IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Mar 29, 2021

Ahead of the release of a delayed WHO report on COVID-19, one of its authors says the wildlife trade in China is the most likely vector for viral transmission to humans. This echoes an initial assessment by a multinational team which visited a market in Wuhan earlier this year. “There was definitely a pathway that takes animals coming into that market from all over China, including the places where the nearest relatives of SARS-CoV-2 have been found in bats,” says British zoologist Peter Daszak.

Mar 29, 2021

The weekend deaths of more than 100 protesters against the February military coup in Myanmar, bringing the total to more than 400 since the elected government was overthrown, has drawn global condemnation. The U.S. has accused the country’s military leaders, who celebrated Armed Forces Day March 27, of carrying out a “reign of terror” and a dozen countries’ defence ministers issued an unusual joint condemnation.

Mar 29, 2021

Taiwan’s latest quadrennial defence review is designed to increase its self-reliance on defence by continuing, among other things, to enhance its asymmetric capabilities against China. The review also stresses the need to pursue long-range strike capabilities.

Mar 29, 2021

RCAF Directorate of Flight Safety has concluded its investigation into the May 2020 snowbirds accident that injured Captain Richard MacDougall and claimed the life of Capt Jenn Casey.

Mar 26, 2021

Army LGen Wayne Ayre, the acting Chief of the Defence Staff, has pulled the plug on Operation Honour, the high-profile campaign against sexual misconduct in the ranks. “We will . . . harvest what has worked, learn from what hasn't, and develop a deliberate plan to go forward,” he said in a March 26 message to all CAF personnel.”

Mar 26, 2021

Twenty Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone today in what is seen as an escalation of tensions. The island republic, considered by China as a “rogue” province, said its air force monitored the incursion and warned the intruders by radio.

Mar 26, 2021

Canada is among U.S. allies borrowing navigation gear which uses a new GPS signal that’s difficult to jam. The three-year arrangement with Space Force will afford more real-world and laboratory testing. Britain, France, Germany and South Korea also are involved.

Mar 26, 2021

Virginia-based BWXT Advanced Technologies and X-Energy, headquartered in Maryland, have been chosen by the U.S. Department of Defense to move forward with development of portable nuclear reactors for use in the field. The DoD’s Project Pele wants reactors which can generate up to five megawatts of electricity for at least three years.

Mar 25, 2021

Auditor-General Karen Hogan said today that although the federal government was clearly unprepared at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago, the public service “rose to the challenge and delivered” an array of support programs. She did highlight some logistics issues but pointed out in her first report to Parliament that “when multi departmental coordination is prioritized and focused on outcomes, the public service can make it work.”

Mar 25, 2021

The federal government has further updated its 2016 guidelines on the security challenges presented by foreign investments. “Some of these Canadian companies possess sensitive personal data or develop and manufacture sensitive technologies that form part of critical supply chains,” Innovation Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne explained March 24. The government last updated the guidelines in April 2020.

Mar 25, 2021

The acting Chief of the Defence Staff, Army LGen Wayne Ayre, has told a House of Commons committee that he wants a “playbook” on handling allegations of misconduct by senior military officers. He also suggested that Operation Honour, the Department of National Defence’s current campaign to stamp out misconduct, may be outdated.

Mar 24, 2021

Transatlantic unity is the key to managing threats from China as well as Russia, says NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “As long as we stand together, we can deal with both a rising China and an assertive and aggressive Russia,” he said March 23, signalling a heightened awareness in the alliance that the U.S. rivalry with China could require European powers to reorient their foreign policies.

Mar 24, 2021

The U.S. and China are in a “superpower marathon” as the latter invests hugely in key technologies, according to the director of the Defence Department’s innovation unit. “It's the challenge of our time,” Michael Brown said March. “It's the national security challenge of our generation and it probably is going to last many, many years.”

Mar 24, 2021

Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman will compete for a contract to supply the U.S. with next-generation interceptors to replace ground-based anti-ballistic missile systems in Alaska and California.

