Friday, May 6, 2016

CAF Releases Official Statement on OP LENTUS-16

DND Statement:

Following a request for assistance from the Province of Alberta, on May 4, 2016, the CAF deployed four CH-146 Griffon helicopters in response to the outbreak of wildfires in and around Fort McMurray, Alberta. Additional air assets remain on stand-by, ready to assist as required.

The CAF is ready to provide support, as required, to the Province of Alberta in areas including:
The provision of air assets to assist with the evacuation of persons in distress and individuals in affected and isolated areas,

The provision of air assets to assist with the delivery of essential aid to affected areas, and
The provision of air assets to assist with transport of essential firefighting equipment and personnel to, from, and within the affected area.

Operation LENTUS can draw personnel and assets from across Canada, and may be drawn from any or all of the primary force-generators of the Canadian Armed Forces:
the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN);
the Canadian Army; and
the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

In addition, specialized abilities such as engineering, health services, force protection, transport, aviation or logistics may also be employed.

Once tasked, Canadian Joint Operations Command coordinates the personnel, vehicles, equipment, crews and aircraft to be employed in the region affected by the disaster, in coordination with the respective regional joint task force.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Harper government funded Seaspan Shipyard to help with Contract


OTTAWA — The former Conservative government quietly helped fund improvements for a Vancouver shipyard that was scrambling to get ready for shipbuilding, despite saying it would not do so.

Seaspan’s Vancouver Shipyards received about $40 million in 2014-15 to get its engineering systems up to speed as it prepared to build non-combat vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard, documents suggest.

But one of the premises underlying the Conservative government’s enormous National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) — lauded by prime minister Stephen Harper’s government as the biggest defence program in Canadian history — is that shipyards would have to fund improvements to their shipbuilding infrastructure at no cost to Ottawa.

The existence of a government-funded program to help Seaspan, an association of western Canadian marine transportation companies, was revealed at a House of Commons committee meeting in December 2014.

Marty Muldoon, assistant deputy minister and chief financial officer at Fisheries and Oceans, told committee members $9.5 million of his department’s money was going to the “horizontal engineering program plan,” an initiative shared with the Department of National Defence.

That money was to help Seaspan “hit full stride in manufacturing capability or construction capability for our vessels,” he said.

“Basically, what we’re doing is investing in the shipyard’s capability to get itself up to capacity, to start churning out vessels.”

(Seaspan) went from a very small shipyard to a very large shipyard in a very short amount of time.

Though Public Services and Procurement Canada admits the contract is being used to help Seaspan create “material, engineering and production standards” for its yard, making systems consistent across “multiple projects,” it says this doesn’t count as the type of shipyard improvement forbidden under the agreement governing NSPS.

Jessica Kingsbury, a spokeswoman for PSPC, said this contract is “clearly distinguished” from capital investments Seaspan made to ready its yard for shipbuilding.

The horizontal engineering program plan is “in no way related to the criteria which the shipyards were required to meet, at their own cost, to achieve target-state,” she added.

Rather, it aims to co-ordinate and manage Seaspan’s non-combat package “more strategically,” through building a “program management capability.”

All three bids for NSPS contracts — from Halifax-based Irving, Seaspan and Quebec-based Davie — orginally included the guarantee that Ottawa wouldn’t pay to help the shipyards get ready for shipbuilding. Federal money would only go towards the shipbuilding projects.

But successful bidders Irving and Seaspan lacked capacity to start building ships when umbrella agreements were announced in 2011. Both negotiated to include clauses in the agreements, saying Ottawa would reimburse them for shipyard infrastructure if it decided to spend less than promised on new ships.

Irving and Seaspan also went to the provinces for money. Irving got a $304-million loan from Nova Scotia, $260 million of it forgivable, while Seaspan got only $40 million, for training from British Columbia.

No federal money was officially announced for either shipyard.

The agreement between Ottawa and Seaspan, dated Feb. 14, 2012, obtained by the National Post, says Seaspan agreed any improvements to shipyard capacity would be “paid for by the company entirely at its own expense” — unless Canada reneged on its commitments.

In November 2014, Seaspan announced a two-year, $170-million project to modernize its shipyard had finished “ahead of schedule and under-budget,” according to its website.

Still, recent job postings show it has continued hiring people to work on the “horizontal engineering program plan.”

