MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 8 Dec 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 24 Nov 11

  • Afghanistan (1)  The latest quarterly report is out, this time tabled by the Defence Minister in the House of Commons (unlike the past few released by either the Foreign Affairs Minister or others) – more from media here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Another Canadian unit packs it in at Kandahar Airfield (via CF Info-Machine, only 8 days after the ceremony)
  • Afghanistan (3a)  Toronto Star continues pressing story of Afghan interpreter rejected for “fast-track move to Canada” program.  “An Afghan interpreter turned away from Canada says he has been hunted by insurgents on motorcycles because of his work with the Canadian military.  Sayed Shah Sharifi disputes the accounts of Canadian officials who have played down the threat he faces for aiding allied forces in Kandahar.  Indeed, Sharifi, 23, says he was forced to move his family out of Kandahar for more than two months last year for safety after motorcycle-borne insurgents left a chilling warning with his father.  “Your son works with the Canadian Forces and we will kill him,” Sharifi recalled Wednesday in a telephone interview with the Star ….”
  • Afghanistan (3b)  TorStar back stops coverage with letters.
  • Afghanistan (4)  Rabble.ca columnist complains about CBC call-in show featuring anti-Taliban writer Terry Glavin.  I’m still waiting to hear if the columnist even tried to call in.
  • Libya  Columnist shares kudos for Canadian mission commander as preparations continue for today’s “well done on the mission” parade at Parliament Hill.
  • Let’s not forget we have troops in Darfur, too – more on Operation Saturn here.
  • Mark Collins:  “Canadian Defence Spending–Less There Than Proclaimed”
  • Armenian media reports Canadians (military and/or civilian staff) helping NATO help Armenia.  “The NATO-sponsored international expert group is in the Armenian capital Yerevan, from Wednesday to Saturday, within the framework of assistance to Armenia’s reforms in military education. The group comprises military and civil representatives from US, Canada, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Romania, Switzerland, and NATO ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Wanted:  someone to design and build “Infrastructure for Tactical Control Radar Modernization, Primrose, AB”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  The Conservative government insists all of its new F-35 jets will arrive with the hardware needed to talk to ground troops and prevent friendly fire, but some will still need upgrades to make it workAssociate Defence Minister Julian Fantino said the stealth jets will be ready to do whatever the government asks, when it asks. “All of Canada’s F-35s will not only be capable of operating overseas the moment we get them, but be able to communicate with aircraft and know where friendly ground units are well in advance of deployment on operations,” Fantino said under questioning in the House of Commons ….”  More from yesterday’s exchange in the House of Commons here.
  • Canadian plane engine company STILL gets some business from an American buy.  “An unusual turn of events on a U.S. military procurement contract has lightly side-swiped three of Quebec’s largest aerospace firms. Wichita-based aircraft maker Hawker Beechcraft Corp. was excluded without explanation last week from a competition to supply 20 AT-6 Texan II light-attack and training planes to the Afghan air force. Its four main suppliers on the bid to the U.S. air force – which would then turn the aircraft over to the Afghan forces – were all Canadian: Longueuil’s Pratt & Whitney Canada for the PT6A-68D 1,600-horsepower engine, St. Laurent’s CAE Inc. for the crew training, St. Laurent’s CMC Esterline for the flight management system, as well as Burling-ton, Ont.-based L-3 Wescam, which was to provide day-light sensors, infrared cameras with zoom and various lasers. The elimination of Hawker Beechcraft apparently makes a winner of the Super Tucano trainer and light-attack aircraft produced by Brazil’s Embraer, the only other bidder for the contract. Matthew Perra, spokes-person for Pratt & Whitney Canada, said by email that “as with any competition there was some investment made, but this amount is not material to P&W Canada.” But it does not signify a loss for Pratt & Whitney Canada – it also supplies the same engine for Embraer’s Super Tucano ….”
  • My favourite bit from this piece from CBC.ca on monitoring efforts during the G8/G20:  “…. (an undercover police officer) told the court about how he attended a meeting prior to the Toronto summit. There, a protest-planning group that included several of the 17 main G20 defendants was discussing whether to lend their support to a First Nations rally. Adam Lewis, one of the 17 accused conspirators in the G20 case, interjected, “Kill whitey!” The group chuckled. Lewis, like all but one of his co-accused, is white. When a Crown lawyer asked the officer what he thought Lewis meant, Showan said in complete seriousness, to “kill white people.” “Deliberately or accidentally, the undercover officers misinterpreted hyperbolic jokes as literal statements of belief,” said Kalin Stacey, a community organizer, friend and supporter of the defendants ….”  Really?  I’m guessing is a similar statement was made about the protesters, it would NOT be taken as “hyperbolic jokes”.
  • Credit where credit is due:  CBC.ca shared the documents it’s writing about in the above-mentioned story via documentcloud.org (like here for example).  Hello?  Reporters?  News outlets?  Are you listening about sharing ATIP’ed documents?
