Friday, April 29, 2016

DND paralyzed as politicians, bureaucrats pass the buck: retired admiral

Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- A retired admiral is telling the Trudeau government's defence review that National Defence is often paralyzed by timid bureaucrats and politicians who pass the buck on decisions.

Retired vice-admiral Bruce Donaldson, who until a few years ago was second-in-command of the military, says in a written brief that the system is set up to avoid risk and accountability.

"I suggest that there is a culture of risk intolerance that has infected the federal level -- financial in the case of public servants, and political in the case of ministers -- that has led government to prefer additional process, "third-party validation" of responsible officials' work, and serial delay to achieving results," Donaldson wrote.

He is referring to a trend that has developed since the political fiasco surrounding the F-35 stealth fighter purchase, which has seen government increasingly turn to outside experts and panels to assess and rubber-stamp its plans.

"Indeed, it appears that there is now a view that avoiding spending on intended outcomes is somehow a desirable 'result' for Canadians."

Instead, Donaldson says the net result is costly delays and failure to deliver necessary equipment and support.

Donaldson, who retired in 2013, also says the public has little understanding of federal finances, and doesn't realize that less money is spent on defence than in servicing the country's debt.

"Canadians lack any context for understanding the management of public funds at the federal level, and have been encouraged to view the expenditure of hundreds of millions -- or billions -- of dollars on military capability as inherently wasteful and unreasonable and has been encouraged to see spending on the military as wasteful."

He suggests government has done a poor job of educating citizens on the necessary cost of doing business as a country.

The Liberals held the first in a series of six public consultations this week in Vancouver as Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan attempts to craft an updated vision for the military.

It is the first time in over 20 years that citizens have been asked what role they believe the Canadian Armed Forces should be playing in the world and with what equipment.

The panel also heard from the country's leading organization representing defence industry contractors, which encouraged the Liberals to talk about more than just capabilities and hardware lists.

Christyn Cianfarani, head of the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries, says the defence review should commit the federal government to crafting a vision of how the defence industry can address the country's unique security and economic challenges.

Canada, unlike other countries, has not sat down and determined which industries are key national security assets. The notable exception is the shipbuilding industry, where the Harper government made a conscious decision to build both warships and coast guard vessels in the country, rather than off-shore.

Other nations, such as Britain, France, Japan and even Australia, have a more sophisticated relationship with their industries and weapons-makers and have decided to nurture and support key industrial sectors.

Cianfarani says she is not advocating anything as radical or expansive as the national shipbuilding strategy, which was also intended to stave off the collapse of the sector.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, she said more focus and organization could be put towards encouraging development in cyber-technology, Arctic mapping and communication, even unmanned aerial vehicles.

That could open up the Liberals to charges of picking winners and losers in the corporate world.

"I would rather have you pick a winner, than pick nothing and end up with losers," she said.

"In the absence of making a decision, inevitably the decision will be made for you. If we do not signal to foreign nations and foreign suppliers that there are things in Canada -- things we are willing to invest in -- then inevitably business will decide for you. Other nations will decide for you what you are left with."

Canadian Forces ill-prepared to put the blue helmets back on: report

Murray Brewster — Canadian PressPosted onThe Trudeau government has promised to get Canada back into the peacekeeping business, but a new report from two independent think tanks says the military is ill-prepared for the task.

The study by the Rideau Institute and the Centre for Policy Alternatives was penned by Walter Dorn, a professor at the Canadian Forces Staff College and one of Canada’s leading experts in peacekeeping.

For the last decade, he says, the army has specialized in counter-insurgency warfare because of the combat mission in Kandahar and other skill sets — once second nature to Canadian training — were relegated to the back burner.
Figure 2 ~ Canadian military and police contributions to UN peacekeeping
Number of CAF Members and Police Officers deployed on UN Missions (1991-2011)
Dorn says the complexities of modern peace operations require in-depth training and education, on subjects including the procedures, capabilities and limitations of the United Nations.

He says Canada is currently far behind other nations in its readiness to support the United Nations and train for modern peacekeeping.

“Special skills, separate from those learned in Afghanistan and warfare training, would need to be (re)learned, including skills in negotiation, conflict management and resolution, as well as an understanding of UN procedures and past peacekeeping missions,” said the report.

“Particularly important is learning effective co-operation with the non-military components of modern peacekeeping operations, including police, civil affairs personnel and humanitarians, as well as UN agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the local actors engaged in building a viable peace.”

The focus of training at both the Canadian Forces Command College in Toronto and the army staff college in Kingston, Ont., is on “taking part in ‘alliance’ or NATO-style operations,” Dorn concluded.

“At the higher (national security) level, the case studies and exercises on peacekeeping were dropped.”

Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan have said rather than sending a lot of soldiers, Canada can contribute equipment and expertise, such as commanders and headquarters contingents. But Dorn says the military regime provides less than a quarter of the peacekeeping instruction it did a decade ago.

The report recommends the reinstatement and updating of the many training programs and exercises that have been cut, and introducing new instruction that reflects the increasing complexity of modern peace operations.

“Canadian soldiers have served as superb peacekeepers in the past and can do so again, with some preparation,” the report says.
Cyprus 1965: A Canadian observation post along the "Green Line" separating Greek and Turkish forces. Some 25,000 Canadian soldiers served with UNFICYP
Following the Somalia scandal of the mid-1990s in which a teenager was tortured and killed at the hands of Canadian soldiers, National Defence recognized the need for specialized training. It was implemented with success between 1995 and 2005, when the army went into Kandahar.

Dorn says while the number of personnel deployed in the field by the United Nations is now at an all-time high of more than 125,000, the number of Canadian soldiers involved in those operations has dwindled to an all-time low of 29 as of Dec. 31, 2015.

Canada's Military mission in Iraq: A close-up look at the fight against ISIS

Bruce Campion-Smith, Ottawa Bureau Chief for The Toronto Star
Originally Published to CTV News Online 

ERBIL, Iraq -- Abandoned villages, a shattered bridge, hidden bombs and a steady stream of fighters headed to the frontline.

That’s the scene that greeted Canada’s top general as he paid a dramatic visit to northern Iraq Thursday to the area where Canadian special operations forces soldiers are aiding Peshmerga fighters.

Gen. Jonathan Vance, chief of defence staff, said the Islamic State is doomed to defeat and predicted that Canadian forces and their Peshmerga allies will play a key role in the coming battle for Mosul, the Iraqi city that remains a key extremist stronghold.

ISIS a dangerous but 'defeatable' enemy: Canada's top soldier
Lisa LaFlamme in northern Iraq: The Survivor's Camp

“We are on key terrain with a key partner as what is being billed as the final coup de grace of ISIL in Iraq occurs on Mosul,” Vance said.

 Lisa LaFlamme speaks to Canada's top soldier in I
CDS General Vance in Erbil, Iraq April 2016.

CTV News and The Toronto Star were on hand as Vance came to take stock of Canada’s military mission, to “get eyes on as we contemplate next steps in the campaign.”

