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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – January 5, 2016

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 13 Apr 11

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  • Libya Ops – Let the protests begin! “Peace activists at a Halifax demonstration against military spending Tuesday questioned Canada’s military action in Libya — and the lack of discussion from candidates in an election campaign now in its third week. Tamara Lorincz, spokeswoman for the Halifax Peace Coalition, said she is worried about the silence of federal parties on Libya. “I’m concerned there wasn’t a debate,” said Lorincz. “Libya should be a topic that Canadian voters are questioning.” Helen Lofgren, an activist with the Quaker community, was hesitant to comment on Canadian involvement in Libya because she said the issue is complex and “we get so little information about it.” ….”
  • More on Canada’s mission to help protect Iceland from a CEFCOM fact sheet here (h/t to blogger Mark Collins).
  • Speaking of Mark, here he is on one of the “usual suspects” in Canadian defence commentary: “A perfectly progressive political professor, a former federal NDP candidate, can play very economically with the truth. His affiliation though is almost never, never identified in our major media for whom he is a go-to-guy for comment opposing any military Afghan mission, and for his views on most anything else to do with the CF ….”
  • Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan. “…. Warmer weather is settling in across the country, a change of season that generally announces the Taliban’s spring offensive. Coalition forces are at peak strength, with more foreign soldiers on the ground to hunt and kill insurgents than at any other point in the long war. As the tempo on the battlefield is set to pick up, spring has also brought fresh calls for a different kind of foreign intervention, this time to bring Afghans together in talks with the Taliban ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? “…. The Department of National Defence (DND) has a requirement to provide an alignment capability to be used by Fleet Maintenance personnel to align all types of equipment on Canadian Forces (CF) warships and submarines. The objective of this Price and Availability (P&A) is to seek industry input and information on current Alignment Systems to enable DND to examine off-the-shelf (OTS) equipment that is in service with other navies or soon to be in service ….” More from the full bid package here (PDF):  “…. The Canadian Midas System equipment procured in 1988 consists of three complete systems but due to age, obsolescence issues, technological advances, and no longer being supported by the OEM it needs to be replaced by a system with digital capability and increased capacity for multiple tilt tests …. The aim of the project is to find an alignment system capability which will allow the Canadian Navy to align the next generation of advanced Combat Systems using conventional surveying techniques for aligning two parts of a structure on a vessel while she is afloat ….”
  • Sold:  One former Snowbird CT-114 Tutor (minus engine) for $48,400. More from the mainstream media here and here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War – A former Canadian Chief of Defence Staff tells us what he thinks about a recent American visitor commenting on our fighter jet deal. “Winslow Wheeler’s piece on Canada’s plan to replace our CF-18 fighters with the F-35 should be seen for what it is: a low-credibility rant by an American visitor from a left-wing Washington organization renowned for its anti-defence posture. His highly questionable arguments for killing the F-35 program echo the thrust of his visit to Ottawa last week, hosted by the farleft Rideau Institute ….”
  • Months before the Conservative government dismissed talk of a perimeter security accord with the United States as hearsay, senior officials were quietly discussing a draft of the border agreement. Documents obtained by The Canadian Press show federal deputy ministers considered a version of the accord early last September — one of a series of internal deliberations that played out during the fall. The planned perimeter arrangement is intended to expand joint operations on security, creating a sort of continental fortress while allowing for smoother flow of goods, people and services across the 49th parallel. Critics of the process voiced fresh concerns after reading the heavily censored documents, which were disclosed under the Access to Information Act. “It is not healthy for the democratic process for this to be happening behind closed doors, in secrecy,” said Maude Barlow, national chairwoman of the Council of Canadians ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 3 Mar 11

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  • CF to Libya (1a):  Canada’s Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) now has a page with information on Operation MOBILE, Canada’s mission to LibyaThe Canadian Forces launched Operation MOBILE on 25 February 2011 to assist the departure of Canadians and other foreign nationals from Libya. Op MOBILE is part of a whole-of-government effort led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) ….” The CF’s Combat Camera folks have pages with photos and video from OP Mobile, too.
  • CF to Libya (1b):  CEFCOM’s first feature story about the evacuation mission so far.
