Saturday, October 8, 2016

CDS Flip Flops on African Mission

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch

Michael Staples at The Daily Gleaner newspaper in Fredericton recently had an interview with Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance, in which some of the general’s interesting views emerged.

During the interview Vance claimed that all the discussion over the last several months about a Canadian military mission to Africa was just an “assumption” based on “people’s own assessments in the media.” “It’s been “over reported,” Vance claimed.

“Right now, I’ll tell you, honestly, there is no such thing as an Africa mission,” Vance told The Daily Gleaner. “It’s been over reported based on peoples’ own assessments in the media, in my view, that if you look at the world, it’s going to be an African mission. It’s an assumption.”

I wonder where all that “over reporting” came from? How did these media commentators ever, ever come to the “assumption” that the Canadian military was going to conduct an operation/operations in Africa?

Could it be in August when Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told journalists that the Canadian military was looking at a number of countries in Africa to contribute troops?


Or how about this statement back in July?

“Internationally, the Army is at the forefront, managing conflicts around the world, contributing to operations in Iraq, building capacity with allies and partners in Poland, Ukraine, and very soon in Africa.”

Who said that?

Yes, that came direct from…..Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance.

CAF Disaster Assessment Team sent to Haiti: DART on Standby

By: David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen 

The Canadian government has sent a Canadian Disaster Assessment Team (CDAT) to Haiti and put aside up to $3 million as an initial humanitarian response for those in Haiti and other countries in the region affected by Hurricane Matthew.

“The CDAT will rapidly assess the situation, which is a critical step in ensuring that a Canadian response to the hurricane is coordinated, evidence-based and tailored to the needs on the ground,” the government stated in a news release. Canada is also supporting the United Nations disaster assessment teams in Jamaica and Haiti, who are still examining the situation and assisting local authorities.

Canadian military sources say the Disaster Assistance Response Team is getting ready to move out when they get the word.

Here are more details from the government news statement:

On October 4, 2016, Hurricane Matthew tore through Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Over 1.24 million people are estimated to have been affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.
Haiti was the hardest-hit country and requires attention in at least 11 communities around the Grand’Anse, Nippes and Sud areas, where there has been coastal flooding.

The role of the CDAT is to meet with local and international representatives to assess the needs on the ground and to identify potential follow-up response options for the Government of Canada.
The CDAT comprises three experts from Global Affairs Canada and three officers from the Canadian Armed Forces, including the Disaster Assistance Response Team Commander.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

General: Canadian Special Forces have been in Firefights with ISIS

The Canadian Press 
Information from a Technical Briefing from the Canadian Forces

Canadian special forces troops are spending more time on the front lines in Iraq and have engaged in a number of gunfights with Islamic insurgents in the last few months.

Brig.-Gen. Peter Dawe, deputy commander of the special forces, says the additional time on the front lines is a result of Kurdish allies needing less training.

Instead, Dawe says his soldiers are helping and mentoring the Kurds as they launch attacks against forces from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Dawe says Canadian troops have fired back on a number of instances either to protect themselves or friendly forces.

He says no Canadian soldiers have been killed or injured in the recent battles.

Canada has about 200 special forces soldiers helping Kurdish forces fight ISIL in northern Iraq.

Canada’s role in fight against ISIS
Military officials, Lieutenant-General Stephen Bowes, Brigadier-General Peter Dawe, provide update on Canada’s role in fight against ISIS on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016.

HMCS Brandon, Edmonton and Kingston departing for Op CARIBBE

DND Press Release

Over the next two days, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Brandon, Edmonton and Kingston are departing to participate in Operation CARIBBE, Canada’s contribution the multinational campaign against illicit trafficking by transnational criminal organizations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean.

Operation CARIBBE is one of the many activities undertaken by the Government of Canada and DND/CAF as part of Canada's broader commitment to engagement in the Americas. This annual operation directly supports the CAF's mission to defend against threats and security challenges to Canada, North America, and our defence and security partners.

"One of the Royal Canadian Navy’s most fundamental responsibilities is protecting and maintaining maritime security at home and abroad," said Rear-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander, Maritime Forces Pacific. "We are committed to working with our partners who share our common values and goals in promoting regional stability while supressing criminal activity at sea. Operation CARIBBE builds upon and strengthens existing relationships and this is what enables our sailors to continue their success during this operation now and well into the future."

HMCS Brandon and Edmonton depart Esquimalt, B.C. on October 6 to participate in Operation CARIBBE in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. HMCS Kingston is planned to depart Halifax on October 7 to conduct operations in the Caribbean area of operations. Following readiness training at-sea, the ships will formally join Operation CARIBBE in the coming days.

"On behalf of all the personnel in Maritime Forces Atlantic, I wish the ship's company of HMCSKingston a safe deployment to the Caribbean Sea," said Rear-Admiral John Newton, Commander Joint Task Force Atlantic and Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic. "This cooperation with fourteen like-minded nations to stem flows of illicit drugs on the international sea lanes is a valuable contribution to regional stability. Moreover, the professionalism at sea and ashore will reinforce Canada's contributions to confidence and capacity building measures in the region. To all aboard Kingston, I know you will make us proud."

