission may guarantee Canada stays in the war zone until September, the revised end date NATO set for its mission. A simple majority vote in the House of Commons or a cabinet decision can send troops to war, both of which the Tories can do without opposition support ….”  More from  “…. Harper had announced Friday at the G8 summit in Deauville, France, that Parliament will be asked to agree to an extension after the new session opens Thursday. “The government is very committed to the mission and we can, I think, report to Parliament that it has both gone well so far and that its continuation is essential for the original reasons we embarked on it,” the prime minister told CBC Radio’s Susan Lunn ….”
  • Libya Mission (4):  Not sure yet (even though, with a majority government, we know how it would go) what Canada is doing on extending mission?  “NATO has extended its Libyan air war by three months, but Canada’s role in the prolonged mission remains unclear. In an email from Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s office, a spokesperson said the future of Canada’s role in the Libya mission rests on the shoulders of Parliament. “Prime Minister Harper has been clear that Parliament will decide whether to extend Canada’s contribution to the NATO mission beyond June 16,” the spokesperson said. Hours after NATO-led aircraft launched new raids on Tripoli, ambassadors of the military alliance decided to renew the mission for another 90 days, to late September ….”
  • Libya Mission (5):  “…. Critics urged the government to define Canada’s mandate in the mission going forward, suggesting that without clear guidelines, “mission creep” could end with Canada committed to another long-term mission similar to Afghanistan. “This is an instance where we’ll want to make sure the government is being clear,” said NDP critic Paul Dewar. Complicating issues is a UN Human Right Council report accusing both Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces and opposition forces of committing war crimes during the conflict. “That’s why we have to be clear on what we’re supporting,” Dewar said. The Libyan mission evolved from protecting civilians through the enforcement of a no-fly zone to strikes at ground targets and military advice to rebel forces, said former ambassador to Pakistan Louis Delvoie ….”
  • Libya Mission (6):  The Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs says it ain’t over until the guy with the funny clothes and hats is outta there“Canada’s military mission in Libya will last until the country’s violent leader is gone, says the parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs. Deepak Obhrai, who represents Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird when Baird isn’t available, said Wednesday that Canada’s mission won’t be done until Moammar Gadhafi is out of power. “The end of the mission is to bring peace, stability out there, and peace and stability can only be in the region if Mr. Gadhafi’s gone, due to his murderous actions,” Obhrai told Rosemary Barton on CBC’s Power & Politics. “The final outcome of this thing to bring peace and stability to the region is for Mr. Gadhafi to go because of his crimes against humanity.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (1):  CF Info Machine says new training mission good to go.
  • Afghanistan (2):  CF Info Machine highlights PM’s visit.
  • Afghanistan (3):  Hockey visitors for the troops.
  • Canadian Forces Cancer and Mortality Study (1):  The official word from the CF“…. In general, these results are encouraging and suggest that persons who served in the CF have lower mortality for most diseases and illnesses than civilians of the same age and sex. The results are consistent with findings from other studies examining mortality in populations with a history of military service ….”
  • Canadian Forces Cancer and Mortality Study (2):  More official word on suicides in the CF“…. The death of even one military member by suicide is one too many. The CF have an extensive suicide prevention program in place, which includes primary prevention programs, clinical intervention, non-clinical intervention, and mental health education. Great efforts are made to identify people at risk for mental health problems and to provide them with the assistance that they require ….”
