Friday, June 16, 2017

Liberals to spend $2.5-billion to keep Victoria-Class Submarines Operating Past 2030

By: Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press 

The Trudeau government is planning to spend billions more on the navy's four wayward submarines to keep them operating into the 2030s.

The plan to extend the lives of the troubled vessels is included in the Liberals' new defence policy and comes following calls from senior naval officers to save the controversial ships from the scrap heap.

The actual price of the plan was not revealed in the policy document, which was released to much fanfare last week, and National Defence refused to provide a price tag following multiple requests.

That is despite assertions from the Liberal government that the defence policy was fully costed and following promises of full transparency when it came to the overall plan.

"Detailed costing will be provided in the Defence Investment Plan to be published in due course," National Defence spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said in an e-mail.

Defence sources, however, have told The Canadian Press that keeping the submarines in the water for another decade will cost upwards of $2.5-billion.

Without upgrades, the first of the submarines will reach the end of its life in 2022, according to documents obtained last year through Access to Information, with the last retired in 2027.

Some have questioned the wisdom of spending more money on the four vessels, which have been plagued with problems since Canada bought them used from Britain in 1998.

While the Chretien government said at the time that it was getting a bargain by paying only $750-million, the ships have required constant repairs and upgrades just to make them seaworthy for a limited time.

And while a number of experts have called for Canada look to purchase new submarines, rather than upgrading the ones it has, others have said the country doesn't need such expensive vessels.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan this week emphasized the Liberal government's view, previously expressed by senior naval officials, that subs are necessary for protecting Canada's security and sovereignty.

"No other platform in the Canadian Armed Forces can do what a submarine can do," Sajjan said during an event in Halifax on Monday.

"No other platform has the stealth, the intelligence-gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance capability and the deterrence to potential adversaries that a sub does."

Sajjan added that the government decided upgrading the existing subs – HMCS Chicoutimi, Victoria, Corner Brook and Windsor – was more "prudent" than purchasing new vessels.

The Liberals promised in their defence policy to invest an additional $62-billion in the military over the next 20 years, which includes increasing annual defence spending by 70 per cent over the next decade.

A large chunk of that new money will end up going towards replacing the navy's 12 frigates and three recently retired destroyers with 15 new warships at a cost of between $56-billion and $60-billion.

Previous estimates had pegged the cost of those vessels at $26-billion.

The four submarines continue to generate headlines for the wrong reasons, with the most recent Thursday when HMCS Chicoutimi was hit by another naval vessel while docked at CFB Esquimalt in B.C.

But Rob Huebert, an expert on maritime security at the University of Calgary, said the other three have been involved in a variety of tasks and mission in recent months – even if most Canadians don't realize it.

"The very nature of what they do means that (the military) can't talk about it," he said.

"They're actually exceeding what the navy was expecting them to do in terms of time at sea, interdiction of drugs and co-operation with the Americans. You can't talk about any of that, but it is occurring."

Rather than extend the lives of the submarines, Huebert said he would have liked to see the government start looking for replacements, but that wasn't possible given the huge costs of replacing the frigates.

"What we saw was the defence review was an intelligent decision to do what was necessary to lengthen the life of the subs while making sure the (new warships) are built," he said.

HMCS Chicoutimi Struck by Orca-Class Training Vessel

By: The Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- HMCS Chicoutimi, one of the navy's four submarines was hit Thursday by another naval vessel while docked at CFB Esquimalt in British Columbia.

A naval spokesman says HMCS Chicoutimi was docked in the harbour when an Orca-class training vessel that was moving at low speed bumped up against the sub.

Navy Lt. Greg Menzies says no one was injured, and that the two vessels sustained only minor scrapes, though a more detailed damage assessment of the submarine was being conducted.

The Orca-class are small vessels, about 33 metres long and displacing about 210 tonnes. The submarine is 70 metres long and displaces more than 2,400 tonnes.

Defence officials were investigating the cause of the crash.

The incident is the latest round of bad luck for Canada's submarine fleet, which has been plagued with breakdowns and other problems since the ships were bought from the United Kingdom in 1998.

The Liberal government says it plans to upgrade the subs so they can continue to operate into the 2030s, at which point the oldest will be more than 40 years old.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Walkom: Canada Mulling a return to the Unwinnable Afghan War

By THOMAS WALKOM, Toronto Star 

A return to the Afghan War is one step closer. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has confirmed that NATO has asked Canada to send police trainers to assist Afghanistan’s struggling government in the fight against Taliban insurgents. He said Ottawa is seriously considering the request.

The trainers, if sent, could be either soldiers or police officers.

The NATO request is part of an effort by the alliance to quietly beef up its role in the Afghan war without inflaming public opinion back home.

Technically, the roughly 13,000 troops under NATO command in Afghanistan do not engage in combat. Their role is to train, advise and assist local Afghan forces.

But the war in Afghanistan is going badly for the government in Kabul. It faces not only its traditional Taliban foes but the terrorist group Daesh, also known as ISIS.

High-profile suicide bombings have rocked Kabul. The Taliban effectively controls large swaths of the countryside. The central government is shaky.

American Gen. John Nicholson, who heads NATO operations in Afghanistan, says he needs at least 3,000 to 5,000 more “advisers” to meet his military needs there.

In Washington, President Donald Trump’s administration is mulling over the question of how many more American troops to commit to Afghanistan (it already has roughly 8,400 soldiers there).

