Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Canada in Iraq: 6 RCAF Airstrikes over Christmas Holidays

After a brief hiatus over the holidays, I should be posting more regular CAF News moving forward into the new year.

In brief press releases on its OP IMPACT webpage, DND announced that on the 23rd of December 2015, while taking part in coalition airstrikes in support of Iraqi security forces’ offensive operations to clear ISIS from Ramadi, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in the vicinity of Ramadi using precision guided munitions. The RCAF and coalition attacks helped Iraqi forces retake Ramadi nearly a year after it fell to ISIS.

Then on the 24th of December 2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting position east of Mosul using precision guided munitions. Also on the 24th, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck two ISIS fighting positions west of Tal Afar using precision guided munitions.

A U.S. military official in Iraq says that coalition airstrikes killed 10 Islamic State leaders over the past month, including several linked to the Paris attacks or other plots against the West.

U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren says they were killed mainly by drone strikes in Iraq and Syria. He offered few details, but said at least two of those killed were linked to the Paris attacks. He says one was directly tied to those who planned the violence in Paris and was actively planning other assaults against the West. Most appeared to be mid-level leaders.

Warren says that one of the others killed was from Bangladesh but spent time in Britain and was a hacker for the Islamic State group and co-ordinated anti-surveillance technology.

On Christmas day, December 25, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting position west of Makhmur using precision guided munitions.
The most recent involvement by the RCAF was on December 27,  2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting positions south east of Sinjar using precision guided munitions.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

CAF Participating in Maple Detachment: OP REASSURANCE

Canadian Armed Forces News Release:

Some 50 Canadian soldiers are taking part in Maple Detachment with the 25th Air Calvary Brigade in Nowa Deba, Poland, as part of Operation REASSURANCE.

Maple Detachment consists of ongoing coordinated bilateral training exercises involving Canadian members of the Land Task Force and members of the 25th Air Calvary Brigade, located in Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Poland.

Canadian and Polish Armed Forces members take a knee.
CAF and Polish 25th Air Calvary Members at the Nowa Deba Training center in Poland. December 4, 2015. Photo: DND 
The training includes a series of firing range exercises (levels one, two and three), section and platoon attacks, parachuting, tactical exercises and reconnaissance patrols.

“The goal of the training is to conduct operations that will allow us to assess and improve our interoperability with the Polish Armed Forces,” stated Captain Yannik Trudeau, an officer in the Operation REASSURANCE Land Task Force. “During the training, we alternate between Canadian and Polish command. It’s an extraordinary experience.”

To date, three training exercises have been conducted with the 25th Air Calvary Brigade: three weeks of parachute training in Nowy Glinnik and Leznica Wielka, then helicopter support as part of combat-related first-aid training, and, finally, the training in Nowa Deba.

“Maple Detachment helps foster relations between the Canadian and the Polish armed forces by combining the operations of the Land Force and the 25th Air Calvary Brigade,” noted Captain Nicolas George, Deputy Commander of the Operation REASSURANCE Land Task Force. “In addition to the tactical aspect, Maple Detachment allows Canadian and Polish soldiers to share common values and develop a work ethic.”

The impact of the training provided through Maple Detachment can be measured in multinational exercises such as Ex DRAGON 15, during which Canadian soldiers were paired up with the 25th Air Calvary Brigade.

Den Tandt: Why Trudeau should keep CF-18’s in the fight against ISIS

Michael Den Tandt outlines here a great argument for why the Liberal Majority should reconsider its withdrawal of RCAF CF-18s from the US-led coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

An RCAF CF-18 flies over Iraq during a sortie on OP IMPACT. November 7, 2015. Photo: CAF Combat Camera, OP IMPACT, DND 

By: Michael Den Tandt, National Post 

There is a straightforward way for the Liberal government to get beyond the tangle in which it now finds itself over its pledge to pull Canada’s CF-18 fighters from the air war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. That would be to break its promise, make a U-turn and keep them in the fight. This is not only the responsible thing to do; it is the politically smart thing to do, given the other options.

Since the Oct. 19 federal election, the debate has raged. Throughout the back and forth, the claims and counterclaims, Royal Canadian Air Force jets have continued to contribute to the U.S.-led campaign by, yes, dropping bombs on enemy targets. Late last week, Canadian forces took part in a battle that involved CF-18s and special forces ground troops.

In a year-end interview with the Huffington Post, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan committed to withdrawing the fighters within six months, though a parliamentary resolution calls for the air-combat mission to end in March. The reason for not pulling out immediately, Sajjan has said, is that the government does not wish to contribute to a loss of capacity for its allies. Translation: The CF-18s are making a valuable contribution to the overall effort, albeit a small one. If this were not the case, withdrawing them would make no difference to anyone and would have occurred already.

The arguments for keeping the CF-18s in the fight, or not, fall loosely into three groupings: tactical/strategic, philosophical/moral and political. In every case, based on a careful and fair-minded reading of the facts, the case for keeping the previous Conservative government’s policy in place is unassailable.

In military terms, simply put, the Liberals in crafting their policy and sticking to it doggedly have misunderstood the role of aerial combat in modern warfare. Repeatedly, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spoken dismissively of “dropping bombs,” as though it’s indiscriminate carpet-bombing of residential areas, like something out of the Second World War or Vietnam.

That assumption is false. In this campaign, which even now is modest in scope compared with the rate of missions flown in both Gulf wars and in Yugoslavia in the late 1990s, air power is being used precisely by the allies to degrade and destroy ISIL’s capabilities and allow allied local ground troops to take back territory more easily.

To dismiss the air war as indiscriminate “combat” is shallow in the extreme. On the contrary, the aerial campaign is arguably the last, best hope for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization powers to avoid sending in their own ground troops in large numbers. It is an alternative to a ground war – not a necessary prelude to one. U.S. President Barack Obama, a lifelong pacifist, and French President François Hollande, a socialist, are not war hawks. They are advancing this strategy because they can see no other way of defeating ISIL, short of all-out war.

The philosophical and moral arguments essentially resolve into a discussion of failed foreign involvements in various Middle Eastern and South Asian wars extending centuries back. Many Canadians wonder what was achieved by 12 years of war in Afghanistan. The quagmire in Iraq and Syria, it is often noted, has its roots in president George W. Bush’s failed U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Gen. Colin Powell’s famous admonition, “if you break it, you own it,” went unheeded. The result has been one catastrophe after another, one of which was the rise of al-Qaida in Iraq, which metastasized into ISIL. Yes. Point understood and accepted.

The fact remains that 2015 is not 2003. In 2003, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, beyond being an annoying blowhard and a demented tyrant to his people, threatened no one beyond Iraq’s borders. He had no weapons of mass destruction. Had he had them, he had no will to use them.

ISIL’s self-anointed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is no Saddam. He’s something much worse. He and his jihadists believe — and this is not opinion, but fact, available to anyone with stomach enough to do the research — that they are warriors for God on a sacred mission to bring about the end of the world. They believe that in the interim, it is their sacred obligation to wipe out all other iterations of Islam, re-introduce slavery and extend their caliphate worldwide. And they pose, as has been demonstrated repeatedly now, a clear and present danger to every pluralistic society, including Canada’s. Pearsonian Liberalism would opt for engagement.

That leaves the political argument, which is this: As long as withdrawing the CF-18s remains government policy, because it is incoherent, it will be a thorn in its side and a fundraising tool for the Conservatives. A flip-flop would cause short-term bruising. Longer term, it would validate the Liberals’ pledge to base policy on evidence, not ideology. And it would help establish them as responsible managers, rather than wishful thinkers.

National Post

Monday, December 21, 2015

Canada in Iraq: RCAF Hits 3 ISIS Fighting Positions

In a press release on its OP IMPACT webpage, DND announced that on 18 December 2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck three ISIS fighting positions northwest of Mosul, Iraq, using precision guided munitions

Friday, December 18, 2015

Canada in Iraq: RCAF Strike ISIS Near Mosul in Support of Special Forces

In a press release on it's OP IMPACT webpage, DND announced that on 17 December 2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting position northwest of Mosul using precision guided munitions.

The CF-18's were on patrol the region, when a large ISIS offensive pushed at the Kurdish Front lines. Canadian Special Forces were within 6 kilometers of the front lines, and some members were close enough to return fire on the ISIS militants. Canadian's called for air support, as hundreds of ISIS fighters attacked northwest of Mosul. 

There were no Canadian casualties in the 17 hour battle. The Kurdish forces suffered more than 70 casualties.

A RCAF CF-18  at its base in Kuwait. Its technician is setting the wheel chokes after the CF-18 returned from flight over Iraq, as part of OP IMPACT.  Photo: CAF Combat Camera 

Canada in Iraq: Special Forces Involved in Firefight with ISIS near Mosul

By David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen, 

Canadian special forces and Kurdish troops have fought off a significant Islamic State ground offensive in northern Iraq, a Canadian general revealed Thursday night.

