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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 20 Oct 11

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  • Honkin’ Big Ship (HBS) contracts awarded:  “…. The combat package includes the Royal Canadian Navy’s Arctic Offshore Patrol ships and the Canadian Surface Combatants ships. The non-combat package includes the Navy’s joint support ships, the Canadian Coast Guard’s off-shore science vessels and the new polar icebreaker. Small ship construction (116 vessels), an estimated value of $2 billion, will be set aside for competitive procurement amongst Canadian shipyards other than the yards selected to build large vessels. Regular maintenance and repair, valued at $500 million annually, will be open to all shipyards through normal procurement processes. Irving Shipbuilding Inc. has been selected to build the combat vessel work package (21 vessels), and Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd. has been selected to build the non-combat vessel work package (7 vessels). The total value of both packages is $33 billion and will span 20 to 30 years ….”  More in the government backgrounder here.
  • Media coverage of HBS contracts:  QMI/Sun Media, Victoria Times-Colonist, Vancouver Sun, CBC.ca, Globe & Mail, CTV.ca, Charlottetown Guardian, Toronto Star, Reuters and canadianbusines.com.
  • HBS editorial from the National Post:  “…. The Tories are to be congratulated for devising a tamper-proof, corruption-free, unbiased system for awarding such large contracts. We realize that they originally built this process in large part as a means to cover themselves from the political fallout of hard, unpopular contracting decisions. Nevertheless, they are to be congratulated for sticking with it to the end, despite the potentially controversial result in this case ….”
  • A more “glass is half empty” HBS opinion“The denouement of the great multi-billion-dollar shipbuilding bonanza has left almost everyone popping Champagne corks —except perhaps Quebec, and the poor, bloody taxpayer who will end up footing the bill for the inevitable cost overruns and delays that will result from the government’s made-in-Canada national strategy ….”
  • More HBS commentary“…. It’s almost a no-win situation for the government. Still, the only way to prevent this from becoming the Harper government’s CF-18 moment is for them to hew scrupulously to their technocratic bid process.”
  • More HBS analysis“…. Despite efforts taken to eliminate appearances of partisan interference, it continues to swirl around the billions of dollars in contracts. “Whatever the outcome, the decision is likely to unleash a firestorm,” said Christian Leuprecht from the Queen’s University Centre for International and Defence Policy. “There are no obvious pork-barrel political choices here,” he said, noting the ridings around the Halifax shipyard are all NDP, as are those around the Vancouver shipyard — although some of the neighbouring ridings went Conservative — and around the Davie Shipyard in Quebec City. “If you’re trying to prop up Canada’s industrial heartland, Ontario and Quebec, which has been hurting pretty bad economically and where the Conservatives would be likely to get the most political bang for their buck in terms of votes, the core bid would go to the Davie shipyard.” ….”
  • What (else is) Canada Buying?  “Sleds, self-propelled” for Shilo, Petawawa – more technical details in excerpt from bid document (11 page PDF) here.
  • Libya Mission  Canada’s Sea Kings busy over the Med (via CEFCOM Info-Machine)
  • Afghanistan  Canadians take part in German Unity Day parade in northern Afghanistan (via Regional Support Command-North/NTM-A Info-Machine)
  • Canadian federal officials will participate in an annual crisis management exercise organized by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from October 19 to 26, 2011. Canada’s part in the international exercise will be played from government offices in Ottawa and linked to Canada’s NATO delegation. Crisis Management Exercise 2011 (CMX 11) provides an international forum to test, evaluate and improve coordination, intelligence and information sharing amongst federal departments and agencies with NATO Allies. It will ensure that we work effectively with our international partners to respond to emergencies in Canada or abroad. …. This exercise will involve civilian and military officials from all 28 NATO member nations, NATO Headquarters and NATO Strategic Commands, as well as participants from Sweden and Finland. Lessons learned from the exercise will enhance Canada’s ability to work together with Allies to confront threats of all kinds ….”
  • Stuart Landridge, R.I.P. (1)  A public hearing into the suicide of Edmonton-based soldier Cpl. Stuart Langridge will start in Ottawa on Feb. 27. Langridge hanged himself in March 2008 following several earlier suicide attempts. The young soldier suffered from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and struggled with substance abuse after he returned from a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2005. The Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) announced last month that a hearing would be held. The date was set on Wednesday. The hearing comes after Langridge’s parents filed a formal complaint with the commission. Sheila and Shaun Fynes allege the probe conducted by the Canadian Forces National Investigations Service was not impartial or independent, and aimed to absolve the military of any responsibility for their son’s death ….”
