Friday, November 11, 2016

Make Remembrance Day a National Holiday

By: Daniel Maillet, CAF Dispatch Author

Open Letter to:
The Government of Canada;
The Royal Canadian Legion;
Veterans Affairs;
and all Canadians.

The act of remembrance is not merely ceremonial. At its core, remembrance requires action. It carries the promise that we will learn from our past. By ensuring that we remember the past, we can help create a better and brighter future. So today, as we remember not only our fallen, we must remember all those who have served in the hope of creating a better world; one free of tyranny.

There is no better way for action to be taken than to make Remembrance Day a holiday according to the Federal Government.

I am a high school teacher who not only helps plan and participates in Remembrance Day activities in my school. I see first hand how students only partially listen to assemblies. The school calendar is already filled with a dozen or so mass gatherings, and more often or not students leave assemblies having missed the messages portrayed, and the same is true for Remembrance Day assemblies, and this is extremely sad.

As Geoffrey Johnson wrote in this week's Kingston Whig-Standard, "[i]n our fast-paced, technologically driven age, we have a world of knowledge available to us in our smartphones, tablets and computers. And yet many of us know little of Canada's proud military history and the sacrifices made by those Canadians in uniform who defended freedom and democracy." He continues saying, "it is impossible to do justice to the accomplishments of the Canadian military in a few paragraphs" and photographs.

This is clear proof that students attending an assembly in school, with a slide show presentation is not enough. Students should have the opportunity to go to their local cenotaph and stand with the few remaining World War Two veterans, and actually have an opportunity to engage with them. Many of these veterans are too old to visit schools, and Veteran's Affairs cannot accommodate every request to have a veteran present at a school. Students in 2016 have experienced an era where the Canadian military is highly engaged on the world stage; and this learning should not be confined to a classroom.

If you ask the Royal Canadian Legion, they disagree completely. Brade White, the dominion secretary of the Legion, believes school assemblies are enough, and that many teachers take their students to local cenotaphs. I disagree completely.

Perhaps White's statement is true in small school districts or rural schools, but in a large school, in an urban neighborhood, the logistics and requirements to take students off the school property are massive, and cause a majority of teachers to not even consider attempting it; especially because they know a school assembly will be held.

Tom Eagles, the Dominion President of the Royal Canadian Legion, takes it one set further with his comments made to the Globe and Mail this week; insinuating that if Remembrance Day were a holiday students would not learn about remembrance and the sacrifice made by Canadians.

This assessment is rubbish. I, as well as numerous other teachers, commemorate Veteran's Week (usually Nov. 5-11) with numerous announcements, activities, bulletin boards, and information. If Remembrance Day becomes a holiday, students could then take what they have been learning about the importance of remembrance and visit a cenotaph with their families; many that include serving members of our armed forces, and many extended family members who are Veterans themselves.

Eagles believes that the status quo is working as they are constantly "seeing increased numbers out to the cenotaph on November 11." In Ottawa, this is likely because the entire Federal Public Service is granted the day off; this is the same for all military contractors. Those who do not have the day off are likely taking unpaid time away from work to be with veterans and family.

In Canada, three territories and six provinces — Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, P.E.I., Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. — make Remembrance Day a statutory holiday. Nova Scotia and Manitoba have local regulations for business openings on the day. Ontario and Quebec have nothing.

As a teacher I honour Remembrance Day every year in my classroom and school; but where would I be if I had the day off? Definitely not relaxing as the Legion believes Canadians would do.

I would be spending time with those in my family who have served, including: a World War Two veteran, a Bosnian War veteran, an Afghan War veteran, and multiple other RCAF, RCN, and Canadian Army veterans. This time would be spent at either the National War Memorial or the Canadian Armed Forces Cemetery in Beachwood. This time could be spent learning more about their sacrifices, and the sacrifices of others. But, I am limited to a slide show of images students have already seen, and words they have already heard spoken.

Remembrance Day in school is repetitive and largely ceremonial. It lacks the action to ensure that Lest We Forget actually means that we will not forget. The living history of the First World War is gone, and the chapter on the Second World War is only a few years away from closing. By making Remembrance Day a holiday we can provide Canadians with the opportunity to keep this living history alive and engage with it; not just read about it. MP Colin Fraser's C-311 should be passed, and pushed down to the Provinces (especially Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec).

