Thursday, October 20, 2016

RCAF CP-140 Aurora Will Track Russian Aircraft Carrier

By: Tim Ripley, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

Russia's only aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, and a supporting naval task group has set sail for the Mediterranean, state-owned news agency TASS has reported.

"The group consists of the aircraft-carrying heavy cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov , the battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy , large anti-submarine ships Severomorsk and Vice Admiral Kulakov and support vessels," according to a statement from the Russian Northern Fleet on 15 October, reported by TASS later that day.

The mission of the deployment is "to ensure naval presence in the important areas of the World Ocean", said the Northern Fleet statement. "Special focus will be made on safeguarding security of maritime traffic and other types of maritime economic activity of Russia and also on responding to the new kinds of modern threats such as piracy and international terrorism."
NATO has been developing plans to monitor the progress of Admiral Kuznetsov and its battlegroup as they transit through the North Atlantic and into the Mediterranean. Many of the alliance's naval and air assets participating in Exercise 'Joint Warrior' off the west coast of Scotland are expected to be drawn upon for the surveillance operation, including Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora and US Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft temporarily deployed to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

UK assets on call for the surveillance operation include a Type 23 frigate and a Type 45 destroyer to shadow the Russian ships, a senior UK military official has told IHS Jane's . Royal Air Force aircraft are also being prepared for the operation. These include a Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint electronic eavesdropping aircraft, a Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules transport being used in the surface surveillance role and Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft to shadow any Sukhoi Su-33 or Mikoyan MiG-29K naval strike fighters launched from the Russian carriers.

A UK Royal Navy spokesperson told IHS Jane's on 15 October, "UK and NATO assets routinely monitor warships from other nations when they enter our area of interest and this will be no different."

Realistic Peacekeeping Options for Canada

By: Sarah Jane Meharg, Canadian Global Affairs Institute

The Liberal government’s Defence Review was called on 6 April 2016. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s review will determine defence capabilities – what the Canadian Armed Forces have and what they need and how these capabilities will be employed to confront conflict and calamity in the environment of global instability. Defence Reviews are significant benchmarks because they set out guiding principles informed by foreign policy within the emerging social, political and economic context of the day.

Historically, such reviews have not aligned with fiscal frameworks to develop fully the grand strategies envisioned in such White Papers. If ends, ways and means – in other words, the fiscal framework – are not in lock-step, then, for the next decade Canada will be out of step in achieving its defence-related foreign policy aims.

The security and defence budget is approximately CAD $20 billion, rising with inflation each year. Canada’s UN peacekeeping financial contribution does not come out of the security and defence budget, but rather directly from Global Affairs Canada, the department responsible for making all assessed contributions to international organizations, of which UN peacekeeping is one. Defence dollars are spent at home and internationally. There is an (irrational) fear held by the government that the defence budget is bloated and there is a move afoot by Canada’s new government to carve out a leaner, more agile military from the already gutted reality of the past decade.

Putting the ongoing procurement debacle aside, defence requires funding specifically aligned with the readiness to deploy.

Peacekeeping missions have expanded to include many peace operation activities that have been empirically proven to reduce conflict recidivism, including: deployments into large, expensive and increasingly complex operations; developing and implementing transition strategies for operations where stability has been achieved; and equipping communities with capacity for long-term peace and stability, evidenced through economic development. UN peacekeeping remains one of the most powerful tools wielded by the international community to manage peaceful outcomes of contemporary armed conflicts, yet, like any other capability development, peacekeeping requires training that is specific to its remit. The tool is only as effective as its contingent troops, police and civilian personnel, and this boils down to deployment experience.

Deployments, among other things, help identify the personnel who cannot manage the stress of operations and who may detract from mission successes. Only with real experience – rather than simulations and exercises – can successes be gained. For example, the United States has innovated its ability to gain relevant and timely deployment experience by running ‘live exercises’ during its humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations (HA/DR) – a type of operation that requires a whole-of-government approach to succeed.

If we are not doing Cyprus peacekeeping anymore, we certainly need to avoid doing the same type of peacekeeper training. Canada can apply innovative ‘live exercising’ to get on-the-job peacekeeping training. Deploying more Canadians on UN missions means that they gain field experience within semi-permissive multidimensional environments and learn the lessons of international cross-cultural leadership, civil-military relations, community-based policing and security, and other innovative techniques that bring about lasting stability. It is recommended that the government deploy 1,000 contingent troops, police and civilian personnel per year to the UN peacekeeping missions that matter to national security, and fall within its defence related foreign policy aims. The cost of this increase would be approximately 10 times the current cost of the deployment of 100 personnel. Deployments should be short term (1 month), medium-term (3 months) and long-term (6 months to 1 year) to yield learning and innovation.12 It is recommended that the government engage existing defence lessons-learned capabilities to assess the experience of troops, police and civilian personnel to increase knowledge acquisition within the relevant government departments and agencies.