  • Stuart Landridge, R.I.P. (2)  Family seeking help from CF for lawyers to represent them – more here.
  • Ooopsie….  “Some Canadian soldiers are feeling a little unappreciated after home improvement retail giant Lowe’s announced it would pull its discount program it said was offered by mistake – the discount program was only intended for U.S. military members. The U.S.-based company had offered the 10% discount since 2008 to members of the Canadian Armed Forces at four stores – two in Ottawa, one in Kingston, Ont., and one in Belleville, near CFB Trenton. The company said the program was never intended for Canada and just recently realized its error. “I’m not able to get into the specifics of our (Lowe’s) systems and processes, but it (the discount) was a combination of misunderstanding and miscommunication that unfortunately went undetected until now,” Joanne Elson, corporate communications manager with Lowe’s Canada, said Wednesday ….”
  • Mark Collins’ impressions of testimony on organization of the CF at a recent Senate Standing Committee hearing.
  • More back and forth in the House of Commons on east coast search and rescue.  Mr. Ryan Cleary (St. John’s South—Mount Pearl, NDP):  Mr. Speaker, Canada has one of the worst search and rescue response times in the world. A recent incident off Bell Island, Newfoundland showed just how bad it was.  After emergency flares were fired in the area, the Coast Guard called in a provincial ferry, full of passengers, to help the search and rescue effort. It then took the Canadian Coast Guard vessel over three hours to arrive on the scene.  This is not about a limo service from a fishing lodge; this is about human lives. How long would the minister be prepared to wait in icy water before being rescued?  Hon. Keith Ashfield (Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway, CPC):  Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows full well that the search and rescue system is made up of a network of potential responders that includes the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard auxiliary, the Canadian Forces and any vessel of opportunity. Any vessel within the vicinity of a search and rescue call can be asked to assist.  When the flares are discharged, the CCG will treat it as a matter of distress. If the member would like to be constructive, he would help us to take this message back to the public so that lives are not put at unnecessary risk.”
  • Tory MP Tilly O’Neill Gordon (Miramichi) salutes women in the CF in the House of Commons“October is Women’s History Month in Canada. This year’s theme, Women in Canadian Military Forces: A Proud Legacy, highlights the important contributions of women to the Canadian military forces throughout Canada’s history. It is an ideal time to learn about the work of outstanding women who serve and protect Canada and Canadians through key roles in the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Women such as Elizabeth Gregory MacGill, the first woman aircraft designer in the world, Josée Kurtz, the first woman to command a warship, and Marie Louise Fish, the first woman to serve as a naval officer at sea, are inspiring leaders. Their milestone achievements helped pave the way for women in the Canadian military. On behalf of all Canadians, we thank them for being an important part of our national military history.”
  • A Conservative MP presents a nuclear disarmament petition in the House.  “Canadians are well aware of the destructive power of nuclear weapons, a power that the world’s worst dictators and terrorists are trying to acquire. I would like to present to the House a petition from the Oakville chapter of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The petition is signed by 330 residents of Oakville. The petitioners ask the government to commit to the motion passed by the House on December 7, 2010, regarding the global disarmament of nuclear weapons. I am happy to present this petition for a response from our government.”  The text of the December 2010 motion:  “By unanimous consent, it was resolved, — That the House of Commons: (a) recognize the danger posed by the proliferation of nuclear materials and technology to peace and security; (b) endorse the statement, signed by 500 members, officers and companions of the Order of Canada, underlining the importance of addressing the challenge of more intense nuclear proliferation and the progress of and opportunity for nuclear disarmament; (c) endorse the 2008 five-point plan for nuclear disarmament of Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and encourage the Government of Canada to engage in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention as proposed by the United Nations Secretary-General; (d) support the initiatives for nuclear disarmament of President Obama of the United States of America; and (e) commend the decision of the Government of Canada to participate in the landmark Nuclear Security Summit and encourage the Government of Canada to deploy a major world-wide Canadian diplomatic initiative in support of preventing nuclear proliferation and increasing the rate of nuclear disarmament.”
  • Letter to the editor:  let’s not forget the Aboriginal contribution to the War of 1812.  “Canadians are unaware of the full import of the role of First Nations and the pivotal role the War of 1812 played in the history of Canada’s treatment of aboriginal peoples. Many historians believe that Britain would have lost the war without the aboriginal military strength. Canada’s very existence depended on First Nations co-operation …. Native leaders like Tecumseh hoped for an alliance with Britain to help prevent the elimination of First Nations at the hands of the U.S. The British proclamation of 1763 had meant recognition and accommodation of aboriginal peoples by Britain. First Nations were military allies against the Americans ….”