  • Private Members Bill C-354, An Act respecting the establishment and award of a Defence of Canada Medal (1946-1989), makes it through First Reading in Parliament after being introduced by NDP MP Carol Hughes“Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be able to reintroduce this bill for the establishment and award of a defence of Canada medal for the men and women who served in the defence of Canada during the cold war. This act represents the hard work and vision of one of my constituents, retired Captain Ulrich Krings of Elliot Lake, who presented me with this proposal shortly after I was elected in 2008. Its purpose is to formally honour the people who defended Canada from within Canada for the period from 1946 to 1989. As such, it is intended to be awarded to individuals who served in the regular and reserve forces, police forces, emergency measures organizations, as well as civil organizations, such as St. John Ambulance, all of whom were concerned with the protection of Canada from the threat posed by the countries behind the Iron Curtain. This medal will recognize the support of the men and woman who gave countless hours to Canadians as they trained and prepared in case of an attack on Canadian soil, which fortunately never took place. Their service to our country came at a time when we became aware of how fragile peace can be and how vulnerable we may become to advances in weapons of warfare. This medal would give something back to all those who worked in those years to keep us safe and prepared. I thank my colleague from Thunder Bay—Rainy River (John Rafferty) for his continued support on this bill and for seconding this item for a second time.”  Caveat:  most Private Members Bills do not end up becoming law.  Discussion at Army.ca here.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 8 Nov 11

  • Royal Military College Academic:  Iran strikes might be the CF’s next shooting stint“Canada may get pulled into military strikes against Iran if it comes to a showdown between western powers and the rogue state. And things could get messy considering a new report from the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog that’s expected to indicate Tehran is on the brink of being able to develop a nuclear warheads, said Houchang Hassan-Yari, an expert in military and strategic issues at the Royal Military College of Canada. “If it gets to a military campaign, I think Canada will participate with the Americans and their allies,” the international relations professor said. “If sanctions are the next avenue, Canada will participate in that.” ….”
  • What a surprise:  the military appears to be planning and weighing how to deal with evacuating Canadians in trouble overseas“Plucking Canadians out of the world’s hot spots is a growing area of concern and study for military planners, who until a few years ago didn’t have their own tools or the resources to carry out such missions.  Internal Defence Department documents obtained by The Canadian Press show that in the aftermath of the Libyan crisis, the Canadian military is examining not only its war-fighting skills, but its newly enhanced ability to quickly organize evacuation and rescue missions.  Planners have been quietly taking stock of the world’s flash points and considering how to get military forces into those troubled regions, while at the same time smoothly getting civilians out of harm’s way …. internally at the Defence Department there has been angst about future evacuations, especially in light of expected budget cuts, suggest the documents obtained under Access to Information.  Among the most worrisome trouble spots is South Korea, where frequent and increasingly violent outbursts from the hermit kingdom in the North have military planners concerned and looking for guidance.  “With over 20,000 Canadian citizens resident in the (Republic of South Korea), in the event of a full-scale crisis (censored) the evacuation efforts required could significantly exceed those of the Lebanon evacuation,” said a Nov. 30, 2010 briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay ….”  I’ve asked if CP plans to share the obtained documents online for anyone interested to read – no word back yet.
  • Canada is taking part in U.S. Northern Command Exercise Operation Vigilant Shield ’12.  The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, as well as the Canadian military, have begun an extensive annual field training exercise for the U.S. Northern Command. “Operation Vigilant Shield 12” is the biggest multi-spectrum, high-level exercise for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. Northern Command is a Unified Combatant Command of the United States military, formed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 to protect the United States homeland and support local, state, and federal authorities. Operation Vigilant Shield 12, or VS 12, is a joint exercise supported by the Joint Coalition Warfare Center and conducted as a command post exercise with a supporting field training exercise in Key West, FL. The exercise is also linked to a Canada Command exercise called “Determined Dragon,” and runs concurrently with the Arizona’s “Vigilant Guard” exercise. It runs Nov. 1-10 ….”  More from the Pentagon Info-Machine here.
  • Scumbags, continued.  A recently restored First World War memorial that stands outside an east end high school has been vandalized. Neighbours of Malvern Collegiate, near Victoria Park Avenue and Kingston Road, awoke Sunday morning to find the granite statue wrapped in blue duct tape. With the help of about $44,000 in donations and grants, the statue had been restored and rededicated days before, just in time for Remembrance Day ….”
  • Remembrance Day (1)  Veterans’ Ombudsman on Veteran’s Week.
  • Remembrance Day (2)  Unambiguously Ambidextrous on Remembrance Day and Canada’s newest vets“…. There is a new generation of soldiers returning from war, something that has not been seen in Canada in about 50 years, or two generations. That’s not to trivialize Rwanda or Bosnia, but our country hasn’t had to deal with the reality of war dead in a half century and we have not handled their sacrifices very well. In fact, it would be fair to say we have broken faith with the dead, choosing not to carry on their torch and honour their sacrifices by seeing through the mission to success. It was a political decision made to pacify the pacifists created by two generations of peace. Today’s young people know nothing of war, and so their only reaction to it is revulsion ….”
  • An audit into Veterans Affairs Canada and how it handles privacy issues will be released in early 2012, Canada’s privacy commissioner said Monday. The news came as a third veteran went public with complaints into the number of times civil servants accessed his file, and how his file was handled at the agency. Sylvain Chartrand, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Bosnia, says his file was accessed more than 4,000 times between 2003 and 2010. HIs complaint is similar to one by Sean Bruyea, another veteran who advocates for veterans’ rights, and whose private medical information was shared with both Liberal and Conservative ministers of veterans affairs. A statement by a spokeswoman for Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart says an audit into how Veterans Affairs handles private information is coming soon ….”
  • A military veteran on a hunger strike collapsed momentarily during the third day of his protest against the federal government Monday. (Pascal) Lacoste is trying to convince the government to recognize that he and other soldiers were poisoned while serving overseas. The 38-year-old former soldier was leaving a camper lent to him by a friend and heading back to his SUV when he fell to the ground. An ambulance was called as his mother rushed to hold him, clutching him to her chest. Lacoste eventually recovered after taking gasps of air from an oxygen mask. But the exhausted-looking man refused to go to hospital. He decided to continue his hunger strike instead ….”
  • All of a sudden, Canada’s Liberal Party is keen on helping veterans – more in an online petition here and an e-mail soliciting signatures to said petition here (PDF).
