Bosnia vet’s hunger strike ends.“The federal government will create a new committee to study veterans’ health in the wake of a hunger strike by an ex-soldier who insists he was contaminated by depleted uranium while serving in Bosnia. Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney made the announcement in Levis, Que., after Pascal Lacoste ended his protest and allowed himself to be taken away in an ambulance Tuesday. Lacoste …. battled to get Ottawa to recognize his uranium poisoning while serving overseas …. Further details of the board will be announced in the next 30 days, said Blaney. The minister said the body will comprise academics, medical researchers and soldiers. “It’s a committee that will have a broad mandate,” Blaney said, adding that he wants to see Lacoste’s health get better, along with the health of other veterans ….” More here. We’ll see about the bit in red – one hopes the committee will be allowed to do more than just create a report that gathers dust on the shelf.
“The Harper Government is facing controversy over its pending budget cuts to the Department of Veterans Affairs at a particularly awkward time — as the country prepares for Remembrance Day ceremonies Friday. On Tuesday, federal Liberals announced they’ve gathered nearly 9,000 signatures on a petition protesting cutbacks that will total $226 million. That sum is to be added to another $175 million to $350 million that is to be eliminated as a result of the Conservatives’ strategic review — a government-wide federal austerity process aimed at balancing the federal books in the next few years …. The Harper government should not be fiddling with this sacred trust. Canadians should give this some thought on a week when they’ll be remembering those who have fallen for Canada.”
Remembering (4) Honouring the fallen, 140 characters at a time, courtesy of the Ottawa Citizen.“There is one line from the poem In Flanders Fields that in recent times, above all, commands our attention with its call, from the dead to the living, to remember. “If ye break faith with us who die,” wrote Lt.-Col. John McCrae, “We shall not sleep.” Starting Wednesday and continuing well into the next decade, the Ottawa Citizen will keep this ancient faith through the modern channel of social media. Beginning at 11 minutes after 11 a.m., the Twitter account “@WeAreTheDead” will begin reciting the names of Canada’s war dead, one each hour of every day. A computer algorithm will select at random, each name from an electronic scroll of military dead and post it to Twitter. It will take more than 13 years to tweet all the names, finishing sometime in late June 2025, depending on the number of new entries added to the list ….”
Latest on Grapes and his Honourary RMC (declined with thanks) degree, from QMI/Sun Media:“I was hoping to be able to report today how those Royal Military College faculty members who don’t agree with a French teacher’s protest of Don Cherry’s doctorate had rallied to say she does not speak for them. It did not happen Monday. Same goes for a petition from the 800 officer cadets, indicating they did not agree with their French teacher and that they want Don to attend the Nov. 17 convocation to receive the honorary degree he so richly deserves. This also did not happen Monday ….”
Добро пожаловать на борт! “An imposing display of Russian military might is anchored at Canada Place for the next three days. The Russian missile cruiser Varyag and tanker Irkut, which will be here until Friday, are open for public tours between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. today and Thursday ….”
Libya Mission (2) Some hairy times.“It was early in the Libya mission when Italian authorities picked up the distress call. By the next morning, HMCS Charlottetown had gone from enforcing an arms embargo to providing humanitarian assistance. It was March and at the time the Canadian frigate was operating off the coast of Tripoli, part of a ring of NATO warships tasked with making sure weapons and ammunition didn’t get into the country and the hands of Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. But when the Italians relayed the distress call to NATO commanders, who in turn ordered the Canadian frigate to investigate, the Charlottetown’s crew leaped into action ….”
Afghanistan (1) Byron Greff, R.I.P. “A town in central Alberta is paying tribute to a fallen soldier who died in a suicide attack in Afghanistan last week. Master Cpl. Byron Greff was among 17 people killed in Kabul last Saturday when a suicide bomber slammed a vehicle fill with explosives into a NATO bus. Friends and family in Greff’s hometown of Lacombe, Alta. plan to honour his life during a public memorial service on Saturday. The service will be held at 1 p.m. local time at Canadian University College and will occur shortly after Greff is laid to rest at a private family ceremony ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War He says, they say. “The F-35 program is progressing well and on track,” associate minister of defence Julian Fantino told the House Thursday, while answering a question from the Opposition on the fighter jet program. However, other countries continue to make moves that suggest the program is not doing as well as he claims ….”
Remembrance Day (1) All I can say is: scumbags!“City and military officials are shocked after learning one of Calgary’s newest war memorials was vandalized only days before Remembrance Day. Bill Bruce, the city’s chief bylaw officer, said graffiti was sprayed across the riverside wall of Poppy Plaza on Thursday night. Phil MacAulay, president of the No. 1 Royal Canadian Legion, said he was disappointed to learn of the damage. “It’s bad,” MacAulay said. “It’s disrespectful. “You just don’t think something like that would happen any time of year, but especially now. “It’s so close to Remembrance Day, you’d think they’d know,” added MacAulay, who spent five years in the Canadian Navy. “Unfortunately, some lamebrains don’t think of the consequences or anything like that ….” More here.
Remembrance Day (2)“For the last 19 years, students at Ottawa’s Catholic Notre Dame High School have benefitted from a remarkable community program. Every Remembrance Day, local military veterans would come to the school and set up exhibits that the school’s students would visit throughout the day. The students could interact with Canadian military veterans, and examine military antiques, including uniforms, items of personal gear and some disabled military weapons loaned from museums …. what would have been the 20th Remembrance Day Symposium (and was set to include veterans from our war in Afghanistan) has been cancelled. The reason given: The school doesn’t want “guns or tanks” on its property. Ridiculous. Displaying harmless military memorabilia, in the respectful hands of the men and women who carried it in our country’s wars, is a wonderful way to make Canada’s proud military history come alive to a generation that will, we hope, never come closer than a deactivated rifle to the horrors of total war …. “
“Veterans’ advocates said Saturday they achieved their goal despite modest turnouts at some demonstrations to protest proposed cuts to the budget of Veterans Affairs Canada. Dozens of protesters, most of them veterans, gathered on Parliament Hill on Saturday afternoon to call attention to what they call the government’s lack of compassion for those who have fought for their country. A rally in Halifax drew some 30 protesters and onlookers to city hall despite the frigid fall weather. A similar demonstration was held outside the department’s headquarters in Charlottetown on Friday. “People on the Hill have come up and said, ‘I never knew,’ and that’s the object,” organizer Mike Blais of the group Canadian Veterans Advocacy said from Ottawa. “The object is to draw attention to the situation and I think … we’ve certainly accomplished our goal today,” he said Saturday afternoon …. ” More here and here.
The Royal Canadian Legion appears to be taking a stronger stance on veterans’ issues.“The Royal Canadian Legion fired a shot across the federal government’s bow last month. Canada’s veterans, it said sternly, should be exempt from cuts under the government’s program review. “Getting our financial house in order should not be done on the backs of our wounded warriors and their families,” declared Pat Varga, the Legion’s dominion president. It was an unusually blunt public stance for an organization that has traditionally preferred to do its advocacy in private. But it also reflected a new determination by the Legion to speak up in the political arena in order to sharpen its image and help arrest decades of membership decline. “We do want to be able to inject into that debate. That should be our role,” says Brad White, the organization’s dominion secretary …. “
What’s Canada Buying? Big Honkin’ Ship contract announcement creeping closer. “Shipbuilders across the country will find out (today) who will share $35 billion to revitalize the navy and coast guard over the next 30 years. Two massive contracts are up for grabs: $25 billion to build 15 military vessels, such as destroyers, frigates and offshore and Arctic patrol vessels; as well as $8 billion to build non-combat ships, including scientific vessels for the coast guard and a new Arctic icebreaker. The announcement is expected (today) at 4 p.m. ET. Halifax’s Irving Shipbuilding and Vancouver’s Seaspan Marine Corp. are bidding on both, while Quebec’s Davie Shipyard is bidding on the $8-billion contract. Davie, which had been idle and on the brink of bankruptcy, put together a last-minute bid with Ontario’s Upper Lakes Group, international giant SNC-Lavalin and Korea’s Daewoo ….” More on the wait here, here, here, here, here and here.