When the government of Canada decides to deploy the CAF to an existing or new UN peace operation, it must ensure the following pieces are in place:

  • A clear chain of command exists in theatre and with the CAF in Canada able to make decisive changes if the mission environment deteriorates beyond the remit of the mission’s mandate and Rules of Engagement. 
  • If deploying under a Chapter 7 mandate, Canada must guarantee – or confirm allied protection through – combat heavy weapons support in theatre prior to the deployment of CAF capabilities, such as mobile medical teams, engineering support, civilian experts, police and the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), if its mandate is widened beyond disaster response. 
  • The CAF, Canadian police and other deployed personnel foster relationships with reliable in theatre partners in communications, logistics and airlift in the nascent stages of Canada’s own development in these support capabilities.
  • The rules of engagement (ROE) for each mission13 in which Canadians are deployed are robust to allow for a full spectrum of use of force by the CAF against aggressors, whether aggressor violence is focused on the local civilian population, or the UN peacekeepers themselves. If the ROEs are not robust enough, Canadians should not deploy to the mission. 

Canada’s bid to participate on the UN Security Council for two years starting in 2020 is a committed position to engage fully in multilateral efforts of the international system intended to net enhanced peace, security and stability dividends.

While it is pursuing a seat, it is recommended that the government focus its approach to conflict management by supporting innovative systems and processes that can be duplicated by other states and non-state actors, such as it did with the development of innovations like Results-Based Management,14 the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre15 and Free Balance,16 to name a few. The remit for Global Affairs Canada (GAC) now has an economic lens, evidenced by the transformation away from supporting ‘dead aid’ that causes cyclical state-based welfare in developing states towards investment aid that ends the welfare cycle and creates autonomy in developing states while having direct economic benefits for Canada’s public and private sector contributions to global peace and security. UN peacekeeping contributions should be viewed with a similar lens in that missions can be used to deploy more Canadians to reap the benefits of live whole-of-government exercises. As well, contributions should empower the development of innovations in the conflict management industry to improve the efficacy of peacekeeping while driving Canadian economies. While the Security Council seat would be advantageous for Canada, the government must concomitantly support UN peacekeeping by increasing deployments to missions, as well as drive public and private sector innovations for managing conflicts, all while capturing the relevant lessons to inform the government’s understanding of the changing nature of the conflict environment. It is recommended that the government establish a fiscal framework supporting peacekeeping training, deployments, lessons learned and conflict management innovations that exceeds the existing budget for these existing capabilities by 10%.

This plan will yield the highest dividends for global peace and security which, in turn, underscores Canada’s foreign policy interests. Working shoulder-to-shoulder with allies on UN peace operations permits Canada entry to the decision-making table regarding international governance and collective security.

Dr. Meharg is Canada’s authority on post-conflict reconstruction. She specializes in the cultural, security and economic reconstruction of post-conflict and post-disaster environments. Dr. Meharg teaches peacekeeping and political geography at the Royal Military College of Canada, where she is Adjunct Assistant Professor, and also instructs at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto.

Military Confrontation Over Arctic...Unlikely says SIPRI Report

By: Daniel Maillet, CAF Dispatch Author
October 20, 2016

In it's most recent publication the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), an independent resource on global security, has examined the military capabilities of five of the most prominent arctic nations and posed the question, A New Cold War in the High North?

In its executive summary, the publication says, "Climate change is making the Arctic region—and its expected natural resources—more accessible. Overlapping claims by the fi ve Arctic littoral states—Canada, Denmark, Norway, the United States (all of which are members of NATO) and Russia—have raised concerns about future conflict in the region and have stimulated new thinking about the security situation in the Arctic. All fi ve states started to strengthen their military presence and capabilities in the Arctic even before the rise in tensions between Russia and NATO members observed since 2014. This increase in tensions has fuelled fears of the onset of a new ‘cold war’ and possible conflict in Europe. It has also resulted in a further build-up of military capabilities in the Arctic region."

"However, the actions taken by the five Arctic littoral states in the region and the offi cial documents released by those states in the past few years seem to suggest that the focus remains solely on the defence of current national territories. While this relatively restrained approach to overlapping maritime claims is to be welcomed, the increases in military forces provide cause for concern, and military confi dence measures and expanded cooperation should be high on the agenda for all five states."

The SIPRI report clearly states that while there are numerous who believe that the Arctic is headed towards conflict, most notably over natural resources; the actuality of military confrontation between any of the five states is unlikely.

The report clearly indicates that Canada is not alone in it's exhaustively slow military rebuild of its Arctic capabilities. The United States, Denmark, Norway, Canada, and Russia while all are heavily investing in a resurgence of military capabilities in the Arctic, all are doing so very slowly (much slower than planned) and are mainly doing so to protect their own borders, sovereignty, and secure a region that is becoming more and more accessible to non-Arctic nations. Therefore, an actual military confrontation over the Arctic in the near future is unlikely. Especially as the five Arctic nations (despite the state of Russian-West Relations) are still working diplomatically together on Arctic issues.

You can read the full report below:

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

RCAF Marks Completion of Upgrades to CC-130J Hercules

DND Press Release

Yesterday, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) marked the completion of a major upgrade of all 17 CC-130J Hercules aircraft, keeping Canada’s CC-130J Hercules at the forefront of airlift operations. The 17th and last upgraded Hercules was received on October 13, 2016.

