IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Sep 22, 2020

Japan's defense budget for the upcoming fiscal year is ¥5.4 trillion (approximately C$65.6 billion). A 1.63 per cent rise from 2020, it will be the 10th consecutive increase.

Sep 22, 2020

U.S. Army Futures Command has given the green light to development of electrically-powered tactical and combat vehicles. “The requirement also aims to increase operational reach across all maneuver formations through electric propulsion, which offers a variety of operational and tactical benefits,” it says. “These include the potential to double operational duration, implement silent mobility . . . and potentially reduce the Army’s logistical burden by nearly half when fully implemented.”

Sep 22, 2020

Airbus Defence and Space has been selected by the European Space Agency to coordinate development and construction of two radar satellites for monitoring polar ice and snow topography. The €300-million venture to improve understanding of climate change and maritime operations involves suppliers in 19 countries.

Sep 22, 2020

A former U.S. Coast Guard commandant, Adm Paul Zukunft, says efforts by the U.S. and its allies to counter growing Chinese and Russian presences in the High Arctic are hampered inadequate intelligence. “We have significant domain awareness challenges, and that really begins in the high latitudes,” he told a recent virtual conference. “Things start to get pretty dark once you get up higher than 72 degrees north.”

Sep 22, 2020

The commanding officer of the Northfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia has been dismissed as the U.S. Navy struggles with returning ships to service. A USN spokesman said Capt Kai Torkelson’s dismissal was “tied to issues related to a loss of confidence in leadership to correct underlying performance issues.” A recent Government Accountability Office audit highlighted “persistent and substantial maintenance delays that hinder the readiness of aircraft carriers and submarines.”

Sep 22, 2020

The recently-retired Chief Learning Officer of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, John R. Kroger, says he was “deeply impressed” by the professionalism of the personnel with whom he served, but fears that the USN has “drifted badly off course” under the Trump administration. The USMC veteran and now president of a global non-profit organization says short-term civilian leaders’ failures have damaged the USN’s effectiveness, undermined morale, and jeopardized national security.

Sep 22, 2020

An Army reservist who also is a New York City police officer has been charged with being an “intelligence asset” for China, monitoring the Tibetan independence movement in the U.S. Court files state that Tibetan expatriate Baimadajie Angwang worked for handlers at the Chinese consulate in New York.

Sep 21, 2020

The U.S. has imposed new sanctions on 27 individuals in Iran’s defense ministry and elsewhere in its nuclear program, a move rejected by key European allies as well as Russia and China. It also imposed new sanctions on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, accusing him of having conspired with Iran “to flout the UN arms embargo.”

Sep 21, 2020

The U.S. Government Accountability Office says the Veterans Benefits Administration could do a better job of handling the cases of some 18,000 former military service personnel now living abroad. While it says claims processing has been accelerated in recent years, it has made five suggestions for further improvements.

Sep 21, 2020

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has given all federal departments and agencies until the end of today to deal with a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows which was disclosed more than a month ago. The agency warns that failure to apply an update released by Microsoft could have dire consequences.

Sep 21, 2020

David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. from 2016 to 2019, has been cited by the federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner for improper lobbying less than a year after he left office. Nine ministers, aides and senior public servants were involved in the meetings requested by MacNaughton on behalf of Palantir Technologies Canada, a subsidiary of a privately-held U.S. software company.

Sep 21, 2020

Military spouses and common-law partners are the focus of a Department of National Defence initiative designed to open up opportunities for employment in the federal public service overall. The new initiative builds on an existing platform designed to identify openings within DND.

Sep 21, 2020

The only NATO operational command in North America, Joint Force Command Norfolk, has been stood up in Virginia. It is tasked with reinforcing the alliance’s Atlantic presence with an array of multi-domain capabilities. The Department of National Defence has told FrontLine that two Canadians have been posted to JFCN but that its complement will be increased to six by mid-2021.

Sep 21, 2020

The global proliferation of new weapons puts North America’s political autonomy and financial stability at risk, according to the CDA Institute. Among other things, it urges NORAD to give priority to development of All Domain Awareness capabilities to detect, identify, and track new threats at great distances.