Some of my greatest memories as a student on Remembrance Day are not those from the school assemblies, but those as a Royal Canadian Air Cadet. I missed school every remembrance day from 2004-2008 and participated in ceremonies (and often multiple ceremonies) around the city. Where I was able to stand on parade with Veterans, and thank them personally for the sacrifices they made for my freedom. Until I became a teacher, I had not missed a single ceremony since I was 13 years old, not even for rain, sleet, hail, snow, freezing rain, frigid sub-zero temperatures. Now work keeps me away.

Remembrance Day is sacred, and will always remain sacred. The Legion argues that no-one salutes Queen Victoria on Victoria Day, or that few remember the specifics of the 1872 labour dispute in Toronto that is credited with the creation of Labour Day. However, Canadians recognise that Victoria Day is the Queens birthday (although it's significance is in question as many want the name of the holiday changed); and the majority of Canadians understand that Labour Day is a day off from work; gained through the hard fought labour of our ancestors. Do the specifics of 1872 matter? Of course, but there are not ceremonies to mark the labour demonstration every year, nor are their ceremonies to mark Victoria Day. Remembrance Day stands out as a sombre day because the world comes together to remember the fallen, and those who still serve, and at 11AM the world goes quiet for 2 minutes to reflect. There is nothing else like it, and never will be.

Lest We Forget.


Daniel Maillet

HMCS Brandon intercepts estimated 700 kg of cocaine

RCN Press Release 

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Brandon, in cooperation with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), seized an estimated 700 Kg of cocaine in international waters off the Pacific Coast of Central America on November 5, 2016.

The cocaine, worth an estimated $28 million (USD), was recovered from the ocean after being jettisoned by suspected smugglers in a panga-style fishing vessel that had been spotted by a USCG HC-130J aircraft patrolling the region. HMCS Brandon launched two rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIB) with USCG law enforcement teams onboard to pursue the vessel and secure the 14 jettisoned bales.

Operation Caribbe is Canada’s participation in the multinational campaign against illicit trafficking by transnational organized crime in the Caribbean Sea and the East Pacific Ocean.

“This latest seizure serves not only as a testament to the dedication and hard work by the crew of HMCS Brandon and the U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement detachment, but to their ability to work in concert. Our efforts, both leading into this operation, and on the operation itself, have led to this interdiction, which ultimately means fewer drugs reaching our shores. I am incredibly proud of my team.” said Lieutenant-Commander Jolene Lisi, Commanding Officer HMCS Brandon.

A total of 14 bales were recovered, weighing an estimated 700 Kg in total. They were secured by one of the RHIBs and later recovered by HMCS Brandon.

The seized substance was tested positive for cocaine by the USCG.

The HMCS Brandon RHIB was unable to apprehend the suspected panga vessel.

Since February 2016, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have seized or disrupted a total of approximately 3,630 kg of cocaine and 1,520 kg of marijuana.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has conducted Operation Caribbe since November 2006.

Joint Interagency Task Force South, a subordinate command of United States Southern Command, oversees the detection and monitoring of illicit traffickers and assists US and multinational law enforcement agencies with the interdiction of illicit traffickers.

On November 11 - Take Time to Remember

By: Geoffrey Johnson, Kingston Whig-Standard

In our fast-paced, technologically driven age, we have a world of knowledge available to us in our smartphones, tablets and computers. And yet many of us know little of Canada's proud military history and the sacrifices made by those Canadians in uniform who defended freedom and democracy.

Remembrance Day is a time to remember and honour those sacrifices and to learn about the military campaigns that helped to shape Canada and sometimes even the world. Of course, it is impossible to do justice to the accomplishments of the Canadian military in a few paragraphs, but we can at least acknowledge some of the pivotal moments in our history.

First World War and the Battle at Vimy Ridge

"There is no question that Vimy Ridge was an unmitigated Canadian military success," University of Calgary military historian Prof. David J. Bercuson said in a telephone interview. "It was the first time that all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together to achieve an objective.

"It wasn't a war-winning battle," continued Bercuson, who leads the university's Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies. "We didn't change the course of the First World War by winning the Battle of Vimy Ridge. I think we more proved that we were becoming a capable fighting force as a result of the Battle of Vimy Ridge."

According to the Veterans Affairs Canada's website, 100,000 Canadians fought in the battle. There were approximately 11,000 Canadian casualties, of which nearly 3,600 were fatal.

