Friday, September 16, 2016

Canada took part in secret operation to destroy Libyan chemical weapons

The Globe and Mail

Canada took part in an international operation to secretly remove deadly chemicals – often turned into weapons – from Libya to keep them out of the hands of Islamic State fighters.

The disarmament mission concluded last week when a Danish ship unloaded 500 metric tonnes of the chemicals at a German port for destruction at a commercial facility in the city of Munster over the next nine months. The maritime operation also involved the British, Spanish and Italian navies.

Canada provided $725,000 to the multinational effort. Some of that money went to buy 20 new safe chemical tanks, fitted with GPS tracking devices. The tanks containing the hazardous chemicals were taken by armed convoy across the desert to the coastal city of Misrata, Libya, and onto Germany in utmost secrecy.

Officials involved in the operation provided details to The Globe and Mail on Canada’s role.

“This operation happened because Canada was able to buy these new tanks for transferring the materials and also the U.S. donated some tanks as well,” said Deepti Choubey of the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which co-ordinated the operation. “It is a huge success story. ”

The United States, European allies and Canada became alarmed in May when Islamic State militants killed two security officers at a checkpoint about 1.6 kilometres from Libya’s sole remaining chemical-weapons site in Ruwagha.

“ISIS was operating very close and we knew it was a matter of time when they would attack the site because the site is also a huge bankers bazaar of conventional weapons,” Libya’s representative to the OPCW, Ali Gebril, told The Globe and Mail. “That’s why we started a very serious process and Canada was one of the partners who supported us financially and played an active role in the consultations.”

The United States and its allies were concerned because the chemicals, which included phosphorus trichloride and 2-chloroethanol, could be turned into 100 metric tonnes of nerve agent and 30 metric tonnes of sulfur mustard, commonly known as mustard gas.

Officials were already aware that the Islamic State had used sulfur mustard in Syria in 2015 and feared they would raid the Ruwagha site to obtain the chemicals.

The operation was not without danger. Some of the chemicals were stored in 25-year-old barrels that had corroded and were leaking. The Islamic State also has lookouts along the route from Ruwagha to Misrata.

“The [largest] concern was how to remove the chemicals from location in Ruwagha to the north. It was a huge challenge because of the ongoing battle between the Libyan forces and [IS],” Dr. Gebril said.

The Libyans transferred the chemicals to the Canadian tanks in mid-July and then to an unidentified safe storage site before they were shipped to Misrata and loaded on the Danish ship in late August.

Libyan officials had hoped to destroy the chemical precursors by using sophisticated Canadian plasma technology, but the deal fell through because of Islamic State attacks and waves of kidnappings.

“We had a very successful negotiation in Canada. We got an offer but unfortunately the situation in Libya was very dangerous to bring such technology to Libya to deal with these chemicals,” Dr. Gebril said.

The removal of the last of Libya’s chemical weapons came as U.S. fighter jets continue to pound Libya’s coastal city of Sirte, an Islamic State stronghold.

Canada has played a leading role in the elimination of Libya’s chemical weapons program since 2012, when it contributed $6-million to the OPCW, the global chemical-weapons watchdog.

“We commend the OPCW for co-ordinating this complex undertaking and Libya’s Government of National Accord for in requesting and then facilitating the removal of these chemicals,” Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion said in a statement to The Globe and Mail.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels to continue to operate even with delivery of AOPS

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

There has been a lot of speculation over the years on the fate of the Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels. Much of it has centered on concerns they will they be pulled from service as the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships come [into service]. Defence Watch asked that question of Vice Admiral Ron Lloyd, the head of the Royal Canadian Navy.

Here’s what he had to say:

“No. We’ll continue to operate the MCDVs. The MCDVs are providing yeoman’s service for us. As we’ve gone through the Halifax Class modernization, we’re having tremendous success with their ability to participate in Joint Interagency Task Force South, the counter-narcotics operation. They are also a vehicle by which we can introduce our sailors to leadership opportunities early in their career. And the MCDVs do a marvellous job of doing that going forward.”

“We have two in a deep maintenance period at any given time,” he added. “And then we have ten at various levels of readiness available for operations.”

HMCS Brandon is a Canadian Kingston-class maritime coastal defence vessel commissioned in 1999. The vessel is based out of CFB Esquimalt.
HMCS Brandon is a Canadian Kingston-class maritime coastal defence vessel commissioned in 1999.

9 CAF Members injured in training accident in Gagetown

Nine Canadian soldiers have been injured in a training accident at 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown in New Brunswick, the Canadian Press reports.

Here is the rest of the Canadian Press article:

Five soldiers with minor injuries were being treated on the base Wednesday, while four others were taken to hospital in Fredericton with serious injuries.

Base Public Affairs Officer Capt. Evelyn Lemire said all the soldiers are members of The Second Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment.

She said they were doing routine training when the light armoured vehicle they were travelling in hit an embankment around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in the training area of the sprawling base.

Lemire said she could not release any medical or personal information about the injured soldiers

(the above was written by the Canadian Press)

Here is the latest on the incident from the Canadian Forces:

At approximatively 10:30 this morning nine members from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment were injured when a Light Armoured Vehicle 6.0 hit an embankment while doing routine training in the Gagetown Range and Training Area. Five members were transported to 42 health services for minor injuries and four were transported to the Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton, New Brunswick for serious injuries.

In the late afternoon, the nine members injured had been released from the medical facilities.

An investigation to determine the cause of the incident will be conducted and as such, no further information will be released at this time. In respect of the Privacy Act, we will not release medical or personal information about the injured soldiers.

RMC Saint-​Jean Returns to University Status

CDA Institute Analyst Oksana Drozdova provides a brief history of the Royal Military College Saint- Jean and its return to a university status.

On 17 May 2016, the Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan, announced that the Royal Military College Saint- Jean (RMC Saint- Jean) would once again grant university- level degrees. Previously, there was only one degree- granting military university in the country, the Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC), in Kingston, Ontario, with the addition of second university certainly being a welcome addition. However, what figured most prominently in Minister Sajjan’s announcement, in addition to the subject of military education, were his comments on Canada’s bilingual heritage.

