News Highlights – 8 Dec 11 News Highlights – 6 Sept 11

  • Afghanistan  Finally, a bit of info (from a visiting Canadian academic) from Herat, one of the spots where Canadian troops are helping train Afghan security forces during Operation Attention.  “…. Our participation in this training process, while likely the best course of action in a very challenging situation, simply adds to both the moral responsibility we owe Afghanistan and the strategic corner we have backed ourselves into. If we build this army, we had better be willing to fund it and support it long into the future. This will be added to the long-term development and humanitarian engagement we also have rightly committed to and have the obligation to maintain. Afghans, of course, have been taught to shoot RPGs before.”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch  New statement (link to non-terrorist web site):  child suicide bombers?  What child suicide bombers?  We have rules against that kinda stuff, ya know….  Meanwhile, here’s what Human Rights Watch has to say about using kids to blow themselves up:  “The Taliban’s use of children as suicide bombers is not only sickening, but it makes a mockery of Mullah Omar’s claim to protect children and civilians. Any political movement or army that manipulates or coerces children into becoming human bombs has lost touch with basic humanity.”
  • Libya Mission  Sun Media columnist says time to go home, not extend mission.  “…. Do Canadians really need to be mixed up in another protracted foreign military effort with an uncertain outcome? We may be headed into another recession. The federal government should keep its powder dry and focus now on the home front.”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (1)  “Canada is better positioned today to thwart a terrorist attack than before 9-11, but remains vulnerable to ever-evolving threats to national security — especially those targeted from within the country, says Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. Billions invested in beefed-up security measures, more information-sharing with allies and tighter controls on the movement of passengers, cargo and vehicles since Sept. 11, 2001, have all helped detect threats before they become too far advanced. But Canada must keep “alert” to new sources of danger — including home-grown terrorists and cyber-attackers. “Relatively speaking, we’re in a better position. I think back in 2001 we had no idea about the possibilities and types of threats,” Toews told iPolitics. “I think we’ve become much more sophisticated in recognizing potential threats than we were able to 10 years ago, so in that sense we’re in better shape. We’re also in better shape because we share information with our allies on a more regular and consistent basis.” ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (2)  “…. The consequences of 9/11 are a bit like the tip of an iceberg.  What you see is less important than what lies below the surface.  The most visible reminder of 9/11 is the inconvenience travellers face crossing the border …. The other major legacy of 9/11 is the resuscitation of hard power in Canada’s foreign policy …. That horrible day 10 years ago is a lasting reminder that Canada needs both hard and soft power to advance its interests in the world.”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (3)  EU, NATO:  World is safer post-9/11“…. A decade after Al-Qaeda traumatised the United States, the terror network has lost its leader, Osama bin Laden, and proved irrelevant in the revolutions sweeping the Arab world, said EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove. “The main finding is the real failure of the Al-Qaeda project,” he said. The once mighty group has been worn down by the NATO-led war in Afghanistan, which served as its safe haven prior to 9/11, and reinforced international cooperation, de Kerchove said. “Today an attack of the scale and sophistication of 9/11 is no longer possible,” he told a news conference. “Does it mean that we’re completely out of the threat? Probably not.” He added: “Are we safer today than before? I can say yes.” ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Wanted:  someone to plan and develop the next CF recruiting media campaign.  This from the bid document’s Statement of Work (PDF available here):  “…. the focus of advertising messaging will shift with the evolving focus of Canada’s military. Ongoing recruitment continues to be the priority and the emphasis will change to accurately reflect the reality of life in the CF. As Fight portrays the CF with a combat focus, and Priority Occupations promotes specific careers, future advertisement campaigns propose to showcase the CF’s readiness and proficiency in humanitarian efforts and domestic defence and support.  The readiness message should demonstrate that CF personnel are trained and the right equipment and necessary infrastructure are available when and where it is needed ….”  Check out the Statement of Work for suggested key messages and target audiences.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Jobs for east coast folks from one of the wanna-be TAPV competitors?  “A Dieppe company could be adding at least 120 new jobs to its roster if the Canadian government picks the Timberwolf as the newest tactical armoured patrol vehicle for the Canadian Forces. A prototype of the Timberwolf, a tactical armoured patrol vehicle designed specifically for the Canadian Forces, is seen in action. Dieppe’s Malley Industries Inc. will be the vehicle’s manufacturer if the design is selected. Specialty vehicle manufacturer Malley Industries Inc. will announce Tuesday that it has penned a deal with Force Protection Industries Inc., a leading United States designer and developer of military tactical vehicles. Malley Industries now joins a team of companies to potentially manufacture the Timberwolf – a tactical armoured patrol vehicle designed specifically for the Canadian Forces. There are at least three other teams vying for their vehicles to be picked. The government has until next July to choose a design. Up to 600 vehicles could be purchased ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying (3)  Wanted:  someone to build Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) building in Petawawa.
  • What’s Canada Selling?  “CAE today announced that it has been awarded a series of military contracts valued at more than C$100 million, including a subcontract to design and manufacture four additional C-130J simulators for the United States Air Force (USAF) as well as contracts in Germany to provide support services for the German Air Force’s Eurofighter simulators and to upgrade Tornado flight simulators …. Under terms of a subcontract from the prime contractor, CAE will design and manufacture four C-130J weapon systems trainers (WSTs) to support the USAF’s Air Mobility Command (AMC), Air Combat Command (ACC), and Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). Three of the simulators will be HC/MC-130J WSTs for ACC and AFSOC, and one will be a C-130J simulator for AMC ….” News Highlights – 2 Sept 11 News Highlights – 30 Aug 11 News Highlights – 2 Jun 11

