IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Jan 15, 2020

When the six contenders to be the Democratic Party’s candidate in the U.S. presidential election in November met in Iowa, defence policy was a hot topic. There was evident consensus at the 14 January debate on the need for a reduced presence in the Middle East and former vice-president Joe Biden acknowledged that his support for the war in Iraq was a mistake.

Jan 15, 2020

Former Defence Minister Peter MacKay confirmed 15 January that he is in the race to succeed Andrew Scheer as leader of the Conservative Party leadership. “I’m in,” he said on social media. “Stay tuned.” A Member of Parliament from Nova Scotia from 1997 to 2015, he had held several cabinet portfolios, including Foreign Affairs as well as National Defence. 

Jan 15, 2020

Two memoranda so far this month show what U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has in mind for the Pentagon’s priorities. He said 02 January that “aggressive reforms” will enable the military to deal with budget constraints going forward and, four days later, highlighted how he wants to squeeze $5 billion from various agencies.

Jan 15, 2020

Despite the fact that it has been suspended from acquiring Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters, Turkey will keep making parts for other countries until at least the end of this year, according to Ellen Lord, Undersecretary for Acquisition and Sustainment in the U.S. Department of Defense. She says that while most of the work in Turkey will end by March, Lockheed Martin and its engine supplier, Pratt & Whitney, have longer-term contracts in place.

Jan 15, 2020

The U.S. military is accused in a lawsuit of failing to meet deadlines set by Congress for correcting veterans' requests to correct records which block their access to benefits. The National Veterans Legal Services Program says delays by the Boards for Correction of Military Records affect thousands of former Army Navy and Air Force personnel.

Jan 15, 2020

A federal appeals court has ruled that a legal challenge to the U.S. Air Force’s dismissal of two HIV-positive airmen can continue.  The tribunal which heard the case ruled unanimously that the USAF had failed to consider current treatments and risk factors in discharging the airmen in 2018. A circuit court judge had already ruled in favor of the plaitiffs.

Jan 15, 2020

Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev resigned 15 January shortly after President Vladimir Putin proposed constitutional changes which could keep in him power after his current term expires in 2024. Medvedev said there could be “significant changes” in the balance between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.

Jan 15, 2020

The United States “is better at cyber than anyone else” or so says President Donald Trump. Asked during a televised interview about a possible cyberattack from Iran, he replied that if it did happen, “we’ll be able to hit very hard.” He characterized cyber as “a new form of war” which the U.S. has “very well under control.”

Jan 15, 2020

Newly-released security camera imagery shows that two missiles, fired 23 seconds apart by an Iran Revolutionary Guard ground battery, struck Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 out of Tehran 08 January, killing all 176 persons aboard, including 57 Canadian citizens.

Jan 15, 2020

The Royal Canadian Air Force plans to spend approximately $800 million on new weapons, sensors and defensive systems for its remaining Boeing CF-18 fighters, according to RCAF Commander LGen Al Meinzinger. This is atop $3 billion for other life expension work as well as the purchase of 18 Hornets from the Royal Australian Air Force.

Jan 14, 2020

A suggestion by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the 57 Canadian citizens killed in Iran’s missile shootdown of a Ukrainian jetliner last week were the victims of heightened tensions in the region has prompted California Republican Kevin McCarthy, minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, to place the blame squarely on Iran. The aircraft was downed shortly after Iran had fires missiles into Iraq in retaliation for the U.S. assassination in Baghdad of Iranian Gen Qassem Soleimani.

Jan 14, 2020

Ukraine is mounting a coordinated effort to facilitate its joining NATO and the European Union despite what its Dmygro Kuleba, Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, sees as a “discouraging environment. He said during a visit to Washington last month that joining both alliances is vital as his country deals with Russia.

Jan 14, 2020

Having been suspended from the U.S.-led Joint Strike fighter program, Turkey is looking for partners to help develop its own next-generation fighter. It has invited Malaysia and is understood to be considering asking Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Kazakhstan to sign on either as project partners or prospective customers.