The modifications include significant improvements to navigation, communication, and maintenance capabilities. The Hercules model J can now fly more efficiently amongst large commercial aircraft in heavily congested and controlled airspace and perform much more fuel-efficient long-range flights. It can now also conduct approaches in poor visibility and receive critical mission information from allied ground, air, and naval partners via a high-speed, encrypted link.

“The improved capabilities of the CC-130J Hercules will allow Canada to sustain our forces on future operations, including peace support operations and domestic interventions, while continuing our meaningful contributions in supporting allies,” said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan.

The successful completion of the upgrades was possible thanks to the close collaboration between the Department of National Defence, Lockheed Martin, and the Canadian company Cascade Aerospace. With these modifications, the RCAF can continue to count on the CC-130J Hercules to provide exemplary support to operations, such as defending Canada’s sovereignty in the Far North or helping communities facing natural disasters.
About 100 Canadian employees were involved in delivering the most recent upgrade modifications on the CC-130J Hercules: from shippers, receivers, and warehousers, to technicians, engineers, project managers, suppliers, and their staffs.

“The procurement of the CC-130J is an ongoing success story," said Col Bruce Cooke, Project Manager of the CC-130J procurement, Department of National Defence. "Not only were the first two aircraft delivered significantly ahead of schedule and the remaining 15 on time, but thanks to the professionalism of Lockheed Martin and the Canadian company Cascade Aerospace, the latest upgrade has been implemented in an equally timely fashion.”

The successful procurement of the CC-130Js demonstrates the Government's commitment to providing the RCAF with a cost-effective tactical airlift capability to support operations at home and abroad.

The CC-130J Hercules is the workhorse of the RCAF’s transport fleet and has been in service since 2010. Based in 8 Wing Trenton, the CC-130J is used to transport troops and equipment, for airlifts in operations, to train aircrew, and more.

This upgrade program started in November 2013, when Lockheed Martin was awarded a contract amendment to modify the fleet to meet new Global Airspace requirements.

This upgrade was completed as per the program schedule established between the Government of Canada and Lockheed Martin.

HMCS Vancouver arrived in Ho Chi Minh City

DND Press Release

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Vancouver arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, yesterday to conduct a goodwill visit as part of WESTPLOY 16.

WESTPLOY 16 is HMCS Vancouver’s deployment aimed at building strong ties between the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and the navies of Asia-Pacific countries while also promoting peace and security in the region.

HMCS Vancouver is engaging in a variety of training opportunities with foreign navies which provide a unique opportunity for the RCN to foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.

“During this visit, HMCS Vancouver will continue Canada’s defence dialogue with Vietnam and undertake outreach projects that cultivate goodwill between our nations," said Commodore Jeff Zwick, Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific. "As the ship carries on conducting operations in the Pacific she will foster increased relations and inter-operability among nations including Australia, Singapore, and New Zealand. Throughout WESTPLOY 16, she will serve as an excellent ambassador for Canada by showcasing the professionalism of the Royal Canadian Navy personnel, as well as demonstrating the enhanced capabilities of our Post-Halifax-Class-Modernization Warships, while conducting realistic and essential training for her more than 200 sailors.”

This deployment of HMCS Vancouver, along with an embarked CH-124 Sea King helicopter and air detachment, will test and evolve the warfighting capabilities of the Halifax-Class warships after upgrades to equipment that were made as part of the Halifax-Class Modernization/Frigate Life Extension project.

HMCS Vancouver’s deployment underlines the strategic importance of the Asia-Pacific region, of increasing international interest in the area, and of the unique opportunities to demonstrate interoperability with partner navies.

Since departing its home port of Esquimalt, British Columbia, in June, HMCS Vancouver has operated extensively throughout the Pacific region, including participation in RIMPAC and KAKADU.

KAKADU, held September 12-24, 2016, is a joint, biennial exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Navy and supported by the Royal Australian Air Force, with 20 nations participating: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Fiji, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, Tonga, United States of America, and Vietnam.

RIMPAC, conducted June 30 to August 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California, is the world's largest international maritime exercise, involving 26 nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and over 25,000 personnel participating this year.

The Halifax-Class Modernization/Frigate Life Extension project is providing state-of-the-art upgrades, allowing Canada’s fleet of 12 Halifax-Class frigates to meet 21st century threats. The modernization of this fleet includes a new Combat Management System procured from Lockheed Martin Canada, as well as new radar capability, a new electronic warfare system, and upgraded communications technologies and missiles. The modernized frigates also boast new systems that offer better damage control, as well as more modern electrical and machinery control.

The RCN remains very active internationally by conducting maritime security operations, including intercepting narcotics shipments in the Caribbean and conducting counter-terrorism patrols in the Arabian Sea. Operation CARIBBE, Operation REASSURANCE, and Operation ARTEMIS are examples of how we protect Canada's interests on the international stage.

What Happens After Mosul?

By: Matthew Fisher, Ottawa Citizen 
ASSOCIATED PRESS - Kurdish security forces overlook Islamic State-controlled villages east of the city of Mosul in northern Iraq, Monday. Iraqi Kurdish forces retook 200 square kilometres and a half dozen villages east of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on the first day of a massive operation to liberate the city from the extremist group.
Territorial gains made on the first day of the battle for Mosul are a “turning point in the war against terrorism,” said Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s largely autonomous Kurdish region.THE

Iraqi Kurdish forces retook 200 square kilometres and a half dozen villages east of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on the first day of a massive operation to liberate the city.