Honkin’ big exercise coming to CFB Wainwright. “CFB Wainwright is partaking in a historical exercise this month at the base’s Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre as part of a progressive shift to prepare troops for any battle they may face in the near or distant future. The Canadian Manoeuvre Training Centre in Wainwright officially opened in 2004 with only 30 permanent staff. In 2006 the CMTC held its first large-scale military exercise and since then has grown to incorporate more challenging exercises and learning methods. Enter MAPLE RESOLVE. On Oct. 11 CFB Wainwright held a media day to showcase CMTC’s latest exercise called MAPLE RESOLVE 1101 (MR 1101), a month-long exercise running from Oct. 1 to 28. During the exercise CFB Wainwright will be hosting about 4,000 soldiers from Canada, the United States and The United Kingdom and more than 900 military vehicles and other assets such as Air Force support, making this the largest exercise in CMTC’s history ….”
“Members of the Order of Military Merit are now eligible to preside at citizenship ceremonies, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced (Tuesday) …. Although citizenship judges preside at most citizenship ceremonies, occasions arise where they are not available. On such occasions, recipients of the Order of Military Merit may be invited to preside at a ceremony. This is an honorary role, in which the volunteer ceremony presiding official speaks to new citizens about the responsibilities and privileges of Canadian citizenship, administers the Oath of Citizenship and presents a citizenship certificate to each new Canadian ….” More on this here.
What’s the Veterans Affairs Minister have to say when asked in the House of Commons about $226M being cut from the budget?“…. on the contrary, we are investing in our veterans. With the new veterans charter, we are investing an additional $189 million for our veterans. However, there is a reality we must all face in the House and that is that our Korean War and World War II veterans are aging and, unfortunately, will be passing away in greater numbers over the coming decades. I invite the hon. member to support this government’s initiatives. She can support our “Helmets to Hardhats” initiative to encourage our soldiers ….”
Remember this story, with no shared documentation?“The Canadian military is keeping a watch on aboriginal groups through an intelligence unit that is meant to protect the Forces and the Department of National Defence from espionage, terrorists and saboteurs. The Canadian Forces’ National Counter-Intelligence Unit assembled at least eight reports on the activities of native organizations between January, 2010, and July, 2011, according to records released under access to information law ….” Since the Globe & Mail doesn’t appear to want to share, I will – documents in question downloadable (21 page PDF) here – you’re welcome.
Head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Alan Bersin: it doesn’t HAVE to be “increased security” VERSUS “harder trade”. “On the eve of a perimeter security deal between Ottawa and Washington, the top U.S. customs official is championing the idea of a “thinner” border for low-risk traffic as he seeks to reassure Canadians he understands what they want from the controversial agreement. Alan Bersin, the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, says he wants to make it easier for legitimate travellers and cargo to enter the United States so both countries can focus on high-risk traffic instead …. “The message I hope to be helping spread during this trip is that the old dichotomy between the promotion of trade and heightening of security … is a false choice,” he said ….”
Libya Mission Latest ROTO takes first flight downrange. “The CP 140 Aurora aircraft continued to add to an impressive list of firsts, flying its first mission over Libya and its first strike coordination and armed reconnaissance-coordinator (SCAR-C) mission during Operation MOBILE. On 22 September 2011, crew from 405 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 14 Wing Greenwood, flew its first intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission over Libyan soil ….” (via CEFCOM Info-Machine)
“NATO defense ministers are exploring ways Wednesday of ending the alliance’s aerial campaign in Libya and training Afghan security forces for a larger role in their country’s war. In a speech before the meeting, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged NATO member states to cooperate more closely and pool their resources in order to make up for the shortfalls that have plagued the alliance’s operations in Libya and Afghanistan. “It would be a tragic outcome if the alliance shed the very capabilities that allowed it to successfully conduct these operations,” said Panetta, who is making his first visit to Europe after taking over from Robert Gates as Pentagon chief in July. European members and Canada provided most of the strike aircraft used in the Libya campaign. But the war exposed shortages in their capabilities in strategic transport, aerial surveillance, air refueling, and unmanned drones, most of which had to be supplied by the U.S. ….” More on the U.S. poking allies to crank up the military capabilities here.
Afghanistan (3) Editorial: “Part of the rationale for military intervention in Afghanistan was the deplorable state of women’s rights, and the need to free women from the gender apartheid practised by the Taliban. This was a country where women could not have direct contact with men after the age of eight, could not go to school or work outside the home, visit public baths to stay clean, wear nail polish, high heels or be seen in public without a burqa, or a male relative. As the 10th anniversary of the military invasion approaches on Oct. 7, the hard-won gains that women have made over the past decade must be safeguarded. They cannot be sacrificed for the larger goal of ending Afghanistan’s protracted conflict ….”
Provincial politicians use CF search & rescue as provincial campaign lighting rod. “Newfoundland nd Labrador’s premier and the opposition leader say search and rescue services provided by the federal government must be investigated to see if improvements are necessary. Progressive Conservative Leader Kathy Dunderdale said a recent episode of CBC’s The Fifth Estate on search and rescue has left her with concerns about the military’s service. “It is not satisfactory to the people of this province, to the people who earn their living on the sea, to be at further risk because of a slow response time or policies that affect response time in marine search and rescue,” she said. Dunderdale said she plans to vigorously pursue the issue of search and rescue with the federal government. Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward agreed and went further, calling for a full inquiry into federal search and rescue services. Both Aylward and Dunderdale are campaigning in preparation for the provincial election on Oct. 11 ….”
Wounded Warriors, Mental Health & Suicide (1) “For decades, the issue of suicide in active soldiers and retired veterans was something that no one wanted to talk about. But a number of programs both within and outside the military are finally focusing attention on the issue. How big a problem is suicide in Canada’s military? It’s difficult to say. The Canadian Forces reports that the suicide rate among currently active soldiers is actually lower than that of the general public. But once many of those soldiers are released from the military, research shows their suicide risk can rise to higher levels than that of civilians. Assessing the toll can be difficult, because beyond the clear-cut suicides are the more subtle instances in which soldiers end their own lives. A veteran who drinks heavily to dull mental pain might be engaging in a slow form of suicide. A soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder and anger issues might take reckless risks if he’s lost his will to live. And how about the veteran with depression who ends up homeless and dies far too young? None of these deaths would register on the books as a suicide, but all might well be traced back to the soldier’s time in service ….”
Wounded Warriors, Mental Health & Suicide (2) From Question Period (QP): “Hon. John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, last week, the Minister of National Defence and I, along with others, attended a conference put on by the military called “Caring for our Own”. One of the concerns raised by some of the soldiers was the fear that the military would not be there for them in their hour of need. Specific worries included PTSD, suicide ideation and suicide itself. The next budget will be under severe pressure for cutting these “soft services”. Could the minister give the House assurances that our vulnerable soldiers and their families will be protected from these budgetary pressures? Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, my colleague is correct. My friend was in attendance, along with many members who are specifically tasked with how we deal with the scourge of post-traumatic stress and many of the challenges related to overseas deployments. I am very pleased to report that Canada has in fact become a world leader in fighting the stigmatization and raising awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder and other operational stress injuries. As well, we have increased mental health awareness and we have increased the number of mental health professionals who are dealing specifically with these challenges.”