Sep 21, 2020

The German and French defence ministers used a visit to Airbus Defence and Space headquarters in Manching, Germany, to stress the importance of fostering key European defence programs. Guillaume Faury, CEO of the parent Airbus Group, called the unprecedented joint visit “a clear signal of the importance of a strong and capable defence industry for Europe.”

Sep 21, 2020

Ever since a senior U.S. Air Force official disclosed recently that a prototype next-generation fighter had been tested, there has been intense speculation about how it was manufactured. Washington-based analyst Byron Callan offers some insight.

Sep 18, 2020

This year's wreath laying ceremony, on Sunday 20 Sept, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain can be watched on Facebook this year, as COVID restricts spectators on site. Vintage Wings of Canada aircraft, which represent those flown in the Battle of Britain by the Royal Canadian Air Force, will fly over the Beechwood National Military Cemetery at an altitude no lower than 1000 feet above the highest point of the cemetery before resuming a higher flying altitude.

Sep 18, 2020

DND is making it easier for military spouses and common-law partners to find secure and meaningful jobs. Today, the Military Spouse Employment Initiative will open up opportunities for them across the entire federal public service.

Sep 17, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump “personally would have no problem” selling Lockheed Martin F-35s to the United Arab Emirates or other Middle East buyers despite objections from Israel. He shared his stance ahead of 15 September White House signing agreements designed to normalize Israel’s relations with the UAE and. Bahrain.

Sep 17, 2020

President Donald Trump says he wanted Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad assassinated in revenge for his forces’ use of chemical weapons against civilians in 2017. “I had him all set,” Trump said in a TV interview, adding that his Defense Secretary at the time, retired Marine Gen Jim Mattis, “was against most of that stuff.”

Sep 17, 2020

Iran has rejected two proposed Canadian class-action lawsuits over its missile shoot-down of Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 shortly after takeoff from Tehran last January. “The Canadian court has no jurisdiction,” a foreign ministry spokesman says. However, a Toronto lawyer involved in one action says the case is within Canadian jurisdiction through the 2012 Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act.

Sep 17, 2020

The relationship between increasingly advanced and more complex aircraft electronics and pilots’ ability to manage the latest generation of aircraft is being studied by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. In one incident, spatial disorientation evidently caused the Japanese pilot of a Lockheed Martin F-35 to crash into the Pacific.

Sep 17, 2020

With 5G becoming the next generation of mobile telecommunications, China’s involvement in the technology remains a widespread concern because of national security questions. Most of the concern is in the U.S. but it also has become a political conundrum for Canada and other allies. The Australian Strategic Policy Initiative has taken a close look at the issue.

Sep 15, 2020

Less than three hours before Canada was set to announce an estimated $3.6 billion in countervailing tariffs, the U.S. agreed 15 September to scrap President Donald Trump’s 10 percent import tariffs on Canadian aluminum. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the reversal is a sign of common sense in Washington, but the U.S. administration promises monthly reassessments.

Sep 15, 2020

Without disclosing any details, Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, has confirmed that the USAF has flown the prototype of a new fighter. He said 14 September that the Next Generation Air Dominance project has “come so far that full-scale flight demonstrator has already . . . broken a lot of records.”

Sep 15, 2020

Former U.S. Army LCol Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, is scathingly critical of the Administration in his first published interview since he left the service. Among other things, he describes Trump as a “useful idiot” or a dupe of authoritarian regimes, and “fellow traveller” with Vladimir Putin in that he shares the Russian leader’s loathing for democratic norms.

Sep 15, 2020

In a move reminiscent of the Cold War, the U.S. is shifting its military training emphasis back to large-scale warfighting exercises, says Matthew Donovan, Undersecretary of the Air Force. He says the services had grown accustomed to smaller counterinsurgency operations but a larger-scale approach would help the Pentagon to implement the National Defense Strategy’s emphasis on competition with Russia and China.

Sep 15, 2020

U.S. intelligence source say that Iran, seeking retaliation for the drone killing of MGen Qassem Soleimani last January, has been considering killing the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, Lana Marks, who has been made aware of the threat.

