MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Apr 11

  • Cpl. Yannick Scherrer, Royal 22e Régiment, R.I.P. Family and friends packed a chapel at CFB Valcartier on Friday to bid farewell to Cpl. Yannick Scherrer, remembering Canada’s most recent combat casualty as a natural leader who embraced life to the fullest. Scherrer died on March 27 when he was killed by an improvised explosive device near the village of Nakhonay, southwest of Kandahar city. Capt. Monique Roumy, the chaplain who conducted the service, said Scherrer had taken on a career that is not always easy. “Our people in uniform are sometimes misunderstood, stereotyped and judged for what they are and what they represent,” she said. “Despite the looks and the unflattering remarks they get, a soldier marches straight and does what he or she must do because it is not just a job — it’s a vocation.” ….”
  • Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan, “A dreary makeshift military outpost at the extreme western edge of the Horn of Panjwaii is literally the end of the road for a mammoth, 18-kilometre long, $10-million Canadian-led construction project. When the last three kilometres are completed later this month, the road — which NATO forces call Route Hyena and Canadian Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner calls “a dagger through the heart of the Taliban” — should benefit generations of hardscrabble farmers in what is arguably the poorest corner of one of the poorest countries on earth. Until a few months ago the Taliban freely roamed the Horn, protected from ground attack by hundreds of improvised explosive devices. As elsewhere, they terrified the local population, threatening to kill them if they did not co-operate ….”
  • Remember the possible deal for Canada to buy torpedo conversion kits from the U.S. (5th item) Here’s the latest version from The Canadian Press“Canada’s navy is waiting to hear back from the U.S. regarding the purchase of $125 million worth of torpedo refit kits so it can properly arm its four Victoria-class submarines. At the moment, none of the British-built diesel boats is capable of firing the navy’s current stock of MK 48 torpedoes. Any sale of American made military equipment to a foreign government must be approved by Congress. “The Canadian government submitted a letter of request for these things,” said Paul Ebner of the Defence Security Co-operation Agency, the office in Washington that oversees the clearance of such sales. “We’ve notified Congress and if there’s no objections over the 30-day review period we put together a letter of acceptance.” In a release issued March 23, the agency backs the sale on national security grounds, saying it will improve the security of a NATO ally that “continues to be a key democratic partner of the United States in ensuring peace and stability.” ….”
  • CBC’s angle on the torpedo conversion (without an identified, or even described, source):  they’ll need more converting to be used in Canada’s subs. Canada’s navy plans to spend about $120 million to upgrade 36 torpedoes, but they still won’t work in its four submarines without further refits, CBC News has learned. The navy has MK-48 American torpedoes in stock, but the four British-built submarines aren’t capable of firing them. Even after the weapons are converted, Canada would still have to spend millions more to refit the submarines to fire them. Defence Minister Peter MacKay confirmed the plans on Friday but said no decision had been made about the procurement. “Of course I know about it,” MacKay said during a campaign stop with Conservative MP Gerald Keddy in Bridgewater, N.S. “There’s absolutely no decision taken at this point. The Department of National Defence is continuously looking at different procurements whether it be munitions, whether it be new equipment.” ….”
  • Election 2011 (x) – All the federal party leaders were criticized Friday by Ret. Gen. Rick Hillier, perhaps Canada’s best known soldier, for avoiding a serious debate during their election campaigns about Canada’s role in the Libyan conflict. In an interview on the CBC radio show The Current, Hillier, the outspoken former Chief of Defence Staff, routinely said he was “puzzled” over the relative silence from the campaign buses as Canadian involvement in Libya enters its third week. “What is puzzling to me, personally, is that we’ve had really no discussion in our country whatsoever about this,” Hillier said. “It hasn’t come up during the election campaign whatsoever. And again, here we are at war. We’ve been doing this in Afghanistan — we’ve had immense discussion — huge amounts of discussion, on the mission in Afghanistan, including parliamentary debates. “Here in Canada, right now, it’s actually silent on what is happening in Libya.” ….”
