Friday, November 4, 2016

Sajjan's Africa trip could be Logistics Planning for Mali Mission

By: Amanda Connolly, iPolitics

Senegal billed as key location to support for Mali operation

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s trip to Mali and Senegal next week could be a sign the government is trying to nail down logistics for a possible peacekeeping mission in Mali, two peace operation experts suggest.

“I think there’s two important components. One is that Senegal is a major contributor to the UN mission in Mali,” said Walter Dorn, a professor at the Royal Military College who focuses on peace operations and who has worked worked as an advisor with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

“Secondly, Senegal is a major route for supply, it’s a major logistics component for support of a mission in Mali.”

Sajjan has said Canadian troops will take part in a UN peace support mission in Africa. He’s said he is making 600 troops and 150 military police available to the UN, but has yet to announce where Canadian troops will go.

The speculation in defence and foreign policy circles has focused largely on three locations: Mali, where a UN mission works in conjunction with a broader French counterterrorism operation to support a peace process; and the Central African Republic or the Democratic Republic of Congo — both engaged in bloody and long-standing civil wars.

iPolitics has confirmed the government is not looking at a mission in South Sudan, which is sometimes mentioned in speculation.

The Mali mission offers what some experts have described as a potential for both risk and reward. The mission there is currently the UN’s most deadly, having claimed the lives of 69 peacekeepers since it began in 2013.

However, it also faces specific gaps that match Canadian capabilities and the skill set the Canadian Forces developed during their nine-year deployment to Afghanistan: a shortage of expertise in dealing with improvised explosive devices and insurgent populations, and a looming, critical shortage of Chinook transport and Apache — or possibly Griffon — troop support helicopters.

The Dutch, citing operational strain, are pulling out their three helicopter units, leaving the mission with only two, which UN officials say is not nearly enough.

If the government is eyeing a possible mission to Mali, ensuring it has a reliable stream of supplies and a way of getting its gear into the country will be critical.

“If you wanted to have a relatively secure location to support a Canadian operation in Mali, Senegal fits the bill,” said Lewis MacKenzie, a retired major general with the Canadian Forces who has served on nine UN peace operations and led the mission in the Balkans in 1992.

Dorn and Mackenzie both cite the importance to any Mali mission of Senegal’s port on the Atlantic, its airfield and its history of playing a significant role as a contributor of troops to UN peace operations.

“It’s got a port and through Senegal you can get to Bamako … so you can see that would be a way to bring larger items by ship,” said Dorn. “That would make a lot of sense.”

Announced Tuesday evening, Sajjan’s office said his trip next week to Mali and Senegal will be aimed at gathering facts on the ground and isn’t necessarily an indication of a decision to deploy troops to either country.

It also comes on the heels of a “fact-finding” trip this summer to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda that saw Sajjan meet with NGOs, defence counterparts and other organizations involved in peace support operations.

“As with the last trip, I wouldn’t look too much into the countries he is visiting an an indication of a potential deployment,” said Jordan Owens, the minister’s press secretary. “This trip to West Africa will build upon his understanding of the ‘ground truth’ as Canada continues to investigate how we can contribute to international peace and security with a whole-of-government approach.”

When asked specifically whether the minister would be looking at possible logistical support for any future mission, Owens said that is something that the military — not the minister — would take care of and that this trip is more similar to the five-country trip he took this summer.

“That is more of a military planning issue, which [Sajjan] would leave up to the pros in the [Canadian Armed Forces], she said.

“The purpose of the minister’s trip is to get a better understanding of the political situation on the ground and see first-hand how Canada could contribute to peace support efforts on the continent. The East Africa trip was helpful in that way, and he would like to get a similar understanding of the situation in West Africa.”

RCN sent in to investigate object found off Haida Gwaii - Possible Lost Cold War Nuclear Weapon

By: George Baker, Andrew Kurjata, CBC News

The Canadian navy is on its way to Haida Gwaii to find out if a diver has discovered "the lost nuke" — a Mark IV bomb that went missing after an American bomber crashed off B.C.'s north coast in the early days of the Cold War.

Sean Smyrichinsky found the mystery object during a recent diving trip near Banks Island.
My god, I found a UFO. I found the strangest thing I'd ever seen!- Sean Smyrichinsky

"I got a little far from my boat and I found something that I'd never ever seen before," he recalled. "It resembled, like, a bagel cut in half, and then around the bagel these bolts molded into it."

When he got back to the ship he tried to describe the object to his crew.

"I came out from the dive and I came up and I started telling my crew 'my god, I found a UFO. I found the strangest thing I'd ever seen!'"

Smyrichinsky started asking around and was told the story of Convair B-36B, a US Air Force bomber that crashed off B.C.'s north coast in 1950.

In a book published earlier this year, historian Dirk Septer traces the story of that flight, summarizing it in publicity documents as a Cold War drama:

"Just before midnight on February 13, 1950, three engines of a US Air Force B-36 intercontinental bomber caught fire over Canada's northwest coast. The crew jumped, and the plane ditched somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Almost four years later, the wreck of the bomber was found accidentally in a remote location in the coastal mountains of British Columbia, three hours' flying time in the opposite direction of where it was supposed to have crashed.

"After years of silence, the United States finally admitted to losing its very first nuclear bomb; the incident was its first Broken Arrow, the code name for accidents involving nuclear weapons. But was the bomb dropped and exploded over the Inside Passage, or was it blown up at the aircraft's resting place in the mountains?"

The lost bomb was a Mark IV.

A Mark IV "Fat Man" bomb went missing after a plane crash over northwest B.C. in 1950.

As soon as Smyrichinsky looked it up on Google Images, he recognized it as the object he had found.

"It was a piece that looked very much like what I saw," he said. "The plane that was carrying the bomb, it crashed 50 miles south of where I found that object."

"What else could it possibly be? I was thinking UFO, but probably not a UFO, right?"
Accordingt to the Navy, the Bomb is probably not nuclear.

Major Steve Netta of the Canadian Armed Forces confirmed the location of Snyrichinsky's find does coincide with the site of the 1950 crash.

Netta also said records indicate the lost bomb was a dummy capsule and so there is little risk of the object being a nuclear weapon.

"Nonetheless we do want to be sure and we do want to investigate it further," he said.

A Canadian navy ship has been deployed to investigate and should arrive in Haida Gwaii shortly. 

The return of "RCAF" to the RCAF's Aircraft is on its way

A small (approximately 13 passenger) white aircraft rests on the tarmac. An RCAF roundel and the lettering “RCAF” and “ARC” on either side are seen near the tail .
The RCAF’s new livery is shown on this leased King Air 350, which operates out of 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario. It is the first RCAF aircraft to receive the new paint scheme. PHOTO: Corporal Rod Doucet

By: RCAF Public Affairs

In the coming months, you might notice that Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft look a little different.

In 2011, to recognize Canada’s military heritage, the historic names of Canada’s three military services were restored: the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), the Canadian Army (CA) and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). Under these designations, Canadians emerged victorious from the Second World War and later defended Canadian interests throughout the Cold War and the Korean War.

The RCAF received its new insignia in 2013, followed by changes to members’ uniforms and the redesignation of the rank private as “aviator”. Now, the next step in the restoration process is to bring RCAF aircraft livery – that is, aircraft paint scheme – in line with the earlier changes.

The new aircraft livery includes the bilingual designation “RCAF” and “ARC” (for Aviation royale canadienne) on either side of an updated roundel.

“It’s important for the Air Force that we bring our aircraft in line with our new insignia,” said Lieutenant-General Mike Hood, the commander of the RCAF, “but we’ll do it in a way that minimizes any additional cost and doesn’t take an operational aircraft out of service unnecessarily. In all, we expect the changes will take the next four to five years.”

Aircraft will receive their new livery when they are already undergoing scheduled routine maintenance, which includes any necessary repainting. This is done every few years to correct the effects of usage and exposure to the elements. As of the first of November, one aircraft – the King Air B200, located at 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario – has been painted in the new livery.

To see how these changes are coming along, be sure to check out the RCAF’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, where photos of the new livery will be posted when the aircraft are repainted in the new livery.

The new RCAF livery will replace the livery shown under the wing of a CC-130J Hercules on RCAF aircraft. The new paint scheme will be added to the aircraft when they undergo regularly scheduled repainting to correct the effects of usage and weather. PHOTO: Corporal Darcy Lefebvre, FA2011-0043-37
The new RCAF livery will replace the livery "Candian Forces" shown under the wing of a CC-130J Hercules on RCAF aircraft. The new paint scheme will be added to the aircraft when they undergo regularly scheduled repainting to correct the effects of usage and weather. PHOTO: Corporal Darcy Lefebvre

24 RCAF CF-18s in California for Ex. PUMA STRIKE

By: Daniel Maillet, CAF Dispatch Author

This morning Defence Watch's David Pugliese is reporting that a large number of the RCAF's CF-18 fleet is down in California to take part in the U.S. military exercise PUMA STRIKE. 

U.S. Department of Defense web page notes that 24 RCAF CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft are now at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California for the exercise. There has been no official statement from the RCAF or the CAF about the exercise. David Pugliese however, did confirm the 24 number with DND. 