Jan 14, 2020

Seven companies are eagerly awaiting U.S. Air Force confirmation of the next phase of a $6.4 billion contract to provide “Red Air” aggressor training for the U.S. Air Force aggressor. A total of 22 USAF bases would participate in the program.

Jan 14, 2020

The U.S. navy plans to install a laser weapon on a Littoral Combat Ship as a way of enhancing LCS lethality and as a platform for development of a family of laser weapons. The trial installation is reported to be a 150-kilowatt high-energy laser developed by Lockheed Martin.

Jan 14, 2020

In a bid to increase its presence in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia, Finland is planning to acquire four multirole icebreaking corvettes. Rauma Marine Construction and Saab, the latter as combat systems provider and integrator, are the primary contractors on the €1-billion project which will see construction begin in 2022 and the ships in service by 2028.

Jan 14, 2020

president Donald Trump plans to divert $7.2 billion from the Department of Defense budget to fund continued construction of his border wall with Mexico this year. That would be five times the amount authorized by Congress and would bring the total spent on the wall during his presidency to $18.4 billion

Jan 14, 2020

The assassination of Iranian Gen Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad 03 January was authorized by President Donald Trump seven months ago, say current and former U.S. administration officials. The order evidently was executable if Iranian aggression resulted in the death of an American but Trump and others in his cabinet have since said the killing was prompted by concerns about what they said were imminent attacks on U.S. embassies.

Jan 14, 2020

Britain, France and Germany say they do not accept Iran’s defence of its decision to remove all limits on its production of enriched uranium as provided for in a 2015 pact. The U.S. withdrew from the agreement last year and now the European partners, along with Russia and China, are trying to maintain the restrictions on a program Iran insists is for peaceful use.

Jan 14, 2020

U.S. Attorney General William Barr wants Apple to unlock two of its iPhones which were owned by a Saudi air force officer who was shot by police after he had killed three persons at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida last month. Insisting 13 January that it is “very important” to know about the shooter’s communications, Barr says Apple has not given investigators “substantive assistance”, a claim the company denies.

Jan 14, 2020

The leaders of several African countries have been told by French President Emmanuel Macron that they are not doing enough to assist French forces involved in major counterinsurgency operations in their countries.

Jan 14, 2020

An Iranian Judiciary official said 14 January that “extensive investigations” into last week’s missile shoot-down of a Ukrainian jetliner has resulted in an undisclosed number of arrests. All 176 persons aboard the Boeing 737-800, including 57 Canadian citizens, died in the crash minutes after Flight PS752 had taken off from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport en route to Kiyv, Ukraine.

Jan 13, 2020

A Pakistani high court in Lahore has revoked a guilty verdict and death sentence handed down last month to former President Pervez Musharraf. A government official explained 13 January that the special judicial tribunal which handed down the original sentence was unconstitutional. The tribunal head also said that the former military leader, who is undergoing medical treatment in Dubai, should die before he could be executed, his body should be hung in public.

Jan 13, 2020

An emergency Ontario-wide alert that woke thousands to warnings of an unspecified “incident” at the Pickering nuclear station near Toronto 12 January was erroneously sent out during a training exercise. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says there was no danger to the public or the environment.

Jan 13, 2020

The Indian Navy’s successful arrested landing on its lone aircraft carrier is being called a major milestone in development of a domestic capability. A protoype Hindustan Aeronautics Tejas light combat jet landed on the Vikramadirtya 11 January after a series of shore-based tests.

Jan 13, 2020

More than a dozen Saudi servicemen training at U.S. military installations evidently are to be be expelled after a review of shootings at a U.S. Naval Air Station in Florida last month. Although not accused of aiding the 21-year-old Saudi Air Force officer who killed three Americans, some are said to have connections to extremist movements while others are accused of possessing child pornography.

Jan 13, 2020

A U.S. Army veteran of deployments in Vietnam and Iraq says the Department of Veterans Affairs won't pay for his prosthetic legs which he now says are unusable. A diabetic whose legs were amputated when gangrene was diagnosed, the 69-year-old says the DVA told him apply for co-payment through Medicaid.