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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 8 Oct 11

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  • “Canada’s top soldier is defending the use of Challenger jets in an email to all the staff at the Department of National Defence ….”  Here’s the text of the e-mail sent to all CF members this week – media coverage here, here, here, here and here.
  • Latest to the defence of the Minister, CDS on Challenger use:  former Ministers Graham and Pratt & former CDS’s Manson and Henault:  “…. We the undersigned, having served in the past respectively as ministers or chiefs of defence, view with concern the recent attacks regarding the use of government jets by the current incumbents. Alarming the Canadian public with dollar figures that dramatically inflate the real cost of using the Challengers, while misconstruing the context and realities of that use, does a disservice to the Minister of National Defence, the Chief of Defence Staff and the people they serve.”
  • Blogger/info curator Mark Collins on future missions for the CF (if the U.S. gets its way).
  • Afghanistan (1)  A timeline, ten years in – more here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Quebec Senator welcomes Valcartier troops back from Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan (3)  Khadr Boy on his way back to Canada?  “Omar Khadr has started the process to come back to Canada. Lawyers for Khadr, who is serving eight years in a U.S. prison for killing a U.S. soldier when he was 15, have filed the paperwork required to start the repatriation process. Corrections officials have received the request for transfer and now have to determine if Khadr is eligible to return to Canada to finish out his sentence. Once Canadian officials determine that, they send an official request to American officials. If U.S. officials agree, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has the final say. He has the option of refusing the transfer if he decides Khadr is a risk to public safety. The process is expected to take about 18 months ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch  Ten years after Americans hit Afghanistan, Taliban claim “divine victory is with us alike the previous ten years”.
  • One Naval Reservist’s job in the fight against pirates.  When she arrives at work each morning in a northwest suburb of London, Lt.-Cmdr. Susan Long-Poucher steps into the North Arabian Sea. Her windowless office at the the NATO shipping centre in Northwood is lined with maps of exotic locations such as the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Somali Basin and the Persian Gulf. From here, Long-Poucher, 49, helps keep tabs on pirates who, equipped with tiny speed boats and a handful of small arms, prey on a fortune of commercial shipping. “Even though I work in the United Kingdom, when I come to work I am in the gulf,” said Long-Poucher, commanding officer of HMCS Cataraqui, the local naval reserve unit. Long-Poucher is in the midst of a six-month assignment to the shipping centre as part of an international anti-piracy campaign. Long-Poucher is the senior of three Canadian officers assigned to the centre as part of Operation Saiph, Canada’s commitment to increasing maritime security in the waters around the Horn of Africa ….”
  • Changes proposed to military law, specifically in how courts martial are run and military judges get to be more independent – more here and here.
  • Talkin’ search and rescue way up north. “Delegates from eight circumpolar countries met in Whitehorse this week for a conference on Arctic search and rescue co-operation. The purpose of the meeting of members of the Arctic Council Oct. 5 and 6 was to study the Arctic Search and Rescue agreement signed in May in Nuuk, Greenland, and to examine ways to enhance search and rescue capability and response across the North. Besides Canada, the members of the Arctic Council are Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia and the United States. It took 30 hours for some of the delegates to get to Yukon ….”
  • “Come lookit our non-lethal weapon tech” conference and trade show scheduled for Ottawa 25-27 Oct 11.
  • What’s Canada Melting Down?  Loads of old pistols, apparently“Despite all its bluster about saving money and honouring Canada’s armed forces, the Conservative federal government is poised to melt down millions of dollars worth of military memorabilia. Specifically, the Department of Defence is planning to send 19,000 highly collectable Browning Hi-Power pistols made in Toronto more than 60 years ago to the smelter and destroy them, instead of allowing licensed firearm owners to buy them for hundreds of dollars each. As reported recently, the Canadian Forces are replacing the Browning Hi-Power semi-automatic pistols starting in the fall 2015. The decommissioned sidearms, the standard military issue pistol for the forces since 1944, are set to be destroyed ….”  Just a reminder – the process to replace the Browning HP has been “cancelled” – still no word from Public Works Canada re:  why.
  • Congrats on hour #3000“Major Miguel Bernard joined an elite club on Aug. 15, 2011 when he flew his 3,000th hour in the CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft while transiting from Bagotville, Que. to Trapani, Italy, to support Operation Mobile. “It’s a significant milestone because not many people have it,” he said from Trapani. “It just takes time.” Maj Bernard is one of only two active CF-18 pilots with 3,000 hours in the aircraft ….”