  • Libya Mission  How intelligence from HMCS Vancouver helped in the battle for Sirte (via the CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan  Author/blogger Terry Glavin reminds us that it’s Pakistan, the puppetmaster, that should be talked to, not the puppets.
  • CF testing new helmets (via Army News)
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Technical help in improving how explosives are detected via electronic beams (more details in excerpt from bid documents – PDF – here), and VICTORIA-class sub periscope simulators.
  • CF looking for more military artists.  The Canadian Forces Artists Program allows Canadian artists the opportunity to record Canada’s soldiers in Canada and around the world. It follows the long-standing tradition of Canadian war artists and is designed to portray today’s Canadian military experience through art while providing artists with a taste of military life. These artists, all volunteers, are helping usher in a new era of Canadian military art …. A new competition is currently being held for the selection of a new group of Canadian artists who wish to participate in the program. Selected artists will be able to participate in a military-related exercise for a period of approximately seven to ten days. This opportunity is designed to springboard their creativity, create works of art depicting military life and to provide memorable military experiences. There is no payment for artists, who in turn are not required to provide works to the program. However, artists may be asked to lend some works for promotional art tours or other uses. Deadline for applications is November 30, 2011 ….”
  • Canada and Foreign Intelligence (1)  “As the Harper government prepares to re-introduce the anti-terrorism measures that were allowed to lapse because of opposition concerns about privacy and Charter rights, there are whispers Conservative plans to expand the role of Canada’s spy service to operate overseas are being dusted off. Currently, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is largely concerned with domestic intelligence and is able to conduct covert operations overseas only if there is a direct threat to Canada. In their 2006 election platform, the Tories promised to overturn this arrangement and set up a separate foreign intelligence service. Once elected, they were persuaded by the bureaucracy that it would be quicker and cheaper to allow CSIS to take on the role ….”
  • Canada and Foreign Intelligence (2)  Why blogger/info curator Mark Collins is underwhelmed with the above-mentioned idea.
  • Unlike how media treat reporters being kidnapped, right?  “Former Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler, whose kidnapping by al-Qaida made international headlines, says media “blackouts” of such events can prevent ransom demands from escalating to the point where they cannot be met. Fowler, then a United Nations special envoy in Niger, was abducted Dec. 14, 2008 on a highway outside the country’s capital, Niamey. He spent the next 130 days in the Sahara Desert with his captors, members of a shadowy jihadist group known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Fowler told the Ottawa Citizen’s editorial board Monday that his web-savvy captors viewed media coverage of his kidnapping on laptop computers and Nokia cellphones. From it, he said, they came to believe he was on a “secret mission” in Niger, a suggestion reported in the Globe and Mail. “Was it harmful to me? Yes, likely,” he said. “The idea that you can write things here that won’t impact there is just — in this globalized world — crazy.” ….” 
  • A Canadian man has been indicted in Seattle for allegedly conspiring to support the Sri Lankan terrorist group the Tamil Tigers nearly six years ago. The single-count indictment against Ramanan Mylvaganam, 34, is the result of a jurisdictional dispute between federal prosecutors in New York City’s Brooklyn borough and Mylvaganam’s attorneys. Mylvaganam is a former Bellevue resident. Brooklyn prosecutors in 2006 had indicted Mylvaganam along with nine others in connection with an alleged plot to pay to import surface-to-air missiles and other military equipment to the Tamil Tigers. The charges also alleged the group was attempting to bribe U.S. officials to have the Tamil Tigers removed from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Mylvaganam’s attorneys had argued that federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York had no jurisdiction over Mylvaganam’s alleged crimes because he was living at the time in Bellevue, according to court papers ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 4 Oct 11

  • Canada’s defence department must shed top military brass and bureaucrats today to focus on front-line troops for the priorities of tomorrow: the Arctic, cyber defence, space and special operations, says the author of a controversial report on transforming the armed forces. Retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie told senators on the national security and defence committee Monday it’s time to make “moderately tough choices to invest in the future.” National headquarters in Ottawa has become too bloated and overall structure has too much overhead and “tail,” Leslie said, recommending an administrative overhaul to trim $1 billion by cutting the number of full-time reservists, civilians and officers and slashing by 30 per cent of the $2.7 billion now spent on consultants, contractors and other service providers. “Transformation is all about the future – reducing the overhead and investing in the front-line troops, making the Canadian Forces and Department of National Defence leaner, better able to respond and more deployable,” Leslie said ….”  More on this here and here.
  • The Canadian Taxpayers Federation seems to agree.  “…. It’s time for the Harper government to act on Leslie’s cost-cutting ideas and move more of Canada’s military muscle off seat cushions at headquarters and into the field, where it is needed.”
  • Afghanistan (1)  A bit more mainstream media coverage of the training mission, or at least part of it“…. It’s amazing watching …. woman train in that they are not wearing veils and every day fly in the face of what radical Islam sees as the role of women. “They are very brave and we are proud of them,” said Canadian Major General Michael Day, who heads the training program here. “Back in their villages some of them would be killed for just coming here.” Day knows there is a long way to go. But you have to start somewhere. By the end of this year, there will be 195,000 members of the ANA and already in most parts of the country they are taking the lead in security here. Canadians, Americans, Danes, Georgians are here more as trainers and mentors.” 
  • Afghanistan (2)  More mainstream media coverage, this time at least showing a photo of troops doing the training. 
  • Afghanistan (3a)  Minister of National Defence denies he was kept out of the loop by PMOthis from Question Period (QP) in the House of Commons yesterday“…. that is false …. we have always worked closely with the Prime Minister and with cabinet ….”  More on that here.