For more than a year, a small group of Canadian special operations forces soldiers have been working here, teaching Peshmerga troops skills that range from the basics -- map reading and shooting -- to calling in airstrikes.

That mission will get bigger in the coming months with the Liberal decision to end airstrikes and instead triple the number of troops on the ground to act as advisors.

The United States has also committed Apache attack helicopters, more cash and more troops as Western nations lay the groundwork for a final push to defeat ISIS, which has wreaked havoc across Iraq and Syria since 2014.

With the extra personnel, Canada will stretch its reach in this area west of Erbil, assisting Peshmerga along a line more than 100 kilometres long.

All of it is key terrain, some within sight of Mosul.

Vance predicts the battle for the city will unfold over the coming year, a battle delayed as Iraqi forces first seek to oust Islamic extremists from other sites across the country.

“There’s no question that Iraq and the coalition, they all want to get on with it but there’s other things that have to get done,” said Vance, who was making his first visit to Iraq since taking over as chief of defence staff in 2015.

“For a battle that must be started correctly and finished correctly, you don’t want to necessarily rush it,” Vance said.

But when that battle comes, Iraqi forces will squeeze Mosul from the south and it will be up to the Peshmerga soldiers, mentored by Canadian special operations forces troops, to protect the northern flank -- and block the ISIS’s path of escape.

“At some point, the coalition and Iraqi security forces will deal with Mosul and our forces will be on vital ground, key to the containment of ISIL,” Vance said.

Vance stressed that the Peshmerga -- not Canadians -- will be on the frontline to hold Islamic State fighters in place. “We are responsible to train and support them. They’re responsible to hold,” Vance said.

Canadian forces and their Peshmerga allies are already eroding the Islamic State’s capabilities in Mosul, thanks to their proximity to the city which enables intelligence collection and targeting, said Col. Andrew Milburn of the U.S. Marines, who commands coalition special operations forces.

“It’s very careful targeting. Your guys are not causing civilian casualties here. I can affirm that,” Milburn told the Star in an interview earlier this week.

“That’s a hard claim to make but these guys are doing this very well. They’re deliberately going after what we call key nodes in ISIS infrastructure, leadership, (command and control) nodes,” he said.

It was Vance’s first visit to Iraq since taking over as top general last summer and he saw firsthand the devastation caused by Daesh and the ongoing disruption caused by the conflict.

Vance visited a key stretch of the highway linking Erbil and Mosul where it crosses the Khazir River.

In 2014, this territory was all held by ISIS. With Erbil at risk, Peshmerga forces counterattacked, pushing ISIS fighters back. In their retreat, the militants blew up the bridge to stall the Peshmerga counterattack.

Today, two spans of the bridge are nothing more than smashed concrete and twisted metal, resting in the river.

An improvised single-lane, steel girder bridge has been erected in its place. On Thursday afternoon, a steady of cars passed by carrying Peshmerga fighters headed to and from the front, just a short distance to the west. Lacking military transport, they are forced to rely on their personal vehicles to move about.

Three villages, all within eyesight, have been largely abandoned and the buildings and terrain remain littered with explosive devices.

“Anything in the bushes, avoid it. The last thing I want is for you guys is to step on something that goes boom,” a Canadian special operations sergeant cautioned journalists as they awaited Vance’s arrival.

Indeed, the general’s visit -- done under a tight cordon of security provided by Canadian special operations forces troops -- was not without risk. ISIS militants are just a few kilometres away and their rockets and mortars land on the riverside villages every day, the sergeant said.

Vance cast an expert eye on the demolished bridge and said it highlights the capabilities of ISIS. “That’s a professional military act to drop that bridge,” he said.

But while still dangerous, Vance painted a picture of ISIS as a faltering force, starved of financing, losing terrain and forced to put inexperienced personnel into battle as “cannon fodder.”

“There’s no doubt in my mind -- and I don’t want to overplay this -- they will lose militarily in Iraq. It’s inevitable,” Vance said.

“But between now and the time they lose militarily they still have the power to generate big events that can cause a lot of problems,” he said.

That’s why local commanders like Maj.-Gen. Aziz Waisi, commander of the Zeravini forces, express gratitude for the work of Canadian soldiers -- and appeal for more.

“The Canadian people should be proud of their forces on the ground. They’re doing excellent work with us,” said Waisi, who accompanied Vance.

But like others here, he pressed home their need for better weapons to replace decades-old military gear, equipment like vehicles, anti-tank weapons, night-vision goggles, robots to help defuse improvised explosive devices and drones.

“We are hoping that Canada can assist us more,” Waisi said.

As part of its retooled mission, Canada has committed to providing arms for a new Zeravini commando force. “As we form it and train it, they’ll have the weapons necessary to do the job,” Vance said.

But he quickly adds, “we are not doing a wholesale re-equipping of the Peshmerga.”

Canadian commanders have conceded that more troops on the ground means more risk.

But Vance is hoping Canadians get behind the expanded mission.

“Just because it’s hard and dangerous doesn’t mean it’s bad,” Vance said.

“We do danger. That’s what a military force is for. Canada’s military goes to dangerous places all the time. It’s always for a good cause. I’d like very much for Canadians to put their shoulder behind what we’re doing here,” Vance said.

“Despite the dangers, it is for a good cause,” he said.

Fortress Canada: How much of a military do we really need?

Written by: David McDonough and Tony Battista, CDA Institute 

As the Trudeau government pursues its review of Canada’s defence policy, an interesting debate is emerging in defence policy circles — between those who want to pull back from the world and those who think that would be a big mistake.

Sapper Mathieu Riva Maille (front) and Sapper Tommy Cabana (rear) fire a round from an 84mm Carl Gustaf anti-tank recoilless rifle during Exercise RAFALE BLANCHE in Valcartier, Quebec February 4, 2016.
Some have pointed to the safety and security offered by Canada’s geo-strategic location in North America as arguing for a homeland-focused defence policy. Thomas Juneau took up that thread last week, suggesting that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) should learn to “do less with less.”

Others have warned against using Canada’s relative security to justify a more modest military. By accepting such a “twisted logic,” as George Petrolekas calls it, we’d ignore not only the military requirements of non-discretionary missions at home and in North America, but also the hard power assets needed to pursue international peace and security.

Both sides make valid points. They also tend to overstate their positions.

It’s true that Canadians enjoy an island of safety in today’s global security environment, insulated from what’s happening in Ukraine, Syria and the South China Sea. This is partly a function of our geographically isolated position in North America; it’s also because we enjoy such a friendly relationship with our only close neighbour, the United States.

Indeed, observers have long been aware of Canada’s “involuntary security guarantee” from the superpower to the south. This guarantee may not be quite so ironclad today as it once was; ballistic missile defence is a good example of a gap in it. But in broad terms, America’s commitment to our defence does represent an important feature of the continental relationship.

Even during the darkest days of the Cold War, the only direct Soviet threat Canada faced was from strategic nuclear bomber and ballistic missile forces. And aside from some early continental efforts to establish a perimeter air defence network, we largely accepted that point of vulnerability — so long as America’s nuclear retaliatory capabilities remained intact.

