Friday, January 13, 2017

RCAF Extends NATO Flying Contract; upgrades to CT-155 & CT-156

By: David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen 

The Royal Canadian Air Force has extended the contract for the NATO Flying Training in Canada program until 2023.

CAE provides ground-school classroom and simulator training, and supports the live flying training of military pilots in Moose Jaw and Cold Lake. In addition, CAE will also add new capabilities and perform a range of upgrades and updates to the overall NFTC training system and aircraft over the next several years, the firm noted in a news release. The modified operating period of the NFTC contract includes a one-year option for government to extend the contract through 2024 if it wants.

The original NFTC 20-year contract was scheduled to expire in 2021. The extension allows the Canadian government the time it needs to evaluate how it will provide aircrew training in the future.

“Since acquiring the NFTC program in October 2015, CAE has worked closely with the Royal Canadian Air Force on a range of initiatives to help improve the quality and efficiency of training,” Joe Armstrong, Vice President and General Manager, CAE Canada, said in a statement. “As the training systems integrator on the NFTC program, we will now continue to make enhancements and improvements that will sustain NATO Flying Training in Canada well into the next decade.”

In addition to modifying the operating period and extending the NFTC contract through 2023, CAE will also add new capabilities and perform a range of upgrades and updates to the overall NFTC training system and aircraft over the next several years, the firm noted. According to CAE, the new capabilities as well as upgrades and updates include:

Upgrades to the two existing CT-155 Hawk flight training devices (FTDs);
Upgrades to the three existing CT-156 Harvard FTDs;
Minor upgrades, ongoing maintenance and obsolescence management for the fleet of CT-155 Hawk aircraft;
Minor upgrades, ongoing maintenance and obsolescence management for the fleet of CT-156 Harvard aircraft.

As the prime contractor for the NFTC program, CAE pointed out that it operates the NFTC base facilities, delivers the ground-school classroom and simulator training, and supports the live flying training on a fleet of Beechcraft T-6 (CT-156 Harvard) and BAE Systems Hawk (CT-155 Hawk) aircraft.

The NFTC program combines basic, advanced, and lead-in fighter training as part of the comprehensive military pilot training program, the firm noted.

CAF looking to replace Second World War-era pistols

By; David Pugliese, The National Post 

The Canadian military is looking to replace its Second World War-era handguns but it could take up to 10 years for all of the new pistols to be distributed to the troops.

Replacing the 1940s-era Browning handguns has been on the Department of National Defence’s procurement list for years.

But now the purchase of new guns appears to be moving ahead.

Still the Canadian Forces figures if the purchase is approved – and there are no delays – it won’t have all the new pistols in hand and being used until 2026.

The military plans to conduct a survey later this year to determine what the role of handguns might be in the future Canadian Forces.

Last year army procurement officers briefed industry representatives about their quest for a new pistol. Industry officials were told that between 15,000 and 25,000 handguns are needed and the military estimated the project would cost around $50 million, according to documents recently obtained by the Ottawa Citizen.

That price-tag would include extra parts and related equipment.

Canadian ForcesThe Canadian military wants to replace its 1940s-era Browning handguns, shown in this 2015 photo being used by Canadian troops in the Middle East, but first will conduct a survey on whether there is still a need for pistols.

Canada’s general service pistol is currently the 9mm Browning Hi-Power, which came into service in the later part of the Second World War, according to the Canadian Army documents prepared for industry. The guns have been refurbished over the years.

A smaller number of SIG P225 pistols were acquired in 1991 and are in the hands of military police and Royal Canadian Navy boarding teams.

The wear and tear on the Brownings have whittled numbers down to 13,981; of those 1,243 are in the process of disassembled for spare parts, in order to keep the other guns going until a replacement can be found, army spokeswoman Capt. Valérie Lanouette
 explained to the Ottawa Citizen in an email in November.

“The operations in Afghanistan have only accelerated the rate of non-serviceable pistols,” she added.

Production on the SIG P225 ended in 2009 so some of those existing firearms will have to be cannibalized for parts as well, the army noted.

Later this year or sometime early next year a nation-wide survey will be conducted in the Canadian Forces about the future of pistols and “to define the general concept of employment,” the military says.