The plan does not include improvements to physical infrastructure, but focuses on improving engineering systems, technical programs and management, says a consultant who worked for Seaspan from April to October 2014.

“It covered the whole spectrum of trying to stand up an engineering organization that was robust enough to support the overall shipbuilding objectives,” said Matt von Ruden, now director of vessels at Washington State Ferries.

Employees believed Ottawa was helping fund this work, he confirmed. “The government understood the need for this program, as far as I understand,” he said.

“(Seaspan) went from a very small shipyard to a very large shipyard in a very short amount of time.”

The fact government money was used for “systems” and “programs,” not physical infrastructure, may have made this a grey area under NSPS guidelines.

Several unusual contracts posted on the government’s Buy and Sell website from June 2014 to October 2015 appear to show money flowing into such programs.

For example, Public Services and Procurement Canada sourced just under $40 million in “engineering services” from the Vancouver shipyard.

Contracts are labelled as noncompetitive, representing the “best interests” and “value” to government. They differ from other contracts held by Seaspan, which are usually identified as being tied to a shipbuilding project.

The NSPS has an official budget of $39 billion, with $8 billion set aside for non-combat vessels.

Construction is expected to take at least 20 to 30 years, says the procurement department.

Seaspan began building the first of three offshore fisheries science vessels in June 2015 and the second in March. The three vessels, the first NSPS ships to come out of the improved Vancouver shipyard, are scheduled to be delivered by the end of 2017.

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© Copyright (c) National Post

Kurdish Flag on CAF Special Forces Stirs Worry

By: Lee Berthiaume, Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — New video footage showing Canadian soldiers wearing the Kurdish flag on their uniforms has raised fresh questions about Canada’s mission in northern Iraq and the message it is sending the rest of the country.

New video shows Canadian soldiers wearing Kurdish flag on uniforms: Why this risks fracturing Iraq
Two unidentified CAF Special Forces Members, in the CTV News footage from Iraq. 
The footage was shot by CTV as the network and the Toronto Star toured the mission with defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance last week. The video clearly shows Canadian special forces operatives sporting the Canadian flag on one shoulder, and the Kurds’ distinctive red, white and green flag on the other.

National Defence spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said the flag patches are used “to enhance cohesion with partner forces and to ensure easy visual identification, which contributes to force protection.” He added that Canada remains committed to a unified Iraq.

But Denise Natali, a Middle East expert at the Institute for National Strategic Studies in Washington, said the flag, which includes a sunburst in the centre, is hugely symbolic for Kurds who want their own homeland.

And while most Canadians may see it as a tempest in a teapot, she said having Canadian soldiers wear the Kurdish flag sends a message to Kurds and non-Kurds alike that Canada supports those aspirations.

“The Canadian Forces putting the (flags) on their uniforms tells the rest of Iraq that we don’t support the territorial integrity of your country,” she said.

“Canada should be very careful about the optics and the messages it wants to send to the rest of Iraq. I’m quite surprised that someone higher up would even permit that. It does undermine the long-term strategic effort.”

The 30 million Kurds across Turkey and much of the Middle East have long sought their own country. Those in northern Iraq have a degree of autonomy, but their ultimate aspiration is official statehood.

Federal officials warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau late last year that Canada may be contributing to long-term instability in Iraq by training and equipping Kurdish forces to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, but whose ultimate goal is to create an independent state.

Government and military officials have downplayed those concerns, saying the central government in Baghdad has approved the mission and Canada has told the Kurds it strongly supports a unified Iraq.

But the Kurds have refused to return land recaptured from ISIL, but which is claimed by the central government. There are also fears that once ISIL is defeated, the Kurds will use their new military training and equipment to declare independence.

Violence has already erupted at least once. While Vance was touring Canada’s mission, Kurdish fighters and forces allied with Baghdad were battling each other, killing 10 people. A tense ceasefire between the two sides is now in place.

“We need to continue to recognize the role that the Kurds have played in fighting (ISIL),” Natali said. “However, there’s a larger strategic end-state here and there’s a lot of subnational groups, including the Kurds, jockeying for recognition and authority in some of these ungoverned spaces.”

The Liberal government has repeatedly sidestepped questions about what would happen if Iraq’s Kurds declared independence. Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Region, stoked the flames Feb. 2 when he called for a referendum to gauge interest in independence.