  • Canada’s Veterans Ombudsman, Guy Parent, will travel to Quebec City to host a public town hall session (on 12 Oct 11) for Veterans, RCMP members, military members, families and other interested parties. Mr. Parent will deliver a short presentation outlining the mandate and services of the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman. This will be followed by a question and answer period with the audience ….”
  • (Alleged) Terrorist Bad Guy Update  Two men from a group accused of plotting terrorist attacks in Canada appeared briefly in court in Ottawa (this week) to learn some of the conditions of their upcoming trials. Misbahuddin Ahmed and Khurram Syed Sher and a third man, Hiva Alizadeh, were arrested and their homes raided last year in an RCMP investigation dubbed Project Samossa. All three were charged with conspiracy to facilitate terrorism. Police accused the three men of plotting with others in Canada and abroad to aid terrorism activities. Ahmed, an Ottawa X-ray technologist, is also charged with possessing an explosive substance with the intent to harm. On Wednesday, an Ontario court judge set aside a time from June 18 to July 13 next year for the pre-trial for both Ahmed and Sher ….”
  • (Maybe) (Alleged) Terrorist Bad Guy Update  The RCMP was last night interviewing a man in connection with a plot involving the national security of Canada. The man was first seen on Oct. 1 at a DocuServe Etc., store at 20 Dundas St. E., Mississauga, the Mounties. “We believe he can corroborate some information that we have received,” Const. Richard Rollings said. Rollings refused to comment on specifics citing an ongoing national security probe. Police said the man, who may be a suspect, holds answers regarding the legitimacy of a plot or where an incident may occur ….”  More from Postmedia News here, and a copy of the RCMP news release downloadable here (via Milnet.ca).
  • Oopsie…. “Researchers in Winnipeg’s National Microbiology lab must now obtain extra approval before they transport lethal pathogens, after a “miscommunication” three years ago left senior officials scrambling to find out why a shipment of Level 4 viruses was sent out of the secure lab ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 5 Oct 11

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  • We have a border security deal (reportedly)!  A much-ballyhooed perimeter security deal between Canada and the United States will come with a $1-billion price tag for new border facilities and programs to make trade and travel easier, The Canadian Press has learned. The Conservative government will use money cut from existing programs to cover the hefty cost of the international pact — an attempt to protect the continent from terrorist threats while speeding the flow of people and products across the 49th parallel. The deal, as described by several sources, is more evolutionary than revolutionary, falling short of the grand vision outlined with fanfare eight months ago when Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama announced negotiations ….”  More here.
  • 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 (1)  Poking the Defence Minister in Question Period – again – on (based on a book that’s not out yet) being out of the loop on Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Canada fighting the fight (against polio) in Afghanistan.
  • 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 FantinoAn 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 ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Someone to make fake explosives to test detection equipment (more in Statement of Work – 4 page PDF – here), upgrading the range at CFB Valcartier, someone to manage Canada’s presence at the Farnborough Air Show, and CADPAT rank slip-ons.
  • 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 ….”
  • The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre engaged in some diplomacy of its own recently when its leaders invited ambassadors and military attachés to its Carleton University headquarters to update them on its activities. Michael Snell, project manager for the centre, told the group of about 30 diplomats about the work the centre has been doing with the 10 training centres that compose the Association of Latin America Peacekeeping Centres. The centre’s three causes, Snell said, are: women and peacekeeping; supporting new training centres; and enhancing police participation in UN missions from Latin America ….”
  • 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 ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 23 Feb 11

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  • Things don’t seem to be getting better in Libya, so Canada’s getting ready to fly people out of there. The federal government is sending flights to Libya to rescue stranded Canadians, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Tuesday. Evacuees will be flown to Europe and, as with flights arranged earlier this month to bring home Canadians in Egypt, Canada is working with “like-minded” countries to share flights. The first plane is expected to arrive in Tripoli, the country’s capital, on Thursday. At a news conference in Ottawa, Cannon said 331 Canadians are registered with the embassy in Tripoli, Libya’s capital, and 91 have told Canadian staff they plan to leave ….” More from Canada’s Foreign Affairs department on those flights here, as well as from Postmedia News, Reuters, Agence France Presse, the Globe & Mail and CTV.ca.
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • A 14-year-old gets it on Afghanistan“…. Afghan teachers and the girls they’re teaching tell us how grateful they are to have the chance to finally live a freer life, with access to education. These are the voices we must listen to. We obviously couldn’t do the work we do without security. But when NATO eventually leaves, Canadians must not abandon Afghanistan. We should continue to support the aid projects that are changing lives, especially the right to education – because that’s the only way we’ll create and sustain peace.”