But Trump has also made it clear that he expects other NATO countries to pick up part of the slack.

Currently, Canada and France are the only NATO countries without troops in Afghanistan.

Canadian troops entered the Afghan War in 2001 and stayed for just over 12 years. Over that period, 158 Canadian soldiers were killed and hundreds more wounded.

It was the longest-running war in Canadian history. By the end, it was also one of the most unpopular.

In 2014, with an election year looming, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government ordered the last Canadian troops home.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government is careful to couch any return to Afghanistan in minimalist terms.

Sajjan first raised the possibility in a CTV interview on Saturday, volunteering that NATO had made an “ask” for Canadian advisers to help train Afghan police and that Canada was actively considering the request.

He repeated this again Monday to reporters in Halifax. But he noted that Ottawa’s real military focus now is on the war against Daesh in Iraq and that, in any case, Canada’s military operations in Afghanistan ended three years ago.

Translation: Even if we accede to the NATO request, this will not be as bad as before.

But of course that’s the kind of optimistic thing governments always say at the outset of armed conflict.

When Canada first entered the Afghan War after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, the stated aim was to honour its NATO obligations to the U.S. When Canada upped its military commitment in 2006, the stated aim was to ensure that Afghan girls could go to school.

Throughout, the experts told us that we had to take part in this war to maintain our credibility in NATO and to avoid irritating the U.S. In fact, what we became involved in was a complicated, vicious and ultimately unwinnable conflict where the line between friend and enemy was too often blurred.

So we shall see what the Trudeau Liberals have in mind this time. They have already expanded Canada’s role in the ground war in Iraq. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland talks glowingly of using Canadian “muscle” to promote Canadian values,

They plan to increase defence spending overall.

Perhaps they will remember how difficult it was to extricate ourselves the last time we involved ourselves in the Afghan War. Sajjan should. He fought in it.

Or perhaps they will calculate that the political benefits of satisfying a U.S. and NATO request are worth the risk.

After all, they could say, it’s just training. What’s so dangerous about that?

Resolve iAOR to be Unveiled July 20

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

Chantier Davie has issued invitations for the unveiling of the Resolve-class interim Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment (AOR) ship. That will happen July 20. All members of the public are welcome according to the invitation.

In November 2015, the Liberal government tried to derail the $669 million project for the supply ship but backed down after their attempt became public.

Project Resolve was approved by the previous Conservative government and involved Davie shipyards in Quebec quickly converting a commercial vessel into an AOR. The ship had already been delivered to Davie to begin the conversion process when James D. Irving, co-chief executive officer of Davie’s rival, Irving Shipbuilding, wrote a letter on Nov. 17, 2015, to then procurement minister Judy Foote and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. Irving requested its proposal for a similar vessel, already rejected by the Conservative government, be examined.

After receiving Irving’s letter the Liberal government put Project Resolve on hold.

Details about the Liberals’ decision to put Project Resolve on hold, as well as Irving’s letter and details of cabinet discussions about the matter, were leaked to the CBC in November 2015. The leak embarrassed the new Trudeau government and sparked outrage in Quebec about the potential loss of hundreds of jobs if Davie were to lose the ship deal. The Liberals beat a quick retreat and shortly afterwards, Project Resolve went ahead.

The RCMP has claimed that Vice Admiral Mark Norman was involved in leaking information on Project Resolve to Davie officials. Norman denies any wrongdoing. The RCMP have not laid any charges against the vice admiral who was suspended from his job in January by Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance. Norman’s supporters have raised questions about how the respected officer has been treated.

The ship will be leased to the Canadian government, which has an option to buy the vessel if so desired.

Davie has issued these photos of the vessel:

Ottawa Quietly Expands CAF Footprint in Ukraine

By: Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

The military has quietly expanded its footprint in Ukraine, giving commanders free rein to send their troops anywhere — except where they might run into Russian forces or separatist rebels.

Canada first deployed about 200 troops to Ukraine in the summer of 2015 to help train government forces in their fight against Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country.

But the Canadians were required to stay in the western half of Ukraine, far from the conflict that has continued to rage over the intervening two years, leaving more than 10,000 people dead.

Those restrictions were eased in March when the government extended the mission for another two years, the mission’s commander, Lt.-Col. Mark Lubiniecki, said in an interview Wednesday.

While Canadian troops are still required to stay away from the border with Russia and the fighting in eastern Ukraine, he said, the rest of the country is now fair game.

The change, Lubiniecki added, has given welcome flexibility to the Canadian mission, which has so far trained nearly 4,500 Ukrainian troops, many of whom have since been sent into the conflict zone.

The number of Canadian soldiers in Ukraine remains the same.

Lubiniecki would not reveal how far his troops have to stay from the Russian border, except to say that it is far enough away to keep them safe and prevent anyone from misinterpreting they they are in Ukraine.

“We’re here to provide mentorship and training, we’re not here to be operating on the front line,” he said. “So making sure we maintain that buffer is extremely important for us.”

The training mission is set to expire in 2019.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report this week on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, asserting that an end to the three-year-old war was nowhere to be seen.

Fighting continues to erupt despite the existence of a ceasefire, while more than 1.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes and another 3 million are struggling to make ends meet.

Canada’s presence in eastern Europe is actually set to expand over the next few months, as about 450 troops arrive in Latvia to lead a NATO force that will serve as a check on Russian aggression.