A CF-188 Hornet takes off for a mission during Exercise Puma Strike at Naval Air Station Key West, Florida, on March 3, 2016. PHOTO: CK07-2016-0154-137, Corporal Andre Maillet
A CF-188 Hornet takes off for a mission during Exercise PUMA STRIKE at Naval Air Station Key West, Florida, on March 3, 2016. PHOTO: CK07-2016-0154-137, Corporal Andre Maillet

Start in Senegal for new "peace and stabilization" operation

Globe and Mail Editorial 

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan continues to be very discreet about his plans to give content to Justin Trudeau’s 2015 election pledge to revive Canada peacekeeping – or rather, in contemporary terms, to “peace and stabilization operations.” The straightforward Pearsonian era of supervising an agreed-upon ceasefire lines is long past.

On a trip this week, Mr. Sajjan is going to Mali and Senegal. The federal government has already been considering Mali, the Central African Republic and the not so very Democratic Republic of the Congo. The government insists that any visit to a particular country does not signify an intention to undertake a military mission there.

But if a military mission in Africa there must be, Senegal may be a good way to start. Though hardly a utopia, it is much more stable than any other country that has hitherto been mentioned in this context. The prevalence of peaceable Sufism there does not provide much ripe ground for radical jihadism.

Nonetheless, there have been incursions into Senegal by Islamic extremists from time to time, unsuccessful so far, from neighbouring Mauritanian and Malian militias. (A Christian and animist uprising in Senegal ended with a unilateral ceasefire in 2014.)

Hypothetically, in any case, it’s worth looking at what a Canadian military contingent of 600 troops and 150 military police in Senegal (the number that Canada is thinking of) or some other African country might find itself dealing with.

On its face, a Canadian the new peacekeeping or “peace security operations” contribution in Senegal might be more like an allied presence, to share in the continuing defence of Senegal – perhaps a little like the Canadian forces in Germany in NATO before the end of the Cold War.

A counterinsurgency in a chaotic, arid country such as Mali or Mauritania would be outside the experience of most members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Mr. Sajjan has prudently said, “We need to go into this eyes wide open. So based on that, I have not set a deadline,” specifically, not the end of 2016, “as I want to make sure that we do all the necessary work, so that we can have [a] meaningful impact.”

Such a moderate initial objective may be a good start.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Quagmire: Iraq could get messy for Canada

Adnan R. Khan, Maclean's 

Canadian Special Forces are in the thick of the battle around Mosul. What comes next?

The way the commander of the Canadian-trained Zeravani forces in northern Iraq describes it, the scene could have been lifted out of Mad Max. On Oct. 17, as a coalition of Iraqi army and Kurdish fighters launched the long-awaited offensive into ISIS-controlled Mosul, Iraq, Canada’s JTF2 Special Forces did what elite fighters are wont to do: they joined the fight. But according to Col. Majid—a veteran of the Zeravani, a commando unit linked to the Interior Ministry of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region—the Canadians didn’t simply roll in riding armoured vehicles alongside their Zeravani counterparts.

“They were smart,” says the 52-year old veteran soldier, clearly impressed by the Canadians’ bravado. “The six or seven of them that I saw rode in on those four-wheeled motorcycles. They were quick and mobile. They pushed forward with us. They fought the battle with us. They fired missiles and destroyed suicide vehicles.”

Over the two years that around 70 of Canada’s JTF2 Special Forces soldiers have been deployed to Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, their role has morphed from what Stephen Harper first described as a backseat “advise and assist” mission, to one in which the Liberal government has conceded Canadians would be near the frontlines but only engaging in “defensive” actions, to what today appears to be direct participation in offensive operations.

Defence Department officials in Ottawa are typically vague on the specifics. “To ensure the safety and protection of our deployed personnel, the exact details of ongoing operations will not be disclosed,” an email response to a Maclean’s query read. “Our mandate has not changed. We are there to train, advise, and assist.”

Colonel Majid, the deputy commander of the Zeravani frontline position in Khorsebat village at the Nawaran frontlines, north of Mosul. (Photograph by Adnan R. Khan)
But according to numerous interviews with Kurdish forces, conducted as Maclean’stoured the frontlines of the Mosul offensive last weekend, the Canadians played a significant role in the northern and eastern fronts led by the Kurds. The quad-riding commandos were perhaps the most dramatic example. But on other fronts near Mosul, Canadians were also in the thick of battle, helping the Kurds drive back Islamic State fighters and targeting suicide vehicles with anti-tank missiles.

The results have been impressive. Islamic State has collapsed on the fringes of its self-declared Iraqi capital. Village after village has fallen to the advancing Kurds, known as the peshmerga, paving the way for the Iraqi army to enter Mosul, which it did for the first time on Oct. 31, weeks earlier than expected.

Meanwhile, the Zeravani, which has been the main focus of Canada’s training mission in Iraq so far, has stopped its advance, digging into its positions, in some cases less than a kilometre from territory still controlled by Islamic State.

The Canadians have since pulled back as well, reverting to their advisory role. They can be seen driving around frontline positions in SUVs to consult with their Zeravani counterparts, though they refuse to speak to journalists. Unlike the U.S., Canada does not allow the media access to Special Operations soldiers. Here in Iraq, even the Zeravani joke about “Canada’s secret mission”—though there now appears to be nothing particularly secret about it.

The Canadian forward operating bases that dot the Zeravani-controlled fronts maintain the charade: concrete walls and razor wire surround the unmarked compounds. At one base, a group of soldiers, some shirtless in the 30° C heat, gather on a rooftop for some kind of meeting. A call to their translator requesting an interview produces a predictable, emphatic “no.”

It’s difficult to gauge what the danger might be, especially considering locals are perfectly aware Canadian soldiers occupy these compounds, and access to the fronts where they are located is strictly controlled by the Zeravani.
Smoke rises at Islamic State militants’ positions in the town of Naweran, near Mosul, Iraq on October 23, 2016. (Azad Lashkari/Reuters)
Back on the Zeravani frontline, despite a lull in fighting, the situation remains volatile. In Nawaran, 10 km north of Mosul’s outskirts, the Zeravani are in the process of fortifying their positions. ISIS was pushed out of this area on Oct. 20 but they have not gone far, in some places occupying villages less than a kilometre away. Armoured backhoes rumble over the reddish-brown earth, kicking up clouds of dust as they set up fresh berms and observation posts. Zeravani soldiers, mindful of Islamic State fighters nearby, lounge in the shade of concrete bomb shelters. Their nonchalance is not so much heroic as it is fatalistic: the only real danger here is mortar rounds, and mortar rounds are notoriously inaccurate. If one hits you, it is because the universe wishes it.

As if to make the point, a mortar lands with a dull thud not more than 400 m from the unfinished post, producing a telltale narrow plume of smoke. The Zeravani soldiers look on languidly. A few minutes later, a second round lands less than 200 m away. A few minutes after that, the Kurds respond with artillery fire. Then all falls silent again.

Related: Inside the mission to unite a country after ISIS

This is the back-and-forth poking and prodding that is typical to static frontlines. Earlier that morning, Col. Hussein Rashid, a deputy commander of the outpost, told Maclean’s that ISIS fighters had attempted to shift positions from a mosque in Derk village, a kilometre from his position, to a cluster of homes a few hundred metres away.

“Probably they were trying to set up a sniper position,” he surmises. “We called in an airstrike. I think we got them because there has not been any sniping today.”

The Nawaran frontline was a brutal battle, he adds, dominated by coalition airstrikes. All that is left of the nearest “liberated” village, Khorsabad, is a post-apocalyptic tangle of rubble and rebar, bristling with the booby traps that Zeravani commanders warn the retreating Islamic State fighters routinely leave behind.

While describing the battle, Hussein points out the hum of a coalition bomber circling overhead. “Out here, in the abandoned villages and open terrain, the militants are vulnerable,” he says. “Without human shields and the cover provided by buildings, any movement that reveals their positions is a death sentence.”

During the height of the offensive, it was here that Canadian Special Forces soldiers joined the battle in an armoured Humvee, Hussein adds. They also took up positions on a ridgeline overlooking the battlefield, firing mortars and directing the Zeravani forces below. “The Canadians did a lot to make sure we would win this battle,” Hussein says. “This whole area has been liberated because of their contribution.”

A few kilometres to the east, the battle was much different. The residents of Fazliya, a small town of about 6,000 nestled into the base of the ridge occupied by the Canadians, were not given the opportunity to escape before the Kurds arrived, forcing coalition bombers to avoid the kind of indiscriminate airstrikes that leveled Khorsabad.

Fazliya was left relatively intact, but its liberation was a preview of the much more difficult fight to come in Mosul, a sprawling city where an estimated 1.5 million civilians remain trapped. Unlike Khorsabad, which fell relatively quickly in the face of coalition airstrikes, Zeravani forces only managed to roll into Fazliya on Oct. 27, after a one-week siege. Locals say Islamic State fighters had retreated three days before the Zeravani arrived but the liberators took their time moving forward, fearing suicide bombers and snipers.

