IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Nov 22, 2019

For an organization which has consumed and generate vast amount of data for decades as it oversees and audits the full array of federal activities, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has only recently hired its first Chief Data Scientist. Taka Ariga, who joined last month and also is Director of the Innovation Laboratory, has a mandate to advance the use of analytics and emerging technologies to improve how data are used. He is a former senior manager of forensic data analytics in Ernst & Young’s Washington office.

Nov 22, 2019

Russia will continue to develop a nuclear-powered rocket believed to have been at the centre of an explosion which resulted in seven deaths at a test range in August, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin when he met with the victims’ widows. “We will certainly be perfecting this weapon regardless of anything,” he said, because it offered “a most significant and reliable guarantee for peace on the planet.”

Nov 22, 2019

Senator Elizbeth Warren, considered by many as a front-runner in the Democrat presidential campaign for 2020, may have tipped her hand about future U.S. defence spending within the context of a campaign healthcare budget document. The suggestion is that the Massachusetts politician’s explanation of how she would pay for a national medicare plan could involve, among other things, a cutback in the U.S. global military presence.

Nov 22, 2019

There’s a legislative move in Congress for increased U.S. oversight of foreign aviation repair facilities but the Virginia-based Aeronautical Repair Station Association and other organizations dislike a Safe Aircraft Maintenance Standards Act introduced by the chair of the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Among other things, the bill would place a moratorium on Federal Aviation Administration approvals of new foreign stations.

Nov 22, 2019

Products containing Cannabidiol (CBD oil are off limits for U.S. Air Force personnel who are being advised that consumption could result in career-killing positive testsfor marijuana use. Officials are concerned that despite the growing legality of the mostly hemp-based product for medicinal reasons, some versions could contain undisclosed levels of the psychotropic substance tetrahydrocannabinol.

Nov 22, 2019

Israel’s politically-beleaguered Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been indicted by his own government on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust but he insists that he will remain in power. The charges, which he dismisses as a “coup”, arise from allegations that he accepted gifts from wealthy businessmen and dispensed favours to try to get more positive media coverage.

Nov 21, 2019

The Chinese government’s apparent success in recruiting U.S.-based scientists and researchers to work indirectly for Beijing has prompted the Senate to press the FBI to work with universities and federal research bodies which dole out billions in grant money. A bipartisan subcommittee has found that research results have been co-opted for China’s benefit since the early 2000s.

Nov 21, 2019

There’s a long-standing tradition that the captain of a vessel is ultimately responsible for the fate of his or her ship and its crew. U.S. Navy Cdr Bryce Benson acknowledged that by accepting responsibility for a fatal June 2017 collision between his destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, and a cargo ship off Japan even though he was asleep in his cabin at the time and the on-duty crew did not follow procedure. Last year, the USN -- responding to political pressure in Congress after another fatal collision between another USN destroyer and a tanker -- decided to court-martial both commanders in connection with their sailors’ deaths.

Nov 21, 2019

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance’s foreign ministers have for the first time formally declared space to be as much an “operational domain” as air, land, sea and cyberspace. He says this enables NATO planners to request allies’ capabilities and services such as hours of satellite time. He also says the ministers consider the domain essential to deterrence and defense, including the ability to navigate, gather intelligence and detect missile launches.

Nov 21, 2019

Global Affairs Canada evidently has not uncovered any credible evidence linking exports to Saudi Arabia of Light Armoured Vehicles to alleged human rights violations by the Saudi government. This has been disclosed in the details of a briefing note prepared earlier this year for Chrystia Freeland when she was still Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Nov 21, 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s long-time rival, Benny Gantz, has failed to form a new government by a Nov. 20 deadline, potentially setting up the country for an unprecedented third election in less than a year. Gantz, a former military chief, was tapped as the prime minister-designate last month after Netanyahu failed to cobble together a coalition government in the wake of inconclusive September elections.

Nov 21, 2019

A young corporal alleges he faced reprisals after choosing to accompany a female colleague to report sexual assault incidents in 2013. Citing verified facts, an April 2016 report by a DND grievance analyst concluded that allegations subsequent to his support of the young woman were inaccurate and that his actions were properly justified, and yet everyone along the line, ultimately to General Vance's office, eventually looked the other way as the young man's integrity was destroyed.

