Monday, July 16, 2018

Sale of CAF Leopard 1 Tanks to Jordan Falls Through

By: David Akin, Global News 

Canada has given up trying to find a buyer for its surplus army tanks after what appears to be a last ditch attempt to move them to Jordan fizzled out, Global News has learned.

Canada has about 50 surplus Leopard 1C2 battle tanks and 11 Leopard 1 armoured engineering vehicles left over from the original batch of about 127 Leopard 1s Canada purchased, beginning in 1978.

But the Canadian Army parked its Leopard 1s for good last year and has moved over completely to the more modern Leopard 2 tanks. The army has a fleet of 82 Leopard 2 battle tanks, spread throughout the country at CFB Edmonton, CFB Montreal, and CFB Gagetown near Fredericton, New Brunswick.

The surplus Leopard 1s are parked largely in the same locations.

Global News has learned there appears to have been a last-ditch attempt to move the Cold War-era tanks to Jordan.

On Feb. 20, 2018, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan received a briefing note titled “Provision of Leopard Tanks to JAF.” Defence industry sources believe “JAF” referred to “Jordan Armed Forces.”

The briefing note was referred to in another document obtained by Global News using federal access-to-information laws. Global News has not yet been able to obtain the full briefing note.

Canada had posted its notice of intent to sell the surplus Leopard 1 tanks in September 2015.

Neither Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan nor any officials with Jordan’s embassy in Canada would speak about the briefing note Sajjan received in February.

Other than Israel, Jordan is Canada’s most important ally in the Middle East and has received significant financial and other aid from Canada over decades.

If there was any interest in the Jordan option, it appears to have fizzled.

And now, the Department of National Defence has pretty much given up finding any buyer for the Cold War-era machines.

“No firm buyer was found and the Department is assessing alternate disposal options,” defence department spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said in a statement e-mailed to Global News Friday.

The list of countries to whom Canada would have been prepared to sell the tanks is relatively small. Canada would not have moved the tanks to a country where the presence of new squadrons of tanks could have been destabilizing for the region.

“The marketplace for us to sell and basically keep within most of our policies to not abet countries that are, shall we say, problematic, is pretty limited,” said Rob Huebert, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Military and Strategic Analysis at the University of Calgary.

Huebert said even selling them to Jordan might have been a problem for Israel, Canada’s other ally in the region, which might have been made a little nervous if its eastern neighbour became even a little stronger militarily.
A crew from the Lord Strathcona’s Horses deck out their Leopard tank with Canadian flags to mark Canada Day on Wednesday, July 1, 2009, at Canadian forward operating base Ma’sum Ghar, Afghanistan.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Other potential buyers might be human rights violators. The Trudeau government has already come under fire for honouring a commitment it inherited from the Harper government to allow the sale of armoured vehicles made in Canada to Saudi Arabia, a country which does not hold nearly the same respect for human rights that Canada does.

Le Bouthillier said 11 of the surplus tanks will be converted to artifacts, museum pieces that will be displayed outside armouries or other facilities to mark Canada’s military heritage.

No decisions have been made on what will happen to the rest of the surplus fleet. Several — perhaps all — could be used as targets for practicing gunners in the newer Leopard 2s.

“The last option would be to destroy the tanks,” Le Bouthillier said.

Eggleton: CAF Pulling Its Own Weight

By: Art Eggleton, Toronto Star - Opinions 

As NATO leaders prepare for their upcoming summit in Brussels, U.S. President Donald Trump is complaining about Canada and other allies not spending enough on their military operations. This brings into play the goal from past summits of each country spending 2 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence.

There are two problems with this 2 per cent of GDP figure. First, meeting it would increase defence spending by approximately two thirds in Canada, and secondly, it is the wrong measurement for capabilities and contributions to NATO.
The UN Mali patch is shown on a Canadian forces member's uniform before boarding a plane at CFB Trenton on Thursday. The soldiers are heading to Mali for Operation Presence, the military operation to support the United Nations peace mission. (LARS HAGBERG / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A two thirds defence expenditure hike would necessitate either substantial tax increases and/or significant reductions in other government programs and services, including social support measures. I consider that unrealistic and unacceptable.

GDP can go up or down, or it can be stagnant. If we have robust economic growth over the next decade, getting to 2 per cent will become even more expensive and challenging. If we unfortunately experience a recession, then our percentage of GDP for military expenditure can increase without spending a dollar more.

What sense does that make in terms of measuring capabilities and contributions? Also, only four of 29 NATO countries currently meet the 2 per cent goal. And the goal is not compulsory; or, as the Harper government said after the last summit in Wales, it is “aspirational.”

In my five years serving as Minister of National Defence in the Chr├ętien cabinet, I never came to appreciate that 2 per cent of GDP was the appropriate way to measure our contributions as a member of the alliance.

That was verified by NATO officials Simon Lunn and Nicholas Williams, who wrote: “the 2 per cent takes no account of the ebbs and flows of economic fortunes; is vulnerable to changing circumstances and domestic pressure, both in terms of the security requirements and the economic base; encourages creative accounting to satisfy targets; and provides zero guidance concerning precisely what capabilities are needed to counter the threats and challenges that NATO faces.”