In the interim, Fazliya’s residents took the opportunity to cleanse themselves of all things Islamic State. Signs were torn down and the black flags of the self-declared caliphate removed. Locals raised white flags over their homes to signal to the Zeravani that it was safe to enter the town.

“The first thing I did was shave my beard,” says Ahmed, a 27-year-old former English teacher who lived through every day of the Islamic State’s 27-month long rule, providing only his first name. “Then I waited for the Kurdish forces to arrive.”

Now, not a single beard can be seen in Fazliya, a telling feature in a part of the world where Islamic conservatism is common. Many locals say they are worried about what comes next in their town. Rumours are spreading that Islamic State loyalists have also shaved their beards and melted in with the population.

Islamic State fighters are the immediate fear in this warzone, but a host of tensions dog the entire Mosul offensive. On Oct. 29, Iranian-backed Shia militias joined the fight, advancing from the west on the ISIS-held town of Tal Afar, 75 km from Mosul, in a bid to cut off supply lines to Syria. The move angered other ethnic and sectarian groups who fear the Shia will attempt to annex Mosul, a mixed city of Sunnis, Christians, Kurds and ethnic Turks. The ethnic and sectarian mix that has been Mosul’s pride for centuries now threatens to tear it apart.

But for Canadians, who have thrown in their lot with the Kurds, still bigger problems loom. The Zeravani say they are done pushing forward. A deal signed between them and Iraq’s central government stipulates that the Kurds will not participate in the fight to take Mosul city. The agreement has broad support in Iraqi Kurdistan. Eliminating Islamic State outside traditional Kurdish territory has never been the prime objective for the Kurds. Over the last two years, they have steadily expanded their territory in northern Iraq, filling the political vacuum as their forces have liberated territory occupied by ISIS. Kurds now control Kirkuk, an oil-rich city 175 km southeast of Mosul. With the help of Canada’s elite soldiers, the Kurdistan Region has ballooned to the east and south.

Helping the Kurds claim land from the Iraqi government for a future independent Kurdistan was never Ottawa’s intention, but it’s looking increasingly like this is what has happened. Col. Hussein, the Zeravani commander on the Nawaran front, says the Kurds have no plans to retreat back to Kurdistan’s official border once ISIS is defeated. “Mosul is not a Kurdish city,” he says. “It’s for Arabs. But the territory we have liberated belongs to the Kurds. God willing, it will remain with the Kurds.”

Iraq’s central government is not, of course, on the same page. Prime Minister Haider al Abadi has repeatedly warned the Kurds not to use the fight against Islamic State as an excuse to annex Iraqi territory.

The first signs of future conflict have begun to surface in Khazer, where Canada helped the Zeravani push even deeper into Iraqi territory. The advance, which launched the Mosul offensive, was fast and furious, lasting only a day and coming to a halt near Tarjala, a village nearly 10 km west of Kurdistan’s official border. From there, Iraqi Special Forces took the lead, pushing further west toward Mosul.

The meeting point of the two armies has become something of a de facto border. A few short metres are all that separate a Zeravani checkpoint from its Iraqi counterpart on the east-west road between Mosul and Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region. Villagers who have taken shelter at camps for the internally displaced in Kurdistan are given permission slips by the Zeravani to return to their liberated villages but are then, after walking a few steps, rejected by the Special Forces.

“Look,” says a captain manning the Special Forces checkpoint, who refused to provide his name, “this slip is from the Zeravani. We are Iraqi army. They have their rules; we have ours. Sometimes the rules don’t match.”

Indeed, there appear to be no clear rules for how Iraq will sort itself out once the Islamic State is eliminated, nor have the limits to Canada’s involvement in the fight been clearly identified. Defeating ISIS has underpinned Ottawa’s rationale for sending aid to the Kurds, but now that the Kurds have stopped fighting Islamic State, what comes next? The fight for Mosul itself is expected to take weeks, if not months. Canada, if its support remains firmly with the Kurds, will be spectators to that battle.

But Canada’s relationship with the Zeravani also appears to be on shaky ground. While Zeravani commanders laud the contribution Canadian soldiers made during the Mosul offensive, they criticize Canada’s failure to provide the training and materiel they were promised. “The training they gave us was nothing new,” says Ato Zebari, the deputy commander of the Zeravani forces in Khazer. “We went through it expecting they would also provide us weapons. Then they promised they would set up a commando brigade of Zeravani. They said they would equip it and train it. That never happened.”

Zebari’s gripe is not unfounded. During a visit to Khazer in April, Canadian Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance spelled out a plan to transform the Zeravani into an elite fighting force with “the weapons necessary to do the job they need to do.” The goal, he added, was to have the commando force ready for the Mosul offensive. That has not happened and no one knows exactly why, largely because of the secrecy surrounding Canada’s mission.

Defence officials in Ottawa are vague about exactly how that mission will evolve beyond defeating Islamic State. But based on its response to email queries, the emphasis on supporting the Kurds has changed.

“The Government of Canada is responding to the Government of Iraq’s request for military assistance in supporting their efforts to counter the threat presented by Daesh,” officials said, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State. “We are continuing our planning efforts toward providing equipment to Iraqi Security Forces.”

The Kurds, front and centre during Vance’s April tour of the Zeravani frontlines, were not mentioned.

In the weeks and months ahead, some hard questions will need to be answered. What exactly was Canada’s goal in Iraq? Did officials know they were helping the Kurds build up an army for a future independent Kurdistan? Should that support continue post-ISIS? Canada’s elite soldiers have proven themselves on the battlefield, once again. Now it’s up to the politicians to prove it was worth it.

Should Canada do battle to keep peace in Africa?

By: KENNEDY JAWOKO, Toronto Star

The number of Canadian Forces troops and rules of engagement matter a great deal to the protection of civilians.

On June 6, 2014, a few hours after sunset, armed men opened fire on an outdoor church ceremony in Mutarule, a small village in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The assailants attacked the village with rifles and grenade launchers, shooting civilians at close range and then burning them alive.

An offensive use of force by Canada during its UN peacekeeping mission in Africa should reduce violence against civilians, writes Kennedy Jawoko.
An offensive use of force by Canada during its UN peacekeeping mission in Africa should reduce violence against civilians, writes Kennedy Jawoko. (ED JONES / ED JONES/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
A survivor described the experience to Human Rights Watch: “We heard bullets coming from all sides. We all got down on the ground. They came in by the door and were in camouflage military uniforms. There were many of them. The first one said: ‘Exterminate them.’ Then they started shooting.”

All told, the attackers killed 38 villagers in a few hours, including at least nine children. Many more were injured, stabbed with bayonets or burned past recognition.

That’s the picture Canadian peacekeepers are likely to come face-to-face with when Canada returns to peacekeeping in an era where the rules of engagement are non-existent.

The tragedy in Mutarule could have been avoided. A United Nations peacekeeping base, located just an eight-minute drive away, received frantic phone calls from villagers asking for help as the massacre began. Although the peacekeeping mission in the DRC has the authority to use force to protect civilians, UN soldiers stayed in their barracks.

This week the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sacked the commander of a peacekeeping force in South Sudan following a damning report that accused the blue helmets of failing to protect civilians during an outbreak of violence in July that killed dozens of people. Investigators concluded peacekeepers abandoned their posts and failed to respond to pleas for help from aid workers under attack.

These reports illustrate how peacekeepers’ choices — in particular the choice to use force — matter a great deal to the protection of civilians. For the past 15 years, UN peacekeepers have had robust mandates that require them to protect civilians and authorize them to use force beyond self-defence to achieve that goal. Despite these changes, long-standing debates on the offensive use of force in peacekeeping continue.

A Nanos Research survey conducted for CTV News last month found that nearly 70 per cent of Canadians support deploying Canadian Forces on UN peacekeeping missions in active fighting areas. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has committed to deploying 600 Canadian troops on UN peacekeeping missions. If Canadian peacekeepers were to use force beyond self-defence, then I believe four key factors should be taken into consideration.

First, the deployment of a large number of peacekeepers will likely amplify the deterrent effect of the use of force. When they intervened, blue helmets in Congo simultaneously launched offensives and deployed in greater numbers to war-affected regions. This combination probably did more to change the calculus of rebels than the offensive use of force alone, which failed to quell rebel violence against civilians in other cases.

Second, Canadian Forces should also weigh the capacity of rebel groups, compared to peacekeepers and their allies, when contemplating the use of force. UN peacekeepers and the Congolese army failed to change the behaviour of sophisticated rebel groups. These large and well-trained forces, with external financial or military support, continued to target civilians during and after the offensive use of force.

Third, Canadian peacekeepers might not be able to protect civilians through the use of force when the national government allies with a rebel group that commits atrocities. In these situations, Canada might have to turn to other tools to persuade the government to reconsider the alliance or to otherwise protect civilians. These tools might include diplomatic pressure, use of media, or threatening to suspend certain forms of co-operation with the government.

Lastly, rebel groups that operate out of a vast and remote forest, employ hit-and-run tactics, and disappear into the local population might not often respond to the offensive use of force. These guerrilla tactics mean offensive use of force might not bring about a decrease in rebel violence against civilians.

