IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Oct 18, 2021

An alleged senior al Qaeda member detained at Guantanamo Bay since his capture in Pakistan in 2002 is being permitted to give limited testimony before the U.S. Supreme Court. Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian held without charge, has complained about repeated waterboarding at the facility in Cuba.

Oct 18, 2021

After eight “undeclared Russian intelligence officers” were expelled from NATO’s military mission in Brussels Oct. 6, Russia said today that it was shutting down its involvement in the mission. It also has cancelled the accreditation of alliance staff at the NATO mission in Moscow

Oct 18, 2021

The woman at the centre of the sexual misconduct allegation against Adm Art McDonald says there were “several” eyewitnesses that corroborated her story, including at least one senior Navy officer. Her statement comes just after McDonald said he had been exonerated and that he should be reinstated as Chief of the Defence Staff.

Oct 18, 2021

VAdm Sir Ben Key has been confirmed as Britain’s First Sea Lord, succeeding Adm Sir Tony Radakin, who becomes Chief of the Defence Staff at the end of November. Key was one of the key architects of Operation Pitting, the mission to evacuate more than 15,000 British nationals and Afghans from Kabul.

Oct 17, 2021

Colin Powell, the career U.S. Army officer who went on to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then Secretary of State, died today at the age of 84 from complications due to COVID-19. He is reported to have had multiple myeloma which suppressed his immune system.

Oct 17, 2021

Mark Forkner, a former chief technical pilot at Boeing, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he misled the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration about safety issues with the 737 Max, two of which crashed overseas in 2018 and 2019, killing everyone aboard. Prosecutors say that he hid information about the control software in a bid to save the company millions of dollars.

Oct 17, 2021

The Chinese military today condemned Canada and the United States for having sent RCN frigate Winnipeg and the USN destroyer USS Dewey through the Taiwan Strait last week, saying they threatened regional stability. The U.S. said the manoeuvre “demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Oct 17, 2021

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan confirmed today that the U.S. has offered his country F-16 fighters in return for its $1.4 billion in the Lockheed Martin F-35 program from which it was ejected in 2019. “We said let's take whatever steps are needed to be taken to meet the defence needs of our country,” Erdogan said. Subject to congressional approval, the deal would involve 40 new aircraft and nearly 80 modernization kits for Turkey’s legacy fleet.

Oct 15, 2021

Two weeks have been set aside for the criminal trial of the former Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen Jonathan Vance. In confirming the time allotted, however, a provincial prosecutor did not say when the trial on alleged sexual assault actually would begin. Vance is scheduled in court Oct. 29 for further pretrial matters.

Oct 15, 2021

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today that Canadians with mixed COVID-19 vaccines will be able to cross the border when it reopens Nov 8. The only proviso is that only vaccines approved by the U.S. or World Health Organization will be recognized. https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/u-s-canadian-travellers-mixed-vaccines-1.6213176

Oct 15, 2021

The Sea of Japan saw Russia and China practising joint operations today that included destroying “enemy” sea mines with artillery. It was one of the closing sessions in a four-day exercise seen as further evidence of their closer ties in recent years as their relationship with the West deteriorated.

Oct 15, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has scheduled a cabinet shuffle for Oct. 26 and plans to begin a new Parliament Nov. 22, giving new ministers four weeks to settle into their portfolios. The PM’s office also said today that he would be talking with opposition leaders next week about issues such as running the session while the fourth wave of COVID-19 persists.

Oct 14, 2021

With military investigators having decided that there was insufficient evidence to charge Adm Art McDonald with sexual assault, he wants to return as Chief of Defence Staff after stepping down in February. “I've been exonerated as a result of a rigorous and thorough investigation,” he says, requesting that he be restored as CDS, a position filled on an acting basis by Army Gen Wayne Eyre. “I've acted with integrity in response to allegations. . . . By advocating for my job what I am saying is simply that, ‘listen, we can't have a system where allegations alone are sufficient for removing someone’.”

Oct 14, 2021

LGen Trevor Cadieu’s promotion to Canadian Army commander has been put on hold due to an investigation into an accusation of sexual misconduct. “The allegations are false, but they must be investigated thoroughly to expose the truth, the 29-year veteran says, adding that he has given investigators information and “taken other measures to prove my truthfulness.”

Oct 13, 2021

New ways of deploying “terrain shaping devices” or landmines by using artillery, drones or ground robots are being assessed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Its commander, LGen Scott A. Spellmon, said today that this was combat engineers’ top priority for modernization.