Jan 13, 2020

Unmanned surface vessels can be used for a range of dangerous cross-ocean missions, their design and relatively small size can limit operations in rough seas. The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is trying to address the issue by creating “sea trains” of four or more physically- or data-linked vessels which could exploit wave interference between each other.

Jan 13, 2020

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has reiterated President Donald Trump’s assertion that Iranian Gen Qassem Soleimani was planning attacks on eight U.S. embassies before his recent assassination. However, like Trump, Esper has offered no concrete evidence.

Jan 10, 2020

Iranian state television has reported that its military "unintentionally" shot down the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 minutes after it took off from Tehran International Airport 07 January on a flight to Kyiv, Ukraine. All 176 persons aboard,  including 57 Canadian passengers, were killed. The report that "human error" resulted in a missile strike came at approximately 10 p.m. EST on 10 January -- early in the morning in Tehran.

Jan 10, 2020

Even as he rejected “with certainty” western intelligence reports that an Iranian surface-to-air missile brought down a Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800 minutes after it took off from Tenran, the head of the country’s aviation minister says that “if they are really sure, they should come and show their findings to the world.”

Jan 10, 2020

Before this week’s loss of a Ukrainian International Airlines Boeing 737-800 in Iranian airspace, said to be due to an Iranian missile, experts at the U.S. Rand Corp. think-tank were speculating that the “severe revenge” promised in response to the killing earlier of Gen Qasem Soleimani could come in unconventional ways. “Iran will calibrate meaningful redress with its desire to not provoke a hot war,” they write. “That means the United States should be prepared for the eventuality that Iran's response may not be what we expect.”

Jan 10, 2020

At least 25 Niger army personnel were killed 09 January in a jihadi attack on a military camp along the western border with Mali. More than 60 attackers also died.

Jan 10, 2020

Hoping to give its attack helicopter crews greater standoff attack range, the U.S. Army is trying out Israeli Rafael Spike non-line-of-sight missiles as an interim weapon.

Jan 09, 2020

A divided U.S. House of Representatives wants to force President Donald Trump to get congressional approval of any further military action against Iran. Its 09 January 224-194 vote, almost entirely along party lines, is seen as another constitutional hurdle for Trump as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial.

Jan 09, 2020

Indonesia deployed four F-16 fighters to the South China Sea in a show of force 07 January after formally protesting what it said was a Chinese violation of its exclusive economic zone. Their standoff began in mid-December when a Chinese coast guard vessel accompanied fishing boats off Indonesia's northern Natuna islands.

Jan 09, 2020

Canada has received intelligence indicating an Iranian missile shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight full of Canadians that crashed near Tehran

Jan 08, 2020

There evidently were no U.S. or Iraqi casualties when Iranian missiles hit joint-operation bases in Iraq 07 January. Meanwhile, U.S. officials are floating the notion that Iran intentionally targeted areas not populated by Americans.

Jan 07, 2020

Iran is claiming responsibility for missiles that struck a U.S.-Iraqi air base 07 January. State television says the Revolutionary Guard had fired “tens” of warheads at Al Asad base in revenge for the U.S. assassination of Iranian Gen Qassem Soleimani last week. Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has flown to Brussels for emergency talks with his French and German counterparts about the situation in the Middle East.

Jan 07, 2020

The U.S. Defense Contract Management Agency says there has been a “marked improvement” in Lockheed Martin’s deliveries of F-35 fighters in 2019, mostly on time and occasionally early. The review comes as the company seeks approval for full-rate production by the end of 2020. An official says the DCMA, which has inspectors at Lockheed Martin’s main production facilities, is “encouraged” by the development.

Jan 07, 2020

GenJonathan Vance, the Chief of the Defence Staff, turned to social media 07 January to confirm the suspension of the Canadian Armed Forces’ lead in the NATO training mission in Iraq and their role in the U.S.-led Op IMPACT hunt for the remnants of the Islamic State. “The situation in Iraq is complex," he said in a note to the families of the deployed CAR personnel. “It is best to pause our work there in order to fully concentrate our attention and efforts towards the safety and security of our personnel.”

