MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 21 Sept 11

  • Libya Mission (1a)  Three more months?  “Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he believes that the Canadian Forces will be able to wrap up their mission in Libya “well before” their next three-month mandate is over. Mr. Harper will ask the House of Commons this week to approve a three-month extension after NATO countries agreed to stay with the mission beyond the Sept. 27 deadline, but he said Canada’s goal is to wipe out the remaining threat of pro-Gadhadi forces and it should be over sooner ….” More from CBC.ca here and The Canadian Press here.  The PM’s officialese statements here and here.
  • Libya Mission (1b)  Here’s how the PM’s official statement put it:  “Canada has been at the forefront of international efforts to protect civilians in Libya against the oppressive Gaddafi regime and provide them with humanitarian assistance …. Canada will continue to support the people of Libya, standing ready to promote effective governance and institutions, a secure environment founded on the rule of law, economic development and prosperity, and respect for human rights.”  More in the “Lookit everything we’ve done” bit here.
  • Libya Mission (1c)  Softball question from the Conservative backbenches to the Parliamentary Secretary Deepak Obhrai, with a well-messaged response:  Mr. Peter Braid (Kitchener—Waterloo, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the situation in Libya this past summer has seen the toppling of the Gadhafi regime and the emergence of a real democratic hope. However, despite these gains we recognize that the situation does remain unstable. Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs please update the House on the situation in Libya?  Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, today the Prime Minister attended the high-level meeting on Libya at the United Nations chaired by the Secretary-General. Canada has been at the forefront of the international effort to protect civilians in Libya against the oppressive Gadhafi regime. Canada stands ready to support the new Libyan government through the UN coordinated efforts committed to helping the people of Libya.”  Far better than when he said Afghanistan wasn’t really a war, but more like “providing a secure environment in a country in which there was a complete loss of security.”
  • Afghanistan (1a)  Former president, head of the Afghanistan High Peace Council and, in some eyes, warlord hard man Burhanuddin Rabbani killed by a explosives-packed turban on a suicide bomber.  Here’s Postmedia News’ take on what the killing means, and here’s the PM’s condolences (noticeably longer than these condolences from Canada’s envoy to Afghanistan for an even tougher warlord).
  • Afghanistan (1b)  Here’s former OMLT-eer Bruce Ralston’s take on the Rabbani assassination“There’s no question the Taliban’s improvement in their pursuit of “high value targets” this year has mirrored, if not exceeded the coalition’s.”
  • Afghanistan (2)  The combat mission in Kandahar is over, but Force Protection Company is still keeping busy (via CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (3)  Canadian General bearing still-useful leftovers for the Afghan National Army (via CF Info-Machine).
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (1)  Opinion, from a former subordinate George Petrolekas:  The CDS can’t get the work done on Air Canada that he can get done on a military executive jet.
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (2)  Opinion, from Senator Colin Kenny“…. General Walter Natynczyk, Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff, has been skewered by simplistic reporting this week. He is right to be indignant, wrong to be surprised, and out of luck if he thinks many in the media are going to stop and put everything in perspective ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (3)  Opinion, from QMI/Sun Media columnist Joe Warmington “Only in Canada would you see our top soldier sucker-punched in this way. Gen. Walter Natynczyk has looked into the crying eyes of the parents of many of the 157 hero warriors killed in action in Afghanistan, and now the same people who condoned millions for a fake lake and a giant fence are worried about our top soldier’s travel expenses? Only coming out of NDP critics could such hypocrisy reign. It’s funny how we have taxpayers’ money for their leader’s state funeral but we must count every penny for the man leading our troops, not in peace time but in the middle of war ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (3)  Opinion, from QMI/Sun Media columnist Charles Adler “…. So what about this trip to the Caribbean? Natynczyk had spent the previous two Christmases with our troops serving in Afghanistan. He was about to miss a much-deserved holiday with his family in order to pay respects to more of our fallen soldiers at a repatriation ceremony. The minister of defence ordered him to join his family, and approved the use of the jet to get there. It was a classy move on Peter MacKay’s part, and was completely justifiable ….”