Oct 13, 2021

The first civilian director of the U.S. Department of Defense foreign military sales is stepping down after 15 months. Heidi Grant will be succeeded on an acting basis Nov. 7 by her deputy director, Jed Royal. Today’s announcement follows a speech by Grant in which she said strategic competition with other world powers should influence sales.

Oct 13, 2021

An alleged plot to sell U.S. submarine details to a foreign government has landed a Maryland couple behind bars. Jonathan Toebbe, a naval nuclear engineer, and his wife were arrested in neighbouring West Virginia last weekend after he contacted an FBI undercover agent.

Oct 13, 2021

LGen Tomasz Piotrowski, who leads Poland’s Armed Forces Operational Command, said today that Russia’s recent joint exercises with Belarus include an array of hybrid warfare technologies that Russia uses to advance its regional influence. “When Russia plans to execute exercises, we suffer a lot, not only during the exercises,” he said, saying that they incorporate “provocations, coercion, spying” and cyber tools.

Oct 13, 2021

A musical parody of embarrassing shipboard incidents, including a Royal Canadian Navy executive officer who was dismissed for dismantling his ship’s smoke and heat detectors, has fallen on unreceptive ears higher up the chain of command. Sailors who shared the video on social media reportedly were threatened and a team was set up to track down the offending sailor, so far without success.

Oct 13, 2021

A 5,000-pound bomb which could be used as a “bunker buster” to destroy fortified underground installations is being evaluated by the U.S. Air Force. The GBU-72 Advanced 5K Penetrator bomb combines a BLU-138 warhead with a modified Joint Direct Attack Munition GPS guidance kit and tail.

Oct 12, 2021

The U.S. will open to all non-essential visitors from Canada and Mexico in November, lifting a 19-month COVID-19 ban. White House officials confirmed the decision Oct. 12, saying that all must provide proof of vaccination but they would not specify which vaccines would be acceptable or whether mixed doses would be compliant.

Oct 12, 2021

MGen Dany Fortin’s request for reinstatement as the head of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine logistics was rejected today by Federal Court Justice Ann Marie McDonald. She said in a 20-page ruling (Docket No. T-957-21) that Fortin “must exhaust the internal grievance process” within the military before “seeking a remedy in this Court.”

Oct 12, 2021

The first face-to-face talks between U.S. officials and the Taliban, held in Qatar, reportedly focused on containing extremist groups active in Afghanistan, humanitarian aid and evacuating U.S. citizens.

Oct 12, 2021

Chinese President Xi Jinping says he wants “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan despite his country’s recent series of provocative air force manoeuvres near the island state. Taipei responded to the weekend declaration by calling on Beijing to abandon its coercive military and political pressures.

Oct 12, 2021

Abdul Qadeer Khan, a physicist acknowledged as the “father” of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and an international trafficker of the technology, has died from COVID-19 at the age of 85. Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan had lost a “national icon.”

Oct 12, 2021

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has ordered a review of the rapid release last year of Royal Canadian Navy Cdr Danny Croucher, former head of Naval Fleet School (Atlantic) at CFB Halifax, a who was under investigation for sexual misconduct. Croucher, who was granted a voluntary release, has since been working as a civilian contractor at the base.

Oct 12, 2021

Cdr Doug Layton, skipper of the Royal Canadian Navy Frigate HMCS Winnipeg, had Cdre Steve Moorhouse, commander of a Royal Navy aircraft carrier task force, aboard for a 90-minute courtesy visit during an exercise off Japan last week. It seems there was a tea shortage aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth so after afternoon tea of Earl Grey and scones with cream and jam, Moorhouse returned to his flagship with three cases of the prized brew.

Oct 08, 2021

New budget measures before the Finnish parliament include €2.37 billion for the country’s next-generation HX-FP NATO-compatible multirole fighters, a program which so far has been authorized to spend €9.46 billion. Final quotes received last April from five prospective teams competing to replace the legacy fleet of 64 Boeing F/A-18 Hornets are still being evaluated.

Oct 08, 2021

Italy has opted to abandon procurement of drone varrants of its domestic Piaggio Aerospace P.180 twin-turboprops in favour of expanding its fleet of piloted P.180s for transport, reconnaissance and special missions. The cost of six new aircraft as well as an additional simulator and maintenance support to be provided by the financially-struggling company is put at €171 million.