"By the end of the First World War, Canada, a country of less than eight million citizens, would have more than 650,000 servicemen," notes the website. "The conflict took a huge toll with more than 66,000 Canadians losing their lives and 170,000 being wounded."

Canada was recognized by the United Kingdom "as being a major contributor" to the U.K.'s forces in Europe and was permitted to sign the Treaty of Versailles at the conclusion of the First World War, stated Bercuson. In addition, Canada's contribution to the war effort spurred London to enter into talks with Ottawa, which "eventually led to complete independent Dominion status for Canada in 1931."

Second World War and the Italian campaign

"Our importance to the British and the Americans in helping to win that war, led to their considering us a considerably important nation in the post-war period," Bercuson said of Canada's role in the Second World War. For example, Canada was included in the "very earliest discussions" that gave rise to the establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949.

Canadians distinguished themselves during the Italian operations, their first sustained ground campaign of the Second World War. In the summer of 1943, Canadian forces took part in the Allied capture of Sicily, before moving on to the Italian mainland.

"The Italian campaign was a very difficult campaign," said Bercuson, noting that the terrain was hilly and mountainous with many river valleys. Given the easily defendable terrain, the Germans "fought a defensive battle from the very beginning." In December 1943, after intense house-to-house combat, the Canadians captured Ortona, a key Adriatic port.

The Germans blew up bridges and tunnels and culverts, and dug in around those positions. And that made taking those positions "very difficult," Bercuson said. "So every time the Canadians come to another river, they've got to fan out; they've got to bridge the river; they've got to cross under enemy fire." As a result, Canadian forces "took a lot of casualties in the Italian campaign." More than 26,000 Canadians were wounded and nearly 6,000 died.

Historians argue about the importance of the Italian campaign. One thing is for certain, said Bercuson, the Canadian offensive "drew off a number of German divisions that would've fought on the eastern front or faced us in France when we invaded in June of 1944."

Liberation of the Netherlands

Canada played a big role in the liberation of the Netherlands, sacrificing more than 7,600 Canadian soldiers in combat, including the Battle of the Scheldt and house-to-house fighting. "I think the Scheldt estuary battle was probably the most important Canadian victory of the war," Bercuson declared.

"The Battle of the Scheldt was a military operation in northern Belgium and southwestern Netherlands that took place during the Second World War," states a Veterans Affairs Canada report, which is part of its online Remembrance Series. "On September 12, 1944, the First Canadian Army was given the task of clearing the Scheldt of German occupiers."

To put the importance of the Battle of the Scheldt in proper context, Bercuson compared it to the Vimy Ridge victory of the First World War. "It was far more important in comparison to Vimy Ridge, had a much greater impact on the outcome of the war in the west [of Europe] than did Vimy Ridge," he asserted.

The Scheldt estuary (tidal river) was the route to the strategic sea port of Antwerp, which was the second-largest port in northwest Europe at that time, explained Bercuson. After the D-Day Invasion in June 1944, the Allies advanced through Nazi-occupied France, Belgium and the Netherlands. "Access to this port was essential to supply the Allied armies as they continued their push towards Germany to defeat Adolf Hitler's forces and free Western Europe from four years of Nazi occupation which had begun in April 1940," notes the Veterans Affairs Canada document.

The British captured the port of Antwerp in September 1944. However, said Bercuson, the Germans controlled areas along the Scheldt, giving them plenty of room to wage a defensive campaign.

"The Germans had mined the river, and they had fortified both sides of the river," Bercuson continued. "So it was impossible for the Allies to get supplies up the river into the port of Antwerp. The job was given to the Canadian Army to liberate the approaches to the port of Antwerp. And it was a long and very costly battle."

The fighting along the Scheldt finally concluded near the end of November 1944, just two weeks before the Germans launched their largest counteroffensive of the Second World War in Belgium, called the Battle of the Bulge. Because the port of Antwerp had been liberated and the Scheldt had been secured, "the Allies are able to pour reinforcements of troops and materiel into Antwerp to help beat the Germans back," Bercuson said.

Battle of the Atlantic

The Battle of the Atlantic was "one of the most important battles in the war," stated Bercuson of the Allies' struggle to keep shipping lanes open between Great Britain and North America. Were it not for the supplies and fuel shipped from Canada and the United States, the United Kingdom would likely not have survived.