Major-Gen. Charles Lamarre said Islamic State forces launched a “fairly concentrated and well co-ordinated attack” on Wednesday on the Kurdish lines where Canadian special forces are located.

The fighting went throughout the night and Kurdish troops, backed by the Canadians, were able to push back the Islamic State attackers by Thursday.

There were no Canadian casualties, said Lamarre, director of staff for the Canadian Forces Strategic Joint Staff. A number of Kurdish soldiers were killed or wounded.

Kurdish officials said around 70 militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — or ISIL — were killed during the battles in at least five locations along the Kurdish lines, north and east of Mosul.

Two CF-18 fighter jets were also involved in helping push back the offensive. U.S., British and French fighter jets also took part.

Canadian special forces soldiers have previously called in airstrikes on ISIL targets, and its snipers have shot and killed ISIL gunmen. But this was the most significant military action the Canadians have yet faced in this mission.

Asked how many ISIL troops were involved in the attack, Lamarre responded: “A significant number. I would say in the hundreds.”

He noted that ISIL suicide bombers driving in vehicles also took part in the attack.

The offensive took the Kurds and Canadians by surprise and ISIL was able to make multiple excursions into the Kurdish areas.

Lamarre said Canadian special forces were involved in the fighting “right from the word go.”

During a counter-offensive led by the Kurds Thursday morning the Canadians provided support fire, he said. “They (the Kurds) came under effective fire and our guys were close enough and able to respond with fire onto those ISIL positions,” Lamarre noted.

Canada has around 69 special-forces soldiers in northern Iraq training Kurdish troops. The Canadian task group there has been made up of soldiers from the Ottawa-based Joint Task Force 2 counter-terrorism unit as well as the Canadian Special Operations Regiment from Petawawa.

The use of the CF-18s in battling back the ISIL offensive will likely fuel further debate about the Liberal government’s plan to withdraw the fighter jets from the mission.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said his government intends to keep that election promise and instead beef up the number of Canadian training troops involved in the Iraq mission. No date has yet been set for the withdrawal of the CF-18s and Lamarre said the military is still awaiting orders from the government on that.

Lamarre noted that the Canadians were in an advisory role and that “the principal combatants were the Kurdish security forces.”

The emphasis on the importance of ground operations dovetails with the Liberal government’s decision to concentrate on training Iraqi security forces.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan released a statement Thursday night pointing out the value of the ground mission and the support given to the Kurdish security forces or KSF.

“Although the attackers were able briefly to penetrate KSF defensive positions, our forces played a role in advising and assisting the KSF to successfully launch a counter attack and re-establish defensive lines,” Sajjan said. “These actions illustrate the valuable contribution our forces are making to the KSF and the fight against ISIL. All Canadians can rightfully take pride in the professionalism of our members and the work of the coalition.”

Lamarre noted several times that the ability of the Kurdish troops to push back ISIL forces was “impressive.”

But he also acknowledged that the multi-pronged offensive was unusual for ISIL in the area. “It was a departure from what they have done in the past,” he added.

“There was an element of surprise that ISIL was able to bring to it.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion has said he expects the withdrawal of the CF-18s will happen “within weeks not months,” but the government first wants to work out details of a beefed-up Canadian training mission to Iraq before announcing the date the planes will return home.

Canadian CF-18s have dropped more than 500 bombs over the past year on ISIL targets, according to the Canadian military.

The Canadian Forces entered the war in October 2014 and dropped its first bombs on Nov. 2, 2014.

Despite a broad-based coalition of nations, the U.S. military is still conducting most of the bombing raids. The U.S. air force has used more than 20,000 bombs and missiles during the war.

Conservative MP Kellie Leitch, however, has accused the Liberal government of putting the Canadian military in the position “where they would be seen on the world stage as cowards.”

U.S. officials, however, have not objected to the withdrawal of the CF-18s as long as Canada continues to play a role in the war.

It has asked Canada to leave its refuelling aircraft as well as the two surveillance planes currently involved in the mission. Canadian military sources told the Citizen that the Liberal government is leaning towards agreeing to that request.

Also under consideration is Canadian help in developing a Kurdish special forces unit.

Dion has also suggested that Canada could join Italy in providing police trainers to Iraq.

There are more than 600 Canadian military personnel involved in the Iraq mission. Those include the special forces troops as well as air crew and staff in Kuwait who are supporting and operating six CF-18 fighter jets, two CP-140 Aurora reconnaissance aircraft and a CC-150 Polaris in-air refuelling tanker.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Canada in Iraq: 33 Airstrikes by RCAF Since Election

Despite the looming stand-down of at least the CF-18 component of Air Task Force Iraq, the Liberal promise to bring home the CF-18s following the election has not slowed down the RCAF in its efforts to degrade ISIS's progress in Iraq. (Syria is another story completely - Canada has hardly been involved)

As of 15 December 2015, Air Task Force-Iraq conducted 1878 sorties:
  • CF-188 Hornet fighters conducted 1201 sorties;
  • CC-150T Polaris aerial refueller conducted 325 sorties, delivering some 19,056,000 pounds of fuel to coalition aircraft; and
  • CP-140 Aurora aircraft conducted 352 reconnaissance missions.
While Stephane Dion said earlier in December that the Government's looming announcement of the CF-18 withdrawal from the US-Led Coalttion was "week away," Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has said it will not be before the end of 2015. So the RCAF members supporting the CF-18s will be spending Christmas in Kuwait.

An RCAF CF-18 is refueled by an RCAF CC-150 Polaris over Iraq on November 7, 2015. Photo: CAF Combat Camera 

During the 2015 Election, the Liberals made it seem that if elected, one of the first actions they would announce was the end to Canada's participation in the bombing campaign. That has not happened, despite Prime Minister Trudeau's phone call to President Obama within 48 hours of being elected signalling the CF-18 withdrawal.

Since October 22nd, the RCAF has conducted 33 Airstrikes against various ISIS positions in Iraq. The RCAF airstrikes also played a role in the retaking of Sinjar from ISIS, and has been actively supporting Iraqi forces in their fight for Mosul.

The delay in announcing the CF-18 withdrawal seems to be around what exactly Canada's role in the fight against ISIS will be. Coalition Allies have asked Canada to keep its CC-150 Polaris and CP-140 Aurora aircraft in the campaign. The coalition needs the aerial refueling and surveillance capabilities more than it needs Canada's meager 6 CF-18 fighter jets. The rest of the coalition can make up the pin-sized hole that will be left when the CF-18 do eventually leave - which will be no later than March 2016 - as that is when the current mandate ends.

The surveillance is key to selecting targets for the Air Campaign, and Canada's surveillance aircraft have state of the art equipment that is capable of seeing at night and in poor weather.  As none of the US-led coalition allies actually have their fighters stationed in Iraq or Syria, refueling the fighters and bombers is key to ensuring their safe return; so the allies would prefer if Canada's tanker would stay in the region.

Perhaps Minister Sajjan is looking at if Canada could deploy additional CC-150s or CP-140s to help fill the obvious gap in capabilities for the coalition.

Canada is also planning an additional training mission - to boost the number of trainers on the ground in Iraq. No details have been made public about this process yet.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Alenia Brings C-27J Spartan Ottawa-Gatineau for FWSAR

Article by: Philippe Cauhi

GATINEAU – On Friday, December, the 11th, Team Spartan Canada brought for a three hours stop and a press conference, a Peruvian Air Force C-27J Spartan to the Gatineau-Ottawa Executive Airport on its way to Peru.

This event took place exactly one month before the deadline to submit bids to Publics Works and Governement Services Canada to supply the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) with new fixed-wing search and rescue (FWSAR) aircraft. The cost of the program is set at CAN$3,1 billions including a 20-year maintenance contract.

Turin Italy based Alenia Aermacchi, a division of Finmeccanica is leading Tean Spartan which includes :

General Dynamics Mission Systems Canada : supplier, integrator and in-service support (ISS) of the state of the art mission system based on the one found on the RCAF CP-140 Block III aircraft ;

IMP Aerospace : aircraft Canadianization by modifying the C-27J baseline aircraft into the Canadian

FWSAR, support to Alenia during initial delivery, installation of the mission systems, flare launchers,

EO/IR turret, search radar and interior design modifications ;

L3 Wescam : MX-15HDI electro-optical/infrared turret ;

DRS Technologies Canada, a Finmeccanica company : courseware and training aid ;

Esterline CMC : CMA-9000 Flight Management System and Flight Bag

FLYHT Aerospace Solutions : AFIRS 228S SATCOM Iridium satellite communications ;

KF Aerospace : maintenance, supply chain and repair engineering ISS, and pilot and maintenance training management support ;

Rockwell Collins : ATC radios ;

Finmeccanica Selex-EX : Seaspray 7500E search radar ;

Aerodyne : wide observer windows and pressurized flare launchers

Steve Lucas.
Photo: Philippe Cauchi.