Yet few would argue today that Canada should have used its relative security in the Cold War to justify either a reduction in its military capabilities or a sole focus on air defence. Instead, Canada found itself supporting the NATO “shield” with air and ground force deployments. We had two good reasons for doing that.

First, Canada’s approach to defence is often determined by our national interests abroad — from continental relations with the United States to trans-Atlantic ties with Europe. The fact that Canada enjoys safety from threats abroad could provide a foundation for Canadian defence policy, maybe even one that ultimately constrains its available strategic options. But it doesn’t have to.

Second, Canada recognizes that certain security developments abroad — while not having an immediate impact on Canadian and North American defence — might pose a more direct threat in the future. Which is why we’ve long preferred a “forward defence” approach in the pursuit of international peace and security.

Rather than resigning ourselves to doing less with less — or having unrealistic expectations about doing more with more — it would be prudent to instead ask if we might be more efficient with what we have.

These are the considerations that have shaped Canada’s defence policy since the Cold War, preventing a return to the isolationist impulses of the interwar period. Without them, it would have been all too easy for us to settle for a constabulary-type force backed by some air defence specialization.

So simply pointing to the conditions of Canada’s geo-strategic position — an observation that dates back at least to Raoul Dandurand’s 1924 claim that “we live in a fireproof house, far from inflammable material” — doesn’t really explain past Canadian defence policy. And using our isolation to chart our future security course would be strategically short-sighted; defence policy is as much about shaping military capabilities decades into the future as it is about deploying the resources we have now.

But it’s also a bad idea to stretch this argument too far. Basic conditions need to be met in the defence of Canada — and it would be difficult to accept “doing less with less” in such non-discretionary missions.

But no one is really arguing that Canada should settle for a reduced CAF unable to fulfil its domestic defence role. The real question is whether such domestic missions may have different — and less demanding — capability requirements than expeditionary operations. Naval ships that patrol coastal and Arctic waters, or aircraft that intercept foreign intruders, may not require the expensive higher-end capabilities needed for international missions.

And it’s not so easy to determine clearly where the needs of North American defence begin and end. There may be significant consequences to policy issues in which Canada has a serious interest — such as trade — if we’re seen by the Americans as a “freeloader”.

Our problem is that the perception is out there already: Canada has long taken advantage of the United States’ “involuntary security guarantees” to take a free ride on defence spending. We tended to allow the United States to absorb most of the cost of our air defence during the Cold War, we were initially reluctant to deploy forces to Europe (and sought to reduce that commitment in a hurry), and we were quick to embrace the so-called “peace dividend” of the post-Cold War period; in fact, it can be argued we sought that dividend in the early 1970s before partly reversing course.

As scholars like Joel Sokolsky have noted, Canada’s first question in military matters tends to be, “How much is just enough?” And we’ve never really faced serious consequences for our free-riding, making it a very hard habit to break.

So rather than resigning ourselves to doing less with less — or having unrealistic expectations about doing more with more — it would be prudent to instead ask if we might be more efficient with what we have. One area that should be explored is the size of our armed forces, and how much we spend on personnel compared to capital.

In a time of fiscal restraint, a fixation on military size can come at the expense of recapitalization requirements and fleet-replacement plans, to the detriment of the CAF. One need only look at regular force size versus spending levels between our key allies: Canada, with its relatively large force size and small defence budget, is an outlier.

One possible solution, of course, is to increase our defence spending. Given our relatively safe location, however, any arguments for a budget boost are likely to fall on deaf ears. The alternative is to right-size our forces to better ensure that the CAF remain multi-purpose and combat-capable — even if certain elements of the CAF (navy, air force, special forces) might benefit disproportionately from such a recalibration.

In that sense, having a smaller military doesn’t automatically mean global irrelevance. Instead, it could actually help safeguard Canada’s ability to continue taking both discretionary and non-discretionary military missions, at home and abroad. And making our military more efficient by recalibrating the force structure — even if that means a smaller regular force — would make the CAF more sustainable.

If Canada is really “back”, it has to be back with substance — and that includes our ability to meet our security and defence commitments in a credible way.

Author: David McDonough and Tony Battista

Dr. David McDonough is research manager and senior editor at the Conference of Defence Associations Institute (CDA Institute), and a Research Fellow at the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University. Tony Battista is the chief executive officer of the CDA and CDA Institute. Views expressed here are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of the CDA Institute. View all posts by David McDonough and Tony Battista

CFB Borden to host mass casualty exercise


Civilian and military first responders from Simcoe County will converge on Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden on Sunday, May 1, 2016, to participate in a joint mass casualty exercise as part of Exercise STOP, DROP AND ROLL, a simulated response to an air show accident.

Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel from various CFB Borden units will join over 30 volunteer medical first responders from St. John Ambulance Barrie Simcoe Muskoka, County of Simcoe Paramedic Services, and Emergency Management Ontario staff to work through a simulated mass casualty scenario.

“CFB Borden personnel are thankful to have the opportunity to work alongside key emergency services stakeholders in such a critical exercise," said Brigadier-General Carl Doyon, Commander CFB Borden/Military Personnel Generation Training Group. "This is a perfect opportunity to share common practices and to ‘train as we fight’ through the rehearsal of our emergency practices and procedures, in advance of this year’s Canadian Armed Forces Day and Air Show.”

Elements of the exercise include triage (determining the severity of injuries and required treatment), extraction (removing casualties from unsafe areas), treatment (providing basic and advanced first aid to save a life, prevent further injury, and provide comfort until emergency services arrive), and transportation (preparing a patient to be transported by emergency services).

The goal of the exercise is for local emergency services personnel and the CAF to practice working in partnership to provide basic and advanced first aid in the aftermath of a large-scale natural disaster or accident.

“St. John Ambulance is grateful to CFB Borden and its first responders for this fantastic opportunity to practice our medical skills in a mock disaster scenario," said Bill Sergeant, Chairman of the Board, St. John Ambulance Barrie Simcoe Muskoka Branch.
"An exercise of this magnitude allows everyone participating to hone skills that will benefit the greater Simcoe County, now and in the future.”

This year, CFB Borden is celebrating its centennial. As part of the celebrations, the base will hold the Canadian Armed Forces Day and Air Show on June 11 and 12, 2016. This exercise will be conducted to enhance partnerships and further the skills of the first responder agencies that will be working during the air show.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Trump Presidency could Pressure Canada on Defence Spending

By: John Paul Tasker, CBC News 
NATO adopted a 2% of GDP Defence Spending Policy -
Something Canada is currently not abiding by

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says meeting NATO spending targets is under consideration; as part of Defence Review.

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump doesn't hesitate to shoot from the hip on a host of public policy issues, but his comments Wednesday about the efficacy of NATO have reverberated throughout defence circles and could have consequences for Canada.

At the core of his criticism of the multilateral alliance is that the United States foots the bill for far too much of the alliance's defence capacity, and other member nations — including Canada — are "freeloaders" for failing to contribute their fair share of domestic military spending.