  • CF to Libya (2a):  So, what’s the job of the HMCS Charlottetown, exactly? “…. Cmdr. Craig Skjerpen, addressing his crew before departure, said they were heading into an “emerging humanitarian crisis” in North Africa, along with the navies of the United States, Britain and other Western nations. The country is in revolt over the 41-year reign of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Skjerpen told reporters little is yet known about the Charlottetown’s actual role once it arrives off Libya, which will come following a week-long Atlantic crossing. He doesn’t know yet whether the ship will join an existing NATO fleet or a U.S. naval task force, both now in the Mediterranean. Skjerpen also said he has no orders to begin enforcing United Nations trade sanctions against Libya. Nor does the frigate have stocks of humanitarian aid on board. “It’s a very dynamic situation over there right now, so we’ll have to adapt to whatever happens.” ….” More from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald here.
  • CF to Libya (2b):  Well, here’s what SOME in Canada’s Libyan community want. “Edmonton’s Libyan community is calling for the removal of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and has asked the Canadian government to take an active role in supporting the Libyan people. Zachariah Mansour, a second-year science student at the University if Alberta, was among 60 protesters calling for these measures at a recent rally at Churchill Square. “Basically we want to see a similar response to what happened in Haiti during the earthquake and in Sri Lanka during the tsunami; we want humanitarian aid not military intervention,” he says ….” (Note to Edmonton Libyan community:  a lot of the help sent to Haiti got there BECAUSE of the military.)
  • CF to Libya (3):  Toronto think-tanker John Thompson’s take“….Warships off the Libyan coast can be used to potentially interdict shipments to that country, provided that some sort of agreement between various nations decides to exclude — for example — shipping from Iran or North Korea, and can manage to do so under international law.  If the war continues, warships might be used to escort shipments of humanitarian supplies.  More interventionist roles, such as declaring that Libyan aircraft all remain grounded, or sending special forces to secure stocks of chemical weapons (which Libya has, and used in Chad in the 1980s) or to destroy Libya’s inventory of Scud Missiles to keep the conflict contained to Libya alone.  However, such interventions might cause lasting resentment that will outlive the current situation and could easily be used as for propaganda purposes by any faction.”
  • CF to Libya (4):  More “learning” of JTF-2 headed downrange. “…. the dispatch of Canada’s frigate HMCS Charlottetown, which sails Wednesday from Halifax with 240 Canadian Forces personnel aboard, represents a commitment of weeks or months of military presence. Its first job is to set up command-and-control for evacuation efforts if they’re still needed. Then it is likely to assist in aid operations to Libyans, and could finally end up as part of tougher international military “sanctions” against the regime, such as enforcing a blockade, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said. Canadian special forces troops are now based in Malta, The Globe and Mail has learned, and are believed to be playing an active role in assisting evacuation missions to rescue Canadians and citizens from other countries ….”
  • CF to Libya (5a):  Retired General Lew MacKenzie, in his own words, on Canada sending fighters to help in any no-fly zone that’ll be imposed on Libya “…. The immediate need for imposing a no-fly zone over Libya will only be achieved outside of the Security Council’s decision-making by a coalition of the willing. Some nation will have to assume a leadership role and as French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the first to recommend the idea, France would be an obvious choice. Canada should participate.”
  • CF to Libya (5b):  Retired General Lew MacKenzie, quoted & paraphrased, on Canada sending fighters to help in any no-fly zone that’ll be imposed on Libya: “…. Retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie said deploying CF-18s would be “logistically possible,” but “extremely difficult and somewhat time-consuming.” He foresees a more humanitarian role for Canada’s troops, although even that could be difficult since Canada doesn’t have a lot of assets already in the area ….”
  • Canada isn’t sending JUST military help to Libya. “…. “Canada is acting swiftly to help meet the humanitarian needs of the people of Libya which are a result of recent violence in that country,” said Prime Minister Harper.  “We are taking action to provide immediate humanitarian support to areas that need it most.” …. Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), will help to address urgent medical requirements, basic humanitarian needs, and the repatriation of people displaced into Tunisia and Egypt.  Canada’s help will include improving access to food, water, sanitation, shelter and emergency medical care.  The initial contribution being announced today will support humanitarian efforts through the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of the Red Cross and the International Organization for Migration ….” More on that from the Canadian Press, CBC.ca, Postmedia News, and QMI Media.
  • It didn’t take long for the usual suspects to come out against ANY kind of help for Libya involving people whose titles include ranks. “The Canadian Peace Alliance is opposed to any military intervention in Libya or in the region as a whole …. Western military deployment to Libya is a bit like asking the arsonist to put out their own fire. Far from being a shining light in a humanitarian crisis, western intervention is designed to maintain the status quo and will, in fact make matters worse for the people there ….  The best way to help the people of Libya is to show our solidarity with their struggle. There are demonstrations planned this weekend. The people united will never be defeated!” I’m sorry, but WTF does “showing our solidarity with their struggle” mean, exactly?  Ship over some freeze-dried, vacuum-sealed solidarity to drop on the masses?  If you’re going to whine, how about some concrete solutions?  Even the Libyan community in Edmonton was clear about what they want.
