Friday, April 1, 2016

Perry: Our broken military procurement system

Written by David Perry, The National Post 

Every two years, apparently, the Department of Finance announces that Canada’s system for procuring military equipment is under-performing.

The 2016 budget had little to say about defence, but what it did say was depressing. A total of $3.716 billion in funding that was set aside for capital projects is being removed from the fiscal framework over the next five years, and reallocated out into the future. The funding, intended to buy ships, aircraft and vehicles for the military in the short term, has been shoved out into the distant future, to be used between 2021 and 2045.

Sadly, this is a reoccurring theme. The same thing happened in 2012 and again in 2014. In those years, the Harper government similarly pushed that exact same pot of funding into the future. In total, the Tories deferred $6.7 billion in funding pledged for major defence purchases. At the time, there was significant speculation then-prime minister Stephen Harper had done so as part of the effort to balance the budget.

Since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “modest” deficits will total $113 billion over five years, this shifting of procurement funds is certainly not part of an effort to curb spending. Rather, it reflects a system of procuring defence equipment that simply cannot deliver on schedule. The funds can be moved largely because they “cannot be spent due to unforeseen delays in planned projects.” In essence, no matter how badly the equipment is needed, the government just isn’t able to get this money out the door on schedule.

he Budget Plan contains at least a partial explanation why this is. The cumulative military recapitalization plans outlined by the Martin and Harper governments were extremely aggressive. They were intended to procure tens of billions worth of new equipment in a few years. But adhering to that schedule would have required a major expansion of the procurement system’s capacity.

Instead, a procurement workforce that lost a huge amount of capacity during the 1990s grew only marginally during the 2000s, and was then hammered by Harper’s attempts to balance the books. At the same time, longstanding problems defining and communicating military requirements and costing projects persisted, and new, more onerous policies regarding investment planning and managing major projects were introduced, which meant that procuring military equipment took more time and effort. Major problems with the procurement of military helicopters and fighter jets flagged by the auditor general contributed to a loss of trust in the bureaucracy, resulting in new governance regimes that added further steps to the procurement process. As a result, the aggressive schedules proved increasingly unrealistic.

This all drives home the importance of the commitment the budget makes to improving the process for making major defence purchases over the coming year. No matter what form the revised defence policy takes, it will require further, significant spending on military re-capitalization. Turning the available funding into actual military equipment requires sustained attention from the government.

The creation of an ad hoc cabinet committee for major procurement files is a positive indication of a commitment to improve the system. This needs to be matched by increasing the capacity of the system by growing the workforce and increasing its level of expertise. As part of the defence policy review, our true priorities need to be identified and have resources concentrated on moving them forward.

Finally, few areas of government stand to benefit more than defence procurement from the government’s pledge to reorient toward actual outcomes. Inordinate focus is placed at present on complying perfectly with policies interpreted to demand zero risk to the government, rather than the actual acquisition of military equipment.

If this situation doesn’t change, the 2018 budget will be telling the exact same story of a defence procurement system unable to deliver what Canada needs.

National Post

Dave Perry is a senior analyst at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

KAF Memorial to be Built at Former Nortel Site by 2017

Written by: David Pugliese, The National Post

A memorial to fallen Canadian troops that was once at Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan will be rebuilt in the west end of Ottawa by the summer of next year.

The memorial, known as the Kandahar Airfield Cenotaph, will be located on the former Nortel Campus, the new site for the National Defence headquarters.

An exact location on the grounds has not been decided but the cenotaph is expected to be in place by the summer of 2017, said Canadian Forces spokeswoman Lt.-Cmdr. Diane Grover.

“The KAF Cenotaph was repatriated from Afghanistan at the closure of our combat mission and is currently in storage,” she said. “As a powerful memorial to those who died in the service of Canada, it will be placed on display for viewing by the friends and families of the fallen, the defence team and the public.”
The Kandahar Memorial when it was located at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan. Photo: Colin Perkel
Grover said an analysis concluded the cenotaph would not be able to endure long-term exposure to the elements so it will be housed within a new structure. That building will be a 12-metre by 25-metre pavilion, according to DND documents produced last year and obtained by Postmedia. The cenotaph weights about 225,000 kilograms, the documents noted. An artist’s concept prepared for the DND shows a glass enclosure around the cenotaph.

Grover said that because it is expected the cenotaph will be within a secure area of the new headquarters complex, details need to be worked out about providing access to the public and families of the fallen.

Over the next several years, the DND will transfer about 8,500 military and civilian employees to the former Nortel Campus on Carling Ave. Some employees and military personnel are already working from the site.

The cenotaph at Kandahar airfield became a symbol for many Canadians of the losses during the Afghan war.