"It's obsolete and too many people are getting a free ride," Trump said Tuesday night after racking up lopsided victories in five presidential primaries.

"Frankly, they have to put up more money. We are paying disproportionately. It's too much. It's a different world than it was when we originally conceived of the idea."

He has also argued that NATO does not adequately address the pressing problems of our time, notably Islamic terrorism, but is instead focused on an older adversary, Russia, and its continental encroachment.

Canada's patched-up military: Too few dollars, too many missions
Harjit Sajjan names blue-ribbon panel to review Canada's defence policy
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says he will not reduce the size of the military

He doubled down Wednesday, during one of his first scripted policy speeches in Washington, saying that if NATO allies don't meet the spending targets they should get out of the alliance and defend themselves against security threats without relying on American firepower.

"The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defence, and if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves. We have no choice," he said.

Donald Trump slams military 'free riders' in NATO0:48
Defence review to consider spending boost

Canada's Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Wednesday that meeting NATO's spending target of two per cent of GDP — something that Canada agreed to in 2006 — is still under consideration.

"This is a discussion we're going to have as part of the defence review," Sajjan said, adding that money alone does not accurately measure Canada's military contributions. "The defence review is also going to allow us to have that conversation about what direction we need to go. We are committed to working with our multilateral organizations, and NATO is a part of that."

Canada signed on to meeting that target but that promise looks disingenuous in retrospect. Canada's spending comes in at just one per cent of GDP, or roughly $20 billion a year, a figure that many argue is simply too low to sustain a fine fighting force. Indeed, only five other countries of the 28 in NATO spend less.

In the short term, Canada is inching no closer to meeting its goal. The 2016 budget deferred some $3.7 billion in spending for capital projects by five years. The Harper government, too, let billions in planned military spending lapse.

The military spending shortfall from non-U.S. NATO allies has left some member countries wholly dependent on the Americans for key military functions, something that could be mitigated by more robust national military budgets.

"There is an over-reliance by the alliance as a whole on the United States for the provision of essential capabilities, including for instance, in regard to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; air-to-air refueling; ballistic missile defense; and airborne electronic warfare," NATO officials wrote in a recent policy paper on national funding.
Trump, Obama on the same page

It's not just the decidedly non-interventionist Trump — a man who has had trouble naming any of his foreign policy advisers — who has taken aim at countries that are failing to meet the spending target. In fact, he is on the same page with an unlikely ally: the current president.

"Free riders aggravate me," Obama said in a recent, in-depth interview with The Atlantic magazine.

As recently as last year, the president warned the United Kingdom that it would no longer be able to claim a "special relationship" with the U.S. if it failed to spend at least two per cent of its GDP on defence.

"You have to pay your fair share," Obama told British Prime Minister David Cameron. In last year's budget, Britain subsequently met the target despite an emphasis on austerity in other areas of program spending.

Trump is not the first person to raise the "free rider" statement. U.S. President Barack Obama has said he doesn't like military 'free riders,' something that could include Canada, which lags behind the NATO goal of spending two per cent of GDP on defence.

It's not known if Obama has raised Canada's comparatively low levels of military spending with Prime Minister Trudeau, but the country's defence budget has not gone unnoticed by others in the capital of our closest partner, including liberal-minded Democrats in Congress.

"The prime minister has committed to up the ante for Canada's presence in the world," senior U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar told CBC Radio's The House during a recent visit to Washington, and that should include boosted military spending.

"I know you have your own economic issues with oil prices down and other things ... but I do think that it would be good if Canada would invest a bit more — and I love that two per cent number," the senator said, identifying it as one of the few sticking points between the two countries.
John Paul (J.P.) Tasker is an associate producer and web writer in the CBC's Parliamentary bureau in Ottawa. Prior to joining the web desk, he was a producer on CBC News Network's Power & Politics. He can be reached at
Follow J.P. on Twitter

LAV Export Deal Challenged in Court

Published by Defense News, David Pugliese 

VICTORIA, British Columbia — A lawsuit that could potentially derail the largest weapons export deal in Canadian history will be heard in court as early as next month.

Daniel Turp, a law professor and former member of parliament, has filed the legal challenge in the Federal Court of Canada to prevent the export of CAN $14.8 billion (US $11 billion) of light armored vehicles by Canada to Saudi Arabia.

A Canadian LAV-III (Photo: Canadian Army)
Turp argues that the sale of the vehicles, to be built by General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada of London, Ontario, violates Canadian law which prevents the export of military goods to a nation that abuses human rights or is engaged in an active conflict.

Canadian PM: Human Rights Issues Won't Derail LAV Sale to Saudis

In his submission to the Federal Court, Turp noted that light armored vehicles previously built by General Dynamics Canada are being used by Saudi forces in fighting in Yemen. He has also wrote that Saudi Arabia “consistently, severely and systematically violates its citizens’ human rights.”

He has asked the Federal Court to cancel the export permits issued for the vehicles.

Doug Wilson-Hodge

, manager of corporate affairs for 
General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, declined to comment on Turp’s legal action. Production of the vehicles has not yet begun.

Canada’s Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has refused to cancel the contract, which is financially guaranteed by the government. “Fundamentally, this issue is a matter of principle,” Trudeau told journalists. “The principle at play here is that Canada’s word needs to mean something in the international community. It is important that people know when they sign a deal with Canada, when they sign a commercial agreement, a change in government isn’t going to lead to that contract being ripped up.”

The Saudi deal was announced in February 2015 by Canada’s previous Conservative Party government.

The Canadian government has filed its rebuttal with the Federal Court; it acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights record but pointed out that the country is supportive of international efforts to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as well as “countering instability in Yemen.”

"The acquisition of state-of-the-art armoured vehicles will assist Saudi Arabia in these goals, which are consistent with Canada's defence interests in the Middle East," the Canadian government argued in its response.

The case will be heard by the court in Montreal in late May or early June.

The contract has largely been shrouded in secrecy with the Saudis not even acknowledging they are purchasing the Canadian-built light armoured vehicles. Numbers of vehicles to be purchased has not been released. But analysts say Turp’s legal action may force Canada to reveal some of those details in court.

Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper also acknowledged human rights violations in Saudi Arabia but said that any of Canada’s allies would have signed a similar defense export deal with that country.

General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada has sold more than 1,400 LAVs to the Saudis over the last 20 years. The vehicles have been equipped with a variety of weapon systems, ranging from 25mm cannons to 90mm guns.

Human rights observers point out that some of those vehicles were sent in 2011 to help Bahrain’s rulers suppress a pro-democracy uprising.


Ivison: Trudeau Should Not Rule out F-35

While I may disagree with Ivision's statement that purchasing a European jet would hinder Canada's commitment to NORAD, here is his artictle from today's National Post about why Canada should still consider the F-35; my vote still rests with the Dassault Rafale.

By: John Ivision, National Post 

OTTAWA — One of the first lessons a president learns is that every word he says weighs a ton, Calvin Coolidge once said.

The same is true of Canadian prime ministers, which is perhaps why you haven’t heard Justin Trudeau talk recently about blocking Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet from the competition to replace the venerable CF-18s.

