IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Long-term deployments possibly outdated
Dec 04, 2020

Gen Mark Milley, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the long-standing practice of sending troops and their families overseas for years-long tours is no longer the best idea. “We have too much infrastructure overseas, and too much permanent infrastructure,” he says, acknowledging that while it gives some allies comfort, “from a strategic standpoint and an operational standpoint, I’m not so sure.”

Dec 04, 2020

A defence policy bill currently before the U.S. Congress has a particular focus on China’s growing global influence in that it includes $6.9 billion for a new Pacific Deterrence Initiative. A Senate Armed Services Committee summary of the overall $740.5 billion in proposed spending says that the bill “will send a strong signal to China and any potential adversaries, as well as to our allies and partners, that America is deeply committed to defending our interests.”

Dec 04, 2020

The federal government is planning a dry run in every province next week of its proposed distribution of two COVID-19 vaccines as it prepares for actual distribution in “the coming weeks and months.” MGen Dany Fortin, tasked with overseeing logistics, says the aim of the “soft launch” is to ensure procedures are correct and that “people are comfortable with the very unique requirements of handling an ultra-low temperature vaccine.”

Dec 03, 2020

Dr. Howard Njoo, the deputy federal public health officer, says Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccines should be available early next year, setting the stage for the start of a national immunization program. Initial supplies will be enough for about three million persons but Njoo says “Canada is well-positioned to provide access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to all Canadians in 2021.”

Dec 03, 2020

Israel has taken delivery of the first of four German-built corvettes for coastal defence as well as to protect its offshore economic management zone, including natural gas infrastructure. Hezbollah militants consider the gas facilities as high-priority targets.

Dec 03, 2020

The United Arab Emirates and France are participating in Medusa 10, a training exercise organized by Greece, Egypt and Cyprus. The UAE involvement comes less than two weeks after it had signed a strategic partnership with Greece due to growing concern about Turkey’s influence in the region.

Dec 03, 2020

Six foreign military sales approved by the U.S. State Department include $275 million in upgrades for the RCAF’s five Boeing Globemaster III strategic transports. It involves, among other things, hardware and software improvements, ground-handling equipment, parts and accessories, GPS receivers, mission equipment, and sundry support services.

Dec 03, 2020

As tensions continue to rise in the Mediterranean, Italy is planning to buy up to eight Gulfstream G-550 surveillance aircraft at a cost of €1.23-billion (C$2-billion). The project also would involve construction of a maintenance hub.

Dec 03, 2020

Polar Star, the U.S. Coast Guard’s only working heavy-duty icebreaker, is preparing for an Arctic voyage after COVID-19 scuttled an Antarctic mission earlier this year. The crew are being tested for the virus while in quarantine and will remain in an operational bubble until the ship returns to Seattle in February.

Dec 03, 2020

Gen Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says U.S. Department of Defence planners need a “reality check” on budgeting. “I suspect that, at best, the Pentagon’s budgets will start flattening out” due to overall economic conditions. “In an ideal world, I believe that we would need three per cent to five per cent sustained level of real growth . . . but I don’t anticipate that it will happen.”

Dec 02, 2020

Having for months recommended a 14-day quarantine period following potential exposure to COVID-19, generally accepted as a global standard, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still sees it as the safest option. However, it now is proposing two alternatives: seven-day quarantine for asymptomatic individuals, followed by a negative test result, or 10 days without a test. The CDC medical officer overseeing the pandemic response acknowledges “a small residual risk that a person who is leaving quarantine early could transmit to someone else if they became infected.”

Dec 02, 2020

The growing global presence of China and its military is a key element of NATO 2030, a report which includes 138 recommendations for a general policy overhaul within the alliance. It is seen as a riposte to French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement last year that NATO was suffering “brain death.”

Dec 02, 2020

The U.S. Navy has halted operations of its Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopters after two accidents only days apart at separate bases. Officials are declining to speculate about possible causes. Flown by squadrons in Maryland and California, the aircraft are used for reconnaissance and targeting.

