Thursday, December 8, 2016

Airbus to be Awarded $2.3B Canadian FWSAR Project

By: David Pugliese, Defense News 

VICTORIA, British Columbia — Canadian Cabinet ministers will announce Dec. 8 that the Airbus C-295 has been selected as the country’s new fixed-wing search-and-rescue (SAR) aircraft, according to multiple industry sources.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Procurement Minister Judy Foote will release the details that morning at the Royal Canadian Air Force base in Trenton, Ontario.

The deal will be worth around CAN$3 billion (US $2.3 billion) and would include long-term, in-service support.

The Airbus Defense and Space C-295 was selected over the C-27J aircraft from Leonardo (formerly Finmeccanica ), according to the industry sources.

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The Airbus C295 (Photo Credit: Airbus Defence & Space)
Embraer of Brazil also bid the KC-390 for the Canadian program.

Airbus officials declined to comment, referring questions to the Canadian government.

Sajjan’s press secretary, Jordan Owens, declined to confirm any details on the contract award set for Thursday. “ ‎I can say that we look forward to giving our women and men in uniform the tools they need to continue to deliver effective search-and-rescue operations ‎,” she said.

Airbus Defence and Space has teamed with key Canadian firms for the project and other ventures on the C-295. Those include PAL Aerospace on in-service support, Pratt & Whitney Canada for engines, CAE for training and simulation, and L3 Wescam for the electro-optic sensors.

The new planes will replace the Royal Canadian Air Force’s 40-year-old Buffalo aircraft and older-model C-130s currently assigned to search-and-rescue duties.

Airbus previously said it will build a new training facility in Comox, British Columbia, if it wins the contract.

“For us, it’s a logical location for it, as there’s ready access to a variety of environments where SAR crews operate, including over the ocean, in the mountains and the North,” Michael Powell, an Airbus spokesman, said earlier this year.

The Fixed Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) aircraft project is divided into a contract for the acquisition of the aircraft and another contract for 20 years of in-service support.

The Air Force expects all aircraft for the FWSAR program to be delivered by 2023.

The FWSAR project originally envisioned acquiring 17 aircraft. But that has now changed and will be capability based, according to government officials. The aerospace firms submitted in their bids the numbers of aircraft they believe are needed for Canada to handle the needed SAR capability.

In the bids, the firms were required to submit prices and aircraft numbers for a fleet to operate out of four main existing bases across Canada. Information was also requested for having planes operating from three bases.

The Canadian government originally announced its intent in the spring of 2004 to buy a fleet of new fixed-wing SAR aircraft, but the purchase has been on and off ever since.

The FWSAR project was sidelined over the years by more urgent purchases of equipment for Canada’s Afghanistan mission as well as complaints made in the House of Commons by domestic aerospace firms and Airbus that the Air Force favored the C-27J aircraft for the fixed-wing SAR plane.

The Air Force strenuously denied any preference for an aircraft.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Bezan: Liberal’s fighter jet capability gap becomes a credibility gap

Conservative Party defence critic James Bezan submitted this opinion piece on the Liberal government’s decision to purchase Super Hornet fighter jets as an interim measure to deal with what they say is a fighter aircraft capability gap:

By James Bezan

As the Liberals attempt to rationalize their sole-source deal of Boeing’s Super Hornet fighter jets, their credibility gap on the file continues to widen.

Justin Trudeau’s credibility on the issue first took a hit when he made an impossible campaign promise. He committed to holding an open and fair competition to replace Canada’s CF-18 fighter jets while simultaneously excluding the F-35. Aside from the fact that this promise is self-contradicting; to directly inject politics into a decision of this magnitude is disheartening.

In June, the National Post revealed that the Liberals intended to purchase an interim fleet of fighter jets to fill a so-called ‘capability gap’. However, in April, Lieutenant-General Hood, the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, confirmed to Members of Parliament that Canada’s fleet of CF-18s are able to meet our current NORAD and NATO commitments and will be able to do so confidently until 2025.

The day before the Liberals announced their intention to enter into negotiations with Boeing, officials from the Department of National Defence reconfirmed Lieutenant-General Hood’s comments in writing.

However, in a recent Senate appearance before the Senate, Lieutenant-General Hood attempted to clarify the government’s position, confirming what critics had long expected – the Liberals created their own capability gap. Prior to concluding the Liberals’ Defence Policy Review, Prime Minister Trudeau gerrymandered the policy of jet requirements to fit with his own political views.