Sometime in 2019 or 2020 the requirements for a new gun will be defined and then by 2022 the military will seek approval from the federal government to proceed with a purchase of a new general service pistol or GSP.

“If the project timeline is not delayed, the delivery of the GSP could start in fiscal year 2022-2023 and full operational capability could be reached by 2026,” Lanouette pointed out.

Industry representatives have privately questioned why Canada would take so long to buy a new pistol, noting that the process could be completed in about a year or two at most.

The Browning Hi-Power is one of the most widely used military pistols and is still in service in other countries.

Civilian gun stores sell a new version of the gun for a little over $1,000 each. Some dealers who specialize in military collectibles are charging $4,200 for a 1940s-era Browning Hi-Power in excellent condition.

“The Canadian Army is committed to supporting an efficient, cost effective and transparent procurement process in order to have the right tools in the right hands at the right time,” Lanouette
 noted in her email.

Canadian special forces use another model of the Sig pistol but there are also problems with finding certain spare parts because those components are no longer being manufactured, according to the Canadian Forces.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The myth of one-party support for the Canadian Armed Forces

By: Tony Keene, CBC News

There is a myth widely accepted by many in the military, by veterans and by the civilian public that the Conservatives are the party of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). This idea holds that while the Tories have traditionally supported and increased funding to the CAF, the Liberals are constantly looking for opportunities to cut costs. It's a prevalent notion, but a fallacious one nonetheless, and one that's being repeated as we look ahead to the Liberals' plans for 2017.

Back in 2006, a year from retirement as a reservist, I stood beside General Rick Hillier — then chief of the defence staff — as he was scrummed by the media on a visit to Halifax. The new Conservative defence minister had just announced a massive multi-billion-dollar plan to upgrade the military, especially the navy.
A 'decade of darkness'

Hillier, the burly Newfoundlander who had captivated the public with his down-home folksiness, could not resist slipping into political vernacular as he told the newsies that under the Stephen Harper government, the "decade of darkness" under the Liberals was over, and the navy was going to get "big honkin' ships."

As a lifelong Tory supporter, I was thrilled. Not only did it seem like Canada's men and women in uniform would finally get the respect they were due, but as a veteran (I was set to retire the following year), I was certain I would be looked after by the Harper government.

My optimism didn't last.

The Harper government began closing Veterans Affairs offices across the country, ending the face-to-face service we expected. The relationship between veterans affairs minister Julian Fantino and the men and women whose interests he was supposed to represent became combative, with sides trading barbs at a news conference. Under the New Veterans Charter, the government ended lifetime support for wounded soldiers and instead offered lump-sum payments, which many of us took to be "shut up and go away" payoffs.

As for military spending, there were no new ships — big, honking or otherwise — after nine years, and precious little of anything else. Defence spending fell to 0.99 per cent of GDP.
HMCS Athabaskan might not make it to her planned retirement. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)
Training and recruiting were cut, and our last destroyer — HMCS Athabaskan — became so clapped out that there is doubt she will even make it to her planned retirement date later this year. There are no support ships. Canada's aged Sea Kings are still flying (barely), as are the CF-18s.

What Harper did do was restore the "royal" designation of the navy and air force, and officers had their British-style rank insignia returned: shades of prime minister Brian Mulroney, who in 1985 gave us three coloured uniforms, and then sent us to the Gulf War without, from what we saw, a single penny of additional spending. Napoleon said men would die for scraps of ribbon. He was probably right.
Defence spending lore

Recently, in a military mess, I spoke with young officers who were convinced we were about to enter another "decade of darkness" under the Liberal government. These guys, all young enough to be my grandchildren, were adamant that Stephen Harper had increased defence spending every year, and that Justin Trudeau was now going to cut it again.

Facts and figures meant nothing. They were absolutely certain: Conservatives good, Liberals bad. End of story.

The argument can be made that defence spending in Canada rises and falls no matter who is in power. My personal experience, which includes four decades of service, was that almost all significant improvements in equipment, pay and allowances and family support came under Liberal regimes. But then again, the Liberals were in power for most of that period.