Iraqi, Kurdish, U.S. and Canadian generals in Iraq are all predicting victory against ISIL, the most reviled terrorist group of modern times. However, they warn after quick initial gains in open terrain and villages on the outskirts of what was once the country’s second largest city, the battle will likely become a ferocious slog across an urban maze of tunnels, booby-traps, suicide bombers and well-hidden snipers.

“There were less than 10 Daesh in the village,” said Kurdish peshmerga commander, Lt. Mehsen Gardi using the Arabic acronym for ISIL after liberating the village of Shakouli. “But they were running around like rats in and out of tunnels and surprising us with suicide attacks and snipers.”

Left unsaid, although hinted at, is worry over what will happen once Mosul falls.

The biggest elephant in the room is Kurdish independence, but tensions could surface quickly if ISIL’s resistance suddenly collapses, and fighters try to flee across the desert to Syria, where its other redoubt, Raqqa, is besieged by Russian and Syrian forces and coalition warplanes.

Canada’s top general, Jonathan Vance met other coalition military chiefs in Washington Monday to discuss how to fight ISIL and other malevolent forces, such as al-Qaida and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra).

The 30,000-strong force attacking Mosul, which includes about 4,000 Kurds, is thought to outnumber the jihadists six to one.

Among the competing interests are members of the Kurdish peshmerga, who are itching to seize more land for what they hope will be a Kurdish state. Another possibility is the territory that evolves north and east of Mosul is so autonomous, it will be independent in everything but name.

Shia militias want into Mosul to exact revenge on the estimated one million Sunnis who stayed on and, in many cases, initially supported fellow Sunnis in ISIL because they did not like the Shia-led government in Baghdad.

But ISIL’s draconian interpretation of Shariah law eventually became too much for them and an underground resistance evolved that has been fighting back against the jihadists. They do not want the peshmerga and the Shia militias to enter the city, let alone govern them.

The Iraqi government — and its forces, who ran away rather than fight for Mosul in June 2014 — wants to restore its battered prestige and the status quo, with Baghdad in charge. More than anything, they do not want the Kurds to gain any advantage.

Mosul’s large Christian minority, now mostly scattered across Kurdistan, simply wants to be able to return home in peace, as do the Yazidis, whose women were forced en masse to become sex slaves.

As always in Iraq, complicating everything is who gets to tap the rich oilfields surrounding Mosul.

Before then, there is a war to be won. And then, according to the United Nations and many aid agencies, another humanitarian crisis looms, with hundreds of thousands of newly displaced people fleeing east and north.

Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq, said in a worst-case scenario, some 700,000 civilians would require shelter.

Canadians will wonder what the 200 members of the Armed Forces, who have been advising the Kurds, will be doing. Some will accompany Kurdish units as they advance. How far forward and to what purpose is not clear, but commanders have said their orders do not include entering Mosul.

The Canadians’ rules of engagement allow them to defend themselves. It was confirmed in Ottawa this month that some advisers have been going forward more often and have been in gunfights.

Two generals are among about 30 Canadians based in Baghdad. They have been providing high-level advice to Iraqi commanders and supervising the training of some of the Iraqi troops now involved in the assault on Mosul.

Although it has not been heavily advertised, two Canadian Aurora spy planes, based in Kuwait and often operating near Mosul, have been providing specific bomb targeting information for coalition aircrews. The crews receive their orders from commanders who base their decisions partly on the work of a Canadian intelligence cell that studies ISIL’s whereabouts and its vulnerabilities.

Once Mosul is conquered, all eyes will turn to the fight against the jihadists in Syria, which has become extremely complicated because Russia is there with troops, warplanes and warships and supports Bashar Assad’s regime, which is as almost as repulsive to western leaders as ISIL.

The Trudeau government was the only coalition country to withdraw its fighter jets from the air war over Iraq and Syria. However, a Canadian refuelling tanker is still in the region to top up coalition warplanes attacking ISIL in Iraq.

Canada will likely face pressure from allies to rejoin the fight against ISIL’s caliphate in Syria, which is every bit as evil as the pernicious Iraqi variant. Foreign Affairs Minister St├ęphane Dion has not said much on the issue except to note Canada is in favour of peace there.

Liberals under fire for Iraq Mission Secrecy

By: Lee Berthiaume, The Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA • The Liberal government is under fire for a lack of transparency around Canada’s mission in Iraq, which entered a critical stage this week with the attack on Mosul.

Conservative defence critic James Bezan honed in on the issue during a news conference on Parliament Hill on Tuesday, saying the military held more briefings and provided more information while the Tories were in power.

National Defence provided 12 technical briefings on what Canadian troops were doing in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during the first year of the mission, which coincided with the Conservative government’s last year in office.

Those updates included specific details, such as the number of troops on the ground in northern Iraq as well as how many times those soldiers had called in airstrikes and engaged in firefights with ISIL forces.

Yet briefings largely dried up during the mission’s second year, which is when the Liberals were in office. The most recent, held two weeks ago, was only the third since the Liberals were elected last October.