The commander of the RCAF was not privy to the decisions behind this policy change as it was a purely political move enforced by the Prime Minister’s office.

By purchasing the Super Hornets now, the Liberals have jeopardized any hope of a fair competition moving forward. Of course with 18 of their jets already purchased by the Government of Canada, Boeing will have a guaranteed edge over any competitor.

The Liberals have promised to launch a five-year ‘open and transparent’ process to replace the entire fleet of fighter jets. Experts agree this amount of time is unnecessary. In fact, The Netherlands, Norway, and South Korea each ran an open and fair competition for their fighter jets and not one lasted more than two years.

Not only is the Liberals’ decision to sole-source the Super Hornet unnecessary, their approach to the process has been unethical.

In the lead up to the Liberal’s announcement, Boeing representatives appeared to have been given preferential access to Cabinet Ministers. Lobbyists from Boeing met with members of the government seven times more often than any of their competitors. Other companies had their meeting requests denied.

To make matters worse, Prime Minister Trudeau is forbidding federal employees from speaking out against this cynically political process. He has placed an unprecedented life-time gag-order on all 235 individuals working on the Future Fighter Capability Project. This is a blatant attempt on the part of the Liberals to silence their own critics so that they can move ahead with this politicized partisan procurement.

This uninformed campaign promise could also impact Canada’s reputation as a reliable ally. As more than 10 of Canada’s allies have committed to 5th generation fighters in the F-35, Canada will be one of the last developed nations to be flying 4th generation


With fewer capabilities and less in common with our allied partners, the RCAF will be less likely to be called upon for international operations.

A key component of the Liberal’s misguided campaign promise was that they would buy a cheaper alternative to the F-35. But we don’t know the price of the Super Hornets.

Prime Minister Trudeau is giving Boeing a blank cheque. Operating an interim fleet comes with significant additional costs on infrastructure, training, and maintenance.

If the Liberals continue with their commitment to operate a mixed fleet of fighters, the RCAF’s capabilities and interoperability will be reduced for years to come. The Liberal’s plan would force our current fleet of fighters to fly beyond their current 2025 life expectancy into 2030, which the Department of National Defence has accessed as a high-risk option.

This highlights the Prime Minister’s naïve approach to the needs of our military and his inability to manage our country’s finances. Earlier this month Kuwait purchased 40 Super Hornets at $335 million apiece, five times more expensive than the $65 million the Liberals promised during the election.

In addition to hitting every taxpayer’s pocketbook, the Liberals’ political strategy could cost thousands of Canadian aerospace workers their jobs. There are currently 70 companies across Canada that have already benefited from over $1 billion worth of contracts under Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program. If executed, the Liberals’ sole-sourced deal with Boeing could put these jobs in jeopardy.

By ignoring the experts, in a desperate attempt to fulfill a campaign promise, the Liberals have created a political mess of their own doing. Prime Minister Trudeau needs to acknowledge that fighter jets are not just for simply ‘whipping out to show how big they are’. They serve an integral part in maintaining our national security and sovereignty, and are essential to our status as a reliable ally.

The Prime Minister needs to realize that this decision is larger than himself. He should listen to the experts and cancel this sole-sourced deal before his credibility gap has consequences for Canadian taxpayers, aerospace workers, and our military.

Monday, December 5, 2016

CAF to get Guidelines on Dealing with Child Soldiers


OTTAWA—Canada’s top soldier is issuing the first-ever guidelines for Canadian military personnel on how to deal with child soldiers in advance of deployment to Africa, the Star has learned.

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff, and senior military officials have consulted with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and others on how to best prepare troops for a soon-to-be decided UN “peace operations” mission.

In September, Vance issued a draft version of the new guidelines which was expected to be finalized this week.

Called the CAF Child Soldiers Doctrine, it is not country-specific but will provide overarching principles to military personnel, no matter what the mission or mandate. The Star reported last week that Mali has emerged as the likely destination for a large contingent of up to 600 Canadian Armed Forces personnel, but the federal cabinet has not yet given its nod.

According to information obtained by the Star, excerpts of the new guidelines say the “aim is to provide the interim guidance required to address and mitigate the broad challenges posed by the presence of child soldiers in areas where we may undertake missions.”