This deployment will look to build upon the success of HMC Ships Moncton, Summerside, Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Vancouver, which so far in 2016 have seized and disrupted a total of approximately 2,930 kg of cocaine and 1,520 kg of marijuana while working with the United States Coast Guard and embedded Law Enforcement Detachments.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have conducted Operation CARIBBE since November 2006 and remain committed to working with Western Hemisphere and European partners to address security challenges in the region and to disrupt illicit trafficking operations

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Granatstein: Think Carefully before deciding to Deploy Peacekeepers

By J.L. Granatstein, The Globe and Mail
October 3, 2016
Canadian "Peacekeepers" in Haiti following the most recent earthquake. Image :MCpl Marc-Andre Gaudreault, Canadian Forces Combat Camera
Some nations, Bangladesh for one, provide troops to United Nations operations for the money the UN pays for each soldier’s services. That cash is a good boost for its scarce foreign exchange reserves. Canada, however, is much different. We don’t need the foreign exchange. Instead, we are offering the UN up to 600 soldiers and 150 police in exchange – we hope – for votes for a term for Canada on the UN Security Council a few years hence.

Trolling for votes with our men and women in uniform as bait is uniquely unseemly for Canada, but what makes this even worse is that we don’t yet know which UN mission(s) we want to support. Canada is preaching for a call somewhere, some day. But as the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance, says, this quest is not politically motivated: “I reject the notion that this is done simply for political reasons and putting troops in harm’s way into risky areas for anything other than the true merits of the value of the use of military force,” he told a parliamentary committee. There, that’s settled.

So where will the troops go? Somewhere in Africa seems to be the government’s preferred option, with Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and South Sudan always mentioned. None of these existing operations is a traditional peacekeeping mission where a blue helmet and an unloaded rifle once sufficed. These are wars with mass civilian killings and heavy casualties between opposing forces and “peacekeepers.”

Yes, Canadians can play a useful role in such conflicts, but we need to understand the desiderata before we send our men and women overseas. First, there must be strong support at the UN with the full Security Council on board. Then, the parties that are doing the fighting must accept the UN deployment – if not, we must understand we will be fighting against one (or more) sides in the dispute. Next, Canada must ensure that its contingent is well-trained and well-equipped for the particular mission, something that takes time and money. There must be reliable allies on the UN force, a safe logistical base, and a way into the operation – and a way out if the mission collapses into chaos. And we require a set withdrawal date – no more 30-year commitments such as the UN Cyprus operation that kept as many as a thousand Canadians there from 1964.

In addition, we need to consider carefully some other factors. There may be no value in putting our soldiers into the jungles of the Congo, for example, not least because white troops are unwelcome to the factions at war there. The infrastructure of that huge nation is also underdeveloped, making logistics a challenge. Think very carefully before deciding to deploy, in other words.

Finally, the government needs to consider how to sustain and maintain our troops. We have Special Forces operating in Iraq against Islamic State; we have trainers working in Eastern Europe; and we recently put a frigate into the Black Sea. Canada has also committed to station some 450 soldiers in Latvia as a counter to possible Russian aggression. Each one of these deployments requires logistical support, and when the military adds another 600 soldiers in Africa, the supply and air transport demands will quickly become very large. Add to this that troops need to be rotated every six to 12 months, that new deployments must be trained, and that soldiers cannot do deployment after deployment without a break. The challenge to sustain the Canadian Forces abroad can quickly become unsustainable.

So what should Canada do? Peace operations can be useful, and the government should undertake them if the requirements are met, but only if they are met and the operations are sustainable. To ensure that this is so, Parliament should be asked to vote to support every substantial deployment overseas. Without a parliamentary mandate, there cannot be long-lasting public support, and it is always important for our MPs to accept the burden of responsibility for the lives of Canada’s soldiers. The government is under no obligation to get the House’s support, but it should.
J.L. Granatstein is a Fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, as well as a highly reputable Canadian Military Historian. 

Why Peacekeeping needs Bigger Guns in 2016

By Elinor Sloan, iPolitics
October 3, 2016

Cpl. Arnaud (left) and Sgt. Cordell from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment confer with soldiers from Mali during a training exercise in Senegal.  Image: MCpl Paul Franklin
Asked in a Senate hearing last May what the UN needs for its peacekeeping missions, the undersecretary-general for peacekeeping answered with two words: “attack helicopters”.

That response is telling. If Canada deploys to a UN operation in Africa, something the Trudeau government seems intent upon, it will have to be prepared for war. And with large commitments already in Europe and Iraq, it will have to make some choices.

Peacekeeping missions of the Cold War era operated according to three principles: The UN force acted at all times impartially, used force only in self-defence and deployed only with the consent of the parties to conflict. The principles worked because the fighting parties were usually state actors that could control what their military forces did. It meant that, in most cases, risks to peacekeepers were relatively low — so they could carry out their mission while lightly armed.

Driven by events, each of these principles has fallen away. Impartiality was abandoned in the Congo in 2013 when the UN deployed an intervention brigade to carry out targeted offensive operations against Congolese rebels. Peacekeepers have had to use force beyond self-defence in the Congo and to protect civilians in places like South Sudan. The UN makes a distinction between host nation consent and tactical consent, arguing strategic consent is what’s necessary. But the practical reality of UN forces facing rebels and terrorists reveals the distinction’s fallacy.

When the three principles don’t work, peacekeepers become a party to the conflict themselves — with predictable results. In Africa, UN forces are being targeted and killed by gunfire, rocket fire, mortar shells, suicide car bombs, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

In this environment, what are Canada’s options for peace support in Africa? One is training. Canada could help a state build competent military and police forces so that it can address its own internal security. Canada’s expertise here includes training the Afghan national army and Iraqi security forces. Security sector reform takes many years but it’s vital for stabilizing a country.

Another option is enabling. Canada could provide high-end capabilities like signals, logistics, intelligence, engineering and air transport to assist UN combat arms units already in an African mission. But there are challenges. Our signals technology is digital, for example, while the UN mostly uses analog. The interoperability that Canada takes for granted in NATO does not exist in the UN. Canada would need to place officers in the UN force headquarters to ensure enablers are effectively used. And it also needs these enablers in Europe and Iraq, presenting the real possibility of an overstretched force.