Nov 20, 2019

Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence since he was appointed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s inaugural cabinet four years ago, has retained that responsibility in the Nov. 20 reshuffled cabinet. Sajjan, 49, a Vancouver MP and former Canadian Armed Forces officer, who was deployed three times to Afghanistan, stays on a time when the government continues to wrestle with overdue major procurement programs. Lawrence MacAuley, 73, a Prince Edward Island MP since 1988 and a minister in earlier cabinets, also is staying on as Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, appointed to those posts last March.  

Nov 20, 2019

Sergei Chemezov, chief executive officer of Rostec, Russia's state-owned defence export company, says that despite U.S. sanctions, his country’s arms sales are on track to match last year’s revenues. It had confirmed the equivalent of US$11 billion in exports by the end of October and Chemezov is optimistic that 2019 will yield between $13.5 billion and $13.7 billion.

Nov 20, 2019

Nearly two decades of war in Iraq and Afghanistan have seen improvised explosive devices evolve as a major threat to western forces. However, all U.S. Marine Corps ordnance disposal specialists now have a new detector for finding buried IED command detonation wires.

Nov 20, 2019

BAE Systems Technology has a $104.7 million U.S. Navy contract to provide lifetime engineering and technical services aboard some naval and U.S. Coast Guard vessels. Work is expected to be completed by 2025 at yards in several states.

Nov 20, 2019

The U.S. Navy says it has accelerated processing of recruits by using fingerprinting rather than traditional signatures on their paperwork. Having gone into effect Oct. 1, biometrics enables recruiters to work digitally instead of printing pages for signatures which then had to be scanned into their system. Before the new approach was put in place, prospective sailors had an enlistment kit of about 150 pages, each requiring four copies.

Nov 20, 2019

Even though the Bell-Boeing CV-22 Osprey is relatively new to U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, a successor platform is already being considered. Its director of strategic plans, programs and requirements admits that the tilt-rotor has enhanced how special operations are mounted, he would like to see more cargo-carrying capacity, higher speed and stealthier capability.

Nov 20, 2019

Israeli says its continued missile strikes into Syria are in response to rocket attacks by an Iranian unit in the Damascus area. Syria officials say two civilians died and its air defences shot down most of the Israeli missiles. Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria since civil war erupted in 2011, saying it is trying counter Iran's “military entrenchment” and block shipments of Iranian weapons to Hezbollah forces in Lebanon.

Nov 20, 2019

Iran’s deployment of military in support of allies across the Middle East is contributing to increased destabilization of the region, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency says in a report released Nov. 18. While it considers Iran’s extraterritorial capability “limited”, it has conducted operations as far afield as China, South Africa and the Mediterranean. 

Nov 20, 2019

A perceived looming crisis from declining ranks of qualified and interested recruit apparently is prompting some to suggest that restoring compulsory service might be the solution. The Pentagon estimates that of the 30 per cent of the four million Americans who could age-qualify for military service every year, only a small percentage seem willing.

Nov 20, 2019

In a significant departure from years of abstention, Canada voted Nov. 19 in favour of a United Nations resolution which supports Palestinians' right to self-determination. The initiative was opposed by the U.S. and Israel as well as three small Pacific island nations dependent on U.S. support. A Global Affairs Canada official says the Canadian vote is a message that it Canada disagrees with the Nov. 18 announcement by Washington that Israeli settlements in the contested West Bank are not “per se” inconsistent with international law.

Nov 19, 2019

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper says more U.S. patrols in the South China Sea are proof of his country’s determination to maintain freedom in a region crucial for global trade. He told reporters the U.S. “rejects attempts by any nation to use coercion or intimidation to advance international interests at the expense of others.” A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman countered by accusing the U.S. of having long sought to “fan the flames” in the region.

Nov 19, 2019

Amid widespread discussion about NATO’s long-term viability, Prime Minister Trudeau and key ministers are preparing to attend 70th anniversary celebrations in London next month. Robert Baines, president of the NATO Association of Canada, credits the alliance with having maintained decades of relative peace and security. While concerned about its future and the implications for Canada, he says Trudeau could play the “Canadian archetype of the peacemaker and the bridge-builder” between the U.S. and Europe.

Nov 19, 2019

A widely-anticipated U.S. Air Force contract for military space launches has been successfully challenged by Blue Origin – set up by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos – before a contract has even been issued. The Government Accountability Organization upheld the challenge to how the USAF had structured the contract which is expected to lead to the selection of two launch-providers next year.