Speaking to CTV in Iraq, Vance said Iraq’s long-term political make-up was of secondary concern to defeating ISIL.

“While we’re here and while we’re performing this function to rid Iraq of ISIL, I think it’s in all of our best interests to have the political unity necessary to deal with this threat,” he said. “Where after Iraq decides to go in terms of its political laydown is up to Iraq.”

But Natali said what happens now will ultimately decide whether peace and stability return to Iraq sooner, rather than later.

“You’re always going to have second- and third-order consequences,” she said. “And in this case, optics matter.”

Ottawa Citizen

© Copyright (c) National Post

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

RCAF Sends 4 Griffons, CC-130, and C-17 to Fort McMurray

UPDATE: May 5, 2016

Four RCAF Griffon helicopters have been sent to Fort McMurray to provide support to the government of Alberta in the ongoing efforts to deal with wildfires there.

In addition, one CC-130J is heading to CFB Cold Lake to be on standby for additional support, and a C-17 Globemaster has been put on Red-Alert standby for strategic lift of assesstes form the region.

Members of Canada’s Armed Forces are mobilizing and poised to deliver supplies from bases in Edmonton and Cold Lake, and to help with evacuation and fire fighting efforts should the request come from the Alberta government.

“We are the force of last resort,” Brig.-Gen. Wayne Eyre, commander of Canadian Forces in Western Canada, said Wednesday morning. “We come in when all other resources are exhausted.”

No one was ruling that out. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley declared a state of emergency Wednesday afternoon, before flying to Fort McMurray to assess the damage. “We all know this is the single biggest evacuation that we’ve seen from a fire, and the single biggest overall impact on a community in the history of the province,” she said.
Here are some photos from Combat Camera:
Members of 417 Combat Support Squadron prepare to depart for Fort McMurray as part of Operation LENTUS 2016 at 4 Hangar, 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta on May 4, 2016.
Photo by: Cpl Manuela Berger, 4 Wing Imaging

European Report Confirms Canada still a Middle Power

Written by Daniel Maillet - CAF Dispatch author

As teacher of history, and one who is heavily interested in armed forces news, Canada's role in the world post World War Two was that of a "Middle Power." Despite having the third largest Navy and forth largest Air Force following the war; Canada, like many other nations decided against maintaining a substantial military globally. Yet for the Cold War years, Canada was considered by many as a Middle Power - always willing to punch above its weight.

Yet, when we take a look a our history text books, many of them end Canada's "Middle Power" status around 1980, and really believe the Middle Power status was between 1945-1975. Sure, those dates make sense; Canada was a founding member of the United Nations in 1945, NATO in 1950 and NORAD in 1953; Canada fought the Communists in Korea between 1950-53; Lester B. Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1956 for solving the Suez Crisis, and bringing to birth the Canadian Peacekeeping Myth. Canadian Forces were stationed in Germany, ready for the Soviet forces that never came. The United States even authorized Nuclear weapons to be used by Canadian Forces (both ground and air) in the event of a War with the Soviets. Just based on this simple summary, it is easy to see why many believed Canada was indeed a Middle Power.

In the late 1980s onward, Canada realistically secluded itself, while deploying marginally large Peacekeeping forces around the world. The effectiveness of these forces can be easily debated, but Canada's role as the aforementioned "Middle Power" seemed to diminish...or at least was put into question. Even more so as the Canadian Forces began to dwindle in size, with ageing equipment and no serious engagements round the world.

Then there was September 11, 2001. Perhaps this date reversed nearly two decades of rust at decay on the Canadian Forces.

In a report late last year out of the UK - Canada still remains a "Middle Power" despite the fact the label seems to have dissipated.

Researchers at the European Geostrategy broke global powers down into four categories: Super Power, Global Power, Regional Power and Local Power. According to their research, the United States is the Worlds only Super Power; which many will agree on. However, according to their list, Great Britain is the only Global Power - this might be debated...especially by Russia or China.

The report defines a Global Power as, "a country lacking the heft or comprehensive attributes of a superpower, but still with a wide international footprint and [military] means to reach most geopolitical theatres, particularly the Middle East, South-East Asia, East Asia, Africa and South America.” -  Personally based on this definition, I would include Russia and China, but that is beside the point of this post. - I will state that the report does indicate that in China's case that it lacks the resources to deploy their armed forces abroad. 

