Saturday, March 7, 2015

Canadian Soldier killed in Iraq

DND reported Saturday that a Canadian Special Forces Member,  Sgt. Andrew Joseph Doiron was killed on Friday when members of the CAF Special Forces that are training Kurdish fighters were mistakenly engaged by Iraqi Kurds.

Three other members of the CAF were injured in the friendly fire incident, and are receiving medical care.

The Prime Minister, Defence Minister, and Chief of Defence Staff all provided their condolences to Doiron's family, friends, and colleagues.

Doiron's death has critics calling for the government to label the Iraq mission as a Combat mission, claiming a death would not have come on a non-combat mission. That is just not the case - Friendly fire accidents happen on many other training missions, including here in Canada, the United States and numerous other locations around the world.

Threats exist everywhere the CAF deploys - last month CAF personnel were in the town attacked by Boko Haram, and have relocated as part of further safety measures, as Canada does not want to become engaged in a firefight with Boko Haram.

Many critics are saying that if the CAF is not in a combat mission, why are we paying "danger pay?"

The answer to that questions is easy - its "Hardship" Pay - and the soldiers who guard our embassies in hard parts of the word - who are not in combat - receive similar "Hardship" pay. That includes CAF Special Forces training in Nigeria, and everywhere else around the world they are currently operating.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Canada in Iraq - Will it become Canada in Syria?

The last CF-18 bombs were dropped on February 24 2015. Prior to that, there was an 11-day lull in activity. That lull is not just for Canadian jets, but for most of the coalition.

The Iraqi Air Force is bombing multiple targets around Tikrit, but coalition forces are standing this offensive out, largely due to the fact it is being led by a controversial Iranian General.

The question now is, will Canadian CF-18s cross the boarder and bomb ISIS targets in Syria? There was a large debate in Canada about the possibility if Assad asked for Canadian help. The concern was, why would you help Assad when the Western World is calling for his dismissal because of the human rights violations in the ongoing civil war. The discussion revolved around, why we would respond to a request from Assad, but not around if we just started bombing targets in Syria.

The CAF's are ready to move into Syria should the government decide that is what they want to do. If the next step is bombing ISIS targets in Syria Capt. Paul Forget says the CAF can easily accommodate such a request.  A request Forget says will be a government decision. Forget predicts a lull in coalition activities for a while, as Iraqi forces move forward with offenses not supported by the coalition.

An announcement of an extension of Canada's Operation IMPACT is expected within the next few days, but everyone will be looking to see if the mission perimeters will be expanded and if more Special Forces trainers will be deployed.

HMCS Fredericton tailed by Russian Warships

HMCS Fredericton arrived in the Black Sea earlier this week to participate in NATO exercises with Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2). The voyage over went smoothly, but once it arrived things got interesting.

As soon as Fredericton joined with several other allied Nation vessels, two Russian Warships appeared within three nautical miles of the battle group.

The two Russian Warships followed the group for sometime until the SNMG2 group broke off into two separate formations, then the Russian ships went on their way.

DND has stated the the current exercises in the Black Sea are a response to Russian aggression towards the Ukraine.

It seems Russia is playing along nicely, and is pushing all the right buttons to put everyone on edge in the West.

This is the second provocation, last summer HMCS Toronto was 'buzzed' by a Russian warplane during its deployment to the Black Sea.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

3rd RCR Off To Poland

MI-8 HIP transport helicopter flies over a line of soldiers from 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, Mike company while taking part in a multi-national fire power demonstration with the Polish 6th Airborne Brigade and American 173rd Airborne Brigade during Operation REASSURANCE on July 17, 2014 in Eastern Europe. Photo: Cpl Mark Schombs, 4 Cdn Division, Petawawa PA2014-0144-15
A MI-8 helicopter flies over CAF members and the 6th Polish Airborne and
the 173rd American Airborne in joint training in July 2014.
Photo: CF Combat Camera, Cpl Mark Schombs. 

Some 125 members of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment left Petawawa on Monday for Poland.

The soldiers are headed to Poland as part of Operation REASSURANCE, where they will spend the next three months on a training mission with other NATO nations, including the Polish military. The training will focus on inter-operations between forces.

This is the second deployment to Eastern Europe under Op. REASSURANCE. Members from Petawawa deployed last year as well, under the NATO training plan.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

3 of 4 Royal Canadian Navy's Victoria Class Subs Finally fully 'Operation'

HMCS Windsor returns to port in Halifax (Dec 2006) Photo: CF Combat Camera
Cpl. Rod Doucet. 

The Royal Canadian Navy purchased four Victoria-class submarines that where deemed surplus by the British Royal Navy in 1998 - and almost immediately there were problems with them.

Canada purchased the four submarines for nearly $900 million in 1998, and has since foot the large bill to bring the Subs to operational standards, as well as general repairs following a fire on board one of them submarines.

Now three of the four are now operational and have been cleared to begin patrolling the waters around Canada. HMCS Corner Brook is still in dry dock in British Columbia and the military has no timeline of when it will be ready for service. It is entering its deep maintenance phase of its repairs.

Two of the submarines, HMCS Victoria and HMCS Chicoutimi will patrol the waters of the Pacific coast in and around British Columbia, while HMCS Windsor will operate out of Halifax.

While the operational status of three of the four submarines is great news for the RCN, the money and investment is being touted as major waste - as the submarines likely only have a decade of service left in their lifespan. There is no current plan to build or purchase new submarines in the current government Ship building plan that plans to have a new Navy built within the next two decades.

CAF Says "NO" to another Libyan Intervention

As Canada and the coalition continues to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria, ISIS is starting to take a hold of parts of Libya.

Egypt recently deployed air strikes against ISIS positions in Libya as retaliation against the murder of 21 Coptic Christians. With the Libyan Civil War wagging, and continually getting worse, ISIS is advancing through the country. Egypt has approached the United Nations for an international coalition against ISIS in Libya. Italy has seconded the call, for fears that refugees running from the civil war will include ISIS members looking to get into Europe.

Canada, and the CAF will not be part of any military coalition to Libya it seems. The 2011 ousting of Gadhafi was Canada's effort to help Libya, but that military intervention only seems to have propelled the country deeper into a Tribal war, which is turning into a full blow civil war.

Canada is not alone in standing this possible military coalition out - The United States, France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom have all called for a diplomatic solution to the problem, and not a military intervention.

The 2011 ousting of Gadhafi was a major political win for NATO and Canada, who touted its role in the victory, which saw CF-18s in combat for the first time since the Gulf War (1990-1991). Perhaps the political situation that Libya has fallen into since the previous military intervention is causing some doubts about limited military (aerial) interventions.

Despite France's call for a diplomatic solution, France has recently announced several large military sales to Egypt, including its Rafael fighter jet - perhaps this is France's way of helping fight ISIS in Egypt, indirectly.

Original Article:
Ottawa Citizen/National Post

Canada in Iraq - CF18's Bomb 3 Positions near Mosul

After a quiet 11 days for the CAF in Kuwait, CF-18s bombed three ISIS fighting positions near Mosul on February 24, 2015.

Mosul is expected to be the scene of a major battle between 25,000 Iraqi and Kurdish forces and ISIS who currently controls the town. Iraqi forces are upset with the Pentagon, as they announced the plan to retake Mosul before Iraqi forces felt it was necessary.

The CAF and RCAF say they are prepared to concentrate their efforts around Mosul, should the coalition ask for more efforts around the city.