  • What Canadian troops are up to in Southern Sudan“CF observers deployed on Operation SAFARI pack their kit and head out into the bush on five- or six-day patrols. They carry not only food, water and tents but also a generator, because there is no electricity or telephone service in small Sudanese villages. Op SAFARI is Canada’s contribution to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS). It is also the military component of the Canadian whole-of-government engagement in southern Sudan that also includes activities by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Canadian International Development Agency and the RCMP. “We spend six days in the bush,” says Major Ed Smith, a UN military observer (UNMO) at Team Site (TS) Rumbek in the Sudan. “Our job is to know what is going on everywhere in this state, and send reports back to the United Nations. There are no lines of communication, no phones, no electricity, no running water, nothing – not even paved roads in this state. The only way the UN has of monitoring situations is through the UNMO, so we go and spend our time in the bush, then write up reports on what we see.” ….”
  • Remember this MERX listing from 2008, looking for someone interested in providing consulting services to build a new helicopter hangar on Canada’s west coast to replace a 60-year-old one? The PM has announced the building should be finished “in the winter prior to the arrival of nine new CH-148 Cyclone Helicopters in the spring of 2014.” More in the backgrounder here, and media coverage here, here and here.
  • A Defence Department study says it’s risky for the air force to continue using Griffon helicopters for search and rescue in Central Canada. The review by the chief of air force development cites limitations of the CH-146, pressed into service in 2005 at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ont., because the military’s principal search helicopter is often not available. The air force intends to keep using the Griffon at the base until at least 2014, say briefing notes for Defence Minister Peter MacKay. But the 2009 air force study, obtained under the Access to Information Act, said the helicopter’s “capabilities are challenged” when employed as a front-line rescue aircraft and its use constitutes a “risk.” The CH-146, a military version of the Bell 412 civilian chopper, is too small and lacks the range to reach wilderness sites in Northern Ontario and Quebec without refuelling. Having to stop for gas “increases the response time to an incident site, and the amount of time the helicopter can remain on the scene to perform rescue tasks,” said the 20-page censored report. It noted one incident where search-and-rescue technicians were lowered to a crash site “and the helicopter departed the scene to refuel before extracting the casualties.” ….” Re:  the bit in red, any chance of anybody reading the paper or the internet being able to read the report for themselves?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Anyone?
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) “…. Stephen Harper threw down the gauntlet Tuesday to his critics who question his government’s military spending, including $16 billion for 65 F-35 stealth fighter jets. That purchase is expected to be a major election issue for the Liberals and NDP in the next campaign, whenever it’s called. While announcing a new $155 million helicopter base in B.C., Harper warned against “willful naivete” in national security, and said Canada has to be ready to defend itself from any and all threats. “If you don’t do that, you soon don’t have a country and you don’t have any of the other good things you once thought were more important,” he said. “Our country has certainly never gone and will never go looking for trouble. However, many times during the past 200 years, trouble has come looking for us. While Canada does not aspire to be an armed camp, neither is their any place in national defence for willful naivety.” ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) The Department of National Defence says it is hiding a key F-35 document from the public because that type of document is classified. Yet its own website hosts many of these same types of papers for public downloading, almost all of which are marked as “unclassified.” This has prompted allegations the Harper government and military have “twisted” Canada’s procurement process so it can buy the billion-dollar planes. The document, called a “Statement of Operational Requirements,” is a well-established centerpiece of the military’s procurement process. Save for certain classified bits of information, it is typically released publicly so Canadians can examine what their armed forces need before their tax dollars are spent. However in an unusual step, the Harper government did not release an operational requirements statement before announcing its plan to replace Canada’s fleet of ageing CF-18 fighter jets with the F-35. In fact, the military has admitted it chose the F-35 before it even drew up the Statement of Operational Requirements. Despite this, the department has continued to hide the document from public view, saying in an email that “an Air Force project’s Statement of Operational Requirements is an internal Department of National Defence document.” “SORs are classified documents” that are “not disclosed publicly,” added spokesperson Evan Koronewski ….”