Indeed, RMC Saint- Jean (designated Collège militaire royal de Saint- Jean from 1952 to 1995) is now poised to once again make an important academic, cultural and bilingual contribution to the professional development of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) officer corps. The principal reason for establishing the College in 1952 was the need to increase Francophone presence in the CAF, which for historical reasons had been linguistically and culturally Anglophone. The College provided an opportunity for French Canadians to undertake initial military professional and academic development in their mother tongue and in a Francophone cultural environment. In 1951, a year before CMR Saint- Jean opened its doors, Francophones in the CAF numbered 6.9 percent of the officer corps and some 15.3 percent of the Canadian Infantry Officers. These numbers were particularly telling since French Canadians represented 29 percent of the overall Canadian population at that time.

In 1951, a special committee headed by Brigadier- General Paul Bernatchez, the only high- ranking francophone officer in Ottawa at the time, was set up to study and address the under- representation of Francophones in the CAF. The results of this inquiry were published in the Bernatchez and Jetté reports, which were then presented to Brooke Claxton, then Minister of National Defence, for further decision.

At the time, specialized military education was provided by RMCC in Kingston and Canadian Services College, Royal Roads (later renamed Royal Roads Military College) in Victoria, British Columbia. Francophone students had little to no access to these institutions. First of all, the linguistic barrier was significant, as both colleges offered English- only education. Secondly, since education falls within Provincial jurisdiction, there were (and still are) differences in the Quebec education system and other Provinces. For instance, a graduate of a Quebec high school would require an additional year to qualify for admission to any one of the Colleges. These considerations were at the core of the argument of those advocating for the creation of a francophone military college, located in Quebec.

L’Université Laval in Quebec City initially came forward with a plan to establish a three- year undergraduate program in the military sciences that would also include extensive English training. However, as tradition in Quebec would have it, education was also influenced by the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, two ecclesiastics, l’Abbé Jacques Garneau et Mgr Maurice Roy, were supposed to be heavily involved in the new program. However, Minister Claxton regarded religious involvement in the affairs of military education to be undesirable and the plan was set aside.

Gradually, the idea of establishing a francophone military college mobilized public opinion and created a strong lobby that persuaded the federal government to act. The campaign was spearheaded by Léon Balcer, a Conservative member of parliament for Trois- Rivières. For the plan to move forward, however, several main points had to be considered. The new program had to be tailored to the specifics of Quebec’s education system. It also had to conform to the standards already established by the two Colleges, in Kingston and in Victoria, thereby bridging the gap between the two systems of education. Lastly, it had to be a comprehensive, self- sufficient program operating on Quebec soil and, most importantly, respond to the needs of the CAF.

On 12 June 1952, Brooke Claxton announced the establishment of a military college in Quebec. Three locations were considered: Quebec City, Trois- Rivières and Saint- Jean. The latter location had the advantage of being a landmark in Canadian military history. Situated some forty kilometres south- east of Montréal on the Richelieu River, Saint- Jean saw its first fortress erected in the 17th century. Saint- Jean was selected, courses began on 22 September 1952 and, on 13November, the Governor General of Canada, Vincent Massey, presided over the official opening ceremony of Collège militaire royal de Saint- Jean.

Initially, 125 students entered the doors of the College with the total number of Officer- Cadets rising for two years thereafter as two university- level years were added to the original pre- university year. The College injected a substantial number of bilingual officers into the CAF but, in 1966, bilingualism remained a major challenge. Such were the findings of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, findings that were echoed by the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Jean- Victor Allard. The discussion of bilingualism reached its summit in 1969 when Parliament passed The Official Languages Act (1969), the federal statute that made English and French the official languages of the federal service. In an attempt to increase the French language presence in the CAF officer corps, General Allard announced that the College would offer a Bachelor Degrees in physics and administration starting in the Fall of 1970. This bold move required a partnership with a university that would be willing to grant appropriate credentials to College graduates. The University of Sherbrooke became the official degree- granting partner of the College in April 1971.

This partnership gave CMR Saint- Jean a necessary boost. In 1980, the College opened its doors to the first female students of the Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP). However, the first group of female officer cadets entered the college in 1979 under the University Training Program for former Non- Commissioned Members (UTPNCM). Six years later, in 1985, when Quebec’s National Assembly passed Bill 222, the College received its own university degree- granting charter. By the early 1990s, CMR Saint- Jean had granted approximately 1,400 university degrees.

In 1995, in an effort to cut costs, the newly elected Liberal government of Jean Chrétien introduced a new budget that hit the Department of National Defence particularly hard. At first, the government proposed some reductions in the number of military bases and research centres. However, to the surprise of many, it was decided to shut down CMR Saint- Jean and Royal Roads Military College. The closure not only affected the 600 students enrolled at CMR Saint- Jean at the time, but also threatened future Francophone representation in the CAF.

Moreover, the old issue of the one- year gap between Quebec’s École secondaire system and the Ontario university system resurfaced yet again. Clearly, if Quebec students were to apply to RMCC, they would require a preparatory (pre- university) year. The solution came from an unexpected source when the local Conseil économique du Haut- Richelieuproposed to offer university preparatory courses at CMR Saint- Jean in partnership with le Cégep de Saint- Jean- sur- Richelieu. This solution created a bridge for Quebec students and once again offered Anglophone Officer- Cadets the opportunity to improve their second language ability in a Francophone cultural environment.

This Preparatory Year program was well received. The Anglophone students, particularly those from Ontario, saw the program as a perfect way to improve their French and to receive extra preparation before being admitted to Kingston. Thus, the number of Ontario candidates in Saint- Jean more than tripled between August 2001 and May 2006 – from 41 to134. The number of francophone and Quebec students continued to decline, however, due to several reasons. Firstly, the initial closure of the College and the controversy associated with it continued to feed a negative public perception, especially in the francophone milieu. Secondly, the military college admission and selection standards were changed at about the same time, further contributing to the decline of applicants from Quebec. Finally, promotion and recruitment activities were unfocused and inconsistent, so the visibility of the Preparatory Year program remained low in Quebec.