Mar 24, 2021

NATO allies Norway and Germany are jointly procuring a total of six submarines from Thyssenkrupp, headquartered in Essen. The value of the Norwegian contract for four boats is worth the equivalent of some C$6.75 billion while the German procurement still requires parliamentary approval. The joint purchase also would involve development of a new missile.

Mar 24, 2021

A proposal by Britain’s Rolls-Royce to sell a Norwegian subsidiary, Bergen Engines, to Russia has been suspended by the Norwegian government. The sale, worth the equivalent of some $229 million, is on hold pending a review of security implications. “The technology possessed by Bergen . . . would have been of significant military strategic interest to Russia, and would have boosted Russian military capabilities,” Norway says.

Mar 24, 2021

The latest British defence industrial strategy evidently will significantly benefit domestic shipbuilding in that the government’s plan widens procurement criteria as Britain shakes programs. The government says the new approach is for national security reasons but the political reality is that shipbuilding generates jobs.

Mar 24, 2021

The first of a new class of multi-mission surface combatants for the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force has been launched by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagasaki. The second of the planned 22 vessels, to be procured at a rate of two a year, is under construction at Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Tamano Works in Okayama.

Mar 23, 2021

Growing concern about costs has prompted the German defence ministry to shelve plans for a new missile-based air defence system. Instead, it will focus on developing new drone countermeasure options and upgrading its aging Patriot missile inventory, starting in 2023.

Mar 23, 2021

Three members of a Tupolev Tu-22M3 bomber (NATO codename “Blinder”) died today when their Russian ejection seats activated during preflight checks at a Russian airbase. The Russian defence ministry says the crew were preparing for a training mission. A fourth crewmember was taken to hospital.

Mar 23, 2021

Germany’s plan for a new natural gas pipeline from Russia is seen by the U.S. as a threat to European security. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, planning to broach it during a NATO meeting in Brussels, said today that the project has “the potential to undermine the interests of Ukraine, Poland, a number of other close partners or allies.”

Mar 23, 2021

The first federal budget in more than two years will be tabled in Parliament April 19 by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. “We will continue to do whatever it takes to support Canadians and Canadian businesses,” she said today in confirming the date. “And we have a plan for jobs and robust growth.”

Mar 23, 2021

As the two-months-old U.S. administration of President Joe Biden wrestles with often conflicting budget priorities, the Department of Defense evidently is feeling the fallout from years of across-the-board program delays. “Policymakers and uniformed leaders are sleepwalking into strategic insolvency,” say the authors of a new study. “If no action is taken, something will break and do so spectacularly. . . . Now is the time for effective mitigation strategies, urgent worst-case scenario planning, hard choices, and political leadership.”

Mar 23, 2021

China has reaffirmed its alliance with North Korea against a growing backdrop of diplomatic isolation and economic problems which have left North Korea increasingly dependent. Responding to his counterpart’s complaints about the need for “unity and cooperation” against “hostile forces,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said his neighbour remains a “valuable asset.”

Mar 22, 2021

In a move reflecting a transition to more use of drones and cyber warfare, the British Army is to reduce its troop numbers to 72,500 from 76,500 by 2025. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said today that the Army had not been at its “established strength” of 82,000 since the middle of the last decade.

Mar 22, 2021

Even though the U.S. has cleared the sale of five Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to Germany, there has been no decision on the $1.8 billion package. The German navy has said it urgently needs new aircraft to deal with Russian operations in the Baltic and Nordic regions but there are indications that an alternative Maritime Airborne Warfare System (MAWS) might be preferable.

Mar 22, 2021

Turkey has established four small bases in northern Syria’s Raqqa province as clashes continue between Turkish-backed elements of the Syrian National Army and its Kurdish-led enemies. The bases are equipped with surveillance towers, radar, vehicles, heavy weapons and drone countermeasures.

Mar 22, 2021

The Royal Navy will acquire a new ship designed to protect strategically-vulnerable submarine cables which carry most of the world’s communications. With a crew of 15 and expected to enter service in 2024 in British and international waters, the Multi Role Ocean Surveillance ship would be “be able to support with other defence tasks, including exercises and operations in the Arctic which will become an increasingly contested area.”