Steve Lucas senior representative for team Spartan and former chief of the Air Staff of the now Royal Canadian Air Force from 2005 to 2007 was flanked by the two C-27J test pilots, Marco Venanzetti and Gianni Ammoniaci who left Turin on thursday afternoon on their way to Peru and the Peru Defence Attaché in Ottawa, Colonel Alejandro Humberto Marusic Caceda, attended.

Mr. Lucas started the press conference by stating that the C-27J, the aircraft of Team Spartan in the Canada’s Fixed Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) RFP whose bids are due for January, the 11th, 2016 , is ‘An exceptional aircraft beyond expectations but still within reach of Canada’.

Alenia C-27J Spartan.
Photo: Philippe Cauchi.

In spite of the fact that the C-27J offered to Canada is based on the same configuration that has been supplied to the US Coast Guard, the US Army Special Operations Forces and the Royal Australian Air Force, it will be modified by the Canadian industry in order to ‘make this aircraft right to fulfill the Canadian FWSAR mission’.

The FWSAR will be replacing the six aging De HavilLand CC-115 Buffalo based in Comox, British Columbia and fourteen Lockheed CC-130H Hercules based in Winnipeg, Manitoba (4), Trenton, Ontario (4) and Greenwood, Nova Scotia (3). This process which began more than ten years ago aims to replace theses two fleets of aircraft in service for more than 50 years.

According to Steve Lucas, the C-27J has a rapid response time thanks to its exceptional speed, size, endurance and manoeuvrability enabling it to reach austere and remote locations including theses in the mountains as well as in the far North and the far sea. This way, the C-27J is only aircraft in its class far enough capable to respond by its speed to SAR incidents to the limits of Canada vast SAR area of resposability.

The Canadian RFP underlined Steve Lucas is not a simple replacement on a one-to-one replacement basis of existing aircraft but a very complex set of requirements of thousands of pages requesting that the contender’s aircraft be able :

To respond to three simultaneous SAR incidents in Canada’s three different SAR regions : Victoria SSR, Trenton SSR and Halifax SSR ;

To reach the most remote Canadian location in the shortest time ;

To achieve a 95% availability rate for at least one aircraft in each SSR and a 70% rate for a second one ;

To reach 2674 points in Canada where incidents occured in the last five years.

The size of the cabin of the Spartan is a big plus acording to Mr. Lucas. With a heigth of 2,60 meters, a width of 3,33 meters, and its high floor strength, (4,900kg/mload capability), the cabin allows a lot of activity of moving around in the back, the SAR technicians bringing a lot of equipment.

It is divided in three sections : the mission system section, the storage section and on the ramp, the personnel section.

Photo: Philippe Cauchi.

The C-27J Spartan is not only an aircraft capable to bring the first respondents to site but also to land on short strips and bring back everyone.

Compared to the Buffalo, the C-27J flies faster, further and is pressurized. For this reason, the Buffalo can be used only in the Victoria Region. On top of that, the Spartan have the landing and take off performances of the Buffalo in spite of the weigth of its complete mission system and longer endurance.

Team Spartan C-27J is based on the same configuration of the aircraft supplied to the US Coast Guard which is looking for systems similar to the one installed on the one offered to Canadian Forces. This means opportunities for Canadian suppliers if Canada picks the Spartan.

Steve Lucas recalled that the C-27J is a modern military transport aircraft with an established production line, mature production processes and excellent operational performances.

He concluded by stating that the Spartan is an affordable solution to Canada SAR needs ‘very within reach of Canada with no need to compromise on response time, geographical coverage, crew comfort and cockpit visibility’ and ‘Maximizing Canadian participation and minimizing program risks’.

An advanced derivative of the Aeritalia G222 first flown in 1970, the C-27J is a tactical military cargo aircraft able to perform a variety of missions including transport of troops, logistical resuply, MEDEVAC, air drop operations, paratroopers launches, humanitarian assistance, oil spill relief, fire fighting and SAR.

The C-27J featured the same engines and propellers than the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules as well as a common avionics architecture.

Having obtained its Military Qualification Certificate, the C-27J is also airworthy to civil standards with certification from EASA and FAA.

Certification of the C-27J Spartan included cold weather flight testing in Finland.

More than 82 C-27J had beeen ordered by the air forces of Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Romania, Morocco, Mexico, Australia, Chad, Peru, Slovak Republic, an undisclosed African customer as well as the US Army Special Operations Command and the US Coast Guard.

First Ukrainian Company nears end of training cycle under CAF OP UNIFIER

DND Press Release: 

The last seven weeks have been leading up to the final set of exercises for the Ukrainian infantry company from the 30th Mechanized Battalion currently training under the mentorship of their Canadian Armed Forces partners.

After hours spent in classrooms and in the field, the Ukrainian trainees enter the final set of exercises meant to confirm all of the training that has been conducted under Op UNIFIER at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in Starychi, Ukraine.
Canadian and Ukrainian soldiers
CAF Members work along side members of the Ukrainian Military during a training exercise, part of OP UNIFIER. November 25, 2015. Photo: CAF Combat Camera
“The past two months have seen a real exchange of skills and ideas between Canadian and Ukrainian soldiers,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Jason Guiney, Commander Joint Task Force Ukraine. “It is rewarding to see the first serial of training come to a successful end and I believe the soldiers that have undertaken this training will be better prepared for operations than they were eight weeks ago.”

These exercises are aimed at the platoon level and include both mechanized and dismounted live-fire ranges involving the Ukrainian Armed Forces Boevaya Mashina Pehoty-2 (BMP-2) Infantry Fighting Vehicles and a numerous of other weapon systems employed by them.

“The enthusiasm of the Ukrainians has been very high and they have developed a better understanding of how to employ their BMPs in platoon level operations. I believe they are better off now than before undertaking this training” said Lieutenant-Colonel Jason Guiney.

The instruction has been varied, continuous and has confirmed the value of the training package delivered by the CAF contingent. The training provided also included elements on weapons handling, first aid, artillery and mechanized infantry training.

“We started with basic gateway and refresher training,” said a Canadian infantry Sergeant who specializes in mechanized operations, “and as time moved on, we were able to incorporate mechanized and dismounted infantry tactics.”

While the final series of exercises is designed to confirm the skills learned by the Ukrainian soldiers, the CAF instructors are already scheduled to start training with a fresh Ukrainian infantry company.

The partnership between Canadians and Ukrainians continues to grow. The lessons and experiences learned over the past few months will be applied to the upcoming phase of training, as part of a multinational training effort, the Joint Multinational Training Group – Ukraine.

Operation UNIFIER is Canada’s contribution to support Ukrainian forces through capacity building, in coordination with the U.S. and other countries providing similar training assistance.

Monday, December 14, 2015

RCAF Announces CF-18 Demo Team Pilot and Theme

Canadian Armed Forces Press Release:

WINNIPEG — The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is pleased to announce the appointment of Captain Ryan Kean as the pilot for the 2016 CF-18 Demonstration Team.

Captain Kean will wow audiences around North America during the 2016 air show season, flying his specially painted CF-18 Hornet commemorating the 75th anniversary of the start of the pan-Canadian effort to train aircrew for the Second World , including pilots, wireless operators, air gunners, and navigators through the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

2016 Season Theme - Training for Victory

The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) and its contribution to the Second World War air effort and the Allied victory was an important chapter in Canada's history, leaving a legacy in our communities for generations to come.

Training for victory

The agreement for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) was signed in late 1939 and the program ran from 1940-45. Prime Minister Mackenzie King thought it would be one of Canada’s most significant contributions to the Allied effort during the Second World War, a contribution that would leverage "the power of the airplane in determining ultimate victory".
The exhaustive curriculum and intensive schedule of classroom and flight training in Canada turned out air crew members at a dizzying pace, ready to serve overseas. 
By the end of the Second World War, the training plan had produced 131,553 aircrew, including pilots, wireless operators, air gunners, and navigators for the Air Forces of Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The plan also trained citizens of other nations – including Poland, the United States, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia and France – who joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

Tens of thousands more maintainers and support staff were recruited and trained by the RCAF to support the effort; without the contribution of these men and women, the plan would have failed.
Communities giving us wings

Approximately 150 Canadian communities can trace connections to the BCATP.
Besides finding employment at training aerodromes, citizens of host communities also contributed to the training plan by instructing at and operating schools. Twenty-eight of the 30 Elementary Flying Training Schools and all 10 Air Observer Schools were run by community flying clubs, local companies or airlines.

The tremendous support of local agencies allowed the training plan to get off the ground quickly. Incorporating civilians into the basic stages of aircrew training allowed the RCAF to take advantage of already-qualified civilian instructors and existing aerodromes as early as the spring of 1940.
Canadians took great pride in making the trainees feel a part of their communities, and community events did wonders to lift the spirits of Commonwealth air force personnel.
The lasting legacy

Article XV of the BCATP agreement indicated that Australian, Canadian and New Zealand air force personnel would be identified with their respective countries, either by organizing their own national units or formations or by other methods. This eventually led to the creation of specifically Australian, Canadian and New Zealand squadrons, rather than having all air personnel of those nations serve in Royal Air Force units (although many Canadians also served in RAF squadrons). The Canadian squadrons that grew out of this article of the agreement – the so-called 400 series of squadrons – continue to form the fabric of the Royal Canadian Air Force to this day.