  • Election 2011 (1) – Greens on defence: “…. the Canadian military should stay in Afghanistan, but only under a United Nations peacekeeping mission. Canada would assist Afghanistan’s domestic affairs, including poverty, economic development, amplifying the nation’s government and public institutions and help develop the military and police force ….”
  • Election 2011 (2) – NDP promises ships over jets: “Jack Layton says the NDP would prioritize investment in naval ships over new fighter jets as part of a broader plan to refocus Canada’s defence policy. “Instead of focusing on F-35 fighter jets, I’ll get the job done when it comes to building joint support ships for our naval forces,” he said Friday from Esquimalt, B.C. The NDP would also commit to developing a white paper to chart the future course of defence needs within 12 months of taking office, Layton said, noting that Canada hasn’t issued a white paper on defence since 1994 ….” More from Postmedia News here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he has it in writing that Canada will be exempted from the staggering development cost increases associated with the F-35 stealth fighter. He lamented Friday that the ultra-high-tech jets and their enormous price tag had become a political football in the race toward the May 2 election. “You have to understand that in terms of the F-35 costs, we’ve been very detailed with those to the Canadian public,” Harper said after releasing the Conservative platform in Mississauga, Ont. “A lot of the developmental costs you’re reading in the United States, the contract we’ve signed shelters us from any increase in those kinds of costs. We’re very confident of our cost estimates and we have built in some latitude, some contingency in any case. So we are very confident we are within those measures.” …. “
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)“…. (Critics) claim Canada should wait, that the F-35s are the last of a dying breed – warplanes with pilots – and that it makes sense to hold out a decade or two for the dawn of unmanned, remote-controlled bombers and fighters. But the risks of opting out include no longer being considered a first-rank ally and missing out on cutting edge technology. The inner circle of U.S.-led weapons systems is also an exclusive and perhaps too valuable a club to spurn – even if the F-35 is the last of its kind ….”
  • Ah, those wacky funster Khadr kids…. Ontario’s highest court on Friday reserved its decision on whether it should extradite Abdullah Khadr to the U.S. to face a terrorism-related charge. The three-justice panel at the Ontario Court of Appeal heard arguments from the federal government that a Superior court justice erred by cancelling the extradition and releasing Khadr last August. The main basis of their argument was that the judge had no jurisdiction and did not properly balance the benefits of Khadr’s release with the seriousness of the charge he faces. Khadr’s lawyers, Nathan Whitling and Dennis Edney, countered the judge didn’t need to be taken into consideration because of the “egregious abuse” Khadr was subjected to in Pakistan at the behest of U.S. Authorities ….”
  • Among the 492 Tamil migrants who arrived in Canada aboard the MV Sun Sea last August were 12 crew members who played an “integral” role in helping to execute the large and sophisticated smuggling operation, the Immigration and Refugee Board was told Thursday. The allegation was made at an admissibility hearing for one of the crew members, a man who cooked on the ship and manned the diesel engine room and received free passage from a key smuggling agent in return for that work, the board was told. The Canada Border Services Agency is seeking to have the man — whose brother, who was also on the ship, is alleged to be a key organizer of the operation — deported on the grounds that he engaged in a transnational crime, namely people-smuggling ….”
  • Ooopsie (continued) …. To his neighbours, Aaron Lacey is a bit of a loner, a quiet guy who likes to keep to himself. But to Niagara police, the self-taught artist from Beamsville is allegedly deceitful and aggressive in his pursuit of information from a senior Canadian Forces official. Lacey, 38, was arrested March 30 and charged with five counts of impersonating a military officer and criminally harassing the senior military official. He was also booked on 10 counts of breach of recognizance relating to charges from last August, including attempted fraud, forgery and an additional count of impersonation. Cumulatively, he faces 29 charges. His bail hearing got under way Monday and will continue Friday in a St. Catharines courtroom ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 6 Apr 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 29 Mar 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 28 Mar 11

