- Remember the Memorial Ribbon announcement yesterday? It appears to be gone now (except for a few media outlets that ran with it early here and here, at Army.ca for discussion, and here (PDF) for posterity). Hmmmm…..
- Remembrance Day “So far this year we’ve been spared the almost annual clash between the custodians of the red Remembrance Day poppy and anti-war activists who promote the white poppy of peace ….”
- Veterans getting a lot of mention in the House of Commons these days – more from Hansard here, here, here and here.
- The Applebees restaurant chain is offering a free meal on November 11th to veterans – I especially love Army.ca owner Mike Bobbitt’s idea of donating what the meal would have cost to the Soldier On fund.
- Poochies helping those with hidden wounds. “Dave Desjardins says he’s convinced a Rottweiler named Maggie helped save his life. The 41-year-old retired soldier was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder in 2005, a few months after he returned from Afghanistan. When he first met the dog last year, he was addicted to morphine and afraid to leave his home for anything more than a quick cigarette in the backyard ….”
- Toronto Star articles on dealing with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and how DRDC labs are helping.
- Libya Mission Softball question in the House of Commons on when the troops are coming home from the Libyan theatre o’ operations: “Mr. Speaker, earlier this year Canada responded rapidly and strongly after the UN Security Council passed a resolution to protect civilians who were being attacked by the Gadhafi regime in Libya. In less than 24 hours CF-18s were airborne from 3 Wing Bagotville en route to their operating base in Trapani, Italy, along with strategic air-to-air refueling support from 8 Wing Trenton’s Polaris aircraft. Canada also sent a frigate to patrol the central Mediterranean. Could the associate minister of national defence please inform the House when our heroes are coming home?” I guess the Conservative member for Chatham-Kent—Essex missed the news release here, not to mention all the media advisories here, here and here.
- While troops return from Libya, veterans will be pressing for better benefits. “There will plenty of celebration Friday and Saturday as cabinet ministers travel to air-force bases around the country to welcome home Canadian Forces personnel from a mission in Libya that saw rebels overthrow long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The 630 members of Canada’s military are returning home from Operation Mobile and NATO-led Operation Unified Protector, which saw them enforce an arms embargo and a no-fly zone around the North African nation for most of this year. Julian Fantino, the Associate Minister of National Defence, has been dispatched to Bagotville, Que., to greet troops Friday afternoon. Chris Alexander, the parliamentary secretary to the Defence Minister, will be waiting for them on Friday night in Trenton, Ont. And Defence Minister MacKay will be at 14 Wing Greenwood in Nova Scotia on Saturday, an event that was delayed by weather. At exactly the same time that Mr. MacKay is shaking hands with the folks getting off the plane from Libya, veterans from Afghanistan and other conflicts will be on Parliament Hill protesting what they say are unfair benefits for people who have put their lives on the line for their country. It is the second Veterans National Day organized by Canadian Veterans Advocacy against the New Veterans Charter, which the group says discriminates against military personnel who were injured after April, 2006 – a time when Canada suffered most of the casualties in Afghanistan ….”
- Afghanistan (1) CBC columnist reminds us Canada’s still at war in Afghanistan, training mission or not. “…. the reality is that while Canada’s military pulled out of a costly, direct combat role this summer, it is now plunging even deeper into the real heart of the war ….”
- Afghanistan (2) Kandahar handover more than just handing over the keys (via the CF Info-Machine).
- Afghanistan (3) “The Government of Canada is one of the most generous donors to the World Food Programme globally and also in Afghanistan ….” (via the World Food Programme Info-Machine)
- Taliban Propaganda Watch Mullah Omar: Guys, guys, guys – you want to get at least a bit of a grip on the civilian casualties? (links to non-terrorist web page)
- Kevin Megeney, 1982-2007, R.I.P. “Final submissions heard at ex-reservist’s court martial” (via The Canadian Press on CTV.ca)
- Stuart Langridge, R.I.P. “Shaun Fynes bristles as he recalls the Canadian military’s treatment of his son, Cpl. Stuart Langridge. “They threw Stuart away like a piece of broken equipment,” he says in War in the Mind, Saltspring Island-based filmmaker Judy Jackson’s moving, revelatory film about combat trauma. It airs Nov. 8 (9 p.m. and midnight) on Knowledge Network. “We have to do everything we can to resurrect his reputation,” says Fynes, whose son, a young veteran of Bosnia and Afghanistan, hanged himself at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton in 2008 at age 28, the victim of post-traumatic stress disorder. Langridge’s parents have taken issue with their son’s treatment at the hands of the military ….”
- Let’s not forget we have troops in the Middle East, too. “On the Golan Heights since July, Canadian army Capt. John Hooyer saw something new Thursday. It rained. He had been told by officers there before him that the rocky high ground between Israel and Syria does grow green. The area is fertile, home to vineyards and orchards. It is also the source of the headwaters of the Jordan River. But almost halfway into a year-long deployment with the United Nation’s observation force, Hooyer said he has watched the ground get drier and drier. Hooyer is one of seven Canadian soldiers assigned to Operation Jade, Canada’s contribution to the UN’s oldest peacekeeping mission. Hooyer is stationed around six observation posts on the Israeli side of the border with Syria. “It’s surprising how many people are not aware the UN is operating observation posts up here,” Hooyer said in a telephone interview ….”
- F-35 Tug o’ War (1) Yet ANOTHER question in the House of Commons.
- F-35 Tug o’ War (2) Mark Collins on numbers and locations (some that may be no more?)
- Mark Collins again, this time on how long some of the Big Honkin’ Ships’ll take to build – more on that here.