One of the concerns trumpeted by both Canadian and Latvian officials is that Russia, or at least pro-Russian agitators, will attempt to spread lies and false information about the mission there.

But Lubiniecki said his troops in Ukraine have so far been spared from any such information attacks, saying: “I’m just not seeing it (on the ground) right now.”

That applies to cyberattacks, as well.

Moscow and its separatist allies in eastern Ukraine aren’t the only threats that Kyiv is struggling to address: corruption is also one of several significant problems.

The Ukrainian military and its defence sector have not been spared, as outlined in recent months by various media reports as well as investigations by NGOs such as Transparency International.

Much of the concern has focused on whether Ukrainian government officials have been enriching themselves by skimming defence contracts or diverting equipment donated by countries like Canada.

Transparency International released a report last month saying improvements have been made, but more needs to be done to ensure foreign donations get to the Ukrainian troops who actually need it.

Canada has so far provided about $16-million in non-lethal equipment such as helmets, bulletproof vests and winter clothing to the Ukrainian military, and promised another $7.25-million by 2019.

Lubiniecki said he has not seen any evidence of corruption during his time in the country, and that the Ukrainian soldiers his troops are training are well equipped and motivated.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Defence Experts Reject "Capability-Gap" and Interim Fighter Plan

20170606_MLI_Military survey INFOGRAPHIC_774x427 v3

In a new survey, 88 percent of the country’s top experts on defence and security agreed the government should cancel its proposed interim Super Hornet purchase and proceed with a permanent fighter jet replacement

OTTAWA, June 13, 2017 – Nearly nine in 10 experts in Canada’s security and defence community say the federal government’s proposal to purchase Super Hornet fighters on an interim basis is a bad idea.

That’s the finding from a new paper from the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

An overwhelming majority of defence and security thought leaders believe “the government’s plan lacks merit, is strategically unsound, and ultimately should be cancelled”, write authors David McDonough and Brian Lee Crowley.

To read the full paper, titled “Should We Purchase Interim Super Hornets? A survey of the experts”, click here.

In November 2016, the Canadian government announced plans to acquire an interim fleet of 18 Super Hornet fighter jets as a stopgap measure to supplement the existing fleet of 76 CF-18s. In addition, it announced an “open and transparent” competition for a permanent fighter aircraft replacement for its CF-18s, which would take up to five years to complete.

According to one respondent, if the government continues with this plan, “The damage to the RCAF and Canada’s defence posture would be devastating and permanent.” Indeed, 88% of the experts surveyed said the government should cancel the Super Hornet purchase and proceed with a permanent fighter jet replacement. In the words of another respondent, “it would show the Government has the courage to correct a significant error.” Only 6.6% were in favour of the purchase, with the rest unsure on this fundamental question.

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute surveyed the country’s foremost security and defence policy thinkers and practitioners to get an independent, dispassionate and expert assessment on the merits of the interim Super Hornet plan and its underlying rationale. Potential respondents were selected for their expertise in security and defence generally, although procurement and airpower experts and practitioners were well represented among them.

In total, more than 100 people were initially contacted to undertake the survey, and we received survey responses from 75 individuals (for more information on respondents, see the paper). Participants came from across the political spectrum, and included noted scholars and think tank experts, former senior military officers from all three services, including many former RCAF commanders, and former government officials. Many also had widely differing opinions on such issues as the need for a permanent fighter aircraft competition or what particular aircraft was most suitable for Canadian defence requirements.

In other words, the diverse range of participants encompassed a large part of the security and defence community in Canada, which allowed us to gain access to their collective wisdom on this vital matter.
The survey itself consisted of 8 questions to be answered yes, no, or unsure, which allowed us to aggregate the responses. In so doing, we were able to assess their collective views on this matter and gauge, in an “evidence-based” manner, whether there is any broad consensus on the wisdom of the government’s plan – from its key justifications to its costs to whether the decision should be reversed.

Today, the government is in a very public spat with Boeing, the Super Hornet manufacturer, owing to its decision to ask the US Commerce Department and International Trade Commission to investigate subsidies for Bombardier’s CSeries aircraft. As a result, Ottawa suspended talks with Boeing on the interim Super Hornet purchase. The government’s recent defence policy statement also now only refers to the “potential” acquisition of an interim aircraft, omitting even a reference to the Super Hornet.

“Both of these developments provide a welcome opportunity for the government to reconsider this hasty procurement decision”, write McDonough and Crowley. “As a government publicly committed to ‘evidence-based decision making,’ it should consider the opinions of the vast majority of experts in the field”.


David McDonough is Deputy Editor at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and a Research Fellow at Dalhousie University’s Centre for the Study of Security and Development.

Brian Lee Crowley is the Managing Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute is the only non-partisan, independent national public policy think tank in Ottawa focusing on the full range of issues that fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

For more information, please contact Mark Brownlee, communications manager, at 613-482-8327 x105 or email at

Government to Approach Fighter Manufactures at Paris Airshow

By: Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Federal officials are expected to sit down with representatives from different fighter jet makers in Paris next week, as uncertainty swirls over the Trudeau government's plan to buy "interim" Super Hornets.

The meetings on the sidelines of the prestigious Paris Air Show are being billed as the first step towards the eventual launch of a competition to replace Canada's aging CF-18 fleet with 88 new fighters.

That is how many warplanes the Liberals' new defence policy calls for Canada to buy, an increase from the 65 previously promised by the Conservatives under Stephen Harper.