In addition, Bercuson said, the Allies needed to ship millions of soldiers and thousands of tanks and trucks and aircraft across the Atlantic in preparation for the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe. "If the Germans were able to choke off the sea routes to the United Kingdom, it would have been very, very difficult for the Allies to win the war in the west," Bercuson said.

German U-boats or submarines mercilessly attacked merchant marine ships carrying supplies bound for the U.K., threatening to cut off the Brits lifeline to North America. "The Royal Canadian Navy played a significant role in keeping the sea lanes open by helping to escort convoys and by also helping to destroy U-boats," Bercuson said.

According to Veteran Affairs Canada, more than 1,600 Merchant Navy personnel from Canada and Newfoundland lost their lives in the Battle of the Atlantic. It is also important to remember the sacrifices of the brave men of both the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force. "Most of the 2,000 RCN officers and men who died during the war were killed during the Battle of the Atlantic, as were 752 members of the RCAF," according to Veterans Affairs Canada.

Korea and Afghanistan

The Korean Conflict is often ignored by ordinary Canadians. "If the United Nations had not intervened with armed forces, including Canadians, to help South Korea fight off the invasion of North Korea, which occurred in June of 1950, if the North Koreans had conquered the Korean Peninsula, South Korea as we know it today wouldn't exist," Bercuson said.

After decades of development, South Korea has "become pretty well as free a society as anywhere on earth," he continued. "That never would have happened under Communist leadership."

Similarly, Canada tried to bring stability to Afghanistan. "I think people have to remember what our mission was in Kandahar Province," Bercuson said of Canada's role in the Afghan war launched after the jihadist strikes on the United States of Sept. 11, 2001. "Our primary mission was to take over from the United States under the auspices of NATO, to basically allow the Americans to shift more forces to Iraq."

Canada was largely successful in that mission. Bercuson pointed out that Canadian forces kept "most important parts of Kandahar Province free from the Taliban."

However, he acknowledged that we won't know for "a long time" how successful the Canadian and NATO mission has been in Afghanistan. After all, South Korea was a military dictatorship in the decades after the Korean Conflict, but it eventually evolved into a liberal democracy. "We can't really tell what the end result is going to be in Afghanistan at this stage of the game, because the war is still ongoing," Bercuson said.

Canadian contributions to the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean Conflict, and the Afghan campaign "weren't the largest by any means," Bercuson stated. "But I don't think that's important. The important thing is that those wars demanded that allied countries that share a common view of the world stepped up to the aggressor and said: 'You're not going to get away with this.'"

By fighting in those conflicts, said the history professor, Canada demonstrated that it was becoming a "mature and independent" nation. "As a mature and independent nation, as we are today, we have responsibilities that go beyond our own borders."

Does Bercuson have a message for Canadians about Remembrance Day?

"Yeah. Go to a ceremony."

Follow Geoffrey P. Johnston on Twitter @GeoffyPJohnston.

The Kingston Whig-Standard 2016 ©

On Remembrance Day, Canadians in Iraq face combat


BISHAQA, IRAQ - You don’t have to go far back in history to remember a Canadian soldier fighting for freedom overseas. In fact, all you have to go back is 24 hours in Iraq.

While Canadians prepare to pay their respects this Remembrance Day to veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice, Canadian Forces are making a meaningful impact today in the battle against the Islamic State in Iraq.

On the outskirts of Bishaqa, Iraqi Kurdish soldiers — the Peshmerga — sit around and discuss the recent operation to liberate the town. When Canada is brought up there is nothing but praise. When the actions of Canadian Special Forces is mentioned, smiles come over the faces of the soldiers. They place their hands over their hearts as a sign of gratitude.

While officially on a “consult and advise” mission, as the official statements from the Kurds and Department of National Defence both state, the Canadian Forces are more than capable of defending themselves and their allies if threatened.

The battle has been hard fought for the Kurds, with much of the town bears the sign of an enemy who fights to the end. IEDs lay open on the roads, marked only by red flags, and many of the building lie in ruin. Kurdish armoured vehicles patrol the rubble, while in the skies coalition jets circle overhead. Throughout the day, sporadic gunfire and IED explosions are reminders that this war is far from won.

Too often, Remembrance Day speaks of battles long past, against foes long defeated, and for countries long secured. Yet among the bomb-riddled streets of Iraq, Canadian courage and commitment to freedom is clearly still in action.