Wounded Warriors, Mental Health & Suicide (3) More from QP: “Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, there is a great need to enhance suicide prevention programs in Canada. With respect to our veterans, the data is alarming. The suicide rate in the armed services is nearly three times that of the general population. According to a departmental study of all males who enrolled in the regular forces after 1972 and were released before 2007, a total of 2,620 died and almost 700 of them were suicides. Could the minister outline new steps or strategies that his department is undertaking to tackle this crisis among veterans? Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his important question. While mental health was taboo then, it is a priority for our government now. That is why we have established, in conjunction with the Department of National Defence, 17 operational stress injury clinics that provide services to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress across the country and at various levels that they might experience. This approach is working. As of June, Veterans Affairs Canada is helping more than 14,300 veterans with mental health conditions and their families ….”
New fur hats for the troops (and the animal rights activists are unhappy). “The Department of National Defence has decided to add fur to the winter gear of the Canadian Forces, a move that’s getting a frosty reception from animal-rights advocates. The government says fur is part of Canada’s heritage and the winter tuque currently in use doesn’t stand up to the rigours of the Canadian winter. So it’s buying an initial run of 1,000 fur-trimmed caps at a cost of $65,000, for use by guards of honour and Canadian Forces starting this winter …. “There are synthetics that are just as good and that don’t necessitate the killing of animals,” Elizabeth Sharpe of the World Society for the Protection of Animals said from Toronto. “Killing animals for their fur is completely unnecessary and cruel.” Lesley Fox of the British Columbia-based Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals says muskrats are known to chew off their limbs to free themselves from leg-hold traps ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War (1) Defence Minister Peter MacKay, facing questions from the NDP on the upcoming F-35 buy: “These aircraft, as the House will know, will replace our aging CF-18 fleet of fighter jets. These aircraft, like other aircraft, have served our country extremely well. They are used in Libya today. They have been used in previous missions, but that they aging. As a matter of course we are taking the responsible step of following a procurement process that has been in place for a significant period of time in which a number of countries are participating …. We committed $9 billion for the replacement of the CF-18. In fact, it not only includes the cost of the aircraft, this will include: spares, weapons systems, infrastructure and training simulators as well as the contingency associated with this important procurement. We are purchasing the most cost-effective variant at the prime of peak production when the costs will be at their lowest. Even the Parliamentary Budget Officer has admitted to that. Why are the NDP members constantly against getting the best equipment for the best forces in the world?”
F-35 Tug o’ War (2) The latest from the Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino: “An overall $9 billion cost estimate is more honest than relying on individual plane costs, says the minister handling the purchase of Canada’s new fighter jets. Despite a promise by manufacturer Lockheed Martin that Canada will get its F-35 fighter jets at a cost of $65 million each, Julian Fantino, Associate Minister of National Defence, says the government’s overall $9 billion estimate is the more honest number. The cost of the F-35 depends on the number of planes ordered by other countries, as well as on how early Canada wants to get its order. The manufacturing cost goes down as more planes come off the assembly line, with Canada expecting the U.S. to absorb the bulk of the F-35’s development costs. “There are just so many variables, and that’s why I think the more honest, ethical response to all these issues is the $9 billion figure, which in fact will be the ceiling that Canada will be investing in these particular aircraft,” Fantino told Evan Solomon, host of CBC’s Power & Politics ….”
Canada’s top military cop to chair NATO committee. “The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM), Colonel Tim Grubb assumed the post of Chairman of the NATO Nations Military Police (MP) Chiefs’ Committee at a brief ceremony last week in Prague, Czech Republic. The ceremony concluded the committee’s annual meeting …. Colonel Grubb has been the CFPM since 2009 and during his tenure has overseen significant transformation in the Canadian Forces Military Police organization ….”
How some of the Americans are doing the War of 1812 anniversary. “Out of the murk of history and the trough of government funding, here comes the War of 1812 again, 200 years old and as ambiguous as ever on both sides of the Canada-U.S. frontier. “The festivities reach a crescendo!” trumpets the Maryland Bicentennial Commission, as if three years of bombarding, cannonading, spearing, shooting, scalping, burning, sinking, drowning, pillaging, invading, retreating, ambushing, marching, fleeing, starving, freezing, and occupying had been a holiday for all concerned. Undeterred by the carnage – after all, the war didn’t kill THAT many guys, compared to, like, Gettysburg or Hitler or whatever – we are going to have “a Star-Spangled tribute to the defense of America” down here, a display at the U.S. Naval Academy of “the British flag captured at Fort York (Toronto),” plus “a week-long maritime event to kick off the bicentennial celebration.” In other words, there are going to be a lot of people in pantaloons hoisting mainsails and firing muskets before this thing is put away for another century ….”
Libya Mission AFRICOM boss says they could be wrapping up pretty soon?“The military mission in Libya is largely complete and NATO’s involvement could begin to wrap up as soon as this coming week after allied leaders meet in Brussels, according to the top U.S. commander for Africa. Army Gen. Carter Ham, head of U.S. Africa Command, told The Associated Press that American military leaders are expected to give NATO ministers their assessment of the situation during meetings late in the week. NATO could decide to end the mission even though ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi is still at large and his forces are still entrenched in strongholds such as Sirte and Bani Walid ….”
Afghanistan What Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney had to say at the ceremony honouring ROTO 10 troops in Valcartier back from Afghanistan: “At an event such as this, words are often unable to fully convey what we feel. This is an occasion for celebration, pride, and perhaps even sorrow. Your return home is a source of joy to all of us, especially to your families, who have hoped and prayed for this day. It is an occasion for pride, because you have completed a demanding and perilous mission with the same courage and selflessness as those generations of Canadian soldiers who have marked the history of our country with their valour. Please accept our congratulations and our thanks ….”
Way Up North One QMI reporter’s ideas for a new rifle for the Canadian Rangers.“…. One option would be for the government to contract Colt Canada, the Canadian Forces’ small arms manufacturer in Kitchener, Ont., to build a new generation of improved, modernized Lee-Enfields chambered in .308 Winchester, or buy Enfield replicas currently produced by an Australian firm. But concerns about quality, and the need for an off-the-shelf product rule both of these out. Another option still — proposed by this writer — would be the Ruger Gunsite Scout with a few notable modifications: a 20-inch barrel, and a light, durable fiberglass stock in army green with the Ranger emblem embedded in the buttstock. Whatever gun the government decides to buy for the Canadian Rangers, one thing is certain, it should be the best firearm available to them for the self-defence, military, and hunting applications they need it for ….” Follow the progress of the hunt for a new Ranger rifle here (via Army.ca).
Veterans Affairs Minister joins the troops (for a while, anyway).“The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, took part in a military training exercise in the Charlevoix area, organized by the infantry primary training audience of 35 Canadian Brigade Group. Minister Blaney spent last night at the camp with members of the Canadian Forces. Today, he joined approximately 800 members of the Reserve Force in field operations, which included crossing the St. Lawrence River between Les Éboulements and Isle-aux-Coudres in military craft ….”
Compare and contrast War of 1812 prep – this from an American editorial: “…. The war ended in a draw, but the contest to conduct the most comprehensive commemoration isn’t even close. The Canadians have appropriated millions, the Americans hardly anything. At this rate, the Canadians will appropriate the war entirely, at least for the next several years. Which brings us to a lesson for our time: Even forgotten wars can be lost 200 years later.”