The United Nations in 2005 identified six categories of grave violations against children that include killing and maiming of children, the recruiting of children as soldiers, sexual violence against children, attacks against schools, denial of humanitarian access to children, and abduction of children.

The military’s guidelines will make clear that all Canadian Armed Forces personnel have a legal duty to report any such violations, and it recognizes that the issue of child soldiers “needs to be better addressed within Canadian Forces doctrine.”

“It is important to ensure our soldiers are prepared to respond to the presence of children and vulnerable populations while on operations. Implementation of such steps will greatly contribute to the operational effectiveness of the CF when reinforced during developmental and pre-deployment training,” it says.

“It will also help prepare troops for the tactical and psychological challenges found in modern theatres.”

The move was hailed by the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, a global partnership based at Dalhousie University. Executive Director Shelly Whitman said “it means essentially that the military’s efforts, or the training, have to be guided by the doctrine; it’s like a bible of the military.”

“When you have a doctrine note come out and it says in it that we’re going to have to understand what this means operationally, strategically, tactically for how our forces address such issues, it’s a huge step forward,” Whitman said in an interview.

Canadian Armed Forces doctrine spells out everything from fundamental principles to details on how to execute operational tasks “to achieve a specific aim,” according to the military’s website.

More specific how-to operational guidelines such as when and how to engage with child fighters would be set out in the rules of engagement of a mission, which are usually classified information.

The guidelines have been a long time coming.

More than seven years ago, former army commander Andrew Leslie, now a Liberal MP, appointed now-retired colonel Jake Bell as the army’s liaison officer with the Dallaire Initiative “to essentially look at this issue to see the things that we could do to incorporate that knowledge into what we do,” Bell said in an interview with the Star.

During his military career, Bell was posted to Bosnia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and in 2012-13 was chief of operations for the United Nations mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Now a consultant for the Dallaire Initiative, he recently travelled to Congo to work with the Congolese army on developing a training curriculum on child soldiers for its officers and non-commissioned troops.

He believes it’s important for the Canadian military and other armed forces to have realistic, practical and scenario-based guidance in dealing with children in a operational theatre, and says “where you can really make an impact is in the prevention of recruitment of child soldiers.”

The Dallaire Initiative consulted with Vance, the chief of defence staff, and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan in March about the issue.

Whitman said military leaders learned many lessons from “challenging situations” in the past, including the war in Afghanistan, dealing with detainees and “also the chai boys, the tea boys.”

That’s a reference to allegations that Canadian soldiers turned a blind eye to abuse of boys by Afghan troops. An inquiry reported to Vance on the issue shortly after he took the top job in Canada’s military.

Earlier this year in response to that inquiry, Vance assured Canadians the military has changed how it trains soldiers for overseas deployments, with more focus on ethical issues, cultural differences and addressing human rights violations.

The Canadian Armed Forces do not identify a specific motivation for this new doctrine.

In an emailed response to the Star’s questions, a military spokesperson said the forces “continually revise and update doctrinal documents in order to ensure operational effectiveness and relevance. Providing our members with a better understanding of issues is therefore critical to mission success.”

“We are doing the responsible thing and recognizing that issues — such as the recruitment of child soldiers by illegal armed groups — can and do occur,” wrote Daniel Le Bouthillier, head of media relations.

“This is why we plan, prepare and ensure our members uphold our legal requirement to report any grave violations against children, as identified by the UN secretary general. The protection of the most vulnerable populations is of the utmost importance.”

He said the Canadian Armed Forces “takes its international obligations extremely seriously and will continue to help ensure our proud men and women have the tools required to carry out their mandates responsibly and with the ethos expected of them by Canadians.”

The concept of child soldiers is defined broadly by the United Nations.

The UN says “a child associated with an armed force or armed group refers to any person below 18 years of age who is, or who has been, recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, spies or for sexual purposes.”

Whitman said she hopes the military will now focus part of its pre-deployment training on the kinds of “moral dilemmas” soldiers will face, and how best to deal with them.

“Our hope is by doing that it means a) it more success overall in their mission and b) we protect children better and c) when our troops come back home we are reducing levels of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and operational stress injury because we will have emotionally and practically prepared them for that and have it not be the first time that they thought about it—the first time they saw it on the battlefield.”

Whitman hopes to offer support and training for military trainers at the military’s Peace Support Training Centre in Kingston. It trains over 1,000 members of the CAF and other government personnel each year, prior to deployment on operations.

