IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Mar 08, 2020

The latest three-week biennial U.S. Navy exercise in the Arctic is under way. Operating from Camp Seadragon, a temporary ice-floe, ICEX 2020 is built around two fast attack submarines, Connecticut and Toledo, which are conducting several transits as well as surfacing near the North Pole.

Mar 05, 2020

Russian and Chinese advances in missile technology could paralyze other countries’ leaders and decision-makers in a crisis, says the Chief of the Defence Staff. Gen Jonathan Vance told a national conference 04 March that the new generation of missiles can be launched further from targets, travel faster and are more manoeuverable.

Mar 05, 2020

Canadian Armed Forces base commanders have been given detailed “pre-pandemic planning” orders for how to address the new coronavirus domestically and overseas. Among other things, commanders can cancel large gatherings in the event of a Covid-19 spike and other precautions include reviews of all non-essential travel.

Mar 05, 2020

A published suggestion that conflict in urban environments doesn’t present extra risk to well-trained troops is being challenged in a paper from the Modern War Institute at West Point. Its authors say history does not support that viewpoint.

Mar 05, 2020

Two former Canadian Liberal MPs are challenging a U.S.-led notion that there’s no need to maintain a ban on land mines. Former foreign affairs minister Lloyd Axworthy (1996-2000) and John English (1993-1997), a special envoy on land ministers, say landmines still strewn in some parts of the world remain an obvious danger to civilian populations.

Mar 05, 2020

Years into an attempt to come to grips with persistent pilot shortages, the U.S. Air Force has conceded that it remains 10 per cent short of the 21,000 pilots it says are central to the National Defense Strategy. It blames aggressive recruitment by “deep-pocked” airlines and inadequacies in its own training programs. 

Mar 04, 2020

A series of agendas and PowerPoint presentations obtained by CBC News amount to an admission by Veterans Affairs Canada that access by vets and their families to provincial health care can be “disjointed and irregular.” Family mental health services is a focus for an advisory group providing feedback to Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay.

Mar 04, 2020

The U.S. administration’s latest move to divert billions of dollars from defence programs to continue construction of a border wall with Mexico is being met by a lawsuit by 19 state government. Filed in federal court 03 March, it contends that the diversion is “contrary to Congress’s intent and in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”

Mar 04, 2020

Three senior U.S. officials visited Turkey's border with Syria 03 March, crossing brfiefly into contested Syrian territory. Their activity is being taken as a sign that the U.S. supports its NATO ally’s fight against the Syrian government and its Russian supporters.

Mar 04, 2020

Five days after agreeing to wind down its combat presence in Afghanistan as part of a peace agreement with the Taliban, the U.S. carried out a a “defensive” airstrike 04 March against militants who were attacking an Afghan checkpoint. The Taliban opted to resume attacks after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that he would not agree to the exchange of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners for up to 1,000 Afghan security force prisoners as a precondition for the agreement.

Mar 04, 2020

The head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees development of warheads, is defending a nearly 20 per cent budget hike requested by the White House is justified. Lisa Gordon-Hagerty told a House committee that “we have very limited margin for error” to sustain weapon modernization.”

Mar 03, 2020

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says that neither the European Union nor China, having benefitted from their evolving relationship, seeks confrontation or an adversarial relationship going forward. However, in an “insights paper” published 03 March, SIPRI cautions that increasing connection between military and non-military dimensions of security have prompted EU states to develop new ways of addressing potential threats to transport and digital communications networks.

Mar 03, 2020

Maintenance and repair of Department of National infrastructure has been chronically underfunded for years. Rob Chambers, the assistant deputy minister responsible, says that while there’s ongoing discussion about managing 20,000 buildings as well as roads and other elements across the country, health and safety concerns have top priority.

Mar 03, 2020

Shortly after telling the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs 27 February that no veterans’ families had been “cut off” from counselling services, a senior Veterans Affairs Canada official has acknowledged that some families had indeed been refused coverage. The overall issue is expected to be back on the agenda when the committee resumes hearings but there is nothing on its calendar as of 03 March.