Nov 19, 2019

Fresh off a general election which renewed his mandate, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says any moves to question NATO’s collective defenses are a threat to the future of the European Union and the military alliance. French President Emmanuel Macron had said earlier this month that NATO was experiencing “brain death” due to U.S. unpredictability and a lack of coordination.

Nov 19, 2019

Lockheed Martin has received a sole-source $3.3 billion contract for operations, logistics and support of three U.S. Air Force six-satellite constellations. The Canadian Armed Forces and its British and Dutch counterparts also use data from the satellites. LM has been the preferred contractor on the programs since 2009.

Nov 19, 2019

A former U.S. Marine who holds Canadian, British and Irish passports in addition to his U.S. documentation, remains in custody in Russia on espionage charges. A court has rejected Paul Whelan’s appeal of the extension of his detention until late December. Detained 11 months, he says he was set up for political reasons.

Nov 19, 2019

While it continues to learn from its experience with the Lockheed Martin F-35, the U.S. Air Force ism’t ready to commit to a next-generation fighter design. LGen David Nahom, USAF deputy chief of staff for plans and programs, points out that ongoing F-35 deliveries and the still relatively young LM F-22 Raptor fleet means “we’re not in a hurry.”

Nov 19, 2019

The U.S. Department of Defense evidently is considering mothballing 21 of its 35 Northgrop Grumman RA-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial systems as part of a shift toward other capabilities. The proposal has been submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense for review.

Nov 19, 2019

Saab’s fast-paced development of its GlobalEye airborne early warning and control platform, based on a Bombardier Global 6000, is being set up for imminent delivery. The Swedish company rolled out the first aircraft in 2018, flew it a month later, and expects to deliver to its launch customer, the United Arab Emirates, in 2020.

Nov 19, 2019

Australian and American hostages have been released by the Afghan Taliban after more than three years in captivity in return for the release of three Taliban commanders. The development is seen as a step toward direct talks with the Islamist militants.

Nov 19, 2019

A suggestion on social media by U.S. President Donald Trump that he is open to another nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been rebuffed. Foreign Ministry adviser Kim Kye Gwan says there is no point unless the proposal meeting yielded something substantive for his government.

Nov 19, 2019

An Embraer multi-mission aircraft, to be sold through a new joint venture with Boeing, has been rebranded by the Sao Paulo-based manufacturer as the C-390 Millennium. The companies say that the creation of Boeing-Embraer Defense is a step toward the establishment of a division which would specifically market the C-390 and a KC-390 tanker version.

Nov 19, 2019

In a rare public sign of discord in a 70-year alliance against North Korean aggression, the U.S. has broken off talks with South Korea over the cost of the huge U.S. military presence on the peninsula. Each side blames the other for a lack of willingness to compromise after President Donald Trump proposed a 400 per cent increase in South Korean funding.

Nov 19, 2019

A Nova Scotia judicial inquiry into the death of a Canadian Army veteran who killed his family and himself in 2017 was adjourned Nov. 18, the day it was to begin. Lionel Desmond had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after a 2007 tour in Afghanistan. Judge Warren Zimmer granted a request for adjournment by a new lawyer representing the family of Desmond’s wife.

Nov 18, 2019

Reversing decades of U.S. policy on Israel’s annexation of the West Bank, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Nov. 18 that President Donald Trump’s administration no longer considers Israeli settlements in the violently-disputed territory a violation of international law. The United Nations, European governments and U.S. allies in the region have long supported Palestinian demands for a West Bank state.

Nov 18, 2019

China told the U.S. Nov. 18 to “stop flexing muscles” in the South China Sea and to avoid “new uncertainties” over Taiwan. Defence Minister Wei Fenghe warned U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on the sidelines of a ministerial-level meeting in Bangkok a day after Esper had accused China of “increasingly resorting to coercion and intimidation to advance its strategic objectives” in the region.

Nov 18, 2019

Two years after confirming that the U.S. was getting ready to discuss selling Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters to the United Arab Emirates, a senior Pentagon official has confirmed that the focus of discussions has shifted to upgrading the UAE’s fleet of General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons.

Nov 18, 2019

A week after President Donald Trump said he wants South Korea to increase its financial commitment to maintaining U.S. troops there, it has been disclosed that Japan has been asked to cover more of the cost of relocating U.S. Marine Corps personnel from the Japanese island of Okinawa across the Philippine Sea to the U.S. territory of Guam.