Canadian Forces personnel and Afghan employees built it in 2006 and added to the monument over time. On the cenotaph are 190 plaques that honour Canadian Forces members who died as well as Foreign Affairs official Glyn Berry, Calgary Herald journalist Michelle Lang, and Marc Cyr, a civilian from a company under contract to the DND. Other plaques honour U.S. military personnel and a civilian member who died while serving under Canadian command.

The granite plaques are etched with the photographs of those who died.

The military has the original drawings for the cenotaph as well as photos and video to help in reconstructing the monument in Canada. The cenotaph is in storage at an Ottawa warehouse.

In 2011 a military working group recommended the cenotaph be located on DND property at Dow’s Lake in Ottawa.
A soldier places a poppy on the Kandahar Airfield Cenotaph during Remembrance Day ceremonies in Afghanistan in 2008.
A CAF Member places a Poppy on the Kandahar Memorial during Remembrance Day in Afghanistan in 2008.
Photo: Post Media File Photo
At the time three Ottawa venues were considered the most serious options as a home for the cenotaph: Beechwood Cemetery, the new DND campus at the former Nortel site and the Dow’s Lake property, according to a July 2011 briefing note prepared for then army commander Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin.

“When weighing the criteria, the Memorials WG (working group) considered Sanctity to be the most important, followed by Visibility and Accessibility,” Devlin was told in the documents obtained by Postmedia.

The Dow’s Lake option came out on top, followed closely by Beechwood Cemetery, according to the briefing.

The Memorials working group acknowledged that although their recommendation was for Dow’s Lake, a different method to rate the criteria for a location “may be preferable, for reasons not apparent to the Memorials WG.”

The briefing note pointed out that, in the early stages of the evaluation process, one general said Beechwood Cemetery was his favourite option, while another preferred the Nortel site.

In an email to Postmedia in 2011, the DND noted that the cenotaph would be unveiled in 2014. But military sources said that delays in rebuilding the monument in Canada were expected.

Renovations to close National War Memorial for 7 months

Written by David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen, April 1, 2016

The National War Memorial on Elgin Street will be off limits to the public beginning the second week of April as the 77-year-old monument undergoes a second round of repairs and renovations.

The $3.2-million project will fix damaged concrete slabs and paving around the monument and refurbish the iconic bronze statues.

The work is expected to be complete by early November, in time for Remembrance Day. Throughout the work, measures will be taken to preserve and protect the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from damage. Workers will also try to minimize the impact on pedestrian and car traffic around the memorial.

The work is the second phase of renovations that began in 2014 when the monument was again closed to the public for months while workers repaired the concrete and reinforcing steel in a crawl space underneath. That work cost $2.975 million.

The current contract was awarded to Atwill-Morin Group of Montreal, which has also done restoration work on the Parliament buildings and Quebec City’s National Assembly.

With the slated construction, the sentry program, where two military members stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, will not occur this season. The Ottawa Police Service, which has a paid-duty contract to provide security for the unarmed sentries after Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was gunned down at the memorial on Oct. 22, 2014, will also not guard the site.

The War Memorial was designed by English sculptor Vernon March and officially dedicated in 1939 by King George VI to commemorate Canadian sacrifice in the First World War. It has since been rededicated to include the Second World War, Korea and the war in Afghanistan.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

RCAF Set to return from Ex. PUMA STRIKE

By Lieutenant Mathew Strong - RCAF News March 2016

Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) crews, support personnel and technicians deployed to Exercise Puma Strike at Naval Air Station Key West, Florida, on February 28, 2016.

Actual training for the exercise is taking place between February 28 and March 23, 2016.

Twice a year, 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron, alongside various elements of 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, and the RCAF, deploy to locations in the southern United States to conduct warm-weather training exercises.

“This deployment is a vital piece to the overall readiness and force generation of the RCAF’s Fighter Force capability,” said Major-General Dave Wheeler, commander of 1 Canadian Air Division. “It allows us to bring together our fighter jet and air-to-air refueling capabilities to conduct intensive training with our Allies in a deployed environment.”

8 RCAF CF-18's and an RCAF CC-130T Herculese Tanker fly over waters of Florida during Exercise PUMA STRIKE, being held at Naval Air Station Key West, Florida between February 23 and March 25, 2016. Photo: Captain Denis Beaulieu, pilot, 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron
This edition of Exercise Puma Strike includes pilots, crews and technicians from 410 Squadron, 401 and 409 Tactical Fighter Squadrons along with 21 CF-18 Fighters;, students from 10 Field Technical Training Squadron, and air weapons controllers from 42 Radar Squadron, in addition to some support personnel from other 4 Wing and Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake units.