The first of these squadrons came into existence in 1941, which is why Canada is celebrating the BCATP’s 75th anniversary in 2016.

Many reminders of this community effort can be seen across Canada today. The airports of many cities and towns were once part of the plan’s aerodrome infrastructure. Many military bases in use today were once flight training schools, and even Canada's participation in NATO air training stems from this legacy.

Many Canadian communities were also left with other somber reminders of the training plan’s history. Commonwealth recruits who died during training were buried in cemeteries of nearby communities, along with airmen from other nations undergoing training, most of them under the auspices of the Royal Air Force. . Of the 856 participants who died during training in Canada were:
469 members of the Royal Canadian Air Force
291 members of the Royal Air Force
65 members of the Royal Australian Air Force
31 members of the Royal New Zealand Air Force

Report: RCAF Must Speed-Up Delivery of Cyclones

By: Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Canada’s air force must speed up crew training and the delivery of CH-148 Cyclone helicopters in the next two years to avoid a shortage as five decade old CH-124 Sea Kings are finally retired, said a senior defence official.

A senior defence official has told The Canadian Press they are looking at ways to do both, starting next year.

Concern that the Sea Kings may be phased out faster than the Cyclones have the equipment to be fully capable of replacing them has been around since the former Conservative government announced last June that the old helicopters would be slowly retired by 2018.

The Sea Kings fly off the decks of warships and there is fear that some Canadian naval vessels might have to go to sea without helicopters.

The possibility that the Sea Kings would be pulled out of service faster than they can be replaced is something defence planners are scrambling to mitigate, said the senior official with knowledge of the program.

“We’re looking at ways to accelerate the training process to make sure we have enough aircrew available to man the aircraft. And we believe we will,” said the official who was not authorized to speak to the media. “We’re also looking at having an accelerated delivery of some aircraft in the 2016-17 time frame to give us more aircraft on the ramp in (Canadian Forces Base) Shearwater.”

Only four of the 1960s vintage airframes have been retired thus far and the official could not commit to a specific timetable on when the rest would go. The official did say, however, that the decommissioning program was not on hold.

The 28 Cyclones have faced repeated development delays since being ordered in 2004 and are not expected to be fully operational on both the East and West Coasts until 2021.

There are six aircraft at Shearwater, with another two on the way before the end of the year.

Documents, obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information laws, show that in addition to ensuring an overlap between the fleets the road to retiring the Sea Kings will be bumpy.

Many of the setbacks relate to the development of the sophisticated software for the Cyclones that runs everything from flight controls to weapons systems and the documents show defence officials believe not all of the bugs will be worked out by the time the aircraft is declared fully operational.

The software is being introduced in two blocks. The first phase allows the helicopter to fly in a limited capacity including search and rescue, and the second tranche will bring the aircraft up to the full warfighting, submarine-hunting version.

“While Block 2 represents a fully functional, operationally relevant Maritime Helicopter, there is insufficient time within a realistic schedule to inject all remaining Maritime Helicopter Requirement specification elements,” said a Nov. 28, 2013 planning document. “Accordingly, it is anticipated that certain capabilities will need to be added during the in-service support (regular maintenance phase), which nominally begins post-Block 2 delivery.”

The significance was downplayed by the official who insisted that by the end of the second phase the air force will have the helicopter it ordered in 2004.

One of the significant changes the Harper government allowed was to deem the Cyclone a developmental program, much like the oft-maligned F-35 stealth fighter. That means, as opposed to expecting a fully completed helicopter, the government was willing to accept the risk and delays associated with the trial and error of development.

The official said National Defence believes it has been able to mitigate the risk and the program is on track.

But defence analyst Dave Perry, of the Global Affairs Institute, says the problem of training highlights that project delays are not just an accounting nuisance and they have real consequences.

“On this project, that schedule has been continually slipping further into the future since 2008, which must be presenting a complete nightmare for the RCAF that needs to figure out when it can actually stop training people to operate the Sea Kings and start learning how to use the Cyclone,” he said.

Embraer to Enter KC-390 in Bid for RCAF FWSAR

By: David Pugliese, 

OTTAWA, Canada — Embraer is set to shake up the competition to provide Canada with search-and-rescue aircraft as the Brazilian firm seeks export orders for its new KC-390.

The CAN $3.1 billion (US $2.3 billion) search-and-rescue aircraft procurement has long been seen as a competition between Airbus’ C-295 and Alenia’s C-27J. But Embraer officials told Defense News the company will submit its bid in January when Canada requests formal proposals from aerospace firms.

Bids for the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) program are to be submitted Jan. 11.

The KC-390 conducted its first flight in February 2015 but the aircraft is not expected to enter into service until early 2018.
An artists rendering of the Embraer KC-390 in the SAR Paint Scheme of the RCAF. 
Geraldo Gomes, vice president of business development for Embraer Defense and Security, said the aircraft is well suited for Canada’s search-and-rescue needs. Powered by two jet engines, it has the speed and range to quickly respond to rescue operations, including in the Arctic, he said. In addition, the aircraft has the capability to stay on station for long periods, Gomes said.

Sixty aircraft are on order for Brazil, Chile, Portugal, Argentina, the Czech Republic and Colombia. Gomes said the KC-390 was designed to be a search-and-rescue aircraft and that one of its strong selling points is its low life-cycle costs.

Aerospace industry sources said that selection of the KC-390 would give the company a foothold in the North American market for the aircraft and a high profile customer in the search-and-rescue arena. Canada has the longest coastline in the world, and its search–and-rescue aircraft are also expected to cover the massive Arctic region of the country.

But the industry sources also questioned whether the Brazilian-built plane would be ready in time for the Canadian program.

Gomes said the company does not see any issues with the delivery schedule for the KC-390. The Royal Canadian Air Force has not outlined exactly when the first aircraft would be delivered. A winning bidder is expected to be selected by Canada in late 2016, according to industry representatives. Delivery of the first aircraft is required three years after the contract is signed.

The Canadian government noted in its Defence Acquisition Guide 2015 published May 28 that it expects all aircraft for the FWSAR program to be delivered by 2023.

Both Airbus and Alenia have been courting the Canadian government for more than a decade on FWSAR. Their aircraft are proven and currently flying in search-and-rescue missions.

Asked whether the Embraer bid will change the tone of the competition, Pablo Molina, head of military aircraft for Airbus Defence and Space in Canada, responded, “We remain convinced that we will be able to offer the best solution to Canada with the C295.”

Alenia officials said it is company policy not to comment on a competitor’s bid.

Steve Lucas, a former head of the Royal Canadian Air Force and now an adviser to Alenia, said the firm is in the final stages of preparing its bid.

“We are confident about the aircraft and have put together an excellent team,” he added.

Alenia Aermacchi North America has brought together a team that includes IMP Aerospace, Halifax, NS; General Dynamics Canada, Ottawa; DRS Technologies, Ottawa; and Kelowna Flightcraft, Kelowna, BC.

Airbus Defence and Space has teamed with Provincial Aerospace, St. John’s, Newfoundland; Pratt & Whitney Canada, Longueuil, Quebec; CAE, Montreal; Vector Aerospace, Richmond, BC; and L-3 WESCAM, Burlington, Ontario.

Gomes said Embraer has had initial discussions with Canadian firms but has not settled on any partners for the Canadian bid.

Lockheed Martin was looking at bidding the C-130J for the FWSAR program, but industry sources said Lockheed is now reconsidering.

Asked whether Lockheed Martin Canada would submit a bid, company spokeswoman Cindy Tessier stated in an email that, "out of respect for the procurement process, Lockheed Martin does not comment on competitive tenders that are underway."

The new planes will replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 40-year-old Buffalo aircraft and older model C-130s currently assigned to search-and-rescue duties.

The FWSAR project is divided into a contract for the acquisition of the aircraft and another contract for 20 years of in-service support.

FWSAR originally envisioned acquiring 17 aircraft. But that has now changed and will be capability-based, said government officials. The aerospace firms are to submit in their bids the number of aircraft they believe necessary for Canada to handle the needed search-and-rescue capability, they added.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Canada in Iraq: RCAF Strike ISIS Fighting Position Near Mosul

In a press release on its OP IMPACT webpage, DND announced that on 13 December 2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting position northwest of Mosul using precision guided munitions.

Dion: Allies Ask Canada to Keep Polaris and Aurora in Fight Against ISIS

By: Michelle Zilio, CTV News

Canada is being asked by allies to keep its military refuelling aircraft and surveillance planes in the fight against the Islamic State, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion.

“It has been requested from allies to consider to continue to do that,” said Dion in an interview with CTV’s Question Period.