  • “No” to expanding the Mo’?  “Canada’s bloated military bureaucracy has consistently defied explicit orders from government ministers to increase the size of the army militia as directed. The accusation is made in a scorching but carefully documented report by pre-eminent military scholar Jack English for the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and obtained in advance of its release Wednesday by only a few media outlets, including Postmedia ….”
  • DND changing how it funds research. “The Department of National Defence is changing how it pays for public research on the military, cutting funding by 80 per cent and moving to a new “agile” model that would mimic private consulting, according to scholars involved. By doing so, many of them charge that the department is squeezing the lifeblood out of almost three-quarters of research centres across Canada that are supported by the program, known as the Security and Defence Forum. DND, however, says it is only acting in the best interests of taxpayers. It says the move will transform the way it interacts with military experts, ultimately providing better value. Directors of the SDF, a decades-long effort by the government to link the military and universities to foster debate and research on security and defence issues, were disappointed to learn in July that their $2.5-million program would be shut down and replaced with a $0.5-million successor. They say DND will likely forge the new program into a system where it can commission work quickly, drawing in expert analysis on current affairs, or on subjects that immediately interest the government ….”
  • Somalia’s PM, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, is in Canada, asking for help (including military help)  “(Q) You spoke of the need for more military and police trainers in Somalia, and suggested this is an area where Canada could specifically contribute. Aren’t there already such trainers in Somalia? (A) No, we don’t have those. Not inside Somalia. The European Union is providing some training for the Somali national army. They are training outside the country but we don’t have American, British or Canadian trainers. We need these because security institutions are essential to law and order. We also need logistical support – communication, transportation, even providing salary in the short term – so that once we have a bigger, broader tax base we will be able to provide salaries for our soldiers. We need a lot of financial help.”  More from the Toronto Star here, and Agence France-Presse here.  Given Canada’s military track record in the country (let’s also remember this was a case a small number of very, very, very bad apples making the whole group look bad), this might be hard for the government to sell and message – we’ll have to wait and see what unfolds and how.
  • What’s Canada Buying: Big Honkin’ Ships Edition  Getting ready for mo’ shipbuilding work on the east coast.  “A baker’s dozen of employers and the Dexter government have contributed more than $400,000 in cash and equipment to double the number of metal fabrication students at the Nova Scotia Community College this fall. An Irving Shipbuilding official said he couldn’t say whether a further expansion would be needed if Irving Shipbuilding wins one of the huge federal government contracts for new combat and non-combat ships, to be announced within weeks. “It’s difficult to say,” Mike Roberts, Irving’s vice-president of corporate development, said after an announcement in Dartmouth ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 22 Aug 11

  • Libya Mission (1)  PM’s take on the latest in Libya (via PMO’s Twitter feed):   Prime Minister Stephen Harper is receiving regular updates on the situation in Libya and continues to monitor the situation closelyCda is hopeful that the end is near for the Qadhafi regime & that authority will soon transition to the Ntnl Transitional Council of LibyaWe are hopeful that the end is near for the Qadhafi regime & authority will soon transition to the National Transitional Council of Libya.”  More from Postmedia News here.
  • Libya Mission (2)  For the latest on what appears to be rebels fighting at Gadhafi’s doorstep, check here (Google News) and here (European Commission’s EMM Explorer).
  • Libya Mission (3)  What are some opponents of Canada’s & NATO’s work in Libya saying“…. while NATO partners like Canada and the United States can safely shirk some of their duties on this one — owing to the strategically convenient location of the Atlantic Ocean between them and the problem in North Africa — the financially strapped European members of NATO’s southern flank are about to experience all over again the reality of Gen. Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn Rule: “If you break it you own it!” First of course, there is the matter of preventing an embarrassing massacre in tribally divided Libya. NATO has decreed that the transition must be peaceful, so — whatever actually happens on the ground in Tripoli over the next few days — that is presumably what we will be told before the cell-phone videos start leaking out. Longer term — and more significantly — is the reality that someone is going to have to maintain order in the North African country, and it seems highly likely that the rag-tag and disorganized rebels backed by NATO and slavishly praised by Canada’s foreign minister, John Baird of Benghazi, are not up to the job ….”
