Friday, September 23, 2016

If Government is Thinking Stimulus; Then Invest in Defence

By: Daniel Maillet, CAF Dispatch Author 

It was revealed today that the Government of Canada is looking to boost the slowly growing, perhaps almost faltering Canadian economy. More specifically the Government is looking to invest another $1 billion into Alberta and Saskatchewan. That makes some sense, as these are the two provinces that have been the hardest hit with the decrease in Oil prices over the last two years. There is one problem with this plan - both Alberta and Saskatchewan's financial planning assumes the return of $80+ oil barrels. Forecast don't see that happening anytime soon. If the Government is seriously looking to boost the economy invest in Defence.

Don't get me wrong, there are other areas that are just as important (Education and Health, just to name two) but Defence is an industry that is at the cusp of its existence. Much of the Canadian Forces equipment is on borrowed time and replacements are decades behind. The Canadian Forces easily needs $100 Billion now, and if not soon that number is sure to balloon.

Image result for The Canadian Forces

The Royal Canadian Navy

With the recent public awareness campaign about the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) fleet set to replace the Royal Canadian Navy's Halifax-Class Frigates; the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS); and the Navy's need for new Auxilliary Oil Replenishment (AOR) vessels, the public is well aware of the fact that the Canadian Navy is in great despair. The government has already committed $26 Billion to the Navy; but industry experts keep saying the Navy alone needs more than  $40 Billion to build the planned 15 CSC vessels, the six AOPS, and the two AORs.

That $40 Billion does not include the $1 billion needed to modernize the four Victoria-Class submarines that will require another retrofit to keep operating until the mid-2020s.

The Navy is also facing a shortage of skilled members. More members of the Navy, especially officers, retire each year than those who are hired to replace them. This has left the Navy struggling to maintain capabilities.

Clearly the Navy would benefit from stimulus - boost recruitment and training funding, and increase the dedicated funds to build the new fleet for the Navy; perhaps expanding the number of shipyards involved, such as Davie, which was not in a financial position to bid on the CSC fleet, but is now building an Interim AOR (iAOR) for the Navy, and has said they could provide a second iAOR faster than Seaspan can provide the two new AORs.  Recently on this blog, there was a call for a Hospital Ship for the RCN, Davie could easily fill this order, and for a fraction of the cost of a new vessel.

The Royal Canadian Air Force 

Oh where to begin...The Air Force is struggling, just like the Navy.

The Canadian Forces aerobatic team, The Snowbirds are a national symbol of Canadian freedom and perseverance. Yet they are flying an albeit great Canadair aircraft,  one that that is approaching 60 years old; performing some of the best and most complicated aerobatic displays in the world. The program to replace the CT-114 Tutor jet began in early 2000; with active proposals starting in 2008.

It is now 2016 and there has been no movement on the file. In fact this year the Government announced that it is looking to continue flying the 1960s jet well into the 2020s; with a replacement before 2030. The replacement cost is pegged at close to $1 Billion - up from an original estimate of $400 million. That cost will only continue to grow the longer the project is delayed.

The Tutor was retired as the Canadian Forces main training aircraft in 2000, replaced by the BAE CT-155 Hawk and CT-156 Harvard II. Canada did not purchase these jets outright, but put them on long-term lease from BAE. As of 2016; many of these jets (and turboprop for the Harvard's) have reached their original lifespans and have undergone extensions. This is because No. 2 Canadian Forces Flying School at 15 Wing Moose Jaw is also the NATO Flying School. Meaning, these aircraft rack up the flight hours very quickly. The Hawk; originally designed in the late 1970s is becoming obsolete in the fighter jet world.  Thoughts about replacing the Harvard and Hawk began in 2012 but have not gone anywhere.

The RCAF is also operating it's CF-18 Fighter Jets dangerously close to the end of their lifespan. The CF-18s have already undergone two life-extensions. Originally purchased in the 1980s, the RCAF intended to fly the CF-18s until around 2010-2015; with a replacement delivered by 2017-2018. That is not happening, as 2016 counts down no replacement has been selected. Even if one was selected shortly Canada would be at the end of any delivery schedule that is already established by the manufacturers. Therefore, the RCAF is now undergoing studies to fly the CF-18s to at least 2025; with options as far as 2030.  Flying fighter jets that are 40 years old seems counterintuitive to National Defence does it not?

The Search and Rescue (SAR) division of the RCAF has also struggled. The CH-113 Labrador's were retired and replaced by the CH-149 Cormorant's but the project was plagued with issues, and the Cormorant while performing its duties has never lived up to what it could have been. The Air Force does not have enough Cormorants or spare parts, forced to purchase former US Presidential helicopters for use.

The CH-146 Griffon, which performs double duty for SAR and the Canadian Army, has been in active duty since 1995, and there is no plan currently to replace it. Yet the American Forces are already working on retiring their models. The Griffons are currently slated to be retired in 2021; yet no replacement contract has been awarded. Therefore, their extension date of 2025 is more likely; but with that falling at the same time as the CF-18 replacement it seems likely that the Griffon will have to wait; putting Canadian Forces at risk in a combat or SAR helicopter that is over 40 years old. This replacement project is close to $3 Billion (depending on the replacement selected)

The CH-124 Sea King has been on the verge of retirement since 1983. That is not a typo. The RCAF only recently announced that all remaining Sea Kings will be retired by 2018, 35 years past their "best before date." Even with this retirement, the replacement CH-148 Cyclone will not be fully operational, nor will the RCAF possess enough Cyclones to fully replace the Sea Kings causing a Naval Helicopter Capabilities gap.

The RCAF has also been trying to procure a new Fixed-Wing SAR aircraft for two decades. Only this past summer was the project officially restarted. The final costs have not been made public, but in all likelihood, a fleet of at least 10 aircraft will be needed, and maintenance costs over a 20 year period will be $1 Billion at the minimum.

