Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle News Highlights – 2 Sept 11

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  • Families of Canada’s fallen visit Kandahar one last time before Canada shifts its mission in Afghanistan – more here and here.
  • Wounded former IED dismantler/investigator helping others in the same situation. “Andy Tiffin’s left hand was mangled when the roadside bomb he was dismantling exploded last October. He was working in an “exploitation” lab, informally known as CSI Kandahar, as part of his deployment to Afghanistan. “(It’s) where people take things apart and try to figure out what the enemy did right, what they did wrong,” said Tiffin, a chief petty officer in the Canadian navy, in an interview Tuesday. He downplays the injury, speaking of the far more serious wounds suffered by other soldiers he saw while in hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. When he got home to Bedford, “my wife took care of just about all (the necessary tasks). I didn’t have to drive back and forth back to the hospital. Since she works out of our house, taking care of our little one, it gives us a lot of flexibility as a guy that deploys a lot.” But many soldiers and families do need help, whether with the extraordinary challenges of dealing with a serious injury or with the day-to-day challenges of military life. Those families have been getting support since 2008 from an organization called the True Patriot Love Foundation. A fundraising dinner for the foundation was announced at a launch event in Halifax on Tuesday attended by Tiffin, other members of the military, organizers and supporters. “Their families really do serve right along with them,” said Elisabeth Rybak, the chairwoman of the Atlantic Maple Leaf 2011 Nova Scotia Tribute Dinner, after the event was announced at the law offices of McInnes Cooper ….”
  • In Afghanistan, Francophone troops get a chance to train Afghans and practice their English at the same time. “Since August 2005, Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams (OMLT) have been deployed in Kandahar province, where experienced military personnel offer instruction, mentoring and liaison services to Afghan soldiers. Although the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the coalition have been working together for eight consecutive years, few Afghan soldiers have learned and mastered English, while some have learned only a few words. Communication is always a challenge, but the use of English is also an excellent opportunity for Francophone soldiers who wish to practice their second language ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  More attacks alleged in Kandahar, Zabul, and Taliban calls on Kandahar bosses to admit someone else’s in charge.
  • Survey says majority of Canadians polled OK with Osama killed.  “A staggering number of Canadians feel Osama bin Laden got his just reward when U.S. Navy SEALs shot the world’s most-wanted terrorist in the head and chest and dumped his body into the Arabian Sea, says a new poll. The survey conducted by Abacus Data suggested that the killing this month of the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and other bloodbaths was a unique case, and that terrorists in general should be treated like other criminals when it comes to justice and punishment. Asked whether bin Laden got what he deserved, 82% of respondents said yes and 18% said no ….”
  • Quebec Flooding (1):  CF agrees to help, sending more troops….  “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement (Tuesday): “The Canadian Forces doubled the number of its personnel and equipment in the Montérégie region last night in order to assist the people in the flooded areas. The Canadian Forces are there to respond immediately should the floodwaters of the Richelieu River cause damage to the dikes, or place Canadians in danger. Given the concern of local and provincial officials that the public may be at a heightened risk, the Canadian Forces may be asked to assist with evacuating citizens, or assist provincial authorities where lives could be in danger. As such, I requested Lieutenant-General Walter Semianiw, Commander of Canada Command, to approve the immediate deployment of the Task Force Reserve, which was positioned at a state of high-readiness at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier and in St Jean, Quebec, along with follow-on forces, bringing the total number to approximately 500 ….” “
  • Quebec Flooding (2):  … but not to take down sandbag dykes.  “The federal government has refused a request to have the Canadian Forces help with the cleanup once flood waters recede in Quebec. A letter from Public Safety Minister Vic Toews suggests that placing sandbags might be part of the military’s role — but removing them isn’t part of their job description. The Quebec government, which received the letter dated May 20, provided the correspondence to reporters Tuesday. It was released on a day of growing anger and finger pointing over the emergency response to the floods, which have affected 3,000 homes and forced 1,000 people to be evacuated. The release of the correspondence was meant to prove that the Quebec government — which is being questioned for its performance — had actually requested federal help in a timely manner ….”  More from the Canadian Press here.
  • Quebec Flooding (3):  An impressive Canadian Forces (CF) team was mobilized to repair a damaged dike in the agricultural sector of Henryville in Montérégie May 10. The dike ruptured when Lake Champlain overflowed. “We would like the dike to stay at least three months, to give farmers time to re-establish themselves,” said the engineer in charge of the repair work, Major Claire Bramma, 5 Combat Engineer Regiment (5 CER). The Quebec provincial police collaborated with the military to block off roads to traffic in order to facilitate the work of the soldiers and avoid endangering civilian lives ….”