Mar 02, 2020

Two former Conservative cabinet ministers generally considered the front-runners in the party’s leadership race, say they are prepared to force a vote of no-confidence in the House of Commons, which could force another general election if the Liberal government was unable to secure the support of other parties. Former defence minister Peter MacKay disclosed his intentions on social media while former veterans affairs minister Erin O’Toole echoed that in an email. A third contender, Ontario MP Marilyn Gladu, vice-chair of the party's aerospace caucus, also has said she would put forward a motion of no-confidence.

Mar 02, 2020

Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, has told his French counterpart, Gen François Lecointre, that Moscow has become increasingly worried about NATO activities near the Russian border. However, he also lauded an agreement with France designed to prevent air and naval incidents.

Mar 02, 2020

Three months after Saab Canada President Simon Carrell said the Swedish company was still interested in putting up its JAS 39 Gripen E as a successor to the RCAF’s fleet of Boeing’s CF-188 Hornets, the company confirmed 02 March that CAE, GE Aviation, IMP Aerospace and Peraton have signed on to the Saab team.

Mar 02, 2020

A fundamentally healthy French economy, coupled with major contracts, enabled the country’s defence industries to prosper in 2019. Among other things, Naval Group orders rose by 44 percent to €5.3 billion.

Mar 02, 2020

The U.S. administration’s campaign against Huawei being involved in the next-generation communications networks is prompting questions about whether the push is over security or trade issues. A senior lecturer at Harvard says that when the White House tries “to play both ends of that”, it undermines relations with allies.

Mar 02, 2020

Senior Democrats in the U.S Senate are warning that President Donald Trump’s threatened withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty would harm not only U.S. security interests but also those of its allies. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper recently pressed other NATO members to take a tougher line with Russia about its restrictions on military overflights.

Mar 02, 2020

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and other breakthrough enterprises, used an appearance at a U.S. Air Force Association symposium to suggest that the era of manned fighters is passing and that the future or aerial combat lies in autonomous drones. He also suggested that current U.S. capabilities could be enhanced with an additional stealth fighter.

Mar 02, 2020

Retired U.S. Navy Adm James Stavridis, a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, says Turkey and Syria seem headed for outright war now that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stepped up attacks against Russian-backed Syrian forces in northern Syria.

Mar 01, 2020

Two Syrian fighter jets were shot down by Turkish forces 01 March. While it sparked fears of a major escalation with Syria and its Russian backers, Turkey's Defence Minister, Hulusi Akar, said his country did not want conflict with Russia, only that it should rein in the Syria forces.

Mar 01, 2020

President Ashraf Ghani of Aghanistan is challenging statements that the peace agreement between the U.S. and Taliban includes a commitment by his government to free at least 5,000 Taliban prisoners. Less than 24 hours after the deal was signed off, Ghani said that a prisoner release “cannot be a prerequisite for talks."

Feb 29, 2020

Public Services and Procurement Canada’s website still shows the budget for a new polar icebreaker to be “under review” but shipyards have been asked to reassess their capabilities. The Canadian Coast Guard Ship John G. Diefenbaker proposed by the former Conservative government more than a decade ago was to have entered service in 2021-2022.

Feb 29, 2020

A pact to restore peace in Afghanistan after 18 years of warfare has been signed by the U.S. and the Taliban. The U.S. and its NATO allies have agreed to withdraw all troops within 14 months if the militants adhere to the terms of the agreement. President Donald Trump said Feb. 29 that 5,000 American troops would be withdrawn by May and that he would be meeting directly with Taliban leaders.

Feb 27, 2020

A senior Turkish official says at least 29 Turkish soldiers were killed by Syrian “regime forces” in north-western Syria 28 February. A London-based human rights monitor had previously blamed Russian air strikes for 34 deaths in the city of Idlib, which Russian-supported Syrian forces are trying to retake from Turkish-backed rebels.

Feb 27, 2020

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based organization which has been monitoring the situation in Syria for more than a decade, has reported that at least 34 Turkish soldiers have been killed in Russian air strikes on the city of Idlib. The troops were part of a large deployment in support of rebels trying to hold back an offensive by Syrian and Russian forces.