Therefore, it is evident by the nearly $6 Billion in known replacement costs (CT-114, CH-146; and FWSAR) plus the unknown costs of the CF-18 replacement ($60 Billion if we move forward on the JSF F-35 according to the Auditor Generals cost analysis) and the Harvard and Hawk replacements; that the RCAF would also drastically benefit from Government stimulus.

The Royal Canadian Army

I will not spend a great deal of time on the Army; you can read my recent posts about the state of the Reserves for more details. But as the Government plans to deploy 400 Troops to head a NATO battalion in Latvia, and 600 troops to a peacekeeping missing in Africa, the Army (and Reserve) will bear the brunt of this deployment. Much of the Army's equipment past its "best before" dates on deployment in Afghanistan between 2002-2014. Those that did not, were used quicker than expected because of the conditions, conditions which will be again faced in Africa. This equipment also needs replacement, training needs to increase, and so too do Regular force and Reserve numbers. Something that stimulus will help.

Poorly-trained Reservists may endanger Peacekeeping Missions: Auditor-General

By: Steven Chase, Globe and Mail 

The Auditor-General of Canada says there is a risk that inadequately trained reservists may endanger soldiers’ health and safety on a deployment such as a peacekeeping mission to Africa.

The government is preparing to announce what it bills as a major return to Canadian peacekeeping and there is widespread expectation that this could include a sizable contingent of soldiers to a particular dangerous and deadly United Nations mission in the West African country of Mali. More than 105 peacekeepers have died there since 2013, including 69 from “malicious acts.”

Reservists, or part-time soldiers, serve alongside regular troops in deployments. For instance, army reserve soldiers completed 4,642 deployments to Afghanistan, where 16 of them died and 75 were wounded in action.

Auditor-General Michael Ferguson appeared before a Senate committee on Tuesday morning to follow up on a spring, 2016, report that revealed the weak state of Canada’s army reserve – with major shortfalls in training, equipment and preparedness. His report, released in April, said the military budgets for about 21,000 full-time and part-time reservists but can count on only an average of 13,944 trained and attending soldiers.

Asked about whether unfit reservists could jeopardize themselves or others in a deployment such as African peacekeeping, Mr. Ferguson said, “We identified that there is such a risk.”

The military tries to mitigate this by providing reservists extra training before deployment.

But the Auditor-General said his office has found that there can still be cases where reservists do not receive sufficient training. “It might have been physical fitness or it might have been training on individual weapons – so that can create a risk and that risk is then a risk to the safety of the individual and, in fact, could be a risk to the safety of the whole unit.”

In the course of the study, auditors asked to see the Department of National Defence system that tracks the training and readiness of soldiers. “According to the system, it was 7 per cent of them were up to date on their handling of their own personal weapons; 55 per cent of them were up to date on their physical fitness,” Mr. Ferguson told the senators.

He said that when auditors asked DND why the reservists appeared to be so unprepared, “the response we got from National Defence was, ‘The information in that system is not reliable.’ ”

He said this means that the military is relying on individual unit commanders to decide if their reservists are ready to be deployed “and they’re not really tracking in enough detail” whether these troops are prepared.

His spring report also noted significant shortfalls in equipment and instruction for reservists.

Mr. Ferguson said his office found many reserve units were not given clear instructions “on what they were supposed to be training for.”

He said the Canadian Armed Forces should establish a minimum level of skill and training for all soldiers, regardless of whether they are in the reserve or the regular force, “before they would be allowed into that sort of dangerous theatre.”

The Army Reserve has more than 120 units across Canada.

A spokesman for the Department of National Defence said no ill-equipped reservists will be sent abroad. “The bottom line is that we would never deploy members who aren’t trained, ready and equipped to meet their mission in service of Canada,” Daniel LeBouthillier said.

He said the DND is taking steps to improve the training and readiness of reservists, including doing a better job of ensuring units get the funds they need, boosting recruitment and retention strategies, fixing gaps in training and trying to provide more equipment for this part-time force.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Amoured crews from Canada, U.S., Denmark, NZ, Chile to test their skills

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Armoured vehicle crews from five countries will participate in Exercise WORTHINGTON CHALLENGE 2016 which begins Friday at Gagetown, NB. The event will run until Sept. 30.

The Canadian military says 186 Canadian soldiers will participate in the exercise hosted by the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps School at 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown.

The exercise will test a number of skills including direct-fire gunnery and tactical driving using the Leopard 2 main battle tank, Light Armoured Vehicle III and 6, and the Coyote Armoured Vehicle, according to the news release from the Canadian Forces.

Competing nations include: Chile, Denmark, New Zealand, the United States, and Canada. Observing nations will be: Australia, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

The WORTHINGTON CHALLENGE is named for Major-General Franklin Worthington, MC, MM, CD, who is considered the founder of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, the military noted in its release.
Members of 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery and Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) advance on an objective with a Leopard 2A4 tank during live-fire Platoon level group attack during Exercise KAPYONG MACE at CFB Shilo, Manitoba on September 26, 2015.

Photo: MCpl Louis Brunet, Canadian Army Public Affairs
CAF Leopard 2 Tanks. CAF File Photo

CAF Will Never be under UN Command: CDS

By: Lee Berthiaume, CBC News 

The country's top soldier is pushing back against suggestions the Liberal government wants to use Canadian troops for political purposes by deploying them on United Nations peacekeeping missions.

The opposition Conservatives accused the Liberals this week of treating the military like "pawns" by promising to support peacekeeping operations in exchange for a UN Security Council seat.

The Liberal government has promised up to 600 troops for future peacekeeping operations, as well as 150 police officers and $450 million for peace support operations.

But chief of the defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance said Wednesday that Canadian troops will be deployed as peacekeepers for no other reason than to help bring peace and stability to another part of the world.

"I reject the notion that this is done simply for political reasons and putting troops in harm's way into risky areas for anything other than the true merits of the value of the use of military force," he said.