In each of the countries to which Canada has looked at deploying — South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic or Mali, children are recruited by military forces, whether to act as fighters, intelligence gatherers, sex slaves or domestic labour. In Mali, in particular they have been used by Islamist groups as suicide bombers, says Whitman.

Canadian Forces firm on anti-malaria drug ahead of Africa mission

By: Gloria Galloway, The Globe and Mail 

Val Reyes-Santiesteban is convinced she lost a military son to the neuropsychotic side effects of the anti-malarial drug mefloquine, and she fears some of the Canadian soldiers who are about to deploy to Africa could meet the same fate.

Members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment get into position as they arrive to assume responsibility for the airport at Bali Dogle, Somalia, on December 15, 1992. Senior medical officials in the Canadian Forces say there is not enough scientific evidence to remove mefloquine as an option for troops who go to countries where malaria is a threat. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)
Members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment get into position as they arrive to assume responsibility for the airport at Bali Dogle, Somalia, on December 15, 1992. Senior medical officials in the Canadian Forces say there is not enough scientific evidence to remove mefloquine as an option for troops who go to countries where malaria is a threat.
(Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)
“It makes me sick. They’ve got to stop them from taking this drug,” Ms. Reyes-Santiesteban, of Welland, Ont., told The Globe and Mail. “Everyone in the government should take this pill once a week for a month and let them see what happens.”

Her son, Corporal Scott Smith, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Christmas Day of 1994 in Rwanda, where he had been sent after taking part in the 1992 Somalia peacekeeping mission. Military doctors prescribed mefloquine for him on both deployments.

The army says he was “killed in action” even though his death, at the age of 23, was clearly suicide.

But, more than two decades later, as the government determines where its next peacekeeping mission in Africa will be, senior medical officials in the Canadian Forces say there is not enough scientific evidence to remove mefloquine as an option for troops who go to countries where malaria is a threat. They remain dubious of claims it can cause permanent damage, despite a Health Canada warning and veterans who say the medication ruined their lives.

Military brass said the same after allowing more than 1,000 Canadian Forces members in Somalia to be part of a poorly monitored clinical trial. Two of the soldiers on that mission were charged in the beating death of a Somali teen, and many others complained of alarming dreams, hallucinations and depression.

Even after doctors on the front lines implicated mefloquine in the troops’ violent behaviour, officers in Canada reassured the commission of inquiry into the Somalia affair that the drug could not cause the psychotic side effects being reported.

The current Liberal government has rejected calls from an all-party committee of the House of Commons and Somalia veterans for more research on mefloquine. And a previous Liberal government shut down the Somalia commission just before the issue of mefloquine was to be addressed.

As a result of recent media coverage, the chief of defence staff asked the military’s surgeon-general to take another look at the scientific literature about the drug. It is now prescribed to just a small fraction of Canadian troops.

The use of mefloquine in Somalia was unorthodox and possibly illegal. The drug had not been approved in Canada in 1992, but National Defence obtained it from Health Canada as part of a clinical trial in which military personnel were supposed to receive the informed consent of the users and to monitor the efficacy and the adverse reactions. They did neither.

The military chose mefloquine over other options because, unlike most anti-malarial drugs, it is taken once a week instead of daily and the Forces determined it was the best option for the Somalia theatre.

Ms. Reyes-Santiesteban does not doubt the drug killed her son.

As he was on his way to Rwanda in the fall of 1994, Cpl. Smith told a reporter for what is now called Canadian Shipper magazine that the malaria medication gave him hallucinations. A few months later, he was dead.

In the hours before he shot himself, Cpl. Smith took part in a convoy in which he was laughing and joking with his colleagues. Then he called his mother, his father and his best friend to wish them a Merry Christmas.

“He was coming home, we were going to have a late Christmas in February,” Ms. Reyes-Santiesteban said. “Nothing seemed to add up.”

Ms. Reyes-Santiesteban wrote to the military and politicians to demand they examine the role mefloquine may have played in the tragedy but, she said, she was never taken seriously.

That was also the response when Barry Armstrong, one of the military doctors who took part in the Somalia mission, expressed concerns about the drug’s effects on the troops.

In a post-deployment analysis he wrote for a 1993 conference, Dr. Armstrong said the failure of the United Nations forces in Somalia was “rather exceptional,” and “I believe that a simple reason may exist. Canadian and American troops may have been impaired by the use of mefloquine.”

