Friday, June 24, 2016

408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron celebrating 75th anniversary

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 
16 May 2006<br>
4 Wing, Cold Lake, Alberta<br><br>

2 CH 146 Griffons from 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron take off on a mission.<p>

Elements of 408 Squadron deployed to 4 Wing Cold Lake along with 17 Wing Winnipeg's Mission Support Unit for Exercise Maple Flag XXXIX and form the Air Expeditionary Unit.<p>

Maple Flag is an annual international air combat exercise that attracts more than 5,000 participants from all over the globe, which engage in a simulated, 10-day air campaign. The exercise provides aircrews with realistic training in a modern simulated air combat environment. Maple Flag provides critically important training for Canadian and allied aircrews.<br><br>

Photo by WO Serge Peters, Air Public Affairs<p>

Le 16 mai 2006<br>
4e Escadre Cold Lake (Alberta)<br><br>

Deux CH-146 Griffon du 408e Escadron tactique d'hélicoptères partent en mission.<p>

Des éléments du 408e Escadron ont été déployés à la 4e Escadre Cold
FA2006-0249 16 May 2006 4 Wing, Cold Lake, Alberta 2 CH 146 Griffons from 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron take off on a mission. Elements of 408 Squadron deployed to 4 Wing Cold Lake along with 17 Wing Winnipeg's Mission Support Unit for Exercise Maple Flag XXXIX and form the Air Expeditionary Unit. Maple Flag is an annual international air combat exercise that attracts more than 5,000 participants from all over the globe, which engage in a simulated, 10-day air campaign. The exercise provides aircrews with realistic training in a modern simulated air combat environment. Maple Flag provides critically important training for Canadian and allied aircrews. Photo by WO Serge Peters, Air Public Affairs
A ceremonial parade and fly-past celebrating the 75th anniversary of 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron will be held Sunday afternoon in Edmonton on the base there.

Here is the background provided by the RCAF on the history of “408 ‘Goose’ Squadron:”

On June 24, 1941, 408 Squadron (Sqn) was established as a bomber squadron with No. 5 Group Royal Air Force and was equipped with the Handley Page Hampden. After flying several other bomber aircraft in addition to the Hampden, 408 Sqn converted to the Handley Page Halifax – a four engine heavy bomber that could travel faster, further and carry more than three times the payload of the original Hampden. During the final years of the Second World War, 408 Sqn would again change aircraft, this time to the Lancaster Mk II heavy bomber. With Victory in Europe, 408 Sqn was disbanded on September 5, 1945.

Re-established in 1949 at Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Station Rockliffe, Ont., 408 Sqn took on many varying roles. Starting in 1949 the squadron used the Avro Lancaster Mk X to begin photographing and mapping in Canada’s North. In 1962 the Canadair T-33 Silver Star was added to 408 Sqn’s inventory. With the T-33 408 Sqn began to support the Army through aerial reconnaissance while continuing the mapping and photography task with the Lancaster. In 1964 the Lancaster was replaced the Douglas Dakota and the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar. With these new airframes 408 Sqn was retasked as a transport support and reconnaissance squadron and was moved to RCAF Station Rivers, Manitoba. After just one year, in 1965, the C-119s were replaced by the larger and more versatile Lockheed C-130 Hercules.

In 1970, 408 Sqn was again disbanded. Just nine months later, however, it was re-established in its current role as a tactical helicopter squadron at its current home, Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Namao (now CFB Edmonton), Alta. Initially 408 Sqn flew two airframes: the CH-135 Twin Huey and the CH-136 Kiowa, before reequipping with its current helicopter the CH-146 Griffon in 1996.

As a tactical helicopter squadron, 408 Sqn deployed to the Sinai Peninsula, Honduras, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and most recently the Philippines. The unit has also been heavily involved in domestic operations such as the floods in Manitoba and Calgary, forest fires throughout Western Canada, G8 summits, and the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.

Personnel from 408 Sqn were deployed to Afghanistan almost continually in some capacity from 2006 – 2011. Initially operating the CU-161 Sperwer unmanned aerial vehicle for six-month rotations, in 2008 the unit started deploying personnel to operate

CH-146 Griffon and CH-147 Chinook helicopters in support of the Canadian Helicopter Force (Afghanistan). As part of Canada’s Air Wing in Kandahar, 408 Sqn contributed regular rotations to support the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) with personnel and equipment transport; reconnaissance; armed escort; and fire support. Given the high level of improvised explosive devices that posed a threat to ground-based transportation, 408 Sqn proved to be invaluable in helping keep Canadian and other International Security Assistance Force troops off dangerous roadways in Afghanistan.

The most recent foreign deployment of 408 Sqn was to the Philippines in 2013 after typhoon Haiyan devastated the nation. Food, assistance personnel, medical relief and infrastructure material were all made accessible to isolated population centers when roads and bridges had been destroyed.

Here at home, 408 Sqn’s continued support to Canadians has most recently included support to the flooding in Manitoba in spring 2014, the Saskatchewan wildfire in summer 2015 and the Fort McMurray forest fire in May 2016.

RCAF Releases New Photos from CC-150 Polaris & OP IMPACT

On it's Twitter feed today, the Canadian Armed Forces released new images from OP Impact today.

The country has heard very little about Canada's aerial contributions to the fight against ISIS since the government withdrew the RCAF CF-18s in February of this year.

The RCAF left 2 CP-140 Aurora Intelligence aircraft's and a CC-150 aerial refueling tanker in the region to help the US-led coalition continue to fight ISIS.

The photos released today are from the CC-150 tanker refueling USAF F/A-18s and US Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers  aircraft over Iraq.

iAOR Role can be Expanded and Outfitted for Disaster-Relief

By: David Pugliese, National Post

OTTAWA — The company providing an interim supply ship for Canada’s navy is looking at expanding the vessel’s disaster-relief capabilities, a role identified by the Liberal government as a key future military mission.

The MV Asterix, a commercial vessel that is being converted into a supply ship for the Canadian Navy, is seen June 23, 2016, at Quebec's Chantier Davie shipyards. The ship's hull has been hollowed out to accommodate new fuel tanks and it will be receiving a new superstructure.
The MV Asterix, a commercial vessel that is being converted into a supply ship for the Canadian Navy, is seen June 23, 2016, at Quebec's Chantier Davie shipyards. The ship's hull has been hollowed out to accommodate new fuel tanks and it will be receiving a new superstructure.
Chantier Davie shipyards of Levis, Que., and its sister company Federal Fleet Services, will be gathering Canadian firms in Ottawa on June 28 so they can outline disaster-relief equipment available for the ship, to be delivered to the navy late next year.

The ship is being created by converting a commercial vessel, the MV Asterix. The project has attracted interest from the Australian, New Zealand and South African navies.

Canadian suppliers of equipment for disaster and humanitarian missions will outline what they can supply for the vessel and that information will be passed on to the Royal Canadian Navy, said John Schmidt, a vice-president with Federal Fleet Services in Ottawa.

The ship’s main role is to refuel and resupply warships at sea. But the navy has also said it wants the vessel to have capabilities for humanitarian missions, although it has not outlined many specifics.

