MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 3 Mar 11

  • CF to Libya (1a):  Canada’s Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) now has a page with information on Operation MOBILE, Canada’s mission to LibyaThe Canadian Forces launched Operation MOBILE on 25 February 2011 to assist the departure of Canadians and other foreign nationals from Libya. Op MOBILE is part of a whole-of-government effort led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) ….” The CF’s Combat Camera folks have pages with photos and video from OP Mobile, too.
  • CF to Libya (1b):  CEFCOM’s first feature story about the evacuation mission so far.
  • CF to Libya (2a):  So, what’s the job of the HMCS Charlottetown, exactly? “…. Cmdr. Craig Skjerpen, addressing his crew before departure, said they were heading into an “emerging humanitarian crisis” in North Africa, along with the navies of the United States, Britain and other Western nations. The country is in revolt over the 41-year reign of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Skjerpen told reporters little is yet known about the Charlottetown’s actual role once it arrives off Libya, which will come following a week-long Atlantic crossing. He doesn’t know yet whether the ship will join an existing NATO fleet or a U.S. naval task force, both now in the Mediterranean. Skjerpen also said he has no orders to begin enforcing United Nations trade sanctions against Libya. Nor does the frigate have stocks of humanitarian aid on board. “It’s a very dynamic situation over there right now, so we’ll have to adapt to whatever happens.” ….” More from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald here.
  • CF to Libya (2b):  Well, here’s what SOME in Canada’s Libyan community want. “Edmonton’s Libyan community is calling for the removal of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and has asked the Canadian government to take an active role in supporting the Libyan people. Zachariah Mansour, a second-year science student at the University if Alberta, was among 60 protesters calling for these measures at a recent rally at Churchill Square. “Basically we want to see a similar response to what happened in Haiti during the earthquake and in Sri Lanka during the tsunami; we want humanitarian aid not military intervention,” he says ….” (Note to Edmonton Libyan community:  a lot of the help sent to Haiti got there BECAUSE of the military.)
  • CF to Libya (3):  Toronto think-tanker John Thompson’s take“….Warships off the Libyan coast can be used to potentially interdict shipments to that country, provided that some sort of agreement between various nations decides to exclude — for example — shipping from Iran or North Korea, and can manage to do so under international law.  If the war continues, warships might be used to escort shipments of humanitarian supplies.  More interventionist roles, such as declaring that Libyan aircraft all remain grounded, or sending special forces to secure stocks of chemical weapons (which Libya has, and used in Chad in the 1980s) or to destroy Libya’s inventory of Scud Missiles to keep the conflict contained to Libya alone.  However, such interventions might cause lasting resentment that will outlive the current situation and could easily be used as for propaganda purposes by any faction.”
  • CF to Libya (4):  More “learning” of JTF-2 headed downrange. “…. the dispatch of Canada’s frigate HMCS Charlottetown, which sails Wednesday from Halifax with 240 Canadian Forces personnel aboard, represents a commitment of weeks or months of military presence. Its first job is to set up command-and-control for evacuation efforts if they’re still needed. Then it is likely to assist in aid operations to Libyans, and could finally end up as part of tougher international military “sanctions” against the regime, such as enforcing a blockade, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said. Canadian special forces troops are now based in Malta, The Globe and Mail has learned, and are believed to be playing an active role in assisting evacuation missions to rescue Canadians and citizens from other countries ….”
  • CF to Libya (5a):  Retired General Lew MacKenzie, in his own words, on Canada sending fighters to help in any no-fly zone that’ll be imposed on Libya “…. The immediate need for imposing a no-fly zone over Libya will only be achieved outside of the Security Council’s decision-making by a coalition of the willing. Some nation will have to assume a leadership role and as French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the first to recommend the idea, France would be an obvious choice. Canada should participate.”
  • CF to Libya (5b):  Retired General Lew MacKenzie, quoted & paraphrased, on Canada sending fighters to help in any no-fly zone that’ll be imposed on Libya: “…. Retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie said deploying CF-18s would be “logistically possible,” but “extremely difficult and somewhat time-consuming.” He foresees a more humanitarian role for Canada’s troops, although even that could be difficult since Canada doesn’t have a lot of assets already in the area ….”