Finally, Canada could conduct an operation, deploying Canadian combat arms along with enablers. The force would need Chinook helicopters for troop transport, an armed escort to protect the Chinooks, drones for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, reinforced armored vehicles, lethal firepower and protective body armor. A special concern is medical support and casualty evacuation since, unlike in other places, we cannot rely on the U.S. military.

Canada has light armored vehicles, upgraded to withstand IEDs. But its Chinooks are not at full operational capability, nor are its tactical armored patrol vehicles. Canada has only a limited number of low-flying drones, no armed helicopters like the Apaches used by many of our allies, and no medium altitude long-endurance drones. Again, what is necessary for a high-risk African mission is also in demand elsewhere.

The concurrency challenge goes beyond specific capabilities to include strategic command and control and logistics. If Canada goes into Africa it will be supporting three large geographically dispersed operations at once, placing significant demands on operational staffs in Ottawa.

The Trudeau government will have to prioritize. It will have to decide where it thinks Canada can have the greatest effect. And if it decides on a major mission in Africa, it will have to be ready for war.

RCAF to ask for $500 million in spending for CF-18 upgrades

By: David Pugliese, The National Post

The Canadian military is hoping to ask the government early next year for approval to spend up to $500 million to modernize its CF-18 fighter jets.

The upgrade would keep the planes flying until 2025, giving the government some breathing room to organize the purchase of replacements and make sure they are delivered before the older jets are taken out of service.

Work has already started to ensure the CF-18s are structurally sound.

Now, the military is analyzing improvement options for communications equipment to deal with changes in civil aviation regulations. There could be other upgrades to weapons and how the CF-18s communicate and operate with Allied fighter jets.
DND/FileThe CF-18 upgrade would keep the planes flying until 2025, giving the government some breathing room to organize the purchase of replacements
“This project is expected to go for potential government submission early in 2017,” said Ashley Lemire, Department of National Defence spokeswoman.

The options focus “on what is required from a regulatory and interoperability perspective.”

The DND estimates the cost of the modernization at between $250 million and $499 million, depending on the options chosen and what the government accepts, say defence sources.

Military officers say the upgrades will have to be done by 2021 to make financial sense — new fighter jets are expected by 2025. That means decisions on the upgrades must be made and contracts placed by 2018.

Since 2002, Canada has spent $2.6 billion modernizing the CF-18s. The planes were bought in 1982.

The Conservative government planned to buy 65 F-35 stealth fighters to replace the CF-18s. The purchase was put on hold as the cost ballooned and technical problems emerged.

Colin Kenny: It’s time for us to get on with replacing the CF-18 fighter fleet
‘It’s here. It’s real:’ Stealth fighters vie for attention from air show attendees — and the Canadian Forces
Eight CF-18s deployed for month to U.S.-led exercise despite Liberals’ warning of jet shortage

During last year’s federal election, the Liberals said they would buy a less expensive fighter jet if they came to power.

In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the F-35 “does not work, and is far from working.”

But the Liberal promise not to buy the F-35 has been thrown into question by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who has said any competition would be open to all jets. He has insisted the government must move “quickly” selecting a new fighter jet, but has not outlined any timetable.

Last month, the House of Commons defence committee called on the government to pick a replacement within a year. It pointed out the costs of the new jets should be well documented so other military equipment programs would not be affected.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson A CF-18 Hornet on the runway at CFB Cold Lake Alberta, Oct. 21, 2014.
Both the NDP and Conservatives argued the report was written to support the Liberal government’s defence strategy.

“The committee report marshals evidence to bolster the Liberal decision to sole-source the purchase of Super Hornets,” the NDP said in its submission.

That refers to the Liberals’ attempt in the summer to buy Super Hornet fighter jets, built by Boeing, instead of holding a competition. The plan was put on hold after it prematurely became public when Postmedia revealed the scheme.

Industry sources say they believe some senior Liberals still hope to revive the Super Hornet sole-source purchase in the near future.

Sajjan has said the Canadian military is facing a “capability gap” since the CF-18 fleet can’t handle the country’s commitments to NATO and the North American Aerospace Defence Command’s needs to protect the continent.

“Between our NORAD and NATO commitments and how many jets are serviceable at one time, we cannot meet both those requirements simultaneously,” he said in July.

“The Canadian Armed Forces have been risk-managing this problem for some time now and the previous government found it acceptable. I do not, and I want to make sure that we give all the tools necessary not to put the Canadian Armed Forces in a scenario to risk-manage.”

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Ukraine warns Canada not to trust Russian co-operation over Arctic

By: Steven Chase, Globe and Mail 

A senior Ukrainian envoy is warning a thaw in diplomatic relations between Canada and Russia will primarily benefit Vladimir Putin – a caution that came as relations abruptly deteriorated between Moscow and Washington on Monday over Syria and nuclear arsenals.

Vadym Prystaiko, deputy foreign minister of Ukraine, is visiting Ottawa this week to discuss the future of his country, where Russia has controlled the Crimean peninsula since 2014, and bankrolls pro-Moscow militants that have destabilized eastern Ukraine.

Mr. Prystaiko, a former Ukrainian ambassador to Canada, said Kiev is grateful for all Canadians have done for his country, but is not happy to see the Trudeau government resume co-operation with Russia over the Arctic.

Canada and Russia are members of the Arctic Council, but the former Conservative government suspended all but low-level discussions with Moscow after the country annexed Crimea.