Liberals to buy 18 Boeing Super Hornet fighter jets

In the year Canada's new government has taken the reins, some improvements have been made: the Liberals have re-opened many of Veterans Affairs offices closed under the Conservative government. Interim measures have been taken to back up the CF-18s and provide support vessels for the navy, and a decorated soldier is serving as defence minister. But the Grits are still struggling to nail down the procurement process, and have taken up the former government's lawsuit over the Veterans Charter, among other things.

Nevertheless, the myth of one-party support for the CAF still remains, and as long as military personnel and veterans continue to believe it, it will continue to skew how they vote, and how we, as a people, think. That tired way of thinking needs a reality check. 
Tony Keene was a reservist in the Canadian Armed Forces for 40 years and completed multiple overseas tours of duty. He has worked as a journalist in newspapers and broadcasting.

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

The war doesn’t end when soldiers return home

By: Lt. Gen (Ret.) Romeo Dallair, Special Contributor to the Globe and Mail 

When I learned the news last week about the Canadian veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who unsuccessfully sought help and then, overcome by his operational injury, apparently killed his family and himself – I was beyond distraught. The catastrophic case of Lionel Desmond could not serve as a more powerful warning to the senior policy-makers in our country. But will it be enough?

I have spent decades fighting for injured veterans, including myself, as we continue to destroy ourselves and too many others in our wake. The wars that soldiers fight do not end when we return home; they stay alive within us, and without urgent treatment our injury – PTSD – will destroy us. Just like an injury to the body will become gangrenous, fester, and infect, so too does this injury to our brains and moral centre. But unlike most other injuries, PTSD deeply affects the entire family as well; in this case, fatally.

The scale of the damage and the depth of the destruction that deployment in today’s complex conflicts can wreak is almost incomprehensible. Lionel Desmond’s actions were reprehensible; but, so too was the lack of care he and his family received when he returned from his mission. This was a soldier lost in a system that is grievously inadequate to handle the load and complexity of these injuries or to provide the urgent support required for vets and their families. With a chain of command out of the picture, and an underfunded veterans department strangled by regulations, our system is wholly unprepared for this postwar demand. As a result, injured vets, both in and out of service, continue to be shunted aside, falling into the support cracks, flailing for help.

This is an urgent message that must be heeded: The casualties of past wars continue to mount even as we are preparing for the next conflict. Military-weapons upgrades, the introduction of new tactics, and preparations of troops to face the next threat are all getting a heavy dose of essential funding and priority. However, penny-pinching resource allocations and prohibitive restrictions around support to casualties of the last fight clearly have devastating effects. Care for our current injured members sets the start line for the total commitment of our soldiers and their families for the next round in the defence of peace and human rights.

Nova Scotia – where Lionel Desmond lived and where I am now based with the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative – is home to a disproportionate number of veterans. To utilize the strengths and skills of injured vets, while giving them a second chance to serve, the Dallaire Initiative has instituted a training program – through which Canadian military veterans assist in the dissemination of a new doctrine to reduce battle casualties and help eradicate the use of child soldiers globally.

The Canadian government would do well to follow suit: to seek out injured veterans and provide them whatever tools they require to rejoin society after their missions, for all our sakes.

As I wrote in my last book:

“I find myself empty now, at a loss for words. Over the past two years, I mustered what I had left to share the details of my own struggles with PTSD. I turn to those pages now.

It was not easy for me to share my vulnerabilities so candidly, but the dark side of living with PTSD has to come out. If it does not, the world will continue to hear of us only when we commit suicide. … Courageous soldiers serving in today’s difficult and ethically ambiguous missions can and should be treated for PTSD at its first signs; the Forces should anticipate the need for treatment in order to head the damage off, not just wait until a soldier is desperate enough to seek help. And we – meaning all of us – need to shoulder our share of the burden and recognize the contribution made by our soldiers when they undertake such missions on behalf of humanity. We need to insist that they are supported when they come home.

The brain is as vital to life as any organ in the human body. To treat an injury to the brain as less urgent, less in need of care and compassion than other, more obvious types of injury is misguided and ignorant. Our efforts to treat our veterans with PTSD must be comparable to our efforts to repair damaged hearts, provide timely kidney transplants, avoid amputations or restore eyesight. … Only when we truly understand the injury and take action to mitigate its impact will we be able to say that we recognize the real costs of peacekeeping, peacemaking and war.”
Lieutenant-General (ret) Roméo Dallaire is the founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative at Dalhousie University, and author of Waiting for First Light: My Ongoing Battle with PTSD.