- Speaking of Big Honkin’ Ships, ooopsie…. “A Canadian navy ship that had just undergone a yearlong, $44.7-million facelift struck a dock in Halifax on Friday afternoon, causing damage to both. HMCS Preserver, one of the navy’s supply ships, had just returned from several days of tests at sea and was in the process of turning around when it struck the Halifax Shipyards dock, said Royal Canadian Navy spokesman Maj. Paul Doucette. No one was injured, but Preserver’s upper starboard side was damaged, as was the dock ….” More at CBC.ca here, and the Halifax Chronicle-Herald here.
- House of Commons debate on proposed changes to the CF’s legal system via Hansard here and here.
- Don Cherry declines honourary degree from RMC with thanks (you can still vote here on a CBC.ca poll, though). “Concerned controversy may take away from “a special day,” Don Cherry has declined an honorary degree from the Royal Military College. “I can’t accept the degree and I won’t attend the convocation,” Cherry said in an interview Friday about the Nov. 17 ceremony in Kingston. “I am sad because I was really looking forward to spending time with the 800 cadets.” Perhaps instead they can line up to get their picture taken with French Professor Catherine Lord. It is because of her bizarre and vitriolic complaints that the legendary hockey coach and commentator wont be there. “On many occasions he publicly expressed his contempt for many groups of the Canadian population, notably for the French-speaking Canadians, for the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) community and for the immigrants,” Lord wrote in an open letter. “What message will RMC send, in celebrating Don Cherry, to the students coming from these groups? And what will the Canadian people remember from RMC, as a serious and prestigious institution?” The message would be: “Thanks, Don, for all you have done.” ….”
- Big spending by the U.K. to train its troops in Western Canada. “The Army spends an average of almost £45 million a year (CDN$ 74 million) training British soldiers on a Canadian prairie, the Government said today. Seven thousand troops are sent to British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS), on a prairie in Alberta, each year ahead of deployment to war zones, including Afghanistan. They are able to fire live weapons more freely than in the UK because of the vast size of the prairie in Alberta. But figures revealed by the Ministry of Defence show spending on BATUS totalled £224.5 million over the past five years, peaking at £58 million in 2009/10. It works out at an average of £44.9 million annually since 2006 ….” (Article also downloadable as PDF here if link doesn’t work)
- Afghanistan (1) “Canada’s spy agency has been cleared of wrongdoing in connection with the abuse of Afghan detainees. But the Security Intelligence Review Committee raised two issues for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to consider in future overseas operations — even though CSIS operations on foreign soil are limited by law. The spy watchdog chided CSIS for not keeping adequate records and cautioned it to “assess and qualify with care and consistency” the intelligence it receives from agencies that may be party to human rights abuses. It also recommended that if CSIS continues to operate abroad, its standards of accountability and professionalism should live up to those on Canadian soil ….” Since The Canadian Press isn’t sharing the report, here it is at the Security Intelligence Review Committee’s web page (21 pages of redacted PDF) – here, also, is the news release announcing the findings. Also, more from Postmedia News and the Globe & Mail here and here.
- Afghanistan (2a) Finally, a bit of news (albeit sounding a bit like a briefing note) from the CF Info-Machine on the training mission under way in Afghanistan! “Captain (Navy) Haydn Edmundson arrived here on 18 July 2011 as part of the initial rotation of the Canadian Contribution Training Mission–Afghanistan (CCTM-A), the task force deployed on Operation ATTENTION to serve with the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A). As Chief of Staff to the Deputy Commanding General–Police (DCOM-Police) at NTMA Headquarters, Capt(N) Edmundson has a prominent role in the training and development of the Afghan National Police (ANP) ….”
- Afghanistan (2b) More from the CF Info-Machine on the training mission: “On 23 August 2011, Colonel Peter Dawe, the deputy commander of the Canadian Contribution Training Mission – Afghanistan (CCTM-A) paid a visit to Camp Souter to meet the small but vital team that lives and works there, and tour their facility. Camp Souter is a British support base conveniently situated near Kabul International Airport. The Canadians assigned there work diligently behind the scenes to meet the support requirements of CCTM-A, the large and growing mission deployed with the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A) under Operation ATTENTION. NTM-A is the international effort to help the Afghan national security forces prepare for the transition to full responsibility for security throughout Afghanistan in 2014 ….”
- Afghanistan (3) “The Royal Canadian Legion says it will have to debate whether it supports adding Afghanistan to the National War Memorial. Spokesman Bob Butt says it is a matter for the various Legion commands to decide and the subject has yet to be discussed among the organization’s 340,000 active members. A proposal circulated around National Defence last year called for the word Afghanistan and the dates 2001-2011 to be added to the memorial that sits in the shadow of Parliament Hill. The $2.1 million dollar plan included the addition of an eternal flame and a national commemoration ceremony. But a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay says it would be inappropriate to commemorate Afghanistan right now because soldiers are still there on a training mission. Butt initially indicated the Legion favoured revamping the memorial, however he says the matter is best debated among the members when the federal government has a specific proposal ….”
- Way Up North During CDS visit to Russia, Canada and Russia agree to exchange port visits with naval ships. “…. Both sides also discussed situation in the North Africa and Middle East, as well as European security. They also agreed to exchange visits of their warships between Canada’s Vancouver and the Murmansk port of Russia. The visiting Canadian delegation visited several military facilities in Moscow Wednesday ….