The Liberals announced last week that Canada and Russia will host an Arctic conference in Ottawa in November, saying shunning Moscow was an “irrationality” and illogical given that “between us we control 75 per cent of the North.” Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion says Canada will continue to voice “profound disagreement” over Russia’s conduct in Ukraine, noting Ottawa has increased sanctions on Moscow since the Liberals took power.

Mr. Prystaiko said engaging with Russia chips away at the international isolation that has bedevilled Mr. Putin since he took over Crimea. Russia was ejected from the Group of Eight forum of major industrialized countries and faces damaging sanctions.

“The Arctic Council is another way where [the Russian President] can break through the worldwide political blockade,” the Ukraine envoy said. “The guy is going for something else than just … the fate of seals or spills of oil.”

The Ukrainian official warned Canada cannot trust any of Russia’s commitments at the Arctic Council.

“Any rapprochement with Russians, before they behave in a civilized way, is too premature,” Mr. Prystaiko said. “Whatever the forum ... we are talking to the aggressor.”

Mr. Prystaiko pointed to Mr. Putin’s announcement on Monday that Moscow will suspend a treaty with Washington on cleaning up weapons-grade plutonium.

“How can you believe in the Arctic Council or document signed with Russia if they would break any agreement?

Russia’s move came just before the United States announced it was suspending one-on-one talks with Moscow toward ending the violence in Syria. Washington accused Moscow of not living up to its commitments under a ceasefire agreement.

Mr. Putin issued a decree suspending an accord concluded in 2000 that had committed the United States and Russia to shrink their nuclear arsenals and dispose of surplus plutonium originally intended for use in nuclear weapons.

The Kremlin said it was taking that action in response to unfriendly acts by Washington.

Under the Conservatives, Ottawa sent military trainers to western Ukraine to help that country’s soldiers upgrade their skills for the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The deployment is slated to end in 2017, but Ukraine hopes the Liberals will extend the mission. Several years ago, Ottawa gave Ukraine $400-million in low-interest loans and has donated tonnes of non-lethal military equipment. Canada also recently concluded a free-trade agreement with Ukraine.

Pro-Russian militants retain control of a portion of eastern Ukraine where Mr. Prystaiko said Moscow posted 6,000 soldiers to lead and support the rebels. The ruble is a circulating currency in this region, he said, and Kiev charges that Russia has been stealing valuable factory equipment and metallurgical coal from the area.

Furthermore, the conflict has blocked the most direct route for Ukraine’s exports to Asia.

“Imagine the United States is [going after you] you with military force, cutting out all trade you have with the United States and then they will decide to block, for example, exports to China,” Mr. Prystaiko said. “We used to send all our exports to China through the railroads over the Russian territory. Now they are blocking exports.”

Canadian Military Police Prepare Ukrainians for NATO-led Exercise

Military Police instructors with Joint Task Force – Ukraine provide feedback after a practical vehicle checkpoint lesson at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in Starychi, Ukraine during Operation UNIFIER on September 12, 2016. (Photo: Joint Task Force – Ukraine)
Military Police instructors with Joint Task Force – Ukraine provide feedback after a practical vehicle checkpoint lesson at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in Starychi, Ukraine during Operation UNIFIER on September 12, 2016. (Photo: Joint Task Force – Ukraine)
By: Lieutenant (N) Aaron Lutter, Second in Command of MP Field Training

On September 24, 2016, a Ukrainian Military Law and Order Service (MLOS) Field Platoon successfully completed three weeks of training under the guidance of the Canadian Armed Forces Military Police (MP) at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre in Starychi, Ukraine.

In September of 2015, the Chiefs of Defence of Ukraine, Lithuania, and Poland agreed to provide a multinational MP company in support of a multinational brigade at a NATO-led exercise to be held in 2017. Given Canada’s recent experience in conducting similar training missions, the Ukrainian MLOS looked specifically to Canada to provide baseline training for their contribution in preparation for that commitment.

“I am convinced that the experience gained through this training will enable these Ukrainian students to effectively perform their duties, be it as part of a multinational exercise or while deployed in the operations zone,” said Major Jade Watson, Deputy Commander of Joint Task Force - Ukraine.

Development and translation of the training syllabus commenced ten weeks prior to deployment. A team of three MP Officers, and two MP Non-Commissioned Members was selected, based on their background and experience in field MP operations. Their first task was to build a training package to include duties and responsibilities of a field MP Platoon with a focus on NATO interoperability. Concurrent with the curriculum development, the MLOS Platoon began internal training to reinforce individual soldier skills, in a manner similar to how Canada soldiers complete annual Individual Battle Task Standards training. Additionally, Operation UNIFIER personnel provided valuable assistance and support through provision of Combat First Aid and Explosive Threat and Hazard Awareness and Recognition training.

The MP team arrived in Ukraine in two groups: an advance party on August 24 and the remainder on September 3, 2016. Training began on September 5. In keeping with the Op UNIFIER battle rhythm, training was conducted six days a week. To best prepare the MLOS Platoon for NATO duties, instructional material centred on the five NATO MP functions: mobility support, security, detention, police functions, and stability police functions.

Classes consisted of theory and practical exercises, and included duties and responsibilities typically assigned a field MP Platoon. These duties included a wide array of tasks such as conduct of Command Post operations, NATO orders format, route reconnaissance, Prisoner of War and detainee handling, site exploitation, refugee and straggler control, rear area security, traffic control, and policing in failed and failing states.

“We were able to learn lots of important new skills on this course, and further improve several skills that we already had. This training has certainly helped prepare us for next year’s exercise,” said Senior Lieutenant Sergii Orlov, Ukrainian MLOS Platoon Commander.