Mar 22, 2021

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is discounting reports that China had banned his companies automobiles from military facilities due to fears that onboard cameras could be used to gather intelligence. “There's a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information,” he says. “If Tesla used cars to spy in China or anywhere, we will get shut down.”

Mar 19, 2021

The federal government and the Trnsportation Safety Board say that Iran’s report on the downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet over Tehran in January 2020 failed to support Iran’s claim that the Boeing 737-800 was shot down by missiles due to human error. “In short, the report says ‘what’ happened but it doesn't answer the ‘why?’,” TSB Chair Kathy Fox told reporters March 18. That essentially echoed criticism by Transport minister Omar Alghabra and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau.

Mar 19, 2021

Chinese and U.S. officials meeting March 18 in Alaska exchanged sharp comments in the first high-level talks in front of the cameras but a U.S. official said a subsequent closed-door session had been “substantive, serious and direct.” The U.S. had reiterated criticism of, among other things, China’s treatment of its Muslim Uigher population while China accused the U.S. of inciting countries “to attack China.”

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Mar 19, 2021

Pakistan’s army chief, Gen Qamar Javed Bajway, wants his country and India to “bury the past” now that they have a ceasefire agreement in place in a border region the two nuclear powers have squabbled over for decades. However, he says, it was up to India to create a “conducive environment” and said the United States had a role to play in ending regional conflicts.

Mar 19, 2021

Representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban, along with international observers, were in Moscow March 18 for talks aimed at jump-starting stalled peace talks. The one-day meeting was the first of three planned international conference ahead of the current May 1 deadline for withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops.

Mar 19, 2021

Laying sea mines is one role the U.S. Navy is contemplating for its large Orca unmanned submarines, five of which are being built by Boeing, says the USN’s deputy chief of naval operations. VAdm James Kilby told a House of Representatives subcommittee March 18 that the vessel, at least 25 metres in length, will include a mine-laying module and that the USN plans to use the prototype “to see if we can achieve the requirements to do that mission.”

Mar 19, 2021

Israel’s Ministry of Defense hopes to develop navigation technologies which would not rely on what it says are easily-disrupted global positioning systems. State-owned Israel Aerospace Industries has been tasked with developing inertial sensors which it says would be a “game changer” for tactical navigation.

Mar 19, 2021

California-based Red 6 Aerospace has proposed the use of artificial intelligence and augmented reality in training U.S. Air Force pilots to dogfight in the air in real time. Company CEO Daniel Robinson, the first Royal Air Force pilot to train on the Lockheed-Martin F-22 stealth fighter, says it would be a more affordable and effective approach to advanced training.

Mar 19, 2021

The troubled trinational European plan for a new fighter aircraft was before a committee French Senate again March 17 with Airbus executives saying there is no “Plan B” for the Future Combat Air System as Dassault CEO Eric Trappier had suggested to the committee. Airbus and Dassault are the two main contractors with work to be shared equally with Germany and Spain. There are disagreements over governance and intellectual property.

Mar 19, 2021

The U.S. Government Accountability Office says Department of Defense delays in developing a simulator for the Lockheed Martin F-35 has frustrated testing and put the brakes on full production. This is despite earlier GAO recommendations on how the long-running problem could be resolved. “Until they finalize the plan and fix the simulator, the next production milestone date—which would formally authorize DOD's transition from development to full production—remains undetermined.”

Mar 19, 2021

A U.S. Special Forces study has found that men and women have different views about gender-neutral bathrooms. Only 33 per cent of the men but 61 per cent of the women said they had no issues sharing facilities; the men who expressed discomfort with the notion cited hygiene and privacy concerns.

Mar 18, 2021

Amalgam Dart, a week-long Arctic air defence exercise, is set to begin March 20. The North American Aerospace Defense Command said March 17 that the high-altitude test of aerospace warning and control capabilities over sparsely-populated areas will involve five airbases in Canada and one in Greenland.

Mar 18, 2021

Prototype robotic combat vehicles are being tested by the U.S. Army ahead of a major company-level assessment next year.