The Liberal government has said it wants the Canadian military to play more of a role in disaster and humanitarian missions.

“Canada has a lot of companies who are leaders in technology who can meet these demands, but they have never had the opportunity to bid to the Canadian government,” Schmidt said.
Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian PressThe MV Asterix is seen at Davie Shipbuilding in Levis, Que., on Oct. 13, 2015.
He noted the ship has a lot of flexibility since it can carry several dozen sea containers of emergency equipment. It can also provide medical assistance and has room for more than 200 passengers for a disaster-relief operation.

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, who will take over later in the summer as vice-chief of the defence staff, told the Ottawa Citizen in a recent interview that the navy is looking at ways to outfit its ships for future humanitarian missions.

Noting other countries’ interest in the conversion project, Schmidt said navies around the world need to replace aging supply vessels. “Everyone is watching their budgets,” he explained. “If there is a way to provide a capability at a reduced cost, then navies are interested in hearing about it.”

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Minister supports openness about shipbuilding program, but dodges questions

Schmidt said delivery of the ship to the Canadian navy is on schedule for September 2017. The company is motivated to keep its schedule because it doesn’t receive any payment until the vessel is delivered, he added.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian PressThe MV Asterix is seen at Davie Shipbuilding in Levis, Que., on Oct. 13, 2015.

The Canadian government decided to proceed with the conversion of the commercial container ship after the navy’s existing two supply vessels were pulled from active service because of age and structural issues.

Under a lease agreement, Federal Fleet Services would provide a civilian crew to operate the ship. Royal Canadian Navy personnel would be on board to handle communications and the actual transfer of supplies and fuel to warships.

The conversion project and lease of the vessel is estimated to cost about $700 million.

The lease would run for five years, with an option after that to extend on a yearly basis for a total of another five years.

Under the federal government’s national shipbuilding strategy, Seaspan in Vancouver is to build two supply ships for the Canadian navy. But those are not expected to be ready until around 2020.

Navy to blame for ship delay: ex-brass

By: Lee Berthiaume, Ottawa Citizen 
ADRIAN WYLD / THE CANADIAN PRESSRoyal Canadian Navy Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, left, speaks with Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd during a change-of-command ceremony on Thursday.
OTTAWA • Vice-Admiral Mark Norman used his last speech as commander of the navy Thursday to lament a “completely avoidable” shortage of Canadian warships, while his successor said submarines are “essential” for the country’s defence.

The comments came during a ceremony that saw Norman relinquish command of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) to Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd after three years at the helm. That period coincided with the retirement of a quarter of the navy’s major ships, none of which have been replaced.

Speaking to a crowd of military officers and defence officials that included Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance, Norman said the navy had no choice but to retire its two resupply ships and two out of three destroyers before replacements were ready. (The last destroyer will retire next year.)

“The need to retire four of our ships before their replacements had arrived no doubt hurt us, both from a capacity and a capability standpoint,” he said. “This was out of necessity, and certainly not by design or intent.”

A modified civilian resupply ship is scheduled to enter service in fall 2017, which will help make the navy more self-sufficient. However, the first real replacement won’t be ready until 2019.

Meanwhile, with the destroyers all retired, the navy will have only 12 frigates capable of operating overseas until the mid-2020s.

“The fact (is) that the RCN has gotten notably smaller, both in terms of fleet and its establishment on my watch,” Norman said, which has resulted in “acute losses in warfighting capabilities.”

Rather than blame someone else for the problem, Norman said the navy’s inability and failure to make tough decisions are the reasons new resupply ships and warships won’t be ready for several more years.

“It’s important to keep in mind that the situation we had to manage was completely avoidable,” he said.

“It should act as a powerful reminder of what happens when we allow ourselves to continually manage risk by putting off tough decisions in the interests of short-term expediency.

Norman’s speech wasn’t all doom and gloom. Delays and criticisms aside, he said there are legitimate reasons to celebrate the federal shipbuilding plan, which promises to produce a state-ofthe-art navy as well as return Canada to being a worldclass shipbuilder.

He also noted the first Arctic patrol ships should be rolling off the line in the next year or so, and the navy has been using its coastal defence ships on anti-drug trafficking operations in the Caribbean and other places in the Western Hemisphere.

And he applauded the Liberal government for having stuck with the federal shipbuilding plan.

During his speech, Vance applauded Norman for having “made difficult decisions, tough decisions that will protect his sailors and the future of his fleet.”

He added he has “never been more hopeful for the future of the Royal Canadian Navy than I am today.”

Meanwhile, bubbling below the surface was the question of what to do about Canada’s four submarines. In an interview last week, Norman said the government has to decide in the next year or two whether to spend more money to keep the submarines running until the 2030s.

For his part, Vance applauded the “incredibly hard work” the navy has done in getting the subs up and running.

“And let me assure you, submarines are vital to those operational results,” he said.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Iraq needs to be broken up, say Kurdish leaders

Image result for kurdish flagBy: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

It looks like Kurdish officials didn’t receive the memo from Global Affairs Canada…the one about Canada’s support for the Kurds being part of supporting a unified Iraq.  The Kurds, being armed and trained by the Canadian Forces, are instead pushing to break away from Iraq. They cite Quebec separatists as a role model. The Canadian military is well aware of the Kurdish push for separation.

But Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance suggests it’s none of Canada’s concern what will happen in Iraq once the Islamic State is defeated. Some Canadian diplomats, however, have warned that Canada’s arming and training the Kurds will lead to more problems down the road.

Tensions are increasing and Kurdish forces have clashed with forces loyal to the central government in Baghdad.

But Kurdish officials have said that Iraq is finished as a state.

Masrour Barzani, the Chancellor of Kurdistan Region Security Council, recently stated in an interview with Reuters news agency that the level of mistrust among various groups in Iraq – the Kurds, Sunnis and Shi’ites – is such that they should not remain “under one roof”.

“Federation hasn’t worked, so it has to be either confederation or full separation,” Barzani said. “If we have three confederated states, we will have three equal capitals, so one will not be above the other.”

Barzani’s father, Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani, has called for a referendum this fall aiming for complete independence.

Added Commentary:

This is not the first time the break-up of Iraq has been suggested. It has actually be studied in-depth for years. One particular study calls for 3 new states to be carved out of Iraq. Kurdistan, Sunni Iraq, and the Arab Shia State, with Baghdad becoming a City State similar to Vatican City.  It can be read here.

Even CNN as recently as 2014 ran a column supporting the idea of dividing Iraq into three states.

Only time will tell; Iraq will remain unified to defeat ISIS, but it seems more and more that as the Kurdsish Peshmerga continue to claim territory, they admit that they will not cede it to Iraqi forces. 

Reviewing Canada’s Arctic Capability: Suggestions for the Defence Policy Review

By: Adam Lajeuness, CDA Institute. 

CDA Institute guest contributor Adam Lajeunesse, a post-​doctoral fellow at St. Jerome University, offers suggestions on how the government can approach the Arctic in the context of the Defence Policy Review.