Vance told the Senate defence committee that his staff members are looking at various UN mission options to see where Canada could best contribute. The government still has not decided on a specific mission, he added.

Vance wouldn't say which missions the government is currently considering, but he acknowledged that many — if not all — carry some degree of risk. He said he wouldn't advise Canada participate in a mission with unnecessary or unmanageable risk.

"But a risky mission that has great potential of success may be a mission that you want to invest in," he said. "And the military, we do risk. We're good at that, if we can mitigate it."
Canadian troops under Canadian command

Some have worried that Canadian peacekeepers could be put into a no-win situation, or bound by endless UN bureaucracy that might tie their hands or otherwise put them at risk, such as in previous missions in Rwanda and Bosnia.

Vance said UN commanders might give Canadian troops specific tasks, but he would "never" let the UN have the last word on when or how Canadian peacekeepers could act. He said he is the one who writes the rules of engagement for Canadian troops, which would continue with a peacekeeping mission.

"I never relinquish Canadian command of those troops," he said. "We have learned a lot since the days of Bosnia and Rwanda and elsewhere. And one of those is you're never out from under Canadian command."

Bombs and biology: Sustaining Canada’s largest military training area

Corey Davidson and the summer student working with him, Keziah Lesko-Gosselin, monitor the clean-up of an exploded armoured vehicle on Canadian Forces Base Suffield’s Range and Training Area. After a fire made the vehicle unusable, British Army Training Unit Suffield set off the weaponry inside of it so that it was safe to approach. Photo by: Jessica Caparini, Canadian Forces Base Suffield Public Affairs, ©2016 DND-MND Canada
By Jessica Caparini, Canadian Forces Base Suffield Public Affairs

Medicine Hat, Alberta — When you think “simulated warzone,” you probably don’t think of the conservation efforts that allow that warzone’s environment to be suitable for use, year after year.

Corey Davidson is a Reclamation Biologist who works at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Suffield, the largest military Range and Training Area (RTA) in the country. Throughout the year, British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) and, to a lesser extent, the Canadian Armed Forces and their allies, use it to conduct live-fire training. After the tanks drive through and the bombs explode, it’s his job to assist in recovering the environment.

“Training is always first and foremost for us,” said Mr. Davidson. “We want to make sure that all the activities are allowed to happen, but we can shift those left or right to allow those activities to continue on but gain these environmental wins wherever we can.”

If the prairie wasn’t given time to recover, continued degradation would lead to a decreased capacity for training.

For the biologists on the RTA, every day in the field begins with a visit to Range Control, where they confirm that the areas they want to work in and the route they’re travelling don’t put them in danger.

Once in the field, they cannot use any machinery on the ground before conducting a search for unexploded ordnance. People have found unexploded weapons on the RTA from as far back as the 1940s, and contact from a plow or a seed drill could set them off.

In the RTA, Mr. Davidson does all sorts of things, from collecting native grass seeds for a seed inventory he can access when he needs to replant a certain make-up of vegetation, to monitoring the clean-up of an exploded armoured vehicle.

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Working with BATUS means mitigating environmental distress, rather than completely preventing it. One way the biologists do this is by requesting that the British soldiers drive their tanks in single file during administrative moves, so there is only one set of tracks.

Similarly, Ben McWilliams, Range Biologist, focuses on understanding how disturbance affects grassland wildlife and their habitats, and makes recommendations to balance this disturbance.

This is in contrast to the preservation strategy that is common in parks and protected areas.

“It’s not what you’d expect, but military training appears to benefit some species,” he said.

Several Species at Risk at CFB Suffield prefer reduced vegetation structure caused by training activities. Examples of this include McCown’s and chestnut-collared longspurs, which are more abundant in areas that have burned recently.

The Range Sustainability Section, where Mr. Davidson and Mr. McWilliams work, was created in 2006, when the Base Commander at the time recognized a need for dedicated, skilled staff to take care of the RTA. The vast expanse of native prairie that covers the training area is an ideal place for military training, as native prairie has adapted over tens of thousands of years to regrow after it’s been disturbed by wildlife and fires. In many ways, the effects of off-road vehicles and training-caused fires are similar to historical disturbances caused by bison and lightning strikes.

“We want native prairie because we know that healthy native prairie can handle the pressure we put on it,” explained Mr. Davidson.

“There isn’t a lot of native prairie left in this province or the rest of this area, so wherever I can save a blade of grass, I think it’s a win for wildlife species as well as the people that live and work around CFB Suffield.”

Canadian and Australian J-model Hercules crews train together at Bondi Beach

By Eamon Hamilton

Canadian Hercules crews recently visited their Australian counterparts to share knowledge and fly a combined airlift training mission.

On September 9, 2016, a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CC-130J Hercules flew a tactical formation mission with a No. 37 Squadron C-130J from Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Richmond in New South Wales, Australia.

A Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130J Hercules flies over the coast of Sydney, Australia, on September 9, 2016. PHOTO: Corporal Oliver Carter © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence
A Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130J Hercules flies over the coast of Sydney, Australia, on September 9, 2016. PHOTO: Corporal Oliver Carter © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence
The flight included simulated airdrop and low-level flying around Sydney’s coast, making it a highlight during the week-long visit by the Canadians.

The RCAF Hercules, from 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, was originally in Australia on a separate airlift support task.

On the ground, both countries received considerable value from the visit, according to 37 Squadron pilot, Flight Lieutenant Shaun Wilkinson.

“We’re in the initial stages of having a tactical formation procedure that we can conduct with a coalition C-130J crew,” Flight Lieutenant Wilkinson said.

“There are some common procedures that we can use already, but this week allowed us to practice it in a real aircraft.”

The flight from Richmond wasn’t the first time this year that Canadian and Hercules crews have flown together.

During Exercise Coalition Virtual Flag in August, both countries used their Hercules Full-Flight Mission Simulators to fly together in a series of online missions.