  • Afghanistan (3b)  Tying in the planes with Afghanistan – this again from QPMr. Matthew Kellway (Beaches—East York, NDP):  Mr. Speaker, the Department of National Defence continues to spring leaks about the minister’s misuse of DND assets. By now we have all heard that the minister takes government jets like most Canadians take the bus. Now we find out that the Prime Minister personally kept the Minister of National Defence out of the loop on the Afghan war. Why is the Prime Minister defending a minister that he himself has so little confidence in?  Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC):  Mr. Speaker, as I and the Prime Minister have said, we use government assets for government business. That is exactly what has happened. With respect to Afghanistan, we have made a magnificent effort on behalf of Canadians. They can be very proud of the work our men and women in uniform and our professional public servants have put forth in Afghanistan. As a government we have supported them. We have given them the resources. Unfortunately, the member’s party opposite cannot say the same thing …. ”  More on the layest QP back & forth here.
  • Afghanistan (4)  A couple of events (Toronto and Ottawa) linked to a new book on Afghanistan by commentator Terry Glavin. “Solidarity: Calling all friends of Afghanistan in the GTA. COME FROM THE SHADOWS. “Join Terry Glavin and friends to celebrate the publication of his new book, Come from the Shadows: The Long and Lonely Struggle for Peace in Afghanistan,” at Dora Keogh’s Trad Irish Pub, 141 Danforth Ave, Toronto, Tuesday, October 11 · 7:00pm – 8:30pm, plus whatever happens afterwards (free admission). Official Launch: Army Ottawa Officer’s Mess, 149 Somerset Street W., Ottawa, Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 7:00 PM, Admission: $15.00 (students $10.00). Tickets for Terry’s book launch are now available at Compact Music (190 Bank, 785 Bank), and Collected Works (1242 Wellington) ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  One reporter doesn’t buy the $65M per plane price tag being promoted by the company. “…. the Pentagon, Lockheed Martin and allied governments around the globe are thinking hard now. The plan could still fly if buyers hang in. But will the bargain prices come true? For a clue, check the Israeli defence budget. The Israelis, like John McCain, know something about fighters, and currently their budget for 20 planes is not anywhere close to $65 million each. It’s more than double that: $137 million each. Perhaps they don’t believe in deals that seem too good to be true.”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Meanwhile, the company’s latest estimates“The F-35s in low-rate initial production (LRIP) Lot 4 are expected to exceed their contracted cost target, but fall below the negotiated ceiling price, says Tom Burbage, vice president of F-35 program integration for Lockheed Martin …. The LRIP 4 per-unit cost targets are as follows: $111.6 million (CAD$ 117.7M) for the conventional takeoff-and-landing (CTOL) version; $109.4 million (CAD$ 115.4M) for the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (Stovl) aircraft; $142.9 (CAD$ 150.7M) for the first production carrier variant (CV) ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Medical fridges, a.k.a. “Mobile Temperature Management Units”.
  • Well done to Rick Mercer (who also happens to be Honorary Colonel of 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron at 12 Wing Shearwater)!  A leap of faith is not in his job description, but Rick Mercer will try just about anything for the TV camera. For a segment on Tuesday’s The Rick Mercer Report on CBC-TV, Mercer jumped from a plane while in the arms of a Canadian Forces Skyhawk at the Windsor International Airshow, held on the weekend of Sept. 10-11. “I’m not the kind of guy who would willingly jump out of a plane,” Mercer said. “It took a lot of psyching myself up. But if I was going to do it, I would do it only with members of the Skyhawks.” ….”
  • “…. (Saskatchewan’s) Status of Women Office in the Ministry of Social Services is proclaiming October as Women’s History Month in Saskatchewan. This year’s theme, “Women in the Canadian Military Forces: A Proud Legacy,” celebrates women’s contributions, now and throughout history, to the Canadian military forces ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 22 Sept 11

  • Libya Mission  NATO goes for three month extension – more from the SecGen here.
  • Afghanistan (1)  A new ROTO is training and getting ready in Edmonton.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Terry Glavin on negotiating with the Taliban“…. In Washington, London and Brussels, the whole point now is to convince “war-weary” electorates that capitulation is compromise, that the whole nightmare was brought about by stupid neo-conservatives, and that the problem is an incorrigibly violent and uncivilized Afghan people in whom we need not see the basic human rights we ordinarily recognize in our fairer-skinned selves. In the world’s rich and comfortable countries, and perhaps especially in Canada, this is what it means nowadays to be on the side of the angels.”  More here.
  • MacKay’s Helicopter Ride  New Target:  the Defence Minister“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 ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (1)  Opinion, from former RCAF officer: “…. Any use of military aircraft by the chief, to my mind, is justifiable if he as the head of Canada’s military makes a decision to use them. Come on folks, the general is not out for a joyride on a Challenger aircraft ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (2)  Opinion, from a blogger“…. While Robert Fife should not be criticized for bringing the issue forward for debate, he should be taken to task by not providing a more through analysis of the Chief of the Defence Staff’s travelling costs, especially since they were pre-authorized or incurred to satisfy the obligations of his position as head of the military ….”
  • The old adage that good advice is certain to be ignored is given new meaning in a study that concludes Canada’s Defence Department pays almost no attention to what experts and parliamentarians say. The report, “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie,” argues that mountains of studies and recommendations from academics and even House of Commons and Senate committees almost never find their way into government policy. The advice is allowed to collect dust, according to the study being released this week by the defence management institute at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. Researchers Douglas Bland and Richard Shimooka paint a picture of combative defence bureaucrats and advisers who pay lip service to suggestions and then stuff reports into filing cabinets once the media has lost interest ….”