During the election, he vowed a Liberal government would not buy the F-35 stealth fighter, freeing up “tens of billions of dollars” to spend on the navy.

Opposition leaders don’t have access to the classified information available to prime ministers and that may explain why, once in power, his defence minister was markedly less enthusiastic about ruling out the F-35 when he launched his defence review earlier this month. Harjit Sajjan said the process will be open and transparent, suggesting the new statement of requirement that will outline the parameters of the tender process will not be written to exclude the stealth fighter.

Time running out to upgrade Canada’s aging CF-18 jets
John Ivison: Ottawa’s fighter jet dilemma might be exactly what ailing Bombardier needs

Privately, Liberal sources suggest the prime minister has spoken and the defence department will take the hint unless told otherwise. Sajjan launched the first public roundtable of the defence review in Vancouver Wednesday but the suspicion among many observers is that the government has already decided it just needs a lovely little runaround jet, to surveil our northern fringes, rather than a top-of-the-range air-to-ground combat aircraft that could support an expeditionary force.

Charlie Bouchard, the retired air force general and former commander of the NATO mission in Libya, is now Lockheed’s man in Canada.

Not surprisingly, he makes a passionate case about why the F-35 should be given a fair shake in any beauty parade of new jets.

The F-35 has been selected in every instance where it was an option, with 10 other countries already having placed firm orders; more than 650 aircraft will be flying before the first Canadian F-35 could arrive; it would be inter-operable with NATO allies; every F-35 produced to date has Canadian components, produced by 110 companies; and the price is projected to fall to less than $85 million per plane by the time Canada receives its first aircraft.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian PressPrime Minister Justin Trudeau, centre, arrives with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, left, and Foreign Affairs Minister St├ęphane Dion, for a cabinet retreat in Kananaskis, Alta., on April 25.
“This airplane will still be flying in 2060,” he said. “It’s the best for Canada, the best for the Royal Canadian Air Force and the best for Canadian industry.”

The Conservatives originally chose the F-35 as the replacement for the CF-18 but the ham-fisted way it was chosen drew the opprobrium of the opposition parties and the auditor general.

There were sound reasons to criticize the process under the Tories, a comedy of errors where the uniforms in the Department of National Defence decided they wanted the shiniest toy in the store and skewed the process to ensure it won the competition.

It would be inglorious if defence and security strategy was devised on the hustings

But it would be equally inglorious if defence and security strategy was devised on the hustings because the F-35 had become an F-word for voters.

Trudeau has promised evidence-based policy; indeed, in his mandate letter to Sajjan, he said: “Canadians need to have faith in the government’s honesty and willingness to listen.”

It’s by no means clear that Canadians should share Bouchard’s passion and optimism for the F-35. The Senate Armed Defence Committee in Washington heard this week that the F-35B cannot land in heavy winds.

J. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational tests, said that the F-35 program had 1,165 documented deficiencies, 151 of which were Category 1 — defined as deficiencies that could cause death or severe injury. Who’d be a fighter jet test pilot?
Postmedia NewsCanadian Forces members look at the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter, F-35 Lighting II in a hanger in Ottawa in 2010.
Data from February suggests that only 30 per cent of the F-35 fleet is fully mission-capable. Committee chair Sen. John McCain said the F-35 program has “been a scandal and the cost overruns have been disgraceful.”

But Canada is three years away from receiving any new planes. The reliability of the jet is likely to improve — the program manager told the committee they are making “solid progress” — and the cost is predicted to come down (it has fallen 57 per cent since 2010).
Canada will choose an American-built plane — no one inside the Twin Towers of the Department of National Defence is under any illusion that the European options are feasible, given the realpolitik of Canada’s position in NORAD and NATO.

That leaves Boeing’s Super Hornet, or perhaps Lockheed’s F-16. Neither are likely to be exempt the 10- to 15-per-cent foreign military sales surcharge levied by the U.S. government. Lockheed claims the F-35’s exemption makes the price per plane comparable to less capable fourth-generation fighters.

Partner countries like Australia will demand this country forfeit its right to high-tech jobs

It’s also clear that if Canada pulls out of the F-35 program, partner countries like Australia will demand this country forfeit its right to high-tech jobs, such as the 400 people employed by Magellan Aerospace in Winnipeg making wing parts for every F-35 that comes off the production line.

One of the more interesting characteristics of this new prime minister is his flexibility and lack of fear in making bold policy shifts, if the circumstances warrant.

In this case, Trudeau should not rule out the F-35 just because he once said he would.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


By: Claire Theobald, Edmonton Journal 

CFB Wainwright — The scenario is this: a Canadian military convoy carrying ammunition, fuel and food to combat units grinds to a halt after one of the trucks strikes a buried improvised explosive device.

Deep in enemy territory, force protection teams travelling in Light Armoured Vehicles take up defensive positions around the convoy, scanning the brush for combatants while others inspect the damage to the vehicle, ever watchful for secondary traps.

Suddenly, a soldier calls “Dismount from the hill” as an enemy target springs from cover.

It’s an ambush.

Canadian troops open fire, a light machine gunner pinning enemy targets under automatic gunfire while riflemen take aim, eliminating those they can and forcing others back from the convoy.

About 4,000 soldiers from across Western Canada are taking part in this operation, dubbed Promethean Ram, a month-long live-fire exercise at CFB Wainwright that is testing the readiness of Canadian troops for combat.

“We train hard to fight easy,” says Brig.-Gen. Trevor Cadieu, commander of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1CMBG). “There is no easy fight overseas, but it is absolutely imperative that we conduct this sort of training so we can condition our soldiers to what they might face abroad.”
Soldiers of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG) take part in Exercise Promethean Ram, a live-fire training exercise held at CFB Wainwright, on April 21, 2016. GREG SOUTHAM
The complex, gruelling and dangerous training is a necessary part of the group’s “road to high readiness,” proving the troops are prepared to be deployed wherever the Canadian government sees fit.

“We have to show that we are competent, we are prepared and we are effective,” says Maj. Matthew Johns, with 1 CMGB out of CFB Edmonton.

After training day and night for a month, these soldiers will return to CFB Wainwright for combat training exercise Maple Resolve on May 18.
Soldiers of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG) take part in Exercise Promethean Ram, a live-fire training exercise held at CFB Wainwright, on April 21, 2016. GREG SOUTHAM
The combat groups will then be considered ready for deployment over the next year.

Promethean Ram’s “Level Five Combined Arms Attack” feels real — and the bullets peppering the landscape certainly are. Explosions demolish obstacles like trenches, razor wire and mine fields, throwing dirt and debris into the air while tanks roll over the terrain as infantry units hunt down and destroy enemy targets. In the distance, a CF-18 drops a 1,000-pound bomb, the resulting plume of smoke and dust visible for kilometres.

“Feeling fear is normal, in fact to a degree we think it is healthy. It heightens the senses, it focuses us,” says Cadieu, in charge of co-ordinating the units in the combined arms attack exercise. “Courage in the battle field is not about not feeling fear, it’s feeling it and then working through it.”