Feb 27, 2020

Flight training for Saudi Arabian students, suspended late last year after three U.S. personnel were shot by a student, has been resumed at two U.S. naval air stations in Florida. Saudi Royal Air and Naval Forces officers had been restricted to classroom studies or had their classes postponed pending a review.

Feb 27, 2020

Spousal employment, child care, education and fundamental family stability have been identified as persistent issues for current and former U.S. military personnel and their families. There were more than 11,000 responses to an 11th annual survey by the Blue Star Families organization in collaboration with Syracuse University.

Feb 26, 2020

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused his country’s second-largest opposition party of criminal activity. He said 25 February that his chief prosecutor will investigate the Peoples’ Democratic Party for alleged terrorist links after a national congress two days earlier which the government says became a propaganda tool for the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

Feb 26, 2020

NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, U.S. Air Force Gen Tod Wolters, says the alliance’s military leaders have a “growing realization” about the risks of using Chinese-sourced 5G telecom to enhance Europe’s 5G networks. It’s the latest element of a concerted push by Washington, which has added Shenzhen-based ZTE to Huawei on its list of security concerns.

Feb 25, 2020

Former Defence Minister and now Conservatives Party leadership contender Peter MacKay said 25 February that if he eventually was able to form a government, he would not permit Huwei 5G communications technology to be used in Canada. His statement, in which he also said Britain would eventually reverse its decision to permit limited 5G use, came during a wide-ranging interview.

Feb 25, 2020

Low-earth orbit commercial satellites from OneWeb and SpaceX are being considered by the U.S. Department of Defense to improve connectivity in the Arctic. At the urging of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, the air force has awarded contracts to test the platforms’ broadband capabilities in regions where satellite communications have traditionally been limited. 

Feb 25, 2020

The U.S. Congress is being lobbied by a coalition of advocacy groups to “restore the balance of national security powers” between itself and the White House “All Americans have a stake in decisions to go to war, bypass ordinary laws through emergency declarations or sell weapons to foreign regimes,” they say. “However, the system of checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution is broken.”

Feb 25, 2020

The deadline for prospective suppliers to submit preliminary proposals for Canada’s next generation of fighters has been extended by three months, to 30 June. Public Services and Procurement Canada said 25 February that the extension was requested by industry.

Feb 25, 2020

The Indian government confirmed 24 February that it will spend an estimated $3 billion on new helicopters built by Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Announced during a visit by the U.S. president, the deal includes an initial $2.6 billion for 24 Lockheed Martin SH-60 SeaHawk helicopters and a planned procurement of Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.

Feb 25, 2020

Two key Royal Canadian Navy fleet upgrades, the Canadian Surface Combatant and Joint Support Ship projects, have seen significant expenditure of public funds since they were politically launched more than a decade ago. However, details tabled in the House of Commons indicate that it will be years before the first ship in either program is physically launched.

Feb 24, 2020

Israeli has launched air strikes on suspected militant positions in Syria and exchanged rocket attacks with extremists in Gaza. The new round of hostilities began 23 February after Israeli troops killed a jihadi trying to plant explosives near its border with the Gaza Strip.

Feb 24, 2020

Veterans ombudsman Craig Dalton is pressing the government to explain how it will eliminate a backlog that is keeping thousands of former Canadian Armed Forces personnel from finding out whether they qualify for benefits and support. Veterans Affairs Canada has confirmed that it had some 44,000 applications waiting to be processed at the end of September, up 10 per cent from the spring.

Feb 24, 2020

Veterans ombudsman Craig Dalton says his office is being flooded by complaints that the government is tightening access to mental health services for veterans’ families. He blames a “more restrictive interpretation” of the rules by Veterans Affairs Canada.

Feb 24, 2020

France and Germany have signed an agreement for technology demonstration elements of a proposed Future Combat Air System. The agreement covers the airframe, engines, related drone technology, data architecture and the simulation environment. The Spanish government, a latecomer to the project but so far strictly an observer, was represented at the signing.