Sep 15, 2020

Adm Charles Richard, head of U.S. Strategic Command, says China’s growing inventory of nuclear weapons and delivery platforms is “inconsistent” with its stated “no first use” policy. “When China sets its mind to something, they are very impressive in their ability to go accomplish it,” he says. “We're going to have to move equally as fast in order to pace that threat.”

Sep 15, 2020

Dan Sullivan, the junior U.S. Republican Senator from Alaska, says that when he first arrived in Washington in 2015, he discerned little interest in the Arctic. Nowadays, he says, there is considerably more awareness of the strategic value of his home state and the Arctic in general. His senior colleague, Lisa Murkowski, notes that “not all wars are going to be fought in the desert.”

Sep 15, 2020

As part of a drive to modernize all elements of the Hellenic Armed Forces, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has confirmed plans to buy four new frigates as well as six new Dassault Rafale fighters and 12 formerly flown by the French Air Force. “It’s time to balance needs and opportunities,” he said 12 September. “It is the price of our place on the map.”

Sep 14, 2020

With the federal government having indicated that it would like to name a successor to Gen Jonathan Vance as Chief of the Defence Staff before the new parliamentary session begins 23 September, is an announcement this week possible? Interviews with some potential replacements were reportedly held last week.

Sep 14, 2020

With little more than a week left before the second session of the 43rd Parliament begins 23 September, the federal cabinet is meeting for two days to address the ongoing challenge of COVID-19 and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s commitment to “a detailed vision for the future and a plan to keep Canadians safe while we rebuild a stronger Canada that works for everyone.”

Sep 14, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden says that if elected President in November, he doesn’t think defence budget cuts by a Democratic Party administration are “inevitable” but that budget priorities need to be revisited. “We have to focus more on unmanned capacity, cyber and IT, in a very modern world that is changing rapidly,” he says, adding that some of his advisors have suggested that “in certain areas the budget is going to have to be increased.”

Sep 14, 2020

Yoshihide Suga, long-time chief cabinet secretary to outgoing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has swept an election to succeed him as leader of the Liberal Democratic Party which has governed the country for all but four years since World War II. Among other things, he has been instrumental in pushing through contentious measures permitting the Japan Self-Defence Force to participate in overseas combat missions.

Sep 14, 2020

A U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft is reported to have used the cover of a civilian airliner’s transponder signal for a mission close to the Chinese mainland last week. The RC-135W Rivet Joint, a variant of the Boeing C-135 Stratolifter, took off from Okinawa and flew past Taiwan before loitering off Hainan Island, home to China’s nuclear ballistic submarine fleet.

Sep 14, 2020

A lobbying scrap between Boeing and Lockheed Martin has erupted into the public arena as the U.S. Air Force considers whether to procure one or two types of fighters: Boeing’s latest iteration of its F-15 Eagle or LM’s F-35 Lightning II.

Sep 14, 2020

Hoping to compete more effectively with China and Russia in artificial intelligence development, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said his department will launch a new partnership with more than 10 countries, possibly this week. The goal is to “create new frameworks and tools for data sharing, cooperative development, and strengthened interoperability” among allies.

Sep 14, 2020

French and Swedish laboratories have confirmed German conclusions that Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, a binary chemical weapon initially developed by a Soviet research agency in the 1970s. Navalny, the most visible opponent of President Vladimir Putin, was flown to Germany last month after falling ill on a domestic flight. The Kremlin continues to deny responsibility.

Sep 14, 2020

Republican congressman Ron Johnson, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcomittee for Europe, has indicated that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “disturbing” foreign policy could lead to a U.S. withdrawal from Incirlik Air Force. “We hope for the best, but we have to plan for the worst,” he says. Erdogan has threatened U.S. access to Incirlik and has displayed a growing affinity for Russia.

Sep 14, 2020

Protesting the “injustice and ineffectiveness” of the federal government's prohibition on civil ownership of “assault” rifles, an estimated crowd of 800 marchers descended on Parliament Hill 12 September even though most MPs had gone home to their ridings when the previous was prorogued. The event was coordinated by the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights.