As the Liberal government undertakes its comprehensive defence review, eyes are inevitably turning to the Arctic, a region that held such a personal interest for former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and one which he so often used to burnish his nationalistic credentials. At first glance, Arctic defence policy would seem ripe for radical revision. The ‘use it or lose it’ mentality that Harper introduced early in his term often manifested in grandiose (by Canadian standards) displays of military power and rhetoric, sometimes presupposing foreign threats to Canadian sovereignty and Russian military threats to its security. For a Liberal government seeking a new détente with Russia as part of a broader push towards cooperation and dialogue over confrontation, there would seem to be room to swing away from the old Conservative defence philosophy that has defined the past ten years of Arctic military operations.

The reality of Canada’s Arctic security philosophy is, however, far more complicated than the broad brush depictions often used in the media. Despite the sometimes hawkish feelings generated by Harper’s statements on the North, and the frequent photoshoots of the prime minister and other VIPs in the Northwest Passage surrounded by warships, Canada’s Arctic security policy has been level-​headed, thoughtful, and restrained. Behind the headlines, CAF strategy and doctrine has repeatedly emphasised the absence of any military threat to the region, preparing instead for a wide range of unconventional scenarios – such as pollution prevention and support to civilian departments and agencies. What the Liberals will likely discover as they move forward is that they have little choice but to continue the Conservative approach to Arctic defence.

That assessment is based on the assumption that the geopolitical situation in the region will not deteriorate over the next decade. Such predictions are impossible to make with absolute confidence but the evidence suggests that it’s a safe bet. Russia, so often held up as a potential aggressor, has certainly been building its Arctic military capability, however that build-​up has mostly taken the form of ground force expansion, SAR, and local area defence – not power projection. Moscow is also the principal beneficiary of circumpolar stability as it seeks to attract hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese and Indian (and perhaps if sanctions are lifted, Western) investment to the region. Russian military posturing is necessary for domestic consumption and for maintaining the siege mentality that keeps Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings high, but there is little that Russia can achieve through aggressive expansion into the Arctic Basin or anywhere beyond its own Arctic territory.

China is likewise unlikely to present any real military threat to the region. It has long sought a cooperative relationship with Arctic powers and, only recently, released a shipping guide instructing its vessel operators to respect Canadian law and regulation when in Canadian waters. China also lacks the technology and military platforms to operate safely in ice-​covered waters and appears to be in no hurry to spend the small fortune required to achieve that inessential capability.

Regardless of Russian or Chinese intentions or capabilities, conventional security is well in hand. NORAD provides adequate monitoring and fighter coverage of the North American Arctic and the US Navy maintains a subsurface capability and presence which began neatly sixty years ago. If Arctic defence policy is productively changed, it must be at the operational and tactical level, and here there is much that still needs to be adjusted. The Harper government’s great success was in defining the Forces’ direction and requirements – moving it away from its traditional warfighting role and into a support position. Implementation has, however, been slow, painful, and incomplete.

To begin with, the CAF’s Arctic forces require a more coherent training program, better communication, faster procurement, and a clearer sense of mission. The Arctic Response Company Groups (ARCG) were stood up in 2007 to provide the Army with a force that it could confidently deploy in response to a variety of Arctic scenarios. In the years since, the ARCG have suffered from inconsistent training standards, poor harmonization of operating requirements, and a lack of higher-​level direction – with training and equipping having been delegated to the ARCG host divisions.

Equipping these forces has proven more challenging than should have been the case. Certain Arctic clothing and basic equipment still needs to be developed or purchased, while the Forces’ lack of light and heavy over-​snow vehicles (and its inability to maintain what it currently owns) can be attributed to bureaucratic inertia and a poor understanding within the Army of what its Arctic purpose and requirements really are. The distribution of the Army snowmobiles provide a perfect case in point. Rather than being concentrated in the hands of the ARCGs, the machines were parcelled out to the divisions in small groups, making large scale training impossible.

The Army has also shown an inability to learn many of the lessons observed during its annual Arctic exercises, something that can in part be chalked up to a lack of communication. Arctic deployed forces rarely communicate after the fact and there has been a general failure to compare notes between these units on what has worked and what has not. Siloed within different divisions, ARCG training is often undertaken in isolation where lessons are learned and relearned repeatedly.

The operational role of the Army’s Arctic forces , likewise, needs to be clarified. The ARCG, for instance, were described in their Master Implementation Directive as a rapid response force that could be assembled and deployed in the event of an emergency. The reality is that these reserve units could never be deployed quickly enough or sustained as a formed unit without extensive planning. Rather, these groups represent a reserve of basic Arctic capability that can be tapped when needed to provide perhaps half a dozen soldiers with the skills needed to provide mass to an Immediate Reaction Unit or another government agency. Their call out procedure should be refined and false planning assumptions purged from expectations of how the Army might use its forces outside of a planned exercise.

These are only a few examples of the CAF’s Arctic growing pains – indeed, there are many more issues of supply, training, and operational doctrine that still need to be addressed. None of these problems are really surprising however. Similar problems became apparent in the 1950s and again in the 1970s-​80s when the CAF undertook a similar expansion of its Arctic presence. It is understandable how an organization as large and complex as the Canadian military might move slowly to embrace a new and unfamiliar set of responsibilities.

Yet, in spite of these shortfalls, the government should recognize that the CAF’s overarching concept for Arctic operations is good and should be maintained. What is required is not a fundamental rethink but a renewed focus on turning the Forces’ existing high-​level strategic direction into something that is achievable, practical, and exercised on a regular basis.
Dr. Adam Lajeunesse is a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at St. Jerome’s University. He is currently working on a research program examining the history of Canadian military operations in the Arctic and the history of northern development, with a focus on hydrocarbon exploration from the 1960s to the mid-​1980s. (Image courtesy of the Canadian Army.)

Boxtop Flight 22: Honouring the memory of “some fantastic Canadians”

RCAF Press Release

From Royal Canadian Air Force Public Affairs

Under the hands of 8 Wing Commander Colonel Colin Keiver, a CC-130J Hercules aircraft circles an area 16 kilometres south of Canadian Forces Station Alert on June 14, 2016. Even on this beautiful sunny day, it is apparent this is no land to be messed with. Barren, snow-covered, and windswept – this is Canada’s most northern reaches. Add in darkness, blizzard conditions, and -30°C temperatures, and the feat of human survival becomes all that much more incredible.
Corporal Brett Guitard (left), Leading Seaman Garnet Robinson, Corporal Yvette Cedeno and Aviator Alain Fortier serve as sentries at the memorial cairn during its dedication.
Corporal Brett Guitard (left), Leading Seaman Garnet Robinson, Corporal Yvette Cedeno and Aviator Alain Fortier serve as sentries at the memorial cairn during its dedication marking the 25th anniversary of the crash of Operation Boxtop Flight 22, which happened on October 30, 1991. The cairn was raised on the crash site, about 16 kilometers south of Canadian Forces Station Alert, on June 15, 2016. PHOTO: Sergeant Paz Quillé, FA02-2016-0015-24
“I can’t believe I spent more than 30 hours out here,” says Master Warrant Officer Tony Cobden as he looks out the small round window of the Hercules at the remnants of the CC-130 on the ground.