  • Libya Mission (1):  NATO extends its mission 90 days.  “NATO and partners have just decided to extend our mission for Libya for another 90 days. This decision sends a clear message to the Qadhafi regime: We are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya. We will sustain our efforts to fulfil the United Nations mandate. We will keep up the pressure to see it through. Our decision also sends a clear message to the people of Libya: NATO, our partners, the whole international community, stand with you. We stand united to make sure that you can shape your own future. And that day is getting closer.”
  • Libya Mission (2):  Canada’s envoy to NATO approves NATO extension.  “Ambassadors from NATO’s 28-member states, including Canada, have unanimously decided to extend the military campaign in Libya for an additional 90 days. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance’s secretary-general made the announcement on Wednesday, saying it “sends a clear message to the Gadhafi regime: We are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya.” NATO took command of the international military campaign in Libya at the end of March, in the hopes of protecting Libyan civilians caught up in fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The alliance originally agreed to head the military campaign for 90 days, which would expire June 27 ….”
  • Libya Mission (3):  Canada going to extend mission?  “The federal government indicated Wednesday it will extend Canada’s mission in Libya, following a NATO decision to extend its bombing operations in the north African country. The fact the Conservatives support extending the mission may guarantee Canada stays in the war zone until September, the revised end date NATO set for its mission. A simple majority vote in the House of Commons or a cabinet decision can send troops to war, both of which the Tories can do without opposition support ….”  More from  “…. Harper had announced Friday at the G8 summit in Deauville, France, that Parliament will be asked to agree to an extension after the new session opens Thursday. “The government is very committed to the mission and we can, I think, report to Parliament that it has both gone well so far and that its continuation is essential for the original reasons we embarked on it,” the prime minister told CBC Radio’s Susan Lunn ….”
  • Libya Mission (4):  Not sure yet (even though, with a majority government, we know how it would go) what Canada is doing on extending mission?  “NATO has extended its Libyan air war by three months, but Canada’s role in the prolonged mission remains unclear. In an email from Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s office, a spokesperson said the future of Canada’s role in the Libya mission rests on the shoulders of Parliament. “Prime Minister Harper has been clear that Parliament will decide whether to extend Canada’s contribution to the NATO mission beyond June 16,” the spokesperson said. Hours after NATO-led aircraft launched new raids on Tripoli, ambassadors of the military alliance decided to renew the mission for another 90 days, to late September ….”
  • Libya Mission (5):  “…. Critics urged the government to define Canada’s mandate in the mission going forward, suggesting that without clear guidelines, “mission creep” could end with Canada committed to another long-term mission similar to Afghanistan. “This is an instance where we’ll want to make sure the government is being clear,” said NDP critic Paul Dewar. Complicating issues is a UN Human Right Council report accusing both Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces and opposition forces of committing war crimes during the conflict. “That’s why we have to be clear on what we’re supporting,” Dewar said. The Libyan mission evolved from protecting civilians through the enforcement of a no-fly zone to strikes at ground targets and military advice to rebel forces, said former ambassador to Pakistan Louis Delvoie ….”
  • Libya Mission (6):  The Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs says it ain’t over until the guy with the funny clothes and hats is outta there“Canada’s military mission in Libya will last until the country’s violent leader is gone, says the parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs. Deepak Obhrai, who represents Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird when Baird isn’t available, said Wednesday that Canada’s mission won’t be done until Moammar Gadhafi is out of power. “The end of the mission is to bring peace, stability out there, and peace and stability can only be in the region if Mr. Gadhafi’s gone, due to his murderous actions,” Obhrai told Rosemary Barton on CBC’s Power & Politics. “The final outcome of this thing to bring peace and stability to the region is for Mr. Gadhafi to go because of his crimes against humanity.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (1):  CF Info Machine says new training mission good to go.
  • Afghanistan (2):  CF Info Machine highlights PM’s visit.
  • Afghanistan (3):  Hockey visitors for the troops.
  • Canadian Forces Cancer and Mortality Study (1):  The official word from the CF“…. In general, these results are encouraging and suggest that persons who served in the CF have lower mortality for most diseases and illnesses than civilians of the same age and sex. The results are consistent with findings from other studies examining mortality in populations with a history of military service ….”
  • Canadian Forces Cancer and Mortality Study (2):  More official word on suicides in the CF“…. The death of even one military member by suicide is one too many. The CF have an extensive suicide prevention program in place, which includes primary prevention programs, clinical intervention, non-clinical intervention, and mental health education. Great efforts are made to identify people at risk for mental health problems and to provide them with the assistance that they require ….”