- What’s Canada Buying? (1) “Defence Minister Peter MacKay was warned the manufacturer of the air force’s new maritime helicopters might be tempted to cut corners in the rush to get the long-delayed program back on track, say internal documents. “The remaining elements for the interim (maritime helicopter) delivery are all safety related and it is crucial that DND remain diligent to ensure Sikorsky does not take inappropriate risks to keep schedule,” said a Nov. 23 briefing note. The advice came soon after a scathing report by the auditor general, who’d singled out the CH-148 Cyclone program for delays and cost overruns. Less than three weeks after Sheila Fraser’s assessment, U.S. helicopter giant Sikorsky advised the federal government it wouldn’t meet a Nov. 30, 2010, deadline to land the first helicopter for “limited training and operational testing.” Officials vented their frustration in the note, portions of which were underlined for emphasis. It urged both politicians and defence officials to take a deep breath and not get involved in any further debate — or request changes. “It is also paramount that DND not interfere or influence the conduct of activities, as this would provide Sikorsky rationale for excusable delay.” Ottawa’s $5.7-billion plan to buy 28 new helicopters to replace the geriatric Sea Kings, which fly off the decks of warships, have been hit with repeated delays ….” The Canadian Press doesn’t appear to be sharing this briefing note with the public, who may want to see more of the bigger picture of the document.
- Speaking of “geriatric” Sea Kings: “The venerable Sea King will be 50 years old in 2013 and plans are already underway to celebrate the milestone. Tim Dunne, a retired army major, says a committee was formed about a year ago to work on a reunion, a book, a memorial service and other events. Plans are also underway to place a Sea King in the Shearwater Aviation Museum ….”
- What’s Canada Buying: Big Honkin’ Ships Edition Blogger Mark Collins underwhelmed with the prospect of
unarmedpoor compromise design Navy ships in the Arctic.
- F-35 Tug o’ War One writer’s feelings: “…. despite assurances from Department of National Defence officials that the F-35 is the right aircraft for Canada, the only way to really know which aircraft can best meet Canadian requirements — and at what cost — would be to put out an open, fair and transparent statement of requirements and request for proposals, and conduct a rigorous evaluation of the bidders’ responses. Denmark, which is a Level 3 partner in the F-35 program, like Canada is, has decided on an open competition to select its next-generation fighter aircraft. People are questioning why Canada is not doing the same thing. Only then will Canadians know the right fighter has been selected, at the right price.”
- What’s Canada Buying? (2) Paraclete tactical pouches for delivery to Richmond, Ontario and Kingston, Ontario, and up to +7K vials of injectable tetracycline-style antibiotic for CFB Petawawa.
- What’s Canada Buying? (3) CF starting to ask manufacturers for information on what rifle should replace the Lee Enfield for use by Canadian Rangers (via Army.ca)
- Canadian Rangers got a chance to share their stories at the CNE in Toronto. “Six Canadian Rangers from northern Ontario told thousands of visitors to a military display at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto what Canadian Rangers do across Canada’s North. “I’ve never talked to so many people in my life,” said Master Cpl. Bill Morris from Kingfisher Lake, which has a population of 420. “People asked us who the Rangers are and what we do. They were pretty amazed when we told them.” The Ranger exhibit, centred around a traditional tipi, helped attract visitors to a large display of military equipment showcasing the army, navy and air force. The display attracted about one million people to it during the 17 days of the CNE, the biggest fair of its kind in Canada ….”
- “The Calgary Homeless Foundation wants to turn a small apartment building into housing units for homeless military veterans. The Royal Canadian Legion says there are at least 25 people living on Calgary streets that have been identified as Canadian Forces veterans. Cindy Green-Muse of the Legion’s Back In Step program said she knows of 25 to 30 veterans who don’t have a roof over their heads. They range in age from a few in their 20’s to one man who is over 80 years old ….”
- The CF’s Commander-in-Chief is taking part in the Army Run this weekend. “Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston will lace up their running shoes this weekend for this year’s Canada Army Run, being held on Sunday, September 18, 2011, in Ottawa. At 7:30 a.m., His Excellency will address all athletes competing in the five-kilometre run, and will also cheer on his wife at the starting line. At 8:40 a.m., the Governor General will wish all athletes competing in the half marathon ‘good luck’, and join them in this 21-kilometre challenge ….”
- Meanwhile, “On Sunday, for the second year in a row, the annual Terry Fox Run is sharing its date with the Army Run, and there’s no sign the two charity events will be run on separate dates any time soon. The Terry Fox Run, in its 31st year, is a volunteer-run, non-competitive event to raise money for cancer research. Over the course of its history, the Ottawa, Orléans, Kanata and Gatineau runs have together raised more than $5.75 million. Runs are held across Canada on the same day and they all share a marketing budget geared to that date. The Army Run is a hugely popular newcomer to the charity run scene. Organized by Run Ottawa in collaboration with the Department of National Defence, the competitive run offers five-kilometre and half-marathon events to raise money for two military charities, Soldier On and the Military Families Fund. From its inception in 2008, the Army Run has grown to have up to 14,000 entrants in subsequent years ….”
- “Canada’s most decorated military hero, the First World War flying ace William Barker, will be honoured next week in Toronto with a gravesite monument aimed at reviving knowledge of his unmatched exploits above Europe’s battlefields nearly a century ago. Barker, a Manitoba farmboy who went on to be awarded the Victoria Cross, three Military Crosses and a host of other medals for his wartime feats, was credited with destroying 50 enemy aircraft in just the last two years of the 1914-18 war. He later became the founding director of the Royal Canadian Air Force – a designation recently restored to the aviation branch of Canada’s military – before dying tragically, at age 35, in a 1930 crash on the frozen Ottawa River while demonstrating a new aircraft in Canada’s capital ….”
- Libya Mission (1) INTERPOL wants to have a chat with Mohamar, his son and the former head of military intelligence.
- Libya Mission (2) Happy 18th Birthday HMCS Vancouver (even if you’re downrange). “No cake, no singing, no champagne. Grapefruit juice was the strongest available beverage. In an atmosphere more vigilant than festive, the ship’s company marked the 18th anniversary of HMCS Vancouver’s commissioning as the frigate headed out of Agusta Bay on the east coast of Sicily for her first patrol of Operation MOBILE. Her destination: Libyan territorial waters, off the port of Misrata ….”