Sep 12, 2020

The Commander of the Army, LGen Wayne Eyre, says all ties will be severed “within weeks” with a Canadian Ranger who supported far-right groups and called the Prime Minister a “treasonous bastard.” on social media. The Army has been trying to release him for a year but has been unable to pursue customary disciplinary action because Eric Myggland’s activities took place on his own time. “To be very clear on this,” Eyre says, “we expect our individuals, whether they be full-timers or part-timers, to embrace the values of our organization.”

Sep 12, 2020

The 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are being pressed by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “act” against China’s buildup and militarization of islands in the South China Sea. “Don’t let the Chinese Communist Party walk over us and our people,” he said during a video call to the alliance’s annual conference. “Don’t just speak up, but act.”

Sep 12, 2020

The foreign ministers of India and China say their countries have agreed to back away from a standoff which has resulted in violent confrontations along a poorly demarcated border. Calling the situation “not in the interest of either side,” they say that “border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions.”

Sep 12, 2020

Britain, Denmark, Norway and the U.S. have completed an air and naval exercise designed to uphold freedom of navigation in the Arctic.

Sep 12, 2020

A year after Cameron Ortis, director its national intelligence coordination centre was charged with sharing information with a foreign entity, the RCMP evidently has not upgraded its protocols despite an internal review. “If the RCMP is publicly saying that they haven't done anything or haven't implemented any of the changes that maybe need to happen in terms of increasing the security posture, what are they telling allies?” asks Jessica Davis, formerly with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and now head of a private consultancy, “They’re obviously still receiving intelligence from the allies. So is the messaging the same to them? And if so, how are they taking that?”

Sep 12, 2020

Rasmus Hindrén, a former senior military advisor in Finland, has been named Head of International Relations in the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, effective 1 October. Succeeding Kirsti Narinen, who has returned to Finland’s foreign affairs ministry, he will be responsible for maintaining and developing relations with the Centre’s 28 participating states, the EU and NATO.

Sep 12, 2020

Canadian officials say they expect Ottawa to retaliate by 16 September to the U.S. administration’s 10 per cent tariff on imports of Canadian aluminum. Ottawa has threatened some $3.6 billion in countermeasures unless Washington backed down on President Donald Trump’s initiative.

Sep 11, 2020

The U.N. Security Council has been asked to refer actions on both sides of Yemen’s civil war to the International Criminal Court for possible war crimes prosecution, including U.S.-based Saudi forces and Houthi insurgents.  The allegations are laid out in a report from an expert panel designated by the U.N. Human Rights Council, which also urges the Security Council to expand sanctions against individuals involved in the conflict.

Sep 10, 2020

Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, senior U.S. commander in the Middle East, has confirmed plans for partial troop reductions in Iraq and Afghanistan before the upcoming U.S. presidential election. The force in Iraq will be cut to 3,000 from 5,200 by the end of September and the presence in Afghanistan to 4,500 from 8,600 by late October.

Sep 10, 2020

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne and European Commission Vice-President Josep Borrell have reaffirmed their transatlantic commitment to tackle COVID-19 as well and other challenges. In a statement issued 10 September, they said that, among other things, they fully support the World Health Organization’s pandemic work, continue to cooperate in identifying and responding to foreign threats such as state-sponsored disinformation, and remain committed to the Paris Agreement climate goals.

Sep 10, 2020

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay marked World Suicide Prevention Day 10 September with a reminder that the suicide rate among vets remains higher than the national average. While “there are no easy solutions,” they say it remains a “priority” for their departments.

Sep 10, 2020

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs identified 55 suicides among veterans at its facilities in a recent two-year period but the Government Accountability Office says a review of departmental data found errors and has recommended improvement in how the DVA tracks and analyzes its own information so as to prevent “on-campus” deaths.

Sep 10, 2020

Iran's navy, air force and ground forces have begun a three-day exercise in the Gulf of Oman near the internationally-strategic Strait of Hormuz. A senior commander says the exercise is designed to improve “readiness in confronting foreign threats and any possible invasion.”