Mar 18, 2021

The U.S. pays more than half of the cost of maintaining huge military presences in Japan and South Korea but the Government Accountability Office considers the deployments a good deal. It says the U.S. investment promotes regional stability, deters potential adversaries and ensures “a favourable balance of power” in the Indo-Pacific region.

Mar 18, 2021

Hours before U.S. and South Korean officials met in Seoul today to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program, the latter’s foreign minister said his country will ignore Washington’s offer of new talks. “We have already declared our stand that no . . . contact and dialogue of any kind can be possible unless the U.S. rolls back its hostile policy,” Choe Son Hui said.

Mar 18, 2021

The White House confirmed today that the U.S. plans to send 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to Canada. Logistics were still being discussed but the U.S. has tens of millions of doses in storage pending regulatory approval.

Mar 17, 2021

In late February, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Joe Biden directed their defence and foreign chiefs to further coordinate Canadian and U.S. cooperation within the North American Aerospace Defence Command. The Canadian government is said to have been largely silent on the issue, which could involve having to cough up 40 per cent of an estimated US$11 billion renewal effort.

Mar 17, 2021

LtCol Eleanor Taylor, deputy commander of the Army’s 36th Brigade Group, a Halifax-based primary reserve force, has resigned over ongoing reports of sexual misconduct in the CAF. “I am sickened by ongoing investigations of sexual misconduct among our key leaders,” the Afghanistan combat veteran said. “Throughout my career, I have observed insidious and inappropriate use of power for sexual exploitation.”

Mar 17, 2021

In a long-awaited review of defence, security and foreign policy released March 16, the British government included plans to increase its stockpile of nuclear warheads. The planned increased to no more than 260 would reverse a decision a decade ago to reduce the inventory to 180 from 225 by the mid-2020s.

Mar 17, 2021

British plans to increase its stockpile of nuclear warheads has been condemned by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as “utter hypocrisy”, given British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s stated concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. “Unlike the UK and allies, Iran believes nukes . . . are barbaric and must be eradicated,” Zarif wrote.

Mar 17, 2021

A majority of people in NATO countries want to remain in the alliance but an international public opinion poll confirms more skepticism in the U.S. that in any of the other 29 member states. The findings were included in NATO’s annual report for 2020, published March 15.

Mar 17, 2021

The U.S. Army has unveiled a new strategy for Arctic operations which would include headquarters in the region as well as units able to work across all domains. It is designed, among other things, to counter Russian and Chinese expansionism.

Mar 17, 2021

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s new director is Stefanie Tompkins. The former Army intelligence officer spent 11 years in various DARPA roles, including a stint as deputy director, before leaving in 2018 to join a research university.

Mar 17, 2021

China’s “coercion and aggression” in Asia has been criticized by Japan and the U.S. at a “two plus two” meeting of officials in Tokyo. Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

Mar 17, 2021

Critics in South Korea's governing Democratic Party are threatening to block draft legislation would would ratify their administration’s defence cost-sharing agreement with the U.S. They say that a 13.9 per cent hike in the domestic share “unfairly” targets the U.S. ally

Mar 17, 2021

Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng has told Taiwan’s parliament that the island state has strengthened deployments in the disputed South China Sea and that the United States has approved the export of technology for Taiwan’s submarine fleet. China has increased military activities near what it considers a “rogue” province. “They are capable of starting a war,” Chiu explained. “My goal is for us to be ready at all times.”

Mar 17, 2021

An international arms embargo imposed on Libya in 2011 is “totally ineffective,” according to a UN report which highlights “extensive, blatant” violations. The report cites an array of backers on both sides of Syria’s civil war, including mercenaries and non-state actors. “Their control of the entire supply chain complicates detection, disruption or interdiction” and “makes any implementation of the arms embargo more difficult.”

Mar 16, 2021

When former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati was released by Iran in a 2016 diplomatic deal, he was declared eligible for $20 million in compensation from a special U.S. government fund. Hekmati said he had travelled to Iran to visit his grandmother when he was arrested but now the FBI says he was trying to sell classified U.S. information, so there has been no payout. His lawyer says the government “should put up or shut up” and indict Hekmati but says it won’t because there is no evidence to support its allegations.