Dion did not go so far as to say whether the government has officially decided to keep its CC-150 Polaris refuelling tanker and its CP-140 Aurora reconnaissance aircraft running missions in Iraq and Syria. He did, however, stand by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s commitment to withdraw Canada’s CF-18 fighter jets from the U.S.-led bombing mission against the terrorist group.

Trudeau has also said Canada will send more trainers to Iraq to join the 69 Special Forces members already stationed there, but hasn’t indicated exactly how many more will go. Dion said that in addition to training the Kurdish military, Canada is also being asked to train local police officers in Iraq.

“We are at the time now where we free a village or a town or a city, the first thing you need to do is professional police that will be perceived by the population as a protection for them, not as a threat,” said Dion. “The Italians are involved in it. They are asking us to be part of it. It’s something we will consider.”

Dion said the Liberals would also like Canada to be involved in the rebuilding of institutions in Iraq, including the justice system and public service.

While Dion credited Canadian Forces members for having done a “great job” in the ongoing mission against ISIS, he said Canada can contribute in a way that will better complement the work of its allies.

A final decision regarding Canada’s involvement in the ISIS mission will come in a “matter of weeks,” according to Dion. He said the government is busy consulting with its allies to “identify the best way for Canada to be helpful.”

Dion also spoke about another commitment high on the Liberal government’s radar next year – the resettlement of tens of thousands of Syrian refugees in Canada. He said the government is taking many security precautions, including sharing information about the incoming Syrian refugees with the U.S. via databases.

Dion, who has been in his ministerial job for just over a month, also previewed the government’s plans for two of its more challenging relationships – with Iran and Russia - and its most important relationship, with our neighbours to the south.


• The Liberals plan to re-engage with Iran, more than four years after the previous Conservative government severed relations with the Islamic republic. However, Dion did not say when exactly this will happen.

• According to Dion, the re-engagement will be done “step by step,” with an emphasis on the protection of human rights in Iran.

• Dion emphasized the need for diplomatic relations with Iran, especially for the sake of Canada’s allies, including Israel. Those diplomatic efforts will require the re-opening of the embassy in Tehran, a proposal the Conservative opposition is concerned about.

• “I would urge the government to be cautious about this, to not jump back into Tehran with a diplomatic mission at this particular juncture, to await Iran’s actions and see if they match their words,” Conservative foreign affairs critic Tony Clement told Question Period.


• Dion said the government will pressure Russia to carefully consider its actions in Syria, adding that the Russians will “be part of a solution in Syria.” He called on the Russians to focus their fight on ISIS, rather than the Syrian opposition.


• Dion said U.S. President Barack Obama’s plans to hold a state dinner for Trudeau -- the first for a Canadian PM since 1997 -- shows the global interest in the new prime minister. But in formal talks with the U.S., the Dion said Canadians can expect Trudeau to push Obama on a North American climate change accord, and continue joint efforts on climate change and clean energy.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Canada in Iraq: RCAF Strike ISIS fighting position north of Al Kuwayr

In an press release on it's OP IMPACT webpage, DND announced that, on 11 December 2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting position north of Al Kuwayr using precision guided munitions.

Opposition Motion Defeated: RCAF CF-18 Mission To End

Yesterday, member of the Official Opposition, Tony Clement brought forward a Motion for the House of Commons to keep the Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18's involved in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

The motion was easily defeated by the Majority Liberal Government;  104 YAYS to 220 NAYS.
There Liberal and NPD members voted against the motion; while the Conservatives and Bloq Quebecois voted for the motion.

The motion read as follows:

"That, given that ISIS has taken responsibility for recent deadly attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Africa, and has declared war on Canada, this House: (a) acknowledge that now is not the time for Canada to step back and force our allies to take on a heavier burden in the fight against ISIS; (b) remind the government of its obligation to our NATO partners and its responsibility to protect the freedom, democracy, safety, and security of Canadians; (c) call upon the government to maintain the air-combat mission of the RCAF CF-18 fighter jets; (d) express its appreciation to the members of the Canadian Armed Forces for their participation in the fight against terror; and (e) reconfirm our commitment to our allies to stop ISIS." 

If you wish to see how your MP voted, please see the Record of the Vote. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015


By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs 

Nemenčinė, Lithuania — NATO member nations have common interests and goals but when they come together in multinational exercises, their languages, practices and perspectives are often very different. Exercise MAPLE ARCH 2015 (Ex MA 15), which took place from November 9 to 20, 2015 at the Lithuanian Army Warfare Training Center in Nemenčinė, Lithuania, was no exception.

Canada and Lithuania were jointly responsible for planning and conducting this year’s edition of the annual exercise. The Canadian Army’s Major Sean Clark, who co-led Ex MA 15 with his Lithuanian counterpart, Major Darius Bernotas, said those differences do present challenges, but collaborating to overcome them brings many rewards.

“Some of the lessons and the skills that we’re trying to impart are based in Canadian doctrine,” said Maj Clark. “Our Lithuanian counterparts also deal in NATO doctrine but they’ve got their own spin on it just the way Canada does. I would say the biggest thing for me is being able to see the Ukrainian battalion commander learn a new way of doing business. And in doing so he says, ‘This is really interesting. I’ve never looked at it from this perspective.’ We certainly have something to learn from them as well.”

“Working with officers from different countries is rewarding in the sense that you can exchange experience and learn from each other,” added Maj Bernotas. “Canadian officers have led the MAPLE ARCH exercises for almost a decade now. So I had a unique opportunity to learn from them as well as to share my experiences planning and conducting such an exercise. I know for sure that these insights will add to my experience as a battalion commander. At the beginning of the exercise, the soldiers faced communication, procedural and some cultural challenges. On the other hand, these challenges became less and less obvious as we progressed with the exercise and established close working relationships.”

Ex MA 15 is an initiative of NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program (PfP). Established in 1994, PfP was created to enhance peacekeeping capabilities within the organization. Rather than a full-fledged battle scenario, Ex MA 15 presented a simulated peace support operation. The UN defines peace support as the maintenance of public order, policing, mentoring of security forces, infrastructure reconstruction or national reconciliation.

This year’s exercise brought together a total of 140 troops from Poland, Ukraine, Canada and Lithuania, for a largely computer-generated simulation that challenged the multinational battalion commanders with a hypothetical scenario reflecting the complexities of today’s Eastern Europe.

“In general terms, there are some belligerent gangs and criminal elements that are operating within the area of operations that we’re working in here, and some belligerent military forces as well,” Maj Clark explained. “So this provides the commander with a host of different potential events that could happen. In peace support you’re looking to support the local government by ensuring safety and security within the region, to be seen as working in partnership with the local authorities and support their authority in the region. We also have the flexibility, being a military force, of being able to react to more of a military opponent.”

While strong professional bonds were clearly forged during Ex MA 15, Maj Clark said personal ones also formed, particularly as both Remembrance Day and Poland’s National Independence Day fall on November 11. Not only were Canada’s Ex MA 15 partners glad to mark the day, he added, but other NATOpartners in the area also got involved.

“The Lithuanian Army Commander, Major General Almantas Leika, was very keen when we told him about Remembrance Day that Lithuania, as the host nation, would support any effort to assist us in acknowledging it,” said Maj Clark. “And to be able to participate in a parade where we saw British, Lithuanian, Polish, Canadian and American troops acknowledging that sacrifice together, that was a key for me personally, and demonstrated the resolve that we all share as partners in conforming to the NATO principles.”

Maj Clark added that, as a founding partner in NATO, Canada has an important part to play in maintaining the close relationships that make its existence possible.

“It is a partnership. And in order for partnerships to work properly and effectively we all have to do our part. It’s very much like the concept of justice: not only must it be done but I think it must also be seen to be done. And nothing to me, in my personal view, would exemplify that more than partners standing shoulder to shoulder with one another as they did on November 11.”

2nd Enhanced Naval Boarding Party Class Graduates

Navy News 

By Peter Mallett

Sailors in the new Enhanced Naval Boarding Party (ENBP) program had one final test to complete before graduating October 29, 2015. In order to receive their Maritime Technical Operator Course certificate, each of the eight graduates was required to secure Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, B.C., Dockyard’s Alpha Jetty. After arriving from their Albert Head training facility aboard rigid-hulled inflatable boats, the team, dressed in full fighting order, scaled the side of the dock, fanned out, did a comprehensive sweep, and then gave the all clear sign.

Afterwards was the graduation ceremony. “You are the sharp end of the spear as it pertains to boarding capabilities,” said Captain (Navy) David Mazur of Maritime Forces Pacific Headquarters. “The momentum surrounding the program is going to build in the next few years, and you are all in on the ground floor of this new program.”

The first class of 13 ENBP recruits graduated in April 2015. The graduation of this second group further advances the first phase of the Future Naval Boarding Party Capability Development outlined in the Royal Canadian Navy’s executive plan. The plan is to produce a pool of 70 to 100 ENBP graduates over the next few years.