To the frontline soldiers today in Bishaqa, Canada is a potent ally for freedom and one they hope stays the course.

The Canadian Special Forces mission in Iraq is a thankless job. Little is shared with the public, and Ottawa refuses to comment on the exact details of their actions.

This Remembrance Day will be one that Canadians take a moment and thank the sacrifices from days past, and one that Iraqis, Kurds and Canadians can take comfort in knowing that as we speak, Canada stands beside our allies to defend their freedom half a world away.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

1000 CAF Members take part in Ex. COMMON GROUND II

Canadian Army Press Release

More than 1,000 Canadian Army personnel will participate in Exercise COMMON GROUND II at the Combat Training Centre in Gagetown. The exercise will run from November 12 to 26.

“Exercise COMMON GROUND II successfully fulfills individual course assessment requirements for nine different career courses,” according to the Army news release. “Combining these final course activities exposes officers and non-commissioned members to combat team operations prior to returning to their home units.”

The units contributing to Exercise COMMON GROUND II include, but are not limited to: the schools and units of the Combat Training Centre; 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group from Valcartier, QC; the Royal Canadian Dragoons based in Gagetown, NB; and the 5th Canadian Division Support Group Gagetown, NB.

The schools and courses participating in Exercise COMMON GROUND II are:
  • Royal Canadian Armoured Corps School
  • Squadron Sergeants Major Course
  • Armoured Troop Leader Course
Infantry School
  • Sniper Detachment Commander Course
  • Advanced Sniper Course
  •  Infantry Officer Development Period Course
  • Advanced Reconnaissance Patrolman Course
Tactics School
  • Combat Team Commander’s Course
  • Dismounted Infantry Company Commander Course
  •  Armoured Reserve Squadron Commander Course

Trump’s win will increase pressure on Canada to ramp up defence spending, military analysts predict

By: David Pugliese, National Post 

Donald Trump’s election victory will put pressure on the Liberal government to boost defence spending and rethink participation in the U.S. missile defence shield, and could affect some of its high-profile missions such as in eastern Europe.

Department of National Defence officials in Ottawa are working on an analysis of what a Trump presidency will mean. But Trump has already provided a preview of the direction he plans to take.

He has promised to boost the size of the U.S. military and significantly increase the number of warships in America’s arsenal. He has talked about improving missile defence, focusing on outfitting naval ships with such a capability.

In addition, Trump has warned that NATO nations he sees as “free riders” will have to share more of the financial burden on the security front. Although he didn’t specifically name Canada, defence analysts expect Washington will send a message in the future that more money and equipment are needed.
CF-18 fighter jets sit on the tarmac at the NATO airbase at the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission in  Lithuania in 2014.
CF-18 fighter jets sit on the tarmac at the NATO airbase at the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission in Lithuania in 2014.
Defence cuts have left Canadian military in ‘fragile’ shape: Rick Hillier
Harjit Sajjan defends Canada’s military budget after Donald Trump slams NATO ‘free riders’

“Canada is going to come under some pressure to bump up its defence spending,” said analyst Martin Shadwick, who teaches strategic studies at York University in Toronto. “Trump is also talking about a type of Fortress America so that could affect our own border security policies.”

NATO members had signed a declaration in Wales two years ago agreeing to increase defence spending to two per cent of gross domestic product within a decade.

NATO says Canada spent just one per cent of GDP on defence last year, the smallest amount since before the Second World War. While most other NATO members have also failed to fulfil their commitment, Canada is currently in the bottom third in terms of defence spending as a percentage of GDP.

Steve Staples, vice president of the Rideau Institute in Ottawa, said Trump’s victory could have a significant impact on Canada’s defence policy. Trump is promoting protectionist trade policies and tighter border security. Similar to the presidency of George W. Bush, Canada may have to make security concessions if it wants to keep the border open for trade, Staples said.

“There will be intense pressure to boost spending on the military, to buy new equipment, preferably from the Americans,” said Staples. “Canadian defence policy makers are going to have little room to manoeuvre with this president.”

In an interview shortly after Trump complained in April about NATO free riders, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan defended Canada’s level of defence spending. He questioned NATO’s figures and told the Ottawa Citizen that depending on what formula is used, Canada’s contribution could be seen to be as high as 1.5 per cent of GDP.