Pile On the Defence Minister About The Planes/Choppers! (1a) PM Stephen Harper continues to back his man (the Minister, anyway). “…. Mr. Harper, however, said all Mr. MacKay’s flights were legitimate. “When he has used them, they’ve been for important government business,” the Prime Minister told the Commons. He invoked fallen soldiers in defending his minister, saying half of Mr. MacKay’s flights were to attend repatriation ceremonies where the remains of dead troopers were returned to Canada. “Half of those flights are for repatriation ceremonies so that he can meet the families of those who have lost their loved ones in the service of this country. He goes there to show that we understand their sacrifice, we share their pain and we care about them,” the Prime Minister said ….” And this was so different from the CDS’s work before the much-maligned, and un-PM-supported, trip to rejoin his family how? More from the guys who started the pile on here.
Pile On the Defence Minister About The Planes/Choppers! (1b) Here’s Hansard’s version of what the PM said in the House of Commons yesterday: “…. the Minister of National Defence has participated in some 55 repatriation ceremonies for over 80 lost Canadian service personnel …. This minister uses government aircraft 70% less than his predecessors. Half the time, he does so to attend repatriation ceremonies for soldiers who gave their lives for our country. That is why we have such great respect for the Minister of National Defence on this side of the House of Commons …. When this minister pays his respects to the families of our fallen soldiers I expect the official opposition to support us and the minister by showing respect for these families.”
On the CDS and plane trips.“…. Tradition suggests Gen. Natynczyk is heading into the final months of his term as Chief of the Defence Staff. He led our Canadian Forces through the successful completion of our combat mission in Afghanistan — one that elevated Canada’s military reputation around the world. We should allow him to bask in the afterglow that follows a job well done.”
Afghanistan (2) NDP MP Anne-Marie Day congratulates ROTO 10 in the House of Commons: “I am deeply honoured today to draw attention to the difficult commitment undertaken by our Canadian troops on Afghan soil during Rotation 10 of Joint Task Force Afghanistan, which took place from October 2010 to July 2011. We ought to commend and applaud the sacrifices and efforts made during this mission. In 2001, when Canada became involved in this mission, Canadians already suspected that our involvement would be long and arduous. In total, 10 years went by before we considered our work to be done. Tomorrow there will be a ceremony at Valcartier to mark our soldiers’ return. They lived up to the Canadian promise. We can all celebrate their work, be proud of it and honoured by it as well.”
Afghanistan (3) U.S. blogger Michael Yon continues to make no friends – this time, assessing Canada’s impact in Kandahar.“…. the history of the Canadian troops is softly being rewritten as successful in Afghanistan. Reality differs. The Canadians troops have an excellent reputation and they served with distinction, but after nearly being swallowed whole, they were ordered to abandon their battlespace. There were many causes. The Canadian combat forces could have prevailed, but Ottawa is weak. The prime cause for the Canadian defeat was that tough men in mud homes without electricity defeated comfortable politicians in Ottawa, who seem to think that manufactured history will make them victorious ….”
Afghanistan (4) Detainee probe by Military Police Complaints Commission plods on, slowly. “The Federal Court has dismissed complaints from military police officers over hearings conducted by the Military Police Complaints Commission into issues relating to the treatment of Afghan detainees. Eight current and former officers with the Canadian military police had argued they were being denied the right to a fair hearing with regard to whether they were at fault in their transfer of detainees to Afghan authorities or for not investigating how they were treated once transferred, given accounts about abuse of such prisoners at the hands of Afghan authorities ….” Federal Court decision here, decision summary here and more media coverage here and here.
On how much veteran families get for funerals: “Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, a Canadian Forces member receives $13,000 for funeral costs. A veteran receives $3,600. Nineteen months ago we raised this issue. The answer we received was that it was under review. Last year we asked the minister again to fix this problem. Even though his own officials raised it with him, he told a Senate hearing that it was not the time to talk about the matter. Yesterday we received another non-answer. Our veterans have done their job. They served and defended Canada. Why will the minister not do his and fix the situation now? Hon. Steven Blaney (Minister of Veterans Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I am glad to say that on this side of the House we not only speak for veterans, but we act for veterans. As I told the member yesterday, this program is managed by the Last Post Fund. It is doing an outstanding job. We fund the Last Post Fund. We are making sure that every military member who is killed or injured during service, whatever his or her rank, is well-served and will be treated with respect until the last moment of his or her life.”
Whazzup with the General who wrote the transformation/reorganization report that all the reporters got? “CGI Group Inc., a leading provider of information technology and business process services, today announced the opening of a new Canadian Defence, Public Safety and Intelligence business unit based in Ottawa with capabilities to serve the Canadian Armed Forces around the globe. In addition, the Company also announced the appointment of Lieutenant General Andrew Leslie to lead the new Defence, Public Safety and Intelligence unit. The offering will build on the corporation’s global expertise to develop and implement innovative, world-class solutions tailored to specific knowledge and requirements of Canada’s modern-day defence and security challenges ….” A bit more here.
An interesting idea from the Royal Canadian Legion as an alternative to recognizing Afghanistan’s war dead on the national cenotaph in Ottawa.“…. some veterans argue that singling out those who died in Afghanistan for special recognition on the memorial does a disservice to the more than 100 Canadian peacekeepers who have lost their lives in various other conflicts. For that reason, the Royal Canadian Legion said Thursday that, instead of specifically acknowledging the toll in Afghanistan, the monument should be dedicated to all of those who died “In the Service of Canada.” That’s the same inscription that is found in the Seventh Book of Remembrance, which records the names of all of the Canadians who died in military action since the Korean War. “We think that an inscription that covers the sacrifice made in all wars or missions would be acceptable to most people instead of etching the individual wars or missions,” said Patricia Varga, the Legion’s dominion president ….”
The World Socialists’ take on “royalizing” the branches:“…. Though the rose of the Canadian military will smell no sweeter under its new designation, the name change exemplifies the ideological shift pursued by the new Conservative majority government. As the Canadian capitalist class has ever more vigorously asserted its imperialist interests abroad, and employed increasingly anti-democratic methods of rule to enforce its agenda of austerity domestically, its servants in the Harper government have contemptuously discarded the “peaceful” and “liberal- social democratic” Canadian nationalism promoted by the Liberal governments of the 1960s and 1970s and sought to promote the military and the Crown as sacrosanct elements of “what it means to be Canadian.” ….”
They’re not “war resisters”, they’re volunteers who ran away and aren’t brave enough to face the music – this from the House of Commons yesterday. “Mr. Speaker, decorated Iraq war veteran Rodney Watson has lived in limbo for two years in sanctuary at an East Vancouver church with his wife Natasha and young son Jordan, both Canadian citizens. I have come to know Rodney and know him to be strong in his conviction for peace and justice, and brave in his commitment to go up against an illegal war. It has been a tough two years, and the strong support from the war resisters support campaign has been enormously important. If Rodney were to return to the U.S., he would likely be charged, which would make his return to Canada inadmissible, tearing him apart from his family. As many as 40 other war resisters like Rodney are currently fighting to stay in Canada. This Parliament has passed two motions in support of war resisters, yet the government is still trying to deport them. I encourage Canadians to write to the immigration minister and their MPs about Rodney and all war resisters to support the call for their permanent residence in Canada.”
Fence along the Canada-U.S. border? Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?“The United States has distanced itself from its own report that suggested it is considering beefing up its security at the Canadian border — possibly through the construction of “selective fencing” and trenches as well as enhanced electronic surveillance. The proposed options are contained in a detailed draft report released Aug. 31 in Washington, D.C., by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency. The proposals will be aired at public meetings in American cities this fall, before the U.S. government considers how to further tighten the border to keep out terrorists and other criminals. But late Thursday afternoon, after reports about the possible fence hit the Canadian media, the U.S. agency released a carefully worded statement. “A border fence along the northern border is not being considered at this time,” it said ….” A summary of the report (PDF) is available here, the news release linked to the report here, and more in the Globe & Mail here.