Jan 07, 2020

More than 30 persons died and hundreds have been injured in a stampede as Iranians flocked to the burial of Gen Qassem Soleimani, killed in Iraw by a U.S. drone strike along with several other senior officials. The interment in his hometown of Kerman was postponed.

Jan 07, 2020

In a bid to maintain operational security and prevent cyberattacks, the U.S. directed 3,500 paratroopers being deployed to the Middle East not to take any personal electronic devices.

Jan 07, 2020

The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany met in Brussels 07 January for urgent talks on their governments’ response to Iran’s decision to scrap uranium enrichment limits agreed to in 2015. The U.S. walked away from the agreement in 2018. 

Jan 07, 2020

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is delaying the addition of more illnesses related to the military’s widespread use of “Agent Orange” defoliant during the Vietnam War. Department Secretary Robert Wilkie says the list of proven illnesses won’t be expanded until at least late 2020. He is waiting for the results of two long-awaited peer-reviewed studies to be submitted to or published in scientific journals.

Jan 07, 2020

British-registered vessels transiting the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea between Oman and Iran, are to have Royal Navy escorts as tension in the region escalates. A Duke-class Type 23 frigate and a Daring-class Type 45 destroyer are reported to have been deployed.

Jan 07, 2020

U.S. manufacturers of machine learning and artificial intelligence software capable of analyzing satellite imagery face new restrictions under an interim final rule change published 06 January in the Federal Register. Such software is to be classified as a dual-use technology and subject to the same controls as arms exports. Taking effect in early March, the new rule (85 Fed. Reg. 9) applies to software which would “provide a graphical user interface that enables the user to identify objects (e.g., vehicles, houses, etc.) from within geospatial imagery.”

Jan 06, 2020

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has ruled out on cultural sites in Iran if Washington’s conflict with Tehran escalates further. In stark contrast to a threat by President Donald Trump to destroy “significant” cultural targets, Esper acknowledged 06 January that hitting sites with no military value would be a war crime, “We will follow the laws of armed conflict,” he told reporters at the Pentagon.

Jan 06, 2020

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said 06 January that there are no plans to permanently shut down the alliance’s Canadian-led training mission in Iraq. Citing the current suspension due to “the security situation on the ground” since the U.S. killing of Iraqi Gen Qassem Soleimani, Stoltenberg said NATO is ready to restart the training “when the situation makes that possible.”

Jan 06, 2020

In what’s being described as a slip of the tongue, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said 05 January that “we are turning Israel into a nuclear power.” He immediately corrected himself to say “energy power”, but Israel, long believed to have nuclear weapons, has neither confirmed nor denied the possibility.

Jan 06, 2020

Benjamin H. Friedman, policy director at Defense Priorities, says the “reckless” decision to kill Iranian Gen Qassem Soleimani, and several other Iraqi and Iranian officials in Baghdad, can be an impetus for the belated exit of U.S. forces from Iraq. Friedman acknowledges that while Soleimani had “blood on his hands”, U.S. foreign policy does not exist to dispense global justice.

Jan 06, 2020

Militaries worldwide currently depend mainly on bottled water or purification tablets to keep ground troops hydrated but the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is soliciting development of technologies which would extract water directly from the atmosphere.

Jan 06, 2020

A vote in the Iraqi Parliament calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops isn’t being seen by the U.S. as a final formal decision. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the U.S. is confident that the Iraqi people want a maintained presence and until their government decides otherwise, it is staying put.

Jan 06, 2020

Despite repeated warnings, hundreds of civilians entered Canadian Armed Forces bases, including some restricted areas, during the 2016 Pokémon GO craze. A U.S. report, stating that “attempts at humor” or “any resemblance to news may be purely coincidental,” takes a look at a CAF report finally received by the CBC.

Jan 05, 2020

The government of Iran says it will no longer adhere to a multinational 2015 agreement to limit its uranium enrichment program or related research and development. The announcement followed a cabinet meeting.