The policy estimates the cost at between $15 billion and $19 billion, up from the $9 billion previously budgeted by the Tories.

But while much of the attention will be on the competition, which the government says it will launch in 2019, the companies are also expected to pitch their own ability to sell Canada "interim" jets if needed.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan on Monday said the government was still reviewing its decision to buy 18 "interim" Super Hornets from U.S. aerospace firm Boeing.

The Liberals previously said they needed the Super Hornets to address a critical shortage of fighter jets, referred to as a "capability gap," until the full competition to replace the CF-18s could be run.

The government said at the time that the Super Hornet was the only aircraft that met its immediate requirements, including being compatible with U.S. fighters and not in development.

But that was before Boeing complained to the U.S. Commerce Department about Canadian aerospace firm Bombardier, sparking a trade dispute and threats from the Liberals to kill the Super Hornet deal.

The plan to purchase an interim fighter jet has been unpopular with retired military officers and defence officials as well as analysts, who have instead called for the competition to start now rather than in 2019.

A survey of 75 such experts conducted by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and released on Tuesday found that the vast majority didn't believe there was a capability gap, and opposed the plan to buy interim jets.

But a senior government official told The Canadian Press that the Liberals have no intention of backing away from their plan to buy an interim fighter — even if it means going with a different jet.

Sources say the government has not actually approached any of Boeing's competitors about stepping into the breach if the Liberals decide to scrap the Super Hornet deal.

But the Paris meetings offer an opportunity for U.S. defence giant Lockheed Martin, French firm Dassault, Swedish company Saab, and European consortium Eurofighter to make their best pitches on the issue.

Each has indicated that it is prepared to provide interim fighter jets upon request.

The government's delegation will be led by Maj.-Gen. Alain Pelletier, head of National Defence's fighter program, and Lisa Campbell, who oversees military procurement at the federal procurement department.

While sources say meetings with Boeing's competitors have been set up, it wasn't immediately clear whether the delegation would sit down with the Super Hornet manufacturer as well.

That is despite Boeing's plan to enter the Super Hornet in the full competition to replace the CF-18s.

Public Services and Procurement Canada spokesman Pierre-Alain Bujold said in an email that details of the delegation, including its schedule for the Paris Air Show, were still being finalized.

"Canada is committed to fair and transparent procurement processes," Bujold added. "Supplier engagement and industry feedback are important elements of PSPC's work."

The Liberals have cut off most contact with Boeing since the government threatened to cancel the planned Super Hornet purchase over of the company's spat with Bombardier last month.

Boeing spokesman Scott Day said in a statement that the company continues to work closely with the U.S. Navy, through which any sale of interim Super Hornets to Canada would actually be arranged.

The government also recently paid another $30 million to remain at the table as a partner in the development of the F-35, and largely backed off its promise never to buy that stealth fighter.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

RCN Officer Told to Choose between her Child or Career

By: Murray Brewster, CBC News 

Acting Sub-Lt. Laura Nash is on her way out of the military after being given what she says is an utterly impossible, unfair choice.

The single mother says she was called into a meeting with two superior officers, both of them women, in late 2013 and claims she was told she had too many "family issues."

She faced a training deadline to go to sea and was given six weeks to decide between her child and her career as a warship navigator.

"The decision broke me," Nash, 33, told CBC News in an interview. "I couldn't make the decision. It was a catch-22. I didn't want to live without my child, but I needed a means of supporting him and so I didn't want to lose my job."

Last week, the Liberal government released its defence policy which set goals of increasing the representation of women in uniform, more respectful treatment and greater career flexibility.
More soldiers, ships and planes for military in Liberal defence plan

Nash's case is a demonstration of how far the defence department and the military have to go in order to achieve those lofty goals.

There is little institutional support and, more importantly, empathy for single moms in uniform, said Nash.

She was, at the time of her dressing down, at the navy's principal West Coast fleet base in Esquimalt, B.C. for her chosen occupation as a maritime surface and sub-surface operator — something that requires frequent deployments and long stints at sea.
No options, no backup

Nash never expected to be in such a difficult position. A former champion kayaker, she joined in 2010 and was in a relationship when she became pregnant. Nash was comfortable with the notion her child's father could take care of him while she was at sea.

But her relationship dissolved in 2012 and, in order to keep up with the demands of training and military life, she was forced — frequently — to send her boy, Ronin, who is now six, to her parents in Belleville, Ont. where they cared for him.
'I can't just leave a child on a beach.'— Acting Sub-Lt. Laura Nash

It was, however, only a temporary arrangement, one that would be difficult to carry on once she had been fully qualified and posted to a warship, at which point, even when in port, she would be required to stand 24-hour duties.

Her parents both worked full time. Child-care options through the military family resource centre were limited, particularly in light of the waiting list for spaces which has — at times — stretched to two years.

She had no one.
'Everybody's valuable in the armed forces.'— Gen. Jonathan Vance

"I can't just leave a child on a beach while I sail away," said Nash, using the navy slang that refers to relatives left behind in port.

"It's stupid. So, I tried to make the decision the best I could, and there was no answer. The only thing I could think of was going for help to mental health because it was causing me to suffer and causing anguish to think about giving him away."

And that was where her journey out of the military began in early 2014.
Nash, who reached the rank of acting sub-lieutenant, is being given a medical release at the end of July. (Mike O'Shaughnessy/CBC)
Nash says she sought help for depression, one so deep she — briefly — contemplated suicide. But she pulled out of it and was determined to fight.