- Libya Mission (3) Welcome back! “Hugs and tears were shared on Friday at a Winnipeg air force base as 24 military men and women returned to their families from a summer assisting a NATO mission in Libya. Largely part of the Winnipeg-based 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, the Canadian Forces contingent landed at the 17 Wing base on a Hercules CC-130 plane as their family members watched on the tarmac. Six-year-old Kayden Maher held a welcome sign for his father. Master Cpl. Ryan Maher, an air frame technician, told reporters they “have no idea” how much he had missed his children during the past four months. “It’s just so nice to see them again, and be part of their lives,” Maher said, also with two-year-old daughter MacKenzie and wife Shauna ….”
- 9/11 Plus Ten (1) 7 Sept 11: MILNEWS.ca tells you 9-11 is going to become a “National Day of Service.” 9 Sept 11: PM says 9-11 is going to become a “National Day of Service”. More on this here.
- 9/11 Plus Ten (2) “The threat level for a terror attack in Canada has not increased following information of a possible plot of a car bombing in Washington or New York on the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 the RCMP says. “The RCMP has no information at this time that indicates that Canadians are more at risk than usual,” RCMP Sgt. Julie Gagnon told CBC News. Counterterrorism officials in the U.S. have been chasing a credible but unconfirmed tip that al-Qaeda has plans to set off a car bomb in New York City or Washington, with bridges or tunnels as potential targets. It was the first word of a possible “active plot” timed to coincide with commemoration of the group’s attacks in the United States a decade ago. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews backed the RCMP assessment. “In respect of Canada, I can’t point to any specific threat that might occur during this weekend but I think that all of our agencies are on full alert on a weekend like this,” Toews (said)….”
- 9/11 Plus Ten (3) “Soldiers paid price for war on terror in blood, Trauma: Each day in Afghanistan a roll of the dice”
- 9/11 Plus Ten (4) The CF Info-Machine’s “Domestic and Continental Defence and Security Accomplishments Post 9/11”
- 9/11 Plus Ten (5) “U.S. President Barack Obama thanked Canadians on Friday for their hospitality and support in the wake of the 9-11 attacks, recalling the “comfort of friendship and extraordinary assistance” in a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “It is often said that the United States and Canada are great neighbors, trading partners and the best of friends,” Obama wrote in a letter that was delivered to the prime minister on Friday. “In one of the darkest moments in our history, Canada stood by our side and showed itself to be a true friend.” ….”
- 9/11 Plus Ten (6) Even the Taliban has to make itself heard for the anniversary, suggesting we don’t REALLY know what happened during the 9/11 attacks – riiiiiiiiight…. (link to non-terrorist site)
- Andrew (Boomer) Eykelenboom, 1982-2006, R.I.P. “Just over five years ago, Cpl. Andrew (Boomer) Eykelenboom was killed by a suicide bomber while serving as a medic in Afghanistan. Today, more than 50 cyclists will take part in a 180-kilometre bike ride to raise money for the Boomer’s Legacy foundation. The Boomer’s Legacy Ride has been taking place annually on Vancouver Island for the last four years. Today will be the first Atlantic ride, which starts at CFB Greenwood and ends at CFB Halifax ….”
- The Leslie Report/CF Reorg (1) You can now download the report and read it yourself here (PDF at CF page) or here (PDF at alternate download site)
- The Leslie Report/CF Reorg (2) What the Minister of National Defence has to say about the report: “…. our government will be taking a close look at spending right across government to identify the savings needed to eliminate the deficit: this includes the Department of National Defence …. This report will inform our approach to the Government’s Deficit Reduction Action Plan, the results of which will be presented in Budget 2012. At all times, support for our frontline troops will be our priority ….” More on this here (Postmedia News) and here (QMI/Sun Media).
- The Leslie Report/CF Reorg (3) What the Chief of Defence Staff has to say about the report (via Army.ca – PDF downloadable here if link doesn’t work): “…. The fiscal and operational environment in which the recommendations must be assessed and implemented has become even more complex. As well, while the report was being prepared, new budgetary reduction targets were announced as part of the government s deficit reduction action plan. Taken together, this creates a difficult backdrop for interpreting the potential advantages and drawbacks of recommendations made in the transformation report …. A concerted analysis has been underway since the transformation report was submitted, involving both CF and DND personnel. The goal of this effort has been to determine which elements of transformation are already being implemented through the Strategic Review, which options merit implementation in concert with the deficit reduction action plan, and which options have second and third-order consequences that require additional study. This level of analysis takes time, but only when it is complete will it be possible to decide and communicate which parts of the transformation report should be implemented right away, which must be phased in over the medium term, and which will be deferred ….”
- What’s Canada Buying? (1) Could Mark Collins be a touch skeptical re: the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard getting new ships anytime soon?
- What’s Canada Buying? (2) Remember the new JPSU building for CFB Petawawa (bullet 9) (map and floorplan downloadable here via Army.ca) ? Here’s the Ottawa Citizen’s update: “A new building to house military staff who work in a unit that provides help for ill and injured military personnel and their families is to be built at CFB Petawawa. The building is to replace a trailer currently used for staff members of the regional element of the Joint Personnel Support Unit for Eastern Ontario, according to a military spokesman. It’s expected that six staff members will work in the new building, although there will be space for a few others. Defence Construction Canada, a Crown corporation responsible for Department of National Defence construction, has issued a $1.3-million tender for the one-storey building to be built. The start and end dates of the construction are unknown, but the contract is to be awarded within the next three months ….”