Still, the Department of National Defence continued to promote the Preparatory Year program and to utilize its full capacity. By early 2007, it became clear that the program had fulfilled its mandate, thus opening up new possibilities for expansion. On 19 July 2007, RMC Saint- Jean reopened its doors as distinct unit of the CAF reporting to the Commander of the Canadian Defence Academy, with the new mandate to offer a two- year college- level degree in humanities or natural sciences. The College would also offer a year of university- level education equivalent to first year university courses atRMCC Kingston. Equipped with the necessary resources, facilities, half a century of experience in military and academic education and a strong desire to contribute to the bilingual character of the Canadian Armed Forces, RMC Saint- Jean was poised to become a university- level institution once again.

May 2016 marked a new era for the College when the current Liberal government announced that post- secondary studies would be reinstated at RMC Saint- Jean. In his announcement made in the House of Commons and reiterated in a subsequent Twitter message, Minister Sajjan pointed out that “returning RMC Saint- Jean to a degree- granting institution was a reflection of Canada and our bilingual heritage.” The new RMC Saint- Jean which, together with RMCC Kingston, constitute truly important national institutions, seeks to fulfill the mission that was originally granted in the 1950s: to make the Canadian Armed Forces Officer Corps bilingual in theory and practice.

The author relied heavily on two volumes on the history of CMR Saint- Jean by Jacques Castonguay: Le Collège militaire royal de Saint- Jean (Montréal: Éditions du Méridien, 1989) and Pourquoi a- t- on fermé le Collège militaire de Saint- Jean?(Montréal: Art global, 2005).
Oksana Drozdova is an Analyst with the CDAInstitute currently working towards a Master’s degree at UOttawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). Her research interests focus on International security, Eastern European studies and issues of statehood in political theory. 

Vimy Paper: The F-35 Program, Defence Procurement, and the CF-18 Replacement Debacle

The Conference of Defence Associates has published it's latest Vimy Paper. In it, Richard Shimooka outlines the troubled history of the RCAF's CF-18 replacement. Shimooka starts as early as 1997, but mainly focuses on the Harper Era in his paper, tracking the procurement of the CF-18 Replacement from 2006 to 2015. While Shimooka does not make a direct appeal to purchase the F-35 JSF; I believe there is a fair amount of bias in the article to indicate that he is calling for the government to learn from past procurement, and move forward with the purchase. 

Decide for yourself: 

"The Fourth Dimension: The F-35 Program, Defence Procurement, and the Conservative Government, 2006-2015"

 Executive Summary:

Since 1997, the Government of Canada has engaged in a process to replace its tactical fighter fleet of 122 CF-18 Hornets, which were acquired in the 1980s. Much of that history has been intertwined with a single aircraft: Lockheed Martin's F-35. The public discourse has largely been dominated by criticism of the selection process, as well as the aircraft's capabilities, cost, and attendant industrial benefits.

Inside of government, a very different view emerged. The federal bureaucracy, initially led by the Department of National Defence worked to undertake a proper evaluation of the CF-18 replacement program. Far from being exorbitantly expensive or technologically defective, it discovered the F-35 was the best option for Canada and recommended a sole source selection in 2010. Program troubles in the United States, two deeply flawed oversight reports by the Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Office of the Auditor General, as well as a series of errors by the government resulted in a loss of support for the project. Consequently, a new assessment process was launched in 2013, known as the Seven-Point Plan. However, it too endorsed the sole-source selection of the F-35, resulting in a series of culminating events leading up to the 2015 federal election.

This study is a history of these events. It is a story not of bureaucratic mismanagement or military bias, but one of civil-military relations and political dysfunction. The Liberal victory in the October 2015 election might have initiated a new phase of the CF-18 replacement program history. Yet the preceding several years should provide a number of lessons going forward. Few, if any, of the program's fundamentals have changed. Many of the considerations that underpinned the original analysis are still valid. The current government would do well to take heed of what occurred before.

To read the full Vimy Paper, see link below.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

RCAF aircraft faced temporary flight restrictions due to of engine oil mix-up

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch

All of the Canadian military’s aircraft, including CF-18 fighter jets, were temporarily restricted in their flight operations after concerns were raised about the type of engine oil that might have been used in the planes.

The oil had been mislabelled by a supplier, leading to worries that the wrong material had been used in aircraft engines, sources told the Ottawa Citizen.

The Royal Canadian Air Force confirmed Tuesday that temporary flight restrictions had been put on the aircraft fleets.

But David Lavallee, a spokesman for the RCAF, said no fleets were grounded.

He said the issue arose on Aug. 30 when a technician at 8 Wing in Trenton, Ont. discovered that an incorrect type of oil may have been used in an aircraft.

“Not knowing how widespread the problem was there was a temporary restriction placed on non-essential flying,” Lavallee explained. “That would include things like training flights, exercises and local area flying.”

Key air force roles such as operations for NORAD, international missions or search and rescue were not affected.

“Within 24 hours most of the fleets were cleared to resume full flying operations,” Lavallee said. “There are still some fleets with restrictions on non-essential flying.”

Those include four Aurora surveillance aircraft. Another C-17 transport is also affected but it was already in maintenance and was not flying.

“We’re in the process of clearing them and changing the oil and getting them ready to go,” Lavallee said. “We expect they’ll assume normal operations soon.”

Lavallee said the CF-18 fighter jets were among the first to be cleared for full flight.

The RCAF is in the process of investigating.

“We’re looking into it,” Lavallee said. “We’re trying into the dig into what exactly the cause of the problem was so we’re not able to speculate.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

CAF Searched for 1950s USAF Crash Site - Not Lost Nuclear Bomb

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Last week I ran some photos of a Petawawa-based Chinook helicopter dropping off and picking up members of 12 Régiment blindé du Canada. The soldiers were conducting new searches in the vicinity of Haines Junction, Yukon for a U.S. aircraft that crashed in 1950. The search was part of activities for Operation Nanook 2016.

