MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 19 Oct 11

  • What’s Canada Buying?  Big Honkin’ Ship contract announcement creeping closer.  Shipbuilders across the country will find out (today) who will share $35 billion to revitalize the navy and coast guard over the next 30 years. Two massive contracts are up for grabs: $25 billion to build 15 military vessels, such as destroyers, frigates and offshore and Arctic patrol vessels; as well as $8 billion to build non-combat ships, including scientific vessels for the coast guard and a new Arctic icebreaker. The announcement is expected (today) at 4 p.m. ET. Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding and Vancouver’s Seaspan Marine Corp. are bidding on both, while Quebec’s Davie Shipyard is bidding on the $8-billion contract. Davie, which had been idle and on the brink of bankruptcy, put together a last-minute bid with Ontario’s Upper Lakes Group, international giant SNC-Lavalin and Korea’s Daewoo ….”  More on the wait here, here, here, here, here and here.
  • Honkin’ big exercise coming to CFB Wainwright. “CFB Wainwright is partaking in a historical exercise this month at the base’s Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre as part of a progressive shift to prepare troops for any battle they may face in the near or distant future. The Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre in Wainwright officially opened in 2004 with only 30 permanent staff. In 2006 the CMTC held its first large-scale military exercise and since then has grown to incorporate more challenging exercises and learning methods. Enter MAPLE RESOLVE. On Oct. 11 CFB Wainwright held a media day to showcase CMTC’s latest exercise called MAPLE RESOLVE 1101 (MR 1101), a month-long exercise running from Oct. 1 to 28. During the exercise CFB Wainwright will be hosting about 4,000 soldiers from Canada, the United States and The United Kingdom and more than 900 military vehicles and other assets such as Air Force support, making this the largest exercise in CMTC’s history ….”
  • Members of the Order of Military Merit are now eligible to preside at citizenship ceremonies, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced (Tuesday) …. Although citizenship judges preside at most citizenship ceremonies, occasions arise where they are not available. On such occasions, recipients of the Order of Military Merit may be invited to preside at a ceremony. This is an honorary role, in which the volunteer ceremony presiding official speaks to new citizens about the responsibilities and privileges of Canadian citizenship, administers the Oath of Citizenship and presents a citizenship certificate to each new Canadian ….”  More on this here.
  • What’s the Veterans Affairs Minister have to say when asked in the House of Commons about $226M being cut from the budget?  “…. on the contrary, we are investing in our veterans. With the new veterans charter, we are investing an additional $189 million for our veterans. However, there is a reality we must all face in the House and that is that our Korean War and World War II veterans are aging and, unfortunately, will be passing away in greater numbers over the coming decades. I invite the hon. member to support this government’s initiatives. She can support our “Helmets to Hardhats” initiative to encourage our soldiers ….”
  • Remember this story, with no shared documentation?  “The Canadian military is keeping a watch on aboriginal groups through an intelligence unit that is meant to protect the Forces and the Department of National Defence from espionage, terrorists and saboteurs. The Canadian Forces’ National Counter-Intelligence Unit assembled at least eight reports on the activities of native organizations between January, 2010, and July, 2011, according to records released under access to information law ….”  Since the Globe & Mail doesn’t appear to want to share, I will – documents in question downloadable (21 page PDF) here – you’re welcome.
  • Head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Alan Bersin:  it doesn’t HAVE to be “increased security” VERSUS “harder trade”“On the eve of a perimeter security deal between Ottawa and Washington, the top U.S. customs official is championing the idea of a “thinner” border for low-risk traffic as he seeks to reassure Canadians he understands what they want from the controversial agreement. Alan Bersin, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says he wants to make it easier for legitimate travellers and cargo to enter the United States so both countries can focus on high-risk traffic instead …. “The message I hope to be helping spread during this trip is that the old dichotomy between the promotion of trade and heightening of security … is a false choice,” he said ….”