The timing of the Canadian visit also allowed Flight Lieutenant Wilkinson to share recent experiences by RAAF Hercules crews in using the Link-16 networking system at Exercise Pitch Black 16.

“Canada is about to introduce Link-16 networking to their aircraft, so this has been a useful chance to share information,” Flight Lieutenant Wilkinson said.

The Link-16 network system provides a battlespace picture to an aircraft crew, allowing them to receive information or share it with others connected to the network.

Exercise Pitch Black 16 in August marked the debut of an RAAF Hercules installed with Link-16 connectivity.

Captain Corey Gallagher from the RCAF’s 426 Transport Training Squadron, located at 8 Wing, said the Australian experience would prove valuable for his Air Force.

“The opportunity to share information about Link-16 is huge for us,” said he said.

“We've just got the Link-16 kit installed, but have not had the chance to test, evaluate, and run the training for it.

“The interoperability that we’ve been ale to accomplish with 37 Squadron this week has been valuable, especially as we head in to Exercise Bullseye,” he continued

Taking place in late September, Exercise Bullseye will be conducted by the RCAF, and involve participants from the RAAF and the Royal Air Force.

From 8 Wing Trenton, Hercules from all three countries will conduct a series of tactical airlift missions, including airdrop and tactical formation flying.
Eamon Hamilton is a communications adviser with the RAAF’s Air Mobility Group.

DND announces first major tender for CFB Esquimalt Harbour

DND Press Release 

The Government of Canada is committed to providing the sailors of the Royal Canadian Navy with the modern, functional facilities they need to complete important operational missions on behalf of Canadians. The Department of National Defence (DND), through Defence Construction Canada, has issued a tender that will mark the beginning of the second phase of a major project to replace the two main operational berthing facilities for Royal Canadian Navy ships at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Esquimalt in British Columbia.

The ongoing A/B Jetty Recapitalization Project, an infrastructure initiative first announced in 2013, is intended to provide Maritime Forces Pacific with modern, versatile and structurally sound berthing facilities for Canada’s current and future Pacific Naval Fleet. The project also has the potential to create 1,400 jobs throughout the duration of work.

The current tender, estimated at $72 million, involves the demolition of the existing “B” Jetty at Her Majesty’s Canadian (HMC) Dockyard Esquimalt and site preparation work. Future work will involve the rebuilding of “B” Jetty and then the demolition and rebuilding of “A” Jetty. DND has budgeted $781 million to deliver the A/B Jetty Recapitalization Project.

Both jetties are used for berthing operational warships leaving for or returning from missions at sea. Built more than 70 years ago, they are well past their intended service life and poorly suited for modern naval vessels. The rebuilding of these important structures represents the most significant engineering undertakings in this area of the Esquimalt Naval Dockyard since World War Two.

“Modern and functional ship-berthing facilities are essential to meet the operational missions of the Canadian Armed Forces and the needs of the Royal Canadian Navy. The long history of Esquimalt Harbour, which has been closely associated with the presence of the Royal Canadian Navy for over 100 years, is about to enter a new era.” - Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan

“The Navy’s existing ‘A’ and ‘B’ Jetties were constructed during the Second World War and have served the Royal Canadian Navy well. Nonetheless, they are at the end of their service life. CFB Esquimalt is excited with this project moving forward, as it will allow us to better support the operational needs of Canada's Pacific Fleet with an integrated jetty facility, designed to withstand the effects of earthquake and tsunami.” - Captain (N) Steve Waddell, Base Commander, CFB Esquimalt

The longer and more versatile A/B jetty facilities, equipped with new cranes for loading and unloading warships, will accommodate the modern ships to be delivered by Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy to the Royal Canadian Navy.

The Government of Canada’s significant investments in infrastructure and environment work contribute to the economic health of communities across Canada. Toward that end, the A/B jetty project has the potential to create 1,400 jobs throughout the duration of work.

Auditor General paints dismal picture of the Canadian Army Reserves

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch

Auditor General Michael Ferguson appeared before the Senate’s defence committee on Tuesday. His presentation, based on an audit of the Army reserves, as well as his answers to questions from senators painted a less than encouraging picture about the situation the Army’s reserve units find themselves in. Here is some of what Ferguson had to say:

-Training of the Army reserve was not fully integrated with that of the regular Army units. Although the Army reserve was given clear guidance on preparing for domestic missions, units did not receive the same level of guidance or how to train troops soldiers for international missions. The Army Reserve doesn’t always have access to the equipment it needed for training and deployments, Ferguson noted.

– Army reserve units are responsible for training their own soldiers. But the AG found that many reserve units didn’t have the number of soldiers they needed. Twelve of the 123 Army reserve units were smaller than half of their ideal size, Ferguson said.

– The Canadian Army provided funding for 21,000 reserve soldiers but only about 14,000 were active and trained. When Army reserve units met in 2105 for their annual, large‑scale collective training events across Canada, only about 3,600 Army Reserve soldiers attended, Ferguson said.

– DND knows that the current reserve recruiting system doesn’t work and that it needs to take steps to boost retention. It has set a goal to increase the Army reserve by 950 soldiers by 2019. But Ferguson said this goal will be difficult to achieve as the number of Army reserve soldiers declined by about 1,000 soldiers a year for the three years his office conducted the audit. Ferguson pointed to the latest numbers provided by DND; as of May 15, 2016, the number of active and trained Army reserve soldiers dropped by a further 1,000 soldiers, to 13,181.

-Ferguson’s audit found that although individual skills training was designed to train the Army reserve and regular army soldiers to the same standard, reserve courses were designed to teach significantly fewer skills than were taught in regular army courses. This skill gap was not always addressed during the pre‑deployment training of Army reserve soldiers, Ferguson pointed out. One example he used was that when Canadian Army soldiers began to deploy as part of NATO’s mission in Eastern Europe, a gap remained in weapons training between Army reserve and regular force soldiers.

-A number of reserve soldiers weren’t receiving the number of days of training that was predicted for them.