I received some emails and twitter traffic from Defence Watch readers who speculated that the search was actually for a lost U.S. nuclear weapon.On February 13, 1950, a U.S. Air Force B-36 experienced engine problems on a training mission, flying from Alaska and along Canada’s west coast. The aircraft was carrying a Mark IV nuclear bomb (without the radioactive material). The engines caught fire and the crew had to bail. The plane’s crash site was found several years later on a mountain in British Columbia and the U.S. military sent a recovery team to collect sensitive material and destroy what remained of the B-36.What happened to the bomb continues to be debated (was it jettisoned or did it go down with the plane?). By the way, author Dirk Septer has a new updated version of his book, Lost Nuke: The Last Flight of Bomber 075, which is one of several that outlines this incident.

So were the Canadian troops looking for the lost nuke?

No, says Major Josée Bilodeau, senior public affairs officer for Joint Task Force North Headquarters. “OP NANOOK 16 activities in the vicinity of Haines Junction included a ground and air search and rescue component this year,” she explained to Defence Watch. “The search (was) for a U.S. military Douglas C-54D Skymaster with 44 U.S. military and civilian individuals on board that went missing on January 26, 1950 somewhere in that area.”

As the search and rescue component of OP NANOOK 16 was already planned, the focus area of the SAR training was co-ordinated with various civilian and other government agencies with the hopes that perhaps the wreckage of this aircraft might be located, she added.

Unfortunately, the crash site was not found.

Sir John Franklin's long-lost HMS Terror Found

By: Garrett Hinchey, CBC News

A video shared with CBC News and produced by the Arctic Research Foundation appears to show images of the submerged HMS Terror — one of British explorer Sir John Franklin's two ships lost in the doomed 1845 Franklin Expedition — in a Nunavut bay.

On Monday morning, British newspaper the Guardian reported that the ship, which was abandoned in sea ice in 1848 during a failed attempt to sail through the Northwest Passage, was found "in pristine condition" in Nunavut's Terror Bay, north of where the wreck of HMS Erebus — the expedition's flagship — was found in 2014.

The crew of the Arctic Research Foundation's Martin Bergmann research vessel found the shipwreck, with all three masts standing and almost all hatches closed, on Sept. 3.

"Resting proud on 24 metres of water, we found HMS Terror — 203 years old, it is perfectly preserved in the frigid waters of the Northwest Passage," Arctic Research Foundation spokesman Adrian Schimnowski says in the video.
AS IT HAPPENS | Relative of HMS Terror captain reacts to ship's discovery
Franklin expedition ship found in Arctic ID'd as HMS Erebus
Searching for HMS Terror: Hunt resumes for 2nd Franklin Expedition ship
Follow CBC North on Facebook for news, video, and stories from Canada's territories

"We spotted two wine bottles, tables and empty shelving. Found a desk with open drawers with something in the back corner of the drawer," Schimnowski told the Guardian by email.

A statement issued Monday afternoon by Parks Canada said the organization "is excited about the reports of the discovery of the wreck of HMS Terror."

"The discovery of HMS Terror would be important for Canada, reflecting the ongoing and valuable role of Inuit traditional knowledge in the search and making a significant contribution to completing the Franklin story.
A side scan sonar image from an Arctic Research Foundation skiff, taken on Sept. 3, shows the discovery. (Arctic Research Foundation)
"Parks Canada is currently working with our partners to validate the details of the discovery."

John Geiger, the CEO of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, congratulated the crew of the Martin Bergmann in a statement Monday afternoon.

"This is tremendously exciting news," said Geiger. "The nature of the find, as reported, underscores also the vital role of the Inuit then and now in the Franklin saga.

"After the discovery of HMS Erebus two years ago, the Terror remained the largest missing piece of the puzzle. Together, these discoveries have the potential to alter forever our understanding of the Franklin expedition's disastrous end."
Terror Bay, where it is reported HMS Terror was found, sits on the south shore of Nunavut's King William Island. The Terror was abandoned north of the island, according to correspondence recovered by the expedition's crew. (Google Maps)
As the story goes, HMS Terror was trapped in ice somewhere between King William Island and Victoria Island. According to the Guardian, the ship was found 92 kilometres south of there, a discovery that could have implications for historians' understanding of Franklin's expedition.

The doomed expedition, abandoned 168 years ago, resulted in the deaths of 129 men. The Erebus and the Terror lay locked in ice and undiscovered until a public-private group of searchers, led by Parks Canada, found the wreck of the Erebus two years ago.
Inuk crew member's story prompts find

The Guardian reported that the wreck was found after the Martin Bergmann's crew detoured to Terror Bay after hearing a story from an Inuk crew member, Gjoa Haven's Sammy Kogvik.

Shown is the route of Sir John Franklin's final expedition from 1845-47. (Canadian Press)

Kogvik told the crew that he noticed a large piece of wood sticking out of Terror Bay's sea ice which looked like a mast, while on a fishing trip about six years ago.
Franklin find proves 'Inuit oral history is strong:' Louie Kamookak

"I was on my way to the lake to go put nets out," Kogvik said in the Arctic Research Foundation's video. "And when we got in the bay ... as I was getting off the snowmobile, I looked up to my left, and there was something weird sticking out of the ocean on the ice.

"And I told my hunting buddy, 'what is that sticking out of the ice?' And he didn't know."

HMS Erebus was also located with the help of Inuit oral history. Historian Louis Kamookak helped researchers pinpoint the location of the wreck after passing down oral tradition saying that one of the ships was crushed in ice northwest of King William Island, while another — later confirmed to be the Erebus — drifted farther south, where it was ultimately found.

"Every time there's a finding, it's kind of a sad feeling," Kamookak said. "I think the mystery's more fun than the actual knowing."

The bell from the Erebus was one of the first items recovered after it was located, with a cannon, ceramic plates and personal effects among other items found.

Parks Canada had already agreed to seek permission from Nunavut's director of heritage before divers remove any HMS Terror artifacts.