It was 25 years earlier when Master Warrant Officer Cobden, a communications researcher, and 17 others, were on board Boxtop Flight 22 when it crashed on final approach to CFS Alert during Operation Boxtop, the bi-annual resupply of the station. Logistics officer Captain Judy Trépanier, CANEX regional services manager Master Warrant Officer Tom Jardine, supply technician Warrant Officer Robert Grimsley and traffic technician Master Corporal Roland Pitre all died in the crash, while the aircraft’s commander, Captain John Couch, succumbed to hypothermia after leading the effort to survive in place, and giving up his coat to the other survivors.

Master Warrant Officer Cobden, the one survivor still serving today in the Canadian Armed Forces, fittingly represents all those on Boxtop Flight 22 during what is preparatory work ahead of 25th Anniversary commemorations to be held more accessibly in Trenton, Ontario, later this year. He is joined on this trip by fellow survivor Master Seaman (Ret’d) D.N. “Monty” Montgomery; search and rescue technician Sergeant Ben House, a member of the rescue team that parachuted into the crash site; and Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret’d) Scott McLean, the commanding officer of CFS Alert in 1991 who led the Station's response to the crash, dispatching overland rescue crews, supporting the SAR response, and preparing for and receiving the dead and wounded.

It’s their first trip to the site since the crash.

Monty, who still lives with the physical effects of the crash, lost all his fingers and half his toes to frostbite, then endured 12 gruelling surgeries to graft some toes to his hand to restore some dexterity. “I can put my foot in my mouth faster than anyone!” he quips. “I don’t like to use the word ‘closure’ because it’s been 25 years,” he adds on a more serious note. “It’s hard, it’s difficult; but I can say, this sort of closes it for me.”

Canadian Armed Forces members and attendees salute before the June 15, 2016, dedication and unveiling ceremony of the cairn commemorating the October 30, 1991, crash of Boxtop Flight 22, about 16 kilometers south of Canadian Forces Station Alert, in Nunavut. The cairn is draped in the Royal Canadian Air Force tartan. PHOTO: Sergeant Paz Quillé, FA02-2016-0015-04
Canadian Armed Forces members and attendees salute before the June 15, 2016, dedication and unveiling ceremony of the cairn commemorating the October 30, 1991, crash of Boxtop Flight 22, about 16 kilometers south of Canadian Forces Station Alert, in Nunavut. The cairn is draped in the Royal Canadian Air Force tartan. PHOTO: Sergeant Paz Quillé, FA02-2016-0015-04
Led by Royal Canadian Air Force commander Lieutenant-General Mike Hood and RCAF Chief Warrant Officer Gerry Poitras, the contingent also includes 8 Wing, CFS Alert, CFS Leitrim and 435 Squadron personnel, and members of the search and rescue leadership.

“It’s a very personal thing for me, and I felt strongly about wanting to go there,” says Lieutenant-General Hood, who knew and worked with some of the members who died. “We’re going to honour the memory of some fantastic Canadians.”

The memorial cairn, designed by a team at 1 Canadian Air Division and the Engineering Section of Real Property Operation Detachment Trenton, was flown to CFS Alert and then slung via a CH-147 Chinook helicopter to the crash site in order to have the memorial dedicated at the sacred site. The 1,133-kilogram cairn, shaped like the tail of the Hercules where survivors huddled after the crash, will then be flown back to 8 Wing Trenton where it will be unveiled in the presence of family members of those who died, and survivors and rescuers, at a ceremony on or about October 30, 2016, the actual anniversary of the crash. The RCAF is contacting families and survivors as planning for this event builds momentum.

MWO Cobden admits that being at the site and taking part in the ceremony made him emotional for the first time. “We did lose some lives here,” he says, his voice wavering. “I'm just happy I got the opportunity to be invited back to see it in person, because it was dark then.”

DND Micro Satellite Successfully Launched in India

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Canada’s Maritime Monitoring and Messaging Microsatellite (M3MSat) was launched successfully Tuesday night on board an Indian rocket.
M3MSat is a tele-detection satellite, and its mission is to demonstrate and test the technology of three instruments. HANDOUT PHOTO / CANADIAN SPACE AGENCY
The launch was conducted by the Indian Space Research Organisation, from Sriharikota, India, along with another Canadian satellite owned by GHGSat Inc.

The M3MSat mission, which was developed for the Department of National Defence, will improve ship detection and marine traffic management in Canadian waters by testing new technologies.

The launch also included ‘Claire’, the first demonstration satellite by Montreal-based GHGSat Inc. That microsatellite will test a new way to measure greenhouse gas emissions from industrial facilities.

Claire is the world’s first satellite capable of measuring greenhouse gas emissions from sources on the scale of industrial facilities, GHGSat pointed out. GHGSat’s sensor technology has also been miniaturized to fit on a low-cost nanosatellite, enabling the company to offer commercial greenhouse gas measurement and monitoring services. GHGSat says it will use its technology to help industrial emitters in sectors such as oil and gas, power generation, mining, waste management and agriculture to measure, control and ultimately reduce their emissions.

Spartan FWSAR Consortium Proposes $3B SAR Training Center in Comox

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

A consortium trying to win a $3 billion contract to provide Canada with new search and rescue aircraft says it will build a new training facility in British Columbia if it is selected as the winning bidder.

The proposed three-storey, 73,000 square foot building would be located in Comox, British Columbia, Steve Lucas, a retired lieutenant general and former head of the Royal Canadian Air Force, told a news conference on Wednesday. Lucas is with Team Spartan, a consortium of companies which bid the C-27J aircraft for the Canadian contract.

Team Spartan consists of Leonardo-Finmeccanica, General Dynamics Mission Systems-Canada, DRS Technologies Canada and other firms. The company faces competition from Airbus and its team, which are offering Canada its C-295 plane as well as Embraer of Brazil, which has proposed its KC-390.

A new aircraft fleet will replace the Canadian military’s existing fleet of Buffalo and Hercules aircraft used for search and rescue. The Buffalos, first purchased in 1967, are key to search and rescue on the west coast and in parts of the Rockies.

The training center and training support system will be designed, built and managed by a team of Canadian-based companies led by DRS Technologies Canada Ltd. The new facility will be designed to house a cadre of instruction classrooms, the air maintenance training hangar, and state-of-the-art full-flight and sensor-operator simulators for the C-27J Spartan aircraft, Lucas said.

19 Wing Comox is home to the Buffalo search and rescue aircraft as well as CH-149 Cormorant helicopters, also used for SAR missions.

Lucas said Comox is an ideal training location because of its proximity to mountain areas, the ocean and other bodies of water.

The Canadian government expects to select the winning bidder by the end of the year.

During the election campaign, the Liberals promised that their government would “prioritize the acquisition of cost-effective search and rescue aircraft.”

The project originally envisioned buying 17 aircraft. But that has been changed and it will be up to aerospace firms to submit in their bids the numbers of aircraft they believe are needed for Canada to handle the needed search and rescue capability.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Super Hornets Facing Oxygen Problems

By: Lee Berthiaume, National Post 

OTTAWA — The U.S. Navy is struggling with an increase in the number of pilots reporting oxygen problems while flying Super Hornets — the same fighter jet the Liberal government is considering instead of the F-35.