“They are specialists, not generalists, and require an increasingly complex and high level of training to be qualified to do this job. They are better trained to deal with uncertain or chaotic situations that they may deal with in their deployments,” said Lieutenant-Commander Wilfred Lund, Officer Commanding the Maritime Tactical Operations Group (MTOG).

Graduates underwent advanced tactical training over 14 weeks that included hand-to-hand combat, improvised explosive device identification, close quarters battle, tactical shooting and advanced medical training.
The graduating class of the Maritime Tactical Operators Course 1502
The RCN's 2nd ENBP Graduating Class in October, 2015. Photo: CAF Combat Camera 
“There is a lot of work that goes into everything we have learned,” said Leading Seaman Brandon Smith. “While it only took about 15 minutes to secure the jetty, there was a great deal of behind-the-scenes preparation required in advance. Two or three days of planning was needed to complete this task and really opened my eyes to what is required for our new job.”

Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Brent Bethell, a member of the MTOG, added: “The ENBP capability will provide the navy, and the Canadian Armed Forces as a whole, the required agility, flexibility and tactical expertise to confront and deter threats in high-risk operational environments.”

Canada deploys contingent to Combined Task Force 150

(Published by DND Press Release)

OTTAWA — Seven Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel begin Operation ARTEMIS this week as part of Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) in Bahrain.

The Canadian contingent will remain in position until April 2016 under the Australian Defence Force, which assumed command of CTF-150 today.

Quick Facts 

This deployment represents Canada’s most recent contribution to Operation ARTEMIS, the CAF’s ongoing contribution to counter-terrorism and maritime security operations across the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, and Gulf of Oman.

The CAF contribution consists of five officers and two non-commissioned members of the Royal Canadian Navy, including Captain (Navy) William Quinn, who will act as Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of CTF-150. The other members will work in planning, logistics, and as watch-keepers.
Through maritime security operations and regional engagements, Combined Task Force 150 works to deter and deny terrorist organizations from using merchant shipping lanes for smuggling weapons, illicit cargo and narcotics, while ensuring the safe passage of merchant ships in some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Command of Combined Task Force 150 is rotated between participant nations on a four- to six-month basis. The Australian Defence Force assumed command of CTF-150 today until April 2016, when it will hand command over to the United Kingdom.

Canada commanded Combined Task Force 150 from December 2014 to April 2015.

Canada in Iraq: RCAF Conduct Airstrike against ISIS Fighting Position

In a press release on it's OP IMPACT webpage, DND announced that on, 9 December 2015, while taking part in coalition airstrikes in support of Iraqi security forces’ offensive operations to clear ISIS from Ramadi, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting position in the vicinity of Ramadi using precision guided munitions.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Canada in Iraq: Canadian CP-140M Aurora’s Reach 300 Sorties against ISIS

Published by DND (Press Release)

Article / December 8, 2015

Force Protection note: The threats posed against deployed CAF members vary between geographic locations and change frequently over time. It is essential that the CAF thoroughly assess such threats and implement appropriate measures to ensure the safety and security of deployed personnel. The CAF continually adapt these measures, including identity protection efforts, to the specific environment in which our personnel operate. Therefore, the need to protect the identities of deployed CAF members may differ between operations and over time.

Two soldiers stand on a runway to help direct an aircraft.
A Member of the RCAF Long-Range Detachment directs a CP-140 Aurora while taxing in Kuwait, as part of OP IMPACT.
Photo: OP IMPACT - CAF Combat Camera

Written By: Long Range Patrol Detachment - Air Task Force – Iraq

The low-pitched drone of a Canadian CP-140M Aurora’s engines greets members of Air Task Force-Iraq (ATF-I) as it taxies under the hot desert sun. The sound is a familiar one at the airbase in Kuwait, as the mission marked the 300thsortie for the aircraft in the fight to halt and degrade the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The Aurora’s role within the coalition is to provide an Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance capability; the Aurora gathers accurate information that informs any decision to engage a target. This effort is supported by the members of the Long Range Patrol Detachment team, along with the Weapon System Management team and key enablers in Canada.

“Canada’s Long Range Patrol Detachment is proud to celebrate over 300 multi spectral, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance missions in support of Operation IMPACT. Aurora maintainers, aircrew, sensor operators, and communications suite personnel are providing vital assistance to coalition efforts to enable local security forces as they take the fight to ISIS,” said the Long Range Patrol Detachment Commander.

Before CF-18s can execute a strike on a target, a significant amount of analysis needs to be performed to ensure that the target is a valid military objective and, most importantly, that it conforms to the Law of Armed Conflict.

The Aurora’s ability to gather video and still images over an extended period of time allows intelligence personnel to build a picture of the tactical level situation at a potential strike location. The footage and imagery attained is reviewed to determine the movement of ISIS fighters.

One of the Aurora’s tasks is to maintain awareness of ISIS positions and determine if there is any civilian activity in the area. This information allows planners and coalition partners to assess the impact an airstrike may have on a given area. The Aurora is a key component in the targeting process and assists leaders in determining the risks associated with an operation and minimizing the risk to the local population.

The Long Range Patrol Detachment flew its first mission on October 30, 2014, following the announcement by the Government of Canada that it would contribute air assets to the Middle East Stabilization Force.

A little over a year later, the ground crew technicians are maintaining high mission completion rates despite working in extreme heat and blowing sand.

“It is definitely more challenging to work in a desert environment but we are adapting to the conditions,” said an Aurora maintenance technician from 19 Wing Comox, British Colombia. “We are proud to represent Canada and know we are providing a strong contribution to the coalition’s mission.”

RCN to Lease Two Spanish AORs during 2016

By: Esteban Villarejo, Defense News 

MADRID — The Spanish Navy will deploy two auxiliary oiler and replenishment (AOR) vessels in 2016 to "cover the Canadian Navy's temporary need for logistic support vessels in the North Atlantic," military sources told Defense News.

Both replenishment ships — Patiño and Cantabria — will support training for the Royal Canadian Navy's Atlantic fleet in two different time periods: Patiño will operate between February and March, and Cantabria between mid-September and November.

"This support is based on NATO’s principle of solidarity among its allies, by which a country provides a capability that the other does not have," a Spanish military source said. "The deployment will not have additional costs and will not have an impact in our capabilities."

The main mission of a combat-replenishment ship and hospital is to supply fuel, fresh water, ammunition, provisions, spare parts, military equipment, uniforms, medicines and medical assistance to other combat units at sea.

The Cantabria deployed with the Royal Australian Navy in 2013. The government of Australia paid the expenses of that deployment during the year.

This year Canada chose the German Navy’s Berlin-class design to replace its two Protecteur-class supply ships, which have been removed from service.

On Wednesday,, December 8, 2915 the RCN confirmed the Defense News report.

LCdr Alain Blondin, the RCN’s Deputy-Head of Public Affairs, told  the Ottawa Citizen's Defence Watch:

“We can confirm that the RCN is continuing the process of developing a Mutual Logistic Support Arrangement (MLSA) with the Spanish Navy where we will receive services from two separate Spanish vessels in 2016 to fulfill replenishment responsibilities and facilitate training in support of Maritime Forces Atlantic training and exercise activities. The current plan is for the first vessel, the Spanish Navy Ship Patino, to arrive in late January to March, and the second is planned for the fall of 2016. The exact dates are yet to be negotiated. Full details are still to come as negotiations are still ongoing and the MLSA is not yet finalized.”

Villarejo wrote that the Cantabria will be on Canada’s east coast between mid-September and November.

Some RCN sailors are already familiar with the Patiño. In 2014 HMCS Toronto conducted five replenishment-at-sea “evolutions” with both French supply ship Marne and the Patiño, the RCN website noted.

As readers know, Canada is facing a supply ship gap as the new Joint Support Ships are not expected in the water until 2020/2021. Davie is working on converting a container ship into an interim refueller (iAOR) for the RCN. That is expected to be ready in late 2017.

Last summer Canada made arrangements with Chile’s navy to have a supply ship available on the west coast.

OP PROVISION: Mission Details

Published by DND: Current Operations - OP PROVISION

Operation PROVISION is the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) support to the Government of Canada’s initiative to resettle 25,000 Syrian Refugees in Canada by the end of February 2016.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is the lead department for Canada’s efforts with numerous supporting departments including:
  • Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA);
  • the Department of National Defence (DND);
  • Global Affairs Canada (GAC);
  • Public Health Agency of Canada;
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada;
  • Public Safety Canada; and
  • the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP);
  • The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) contribution
The requirement for military support, and the extent of that support for this Government of Canada initiative is still being assessed at this point in time.

The CAF is prepared to provide interim lodging for approximately 6,000 refugees at various bases and facilities throughout Ontario and Quebec, and an additional 7,000 at facilities across Canada, if need be.

Accommodations at bases and wings are but one option being explored to provide interim lodging to refugees as part of a broader Government of Canada initiative.