By that time, Nash had been placed at a Joint Personnel Support Unit, which is supposed to help ill and injured military members rehabilitate or get ready for release to civilian life.

Nash says she repeatedly asked for a transfer to another occupation, such as logistics, which would not require her to be away from home as often.

ANALYSIS | Trudeau suggests defence review will invest more in troops than weaponry

She was initially given permission to switch, but the paperwork got sidetracked within the system.

By the time Nash found out, it was too late.

She was posted ashore and her transfer request was effectively denied when a base doctor refused to sign off.

Nash is being given a medical release at the end of July.

She says she has spent the better part of the last two years doing nothing and has not even been given a medical re-evaluation.
Grievances, harassment complaints

In the meantime, she has filed grievances and harassment complaints within the military related to her treatment.

Also, there is a complaint still formally pending before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, in which Nash claims some policies at National Defence, notably travel policies, discriminate against single mothers.

Her lawyer, Natalie MacDonald, said Nash was penalized for being a woman, having a child and seeking mental health care, something the military says it has taken great pains to de-stigmatize.

"Laura Nash was clearly reaching out and needed help from the Armed Forces and they didn't provide it," MacDonald said in an interview.
Ex-soldier and cancer survivor evicted during wait for military pension

Throughout her ordeal, some suggested to Nash she should have never chosen a career in the navy if she wanted a family, something MacDonald finds outrageous particularly given her client asked to be transferred to another occupation.

"That's ridiculous," she said. "That's absolutely unfair. It's discriminatory and I would hope in 2017 that kind of attitude would be banished from society."

"Quite frankly, a woman is able to choose whatever career she wants to but, when she has family status issues, which is exactly what Laura Nash was experiencing on the basis of her sex, the employer — and even the Canadian Armed Forces — needs to accommodate that request for accommodation."
More career flexibility promised

National Defence was reluctant to talk about Nash's case specifically, citing matters of privacy but there was last week a sweeping acknowledgment in the Liberal government's defence policy that the military needs to be more flexible.

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of the defence staff, said the military wants to move beyond the notion of career "accommodation" because it has a "grudging sound to it."

Specifically, he is looking at case-by-case exemptions for ill and injured, who are on track to be medically released, and a more nimble system that will allow full-time members to move to the reserves and back again as circumstances allow.

As much as anything else it is a dollars-and-cents calculation, given the investment the military puts into training someone.

"What we want to do is alter — somewhat — how we look at people," says Vance, speaking to CBC News about the policy and not individual cases.

"Everybody's valuable in the armed forces."
Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance has talked about encouraging women to serve in the military. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)
Much has been written about misogyny, assault and bullying against women by men in the military, but Nash says her experience has been that women in uniform can be more harsh and judgmental.

"Women just treat other women terribly," she said, adding that she knows of at least three women who gave up their children — in one capacity or another — because of their military careers.

Nash said she went looking for empathy from one career officer who told her she too had "personal issues" around deployments because she had to find a place to store her car and change cell phone plans.

"That's the way that some of the women in the military look at children," said Nash. "They're just another piece of administration to deal with. They're not humans. They're not something that needs to be taken care of and raised and loved and something to be with their moms."

Sajjan: Canada Committed to Iraq for the Long-Haul; Afghanistan Training Mission a Possibility

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

HALIFAX — The federal government is considering a NATO request to send police trainers to Afghanistan, but Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canada's military focus remains in Iraq.

"As any good allied partner does, we will look at that request," Sajjan said Monday after a news conference highlighting the Defence Department's new, 10-year defence policy, which was rolled out last week.

"Our focus right now is on our mission in Iraq and the region. We will be moving forward with that mission."

Sajjan said even though Canada continues to provide funding for development and security personnel in Afghanistan, the military mission there ended three years ago.

The conflict claimed the lives of 158 Canadian soldiers, one diplomat and one journalist between 2001 and 2014. Thousands of those who served there continue to suffer from physical or mental injuries, an issue that continues to make headlines across the country.

However, the United States and NATO are reaching out for more help in Afghanistan now that the Taliban appear to be making a comeback in the region. As well, the arrival of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has complicated matters. During the past year, the group has launched deadly attacks across the country.

As for Iraq, Sajjan says Canada remains committed to maintaining a long-term military presence in that country, but he followed up by suggesting some changes were in order.

"For Iraq ... we are in this as a reliable coalition partner, in for the long term," the minister said as he answered questions from reporters gathered at Her Majesty's Canadian Dockyard, along the west side of Halifax's sprawling harbour.

"We're going to make adjustments to the mission ... We have taken this year to review the evolution of the situation on the ground. We will be extending the mission, but we'll be making the final decision on this very shortly to outline what our contributions will be. One thing I can assure you: we will remain as a credible partner to make sure the coalition has all the right assets in place."

There are about 200 Canadian special forces soldiers deployed in northern Iraq. Though their mission is to train Kurdish fighters, they have engaged in gun battles in Iraq.

The federal government has confirmed that in March some of the special forces took part in the battle to reclaim the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIL.

In the defence policy overhaul, Sajjan has committed to adding 605 new elite special forces commandos.

Overall, the new policy commits Canada to spending an extra $14 billion over the next 10 years on defence matters — a 70 per cent increase for the department's budget.

The money will be used to put another 5,000 troops in uniform and, among other big-ticket items, offset the skyrocketing cost of buying new warships and fighter jets.