  • Barnett “Barney” Danson, 1921-2011, R.I.P.  Barney Danson’s life was forged on the battlefields of Normandy, where he was wounded, lost his three best friends and the sight in one eye, and found himself as a person. Danson, who died Monday in Toronto, returned from the Second World War to found a successful business and an equally successful political career that saw him become defence minister. He went on to win many awards, help build the Canadian War Museum and be named a companion of Order of Canada. But it was his experiences at war with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, where he rose to lieutenant from ordinary rifleman, that had the greatest impact on him. “Many of the things from my military experience were invaluable in shaping the rest of my life,” he said in a 2002 interview. “Certainly it was a great motivating factor in getting into politics in the first place.” ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 26 Jul 11

  • What’s Canada Buying:  Big Honkin’ Ships (1)  A winning bid by North Vancouver-based Seaspan Marine for one of two federal shipbuilding contracts currently up for grabs would trigger a stimulus package of up to $40 million for the province’s shipbuilding industry, the British Columbia government announced Monday. Pat Bell, B.C. minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, made the announcement at Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards. “As promised, our government is helping Seaspan submit the strongest possible bid and this investment focuses on job creation. “We are investing in our human capital by supporting the creation of marine industry jobs for years to come.” As well, B.C. Ferries pledged $20 million to build capacity in the ship repair and maintenance sector ….”  More from Reuters here, the Globe & Mail here and the Government of British Columbia here.
  • What’s Canada Buying:  Big Honkin’ Ships (2)  Vancouver should brace itself for significant change if Vancouver Shipyards Company wins a portion of the $35-billion in federal contracts for new warships and other vessels this fall, a company executive says. In an interview shortly after the company submitted its bid, John Shaw, a vice-president at the parent company Seaspan Marine Corp., said winning the contract would mean expansion of training and apprenticeship programs, and a search for more than 2,000 new employees. “We would be rebuilding an industry. … We’re at a point where we would have to train a whole new generation on shipbuilding,” Mr. Shaw said. “It would be a huge change here.” ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying:  Big Honkin’ Ships (3)  “Canada is going ahead with a $3.3 billion plan to beef up Arctic security and assert its sovereignty amid competing measures by other countries increasingly interested in the thawing region’s immense potential. The funds will be used to build up to eight Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships, the navy said. In addition to more than $3 billion in acquiring the vessels, another $4.5 billion will be needed to maintain them over an expected 25-year lifespan. International efforts to flag ownership of parts of the Arctic has heated up in recent years as Arctic ice melts, offering numerous opportunities including alternative maritime routes. Canada is keen to stamp its sovereignty on the area it sees as its own amid frequent challenges from Russia. It has bolstered and extended its military presence but is only now beginning to boost its forces ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Research into the “thinking” software for controlling multiple UAVs, and someplace to live for CC-177 techs to live while training in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • More politics with the (possible?  potential?) privatization of Canada’s search and rescue forces?  “…. (Newfoundland & Labrador Premier Kathy) Dunderdale was asked about the speculation the federal government will be looking at the hiring of private operators to provide air search and rescue services …. “As soon as I heard the speculation Ottawa might be considering that, we contacted the Prime Minister’s Office immediately and said again to them the health and safety is the number one priority in this province. It’s an issue to which we’re highly sensitive, we’re still very, very upset over the Marine Sub-Centre, and we’re not letting that go. So please do not exacerbate this any further. And, before you have any consideration at all about changing the way you do this business, you come to Newfoundland and Labrador and you talk to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and you talk to the people involved in this industry before you take any moves whatsoever,” Dunderdale said …. Not long after that statement, the premier made the point there is no issue yet, since the privatization of air search and rescue services remains only speculation.”
  • Minister of National Defence in Winnipeg today to make $ announcement at 17 Wing.
  • Fracas on the West Coast over building heights and airplanes “Time and due process will eventually resolve the controversy surrounding possible overheight buildings in CFB Comox airspace, according to base commander Jim Benninger. As well, 19 Wing will work with Transport Canada to ensure service in and out of the airport continues as normal, Benninger told the Echo. The issue began after the Department of National Defence (DND) rejected the preferred Crown Isle site for a new Comox Valley hospital, on grounds the proposed four-storey building would have exceeded federal height regulations. The Vancouver Island Health Authority had applied for a variance permit for the site in March, but it was ultimately rejected by DND. Following that news, it emerged that DND would be conducting a survey of its airspace, a four-kilometre radius from the base that includes most of Crown Isle Resort ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  It may be almost a month away, but the celebration for returning Canadian Forces members from Afghanistan is largely planned already at Kingston’s Royal Canadian Legion Branch 560. The event takes place on Aug. 20, and legion president Allan Jones says it’s going to be big. “We’re a military town,” Jones said. Between 150 and 200 Afghan veterans from the Kingston area, their families, legion members and the general public are all invited to attend, Jones said. The legion hosts a large annual event for Remembrance Day on Nov. 11, Jones said; “We expect it to be as big or bigger than that.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Head of Canada’s Army visits Fort Campbell, KY to award Commendation to U.S. unit for work in Afghanistan in 2008 – pictures at Flickr.com here.