  • Will Associate Minister of NatDef Julian Fantino be the real power holder as time goes on?  So says one QMI columnist:  “…. One military expert told me with the Afghanistan mission winding down, the real power and most important action in the years to come with the defence department is in the re-booting of it and that responsibility has been handed to Fantino. “How Canada moves ahead with the purchase new (F-35) fighter jets and frigates is the number one defence priority going forward and the prime minister has selected his man to do that job,” he said. That person does not seem to be MacKay or, at least, not all by himself ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1):  The company that will sell the jets to Canada says Canadian cost estimates are bang on!  “The Conservative government’s figures on the F-35 stealth fighter jets are accurate despite many reports to the contrary, according to Lockheed Martin’s executive vice president in charge of the program. And Tom Burbage told QMI Agency here Tuesday that the Canadian government’s support of the F-35 is important to the program as a whole ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2):  Meanwhile, in the U.S., “The House is expected to consider changes to the F-35 fighter program as questions swirl about the jet’s cost and long-term viability. The chamber is expected to consider a number of measures related to the F-35 during debate on the 2012 defense authorization bill. Those votes will come just days after conflicting assessments were given on the status of testing and the expected costs of operating the jets. Prime contractor Lockheed Martin — while acknowledging that challenges remain — last week sounded upbeat about the often-delayed and altered testing of the three variants of the war plane. “Early testing has allowed us to understand our main technical challenges and develop resolution paths for them,” said Tom Burbage, Lockheed’s vice president for F-35 program integration. “The performance of the [vertical takeoff-and-landing] variant in flight test has been very good since November.” ….”
  • Force Protection Industries, Inc., a Force Protection Inc. group company, today announced the addition of Elbit Systems and Lockheed Martin Canada as additional providers for the Canadian Forces requirement for the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV) project. Force Protection Industries, Inc. previously announced that it has been selected by the Canadian Government as one of the competitor companies qualified to provide up to 600 wheeled combat vehicles and related long term support services. CAE was announced recently as Force Protection’s main Canadian partner with responsibility for providing the in-service support solution. The Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) expects to award a contract to the final selected bidder by early 2012 ….”
  • The former CFB Rockcliffe site has been sold to the Canada Lands Company for $27.2 million, QMI Agency has learned. “We’re the land owner and developer,” said CLC vice-president Gordon McIvor. Redevelopment of the lucrative real estate in north Ottawa is back on the table after being tied up in a land claim with the Algonquins of Ontario (AOO) since 2007. “That was resolved,” said McIvor. The CLC and the AOO have entered into a participation agreement. “We want them to be able to, if they want, develop a piece of the property following the guidelines that have been approved by the city and by Canada Lands,” said CLC president and CEO Mark Laroche. The deal between the land company and natives is worth $10 million ….”
  • Canada has cracked the top 10 in a global security assessment that ranks countries based on how peaceful they are. The Global Peace Index ranked Canada eighth out of 153 countries, a six spot jump over last year. The index, produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), suggests North America overall has improved slightly thanks in part to Canada’s rise in the rankings. The United States was placed at 82, compared to its ranking of 85 last year. The index says if the U.S. reduced its violent crime rates to that of Canada’s, the U.S. economy and its state governments could save billions of dollars on correctional services, health care and lost tax revenue ….”  A bit more on this here. News Highlights – 17 Feb 11

leave a comment » News Highlights – 23 Jan 11

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  • A new governor for Panjwai“A Canadian-patrolled part of Kandahar has a new political leader. The provincial government has named Haji Fazluddin Agha the new governor of Panjwaii district. Agha replaces the illiterate and mercurial Haji Baran. Rumours have swirled for weeks that Baran’s ouster was imminent. The new governor will work with officials from Canada and other NATO countries to secure the often troublesome district ….”
  • A bit of what some Canada Border Service Agency folks went through in Afghanistan.
  • Shaw Media + ABC = TV show about combat hospital in Afghanistan“Canadian broadcaster Shaw Media on Thursday said it will co-produce the homegrown medical procedural Combat Hospital with ABC. Confirmation of the American deal for the Canadian-U.K. drama means production on the now untitled series from Sienna Films, Artists Studios and Lookout Point can go ahead. There’s no word on casting. Shaw Media is set to announce Monday a veteran director attached to the Canadian medical drama. Shaw Media’s cable drama channel Showcase will air the 13-part series about a military medical facility in Afghanistan where doctors and nurses treat coalition troops and Afghan civilians next summer ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged across Kandahar.