If requested, the CAF is prepared to provide interim lodging for refugees at the following bases/wings in Ontario and Quebec:
  • Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Kingston;
  • CFB Borden;
  • 8 Wing Trenton;
  • 4th Canadian Division Training Centre in Meaford, Ontario; and
  • Garrison Petawawa; and
  • 2nd Canadian Division Support Base Valcartier.
To date, approximately 200 CAF personnel have deployed to Aerial Ports of Embarkation (APOEs) in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan combined to support the Government of Canada initiative.

While tasks vary at each APOE, deployed CAF personnel are currently:
  • Assisting the Canadian Defence Attachés (CDAs);
  • Acting as Liaison Officers between the CDA and Canadian Joint Operations Command;
  • Assisting IRCC with the administrative processing of refugee applications, including the collection of biometric data; and
  • Providing a CAF command and control element.
  • Mission Context

Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, millions of people have fled the country seeking safety and resettlement internationally. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, since the beginning of 2015, more than 720,000 refugees and migrants have crossed the Mediterranean, undertaking journeys from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, and other regions torn apart by war, hunger and violence.
Canada’s response

On 9 November 2015, the Government of Canada officially announced its commitment to welcome approximately 25,000 Syrian refugees from Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan to Canada by the end of February 2016, with an initial group of 10,000 arriving by 31 December, 2015.

The Government of Canada plan has five phases:
  • identifying Syrian refugees to come to Canada;
  • selecting and processing Syrian refugees overseas;
  • transportation to Canada;
  • arrival and welcoming in Canada; and
  • settlement and community integration.

The Government of Canada is also working alongside non-governmental organizations including the United Nations Refugee Agency, the International Red Cross, and Canadian companies, charities, and service providers

Mission timeline:

9 November 2015 – the Government of Canada announced the creation of a new Cabinet ad hoc committee to help bring Syrian refugees to Canada.

Mid-November 2015 – the CAF deploys 12 personnel to assist Canadian Defence Attachés (CDAs) in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey and to act as Liaison Officers between the CDAs and Canadian Joint Operations Command.

28 November 2015 – the CAF deploys members of 2nd Battalion, the Royal Canadian Regiment based at 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown, to assist IRCC with the screening of refugees in Lebanon and Jordan.

As of 01 December 2015 – the CAF continues to deploy medical specialists and other personnel to assist IRCC in Lebanon and Jordan, as requested.
Previous CAF support to emergency humanitarian evacuations (Historical Precedent) 

Operation MAGNET (1978) - Following the collapse of the South Vietnamese government and the fall of Saigon in 1975, the Government of Canada through the Canada Employment and Immigration Commission and Department (CEICD) and the Canadian Forces arranged for the airlift and resettlement of over 50,000 people from Vietnam. Op MAGNET occurred in three phases from 1978-1981.

Operation PARASOL (1999) – The Canadian Forces was called upon to support the Government of Canada’s efforts to assist displaced refugees from the Serbian province of Kosovo. As part of Operation PARASOL, more than 5,000 Kosovar Albanian refugees were airlifted to Canada and temporarily accommodated at various bases across the country.

External links
Government of Canada

#WelcomeRefugees (Government of Canada)

Announcement of action on Syrian refugee crisis (IRCC)

Conflict in Syria (DFATD)

Canada’s response to the conflict in Syria (DFATD)
External Links

Syria Regional Refugee Response (UNHCR)

Canada in Iraq: RCAF Strikes Two ISIS Compounds Near Makhmur

In a press release on it's OP IMPACT webpage, DND announced that on 8 December 2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck two ISIS compounds used as staging areas and weapons caches during two separate airstrikes west of Makhmur using precision guided munitions.

The RCAF has continued its airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq following the 2015 Election, and the Liberal Government's announcement that the CF-18s will be withdrawn before the end of the current March 2016 mandate.
A RCAF CF-18 Flies over Iraq during OP IMPACT on November 7, 2015. Photo: CAF Combat Camera

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Canada in Iraq: Final CF-18 Withdrawal Will Be Measured Against Coalition Capabilities

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Monday that the decision on when to pull out Canada’s CF-18s will be based on ensuring there is no “capability gap” for the country’s allies.

“The decision on that is going to be based on making sure that there is no capability gap, and we’re figuring out the exact time to do so,” Sajjan explained.

“We’ve worked out many different options, but we also want to make sure that the contribution that we are going to make is also going to have that meaningful impact, whether it’s going to be training or other components, to the mission that we’re going to be bringing to bear.”

His reference to “other components” could mean a number  of different things. Stephane Dion last week said a police training contigent was possible or even the continuation of the Aurora and Polaris aircrafts in the mission. 

Today, Italy announced that it will not partake in the US led coalition against ISIS - they referenced the outcome of the NATO Air Campaign in Libya as its reasons. 

"Italy will not take part in the U.S.-led bombing campaign in Syria," says Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

Renzi questioned the effectiveness of the campaign and pointed to disastrous NATO war against Libya as an example of the pitfalls of such campaigns.

“If being a protagonist means playing at running after other people’s bombardments, then I say ‘no thank you,'” Renzi said. “Italy’s position is clear and solid. We want to wipe out terrorists, not please the commentators. The one thing we don’t need is to multiply on-the-spot reactions, without a strategic vision.”

Renzi pointed to the 2011 NATO bombing campaign which led to the overthrown of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. After the death of Gadhafi rebel groups carved up Libya. The country is now a haven for Islamic extremists and is mired in chaos.

“Four years of civil war in Libya show it was not a happy decision,” Renzi said, pointing out that a different strategy is needed for Syria.“The one thing we cannot allow ourselves is a repeat of Libya,” he added.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Canadian Defence Review - What Needs to be Reviewed

During the Speech from the Throne last Friday, Justin Trudeau's Liberal Majority Government had little to say on Defence - the few short sentences mentioned little to no specifics.

Here is the text relating to the CAF from the Throne Speech:

"...To contribute to greater peace throughout the world, the Government will renew Canada's commitment to United Nations peacekeeping operations, and will continue to work with its allies in the fight against terrorism.

To keep Canadians safe and be ready to respond when needed, the Government will launch an open and transparent process to review existing defence capabilities, and will invest in building a leaner, more agile, better-equipped military."

What does that all mean? 

We know that during the 2015 Federal Election the Liberals promised to withdraw from the Aireal Bombing Campaign against ISIS; scrap the F-35 Purchase; ensure the Navy got the Vessels it needs; and return to more Peacekeeping missions. Only one of these things was mentioned in the Throne Speech. As Rona Ambrose, the Leader of the Official Opposition pointed out following the reading, the Speech doesn't even mention ISIS. 

Let's take a look a a few things within the CAF that need a review; 

1. The Budget

Under the previous Liberal Government of Jean Chretien - the CAF called the 1990s the "Decade of Darkness." This is not all that far off from what is was. The Chretien Government cut defence spending 25% from $12 billion in 1993 to $9.4B in 1998; cut troop levels from 74,000 to below 60,000; while at the same time deploying CAF members on almost every UN Peacekeeping mission that came up. 

Some of these Missions were highly required; and were laden with heavy burdens for the CAF. One of these missions was the 2000-03 deployment to Ethiopia and Eritrea. Under OP ECLIPSE and OP ADDITION, CAF equipment was hit by a great tole of wear and tare. 

During the same time, Canada deployed to Afghanistan in 2002 - which led to a stretching of CAF personnel, when retention within the CAF became a huge problem.  All while the CAF was facing a nearly $15 billion equipment shortfall. 

This all helped the 2006 Conservative victory with their "Stand Up for Canada" campaign, followed by their Canada First Defence Strategy  (CFDS) in 2008. The Conservatives made jokes about the Liberal Parties management of the CAF; heavily called them out on deploying the CAF to arid (desert-like) climates in temperate (forest) camouflage.  The Conservatives also vowed to move beyond the operational "Tokenism" of peacekeeping, and allow Canada to make a substantial contribution to international security. 

Was the Conservative's decade all that much better? If we take a closer look; the period from 2006-2009 can almost be called "Golden Years" for the CAF. In 2006 the Conservatives quickly announced $17 Billion worth of procurement projects. The CAF would be shopping for: 
  • 3 Joint Support Ships; 
  • 6-8 Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships;
  • 4 C-17 Strategic Lift Aircraft; and 
  • 17 C-130 Tactical Transport Aircarft 
These were just to start the revitalization of the CAF. The Government at the time also announced  an increase to $14.5 Billion. 

Then came the CFDS - which outlined a 20-year funding formula that would increase defence spending 2% from 2008 until 2028. In real terms, the Budget would increase from $18 Billion (2008) to $30 Billion (*2028 Projection) - an increase of $490 Billion over two decades; of which nearly $50 billion would be for equipment acquisitions. The Government would increase the regular force back to over 70,000 and increase the reserves to 30,000. 