The report paces Canada in no. 9 globally in terms of Military Power; which I consider to mean, Canada is still a "Middle Power"

It is not surprising to see Germany and Australia above Canada, as they both have comprehensive militarization projects under way to revitalize their armed forces capabilities.  The report ranks Canada as a Regional Power, which it defines as,  "a country lacking the comprehensive attributes of a superpower, or even the reach of a global power, but with a strong and highly concentrated regional footprint, perhaps extending to the nearest zones of adjacent continents." 

So despite the fact that the Canadian Forces continue to erode, with a Navy that is rusting faster than the replacements can be built, an Air Force looking to fly its only fighter past the age of 40, and a reserve force that is losing 1% of its force each year, the Canadian Armed Forces are still enough to constitute Canada being a "Middle Power."

The question then becomes, but for how much longer? 

Canadian Army Reserve Responds to AG Report

DND Press Release
Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Army

Lieutenant-General Marquis Hainse, Commander of the Canadian Army, issued the following statement today regarding the 2016 Auditor General Spring Report:

“On behalf of the Canadian Army, I thank the Auditor General for his advice and recommendations in his report on the Canadian Army Reserve. I accept this report and will address its recommendations.

“The Canadian Army Reserve is an integrated part of the Canadian Army that contributes to the success of operations at home and abroad. This has been proven across the world most notably in Afghanistan over the last decade and here in Canada as recently as last summer with the forest fires in Saskatchewan. Equally important, the Army Reserve provides a footprint in over one hundred Canadian communities across Canada. Over the next year, the Canadian Armed Forces will consider the personnel pressures that are affecting attrition and retention and develop a plan to keep the Army Reserve strong and healthy. We are now in the process of implementing strategies to reduce a number of challenges identified in the recruiting process to make sure we have the right people for the future.

“Training is fundamental to operational excellence and I appreciate that the Auditor General has recommended areas where we can further improve. We are putting measures in place to continue to ensure that each reservist is prepared for any mission, domestic or international. Any gaps in training will be assessed and resolved before deployment and the completion of Army Reserve training objectives will be confirmed annually. We are also currently developing a plan to address the accessibility of equipment available for Reserve training as identified in the report.

“The Canadian Army takes the stewardship of public resources seriously and continuously works to improve its funding model. The Canadian Army is currently revising the Army Reserve funding model as part of its planned cyclical review process. The recommendations of the Auditor General will serve to inform this review and ensure the funding model is more transparent and accountable to the Government of Canada. The Canadian Army will work to ensure that funding is allocated in an efficient, responsive and timely fashion.

“Finally, I would like to emphasize that the Canadian Army always strives for excellence and we will continue to work at finding solutions to ensure that our soldiers are well trained, well lead and well equipped.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

RCAF Preparing for RIMPAC 2016

RCAF News Release

By Major Mark Patterson

Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) is the world’s largest international maritime exercise, involving nations with an interest in the Pacific Rim region. The exercise, led by the United States Navy, is conducted every two years from the Hawaiian Islands and Pearl Harbour.

Canada has participated in every RIMPAC since its inception in 1971, when it was an annual exercise; in 1974, it became a biennial exercise due to its size. The 2014 exercise involved 47 ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and about 25,000 personnel from 22 nations.

The enormous exercise provides an opportunity for all Canada’s services – Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force – to train with international allies and partners. As of late April, the exact date of RIMPAC had not been announced by the U.S. Navy, but it generally takes place in the July timeframe.

Although RIMPAC is a navy-led exercise, it involves a strong air power component. To prepare RCAF personnel who will deploy on the 2016 exercise, the Canadian Forces Aerospace Warfare Centre (CFAWC), located in Trenton, Ontario, devel­oped and delivered an air operations centre (AOC) familiarization training session from March 21 to 24, 2016. Three more training sessions will take place in the weeks to come.

The RCAF will have a lead role in the RIMPAC combined air operations centre. Approximately 80 air force personnel will deploy, including Brigadier-General Blaise Frawley, the deputy commander of 1 Canadian Air Division, located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, who will hold the position of joint force air component com­mander during the exercise.