Oct 08, 2021

As China-Taiwan tensions continued to mount this week, an international naval task force, which included a Royal Canadian Navy Frigate, put on a display of allied solidarity off the Japanese island of Okinawa. The 17 ships from six countries also involved three aircraft carrier strike groups and a Japanese helicopter carrier upgraded to launch Lockheed Martin F35 fighters. Royal Navy Cdre Steve Moorhouse said the exercise was “an important message for those here that nations like ourselves . . . are alarmed at the militarization of the area.”

Oct 08, 2021

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said today that although her country does not want military confrontation, it would do whatever is needed to defend itself. Responding to increasing Chinese air force activities in the region, she said Taiwan’s goal is “a peaceful, stable, predictable and mutually-beneficial coexistence with its neighbours.”

Oct 08, 2021

A new Russian navy fleet is being considered by Moscow to ensure coastal safety as well as sea lanes in the Arctic. The state-owned TASS news agency says “the infrastructure of the new association will be separate from the Northern and Pacific fleets” with “ships and special equipment suitable for the Arctic.”

Oct 07, 2021

The head of a British parliamentary defence panel, former Army officer Tobias Ellwood, says that Britain’s involvement in a new trilateral pact with the U.S. and Australia over Indo-Pacific tension with China does not mean issues closer to home are being ignored. That said, he pointed out Oct. 6 that “Britain is only spending 2 percent of its GDP on defense” at a time of greater collective threat than during Cold War “when we were spending four per cent.”

Oct 07, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Canadian Armed Forces military “still doesn't get it” when it comes to sexual misconduct. He was commenting Oct. 6 on the recent appointment of and subsequent withdrawal of MGen Peter Dawe as head of the military’s file on the issue.

Oct 07, 2021

Canadian military nurses from Ontario and Nova Scotia are beginning to relieve pressure today on Edmonton's Royal Alexandra Hospital’s critical care unit, which has been overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. Expected to remain until the end of the month, they were deployed at the request of the Alberta government.

Oct 07, 2021

The UN is being advised by one of its investigators, Argentinian lawyer Tomas Ojea Quintana, to ease Security Council sanctions against North Korea, which he says risks a starving populace and a slide into further isolation. In his report, set to be presented Oct. 22, Quintana says the sanctions over nuclear weapons development “should be reviewed and eased when necessary to both facilitate humanitarian and lifesaving assistance and to enable the promotion of the right to an adequate standard of living of ordinary citizens.”

Oct 07, 2021

France’s decision to return its ambassador to Australia after a diplomatic row over the cancellation of a major submarine deal is being welcomed in Canberra. “Hopefully we can move beyond our recent disappointments,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said today. “France and Australia share a number of common interests, particularly in our work together in the regions.”

Oct 07, 2021

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that Taliban representatives will be invited to a meeting in Moscow Oct. 20. No further details were given but Russia hosted a meeting in Afghanistan in March at which in joined China, Pakistan and the U.S. in calling for a peace agreement.

Oct 07, 2021

All federal government employees will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 29 whether they still work in an office in Canada or abroad or work from home, Prime Minister Trudeau and Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland announced Oct. 6. The only exemptions will be those who provide a letter from their doctor or for justifiable religious reasons. Moreover, the policy also applies to anyone travelling by air or train within Canada.

Oct 06, 2021

The U.S. Supreme Court today began hearing a case which could shed light on the CIA’s use of “black sies” in other countries to hold terrorists before they were sent to Guantanamo. The Palestinian who brought the suit is described as an al-Qaeda recruiter who claims to have been tortured at a CIA “black site” until he was transferred to Guantanamo, where he has been held without charge since 2006.

Oct 06, 2021

NATO has withdrawn the accreditation of eight members of Russia's mission to the alliance today, saying they were “undeclared Russian intelligence officers.” The reduction in the number of Russian positions to 10 evidently faces retaliation, but a NATO official said today that the alliance’s policy “remains consistent” in that while “we have strengthened our deterrence and defence in response to Russia's aggressive actions . . . we remain open for a meaningful dialogue.”

Oct 06, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden said Oct. 5 that he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about Taiwan after officials there said relations with Beijing were at their worst in decades. “We agree we’ll abide by the Taiwan agreement and we made it clear that I don’t think he should be doing anything other than abiding by the agreement,” Biden said, meaning the deal whereby the U.S. has diplomatic relations with China while continuing to support what China considers a “rogue” province.