Nov 18, 2019

A Chinese aircraft carrier group’s passage near Taiwan Nov. 17 prompted the island state to scramble air force and naval assets. Taiwan’s defence ministry says the Chinese fleet, which also was being shadowed by Japanese and U.S. ships, remained on its side of a dividing line in the Taiwan Strait.

Nov 18, 2019

Russia has established a helicopter base in northern Syria, according to defence ministry television. The Zvezda network has shown attack and transport helicopters at the base near the Kurdish-controlled city of Qamishli as the U.S. continues to withdraw troops from the region.

Nov 18, 2019

The International Criminal Court says it will “independently assess”  unsubstantiated allegations that British military personnel have committed war crimes. The allegations were made in a BBC program which said there was evidence that British troops had killed civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Nov 18, 2019

Ship collisions which resulted in the deaths of 17 U.S. sailors in 2017 and cause significant damage to their ships has prompted the U.S. Navy to triple ship-driving training time for its Surface Warfare Operators by 2021. The upgrade includes added classroom and simulator time but the Government Accountability Office says there is no plan to collect fleet-wide feedback on the quality of the new training or routinely test ship-driving skills.

Nov 18, 2019

The U.S. Air Force Commercial Satellite Communications Office says commercial satellite companies hoping to sell their services to the Department of Defense will require independent third-party cybersecurity certification. The office plans to have an Information Asset Pre-assessment program in place in early 2020 in an effort to “raise the cultural bar on cybersecurity” in the commercial sector

Nov 18, 2019

Russia and China are generally considered the most significant threats in the cyber domain, but one expert worries that “minor or middle powers” might be a more immediate concern. Brandon Valeriano, chair of Armed Politics at the Marine Corps University and a member of the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission, was part of a panel at CyberCon 2019.

Nov 18, 2019

Canadian legislation designed to protect whistleblowers actually leaves them vulnerable to retribution on the job, according to Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, a Washington non-profit founded in 1977. Among other things, he considers the current law a globally-ridiculed “fraud” which is which is nothing more than “a tissue paper shield.”

Nov 18, 2019

President Donald Trump has ignored the advice of his own Department of Defense by pardoning one Army officer convicted of war crimes and a second still awaiting trial as well as restoring the rank of a U.S. Navy SEAL who had been demoted after being accused of war crimes. Senior military leaders, including Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, had warned Trump that his intervention could damage the integrity of the military judicial system.

Nov 18, 2019

Kori Schake, a former U.S. National security council staffer and now deputy director general of the U.K.-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, says President Donald Trump’s intervention in three war crimes cases makes the U.S. “no different from or better than our enemies.” She says they are bad for the military and its relationship with civil society.

Nov 18, 2019

Calling it “a good faith effort” rather than a “concession” to North Korea, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper confirmed Nov. 17 that the U.S. and South Korea are postponing a joint air exercise scheduled later this month. He and his South Korean counterpart, Jeong Kyeong-doo, made the announcement during an Asian defence ministers conference in Thailand.

Nov 15, 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, visiting President Donald Trump at the White House, was the target of a Republican Senator’s strong criticism of his country’s invasion of Syria and subsequent attacks on Kurdish allies of the U.S. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina evidently told Erdogan that he had “done something no one thought was possible -- you have united the U.S.” against Turkey.

Nov 15, 2019

Laser and microwave weapons figured prominently in the U.S. Air Force segment of a recent demonstration program. While the USAF has reviewed directed-energy weapons before, its goal in the latest trial was to explore command and control of weapons which could be used against small unmanned aerial systems.

Nov 15, 2019

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, created by Congress in 2000 with a mandate to monitor security implications, says China wants to become the dominant power in space. Accordingly, it has told Congress that the U.S. should consider using its nascent Space Force to ensure continued freedom of navigation and communications.

Nov 15, 2019

The next wave of research contracts in the European Future Combat Air System program apparently has Germany’s military scrambling for political approval. They say with a January deadline looming, they are still working to finalize contracts with a consortium led by Airbus Defence & Space and Dassault.

Nov 15, 2019

Amazon Web Services is formally protesting the U.S. Department of Defense’s award of its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract to Microsoft. AWS Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy says political pressure from President Donald Trump had interfered in the contract proceedings.