  • Why was a Canadian military with 65,000 men and women on active duty and 25,000 reservists sorely tested by the task of keeping 1,500 soldiers in the field in Afghanistan? Why are Arctic sovereignty patrols a strain on the same military? The way Andrew Leslie sees it, it’s because the Canadian Forces’ tail has grown bigger than its teeth ….”
  • More on what one former officer says Canada’s Reserves should be looking like – the report here (PDF), and some more media coverage of the report here and here.
  • A bit of editorial comment on “what should be done with the Reserves” report:  “…. The army likes a big standing army because it wants regular soldiers it can order around full-time, not part-timers who come and go. The smaller the standing army, after all, the less justification there is for a bloated bureaucracy. (Not that there’s ever a good justification for bureaucratic bloat, but it’s easier to dismiss for a large organization than for a small one). So they just didn’t do it ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Nasty allegations over the contract to provide moving services to the CF and rest of the public service “The losing bidder for a billion-dollar contract to relocate Canada’s military, RC-MP and public servants levelled allegations of bid-rigging and an ensuing attempt at a coverup against the federal government on the first day of a civil trial Wednesday. Bruce Atyeo, president of Envoy Relocation Services, is seeking $62 million in damages and is accusing Public Works of having a conflict of interest when it twice awarded a competitor, Royal LePage Relocation Services, the contract to provide the services in 2002 and again in 2004. The awarding of the contracts has been mired in controversy, internal probes and several investigations by the Canadian International Trade Tribunal ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  “The Canadian Space Agency in collaboration with Environment Canada, the Department of National Defence, Natural Resources Canada and the Communications Research Center (hereinafter referred to as the clients) is examining the potential for a communications and weather services satellite system referred to as the Polar Communications and Weather (PCW) Mission, a Mission which will in its operations, contribute to resolving some of the challenges and at the same time, leverage opportunities in the Arctic. This Mission is currently in Phase A (Concept study) of development with a launch date targeted for 2017. PCW will provide high capacity, continuous communication services throughout the Canadian Arctic as well as meteorological Earth observations leading to improved weather forecasting …. The purpose of this Request for Proposal is to …. perform a study that will quantify and delineate the socio economic benefits resulting from the proposed Polar Communications and Weather (PCW) Mission, in terms of the projected improvement in the quality of weather forecasts, including those associated with space weather events, and in terms of the benefits accruing from filling the gap in communications over the Canadian high Arctic region ….”  More on the study and the PCW mission here (14 page PDF).
  • What’s Canada Buying? (3)  Wanted:  slick new live fire target system with robotic figures “running” around on their own for research at CFB Suffield.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (4)  Wanted:  someone to “build and install a new monument on Tilley Avenue, Gagetown, New Brunswick”.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (5)  Wanted:  “Support to analytical, numerical and experimental investigations in flight mechanics” various projectiles, mini-UAVs or missiles – more in the tech documents here (6 page PDF).
  • What’s Canada Buying? (6) Wanted: “Suspenders, Trousers, overall cotton, elastic and webbing color: average green, adjustable length; leather six-point button straps”, quantity: up to 24,600 sets – more technical details on what the CF specifically seeks in a set of suspenders here (11 page PDF).
  • Letter to the editor writer seeks “balance” in submarine coverage “…. The point is, these are not like the Chevy sitting in your driveway. Submarines are incredibly complex machines and require huge amounts of maintenance. The Royal Canadian Navy has four submarines. At the moment, none is operational, but one will be next year, followed by another the year after. With only four hulls, that is to be expected. When you talk of the submarines being laid up longer than expected, you also have to remember the huge expenditures (and rightly so) on military equipment acquired due to the war in Afghanistan, which obviously took funds away from the work on the boats ….”
  • A chunk of Canada’s aviation history to be paved over to make a hockey rink“Second World War pilot Philip Gray says it is “immoral” that Downsview Park is evicting the Canadian Air and Space Museum. “This is a terrible way to repay young 21-year-old boys who went to war and never turned 22. I am disgusted that their heritage can be just wiped out,” the 89-year-old Gray said Tuesday as the museum was packing up artifacts. “I got the shock of my life when I heard this. We could lose all this history. It makes you wonder what these boys died for … a government that doesn’t care about heritage.” Downsview Park — which gave the eviction notice on Tuesday — is a federal park. There was no notice given for the eviction, museum CEO Robert Cohen said ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 11 Sept 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 7 Sept 11

  • Stuart Langridge, R.I.P  In late April 2011, the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) said it was doing an initial probe into the 2008 suicide of Corporal Langridge of CFB Edmonton.  Now, the MPCC says it’s going to hold public hearings into the suicide – no dates set yet.  More from the media here (Google News search).
  • Libya Mission  One columnist’s view:  “…. If the foreigners’ motives really were humanitarian — they wanted to stop Gadhafi’s atrocious regime from killing his own subjects, and thought that Libyans would be better off without him — then they actually were using force as an instrument of love. Not “love” as in the love songs, but love meaning a genuine concern for the welfare of others. Most resorts to force do not meet this criterion (although those using the force generally claim that they do). The United States did not invade Iraq out of concern for the welfare of Iraqis, for example. But once in a while there is a shining exception, and this is one of those times. The British, French, Canadians, Swedes, Qataris and so on would not have done it if it involved large casualties in their own forces. (In fact, they had no casualties.) Most Western soldiers didn’t think the operation would succeed in removing Gadhafi, and the outcome has been greeted with surprise and relief in most of the capitals that sent aircraft. But they did it, and that counts for a lot.”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (1)  Canadians are more concerned about a terrorist attack on Canada now than before 9/11, says a new (Ipsos-Reid poll conducted for Postmedia News and Global TV). Enhanced airport security, no-fly lists and Canada’s participation in the Afghanistan war are just some of the considerable measures taken after 9/11, but Canadians are still worried about potential terrorist attacks within our borders. Half of the respondents said they felt “no change” in safety levels with military intervention and just under half feel ‘more safe’ as a result of domestic security measures ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (2)  The CSIS Info-Machine is sharing some stories from officers about their feelings about 9/11 here and here – a bit of a “Canadian milestones in counter-terrorism since 9-11” selected chronology here.
