Friday, September 4, 2015

Refugee Crisis: CAF Can Help - Deploy Them

In the wake of the recent tragic death of 3 year old Alan Kurdi, his brother and mother - there have been calls for Canada and the World do to more to help Syrian and Iraqi refugees fleeing the Middle East. Minister of Defence Jason Kenney comes out and said that Canada has no responsibility to help the migrant issue. We had no 'onus' to help.

What about the human responsibility? While I have always been a proponent of the Peacekeeping Myth - that Canada became a Peacekeeping country as a war by other means during the Cold War. Canada has always cared about those in need.

According to the UN an estimated 350,000 refugees crossed the Mediterranean fleeing the Middle East in the last year - and approximately 2,500 have died trying. Earlier this year Italy made a global outcry for help on the migrant problem, as their Navy is baring the brunt of the rescue.

Other European nations have send support. In May Great Britain deployed HMS Bulwark to help. It rescued 500 migrants off of Libya earlier this year. The Irish Naval service also deployed a ship, and it has rescued some 2,000 migrants. As of August 22, 2015, the Italian Navy has rescued more than 3,000 migrants.

Canada has had a Naval vessel deployed to the Mediterranean since 2014, and could have went to the aid of migrants. But, according to the Royal Canadian Navy, they were never given the order to intervene by the Conservative Government.

My question is why not? Why does Canada not have any military responsibility to help European nations struggling with the thousands of migrants?

It would not cost any extra money to have the RCN vessel that is already deployed to help support Eastern Europe. Not sending help when it is the vicinity, is like not stopping at the scene of a horrific car accident on a back road, when you know paramedics will not make it in time.

Why not help at the refugee centers? Hungary has thousands of migrants blockaded in their train station. While this situation needs political help to help move the trains to locations willing to accept the migrants - the camps in Turkey and Jordan are huge, and quickly outgrow their boundaries. Canada could easily deploy the DART (Disaster Assistance Response Team) to one of the regions to help. This team specializes in setting up and helping in humanitarian crisises. They are usually deployed for a month long period, but with added support - the team could be deployed for a longer period of time.

In the current election campaign, the Liberals and NDP have both said they will do more to help the humanitarian issue caused by ISIS and the Syrian Civil War - neither are willing to continue to stand up and confront ISIS. Yet, now it seems the Conservatives are unwilling to help through  humanitarianism. What we need is a government that will step up on both fronts - the CAF can help in the refugee crisis all we need is a leader who will deploy them to do so.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Construction Begins on AOPS

It has been 8 years since the Harper government announced the procurement of six Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) - construction of the first AOPS started Tuesday in Halifax.

Numerous employees celebrated the start of production.

Irving Shipbuilding released the following image for the press:


According to Irving the first AOPS will be complete in 2018, and be fully operational by 2019. The final AOPS will be complete by 2022.

Construction has actually started according to Irving - as many people cheered June 18, 2015 when a similar announcement was made - but that was only testing for test modules.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Navy Rents Barge to Deliver Fuel to Arctic

The Royal Canadian Navy is supplying its ships through any means necessary. This summer, the Navy rented the Chilean Navies AOR supply vessel for$6 million for 40 days, and are working on leasing a Spanish Navy AOR for the East Coast. The Navy has also announced it will rent the Chilean vessel several more times in the coming years.

Now the Navy has hired a company to move more than 220,000 liters of marine fuel on a barge into the Arctic, so that the Navy could fuel its warships during Northern exercises. The barge was also used to resupply the ships, according to a Navy officer.

Last month the Navy deployed two Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels (MCDVs) to the Arctic from the West Coast. This is the first time in 60 years that ships from Canada's Pacific fleet have ventured into the North. The military identified refueling the ships as a major hurdle in the exercise. The military has experimented with refueling barges before and decided that this was the best way to resupply the ships. Logistics when operating in the North is one of the most difficult tasks for any military when operating in such a remote location.

The Navy originally planned on sailing the barge from CFB Esquimalt, but that proved to me too difficult, and not very cost effective - a journey of more than 6,500 km. Instead the fuel was transported by truck to Mackenzie River, and then towed into the Arctic.

The barge was jointly used to help resupply other ships taking part in the 2015 portion of OP NANOOK.

In 2007 the Harper government announced it would construct a deep-water port and refueling station at Nanisivik on Baffin Island - which was supposed to be operational by 2012 - but it has fallen behind schedule and rising costs will limit the project. It is supposed to be operational by 2018 - and will only act as a refueling station during the summer months. A number of defence analysis inisit the Canadian Forces will need multiple refueling stations in the North if the Navy and the CF will have a larger presence in the future. It would also help Canada's sovereignty claims.

No costs associated with renting the barge have been released.