A senior military officer revealed during that briefing that Canadian troops have been spending more time on the front lines, and engaged in “sporadic” firefights with ISIL during the spring and summer.

But he refused to say how many firefights Canadians have been in or how many Canadian soldiers are on the ground — even though that figure was already included in public documents tabled in the House of Commons at the end of September.


Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan defended the tightened grip on information, saying it was necessary to protect Canadian troops and the operation to free Mosul, which has been billed as the most important battle to date in the fight against ISIL.

“It was actually around Mosul, everything that we did,” he said of Canadian activities over the past few months. “If it was in a different location, it’d be a different story. I have to trust in the military when it comes to the type of information that’s provided.”

Bezan said operational security is essential, “but there is still information after a battle’s taken place that can be shared with Canadians to inform us on exactly what is happening in the battle for Mosul.” The government owes it to parliamentarians, Canadians and the soldiers’ families to be more open, he added.

Canada has more than 170 special forces troops working with and assisting the Kurds in northern Iraq.

Their mission has been billed as non-combat, though the government says they can shoot in self-defence. Military officials say they have also shot to defend allied forces and, in some cases, civilians.

But some critics have accused the Liberals of tailoring the definition of combat to fit with promises made during last year’s election campaign.

Defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute said he didn’t think the current mission constituted combat, “but the things people were construing as combat are happening more often.”

Perry said there has been a clear shift under the Liberals in terms of transparency.

“The Harper government last winter got very liberal in discussing special operations forces activities, because the past practice was effectively to say almost nothing. And they got verbose,” he said. “So this government has kind of turned it back towards the norm.”

Canada in Iraq: At war by any other name ...

By: Michael Den Tandt, National Post 

Image result for jtf2 iraq

As the pivotal battle of the war with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant begins, Canada is deeply implicated, with about 600 soldiers deployed in four countries, more than a quarter of those in ground combat. You wouldn’t know it though, unless you dug around. There is no stream of independent dispatches from embedded reporters, as was the rule during the 2002-14 Afghan campaign because there is no embed program. And the Defence Department has been exceptionally stingy with information. “Operational security” is a handy excuse. It doesn’t justify the level of secrecy.

There will be quibbling, as is customary whenever Canada fields soldiers carrying loaded firearms, about whether the troops “advising and assisting” Kurdish forces in northern Iraq are actually in combat. It may be in the Liberal government’s political interest to assert that, although Canadians have exchanged fire with the enemy — we don’t know how often, that’s a secret — these have been “defensive” actions only. The truth is much simpler, as it has been since the Conservative government launched the mission in 2014: Canada is at war. That’s what it means to provide intelligence, targeting for airstrikes, refuelling, aerial surveillance and leadership on the ground, at the front. To call it anything else is dishonest. It’s also a great disservice to the soldiers risking life and limb.


If we acknowledge that Canada is at war — and, reading between the lines of recent remarks from Brig.-Gen. Peter Dawe and an “update” Monday from Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, this conclusion is inevitable — then certain other conclusions also become inevitable. The first is that the Liberals either did not know, or knew and did not care, when they promised last year to remove Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 jets from “combat” in Iraq and Syria, that this would soon prove to be an empty gesture.

The campaign pledge to end Canada’s role in coalition bombardment of ISIL positions — based on the specious notion that bombing was somehow more aggressive or combative than, say, refuelling or targeting — did not withstand scrutiny from the get-go.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to replace the CF-18s with a more robust ground training mission, it was pointed out that ground training was both more dangerous than flying bombing runs and no less combative, given the nature of modern war. Humanitarian work and training require force protection; force protection requires intelligence; intelligence applied requires pre-emptive action, which sometimes mean bombing.

In an integrated command, such as the coalition against ISIL is, there is no distinction between the left hand and the right. They work together.

There can be no effective training of ground troops in a shooting war without accompanying those troops into combat, a point made during the election campaign. This was a central lesson of the Afghan war. Canadian trainers in Kandahar found they needed to join Afghan trainees on the battlefield to be credible. Trainers from other nations, who stayed mostly behind the wire and out of harm’s way, got little traction, Afghan contacts told me at the time.

Perhaps because it made so little sense upon examination, the vow to pull the CF-18s was not popular with most Canadians, polls indicated in 2015. But it did have an obvious political benefit: it helped make a vote for the Grits more palatable to the more pacifist-minded New Democratic Party voters who were the Liberals’ main strategic target in Campaign 2015.

The CF-18 withdrawal reflected Trudeau’s genuine desire to keep Canada at some remove from a conflict that had, after all, begun with president George W. Bush’s catastrophic decision to pre-emptively invade Iraq in 2003. Likewise the “whole-of-government” approach to Iraq introduced in February, including a boost in of humanitarian assistance and a tripling of the special forces contingent, was in keeping with the PM’s desire for Canada to have lasting impact on the ground, rather than “just bombing.”

The arguments that there is no such thing as “just bombing” in modern warfare, as applied by the U.S.led coalition in Iraq and Syria, that bombing is precisely targeted, and that it protects allies on the ground, fell on deaf ears. Last winter, when the Liberals could have changed course and left the fighters in place, they chose not to, the political imperative of keeping this signature promise apparently outweighing military considerations, frank speech and common sense.