The training package culminated in a three day field exercise, which challenged the MLOS Platoon in all aspects of field MP duties, and confirmed the knowledge and skills gained over the training period. Throughout the scenarios the Ukrainian students demonstrated at every opportunity that they are well prepared to effectively contribute to the multinational MP company in 2017 or on deployed operations.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Auditors find Canadian Military bases falling apart

The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — National Defence auditors have found that many of Canada's military bases are literally falling apart because of chronic underspending on maintenance and repairs.

The Liberal budget in March set aside more than $200 million over two years to fix armouries, aircraft hangars, naval jetties and military housing across the country.

But that money won't address the problems identified by the auditors, which deal with the basic utilities needed to operate military facilities, such as electrical and heating systems, drinking water and sewer systems and even roads.

Complicating matters is the fact the bases themselves often have little to no information on the state of those systems, in part because of poor record-keeping but also because infrastructure is not checked on a regular basis.

As a result, the department doesn't actually know how many hundreds of millions of dollars — if not billions — it will cost to repair or replace all of the decrepit infrastructure, more than half of which has already exceeded its 50-year life expectancy.

The auditors say the risk of service disruptions at military bases will increase as long as the problems aren't addressed.

Kenny: Let's Get Moving on CF-18 Replacement

By: Colin Kenny, The Ottawa Citizen 

We may be finally getting somewhere on replacing Canada’s aging CF-18s. At least we have a process that, if allowed to carry through to completion without any more interference, will give us the new fighter-bomber that our air force has been seeking for years.

While our CF-18s have served us well, they have already undergone one life extension. They must be replaced. Almost everyone agrees that we need jets to defend our own airspace against enemy aircraft or hijacked airliners. There are too many rogue actors on the international stage who would like to do us harm. Protecting our skies from those threats is a key component of national defence. We have some capacity in NORAD, but that’s only as a defence against aircraft attacking North America.

As North Korea’s recent missile tests show, enemy or hijacked aircraft are only a small part of the threat. It’s goofy that we continue to exclude ourselves from ballistic missile defence. We also need new aircraft to provide air support for military operations abroad that have the back of our ground troops, like the CF-18s did in the former Yugoslavia in 1997.

The final reason we need a new fleet is that having a robust air force serves as a deterrent to those who seek to do us harm. Often just having a big stick means you’re less likely to have to use it.

The need for these new aircraft is clear. But every attempt to make a decision about which aircraft should be purchased, and how to purchase one, has stuttered and stalled. Everyone seems to have an opinion. But as one who’s studied defence issues for 40 years, neither I, nor a parliamentary committee, are qualified to make a decision on which aircraft is best. These are matters best left to the folks who will ultimately be responsible for flying the missions and hopefully getting our personnel home safely.

Despite a lot of political background noise, the prime minister has issued directives to hold “an open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18.” Furthermore, the questionnaire sent out to the competing defence contractors was by all accounts fair and inclusive. Now, we all need to take a deep breath, and get out of the way.

Let’s get on with the fighter-jet competition. An inclusive and transparent process is the Canadian way. It’s how we do business with each other and the world. It is also a sign that the needs of our airmen and women will be taken into account and that the ultimate selection will yield the best plane at the best price for Canada. We’ve wasted too much time already. The defence minister has been given his orders and should now ensure that the competitive process is fair to suppliers and transparent to all Canadians.

Canada also has a responsibility to our allies, and we have not been pulling our weight in this regard. The Americans know this and speak often and loudly in closed-door sessions about Canada and other NATO countries behaving like freeloaders. Sometimes they are polite and diplomatically refer to it as “burden sharing” but they understand that they are giving up other domestic programs as a consequence.

Now Donald Trump has put it all out in public by calling out NATO countries who are not carrying their fair share of the defence burden – measured at two per cent of GDP. Even President Barack Obama publicly pointed out, in his address to Parliament, that Canada should contribute “its full share to common security.” It is important to note that Canada, like other NATO partners, voluntarily adopted these commitments.

Not being seen as freeloaders will require a lot of additional spending. But we do not need to make it up all at once, and part of that spending commitment is allocating one-fifth to capital investment. One good way to start would be to improve our fighter aircraft capacity. Let’s make that happen. Without delay and without any more political interference.

Colin Kenny is former chair of the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.

Counter Argument to Vimy Paper #33: The F-35 and the CF-18 Replacement Debacle

On September 15th, 2016 - I published the Executive Summary of the CDA Institutes latest Vimy paper by Mr. Skimooka and the F-35 and the Canadian Procurement Process. I said then that it was heavily biased towards the F-35. Alan Williams has since published a counter argument and challenged Shimooka's essay.

The CDA Institute decline to publish the report.

It was published yesterday by Defence Watch. 

By Alan Williams

Defence Watch Guest Writer

In Mr. Shimooka’s Vimy Paper, “The Fourth Dimension: The F-35 Program, Defence Procurement, and the Conservative Government, 2006-2015”, he purports to present a history of the events surrounding the F-35 debacle. Unfortunately, in my view it is a flawed study reflecting Mr. Shimooka’s failure to grasp some of the basic principles of defence procurement and his acceptance of Lockheed Martin’s version of costs.

Below are just a few examples:


Example 1

On page 12, Mr. Shimooka writes that there were several unique challenges for the Canadian government.

“The first involved how to properly manage an acquisition process given the unusual nature of the JSF Partnership. With its cooperative development approach, the F-35 did not conform to any other program within the bureaucracy’s experience. The government would need to guarantee two objectives simultaneously: managing a selection process that would ensure that Canada obtained the best possible replacement for the CF-18 (in terms of capability and cost), while cultivating the potential for tens of billions of dollars in opportunities for Canadian industry within the JSF program if the F-35 was selected as a replacement.”