Research shows that deploying large numbers of peacekeepers does reduce violence against civilians. I believe the offensive use of force amplifies that effect. When Canada takes the initiative, it should do so with a sufficient number of troops — both civilian and military — not just 600 pairs of boots on the ground.

Kennedy Jawoko is a professor at Seneca College. He has conducted research on media and conflict in South Sudan.

Ottawa defends CAF's Fit-to-Serve rule

RENATA D’ALIESIO, The Globe and Mail

The federal government is defending the Canadian Forces’ fit-to-serve rule, which has led to the expulsion of nearly 7,000 ill and wounded members over the past five years – many of them Afghanistan war veterans who wanted to remain in the military.

The policy known as universality of service has long been criticized as too stringent, forcing out members as they cope with job-related injuries and mental illness, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterans’ advocates argue the rule – which requires soldiers, sailors and air force personnel be capable of deploying at all times – deters some ill soldiers from seeking help, because they worry they’ll be discharged from the military.

A Canadian Forces working group has been studying the issue for more than two years, but change does not appear on the horizon. In a statement of defence submitted in response to legal action from injured veteran Louise Groulx, the Liberal government maintains the military’s employment standard is not discriminatory and is supported by the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Lawyers for the government also argue that the rule doesn’t demand military members be capable of serving in combat. Rather, they need to be “fit, employable without significant limitations and deployable for operational duties.”

Ottawa’s legal position buttresses comments made by General Jonathan Vance, the Chief of the Defence Staff, earlier this year. In May, Gen. Vance told The Globe and Mail there are many reasons the standard cannot be dropped, even for those who have been permanently injured in the line of duty, such as on the Afghanistan mission, but are still able to perform a job in Canada. “We are a small armed forces; everybody’s got to be able to pitch in all the way.”

Ms. Groulx’s lawyer, Corey Shefman, called the requirement that all 60,000-plus regular force members be ready to deploy any time “ridiculous.” He noted that there are many military jobs that don’t involve serving overseas.

“The Canadian Forces, like every other employer, needs to make reasonable accommodation for these soldiers and veterans,” Mr. Shefman said. “The Canadian people and the Canadian government owe a duty to our soldiers and our veterans for the risks that they put themselves in every day and for the service that they are giving to the country.”

Before becoming an air force instructor and aeromedical technician, Ms. Groulx was a medic and served in Haiti in 1995, part of Canada’s contribution to a United Nations mission. Her last job, which was based in Winnipeg, involved teaching pilots how to deal with medical emergencies and was unlikely to ever require her to work overseas, Mr. Shefman said.

The air-force instructor suffered a serious spinal injury in 1999, while participating in a military baseball game. She underwent six surgeries over 14 years, but was left with mobility problems, according to her statement of claim. She also experienced depression and PTSD, the claim adds.

While she returned to work and wanted to remain in the Forces, she was medically released in June, 2009. The retired master corporal’s lawsuit alleges the Forces’ universality-of-service rule violated her Charter rights.

“The fact is this is the 21st century. The American air force managed to put a double-amputee pilot back in his fighter jet and flying missions. If they can do that, I don’t see any good reasons why the Canadian Forces can’t put a person like Louise … in her non-deployable position,” Mr. Shefman contended.

The Forces’ universality-of-service working group was created in response to concerns that the rule was forcing too many ill and wounded members out of the military. The group last met in September to review findings from focus groups, and is scheduled to meet again in November, said military spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande. The focus groups helped identify “common and essential minimum operational standards” for Forces members, she said. It’s unclear when the review will wrap up.

Medical discharges hit a 17-year high in the 2014 fiscal year, with 1,908 personnel deemed unfit for duty – a 52-per cent increase from the year before, according to figures provided by the Forces. Last fiscal year, 1,533 members were dismissed from the military for medical reasons, which is far higher than before the Afghanistan war. Between 1999 and 2002, no more than 722 personnel were expelled in a single year.

RCAF sends surveillance aircraft to Arctic to investigate mysterious pinging sounds

By: David Pugliese, The National Post

The Canadian Forces has sent a surveillance aircraft to the Arctic to investigate a pinging sound that appears to be coming from the ocean floor, but the military is no closer to solving the mystery of what could be making the noise.

The government of Nunavut asked Ottawa to investigate the sounds, prompting the decision to send a CP-140 Aurora aircraft to conduct surveillance of Fury and Hecla Strait, northwest of the hamlet of Igloolik.

Descriptions of the noises range from pings to beeps or a hum. They have been reported by hunters in the region, who worry they are driving away animals.

Paul Quassa, a member of Nunavut’s legislative assembly, told lawmakers last month the sounds are coming from the sea floor. “The sound that has been heard in the area seems to be emitted from the seabed and underwater,” Quassa said in an Oct. 25 statement. “Our constituents as well as hunters and boaters have reported that the area in question is almost devoid of sea mammals and that hunting has been poor in the area for quite some time.”

According to Department of National Defence spokesman Dan Le Bouthillier, the Aurora’s crew “performed various multi-sensor searches in the area, including an acoustic search for 1.5 hours, without detecting any acoustic anomalies. The crew did not detect any surface or subsurface contacts.”

Google Maps of Fury and Hecla Strait

The Aurora crew did observe two pods of whales and six walruses in the area of interest, Le Bouthillier added.

Residents have speculated about various theories for the sounds, including that a mining company may be conducting sonar surveys or that environmentalists may be using some kind of device to scare away animals so they can’t be hunted.

Nunavut’s government provided the Forces with information about the noises. “We appreciate the information provided by the government of Nunavut and will follow up with the premier’s office once the investigation has concluded,” Le Bouthillier said.

Over the years, there have been various reports of sightings of mysterious objects in Canada’s Arctic waters. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, there were at least a dozen sightings of unusual objects moving along or just below the surface of the water, mostly around Baffin Island, according to Canadian Forces records.

Inuit hunters and members of the Canadian Rangers reported what they believed were foreign submarines checking out Canada’s Arctic territories. Many of the sightings took place near Pond Inlet on Baffin Island.

One sighting in particular was well-documented: an RCMP officer and several area residents saw an object just below the surface, producing a three-metre bow wave as it moved through the water. Several weeks later, a group of hunters saw the object again.

The Canadian military conducted an investigation into the various sightings but concluded strong currents or the wind could have caused the unusual waves reported by the officer and Inuit. At the time, the Canadian military said it could not find any evidence of foreign submarines operating in the area.

Precision Guidance Kits being integrated into CAF M777C1 Howitzers

Army News

Shilo, Manitoba – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Starting this week, the 1st Regiment of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery will be integrating a new piece of equipment, known as the Precision Guidance Kit, at Canadian Forces Base Shilo, Manitoba.

The integration of the Precision Guidance Kit, which can be used in place of the existing fuse on a conventional shell, transforms artillery rounds into Global Positioning System-guided munitions, allowing trajectory adjustments to be made in-flight, thereby enabling targets to be hit with greater precision.
The Precision Guidance Kit, a kit attached to a round being fired from a Howitzer, during trials at Canadian Forces Base Shilo training ground by the 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery on November 1, 2016.
Photo by MCpl Gerald Cormier, Third Canadian Division Public Affairs
The Precision Guidance Kit will bring greater accuracy to a normally unguided projectile, and in turn reduce ammunition requirements and the risk of collateral damage. This advanced system is yet another example of the Canadian Army’s commitment to ensuring its soldiers are well-equipped with first-class capabilities.

“Developing capabilities like the Precision Guidance Kit will improve the Canadian Army’s ability to more effectively engage a target through the use of artillery. A guided projectile system will reduce the risk of collateral damage, neutralize a small target with fewer rounds, engage targets closer to friendly troops, and increase safety, all while being more cost-efficient.”– Colonel Nicolas Pilon, Director Land Requirements, Canadian Army

The Precision Guidance Kit is a fuse that affixes to the tip of a conventional high explosive artillery projectile in the same manner as any in-service artillery fuse and controls detonation of the round.
The Precision Guidance Kit uses conventional rounds and the in-service M777C1 howitzer with its advanced digital Fire Control System.

The Precision Guidance Kit initiative was started in Fiscal Year 2010-2011 and is expected to close-out in 2018. The approximate cost is forecast at $28 million. This covers the amount to integrate the Precision Guidance Kit technology to work with the Canadian M777C1 and also covers the cost of purchasing M795 projectiles and Precision Guidance Kit fuses.

The Precision Guidance Kit is manufactured by Orbital ATK in the United States. There are no Canadian companies that currently manufacture this capability.

Trudeau ignoring calls to launch inquiry into Afghan detainee treatment

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being asked to reconsider his government’s decision not to hold an inquiry into the treatment of Afghan detainees even as the International Criminal Court prepares to conduct its own investigation.

The Liberals rejected in June an e-petition calling for a judicial inquiry into detainee treatment.

But Craig Scott, a law professor and former NDP MP who initiated the petition, asked Trudeau last month to reconsider his government’s decision.