Feb 24, 2020

A former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst faces up to 10 years in prison for sharing classified information with two journalists in 2018. Henry Frese has pled guilty. One of the journalists was his girlfriend at the time, a national security reporter for the CNBC business network. 

Feb 24, 2020

A Chinese citizen has pleaded guilty to taking photographs of a U.S. Navy base in Florida. His arrest is similar to the cases of three other Chinese nationals caught photographing the base in Key West.

Feb 24, 2020

Royal Thai Air Force procurement priorities for the coming decade include new fixed-wing transport and light attack aircraft as well as combat SAR helicopters.

Feb 24, 2020

A month before his scheduled retirement as CEO of France’s Naval Group, Hervé Guillou is saying that Europe’s naval shipbuilding sector must consolidate to remain globally competitive. “Not one European domestic market is sufficiently large, including the French market, to maintain the skills and levels of competitivity which we currently enjoy,” he says.

Feb 21, 2020

Unmanned aerial systems figure prominently in Turkey’s military procurement plan for 2020. They include attack and cargo platforms, some of which are relatively new.

Feb 21, 2020

More than 1,100 U.S. veterans have criticized President Donald Trump for his ongoing attacks on LCol Alexander Vindman, who testified during the recent congressional impeachment hearings. “The president should know that, despite taking aim at one Army officer, he has targeted anyone who currently wears — or has worn — the uniform,” the group states in an open letter. “Our service members and veterans deserve the confidence of knowing that our elected leaders will come to their defense.”

Feb 21, 2020

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is warning that the U.S. “can’t continue” to tolerate Russian “noncompliance” with the 2002 Open Skies treaty which ostensibly permits signatories to overfly each others’ territories. He told reporters 19 February that while Washington has yet to decide whether to remain involved in the treaty and that he takes “no view one way or the other” on arms control, there are ongoing issues with Russia about where U.S. aircraft can fly and what types of cameras are permitted.

Feb 21, 2020

German Army BGen Fritz Urbach, the European Union's first defence attaché to Canada, is no stranger to this country. Accredited 19 February for a three-year posting to Ottawa, Urbach was a young Bundeswehr company commander in the 1980s during training exercises at Canadian Armed Forces Base Shilo, Manitoba. Prior to his posting to Canada, he headed the German Military Staff Representation to NATO and the EU in Brussels and he also has been involved in NATO-led missions in Afghanistan.

Feb 19, 2020

Growing reliance on the public cloud as a core element of public- and private-sector transition to an increasingly digital world worries Eric Trexler, vice-president of global governments and critical infrastructure at Texas-based Forcepoint, a company partly owned by Raytheon which develops and markets cybersecurity software. While the trend is expected to give agencies more data storage flexibility, he says it also amounts to an “attractive bullseye” for cyberattackers.

Feb 19, 2020

John Rood, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy at the Pentagon, is understood on the way out, ostensibly for having lost support among other national security leaders. His department has declined comment.

Feb 19, 2020

A Canadian Armed Forces inability to deploy enough women to meet UN requirements in late 2018 for a peacekeeping mission in Sudan nearly scuttled Canada’s involvement. The UN reportedly was persuaded by assurances that the CAF was putting a better personnel rotation program in place.

Feb 18, 2020

Ukrainian troops on the Crimean eastern front are reported to have come under heavy bombardment by Russian-backed rebels who claim that Ukrainian forces tried to break through their lines. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky says the “provocation” would not derail his government’s push for peace under a currently fragile ceasefire agreement.

Feb 18, 2020

A legal text is still be developed but European Union states have agreed on more stringent coastal patrols off Libya to enforce a fragile UN arms embargo. The UN-recognised government in Tripoli is under attack by forces which control most of eastern and southern Libya.

Feb 18, 2020

BAE Systems completed its maiden flight of a high-altitude solar-powered aircraft with a 35-metre wingspan. The unmanned platform is designed to fly at an altitude of about 51,000m with a time aloft of more than a year at lower cost than satellites. The project is being underwritten by Britain and Australia., where the first flight took place at the Woomera Test Range.