At the same time, Sajjan said what’s important is that Canada is contributing to a large number of military operations that directly and indirectly benefit NATO. That includes sending troops to Ukraine and Poland and deploying a frigate to the Black Sea.

But will Canada’s presence in eastern Europe — aimed at supporting NATO’s efforts against what it terms Russian aggression — leave much of an impression on Trump?

Trump has said he wants to form a new relationship with Russia and promised he would meet the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, before his inauguration. Trump has also suggested there needs to be increased co-operation with Russia in the battle against Islamic extremists in Iraq and elsewhere.

“We may see a big shift in tone on Russia,” said Staples. “In some ways Trump’s future policy is a blank page. As he has said, he doesn’t owe anything to anybody.”

In addition, both Staples and Shadwick see a Trump administration wanting Canadian participation in missile defence.

Some Liberals have already signaled their desire to take part in America’s missile shield and any pressure from a Trump administration may be enough to seal Canada’s participation.

Shadwick, however, pointed out that Trump is interested in focusing on a missile defence system outfitted on naval vessels, something Canada’s navy is also examining.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

RCAF details on Exercise PUMA STRIKE

By Captain Mathew Strong

Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) crews, support personnel and technicians deployed to Exercise Puma Strike at Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, California, on October 28, 2016.

Flying operations for the exercise began on October 31 and continue to November 23, 2016.

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

“This deployment is an outstanding opportunity for the RCAF’s fighter force to conduct worthwhile, uninhibited training in an operating environment different from our own,” said Colonel Paul Doyle, the commander of 4 Wing. “This is a controlled way to expose our people to new agencies and procedures which will surely expand their knowledge and be put to use when deployed outside Canada.”
A CF-188 Hornet taxis on a runway in a desert.
A CF-188 Hornet from 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, participates in the RCAF’s Exercise Puma Strike at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California, on October 31, 2016. PHOTO: Lance Corporal Jacob Pruitt, U.S. Marine Corps
This particular rendition of Exercise Puma includes a combination of 220 pilots, crews, technicians and support personnel from 410 Squadron, 401, 409, 425 and 433 Tactical Fighter Squadrons, staff and students from 10 Field Technical Training Squadron, air weapons controllers from 42 Radar Squadron and support personnel from other Cold Lake units.

The exercise also includes participation by a CC-130T Hercules air-to-air refueler based in 17 Wing Winnipeg and air combat systems officers (ACSO) from 414 Electronic Warfare Squadron in Ottawa, Ontario.

The ACSOs fly in the rear seat of contracted Dornier Alpha Jets operated by Discovery Air Defence Services Inc. that provide realistic threat simulation to CF-188 Hornet pilots.

“Flying away from Cold Lake offers our people a chance to step up and overcome the challenges inherent with operating away from home, which is something we do when on deployed operations,” added Colonel Doyle.

Although training and operations are still conducted year-round in Cold Lake, multiple days of low cloud, poor visibility and reduced runway surface conditions tend to affect training timelines.

“Exercise Puma Dtrike is our opportunity to conduct an incredible amount of flying in a relatively short period of time,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Seane Doell, commanding officer of 410 Squadron.

“The favourable weather conditions and deployed setting have historically enabled 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron to achieve a sortie generation rate approximately 300 per cent greater than is typically possible at home at this time of year.”

Deploying such a large contingent of personnel, equipment and aircraft to a new location for three to four weeks of operations is also a unique and significant logistics challenge, presenting a secondary training opportunity for all those involved.

HMCS Montréal begins first deployment as X-Ship

Royal Canadian Navy Press Release

Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Montréal is now at sea on its first deployment as the Royal Canadian Navy’s (RCN) experimental ship.

HMCS Montréal
A Cyclone helicopter approaches HMCS Montréal during SPARTAN WARRIOR 2016 off the east coast of North America in October 2016.
The modernized Halifax-class frigate deployed October 24, 2016 with a full schedule of missions including combat enhancement training, crew trials and operational testing and evaluation of the new Cyclone shipborne helicopter.

The experimental ship – or X-Ship – program is designed to advance innovative and leading-edge naval concepts in all areas of warship deployment, crewing and sustainment. Many of the trials conducted will focus on human factors such as variations of crew size and impacts on crew rest and performance, as well as some operational trials.

“We have been given the extremely important mission of setting the course for the future fleet in manning, innovation and air operations,” says Commander Chris Sherban, who adds “it’s an honour” to be Captain of the X-Ship.