Meanwhile, the UAV’s drone on looking for bad guys and bad stuff going from Canada to the U.S.“The unmanned planes look north toward the long, lightly defended and admittedly porous Canada-U.S. border – the best route many Americans believe for jihadists seeking to attack the United States to sneak across. Like their missile-carrying military cousins prowling Pakistan’s skies targeting al-Qaeda suspects, the unarmed Predator aircraft that have patrolled the 49th parallel since 2009 are high-tech, sophisticated and little understood. And they are part of the same diffuse and determined effort the Unites States is making to secure its borders and defend itself. “We’re here to protect the nation from bad people doing bad things,” says John Priddy, U.S. National Air Security Operations director for the Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Air and Marine. He heads the Predator operation guarding American’s northern airspace. “This is the equivalent of the Cold War in terms of a new type of vigilance,” says Mr. Priddy, who has flown everything from Boeing 747 cargo jets to Apache helicopters ….”
Afghanistan (1a) Why is at least one media outlet surprised that Canadian troops remain in danger even if they’re training Afghan troops?“Canadian military trainers helped defend a NATO compound in Kabul last week when Taliban insurgents launched a dramatic attack against the U.S. Embassy and surrounding neighbourhood that killed 16 Afghans and wounded dozens more. This revelation, combined with assertions from a senior military official on Thursday that the Canadian Forces considers the Afghan capital an “extremely violent” environment, has raised fresh questions about the risks Canadian soldiers are facing in what was originally billed a low-risk, “behind the wire” training mission. According to a Defence Department spokesman, a small number of Canadian soldiers tasked with training Afghan counterparts were arriving at NATO headquarters in Kabul when the camp was attacked by insurgents. Capt. Mark Peebles said that during the ensuing battle, the Canadians helped Afghan security personnel and other NATO forces beat back the attack, including returning fire against insurgents in a building located nearby …. ” Re: the bit in red above, I guess this outlet missed the PM’s warnings from April of this year here, here and here.
MacKay’s Helicopter Ride (1) The latest: “Defence Minister Peter MacKay used one of only three search-and-rescue helicopters available in Newfoundland to transport him from a vacation spot last year, CTV News has learned. MacKay was picked up at a private salmon fishing lodge along the Gander River last July by a Canadian Forces Cormorant helicopter. Military sources said the order to collect MacKay came from the defence minister’s own office. “This is not a common practice . . . this is the only time a search-and-rescue asset was used as shuttle service,” a source told CTV News. The Department of National Defence has three Cormorant helicopters based out of Gander, N.L., which are expected to cover a massive region of eastern Canada 24 hours a day. According to the National Defence website: “9 Wing Gander is responsible for providing search and rescue services throughout Newfoundland and Labrador as well as northeastern Quebec,” which the military calls “one of the busiest search and rescue regions in Canada.” MacKay’s office defended the move, saying it was an opportunity for the defence minister to see the helicopters’ search-and-rescue abilities up close. “After cancelling previous efforts to demonstrate their search-and-rescue capabilities to Minister MacKay over the course of three years, the opportunity for a simulated search and rescue exercise finally presented itself in July of 2010,” a statement from MacKay’s office said. “As such, Minister MacKay cut his personal trip to the area short to participate in this Cormorant exercise.” However, military sources say no search-and-rescue demonstration was planned until the very day MacKay’s office made the request to pick him up ….”
MacKay’s Helicopter Ride (2a) “Defence Minister Peter MacKay defended his use of a federal military search and rescue helicopter, saying it was for work, rather than for personal use while vacationing in central Newfoundland. Speaking during Question Period in the House of Commons Thursday, MacKay said that he was on one of the three military choppers based in Gander, central Newfoundland, during the summer of 2010 but it was for work, not pleasure.. “I was in fact in Gander in July of 2010 on a personal visit with friends that I paid for. Three days into the visit I participated in a search and rescue demonstration with 103 squadron 9 Wing Gander. I shortened my stay by a day to take part in that demonstration,” he said ….” More on this here and here.
MacKay’s Helicopter Ride (2b) MacKay’s set of answers in Question Period yesterday: “Mr. Speaker, with respect to the question from the hon. member, I was in fact in Gander in July of 2010, on a personal visit with friends for which I paid. Three days into the visit I participated in a search and rescue demonstration with 103 Squadron of 9 Wing Gander. I shortened my stay by a day to take part in that demonstration and later flew on to do government business in Ontario …. I think I just explained that I shortened a personal visit to take part in a search and rescue demonstration in Gander. Had any emergency requirement arisen that would have required search and rescue assets, they would have of course been immediately diverted. As the member would know, having participated in the parliamentary program with the Canadian Forces, members of Parliament, in fact 20 including himself, took part in search and rescue activities in the past. I am very proud of the work of the Canadian Forces, particularly those who take part in search and rescue. Canada has a rescue area of responsibility of over 18 million square kilometres of land and sea, the size of continental Europe. Our Canadian Forces and Coast Guard partners respond to more than 8,000 incidents every year, tasking military aircraft for over 1,100 cases, and in fact save on average 1,200 lives each and every year. I think that as Minister of National Defence I should familiarize myself at every opportunity with the important work of those who perform these daily heroics …. I am very proud of the work of the Canadian Forces. I have observed the work they do in Operation Nanook in the Arctic. I have observed search and rescue activities. I have observed live fire operations, as have members of the opposition who take part in the parliamentary Canadian Forces program. I can confirm that all government departments are looking at their departments for efficiencies, as Canadians would expect them to do, as Canadians and businesses themselves are doing …. the parliamentary program put on by the Canadian Forces every year has the enthusiastic participation of members of Parliament, including members of the opposition. I note that the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue took part this year in the program that was put on by the air force. I suspect she may have availed herself of a Canadian Forces asset at that time. This is a great opportunity for members of Parliament to see first-hand the important, critical, life-saving work that the men and women in uniform perform each and every day on behalf of our country.”
MORE on use of Military Planes! “A retired major general and an Ontario Conservative MP successfully lobbied National Defence last year for the use of a C-17 heavy-lift transport plane to move a donated fire truck to the Dominican Republic over the objections of the air force. Both Defence Minister Peter MacKay and the country’s top military commander, Gen. Walt Natynczyk, signed off on the charity request, even though senior staff warned most transport flights were stuffed full with war supplies for Afghanistan and no training flights were slated to go the Caribbean resort island. Critics said Thursday that it adds to the growing list of questions about the use of government aircraft, including revelations that MacKay was picked up by a search and rescue helicopter following a vacation. In objecting to the charity request, air force planners noted there are exceptions that allow for specific aid flights. “The airlift of a fire truck to the Dominican Republic does not fit the definition of a humanitarian effort as there is no immediate life-saving or relief of suffering attributable to its provision,” said a Nov. 19, 2009 briefing note prepared for Natynczyk, obtained by The Canadian Press. The report went on to say that the Defence Department had to be careful not to set a precedent ….”
No signs in the window on Parliament Hill for YOU! “Ottawa-Orleans Conservative MP Royal Galipeau says he was told take down two “Support Our Troops” stickers from the windows of his Parliament Hill office. Galipeau says he removed the large ribbon-shaped decals on instructions from Conservative Whip Gordon O’Connor, the former defence minister who was once a brigadier-general in the Canadian Forces. Galipeau complied with the order and instead hung up a flag with the same Support Our Troops logo, just inside his office but clearly visible through the window. “I’m still making my statement,” Galipeau said on his way into the House of Commons on Wednesday. His riding is known to some as CFB Orleans because of the large number of military personnel living there. But on Thursday, Galipeau wouldn’t comment further and complained that the Ottawa Citizen didn’t run a letter he wrote in response to an earlier story about the stickers. He hung up when asked on the phone for more information. A spokesperson for O’Connor said the message behind the stickers was not the problem. “A memo was sent to all Conservative MPs in August reminding them that no signs, regardless of message, are permitted to be displayed in the windows of their parliamentary office,” Andrea Walasek said in an email ….”