Oct 06, 2021

Reports that Mali has been considering hiring Russia’s Wagner Group for security and counterterrorism work have prompted the U.S. to join an international chorus of opposition. “Any role for Russian mercenaries in Mali will likely exacerbate an already fragile and unstable situation,” a U.S. Defense Department spokesperson said Oct. 5. The U.S. had been providing training and other support but that was suspended 14 months ago after a coup.

Oct 06, 2021

The Chinese air force’s surge in activities near Taiwan have prompted the island state’s defence minister to say that tensions are at their worst in 40 years. Reacting today to the “record number” of fighters, bombers and other aircraft which entered his country’s air defence zone in recent days, Chiu Kuo-cheng said there is a risk of a “misfire.”

Oct 06, 2021

The U.S. division of the Australian shipbuilder Austal has been awarded a $144-million contract to build Navajo-class towing and salvage ships for the U.S. Navy. Austal USA President Rusty Murdaugh said Oct. 5 that the contract for the company’s Alabama yard would “leverage our new steel manufacturing line to support the U.S. Navy’s and U.S. Coast Guard’s requirements.”

Oct 06, 2021

MGen Peter Dawe has been withdrawn from a DND assignment to work on the department’s response to reviews of sexual misconduct. The Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, LGen Frances Allen, confirmed Oct. 5 that Dawe instead would meet with survivors of sexual misconduct to determine how he can contribute to cultural change.

Oct 05, 2021

Patrick Jordan Mathews, a former Canadian military reservist, faces a sentencing hearing in a Maryland court Oct. 28 for his involvement in a plot to murder a Virginia politician and break a murderer out of prison. The former Manitoba resident and U.S. Army veteran Brian Mark Lemley have pleaded guilty and another co-defendent was sentenced to five years in December for helping Mathews to enter the U.S. illegally.

Oct 05, 2021

A prototype hypersonic missile has been launched for the first time from a Russian submarine, it was announced Oct. 4. The Zircon missile, which hit a designated target in the Barents Sea and is expected to enter general service next year, had previously been test-fired from a frigate.

Oct 05, 2021

Army MGen Peter Dawe has been put in charge of the CAF’s response to forthcoming recommendations on sexual misconduct in the military. The recommendations will be made by former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Louise Arbour, who is mandated to determine how to eradicate the problem. Dawe’s assignment is seen as problematic because he wrote a positive reference letter for an officer who was later convicted of sexual assault.

Oct 05, 2021

Polish President Andrzej Duda said today that improved cooperation between the EU and an expanded NATO could spur a more robust approach to Russia. “We need a strong partnership . . . that ensures a synergy of both organizations,” Duda said. “Russia is expanding its military presence and it endangers NATO not only from the east, but also from the north and south.”

Oct 04, 2021

Far-right extremists in the Ukraine claim to have been trained by the Canadian military and its NATO allies. Social media tracking of one group by researchers at George Washington indicate that its members “have succeeded in establishing cooperation with foreign colleagues from such countries as France, the United Kingdom, Canada, the USA, German and Poland.”

Oct 04, 2021

Mohammed Khalifa, a Canadian citizen who was a prominent spokesman for ISIS, has been charged in U.S. federal court with conspiracy to provide material support to the terrorist organization. Captured by Syrian forces in January 2019, he was recently transferred into FBI custody. “Khalifa not only fought for ISIS on the battlefield in Syria, but he was also the voice behind the violence,” says the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Through his alleged leading role in translating, narrating, and advancing ISIS's online propaganda, Khalifa promoted the terrorist group, furthered its worldwide recruitment efforts, and expanded the reach of videos that glorified the horrific murders and indiscriminate cruelty of ISIS.”

Oct 04, 2021

Months after severing its hotline with South Korea yet again, the North Korea restored the link today but said the future depends on the “attitude of South Korean authorities.” The North’s leader, Kim Jong-un had give notice of the move even as it steps up the frequency of its weapons testing.

Oct 04, 2021

The German foreign ministry says it would reject any Iranian demands for the U.S. to release frozen assets as a condition for resuming nuclear talks. A ministry spokesman was responding to Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian's demand that $10 billion in assets be released as a goodwill gesture.

Oct 04, 2021

An Egyptian member of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali has been killed and four others injured by an improvised explosive device near the Algerian border. “Today’s cowardly attack only strengthens MINUSMA’s determination to support Mali and its people in their quest for peace and stability,” the head of the UN mission said Oct. 2. It has recorded about 255 deaths since 2013, making it one of the deadliest of the UN’s more than dozen peacekeeping missions.