  • Canada isn’t sending JUST military help to Libya. “…. “Canada is acting swiftly to help meet the humanitarian needs of the people of Libya which are a result of recent violence in that country,” said Prime Minister Harper.  “We are taking action to provide immediate humanitarian support to areas that need it most.” …. Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), will help to address urgent medical requirements, basic humanitarian needs, and the repatriation of people displaced into Tunisia and Egypt.  Canada’s help will include improving access to food, water, sanitation, shelter and emergency medical care.  The initial contribution being announced today will support humanitarian efforts through the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of the Red Cross and the International Organization for Migration ….” More on that from the Canadian Press, CBC.ca, Postmedia News, and QMI Media.
  • It didn’t take long for the usual suspects to come out against ANY kind of help for Libya involving people whose titles include ranks. “The Canadian Peace Alliance is opposed to any military intervention in Libya or in the region as a whole …. Western military deployment to Libya is a bit like asking the arsonist to put out their own fire. Far from being a shining light in a humanitarian crisis, western intervention is designed to maintain the status quo and will, in fact make matters worse for the people there ….  The best way to help the people of Libya is to show our solidarity with their struggle. There are demonstrations planned this weekend. The people united will never be defeated!” I’m sorry, but WTF does “showing our solidarity with their struggle” mean, exactly?  Ship over some freeze-dried, vacuum-sealed solidarity to drop on the masses?  If you’re going to whine, how about some concrete solutions?  Even the Libyan community in Edmonton was clear about what they want.
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • Ottawa’s patience has run its course as the federal government is set to impose penalties of up to $8-million against Sikorsky for the latest delays in the delivery of a new fleet of maritime helicopters. The aircraft manufacturer is facing a financial hit after failing to meet a schedule that already has been pushed back from the original 2008 deadline. The amount of the penalty is largely symbolic, representing up to 0.15 per cent of the $5.7-billion contract, but the move highlights Ottawa’s decision to take a tougher stand against the U.S.-based company ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War:  Ceasefire.ca has posted a web page allowing you to send a letter to prominent politicians to oppose purchase of the F-35 here. One wonders how many people “personalize” the letter to make it say something COMPLETELY different than what’s already there before sending it?  Just sayin’….
  • Wanna buy an old Snowbird? “A rare chance to acquire an iconic piece of Canadian aviation history is up for grabs when a Snowbirds Tutor Jet is auctioned in Toronto next month.  The Canadian Forces’ Snowbirds team, which claims Moose Jaw as its home, has entertained millions of air show spectators as international ambassadors for Canada for more than 40 years …. Now one of these rare aircraft will be offered at public auction for the first time at the annual Classic Car Auction of Toronto from April 8 to 10 held at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont., next to Pearson International Airport.  It is one of only four known CT-114s under private ownership …. Originally powered by the J85 jet engine, which has since been removed after being retired from service, the aircraft is expected to become a candidate for restoration or historical museum display.”