- “The Canadian Forces have confirmed a body was found on the grounds at Canadian Forces Base Borden, Thursday morning. The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is investigating, but details regarding the cause of death, gender or identity have not been released. “They are investigating the discovery of a body on the grounds,” Canadian Forces Capt. Karina Holder said. “We never speculate on timing or when an investigation may or may not be completed.” “
- “The Canada Army Run is proving to be a big hit with runners. The Sept. 18 event in Ottawa has already attracted more than 16,000 participants and is sold out. The event is the fastest-growing run in Canada and the second-largest running event in Ottawa after Ottawa Race Weekend. It started four years ago with 7,000 participants. The Canada Army Run has five-kilometre and half-marathon events and raises money for Soldier On and the Military Families Fund ….” More info on the run at the Army Run website here.
- A bit of mechanical Canadian military history being honoured this weekend. “During the final months of the Second World War, as Allied armies waged a brutal campaign to liberate Europe, a rough-hewn band of Canadian soldiers revolutionized ground warfare with an unusual new technology. They were called the 1st Canadian Armoured Carrier Regiment, assembled to drive Kangaroos, tanks modified to carry troops. The unit laid the groundwork for the tactics of today’s light armoured vehicles, protecting soldiers from gunfire while they travelled to enemy lines, but was swiftly dissolved at war’s end and its history was largely forgotten …. In a ceremony this weekend, the regiment will get some overdue credit. After decades of obscurity, veterans alerted the Department of National Defence that they wanted formal recognition of the unit, and found a serving regiment to take up the Kangaroos’ battle honours, ensuring its story will be perpetuated …. At a ceremony in St. Thomas, Ont., on Saturday, the (31 Combat Engineer Regiment, also known as the) Elgins will accept a standard listing the Kangaroos’ honours to hang in their armoury. A Kangaroo bought by the Canadian War Museum – one of only a handful that still exist – will be paraded in the streets ….”
- Ooopsie…. (Wonder if we can see the briefing note now that the media has shared what it considers the important highlights?) “The Department of National Defence plans to drop the use of a dedicated civilian cargo ship for hauling military supplies and equipment after discovering that Ottawa lost millions of dollars in the arrangement. The existing contract for the use of the container ship will be allowed to lapse in October, according to internal federal documents. The ship has been used 13 times since October 2007, most notably to move Canadian military equipment and humanitarian supplies to Haiti in January 2010 following the earthquake. The documents say that most of the time, the ship has either been waiting for orders or sailing empty, at a cost of $21.3 million to taxpayers “Of that, only $3.4 million is directly attributed to the movement of cargo with the remainder for empty transits, standby while awaiting tasking as well as support to two Naval exercises,” said a briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay and obtained by The Canadian Press ….”
- A feature article on 412 Transport Squadron in Belleville’s hometown paper (although I think the headline means “they fly everything from patients all the way to the PM”)
- The good news: four alleged war criminals now nabbed, 27 more to go. “A fourth fugitive whose face was posted online by border authorities has been nabbed. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says Henry Pantoja Carbonel was arrested in Toronto. He was one of 30 people whose names and faces were posted online by the Canadian Border Services Agency earlier this month. Carbonel is a 53-year-old Peruvian. Toews says the website has generated a lot of tips from the public, although he didn’t say if the latest arrest was the result of such a tip ….” More from United Press International here.
- The bad news: will they face any kind of justice even if Canada kicks them out? “There are no guarantees that any of the suspected war criminals recently nabbed with the help of an online “wanted” list will actually face justice in their home countries. Federal ministers said Wednesday Canada simply wants to get rid of the men because their alleged crimes make them inadmissible. Human rights advocates say the federal government is dodging its responsibilities by deporting — not prosecuting — the suspects. “Our concern here is that this is furthering a long-established practice in Canada to overwhelmingly make use of our immigration system rather than our criminal justice system in dealing with cases of this sort,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada. “There doesn’t seem to be even any pretence of turning to the criminal justice system, or putting some measures in place to ensure that the people on this list, if the allegations are well-founded, will actually face justice.” ….”
- Norway attack backlash worries among some Canadian Muslims? “A national Muslim group is urging mosques across Canada to be extra vigilant during the upcoming religious month of Ramadan in the wake of Norway’s horrific massacre perpetrated by a right-wing extremist with anti-Islamic views. “We’ve noticed that these kind of incidents, high-profile international incidents, often are followed by hate crimes and discrimination targeted toward the Muslim community,” said Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, an Ottawa-based organization with a cross-country board of directors and volunteers. However, Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy said Wednesday he doesn’t see the need for such a warning, based on what happened in Norway. And a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said while he could not comment on specifics, he said there is no evidence that the Norway attacks — which included a bombing in the government section of Oslo and the shooting of dozens of people on nearby Utoya Island — present a widespread threat to Muslims in Canada ….”
- Somali Bad Guys in Canada (1) “A U.S. Congressional committee on terrorist recruitment of American Muslims turned its attention north on Wednesday, as a prominent Somali-Canadian leader testified that Ottawa had failed to tackle the ideology of extremists. Ahmed Hussen, president of the Canadian Somali Congress, told U.S. lawmakers that the Canadian government was concentrating on detecting and arresting terror suspects while leaving their rhetoric unchallenged. “The strategy of Canadian officials as they confront this phenomenon in my community has been to view this serious matter only through the prism of law enforcement,” he said. “There has not been a parallel attempt to counter the toxic anti-Western narrative that creates a culture of victimhood in the minds of members of our community.” Mr. Hussen was the lead witness at controversial Committee on Homeland Security hearings in Washington probing radicalization within the American Muslim community. Testimony Wednesday focused on the Somali militant group Al-Shabab ….”
- Somali Bad Guys in Canada (2) “Terrorist recruiters are targeting young Canadian Somali women to take up arms, the head of the Canadian Somali Congress told U.S. politicians Wednesday. In testimony before the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, Ahmed Hussen suggested the reason might be increased police and security service attention over the recruitment of “dozens” of young Canadian Somali men from Ottawa and Toronto in recent years. “Lately, the recruiters have turned their attention to the facilitation of young Canadian Somali women into joining al-Shabab,” the radical Somali youth militia now fully integrated with al-Qaeda, Hussen said in a prepared statement. Much of the youth recruiting is believed to be through the Internet and an online mix of religious tracts, rap music, videos and recruiting pitches delivered in English. Visiting extremist clerics are another propaganda source ….”