But much of the money won't flow until after the next election, and it’s not clear whether the spending spike would mean bigger federal deficits or spending cuts in other areas.

Sajjan noted that two of Canada's new Arctic patrol ships were under construction at the nearby Halifax Shipyard, and he said his new defence policy commits the government to spending up to $60 billion on building 15 new warships, which will replace much of the Royal Canadian Navy's aging fleet.

"We are excited for the economic growth and development that this policy means for Halifax, Nova Scotia and the broader Canadian defence industry," he said. More than 14,000 Nova Scotians are employed as part of a "defence team" that spends $1.3 billion annually in the province, he said.

Sajjan said the original budget for the Canadian Surface Combatant program in 2008 was set at $26.2 billion, which the Parliamentary Budget Office later determined was enough for only six ships.

"We need 15 and we are committed to 15 ships," Sajjan said, adding that the policy also commits the government to maintaining the navy's four problem-plagued submarines and to build two new support ships.

Monday, June 12, 2017

CAF Women in Force Program Quickly Fills Up

By: Marc Montgonmery, CBCNews 

Women in Force Program

The Canadian Forces are eager to increase the number of women in the military.

There is a perception that women generally are intimidated by the idea of a military career so a new pilot project seeks to give them short information and “hands on” experiences with the military. The idea is to help dispel myths, get a sense of the realities and the many opportunities, and possibly inspire them to join.

LCol Raby is Deputy Commander, Canadian Forces Recruiting Group, and Canadian Armed Forces’ Head of the Women Recruiting Tiger Team.

The new pilot programme is called “Women in Force”.

It’s a reaction to a survey showing women really don’t know much about opportunities in the military, and what they do know often consists of myths and inaccuracies.

LCol Raby points out that one of the first myths about women in the Canadian Forces is that women’s roles are limited.

She says every career position of the one hundred or so available, is open to women including such things as front line infantry, or fighter pilot.

Participants in the 10-day Women in Force programme will get to experience a bit of hands on training with weapons and equipment. © Corporal Neil Clarkson, 14 AMS Wing Imaging GD2015-0285-003
She also points out that the military would like to encourage women in any role from engineers, to lawyers, pilots to doctors, dentists, nurses, from mechanics to firefighters, you name it, all are open to women and in the army, the air force, and the navy.

The newly conceived pilot programme involves two options for those women interested. The first option is a three-day session which takes place at Base Borden in Ontario for English speakers, and St Jean sur Richelieu in Quebec for Francophones.

A variety of opportunities and training in the medical field are available in the CF. Here, Master Corporal Natasha Lauzon of 1 Canadian Field Hospital in Petawawa, Ontario, and Sergeant Valerie Charbonneau, a medic with 55 Field Ambulance in Quebec City, Quebec, tend to the foot of a Canadian Armed Forces Nijmegen marching team member, during the Nijmegen Marches in the Netherlands, on July 23, 2015. © WO Jerry Kean, 5 Cdn Div Public Affairs
These sessions involve a lot of talking and meeting with those already involved in various trades with the military. They will learn about the realities and requirements of military life, and about the benefits and opportunities of which there are many.
Captain Meghan McCready (left), Aerospace Controller with 12 Radar Squadron, watches the control radar screen while Master Corporal Patrick Flynn (right), Air Control Operator with 12 Radar Squadron, relays the information during Exercise AMALGAM DART 15-2 in Resolute Bay, Nunavut on May 31, 2015. © Corporal Patrick Drouin, 4 Wing Imaging
A more involved ten-day visit is available in August which offers a more “hands-on” approach getting to experience various pieces of equipment including weapons. Another myth that most women have is that the physical fitness requirements would eliminate them. The ten-day experience allows them to experience physical fitness training and attempt the physical test for themselves.

The experience also gives a chance for one-on-one connection with women and men now in a variety of trades to learn about them first hand.

LCol Raby also points out that an officer training programme still exists in Canada whereby candidates have their university education paid for, and then sign up (and still get paid!) to serve in their degreed trade for a period of at least five years. Experience has shown that a high percentage choose to continue with the Canadian Forces after that time.

However, this pilot programme is to give a basic familiarization to any adult woman with Canadian citizenship with a minimum of grade 10.

She says once this initial pilot programme ends, the military will discuss the impressions of those involved and adjust future programmes to even better serve women who may be interested in the many trades, skills, and exciting opportunities the military has to offer.

LCol Raby says they are quite pleased with this initial pilot programme as all the 120 spots have been quickly filled with a waiting list.

CAF Lands in Latvia as part of NATO Mission

CTV News Online
With a report from CTV News’ Mercedes Stephenson

Canadian soldiers have landed in Latvia as part of Operation Reassurance -- a multinational NATO mission aimed not at starting a conflict, but at discouraging Russian aggression in the region.

Nearly 100 Edmonton-based troops arrived in the Latvian capital of Riga on Saturday, eager to get to work after their long flight.

“We’ve been training a long time,” one Canadian soldier told CTV News. “We want to be here and Latvia wants us here and so we are happy to be here.”

In total, Canada is deploying 450 troops to lead a battlegroup comprised of soldiers from five other NATO countries: Italy, Spain, Poland, Slovenia and Albania. Those countries will contribute 1,200-1,500 soldiers to the battlegroup in an effort to send a powerful message of deterrence to Russia.