  • Wanted:  some damned good number crunchers and technogeeks for breaking codes.  “It boasts some of the top math minds in the country, it’s looking to recruit more, and you still won’t find its name listed among any universities. The Tutte Institute for Mathematics and Computing is like a school for spies – a government-backed “classified research institute” that exists to entice academics who can help the government create and crack codes in the service of national security. The federal government has actually employed a small stable of arms-length academic cryptographers for several years now, but this summer it opted to redouble and rebrand the effort. In doing so, Ottawa has stepped up its quiet drive to lure some of the smartest PhD-calibre mathematicians away from ivory towers and into applied government work ….”  And where’d the name of the new institute, part of Communications Security Establishment Canada, come from? “…. In the 1940s, William Tutte, a math genius, figured out ways to spy on encrypted, high-level Nazi communications, a contribution so profound that some observers now credit him and his British colleagues for helping hasten the end of the Second World War. After the war, Mr. Tutte moved to Canada and had a distinguished academic career at the University of Waterloo ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Canadian Major General Michael Day talks to Army News about the Afghan training mission (video of phone interview here), saying he sees some progress:  “…. Two years ago, the army was shrinking, literally we were losing more people than we were gaining. Today, not only are we growing by four to five thousand every single month, but we now have selection process that vets those individuals that are not suited. So we are in great shape on that ….”
  • Afghanistan (2a)  7 Jul 11:  CF Info-Machine tells us Canadian takes over command of Consolidated Fielding Centre in Afghanistan.  ~6 Sept 11:  Foreign Affairs Info-Machine sends RSS feed notice that it’s decided to share this “news” on Canada’s main web page about Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan (2b)  What the dental surgeon used to do in Afghanistan (via CF Info-Machine) – he’s been back for a couple of weeks now.
  • Afghanistan (3a)  A Macleans columnist reminds us to be wary about negotiating with the Taliban, even if that’s how things look to be unfolding. “…. In the event the Taliban do re-establish themselves in Kabul, those Afghans who go to the mountains will likely include those Afghans who most share our values and most desire our friendship. Then what will we do?”\
  • Afghanistan (3b)  Terry Glavin reminds us to be wary, too“…. The Taliban have made it quite plain, by word and deed, that they have no intention of negotiating anything except the general outlines of the civilized world’s capitulation to them and the forward-planning terms of NATO’s surrender of the Afghan people to their custody ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch  English-language propaganda sites back online – for now.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Wanted:  four-wheel light utility vehicles for 1 Canadian Division (more details in part of bid document here), and checking if CF is using the best test to see if patients receiving transfusions need more or not.
  • New Brunswick is looking for feedback on its ideas for job protection for Reservists.  “Finding the right balance can sometimes be a tricky and nerve-testing procedure. But efforts to do just that are exactly what’s happening these days within the part-time military community as officials juggle ideas in an effort to find ways to make the lives of reservist soldiers in this province a little more secure. In April, residents were asked to participate in a provincial government consultation process and provide their views on how to offer better leave protection to reservists working in civilian jobs or pursuing post-secondary studie …. Ideas were collected by the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour and placed in a preliminary report called What We Heard: Responses to the Review of Canadian Forces Reservist Employment and Education Leave Protection in New Brunswick. (PDF) …. If you have ideas on how you would like to see reservists protected in this province, now is the time to step forward. Contact the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour.”  Contact info:  labour-travail@gnb.ca, fax (506) 453-3618 or snail mail at Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, Review of Reservists Employment and Education Leave Protections, P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, NB, E3B 5H1.
  • Canada has has new deal for annual defence think tank get together.  “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, announced …. that Canada is hosting the third annual Halifax International Security Forum from November 18th to 20th in Halifax, Nova Scotia. With Foreign Affairs as the media partner, this year’s Halifax International Security Forum features over three hundred politicians, academics, policy makers, and journalists from forty countries around the world. Following the 10th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks and Canada’s recent transition to a non-combat training role in Afghanistan, this year’s forum is especially poignant, focusing on key sensitive and emerging global issues …. As the only event of its kind in North America, the Halifax International Security Forum fosters discussions covering a wide range of topics, including the future of the transatlantic alliance, security initiatives in the Middle East, revolutions, responsibility to protect and making better use of resources to deliver on key security and defence commitments. The Halifax International Security Forum is even stronger with Foreign Affairs, the conference’s media partner. Minister MacKay took the opportunity to announce a three year funding partnership for the Halifax International Security Forum from both the Department of National Defence and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency ….”
  • Remember the list o’ war criminals Canada was looking for your help in hunting downGuess where one of the guys on the original list is?  “An accused Serbian war criminal says his life has been ruined by an Ottawa-led manhunt, even though he left Canada for his homeland six years ago. Dimitrije Karic, also known as Dimitrije Mita, 51, of the Serbian municipality of Kovin, said he came to Canada in 2003 and filed a failed refugee claim. He complied with an order to leave Canada in 2005. “Is anyone, who was wearing a uniform in war in former Yugoslavia, a war criminal for you?” he said in an Aug. 30 e-mail to QMI Agency. “If it is so, there are several hundred thousand war criminals throughout Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia.” He lived and worked at two companies in Medicine Hat, Alta., during his time in Canada, documents show ….”