The exercise also includes a CC-130T Hercules air-to-air refueller based out of 17 Wing Winnipeg, Manitoba.

“Training deployments like Exercise Puma Strike enable us to succeed at our mission by exercising the planning, deployment, employment and re-deployment phases of an operation at a new operating location and in a new environment,” said Colonel Eric Kenny, commander of 4 Wing Cold Lake.

The training received on the exercise will prepare RCAF pilots, crews and technicians for real-world operations, all in a setting where consistent flying operations can take place. Although training and operations are still conducted year-round in Cold Lake, multiple days of low cloud, poor visibility and reduced runway surface conditions have the tendency to impact training timelines. For the fighter force, it could take several months to achieve the same level of training that Puma Strike will accomplish in just over a month.

Over the years, these types of southern training exercises have evolved based on the needs of participants. For larger versions, such as this particular iteration, it takes a large contingent of personnel coming together to make it happen. “We have deployed personnel from most of our units at 4 Wing to ensure that everyone receives appropriate training to function as a team and to maximize the training opportunity,” said Colonel Kenny.
An RCAF CF-188 Hornet overflies islands off the Florida coast on March 1, 2016, during Exercise Puma Strike, run out of Naval Air Station Key West, Florida. PHOTO: CK07-2016-0154-066, Corporal Andre Maillet
An RCAF CF-18 flies over islands off the Florida Coast as part of EX PUMA STRIKE.
Photo: DND - Corporal Andre Maillet
“The logistical elements of deploying such a large contingent of personnel, equipment and aircraft for a three to four week exercise should not be understated,” he added, further underscoring the importance of training in a deployed environment. “I couldn’t be happier with the way the exercise is unfolding, and I’m extremely proud of our dedicated members.”

HMCS Montreal named to "X-Ship" Program

Navy News / March 29, 2016

By Darlene Blakeley

For the next five years, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Montréal will have an exciting role to fill along with its regular naval requirements.

Montréal has been named the Royal Canadian Navy’s Experimental Ship – or “X-Ship” – a program designed to advance innovative and leading edge naval concepts in all areas of warship deployment, crewing and sustainment. 

A Cyclone helicopter
An RCAF Cyclone Helicopter trains with HMCS Montreal in March of 2016. Photo: RCN/DND
“To do this, we have been allotted a five-year period within which to build and execute a program that builds on existing trial concepts and develops new ones,” says Lieutenant-Commander Lorraine Sammut, Senior Staff Officer Operations at the New Capability Introduction Detachment in Esquimalt, B.C. “Specifically, X-Ship will be tasked to conduct experiments that fall outside of normal fleet development activities, and be focused on supporting future classes of ships such as the Canadian Surface Combatant and Joint Support Ship.”

In the short term, many of the trials conducted will focus on human factors such as variations of crew size and impacts on crew rest and performance, as well as some operational trials.

“One of the driving tenets behind X-Ship is to explore crew modelling initiatives – future practices – that are forecasted to be employed in our next classes of ship,” explains LCdr Sammut. “One of the challenges we face is forecasting the level of human effort required to conduct a certain task, given that future ships will have increased levels of automation. To forecast the baseline, the navy, in partnership with Defence Research and Development Canada, uses a crew modelling prediction software and inputs what we already know to be true.”

Medium and long term horizons will see an increased focus on operational and technical type trials, including structural health monitoring, environmental effects on the ship and information systems trials.

“In the long term, we anticipate that the conduct of naval operations will be shaped by the data collected from these experiments and trials,” says LCdr Sammut. “As we move towards new ship design, one emerging trend is the shift to increased automation across a variety of systems. By default, increased automation equals decreased crew size and a requirement to employ specialized teams depending on the mission at hand.”

Crewing configuration will vary over the five-year program and is dependent on the crewing experiment being conducted at the time. Notwithstanding, X-Ship will remain crewed by Canadian Armed Forces personnel, and outside of the crew experiments being conducted, Montréal will be crewed as usual for Halifax-class frigates.

In support of future platforms like Canadian Surface Combatant where crew size is forecasted to be smaller than the current frigate model, one crewing concept being tested early in the program is a reduced crew complement.

“The goal behind any crewing model is to arrive at an appropriate and sustainable complement to execute the variety of normal readiness tasks encountered during naval operations,” says LCdr Sammut.

The innovative X-Ship program will benefit the RCN in many ways as streamlining capabilities and finding new efficiencies allows increased effectiveness across a wide array of naval operations.