Feb 18, 2020

A century-old military helmet designed in France is considered by biomedical researchers at Duke University in to offer better protection against overhead blasts than many modern brain buckets. They suggest that newer designs could be tweaked with, among other things, a crest such as on the 1915 French Adrian helmet, which they feel would reduce the incidence of mild trauma by deflecting shockwaves.

Feb 18, 2020

The U.S. Air Force said a year ago that it hoped to add 1,480 pilots to its roster in the 2020 fiscal year but faces the prospect of a significant shortfall, only about 1,300, which would be only slightly more than in fiscal 2019. The explanation is that there simply aren’t enough available training aircraft and civilian simulator instructors.

 

Feb 18, 2020

The International Institute for Strategic Studies says European countries are spending more on defence because of doubts about U.S. commitment to its transatlantic allies. The London-based institute reports that EU members spent the equivalent of some $380 billion last year, up 4.2 per cent from 2018. Within that, the percentage of new investments grew to 23.1 from 19.8.

Feb 18, 2020

Germany is moving to protect cyber technologies as national assets, enabling it to side-step European Union regulations which othersie require procurements to be open to bids from prospective suppliers in all member states. Artificial intelligence, electronic warfare, networked operations, cryptology and defence-related information and communications technologies are deemed crucial to national security and hence are exempt.

Feb 18, 2020

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel has successfully demonstrated its Drone Dome system for identifying and intercepting unmanned aerial systems. Employing lasers and electronic jammers and sensors, it was operated against several types of UAS, including commercially-available models.

Feb 18, 2020

Technology developed for U.S. Special Forces could be a game-changer when trying to deal with hidden enemy combatants, especially in increasingly built-up theatres of operation. It uses a laser to detect heartbeats at ranges up to 200 metres but is currently limited in application because it needs 30 seconds to conduct a scan and gather distinctive vibrations.

Feb 17, 2020

Continuing a long-running fight with the European Union over subsidies to their aircraft manufacturing sectors, the U.S. plans to hike its tariff on Airbus and aircraft parts to 15 per cent next month. The action targets EU members where Airbus parts are made: Britain, France, Germany and Spain. The EU has long insisted that the U.S. subsidizes Boeing, Airbus’ main competitor in the global commercial aircraft market.

Feb 17, 2020

Israel’s military has disclosed that it has foiled a move by Palestinian Hamas militants to hack into Israeli troops’ smartphones. It uncovered the plot several months ago but let it continue under surveillance until they shut it down.  Dozens of troops were targeted by Hamas agents posing as young women, enabling them to download malware.

Feb 17, 2020

The presence of white supremacists within the Canadian Armed Forces presents the leadership with an array of challenges, notably what constitutes “hateful conduct.” Senior staff say they have identified areas for improvement and hope to announce countermeasures in the coming months.

Feb 17, 2020

Seven variants of a malware program associated with North Korea prompted the U.S. intelligence community to issue a warning 17 February to the public and private sectors. The “Hidden Cobra” program evidently includes a remote-access trojan which would enable hackers to upload and download files as well as monitor victims’ microphones, clipboards and screens.

Feb 17, 2020

Cost escalation is expected to be on the agenda when Prime Minister Boris Johnston’s new government reviews defence and other procurement processes. More than 90 per cent of programs have been on time and within budget, particularly those executed by small and medium-sized suppliers, suggesting that the focus is on larger and more costly programs.

Feb 17, 2020

More than $1 billion for 75 light attack aircraft is included in the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command budget and the preference is for rapid acquisition of an off-the-shelf platform. “Whatever it turns out being is going to be non-developmental,” says SOC Commander LGen James Slife. The leading contenders, both single-engine turboprops, are the Embraer-Sierra Nevada A-29 Super Tucano and the Textron AT-6B Wolverine.

Feb 17, 2020

President Donald Trump has suggested that the Department of Defense should consider disciplining a former White House national security aide, Army LCol Alex Vindman, who testified in his recent impeachment trial.

Feb 17, 2020

NATO defence ministers have agreed to expand the Canadian-led military training mission in Iraq. In announcing the plan during a two-day meeting in Brussels, Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg says details needed to be worked out and approved by the Iraqi government.

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