  • Remember Gilad Schalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas in June 2006?  His folks are telling reporters Canada should get Hamas to let him go.  What’s Canada saying so far?  “…. Chris Day, director of communications for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, told the Tribune in an email, “Hamas is a listed terrorist organization. The government of Canada has no contact with Hamas.” Canadian aid is supplied to the people of Gaza through “established aid channels and with established organizations” and not via Hamas. Should Hamas and Fatah form a unity government, Day said, “Canada cannot support a government that includes Hamas.” In May, Canada was a signatory to the G8 Declaration of Renewed Commitment for Freedom and Democracy, which stated in part, “We demand the unconditional release of the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit [sic] without delay.” When asked what concrete action Canada can or will take in regard to Gilad Schalit, Day said, “Minister Baird has been very clear in calling – as G8 leaders did at Deauville – for Gilad Shalit’s [sic] release…. We will continue to press this case at every opportunity.” ….”  But not directly to the folks holding him, given the bits in green.
  • The re-incarnated NHL’s Winnipeg Jets (have) unveiled their new uniforms …. The Jets, who returned to Winnipeg with the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to Manitoba’s True North Sports and Entertainment in May, held a news conference to unveil the team’s new uniforms at Royal Canadian Air Force base 17 Wing. The jerseys consist mostly of two shades of blue: Polar Night Blue, found on many of today’s RCAF aircraft, and Aviator Blue, which is similar to historical colours used by the RCAF ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 25 Aug 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 13 Jun 11

  • Libya Mission (1a)  “Politicians are preparing to discuss and vote on Canada’s role in combat efforts in Libya. A parliamentary debate on NATO military actions in the North African state will take place Tuesday and a vote will follow the next day. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has asked that the mission be extended by three and a half months, so the vote is expected to pass with ease now that the Conservatives have a majority. “It has a political significance,” said former United Nations ambassador Paul Heinbecker. “The government said it would put its decision to the House and that’s what happening … it’s easier to keep the support of the Canadian population if there is a bi- or tri-part consensus on a military intervention abroad.” ….”
  • Libya Mission (1b)  From a Calgary Herald editorial“…. readers -and the broader Canadian public -need to hear the position of our government. That position needs to be questioned, scrutinized and challenged to make sure we have thought through all the potential consequences before it is too late to easily back away. Parliament is a good place for that debate to begin.”
  • Libya Mission (2a)  The Conservative government will call for more diplomacy and humanitarian aid and will officially condemn the use of rape as a weapon of war as it moves to extend the military mission in Libya. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the government has worked to make the Libya intervention a non-partisan one, reaching out to the opposition parties and incorporating some of their views in the motion to keep Canada involved in the UN-backed mission for another three and a half months. “The motion we’ll be presenting Tuesday will particularly speak to the need for greater diplomacy, for greater humanitarian aid and particularly to tackle the growing challenge of rape as an instrument of war,” Baird told CTV’s Question Period Sunday. “This is something that is morally reprehensible to Canadian values.” Baird said the military objective of protecting civilians has not changed, but conceded that citizens and rebels won’t be safe until dictator Moammar Gadhafi is gone ….”
  • Libya Mission (2b)  Despite a growing perception that the United Nations-sanctioned NATO mission in Libya has evolved beyond its original objectives, Canada’s foreign affairs minister says its overall purpose remains the same. While NATO initially worked to establish a no-fly zone to protect civilians from forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, it appears that the mission has shifted its focus to removing Gadhafi from power. “The military mission hasn’t changed, we’re obviously there to protect civilians,” Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in an interview with CTV’s Question Period on Sunday. When pressed to explain whether that means directly targeting Libya’s embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi, Baird was less clear. “It is a reality on the political level that the people of Libya, including the rebels, won’t be safe as long as Col. Gadhafi is there. So the political objective, obviously, is we’d like to see him go,” he said ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  The Globe & Mail talks to the Canadian General in charge of the mission. “…. It’s a complex, 24-seven air and sea effort that can put a missile in a suddenly-spotted pickup truck or treat Col. Gadhafi, on his 69th birthday , to an intense series of daytime bombing runs in downtown Tripoli. Still, the general personally signs off on every last preselected target. It’s not just attention to detail, it’s a visceral sense of personal accountability. Gen. Bouchard may be determined but he is hardly gung-ho. He’s careful, deliberate and worries deeply about how to apply the big hammer of air power in the small circumstances of a brutal dictator clinging to power by indiscriminately killing and terrorizing his own citizens. “I must meet rules, the mandate, the political guidance,” but, he adds, and grows quietly pensive, “I look at every target … at the end of the day it’s a judgment call … and I’m accountable, I’m accountable to Canada, I’m accountable to NATO, and more importantly I’m accountable to myself,” he says. Make the wrong call and the wrong people, or maybe too many people, die. And, Gen. Bouchard adds: “I want those who know me best to be able to look at me and say, ‘you did the right thing.’” ….”