Dec 02, 2020

The U.S. Army is testing a new sound suppressor it hopes will quiet the ubiquitous 7.62mm medium machine gun to a point where gunners can hear commands more easily. Ironically, the tests come as the Army begins a study to identify a potential replacement for the weapon.

Dec 02, 2020

Australia and the U.S. are collaborating on development of an air-launched hypersonic cruise missile, building on more than 15 years of cooperative research. A senior official says it would ensure that the U.S. and its allies “lead the world in the advancement of this transformational warfighting capability.”

Dec 02, 2020

The U.S. says Russian mercenaries in Libya are likely being financed by the United Arab Emirates. The mercenaries are said to be from the paramilitary Wagner Group, which has close ties with Moscow.

Dec 02, 2020

China’s latest robotic space mission has placed a lander on the moon.It is programmed to collect about two kilograms of material to be returned to Earth by an orbiter. The last such mission, 44 years ago, saw a Russian mission collect a smaller amount of material for research.

Dec 01, 2020

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is “very happy” with the progress of the RCAF's plan for a new generation of fighter aircraft. Also confident about as the overall future of the defence budget and Canada’s multilateral relationships, he shared his thoughts with a U.S. online publication after the latest Halifax International Security Forum.

Dec 01, 2020

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance is face with a dilemma about its future in Afghanistan as the U.S. begins a troop drawdown. He says one choice is “to leave, and risk that Afghanistan becomes once again a safe haven for international terrorists.” The other is to “stay and risk a longer mission with renewed violence.”

Dec 01, 2020

The RCN’s new surface combatants will have the first installations of a new Lockheed Martin radar system. The decision to go with the AN/SPY-7 technology, which can be upgraded to a ballistic missile defence system, has been the focus of an intense debate within the defence procurement sector.

Dec 01, 2020

Some 650 RCN and RCAF personnel are involved in Exercise Trident Fury 20, a two-week joint operation with U.S. ships and aircraft off southern Vancouver Island. Essentially designed to improve coordination and to provide tactical training on how to deal with offshore threats, the exercise also provides pre-deployment training for the crew of HMCS Calgary before an overseas counter-terrorism deployment.

Nov 30, 2020

Promising that the federal government will do “whatever it takes”, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland closed out November with an economic statement which includes a short-term stimulus package valued at up to $100 million. “Spending roughly three to four per cent of GDP, over three years, our government will make carefully judged, targeted and meaningful investments to create jobs and boost growth,” she said. The 2020-2021 deficit was already forecast to top $381 billion.

Nov 30, 2020

A German administrative court has ruled that the government cannot be compelled ensure that U.S. drone strikes controlled from Ramstein comply with international law. The case was brought by human rights groups on behalf of Yemenis whose relatives were killed in a 2012 strike. The ruling restores a lower court’s finding that the government could balance its legal obligations with “foreign and defense policy interests.”

Nov 30, 2020

Several members of the U.S. Department of Defense’s senior advisory board have been suddenly dumped by the Trump administration. A directive issued by the DoD’s White House liaison removed 11 board members, including several former members of Congress, two former secretaries of state and a former chief of naval operations.

Nov 30, 2020

An Ottawa-based military family has filed a complaint with the Ontario Landlord & Tenant Board, alleging that the Saudi Arabian embassy evicted them in bad faith. They say that Chargé d'affaires Sulaiman AlAqeel had said he planned to move into the property but that it was subsequently listed for sale.

Nov 30, 2020

Canada is extending its ban on non-essential entry by most travellers who are not Canadians, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. The ban on entries from the U.S. is extended to Dec. 21 and on others until Jan. 21, as are 14-day quarantine requirements.

Nov 30, 2020

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is blaming Israel for last week’s killing near Tehran of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. “Iran's enemies should know that the people of Iran and officials are braver than to leave this criminal act unanswered,” he says. “In due time, they will answer for this crime.”

Nov 27, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has chosen former NATO commander MGen Dany Fortin to spearhead the government’s distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Most recently chief of staff for Canadian Joint Operations Command, he becomes vice-president for logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Nov 27, 2020

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, generally considered the driving force behind Iran’s nuclear weapons program, has been killed. State media report that he had been wounded in the attack while travelling near Tehran Iran but that doctors’ efforts to save him had failed.