One mystery still remains: the location of Franklin's grave. Kamookak said according to Inuit oral tradition, Franklin was buried in a vault somewhere on the north part of King William Island.
Parks Canada's underwater archeology team prepares to enter the water on a dive to the wreckage of HMS Erebus in 2015, while being supported by the Arctic Research Foundation's vessel the Martin Bergmann. The same vessel located HMS Terror after detouring to Terror Bay on the advice of an Inuit crew member. (Dan Bard/Department of National Defence)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Canadian Army Paratroopers Celebrate the 72nd Anniversary of Operation MARKET GARDEN

Canadian Army Press Release

Sixty-five soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, The Royal 22e Régiment based in Valcartier, Que., and 9 other Canadian Armed Forces personnel will participate in activities commemorating the 72nd anniversary of the Second World War’s Operation MARKET GARDEN in Arnhem, the Netherlands, from September 13 to 17, 2016.

Organized by the 11th Airmobile Brigade of the Royal Netherlands Army, the commemorative activities for this historic offensive will occur in two parts. First, international airborne operations units will conduct parachute jumps from September 13 to 16 on Exercise Falcon Leap and exchange “wings”, the uniform insignia and award which designate parachute jumpers. Then, on September 17, the Canadian paratroopers will jump simultaneously with counterparts from Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom in a re-enactment of the "mass jump" that was the hallmark of Operation MARKET GARDEN.

A ceremony honouring the memory of the soldiers who participated in the operation in 1944 will conclude the commemoration.

"The presence of our soldiers in the commemorative activities in Arnhem demonstrates the commitment of the Canadian Armed Forces to remember the heroic actions of Canada and allied countries that helped liberate the Netherlands during the Second World War and to pay tribute to the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Exercise FALCON LEAP and the jump commemorating Operation MARKET GARDEN also provide an ideal opportunity to share knowledge with participating nations and further enhance our skills in airborne operations.” - Lieutenant-Colonel Frédéric Pruneau, Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion, The Royal 22e Régiment

More than 800 paratroopers from different countries will participate in Exercise FALCON LEAP and the commemoration of the 72nd anniversary of Operation MARKET GARDEN. Troops from Belgium, Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom will be among those participating.

During Exercise FALCON LEAP, the Canadian paratroopers will jump from aircraft from various countries taking part. Participating nations will have the opportunity to mutually earn parachute “wings”— an award which acknowledges specific jump achievements.

Operation MARKET GARDEN is an important moment in the history of the Netherlands and of the Second World War. The relationship that exists today between Canada and the Netherlands dates back to the Second World War, in which Canada played a key role in liberating the Dutch people.

Two Fleets for FWSAR: Specialization can be more Cost-Effective

Written by Canadian American Strategic Review — Editorial

The Royal Canadian Air Force ( RCAF ) has held primary responsibility for aerial search and rescue (SAR) over Canada and its territorial waters since 1947. [1] Initially, the dedicated SAR aircraft fleet consisted of patrol aircraft for search (large, four- engined Avro Lancaster Mk.10 SRs ) and flying boats for rescue (the Canadian-made Canso and, later, Grumman Albatrossamphibians). [2]

Helicopters joined these fixed-wing SAR aircraft as rotary-wing technology matured. By the 1970s, Canada's fixed-wing search and rescue fleet had devolved into an ad hoc collection of old tactical transport aircraft – CC-130 Herculesand CC-115 Buffalo STOL transports (which lacked a role). [3]

Fast-forward to 2004 and DND's Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue (FWSAR) Project presented no real advance over the 1970s approach. Those ad hoc tactical transport aircraft were to be replaced by purpose-bought tactical transports, without questioning which type of aircraft actually suited the FWSAR role. This approach appealed to Air Force planners focused on bolstering the transport fleet. But, other than providing newer airframes, this procurement approach offered no real enhancement of the actual fixed-wing search and rescue capability.

After a 2010 external review by the National Research Council of the FWSAR Project, DND belatedly acknowledged that fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft might benefit from a more capable sensor than simply relying upon the human eye. [4] As a result, an infrared electro- optical turret was added to a revised FWSAR Statement of Operational Requirements (SOR).

The FWSAR Project has dragged on for a decade because, despite all of the proclamations, neither the Air Force nor the Government of Canada has ever made the FWSAR Project a genuine top priority. [5] This indifference may be, in part, because both bureaucracies know that completing the FWSAR Project will gain them very little in the end. Most of the current complaints about existing FWSAR aircraft relate to lengthy reaction times. But new FWSAR aircraft – still based on transport airframes – will make almost no difference to reaction times.

Idée fixe: Getting away from Fixed Ideas about the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Project

In accordance with the Canadian SAR Manual, an RCAF SAR Major Operating Base (MOB) must have one FWSAR aircraft ready to respond to any emergency call at 30 minutes notice. New FWSAR aircraft would continue to fly out of these MOBs, which are situated far to the south. As a result, response times will be no quicker than before the arrival of new FWSAR aircraft – and transit times to Northern Canada almost as long and just as exhausting for the FWSAR aircraft flight crews. Potential solutions to this FWSAR conundrum emerge from re- examinating the way that the RCAF implemented the aerial SAR when first assigned the role.

As noted, in 1947, the RCAF separated 'Search' from the more complex 'Rescue' functions. Compared to today, SAR bases were more widely distributed. There were very few 'Regular' SAR squadrons. Most of the early RCAF FWSAR aircraft weren't assigned to squadrons at all. They belonged to small, regional 'Rescue Flights' and were flown by RCAF Reservists.

A survivor of that model is Yellowknife-based 440 Transport Squadron. Originally designated a Transport and Rescue Squadron, [6] 440 (T) began as 111 Search and Rescue Flight. Based further north than other RCAF squadrons, 440 members are a mix of Reservists and Regulars. 440's four CC-138Twin Otter aircraft are a tiny number to be designated a squadron, but quite typical for earlier RCAF Air Reserve 'Rescue Flights' – which often held only 3-to-5 aircraft.