  • Libya Mission (4)  Ehab Sherif was serving customers at his St. John’s, N.L., pizzeria when rebels made their first strikes against Libya’s reigning regime this year. Friends in his home country started dying. His brother, who is also in Canada, went overseas to help. On the last week of April, 33-year-old Ehab put pizza-making on hold and jumped a plane to support rebels fighting Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s troops. Before returning to St. John’s 11 days ago, he saw mass graves, people riddled with bullets and other harrowing sights. By phone from Colossal Pizza and Donair, Mr. Sherif spoke to The Post’s Sarah Boesveld ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Uh, it’s not really a NEW threat because Canadian troops have been working side-by-side with Afghan forces carrying rifles and ammunition before now.  “When Canada’s last combat troops soon leave southern Afghanistan and the mission shifts to training Afghan security forces, Canadians will face a different, sinister enemy: the one from within. Taliban infiltrators are bringing the war inside the razor wire, and once reliably secure, northern compounds where Canadian troops and police will start work over the coming weeks in Kabul, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif are increasingly vulnerable. Afghan insurgents, usually dressed in police and army uniforms, have launched several spectacular attacks recently. They are striking far from their ethnic Pashtun power base in the south, where a surge of U.S. troops has thrown the Taliban off balance. “It’s a very real threat and it’s very disconcerting,” Col. Peter Dawe, deputy commander of Canada’s new military training mission, told the Toronto Star. “But you just keep doing what you’re doing. We’re all military professionals and the vast majority of us have been here before. We know the risks.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  “Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan is on track to end in July, and troops are beginning to wind down their military operations and prepare for the journey home. But for a group of specialized military “movers” tasked with staying behind to prepare, pack up, and ‘rack and stack’ the gear for shipping, months of work is just beginning. The Mission Closure Unit’s mammoth responsibility, which has been compared to packing up and moving a small town from Afghanistan to Canada, is in the early stages now but will hit full steam in July. The goal is to complete the move by the end of the year. But even then, due to the complexities of repatriating such vast quantities of equipment, it is expected that the Canadian Forces won’t be ready for another deployment of combat forces until November 2012, a full year later ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  Program to lure Taliban out of the fighting ranks back into the mainstream still not without glitches yet. “…. The Afghan government’s reconciliation program is dismally starved of cash and overwhelmed with red-tape. Insurgents who come in because of promises of amnesty, money and a fresh start with a job are quickly disillusioned. Graan, 23, who carried a machine gun and like many Afghans goes by only one name, surrendered with Azizullah. He said they received a lumpsum payment off the top, which has had to last them since the fall. “I am ready to go back (to the Taliban),” he said. “At least there we could eat.” Howard Coombs, the special advisor to Canada’s task force commander, said NATO is at a critical juncture in Kandahar where military operations that started last summer have ground down the Taliban’s fighting ability. “We are definitely at a tipping point right now,” he said in an interview. “The more people that come in terms of reintegration and reconciliation, the better.” The program has the potential to start winding down the conflict at a time when Canada is just about out the door and the U.S. is looking at its options to draw down troops ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  A reminder from Terry Glavin: “…. Canada’s mission in Kandahar will wrap up in July, to be replaced by a scaled-down training mission in Kabul. Much of the aid money for projects like Ehsan’s will join the Canadian exodus from Kandahar. The Canadian government has announced that it will cut aid funding to $100 million per year through 2014, for a total of $300 million. Another $75 million will be handed out over five years as part of the G8 initiative on maternal, newborn and child health. During the combat mission aid levels hovered between $200 million and $250 million each year, much of it with a strong focus on the Kandahar region where the Canadians were fighting.”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 22 Feb 11

  • You know things aren’t going well for the Libyan regime when they sic the air force on the crowdsPM Harper’s take? “Prime Minister Stephen Harper has denounced the violent crackdowns by security forces on anti-government protesters in Libya and called for them to stop immediately. “We find the actions of the government firing upon its own citizens to be outrageous and unacceptable,” Harper told reporters in Vancouver on Monday. “We call on the government to cease these actions immediately.” ….” More from the PM here.
  • Here’s Canada’s Foreign Minister’s latest on whazzup in Libya:  Canada strongly condemns the violent crackdowns on innocent protesters that have resulted in many injured and killed. We call on the Libyan security forces to respect the human rights of demonstrators and uphold their commitment to freedom of speech and the right to assembly. The Libyan authorities must show restraint and stop the use of lethal force against protesters ….”
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • A small contingent of the Canadian military will remain at Kandahar Airfield for several months after Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan comes to an end in July. A group of about 40 servicemen and women will continue to work for the commander of Kandahar Airfield until late October or early November. In that role, they are responsible for perimeter security, housing and runway maintenance at the sprawling military base, among other duties. The Canadian chief of airfield plans is hoping other countries will come forward and fulfil their roles ….” Hmmmm, does that meet the requirements of the March 2008 motion the government has been bringing up?  It says, “…. Canada should continue a military presence in Kandahar beyond February 2009, to July 2011, in a manner fully consistent with the UN mandate on Afghanistan …”, defining that as troops to train Afghans, to protect development projects and to staff the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction team. Well, it seems KAF-ites not doing any of the above would be OK by my read.
  • Will Tim Horton’s leave with the last Canadian soldier from Kandahar? “…. The Canadian doughnut chain Tim Hortons at Kandahar Air Field was also allowed to stay, though it had to move from its prime location on the boardwalk to a more discreet locale near the Canadian section of the base. The fact that the U.S. was at the time trying to convince Canada not to pull its combat forces out of Kandahar in 2011 helped to keep Tim Hortons’ franchise there alive, said a coalition official at the time. He laughed when he explained the reasoning, but he wasn’t joking. Canadian forces are nonetheless leaving Kandahar this year. Whether Tim Hortons, which has become a favorite of all the uniformed doughnut lovers, will stay after the last Canadian soldier goes remains an open question ….”
  • Globe & Mail editorial warns Canada to help Afghan women. “…. Ottawa should heed the advice of CARE Canada, which has called on the government to measure its post-conflict engagement in Afghanistan through the lens of improved human rights. Specifically, Canada could help tackle the barriers girls face in attending primary and secondary school; help train Afghan police in human rights; protect female leaders; ensure women are included in public-policy debate and peace-building; and focus on maternal and child health ….” (Hat tip to Terry Glavin for spotting this one first).
  • F-35 Tug o’ WarCeasefire.ca offers up goodies to share to oppose buying the jets.