  • Afghanistan (3)  Reservist loses military job after deploying to Afghanistan???  There’s got to be more to this story than meets the page….
  • How poochies are helping wounded warriors“Retired soldier Dave Desjardins is best friends with a 2 1/2-year-old Rottweiler named Maggie. Maggie helps the 41-year-old Ottawa resident pick up water bottles, take clothes out of the dryer, close the fridge door and get down the stairs. She gives hugs. On easily the hottest day of the summer, Maggie sits panting next to Desjardins, who’s on his living room couch, and braces herself so he can get up for a glass of water. “I know you hate when I do this,” he says. He grips her thick neck, tells her to steady, and, struggling against the pain of his hips, stands upright. “That’s my girl. Good job,” he says, giving her huge jowls a scratch and then slowly making his way to the kitchen. Maggie happily trots after him ….”
  • Canadians in Ukraine training, exercising with loads of other troops – this from the U.S. Military Info-Machine:  “Exercise Rapid Trident 11 kicked off, July 25, with an opening ceremony at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center here. “This Partnership for Peace exercise provides all partner nations the opportunity to enhance your capabilities to conduct multi-national and combined coalition operations,” said Kevin Volk, U.S. co-director of the exercise. “This exercise will leave an impression in the history of rapid trident exercises because this year we will conduct airborne operations,” said Maj. Gen. Vyacheslav Nazarkin, Ukrainian co-director of the exercise. Rapid Trident 11 involves approximately 1,600 personnel and will consist of multi-national airborne operations, situational training exercise lanes and a field training exercise. In addition to U.S. Army Europe, the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and Ukraine, participants include: Latvia, Belarus, Moldova, Slovenia, Canada, Poland, Serbia, the UK, Lithuania, Estonia, California and Utah National Guard and U.S. Air Force Europe ….”
  • Congratulations!  Ordinary Seaman Yvette Yong of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Discovery (Vancouver) aims a kick at her Chinese opponent prior to winning Canada’s first ever Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) gold medal in the taekwondo women’s under 46 kilogram event 23 July during the 2011 World Military Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.” (via Flickr.com)
  • Calgary OK’s Support the Troops stickers on city vehicles (but doesn’t make them mandatory).  “City council approved a plan on Monday that will see some city vehicles decked-out in yellow ribbons that say “Support Our Troops.” But the decals will not be mandatory, city council decided. It will up to individual operators of city vehicles to decide whether to participate in the campaign, which was suggested by Ald. Shane Keating. Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it was important to make the decals optional. “I think that’s a lot of what the military is fighting for. So we have to find the right balance between making sure we are supporting people, but we’re also supporting the rights of our employees to have their own opinions,” he said ….”
  • Let’s never forget the Korean war. “…. Over the course of the next three years, The Memory Project Archive will collect 516 Korean War testimonials from veterans across the country, one for each of the fallen Canadians from that conflict …. Let’s make sure that we remember the Forgotten War. If you are, or know, a veteran of the Korean War, help us ensure these stories become part of an essential legacy of Canadian military history. Lest we forget.”
  • Newfoundland mayor honours U.S. veterans, wants to memorialize disaster“Joe Vendola, 91, slowly made his way through the Long Island National Cemetery. The summer heat wave was beginning to cool down, with a fresh breeze. Vendola’s face filled with excitement as he recognized the tombstone of an old friend and teammate from the USS Truxtun, Andrew Dusak. Painful memories followed immediately, as he remembered the night when 110 sailors from his ship lost their lives right before his eyes. At 4 a.m. on a stormy February in 1942, three U.S. naval ships, the USS Truxtun, USS Pollux, and the USS Wilkes lost their way by the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The Truxtun and the Pollux wrecked. According to the maritime history archive, the Pollux-Truxtun disaster is considered one of the worst accidents in U.S. naval history. A total of 203 marines perished. “It is a pilgrimage of honor for me, to visit all the sailors. It’s really special to be with Joe today, he was very excited to touch base with the community,” said Mayor Wayde Rowsell of St. Lawrence, Canada …. Rowsell wishes to work with the United States to build an International Park on site of the tragedy. The park would be built to honor and keep these acts of courage alive, and to “never forget the generosity of a great nation of great people,” the mayor said. It would be developed and maintained by both governments. A letter of proposal was sent to Congress recently ….”