“In the same vein, it also allows the RCN to determine, with some empirical accuracy, where certain concepts fall short and the diversity of operational effectiveness is potentially compromised, thus requiring further work,” explains LCdr Sammut. “Either way, providing a platform to advance innovative efforts is a tremendous win in the eyes of force developers and our operational community. Likewise, and on the heels of our successful modernization of the Halifax Class, it allows the RCN to align itself with those successful advances made by our allied partners.”

Although X-Ship will have a dedicated trial program, it will not be completely removed from everyday naval requirements and will continue to participate in scheduled engineering repair, docking work periods, fleet training exercises and support to the new shipborne Cyclone helicopter.

“In fact these opportunities lend a considerable hand in providing the appropriate test environment for many of the trials to be conducted,” says LCdr Sammut.

In recognition of the unique nature of the program, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, Commander of the RCN, has directed that a special badge be designed for X-Ship. Details about the badge and what it will look like are expected to be announced in the coming months.

It’s a busy and exciting time for Montréal crew members and supporting staff ashore as the frigate moves forward with the X-Ship program, leading the RCN in ground-breaking experiments and trials.

CAF Military Police Training in Ukraine

Published by DND Press Release
By: Chief Instructor of the use-of-force course, Operation UNIFIER

From 29 February to 11 March 2016, ten instructors from the Canadian Armed Forces Military Police Group delivered, for the third time, an intensive training program on the use of force at Conference Hall Irpin in Kiev. The training is part of the third line of effort of Operation UNIFIER, which is aimed at enhancing the capabilities of the Ukrainian Military Police.

For most of the candidates, it was the first real training that they had received on the legal, psychological and physical aspects of police work. For the session, the best Ukrainian candidates from the previous two training sessions were invited to join the group of Canadian instructors. They met a few days before the arrival of Ukrainian students and prepared the lessons together.

“It is essential to continue; the intention is to develop their capacity to take over as instructors and to one day include the concepts taught in the basic training of Ukrainian Military Police recruits––a project that is under development,” said the chief instructor who has participated in all of the training sessions, noting the progress made.

The 24 candidates come from different units. Some are employed in police patrol platoons, in detention centres or in special forces. The participants are also of different ranks, ranging from private to colonel. After the training, students must pass a theoretical exam and be assessed on their personal abilities and two tactical scenarios.

“Their willingness to assimilate the information and the effort that they put into the practical exercises is remarkable,” said one Canadian master corporal who was participating as an instructor for the second time. “They set an example for others to follow. It is amazing to see these candidates develop and progress at such a fast pace,” he said.

However, major challenges remain on the strategic and operational level. Lieutenant‑Colonel Martin Laflamme, who serves as co-chair of the Joint Commission’s Military Police Subcommittee, confirms moreover that the committee is working hard to establish the groundwork for institutionalizing the achievements.

The work of the subcommittee and the professionalism of the Canadian instructors will ensure continuity and facilitate a reform of the Ukrainian Military Police. Through those efforts, they will possess the tools and knowledge to enable them to work with NATO countries in the future.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Audit says DND waste in the Millions

Written by David Pugliese, published in The Ottawa Citizen, March 30, 2016

Is the Department of National Defence wasting millions on parts for equipment that could be obsolete or that it plans to dispose of?

That’s the suggestion put forward in a newly released audit.

The 2015 document contends that DND doesn’t know how many private contractors it’s paying to repair its equipment. The situation, critics allege, was cultivated by deep cuts to full-time federal staff by the previous Conservative government.

While contesting some of the suggestions in the report — especially the notion of spending millions on obsolete parts — DND says it’s trying to improve, based on the recommendations. The Defence Department doesn’t know how many private contractors it is paying to repair vehicles and other army equipment, while at the same time it spends millions of dollars buying parts for equipment that could be obsolete or it plans to dispose of, according to a newly released audit.

The June 2015 evaluation by the Department of National Defence’s auditors suggested overall productivity for the organization that repairs and maintains land equipment and systems has been significantly reduced. But it is unclear why.

The auditors noted that private contractors are playing a significant role in maintenance management activities, jobs once held by military personnel and DND civilian workers.

“The number of contractors is not tracked,” the evaluation concluded. “The lack of availability of actual worker numbers is problematic,” it added. “Accessing the productivity of employees without this key data is not possible.”

The organization has 952 DND employees, 273 military personnel and an unknown number of contractors. It is responsible for maintaining and repairing thousands of pieces of equipment.

The DND says it is following up on the evaluation’s recommendations and will try to determine the number of contractors it has as well as establish management performance indicators by early next year.

But in its response to the auditors, DND officials dismissed concerns that parts are being purchased for equipment that could be obsolete. They countered that a majority of the purchases were legitimate. In some cases, large numbers of parts had to be bought to cover the life of specific equipment.