Some of what the CDS has to say about Canada’s Reserves (via Milnet.ca): “…. My vision for the Primary Reserve is a force that consists of predominately part-time professional CF members, located throughout Canada, ready with reasonable notice to conduct or contribute to domestic and international operations to safeguard the defence and security of Canada. This force is fully integrated into the CF chain of command …. To support my vision, I will communicate more specific guidance in the future outlining the strategic environment, policy, management, and employment principles concerning the P RES. We will continue to develop relevant and sustainable missions and tasks which reflect the reserve culture in which the majority of pres members serve part-time as an integral part of the CF. As a priority, I will strive to align programs and benefits so that they effectively support all CF members ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War (2) What Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino had to say during Question Period yesterday: “Mr. Frank Valeriote (Guelph, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government has been caught, yet again, unable to justify sole sourcing its contract for new jet fighters. Despite repeated assertions that Canada needs a fifth generation fighter and that the F-35 is the only jet to meet those specifications, the government did not bother waiting to review complete F-18 Super Hornet specs. Fifth generation is merely a U.S. trademark of Lockheed Martin, not a guarantee of suitability. Why will the Conservative government not serve both our forces and taxpayers by holding an open competition for the best fighter jet? Hon. Julian Fantino (Associate Minister of National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, in 2001 Canada participated in the extensive and rigorous U.S.-led competition process where the two bidders developed and completed prototype aircraft. Partner nations were engaged during the competitive process. This led to the selection of Lockheed Martin as its partner at the joint strike fighter manufacturing of our F-35. Hon. John McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, for months now the government has been saying that the price per plane for the F-35 is $75 million. In light of statements made yesterday, the cost must have gone up to at least $125 million per plane. This leaves less than $1 billion for engines, spare parts, training, maintenance, initial suite of weapons, and everything else. The numbers just do not add up. In light of these new figures, would the Minister of National Defence now agree that the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Congressional budget officer were right all along? Hon. Julian Fantino (Associate Minister of National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, Canada needs military aircraft in order to protect our sovereignty. The current CF-18s must be replaced. We have budgeted $9 billion to purchase F-35s. Let me be clear. In the last election, Canadians gave our government a strong mandate to ensure that the brave men and women of the Canadian armed forces have the tools they need to do their job, and come home safe and sound at the end of their ….”
What’s Canada Buying: Big Honkin’ Ships “On a billboard one block south of Parliament Hill in Ottawa, amidst a row of trendy bars and coffee shops, a hand holds up a dime with the caption Ships Start Here. But the ad for Halifax’s bid for national shipbuilding contracts, paid for by the Irvings themselves, is an anomaly. The real public relations war is taking place thousands of kilometres away. Many shipbuilding watchers agree the Ships Start Here campaign is not about convincing Ottawa power brokers but leveraging as much political capital as Nova Scotia can muster. On first blush, the lobbying campaign makes little sense. The federal government has promised the $35 billion in contracts will be awarded purely on merit. A committee of top bureaucrats will make the call. Consultants from Knowles Consultancy Services and Hill International have been brought in to ensure there is no political interference. When Premier Darrell Dexter travelled to Ottawa, he couldn’t even speak to the committee without independent watchdogs watching from the corner. But few insiders seem to buy it. Of about a dozen MPs, political staffers and industry watchers contacted by The Chronicle Herald, only the Tories expressed confidence that politics will not be a factor ….”
“Canada is among the founding members of a new international organization dedicated to fighting terrorism, announced Thursday. The new group will become “a counterterrorism network that is as nimble and adaptive as our adversaries,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at the inaugural meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum. “Let us pledge to learn as much as we can from one another.” Canada is a founding member of the group, whose 30 members include Britain, China, the European Union, Japan, Australia, developing countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, as well as leading Muslim nations including Egypt, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The U.S. and Turkey will co-chair the group. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney welcomed the initiative, noting a good friend in Pakistan was assassinated by extremists. Over the last few years, he’s met twice with Pakistan’s prime minister on the subject and in those conversations, Kenney said he expressed a desire for support from countries like Canada ….”
“The public face of the Milice patriotique québécoise said Tuesday “everything we do is 100 per cent legal.”The self-styled militia favours Quebec political independence, provides firearms training at gun clubs and recruits using social media. “If we were doing anything even faintly criminal or wrong, we would have been arrested long ago,” Serge Provost said. “We’re not hiding anything.” Provost said the 10-year-old group has about 800 active members and has been growing. The Sûreté du Québec refused to say whether it is probing the group’s activities. “We can’t confirm whether or not an investigation into this group is under way,” SQ Sgt. Ronald McInnis said. Montreal police referred all queries to the SQ. “I’m sure we are under surveillance pretty well 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” said Provost, a 42-year-old carpenter. “If we do something wrong, we’re dead.” The group has grown by “between 75 and 100″ during the past year, Provost said, and its Facebook site lists 728 friends ….” Meanwhile, in the opinion pages, “…. It is not surprising that the shop Mr. Provost opened last November in east-end Montreal to sell militia-related gear has been refused a licence to sell firearms. Instead there are boots, balaclavas, radical books and paintball rifles. On an online message board run by the militia, one participant offered a bulletproof vest for sale. When another participant noted that the “problem with the vest is it offers no protection to the neck,” he received the message, “Thank you for your advice, patriot” from a militia member. Mr. Provost told the Journal de Montréal this week that he is “proud not to receive any subsidies,” although it is hard to imagine under what program the militia would qualify for aid. In addition to charging members a $100 membership fee, the militia makes ends meet by running a garbage recycling business, MPQ Recyclage. In June, Mr. Provost issued an appeal on Facebook for the donation of a used pickup truck to collect recyclables. “The vehicle … will serve the national defence as part of our logistics unit when operations require,” he wrote.”
What’s Canada’s Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney doing about homeless vets in the streets? This from Question Period yesterday:“Mr. Speaker, not only are we working with our partners, but we are taking decisive action to reduce homelessness in our country and among veterans. That is why we have established outreach initiatives in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver to provide assistance to homeless veterans, and also in all our district offices. I was in Toronto this summer and I could see the action of the Good Shepherd Ministries on the ground in downtown Toronto, and of our officials working hand in hand in the refuge with those people. We are helping our veterans to transition to civilian life in a seamless manner and we will keep up that work.”
Libya Mission (1) Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is leaving open the possibility of continuing Canadian military involvement in Libya after the scheduled Sept. 27 end date. Canada’s participation in NATO’s air mission over Libya has been extended once, but the government hasn’t yet said whether it will propose another extension. The NDP, the official Opposition, is against another extension. Asked what happens after Sept. 27, Baird said he’s taking the situation one day at a time. “This is quickly coming to an end. It’s not over yet. Canada will obviously be there in theatre to support the Libyan people,” Baird told (CBC) …. “The end is in sight. We’re not there yet, but let’s take it one day at a time,” he said. Pressed again on whether the troops will return to Canada on Sept. 27, Baird reiterated “the job is not yet complete.” “I would think that once the people of Libya are safe, that’ll be something that we’ll consider,” he said ….” More on this here.