The problem has become so severe that a U.S. Navy spokesman said it is the force’s top safety priority. However, while a special team has been created to fix the issue, Ensign Marc Rockwellpate said finding the “root causes” has “proven to be challenging.”

A US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter lands on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan.
A US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter lands on the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan. Kim Hong-Ji/AFP/Getty Images
The revelation, which comes weeks after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the F-35 “does not work,” will only add more fuel to the fire as the Liberals grapple with replacing Canada’s venerable CF-18 fighter jets.

The Liberals promised during last year’s election that they would hold a competition for new jets, but not buy the F-35. Now they say new jets are urgently needed, and while no decision has been made, sources told Postmedia this month that the Liberals were leaning toward buying Super Hornets without a competition.


Matthew Fisher: Why the Super Hornets will force Canada out of its own north
Liberals shrug off Lockheed warnings it will take business elsewhere unless F-35s purchased

The severity of the Super Hornet’s problems with oxygen loss and depressurization first came to light in February, when a U.S. congressional subcommittee raised the issue. The U.S. military has since revealed that there have been dozens of so-called “physiological episodes” since 2010 — with the rate increasing in recent years.

The issue has afflicted the U.S. Navy’s Super Hornets and older F-18 Hornets, which are similar to Canada’s CF-18s, at an almost equal rate. While it’s believed the problem on the older planes relates to their advanced age, the issue with the newer Super Hornets is believed to be their onboard oxygen system.

Testifying before the congressional subcommittee in February, Rear-Admiral Michael Manazir said trying to pinpoint the exact the source of the problem in the oxygen system was like “chasing a ghost.”

“We can’t figure out … whether there was a smaller oxygen content than we needed or a carbon monoxide event or poison in the gas (or) something that came off of a bearing so you’re breathing toxic air.”

Symptoms associated with hypoxia, or loss of oxygen to the body’s tissues, come on gradually in pilots. Rather than passing out right away, pilots will often feel dizzy or confused at first, as if they are drunk, before losing consciousness. This has raised fears of pilots not recognizing signs of hypoxia until it’s too late.

While U.S. military officials say they are determined to deal with the issue, they say there has not been any crash or fatality because of so-called “physiological effects” since 2011. The problem is also not considered serious enough to ground the U.S. Navy’s fleet.

However, a recent article in the Navy Times, which reports on the U.S. Navy, said U.S. military personnel are worried about the growing number of incidents. The article also attributed at least 15 deaths in the past 20 years to oxygen loss and decompression sickness.

A spokeswoman for U.S. aerospace giant Boeing Co., which builds the Super Hornet and has been lobbying the Liberal government to buy the plane, confirmed the oxygen problem this week. Rebecca Yeamans told the Citizen it was a “complex issue,” and that Boeing has been working with the U.S. Navy to address it.

The Super Hornet isn’t the only aircraft to have problems with oxygen loss and decompression. The U.S. military has had similar issues with its F-22 fighter jet, which is built by F-35 maker Lockheed Martin. However, there have not been any reports of problems on the type of F-35 that Canada would buy.

The F-35 nonetheless has had its own share of unresolved technical issues. The U.S. Air Force said last fall that there was a risk the stealth fighter’s heavy helmet could cause neck damage to pilots weighing less than 165 pounds, or 75 kilograms, if they are forced to eject.

A report from Congress’s budget watchdog in March also said about 20 per cent of development testing remains to be done on the F-35, “including complex mission systems software testing, which will be challenging.” The work is expected to cost an additional $3 billion over six years.

There have long been suspicions that the Liberals have wanted to buy the Super Hornet. Aside from ruling out the F-35 during the election, officials have indicated that Canada all but has to buy an American-built plane, given the importance of joint continental defence with the U.S.

That would leave the Super Hornet as the preferred alternative, given that the F-35’s other competitors — the Dassault Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Saab Gripen — are all European.

The previous Conservative government announced in 2010 that Canada would be buying 65 F-35s, with the first to be delivered in 2015. But it pushed the reset button in 2012 after the auditor general raised questions about the program, and National Defence revealed the jets would cost $46 billion over their lifetimes.

Afghan service puts Defence Minister Sajjan in conflict of interest on detainees, say lawyers

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s work in the Canadian Forces, which included setting the stage for the killing or capture of some 1,500 Afghan insurgents, is enough to disqualify him from making the decision not to conduct a public inquiry into alleged abuses of detainees, say those pushing for such an investigation.

Sajjan, who could have been a potential witness for any Afghan inquiry, has dismissed outright the need for such an investigation even as new abuse allegations emerge.

Last week, Sajjan responded to an e-petition calling for the inquiry by stating the Canadian government ensured detainees were humanely treated, transferred or released in accordance with international law. That is a reversal of the Liberal’s demands, when in opposition, for a public inquiry.

But those advocating for the inquiry say Sajjan’s three tours in Afghanistan as a member of the Canadian Forces puts him in a conflict of interest.

“Does the fact that he was a senior officer in Kandahar at the time disqualify him from having oversight on this issue?” asked human rights lawyer Paul Champ. “Frankly, I think it does.

“He had relevant operational or on-the- scene information that could well be of interest to a commission of inquiry,” Champ added.

Retired Brig.-Gen. David Fraser has said Sajjan’s work as an intelligence officer and his activities in Afghanistan helped lay the foundation for a military operation that led to the death or capture of more than 1,500 insurgents. Sajjan was also later assigned to U.S. military forces.

The detainee issue has emerged on the Canadian political scene once again. Some Canadian military police officers say Afghan detainees were abused in their cells in Kandahar during surprise raids by Canadian guards in 2010 and 2011. A Defence Department document obtained by the Citizen acknowledges problems with the raids, noting the police who conducted the missions operated without oversight and lacked guidance.

In addition, military police officers have come forward to raise concerns that many Afghans taken prisoner by Canadian troops were innocent farmers and not members of the Taliban.

Such concerns were also highlighted back in 2007 when the head of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency also warned Canadian troops were grabbing innocent Afghans.

Canadian military officers have privately complained the detention of innocent Afghans may have helped push them to support the Taliban.

Sajjan, however, has said that in his three tours of Afghanistan he was never involved in any situations involving detainees.

“I wasn’t involved in this,” he explained last week. “I was using my experience as a police officer, engaging with the community, and one thing I can say is that the Canadian Armed Forces personnel, (with) the training that they have, abide by the Geneva Conventions and everybody who I served with, served with absolute credibility and honour.”

But some Canadian military police have disputed such statements.

Craig Scott, a law professor and former NDP MP who initiated the e-petition rejected by the minister, said Sajjan had dealings with Afghan officials, some of whom were later accused of torturing people. “(Sajjan) would be an absolute key witness” at an inquiry, Scott said.

Scott said because the treatment of detainees was never properly investigated by the Conservative government, the issue continues to be raised by some in the military concerned about incidents they saw in Afghanistan.