'Fixed-Wing Surveillance and Response'? – Re-examining the RCAF's FWSAR Roles

In a modern context, having RCAF Reservists form the crew of 'Search' aircraft has multiple advantages. Currently, the RCAF has been forced to employ foreign pilots due to domestic recruiting constraints (civilians lacking prior military experience) and training budget limits.

With a different approach to FWSAR, this 'experienced pilot' recruiting problem can be side- stepped. Consider a dedicated 'Search' role within FWSAR. By adopting an airframe already in widespread Canadian commerical service, RCAF Reserve crews could be readily recruited. And the ideal airframe for search, surveillance, and monitoring is the Canadian-made Dash 8.

Earlier model Dash 8s (with their greater cruising economy) are operated by airlines throughout Canada – including in the Arctic ( with Air Inuit, Canadian North and Summit Air). [7] In contrast to finding pilots with military aircraft experience, recruiting suitable pilots to become Reservists to crew the 'Search' Dash 8would be comparatively easy. Recruits would have ties to home locations across Canada, with no incentive to stick to the established RCAF SAR MOBs in the south.

The advantages of recruiting Reservist flightdeck crews would also be true for 'spotters'. At present, volunteers from the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA) often man the 'bubble' windows on the RCAF's FWSAR aircraft. That volunteer resource should not be abused, but it does show that civilians are quite capable of doing the 'spotter' job. And some of the CASARA volunteers might be highly motivated to serve in the RCAF Air Reserve. [8]

Also see: 'Search': The First Element in the FWSAR Project's Interim Solution

FWSAR Primary and Secondary Roles – Tactical Transport is as Tactical Transport does

The primary role for any FWSAR aircraft is SAR. But that has never been all that FWSAR aircraft do. The 'Search' Dash 8 described above is a surveillance platform specialized in the SAR role. However, sensors would allow it to perform a host of surveillance and monitoring roles when not required for SAR duty. What it wouldn't do is carry parachuting SAR Techs.

The 2010 NRC review reaffirmed the Air Force's choice of rear ramps for any FWSAR aircraft dropping SAR Techs. And 'rear ramp' means 'tactical transport aircraft'. The current FWSAR conundrum results, in part, from trying to squeeze some operating economies out of tactical transports. But it doesn't work. Tactical transport is a demanding role and few economies are to be found. The Air Force's attempted solution was to make their tactical transports smaller.

The outcome of the FWSAR project as planned would be unfamiliar new airframes with only marginally better operating economies than the Hercules. But separate 'Search' from 'Rescue' and a superior option appears. Relieved of the need to fly long search patterns, that 'Rescue' aircraft is already more economical. That allows other capabilities – like tactical transport and fleet commonality – to be made higher priorities for the FWSAR Project. Viewed in that light, the ideal 'Rescue' component of this two-role FWSAR approach would be another Hercules.

Also see: 'Rescue': The Second Element in the FWSAR Project's Interim Solution

[1] See online pdf, 'Canada Command SAR CONOPs' (or Concept of Operations) for details.

[2] Secondary responsibility for aerial SAR tended to fall on RCAF 'KU' or Composite Units. Many of the KUs flying utility transport aircraft would evolve into regional 'Rescue Flights'.

[3] The Buffalo had been designed as a short take-off and landing tactical transport. But the Canadian Air Force found little use for these rough-field specialists (outside Arctic supply).

[4] FWSAR now relies exclusively on human spotters augmented with night vision goggles and flares. The revised FWSAR SOR also included, under instruction from government, the consideration of 'Alternative Service Delivery' and to allow for more than one aircraft type.

[5] FWSAR as top priority was 2005 Conservative election promise. However, once elected, the Harper Tories shelved the FWSAR Project in favour of buying C-17 strategic transports.

[6] 440 TRS was redesignated a pure Transport squadron when moved from Edmonton up to Yellowknife in 1995. Despite their yellow paint, 440's Rescue markings were removed in 1999.

[7] Summit's Dash-8/Q100s first flew with Arctic Sunwest (which Summit took over in 2012).

[8] Remaining in one's home community is a recruiting advantage for the RCAF Air Reserve.

Should Canada join the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali?

By: Louis A. Delvoie, Kingston-Whig Standard

In my last column, I applauded the Trudeau government's decision to once again contribute significantly to United Nations peace operations after a hiatus of 10 years. I also argued very strongly against the idea of sending a Canadian contingent to the UN force in the Congo on the grounds that the history, dimensions and complexities of the conflict in that country made it a "mission impossible." Today, on a somewhat more positive note, I would like to suggest that there might be some merit in the Canadian government looking to yet another UN force in Africa, the force in Mali. That force is performing a more useful and manageable task than its counterpart in the Congo.

The fundamentals of the two countries explain in part why this is so. In area Mali is one half the size of the Congo. Its population is one quarter the size of that of the Congo. Its people are not as abjectly poor, since the country's Gross Domestic Product per person stands at $1640.00 whereas that of the Congo is only $810.00. Most important perhaps is the fact that Mali is not so fractured along ethnic and tribal lines as is the Congo. Put simply, it is a more coherent nation state than the Congo and its security issues are much more amenable to solutions.

Historical Background

Mali began to emerge as a recognizable entity in the 13th century. It was an essentially Muslim country, which over time became a fairly sizeable empire. Its principal city Timbuktu was home to numerous schools and mosques which attracted scholars from many Muslim countries in North Africa and the Middle East. And those scholars took an interest not only in religion and theology, but also in mathematics and astronomy. Nearly a million manuscripts from the period survived well into the 20th century. Timbuktu was also a major trading centre for the caravans criss-crossing the Sahara, and developed a complex trading economy based on gold, textiles and salt.

The Malian empire lasted little more than a hundred years before it was subsumed by the Songhai empire and later conquered by forces emanating from Morocco. In the late 19th century Mali was invaded and occupied by French forces under the command of General Gallieni. Mali thus emerged into the modern world as a colony of France, which controlled it until 1960 when it became an independent state once again.