Exposing troops to life-like battle conditions prepares soldiers to take control without hesitation in crisis situations.

“Basic soldier skills are the fundamentals for our military. Once we hone those, soldiers have the confidence to use their gear, use their drills, defend themselves in a conflict situation. That is a fundamental of any operation they’ll take forward for any type of deployment,” says Maj. Peter Beitz, officer commanding the reconnaissance squadron with Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians).
Soldiers of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG) take part in Exercise Promethean Ram, a live-fire training exercise held at CFB Wainwright, on April 21, 2016. GREG SOUTHAM
Cadieu adds that Canada this year expects to send more troops to assist in a training mission with the Ukrainian military, deploy a group of 250 soldiers to eastern Europe as part of NATO reassurance measures and replenish operation IMPACT, supporting a multinational effort against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Facts and figures About Promethean Ram:

• 250 soldiers involved in each Level Five Arms Attack simulation

• 15 tanks, including Leopard 2A4 and Leopard C2 main battle tanks, two Badger armed engineer vehicles and one Taurus armoured recovery vehicle

• 20 Light Armoured Vehicles including LAV IIIs, LAV 6s and Bisons

• Soldiers armed with C-7A2 automatic rifles and C-8 carbine automatic rifles

• Light machine gunners armed with C9A2 light machine guns and C6 medium machine guns

• Artillery using M777 howitzers

• A CF-18 dropped a 1,000-pound MK 83 bomb

• Combat engineers using Bangalore explosives to blast through obstacles, including razor wire and simulated mine field

Dassault Rafale Ranks No. 4 in terms of BVR

By: Daniel Maillet, CAF Dispatch author

I have posted on several occasions that I believe the Dassault Rafale is an ideal candidate as a replacement to the ageing CF-18 Hornets of the RCAF.

Well here is yet another reason by the Rafale stands out; in a recent update to its annual ranking of fighter-jets, Hush-Kit  has ranked the Rafale as the no. 4 fighter in the world in terms of Beyond Visual Range (BVR).

According to Hush-Kit, "[t]o excel in Beyond Visual Range air combat a fighter must be well-armed and equipped with capable avionics. It must be able to fly high and fast to impart the maximum range to its missiles, allowing them to hit the enemy before he is even aware of their presence. The aircraft must give its crews good enough situational awareness not to shoot their friends down, and be easy to operate so it can deploy its weapons quickly and accurately. The black magic of the aircraft’s electronic warfare suite can also come in to its own, reducing the opponent’s situation awareness."

In its original BVR ranking in 2013, Hush-Kit ranked the Rafale no. 7.  "The Rafale has leapt from no. 7 to no. 4 thanks to the new RBE2 AESA radar. The Rafale has great agility, one of the lowest radar cross sections of a ‘conventional’ aircraft and its defensive systems are generally considered superior to those of its arch-rival, the Typhoon. It falls down in its main armament, the MICA, which is generally considered to have a lower maximum range than later model AMRAAMs. It has a little less poke than the Typhoon in terms of thrust-to-weight ratio leading some potential customers in hot countries to demand an engine upgrade. It has yet to be integrated with a helmet cueing system in operational service." 

If/when Dassault upgrades to a helmet that includes a cueing system - it will only make the Rafale a stronger aircraft.

One more reason for the Rafale  to be the next fighter for Canada. I think it is pertinent to note, the other leading contender to replace the CF-18's; the F/A-18 Super Hornet ranked no. 9. In terms of BVR - the Super Hornet is already beginning to show its age; and will need expensive upgrades added to any purchase to keep it competitive.

The top 5 BVR fighters were:
5. Sukhoi Su-35S
4. Dassault Rafale
3. Eurofighter Typhoon
2. Saab Gripen C/D
1. Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor

You can read the entire top 10 ranking here:

Liberals Consider Moving AETE to Ottawa as part of Defence Review

By: David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen

As part of efforts to cut costs, the Canadian Forces is looking at options to revamp its Alberta-based aerospace test facilities, including transferring some of the work to private industry or moving the organization to a more accessible location, such as the Ottawa area.

The process, dubbed the Engineering Flight Test Rationalization Initiative, is part of continuing efforts at the Department of National Defence to create a lean, more efficient organization while freeing up money or staff to support other military capabilities. It was started last year under the Conservative government but has continued under the Liberals.

The focus is on the services offered by the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment, or AETE, in Cold Lake, Alta.
A jet flies past AETE in 2004. The services currently offered by AETE may be moved near Ottawa.
An CF-18 attached to the AETE  for testing, flies over the AETE in 2004. 
Defence industry representatives have been told the military believes substantial savings can be made at AETE while keeping essential flight test capabilities intact.

Several options are being considered, including increased co-operation with industry, allies or other government departments or changing how the staff is structured — 175 of its 200 employees belong to the military.

Other possibilities are moving the facility to the Ottawa region or contracting out some of the work. Areas where industry might play a role include aircraft maintenance, providing planes for flight testing and operating ranges.

“We’re still gathering information to build up our options,” said Col. Mike Barker, AETE’s commanding officer. “Once we figure out the ‘what,’ then the ‘how’ or the ‘when’ all falls from that.”

AETE tests everything from new seatbelts for military planes to radars to aircraft. Some of its recent work included testing gun systems on helicopters and the new guided bombs for the CF-18 fighter jets.

“Nobody is talking about shutting down what we do,” Barker said. “It’s a core capability. (But) are there opportunities to do it smarter or better?”

The military has already gathered information from industry on what services it could offer and there have been back-and-forth discussions.

Whether AETE moves from Cold Lake depends on the options being examined.

But the military has told industry representatives the remote Cold Lake location makes it challenging to attract or retain people. AETE employs test pilots, engineers, and other specialists and support staff.

Whatever option is selected, there will still be the need for the bombing ranges at Cold Lake. But other parts of AETE could be located near regional airports aerospace industry hubs, or in the national capital region.

“You don’t have to go very far north of Ottawa before there is a lot of nothing,” Barker said when asked about what airspace could be used for testing near the capital city.

You don’t have to go very far north of Ottawa before there is a lot of nothing

AETE staff have been kept in the loop about the process and why it is being done, he said.

John MacLennan, national president of the Union of National Defence Employees, said one potential location in the national capital region is in Gatineau, Que., where there is another military testing organization.

AETE began operating at Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake in 1971.

Barker said he does not have a specific timetable for the options to be completed or acted upon if necessary.

But the Liberal government recently launched a defence review that is expected to be made public in early 2017. The Liberals said during the election campaign they would move ahead with developing an “agile and lean” Canadian Forces and the review of defence capabilities is part of that process.

Procurement Problems led to Canada missing 2 attempts to by Helicopter Landing Ships

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The bureaucracy at National Defence helped scuttle two attempts by the Harper government to acquire helicopter landing ships over the last few years, documents show.

The most high-profile of the cases involved the sale by France of two Mistral-class warships, which had originally been built for Russia, but were on the auction block after the Kremlin's annexation of Crimea.