Halifax to get new Armoury for Reserves

By: David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen 

To meet the current operational requirements of the Army Reserve in Halifax, the federal government has announced it will construct a new armoury at Willow Park.

The cost is $66 million and construction is expected to be completed by the fall of 2018.

The new armoury will support 36 Service Battalion, 36 Signal Regiment, and 33 Field Ambulance by bringing them together into one facility, according to a news release from the Department of National Defence.

In addition, another $21 million will be spent on the next phase of the rehabilitation of the North Park Armoury in Halifax, upgrades to various naval jetties at the Halifax Dockyard, as well as pavement work at the Department of National Defence’s Shearwater airfield, according to the news release.

RCAF grounds Cyclone helicopters due to potential safety issues

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

The Canadian Forces has grounded its Cyclone helicopters after aerospace firm Sikorsky issued a worldwide notice for safety checks to be conducted on the aircraft’s civilian variant.

The Sikorsky notice to ground all S-92 helicopters followed an incident last month on a North Sea oil platform. Operators of the aircraft are being told to carry out immediate checks on the tail rotor section of the helicopters.

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s Cyclone helicopters are a variant of the S-92.

The number of Cyclones in Canada fluctuates depending on the testing schedule at 12 Wing Shearwater, NS and other evaluations conducted by Sikorsky. At this point there are five Cyclones in Canada, said Capt. Peter Ryan, spokesman for 12 Wing Shearwater.

It is not known how long the aircraft will be grounded. “Our inspectors will work with the Sikorsky folks and that will determine how long this will take,” Ryan noted. “Obviously we want to resume as soon as possible.”

During the oil platform incident Dec. 28 in the North Sea, a S-92 experienced technical issues as it was coming in for a landing. The helicopter left “significant gouge marks” on the deck of the platform, a BBC report noted.

The aerospace firm has issued a statement noting that, “Safety is our top priority, and Sikorsky is working closely with our customer and investigative authorities.”

“We are committed to keeping our customers informed,” it added. We will further communicate findings if the investigation reveals any safety or airworthiness issues that affect the S-92 helicopter fleet.”

In 2009 a S-92 crashed off the coast of Newfoundland, killing 17 people. The helicopter was transporting personnel to the White Rose oil fields and the Hibernia platform.

In October the Canadian military announced that a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter was involved in its first Royal Canadian Navy exercise as the helicopter continued to undergo testing and evaluation.

Canada has ordered 28 Cyclones but the program has been hit with continual delays. The aircraft are not expected to be fully operational until 2021.

Sikorsky was supposed to deliver the Cyclones to the Canadian military starting in November 2008. Deliveries of all 28 aircraft, to replace the air force’s Sea Kings, were to be completed by early 2011.

The Conservative government looked at cancelling the program but decided to instead re-negotiate the contract with Sikorksy. It laid blame on the Liberals for the problem procurement because the Cyclone contract was awarded by Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin’s government in 2004. The Conservatives also pointed out that the Liberal Chretien government had also cancelled the EH-101 helicopter program, kicking off a new procurement that led to the eventual purchase of the Cyclones.

The Liberals, however, have countered that the mismanagement occurred under Conservative watch, adding that there were substantial penalties in the original contract the Conservative government did not enforce.

Government documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen show that the Conservative government could have hit Sikorsky with up to $89 million in fines for missing its deadlines but it decided to waive those penalties.

Instead the government renegotiated with Sikorsky and under a new deal, Canada is paying the U.S. aerospace firm $117 million extra for improvements to be made to the Cyclone, as well as changes to the long-term in-service support package for the aircraft.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Stage set for Maple Flag 50

By Jeff Gaye

The initial planning conference for the 50th Maple Flag exercise was held at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, during the first week of December.

The stage is set for the spring 2017 exercise, said Major Chris Horch, who commands the Air Force Tactical Training Centre at 4 Wing. “At our initial brief, we gave [the international participants] an idea of the different [flying] rules we have in Canada compared to other countries. We gave them a general overview brief of what the base offers.

“After the initial briefs,” he continued, “we had what we call the booth bay, with businesses from town that are involved in supporting Maple Flag. Rental car companies, hotels, other leisure companies as well.”