  • Know those pirates stealing boats and killing people around Somalia?  Now, ship owners here in Canada are starting to get more  worried, too. “The hijackings and kidnappings orchestrated by Somali pirates in waters halfway around the globe are rippling back to shores of this country, Canadian shipping companies say, and they’ve joined an international campaign urging world governments to do more to combat the problem.  Several international shipping associations and sailors’ unions have launched the Save Our Seafarers campaign, warning the “growing Somali piracy crisis” is threatening global trade and endangering those working on ships plying the waters off Africa’s east coast.  The campaign’s supporters include the Chamber of Shipping of B.C. and Fairmont Shipping (Canada) Ltd., which say Canadian companies have had to turn down business and make costly changes to shipping routes to avoid the precarious waters patrolled by pirates.  “This problem has been recurring and has been escalating to a degree that we don’t feel this is something the industry can resolve,” Samuel Tang, a Fairmont Shipping vice-president, said in an interview ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 2 Mar 11

  • CF to Libya (1)  HMCS Charlottetown on its way (Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons, CF statement (1), CF statement (2), CTV.ca, Postmedia News, Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Canadian Press, CBC.ca (1), CBC.ca (2), Agence France-Presse)
  • CF to Libya (2)  JTF 2 headed downrange? (Twitter from Le Devoir-iste Alec Castonguay, Agence France-Presse)
  • CF to Libya (3)  CF military plane turned back from Tripoli because there was nowhere to land, park (CP via Globe & Mail, Times of Malta)
  • Canada Grabs Libya by the Assets  Canada freezing Libyan assets (~$2 billion)“The Canadian government has frozen more than $2 billion in Libyan assets so far, and continues to target holdings of embattled ruler Moammar Gadhafi and his family, CBC News has learned.  The move to freeze the assets came after Canada learned the Libyan regime was planning to withdraw the funds from as-yet-unidentified Canadian banks ….” More from FINTRAC, Canada’s agency for tracking suspicious money movements, here, and from Reuters.
  • The Commentariat on Libya (1)  Bad news for Libya could be good news for Canada? “…. Canada is likely to be one of the few western beneficiaries of the uncertainty that is sweeping the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.  The reason is, of course, oil. For decades to come the tarsands are going to be Canada’s trump card every time there is volatility in international energy markets …. The events of the past two months, and dramas still unfolding in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and oil-rich countries such as Libya, Oman and a few of the Gulf sheikdoms, make it more and more obvious that there is going to be a keen demand for Canada’s so-called “dirty oil” for years to come.  Viewed through this prism, if the U.S. does not want the kind of oil that Canada has to offer, China and India, with huge economic ambitions to fuel, almost certainly will ….”
  • The Commentariat on Libya (2)  Help out, by all means, but be careful about too much military “help”. “…. For Western powers to involve themselves more deeply in Libya would be   counterproductive. It would suggest to pro-democracy elements in the Middle East that, if their opposition becomes violent, they will get help from the West. It would put non-Libyan lives at risk in a situation that is extremely difficult to assess from outside – without any clear benefit to Libyans themselves. Indeed, military intervention might eventually provoke an anti-Western reaction that could end up discrediting the democrats that the West rightly wishes to encourage and help.  By seizing assets abroad and imposing diplomatic sanctions, the West should indeed tighten the vise on Col. Gadhafi. But it should not use its military forces to depose him, in what is ultimately a matter that must be decided by Libyans.”
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • More on Canada’s upcoming mission in Afghanistan (highlights mine): “The government’s plan to keep 1,000 Canadian troops near Kabul after their mission in Kandahar ends this year is looking increasingly unlikely after comments from the military’s second-in-command last week. “There will be no Canadian Forces units located in Kandahar province after 2011,” Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson, the vice-chief of the defence staff, told the Conference of Defence Associations in Ottawa on Feb. 25. “Rather, our training mission will be Kabul-centric, meaning that the main effort will be centered in and about the city of Kabul. “That said, a small number of CF personnel may be assigned to other areas of Afghanistan where the risks to our personnel is assessed to be no greater than that found in Kabul.” ….” Hmm, wonder where that might be?  And how safe, really, is Kabul these days?
  • One Canadian Corrections staffer’s story from working in Kandahar.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Taliban claims to have RPG’ed a transport plane in Helmand.
  • Ooopsie“A Tutor jet, the plane assigned to the military’s aerobatic flying team known as the Snowbirds, was damaged during a landing at 15 Wing Moose Jaw Tuesday afternoon around 3 p.m. CT. Its two crew walked away from the plane and were to be evaluated by medical staff ….”