Of the three military people who presented papers about the Somalia mission at the conference, “two of us had minor neuropsychiatric problems which occurred regularly in the 24 to 48 hours after our weekly mefloquine doses. If there are two of us, these reactions aren’t so rare.”

Greg Passey, a military doctor who was deployed to Rwanda in 1994, had similar concerns, and wanted to make them known to the Somalia inquiry. Despite a forces-wide communication that said any member of the military who had pertinent information should step forward, Dr. Passey said his decision to testify drew anger from senior officers.

Dr. Passey said one of his colleagues told him “the surgeon-general [then Major-General Wendy Clay] was very upset with me.” He said he decided to testify at the commission anyway, but it was shut down the week before his scheduled appearance.

Dr. Clay said in a telephone interview that she has no recollection of the incident, given that it took place nearly 20 years ago, and it would not have been her place to stop someone from testifying.

She was deputy surgeon-general during the Somalia mission and “certainly, at the time, you weighed the risks and the benefits and there seemed to be no doubt that mefloquine was an appropriate drug to give at that time,” Dr. Clay said. “Whether I would say the same thing now, I don’t know.”

Additional background material for the Somali inquiry includes a 1994 memo from Dr. Clay to the chief of defence staff saying she did not mean to “deny the perceptions of those who served in Somalia,” but the weight of scientific evidence suggests “that the probability of there being adverse effects severe enough to have an impact on the behaviour of our troops, and to constitute a contributing factor to the tragic events that occurred, is very low indeed.”

Some of the troops who believe they suffer long-lasting effects from the drug have started a class-action suit against the government and Hoffman-LaRoche, the drug’s manufacturer.

“The management of the soldiers’ mefloquine use was not at all what would constitute an approved trial,” Dr. Armstrong said in an e-mail. “Considering the dangers of mefloquine, its unapproved status in 1992 and the promise of our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to guarantee Canadians’ rights to life, liberty and security of the person, I consider the military orders about taking mefloquine to be wrong.”

Early studies of mefloquine conducted by Hoffman-LaRoche put the risk of even mild side effects at about one in 10,000. Those statistics were recently quoted to The Globe and Mail by Brigadier-General Hugh MacKay, the current military surgeon-general.

But Hervey Blois, a medic on the Somalia mission, estimates that 300 or 400 troops who took part in that deployment were affected in one way or another.

“It was an extreme topic of conversation,” Mr. Blois said. The soldiers would say: “Holy cow, was I ever loopy the other night,” he said. “I would have some really vivid and real dreams. I got into a state of paranoia later on.”

A medical report from HMCS Preserver, a navy support ship stationed off the coast of Somalia at the time, said mefloquine was a problem. “Ten patients experienced nightmares with one patient having feelings of unease and paranoia,” it said. “One patient heard voices and talked to himself. All were switched to Doxycycline with no subsequent problems.”

In March, 1993, Clayton Matchee and Kyle Brown were charged in the beating death of Shidane Arone, a 16-year-old Somali. Mr. Brown was convicted of manslaughter and served a third of a five-year sentence. Mr. Matchee suffered brain damage when he tried to hang himself and was found unfit to stand trial.

When news of the crime hit the papers, an employee of the drug approvals branch of Health Canada walked into the office of Michele Brill-Edwards looking worried. Dr. Brill-Edwards was the senior physician at the department in the late 1980s, when Hoffman-LaRoche began the process of obtaining approval for mefloquine in Canada and, although she was no longer in that role, her former staff still came to her for advice.

“He said: ‘We allowed access under a clinical trial and all of this is going on and it clearly reflects possible mental derangement and we’re not getting any information back. We have no idea whether they are following the protocol that’s been set up and this is basically a big mess,’” Dr. Brill-Edwards said.

Several years later, Dr. Brill-Edwards decided to check the claim that just one in 10,000 people experience mefloquine’s side effects. She said she found those results were obtained from questionnaires handed to travellers on airplanes returning from Africa.

That is no way to collect data, she said, because those who had killed themselves or were in jail over a mefloquine-induced crime would not be counted, and people who had a psychotic episode abroad might be reluctant to divulge it on a card collected by a flight attendant. “If you think about it,” Dr. Brill-Edwards said, “it is the perfect way not to collect the experience of people who have had adverse effects of a mental nature.”