The exercise will run in two periods of two weeks each, beginning May 29 and ending June 23.

The first period will involve primarily Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft, including CF-188 Hornet fighters from 4 Wing and from 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec. As well, four CH-146 Griffon and two CH-147F Chinook helicopters, and a CC-130J Hercules transport aircraft, will take part. France and the United States are each scheduled to fly an E3 Sentry AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft in period 1, and France plans to fly its Airbus A400M tactical airlift aircraft.

Belgian, Canadian, French and German ground troops will participate in the exercise, while the United States Marine Corps will provide logistical support.

Period 2 will involve a greater emphasis on international fighter forces. The RCAF will fly CF-188s from 4 Wing squadrons. The Republic of Singapore Air Force is slated to bring 10 F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, and the United States Air Force 93rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, from Homestead, Florida, plans to contribute 12 F-16s. AWACS are scheduled to be provided by Royal Air Force and USAF E3 Sentry aircraft.

“Red Air”, flying as enemy forces, will be provided by Top Aces Alpha Jets and RCAF CF-188 Hornets.

The International Observer Program, under which potential participants get a sense of the exercise, is another important facet of Maple Flag. So far this year, 12 countries are confirmed as observers, and more may sign on.
Jeff Gaye is an editor/reporter with 4 Wing Cold Lake base newspaper The Courier.

Not helping veterans could turn into national security problem: Military Ombudsman

By: Rebecca Joseph and Amy Minsky, Global News

Canada’s approach to transitioning Canadian Forces members out of service is fundamentally flawed — and, if it’s not addressed, could lead to national security problems, said Canadian Armed Forces ombudsman Gary Walbourne.

The root of the problem is the fact many Forces members are released before adequate support is set up, he said in an interview on The West Block.

“I think … the service delivery model we’re using for the transitioning member, I think it’s fundamentally flawed,” Walbourne said. “And I think the major flaw is that we release people before they’re ready or before the systems are in place to help them.”

READ MORE: Family ‘trying to hang in there’ following Nova Scotia murder-suicide

He says he’s already recommended that no member of the armed forces be released until all benefits, including pension and their contact with Veteran’s Affairs, are put in place.

“If we don’t change the position and the approach we have, I think the conversation is going to change away from transitioning members to national security,” he said.

“I do believe that if we could get back to that one recommendation of holding the member until everything was in place, I think we could have a different conversation next year.”

The apparent murder-suicide of a Nova Scotia veteran and his family last week left the country reeling.

Lionel Desmond shot and killed his wife Shanna, 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah and mother Brenda, before turning the gun on himself, RCMP say.

Canada’s approach to transitioning Canadian Forces members out of service is fundamentally flawed — and, if it’s not addressed, could lead to national security problems, said Canadian Armed Forces ombudsman Gary Walbourne.

The root of the problem is the fact many Forces members are released before adequate support is set up, he said in an interview on The West Block.

“I think … the service delivery model we’re using for the transitioning member, I think it’s fundamentally flawed,” Walbourne said. “And I think the major flaw is that we release people before they’re ready or before the systems are in place to help them.”

READ MORE: Family ‘trying to hang in there’ following Nova Scotia murder-suicide

He says he’s already recommended that no member of the armed forces be released until all benefits, including pension and their contact with Veteran’s Affairs, are put in place.

“If we don’t change the position and the approach we have, I think the conversation is going to change away from transitioning members to national security,” he said.

“I do believe that if we could get back to that one recommendation of holding the member until everything was in place, I think we could have a different conversation next year.”

The apparent murder-suicide of a Nova Scotia veteran and his family last week left the country reeling.

Lionel Desmond shot and killed his wife Shanna, 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah and mother Brenda, before turning the gun on himself, RCMP say.

Conservatives hoping Auditor General will investigate Super Hornet deal

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Conservative defence critic James Bezan said his party has asked Auditor General Michael Ferguson to conduct an investigation into the Liberal government’s proposed sole-source purchase of 18 Super Hornets.