-Even if the reserves had all the personnel needed and all of the equipment required, and were doing all of the training, the result would be a severe strain on the existing funds the force has.

-Twenty‑seven per cent of the Army reserve’s existing budget is being spent on full‑time reservists, even though reserves are supposed to be mostly part-time.

-$166 million out of $706 million of their total budget is being allocated back to National Defence to pay for infrastructure.

“What I’m saying is based on everything that we’ve looked at, it is hard for me to sit here and see how they would be able to fund everything they’re supposed to do within the budget that they currently have,” Ferguson told senators. “But certainly it looks to me like it would be a significant challenge for them.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Trudeau Unofficially Launches Canada's Bid For UN Security Council Seat

By: Althia Raj, The Huffington Post

UNITED NATIONS — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unofficially kicked off Canada’s campaign for a Security Council seat Tuesday, telling the United Nations’ General Assembly: “We’re Canadian. And we’re here to help.”

In a 12-minute speech, Trudeau told the gathering of world leaders that they need to bring people together rather tear them apart.

He spoke about economic inclusion, tolerance and diversity — themes that were also raised by U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

“Exploiting [fears] is easy,” Trudeau told the half-empty room.

But fear has never created a single job or fed a family, he said in a speech that he later denied was aimed directly at U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Justin Trudeau speaks to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. (Photo: Seth Wenig/The Associated Press via CP)
Blaming or rejecting other groups because they look or pray differently doesn’t solve anybody's problems, Trudeau told the UN.

“To allay people’s anxiety, we need to create economic growth that is broadly shared, because a fair and successful world is a peaceful world.”

Trudeau used his first speech at the General Assembly to highlight Canada’s re-engagement with the United Nations, saying: “It doesn’t serve our interests — or the world’s — to pretend we’re not deeply affected by what happens beyond our borders.”

Narrative of diversity

He told reporters Canada that wants a Security Council seat to push the message of diversity as a source of strength.

“The issues we see right now resonating around the world are worries about globalization, withdrawing support for trade and [for] economic policies that will create growth, and an anxiety whether it is about migration or security that leads people to wanting to close in … what Canada is talking about is the need for inclusive growth, opportunities for all, understanding that diversity and differences are a tremendous source of strength and helping promote that,” he said.

“That is a narrative that, right now, the world needs, in terms of dealing with the very real anxieties that citizens are feeling the world over.”
“To allay people’s anxiety, we need to create economic growth that is broadly shared, because a fair and successful world is a peaceful world.”

As if listing off Canada’s resumé, Trudeau noted in his speech how his government had:
Helped negotiate the Paris Agreement on climate change
Pledged $2.65 billion over five years to finance clean growth and lower carbon emissions in developing countries.

And, just last week, announced more than $800 million for the Global Fund — a 20 per cent boost — while successfully urging other nations to step up with a $13-billion pledge to help end AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria by 2030.

To promote peace and security in unstable parts of the world, Trudeau said, Canada reaffirmed its commitment to NATO and promised to contribute more to United Nations peacekeeping operations.

The Liberal government is considering where it will send the up to 600 Canadian Forces already pledged. As of August, only 19 Canadian military personnel were serving as UN peacekeepers. But among the list of possible missions being studied is Mali — the deadliest active peace operation in the world. This year alone, 32 peacekeepers have died there.

When asked how he would explain to Canadians that the cost of a Security Council seat and re-engaging in the UN might be measured not just in dollars and cents but in lives, Trudeau replied, “Canadians expect us to play our role in the world, promoting peace and stability, preventing the kinds of instability and strife that lead to poor outcomes — not just for citizens across different regions but citizens around the world.”

The government is carefully deliberating where Canada can play the role best suited to its strengths, he said. An announcement will come later this fall.

Justin Trudeau holds a press conference at the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion told The Huffington Post Canada Tuesday that peacekeeping missions come with inherent dangers.

“If there was no risk, they would not be missions,” he said, in the cafeteria of the United Nations.

Dion said it is “cynical” to view the government’s actions multilaterally — such as its peacekeeping pledge or Tuesday’s announcement that Canada is partnering with the UN and billionaire George Soros to export its program of private sponsorship of refugees — as part Canada’s four-year campaign to win a Security Council seat.

“We push what we believe in,” he said.
Canada hasn’t had a seat since 2000, but “it isn’t in Canada’s or the world’s interest that Canada is not efficient at the United Nations,” Dion said. “One way to be efficient is to be on the UN Security Council.”

Canada’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Paul Heinbecker, told HuffPost that the Liberal government is currently hitting the right notes as it begins its campaign for a two-year rotating seat in 2021.

The Liberals’ promises, for example, to boost contributions to UN peacekeeping and foreign aid spending would not go unnoticed with voting members, Heinbecker said as he stood in the luxurious Qatar lounge of the UN.

But campaigning for a Security Council seat takes vision and a lot of effort, said Henbecker, who helped Canada win a Security Council seat in 1998. “It’s a real election campaign.”

In 2020, when the secret-ballot voting takes place, Canada faces off against Ireland, a member of the European Union and the world’s largest aid donor, and Norway, which is the world’s largest aid donor per capita.

“The Norwegians walk on water around this place,” Heinbecker said, noting the country’s well-known diplomatic work in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, as well as in Sri Lanka and Colombia.

“We have our work cut out for us; it is not a slam dunk.”

Campaigning for a seat is complicated by some intricacies. While Canada will no doubt use its embassies and consulates to try to lobby local governments for support, about a third of ambassadors wield considerable autonomy and do not receive instructions from their home government, said Queens’ University political science professor Kim Nossal.

That will lead to a huge lobby effort waged from New York City and Ottawa to win over the UN representatives. Already, HuffPost has learned there is talk at the Department of Global Affairs about bringing UN ambassadors to Canada to help sell the candidacy.
“The voters need to be given a reason why it would be a ‘good thing’ to have Canada sit on the United Nations Security Council.”
— Kim Nossal, political science professor

There will also be a lot of horse-trading between countries, warned Heinbecker. One vote for one UN council seat in exchange for another, he said.