In addition, in June, human rights activists, diplomats, current and former parliamentarians, including former prime minister Joe Clark, wrote an open letter to Trudeau calling for a full investigation into the Canadian military’s transfer of prisoners to Afghan officials during the war.

“There’s been no response from the prime minister at all to any of these requests,” Scott said. “It’s clear his government wants to do everything it can do to bury this issue.”

But Canada’s activities involving detainees could be put in the spotlight if the International Criminal Court proceeds with an investigation into how U.S. troops, Afghan soldiers and the Taliban acted on the battlefield.

Foreign Policy magazine, a U.S. based publication, reported Tuesday that the International Criminal Court is preparing to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Afghanistan.

Scott said the criminal court inquiry, if it goes ahead, could ask for evidence gathered from Canadian sources and well as examine what Canadian officials knew about any incidents of abuse or torture.

Trudeau’s office did not provide comment.

But the issue of the treatment of Afghan detainees has been dogging the Canadian military since 2009.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, a former Canadian Forces officer and Afghan war veteran, rejected calls for the government to hold the judicial inquiry into the overall treatment of detainees. He said Canadian military personnel conducted themselves properly at all times.

Sajjan’s refusal to allow for an investigation is in stark contrast to the Liberal’s position when they were in opposition. They accused the Conservative government of covering up detainee abuse and demanded a public inquiry.

Critics say Sajjan’s work in Afghanistan with the Canadian Forces, which included setting the stage for the killing or capture of some 1,500 Afghan insurgents, was enough to disqualify him from making the decision not to conduct a public inquiry into alleged abuses.

Sajjan could have been a potential witness for any such investigation, said Scott. He noted that Sajjan also had dealings with Afghan officials, some of whom were later accused of torturing people.

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

A military police watchdog group is currently conducting its own investigation into a specific case involving allegations Canadian military personnel abused Afghan prisoners in their cells in Kandahar in 2010 and 2011.

The Military Police Complaints Commission has already interviewed a number of individuals aware of the cell raids by military police and confirmed several detainees were so scared they defecated and urinated on the spot during one such foray into the cells.

Some Canadian military police officers also recently raised concerns that many Afghans taken prisoner by Canadian troops were innocent farmers or workers and not members of the Taliban or al Qaeda.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

HMCS Vancouver arrives in Brisbane

Royal Canadian Navy Press Release

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Vancouver arrives in Brisbane today 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.

"I am very proud of the interoperability our navies have recently displayed during both RIMPAC and KAKADU," said Rear-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander Maritime Forces Pacific. "Through community engagement, HMCS Vancouver’s port visit in Australia is an opportunity to build upon our cooperative relationship as key partners in the Asia-Pacific region. One of the Royal Canadian Navy’s newly upgraded Halifax-class frigates, HMCS Vancouver and its crew are proud ambassadors for Canada, showcasing the enhanced capabilities of our modernized ship and the professionalism of our Canadian sailors."

HMCS Vancouver is engaging in a variety of training opportunities with foreign navies, as well as visiting several countries in the Asia-Pacific region. WESTPLOY 16 provides a unique opportunity that allows 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.

This deployment allows HMCS Vancouver, along with an embarked CH-124 Sea King helicopter and air detachment, to test and evolve the 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 the following 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.

RCAF SAR Rescues Fisherman off Cape Scott

DND Press Release

Late Monday afternoon 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron was involved in a mission to medevac a crew member of a commercial fishing vessel to hospital for immediate care, the Canadian Forces said in a news release Tuesday.

More details from the news release:

* The vessel was 60 nautical miles (110 km) northwest of Cape Scott at the time of the call for assistance.

* A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter and a CC-115 Buffalo were tasked to respond.

* The Buffalo arrived on scene first and after making contact with the crew by radio provided them instructions to prepare for the arrival of the Cormorant with SAR Techs on board.

* The Cormorant arrived on scene shortly after the Buffalo and two SAR Techs were lowered onto the deck of the vessel to prepare the patient to be hoisted onto the Cormorant.

* The patient was transported by Cormorant to Port Hardy then transferred to the Buffalo and subsequently flown to Victoria where the BC Ambulance Service transferred the patient to hospital

How Canada Is Indirectly Taking Part In The Battle For Mosul

By: Jonathan Wade, Huffington Post 

While Canada pulled its fighter aircraft from the U.S.-led coalition earlier this year, the Canadian Forces still pull its share on the ground. Providing vital support to Peshmerga fighters through "advise-and-assist" operations, Canada has boots on the ground and is actively taking part in the battle.

As a matter of fact, soldiers from the Canadian Special Operation Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) are working alongside their Kurdish counterparts against ISIL. Deemed a non-combat mission, CANSOFCOM soldiers are constantly moving near the frontline to monitor the progress of the recently-trained Peshmerga fighters.

According to brigadier-general Peter Dawe, deputy commander of CANSOFCOM, the mission on the ground has evolved from defensive to offensive operations. Due to that Canadian operator on the ground often have to exchange fire with ISIL combatants to defend themselves and their allies.

"We are more engaged on the line -- there should be no doubt about that -- and, by extension, the risk has increased to our troops simply by virtue of time spent at the line and the work we're doing now in a more dynamic and fluid environment," Brig-Gen. Dawe said.

During the last few months, Dawe confirmed no Canadian soldiers were wounded even with the recent augmentation of confrontation with ISIL fighters.

Canadian Forces' participation in the Battle of Mosul

Having conducted successful operations in the past, the Kurdish Peshmerga are now actively taking part in the battle of Mosul. That said, it is pretty obvious their Canadian advisers are also taking part in the battle. However, the Canadian soldiers are most likely playing a supporting role such as guiding U.S.-led coalition aircraft, assisting in medical evacuation and by providing a liaison between the Peshmerga and Western forces.

Recently deployed to replace the 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron (SOAS), pilots and ground crew of the 430 Tactical Helicopter Squadron will also take part in the Battle of Mosul . Based in Valcartier, Quebec, the 430th is equipped with CH-146 Griffon helicopters and will provide reconnaissance, troops and equipment transport, and will assist in the evacuation of wounded soldiers.

Although Canada is indirectly taking part in the battle of Mosul, its contribution still remains important to the success of the operation. Adding to the ground troops and helicopters, Canada still have a CP-140 Aurora providing intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISR) and a CC-150 Polaris for refueling purposes to the U.S.-led coalition under Operation IMPACT.

Canada is also getting ready to deploy and operate a field hospital equipped with two operating rooms (OR) in the region to treat wounded allied soldiers. Our medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) helicopters will have the ability to extract the wounded soldiers to a Canadian-led field hospital, increasing interoperability between the two elements.

It is my understanding that even if the Trudeau government has been constantly stating there was no combat mission being conducted in Iraq, Canadian soldiers are still moving on the frontline. That said, as a combat veteran of Afghanistan who spent several months embedded with the Afghan National Army, I know vital it is for the success of the operation to have the CANSOFCOM operators on the frontline along the Peshmerga to show our willingness to fight alongside them. By doing so, the Canadian soldiers are earning respect and their working relationship with the Peshmerga is much better.
Jonathan Wade is a Military and Foreign Affairs Specialist. Combat Veteran of Afghanistan. Specializing on Russia, Canada and the Arctic.

Why Canada refused UN’s request to go to the Congo in 2010


OTTAWA—Canada took a long hard look at sending a military commander and soldiers to lead international peacekeeping troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the request of the United Nations.

It was early 2010. And the Canadian government was angling — in vain, it would turn out — for a rotating seat on the powerful UN Security Council.

By May, the former Conservative government of prime minister Stephen Harper had turned down the request.

Canada would not send soldiers to lead or boost a UN mission that was struggling to stabilize a massive country where government and army corruption was endemic, rebel attacks rocked the east, and violence to control Congo’s vast mineral riches flared.

The government offered only a brief explanation: “Canada is fully engaged in Afghanistan until 2011. That is what we are concentrating on for now.”

However, with Africa back on the radar, the Star conducted interviews and reviewed nearly 1,000 pages of heavily redacted documents obtained under the Access to Information Act to put together a picture of why Canada gave the UN the cold shoulder, and to shed light on the looming decision facing the current Liberal government.

It’s clear that in 2010 it wasn’t simply a question of military resource constraints. The military said it had enough.

Instead, it came down to a political decision by Harper to avoid what looked certain to be a military and political quagmire for years to come.

Sources say Harper and his cabinet took the view that Canadian soldiers should not be sent to function as domestic or counterterrorism police in countries that were effectively at civil war where there was no end in sight.

Another source puts it differently. Deepak Obhrai, parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs at the time, said: “Let me tell you, the Harper doctrine was very clear on these things — if you’re not effective, he does not see why we should be going out there.”

Six years later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau boasts that “Canada’s back” on the world stage.

He, too, is angling for a seat on the Security Council, but he has decided to recommit Canadian troops to UN “peace operations.” Ministers and public servants are analyzing where to deploy up to 600 Canadian soldiers and 150 police.

Three ministers say a decision has not yet been made. But it seems several African hot spotsbeckon: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, South Sudan, or the Central African Republic.