Defence union president John MacLennan said he wasn’t surprised by the warnings about private contractors. The Conservative government tried to save money by cutting full-time federal staff, he noted.

“What happened was that public servants were forced to leave and management brought in the contractors,” said MacLennan, president of the Union of National Defence Employees. “But it got out of control and you have the situation they find themselves in today.

“They cut vehicle mechanics, they cut maintenance people,” he said. “It was mismanagement, for sure.”

Since there are numerous contracts and subcontracts, it is difficult to figure out exactly how many private contractors are on the payroll, he added.

The government has promised to reduce spending on consultants and contractors. It wants to cut around $170 million annually.

Earlier this year, Postmedia News obtained a report prepared for DND that outlined plans to have private companies play more of a role in the maintenance of military equipment. But the report, produced by consulting firm KPMG, pointed out that there was a lack of accountability governing the plan. In addition, federal public servants were resistant.

The DND has already started a number of pilot projects on what it is calling its “Sustainment Initiative” and hopes to launch the program in June. Initially, most of the work is aimed at maintenance of ships but public service unions are worried the program will be expanded to include other equipment.

“Risks and issues are not well understood or clearly reported,” the KPMG report noted. “No consensus exists on progress to date and chances of success.

“The Sustainment Initiative has not utilized a number of fundamental program management components necessary for the success of such a large and complex initiative,” the KPMG report added.

On the positive side, the KPMG report points out that the initiative has strong support from DND leadership and industry.

But those involved in the initiative have also raised concerns there is a lack of a formal schedule or a detailed plan.

“There is a lack of a clear understanding of how decisions are made, or on what timeline results are expected,” the KPMG report added.

Spanish AOR Supporting RCN Returns to Spain

Written by David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen 

The Spanish Navy’s auxiliary oiler and replenishment ship Patiño has returned to Spain and arrived in port today, according to reports.

Patiño traveled to Canada in mid-February to provide supply and logistics support services to the Royal Canadian Navy on the east coast.

The Spanish Navy noted that the ship was used to train 63 RCN sailors in replenishment at sea techniques and other skills.

A second Spanish supply ship, Cantabria, is expected to travel to Canada in the fall to conduct similar support and training.

Canada is facing a supply ship gap as the new Joint Support Ships are not expected in the water until 2020/2021. Davie is working on converting a container ship into an interim refueller for the RCN. That is expected to be ready in late 2017.

Last summer Canada made arrangements with Chile’s navy to have a supply ship available on the west coast.

Trudeau To Discuss Possibility Of Terrorists Using Nuclear Weapons

CP | By Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON — Justin Trudeau will be among the world leaders gathering to contemplate the spine-tingling scenario of terrorists getting hold of nuclear weapons.

The prime minister will be in Washington this week at the last of the nuclear-safety summits organized by President Barack Obama.

The leaders will close out the two-day event with a session that discusses a hypothetical nuclear-terrorism scenario.

But that imaginary case study will be happening amid unnerving real-life events.

Belgium has just deployed soldiers to defend its nuclear facilities — after terrorist attacks in that country, and several incidents involving site personnel.

Analysts believe al-Qaida and Japan's Aum Shinrikyo have actively pursued nuclear weapons and they've begun expressing concern the so-called Islamic State might have similar designs.

"A terrorist attack with an improvised nuclear device would create political, economic, social, psychological and environmental havoc," said Laura Holgate, a White House aide who oversees efforts to limit the threat from weapons of mass destruction.

"The impact of a nuclear terrorist attack would be global, and the solutions must therefore also be global."

It's the fourth such summit and flows from a speech President Barack Obama gave in Prague soon after he took office.

He expressed hope for a world without nuclear weapons — which he conceded might not be achievable in his lifetime.

But the 2009 speech set shorter-term targets. One was securing the existing nuclear material around the world; he convened international leaders' meetings to make it a high-level priority.

The mixed results will be underscored by some glaring absences this week.

The Pakistani and Belgian leaders will be home dealing with the after-effects of terrorist attacks.

Putin to skip the summit

Russia's Vladimir Putin is skipping the summit — he'll be represented by observers. Russia says the U.S.-led process has run its course, and the issue should be left to the five international organizations working on it, including the UN, Interpol and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

As Obama leaves office, U.S. officials said the final summit communique will announce next steps leaders intend to take within those five organizations.

The Obama administration points to several successes these last few years:
Enough fissile material to make 130 nuclear weapons has been removed or downgraded from 50 facilities in 30 countries.

Fourteen countries and Taiwan have eliminated all nuclear material from their territory.

Twenty countries have increased co-operation to counter nuclear smuggling.