- Somali Bad Guys in Canada (3) Here’s a link to the statement (PDF) read by the Canadian Somali Congress, and more on the Committee’s work on Somali bad guys here, here and here.
- More worries about “creeping Canadian militarism”. “…. Militarism is always premised on the notion that “real” nations and “real” men are grounded in warrior values. Real nations don’t sit on the sidelines; they participate. And those who oppose warrior values are told to shut up because they are not supporting our boys. End of discussion. We ought not to proceed further down this turn in the road without a robust national debate. That would begin with an honest and full assessment of the Afghanistan intervention. That would include scrutiny of placing Canadian forces and armaments in seven foreign bases (renamed “supply depots”), another Harper initiative that has gone undiscussed. That would demand an honest analysis of the social payoff of deflecting $30 billion that could be used to enhance our quality of life to purchase stealth fighters instead. Yes we need a military; that is a sad fact about which we should be vigilant and skeptical, not gung-ho.”
- Winnipeg Jets Logo Angst (1) “…. Why do we never get scenes of Canadian aid workers or doctors watching hockey with sketchy antennas in a far-flung desert village where they are distributing medicine? Because that doesn’t serve the new national interest. Meanwhile, most Canadian hockey teams sponsor special military nights, ranging in intensity from spectacles of soldiers rappelling down from the rafters (war is really neat, kids!) to sombre moments of silence for the fallen, insisting that we take their deaths as sacrifices for our freedom. No space is allowed to ask, ‘How is torturing prisoners in Kandahar protecting me?’ or, ‘If I’m so free, why do I get arrested for leading peaceful demonstrations in Canadian cities?’ ….”
- Winnipeg Jets Logo Angst (2) “…. These anti-war zealots see no distinction between being pro-war and pro-military when, in reality, the two can be mutually exclusive. It is quite easy to respect the work done by the people who serve in the military and air force – even if you don’t personally agree with the war or skirmish our government has them fight ….”
- Afghanistan (1) Again with the “what a great jobs the drones did” storyline.
- Afghanistan (2) Two Canadian foreign affairs experts (followable at Twitter here and here) comment on the Taliban’s latest rash of assassinations in Kandahar province.
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: A few more Taliban-friendly Twitter feeds out there.
- “Scores of veterans, dignitaries and members of the public turned out Wednesday for a parade and ceremony to remember the once “forgotten” Korean War. Prime Minister Stephen Harper was among those on hand at the Korea Veterans National Wall of Remembrance for the 58th anniversary of the armistice that ended the bloody conflict. “For too many years, Korea was called the ‘forgotten’ war,” Harper said. “But times are finally changing.” In all, 516 Canadian soldiers were killed in the conflict. Another 1,100 others were wounded in five major battles. Many of the Canadian dead are buried in Korea, prompting Harper to borrow from British war poet Rupert Brooke. “We may truly say that there is some corner of a foreign field that is forever Canada,” Harper said at the wreath-laying ceremony ….” More from the Government of Canada Info-Machine here and here.
- “Norwegian Cruise Line launched an enhanced military program today offering special rates to members of the U.S. and Canada armed forces. The program features exclusive rates on select Freestyle Cruising vacations, including the line’s newest and most innovative ship Norwegian Epic, along with the only U.S. flagged cruise ship, Pride of America. Current featured destinations include seven-day cruises in the Western Mediterranean, Eastern Caribbean and Hawaii, along with Norwegian Epic’s 13-day transatlantic crossing from Barcelona to Miami on October 23, 2011. Active or retired members of the military can chose from numerous sailings in 2011 or 2012. In addition, new sailings will be added on a regular basis ….” The company tells MILNEWS.ca an ID card is required when booking – more at the company’s site here.
- Congrats to the latest batch of recipients of the Meritorious Service Decorations, including the founder of Soldier On, Warrant Officer Andrew McLean.
- Supporting the troops, one steak at a time. “It’s been a little over a year since Harvey Dann started his Sponsor a Steak campaign. Dann owns Alert Agri Distributors, a West St. Paul, Man., company that exports fat cattle to the U.S. It’s been a good business for Dann, and he’s been thankful for it. Last year, celebrating his 25th year in business, Dann decided to give something back. He started the campaign to feed steaks to Canadian soldiers who were serving overseas. In the past year, Dann has spread the word at various beef industry meetings, and gathered support, with a goal of raising about $110,000 to purchase the steaks. A couple of weeks ago, Dann accomplished his goal. He called the News with the word that he had succeeded in raising enough money for military base parties across Canada, including Edmonton; Shilo, Man.; Gagetown, N.B.; Valcartier, Que.; and Petawawa, Ont. The base parties for Edmonton and Shilo were held in June, 2010 ….”
- Well done Winnipeg Jets! “The new Winnipeg Jets logo is doing more for the Canadian Forces than just paying tribute. True North Sports and Entertainment, which owns the team, will give $1 million to military charities over the next ten years. Maj.-Gen. Alain Parent, commander of 1 Canadian Air Division, said it was easy to partner with the new hockey outfit. “Winnipeg has had a long association with the air force,” he said. “Blue Bombers and Jets are both aircraft that have served or are serving the air force.” “In turn, we consider Winnipeg to be the heart of the air force,” he said. Money will be donated to the Military Families Fund, the Air Force Heritage Fund and Soldier On ….”