A US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter lands onto the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, during a joint naval drill between South Korea and the US in the West Sea off South Korea on October 28, 2015.
A US Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter lands onto the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, during a joint naval drill between South Korea and the US in the West Sea off South Korea on October 28, 2015. KIM HONG / AFP/GETTY IMAGES
“Given the magnitude of this decision, we have requested that the Auditor General of Canada conduct an investigation to determine that all rules were followed properly,” Conservative MPs wrote in a letter to the Auditor General sent just before Christmas.

No word yet from the Auditor General’s office on whether this investigation will happen.

But Bezan says the party believes the AG can unravel the purchase to see whether it makes financial sense or whether it will end up costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars extra.

“I know with lifetime gag orders put in place at Defence, Public Works, Justice and other departments on this purchase, it will make it incredibility difficult to ever see what the details really are,” Bezan explained. “But the Auditor General is one person who can really get in there and ensure that rules are followed or were followed.”

In the letter to the AG, the Conservatives noted: “This deal could stick taxpayers with a multi-billion dollar bill and will have a significant impact on the aerospace industry across Canada; thousands of jobs could be at risk. Most importantly, this decision will directly affect the Royal Canadian Air Force, their ability to keep our borders safe and to work internationally with our allies.”

Canada Sending Police to Colombia to help with peacekeeping

By: Murray Brewster, CBC News 

Canada will contribute up to 10 police officers to the international effort to demobilize guerilla groups and monitor the ceasefire in Colombia, CBC News has learned.

Some of the officers are expected to be under the United Nations flag, while others would be part of a bilateral deployment, working directly with the South American country's national police force.

The plan, which fits into the Liberal government's overall renewed emphasis on international peacekeeping, was presented to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale last July, according to briefing materials obtained under access to information legislation.

Goodale and Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion signed off, but the timing of the deployment has yet to be determined.

The Liberals' overarching peacekeeping strategy, which is anticipated to involve several locations and the deployment of up to 600 troops and 150 police officers, was widely expected to be announced before Christmas. But it was put off for further discussion and could come up at the cabinet retreat in Calgary later this month.

Mali, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been cited as possible locations for a UN mission involving Canadian troops. Troop deployment overshadows that of cops.

The question of where police might go has received less attention.

The briefing, which was written in mid-July of 2016, makes clear the Colombian deployment would be "resourced" out of the same existing pool of police officers the Liberals will tap into for their UN peacekeeping scheme.

The Colombia mission is expected to last up to March 2019.

In late June 2016, United Nations asked Canada to "contribute an unspecified number of Spanish-speaking police observers" to its contingent of 350 troops and police officers being assembled to monitor the ceasefire between the government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

But prior to the request, Canadian officials were already dealing with Colombia on a bilateral basis.

Canada was looking for opportunities to contribute to the peace process in the aftermath of the historic ceasefire, which effectively ended a 52-year insurgent war that claimed 220,000 lives.

The observer and disarmament mission would not be without risks, the briefing warned.

"Colombia continues to face significant challenges due to violence associated with guerilla (other than FARC) and paramilitary forces, land mines, organized crime and narco-trafficking groups," said the briefing.

Canada further opened the door to a request from Colombia during the North American Leaders Summit in Ottawa last June. Mexico announced around that time that it was planning to take part in the UN mission and open a peacekeeping training centre.
Old-style peacekeeping

A defence expert says, despite the caution, Colombia would be a benign mission compared with some of the other places the government is considering.
A contingent of police officers training to deploy to Haiti for a year stand at attention in Ottawa in 2013. The majority of police officers currently deployed on peacekeeping missions are in Haiti. (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)
When Canadians think peacekeeping, they often envision ceasefire observers, the kind of mission that rarely exists anymore, said Dave Perry, of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Colombia is "more typical of historical UN operations," said Perry. "There are virtually no circumstances where you'd be sending people to observe a ceasefire by parties that want to stop fighting and put down arms and have an outside body to enforce that."

Sending police peacekeepers to Colombia does not preclude the Trudeau government from sending troops, it just makes less likely, Perry added, citing other military deployments — including missions in Latvia and Iraq.

The Liberals have also clearly telegraphed their intention of putting peacekeepers into West Africa.

According to the briefing, as of last summer there were 82 police officers serving on various international peacekeeping missions, the vast majority of them in Haiti.