The air operations centre provides operational-level command and control of air and space forces to accomplish joint force commander and air component commander objectives. The air operations centre plans, directs and assesses air operations to enable centralized control and decentralized execution of theater-wide operations at the com­ponent or joint task force level. Its structure is “task tailorable” to the mission or theatre, as well as the type of operations to be conducted.

CFAWC’s familiarization package provided a detailed explanation of command and control relationships, particularly as they apply at the joint-force level. As well, the training illustrated how an air operations centre performs operational-level planning and coordination: upward with the joint force commander; horizontally with land, sea and special operations components; and downward with wings or air expeditionary wings.
RCAF CF-188 Hornets arrive at Joint Base Hickam-Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to participate in the 2014 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise. The RCAF is preparing for participation in the 2016 edition of the exercise. PHOTO: Sergeant Matthew McGregor, IS2014-1022-03
RCAF CF-18 Hornets arrive at Joint Base Hickam-Pearl Harbor in Hawaii to participate in the 2014 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise. The RCAF is preparing for participation in the 2016 edition of the exercise. PHOTO: Sergeant Matthew McGregor, IS2014-1022-03
Throughout the training session, the instructors passed along the knowledge and experience they have gained from employment in domes­tic and coalition air operations centre, using lectures and guided discussions to assist the students in understanding their roles and responsibilities within the centre.

The training session also provided an understanding of the continuous air planning cycle and allowed RIMPAC staff to meet as a group – as well as receive their initial guidance directly from Brigadier-General Frawley, RIMPAC 2016’s joint force air component commander.

With files from the Department of National Defence and United States Navy.

Replacement for CC-150T Polaris will wait until CF-18 Replacement

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

The RCAF has plans to replace its CC-150 Polaris refuelling tankers but is holding off until the Liberal government makes its decision on what type of aircraft will be selected to replace the CF-18s.

“That will determine the requirements of the next tanker aircraft,” RCAF commander Lt.-Gen. Michael Hood recently explained to MPs. “So whether it is a probe-and-drogue, as we use right now, or a boom that flies into a refuelling receptacle, we will replace the tanker aircraft with whatever our front-line fighter is at the time.”

“We know that the lifespan of the Airbus is 2026 right now, so that decision has to be taken regardless,” he added.

Hood also pointed out that of Canada’s two Polaris aircraft, one is assigned to the Iraq mission and the other is in heavy maintenance and not available. (There is a C-130 refueling aircraft available out of Winnipeg for NORAD duties, he added.)

Privately military officers suggest the Liberal government’s decision on a CF-18 replacement is a long way off.

Hood suggested there are ways to deal with potential delays in any Polaris replacement program.

“In fact, recently we leased a tanker to bring some aircraft back overseas,” he revealed. “There are options that will allow us to mitigate whatever program challenges we have.”

CBC Exclusive: CF-18 commander describes 'having to take lives' in ISIS bombing mission

Originally Published on CBC News: Exclusive Interview

In a wide-ranging interview with CBC News chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge, a CF-18 commander who flew airstrike missions against ISIS in Iraq and Syria provides a detailed account about being in that arena, some of his bombing missions, and "having to take lives."

"What we're doing is a very very unnatural thing for us. We're going out there and we're destroying, we're destroying things sometimes, sometimes we're having to take lives," said Lt.-Col. David Moar.

"It's an unnatural — it's important that we communicate about that, we talk about that as a unit and that we're firm in our resolve about what we're doing."

During the interview, Moar, the CF-18 detachment commander, reviews video of some of those airstrikes, including one attack against an artillery piece that had been "harassing the Iraqi Security Forces."

"They just hooked it up to a vehicle and started moving it down a road and at that point we elected to destroy it," Moar said.

"And there's no doubt here that somebody died, because somebody was driving that vehicle," Mansbridge said.

Moar said, "One thing I have noticed that you can never, until you see the full picture afterwards, you can never really know what is happening under that smoke."

"And are you around long enough to know?" asked Mansbridge

"It's our responsibility to stick around long enough to know," Moar said.