Documents obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information legislation show former defence minister Jason Kenney received conflicting advice from top civilian and military commanders, but decided to ignore it and made a last-minute, personal pitch to French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Defence experts say the memos and briefings makes the current defence policy review by the Liberals more important because they underscore how the lack of clear direction can lead to in-fighting among bureaucrats with competing visions of what is necessary.
Jason Kenney speaks at a press conference for procurement of new naval vehicles on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. (Photo: The Canadian Press)
Kenney and Le Drian held a teleconference last June, a few months before President Francois Hollande's government decided to sell the 21,000-tonne vessels to Egypt.

The former Conservative government was interested in acquiring landing ships, which can carry troops, equipment and helicopters, as a way to boost the military's ability to respond quickly to trouble spots and humanitarian disasters around the world.

The documents reveal that, prior to discussions with the French, the Conservatives examined the idea of acquiring large, surplus British Bay-class amphibious ships — a proposal defence bureaucrats also shot down.

RFA Lyme Bay - a British Bay-class amphibious ship. 
In his advice over the Mistral sale, deputy defence minister John Forster acknowledged that having such a capability would be a "strategic asset" to Canada, particularly in the Arctic, and allow the country to be "more self-sufficient in international operations, reduce dependency on allies, and assume greater leadership roles."

Multiple arguments given against deal

But then he went on — in a June 19, 2015 briefing — to provide a litany of reasons why the Conservative government should not go ahead, notably because the ships did not fit within the existing defence investment plans and would put unforeseen money pressures on National Defence "in the magnitude of billions of Canadian dollars."

Forster told Kenney the same arguments were used a few years earlier to persuade the government not to pursue a deal with the British.

He suggested the navy didn't have enough sailors and those it had were not trained for such a ship. As well, jetty infrastructure would need to be updated and helicopters modified. Finally, there weren't enough bureaucrats to guide the acquisition.

The briefing suggested it would take up to six years before the brand new ships were up to Canadian standards in terms of communications and weapons. The documents also raised concern that buying ships from the French might conflict with the National Shippbuilding Strategy, a principal aim of which is to build warships in Canada.

Forster put forward the arguments, even though the documents show National Defence had an independent report that mostly argued the opposite — an analysis that was initially not provided to Kenney.

Dave Perry, an analyst with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, says officials seemed bent on giving more reasons not to proceed, than in providing a balanced perspective.

He said the concern about money was legitimate, but the Conservative cabinet wasn't even given the opportunity to reflect on pros and cons of adding an amphibious capability to the navy.

"My read of this is that there was interest up top, but it was torpedoed down below," Perry said. "The strongest thing was the funding issue, but the notes made clear that if extra incremental funding became available, the department had other priorities."

That, he said, is not the way it is supposed to work and it's the government that should be setting the direction.

Monday, April 25, 2016

CF-18 Life-Extension Risks; Canada looks to fly fighters past the age of 40.

By: Daniel Maillet, CAF Dispatch author
April 25, 2016

As Canada's Defence Review gets started the debate as to which fighter should replace the Royal Canadian Air Force's aging CF-18 Hornet's continues - despite the fact that much of the budget for their replacement has been postponed until after 2021. Something that could cause major problems for the RCAF.

The CF-18s are going through another life extension to keep the fleet air-worthy until 2025; but that is based on a 5 year acquisition rate of a new fighter; which would mean a contract awarded sometime soon - and not in 2021-2022 as the current budget figures would seem to show. According to senior members of the RCAF; if the current life extension is not complete by 2021, it is not economically viable - as more upgrades will be needed. Just because this extension date is 2025 - does not mean the fleet will be retired in 2025; but the risks get much higher when flying a combat aircraft over 40 years old. If the entire fleet is retired in 2025, the oldest aircraft will be 43 years old.

But according to the RCAF plans are in place for a 2025-2030 life expectancy plan for the ageing CF-18s.

The CF-18 Hornet entered service in 1982 as a multirole fighter/interceptor replacement for the CF-5 Freedom Fighter, the CF-101 Voodoo and the CF-104 Starfighter. The Hornet fleet’s Estimated Life Expectancy (ELE) was initially set to 2003, which represented a service life of 20 years after the declaration of Initial Operational Capability. This value was based upon projected initial usage when calculated against the original equipment manufacturer’s certified design life.

In the case of the CF-18 fleet, early structural lifing concerns led to the implementation of a structural fatigue life management program (FLMP) in 1988, and a collaborative full-scale structural fatigue test program with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to re-certify the CF-18’s design life based on Canadian and Australian usage. This collaborative effort was known as the International Follow-on Structural Test Program (IFOSTP) and was completed in 2006. Results from this test program formed the basis from which the CF-18 Hornet’s structural Life Extension Program (LEP) was developed. As the aircraft’s structural life is an airworthiness limitation, it is an important factor in calculating a realistic ELE.

The implementation of the FLMP, a LEP tailored to Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) usage requirements, changes to how the CF-18 was flown, and reductions in the planned yearly flying rate (YFR) over the years have all combined to extend the CF-18’s projected physical life.  The CF-18 ELE was extended to 2020 with an assumed three-year overlapping transition window to a new fighter (i.e. 2017-2020) following an extensive study first started in 2004. 

The problem however, is the RCAF has now entered this period; and no replacement has been chosen. Therefore, the CF-18 ELE has once again been examined to determine if it can be viably extended beyond 2020. The analysis for this report assessed the option of extending the CF-18 ELE to 2025 and 2030, using a new five year overlapping transition window to a new fighter.

An ELE of 2020-2025 represents a target beyond which significant structural investments will be required to maintain the fleet’s airworthiness. As such, it represents an ELE extension for modest cost while still resulting in reasonably low to moderate technical and operational risk respectively.

An ELE of 2025-2030 represents a technically feasible albeit risky stretch target. It would require the entire fleet to undergo the Control Point 3 (CP3) Life Extension Program (LEP) along with other significant structural refurbishment investments. This option is a high risk solution, from both a technical and operational perspective.

The operational relevance of the CF-18 Hornet is assured until 2020. Based on the analysis conducted during the Operational Analysis phase of the Next Generation Fighter Capability (NGFC) project, the modernized CF-18 avionics suite remains compliant with the current interoperability requirements of other Canadian services and allies until 2020. However, beyond 2020, some core CF-18 avionics systems will need to be upgraded.

The CF-18 was a leading edge state-of-the-art fighter when it was introduced in the 1980s and it gradually fell behind over time until during the Kosovo conflict it had reached the ‘back edge’ of coalition capability. The capability upgrades over the last 10 years have resulted in the CF-18 again being near the ‘front edge’ during the 2011 Libya operations. This capability has once again  began to erode over the remainder of the Hornet’s service life as technology continues to evolve.

CF-18 fleet size has decreased 44% since the aircraft were purchased due to attrition (operational losses due to accidents) and the management decision to retire older configuration aircraft which would have required significant NRE costs to modernize to the current configuration. Current fleet size is sufficient to meet CFDS commitments; however the flexibility to withdraw significant numbers of aircraft for required upgrades has decreased significantly. Any decision to pursue lengthy and complex upgrades would result in a commitment-capability gap.