But a chart attached to the memo shows that number of positions for missions in Ukraine, Cambodia, Philippines and Iraq remain unfilled.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Edmonton-Based Soldiers to Deploy to Eastern Europe

By: Juris Garney and Clair Theobald, Edmonton Journal 

Edmonton soldiers will be spending more time in Eastern Europe in 2017, with western Canadian forces on high readiness into the new year, says the commander of 3rd Canadian Division and Joint Task Force West.

About 220 Edmonton-based soldiers are rotating through six-month deployments in Poland as part of Operation Reassurance, while another 200 soldiers undertake a training mission in Ukraine as part of Operation Unifier, says Brig.-Gen. Simon Hetherington.

And next spring, 455 solders will be deployed just outside the capital of the tiny Baltic nation of Latvia.

Eastern Europe continues to be the focal point of Canadian troops as part of the country’s NATO commitments. With continued aggressive posturing by Russian President Vladimir Putin, soldiers could be in the region indefinitely.

“We train for all contingencies across the spectrum of conflict and that can be from high-intensity combat operations to counter-insurgency like we fought in Afghanistan through to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” Hetherington said in a year-end interview.

“Some are much more challenging to perform, but by training to that highest standard, we are prepared to do all those missions.”

Hetherington said the training mission in Ukraine, in which Canadian soldiers are training Ukrainian armed forces in everything from basic soldiering skills to enhanced first aid and enhanced explosives disposal, highlights Canada’s contribution to global security efforts.

But their role in Poland is quite different, however, and so too will be their presence in Latvia.

Putin’s annexation of Crimea, along with military incursions into eastern Ukraine, mirror his aggressive tactics in 2008 when troops entered Georgia under the guise of protecting South Ossetia.

Those living in Eastern Europe know too well about Russia’s willingness to throw its considerable military might around in the region.

“Is there a threat? Well, yeah, there is,” Hetherington said. “There is a reason why we are going there. Is it as imminent and is it as present as Afghanistan? Well, no.

“You go to Poland for a holiday. You go to Latvia right now for a holiday. But to Eastern Europe there is an existential threat. They have lived through it in the 20th century, so they have a different perspective than we do.

“But what we have trained for is the worst-case scenario and we’ll continue to train while we are there.”

Back in Canada, the military has seen its own challenges on two fronts: how it deals with sexual harassment and support for sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder.

In November, a voluntary Statistics Canada survey found that in the past year, 960 full-time members, or about 1.7 per cent of the regular force, reported sexual assault.

More than one-quarter of all women in the military reported sexual assault at least once over their military careers, the survey found.

Hetherington said from across the country, he is receiving a report each day of some type of harassment incident, but that is a good thing because it means harassment is no longer hidden or not being discussed.

“The important thing is that our soldiers are reporting them,” he said. “They are saying, ‘Look, I don’t accept that behaviour from someone on my team and I don’t accept this as being put upon one of my teammates, regardless of how innocuous it is.’

“There is still issues out there and we are doing more than I’ve seen in my 30 years in the service to address it … (but) we’ve got to get it to zero.”

Hetherington said it was important to leverage the courage shown by soldiers in battle to also stand up for their comrades.

“The courage that it takes to charge up a hill against machinegun fire that every one of these men and women are prepared to do, it’s that courage that they need to step in when there is any kind of maltreatment or discrimination or harassment. (It’s) taking the courage to step up and say I’m not going to stand for that.”

As for sufferers of PTSD, Hetherington said significant changes have been made in identification of sufferers and the creation of supports.

“It’s not just a soldier’s condition; we know that families have to deal with this as well,” he said. “We have come miles and we continue to develop.

“There is not a leader in the Canadian Army now that is not cognizant of the challenges that our soldiers face and how to look for the signs.”

Joint Task Force West is responsible for the conduct of domestic operations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, while 3rd Canadian Division is responsible for all Canadian Army administration and operations from the Pacific Ocean to Thunder Bay, Ont. Both are based in Edmonton.

Liberals select Thales for $5.2-billion AOPS Maintenance Program

By: David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen 

A subsidiary of French defence giant Thales has been selected for a $5-billion contract to maintain Canada’s new Arctic patrol vessels and supply ships, but according to documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen, the Canadian government had earlier been warned by some officials at the Department of National Defence that its strategy of having one firm do maintenance for both fleets could cost taxpayers more money in the long run.