Auditor General Highlights Issues with Reserve Force

By David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen

Auditor General Michael Ferguson released a number of reports this morning. A couple of his findings deal with the Canadian Forces. Here are mini summaries of those reports as outlined by theCanadian Press news service (more details to follow as they come):

“Individual units of the Canadian Army’s reserve units lack sufficient soldiers — just 14,000 instead of a needed 21,000 — as well as access to key equipment for domestic missions and clear guidance on training, counter to National Defence’s stated goal.

Between the 2012–13 and 2014–15 fiscal years, the number of Canadian Army reservists has dwindled by about five per cent, or about 1,000 soldiers per year.”

More from Canadian Press:

Michael Ferguson’s latest audit conducted a detailed examination of the problems faced by the military’s part-time branch and found that even though there are 21,000 positions on the books, only 13,944 reservists are considered active and ready for service.

The federal government’s stated goal is to have a reserve force of 27,000.

The audit goes into detail about how National Defence has not only failed to recruit for the part-time force, but reservists are quitting at a rate faster than they can be replaced and doing so before they are fully trained.

“In late 2015, National Defence set a goal to increase the Army Reserve by 950 soldiers (five per cent) by 2019. In our opinion, this goal will be difficult to achieve given the present rate of attrition,” said the auditor’s report.

The sweeping review also looked at training and found that many reservists don’t receive certain basic weapons training, such as the use of a pistol or grenade launcher.

They have been woefully unprepared for some duties in combat zones, such as convoy escort and force protection, and ill-equipped for missions at home like responding to forest fires and floods.

When there is a domestic emergency, reserve units are expected to assemble trained units of up to 600 soldiers, but Ferguson’s report noted that they were thrown into the field over the last few years — specifically in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba — without everything they needed, including essential items.

“When we reviewed these reports, we found many instances of key equipment lacking, such as reconnaissance vehicles, command posts, and communications equipment,” the audit said.

“We found that the Canadian Army has not defined the list of equipment that all army reserve units should have for training their soldiers and teams for domestic missions. This means that army reserve units may have to rely on other Canadian Armed Forces units to provide this equipment, but we were told that it is often not available.”

The former Harper government was keen on highlighting the participation of reservists, notably the Canadian Rangers, in annual Arctic exercises. In 2013, it staged a series of photo-ops with then-prime minister Stephen Harper shooting rifles and mingling with the troops, who are drawn from indigenous northern communities.

The audit says the army made a special effort to equip them, but even there Ferguson’s report found support wanting.

“Following recent training exercises, these groups reported that they did not always have access to the equipment they needed to be self-sufficient, such as reliable communications and vehicles larger than light snowmobiles,” said the report.

National Defence, in its response, agreed with the criticism and said it is working on the equipment issue.

Ferguson also tore a strip off the government over how it balances and pays for reservists, some of who are being called up to full-time duty. Under the law, a part-time soldier can be converted to full-time status for periods of between 180 days and three years.

But those jobs can be —and often are — renewed for longer periods of time. It was one of the criticisms in retired lieutenant-general Andrew Leslie’s 2011 report, which was meant to overhaul administration at National Defence.

Ferguson’s report goes a step further showing that as many as 1,704 part-time soldiers are on full-time duty, but the money to pay for them is being taken from the reserve budget.

“This means that the Canadian Army spent about 27 per cent of its overall army reserve pay and operating expenses on these full-time contracts, leaving less available for other army reserve activities,” said the report.

Monday, May 2, 2016

CDA Instutute Releases Vimy Paper on BMD

Originally published by Frontline Defence 

The Conference of Defence Associations Institute (CDA Institute) has released Vimy Paper 31: "Canada, NORAD, and Missile Defence: Prospects for Canadian Participation in BMD" by David McDonough.

The Canadian government recently launched its Defence Policy Review, expected to be completed by early 2017. The Department of National Defence also released a consultation paper that offered an overview of the issues facing the Canadian Armed Forces and key questions meant to guide public consultations as part of this review process. Of note, the document raised the previous government's 2005 decision to refuse participation in the US ballistic missile defence (BMD) system, and asked whether it was time to revisit this decision "given changing technologies and threats?"

This Vimy Paper explores the debate about Canada's possible participation in US missile defence plans, and assesses the advantages and possible disadvantages of such a commitment. The paper begins by examining the Canadian role in the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD), particularly the implications if NORAD fails to be directly involved in BMD. It then looks at the possibility of Canada receiving some protection in a BMD system, possible scenarios in which such protection would be required, and the likely contributions necessary if Canada wants to participate in missile defence and receive a modicum of protection. Lastly, the paper disentangles and assesses some of the key arguments used by critics against BMD.