“It’s a festering sore that was never dealt with properly,” he added.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A Mixed Fighter Fleet for Canada? Super Hornets, F-​35s, and the challenge of comparisons

By: Dr. Peter Layton, CDA Institute 

Every country has an F-​35 story it seems. Both Australian and Canadian force structure planning has been blighted by the aircraft’s problems and long delays. In 2007 Australia opted for a bridging capability – against Air Force advice – and acquired the F-​18F Super Hornet. Canada now appears to be similarly considering a bridging capability, perhaps also against Air Force advice, and possibly acquiring Super Hornets.
USAF F/A-1 Super Hornets.
Sounds much the same, at first glance. But Australian and Canadian requirements have some fundamental differences, and just as importantly time has moved on. 2016 is not 2007.

For Australia, the F-​18F acquisition has been a good experience; the aircraft arrived on time and under budget. Neither are surprising in that the aircraft was an off-​the-​shelf buy rather than an F-​35 developmental program. The in-​service F-​18A Hornet aircrew found converting to the Super Hornet easy and quick, with the US Navy (USN) training system providing a good head start.

The maintenance and support, however, was a much more complex matter. The current variant Super Hornet technology is considerably more advanced than the 1980s vintage Hornet. In many respects the Super Hornet’s technology is closer to the F-​35 than the F-​18A; it is really more of an F-​35 Lite than a ‘super’ Hornet.

In being more advanced, the Super Hornet’s operating costs are much greater than those of the older Hornet. Apples to oranges comparisons are hard given different fleet sizes and other factors, but are probably more than twice as much per aircraft (see p. 120 of a recent Australian Strategic Policy Institute report). In this, a major project lesson learned by the Australian acquisition organisation is that, while off-​the-​shelf jets can be quickly acquired, “the establishment of a sustainment solution is a challenge and requires early management oversight.” Half the Super Hornet fleet had been delivered within three years but reaching the final operational capability state, when everything is bedded down, took 5½ years from government approval.

It must also be remembered that the F-​18 that Australia and Canada bought was developed from the US Air Force’s (USAF) Lightweight Fighter technology evaluation program. The F-​18 began life as an air-​to-​air fighter first and a bomber second. The F-​35 is the reverse with air-​to-​ground the primary requirement and air-​to-​air secondary. By dent of excellent sensors, datalinks, stealth, and millions of lines of code, the F-​35 overcomes the airframe deficiencies that arise from this upbringing, albeit at the cost of great complexity and perhaps a certain operational brittleness.

In contrast, the F-​35 and the Super Hornet are both alike in being originally designed as strike fighters. Unsurprisingly, both offer broadly similar capabilities and neither are highly manoeuvrable dogfighters. In wars-​of-​choice such as fightingISIS in Iraq the differences between the aircraft in terms of operational effect might be marginal.

Given this, maybe a Canadian Super Hornet bridging capability makes some sense. It would take the pressure off having to make an F-​35 decision – at a time when the aircraft design remains unstable, maintenance systems are immature, operating costs uncertain, and the US’s chief tester is still publishing scary flight test reports. On the other hand, the F-​35 program office is progressively addressing technical issues, unit costs are coming down, more aircraft have been ordered by various countries, and the USAF looks set to declare an initial operational capability this year.

Yet this might not be the kind of capability most want or are expecting. As more becomes known about the software, it seems that the F-​35 might not be fully operationally ready until Block 4 is implemented. This Block may also see some key hardware changes, such as bringing the Electro-​Optical Targeting System (EOTS) up to a suitable standard. Block 4 should be ready early next decade. Buying F-​35s before then might mean expensive upgrades before they even enter delivery flight-​test. Unfortunately for the F-​35, buying later is always cheaper and always brings a better standard aircraft.

In Canada, another consideration is whether there will be a capability gap between the new fighters’ introduction to service and the last old Hornet retiring, by 2025 or even earlier. It should be recognised that the transition period will see a dip in capability and some years when deploying a squadron overseas would severely tax the RCAF, especially on the personnel front. Individuals can’t be at home bringing a new fighter on board while fighting offshore. Moreover 2025 is not far away in major project terms. It took Australia almost six years to fully bed down a technically well-​understood, off-​the-​shelf fighter. The F-​35 is in nothing like the same state; even if contracting this year, meeting the 2025 deadline would be a near-​run thing if Canada wanted a seamless transition from one aircraft type to the other.

But hold everything. The F-​35 program, while too big to stop, may not be too big to fail, at least in the air-​to-​air arena. (Its air-​to-​ground capabilities appear robust by comparison.)

Enter stage left the shadow of the future. Air superiority is becoming contested again in both East Asia and Europe. As the RAND Corporation warns, “continuous improvements to Chinese air capabilities make it increasingly difficult for the United States to achieve air superiority within a politically and operationally effective time frame.” The Centre for Strategic and International Studies, considering China’s full range of defence capabilities – including its rapidly advancing fighter fleet – observes: ” at the current rate of U.S. capability development, the balance of military power in the region is shifting against the United States.”

In this vein, the USAF in Europe commander recently noted: “The advantage that we had from the air, I can honestly say, is shrinking.… This is not just a Pacific problem. It’s as significant in Europe as it is anywhere else on the planet … I don’t think it’s controversial to say they’ve closed the gap in capability.”

Most worryingly, USAF’s head office has determined that the “projected force structure in 2030 is not capable of fighting and winning against …potential adversary capabilities.” The growing fleets of F-​35s in service with America and its allies seems inadequate to ensure air superiority beyond 2030. Future control of the air is in doubt.

What to do is uncertain. Whatever Canada buys now appears unlikely to be operationally viable in the air-​to-​air role beyond 2030 or so. The USAF is suggesting an expedited program to get some suitable ‘system of systems’ into service before then – maybe even 2025 – so air superiority can be maintained long term. What these systems might be remains unknown.

One option is for Canada to ignore this reality, press on and buy F-​35s to replace the Hornets by 2025. This is not necessarily a bad approach. The F-35’s air-​to-​air capabilities might be doubtful long-​term against advanced fighters but should be adequate for contributing to NORAD where the threats will hopefully be meagre. The F-35’s air-​to-​ground capabilities should be suitable for participating in NATO and future coalitions of the willing. In this case, the American alliance will be primarily relied upon to ensure control of the air.

Some will say – probably correctly – that this sounds like spending vast sums of money to buy a second rate air combat force and that ‘hope is not a strategy.’ Yet Canada’s (and Australia’s and most European NATO nations) Cold War fighter contribution was arguably in this vein. But you have to ask if you’re buying a doubtful capability anyway, is there any reason not to go for the lower cost Super Hornet option then.

Another alternative is to buy say 30 Super Hornets now, retain 30 CF-​18 Hornets, and wait until mid-​next decade to decide what to do. By then America’s intentions concerning new air superiority systems will be clearer and perhaps – a big ‘perhaps’ – Canada could buy into a long-​term robust solution. This offers at least a chance Canada may remain an ally important for more than just geographical proximity. If however this air superiority path does not eventuate, is unaffordable, or not releasable to close allies, by the mid-​2020s better and cheaper F-​35 versions will be available to round out Canada’s fighter force in terms of numbers. Importantly, also by then, the F-​35s operating costs will finally be known, allowing a more accurate assessment of whether a mixed fleet really is more expensive than a single type one. It may not be.