  • If this has been reported properly, apparently, the RCMP says a former military police officer (who’s served overseas in Bosnia and Cyprus) hasn’t been a Halifax cop long enough to qualify for a U.N. policing job in Haiti. “RCMP brass in Ottawa won’t allow a former Canadian military member and current Halifax cop who’s done two previous tours in wartorn countries to be a peacekeeper in Haiti. “It’s absolutely asinine,” said Dave Moore, president of the Municipal Association of Police Personnel, the union that represents the unnamed Halifax officer. “To me it’s making a statement that (he’s) substandard and that’s not true at all in our eyes.” The officer, who’s worked under the auspices of the UN in Bosnia and Cyprus, has been on the Halifax Regional Police force for more than two years. Before that, he spent 12 years in the Canadian military, seven of those as a military cop. “We’ve worked many, many years with the military police. They’re as well qualified as the federal force,” said Moore ….”
  • Over his 22 years in the Canadian Forces, Chris Hennebery saw not a single gunshot fired in anger. It’s only now, as a married father of two little girls and a successful software executive, that he’s going to find himself in a combat zone. Hennebery leaves at the end of next month to work as an artist in Afghanistan, capturing in his sketchbook and watercolours images of Canadian soldiers at war. After three weeks in NATO combat outposts and on patrols in the heartland of the Taliban insurgency, Hennebery will return to Canada to turn his preliminary works into a series of 10 large acrylic paintings. Accompanying the former professional artist will be photographer Shaun O’Mara, a former British commando and Canadian soldier whom Hennebery served with in the Royal Westminster Regiment ….”
  • Sigh….One of the doctors charged last week with drugging and sexually assaulting a woman in downtown Toronto hotel is a long-serving member of the Canadian military, CBC News has learned. Dr. Amitabh Chauhan, 32, of Ancaster, Ont., has been closely associated with the Canadian Forces since 1997, when he became a cadet. The following year he enrolled in the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., as an officer cadet. Chauhan, received his undergraduate degree from RMC in 2002 with an honours BA in politics and economics. “Following his education with RMC, he began his training to become a pilot in January 2004. He ceased training in July 2005 and undertook a variety of duties,” the Department of National Defence said in a written statement to CBC News. He did his pilot training at CFB Moose Jaw. On Monday, Toronto police said that when he was arrested Chauhan had a Saskatchewan driver’s licence. Chauhan left the military in 2007 but continued his association as a member of the naval reserve, which he joined three years ago. “Mr. Chauhan is a naval reservist who works part-time at the naval reserve division HMCS Star in Hamilton [Ont.] and holds the rank of acting sub-lieutenant,” according to the military. He is currently a post-graduate student in the plastic surgery department at McMaster University in Hamilton ….” I can’t wait for the CBC to start writing about the university history of future criminals.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Taliban claim responsibility for killing translator for Americans in Mullah Omar’s (alleged) former compound in Kandahar City.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 2 Feb 11

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  • Oopsie…. “The Canadian Forces have handed out tens of millions of taxpayers’ dollars in benefits over the past five years without the government’s approval. But it was bureaucratic bungling, not malfeasance, that caused the costly oversight.  While Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson, the vice-chief of defence staff, said Tuesday the payments were made in good faith, “we didn’t do our homework … we didn’t make sure that we actually had the authority to do some of these things.”  At issue for CF brass is that the Treasury Board oversees the military’s benefits and compensation regime, and has a specific list of what is allowed.  But as the Canadian Forces expanded and changed in recent years, bureaucrats at National Defence didn’t keep up with the rules.  Many of the unauthorized benefits, paid out to between 3,000 and 7,000 members and their families, were reimbursements for certain domestic expenses and others related to non-Afghanistan deployments.  For example, reimbursing a member who had paid to store their car while he or she was sent out of the country, or paying to cut the grass while they were away on the job.  But they also include the costs for repatriation ceremonies of fallen soldiers and, even though Donaldson said the unauthorized payments would stop Wednesday, the ramp ceremonies will continue with private funds, “to continue supporting the families of the fallen to make sure that we’re doing the right thing by our people.”  He added the Forces will also keep paying for family members to visit wounded or sick CF members, some of which were also unauthorized ….” More here.  To be fair, some of this appears to be doing the right thing (helping family see wounded members, or achieve closure by visiting where their loved ones died), but not following ALL the steps.
  • Wanna buy a slightly used Canadian Chinook helicopter? “The National Defence department has put “For Sale” signs on the air force’s Chinook helicopters in Afghanistan — two years after taxpayers shelled out $282 million to buy them. The department recently sounded out allies in the war-torn country to see whether any are interested in the heavy battlefield transports, bought second-hand from the U.S. Army …. So far there have been no takers for the five CH-147D choppers, which were rushed into Afghanistan after the Manley commission made it a condition of Ottawa continuing the war until 2011 ….”