Yet now Canada is at war outside Mosul, with soldiers on the front lines of what appears to be ISIL’s last stand as a wannabe state with its own territory — and, thanks to the lack of independent reports from the scene, something that can only be done with relative security through an embed program, we know next to nothing about it, beyond the scraps of mission data parcelled out on a Defence website.

Transparent and accountable? No. This is neither.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Exercise VIGILANT SHEILD Starts - RCAF CF-18s and CH-149s involved

DND Press Release

Exercise Vigilant Shield has started.

“The Canadian North American Aerospace Defense (sic) Command (NORAD) Region has begun its participation in NORAD’s annual VIGILANT SHIELD field training exercise,” the news release from the Canadian Forces noted. “The live-fly field training exercise, which will run October 17 to 21, is part of a larger series of annual NORAD VIGILANT SHIELD exercises that take place throughout the United States and Canada.”

VIGILANT SHIELD 17 will see NORAD building on previous training in North America’s northern aerospace and in the high Arctic, according to the release.

Exercise VIGILANT SHIELD 17 will see the deployment of:

– Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF-18 Hornets to Inuvik, N.W.T.;

– U.S. Air Force (USAF) F-15 Eagle fighter jets to Yellowknife, N.W.T.;

– USAF E-3 Sentry airborne early warning and control aircraft and KC-135 Stratotankers to 5 Wing Goose Bay, N.L.;

– an RCAF CH-149 Cormorant search and rescue (SAR) helicopter and 42 Radar Squadron to Canadian Forces Station Alert;

– an RCAF CH-149 Cormorant SAR helicopter and CC-130H Hercules SAR aircraft to the USAF’s Point Barrow Long Range Radar Site in Alaska; and

– Canadian Army personnel to provide on-site security support.

Will CSC need anti-ballistic missile capability?

By: Danny Lam, Frontline Defence Blog 

The Minister I can't help wondering if the new Canadian Surface Combatants (CSC) will be obsolete by 2018 if we purchase an off-the-shelf design, as announced on 13 June 2016 by the Honourable Judy Foote, Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC).

Currently, there are no anti-ballistic missile requirements for the CSC, and yet North Korea’s latestnuclear test, on 9 September 2016, and its growing thermonuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capability (likely capable of reaching North America as early as 2020), materially altered many assumptions behind Canadian defense policy.

Emerging threats like ICBMs and strategic cruise missiles tipped with credible thermonuclear warheads will become major threats to Canada by the time the new Surface Combattants enter service. Canada will need ballistic and cruise missile defences to deter states like North Korea. Shore based anti-ballistic missile systems will not be sufficient if the threat evolves into submarine-launched missiles, as happened in August.

The Liberal government announced that its new approach is to buy an “off-the-shelf” design for theCanadian Surface Combatant Program – and modify it to save time and money. Will the existing designs be upgradeable enough to deal with the threats and mission profiles expected in their lifetime – both at the high and low end?

Critical to an anti-ballistic missile role by 2025, will be tight integration with NORAD systems and sensors applying a combat cloud concept. This enables many platforms to cue missiles on the CSC with Cooperative Engagement Capability.

Rogue states like North Korea will foreseeably develop the capability to simultaneously fire volleys of missiles, some with dummy warheads and penetration aids to increase the likelihood of reaching target. This places a premium on vessels with large Vertical Launch Systems (VLS) that are compatible with expected upgrades in missiles.

Inventories of missiles are expensive to maintain in peacetime, and subject to wear and aging at sea. This results in many vessels sailing with partially filled magazines. Moreover, missiles obsolete rapidly and require frequent updates as the threats are better understood. Hardware updates are difficult to do with deployed missiles.

Based on such new threats, a critical issue for the CSC candidates will be the capability of the supplier to supply missiles from inventory as needed, and continuously update and upgrade them to deal with the latest threats are a concern.

Given Canada’s vast territory with few major ports, and extremes of climate, forward VLS rearming and field service / upgrades can potentially become a capability where Canada can excel in. Canada does not have a program for a specialized vessels with this capability. Such a vessel, if developed with supporting and rearming a range of NATO vessels in mind, will likely find a ready market abroad providing that the CSC VLS system is not a niche product.

Finally, there is the question of how Canada would field an anti-ballistic missile deterrent by 2020 – the time when the CSCs are scheduled to come into service. A capability may be required that cannot be met via upgrading the existing Canadian fleet. Acquiring an interim capability that plug the gap and give more time for technologies to mature and craft a clean-sheet design based on 2018 requirements may be a lower lifecycle cost alternative to the modified “off-the-shelf” option.

Canadians are complacent about threats to the homeland because we have been safely sheltered under the US nuclear umbrella for a half century. That is no longer the case in the second nuclear age with many new and emerging nuclear weapons powers like North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, etc. that challenge the status quo. Canadians have to do their part in anti-ballistic missile defense and deterrence. That may not be possible in the penny-pinching style dating from the end of the cold war.