- “Canada’s defence minister met Sunday with Canadian Rangers ahead of a major, annual Arctic sovereignty operation. Defence Minister Peter MacKay presented members of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group with Canadian Forces decoration medals in honour of their 12 years of service. Starting Aug. 8, the 1st Ranger patrol group will take part in Operation Nanook, the military’s annual northern training exercise. The Rangers, a sub-component of the Canadian Forces Reserve, patrol remote parts of Canada’s North, but were also called to Ontario last week to help evacuate First Nations communities threatened by forest fires ….” More on the awards, as well as Ranger recruiting numbers, from the CF Info-Machine here.
- Afghanistan “The loss of a not-so secret base in Dubai last year forced the Canadian military to use its unarmed Airbus planes for flights into Kandahar Airfield during the final phase of the combat mission, ministerial briefing notes say. “Pressures imposed by the closure of Camp Mirage and the need to maximize flexibility in providing strategic airlift to support OP Athena have culminated in the (censored) using C-150 flights in KAF,” said a Nov. 1, 2010, briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay. The Canadian military designates its Airbus passenger jets as the CC-150 Polaris but often refers to it simply as the C-150. The air force initially certified the Airbus aircraft to fly into the war zone in 2007. But their use, according to the documents, was considered a “last resort” and a “calculated risk” by commanders on the ground ….” Um, the Hercules planes flying into and out of Kandahar are “unarmed”, too, although the article is a bit more specific about the risk later on: “…. The Airbus planes do not have a defensive suite to deflect incoming missiles and are generally considered a civilian aircraft not suited for a war zone ….”
- What’s Canada Buying: Big Honkin’ Ship Edition (1) “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’ Ship Edition (2) “…. That isn’t to say money won’t be wasted or mistakes made. This project is too big and too spread out across the country to work perfectly. But MacKay’s well-timed slap three years ago might have set the stage for a more effective and coherent shipbuilding program this time around. And that is what’s important. Expensive as it is, this project will provide much more than cash and jobs: It will encourage technology development and trade, and stimulate business right across Canada. It had better be done right.”
- What’s Canada Buying? Remember research being done on mine plows from a few years back? Looks like a bit more work’s being done.
- “Senator Yonah Martin, on behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, was joined by the Honourable Sung Choon Park, Minister of Patriots and Veterans Affairs for the Republic of Korea, to mark the 58th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice and the service and sacrifice of Veterans of the Korean War. A brief ceremony was held today at the Monument to Canadian Fallen followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the National War Memorial …. From 1950 to 1953, more than 26,000 Canadians served in Korea, working to restore peace and stability to the area. There were 516 Canadians who made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of peace, freedom and justice for the people of South Korea ….”
- More on the War of 1812 commemorations coming up. “Next year, Canada will commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 — a three-year war that sent the invading Americans retreating home on the losing side of history. So will Canadians, known for their quiet patriotism, celebrate that victory with respect for our now closest ally and most valuable trading partner? Or, will it turn into a scene of chauvinistic triumphalism, a trait sometimes fairly or unfairly attributed to Canada’s neighbours to the south? “You don’t want to all of a sudden say, ‘We’ve kicked your butts,’ but there’s ways of presenting it,” said Clark Bernat, manager of Niagara Falls Museums, who is among the planners for local upcoming bicentennial celebrations in the city. “This is a war that has led to 200 years of peace between our two countries. There was a reason for them to do battle 200 years ago and we have to provide the reasons why it happened and what the results were.” ….”
- The new Canadian training mission in Afghanistan takes shape (based on 3PPCLI?) “A battle group of Canadian soldiers originally intended to backstop the withdrawal from Kandahar is expected to form the nucleus of the country’s new training mission in Afghanistan. The general commanding the transition says a battalion-sized force of soldiers from 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry had been set aside in case of emergency during the pullout, but military planners have determined it’s no longer required with the flood of American troops in the region. Brig.-Gen. Charles Lamarre says the scope of the training mission, expected to include 700 troops and 250 support staff, has yet to be determined. “We’re waiting for direction on what that structure will be; where it is Canada will put troops; and the location that will make the training mission work,” Lamarre told The Canadian Press in an interview. Whether the entire battalion or selected elements are used is still being debated ….”
- One Toronto cop’s story in Kandahar: “I spent nine months in Afghanistan, helping train police officers and patrolling with the military. I’m not a churchgoing man, but I’ve never done more praying in my life “
- Canada’s Governor General/Commander in Chief calls programs offered at Owl’s Head by ASF and Soldier On for injured soldiers “inspiring.” More about the Adaptive Sports Foundation here, and Soldier On here.
- Rallies planned to celebrate the end of Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan. “Veterans’ advocates are planning rallies across Canada to mark the end of the Afghanistan combat mission. The main event will be held in Ontario’s Niagara region July 9, with a series of smaller rallies in other communities to welcome home and thank the troops. Organizer Michael Blais said various veterans’ associations, vets’ motorcycle clubs and American veterans’ groups will be invited to take part in a weekend of activities that will include entertainment and military-themed exhibits. He said the objective is to honour soldiers for their duty and sacrifice. “I think Canadians have done an outstanding job in Afghanistan under very adverse circumstances and we should, as a nation, stand up when our troops have fulfilled the mission,” he said ….”
- “Dismissed by the Canadian Forces, Robert Semrau begins the next stage of life—as a civilian.”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: More attacks alleged on cops, convoys in Kandahar, Zabul.
- “A majority of Canadians see Arctic sovereignty as the country’s top foreign-policy priority and believe military resources should be shifted to the North from global conflicts, according to a new opinion poll. The survey also found that Canadians are generally far less receptive to negotiation and compromises on Arctic disputes than Americans. “That traditional notion of what is a Canadian is kind of challenged by this. We sound more like what people would say Americans would sound like dealing with international issues. That’s quite an eye-opener,” said Neil Desai, director of programs and communications at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. The findings are based on an Arctic-security poll of more than 9,000 people in the eight northern countries: Canada, the United States, Russia, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland. The surveys were conducted by Ekos Research for the Munk School ….”