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • Ottawa’s patience has run its course as the federal government is set to impose penalties of up to $8-million against Sikorsky for the latest delays in the delivery of a new fleet of maritime helicopters. The aircraft manufacturer is facing a financial hit after failing to meet a schedule that already has been pushed back from the original 2008 deadline. The amount of the penalty is largely symbolic, representing up to 0.15 per cent of the $5.7-billion contract, but the move highlights Ottawa’s decision to take a tougher stand against the U.S.-based company ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War:  Ceasefire.ca has posted a web page allowing you to send a letter to prominent politicians to oppose purchase of the F-35 here. One wonders how many people “personalize” the letter to make it say something COMPLETELY different than what’s already there before sending it?  Just sayin’….
  • Wanna buy an old Snowbird? “A rare chance to acquire an iconic piece of Canadian aviation history is up for grabs when a Snowbirds Tutor Jet is auctioned in Toronto next month.  The Canadian Forces’ Snowbirds team, which claims Moose Jaw as its home, has entertained millions of air show spectators as international ambassadors for Canada for more than 40 years …. Now one of these rare aircraft will be offered at public auction for the first time at the annual Classic Car Auction of Toronto from April 8 to 10 held at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont., next to Pearson International Airport.  It is one of only four known CT-114s under private ownership …. Originally powered by the J85 jet engine, which has since been removed after being retired from service, the aircraft is expected to become a candidate for restoration or historical museum display.”
  • Know those pirates stealing boats and killing people around Somalia?  Now, ship owners here in Canada are starting to get more  worried, too. “The hijackings and kidnappings orchestrated by Somali pirates in waters halfway around the globe are rippling back to shores of this country, Canadian shipping companies say, and they’ve joined an international campaign urging world governments to do more to combat the problem.  Several international shipping associations and sailors’ unions have launched the Save Our Seafarers campaign, warning the “growing Somali piracy crisis” is threatening global trade and endangering those working on ships plying the waters off Africa’s east coast.  The campaign’s supporters include the Chamber of Shipping of B.C. and Fairmont Shipping (Canada) Ltd., which say Canadian companies have had to turn down business and make costly changes to shipping routes to avoid the precarious waters patrolled by pirates.  “This problem has been recurring and has been escalating to a degree that we don’t feel this is something the industry can resolve,” Samuel Tang, a Fairmont Shipping vice-president, said in an interview ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 23 Jan 11

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  • A new governor for Panjwai“A Canadian-patrolled part of Kandahar has a new political leader. The provincial government has named Haji Fazluddin Agha the new governor of Panjwaii district. Agha replaces the illiterate and mercurial Haji Baran. Rumours have swirled for weeks that Baran’s ouster was imminent. The new governor will work with officials from Canada and other NATO countries to secure the often troublesome district ….”
  • A bit of what some Canada Border Service Agency folks went through in Afghanistan.
  • Shaw Media + ABC = TV show about combat hospital in Afghanistan“Canadian broadcaster Shaw Media on Thursday said it will co-produce the homegrown medical procedural Combat Hospital with ABC. Confirmation of the American deal for the Canadian-U.K. drama means production on the now untitled series from Sienna Films, Artists Studios and Lookout Point can go ahead. There’s no word on casting. Shaw Media is set to announce Monday a veteran director attached to the Canadian medical drama. Shaw Media’s cable drama channel Showcase will air the 13-part series about a military medical facility in Afghanistan where doctors and nurses treat coalition troops and Afghan civilians next summer ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged across Kandahar.