By directly participating in BMD, Canada would reinforce the status of NORAD, strengthen the Canada-US defence relationship, and potentially ensure an important element of protection against ballistic missile threats. Canada will likely have to offer an "asymmetrical" or "in-kind contribution" if it hopes to receive protection afforded by the BMD system, so the question of cost needs to be further assessed. Lastly, criticism of BMD have often been either overstated or hampered by a degree of logical inconsistency or dissonance. As the Vimy Paper concludes, for these reasons, Canada should begin discussions with the United States on this issue - to better ascertain the costs Canada may be expected to shoulder for participation and ultimately to become an official participant in BMD.

The paper is available at the following link:

Defence Review: Looking Forward rather than Mythologising the Past

By: Zachary Wolfraim, originally published online by the CDA Institute 

CDA Institute guest contributor Zachary Wolfraim, a PhD candidate at King’s College London, warns against mythologizing the past in Canada’s defence policy review.

Historical narratives carry a lot of weight, both in domestic and international politics. The Liberal Party managed to utilize this in its 2015 election campaign, appealing to Canadian voters’ sense of what they saw as ‘traditional’ Canadian values. In particular, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to reorient and reinvigorate Canada’s foreign policy and defence policies. The Department of National Defence is now preparing to undertake a long overdue review of its priorities and has opened public consultations into what Canada’s new defence strategy should look like. While a commendable process to promote public engagement and transparency, the same narratives that swept the Liberals to power last year risk stifling new and innovative thinking on defence priorities.

Inherently, there is no problem with recalling Canada’s foreign policy traditions and narratives. Narratives help us to make sense of the world and more importantly, help us define how we see ourselves acting within it. Similarly, Canada’s allies understand and create their own narratives that help to establish a foundation of trust and cooperation grounded in predictable behaviour. These were disrupted by the Harper government, which sought to re-​interpret Canada’s foreign policy story in a relatively dramatic way and reorient how Canada interacted with other nations. NATO, the United Nations, as well as a number of other organizations and institutions saw a moralistic, transactional bent to Canada’s international behaviour, eschewing many of the ‘traditional’ elements of Canadian diplomacy.

Until the Harper government, the characteristics of Canada as a middle power, an honest broker, and a multilateralist country have largely dominated the discourse of Canadian foreign and security policy since 1945. Canada’s traditional narratives in foreign policy and defence are arguably so ingrained within their respective departments as to be considered orthodoxy, even though in practice, international policy-​making represents a much more complex reality.

The effectiveness of Canada as an international actor was nonetheless predicated on a shared understanding of this narrative between Canada and other nations. Consequently, Canada’s diplomatic tradition was referenced during the campaign – along with its history in international organizations like the United Nations – to condemn the Conservative government’s hawkish stance on foreign policy, which was criticized as having weakened Canada’s influence internationally. The Liberal position was ultimately a backlash against what many both in Canada and among Canada’s international allies saw as an unmooring of the country from its traditional positions in foreign policy.

In terms of future defence policy, the concern is that the pendulum may have swung too far in the opposite direction. In reaction to the Harper government’s reorientation of Canada’s international priorities, there is the possibility of potentially harming Canada’s foreign and security policies. Global Affairs Canada needs time to recover from the decade of micromanagement and budgetary restriction under the previous government. As it relates to defence, the military needs to straighten out procurement quickly and act to ensure that it maintains its current capabilities. While meeting NATO’s 2percent spending target would be ideal, this would only serve to ensure that Canada could maintain its existing capabilities. Sustained investment will be necessary to continue modernizing the Canadian Forces and ensure that it has equipment capable of countering a diverse range of future threats.

In much broader terms, this defence policy review needs to seriously examine the role that Canada seeks to play on the international stage. While the ‘middle power’ peacekeeper narrative continues to inform many popular understandings of Canada’s international engagement, many of its traditional tenets are outdated in the current security environment. In particular, the emphasis on the United Nations and peacekeeping present a significant problem given the dysfunction within the UN itself. This is compounded by the reality that traditional peacekeeping is no longer possible since the type of interstate conflict it was designed for has been supplanted by asymmetric and unconventional conflict. Unless Canada is willing to spearhead the Sisyphean task of UN reform and redesign peacekeeping for the 21st Century (tasks it may yet undertake) the government will need to re-​energize its weakened relationship with NATO.