Nov 15, 2019

The Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington says the U.S. Army should be careful when estimating costs of operating two planned vertical lift aircraft fleets simultaneously even though the proposal is considered affordable. The new fleets would be integral to a plan which would have the new air platforms paired on the battlefield with an array of vehicles and weapons systems.

Nov 15, 2019

David Norquist, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, says allied defence suppliers must not be cut out of European programs as the region moves to strengthen its industrial base. He says the €13-billion European Defence Fund and the two-year-old Permanent Structured Cooperation Agreement “must allow the United States and other non-EU allies to participate and compete for business” or risk duplication that undermines trans-Atlantic security.

Nov 15, 2019

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has reaffirmed his country’s long-standing commitment to South Korea even as President Donald Trump talks about increasing the bill by 400 per cent. Esper’s reaffirmation came at a meeting in Seoul with Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, who said that renegotiation of their cost-sharing agreement should be fair and mutually agreeable.

Nov 15, 2019

Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Department of Defense are reportedly at odds over how much access the military can have to data on its F-35 fighters. At issue is an updated Autonomic Logistics Information System which is expected to be ready for squadron distribution next fall. 

Nov 15, 2019

An unmanned aerial vehicle armed with grenades is being tested by the U.S. Army for use against defiladed targets. Developed by Skyborne Technologies of Australia, the Cerebrus UAV weighs less than 6.4kg, has a range of 3.2km and can fire three 40mm grenades.

Nov 14, 2019

The U.S. Government Accountability Office says a shortage of spares has limited the operational readiness of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 strike fighter. As of October, the U.S. and allies had fielded more than 435 of an expected 3,300 aircraft but the GAO said Nov. 13 that poor planning meant “manual workarounds” were needed to address the shortcomings. 

Nov 14, 2019

The Department of National Defence’s decision to consolidate staff from 40 locations in the National Capital region in a central facility in Ottawa’s west end evidently is costing it staff. They are leaving the former Nortel international hub because of commuting and parking problems. The problem was anticipated two years ago.

Nov 14, 2019

Nearly two decades of U.S. combat operations over the past couple of decades have cost the U.S. some $6.3 trillion while resulting in 800,000 deaths worldwide, according to the Cost of Wars Project, an academic-legal think tank coordinated out of Brown University in Rhode Island. The numbers reflect the toll of American combat and other military operations across some 80 nations since the September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Nov 14, 2019

Lockheed Martin and its F-35 engine supplier, Pratt & Whitney, have made “spectacular progress” in finding alternate parts suppliers since the U.S. began removing Turkey from the multinational fighter program. This was according to LGen Eric Fick, the Pentagon’s F-35 program executive, even as President Donald Trump was meeting with his Turkish counterpart at the White House Nov. 13. Turkey is expected to be phased out of the program entirely by next March.

Nov 14, 2019

Combat armor designed to cover more of a trooper's body is being field-tested by U.S. Special Operations Command. The Lightweight Polyethylene Armor for Extremity Protection is one of several subsystems to come out of the SOC Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit program. It offers small-arms protection over 4 per cent of he body compared with 19 per cent from standard infantry gear.

Nov 14, 2019

If the minority Liberal government’s Throne Speech at the Dec. 5 opening of the 43rd Parliament does not in some way reflect key New Democratic Party priorities, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he’s prepared to vote against the government. Those priorities are topped by national universal pharmacare, the cost of which could influence the budget for other government programs.

Nov 13, 2019

U.S. Marine Corps aviators stationed at Iwakuni in western Japan evidently are at risk of a formal warning by the country’s defence ministry over reported lapses in discipline. The threat flows from a U.S. military investigation into the fatal 2018 crash of a fighter and tanker aircraft disclosed lax adherence to procedures by pilots in the unit, including their commanding officer.

Nov 13, 2019

The U.S. Air Force could literally be taking connectivity to new heights. Chief of Ststt Gen David Goldfein apparently is interested in whether Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor stealth fighters link up with the Boeing X-37B space plane. A spokesman says this level of connectivity would demonstrate a USAF ability “to operate from all domains.”

Nov 13, 2019

Dr. Deborah Frincke, the U.S. National Security Agency’s director of research, says the race to develop a true quantum computer could create more security threats by its potential for cracking the odes which secure digital information. Accordingly, she says, it’s time for the U.S. government to begin adapting its security protocols to deal with a threat which could be less than two decades away.

Pages