In 2010, when the Conservative government pulled out of the race after embarrassingly losing support on the second ballot, Heinbecker said, many countries that had pledged to support Canada’s Security Council bid failed to show up to vote. There were also many that promised to vote for Canada but simply didn’t.

“Some people broke their word, absolutely just straight up broke it,” he said. But what was significant, the former diplomat said, was that the switches happened on the first round of voting.

“Everybody believes that they are committed for the first round…. If you don’t win on the first round, it’s a free-for-all,” he said. On the second round, Heinbecker said, countries vote according to what they think of you. “And our numbers dropped dramatically. The third round they were going to drop further when we threw in the towel.”

Paul Heinbecker addresses the Security Council at United Nations headquarters in New York in 2003. (Photo: Shawn Baldwin/The Associated Press via CP)

Heinbecker believes Canada needs to rebuild its reputation after spending 10 years mocking the UN and showing contempt for the institution.

Nossal thinks the Liberals need to promote an actual platform, just as the government did in 1998 when it focused on human security, the responsibility to protect and the International Criminal Court.

“The voters need to be given a reason why it would be a ‘good thing’ to have Canada sit on the United Nations Security Council,” he told HuffPost in an email.

The Trudeau factor

For now, the Liberal government seems satisfied with pushing a dialogue of inclusion and re-engagement in UN projects that matter most to many members.

“It’s not because we deserted all these sectors for the past 10 years that people don’t remember what we represent,” Dion told HuffPost. “Canada is stronger than the government of the day, and people are happy that Canada is back.”

Plus, Dion added, there is that Trudeau factor.

“There is lots and lots of interest in Justin Trudeau — he is probably the political personality who is most popular in the world right now — so we will push.”

Canada Ready to Re-Engage in UN: Trudeau

By: John Ivision, National Post 

UNITED NATIONS — “We’re Canadians. And we’re here to help.”

Justin Trudeau concluded his strange little speech to the United Nations General Assembly with a line that veered dangerously close to satirical fodder. As Ronald Reagan once noted, the most dangerous words in the English language are: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

But the UN is not a hotbed of satire. The line may have reinforced every goofy stereotype about Canadian boy scouts but the audience loved it.

Trudeau was welcomed by cheers; his George Bailey-style aw-shucks earnestness persuaded the audience to pay attention — no small feat in a hall that is all but deserted when the undercard is playing.

That was just as well because the speech was as thin as soup made from the carcass of a starving pigeon.

Trudeau’s pitch about focusing on what brings us together, rather than on what divides us, is yesterday’s news in Canada.

But for a General Assembly audience, from whom Trudeau hopes to extricate a Security Council seat, it is fresh fare.

The Canadian prime minister took advantage of having a star-struck crowd by piling on the homilies about Canada being strong not in spite of its differences but because of them.

The target was the rising nativism in the U.S. and Europe, where anxieties about differences in society are being exploited by manipulative politicians.

“We believe we should confront anxiety with a clear plan to deal with its root cause,” Trudeau said.

It was too bad the prime minister was 17th on the list of speakers to the General Assembly. It meant President Barack Obama stole all his best lines.

The morning started off with Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli wowing the crowd with a sparkling version of Nessun Dorma.

Obama was late — presumably stuck in Manhattan’s vehicular quagmire, which doesn’t even respect the pointless extravagance of a presidential motorcade.

When he finally arrived, he plunged into the same sea of liberal platitudes that Trudeau swims in.

You can almost imagine the prime minister’s team being forced into an 11th hour re-write.

“Obama’s just said we can all press forward with a better model of integration and co-operation or regress into a world divided by age-old divisions of race and religion. Crap — strike that section.”

So we were left with a modest speech — and it had much to be modest about

The lesson from both Obama and Trudeau is that if everyone just did more nice things, and not so many awful things, things would be much nicer.

Apart from that, it was thin gruel. Canada is re-engaging in global affairs through institutions like the UN, the prime minister said.

But there was no mention of the deployment of Canadian troops in Africa, for which 600 or so soldiers have been earmarked, even if the government says it doesn’t yet know where they are going.

You might have thought this was the perfect opportunity for Trudeau to have sealed the deal on the Security Council seat. Nothing says “we’re back” like the promise of hard power — as British Prime Minister Theresa May proved by mentioning deployments in South Sudan and Somalia.

But, having made the commitment, the government seems to be getting cold feet, particularly after the defence minister’s fact-finding trip to Africa revealed conditions in countries like Mali are precisely as helter-skelter as everyone said they are.

In his closing press conference, Trudeau is making “careful deliberations” about where Canada can make the most impact.


Andrew Coyne: Canada’s openness a product of our history, geography more than a particular Liberal trait
John Ivison: Trudeau’s renewed enthusiasm for the UN can be welcomed — cautiously
Matthew Fisher: Trudeau heads to UN with potentially dangerous African mission still undefined

Good idea. The utility of winning a seat on the Security Council is much reduced if the government’s popularity is plunging because of an ill-fated foreign adventure.

So we were left with a modest speech — and it had much to be modest about.

Yet it hardly mattered — the General Assembly appearance wasn’t about what Justin Trudeau said; it was about how he made the UN delegates feel.

As Trudeau put it: “There is an appetite for Canada’s approach and Canada’s solutions, promoting diversity as a strength. … Canada has a narrative the world needs — we’re happy to share.”

Nobody in the audience was any the wiser about how, in fact, Canada might make progress on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or what it might do with a Security Council seat.

All they learned was the pleasant-looking young man now running Canada has a nice smile and promises that his country will help to make the world a better place.

For Trudeau, it was mission accomplished.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Liberals accused of hijacking report recommending CF-18 Replacement and BMD Debate

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Opposition parties have accused the Liberals of hijacking a committee report that recommended buying new fighter jets within a year and re-opening the debate over ballistic missile defence.