The later approach stresses hedging and is suitable for uncertain times but takes a dark view of the future where strategic circumstances are deteriorating. The other option is more of a big bet built on the hope the geopolitical situation in next few decades is better than seems to be likely now. The choice between these two options is not easy but indicates the F-​35/​Super Hornet issue is more complex than it seems at first. Which is more sensible? More pragmatic? Some deep thinking is required.
Dr. Peter Layton is a Visiting Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. (Image courtesy of Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon, U.S. Air Force.)

Defence Review Could Lead to Reduced Canadian Army

By: Richard Cohen, iPolitics 

The federal government, as part of its ongoing Defence Policy Review (DPR), recently announced public consultation on the future of Canada’s armed forces. So what does Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan have in mind — a political exercise, or something more in-depth?

For all its faults, the Conservatives’ 2008 Canada First Defence Strategy (CFDS) was developed inside a clear fiscal framework … which was later discarded. In contrast, the DPR is wide open and (allegedly) not constrained by financial considerations. But as everyone knows, the size and shape of the Armed Forces will be determined by what the government decides to spend on defence. Money drives defence policy.

Given the big budget deficit, it’s hard to imagine the Liberals significantly boosting defence spending. Their aim is a ‘leaner and more agile’ military — almost certainly a code word for ‘smaller.’ And as any seasoned politician or bureaucrat knows, the $4 billion in equipment spending that was deferred for five years in the March budget is unlikely to return to Defence. Even if it does, by that time ‘defence inflation’ will have gobbled up a good part of its value.

Ideally, the government would announce that, unlike its predecessors, it will begin to work toward the agreed NATO goal of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence. Canada, as one of the lowest-ranking military spenders in NATO, hovers around 1 per cent. But barring a major international crisis, or an unexpected change of heart, such an increase in defence spending isn’t likely to happen.

So the DPR will have to be developed within realistic financial limits. This means focusing only on military capabilities that are absolutely essential to our national interests — while relegating the rest to the ‘nice to have but can’t afford’ category.

So where to start? Nearly everyone agrees on the three basic roles of Canada’s Armed Forces: defence of Canada, defence of North America with the U.S. and contributing to international operations.

Reducing the Army’s strength — which is more than double that of the other two services — would free up funds for higher-priority capabilities.

The first two roles are not optional; the third may have to be. The only way Canada can continue to contribute to international operations is if the capabilities it funds for its primary and secondary military roles — defence of Canada and of the continent — can be adapted to overseas conflicts.

Let’s break down those three roles according to what they require. Defending Canadian territory starts with a robust surveillance capability for all three coasts and for our vast land area, including the Arctic. For this we need satellites, land-based sensors and radars, underwater devices and unmanned air and underwater vehicles — backed up by the Canadian Rangers, who spread very thinly across the North. We need ice-capable ships, transport aircraft, heavy-lift helicopters and quick-response army units to react to incursions or incidents. An effective anti-submarine capability and submarines capable of travelling under ice complete the picture. Tasks like air search-and-rescue and routine domestic disaster response could be transferred to non-military organizations.

Continental defence overlaps with national defence. The focal point for continental defence is NORAD, and it requires advanced interceptor aircraft, an integrated Canada-U.S. ballistic missile defence system, joint maritime surveillance and a new and more effective North Warning System across the Arctic.

State-of-the-art jets, ships, submarines and UAVs are essential for both these roles and also could make a useful contribution to international combat operations. But they are expensive to buy, operate and maintain.

So what do we have to give up?

The Army relies on people. People are expensive and account for half of our defence budget. Reducing the Army’s strength — which is more than double that of the other two services — would free up funds for higher-priority capabilities. The government and Canadians would have to accept that our ground forces cannot play a significant role in allied combat operations.

Our mechanized forces, based around a small number of (expensive to maintain) Leopard 2 tanks, cannot contribute much to major combat operations. Canada’s Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) and the new military trucks would be useful in small-scale overseas operations, including support for the UN — but in smaller numbers. So tanks and other combat vehicles, and the ground units that operate them, probably will have to be reduced or eliminated.

The DRP must ensure that, at minimum, we have world-class defence capabilities on the home front. Some ships and aircraft can be ‘double-hatted’ for international operations. But limiting our ambitions to contribute to major land battles overseas makes sense — and would release money needed to effectively defend Canada closer to home.

CAF Military Police Lacked Oversight in Afghan Abuse Claims

By; David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen 


A human rights lawyer previously involved in the Afghan detainee case says newly released Defence Department documents obtained by the Citizen’s David Pugliese show the Canadian military is acknowledging something went seriously wrong in the Kandahar detention centre.

Canadian military police accused of terrorizing Afghan prisoners in their cells at Kandahar Airfield operated without oversight and lacked guidance, according to newly released Defence Department documents obtained by the Citizen.

The documents shed new light on allegations made last year by some military police officers who say Afghan detainees were abused in their cells in Kandahar during surprise raids by guards in 2010 and 2011.

Canaian soldiers lead Afghan detainees from a residential compound in southwest Kabul following a raid in 2004.
Canadian soldiers lead Afghan detainees from a residential compound in southwest Kabul following a raid in 2004. (CANADIAN ARMED FORCES FILE PHOTO)

The documents acknowledge the raids happened and suggest the situation was out of control.
Paul Champ, a human rights lawyer previously involved in the Afghan detainee issue, said the documents show the Canadian military is acknowledging something went seriously wrong in the Kandahar detention centre.

“I’m surprised the military didn’t take their investigation further and levy at least charges of misconduct,” said Champ, an Ottawa lawyer.

“Even if the actions didn’t meet some level of criminal threshold, although I would argue they do, it certainly would breach a code of conduct if these police officers weren’t properly trained or provided with oversight.”

Champ said there was no reason for military police to go into the cells on what they claimed was a training mission.

“It seems clear the purpose was to instil fear, to cause terror in these prisoners,” Champ said. “In my view that is a breach of humanitarian law.”

The issue of how Canadian military personnel treated Afghan detainees recently re-emerged on the political scene. Last week the Liberals rejected a request for a public inquiry even though they supported such an investigation while in opposition.

Canadian military police officers have also recently come forward to raise concerns that many Afghans taken prisoner by Canadian troops were innocent farmers or workers and not members of the Taliban or al-Qaida.

Last year, La Presse newspaper reported that Canadian military police conducted the surprise raids on detainees in their cells, roughing up prisoners in the process. The aim was to create a climate of high tension, which in turn could prompt detainees to provide information.

But the tactics terrorized the prisoners so much that some urinated or defecated during the raids, La Press reported. The Conservative government responded to the article by announcing that the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service had looked into the matter, but concluded no charges should be laid against their fellow police officers.

But behind the scenes, the La Presse article sent staff at National Defence headquarters in Ottawa scrambling, according to documents obtained by the Citizen under the Access to Information law.

Military police debated whether they should provide a copy of the 200-page investigation about the cell raids to the Conservative government. Information prepared for the Conservatives contained further details about how military police conducted themselves during such operations, which were supposed to provide training for officers.