But 2,000 metric tons of weapons-usable material remain in civilian and military programs, says the White House.

It would require 25 kilograms of highly enriched uranium to produce a nuclear bomb, former State Department official Sharon Squassoni told a briefing at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Numerous incidents involving nuclear-plant-staff have been reported just in Belgium.

A guard at one facility was shot dead in his home last week — although authorities say it wasn't terrorism-related.

Security badges were just stripped from workers at a Belgian plant.

Video footage of an official at a Belgian facility was discovered in the home of a suspected militant linked to killers from the Nov. 13 Paris attacks.

Belgium's nuclear agency had its computer system hacked and briefly shut down this year.

Two employees at a plant near Brussels reportedly joined jihadists in Syria. One was killed, another arrested.

A new study cites three potential ways terrorists could launch a nuclear attack.

They could attack facilities — perhaps by hacking their computers, says the study for the Harvard Kennedy School.

They could explode a so-called dirty bomb involving radioactive waste, which might not kill anyone but, the study says, could cause billions in damage.
"The consequences of detonation of even a crude terrorist nuclear bomb would be severe, turning the heart of a modern city into a smoldering radioactive ruin..."

The hardest to pull off would be the most devastating: an actual nuclear weapon in the hands of terrorists.

"The consequences of detonation of even a crude terrorist nuclear bomb would be severe, turning the heart of a modern city into a smoldering radioactive ruin and sending reverberating economic and political aftershocks around the world," said the study.

Canada is deemed to have a better-than-average track record on nuclear safety.

Canada is third among 24 countries for the safety of its materials, according to an international non-profit organization that tracks nuclear-security trends.

It scored above-average in 18 different categories, like on-site protection and cyber security, according to the 2016 Nuclear Threat Initiative's security index.

But it was middle-of-the-pack in two categories: dispersal of quantities and sites, and in potential terrorist presence.

"We are committed to working with the international community to prevent nuclear terrorism — a very real social, political, economic, and environmental threat," Trudeau said in a statement.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Canadian Rafale Cost Could be as low as $15 Billion for RCAF

Written by JDR - CAFDispatch Author
Published: March 29, 2016

As the debate continues as to which aircraft the Royal Canadian Air Force should choose as it's replacement to the McDonall-Douglas CF-18's a report came out today from Europe that France has agreed to sell Qatar the Rafale fighter at a fairly reasonable cost.

It should be noted that the costs estimates present in this post for the RCAF are my estimates based on information available.

The Dassault Rafale deal to Qatar includes 24 Rafale fighters (specific model details were not released), MBDA missiles and training for 36 pilots and 100 mechanics. The agreed cost, $7.5 Billion. It is assumed that these 24 fighters will be built in France, as with the smaller deal previously made with India.

What makes this deal interesting is that Dassault has previously stated that it would allow the majority of Rafael's to be built in Canada should the RCAF choose its aircraft. This could greatly reduce the cost of purchasing the aircraft; and it would create jobs in the Canadian aerospace industry which desperately needs a boost.

Canada's original F-35 purchase estimate was for 65 fighters, at a cost of $14.7 Billion (a 2012 figure) This number we know was a complete lie - it was discovered within a year that the purchase price would be closer to $25 Billion. That didn’t include Canada-specific modifications, ongoing maintenance and other costs

However by 2014, the purchase price had ballooned to nearly $56 Billion, and once you considered the maintenance costs and life-cycle management of the F-35 - it was going to cost an estimated $126 Billion over the 30 estimated lifespan of the Joint Strike Fighter.

With all the hidden costs, lies, and general distaste for the way the Harper Government was managing the seemingly "secrete" purchase - the F-35 purchase was put on hold. (Where it still stands today)

If we take the cost estimate of the Qatar deal and calculate it according to the 65 fighter plan Canada wants - it seems it could possibly cost $22 Billion - but this figure includes the cost of the MBDA missiles Qatar wants. Canada could opt out of this option. This estimates a cost of around $312 Million per aircraft (including training). But let's be honest - sales to Middle East countries always seem to be inflated. Egypt purchased 24 fighters for $5.6 billion. India just announced it will purchase 36 for $8.8 billion.

If we consider that the Rafale was built in Canada - the price (including intellectual property rights transfers) might get closer to the flyaway cost of around $150 million per air frame. Canada has been training Commonwealth pilots since the Second World War, and would therefore also require less training from the French Air Force. Even at a higher estimate of around $240 million per air frame, Canada would only be paying $15 billion for an aircraft that entered service nearly 20 years after the CF-18's and  2 years after the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet which is also being considered.