Frankly, participating in the JSF program while simultaneously pursuing an open, fair and transparent competitive process presents no problem at all. As long as Canada remained a partner in the JSF program its industries were entitled to pursue and hopefully win significant contracts. Should Canada choose an aircraft other than the F-35, it would forego its opportunity to bid on contracts within the JSF program. Best estimates were that Canadian industry might garner up to $10-$12 billion in contracts. After all, nothing was guaranteed. However, any successful bidder would be required to guarantee industrial opportunities equal to or greater than the value of the contract, at least twice as great as under the JSF program. Furthermore, the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development is in the position of ensuring that these jobs are high value jobs.

Example 2

On page 12, Mr. Shimooka identifies the selection process as the second major challenge for the government. Specifically,

“How to establish criteria for selecting a replacement, when one option is clearly more capable and will be used by most of Canada’s major allies?”

This too is a non-issue. First, the criteria or statement of requirements (SOR) needs to be based on the roles for the jet as articulated by the federal government. What is required is not necessarily the jet that has the most capabilities but the one that has the proven, operational capabilities that meet Canada’s needs. Note, I refer to proven, operational capabilities, not theoretical capabilities described on paper but not yet operationally approved.

Second, whether or not a jet is used by most of our allies is irrelevant. We should buy the jet that meets our needs not those of other countries. As for the issue of interoperability, we have and will continue to operate in theatres of operation with allies who bring a wide-range of aircraft to the fight. To this end, we regularly conduct military exercises or “war games” with our allies simulating operational situations and ensuring that notwithstanding the differing assets, we can communicate and work effectively together.

Example 3

On page 13, Mr. Shimooka writes,

“The 2006 assessment was fairly clear, suggesting the F-35 was likely the most capable and lowest cost option – and one that offered major industrial benefits for Canadian firms. The government accepted the recommendations, and on its basis signed the MOU in December of that year.”

The 2006 assessment was indeed pivotal, not in that it was used as the basis for signing the Phase III MOU. Rather, that it was used to support a recommendation made on Sept. 19, 2006 to the Minister of National Defence by the ADM (MAT) to purchase the F-35 – a crucial milestone that Mr. Shimooka omits.

There were two fundamental problems with this recommendation. First, in 2006 the F-35 was in its embryonic stages of development with its capabilities and its costs still unknown. To make such a recommendation at that time was indefensible. Second, in making such a recommendation, the ADM (MAT) abdicated his role and accountability as the individual responsible for acquisition within DND. Acquisition decisions are placed in the hands of civilian, rather than military, authorities to ensure objectivity and rigour before making recommendations up the line to ministers. In this case, the ADM (MAT) merely accepted the air force’s superficial analysis and ignored his duties.

This unsupportable recommendation launched the long downward spiral into what I refer to as the

F-35 debacle. Once accepted, neither the bureaucrats nor government leaders would back off the recommendation no matter what facts were available to them.

Example 4

Mr. Shimooka goes to great lengths to applaud the internal work at DND. On page four, he states:

“Nevertheless officials within DND, and later the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat worked to overcome these challenges, exercising due diligence with a rigorous evaluation process. The work of both included numerous safeguards to ensure the integrity of the entire approach. Although the effort was not flawless, the assessments made by these bodies were accurate and validated in subsequent years.”

Furthermore in his executive summary he writes,

“The federal bureaucracy, initially led by the Department of National Defence worked to undertake a proper evaluation of the CF-18 replacement program. Far from being exorbitantly expensive or technologically defective, it discovered the F-35 was the best option for Canada and recommended a sole source selection in 2010.” and that this study “is a story not of bureaucratic mismanagement or military bias.”

The reality is that no amount of internal analysis can substitute for an open, fair and transparent competition. First, internal analysis does not include the highly sensitive, secret operational information only provided through a competitive framework. Second, price and industrial benefits are factors in determining a successful bid and these can only be optimized and realized through a competition.

Furthermore, there is a vast difference between believing, rightly or wrongly, that “the F-35 is the best option for Canada” and recommending “a sole-source selection”. The former is an opinion. The latter is a procurement strategy that must comply with applicable legislation. Under section 506.12 (b) of the Agreement on Internal Trade, a sole-source option can be pursued if there is “an absence of competition”. In this case, it does not comply. There is no legal justification for a sole-source award.

If the F-35 did not exist, would we say that no other aircraft exists to meet our needs? Would we therefore not purchase any fighter aircraft replacement? Of course not! There can be no doubt that there are a number of alternatives to the F-35. These include Boeing’s Super Hornet, Dassault’s Rafale, Saab’s Gripen and EADS/BAE’s Eurofighter Typhoon. These are used by many of our allies and each, to a greater or lesser extent, can meet Canada’s fighter replacement needs. Which one can best meet Canada’s needs taking into consideration price and industrial and technical benefits can only be determined through a competition. Of course, if you have predetermined which aircraft you want, then you wire or fix the requirements to suit your needs. That is what occurred.

Contrary to Mr. Shimooka’s assertion, this indeed is a story of bureaucratic mismanagement and military bias.


Example 5

On page 11, Mr. Shimooka writes that after a major replan of the JSF program, a target was established that “would see the aircraft cost approximately $75 million dollars a copy.” Frankly, the $75 million figure never was the price any purchaser would ever pay to purchase an F-35. Rather, it reflects one of the many costs that went into building the F-35. It is a tribute to Lockheed Martin’s ingenious marketing strategy that the public was led to believe that Canada would pay $75 million per aircraft. Sadly, our government and officials bought into this strategy and apparently so has Mr. Shimooka.