Libya Mission (2) “Canada is heading into high-level talks on Libya this week without formal offers of assistance for the country as it rebuilds after a bloody uprising. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief spokesman says the intent of the meeting in Paris is to determine what the rebels’ National Transitional Council needs. Dimitri Soudas says Canada can contribute in several ways but the international community first needs to co-ordinate assistance. “Before you just start putting things into force and implementing them, you actually have to make sure everyone is going the same direction,” he said in a briefing Tuesday. Mr. Soudas said Thursday’s meeting is also not a victory lap for NATO forces, even as military officials say their sustained campaign is seeing life slowly return to normal in many areas. “The definition of victory is always something that people try to establish,” he said. “Victory to a large extent is democracy in Libya.” ….” If the Government of Canada really means that bit in red, we may be there a while….
Libya Mission (3) Academic: Canada should have own eyes, ears on the ground, not just sharing intelligence from NATO partners. “…. When asked where Canada is getting its information, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, referenced the NATO-led mission in which Canadian fighter aircraft and a navy frigate have been participating since March. “Don’t forget this is a co-ordinated effort,” he said, “and information is shared internally.” Walter Dorn, a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., said he was surprised to hear that Canada doesn’t have anyone on the ground in Libya given the importance the government has attached to the mission, both militarily and politically. “It is critical to have Canadian eyes and ears on the ground in order to make informed decisions,” he said. “We have to evaluate those in charge, provide humanitarian assistance and help build the peace.” ….”
Libya Mission (4) “Canada is looking at how to “unfreeze” up to $2 billion in frozen Libyan assets for re-construction efforts in Libya, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman Dimitri Soudas. The assets were frozen in February following a United Nations sanctions resolution and now Ottawa, following the lead of the United States, is trying to determine whether the money can be released and channelled toward “humanitarian and other needs” to help establish a transition to a democratic government in Libya. Ottawa is “looking at options at how to proceed to unfreeze those assets and for them to be put towards that use,” said Soudas ….”
Libya Mission (5) And for all those calling for a U.N. mission in Libya, this, from the rebels. “Libya is rejecting the idea of deploying United Nations military personnel to help stabilize the country. A 10-page document written by the UN Secretary General’s special adviser on Libya that was leaked and published online recently calls for the deployment of 200 unarmed UN military observers and 190 UN police to help stabilize the country …. that could include monitoring or mentoring police officers. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chairman of the transitional council, said Tuesday he had met a day earlier with NATO officials in Qatar, where it was decided that no foreign soldiers would be needed in Libya. “We decided that we do not need any forces to maintain security, be it international, Muslim or other,” he said ….”
Way Up North (1) Lookit what the South Koreans are up to (hat tip to Mark Collins for sharing this one) “Commercial ships able to route through the Northwest Passage without ice breaker assistance are a step closer to becoming a reality. Korean shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), announced a few days ago that a model of their 190,000 dwt iron ore bulk carrier had finished its test program in the world’s largest – 90 meters long – ice test tank at Canada’s Institute for Ocean Technology (IOT). With an awareness that the traditional ice-breaker bow construction (where the mass of the ship’s bow structure bears down to break up pack ice) acts as a drag on efficient progress in open waters, international collaboration between IOT and Korean researchers from Pusan National University aimed at finding the optimal bow design for a ship operating in various ice conditions. Numerical computer analysis by the team culminated in manoeuvring and resistance performance tests of the model bulk carrier in the special ice-test tank ….”
Way Up North (2) One academic’s view, post-Nanook 2011: “…. one could argue that the senior military leadership views the Arctic (especially in a post-Afghanistan milieu) as a means of further justifying its reason for being. Stated differently, it gives them a mission priority that has the firm backing of the Conservative government in Ottawa. This is critical because it allows the military to make the case to political masters that the defence budget should be insulated from any deep cuts in the rush to balance the books …. It would be better for the military to wrap itself in an Arctic mission (and to secure the requisite procurement) rather than have the Coast Guard squeeze out more money for sovereignty patrols, scientific investigation and a polar-class icebreaker. In short, the Canadian military is perfectly content to play around in the Arctic just as long as the money taps stay open and they can use their training there for other “hot spots” around the world. And if this is the case, you can look for the Canadian Forces to deepen its military footprint in the Arctic.”
Afghanistan (3) QMI/Sun Media editorial: “If there was a truly down moment during Jack Layton’s funeral on Saturday, it was Stephen Lewis praising Layton for wanting to negotiate with the Taliban. And, worst of all, this venture into the absurd got a generous and lasting applause. Can you imagine anyone but the elite left giving a generous and lasting applause to something so offensive and so wrong-headed? Yet, they lapped up the Orange Crush like it was cultist Kool-Aid. How sad is that knowing those same Taliban that Lewis and Layton think would give credence to a negotiated end to their terror have taken the lives of more than 150 of our Canadian soldiers, plus a diplomat, plus a Canadian journalist? And that’s not counting the hell and death they have brought down on the Afghan people. But everybody Rise Up! Rise Up! ….”
Afghanistan (4) I screwed up, missing this film from the CF Info-Machine: “…. You don’t have to wait for a telling, warts-and-all documentary made about one Canadian military experience in Kandahar. Desert Lions: Canadian Forces Mentors in Kandahar is a great piece of reporting and surprise, it’s a Canadian army production. A reservist with the Calgary Highlanders regiment and a former CBC television reporter, Mike Vernon spent several weeks in 2010 shooting footage and collecting stories in the volatile Panjwaii district of Kandahar. This was a hairy time for the Canadian Forces, especially in Nakhonay, the small, Taliban-infested village where Mr. Vernon found himself encamped with nine members of an Operational Mentor Liason Team (OMLT), reservists like himself, assigned to a complex and dangerous mission: To hold Nakhonay while helping “enable” a company of Afghan soldiers, some of them good, some of them awful. All of the men struggled with cultural barriers and stupid military politics, inside a deadly combat environment where the enemy was always present but seldom seen. Scary ….”
Royalizing the CF Survey says….“According to (Harris Decima) Senior Vice-President Doug Anderson “By and large, Canadians agree with reverting to the traditional names for Canada’s Navy and Air Force and only one in ten are strongly opposed to the change. As might have been predicted based on historical evidence, Quebec residents find the lowest level of agreement on this point, but even there, opinion is fairly evenly split.” ….” More from The Canadian Press here.
“Ministers responsible for Veterans Affairs and senior officials from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Germany, Denmark, France and the Netherlands today completed two days of meetings to discuss support for Veterans. Ministers emphasized the need for collaborative research, policy development and programs for Veterans. The meetings were hosted in Ottawa by the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs …. The following statement was released by the Summit participants at the conclusion of the meetings: Honouring and providing services to Veterans is a shared goal around the world. All of our governments have programs in place to meet the needs of those transitioning from military to civilian life. Research is playing a growing part in allowing us to better understand the transition experience. By agreeing to collaborate more closely on common research projects, we will be able to develop improved ways of supporting Veterans throughout their lives ….”
Way Up North (x) “Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sent a signal to Beijing that Ottawa will not relinquish its sovereignty over the portions of the Arctic lying within its territory. Countries around the world are looking northward as the sea passage across the top of Canada becomes increasingly navigable and exploration for new energy and mineral sources suggests the Arctic could contain a wealth of untapped natural resources. One of those countries is China, which has begun to take a hard look at the potential that lies under what was once a frozen ocean, especially the commercial and shipping possibilities, and has asked for special observer status in the Arctic Council. On Friday, a reporter with the official Chinese news service who is accompanying the Prime Minister on his annual summer tour, asked him to clarify his position. “It seems like there are some local media reports that the Arctic region belongs to the Arctic countries and it’s not the business of the rest of the world,” the Chinese reporter said. “What is your comment on this opinion and what role do you think the rest of the world can play in the Arctic region affairs?” Mr. Harper responded by saying that vast areas of land and significant territorial waters within the Arctic are under the sovereignty of various countries, including Canada. “The government of Canada, working with our partners and the people in this region, intend to assert our sovereignty in these regions,” said the Prime Minister ….”