Nov 27, 2020

The Canadian frigate HMCS Ottawa was able to transit strategically contentious waters between Taiwan and China in September 2019 but only after the plan had been discussed by senior officials at National Defence and Global Affairs. Officials had been told to keep quiet about the voyage three months after Chinese fighters buzzed two other Canadian ships transiting the Taiwan Strait.

Nov 27, 2020

Thirteen Australian special forces troops have been sent notices of likely dismissal in the wake of a recent report that 39 civilians and prisoners had been killed in Afghanistan. These are in addition to 19 other troops who could face prosecution. The Australian report blamed the killings between 2009 and 2013 on a “warrior culture” among some of its peacekeepers.

Nov 27, 2020

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his provincial counterparts held a virtual meeting Nov. 26 to discuss distribution of COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. The premiers of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick say per capita distribution will be based on vulnerability. “We expect certain vaccines to become available in early 2021,” says Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, meaning that six million Canadians could be vaccinated by March.

Nov 26, 2020

Construction has begun on a new $144-milliion Defence Research and Development Canada facility at CFB Valcartier, Que., the first phase of a $270-million upgrade. Eighty multi-disciplinary laboratories will consolidate nearly 500 scientists from various locations on the base.

Nov 26, 2020

Nearly 500 persons accused of participating in a 2016 attempted coup in Turkey, including 337 military officers, have been sentenced to life imprisonment. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government said the attempted overthrow directed from Akinci air base near Ankara resulted in 251 deaths and more than 2,000 injuries.

Nov 25, 2020

Michael Flynn, the retired U.S. Army General who pleaded guilty twice to lying to FBI investigators about interaction with Russian contacts during Donald Trump’s transition into power in 2016, has received a full presidential pardon. Flynn, who led the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2021 to 2014 and became Trump’s National Security Advisor, was fired in February 2017.

Nov 25, 2020

The U.S. Department of Defense’s contract management office says “recent negative trends” in mishaps at three Boeing facilities have resulted in damage to military aircraft. Saying that incidents “far exceeds historical rates” and are “not consistent with expected performance,” the office cites, among other things, damage due to disregard for overhead clearances when moving aircraft.

Nov 25, 2020

MilSOFT, a privately-owned Turkish company says it has developed an artificial intelligence-based software which enables swarms of fixed-wing or rotary drones. “They are quick, cost-effective and easy to operate,” a Turkish government official says. “Most importantly, they are assets designed to minimize human loss in asymmetrical warfare.”

Nov 25, 2020

The U.S. Government Accountability Office reports that various military aircraft have not been ready to fly when needed for years. “The average annual mission capable rate . . . decreased since fiscal year 2011,” it says. Of 41 aircraft reviewed, only the Bell UH-1N Huey utility helicopter had been consistently available.

Nov 25, 2020

An Individual Integrated Visual Augmentation System developed by Microsoft evidently improves combat marksmanship, the U.S. Army says. Scheduled to go into widespread use next year, the Bluetooth-enabled IVAS includes a head-up display of tactical maps as well as the reticle on their weapons’ scope.

Nov 25, 2020

New GPS receivers capable of using a more secure military signal, will be put into service next year. The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center reports that Germany is the first of 58 countries authorized to acquire the technology.

Nov 25, 2020

Most Canadians can expect to receive an emergency public alert on their TVs, radios and mobile devices today in a national test of the system. The time, five minutes before the hour, varies by region.

Nov 24, 2020

An independent analysis of NATO says that while the alliance can expect to benefit from a new U.S. presidency, it must adapt a more comprehensive and resilient agenda to remain relevant globally. The analysis underscores the growing need to tackle “corrosive” cyber operations, disinformation campaigns and supply chain disruptions, among other things. In addition, “NATO’s core tasks of collective defense, crisis management and cooperative security must be expanded to include countering challenges that contribute to global instability.”

Nov 24, 2020

The F-35 Joint Program Office within the U.S. Department of Defense says that corrections to hardware problems that figured in the crash of a Lockheed Martin F-35 in Florida last May will remain secret. Explicit details “have the potential to compromise operational security,” a JPO official said 23 November without elaborating.