One snag in this wheel is that despite potential delays to the F-35 IOC, the Pentagon recently dropped the estimated price of its acquisition of 2,457 fighters by $12.1 billion. The drop marks a 3% decrease on the expected costs declared a year ago. This could potentially dissuade the program’s nay-sayers who have often derided the program’s soaring costs, potentially persuading Denmark and Canada who are currently on the fence, to perhaps continue with their participation in the Joint Strike Fighter Program.

For those who long for the days when we purchased the CF-18's (which had a flyaway cost of around $40 Million - those days are long over. Any fighter purchase will be into the tens of billions. Let's just buy the right one - and one that

HMCS Summerside & Saskatoon assist in seizure of almost 700 kg of cocaine

Written by David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen 

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Summerside and Saskatoon assisted in the seizure of almost 700 kg of cocaine while on patrol in the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean, says the Royal Canadian Navy. The ships were taking part in Operation CARIBBE.

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Summerside crashes through rough seas during the transit to the Caribbean for Operation CARRIBE on January 30, 2016. 

Photo: DND Imagery Technician, Formation Imaging Services
Le Navire canadien de Sa Majesté (NCSM) Summerside vogue sur une mer agitée en direction des Caraïbes en vue de participer à l’opération CARRIBE, le 30 janvier 2016. 

Photo : Technicien en imagerie du MDN, Services d’imagerie de la formation

The interception involving HMCS Summerside took place on March 7 in international waters off the coast of Nicaragua when the ship located and approached a 12-metre long sailing vessel suspected of smuggling, the RCN noted. Members of a United States Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment, embarked on HMCS Summerside, questioned the master and subsequently boarded the vessel, the RCN stated in a news release. During the search, the team discovered and seized 16 bales weighing 324 kg that later tested positive for cocaine.

The other drug seizure by the RCN took place later.

During the evening of March 19, the crew of HMCS Saskatoon, its embarked U.S. Coast Guard team, and a U.S. maritime patrol aircraft were conducting a regular patrol monitoring targets of interest in international waters off the coast of Central America. One of the vessels being monitored, a “panga” style fishing boat, jettisoned its cargo and fled at high speed. Once on scene, crew members of HMCS Saskatoon and the U.S. Coast Guard team found and retrieved 10 bales of cocaine from the water, with a combined weight of approximately 360 kg.

CAF to Niger? Background Information

Two weeks ago I published a post about the possibility of the Canadian Armed Forces heading to Africa with a list of possible destinations, for both UN or NATO missions. One of those regions was Niger.

Here is some background information on what is happening in Niger, and some recent visits by the CAF.

While the United Nations does not currently have a Peacekeeping force in Niger, many believe that Niger will be one of the next locations in Africa where the UN deploys next. Niger is located between two countries who are currently facing terrible violence; Mali and Nigeria. Boko Haram is also becoming a concern within Niger itself, as the terrorist group spreads from Nigeria.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is currently working in Niger with refugees from both Mali and Nigeria. Those fleeing Nigeria are fleeing Boko Haram

The main populations of concern in Niger in 2015 are: Malian refugees who have fled violence in their country since 2012 and are living in camps, refugee-hosting and urban areas; as well as refugees (Nigerian nationals) and returnees (Niger nationals who were living in Nigeria) who have fled violence in north-eastern Nigeria since May 2013, are dispersed in more than 100 villages, and are hosted by the local community.

In northern Mali, after a short period of calm, rising insecurity and tension have led to the arrival of approximately 4,200 new Malian refugees since May 2014. Meanwhile, since the beginning of 2014, more than 6,700 Malian refugees living in Niger have returned home. Niger is currently hosting approximately 37,000 Malian refugees. While conditions do not support massive returns home, UNHCR will, in consultation with host countries and Malian authorities, provide refugees willing to return home with information on the situation in areas of origin, as well as repatriation assistance.

The deteriorating security situation in north-eastern Nigeria has caused several population movements into Niger, including refugees from Nigeria and citizens of Niger who were living in Nigeria and have returned. New arrivals are spread across hundreds of towns and islands on Lake Chad on a vast territory with a poor road network. Accessing these populations poses significant operational and security challenges, and is costly.

When did the CAF first get involved? 

The first time the Canadian Armed Forces went to Niger was as part of Exercise Flintlock in 2013. The Harper Government announced that it would send the Canadian Special Operations Regiment to the region to help train the Niger military on counter-terrorist measures; as the country began to struggle with the conflicts in both Mali and Nigeria. 

CSOR training was provided because the soldiers from Niger receiving Canadian instruction may very well find themselves fighting the al-Qaeda-linked rebels of Mali in the near future. Niger is expected to be one of the three biggest troop-contributing nations, along with Nigeria and Burkina Faso, in a UN-sponsored West African military intervention in Mali.