With the above information; it would seem that the Canadian Government needs to move forward on a replacement for the CF-18s, or else Canada risks entering a period with a higher attrition rate of older aircraft and a significant capabilities gap in our areal defences.


Manley: We can’t always sell weapons to people we like

By: John Manley, originally published on iPolitics 

It saddens me to watch my successor as minister of Foreign Affairs, St├ęphane Dion, attacked and criticized over the sale to Saudi Arabia of light armoured vehicles manufactured in London, Ontario.

A Canadian LAV-III on patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan. 
The minister and his colleagues are, of course, right to say that the sale was negotiated and approved before they assumed office. The fact that the minister’s signature was required on the final export permits in no way contradicts the reality that to have refused to sign those permits would have breached a contract previously entered into by the Government of Canada.

If I sign an agreement to sell my house, the transaction is not completed until the day I sign the papers transferring ownership of the property to the buyer. But if I refuse to do the latter, I am clearly in breach of my prior agreement.

Beyond the contractual obligation, there are plenty of reasons to support the sale of these light armoured vehicles.

First, the defence industry is a key driver of economic activity and an important source of high-value employment. The sector encompasses more than 650 firms, supports more than 65,000 full-time jobs across the country and contributes an estimated $6 billion a year to our country’s GDP. Exports account for half of Canada’s total defence industry revenues.

Some people would prefer that we not be in the arms business at all. But not only does this industry supply some of our own defence and security requirements, it supplies our allies as well.

Should we adopt a policy of refusing to trade with people whose values are out of line with our own? Regrettably, that might leave us with a rather limited number of potential customers.

Whether one believes that Canada should offer its forces only in support of peacekeeping (a view I don’t happen to share), or should play a more robust role in global affairs, our armed forces plainly need vehicles, uniforms and ordinance to carry out their duties.

Given that requirement, it stands to reason that Canadians should want to design and manufacture this equipment — and if we’re doing so, the economics of scale dictate exporting those same products.

Second, Canada has long had interests in the region. Our armed forces have served there. Some 23 fallen Canadian soldiers and peacekeepers are buried in the Commonwealth Gaza War Cemetery near Gaza City.

It’s often said that countries don’t have friends — they have interests. Canada has an obvious interest in stability in a region in which regime change has, to say the least, not gone well in recent years. A strong Saudi Arabia, balancing Iran and its regional allies, is not a bad thing. Conversely, if you dislike the current government of Saudi Arabia (and there are good reasons to do so), you had better ask yourself who and what might replace it.

Third, as a mature country, we have to be able to deal with governments and regimes with which we do not always agree. The world is full of countries that do not share our values and beliefs. Should we adopt a policy of refusing to trade with people whose values are out of line with our own? Regrettably, that might leave us with a rather limited number of potential customers.

Canada, it should be pointed out, is not supplying the Saudis with equipment that can be used in torture or persecution of women. We are selling military vehicles — basically fancy trucks — of the sort that are required by any country’s armed forces, and which we happen to be good at making.

Finally, I find myself wondering whether the people who are now loudly proclaiming that we should block the sale of military vehicles to the Saudis are being equally vigorous in their support of a pipeline from Alberta to the East Coast — a pipeline that would reduce and perhaps end our dependence on oil imports from that same country. Somehow, I doubt it.

In my judgement, selling light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia is good for Canada and Canadian workers, and fully justifiable on moral grounds.
John Manley is president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2000 to 2002.

Liberals urged to open new version of Pearson Peacekeeping Centre

By: Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Liberals are facing calls to reopen a new peacekeeping training centre three years after the demise of Canada's former school, The Canadian Press has learned.
Image result for the pearson centreThe new centre would be located in Kingston, Ont., near the Canadian Forces base and military college, but would be a civilian-led operation, essentially a revitalization of the Pearson Centre, which was shuttered in 2013.
The proposal comes from the Canadian non-governmental organization Canadem, a contractor that has established a reputation for staffing United Nations missions with civilian experts in security reform, election monitoring and building democratic institutions.

One of the Liberal government's major foreign policy planks is to return the country to UN peacekeeping missions after Canada's contribution dwindled to an all-time low of a few dozen.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a UN audience recently that Canada would be recommitting itself to peacekeeping as part of its bid to win a temporary seat on the world body's Security Council in 2020.

But the capacity of Canada's military to conduct peacekeeping operations has largely disappeared after a decade of war-fighting in Afghanistan, a recent report suggests, amplifying the need for a new training centre.

"Many of the senior command recognize their need to re-invigorate their training for UN peace operations and recognize the advantages of drawing upon civilian trainers," said Paul LaRose-Edwards, Canadem's executive director.

LaRose-Edwards said his agency maintains a list of experts who can fill that void.

"We've got thousands of individuals on our roster who are out in the field with current knowledge of UN and UN field operations."

The Pearson Centre in Cornwallis, N.S., was closed in 2013, after its government funding dried up. Its demise came after the Canadian Forces refocused itself on the Afghan war in the years following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The Pearson Centre was funded by both the Defence and Foreign Affairs departments, and it could easily be reconstituted with a modest budget in the $10- to $20-million range, said Walter Dorn, a professor at the Canadian Forces Staff College in Kingston.

Dorn, who has traced the decline of Canada's contribution to UN peacekeeping, said it makes sense to have civilians and military in close proximity in a new training centre because both groups have lessons to learn from the other.

"This would really help us regain the expertise because we could bring Canadians up to date," said Dorn, one of the country's leading peacekeeping academics.

"We've lost a whole generation of officers and soldiers have not been participating in peace operations."

LaRose-Edwards said civilians have a lot to learn from the military, such as mine awareness and personal protection. Meanwhile, military personnel would benefit from training that civilians would receive on how UN operations actually work.

The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre was founded in the mid-1990s, and became a leading international training centre on the topic.

It was named for former external affairs minister Lester Pearson, who received the Nobel Peace Prize for proposing the first UN mission in 1956. With the backing of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, Pearson proposed the force to help defuse the Suez Crisis.

In the 1990s, Canada had upwards of 3,300 peacekeepers deployed on UN missions in the 1990s. As of October, Canada had 31 military personnel and 85 police officers deployed with five UN operations, according to a transition report prepared for the incoming Trudeau government that was obtained under Access to Information.

Canada's internal training capacity also dwindled in the post-9/11 era, but its civilian trainers stayed active over the last decade exporting the country's know how.

LaRose-Edwards said it was Canadem that helped the German government set up its own international civilian peacekeeping training centre, called ZIF, which has now become "a major training agency" since its inception in 2002.

"Now ZIF is so far ahead of us," said LaRose-Edwards.

"Canada has really, in many ways, gone backwards, not kept up and is probably one of the few western countries that does not have a civilian training agency for field operations."

Chantal Gagnon, a spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, said the department has made no firm decisions and is still "exploring options" on how to deliver on the renewed peacekeeping commitment, "including possible new training initiatives."