Health Canada, which still says “the benefits of mefloquine outweigh its risks when it is used as directed,” updated its warning labels in August. The department says mefloquine can cause adverse neuropsychiatric reactions that can persist after it is discontinued, and that permanent damage has been seen in some cases.

Nearly 1,000 British soldiers have required psychiatric treatment after taking the drug.

And the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee of the European Medicines Agency says that, due to the long half-life of mefloquine, adverse reactions may occur or persist up to several months after discontinuation, or become permanent.

Val Reyes-Santiesteban, who found her son riding a bicycle down a hallway of her home in the middle of the night while he was on leave from his deployment to Somalia, does not need more proof of mefloquine’s long-term psychiatric damage.

“I blame it now. I blamed it then,” she said. The government and the defence department “don’t admit fault. It’s not their job to admit fault. But I knew right away.”

Williams: 3 ways the Liberals are making a mess of Defence Procurement

By: Allan Williams,

The government’s strategy to replace Canada’s CF-18s is reflective of a government that either has no comprehension of how to conduct the business of defence procurement, or understands the business all too well but has put political expediency ahead of the best interests of the military.

There are three fundamental problems with the decision to sole-source for 18 “interim” Super Hornets:

• First, whether or not you believe there is a “capability gap,” the fact is that an open, fair and transparent competition can be concluded within one year. Normally, a competition could take up to four years: two years for the military to prepare its statement of requirements (SOR) and two years for the civilian authorities to conduct the competition.

In this instance, a shortened time period is feasible. The military’s SOR has already been prepared. In its current form, it is wired or fixed so that only the F-35 could bid successfully to replace our current jets. However, these biased criteria are few in number and easily modifiable to ensure fairness to all suppliers. As such, it would take no more than a few weeks to redraft the SOR. In addition, over the past six years, the potential suppliers have been visited, have filled out questionnaires and have been subject to inspection ad nauseam. This consultative time need not be repeated. The process can easily be concluded within 12 months.

• Second, the “interim” solution is illegal. The government is wrong when it claims that an “urgent” need allows it to bypass competition. The specific wording in article 506.11(a) in the Agreement on Internal Trade reads in part: “Where an unforeseeable sense of urgency exists …” Note the word “unforeseeable.”

Bad planning is not an excuse for sole-sourcing. A “capability gap” that was allowed to grow over many years is hardly “unforeseeable.” The article was designed to allow for sole-sourcing in the event, for example, that the government announced that it was sending our troops into a theatre of operation and there would be insufficient time to conduct competitions to provide the troops with the goods and services they require. Surely, it is not unreasonable for us to hold our government leaders accountable for obeying the law.

• Finally, a problem with acquiring the Super Hornets is the incremental cost of such an option. The capital budget of the Department of National Defence is already stretched to its limit. To impose upon it an extra burden of billions of dollars is unconscionable and unnecessary.

It’s very easy to identify the losers in this flawed strategy. The government, for its galling hypocrisy; the military, as its capital budget is pressured and it is forced to endure another decade without a long-term replacement of its jets; us taxpayers, as it is our billions of dollars being squandered; and Canadian industry now deprived of high-quality jobs that would have been guaranteed under a competition.

However, this delaying tactic does produce two winners. First, Boeing and its shareholders for having been given a multi-billion dollar gift. Second, ironically and undoubtedly much to the chagrin of the prime minister, Lockheed Martin. The F-35 would have a much harder time winning a competition now than it will in five years. While it has been declared operational by the U.S. Marines and Air Force, the fact is that not all software has been installed. Five years from now, I have little doubt, all the software will have been implemented with the bugs worked out.

Furthermore, in five years the unit price for the jet will have continued to decline.

To borrow from Shakespeare, the Liberal party may find itself “hoist with (its) own petard.”
Alan Williams is a former assistant deputy minister of matériel at the Department of National Defence. He is now president of The Williams Group providing expertise in the areas of policy, programs and procurement. He has authored two books, Reinventing Canadian Defence Procurement: A View From the Inside; and Canada, Democracy and the F-35.

Allan: Gov't delay tactic isn't helping the RCAF

By: Alastair Allan

The responsibility of government is to set policy and budget for Canada’s National Defence in terms of domestic and international policy. The selection of weapon systems to meet these requirements should be left to the military professionals who must risk their lives operating these systems in combat.