  • Canada’s reportedly hunting for spare parts to keep the Snowbirds flying for another 9 years or so“The Defence Department is on the hunt to find parts for the military’s aging Snowbirds acrobatic aircraft as it tries to keep the fleet operating until 2020. The planes have been in the Canadian Forces inventory since 1963 and have been used by the Snowbirds team since 1970. But a number of systems on the aircraft are obsolete and will have to be fixed in the next few years, according to the department. In addition, Public Works recently issued a request for a number of parts, with responses expected back by Tuesday. The aircraft, known as CT114 Tutors, were to have reached the end of their estimated life expectancy last year but that was extended by the Defence Department to 2020. Defence Department spokeswoman Natalie Cruickshank noted in an email that the Snowbird fleet remains airworthy and sustainable. “Overall, DND is effectively managing the aircraft, its operation and ensuring a strong support network is in place for a healthy fleet until it is retired from service,” she added. She noted that a recent study identified two systems as requiring updates in the future …”
  • One of the military’s flying schools is cranking up its output a bit“3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School (CFFTS) at Southport is expected to step up its training this year by up to 30 per cent to meet a shortage by the Canadian Forces.  “We are actually expecting our production to increase,  in terms of the number of pilots we train … particularly the ones that graduate as fully qualified pilots, both on the multi- engine and on the rotary- wing side ,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Rob Kamphuis, commandant of  CFFTS. “It’s going to a busier year, even (more) than last year which was an increase from the year before.”  The flight school will be graduating an additional 10 multi-engine pilots and five or six rotary wing pilots in each course, which equals an increase of 30 per cent on the multi-engine side and 10 per cent on the rotary wing side.  “The air force right now as an institution is short of pilots,” said Kamphuis. “The long-term way to fill that shortage is to train more. We are part of the solution to get the air force back up to full strength where it needs to  be,  given all the operations the air force is doing both in Canada and internationally.”  Also, for the first time this year, flight students will be arriving from Saudi Arabia , starting in September.  About 20 students will be trained a year ….”
  • F-35 Tug of War Update: “Canada wants to buy 65 F-35 fighter jets. The government says the purchase price is $9 billion, including some spare parts and weapons but not including a long-term maintenance contract.  Today, Winslow Wheeler, the director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center For Defense Information in Washington, D.C., releases written testimony he was asked to give to the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence. Wheeler says he tries to answer three questions in his testimony:
    1. What will Canada’s F-35As cost?
    2. What will Canada obtain for that expense?
    3. Is there a good reason to wait?
    The short answers to those three questions: 1. Unable to know. 2. Unable to know 3. Yes ….”
  • Too many strings attached to Canadian military contracts?  Good question. “A number of folks in industry have voiced concern about what they believe is a large number of mandatory requirements for Canadian Forces equipment procurement projects. For instance, the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV) program has 600 mandatory requirements. A company must meet all of these requirements if they want to win the competition to supply the vehicles to the Canadian Forces. “Everyone is going to have trouble meeting all 600,” one industry official told Defence Watch. “DND talks about wanting an ‘off-the-shelf’ vehicle but when you have that many mandatories that isn’t off-the-shelf.” His view is that the customer (DND) should outline what they want a piece of kit to do and then let industry reach those performance parameters, instead of outlining requirements to such a specific nature ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 30 Nov 10

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  • Remembering the fallen, one tree at a time“The first tree planted in the Afghanistan Memorial Forest at CFB Petawawa has been dedicated to the memory of Sapper Sean Greenfield, who was killed in Afghanistan on January 31, 2009.  “Spr Greenfield’s tree will be the first of many planted here,” said base commander Lieutenant-Colonel Keith Rudderham.  The Memorial Forest is in the Memorial Park on the eastern edge of the base. Its purpose is to provide a lasting link for the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan for generations to come ….”
  • Looking for Wikileaks’ diplomatic cables? Sorry, but just like the Afghanistan and Iraq leaks, every piece of paper is an individual snapshot of what one report writer had to say about a specific meeting.  Do we know if all the cables are there to show a full picture?  If they were, would mainstream media go for the meat (digging and waiting for some context) or the sizzle (what tidbits can we mine NOW)?  Nothing to see here, friend – feel free to move on to other news.
  • Well, we know ONE place diplomatic paperwork apparently didn’t find its way to: “Canadian reports about torture in Afghan prisons could have been helpful — if they had been passed on — the military’s former head of investigations said Monday. Retired lieutenant-colonel William Garrick was the commanding officer of the Canadian Forces National Investigative Service when detainees transferred to Afghan authorities told foreign affairs department officials they had been tortured. But Garrick told the Military Police Complaints Commission he didn’t see any of those allegations. When asked about reports that detail several prisoners’ allegations they were kicked, beaten with electrical cables and given electric shocks, Garrick said he wasn’t aware of the reports. He also said he didn’t know about site reports foreign affairs officials filed after visiting prisons and interviewing detainees ….”