  • Accused terrorist Hassan Diab failed Tuesday in a last and crucial attempt to get handwriting evidence being used against him disallowed. The handwriting analysis by French forensic expert Anne Bisotti has been called the “smoking gun” by prosecutors, meaning that it is key to the French case. Paris authorities say Diab was a key player in a terrorist bombing outside a synagogue in October 1980 and that handwriting comparisons prove his involvement. A former University of Ottawa professor, Diab says he is innocent and the victim of mistaken identity ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 30 Jan 11

  • Another reminder that even working in Kabul is not without risk“Two Canadians were among 15 people injured in a deadly suicide blast that ripped through an upscale Afghan supermarket on Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said. No Canadians numbered among the eight victims killed when a suicide bomber affiliated with the Taliban detonated explosives in the middle of the Western-style grocery store …. The Finest supermarket — which sells such American staples as corn flakes, peanut butter and pasta sauce but also delicacies like brie, caviar and chocolate — was packed with foreigners and upper-class Afghans shopping on their day off when shots rang out about 2:30 p.m., sending customers scurrying for cover. The assailant threw at least one grenade into the aisles and then detonated his explosives, said Ahmad Zaki, a criminal investigator with the Afghan Interior Ministry. “To my left, I heard a gunshot. A bomb went off. Everyone was running to the back of the building,” said Mary Hayden, a Western consultant who was in the store. The blast blew out the store’s glass doors and sparked a small fire in the frozen food section. Black, acrid smoke filled the main floor of the two-storey building. Young men who sell phone cards on the street outside the store rushed in to help pull out the injured and the dead ….” Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister denounces the blast here.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Contractor for Canadians allegedly assassinated in Kandahar, and Taliban claims responsiblity for assassinating Kandahar deputy governor.
  • First, the unpleasantness in Tunisia.  Next, some fracas in Egypt.  Foreign Affairs Canada is now warning you to be careful about traveling to Egypt.
  • Idea:  give wounded warriors Segways to help them get around easierAnswer already being tried in Canada – more on that here and here.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 28 Jan 11

  • Canadian Defence Minister meets U.S. Secretary of Defensefrom Canada’s official statement “…. During their meeting, the Minister and the Secretary addressed important issues related to the security of the Western Hemisphere, such as the situation in Mexico and Central America and how Canada and the U.S. can assist their partners in the region. They also pledged to continue to support the work of civilian law enforcement agencies in countering illicit activities such as narcotics, human trafficking and piracy. On the bilateral front, Minister MacKay and Secretary Gates discussed efforts through NORAD and the new challenges facing defence and security institutions such as maritime domain awareness and cyber threats. Minister MacKay and Secretary Gates also discussed Afghanistan, NATO and global challenges like Iran.”
  • U.S. Secretary of Defense meets Canadian Defence Ministerfrom the U.S. military media “…. Gates and MacKay addressed threats to the Western Hemisphere, cooperation among the nations of the hemisphere and efforts to combat a range of international threats such as piracy, counterterrorism, narco-trafficking and human trafficking. Gates said he and MacKay discussed expanded cooperation in the Arctic, coordinating maritime security assistance to the Caribbean region and sharing defense practices for supporting civilian authorities. The two men also discussed the North American Aerospace Defense Command, especially the new maritime domain awareness mission assigned to the group. They also discussed the decision to allow the Joint Permanent Board on Defense to continue looking at ways to examine a cyberdefense role. Gates said the two nations will “examine together how the advanced defenses of our military networks might also be applied to critical civilian infrastructure.” Gates reaffirmed America’s strong commitment to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Canada is an integral partner in the program and the new fighter will be the Canadian military’s aviation backbone for decades. Gates said the Pentagon has made adjustments to the program, and that the United States is expecting to have 325 aircraft built by 2016 ….”