Sep 10, 2020

On the heels of a simulator test in which an AI defeated a human pilot, the U.S. is planning live trials pitting full-scale AI-controlled aircraft against human pilots in 2024.

Sep 10, 2020

Unmanned air, surface and underwater systems are to be deployed in the Pacific by the U.S. Navy next year to test their effectiveness in a fleetwide combat environment.

Sep 10, 2020

The U.S. Marine Corps plans to pay some pilots significant phased retention bonuses in an attempt to address personnel shortfalls. Fixed-wing pilots evidently are in the highest demand. The bonuses would be equal annuities over the length of a renewed contract.

Sep 10, 2020

French and Czech suppliers as well as domestic companies are short-listed for a proposed Polish procurement of several hundred armoured personnel carriers.

Sep 09, 2020

The recent decision to render the Royal Canadian Navy's junior rankings gender-neutral was not entirely legal, says LCol (Ret) Rory Fowler, a lawyer now in private practice. He says the Department of National Defence circumvented channels by changing regulations without proper authorization, an oversight DND has acknowledged.

Sep 09, 2020

British, Norwegian and U.S. ships are holding exercises with Norwegian and British frigates in international waters off Russia’s Arctic coast but within its claimed exclusive economic management zone. The exercises are taking place near the Kola Peninsula, home to Russia’s main submarine base and its huge Northern Fleet.

Sep 09, 2020

President Donald Trump’s statement that the U.S. military likes to prosecute wars to keep the defence industry “happy” has elicited a response from the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville. “I can assure the American people that the senior leaders would only recommend sending our troops to combat when it’s required for national security and a last resort,” he says.

Sep 09, 2020

Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $13.3 billion Ground Based Strategic Deterrent contract to build the next-generation U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles. Northrop says the new missiles will begin replacing 1970s-vintage LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBMs in 2029.

Sep 09, 2020

Lockheed Martin is gearing up to supply Poland with long-range unmanned aerial systems to enhance the operational capabilities of its 32 F-35A fighters, deliveries of which are expected to start in 2024. Jack O’Banion, vice president for strategy and customer requirements at LM’s Skunk Works division, says the company sees a “significant overlap” between U.S. and Polish tactical needs.

Sep 09, 2020

A $272-million contract through the U.S. Navy will supply the Czech Republic with eight Bell UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters and four AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters. The company considers the deal a stepping stone to further customers in the region, notably Poland.

Sep 09, 2020

A draft $11.7-billion contract to consolidate networks at 22 U.S. military agencies has been published by the Defense Information Systems Agency. The project would mandate a single service provider to provide “transition, infrastructure, network operations and management engineering and innovation, cybersecurity, and technical refresh support services” by 2026.

Sep 09, 2020

Anecdotal rumblings within government about the impact of COVID-19 on spending priorities are raising questions about whether the ballooning debt from various economic support programs will affect departments and agencies. One approach, to "anchor" budgets at a fixed percentage of gross domestic product, is being advanced by Robert Asselin, a advisor to former Finance Minister Bill Morneau and now Senior Vice-President, Policy at the Business Council of Canada.

Sep 08, 2020

The small Pacific nation of Palau wants the U.S. to build military bases on its archipelago and to deploy U.S. Coast Guard resources to patrol its vast marine reserves 1,500km east of the Philippines. President Tommy Remengesau says he broached the idea with visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who has accused China of  “destabilizing activities” in the region.

Sep 08, 2020

More than 1,600 former Canadian Armed Forces members have benefited from a legislated initiative to find them government employment but a new report suggests that some “barriers” have constrained the five-year-old program. The report says, among other things, that many veterans were simply unaware of the program.

Sep 08, 2020

President Donald Trump says U.S. military leaders “want to do nothing but fight wars so all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”

Sep 08, 2020

The U.S. Army Research Office says a new approach to landmine detection could drastically reduce the incidence of false alarms and the need to dig up anything suspected of being an explosive. The ARO technology evidently relies on inducing vibrations inside a mine which can be measured and deciphered.

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