News Highlights – 13 Apr 11

  • Libya Ops – Let the protests begin! “Peace activists at a Halifax demonstration against military spending Tuesday questioned Canada’s military action in Libya — and the lack of discussion from candidates in an election campaign now in its third week. Tamara Lorincz, spokeswoman for the Halifax Peace Coalition, said she is worried about the silence of federal parties on Libya. “I’m concerned there wasn’t a debate,” said Lorincz. “Libya should be a topic that Canadian voters are questioning.” Helen Lofgren, an activist with the Quaker community, was hesitant to comment on Canadian involvement in Libya because she said the issue is complex and “we get so little information about it.” ….”
  • More on Canada’s mission to help protect Iceland from a CEFCOM fact sheet here (h/t to blogger Mark Collins).
  • Speaking of Mark, here he is on one of the “usual suspects” in Canadian defence commentary: “A perfectly progressive political professor, a former federal NDP candidate, can play very economically with the truth. His affiliation though is almost never, never identified in our major media for whom he is a go-to-guy for comment opposing any military Afghan mission, and for his views on most anything else to do with the CF ….”
  • Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan. “…. Warmer weather is settling in across the country, a change of season that generally announces the Taliban’s spring offensive. Coalition forces are at peak strength, with more foreign soldiers on the ground to hunt and kill insurgents than at any other point in the long war. As the tempo on the battlefield is set to pick up, spring has also brought fresh calls for a different kind of foreign intervention, this time to bring Afghans together in talks with the Taliban ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? “…. The Department of National Defence (DND) has a requirement to provide an alignment capability to be used by Fleet Maintenance personnel to align all types of equipment on Canadian Forces (CF) warships and submarines. The objective of this Price and Availability (P&A) is to seek industry input and information on current Alignment Systems to enable DND to examine off-the-shelf (OTS) equipment that is in service with other navies or soon to be in service ….” More from the full bid package here (PDF):  “…. The Canadian Midas System equipment procured in 1988 consists of three complete systems but due to age, obsolescence issues, technological advances, and no longer being supported by the OEM it needs to be replaced by a system with digital capability and increased capacity for multiple tilt tests …. The aim of the project is to find an alignment system capability which will allow the Canadian Navy to align the next generation of advanced Combat Systems using conventional surveying techniques for aligning two parts of a structure on a vessel while she is afloat ….”
  • Sold:  One former Snowbird CT-114 Tutor (minus engine) for $48,400. More from the mainstream media here and here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War – A former Canadian Chief of Defence Staff tells us what he thinks about a recent American visitor commenting on our fighter jet deal. “Winslow Wheeler’s piece on Canada’s plan to replace our CF-18 fighters with the F-35 should be seen for what it is: a low-credibility rant by an American visitor from a left-wing Washington organization renowned for its anti-defence posture. His highly questionable arguments for killing the F-35 program echo the thrust of his visit to Ottawa last week, hosted by the farleft Rideau Institute ….”
  • Months before the Conservative government dismissed talk of a perimeter security accord with the United States as hearsay, senior officials were quietly discussing a draft of the border agreement. Documents obtained by The Canadian Press show federal deputy ministers considered a version of the accord early last September — one of a series of internal deliberations that played out during the fall. The planned perimeter arrangement is intended to expand joint operations on security, creating a sort of continental fortress while allowing for smoother flow of goods, people and services across the 49th parallel. Critics of the process voiced fresh concerns after reading the heavily censored documents, which were disclosed under the Access to Information Act. “It is not healthy for the democratic process for this to be happening behind closed doors, in secrecy,” said Maude Barlow, national chairwoman of the Council of Canadians ….” News Highlights – 6 Apr 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 ….”