Years ago, the government of the day agreed, without any commitment to purchase the aircraft, to invest in the development of the USA’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program – to the tune of millions of dollars.

In return, the U.S. authorities enrolled Canada in its F-35 Industrial Benefits Program (Canadian firms would be invited to compete for program sub-contracts) and, by all accounts, it has paid off handsomely. To maintain this position, Canada recently agreed to increase its funding by approximately $30 US million dollars. The Canadian Government also chose to initiate two expensive and questionable purchase programs: A sole source contract for 18 Super F-18 Hornets as an interim measure; and a future international competition (which will include the F-35) for the balance of the requirement.

Apparently, this is supposed to satisfy election concerns that: without a competition the F-35 would be too costly; secondly, that the aircraft had not yet been certified for operational duty; and finally, that this would push any decision to the NEXT election mandate, giving the government time to re-evaluate and potentially re-spin the choices.

However, the question remains, why is a sole source contract acceptable for the purchase of Super Hornets and not the F-35? No aircraft on offer can compete operationally with the F-35. It was designed for NATO countries and literally thousands will be produced; and it has recently been certified as combat (operationally) ready. Choosing the F-35 will simplify logistics, inter-operability and fleet maintenance. Our multi-million dollar down payment would not be wasted, nor our industry penalized, as it will if a different airplane is chosen. The international competition will be seen to be a phony exercise as none of the aircraft to be considered can outperform the F-35. Other aircraft (may or may not) be cheaper, but their operational performance will be second or third rate at best.

If a sole source contract is deemed acceptable all of a sudden, the professional thing to do is to proceed with negotiations to purchase the F-35. Prices and costs can be verified by comparing US/Danish/Norwegian purchase costs. Overhead and labour costs can be confirmed by audit and a reasonable profit can be negotiated in accordance with government supply policy. This will eliminate gouging and ensure a reasonable and defensible price. If Canada is seen to be insincere in considering the F-35 aircraft it will risk losing its place in the F-35 industrial benefits program. This would be a severe blow to Canadian industry and to our reputation as a reliable business partner around the world.
Alastair Allan, (Retired) Assistant Deputy Minister, Science and Engineering Procurement, Department of Supply and Services (1961 to 1982). He was responsible for the procurement of the original CF-18 Fleet and the Long Range Patrol Aircraft Program (in Joint Ventures with DND and DOI).

Canadian Weapons Arriving to Kurdish Fighters

By: Scott Taylor The Chronicle Herald 

It was with very little fanfare that Canada announced last week that the Iraqi government has finally agreed to let us provide weapons to Kurdish militiamen. The weapons were originally promised by Prime Minister Trudeau back in February, but that’s when things got a little bit sticky.

In the fall of 2014, the Harper Conservative government sent Canadian Special Forces trainers to Iraq for the purpose of combating the spread of the then-rampant Daesh evil-doers. Canadians were told that our troops were going to Iraq because it made things seem a little simpler than was actually the case. Our Special Forces Operatives were sent to the city of Erbil and when they stepped off the plane, they were greeted by a sign reading Welcome to Kurdistan.

It has indeed been Kurdish fighters that our soldiers have been training and assisting for the past two years. These Kurds are very open about their desire to establish an internationally recognized, independent nation. They already consider themselves to be a separate state; they fly their own flag and sing their own anthem.

Yes, they have proven to be motivated and effective fighters against Daesh, but they have also clashed with Iraqi security forces loyal to the Baghdad regime and their Shiite militia allies. Canada’s official position is that we are supporting a unified Iraq under one central Baghdad government. Naturally, that same Baghdad regime did not like the idea of Canada supplying weapons to Kurdish troops, whose openly stated, and oft repeated aim, is to break away from Iraq.

That sentiment of not providing more weapons to the Kurds was echoed by the Turkish government. Turkey is a NATO ally and they are presently dealing with a full-scale insurgency by Kurdish separatist forces in their eastern provinces. The revolt in Turkey is spearheaded by the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), which is recognized by Canada, the U.S and the European Union to be a terrorist organization. Given the blurred lines between the various Kurdish militias, there are no doubt grave concerns on the part of the hard-pressed Turkish security forces that Canadian-supplied weapons will end up in the hands of the PKK, or worse, the Al-Qaeda Kurdish Battalions (AQKB).