  • Longer way home from Afghanistan = bigger bill to come home“It will probably cost Canada an extra $90 million to sustain and then wind up its mission in Kandahar by the end of the year because its military aircraft are still banned from the United Arab Emirates, according to calculations by Postmedia News.  Several senior officers have confirmed that the previously cited $300 million — which was widely reported in the media and attacked by the opposition in November — was far too high as the cost of leaving the U.A.E. base.  But the military and the Harper government have not provided a breakdown of the additional costs that will be incurred because the military has had to shift its air hub for Kandahar from Camp Mirage in Dubai to a U.S. airbase at Spangdahlem, Germany ….”
  • The NDP’s still trying to get Canada to pull ALL troops out of Afghanistan“I have a petition signed by dozens of Canadians calling upon the Government of Canada to end Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan.  In May 2008, Parliament passed a resolution to withdraw the Canadian Forces by July 2011. The Prime Minister, with the agreement of the Liberal Party, broke his oft-repeated promise to honour the parliamentary motion and therefore refuses to put it to a parliamentary vote in the House …. Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Prime Minister to honour the will of Parliament and bring the troops home now.” Note to NDP:  the motion was passed in MARCH 2008, and only says Canada’ll be out of KANDAHAR, not Afghanistan.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Zabul and claims of a UAV being shot down over Nimroz.
  • Parliamentarians were told Tuesday that Canada’s ability to search the Atlantic is severely inadequate for emergency calls that happen to come at night. While military search and rescue crews can usually respond to an emergency within an hour, that depends on a call coming during daylight. At night, two hours is considered permissible. Paul Clay, president of Seacom International, a St. John’s company that specializes in emergency response plans in the offshore oil industry, told the parliamentary defence committee that Canada is falling short. “The intention of search and rescue times is to save life and the attention of those resources is to save life,” Clay said. “Canada’s two-hour response is the longest in the world, as far as I know. It is grossly in my opinion, where it shouldn’t be. We should lower those times.” ….” More on this here.
  • No Arctic mapping camp THIS year. “The Canadian government is abandoning plans for a remote scientific camp on the Arctic Ocean ice this year, citing dangerously thin ice conditions. Over the past five years, scientists have set up ice camps in remote areas of the Arctic Ocean as they gather extensive mapping data that could help Canada claim a greater area of the seabed under the Law of the Sea convention … This year, 25 Canadian scientists were to conduct their mapping work from an ice camp about 400 kilometres offshore. Last year, a similar camp housed 12 researchers on an ice floe on the Arctic Ocean, about 250 kilometres offshore from Borden Island in the High Arctic. But that ice floe started breaking up, said Jacob Verhoef, director of Canada’s mapping program with the Natural Resources Department ….”
  • Canada and the U.K. may be talking about building a big navy ship together. “Britain is in talks with Canada about a possible joint program to develop a frigate for their respective navies, according to U.K. Defence Minister Gerald Howarth.  Responding to questions from parliamentarians Jan. 31, Howarth said the British government is in “close discussion with the Canadians” on a possible collaborative program to develop the Global Combat Ship, destined to replace Type 23 frigates in Royal Navy service by the start of the next decade.  The minister said Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Turkey have expressed interest in the warship program, to be called the Type 26 in Royal Navy service, when Defence Secretary Liam Fox recently visited the various countries ….”
  • More testing for Canada’s Sea King replacement. “The new CH-148 Cyclone, which arrived at Shearwater January 6, will be undergoing further testing on board HMCS Montréal. The tests will last several weeks, under the direction of Sikorsky International Operations Inc., prime contractor on the Maritime Helicopter Project. The CH-148 Cyclone will provide anti-submarine surveillance, and will have enhanced search and rescue and tactical transport capabilities. Tests of the operational limits of a ship-borne helicopter will make a notable contribution to the Project, which seeks to replace the existing Sea King fleet that has been in service since the 1960s …. “
  • What’s Canada Buying? New Trenton hangar build, Electric UAVs and Air Force Outerwear (via Army.ca)
  • Canada’s PM on Egypt:  “Following President Mubarak’s announcement …. that he will not seek re-election, Canada reiterates its support for the Egyptian people as they transition to new leadership and a promising future.  Canada supports universal values – including freedom, democracy and justice – and the right to the freedom of assembly, speech and information. As Egypt moves towards new leadership, we encourage all parties to work together to ensure an orderly transition toward a free and vibrant society in which all Egyptians are able to enjoy these rights and freedoms – not a transition that leads to violence, instability and extremism …. We urge all parties in Egypt to renounce violence and allow peaceful and meaningful dialogue between the people and government to address political, economic and social concerns. This dialogue should lead to free and fair elections and a government that supports universal values.”