An analogy may help to explain Lockheed Martin’s deceptive cost communications strategy. How would you react if you were to enter a furniture store, ask a salesperson about the price for a chair and be told that direct labour cost was $75? You would likely be pretty upset. You would recognize that the $75 cost figure may or may not be correct but is not the price you would pay. The final price would be composed of direct labour, direct material, overhead and profit. You would feel that the salesperson is trying to deceive you.

As the attached U.S. Cost Definitions chart indicates, the $75 million referred to by Mr. Shimooka only represents the “recurring flyaway cost“ of the F-35. The final price that Canada will pay to purchase the aircraft will be composed of the recurring flyaway cost, the non-recurring flyaway cost, the weapon systems cost and the procurement cost.

By the way, according to the Selected Acquisition Report FY2017 referred to by Mr. Shimooka, if a buyer were to purchase the F-35A in 2016, the “recurring flyaway cost” for the jet would be $99.6 million. In 2012, these costs would have been $91.6 million.



I am sure that officials in the PBO and AG can adequately defend their reports. However, it is important to note that neither of these reports would likely have been demanded were it not for the government’s misleading cost information. Anyone involved with defence procurement had to know that the government’s initial claim that it would cost $9 billion to acquire 65 jets and $7 billion to support them was ludicrous. The long-term support costs are typically 2-3 times as great as the initial acquisition cost. In this case the government was claiming the support costs were less than the acquisition costs!


Much as Mr. Shimooka may try to construct another narrative, the Conservative government’s decision to sole-source the F-35A, was a disaster of its own making. Resorting to a campaign of misinformation and a strategy to understate the costs of the program, the government lost all credibility.

At the outset, it launched a misinformation campaign, justifying its decision with statements it had to know were false. These included:

-Claiming the F-35 was the best plane at the best price;

-Claiming the F-35 was the result of a Canadian competition;

-Claiming the F-35 was needed for interoperability;

-Claiming the F-35 was needed for industrial benefits.

Later on, when it was forced to pause as a result of the PBO and AG reports, the government again resorted to subterfuge, developing a seven-point plan that was nothing more than a stalling strategy.

Finally, as its last attempt to foist the F-35A upon an unwitting Canadian taxpayer, the government attempted to undertake a clandestine deal with the U.S. Air Force. Not surprisingly, this duplicitous behavior was discovered and the government had to back off.

Understating of Costs

Parliament and the public simply wanted to know how much this program was going to cost. Instead of providing a full and fair response, the government continuously understated the costs, thereby inviting the intervention of the PBO and AG. The PBO and AG reports further damaged the credibility of the government by reinforcing the extent of the government’s deceit. From an initial government estimate of $16 billion, current estimates are that the program will cost Canadians over $40 billion.

The irony, of course, is that the F-35A may yet be the best aircraft to meet Canada’s needs. The only way of knowing for certain is through an open, fair and transparent competition, a competition based upon the government’s public articulation of the role it sees for our military and the role it sees for Canada’s fighter replacement. Acquiring aircraft through a sole-source contract is not only illegal but bad business. Costs are higher and industrial benefits are lower. Most importantly, only through a competition can we be certain that we have purchased the best plane to meet the needs of our men and women in the military.

In his conclusion, Mr. Shimooka contends that:

“Canadian political parties and the public have largely failed to grasp the underlying facts, and created a discourse that bore little resemblance to reality.”

Fortunately, the exact opposite was true. That’s why the Conservative government failed to achieve its objective.

Alan Williams is a former ADM (MAT) at DND. He is now President of The Williams Group, providing companies with procurement expertise. In 2002 he signed the Memorandum of Understanding committing Canada to the second phase of the Joint Strike Fighter program. Mr. Williams is the author of two books, “Reinventing Canadian Defence Procurement: A View From the Inside” published in 2006 and “Canada, Democracy and the F-35” published in 2012. He can be reached at

Canada’s jilted partners languish as peacekeeping fetish feeds love affair with the UN

By: Matthew Fisher, National Post 

The Trudeau government has a bit of a pacifist streak, a peacekeeping fetish, a romantic nostalgia for Pearsonian internationalism and a distrust of the security arrangements that have kept Canada safe since the Second World War.

Canadian troops donning blue berets and marching off to Africa for the first time in two decades are part of a seismic shift by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to prioritize working with the UN to solve international disputes rather than collaborating with traditional allies.

The Liberals’ lack of ardour for working with such treaty partners as NATO or NORAD precedes the current prime minister’s term by many years. But with peacekeeping now dominating the conversation in government circles in Ottawa, there is less enthusiasm for those alliances than ever.

While there is no talk of Canada quitting NATO or NORAD — the rote platitudes about a profound and abiding commitment are still uttered — the prime minister and his closest advisers are clearly more comfortable working with the UN than the country’s old partners. This conviction arises partly from the insecurities some Canadians have about their southern neighbours and partly from a desire to stake out international diplomatic turf that Canada can claim as its own.

Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty ImagesPrime Minister Justin Trudeau greets UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he arrives for a conference on AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Montreal Sept. 17, 2016.

The change in focus can not only be seen in Ottawa’s rapture with the UN and French Africa — which Liberal Quebecers such as Trudeau the Elder and Jean Chrétien always had a soft spot for — but in the government’s giddy promotion of trade and friendship with China, whose “basic dictatorship” Trudeau the Younger has said he admires, and which is likely construed from the U.S. point of view as a move away from Washington.

It has been repeated like a mantra recently that China is now Canada’s second-most important trading partner, after the United States. Usually left unsaid is that Canada is only China’s 13th-most important trading partner. Similarly forgotten in the rush to become close to China’s Communist regime — and put aside its appalling human rights record and current mania for building fighter and naval bases on sandbars in the South China Sea — is that Canada’s trade with the U.S. is still about 10 times greater and represents the largest trading relationship in the world.