“The investigation revealed that participants in the dynamic entry training lacked guidance and oversight required to carry out the work, and some had expressed frustration with the situation,” the Defence documents noted.

But military police later recommended that information be removed from the material sent to the Conservatives and in the Commons, James Bezan, parliamentary secretary of the Minister of Defence, instead recited the lines that the alleged actions were investigated and did not warrant any charges.

In November 2015, the Military Police Complaints Commission or MPCC launched an investigation into the incident. That decision was made after a complaint from an anonymous military police officer in which it was alleged that police conducted the exercises to terrorize detainees and in one instance entered the cells and manhandled prisoners. The officer also complained about the investigation into the incident and the fact that no charges were laid or court martial convened.

The MPCC interviewed a number of individuals aware of the raids and confirmed that several detainees were so scared they defecated and urinated on the spot during one such foray into the cells.

A day after launching its investigation, the complaints commission requested the documents relating to the police probe. But the Canadian Forces delayed release of that material for seven months.

It was finally received on June 10, MPCC spokesman Michael Tansey confirmed Monday.

“The MPCC has just received the documents and other material received and is reviewing them to determine if additional materials are required,” he said.

Mulroney: Canada must do more to help NATO combat Russian threat

By: Robert Fife, Globe and Mail 
Forrmer Prime Minister Brian Mulroney says the Trudeau government should choose the very best fighter jet to confront the growing threat from Russia as he urged Canada to play a more forceful role within NATO and the United Nations.

In a prepared text for a major foreign policy speech to the NATO Association of Canada on Monday night, Mr. Mulroney warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin is attempting to create a new Eurasian union dependent on Moscow.

“The primary challenge now is to thwart further expansion by Russia and to ensure that those NATO members that border Russia, especially Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, remain secure and firmly under NATO’s wing,” he said.

NATO is scrambling to contain the threat by stationing four battalions of troops in the Baltic countries, but more needs to be done, Mr. Mulroney said.

“Canada is being invited to contribute troops in some way and, in my view, we should respond positively,” he said. “We need to be equipped and ready, as necessary, to preserve our values.”

Mr. Mulroney said Canada should double defence spending to 2 per cent of GDP.

“The simple reality is that if Canada expects NATO to do more on global security, we must decide to do more for NATO. That should be a top defence priority. What we cannot do is talk about Canada ‘being back’ in the world without making tangible commitments that will anchor our aspirations,” he said.

Mr. Mulroney was sharply critical of the Liberal government’s‎ waffling on an open competition for a new fighter jet. During the election campaign, Justin Trudeau promised to reject the former Conservative government’s favoured aircraft, the F-35 stealth jet, which 11 western allies have now bought.

The government is considering Super Hornets as an interim replacement for the aging CF-18s‎.

“We need new fighter aircraft, but most of all, we need a decision on what we will buy to serve our strategic needs, not an interim purchase driven by political considerations that risk repeating the helicopter fiasco,” Mr. Mulroney said.

The former prime minister noted the problems that happened in the 1990s, when the Chrétien Liberals succeeded the Mulroney Conservatives and cancelled their $4.4-billion purchase of EH-101 helicopters. Mr. Chrétien’s decision cost taxpayers half a billion dollars in penalties. The government ended up buying the same helicopters, but the costs had then risen to $7.6-billion.

U.S. defence giant Lockheed Martin has already said Canada could lose $825-million in aerospace contracts that were signed with Canadian companies to build equipment for the F-35 jets if the Liberal government buys the Super Hornets.

Mr. Mulroney said Canada should follow the Australian model and set up an independent, arms-length agency to handle major defence procurement through an open bidding process.

He also urged Mr. Trudeau to join the U.S. anti-ballisic missile defence system to protect Canada from countries such as North Korea that are heavily investing in long-range nuclear missile capability.

“We cannot subcontract our responsibility to national security to our southern neighbour, no matter how secure we may believe ourselves to be relying exclusively on American continental security,” he said.

Mr. Mulroney supported Mr. Trudeau’s plans to be more engaged in UN peacekeeping and to play a more prominent role in the world body.

The UN is in urgent need of an overhaul in its personnel policies, and requires much tighter accountability, Mr. Mulroney said.

“Since Cana‎da remains the 7th-largest contributor of funds to the UN and its agencies, we should move beyond fuzzy sentiments and position ourselves in the vanguard of those seeking genuine reform at the UN,” he said.

Monday, June 20, 2016

US Official: CAF Needs to Examine Roles for Future Disaster Aid

By Elliot Ferguson
The Whig

Canada and the United States may need to be willing to re-examine the role of the military in their societies as part of the preparations to deal with major natural disasters, says an American military expert.

Prof. Bert Tussing, director of the Homeland Defense and Security Issues Group at the U.S. Army War College, said preparations need to be made to respond to a "catastrophic incident" that would cause large numbers of deaths and injuries and destroy infrastructure over a large geographic area.

"You want to plan and prepare for the worst and pray that the worst never happens," Tussing said while addressing the 11th annual Kingston Conference on International Security at the Residence Inn Kingston Water's Edge.

Tussing said the role of the armed forces in times of natural disaster is to support civilian agencies in their response, not assume control.

In recent cases in the United States where the military was called in -- after the 1992 Los Angeles earthquake and in 2005 after hurricane Katrina -- the operations were short and the military withdrew quickly when its help was no longer needed, Tussing said.

Tussing used the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811 and 1812 as an example of a natural disaster that could threaten the stability of the country.

Three earthquakes in late 1811 and early 1812 -- all registering more than 7.3 on the Richter scale -- caused damage across 600,000 square kilometres and temporarily reversed the flow of the Mississippi River.

Rebuilding after that disaster took several months, at a time when there was little infrastructure.

Tussing said a similar earthquake now would cause widespread devastation. He added that it would take about 18 months to restore critical services, such as electricity and water.

In that time, local law enforcement agencies would be hard-pressed to maintain social order and it may fall to the armed forces to keep society together.

Tussing said governments need to put in place plans that give the military and civilian agencies clear roles during times of widespread and enduring disaster.

"It's time for us to plan now," he said.

This year's conference examines how militaries change and adapt to new situations during war and peace.

Conference participants looked at the "grey zone" between war and peace populated by non-governmental organizations, private corporations armed groups and states.

"It is hard to grasp, define, put borders and boundaries around it," said Maj.-Gen. Jean-Marc Lanthier, Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre.

"If we define the problem too narrowly, we will miss the solutions because the complexity of the problem makes it necessary to analyze it in the broadest sense."

This year's conference was meant to bring together military, academic, private sector and non-governmental organizations to discuss different issues.

Joining Tussing on the first discussion panel on Tuesday morning were Andrew Carswell from the International Committee of the Red Cross, Almero Retief from the mining company Rio Tinto, and Diego Ruiz-Palmer, an economics and security adviser to the NATO aecretary general.

"As an academic doing security and defence research, I really cherish those opportunities to have members of the armed forces, people from government and even the private sector react to the kind of research I am doing," said Prof. Stefanie von Hlatky of the Centre for International and Defence Policy at Queen's University.

"It usually takes the discussion in unexpected places."