The Canadian government, which is normally quick to trumpet overseas military efforts, was surprisingly silent on its West African training mission. Canada's deployment was supported by the US and other allies as part of Flintlock. The exercise, aimed at helped West African countries fight terrorism.

The annual Flintlock exercise takes place in different western African countries each year. Canada last participated in 2011. The 2012 exercise, which was supposed to take place in Mali, was cancelled because that country’s army was busy responding to attacks from Tuareg separatists.

The French military intervention on Friday, a dramatic shift from earlier plans for an African-led force, was a sign of the world’s growing fear that the Islamist rebels could topple Mali’s weakened government and turn the country into a haven for terrorists.

The CSOR returned to Niger for Flintlock in 2014 and again in 2015 - where their presence was more widely reported by CTV's W5 and when an attack by Boko Haram forced the CSOR to evacuate the area; which I reported here, in one of my posts in January, this year.

So what would a 2016 UN mission to Niger look like? No one is really sure. It could be an expanded training role; similar to Exercise Flintlock where the CSOR deployed from 2013-2015; or it could be a humanitarian role helping with the refugees; or both. Only time will tell. 

Information in this post came from the UNHCR's webpage about its mission in Niger, and the 2013 report by the Globe and Mail, "Canada's Contribution to the Fight in Mali

Kilford: Military forgotten in big-spending Liberal budget

Opinion Piece Written by: Chris Kilford
Defence will never be party’s priority,

For the new Liberal government and despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, it appears that maintaining military hard power is, like … so yesterday.

Pity, then, the poor staff in National Defence Headquarters as they set about transforming our “multi-purpose, combat-capable” Canadian Armed Forces into something, well, less so.

With this latest federal budget, and with a larger than forecasted deficit, we now know the money for defence just isn’t there.

Instead, the capital spending needed to keep our existing military forces even barely afloat has been postponed until at least the next election in 2020.

Of course, the previous government also deferred big-ticket procurement spending. And to be fair, this government needs time to consider what our defence priorities will be and how best to meet them.

But then again, with deficit spending set for at least the next five years, it’s unlikely defence will ever be a spending priority.

Indeed, we appear to be re-visiting the past and heading back to a time very much like that in which then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau found himself almost 50 years ago. Shortly after the 1968 election, he launched a formal defence review, rejecting the military’s first draft “on the grounds that it amounted to nothing more than a reaffirmation of current policy” that was simply unaffordable but, more so, unnecessary.

What he wanted was “fresh thinking” but in truth his mind had already been made up. For him, defence spending was wasteful, especially when there were far more pressing domestic needs.

His real aim was to slash military expenditures as much as one could get away with, including withdrawal from NATO altogether. In the end, Canada’s NATO contribution was cut in half, important capabilities were shed and personnel numbers tumbled.

Pierre Trudeau was also very concerned that having Canadians train military forces in the developing world would lead to all sorts of foreign entanglements.

For example, the Canadian-trained and mentored Ghanaian military overthrew the government in 1966. So, in 1971, he put an end to foreign military training schemes.

Nor did he, unlike his son, think much of sending Canadian blue helmets overseas. Peacekeeping, according to his 1971 Defence White Paper, had “too often been frustrating and disillusioning.”

Presciently, the document noted that many conflicts “have their roots in subversion and insurgency, and therefore will not lend themselves easily to resolution through the use of internationally constituted peacekeeping bodies.” Not much has changed. Today’s peacekeeping missions, which more often involve UN troops in combat, continue to be thankless, miserable and never-ending.

What to do, then? Even when we do have an idea of what sort of military we need, finding the right balance between people, equipment, infrastructure and readiness is never easy. Military planners are also faced with numerous constraints.

Suggesting changes to the reserves or reducing the civilian workforce has always been a political hot potato, along with any talk of “divesting” bases.

Depriving Canadians of a chance to see the Snowbirds is also off the table, so no savings there. Nor can you opt for cheaper Chinese equipment.

Turkey tried that, and for some reason it just didn’t go over well in Washington.

Nevertheless, a government which appears to be in favour of a more robust and active foreign policy ought to be supported by a well-equipped, combat-capable armed forces. But this budget tells a different story. Canada is likely to end up with a much smaller, less responsive military than we have today, largely focused on the home front and the occasional, symbolic assignment abroad.

Major capabilities will wither or disappear. More importantly, so will our future policy options. 

Chris Kilford is a fellow at the Queen’s Centre for International and Defence Policy. He is also the former Canadian Defence Attaché to Turkey.