Mali's political history since independence has been, to say the least, tumultuous. Its first president Modibo Keita was democratically elected but quickly turned the country into a one party state. In 1968 Keita was ousted in a military coup led by General Moussa Traoré who ruled the country as a military dictator for nearly 23 years. In early 1991 Traoré was confronted by mass protests led by university students and trade unionists. When thousands of his soldiers refused to fire on the non-violent protestors and eventually joined the pro-democracy movement, Traoré was overthrown. What followed was a classic reaction to years of military dictatorship. A new democratic constitution was drafted, was approved in a national referendum and resulted in the holding of multi-party elections in 1992. For the next twenty years Mali came to be viewed as one of the most politically and socially stable countries in Africa.

Current Realities

Early in 2012 Mali was hit with a triple whammy which had the effect of totally destabilizing the country.

The first event was the outbreak of a rebellion among the Touaregs of northern Mali. The Touaregs are an essentially nomadic ethnic group which represents approximately ten per cent of the population of Mali. They routinely criss-cross the Saharan frontiers of several countries and many of the fighters who joined the rebellion had obtained weapons and military experience in the service of the Libyan dictator Moamar Qaddafi. The rebellion was led by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). The MNLA was successful in defeating the Malian armed forces and eventually proclaimed the creation of a newly independent state of Azawad in northern Mali.

The second development was the entry into the fray of Islamist extremist forces, including Ansar Dine and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Those forces initially helped the Touaregs to defeat the Malian army, but then turned on the Touaregs and seized northern Mali for themselves. The Islamists gained control of large swaths of territory and several cities, including Timbuktu. In the areas they overran the Islamists imposed a very harsh version of Sharia law to the dismay of the local population which adhered to a very moderate and tolerant form of Islam. In Timbuktu they set about ransacking and demolishing schools, libraries, museums and mausoleums which they deemed un-Islamic. In very short order they largely destroyed what UNESCO had designated a World Heritage Site.

The Touareg rebellion and the Islamist incursions produced a third dismal event. Claiming that the elected president had been ineffective in dealing with these crises, elements within the Malian army overthrew him and seized power in a military coup in March of 2012. The coup was widely condemned abroad and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed economic sanctions on Mali. The new government was, however, no more successful than its predecessor in stopping the advances of the Islamist militants who began to make inroads into the south of the country taking full advantage of the political confusion prevailing in the capital, Bamako.

Unable to cope with the Islamist threat, the Malian government eventually appealed to France for military assistance. The French government obliged for two main reasons. First they feared that an Islamist victory might lead to the destabilization of much of north west Africa, including a number of former French colonies where France continued to have important interests. Secondly they were afraid that Mali might become a safe haven for Islamist extremists of all stripes, who could use it as a base of operations for terrorist attacks against targets in Western Europe.

The intervention of some 2000 French troops in January 2013 turned the tide in Mali. Not only were the Islamists stopped in their tracks, but most of the urban centres which they had captured in the north were re-taken, including Timbuktu. The Islamists nevertheless continued to hold some territory in northern Mali and to mount attacks on both civilian and military targets. In July of 2013 the United Nations Security Council deployed a force of some 12,000 troops and police officers to help stabilize the country and oversee a return to civilian rule. The force has been at least partially successful in fulfilling its mandate in that a ceasefire agreement was concluded with the Touareg rebels and general elections were held. The country is once again governed by a democratically elected president. The Islamists, however, continue to maintain a threatening presence in the north of the country despite the efforts of French and UN forces.

Canadian Role

The UN force in Mali could benefit greatly from the addition of a well trained and well equipped Canadian contingent. One of the handicaps from which the force now suffers is a lack of mobility. Canadian helicopters and light armoured vehicles would help to overcome this. And there are good reasons why the Canadian government should consider deploying forces to the Mali mission.

Apart from some investments in the mining sector, Canada's interests in Mali are negligible. There are no compelling political, economic or social reasons for Canada to take an interest in Mali. There are, however, significant security and diplomatic reasons for doing so. Canada, like most Western countries, is preoccupied with the threat posed by Islamist extremism. It is for this reason that it is participating in the US led coalition to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. A contribution to the UN force in Mali would simply be another contribution to that struggle, and fully consistent with existing Canadian security policy.

A Canadian contingent deployed to Mali would also pay handsome diplomatic dividends. It would provide concrete evidence of Canada's commitment to re-engage with the United Nations and would help to enhance Canada's image within that organization, an image that suffered real damage during the Harper years. It would be warmly welcomed by the French government and thus help to solidify Canada's relations with an important ally. Finally, it would be applauded by the United State administration which is becoming ever more troubled by the spread of Islamist extremism in northern Africa, as evidenced by its current military activities in Libya.

If and when the Canadian government considers deploying a contingent to Mali, it should make it clear to the Canadian public that this is not a classical peacekeeping operation of a bygone era. Long gone are days when UN forces were deployed as neutral arbiters between the forces of two parties which were committed to a ceasefire and which had formally accepted a UN presence. The UN force in Mali is charged with ridding the country of Islamist extremists and protecting the state and the civilian population from them. It is not a peacekeeping but a peace enforcement operation. As such it will involve combat and could well involve casualties. Nevertheless it is something well worth doing.
Louis A. Delvoie, a Fellow at the Centre for International and Defence Policy at Queen's University and, in 1980, Canada's Ambassador to Algeria ( to the north of Mali ). Louis Delvoie's article is a concise summary of the evolution of political, military, and social conditions that exist in Mali today.

Liberals won’t amend cluster bomb treaty loophole

By: Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The Trudeau Liberals are facing criticism at home and abroad for not closing a controversial legal loophole that allows the Canadian Forces to operate alongside allies, such as the United States, which use cluster bombs.

The previous Conservative government faced widespread international condemnation because the law it used to ratify the United Nations treaty banning cluster bombs contained a controversial clause that allowed joint military operations with countries outside the treaty.

The Conservatives said Canada couldn't compromise its ability to conduct military missions with its key ally, the U.S. — which has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) — but pledged never to use the weapons.