Nov 24, 2020

Even though it has never been a signatory to the 2002 Open Skies treaty through which 34 other countries agreed to let others conduct military overflights, China has criticized the U.S. withdrawal. “This move . . . undermines military mutual trust and transparency among relevant countries, is not conducive to maintaining security and stability in relevant regions and will also have a negative impact on the international arms control and disarmament process,” a foreign ministry spokesman says.

Nov 24, 2020

More than four decades after the U.S. and the Soviet Union brought back lunar material for analysis, China has launched its robotic Chang'e-5 spacecraft to the Moon on schedule. The goal is to return more and larger samples to Earth in mid-December.

Nov 23, 2020

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has announced that the federal government will Canadians a further update at the end of the month on the government’s fiscal situation. The government has yet to table a 2020-2021 budget, opting instead for an initial “fiscal snapshot” in July which projected a record $343.2 billion deficit.

Nov 23, 2020

A retired Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen Rick Hillier, will head a new Ontario government body tasked with distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Announcing the “monumental” undertaking, Premier Doug Ford cited “early signs of success” on vaccine development and said the first doses should be available in early 2021.

Nov 23, 2020

President Donald Trump, despite continuing his unsubstantiated allegations about widespread voter fraud in the recent U.S. elections, has directed officials to prepare for a transition to President-elect Joe Biden. A key element is that Emily Murphy, who heads the General Services Administration, will begin freeing up funds so that the incoming Democrats team can begin coordinating with the outgoing Republicans well before January’s swearing-in ceremony.

Nov 23, 2020

A supposedly secure videoconference of European Union defence ministers recently had an unwelcome participant: a journalist in the Netherlands. Having managed to log in after Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld inadvertently posted some access details on Twitter, Daniel Verlaan apologized and logged out when challenged by Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has directed his cabinet to improve their security practices.

Nov 23, 2020

The 305-metre Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, one of the most scientifically productive facilities in astronomical history, is permanently out of commission. After the recent collapse of a second of its supporting cables, engineers say they are unable to repair the structure safely.

Nov 23, 2020

RAdm Rebecca Patterson, commander of Canadian Armed Forces health services, has confirmed plans for developing in-house COVID-19 testing. She points out that the CAF, which has had to rely mainly on public health system, has been working on ramping up its own capability to handle uniformed personnel.

Nov 23, 2020

Five NATO members are planning a joint approach to replacing the alliance’s multi-role helicopter fleets, beginning in 2035. Britain, France, Germany, Greece and Italy have signed non-binding letters of intent to participate in the Next-Generation Rotorcraft Capability program for “an entirely new helicopter capability.”

Nov 23, 2020

Six months after starting the legal process to leave the Treaty on Open Skies, the U.S. formally exited 22 November. The accord permitted the signatories’ air forces to conduct flyovers of the others’ territories but the U.S. claimed that Russia was not fulfilling its commitments.

Nov 23, 2020

Oversight of its missions in Eastern Europe is now in the hands of a new U.S. Army headquarters in Poland. Some 200 troops will initially be assigned to the forward position of the recently reactivated Fifth Corps but full rotations are expected to start in 2021.

Nov 23, 2020

Significant turnover at the upper echelons of the Pentagon, coupled with delayed nomination of replacements, means that 40 percent of the top jobs requiring Senate confirmation are vacant. They include some of the most senior positions, including the Secretary of Defense and undersecretaries of intelligence, policy, research and engineering.

Nov 23, 2020

Former President Barack Obama says he expects that the turbulence between the U.S. and Canada in the past four years has been “anomalous" and he’s confident that the situation will return to normal. “On my scale of worries, in the aftermath of the Trump administration, the relationship between the United States and Canada is not at the top of the list,” he says. “We've got some bigger problems, in terms of managing America's role internationally.”

Nov 23, 2020

Greek native Victoria Coleman, the new director of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is one of the few foreign-born persons named to the position. Also only the third woman to head DARPA since its inception in 1958, she came to it from decades in academia and business.