Oct 04, 2021

Russia has delivered four helicopters, weapons and ammunition to Mali, where government forces are working with UN peacekeepers against rebels linked to ISIS and al-Qaeda. The delivery last week comes amid tension between Mali and its key military partner, France, over reports that Russian mercenaries could become involved in the long-running civil war.

Oct 04, 2021

Kosovo's main border crossings with Serbia were reopened on the weekend as Serbs removed blockading vehicles and NATO mobilized some of its 3,000 troops in under an EU-mediated deal. It ended a dispute between the neighbouring countries over car licence plates which Kosovo said was retaliation for Serbian measures against Kosovar drivers.

Oct 04, 2021

As Poland emerges as a focus for coordinating NATO defence along its eastern flank, the U.S. Army has proposed a $30-million command and control centre and a $7-million information systems base in Poznan. A bilateral agreement last year paved the way for more U.S. troop rotations using Polish infrastructure.

Oct 04, 2021

The government continues to insist that MGen Dany Fortin should have filed a grievance with his commander about his dismissal as head of Canada’s coronavirus immunization campaign rather than requesting a judicial review. “That's exactly what this process is intended to deal with,” Justice Department lawyer Elizabeth Richards told Federal Court only four months after that very grievance process was described by a retired Supreme Court of Canada justice as fundamentally “broken.”

Oct 02, 2021

Fifty-eight Chinese aircraft, including nuclear-capable bombers, have flown into Taiwan’s air defence zone in two days, the largest such incursion to date. “China has been wantonly engaged in military aggression, damaging regional peace,” Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang told reporters today.

Oct 02, 2021

The U.S. and Russia held “intensive and substantive” talks this week in an effort to reduce tensions. The second meeting within a framework flowing from a June summit between presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin.

Oct 02, 2021

Two U.S. service personnel have asked a federal judge to block the military’s coronavirus vaccination requirements. Their complaint against federal officials, including Secretary of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, is that the requirement is “an unnecessary public health mandate.”

Oct 01, 2021

For the first time since 1954, a Royal Canadian Navy ship has transited the Northwest Passage. The Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship is due in Vancouver today having left Iqaluit Aug. 7. “It was the longest time a Canadian navy ship has operated in the Arctic in consecutive days in more than 50 years,” says Cdr Corey Gleason, skipper of the Harry DeWolf, the first of seven AOPS.

Oct 01, 2021

Military personnel and civilian staff from Newfoundland and Labrador are being brought into Alberta to help health authorities struggling with a growing COVID-19 crisis which has swamped some hospitals. Premier Jason Kenney confirmed the development Sept. 30, saying “it will help to provide some relief.”

Sep 30, 2021

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman have discussed the kingdom’s initiative to end the Yemen’s civil war in which the Saudis back the government against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. A Saudi state news agency said Sept. 29 that Sullivan affirmed continued support.

Sep 30, 2021

U.S. and Chinese military officials held two days of “frank, in-depth” virtual talks on a range of defence issues this week on a range of defense issues. The Pentgon said in a statement Sept. 29 that Michael Chase, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for China and MGen Huang Xueping “reeaffirmed consensus to keep communication channels open.”

Sep 30, 2021

Seven months after it was disbanded early in the administration of President Joe Biden after his predecessor had essentially packed it with 11th-hour appointees, one of the Department of Defense’s most influential advisory boards has been reconstituted. The Defense Business Board, which has a diverse membership of 17, now is chaired by Deborah Lee James, the former U.S. Secretary of the Air Force.

Sep 30, 2021

Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has been promoted to the State Affairs Commission run by her brother. A shakeup of the ruling body also saw the demotion of Ri Pyong Cho as senior military commander, who was replaced by Pak Jong Chon, who has been overseeing the country’s latest weapons development program.

Sep 30, 2021

Mohib Ullah, a prominent member of the Rohingya Muslim exodus from Myanmar after a military crackdown in 2017 was shot to death Sept. 29 in Bangladesh. A UN official and local police say the killing followed months of escalating violence in what has become the world’s largest refugee settlement. Ullah's group had been notable for documenting atrocities against Rohingyas during the Myanmar crackdown, which the UN says had genocidal intent.

Sep 30, 2021

Have received U.S. permission some time ago, Italy plans to arm its General Atomic MQ-9 Reaper drones at a cost of €59 million over seven years. Italy operates unarmed MQ-1 Predators as well as its Reapers, having deployed them in several NATO operations.

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