As the sea portion of the X-Ship program gets under way, Montréal is transiting south with the rest of the Canadian Task Group – HMC Ships Fredericton, St. John’s and Athabaskan – along with Spanish Navy replenishment oiler ship Patino, conducting force generation and force development work.

According to Cdr Sherban, the first part of this trial is called the SCORE 217 trial, which will be used to validate a crewing model used by defence research scientists in Toronto.

This evaluation will require X-Ship to conduct a modified work-ups scenario with its full crew of 217. The scenario was specifically developed by the Directorate of Naval Personnel and Training in Ottawa, with experts from Sea Training (Pacific). Outside of the evolutions in the scenario, the crew will be asked to conduct watches, departmental work (including maintenance), meetings, fitness, meals, and so on, in accordance with their regular shipboard routine.

The crew will fill out daily questionnaires on their activities and wear actigraphs (sensors that measure activity) to monitor work/rest balance. The intent is to confirm that estimates made with respect to the time needed to complete evolutions and the time available for activities other than watches and evolutions is consistent with reality. This data will enable improvements to be made to the SCORE model and provide greater confidence in crew requirements for future platforms.

“The crew is very excited that their efforts will directly influence the structure and shape of the future fleet,” says Cdr Sherban. “As an example, defence scientists hoped that we would have 150 officers and sailors willing to conduct sleep and fatigue studies. We had 178 sailors volunteer.”

Although Montréal has a dedicated trial program, it will not be completely removed from everyday naval requirements and will continue to participate in scheduled engineering repair, docking work periods and fleet training exercises. The ship will increase its operational readiness with other RCN ships, as well as USN ships and Patino during exercise SPARTAN WARRIOR 16 in November.

“I have been blessed with an amazing bunch of young, dedicated and thoroughly professional men and women who understand how important our mission is and are equally as passionate as I to achieve mission success,” says Cdr Sherban. “The success of the X-Ship program rests on their shoulders and I could not have asked for a better crew to achieve it.”

After this deployment, Montréal will enter a work period until early January when it will return to sea in support of the Cyclone project. “We will be searching for the worst weather in the North Atlantic so that we can test the operating limits of the helicopter,” Cdr Sherban says.

Montréal is expected to continue trials as part of the RCN’s experimental program for five years.

Exercise MAPLE ARCH 16: Fostering international military relations in Eastern Europe

CAF Army Press Release

The opening ceremony for Exercise MAPLE ARCH 16 (MA16) was held today at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center (IPSC) in YAVORIV, located near LVIV, Ukraine. Approximately 200 military personnel from Canada, Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania gathered on the parade square to mark the beginning of the exercise as their national flags were raised to the sound of their countries’ national anthems.
A soldier from Poland, Lithuania, Canada, and Ukraine salute during the national anthems at the opening ceremony for Exercise MAPLE ARCH 16 in YAVORIV, Ukraine on November 7, 2016.
A soldier from Poland, Lithuania, Canada, and Ukraine salute during the national anthems at the opening ceremony for Exercise MAPLE ARCH 16 in YAVORIV, Ukraine on November 7, 2016.
The NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) exercise MAPLE ARCH (MA) is a series of annual joint exercises that have been traditionally hosted on a rotational basis between Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine under NATO’s PfP program.

Exercise MAPLE ARCH 16 is a 10-day command post exercise (CPX) focussed on combat, peacekeeping and stability operations to ensure a safe and secure environment within an identified operating area. This year’s exercise will be conducted from 7 Nov - 18 Nov 2016 in Ukraine.

In addition to the activities related to the MA16 scenario, the Canadian Contingent will also participate in a Remembrance Day ceremony along with their brothers and sisters in arms from Op Unifier, Canada’s contribution to support Ukrainian forces through capacity building, in coordination 

DND/CAF has been supporting EX MA through the Military Training Cooperation Program since planning for the first exercise began in 1994, in accordance with the Program’s Treasury Board mandate to enhance PSOinteroperability among Canada’s partners and achieve influence in areas of strategic interest to Canada.

The MAPLE ARCH series provides an opportunity for the Canadian Army (CA) to foster international military relations through the conduct of a multinational exercise; enhance interoperability among troop contributing nations using common SOPs, the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) and the Operational Planning Process (OPP); and promote collective competence and confidence.