  • Cpl. Yannick Scherrer, Royal 22e Régiment, R.I.P. A Canadian soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated during a dismounted partnered patrol in the Panjwa’i district of Kandahar Province at approximately 12 p.m. (noon) Kandahar time on Sunday, March 27, 2011.  More from the Canadian Press here, Postmedia News here and the Globe & Mail here.  Statements from the Governor General here, the PM here and Minister of Defence here.  An Army.ca condolences thread can be read and posted to here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (1) – NATO’s taking on the WHOLE Libyan job now. More from Al Jazeera English here, BBC here, Reuters here and AFP here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (2) – Here’s what the first wave o’ cruise missiles looked like to some on the HMCS Charlottetown. “A small crowd is gathered on the port bridge wing of HMCS Charlottetown. Slowly heading west, the ship is following a shimmering path of light laid on the water by the full moon, now low on the horizon. The clear sky is full of stars from horizon to horizon, a sight rarely seen ashore. Warships ride the waves, visible only as dim shapes punctuated by the red and green dots of their navigation lights. Abruptly, a large plume of flame rises from the sea some distance to the south. After a few seconds of climbing, the bright glow vanishes as the cruise missile jettisons its booster and begins flying its programmed course. The first Tomahawk is on its way ….”
  • No Fly Zone in LIbya (3) – So far, so good, according to the U.S. Secretary of State and Defense Secretary. “U.S. and coalition forces have accomplished the no-fly zone aspect of the United Nations mission in Libya, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said during a television interview …. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and discussed what coalition nations have achieved as actions in Libya enter a second week. U.S. and coalition partners have suppressed Moammar Gadhafi’s air defenses in Libya and have not seen his planes in the air since the no-fly zone was put in place March 19, Gates said …. “
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (4) – Some good questions from the Toronto Star: “…. Is a stalemate that lets Gadhafi hang on in a partitioned Libya a viable option? Should the world follow France and recognize the Benghazi-based rebel leadership? If not now, when? Finally, how will NATO react if Libyans who live in Tripoli or other areas under his control also rise up? At the end of the day it isn’t likely to matter much whether these essentially political questions are answered by the regular NATO club, or by the nominally wider “coalition of the willing” that includes such Arab states as Qatar and the Emirates. What’s important is that things be clarified, sooner rather than later ….”
  • One CF wife’s story. “You don’t know what it’s like until you get in. It’s such a tight-knit community. Usually military families are friends with other military families. It was different at first to realize that you no longer control where you live, but it’s a lifestyle I would never give up. I love the closeness. I love that there is always someone there for you. Everyone watches everyone’s back.”
  • A swack of senior Canadian officers are in line for big international jobs. “Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, who was chosen on Friday to navigate NATO’s immensely complex air war against Moammar Gadhafi’s Libyan regime, is not the only Canadian flag officer getting an immensely challenging international command. It is expected that a Canadian army general will soon be named to a big UN peacekeeping posting in the Middle East. These two developments follow by a few weeks the announcement that Maj.-Gen. Mike Day is to take over responsibility for training the Afghan army for NATO. Day joins Maj.-Gen. Stu Beare, who is to continue running Afghan police training for the alliance until he takes up a senior appointment in Ottawa this fall that will draw heavily on his overseas experience ….”
  • Good point.  “In any other country, a spy chief revealing concerns that members of government are believed to be under “at least the general influence” of foreign powers would have been a wakeup call. In Canada, it resulted in calls for the senior spy’s head …. Richard Fadden wasn’t trying to fearmonger, he was raising a legitimate red flag about a threat to our national security. Hey, politicians, wake up! You may be doing another country’s bidding. He was also sending a very public message to the offending countries in question. Yes, there is more than one. Add Russia, Iran and several African, Latin American and western European countries to that list. Instead of waking up, opposition politicians decided to try to shut him up for doing his job — identifying a threat and challenging it head on …. For all the calls the opposition makes demanding more transparency in Canada’s security apparatuses, when they finally got it, they didn’t like it very much. But that’s the thing about the truth, sometimes it hurts.”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War:  Ceasefire.ca wants the Joint Strike Fighter to be an election issue.
  • Remember the Canadian in the U.S. Special Forces named last month to receive a Silver Star for bravery in Afghanistan (second last item)?  He’s received it.

Yannick Scherrer, Royal 22e Régiment, R.I.P.

This from a CF news release:

“One Canadian soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated during a dismounted partnered patrol in the Panjwa’i district of Kandahar Province at approximately 12 p.m. (noon) Kandahar time on Sunday, March 27, 2011.  Killed in action was Corporal Yannick Scherrer, from 1er Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment, based at CFB Valcartier, Quebec serving with 1er Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group.  We are all thinking of the family and friends of our Canadian fallen comrade during this sad time. We will not forget Cpl Scherrer’s sacrifice as we continue to bring security and hope to the people of Kandahar Province ….”

Condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the fallen.  We mourn with you.