Way Up North (x) Wired.com’s Danger Room blog on the CF’s tender call for quiet snowmobiles: “The Canadian government wants a stealth snowmobile. Just, apparently, because. It’s not as if Canada has any alpine enemies to sneak up on with shadowy, frigid cavalry. But that’s not going to stop the Canadian Department of National Defence from spending a half million dollars on a prototype ….”
“The body of a former Ottawa resident was found this week among over 150 others in a Tripoli warehouse, members of Canada’s Libyan community report. Abdulhamid Darrat, who first came to Ottawa in the early 1980s, ran a successful Internet company in Libya called Baitaslxams. He was taken by government officers along with five co-workers and shoved into the back of a van, while at work in May. His daughter, Khadija, 16, said the last time she saw her father was at 3 a.m. on May 19 before he headed into the office for the day. Khadija said Libyan officials led the family to believe that Darrat was taken out of Tripoli in order to do some sort of Internet work for the government. She said relatives with contacts in the Gadhafi regime told them Darrat was well looked after and doing well ….”
How’d the Libyan rebels get that expensive Canadian-built micro-UAV? “…. Start-up Aeryon is mainly focused on the consumer uses of drones, such as replacing satellite mapping with drone mapping. Their drones are dual-purpose products — intended for commercial use, but also usable for military operations as demonstrated below. Canadian law only prohibits them from selling drones to North Korea or Iran. “Because it’s a dual-purpose product, rather than just intended for military use, we face fewer restrictions when sending them to other countries,” says (Aeryon CEO David) Kroetsch ….”
One old warhorse’s glass-is-half-empty view of Libya: “…. is Libya a “victory”? We don’t know much about the rebel leadership and the National Transitional Council (NTC) that Canada, for one, is pledged to support. What we do know is that the rebels have gotten rid of one of their military leaders – former Interior Minister Abdul Younis — who was assassinated by his own fighters in Benghazi for reason unknown. That’s an uncomfortable omen for the future. Also known is that with total victory, tribal and ideological factionalisms surface, and scores beg to be settled ….”
Afghanistan (3) Canadian reporter discovers it’s damned expensive bringing stuff to fight a war 1/2 way around the world. “Summer in (southern) Afghanistan is a blast furnace. Temperatures rise over 50C. Air conditioning is what allows the frenzied pace of NATO’s war during the fighting season. The price is astronomical. The Americans have calculated that in the past two years they have spent $20 billion on AC. If you add the rest of NATO, that figure is probably well over $24 billion. That means that coalition forces spend more to keep themselves cool each year than Afghanistan’s gross national product. Every drop of fuel, drinking water as well as every morsel of food consumed on NATO bases is imported into this landlocked country – most of it trucked in through Pakistan. The cost is enormous ….”
Some U.S. Army LAV work for a Canadian company. “General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, a business unit of General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE:GD), received a contract worth $49.2 million from the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. Per the contract, General Dynamics will provide training and field service support for Light Armored Vehicles (“LAV”) that was previously supplied under a Foreign Military Sale (“FMS”) contract. Support activities under this contract include the provision of field support teams to conduct operator and maintenance training, technical support and fleet status monitoring. The five-year contract was awarded through the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Crown Agency of the Canadian Government and is expected to be completed by July 2016 ….”
Postmedia News offers up a series of terrorism profiles of different countries, including Canada.
This from the Veterans Affairs Info-Machine: “On behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of National Revenue, announced today up to $5,000 in funding for the official opening of the Air Force Heritage Park in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. “Our government is proud to support great community projects like this one,” said Minister Blaney. “We commend all those involved with the creation of the Air Force Heritage Park for doing their part to recognize the men and women who have served our country, past and present.” ….”
Want to see photos of Vandoos (in this case, 3rd Battalion) preparing to jump out of Ukrainian helicopters after being trained by Ukrainian paratroopers on Exercise Rapid Trident 2011? Check them out here (via Army.ca)
F-35 Tug o’ War Aussies getting cold feet over Joint Strike Fighter? “Australia may reconsider a A$16 billion ($17.5 billion) plan to buy 100 of Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighters because of delivery delays and cost overruns, the government said on Wednesday. Repeated delays and ballooning costs in the F-35 program are now starting to rub against already generous delivery and cost limits set by the government and military planners, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith said. “We are running close up to those schedules, particularly on delivery. So I’ve made the point very clear that we are now monitoring very closely the delivery timetable and we are also monitoring very closely the cost,” Smith told Australian radio after meeting defence officials in Washington ….”
Libya Mission One man’s opinion. “…. Libya, like Kosovo, Somalia, Haiti and, by some accounts, Iraq and Afghanistan, has become a humanitarian war. The main point of such wars is to stop governments or factions that aim to become governments (such as the transitional council) from committing mass murder. They are not peacekeeping missions, though, like peacekeeping, they are optional – wars of choice they are often called. This means that Canada, NATO and the “international community” was in no way compelled to act. By insisting on the opposite, Baird and other advocates of humanitarian war involve themselves in paradoxes, dilemmas and incoherencies ….”
New Winnipeg Jets Logo (1) Defence Minister Peter MacKay seems to like it.“The new Winnipeg Jets logo, while not yet out on an actual jersey, continues to sell well in t-shirts, hats and other merchandise and in Winnipeg on July 26, 2011, the military themed logo got approval from a big player in Canada’s defence ministry. Peter MacKay, the country’s Minister of Defence, endorsed the logo while speaking to media after having announced some funding unrelated to the Jets. “I personally love it,” said MacKay who was at 17 Wing Winnipeg, an airforce base outside the city that has been part of Winnipeg in some way since 1922. “It very much associates with the history of the Canadian air force and the roots the air force have in the city of Winnipeg.””
New Winnipeg Jets Logo (2) Some sports commentary web sites, not so much. “…. This logo seems to be too safe and out-of-date when compared to other team logos. And even their presentation of the logo lacks any showmanship. I didn’t love the old logo, but I think its simple design fit that era and was a solid crest to support. This logo looks like some kid created it in Paint as a grade nine art project ….”
New Winnipeg Jets Logo (3a) Peaceniks, even less. “…. there can be no mistaking the inspiration for the new Jets logo. If the CF-18 fighter draped in a red maple leaf wasn’t obvious enough, the team’s new owner made no secret of the fact that the logo was designed in consultation with the Department of National Defence. In fact, Mark Chipman’s comments in the unveiling of the new logo had more to do with the air force than the hockey team. He noted in the press conference that he only felt comfortable with the “Jets” name when he determined that he could re-brand the team around the RCAF. In other words, my beloved Winnipeg Jets are being twisted into another cheap marketing ploy for the new Canadian militarism ….”
Some whining about Calgary’s decision to allow “Support the Troops” stickers on municipal vehicles. “…. “We oppose the decals because oppose using public resources for a political message,” said Dylan Penner, spokesperson for the (Council of Canadians). “This is not about support for our troops, it is about explicit endorsement of the war. In our view, it is impossible to separate the message of support for war from support for troops, despite the fact the Canadian troops are coming home now …. Canadians care about peace, and many of us recognize this as promoting war.” ….” Uh, the stickers say “Support Our Troops”, not “Support The War” – I guess that’s not clear enough.
More on the war poet John MacRae allegedly having been gay. Let’s see – four sources mentioned in the original article. In subsequent article in another media outlet, one says “WTF? that’s not what I said”, three who we haven’t heard from, the museum’s fundraising boss saying, “he knew of multiple, credible sources indicating the famed poet was gay”, and the writer of the original piece saying, “she did not contact any historian to substantiate the story (and) “We may have to print a correction.” …. ” Great journalism all ’round…