- F-35 Tug of War Latest: Former Canadian generals say, “Canadians need to be able to see through the many misconceptions that surround the F-35 acquisition, which is a vital element in the securing of our nation’s future”
- “A federal decision on whether the U.S.-based manufacturer of Canada’s new fleet of navy helicopters will pay millions of dollars in fines for late delivery will be made next month. A spokeswoman for Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose says Sikorsky’s request for Ottawa to excuse the latest delay for delivery of the Cyclones has been formally refused. But the company has appealed the refusal and a senior civil servant will make the final call on whether it musst pay $45,000 per day for up to 120 days of delay. Sikorsky told the federal government on Nov. 22 that it wouldn’t meet its Nov. 30 deadline to begin delivering the early version of the fleet of maritime helicopters because of an issue “outside of its control.” Sikorsky did not elaborate at the time. Rebecca Thompson, Ambrose’s spokeswoman, says the director general of the Public Works and Government Services Department will decide on Sikorsky’s appeal in February. The federal government originally ordered 28 Cyclones in 2004 with a delivery date of November 2008, but there have been delays in the more than $5-billion contract on at least two previous occasions ….”
- Canada’s Defence Minister dropping by Winnipeg to make an Air Force announcement, “in support of the Air Force’s role in the defence of Canada.”
- Big suicide bombing at Moscow airport, in the area where folks were waiting for loved ones to get off planes (i.e., no security to go through) – here’s what Canada’s PM had to say about it: “…. “The use of violence against innocent people must never be tolerated and we condemn those responsible for this horrible act. On behalf of our Government and people of Canada, I extend my deepest condolences to the Russian people and, in particular, the families and friends of those killed and injured in this tragedy. The international community faces an ongoing threat of terrorism and must remain vigilant as we work together with our allies to prevent future attacks. “While there are no known Canadian casualties at this time, our embassy in Moscow will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
…about his departure from the Canadian Forces at Army.ca – some highlights:
There are gaps in the care and charitable needs of amputees. These gaps fall into three main areas.
- Peer support (The FF works with the Amputee Coaliton of Canada and the Amputee Coaliton of America to make this happen)
That is the goal of the Franklin Foundation (www.franklinfoundation.ca) It was originally conceived in 2006 as the Northern Alberta Amputee Program and started from my experience while being a patient at the University of Alberta hospital and the Glenrose Rehab Hospital. While there I noticed that the care I was receiving was for a longer time line than the civilian patients around me. This and then the advanced prosthetic devices that I was allowed to own showed that there was a gap in what we got and in what civilians got. There should be pairity for all amputees across Canada, be they military, police firefighters, EMT, doctors, car accident victims, diabetics, or someone who suffers an amputation from an illness.
We need to change policy in one way or another. State that a 100% disabled per is not wanted by the CF…..plain and simple. If we don’t say that then we need to find ways to use the experiences that our wounded and injured can provide to the CF. Schools, training areas, advocates for the wounded, JPSU, Soldier On are all places that these types of mbrs can not only work but excel. This means we also need to promote and allow these people to go on courses and postings. (sorry standing on my soap box now) There are too many desk jobs and places that our 600 wounded and NBI can fit. I believe its our duty to give them these positions and allow them to prosper.
Remember that the media sometimes gets it wrong. The Sun article was three paragraphs long and they managed to squeeze in 3 mistakes. The CBC article and radio piece were good and helped explain my upcoming retirement and my future goals.
Again, thanks for all you’ve done, and what’s coming next.
This, from the City of Thunder Bay:
“Soldiers Return for Boreal Healing Though Project Healing WatersThunder Bay has been chosen as the launch site of the second annual Healing On The Albany event scheduled for July 10 through the17th.
“After last year’s exceptional welcome, we did not even consider any other city from which to begin our Canadian adventure” said Mark Snyder, event coordinator for the organization Project Healing Waters. The non profit group was founded by a retired U.S. military officer – Ed Nichols – to assist wounded soldiers in their physical and psychological healing after battle field trauma. “Learning and practicing the art of fly fishing offers these soldiers a peaceful place to acquire the skills of angling” Snyder said.
In July 2008 soldiers from both the U.S. and Canada were officially welcomed to Thunder Bay and then to Miminiska Lodge a Wilderness North Fly In Fishing destination on the Albany river.
The ten soldiers in this year’s event have all be selected by “Soldier On” in Canada and by Project Healing Waters in the U.S. to enjoy a week in the boreal forest of Northwestern Ontario, after suffering serious injuries in foreign wars.
During their stay last year, soldiers were also special guests at the Fort Hope’s Eabamatoong First Nation Pow Wow, and honored in a special community wide ceremony. Plans include another such ceremony this year.
However, it’s mostly R&R” said Snyder as he reviewed his list of gifts from the public in general in the form of cash contributions, and from organizations like Orvis Company who donate the fly fishing tackle, and American Airlines who provide the flying for the U.S soldiers. Snyder goes on, “The key to the entire project is the gift from Wilderness North. Alan and Krista Cheeseman provide the wilderness flying, the lodge, the food and the boats and guides and their staff treats these soldiers like royalty.”
Tourism Thunder Bay is once again supporting Project Healing Waters through media coordination and related services. “Thunder Bay has developed a phenomenal reputation as a warm and welcoming community. We are proud to help support this project by welcoming these brave Canadian and U.S. service personnel into our community and thanking them for their service.” according to Paul Pepe, Manager of Tourism Thunder Bay.
Thunder Bay’s Victoria Inn has donated rooms for the arriving soldiers on July 10 and will host a press conference breakfast scheduled for 8:30 A.M. on Saturday July 11. More information on Project Healing Waters can be found at www.projecthealingwaters.org.”