Mar 16, 2021

A Canadian arm of Virginia-based Serco Inc. has been awarded a 10-year $694-million renewal contract at CFB Happy Valley-Goose Bay in Labrador. Public Services and Procurement Canada said March 15 that if two five-year extension options are exercised, the potential value of the work by Serco Canada Inc. could be up to $1.5 billion over 20 years.

Mar 16, 2021

A total of 28,000 troops from 27 countries have embarked on Defender Europe 2021, one of the largest exercises in decades. Running until June and led by the U.S. Army, it will include “nearly simultaneous operations across more than 30 training areas.”

Mar 16, 2021

Is NATO contemplating a cooperative approach to developing hypersonic weapons? Britain, France and the U.S. have begun separate developments to counter Chinese and Russian technologies but now the alliance is reported to be considering it can best approach the challenge to a threat highlighted at a 2019 ministerial meeting.

Mar 16, 2021

The sale of five Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to Germany has been approved by the U.S. State Department. The procurement is expected to be a stopgap until the planned replacement in the 2030s of Germany’s five Lockheed Martin P-3C Orions which have been in operation for several decades.

Mar 15, 2021

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported today that deliveries of arms were flat in the 2016-2020 period after more than a decade of increases. While the U.S., France and Germany increased their foreign sales, that was offset by reduced Russian and Chinese exports. “The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could see some countries reassessing their arms imports in the coming years,” says SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman. “At the same time, even at the height of the pandemic in 2020, several countries signed large contracts for major arms.”

Mar 15, 2021

On the heels of another weekend of brutal crackdowns on pro-democracy demonstrators, Myanmar’s ruling junta has declared martial law in parts of the country’s largest city. At least 38 people were killed and dozens injured March 14 in one of the deadliest days of the crackdown which began six weeks ago when the military staged a coup.

Mar 15, 2021

As its military has evolved over the past few decades, the U.S. evidently has come to rely increasingly on Special Operations for combat deployments. One expert says that “despite initially stiff resistance from the conventional military branches . . . they are now responsible for much of the military’s on-the-ground engagement in real or potential trouble spots.”

Mar 15, 2021

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has released still and video images of a new base it says is armed with cruise and ballistic missiles and electronic warfare capabilities. Broadcasting the images today, state television called the base a “missile city.”

Mar 15, 2021

President Joe Biden’s nominee for the U.S. governments chief information office is Clare Martorama. She began her public career in 2016 at the U.S. Digital Service, working with Veterans Affairs.

Mar 15, 2021

Finland is rebuilding defence capabilities in a region abutting Russia and part of the initiative involves not only professional armed forces but also civilians. A current exercise in the Finnmark region, home to sensitive installations such as an air base, focuses on local infrastructure protection and the civilians’ role reflects a reality that everyone has role safeguarding their country.

Mar 15, 2021

A British parliamentary committee has issued a scathing analysis of the country’s armoured fighting vehicle fleet, calling it “deplorable” victim of “bureaucratic procrastination, military indecision, financial mismanagement and general ineptitude.” It says this has stymied plans to replace the 30-year-old fleet.

Mar 15, 2021

If the new U.S. administration plans to hold the line on defence spending for the coming year, as has been reported, a new review sees it as “a mistake with serious consequences.” A bipartisan commission has said that the budget must grow by three to five per cent annually if the U.S. is to “project power” and uphold commitments to its allies.

Mar 15, 2021

Five Chinese companies—Huawei, ZTE, Hytera, Hangzhou and Zhejiang Dahua—have been confirmed by the Federal Communications Commission as threats to U.S. national security. “That will ensure that as next-generation networks are built across the country, they do not repeat the mistakes of the past or use equipment or services that will pose a threat,” Acting FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said March 12.

Mar 11, 2021

Jan Kallberg, a scientist at the U.S. Army Cyber Institute, says NATO has been has been extremely successful safeguarding peace since the western alliance was created. Also an assistant professor at the Military Academy, he predicts that future conflict “will be a fight fought together with European allies, from numerous countries, in a terrain they know better.”

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