  • CF Hercs headed to SK to help evacuate fire-threatened communities.  “The Harper government is dispatching military aircraft and helicopters to evacuate two northern Saskatchewan communities threatened by raging by forest fires. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Defence Minister Peter MacKay are deploying four CC-130 Hercules aircraft and four CH-146 Griffon helicopters to help residents of Wollaston Lake and Hatchet Lake First Nations communities “facing imminent danger” as a result of a major forest fire ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying (1)  When trade shows are outlawed, only outlaws will hold trade shows“A group of about 75 people from a coalition of peace organizations staged a sit-in at the gates of Lansdowne Park Wednesday to protest the opening of Canada’s largest military and security trade show. The protesters say they held the sit-in to make a point that Canada should get out of the arms trade. They plan to hold a peaceful demonstration outside the gates of Lansdowne Park each day of the event. The annual military trade show got underway Wednesday and is expected to attract between 8,000 and 10,000 people who want to look at the latest in hi-tech gear ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  As Canada’s troops prepare to come home from Afghanistan with their battered kit, the federal government is moving ahead with plans to buy the army a whole new fleet of armoured vehicles. One of the contenders for the Canadian Forces’ new tactical armoured patrol vehicles was on display at a defence industry trade show here Wednesday. Textron’s TAPV, a descendant of the U.S. army’s ASV M11-17, is a four-man mean-looking four-by-four machine that is built to withstand IED blasts and can reach speeds of 100 km/h. Company officials describe it as a workhorse. “It’s a very, very tested vehicle. We’ve been developing this vehicle for five years, and we’ve blown up a lot of them. That’s the only way you know it’s safe,” said Textron’s Neil Rutter, adding thousands of the older U.S. variant have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We know that this vehicle can equal it (the U.S. variant) and probably surpass it for reliability.” Textron is one of six companies short-listed to submit bids to the government in August. The feds are poised to buy 500 TAPVs, which will replace the fleet of soft-skinned Coyotes which have run out of room to be upgraded and are proving cramped for soldiers loaded up with gear in Afghanistan. The first vehicle could arrive in summer 2013 ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying (3)  A Halifax company has landed a contract that could be worth nearly $22 million over five years to help Canadian soldiers improve their aim. Armament Technology Inc. will provide the Defence Department with up to 4,500 sets of optical sighting and ranging equipment over the next year. The deal is expected to be worth $4.3 million this year, according to a federal contract award document made public Wednesday. The contract also includes the option of four one-year contract extensions for an additional 5,000 units annually, Armament president Andrew Webber said Wednesday. “It’s the standard sighting system for the standard Canadian service rifle,” he said in an interview from Ottawa, where he was attending a military trade show ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (4)  “The Conservative government wants lobbyists to butt out of Canada’s new shipbuilding industry. Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose managed to raise more than a few eyebrows at a large defence industry trade show in Ottawa on Wednesday with that pronouncement. She told a large gathering of defence industry insiders, military officials, business leaders — and lobbyists — that the government doesn’t want lobbyists to play a role in Canada’s new National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. “Companies involved in the NSPS implementation process have been asked not to engage lobbyists. It was our intention at the outset to ensure that the NSPS competition would be run through a process that is completely arms length of politics,” Ambrose told hundreds in her luncheon speech ….”  More on that here and here.
  • More paratroopers standing behind paratroopers.  “Members of the international brotherhood of paratroopers are defending the disbanded Canadian Airborne Regiment. “These guys have heroes dating from World War Two, it’s wrong to brand the whole unit for the crimes of a few,” retired Staff Sgt. Mike Stocker, a former U.S. Green Beret and president of the Special Forces Association of St. Louis, told QMI Agency. “They were super tight-knit, real tough and real professional. It’s unfair, it’s as if they have taken their swords, broken them and branded them all. As a paratrooper, I stand behind them.” ….”
  • VAC reminder:  you have until the end of this month to apply for Agent Orange payments.  “Veterans Affairs Canada would like to remind Canadians who may be eligible to receive Agent Orange ex gratia payments that they must submit their applications by June 30, 2011. In September 2007, the Government of Canada offered a one-time, tax-free, ex gratia payment of $20,000 related to the testing of unregistered U.S. military herbicides, including Agent Orange, at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Gagetown in New Brunswick during the summers of 1966 and 1967. In December 2010, the deadline for submitting an application was extended to June 30, 2011. Certain eligibility criteria were also modified. Applicants have until June 30, 2011, to get a relevant medical diagnosis, and no longer have to prove that they were expecting their medical diagnosis before February 6, 2006. The requirement for applicants to have been alive on February 6, 2006, has been removed. This allows more primary caregivers, including widows and widowers, to apply on behalf of a loved one who died before the ex gratia payment came into place. Veterans Affairs Canada encourages individuals to submit their completed application before June 30, 2011, with all necessary supporting information. For more information, visit the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site at or call 1-866-522-2122.” News Highlights – 24 Mar 11

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