If not 2 per cent of GDP then what?

We could, for example, measure per capita expenditures, in which case Canada ranks ninth out of 29 member states. Or a percentage of the federal government expenditures, in which case Canada ranks sixth. In either case, we rank above the NATO average if you exclude the United States, which is really in a league of its own, spending more than double on defence than all the other NATO countries combined.

Better still, shouldn’t we be measuring outputs and outcomes rather than input percentages? As Lunn and Williams suggest, the important measurement should be based on capabilities and contributions.

When it comes to capabilities, our Canadian Forces personnel are some of the best in the world. They are motivated, highly skilled and dedicated to their roles. Our allies around the world, including the U.S. military, recognize this.

We are no laggard when it comes to joint military exercises and contributing to multilateral missions. We don’t need all the equipment in the world — we work with our allies — but what’s important is the interoperability with them that strengthens the capabilities of our troops.

On the issue of equipment, NATO does want member countries to update their assets and the government has started to implement that request with budget increases this year and thereafter. This commitment is real investment in the equipment of our forces, one that is not tied to GDP but reflects actual military expenditures, and again contributes to capabilities.

When it comes to recent contributions, we have sent troops and equipment, along with our NATO allies, to operations in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and are currently leading a mission in Latvia. And now with the United Nations, they are headed to Mali.

It is these and other capabilities and contributions to the defining conflicts of our time that armed forces should be measured by — not something as flawed as a financial yardstick that is tied to GDP.
Senator Art Eggleton is a member of the Canadian Senate from Toronto. He currently serves as chair of the Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology.

New Iraq Mission Deploys Four Additional Griffon Helicopters

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Canada’s ongoing Iraq mission has a maximum cap of around 850 personnel, according to Department of National Defence officials. There are only around 500 to 600 assigned to the mission currently. So the commitment announced this week by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of 250 personnel will be new personnel heading from Canada to Iraq.

A Canadian Forces Griffon helicopter flies over a Internal Displaced persons camp near Erbil, Iraq, February 20, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz ORG XMIT: RYR112
The new mission will need up to four Griffon helicopters. That will be in addition to the four Griffons already based in Erbil in Northern Iraq.

“This is a new deployment of up to four helicopters, as requested by NATO,” Byrne Furlong, press secretary for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told Defence Watch.

“This detachment will be capable of transporting personnel and equipment around the NM-I Joint Operations Area,” she added. “These helicopters will be based out of the Taji Military Complex in order to best support of NATO in and around the Baghdad area.”

The heavily fortified complex is in a rural area, 27 kilometres north of Baghdad.

The helicopters will be in Iraq for the next 12 months.

Canadian special forces will remain in Iraq separate from the NATO mission, Furlong explained. “They will continue what they have been doing in the north in and around Mosul,” she added.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

RCAF Back in NATO AWACS program

By: David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen 

Canada will provide up to 25 personnel over the next five years to NATO’s Airborne Warning and Control System program, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced at the NATO summit.

In February, the Liberal government announced it was reversing a 2011 decision by the previous Conservative government that saw Canada withdraw from NATO’s AWACS program.

The Conservative government decided at that time to end participation in the airborne early warning plane program to save money. Canada’s NATO allies were surprised and angered about the pullout. The Royal Canadian Air Force warned at the time that the decision could put overseas operations at risk.

Over the last several years, however, NATO has significantly increased the use of its AWACS, including in areas like Central and Eastern Europe where Canada is leading a multinational NATO battlegroup based in Latvia.

The original shutdown of Canada’s contribution to NATO’s AWACS saved about $50 million a year, according to the records obtained under the Access to Information law by Defence Watch.

Canada will also contribute to the new NATO Command Structure and support the new United States Readiness Initiative. Canada is now a member of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats and will join the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence.

In addition, Canada will extend its contribution to NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence through Operation REASSURANCE for another four years and increase the number of personnel taking part in this mission in Latvia from 455 to 540, Trudeau said.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Trudeau announces new Canada-led training mission in Iraq

The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that Canada will assume command of a new NATO training mission in Iraq.

This will include the deployment of up to 250 Canadian Armed Forces personnel for one year beginning in the fall of 2018.

They will be deployed to Baghdad and the surrounding vicinity along with up to four Griffon helicopters to support NATO activities.

Trudeau made the announcement this morning at a discussion session as part of the NATO summit in Brussels.

He described the mission as a natural next step for Canada in the fight against Islamic State militants by continuing to help build institutional capacity in Iraq.

Canada’s leadership of this new NATO training mission will complement existing efforts in the global coalition against ISIL.

Under Operation IMPACT, the Canadian army is already providing training and assistance to the Iraqi security forces and helping regional forces build their capacity.

Canada also contributes mobile training teams to NATO’s counter-improvised explosive device capacity building efforts for Iraq.