That sparked widespread criticism that Canada was undermining the legal basis of the treaty, including complaints from the normally neutral International Committee of the Red Cross.

In opposition, the Liberals along with the NDP pushed unsuccessfully for amendments to the bill that would categorically rule out any connection to the use of cluster bombs — tennis-ball sized submunitions that can lie dormant for decades and have maimed or killed civilians, often young children, in dozens of post-war countries.

After almost a year in power, the Liberal government has yet to change the law and faces the same criticism as the Conservatives.

While the Conservatives never worried about snubbing the UN treaty system, the stance could have implications for the Liberals, who are pursuing closer ties with the world body, including a temporary seat on the Security Council.

"Canada's implementing legislation meets our obligations under the CCM and we currently have no plans to amend it," Chantal Gagnon, a spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion told The Canadian Press.

"Canada believes that our legislation, like the CCM, strikes an appropriate balance between humanitarian considerations and security interests in addressing the impact of cluster munitions."

Gagnon reiterated what the government told the annual international meeting of state parties to the treaty in Geneva last week.

Canada has a "special responsibility" to encourage countries that have not ratified the treaty to join it. "As such, we are demarching all states outside the convention with whom we operate militarily to remind them of our responsibilities as a CCM state party and to strongly call upon them to join the convention," she added.

But Canada was singled out at the Genva meeting by the international Cluster Munition Coalition for not doing enough.

"We also call on countries to strengthen weak implementation legislation. For example, Canada's new government should amend its 2014 statute in order to prohibit assistance with the use of cluster munitions in joint military operations," said Bonnie Docherty, of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, on behalf of the coalition.

Earl Turcotte, Canada's former chief negotiator for the treaty, said he is "surprised and disappointed" by the government's inaction.

Turcotte quit the federal government in protest five years ago over the then Conservative government's decision to include the controversial clause.

"I had expected far more from Mr. Trudeau's government," Turcotte said. "I will continue to advocate for amendments to avoid further loss of civilian life from these indiscriminate weapons."

The World Federalist Movement urged Dion last month to use the Geneva meeting to "initiate a process to review and repair" the cluster bomb law.

The same letter reminded Dion how MP Marc Garneau — now the Liberal transport minister — argued in opposition for amendments, once proclaiming: "You're either against cluster bombs or you're not."

In August 2015, the campaigning Liberal party told Mines Action Canada in a letter that the "ratification legislation for the treaty passed by the Conservative government did not adequately promote the stigmatization of the use of cluster bombs. Liberals believe that the legislation should have been more in line with both the spirit and the letter of the Convention on Cluster Munitions."

Paul Hannon, the executive director of Mines Action Canada, said it is "curious" the Liberals have not amended the "flawed legislation" given that Garneau and two Liberal senators "gave a very spirited, comprehensive and logical case for amending the legislation" during parliamentary hearings while in opposition.

Hannon said he realizes the first year of a new government can be busy, so his organization is being patient.

"But the government missed a significant opportunity" at the Geneva meeting, he said, to signal "a new approach."


DND Press Release

The Royal Canadian Navy is leading a fleet of 11 ships and approximately 25 aircraft from Canada, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States in anti-submarine warfare drills over the next two weeks. The training activity known as CUTLASS FURY16 takes place in and around the Maritime Operating Areas off the coasts of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and St. John’s, Newfoundland, from September 12 to 26, 2016.

This opportunity provides participants with a chance to enhance mutual understanding as participating forces train together across the spectrum of military operations with a focus on anti-submarine warfare in a joint environment. Participation in CUTLASS FURY contributes to the operational readiness of the Canadian Armed Forces. Operational readiness allows the CAF to meet the likely tasks that the Government of Canada will assign.

“CUTLASS FURY 16 provides the members of Maritime Forces Atlantic with a unique opportunity to work closely with several of our NATO partners in the Atlantic to enhance operational readiness, foster greater mutual understanding, and develop relationships that will strengthen our ability to work together during times of crisis. CUTLASS FURY is a unique training opportunity for all participants that will test our shore-based and at-sea personnel as they direct and respond to a range of complex training scenarios.”  - Rear-Admiral John Newton, Commander Joint Task Force Atlantic and Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic

“CUTLASS FURY 16 is a chance for the Royal Canadian Navy to collaborate with our allies in a major joint exercise that layers air, maritime, land and communications elements. Exercise CUTLASS FURY will enhance joint NATO forces interoperability and ability to respond to real-world scenarios.” - Commodore Craig Baines, Commander Canadian Fleet Atlantic

CUTLASS FURY 16 is a Royal Canadian Navy (RCN)-led exercise that is intended to enhance cooperation with partner countries and allied forces on the East Coast of Canada. The exercise is designed to provide training in full-spectrum operations in a joint and combined environment.
Canadian participants will include HMCS Athabaskan, HMCS Fredericton, HMCS Montreal, HMCS Windsor,  HMCS Goose Bay and  HMCS Summerside. 

Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aircraft include: CF-18 Hornet fighters, CH-124 Sea King helicopters, CP-140 Auroras and a CC-130T Hercules air-to-air refueller. Contracted air services include six Dornier Alpha jets and a Westwind 1124 aircraft.

CUTLASS FURY 16 brings together 3000 participants from five partner nations and includes 11 surface ships, 3 submarines, and approximately 25 aircraft.

All RCAF Sea Kings to be retired by December 2018

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

The retirement of the RCAF’s 28 Sea King helicopters is ongoing and on schedule to conclude by December 2018, according to the Department of National Defence. To date, six aircraft have been removed from flying status, department spokeswoman Ashley Lemire told Defence Watch.

“Operational employment of the Cyclone will begin in 2018, ahead of final Sea King retirement, utilizing the Block 1 (Capability Release 1.1 and 1.2) aircraft version,” she added.

And what will or could become of the 28 Sea Kings? Lemire said the aircraft could be sold, transferred, donated, destroyed or retained for historical purposes. But at this point the RCAF doesn’t have an exact plan – it’s being worked on but I would expect at least some will be retained for museums and static displays on bases.