Pierre-Alain Bujold, a spokesman for Public Services and Procurement Canada, said Friday that all the bids received for the maintenance contract have been evaluated and the government will now enter into negotiations with the highest-ranked bidder. Despite the Liberal government’s vow of openness and transparency, the department declined to name the winning bid, citing reasons of commercial confidentiality.

But multiple industry sources say Thales Canada and was told in late December it had won the $5.2-billion project.

The deal would see the firm provide in-service support for an initial period of eight years, with options to extend services up to 35 years. Bujold said the actual contract is expected to be awarded in the fall of 2017. “If the parties cannot reach an agreement on the financial aspects of the contract within an allocated 45 calendar days, the GoC will invite the next highest ranked bidder to enter into negotiation,” he added.

The first Arctic Offshore Patrol Ship is being built by Irving on the east coast and is expected in 2018. Construction has yet to start on the two new Joint Support Ships. The first of those supply ships, to be built by Seaspan in Vancouver, is expected in 2021.

Thales Canada did not respond to requests for comment.

The Canadian government announced in July it was seeking bids from companies to repair and maintain the two new fleets over a 35-year period.

But some Department of National Defence officials warned the government years ago that selecting one company for a single in-service support (ISS) contract covering two types of ships could give one firm too much control and end up being more costly. “A single ISS provider may assume a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude at the time of contract option renewal, forcing prices up,” warned an April 2012 DND briefing note for then-deputy minister Robert Fonberg.

A dispute with the contractor could also force the Royal Canadian Navy to resort to conducting maintenance and support for the ships on a piecemeal basis, a development that would affect its operations, added the briefing obtained by the Citizen.

DND also warned that not all companies would be happy with such a strategy as it would take a significant amount of business out of competition for a long time. Other DND officials, however, argued that the single contract strategy would work and any risks could be handled by increasing the level of oversight on the deal.

Last year, the government said the competition to pick one firm to provide in-service support, including refit, repair and maintenance and training for the two fleets, would benefit Canadian industry and the public. “By combining the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships and Joint Support Ships In-Service Support into one contract, we ensure the effective maintenance and support of these fleets over their operational lives,” Judy Foote, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, said at the time.

The federal government also noted, “that combining the contracts for the AOPS and JSS In-Service Support under a single contractor will benefit industry by increasing workforce stability and benefit Canadians by reducing costs through economies of scale.”

Industry sources say there is no need for the intense secrecy about Thales being the top bidder since the news has circulated over the last couple of weeks among various companies. They warn that there is a growing pattern of secrecy over defence purchases at Public Services and Procurement Canada.

Federal Government Does Not Understand CAF Special Forces

Image result for canadian special forces

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Canada’s special forces aren’t being used enough because federal government officials don’t understand such units or have the structure to make the best use of them, according to a recently released report.

The eight-page report written by Queen’s University defence researcher Christian Leuprecht and H. Christian Breede, a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, looked at the capabilities and future of Canada’s special forces.

“Canada currently lacks the policies, national security culture, mechanisms, processes, and methods to optimize the use of SOF,” Leuprecht said in a statement. “As a result, Canada’s SOF is undersubscribed and under-utilized.”

The authors recommend that defence decision-makers develop a more thorough understanding of the capabilities of Canadian special forces. They suggest, in particular, more knowledge is needed by decision-makers in how special forces differ in training and skills from conventional forces.

To maintain the capabilities of Canadian special forces, the authors also argue against the rapid or large-scale expansion of these units. That could water down capabilities, they add. “Given the CAF’s authorized troop strength and the qualities of an operator being as unique as they are, a rapid expansion would necessitate recasting the combination of desirable characteristics,” the report added.

In addition, the authors recommend only select and targeted collaboration with conventional force units.

The government also needs to decrease the amount of time it takes to make decisions on the use of special forces, which, in turn, would allow for the greatest number of options for the use of such units, the report suggests.

The publication of the document comes as the Liberal government conducts a defence review, expected to be completed in early 2017.

“With large-scale deployments of conventional combat forces improbable in the foreseeable future, SOF has emerged as the force of choice,” the report noted.

The Department of National Defence did not comment on the report.