All present opportunities, challenges and risks from Canada’s perspective.

Last time around, that is exactly what the public servants, deputy ministers, military leaders and government officials analyzed.

There had been at least three requests from the UN for Canada to contribute a commander to the Congo mission, according to the documents. The UN also indicated it needed 13 helicopters, “intelligence assets,” and a C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft for a mission that was — and remains — the largest deployment of peacekeeping troops in the world, where some 20,000 military personnel wear blue helmets.

The UN asked Ottawa to send a deputy police commander for its police mission in Congo. In addition, the European Union, which also had a police operation there, asked Canada for a police commander and officers.

At least one senior Mountie, who had previously worked with the EU’s mission, urged the RCMP to accept.

However, an RCMP briefing memo was grim:

“The conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been one of the bloodiest, longest-running struggles in the world, with a death toll surpassing that of Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

“Belligerents on all sides commit horrific human rights violations and use sexual violence as a weapon of war. The front lines of the conflict are blurred, with many actors with varying loyalties.”

The RCMP called the overall security situation in the country “stable, but unpredictable, particularly in the east”

Then, as now, Congo President Joseph Kabila faced elections and was fighting to keep power. He demanded the UN reduce its troops and he strong-armed his opposition critics.

Today, Kabila is defying a constitutional two-term limit and vying for a third. The UN reported last week that Congolese police, armed forces and the Republican Guard had used excessive — including lethal — force to quell demonstrations in September when at least 53 people were killed and 143 injured over two days, and more than 299 were unlawfully arrested.

The assumption in 2010 by military and foreign affairs officials was that a Canadian commander would need Canadian troops under his direct command. The lesson of retired lieutenant-general Roméo Dallaire’s 1994 experience in Rwanda had been learned.

Officials urged that the request for a force commander and the possibility of a larger troop contingent in 2011 be considered separately.

According to Andrew Leslie, who was then the commander of Canada’s army, the Department of National Defence believed the deployment was not only doable, but easily managed and worth doing.

Now an elected Liberal MP and government “whip,” Leslie said the military had ample capacity to take on a new deployment, putting the skills honed in Afghanistan to work in another country that needed stabilizing. It could show allies that Canada was prepared to help in other global hot spots.

At first, Michael Kaduck, director of peace operations and fragile states policy at Foreign Affairs, wrote that the mission was “potentially an attractive offer” in line with Canada’s priorities in the region.

In a widely distributed memo, he nevertheless urged “a hard look” at what civilian, military and police support Canada could offer, what impact it would have on Canada’s engagement in UN missions in Haiti, Darfur and South Sudan, and what kind of political support such a mission would require and for how long.

“We need to consider the overall question of whether this is the right UN mission for Canada, now and in post-2011,” wrote Kaduck.

At that time, Canada had just 12 soldiers posted to the UN in Congo, mainly as legal advisers to improve the military justice system and the Congolese capacity to investigate and prosecute the rampant sexual violence.

For months, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade analyzed the UN request under criteria for when Canada should intervene in fragile states and conflict zones. It sought input from its many branches, Canada’s international development agency CIDA and from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Candice Dandurand, a civilian deployment officer at foreign affairs, “firmly” supported sending Mounties to the EU mission, according to a March 17, 2010 email. She said it dovetailed with Canada’s support of the UN mission to fight rampant sexual and gender-based violence, and had the backing of the department’s Africa branch and the Canadian embassy in Kinshasa, the capital.

Other advisers identified challenges: Canadian allies were represented at mission headquarters, but there were no “formed contingents” of allies on the ground. The bulk of the UN forces came from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uruguay and South Africa.

Canada had already contributed more than $250 million on the Congo mission since its start in 1999, and had spent $124 million over the previous decade in humanitarian and development aid, and could build on its work.

There had been “progress” as a result of Canada’s efforts, but advisers said “much more is needed.”

“The DRC is a fragile but not a failed state.”

The analysis weighed more questions: whether Congo was a direct and/or indirect threat to Canada or its allies, whether it was a source of organized crime or terrorism, whether Canada had a major strategic interest, such as a key bilateral relationship, at play and whether engagement carried “implications under international law, including tribunals such as the International Criminal Court.”

The answers to those questions and others are blacked out.

Andrew Leslie fills in some of the gaps.

He says the Canadian Forces saw the region’s instability as a potential recruiting ground for Al Qaeda and were keen to help stabilize it. He says government officials also considered the extensive business interests of the Canadian mining industry, and the fact that China was increasingly influential in the country.

Leslie was dispatched in February 2010 — before the UN’s request was formalized in March — on a reconnaissance trip.

Leslie says the military had boosted its ranks of reservists and regular members by 3,000 members in the three years up to 2009. “I knew, and we knew, that we would have had capacity in 2010 . . . to launch into the DRC — not in the same scale as in Afghanistan but in a meaningful way . . . and we could have sustained it, of course.

“It was viewed as a mission that was definitely interesting. If the government of Canada wanted us to do it, we would do it.”

The military’s enthusiasm didn’t impress the Harper government.

In the view of two former senior Harper government officials, the military was always keen to deploy, no matter what.

The government insiders spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about cabinet-level discussions at that time.

One told the Star that the UN’s request, like many that came to the Harper government, amounted to a dangerous mission that threatened to put Canadian lives on the line in a country where there was little peace to keep, and no clear end in sight.

The Conservative prime minister’s skepticism was a big change from 2006 when Harper first travelled to Afghanistan and told Canadian troops that they were, “serving in a UN-mandated, Canadian-led security operation that is in the very best of the Canadian tradition, providing leadership on global issues, stepping up to the plate, doing good when good is required.”

Others explain the government’s thinking differently.

Obhrai said in an interview the government had “no appetite” for the mission because it had concluded Canadian troops could not be “effective” in achieving Canadian goals. It was thought the “more appropriate” intervention would be to offer logistical support to African Union forces, which the Conservatives did. As well, given widespread human rights abuses, including by government forces, “it would have been absolutely disastrous,” said Obhrai.

“Who are you supporting? Which side are you going with? The side that you want to go with are (sic) also being accused of human rights abuses.”

Whatever misgivings Harper had were soon underscored.

At Foreign Affairs, plans for a team of department and RCMP officials to travel to Congo were put on hold because Canada’s then-governor general, Michaëlle Jean, was on an official four-country visit to Africa, including Congo and Rwanda — at Harper’s request.

Jean’s mid-April trip revealed just how much displeasure had been generated by the Harper government’s decision to reduce the number of African countries eligible for aid, and how little enthusiasm there was for Canada’s attempt to win a Security Council seat.

While she was there, a senior UN official in Congo made a direct public appeal to Canada to help. Soon after Jean returned to Ottawa, it was rebuffed. The government decided to turn down the request for a commander.

Late on April 29, 2010, Canada notified the UN of its decision, and Defence Minister Peter MacKay reassigned Leslie to lead a study of how to transform the Canadian Forces.

“I think they (the former government) were tired of the Afghan war,” Leslie now says. “That they were tired of either soldiers going overseas and getting hurt . . . or even worse. I think they were tired of spending money on these missions, and they were a tired team.”

Yet even after refusing the UN’s request, officials continued to study the possibility of deploying to Congo in the following year. The Foreign Affairs and RCMP team finally travelled to Congo in mid-May.

What the group saw there was eye-opening.

Handwritten notes from one unidentified official documented “a lack of infrastructure, starvation deaths in prison” and a dismal judicial system unable to keep pace with sex-crime investigations. Goma’s one judge faced a “backlog of 8,000 cases.” The country had fewer than 1,200 judges and needed “at least 5,000.”

It’s difficult, due to redactions, to say if the final recommendation to cabinet was in favour of a deployment of more Canadian military and civilian resources.

But Leslie believes the bureaucratic analysis shifted to accommodate the political signal that the government was averse to the mission.

Today, he still believes Canada should engage in an African mission, although as a member of the Privy Council, he will not say where he thinks Canada can be most effective.

Obhrai, one of the Conservative party’s leadership contenders, says the problems that were obvious in Congo in 2010 are evident to this day, and the same risks exist no matter what troubled nation in Africa Trudeau might be looking at.

He said his advice to Trudeau: “Don’t do it.”

Calls mount for inquiry into CAF's treatment of Afghan detainees

By: David Pugliese, The National Post 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being asked to reconsider his government’s decision not to hold an inquiry into the treatment of Afghan detainees even as the International Criminal Court prepares to conduct its own investigation.

In June, the government rejected an e-petition calling for a judicial inquiry into how the Canadian military treated prisoners in Afghanistan.
A suspected Taliban prisoner is searched, handcuffed, and processed by Canadian soldiers after a raid on a compound in Northern Kandahar, in 2006.
A suspected Taliban prisoner is searched, handcuffed, and processed by Canadian soldiers after a raid on a compound in Northern Kandahar, in 2006.
Last month, Craig Scott, a law professor and former NDP MP who initiated the petition, asked Trudeau to reconsider the decision.