While Canadian officials have not yet identified exactly which type of weapons we will provide the Kurds — or at what cost — their shipment has admittedly not yet been sent.

Which means there is still time to rethink this flawed logic.

The allied campaign to recapture Daesh-held Mosul is now well underway. Progress has been slow and Daesh defenders have been determined, but the end result is not in doubt.

So if Canadian-supplied weapons will not arrive in time to assist in driving Daesh from Iraq, that means that they will only reach the battlefield in time to assist in the post-Daesh mayhem that will inevitably ensue.

Iraq has been engulfed in a horrific orgy of inter-factional bloodletting for the past 13 years and somehow the Canadian answer to the problem is to send in more weapons and to specifically train just one of the warring factions? Is training more young men to be soldiers the pathway to peace? Human Rights Watch recently reported that the Kurdish militias trained by the Canadians, and loyal to warlord Massoud Barzani, have been engaging in the ethnic cleansing of non-Kurdish minorities. This, of course, is not being done under the watchful eye of Canadian trainers — the Kurds are too clever for that.

Off the record, Canadian officers have admitted their Kurdish fighters are not angels, but they are the best of a bad lot.

Unlike those factions already involved in the conflict, Canada does not need to compromise its values or align with dubious allies. Thankfully, we have no dog in this fight and ultimately we will have no say in the final resolution. Which makes it all the more ludicrous that we would start pouring more weapons and munitions into an already raging conflagration over which we have zero control.

Canadian veteran fighting ISIL has been arrested in Iraq, his mother says

By: Stewart Bell,  Globe and Mail 

TORONTO — A Canadian military veteran who has spent the past six months fighting ISIL alongside Kurdish forces has been arrested in northern Iraq, his mother said in an interview Sunday.

Michael Kennedy, 32, was on his to Sulaymaniyah, trying to make it home to Newfoundland for Christmas, when he was taken into custody by Iraqi Kurdish authorities, said his mother Kay Kennedy.

“All I know is he’s been arrested and he’s in Erbil,” she said from Saint Vincent’s, Nfld. She said she got the news from a Kurdish friend of her son’s. “He said nobody knows the reasons.”
Family handout Michael Kennedy is a military veteran
He has been held since Tuesday in Erbil, said Kennedy, adding the affair has been hard on her because she lost another son, Pte. Kevin Kennedy of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on April 8, 2007.

Michael Kennedy was taken into custody Tuesday, his mother says
Michael Kennedy was taken into custody Tuesday, his mother says. Seen here in a family photo - at the KAF Cenotaph while on deployment to Afghanistan. 
It is not unusual for the Kurdistan regional government of Masoud Barzani to arrest Western volunteer fighters as they are leaving Iraq on the grounds they have overstayed their visas and must pay fines.

But Kennedy’s visa was valid until January, said his mother. She said she last spoke to her son Monday when he was in Dohuk and he told her he was coming home through Sulaymaniyah, Dubai and Toronto.

She said he was at a restaurant with friends and sounded upbeat but when she called him back later that night, his mood had changed. “I could tell by his voice there was something off.”

Several dozen Canadians, many of them military veterans, are among the hundreds of foreign volunteers assisting Kurdish militias on the frontlines against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Ottawa has verbally discouraged Canadians from taking up arms against ISIL but has not stopped them from traveling or arrested them upon their return, although some have been questioned by the RCMP.

Kennedy served in the Canadian Forces for 13 years, including a Navy deployment in the Gulf of Aden, she said. Three months after leaving the military in March, he made his way to northern Syria.

“He decided to go over there in June. He decided to go fight ISIS after reading about what those Kurdish people were going through,” his mother said. “Michael decided to do this as sort of a humanitarian thing.”

He fought initial with the YPG militia in northern Syria. About a month ago, he crossed into Iraq and has been fighting around Shingal, his mother said. The area is where ISIL kidnapped and murdered hundreds of Yazidis.

“Then he decided, ‘After six months there, mom, it’s time for me to come home, I’m exhausted,’” she said, adding he had told her, “’I’ll be home for Christmas, mom.’”

She said she had contacted Global Affairs Canada over the weekend and was told “they’d get back to me.”

A report released last summer by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue said the hazy legality around foreign anti-ISIL fighters has led to confusion and uncertainty. The study found that military veterans fighting with the Kurds were motivated partly by a desire to “finish the job” they had started in their respective armies.