  • CF Hercs headed to SK to help evacuate fire-threatened communities.  “The Harper government is dispatching military aircraft and helicopters to evacuate two northern Saskatchewan communities threatened by raging by forest fires. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Defence Minister Peter MacKay are deploying four CC-130 Hercules aircraft and four CH-146 Griffon helicopters to help residents of Wollaston Lake and Hatchet Lake First Nations communities “facing imminent danger” as a result of a major forest fire ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying (1)  When trade shows are outlawed, only outlaws will hold trade shows“A group of about 75 people from a coalition of peace organizations staged a sit-in at the gates of Lansdowne Park Wednesday to protest the opening of Canada’s largest military and security trade show. The protesters say they held the sit-in to make a point that Canada should get out of the arms trade. They plan to hold a peaceful demonstration outside the gates of Lansdowne Park each day of the event. The annual military trade show got underway Wednesday and is expected to attract between 8,000 and 10,000 people who want to look at the latest in hi-tech gear ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  As Canada’s troops prepare to come home from Afghanistan with their battered kit, the federal government is moving ahead with plans to buy the army a whole new fleet of armoured vehicles. One of the contenders for the Canadian Forces’ new tactical armoured patrol vehicles was on display at a defence industry trade show here Wednesday. Textron’s TAPV, a descendant of the U.S. army’s ASV M11-17, is a four-man mean-looking four-by-four machine that is built to withstand IED blasts and can reach speeds of 100 km/h. Company officials describe it as a workhorse. “It’s a very, very tested vehicle. We’ve been developing this vehicle for five years, and we’ve blown up a lot of them. That’s the only way you know it’s safe,” said Textron’s Neil Rutter, adding thousands of the older U.S. variant have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We know that this vehicle can equal it (the U.S. variant) and probably surpass it for reliability.” Textron is one of six companies short-listed to submit bids to the government in August. The feds are poised to buy 500 TAPVs, which will replace the fleet of soft-skinned Coyotes which have run out of room to be upgraded and are proving cramped for soldiers loaded up with gear in Afghanistan. The first vehicle could arrive in summer 2013 ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying (3)  A Halifax company has landed a contract that could be worth nearly $22 million over five years to help Canadian soldiers improve their aim. Armament Technology Inc. will provide the Defence Department with up to 4,500 sets of optical sighting and ranging equipment over the next year. The deal is expected to be worth $4.3 million this year, according to a federal contract award document made public Wednesday. The contract also includes the option of four one-year contract extensions for an additional 5,000 units annually, Armament president Andrew Webber said Wednesday. “It’s the standard sighting system for the standard Canadian service rifle,” he said in an interview from Ottawa, where he was attending a military trade show ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (4)  “The Conservative government wants lobbyists to butt out of Canada’s new shipbuilding industry. Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose managed to raise more than a few eyebrows at a large defence industry trade show in Ottawa on Wednesday with that pronouncement. She told a large gathering of defence industry insiders, military officials, business leaders — and lobbyists — that the government doesn’t want lobbyists to play a role in Canada’s new National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. “Companies involved in the NSPS implementation process have been asked not to engage lobbyists. It was our intention at the outset to ensure that the NSPS competition would be run through a process that is completely arms length of politics,” Ambrose told hundreds in her luncheon speech ….”  More on that here and here.
  • More paratroopers standing behind paratroopers.  “Members of the international brotherhood of paratroopers are defending the disbanded Canadian Airborne Regiment. “These guys have heroes dating from World War Two, it’s wrong to brand the whole unit for the crimes of a few,” retired Staff Sgt. Mike Stocker, a former U.S. Green Beret and president of the Special Forces Association of St. Louis, told QMI Agency. “They were super tight-knit, real tough and real professional. It’s unfair, it’s as if they have taken their swords, broken them and branded them all. As a paratrooper, I stand behind them.” ….”
  • VAC reminder:  you have until the end of this month to apply for Agent Orange payments.  “Veterans Affairs Canada would like to remind Canadians who may be eligible to receive Agent Orange ex gratia payments that they must submit their applications by June 30, 2011. In September 2007, the Government of Canada offered a one-time, tax-free, ex gratia payment of $20,000 related to the testing of unregistered U.S. military herbicides, including Agent Orange, at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Gagetown in New Brunswick during the summers of 1966 and 1967. In December 2010, the deadline for submitting an application was extended to June 30, 2011. Certain eligibility criteria were also modified. Applicants have until June 30, 2011, to get a relevant medical diagnosis, and no longer have to prove that they were expecting their medical diagnosis before February 6, 2006. The requirement for applicants to have been alive on February 6, 2006, has been removed. This allows more primary caregivers, including widows and widowers, to apply on behalf of a loved one who died before the ex gratia payment came into place. Veterans Affairs Canada encourages individuals to submit their completed application before June 30, 2011, with all necessary supporting information. For more information, visit the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site at or call 1-866-522-2122.” News Highlights – 25 May 11