“The enhanced forward presence is going to provide the defence of Latvia, the Baltics, and all of NATO,” battlegroup commander Lieutenant-Colonel Wade Rutland told reporters on Saturday in Latvia.

It’s a different kind of mission for the Canadian Forces, with an unusual definition of success.

“It’s a bit of a funny mission success criteria, that if nothing happens, we'll all go home happy,” Rutland added.

The troops will be stationed at Camp Adazi, a Latvian military base just outside of Riga.

Canada’s Lieutenant-Colonel Hugo Delisle was given the monumental task of getting the base ready for the Canadian troops, essentially transforming a muddy field into a fully-functioning camp so soldiers could hit the ground running.

“When they arrive, they can walk in and start working the next day,” Delisle said.

The camp, which is completely independent and self-sustaining, includes specialized trucks to transport water and fuel, tents where soldiers will sleep, bathroom trailers to shower in and custom prefab offices to work in. Everything was shipped in hundreds of seacans across the Atlantic from Canada.

In the coming days, the rest of the battlegroup will join up with the Canadians.

Liberals Might be Changing Course on Interim Fighter Purchase

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

The Liberal government seems to be ready to change course on the interim fighter jet replacement program.

Last week Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Canada was still in discussions with the U.S. government over the purchase of Boeing Super Hornets as an interim fighter jet. This was despite the government’s anger and disappointment with Boeing who has filed a complaint about Bombardier.

Steven MacKinnon, parliamentary secretary to Public Services and Procurement Minister Judy Foote, also told journalists that despite the Boeing complaint, the Liberal government was not talking to any other fighter jet companies. (But it had broken off any discussions with Boeing itself).

Now the interim fighter jet project looks like it could change again. Sajjan has suggested other fighter aircraft options could be examined. He told CTV’s Evan Solomon that, “Right now we are looking at many different options.”

“Keep in mind this all just happened,” he said in the interview with Solomon. “It does take time to be able to develop some various options.”
“We are committed to making sure that we have this capability gap filled,” Sajjan added.

When the Liberals announced that they would buy the Super Hornet as an interim fighter jet they argued that the plane was selected because a U.S. fighter was needed for the role. No other country could provide the needed aircraft, was the argument.

So based that, these new options Sajjan is looking at would only come down to something like the F-35 (which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised Canada would not purchase) or perhaps another U.S.-built fighter jet.

Is Sajjan bluffing? Would Canada buy 18 F-35s on an interim basis?

Griffon Helicopter Replacement not in the Cards

By: David Pugliese, Defence Watch 

A number of aerospace firms exhibiting at the recently held CANSEC 2017 defence trade show in Ottawa highlighted the helicopters they hoped they could offer the Canadian government as a replacement for the RCAF’s Griffons. The companies had heard Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan suggest that a replacement would be needed for the Griffon.

16 May 2006<br>
4 Wing, Cold Lake, Alberta<br><br>

2 CH 146 Griffons from 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron take off on a mission.<p>

Elements of 408 Squadron deployed to 4 Wing Cold Lake along with 17 Wing Winnipeg's Mission Support Unit for Exercise Maple Flag XXXIX and form the Air Expeditionary Unit.<p>

Maple Flag is an annual international air combat exercise that attracts more than 5,000 participants from all over the globe, which engage in a simulated, 10-day air campaign. The exercise provides aircrews with realistic training in a modern simulated air combat environment. Maple Flag provides critically important training for Canadian and allied aircrews.<br><br>

Photo by WO Serge Peters, Air Public Affairs<p>

Le 16 mai 2006<br>
4e Escadre Cold Lake (Alberta)<br><br>

Deux CH-146 Griffon du 408e Escadron tactique d'hélicoptères partent en mission.<p>

Des éléments du 408e Escadron ont été déployés à la 4e Escadre Cold
Griffon helicopters take off on a mission. DND photo. 
Romain Trapp, president of Airbus Helicopters in Canada, briefed journalists at CANSEC pointing out the capabilities of the company’s H145M as a possible replacement for the Griffon. “We made the business case by showing (the RCAF) that by going to a new platform, the Canadian taxpayers would save more than $1 billion,” he explained. Those saving would be made over a 10-year period.

Leonardo Helicopters also has a variety of aircraft that could replace the CH-146.

But the Liberal government’s newly released defence policy did not follow through with a Griffon replacement.

Instead, the Liberals will embark on what they are calling the “CH-146 Griffon Limited Life Extension.”

They didn’t go into details but the emphasis here is “limited.”

It is unclear whether that project will be a stop-gap life extension until a new helicopter procurement could take place.

Liberals face tough questions on Afghanistan, interim Fighter Jets

By: Lee Berthiaume, Canadian Press 

OTTAWA — Although the Trudeau government launched its long term plan for modernizing the military last week, more immediate realities are tugging for attention on the Liberals' list of defence priorities.

In particular, two critical, short-term questions have emerged: what to do about the government's plan to buy "interim" fighter jets, and whether to take on a new role in Afghanistan?

The Canadian Press has learned that Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan met with the head of Lockheed Martin, the U.S. defence giant behind the F-35 stealth fighter, in Singapore earlier this month.

Word of Sajjan's meeting with Lockheed president Marillyn Hewson came as the minister told CTV's Question Period that the government is looking at "different options" for addressing a critical shortage of fighter jets.

The Liberals announced last November that they would address the jet shortage by purchasing 18 "interim" Super Hornets from Boeing, before holding a competition to replace all of Canada's CF-18s.