  • Oh, and what about the Afghan training mission thing?  Still chatting about it, apparently. “The top bosses of both the United States and Canadian militaries are in discussions “right now” to shape the upcoming Canadian training mission in Afghanistan, according to Defence Minister Peter MacKay.  With the training mission set to begin in July once the Canadian Forces pull out of insurgent-rich Kandahar, MacKay said work is now underway to shape Canada’s future role in war-torn Afghanistan.  Not only is Canada looking for a base-type facility in the relatively secure northern part of the country — as close as possible to the capital Kabul — from which to train the Afghan security forces, but also top military bosses from both the U.S. and Canada are sorting out what to teach them first.  “We’re in negotiations right now with NATO, with our closest allies including the United States, to determine specifically some of the more urgent types of training that are required,” he said Thursday at a press conference with U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates following a bilateral defence meeting in Ottawa.  “Our Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk is in these discussions right now with Admiral Mullen, his (U.S.) counterpart, as well as with (U.S.) Gen. Petraeus.” ….” More on Canada’s “Kabul-centric” approach from the Canadian Press here.
  • Taliban Propaganda WatchThe Taliban shows what a great administrative system, and announces a new English-language propaganda video.
  • Speaking of foreign visitors, the former “Governator” of California congratulates the contribution of Canada’s waves of troops – in Iraq. True, Canadians have served in Iraq (examples from the critics here, here and here) , but if he was quoted properly, it felt like he was thanking a group of troops.
  • F-35 Tug of War Update (1): Scrapping a plan to purchase American fighter jets risks leaving the Canadian Air Force grounded in 2020, the defence minister says. Peter MacKay says opposition to the purchase of 65 F-35 jets, which are experiencing delays and cost overruns, could result in an “operational gap” when the current fleet of fighter jets are pulled from service. There is no guarantee a replacement could be found on time. “There is, shall we say, a sweet spot in terms of the delivery time and the investment that allows us to be in that production line, that global supply chain when we start taking delivery,” MacKay said Thursday ….”
  • F-35 Tug of War Update (2): Canada’s participation in a massive fighter-jet purchase is critical for all players involved, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday, amid suggestions that a Liberal government could jeopardize the project. Following a bilateral meeting in Ottawa with Defence Minister Peter MacKay, Gates said he didn’t wish to interfere in Canada’s domestic affairs but that he hoped, “for all our sake,” all the partners involved in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program will “move forward” with it. Doing so, he suggested, would ensure the interoperability of allied fleets ….”
  • US buying RG-31s via Canadian Commercial Corporation (via Army.ca, with a h/t to Mark Collins for spotting it first)
  • WHAT’S CANADA BUYING? “Cultural Intelligence and Identity” & leadership paper (via Army.ca)
  • Easy come, easy go for the brother-in-law of Tunisia’s recently-booted leader. “The Canadian government has reportedly revoked the permanent-resident status of the billionaire brother-in-law of a Tunisian dictator. Belhassen Trabelsi, who arrived in Canada with his family last week, had his status revoked Thursday, Radio-Canada’s all-news channel reported. Mr. Trabelsi is the reputed leader of a family that ran much of Tunisia’s economy with an iron fist. His sister, Leila Trabelsi, married former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in the 1990s. The clan is accused of using their connections to the dictator to siphon off billions in public funds for their personal wealth ….” More from the Canadian Press here.
  • Canadian security officials: at least 20 Canadian”youths” (mostly from the GTA) have been recruited by Somalia’s al-Shabaab terrorists.
  • The feds are apparently looking for ways to deal with foreign bad guys in Canada without needing security certificates. “…. A federal interdepartmental body known as the Alternatives to Removal Working Group began meeting in March 2009 to explore policy options for managing people deemed a threat to national security, documents disclosed under the Access to Information Act show. The group, which includes the RCMP, Citizenship and Immigration, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Canada Border Services Agency, Justice, Public Safety and Foreign Affairs, has “produced a detailed body of work” on tools available under the law, says one internal memo. Among the alternatives to deportation identified are greater reliance on:
    — the Anti-terrorism Act to prosecute suspects;
    — other Criminal Code provisions relating to offences including violence, theft, forgery and conspiracy;
    — preventive measures including a peace bond, an order issued under the Criminal Code that allows authorities to keep someone under surveillance.  Another document shows the federal Privy Council Office was keenly eyeing the British debate over use of control orders — a means of strictly monitoring terror suspects through curfews and prohibitions on communication ….”
    — also viewable here if previous link doesn’t work