  • Some questions about from how Canada handled juvenile detainees in Afghanistan: “The Canadian Forces have for years arrested children suspected of working with the Taliban and handed them over to an Afghan security unit accused of torture …. Allegations that militants captured by Canada were transferred to Afghan forces and later tortured were hotly debated in Parliament last fall.  A document obtained by the CBC’s investigative unit shows that Canadian soldiers captured children as well in the fight against the Taliban, and that many of them were transferred to the custody of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, or NDS.  The document, obtained under an Access to Information request and marked “secret,” shows that Defence Minister Peter MacKay was briefed on the topic of juvenile detainees in Afghanistan March 30.  The “Canadian eyes only” note informs MacKay of how many children suspected of “participating in the insurgency” have been arrested by Canadian Forces and how many of them have been transferred into Afghan custody in the previous four years ….” Kudos, by the way, to CBC.ca for sharing the briefing note in question here.  The “Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre” in Afghanistan where the kids were sent popped up in Canada’s backgrounder on detainees recently:  here’s the original backgrounder, and here’s the latest version.  When did it change?  Apparently, about the time CBC got the briefing note.  More from CBC.ca here, the Globe & Mail here, Postmedia News here, QMI/Sun Media here and United Press International here.
  • One columnist’s take on the Liberals supporting the extended mission in Afghanistan“…. In that sense Ignatieff, with a very public nudge from foreign affairs critic Bob Rae, planted the party’s foreign policy flag on high ground. Staying in Afghanistan in hopes of morphing a military stalemate into a rough facsimile of peace makes sense in many ways. It accepts Canada’s responsibilities as a good Samaritan middle power, recognizes the domestic economic realities of being sensitive to Washington’s international security preoccupation, and is consistent with Liberal proposals to equip the military with the “kit” it requires, not stealth fighters Canada neither needs nor can afford. But while getting policy right, Ignatieff and Rae got the politics wrong. By giving Conservatives a free Afghanistan pass, Liberals further undermined their already suspect prospects in a federal election now widely expected to be just months away ….” Gee, you’d think the columnist in question prefers the Liberals to win than do something that might help – or am I being cynical here?
  • For those who think “it’s just sex” when it comes to Daniel Menard’s court martial for an alleged affair and for reportedly destroying evidence: “…. Daniel Menard was not summoned to face a court martial nor did he resign his commission because he had sex with Master Cpl. Bianka Langlois. He was charged because he broke the rules …. Had Menard simply had an affair with a subordinate, he would have likely suffered at least a minor blow to his career. However, by attempting to use his position to obstruct justice, Menard committed a far more serious breach of discipline ….”
  • Worries about how much (more than planned?) proposed new F-35 jet fighters will cost: “Canada’s new stealth fighter aircraft will require extensive maintenance, as well as very expensive changes to improve security at the military bases they operate from, according to Defence Department documents obtained by the Citizen.  Critics of the Conservative government’s proposal to buy the high-tech Joint Strike Fighters have been warning that the purchase will come with hidden costs that could drive up the price tag far beyond the current estimate of $16 billion.  The 2006 DND report, which looked at next generation fighter planes as well as the stealth Joint Strike Fighter, highlighted issues that could play a factor in any aircraft purchase ….” Unlike CBC.ca, though, the Ottawa Citizen doesn’t appear to be sharing the briefing note with its readers.
  • Some folks would like to see Canada go back to calling the Navy the “Royal Canadian Navy”.  The latest?  Great name, but not bloody likely.
  • Elvis murderer-rapist Russell Williams continues to leave the buildingmore here.
  • On a more pleasant note, five new pilots rotate into positions with Canada’s Snowbirds “Five Canadian Forces pilots were officially introduced as the latest members of 431 (Air Demonstration) Squadron, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, Wednesday, November 24 at 15 Wing, Moose Jaw, Sask., after a rigorous selection process and months of preparation. The newest squadron members are Snowbird 3, Captain Padruig MacIntosh, of Windsor, Ont.; Snowbird 5, Captain Brett Parker, of Edmonton, Alta.; Snowbird 6, Captain Denis Bandet, of Regina, Sask.; Snowbird 8, Major Ryan Stich, of Toronto, Ont.; and Advance and Safety Pilot – Snowbird 11, Captain Robert Chagnon, of Laval, Que. ….”
  • Surely he can’t be dead?  Yes he can – and don’t call him Shirley. Erik Nielsen, dead of complications from pneumonia at 84, predeceased by his brother, former Canadian Minister of National Defence (1985-1986) Erik Nielsen.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: IED’s allegedly destroy “tanks” in Arghandab.