  • Canada’s reportedly hunting for spare parts to keep the Snowbirds flying for another 9 years or so“The Defence Department is on the hunt to find parts for the military’s aging Snowbirds acrobatic aircraft as it tries to keep the fleet operating until 2020. The planes have been in the Canadian Forces inventory since 1963 and have been used by the Snowbirds team since 1970. But a number of systems on the aircraft are obsolete and will have to be fixed in the next few years, according to the department. In addition, Public Works recently issued a request for a number of parts, with responses expected back by Tuesday. The aircraft, known as CT114 Tutors, were to have reached the end of their estimated life expectancy last year but that was extended by the Defence Department to 2020. Defence Department spokeswoman Natalie Cruickshank noted in an email that the Snowbird fleet remains airworthy and sustainable. “Overall, DND is effectively managing the aircraft, its operation and ensuring a strong support network is in place for a healthy fleet until it is retired from service,” she added. She noted that a recent study identified two systems as requiring updates in the future …”
  • One of the military’s flying schools is cranking up its output a bit“3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School (CFFTS) at Southport is expected to step up its training this year by up to 30 per cent to meet a shortage by the Canadian Forces.  “We are actually expecting our production to increase,  in terms of the number of pilots we train … particularly the ones that graduate as fully qualified pilots, both on the multi- engine and on the rotary- wing side ,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Rob Kamphuis, commandant of  CFFTS. “It’s going to a busier year, even (more) than last year which was an increase from the year before.”  The flight school will be graduating an additional 10 multi-engine pilots and five or six rotary wing pilots in each course, which equals an increase of 30 per cent on the multi-engine side and 10 per cent on the rotary wing side.  “The air force right now as an institution is short of pilots,” said Kamphuis. “The long-term way to fill that shortage is to train more. We are part of the solution to get the air force back up to full strength where it needs to  be,  given all the operations the air force is doing both in Canada and internationally.”  Also, for the first time this year, flight students will be arriving from Saudi Arabia , starting in September.  About 20 students will be trained a year ….”
  • F-35 Tug of War Update: “Canada wants to buy 65 F-35 fighter jets. The government says the purchase price is $9 billion, including some spare parts and weapons but not including a long-term maintenance contract.  Today, Winslow Wheeler, the director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center For Defense Information in Washington, D.C., releases written testimony he was asked to give to the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence. Wheeler says he tries to answer three questions in his testimony:
    1. What will Canada’s F-35As cost?
    2. What will Canada obtain for that expense?
    3. Is there a good reason to wait?
    The short answers to those three questions: 1. Unable to know. 2. Unable to know 3. Yes ….”
  • Too many strings attached to Canadian military contracts?  Good question. “A number of folks in industry have voiced concern about what they believe is a large number of mandatory requirements for Canadian Forces equipment procurement projects. For instance, the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV) program has 600 mandatory requirements. A company must meet all of these requirements if they want to win the competition to supply the vehicles to the Canadian Forces. “Everyone is going to have trouble meeting all 600,” one industry official told Defence Watch. “DND talks about wanting an ‘off-the-shelf’ vehicle but when you have that many mandatories that isn’t off-the-shelf.” His view is that the customer (DND) should outline what they want a piece of kit to do and then let industry reach those performance parameters, instead of outlining requirements to such a specific nature ….” News Highlights – 16 Dec 10

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  • On the one hand, Canada seems happy with the U.S. surge clearing the way for more development work in Afghanistan. “…. As its 2011 exit countdown in Kandahar approaches, Canada is piggybacking on American-led gains in clearing out militants in this former Taliban heartland to pour in resources, push development and convince those in former insurgent safe havens to switch sides ….”
  • On the other hand, Kandahar City’s mayor isn’t so happy about how Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. are spending money in the province. “…. In a letter to Canada’s ambassador earlier this month, Ghulam Hayder Hamidi complained that Ottawa’s contracting practices are contributing to the culture of malfeasance in Afghanistan. He also expressed similar concerns about the United States and Britain.  “Your prime minister, (U.S.) President (Barack) Obama and the prime minister of England are complaining that we didn’t clean the corruption in Afghanistan (and) they will stop helping,” Hamidi said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press.  “Who is doing the corruption? You are doing the corruption.”  The letter, delivered earlier this month to Canada’s civilian representative in Kandahar, suggests that the federal government is being taken to the cleaners by a handful of guileful Afghan companies. As an example, he cited a recent $1.9-million project to install solar lights that has been plagued by problems.  Hamidi also accused Canadian civilians of spending taxpayer dollars needlessly and ineffectively in some areas, and companies selected by federal officials of providing low quality merchandise, or services at inflated prices ….”