  • Meanwhile, Canada’s cranking up the diplomatic machine to get more help quicker to Canadians needing a hand in Egypt. “The frustrating wait has ended for many Canadians who were trying to get the federal government to tell them how to escape the turmoil that has enveloped Egypt.  The Foreign Affairs Department’s decision to ramp up service at its operations centre in Ottawa, to deploy more staff to Europe and Cairo and to add several new telephone lines eased the backlog of people who could not get through to consular officials to ask for help.  “There are bumps in the road that obviously you wish you hadn’t encountered but I think there’s been an outstanding level of service and responsiveness to the situation,” Diane Ablonczy, the Minister of State for Consular Affairs, said Tuesday.  In the end, a large number of Canadians passed on the opportunity to leave the country, opting instead to wait out the unrest that shows some signs of abating ….”
  • NDP MP wants 5 May to be designated as “Maple Leaf and Tulip Day” to honour Canada’s links to the Netherlands during World War 2 (via milnet.ca).  Note:  private members bills like these rarely pass.
  • Jamaica’s trainee military pilots have a nicer place to live, thanks to help from Canada.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 1 Feb 11

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  • F-35 Tug of War (1)Defence Minister Peter MacKay says F-35 aerial refueling problem not a problem“…. the F-35 will have refuelling capability and capacity. Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the plane, has confirmed that the F-35 can handle different types of refuelling systems, including the one currently used by our forces ….”
  • F-35 Tug of War (2): “…. Maj.-Gen. Tom Lawson, assistant chief of the air staff, told CBC News in Mississauga, Ont., that he wants to “de-lie” many myths floating around about the F-35s. “It’s important to us that Canadians have the facts,” Lawson said. “Landing on airports up in the North is absolutely no problem at all.” The Ottawa Citizen report also said DND officials were looking at having the F-35 manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, install a “drag” parachute on the aircraft to slow them down when they land on short runways ….”
  • CF Media Update from Afghanistan (1): Troops handing out shoes, warm clothes to Afghan kids. “Could you imagine living in a house with no electricity, no sewage an no heating systems? For some of us, this isn’t so difficult as some people in Quebec experienced these conditions only a few decades ago. Now imagine that the walls of your house are of dried mud and the floor is nothing but sand. In winter, you’re lucky because the days are comfortable, with temperatures hovering between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius above freezing. when the sun goes down, the country’s desert climate makes itself felt. In fact, temperatures can dip to as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius at night. While this might not compare to a Canadian winter, it’s challenging for the Afghan people, who have few resources at their disposal ….”
  • CF Media Update from Afghanistan (2)What the troops are up to in Zangabad“The guys of A Company — TAZ — were well aware that it wasn’t going to be a piece of cake. They first set foot in their future platoon house in early December, making it a night move for greater security. Under normal conditions, a soldier on foot patrol carries 40 to 75 pounds on his back — water, ammunition, personal protective equipment. On this particular night, the guys loaded up with all the ammo, food, equipment and personal possessions they could carry. When they arrived, the ground was completely covered with 20 cm of dust as fine as flour, nasty stuff that goes by the over-poetic name of “moon dust.” The place also offered plenty of evidence of past use as a stable. Heaps of damp straw mixed with animal droppings lay all over the place. For the first few nights, the guys had to sleep on the ground, making do despite the unpleasantness of the situation ….”
  • CF Media Update from Afghanistan (3)More Afghan cops ready to hit the streets. “After six weeks of police and tactics training, 198 freshly minted Afghan policemen face the challenge of their new career. On 6 January 2011, the Regional Training Center Kandahar (RTC‑K) hosted the graduation ceremony for new members of the Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP), the primary civil law enforcement agency in Afghanistan and a component of the Afghan National Police (ANP). During the six-week AUP Basic Patrol Course, candidates learned fundamental skills ranging from handcuffing and defensive tactics to identifying improvised explosive devices and reacting to an ambush ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Australian casualties alleged in Uruzgan, and +20 allegedly killed in Taliban attacks across Kandahar.
  • Search-and-rescue services in Newfoundland and Labrador will go under the microscope beginning Monday at public hearings by a federal committee. A parliamentary standing committee on national defence is holding the hearings in Gander, in central Newfoundland, part of a study into the Canadian military’s search-and-rescue services. Officials from the airport in Gander, where military search-and-rescue crews are based, and the town are scheduled to go before the committee on the first day of the hearings ….”