Jan 05, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump says that if Iran targets Americans or U.S. assets in response to the killing of Iranian Gen Quassem Soleimani, as many as 52 Iranian sites, including some important to the country’s culture, will be hit “very fast and very hard.”

Jan 05, 2020

U.S. President Trump evidently is undeterred by suggestions that retaliatory strikes on cultural sites of significant to Iran could be consider a war crime under international laws. “They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people,” he said 05 January. “And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way.”

Jan 05, 2020

At least 30 people have been killed and 33 others wounded in an air strike at a military school in Tripoli. The UN-based government blamed a rebel group for the attack, which the rebels denied, and the government has called for a UN Security Council emergency session.

Jan 05, 2020

One U.S. servicemember and two Defense Department contractors died 05 January when their counterterrorism base in Kenya was attacked by Al-Shabab militants.

Jan 04, 2020

Canadian-led training of Iraqi security and armed forces has been suspended in the aftermath of the U.S. killing of Irianian military leader Gen Qassem Soleimani. “The safety of our personnel in Iraq is paramount,” a NATO spokesman confirmed. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says the the overall mandate of the NATO mission and Canada's anti-ISIS deployment “remain the same.”

Jan 03, 2020

Approximately 3,000 members of the 82nd Airborne Division are being deployed to the Middle East to bolster regional security and the United States’ ability to respond to expected violence after an air strike killed Iranian Gen Qassem Soliemani in Baghdad. The troops had been put on notice earlier in the week amid growing tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Jan 03, 2020

The Conservative Party of Canada will selected a successor to outgoing party leader Andrew Scheer at a leadership convention in Toronto 27 June. Former deputy leader Lisa Raitt confirmed the plan 03 January, saying that the relatively limited time means potential candidates will have to decide quickly whether to run.

Jan 03, 2020

Within hours of U.S.  confirmation that it had used an air strike to kill Iran’s Gen Qassem Soleimani 03 January, questions were being raised about whether it would push the two countries closer to all-out war. Killing a senior member of the Iranian establishment, a direct attack on the structure of a sovereign state, is seen as inherently different from killing the head of a stateless terrorist organization. 

Jan 02, 2020

Residents and tourists trapped by bushfires around a southwestern coastal town were rescued 03 January by the Royal Australian Navy. An initial 963 persons were voluntarily evacuated by landing craft to two larger naval vessels standing offshore.

Jan 03, 2020

Gen Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, was killed 03 January by a U.S. missile strike as he was leaving Baghdad Airport. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei immediately vowed “severe revenge” for the killing of Soleimani, who had spearheaded Iran’s operations in the Middle East. Approved by President Donald Trump, the strike was described by the Pentagon as preemptive.

Jan 02, 2020

Russia’s recent announcement that it successfully tested a hypersonic missile evidently did not entirely surprise the Rand Corp., an internationally-respected U.S. think-tank. In fact, it pointed out 02 January, the concept was highlighted in a 2017 report which described the technology as a “destabilizing threat.”

Jan 02, 2020

Legislation which enable the Turkish government to deploy military personnel as advisors and trainers to Libya has been approved by Turkey's parliament. Egypt immediately denounced the measure, warning that it would “negatively affect” regional stability.

Jan 02, 2020

Lockheed Martin closed out 2019 with $2.35 billion in five new Department of Defense contracts for the F-35 program. One contract, worth $1.9 billion, is for domestic and export customers’ recurring logistics services.

Jan 02, 2020

Australian naval ships and aircraft have been deployed to help communities ravaged by wildfires which have driven thousands of residents and tourists to southeast coastal areas. At least 15 deaths have been reported and hundreds of homes destroyed in the region which is expected to experience continued record high temperatures in the days ahead.

Jan 02, 2020

Gen Shen Yi-ming, Taiwan’s chief of general staff, was among at least eight persons who died in the 02 January crash of a Blackhawk helicopter when its crew attempted an emergency landing in mountainous terrain. They had been flying to an army base in northeastern Taiwan for an inspection tour.

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