  • 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 News Highlights – 23 Jan 11

  • 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

  • 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.

Wanted (by 2015): As Many as 600 Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicles for CF

Remember this eight months ago?

“Government of Canada to Renew Fleet of Land Combat Vehicles”

This week, MERX had the latest:

The Department of National DEFENCE (DND) has a requirement for a fleet of Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicles (TAPV), with an estimated initial purchase of 500 and an option for up to 100 additional vehicles. DND also has a requirement for logistics support for the life expectancy of the TAPV, estimated at 25 years.

The TAPV is a wheeled combat vehicle that will fulfill a wide variety of roles on the battlefield. Canada requires one platform, comprised of two variants: the General Utility variant and the Reconnaissance variant. It will have a high degree of tactical mobility and provide a very high degree of survivability to its crew.

The estimated procurement milestones are as follows:
Request for Proposal (RFP) Release    Fall 2010
TAPV Acquisition Contract Award       Fall 2011
TAPV Support Contract Award            Fall 2011
Initial Operating Capability                   2013
Completion of TAPV Deliveries             2015 ….

Keep in mind, though, that this is very much an initial first step in the buying process:

…. The purpose of this (Solicitation of Interest and Qualification) is to qualify vehicles as well as their Original Equipment Manufacturers through a formal evaluation of selected mandatory technical requirements. Canada encourages a supplier pre-qualification process when complex procurements will likely result in high proposal preparation costs to industry. By using a pre-qualification phase to initiate the procurement process, respondents evaluated as not having sufficient technical capabilities to carry out the project are informed before they undertake the effort and expense of preparing a response to a complete RFP ….

Translation: We’re looking for an initial short-list of possible vehicles and manufacturers. This allows us and companies to save time and money during the more formal process because vehicles/companies not even close to what we need won’t have to do all the more-expensive bidding work.

Interested in more details? You can download the “Selected Vehicle System Requirements” annex to the full bid package here (via