Human rights activists, diplomats, current and former parliamentarians, including former prime minister Joe Clark, have also written an open letter to the prime minister, demanding a full investigation of the Canadian military’s transfer of prisoners to Afghan officials during the war.

“There’s been no response from the prime minister at all to any of these requests,” Scott said Tuesday. “It’s clear his government wants to do everything it can do to bury this issue.”

Canada’s activities could be put in the spotlight if the ICC goes ahead with its probe into how U.S. troops, Afghan soldiers and the Taliban acted on the battlefield.


Out-of-control Canadian military police terrorized Afghan prisoners in Kandahar, documents indicate
Defence watchdog clears Canadian military police in Afghan prison torture controversy
Federal government releases Afghan detainee documents (2011)

Foreign Policy magazine, a U.S.-based publication, reported Tuesday the court is preparing to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Afghanistan.

Scott said the ICC could ask for evidence from Canadian sources and well as examining what Canadian officials knew about any abuse or torture.

Trudeau’s office had no comment, but the issue of the treatment of Afghan detainees has been dogging the Canadian military since 2009.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, a former Canadian Forces officer and Afghan war veteran, rejected calls for the government to hold the judicial inquiry into the overall treatment of detainees. He said Canadian military personnel conducted themselves properly at all times.

His refusal is in stark contrast to the Liberals’ position in opposition. They accused the Conservative government of covering up detainee abuse and demanded a public inquiry.

Critics say Sajjan’s work in Afghanistan with the Canadian Forces, which included setting the stage for the killing or capture of 1,500 Afghan insurgents, is enough to disqualify him from deciding not to conduct a public inquiry into alleged abuses.

The defence ministger could have been a witness in any such investigation, said Scott. He noted Sajjan also had dealings with Afghan officials, some of whom were later accused of tminister

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

A military police watchdog group is conducting its own investigation into a case involving allegations Canadian military personnel abused Afghan prisoners in their cells in Kandahar in 2010-11.

The Military Police Complaints Commission has interviewed several witnesses with knowledge of the raids by military police who confirmed several detainees were so scared they defecated and urinated on one occasion.

Some Canadian military police officers also recently raised concerns many Afghans taken prisoner by Canadian troops were innocent farmers or workers,not members of the Taliban or al-Qaida.

Germans Tiger attack helicopters might provide cover for RCAF Chinooks in Mali

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

There are reports in the German media that the country’s military is looking at providing Tiger attack helicopters to accompany RCAF Chinooks for an upcoming mission in Mali.

But the Liberal government says it still has to decide on whether those Chinooks, based in Petawawa, Ontario, – or any other units for that matter – would be heading to a mission in Africa.

Image result for tiger attack helicopter
A German Eurocopter Tiger attack Helicopter. Germany is considering deploying these to Mali in the wake of the Dutch decision to withdraw its Apache Helicopters. 
Meanwhile, the Canadian Press is reporting that Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will travel to Mali and Senegal later this week as the Liberal government considers where to send hundreds of Canadian peacekeepers. International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau visited Mali in September. Sajjan visited the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

In September, the Canadian government sent a team to Mali to do a reconnaissance mission for a potential UN operation in that country. The reconnaissance team included members of the Canadian military, Global Affairs Canada and the RCMP.

The UN mission currently involves around 10,000 military personnel taking part in an effort to stabilize Mali. Various armed groups, including Islamic insurgents, have been conducting sporadic attacks in that country. The UN plans to boost the mission by around 2,500 personnel.

The UN has also made it known it would like attack helicopters and transport helicopters to fill the void left by the withdraw of Dutch Chinooks and Apaches from Mali.

“We have decided to continue the Mali mission, but with a reduced capacity,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told reporters Oct. 7. “Dutch helicopters will be withdrawn.”

Sajjan has said that by the end of the year the government expects to make its decision on the next peacekeeping mission. But in his interview with the Canadian Press, he appeared to retreat somewhat on his previous statements. “We need to go into this eyes wide open,” Sajjan said. “So based on that, I have not set a deadline as I want to make sure that we do all the necessary work, so that we can have the meaningful impact.”

Sajjan to visit West Africa as Liberals weigh Peacekeeping Mission

By: Bruce Champion-Smith, Toronto Star


Harjit Sajjan’s trip to Mali and Senegal next week comes as a senator warns of long-term risks posed by a planned peacekeeping mission to Africa.The Star examines our return to peacekeeping in a continuing series.

OTTAWA—Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is headed to Mali and Senegal on a fact-finding mission next week as the federal government continues to make plans to deploy a military mission to Africa.

Sajjan’s five-day visit comes after an August trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, all against the backdrop of the Liberal pledge to commit troops to an African mission.

“We need to go into this eyes wide open, making sure that … we look at the complexities of how (peace) operations have been done in the past and what we need to do,” Sajjan told reporters in Ottawa.

Image result for Peacekeeping in Senegal

Sajjan offered no timeline of when a decision on the deployment could be made.

“I have not set a deadline,” he said. “I want to make sure that we have all the right information, so that we can have a comprehensive plan, a whole-of-government approach to peace operations that are going to bring added value to the United Nations and how they operate now,” Sajjan said.

As with his previous trip, officials in Sajjan’s office cautioned that his itinerary should not be taken as a signal of where the Canadian force may wind up.

“He’d like to get a better sense of the situation in West Africa,” Jordan Owens told the Star. “Don’t read too much into the location.”

Still, Mali — home to one of the deadliest peace missions in Africa — has emerged as one of the possible locations where Canada could dispatch soldiers.

Sen. Daniel Lang, chair of the Senate committee on national security and defence, said discussions at UN headquarters last week provided a sobering overview of the challenges that are certain to confront a Canadian peace mission in Africa.

In late August, the government sent a reconnaissance team of officials to scout the situation on the ground.

Sajjan’s trip comes as Sen. Daniel Lang, chair of the Senate committee on national security and defence, warns that the military mission to Africa could be risky and could ensnare Canada for the long term.

Lang said discussions at UN headquarters last week provided a sobering overview of the challenges that are certain to confront a Canadian peace mission.

And he said any commitment to dispatch troops on an African mission must involve a clear-eyed appraisal of the risks, the length of the deployment and how it serves the national interest.

“Canadians should be fully aware of what we’re getting involved with,” Lang said Monday.

The Liberal government is weighing options to deploy as many as 600 soldiers and 160 police officers somewhere in Africa on a peace mission.

Lang praised Sajjan for taking time to carefully consider the deployment, given the risks.

He said there is good reason such missions are known as “peace support” operations, rather than “peacekeeping,” in many of the locales where Canadians could wind up.

“There is no peace to keep. You are there to try and maintain some social order and stability and protect the civilian population because you have all these warring factions,” Lang said.

He cited Mali as one example of the dangerous terrain that might await Canadian troops. A UN peacekeeper from Chad was killed there and four others wounded in May when their vehicle struck a mine.

“It’s been described as one of the deadliest missions to be involved in,” Lang told the Star during an interview in his office across from Parliament Hill.

“Canada has to be clear, if they’re going into anything like this, what the rules of engagement will be for any of our troops … that we have the ability to ensure their security,” he said.

During their visit to the UN, Lang and several other members of the Senate committee met with representatives of a number of African nations as well as European countries, such as the Netherlands, that have troops deployed to Africa.

He said there was an “overwhelming” call for Canada to focus on training local soldiers, likely from the African Union, to better enable them to take on the duties of serving in a conflict zone.

“Canadians can bring a fair amount of expertise to the table,” he said. “That was definitely an area that was said over and over again.”

Equipment, such as armoured vehicles, helicopters and other airlift capabilities, was also cited as another area where Canada could help.

Yet the discussions at the UN also underscored the challenge that lies ahead and the fact that the scale of conflict demands long-term intervention.

“It was clearly put to us that these countries and these regions that are undergoing such terrible devastation and political turmoil and violence, (it’s) a 10- to 20-year commitment,” Lang said.

“Not that Canada would necessarily stay there that long, but the fact is these are not a situation for quick fixes,” he said.

But he said Canada must learn from its time in Afghanistan, a costly conflict that began as a short-term deployment and turned into the country’s longest military engagement, stretching to 12 years.

Some have charged that the Liberal government is keen to send troops to Africa as part of its campaign to win a seat on the UN Security Council.

But Lang said the driving consideration must be the “public security of Canada.”

“At the end of the day, we have to know why we are going to deploy to any parts of the world, and that includes Africa. Why is it in our national interest? I think that has to be fully explained to us as Canadians,” he said.

Lang said the rationale is clearer for Europeans and their struggle against extremist terrorism, since Africa is in their “backyard.”

Lang said he came away from the visit “a bit overwhelmed” at the magnitude of the challenges confronting some of the nations.