But that was before Boeing complained to the U.S. Commerce Department that Canadian aerospace firm Bombardier had sold its CSeries jet liners at an unfair discount with help from the federal government.

The Liberals have since threatened to scrap the Super Hornet plan because of the dispute, which took another turn Friday when the U.S. International Trade Commission said it would continue investigating.

Sajjan's spokeswoman Jordan Owens confirmed the minister met with Hewson at a defence summit in Singapore at the beginning of June, but could not immediately comment on the discussion.

However, a Lockheed official speaking on background said Hewson told Sajjan that her company was ready and eager to deliver F-35s on an urgent basis if required.

That would represent a marked turn in the ongoing saga to buy new fighter jets for Canada, after initially promising during the last election to not buy the stealth fighters.

The Liberals recently spent another $30 million to stay at the table as a partner in the F-35 project, while Boeing for its part has emphasized its long-standing economic and commercial ties to Canada.

Fighter jets aren't the only issue requiring an immeidate decision as Sajjan's office said Sunday that NATO has asked Canada to send police officers to Afghanistan to help train the war-torn country's beleaguered security forces.

"We just received this and are looking into it," Sajjan's spokeswoman, Jordan Owens, told The Canadian Press. "The door hasn't been closed yet."

The request comes as the U.S. and NATO seek to bolster the alliance's footprint in Afghanistan, where local police and military forces have struggled against a resurgent Taliban.

The situation has been complicated by the arrival of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has launched several deadly attacks across the country over the past year.

One NATO official, who was not authorized to comment publicly, said alliance members will gather in Brussels later this month to announce what they can provide.

That puts Canada, which ended its military mission in Afghanistan in 2014, on the clock to decide sooner rather than later whether to dive back into the conflict.

Any decision to send Canadians, even police officers, back into Afghanistan is sure to stoke strong reactions given the heavy cost of Canada's military involvement in the country between 2001 and 2014.

Thousands of Canadians who served in Afghanistan during that period continue to suffer from physical or mental injuries, while 158 soldiers, one diplomat and one journalist were killed.

Canada also contributed billions of dollars in development assistance to the country - money that continues to flow in the form of about $150 million per year for aid and to pay the Afghan security forces.

Yet despite those investments of blood and treasure, peace and stability remain not only elusive, but increasingly scarce as Afghan security forces have lost ground to the Taliban, in particular.

Canada Considering NATO Request for Police Trainers in Afghanistan

By: Laura Payton, CTVNews Online 

OTTAWA -- Canada is considering a NATO request to send police trainers to Afghanistan, three years after the military mission officially ended, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says.

The request came from the U.S. through NATO, and could involve either civilian police trainers like the RCMP, or military trainers working with Afghan police, a defence official added.

Sajjan says Canada is "looking at all aspects of support" for Afghanistan -- though he ruled out the country as a destination for Canadian peacekeepers since it's not a UN mission.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan speaks on CTV's Question Period. (CTV)
"We've actually had an ask, but it was for police trainers in Afghanistan," Sajjan said in an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV's Question Period.

"We are actually still committed to Afghanistan. We've provided the funding, whether it's for development" or salaries for security forces in the country, he said.

From 2014 to 2017, Canada committed $227 million in international development programs in Afghanistan, and $330 million from 2015 to 2018 in support for the Afghan National Security Forces, which include the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police.

Sajjan says Canada can't look at any country in isolation.

"This is what coalitions are for, multilateralism is for. I'm in constant discussions with my counterparts on all the various threats, whether it's at NATO or the counter-DAESH meetings," he said, using another name for the Islamic State.

"We will always look at the various requests, but the thing is when we have the discussions, it's not about just one nation ... stepping up and saying, 'I'll do this.' It's about working together."

Peacekeeping mission 'on the table'

Last August, Sajjan announced Canada would devote 600 troops and $450 million over three years to a peacekeeping mission. He later toured several African countries and said he would announce the mission by the end of the year, but six months into 2017 there is still no word on where it will be.

A mission somewhere in the world "is on the table. We're committed to peace support operations," Sajjan said, citing a change in leadership at the UN and the new president of the U.S. as reasons for the delay.

"I've had discussions with [the UN], things looked very good... It's not about just sending troops. How can we now look at the current environment and bring our unique skillset to the table?"

While Sajjan ruled out Afghanistan as a peacekeeping destination, Richard Fadden, a former top civil servant at the Department of National Defence and former national security adviser to the prime minister, says having shed blood and spent a great deal of money on the country, it would make sense to return.

"Afghanistan has deteriorated quite a bit over the last few years," he said.

"I think if we were going anywhere to make a contribution, broadly speaking, to peace in the world, Afghanistan would be a good place to go. There are not that many other places where we could make a difference that would not result in ... our being involved in a massive quagmire."

Retired Gen. Tom Lawson, a former chief of the defence staff, says he prefers Afghanistan to some of the African countries Canada could end up, like Mali or the Democratic Republic of Congo. Both would carry significant risks for Canadian Armed Forces personnel.

"If it keeps us out of other places, [like] in Africa, I'd be delighted as a former chief of defence," Lawson told Solomon.

"So Afghanistan is a place that Canadians have invested both money and blood. We continue to invest money there. If a return was in Canadian defence future, it would be to a familiar zone."

Over the 12-year mission, 158 Canadian troops were killed, as well as a diplomat, a journalist and two civilian contractors, according to a tally by The Canadian Press.