Canadian Special Forces providing crucial support in Battle of Mosul

By: Steven Chase, Globe and Mail 

Canadian Armed Forces members are playing a modest but vital supporting role as the operation to retake Mosul, the last major stronghold of Islamic State militants in Iraq, gets under way.

How dangerous it might get for Canada’s special forces soldiers will depend on whether the Kurdish troops they’re advising are assigned a difficult role in reclaiming Mosul, which has been occupied by the Islamic State jihadis since June, 2014. It will also depend on whether their political masters in Ottawa allow Canadian soldiers to enter Mosul during what could be difficult block-by-block urban warfare.

Up to 210 Canadian special forces troops are advising Kurdish peshmerga fighters who are teaming up with Iraqi government forces, Sunni tribal fighters and Shia militias to encircle and take Mosul. The Trudeau government, which promised in the 2015 election campaign to end a combat role in Iraq, insists what soldiers are doing there is not combat even though Canadian special forces soldiers are guiding the Kurds from the front lines and exchanging fire with enemy troops from time to time.

Explainer: A guide to the battle of Mosul, and why it matters in the war against Islamic State
Interactive: Untangling the Middle East: A guide to the region's shifting relationships

Right now, Canadian military advisers are with Kurdish unit commanders near the battlefront or in peshmerga encampments around Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan which is 85 kilometres from Mosul, or farther south in Kirkuk, 175 kilometres from the IS stronghold.

Canadian generals last week warned the public that the environment in Iraq has grown more dangerous for Canada’s soldiers as their task now focuses on advising the Kurds in battle rather than merely training them in open-air classrooms far back from the conflict.

Overhead, two Canadian spy planes, the CP-140 Auroras, are gathering intelligence that will be used by coalition planners to generate lists of Islamic State targets to be bombed. As well, the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Polaris tanker is refuelling coalition warplanes conducting the bombing raids.

Not far from the front line – but not so close as to be in harm’s way – up to 60 Canadians will be operating a field hospital to treat the wounded Kurds, Iraqi government forces or their allies. The Role 2 facility will not be big but will triage, resuscitate, treat and care for injured soldiers until they return to duty or are evacuated.

Ottawa is tight-lipped on the role that Canada’s 21st Electronic Warfare Regiment is playing in Iraq. The military has reportedly deployed members of this regiment, which can intercept and decipher enemy communications.

Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan was tight-lipped Monday when asked exactly where Canada’s soldiers are located on the battlefield, citing operational security.

“For force protection, I won’t tell you exactly where they will be, but they will be always in an advise-and-assist mission. They will always be within [or] behind the front lines to conduct their work and … they will always have the right tools and abilities to be able to protect themselves if needed.”

The fight to retake Mosul is being billed as the largest military effort in Iraq since the United States withdrew its combat forces in 2011.

David Perry, a senior analyst with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said Canadians are also helping to assemble targeting “packages” for air commanders who are selecting bombing targets.

He said it’s possible the fight to retake Mosul could end up going relatively slowly because the coalition will be trying to avoid killing civilians inside the city. Mr. Perry said estimates of civilians inside Mosul are as high as one million people.

A U.S.-led air campaign has helped push Islamic State from much of the territory it held, but 4,000 to 8,000 fighters are thought to remain in Mosul.

Monday, October 17, 2016

ISIL’s defeat in Mosul is now inevitable, Canadian generals say

By: Matthew Fisher, National Post 

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi went on state television early Monday to announce that the crucial battle to end Islamic State’s ruinous reign of terror in Mosul and western Iraq had finally begun.

“Today I declare the start of these victorious operations to free you from the violence and terrorism of Daesh,” al-Abadi said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIL.

Before the prime minister told Iraqis that “God willing, we will win,” two Canadian generals who are privy to the battle plans said they were convinced the end of the hardline jihadists in Iraq was inevitable and fast approaching.

The long anticipated assault on Iraq’s second largest city, where 2.2-million people lived when ISIL seized it two years ago, was likely to be bloody and could take some time, Brig.-General Greg Smith and Brig.-Gen Dave Anderson, who both served multiple tours in Afghanistan, said during interviews from Baghdad.

“Let there be no doubt, Mosul is a very big city and they have been working on its defences,” said Smith, who is the chief of staff of the U.S.-led Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command. “We are agreed that it is going to be a very tough, complex fight.”

“It really depends on the enemy,” said Anderson, who heads the coalition’s strategic advisory team, which works closely with Iraq’s security ministries. “One way to look at it is that there is a hard outer crust. It depends how soft and squishy the middle is. Getting through the crust will be hard. Once inside the crust we will see whether they stand and fight to the last man or run away as they did in Ramadi and Fallujah.

“I think that they are on their back foot, I really do. The pressure has been relentless and it has been like that for six to eight months. Some of them have picked up sticks and been seen in Syria. The reports we are getting is that the morale in Mosul is quite fragile. We will see how it works. The war has a pace and rhythm all of its own. The enemy always gets a vote.”

ISIL revels in celebrating many diabolical acts including the sexual enslavement of women its captures. It has produced a seemingly endless stream of ghastly videos which depict prisoners being drowned, beheaded, thrown from buildings and set fire to in cages.