“But I also came away knowing that Canada has been pulling its weight,” he said. “We’re not taking a back seat to anyone.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Needed: A Canadian Defence Space Policy

© 2016 FrontLine Defence (Vol 13, No 5)

It has now been almost three years since the Emerson Report was published – Volume 2 of which was specifically focused on Canada’s Space Sector. Since that time, the Canadian Government has produced the Space Policy Framework, and subsequently changed hands in the 2015 election. The two-part question is: are we further down the road; and, more importantly, are we going in the right direction?
CASSIOPE (CAScade, Smallsat and IOnospheric Polar Explorer) is a Canadian Space Agency multi-mission satellite. The mission is funded through CSA and the Technology Partnerships Canada program. (Photo Credit: University of Calgary)

The Snapshot

Over the past 10 years, Canada’s iconic space agency has had its share of challenges, having ushered in seven different leaders, permanent and interim, even though the position’s term is meant to be for five years. Over that same period, its budget has hovered around $300-350 million (Cdn), on average, with spending per capita below many of its G7-20 friends. And when it appeared there might be some hope on the horizon, with talk about a long-term space plan in 2009, that excitement waned all too quickly. Even so, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has had some remarkable success with Radarsat 1 and 2, the James Webb telescope, Phoenix Mars Lander, Dextre (Canada Arm 2), its cadre of exceptional astronauts, and the soon-to-be-launched Radarsat Constellation mission.

The release of the Space Policy Framework a short while ago was an encouraging sign of positive change but, for the moment, one can only imagine what a truly national unifying space strategy supported by a stably-funded and purposely-focussed plan might achieve.

In a similar vein, amidst many of the same challenges – tight budgets, onerous procurement processes, and shifting political landscapes – the Department of National Defence (DND) has done yeoman’s work delivering extraordinary space-enabled capability for Canada and its allies. And to be fair, they too have done so without the benefit of a new Defence Space Policy that reflects today’s undeniable dependence on space to manage the complex environments, systems, and basic human needs of nations and peoples; that asserts Canada’s responsibility to provide assured and uninterrupted access to space; that underscores its responsibility to protect the vital links that deliver these essential capabilities and services; and that actively promotes Canada’s unique advantage as a global leader in space technology development.

It has been due to the patience and resilience of a small team with big ideas and the support of its leadership that Canadian military space has progressed, but its real potential will come when there is a renewed forward-looking policy to give it the official seal of approval it rightly deserves.

Much like the CSA, DND has also enjoyed some notable successes with Canada’s first military satellite, Sapphire, launched in 2013 and a second satellite, M3MSat, was successfully inserted into its target orbit in June and is undergoing Launch and Early Orbit Procedures (LEOP) to ensure all systems are nominal (or “normal” in space lingo). The next step will be to determine how best to operationalize it for government and possibly private use. In the meantime, RADARSAT-2 continues to provide world-class synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery and data products, while its future complementary capability, RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM), marches steadily towards completion and a planned launch in 2018.
RADARSAT, shown above during testing and assembly at the Canadian Space Agency’s David Florida Laboratory in Ottawa, is a Canadian remote sensing Earth Observation satellite program overseen by the CSA. (Photo: Communications Research Center Canada (CRC))
While this is all great stuff, the real success of its efforts will come once all of the disparate pieces have been knitted together into a cleverly conceived, space-enabled program that makes sense, is affordable, and can be counted on to meet Canada’s evolving needs.

On the commercial side, satellite telecommunications leader Telesat continues to expand its owned and operated fleet of geostationary vehicles, while also beginning to explore LEO systems. MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA), specifically affected by the Ukraine-Russia conflict, has invested more heavily in the U.S. sector and most recently has replaced its Canadian CEO with an American one.

COM DEV International Ltd, in a largely unopposed move, was sold to U.S.-owned Honeywell, with exactEarth (formerly a jointly-owned COM DEV company, based in Cambridge, Ontario) spun off to chart its own path, and now poised to advance new growth in Automatic Identification System (AIS) services and smart applications in collaboration with U.S.-based Harris Corporation and Canadian-based Larus Technologies.

Vancouver-based Urthecast, previously known for its ISS-hosted cameras, now operates a two-satellite imaging constellation called Deimos, is working on the first publicly accessible high definition cameras installed on the International Space Station (ISS), and has ambitious plans to field a 24-satellite OptiSAR constellation – although its major backers are currently south of the Canadian border.

While the global preoccupations of our preeminent space companies are worthy of praise, we’d do them far better service with a well-managed home-grown market to truly showcase both their value and worth. For the moment, in spite of a few promising starts, we see no national strategy or commitment to truly embolden Canadian Space companies to be first and foremost leaders in their own backyards, before stepping out into other markets to test their mettle. We could do better, and we should.

Monitoring the Arctic

Still in the shadow of its Crimea annexation, Russia continues to support ISS trips for astronauts, but has also been hedging its space access bets by building a new spaceport in eastern Russia. Provocatively, it has also been accused of flying at least one of its space systems suspiciously-close to an Intelsat satellite in geostationary orbit and then close to another one later.

While much attention has been given to Russian transgressions in Crimea and the Ukraine, and rightly so, it is the rapid acceleration of their Arctic activities – in particular the staging of Russian military bases, and increased undersea activities, exploratory, mapping, and whatever else – that seems to have largely gone unnoticed or, at the very least, dismissed as nothing more than internal politics for Russian public consumption.

Keeping a watchful eye on the north, with the help of more persistent and cooperative space-enabled earth observation capabilities – that take advantage of the best in multispectral and voice-data payload technologies – sends the message that Canada is both serious about the north and, most importantly, capable and willing to monitor and protect it. Investment today is the insurance for tomorrow.

China’s forward march into space also continues unabated. Recently, they have unveiled new space station plans that include an invitation to the international community to leverage it for future research. This clearly flies in the face of the dubious ISS future (guaranteed out to 2024, but after that?); and U.S. intransigence towards cooperating more openly with China may heighten the anxiety around a low-Earth orbit accessibility gap for human launch and exploration.

(Image: Analytical Graphics, Inc)
Among the more than 8700 objects larger than 10 cm in Earth orbits, only about 6% are operational satellites – the remainder is space debris. A major concern is that impact by such debris could damage operational equipment such as a satellite or the International Space Station.

Expectations are high that China will have its own satellite navigation system, named Beidou, operational by 2020, which, if Europe’s Galileo constellation stays on track, may mean your multi-channel GPS device could have up to four systems to choose from. China has also been ‘talking the talk’ vis-à-vis space debris and its management/mitigation, but the continued impact from its (still largely unexplained) 2007 anti-satellite test significantly mars their credibility in this area.

Beyond that, China is largely believed to be investing in counter-space capabilities to assure its space forces access to the domain while also denying others.
(Images: Canadian Space Agency)

With MDA’s steady transition to a US-based company with a Canadian subsidiary, will RCM be the last flagship of space capability to be developed in Canada?

Frustrations and Hope

Although there is still no official, comprehensive Canadian Space Program (the closest thing still being the Space Policy Framework), the Canadian government has at least begun to consider a few options, such as: a Sapphire follow-on capability; a future GEO and polar voice and data communications satellite system; and a future RCM follow-on system. But without a defined program with clear results and expectations, is the Canadian government gambling in the face of the current threat?
M3MSat, a joint project funded by Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) and the CSA, was launched from India in June 2016. (Photo: Honeywell (Formerly COM DEV))
Dialogue with Russia is probably at an all-time low, and discerning China’s ‘real’ intentions across the space spectrum is never certain. In short, these two actors are not waiting for Canada to figure out its Space Program, nor its (related) procurement process.

To make matters worse, the struggling Canadian space industry has been forced to shift towards more international opportunities that may or may not align their technological capabilities with the near and far-term needs of Canada. This can be particularly detrimental when one considers that the innovative capacity of our space sector is its key strength, which means, a defective investment/procurement process is its key weakness.

Former CSA President Walt Natynczyk experienced some early success with bold steps to align a focused vision to an achievable reality – all with a view of helping ordinary Canadians, and its government, to understand the true value and potential of Space, first in terms of its extraordinary impact on our everyday lives, and ultimately why being in Space is far less a choice than an obligation. But General Walt was larger than life; and breathing the same enthusiasm into a Canadian Key Industrial Capability (KIC) such as Space was, is, and should be, is no single champion’s job.

Current CSA President Sylvain Laporte needs and deserves the support of a determined government. Will we see new life infused into the once-promising Space Advisory Group, or even the Parliamentary Space Caucus (an initiative that former Conservative MP Jay Aspin once championed)?

It falls to the government, no matter its stripes, to lead by example, and not simply to rest on its words. It has the opportunity – one might say an obligation – to demonstrate its resolve through concrete action, buttressed by well-conceived and directed policies that set immutable goals, and which drive the agenda forward to achieve the lasting results for Canada and its Space Community.

Will this be Canada’s Neil-Armstrong-moment to take that small, but so vitally important next step, or will it be left to watch on the sidelines as others increasingly leap ahead?

This fall, the Canadian Space Society will be hosting its 15th Annual Space Summit – a gathering of space industry, academia and government stakeholders – in Winnipeg, Manitoba, with the hope of invigorating new and necessary dialogue to move this important agenda forward.

Rick Pitre is a retired Brigadier-General and former Director General Space at DND. He is currently President of Terizons Consulting.

Wayne A. Ellis is Vice-President of the Canadian Space Society, and a Solutions Consultant with AppSpace Solutions.