As for Trudeau’s “bromance” with Barack Obama, it is fun while it lasts. The friendship ends with the U.S. presidential election next month. It will almost certainly be followed by more complicated relationships with either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

Matthew Fisher: ‘The Kumbaya thing will not work, especially in Africa,’ ex-soldier warns Canadians
Emma Watson praises Justin Trudeau for half-female cabinet in meeting at Ottawa summit
John Ivison: Trudeau wins over UN with strange speech full of liberal platitudes

It was obvious that Trudeau’s bond with Obama was wearing a little thin after the president told Parliament a couple of months ago that he expected Canada to continue pulling its weight in NATO. That polite public reading of the riot act was followed almost immediately by Trudeau’s announcement that a Canadian-led combat force would soon be sent overseas to act as tripwire along the Russian border in the Baltics.

The announcement came as a shock at NATO headquarters in Brussels. As one delighted senior official told me, Ottawa had done everything it could for months to avoid making such a commitment.

The lack of interest in NATO comes as the alliance faces many stresses and tests because of Russia and fractures in the European Union. If NATO comes apart, don’t expect Canada to try to help much to keep it together.

On NORAD, it looks as if Trudeau is determined to buy a new fighter jet that will not have the latest capabilities that the American and other NATO aircraft have. While privately unhappy about this, the Americans are unlikely to publicly criticize Canada. That is because continental air defence is so crucial to Americans that they will simply take over Canada’s northern air space and put our new, small fleet of second-tier fighter jets in the rear with the gear.

The Liberals’ preference for the UN, which has been underlined by Trudeau’s pursuit of a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council, began long before he decided to follow his father into federal politics. The Chrétien government wisely declined to be part of George W. Bush’s ill-starred coalition in Iraq and the reason at the time was because the operation did not have the UN’s blessing. The Chrétien and Martin Liberals later agreed to send troops to Afghanistan, but that was a UN-sanctioned mission.

Stephen Harper had a famously different view of the UN than Trudeau. Although Canada continued to be one of the UN’s biggest financial supporters during Harper’s years in power, he criticized it frequently as ineffectual and corrupt and for being dominated by unsavoury officials from countries that are dictatorships.

Harper sometimes denounced the UN but mostly ignored it. He preferred to co-operate with the Five Eyes (the intelligence-sharing alliance with Britain, New Zealand, Australia and the U.S.). He signed on to American- and NATO-led bombing campaigns against Iraq, Syria and Libya; sent F-18s on a NATO mission to defend Lithuania; and put Canadian military trainers on the ground in Ukraine, Poland and Iraq.

Until now, the Trudeau government’s warm embrace of the UN has not produced benefits or damaging consequences. But the change of direction must be causing bewilderment and anxiety in Washington and other Western capitals and perverse delight in Beijing and Moscow.

Can Canada be an Honest Broker on Ukraine?

Originally Published by the CGA Institute 

By Andrew Rasiulis

It was noted in some circles last week, that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was not invited to participate in talks held on the margins of the G-20 meeting focused on resolving the political and military impasse in eastern Ukraine. This meeting included the leaders of US, France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia under the informal diplomatic umbrella of the Normandy Group (first formed in June 2014 at D-Day anniversary gathering). Murray Brewster wrote an excellent article for the CBC on September 11, examining the background for Canada's absence, with thoughtful analysis by Professors Piotr Dutkiewicz and Dominique Arel. The upshot being Canada has been too closely identified with the political position of the government in Ukraine and too tight with US positions on Ukraine to distinguish itself as a potential honest broker in finding a political/diplomatic solution to the conflict.

Canadian objectivity on the Ukraine file needs to be restored if Canada has the aspiration to return to its traditional role of honest broker and to thereby make a diplomatic contribution to finding a peaceful settlement. Being objective does not mean that Canada must relinquish its values or interests. On the contrary, Canada has traditionally fostered its values and interests through a measured objectivity which has enabled our diplomats and soldiers to act in an impartial manner to negotiate and resolve conflict.

This was the pattern set after World War II in which Canadian foreign and defence policy was firmly rooted within the Western camp during the Cold War. Canada made its valued military contribution to the NATO and NORAD alliances, as it continues to do so today. However, being a strong backer of its values and interests as represented by these alliances, as well as its close bilateral relationship to the US, did not prevent Canada from playing a valued honest broker role in the context of the UN or other international fora such as the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), now renamed the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Canadian diplomats and soldiers were often sought after to play the helpful fixer role in finding solutions to security issues of the day.

Canada still has that opportunity today, whether on the larger international scene or specifically the Ukraine-Russian conflict. The current peace settlement process under the Minsk 2 arrangement agreed in February 2015 is stalled over the reluctance of the Ukrainian government to hold discussions on constitutional reform that would allow greater autonomy for the predominately Russian-speaking rebel-held areas. Both Ukrainians and Russians have agreed under Minsk on reforms and to confirm the package through local elections in the rebel-held areas under Ukrainian law.

Subject to this constitutional reform agreement, all sides agree that the Ukrainian authorities would retake control of the Ukrainian border. Canada has the opportunity to engage itself as an honest broker and to bring to the negotiating table our extensive experience in the evolution of federalism and the peaceful accommodation of ethnic and linguistic diversity. Canada is diplomatically well placed to engage itself in the process under the auspices of the OSCE which continues to play a supporting role to the Normandy Group and the Minsk process.


M. Andrew Rasiulis is retired from the Public Service and is now a freelance consultant with Andrew Rasiulis Associates Inc. He is also a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.