  • The newest under-boss of ISAF’s Regional Command South is a Canadian General. “A St. Albert resident has taken over as Canadian deputy commander of a busy region in war-torn southern Afghanistan.  Brig.-Gen. Andre Corbould is the new deputy commander of Regional Command South, an area that covers the provinces of Kandahar, Daikundi, Uruzgan and Zabul. The area was previously under British control but is now led by the American 10th Mountain Division.  Corbould says Gen. James L. Terry, commander of 10th Mountain, was looking for a Canadian to fill the deputy commander role and asked if he was interested in the position ….” According to General Corbould’s bio, he was already Deputy Commanding General of 10th Mountain as of this year.
  • A Canadian Senate committee is calling on Canada to keep protecting Afghan women’s rights, even as the combat task wraps up. “The Senate Committee on Human Rights today releases its 14-recommendation report on Canada’s commitment to support women’s rights in Afghanistan post-2011. “Canada should not barter women’s security in Afghanistan,” Senator Nancy Ruth, the committee’s chair said. “Women’s rights should not be traded away in the geopolitical game for Afghan peace and security.” Entitled, Training in Afghanistan: Include Women (PDF), the report delineates how Canada can empower Afghan women in their diversity. It targets five critical areas to support that goal: security, political reconciliation, justice, education, and local development. “It is not in Canada’s interests to hold Afghan women back from complete participation in capacity building, whether they live in cities or rural areas,” Senator Mobina S. B. Jaffer, the committee’s deputy chair said. “The change in the Canadian Forces mission gives Canada a tremendous opportunity to design gender-sensitive training practices that underpin women’s security.” With the end of Canada’s combat mission in sight, the report’s recommendations include gender-sensitive training for Afghan security and Canadian Forces personnel and the enlistment of more women in security forces ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: WTF?  Two MORE articles on Holbrooke’s death from the Taliban?
  • CF looking into suicides at CFB Borden. “…. Suicides are a rarity at Borden – the most recorded in any one year during the past decade is two. Suddenly, within two months, four soldiers from the same base were gone.  By March, the Canadian Military had reported a total of seven suicides had occurred in 2010 – three of them during the first eight days of the year.  The situation was enough of a concern for officials to look further.  Military documents and correspondence show then-commander of CFB Borden, Liet-Col. Peter Kouri, probed the circumstances of the four soldiers who died while on training at the Barrie, Ont.-area base.  In an e-mail dated Feb. 23, two days after Vanden-Heuvel’s death, Kouri told military brass about the “extraordinary” measures: “Following the fourth person taking their life while undergoing training at CFB Borden this year, an extraordinary Comd Advisory Team was convened.”  The primary aim was to address the issue of suicide prevention, the second was to ensure the chain of command had a shared understanding of the background ….”
  • An Ottawa-based firm has dropped out of a Defence Department armoured vehicle competition after determining its product didn’t fit the requirements. Thales Canada made the decision to withdraw from the program, freeing up its partner, DEW Engineering also of Ottawa, to seek out new alliances for the hotly contested defence program. The Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV) program would replace the Canadian army’s existing fleet of RG-31 mine protected vehicles and the Coyote wheeled light armoured vehicles. Besides the initial procurement of 500 vehicles, there is an option for an additional 100. DND has not released specific details on the cost of the program, but it’s estimated that the TAPV will cost well over $1 billion ….”
  • Reading tea leaves on possibly changing the name of Canada’s Navy: the PM’s office reportedly told party faithful via e-mail that “the government was following the debate in the Senate with interest but had “no plans to rename Maritime Command at this time.” Remember the last time the PM said he noted something “with interest”?  A pretty big change of heart happened there.  Not saying it’s a guarantee, by any means, but just throwing it out there.
  • Note to CF’s Army News folks:  I’m looking forward to what appears to be expanded coverage of the troops downrange in Afghanistan – stay safe while doing your job of spreading the word.  That said, brace yourself for harsher criticism than the following if you keep calling yourselves “journalists” (PDF of story transcript here if link doesn’t work).  As much as I like your work, I doubt we’ll be seeing a lot of critics in your pieces talking about how the mission sucks, so it’s not really fair to consider yourselves “journalists” in the traditional sense.  When the story lead reads “Reporters gear up to live side-by-side with soldiers for duration of Afghanistan tour,” this suggests that the “reporters” are not “soldiers”, which is NOT the case here.