The House of Commons defence committee on Monday released the results of a two-month study into the defence of Canada and North America that had been requested by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan as part of the Liberal government's plan to publish a new defence policy.

Three of the 13 recommendations contained in the final report deal specifically with replacing the Royal Canadian Air Force's aging fleet of CF-18 fighter jets, including one calling on the government to decide on a replacement "within the next 12 months."

Another recommendation lays down a number of criteria for the new warplane, including compatibility with the air force's existing infrastructure and "well-defined" costs that won't shortchange other military projects.

The Liberals promised during last year's election not to buy the F-35 stealth fighter, and redirect any savings back into new warships for the navy.

The report also calls on the government to "reconsider Canada's position with regard to ballistic missile defence (BMD) in the context of Canada's defence priorities and limited financial resources."

But in dissenting opinions attached at the end, both Conservative and NDP committee members accused the Liberals of having written the report and recommendations without opposition input.

"No opposition members were present for the final stages of drafting," the Conservatives wrote.

"Some members of the committee, with the tyranny of the majority, rushed through the final stages of the draft report, which included making recommendations and established the short deadline for the dissenting opinions for opposition members."

Conservative committee members alleged the final report simply reflects the Liberal government's political agenda with regards to defence, a charge echoed by the NDP.

"The committee report marshals evidence to bolster the Liberal decision to sole-source the purchase of Super Hornets, their desire to reposition Canada's current fighter jets, and their attempt to justify participation in the U.S. missile defence program," the NDP wrote.

The Liberals have said they need to replace the CF-18s quickly to avoid a shortage of aircraft. Opposition parties, however, have accused the government of manufacturing a crisis to justify buying a fighter jet other than the F-35 without a competition.

The report released Monday is the second in as many years from the Commons' defence committee dealing with defending North America. The first, published in June 2015, received unanimous approval from all committee members.

- Follow @leeberthiaume on Twitter.

RCN to Deploy New Naval Security Teams

Royal Canadian Navy Press Release

By Darlene Blakeley

In an effort to enhance the safety and security of its ships and personnel while on deployment, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) is developing a new capability called the Naval Security Team (NST), designed to support specific missions.

Naval reservists will help ensure the safety and security of deployed ships and personnel through a new capability called the “Naval Security Team.”

The NST will be composed primarily of naval reservists and will include a full-time command team to ensure personnel, training and equipment are available for deployment.

“The NST starts with a command and support cell, and then has other teams attached like Lego blocks as the mission dictates,” explains Commander Jeffrey White, Officer-in-Charge of the NST concept. “These attached layers will include a security or 'force protection' section, a tactical boat section, a mobile repair team and intelligence support.”

The team’s task will include port force protection and host nation liaison, along with support and intelligence requirements in foreign ports.

After selection, the team of approximately 30 to 50 personnel will be trained to meet specific mission requirements. For most force protection missions, this will include use of force, rules of engagement training, more advanced weapons training, small boat tactics, communications, deployed logistics and liaison skills.

Cdr White says that the force protection burden placed on a ship’s company when deployed can be challenging to maintain over time and reduces the availability of personnel to support other tasks, such as maintenance.

“NST seeks to support and help address this deficiency by providing an extra layer of force protection,” he says. “This capability requires short-term commitments that fit well into the lifestyle of part-time reservists, allowing our Naval Reserve to fulfill another role in the defence of Canada.”

During the recent Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, a small group of naval reservists was embedded with a U.S. Navy (USN) team similar to the NST called Coastal Riverine Squadron 1, to learn about its operations. These squadrons, part of the USN Expeditionary Combat Command, provide layered defence for ships at home and in foreign waters.

“This was a unique experience,” says Cdr White. “RCN sailors were afforded the opportunity to better understand how USN reservists assist their Regular Force colleagues through annual training events and pre-deployment readiness checks. RIMPAC 2016 was an outstanding chance for our sailors to dig in and identify specific best practices and lessons learned from our USN counterparts to assist in the development of the NST.”

The inaugural NST will be deployed in the Spring/Summer of 2017 to support ships as part of Westploy, an operation aimed at building strong ties between the RCN and the navies of Asia-Pacific countries, while also promoting peace and security in the Pacific region.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Op UNIFIER medical staff hit the ground running

DND Press Release
By: a Joint Task Force-Ukraine Medical Technician and Trainer

Barely unpacked, Joint Task Force-Ukraine medical staff began mentoring Ukrainian instructors in mid-August as they conducted their first Combat First Aid (CFA) course. The course was entirely taught by the Ukrainian Armed Forces instructors, who were well-trained by the outgoing Operation UNIFIER medical personnel.

Starychi, Ukraine. September 2, 2016 – Sergeant Marnie Musson, a Medical Technician with Joint Task Force - Ukraine, mentors Combat First Aid training at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre during Operation UNIFIER. (Photo: Joint Task Force Ukraine)
Starychi, Ukraine. September 2, 2016 – Sergeant Marnie Musson, a Medical Technician with Joint Task Force - Ukraine, mentors Combat First Aid training at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre during Operation UNIFIER. (Photo: Joint Task Force Ukraine)
After a busy handover with the out-going medical team, the newly arrived medical staff from 1 Field Ambulance at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton moved forward with an open mind.

“I was very impressed with the level of performance and instruction,” said a Master Corporal Medical Technician and trainer at the conclusion of Ukrainian-led Combat First Aid training. “Our Ukrainian instructor colleagues, as well as the course candidates, far exceeded expectations.”

The course was divided into segments that included theoretical (classroom-based) instruction, demonstrations of technique from the Ukrainian instructors, practical sessions where candidates demonstrated their understanding of material, and skill stations designed to perfect key techniques.