For Anderson one of the many reasons ISIL had to be eliminated was its “appalling” treatment of children as suicide bombers and its “craven willingness to hide among the civilian population inside the city or when they try to flee…

'The liberation of Mosul is beginning': Iraqi troops gather for battle over ISIL stronghold
Who will control Mosul after ISIL? Groups fighting extremists are bitter rivals with competing interests
The Pentagon is confronting a new threat from ISIL in Iraq: exploding drones

“There are bad cats in Mosul and we have every confidence that the Iraqi security forces will be there to deal with them.”

It was just over two years ago that the Iraqi army fled Mosul rather than defend it, as ISIL swept in from the west. Smith and Anderson, who were sent to Iraq earlier this year along with about 30 other Canadians to assist the Iraqi army with its training and development, lauded the ISF’s leadership for turning that pathetic situation around and for its methodical approach to regaining territory from ISIL along the Euphrates and Tigris River valleys.

The Iraqi forces were “completely different” today than they were two years ago, Anderson said. Their confidence had been “born of success” over “the last 14 or 15 months and certainly the last three months.”

“If they had morale problems in 2014 as Daesh pushed them out, they are working hard to push them back,” Smith said, referring to ISIL by its Arabic acronym. “They are very motivated. They are the ones driving the timeline.
AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP / Getty ImagesIraqi forces gesture as they gather at the Qayyarah military base, about 60 kilometres south of Mosul, on Sunday.
“When I got here Daesh was just outside the gates of Baghdad. It was still counter-attacking and had some ability to manoeuvre. It is not the same Daesh any more. They are constantly getting defeated by the ISF. It was impressive to see their determination and aggression in taking down Fallujah. It is not a small place. They fought hard.”

The ISF counter-offensive has reached as far west on the Euphretes as Haditha, which is about 100 kilometres from the Syrian border. Further north, in the Tigris Valley, they have forced ISIL out of Ramadi and Fallujah and are now within 40 kilometres of the southern and east outskirts of Mosul while the Kurdish Peshmerga, who have Canadian military advisers, are about 15 kilometres to the north of the city.

“There is still a ways to go to the Syrian border but it was gone exceptionally well,” Smith said. “They are effectively in the process of isolating ISIL (around Mosul) now. Daesh remains a formidable foe but they are transitioning more into a terrorist force which means they are losing. It is pretty much all going against them.”

To wear down ISIL before what could be a ferocious street-by-street fight for Mosul, allied warplanes have accelerated their bombing campaign using “critical” targeting information provided by RCAF spy planes and a Canadian intelligence cell based in Kuwait, the generals said. There have also been constant artillery barrages on ISIL forces by US Marines and French gunners.

After Mosul falls, Anderson, who is to remain in Baghdad until next summer, will help advise the Iraqis about how to consolidate their territorial gains while continuing to move against ISIL-held pockets in towns and rural areas in the west of the country.

“The upcoming battle is taking a lot of the bandwidth of everyone, but all the right indications and all the right discussions are there to ensure that we – that is, the Iraqi security forces – can not only take Mosul but hold it afterwards,” Anderson said.

As for life today in ISIL’s so-called Iraqi capital, “by all accounts it is horrific,” Anderson said. “There is a complete absence of personal freedom. In many cases people are being pressganged in order to man the lines. One of the reasons that the ISF is unified is that Daesh is evil and really needs to be destroyed and those people liberated from its influence.”

Why the CAF Refused the NATO Afghanistan Service Medal

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Defence Watch has received a number of questions from Afghan veterans regarding the Canadian Forces/Department of National Defence decision not to accept the NATO Afghanistan medal. This decision was made years ago but it still causes concern among some veterans (the latest email coming in to Defence Watch just a couple of weeks ago)

So Defence Watch asked the questions and Suzanne Parker, of Personnel and Legal Services – ADM Public Affairs, provided the answers.

So why didn’t Canada accept the NATO Afghanistan medal for its troops? “On the recommendation of the Department of National Defence, the Government of Canada decided that Canada would not be accepting nor authorizing the wear of the NATO Medal for International Security Assistance Force,” explained Parker. “Canada instead created and issued its own recognition of CAF service with International Security Assistance Force, the South-West Asia ribbon to the General Campaign Star and General Service Medal. 

In accordance with the Canadian Honours Policy rule, which precludes dual recognition, the Chancellery of Honours directed that no Canadian can receive the NATO-International Security Assistance Force Medal.”

NATO was informed of this decision through official channels, she added. “It is important to note that Canada is not the only country not to allow the wear of the NATO-International Security Assistance Force Medal,” Parker pointed out. “While the United Kingdom did allow its members to accept the medal as a memento, it did not approve the medal for wear. The UK instead awarded its own Operational Service Medal – Afghanistan for service on the mission.”

And what were the specific reasons for the CF/DND recommending that the Canadian government not to accept the NATO medal? “When NATO first introduced its Medal for International Security Assistance Force, it was determined that the dates and location of eligibility for the medal would exclude a large number of Canadian Armed Forces personnel,” Parker explained. “Also, there was a strong feeling among the troops that the medal offered by NATO was not appropriate for the service in question; NATO medals being mostly associated, in their view, with peacekeeping service in the Balkans and not a combat mission.”