Nov 23, 2020

The chief of the Australia’s Defence Force, Gen Angus Campbell, says the military must “own” a report that its  troops committed atrocities in Afghanistan. It was found that senior personnel had forced troops to kill captives to “blood” them for combat. “I want the ADF to acknowledge that this is something we’ve got to own because if we don’t own it, we won’t fix it and if we don’t fix it, this horror may appear again,” Campbell says.

Nov 23, 2020

Despite an increase in reports of sexual assaults in the U.S. military over the past decade, courts martial and convictions have reportedly declined. “What we have uncovered are what we call consequential failures by leaders to change a pervasive culture of sexual assault,” says the CBS editor who led an investigation. “The bottom line is it’s time for ‘Me Too’ movement in the military. . . . This is not the values that the U.S. military espouses.”

Nov 23, 2020

USN Vice Adm Phillip says submarines will play an increasingly important role in the Arctic as more navigable blue water opens up. “This will present opportunities and challenges,” says Sawyer, deputy chief of naval operations, plans and strategy.

Nov 23, 2020

Human Rights Watch is urging all countries which have been involved in the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan to look into their forces’ in-theatre conduct over nearly two decades. The call follows Australia’s release of report alleging unlawful killings by elite Australian troops.

Nov 23, 2020

Lockheed Martin and the U.S. government have proposed that Switzerland buy up to 40 F-35A fighters along with a training and sustainment package as well as possible entry into the company’s supply chain.

Nov 23, 2020

The Turkish parliament has given President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan‘s government a mandate for military deployment into Azerbaijan, signaling intentions beyond the joint cease-fire-monitoring centre agreed with Russia. The one-year mandate entitles the president to decide the time, scope and size of deployments.

Nov 23, 2020

Japan has launched the first of a potential 22 new multi-mission frigates with a view to start commissioning into its Maritime Self-Defense Force in 2022. Previously classed as a destroyer, the 133-metre design has a reduced radar cross-section and can deploy and operate unmanned surface and underwater vessels.

Nov 20, 2020

COVID-19 restrictions at the Canada-U.S. land border will remain in effect at least until Dec. 21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Nov. 20. All non-essential crossings have been prohibited since mid-March.

Nov 20, 2020

The head of U.S. Central Command, Gen Frank McKenzie, says that although the Islamic State is battered and scattered, the extremist group cannot be fully defeated until thousands of displace civilians in Iraq and Syria are dealt with. “The systemic indoctrination of . . . refugee camp populations who are hostage to the receipt of ISIS ideology is an alarming development with potentially generational implications,” he says, calling for a combined diplomatic, security and humanitarian organization solution. “If we don’t address this now, we’re never really going to defeat ISIS.”

Nov 20, 2020

Canada and its partners in the Five Eyes security alliance – Australia, Britain, New Sealand and the U.S. ­ – have been threatened by a Chinese foreign ministry official. Accusing the allies of accusing Beijing of silencing critics in Hong Kong, Zhao Lijian says that countries which “dared harm China's sovereignty . . . should beware that their eyes could be blinded” and it did not “matter if they have five or 10 eyes.”

Nov 20, 2020

An additional £16.5 billion in defence spending over the next four years represents Britain's’s largest such increase since the end of the Cold War. “For decades, U.K. government has pared and trimmed our defence budget,” says Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “If we go on like this, we risk waking up to discover our armed forces have fallen below the minimum threshold of viability.” The 2020-2021 budget totalled some £41.5 billion.

Nov 20, 2020

U.S. regulators have finished the second phase of a traffic management pilot program for unmanned aircraft systems which could lead to beyond line-of-site drone operations. “Flight testing . . . capabilities in high-density airspace will help us develop policy for safely and efficiently integrating drones into our national airspace while benefiting and serving communities,” the Federal Aviation Administration says.

Nov 20, 2020

The Government Accountability Office says readiness rates across U.S. military aircraft fleets has fallen short of what is required for operational effectiveness. In a review requested by congress, the watchdog agency says that only a small number of aircraft reviewed over a nine-year period were found to be mission-capable.

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