The Ukrainian instructors arrived the day before classes started. This gave the Canadian medical mentors time to review expectations and provide the Ukrainians an opportunity to refine their skills and ask any last minute questions prior to beginning instruction the next morning. This was the first opportunity for Ukrainian instructors to deliver a complete CFA course to their Ukrainian Armed Forces colleagues, and they stepped up to the plate in a big way.

The course consisted of thirty-six candidates with diverse backgrounds and military experience levels, ranging from seasoned veterans with front-line experience, to new recruits with as little as nine months of total military experience. All of the candidates were enthusiastic and eager to learn the course material; their pride showed when they were congratulated by the Operation UNIFIER Task Force Commander, Task Force Sergeant-Major, and Task Force Surgeon upon graduation.

“I think the success of a Ukrainian-led CFA course marks an important milestone in the progression of Operation UNIFIER,” said Major Carlo Rossi, Operation UNIFIER, Task Force Surgeon. “These courses are a strong indicator of the mission’s success-to-date, and are the way forward for our medical training here.”

The inaugural course complete, Operation UNIFIER medical staff are now on to the next challenge: they will be mentoring the next CFA serial being delivered to Ukrainian Combat Engineers by Ukrainian instructors.

Lieutenant-General Whitecross Selected as Commandant of NATO Defense College

National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

A message from Lieutenant-General Christine Whitecross, Commander of Military Personnel Command

I am humbled to have been considered and selected as the next Commandant for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Defense College in Rome, to begin in summer 2017.

As the third Canadian Commandant leading the College since its foundation, this role presents a unique opportunity to represent Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces abroad. Since joining the Alliance in 1949, Canada has played a substantial role in the military-political strategies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Among my chief priorities will be building and further strengthening our relationships with all countries in the defence network, and moving the organization into a future of strategic and operational success.

My predecessor, Poland’s Major General Bojarski, has reinforced the role of the NATO Defense College as an indispensable part of NATO, as well as its training and educational significance for tomorrow’s leaders, both military and civilian, who have gone on to work at NATO Headquarters and its Commands.

The College fosters strategic level thinking on political-military matters and prepares selected officers and officials for important NATO and NATO-related multinational appointments, conducts academic studies and research in support of the Alliance's wider goals, and supports an active outreach program with other educational institutions.

In assuming my new responsibilities, I will draw on my past experience, and in particular my role as Commander of Military Personnel Command within the Canadian Armed Forces. As Commander of Military Personnel Command, I recognize the value of solid foundational training and professional development for all leaders as well as institutional excellence.

My life’s passion has been to create a more respectful and inclusive environment for everyone. As the first woman appointed to be the Commandant of the College, I’m honoured, and I look forward to representing all Canadians and the Canadian Armed Forces in a manner that reflects our best values.

RCAF Squadrons fly to Yellowknife for SAR Exercise

RCAF Press Release

Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) squadrons from across Canada are participating in their annual National Search and Rescue Exercise, SAREX 2016, from September 18 to 24, 2016, in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

Involving nearly 200 participants, the training brings together the Canadian Armed Forces with civilian search and rescue communities, including the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA), and other first responders to standardize and evaluate skills. This event follows on the heels of previous successful SAREX events in Gimli, Manitoba (2013), Goose Bay, Newfoundland (2014) and Comox, British Columbia (2015). “For the first time, the National SAREX will experience and overcome the challenges of Search and Rescue in the Northwest Territories, which will provide an exciting Search and Rescue environment. Together, we hope to exercise and showcase all of the important and unique skills of our professional and volunteer organizations,” said Colonel Patrick Thauberger, Commander, 14 Wing Greenwood.

Exercise aims include aerial and ground searches, medical responses, parachute accuracy, as well as land and marine rescues.

Search and rescue response in Canada involves several provincial and government departments, including Public Safety Canada, the Department of National Defence, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Transport Canada. A number of volunteer organizations such as CASARA and non-governmental organizations such as STARS (the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society) regularly assist in search and rescue operations.
14 Sep – Sergeant Chad Hildebrant surveys the land before Search and Rescue Technicians, Warrant Officer Norm Penny and Master Corporal Ashley Barker parachute out of a Twin Otter aircraft during the National Search and Rescue Exercise 2015 (SAREX15) held at Comox, British Columbia. (Photo: Sgt Halina Folfas, 19 Wing Imaging)
The primary SAR responsibility of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is the provision of aeronautical SAR and the coordination of the aeronautical and maritime SAR system.

CAF resources may also assist in ground search and rescue (GSAR) efforts, medical evacuations, and other humanitarian incidents if requested by the responsible provincial/territorial or municipal authority. The Canadian Rangers, Reserve Force members of the CAF, regularly aid in GSAR upon request in sparsely settled regions of the country.

Approximately one third of the RCAF’s 150 Search and Rescue Technicians are participating in the exercise. Others are on duty and maintaining a 24-hour standby at their respective squadrons around the country.

RCAF squadrons and organizations participating include:
103 Search and Rescue Squadron, 9 Wing Gander, Newfoundland;
413 Transport and Rescue Squadron,14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia;
417 Combat Support Squadron, 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta;
424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario;
435 Transport and Rescue Squadron,17 Wing Winnipeg, Manitoba;
439 Combat Support Squadron, 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec;
440 Transport Squadron, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories;
442 Transport and Rescue Squadron,19 Wing Comox, British Columbia;
The Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue, Comox; and
Representatives from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centers from Victoria,Trenton and Halifax.

A variety of RCAF aircraft will be utilized during the exercise, including:
The CH-149 Cormorant helicopter;
The CC-115 Buffalo;
The CH-146 Griffon helicopter;
The CC-130 Hercules; and
The CC-138 Twin Otter.

Other organizations participating formally in the exercise include the following:
Public Safety Canada;
Fisheries and Oceans Canada;
Transport Canada;
Environment and Climate Change Canada;
The Canadian Rangers;
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police;
Nav Canada;
The Civil Air Search and Rescue Association (CASARA);
The Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS); and
The Yellowknife Airport.