The relationship between Canada and NATO was strained somewhat due to the Harper government’s instrumental view of the organization. While NATO was considered a key forum during the Afghanistan operation, Canada’s relationship was fraught given the withdrawal from several important initiatives such as Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) as well as its drone programme (Allied Ground Surveillance). Canada has increasingly re-​engaged withNATO as part of its response to Russian intransigence in Eastern Europe. NATO continues to be the world’s foremost body for security and defence and it remains in Canada’s interest to ensure that it retains this position and its relevance. An active and engaged Canada in NATO carries more weight on defence issues than does Canada in the United Nations.

In consulting the public about the future of Canadian defence, the Trudeau government runs the risk of being steered by the power of Canada’s narrative in an unpredictable fashion back towards familiar territory. There is a strong potential that the public will push for organizations and policies that fail to reflect the current state of global instability, which could undermine Canada’s ability to project itself internationally. Alternatively, it could lead to an interminable and introspective debate that could end up stifling or slowing down the necessary changes that need to occur in Canada’s foreign and security policies.

Policy-​makers must effectively navigate a way forward, embracing the heritage the Liberals invoked, while leading the development of Canadian security and defence policy in a volatile international security environment.
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Zachary Wolfraim is a PhD Candidate in the War Studies Department at King’s College London examining the role of narrative in foreign policy behaviour. He previously worked as a consultant in NATO Headquarters on operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. (Image courtesy of The Canadian Press/​Sean Kilpatrick.)

Report: Canada could have its own Satellite Launch Capability:

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

I’ve written in the past about the view inside some parts of the Canadian Forces and the aerospace industry that Canada should, and could, have its own capability to launch small or micro-satellites. That way the country would not be beholding to the launch schedules of other nations.
Now Canadian space analyst Chuck Black has dug up a report from 2009 written for the Canadian Space Agency that concluded that Canada could develop such a capability, and at a reasonable cost. More from Chuck Black:

“The feasibility of an indigenous Canadian microsatellite launch system of specified capabilities (150kg to 800km sun-synchronous orbit) was examined, the report noted. It was confirmed that such a capability would meet much of the projected Canadian need, particularly as the utility of microsatellites has been increasing over time.” The report concluded that, “As a result of this study, we have determined that the original goals are feasible and can be achieved at a reasonable cost.” Overall cost was estimated at approximately $187M CDN over seven years; although a smaller satellite launcher could be built for less.”

Black asked the Canadian Space Agency why the study was never followed through on. He didn’t get an immediate answer.
If you are interested, you can read Chuck's entire proposal: Here

Added Content by: Daniel Maillet, CAF Dispatch author 

Where could such a location be placed? 

The Canadian Army, in cooperation with the US Military and the Canadian Space Agency operated the Fort Churchill Rocket Research Range east of Churchill, Manitoba until 1985. In a 2010 report by CTV-News, CSA was again considering Fort Churchill as the best possible location for a rocket launching facility. 

Nike rocket ready for launch from Fort Churchill. Photo taken between 1960 and 1964
The Churchill Rocket Research Range is now a National Historic Site of Canada; located on the 59th parallel, a few kilometres east of the town of Churchill, Manitoba, on the shores of Hudson Bay. The installation is an immense wedge-shaped piece of land with facilities for launching, tracking and retrieving the rockets. Until the site closed in 1985, the area known as the range head provided the working base for launching and tracking rockets for research into the upper atmosphere.

Churchill Rocket Research Range was built by the United States Army under the aegis of Canada’s Defence Research Board in 1956. It launched its first rocket for research into the upper atmosphere in October 1956. Over the years, Canadian programs participated increasingly in rocket research at this centre, and it became a National Research Council of Canada (NRC) facility in 1964. This was the only facility in Canada for launching sounding rockets. The Black Brant rocket, designed and built in Canada, was first launched from this centre in 1959.

The current remains of the Fort Churchill Rocket Research Centre. The Northern Studies Centre currently operates out of one of the former centre's main buildings.