Added to the list of procurements for the CAF were: 
  • 65 "Next-Generation" Fighter Jets to replace the CF-18s; 
  • 100 Leopard-II Tanks;
  • 17 Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Aircraft to replace the Buffalo aircraft; 
  • 15 Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) Warships to revitalize the Royal Canadian Navy;
  • 10 to 12 Maritime Patrol Aircaft; and
  • A fleet (100+) close combat armored vehicles.   
Up until 2010-2011 the Conservative Government largely followed the CFDS - the budget had increased nearly 24%. The CAF had received: 
  • 3 C-17 Aircraft; 
  • Dozens of new C-130's;
  • Numerous new or leased tanks;
  • Numerous M-777 howitzers; and
  • purchased Chinook Strategic Lift Helicopters 
While these successes seem all well and good - the other procurement plans; particularly the replacement of the entire Naval fleet was on hold. This was partly because of cost overruns in the planning, and development stage of the National Ship Building Plan (NSBP) - it was largely the fault of Afghanistan that everything else was put on hold.

With the Afghan War (2001-2014) the army rightly became the priority; meaning a vast majority of procurement funds were being diverted into its needs. $1.3 Billion was used for the Leopard II tanks; the Parliamentary Budget put the total coast of Afghanistan at $18 Billion through 2011.

At the closing of the stimulous spending in the 2012 Budget, 1/5 of all savings were to come from Defence; and by 2014, 1/4 of all savings came out of Defence. This effectively made CFDS unusable.

From its height in 2011, Defence spending was at $22 Billion, but by 2013, that had dropped to $19 Billion; and when adjusted for inflation it was approimatly the same as it was in 2005 before the Conservatives took power. As a percentage of GDP, it stood at 1.1% (the same level as it was during the "Decade of Darkness")

With these cuts, most projects are underfunded - and on the rails of collapse. The CSC Ships are at least $15 Billion short - and the Navy is estimating it will only get 8 Vessels instead of the needed 15. As a stopgap measure, the CAF is spending $4.2 Billion on upgrades to the Halifax-class frigates to keep them operational until the CSC Fleet is ready (between 2025-2035); another $1.2 Billion to upgrade its current light armored vehicles; and $100 million on a second round of upgrades to the 77 CF-18's still flying; and will spend $500 million to lease a retrofitted boxship that will be made into an interim auxiliary oil replenishment ship (iAOR).

So a major review of the overall Defence budget is required. The Liberal Government has said it will withdraw from the JSF F-35 program which was going to cost nearly $16 Billion for 65 Fighters (including life cycle management costs) and find a cheaper alternative, while moving the saved funds into the CSC Fleet program. The FWSAR aircraft contract has not yet been awarded, and neither has the Maritime Patrol Aircraft contracts. The Liberals will need to be willing to put enough money into Defence to restore the CAF to pre-Afghan War equipment readiness levels. The CAF gained a great deal of experience in Afghanistan, but its equipment got worn out and needs to be replaced.

A Defence review must show that Defence needs more Money; as the Parliamentary Budget Officer believes that just on Procurement, the CAF is short between $33-$42 Billion (November 2015 figures).

"This gap must be addressed if the government hopes to recapitalize the CAF, maintain the current force structure, and ensure defence sustainability. This paper will explore some of the short- and long-term challenges currently facing the CAF, from capability gaps to recapitalization, and assess some of the Liberal promises to fix these problems. It concludes with some thoughts on the need to recalibrate defence resource allocations." (McDonough)
From Maclean's Magazine Defence Issue during the 2015 Election. 

2. Procurement 

Procurement has largely been a joke in the CAF for many years, plagued by an over complex bureaucracy - projects have been started, and cancelled multiple time costing taxpayers millions of dollars. The Procurement process needs to be simplified while ensuring the correct and needed equipment is purchased in a timely manner at an appropriate cost.

Here is a list of current projects and their overruns:

  • Arctic Off Shore Patrol Ships - Cost: $3.1 Billion for 6 to 8 Ships, the first delivery was expected in 2013 - it is now not expected until 2021; with the final ship in 2025. In all likely hood, only 6 will be built. 
  • Maritime Patrol Aircraft - Cost: $7 Bullion for 10 to 12 Aircraft. Delivery was supposed to take place in 2020 - but current fiscal restraints has the contract date not until 2025, with delivery taking place between 2026 and 2035. Instead the RCAF is spending $2 Billion to upgrade its 14 CP-140 Aurora's. 
  • Canadian Surface Combatant Fleet - Cost: $29 Billion (Estimated to be at least $14 Billion short). Original first delivery date was between 2016 and 2017; especially for the Joint Support Ships (AORs) but all dates now between 2021 and 2035. (This includes the JSS Contracts)
  • CF-18 Replacement Program - Cost $17 Billion (Estimate based on F-35 Purchase). Fleet was supposed to be replaced by 2017. CF-18s currently undergoing 2nd Life extension plan to keep the fleet flying until at least 2020, with delivery of new aircraft not expected until between 2025 and 2035. 
  • Close Combat Vehicles - Cost: $2.1 Billion - Project Cancelled in 2013 due to Financial Restraints. 
  • FWSAR Aircraft - Cost: $1.4 Billion - Original Delivery Date was 2014-2015. There has been no contract awarded, it is expected in early 2016, with delivery between 2021 and 2025. 
  •  UAV Program - Cost: $1.5 Billion - Original Delivery Date was 2011 - now not expected until between 2021 and 2025. 
  • LAV III Life Extension Program - Cost: $1.2 Billion - Expected completion 2018. 
  • Maritime Helicopter Program - Cost: $5.7 Billion - Replacement of the Sea King Helicopters. Program was started in 2004, with delivery in 2008. Was later cancelled and restarted. Now deliveries started in 2015 but full operational status not expected until 2018, and final delivery in 2020. 
  • Medium Support Vehicles (1,500 Military Pattern Trucks) - Cost: $1.2 Billion. The Program has been cancelled twice since 2006. Original delivery was set between 2008 and 2010. Contract was due in 2015 and delivery between 2017 and 2018. 
  • Medium Heavy Lift Helicopters - Cost: $4.9 Billion. 15 of 16 Planned were purchased; but 5 years later than originally scheduled. Last was delivered in 2014. 
  • Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle - Cost: $708 Million for 500 vehicles. Contract was awarded in 2012 with deliveries expected in 2014. Problems with the design of the vehicle has post postponed deliveries until at least 2016. 
A Defence review must show that Defence to simplify the procurement process, and increase the amount of currency available for these projects. As delays run longer, it is inevitable these programs will cost even more. 

3. Peacekeeping and Staffing Levels

If the Liberal Government plans to return Canada to it's global Peacekeeping Role, both Procurement and the Budget need to be fixed first. The more missions you deploy on, the greater amount of the Defence budget is spent on Deployment costs (higher wages, shipping, and equipment). Equipment breaks in theater, and it is often cheaper to scrap the equipment in theater than ship it home to repair it. The more missions, the more equipment you need to have to deploy in the first place.

So before you can deploy on a greater number of UN mandated missions, you need to resupply and re-arm the CAF; which means more Money. You also need to work on increasing staffing levels, which inevitably, you guessed it - costs more money. The more deployment CAF personnel go on, the higher number of retirements from the CAF - so retention then becomes an issue.

These are the three things that I believe need a review in the Canadian Defence World. What do you think?


Collins, Jeffrey F. "Reviving and Revising the Canada First Defence Strategy." (November 2014)

Maclean's Magazine: "Election Issues 2015:  A Maclean's Primer on Defence Spending" (August, 2 2015) 

McDonough, David. "Procurement Challenges for the New Liberal Government." CDA Institute Vimy Paper November 2015. 

Perry, David. "The Growing Gap Between Defence End and Means." CDA Institute Vimy Paper June 2014.  

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Canada in Iraq: RCAF Strike Two ISIS Positions Near Sinjar

Posted on it's OP IMPACT page, DND announced that on 5 December 2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck two ISIS fighting positions south-southwest of Sinjar using precision guided munitions.

Canada in Iraq: RCAF Strikes ISIS N.East of Mosul

In press release on its OP IMPACT webpage, the RCAF announced that on 4 December 2015, while taking part in coalition operations in support of Iraqi security forces, two CF-18 Hornets successfully struck an ISIS fighting position northeast of Mosul using precision guided munitions.

This is the third strike by the RCAF in December. The US led-coalition has been increasing in the number of participants, and active airstrikes since the Paris Attack. The Official Opposition in Canada will push to keep the CF-18s involved in the air campaign.

A CF-18 Hornet escorts a CC-150 Polaris after being refueled during Operation IMPACT on February 4, 2015.

Photo: Canadian Forces Combat Camera, DND

Un CF-18 Hornet escorte un CC-150 Polaris après avoir été ravitaillé pendant l’opération Impact, le 4 février 2015.

Photo : Caméra de combat des Forces canadiennes, MDN

However, with the Liberal Majority, the likely hood is that Canada's 6 CF-18s will be withdrawn before the March 2016 end date of the current mandate. It is speculated that the Polaris and Aurora aircraft will remain active parts of the air campaign; providing intelligence and areal refueling capabilities.