  • Way Up North (1)  PM’s (and company) headed for another tour o’ the North“Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that he will travel to Canada’s North for the sixth consecutive year. The Prime Minister will tour the North from August 23 to 26, 2011 …. The Prime Minister will visit Resolute Bay on Tuesday, where he will meet with community members and first responders involved in rescue and recovery efforts for First Air Flight 6560 ….  Following Resolute, the Prime Minister will stop in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon, where he will meet with Premiers, visit initiatives that are benefiting Northerners, and make several announcements that will further contribute to the economic and social development of Canada’s North. The Prime Minister will be accompanied by: Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) and Minister of Health; John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development; and Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources.”  More from the Globe & Mail here and here.
  • Way Up North (2a)  Minister of National Defence’s statement on First Air crash near Resolute Bay.
  • Way Up North (2b)  Three survivors of a plane crash in Canada’s Arctic region were recovering from their injuries Sunday as investigators sifted through the wreckage to determine what caused the Boeing 737-200 jet to slam into a hill in foggy weather, killing 12 people. First Air charter flight 6560 crashed Saturday afternoon as it was approaching the airport near the tiny hamlet of Resolute Bay in the Arctic territory of Nunavut. Local residents and soldiers from a nearby military exercise rushed to the scene in a effort to rescue survivors from the wreckage. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Angelique Dignard said two of the survivors _ a seven-year-old girl and a 48-year-old man _ were transported to a hospital in Ottawa from a medical facility in the Nunavut territorial capital of Iqaluit. A 23-year-old woman remains in a hospital in Iqaluit. Dignard said all three are in stable condition, but she would not comment on the nature of their injuries ….”  More here.
  • Way Up North (3)  To the naked eye, Canada’s North is largely remote and untouched, but what is buried beneath the earth and ice could turn it into an economic powerhouse. As the Arctic warms, a wealth of oil, natural gas, minerals, and potential shipping opportunities could be unveiled. “There’s really tremendous resources that are completely untapped in the North,” said Conference Board of Canada economist Jacqueline Palladini. As new prospects open up, concerns have also been sparked about the need to reaffirm Canada’s sovereignty. Stephen Harper will trek north of 60 on Monday – an annual trip the prime minister makes to assert Canadian presence in the area ….”
  • Report Leaked to the Globe & Mail (Propose) Cut(s) and run?  “A major report that advocates streamlining the Canadian military by chopping headquarters staff sits in limbo, awaiting a champion to drive its recommendations home. But with its author, Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, leaving the military next month, that report’s future is very much in doubt. On Aug. 3, Lt.-Gen. Leslie submitted his resignation to Gen. Walter Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff. “My military duty is complete,” wrote the former head of the army. He and his wife are currently on vacation in the Aegean. “On our return I have been invited to join a great Canadian corporation in the private sector,” Lt.-Gen. Leslie said in his letter. He could not be reached for comment ….”
  • Cuts to the CF (1):  One commentator’s hope regarding the recent “Royalizing” of Canada’s military branches.  “…. Let’s hope this time the retro-nostalgia of the Conservatives is genuine and not a distraction before the budget axe falls on long-promised expenditures.”
  • Cuts to the CF (2):  A Canadian historian is concerned about a possible cut – the CF’s Security and Defence Forum (SDF).  “…. The SDF program has had its funding guaranteed for 2011-12, but DND has said the program will be cut to $500,000 on the way to future extinction. Most of the university SDF programs – except for a few that have developed private support – will disappear or, at a minimum, shrink into insignificance. And the money saved will be swallowed by the paper-clip budget at DND headquarters, producing yet another triumph for the bean-counters at Fort Fumble on the Rideau.”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Someone to spruce up DND’s security plan, manual.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Discussion about the CF’s proposed “silent Ski Doo” at Army.ca here.