IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Dec 18, 2019

An increase in advance funding for more Boeing CH-47 Chinooks has been approved by congressional officials even though the U.S. Army wanted to procure fewer of the twin-rotor helicopters next year. The Army had wanted to divert funds toward development of future vertical lift aircraft for long-range assault and attack reconnaissance roles.

Dec 18, 2019

Engine issues which have led to long delays in U.S. Marine Corps plans to get its new Sikorsky CH-53 King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters into operation evidently have been mostly mitigated or addressed. The USMC took first delivery in May 2018 only to find approximately 125 technical issues necessitating design changes. Initial operations now are not expected until 2021, two years later than planned.

Dec 18, 2019

A Spanish shipbuilder, Navantia, has been dropped from the pool of bidders for The Netherlands’ program to replace four submarines because it could not fulfill industrial cooperation requirements. That leaves Naval Group of France, Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems of Germany and Saab-Kockums of Sweden competing for a contract which is expected to be awarded in 2022.

Dec 18, 2019

Jerry DeMuro, chief executive officer of the U.S. subsidiary of Britain’s BAE Systems llc, will transfer control next year to chief operating officer Tom Arseneault. Taking on a newly-created role of executive vice-president of strategic initiatives, including evolving cybersecurity requirements, DeMuro will remain on the board of directors.

Dec 18, 2019

A few days after the U.S. Coast Guard issued a safety bulletin about the operations of a Russian surveillance ship, the Viktor Leonov, in the vicinity of U.S. naval bases in Georgia and South Carolina, it returned to international waters 18 December. “Unsafe operation includes not energizing running lights while in reduced visibility conditions, not responding to hails by commercial vessels attempting to coordinate safe passage and other erratic movements,” the USCG said in its bulletin.

Dec 18, 2019

Steven Walker, 21st director of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, will be leaving 10 January to take up an undisclosed role in the private sector. Deputy Director Peter Highnam, a former director of research at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, will assume the role in an acting capacity until a successor is chosen.

Dec 18, 2019

Less than two weeks before their current defence-sharing arrangement is due to expire, South Korea and the United States failed 18 December to strike a deal over hosting some 28,500 U.S. troops. Seoul says Washington wants up to $5 billion more annually, a five-fold increase over its 2019 contribution. Negotiators missed a year-end deadline last time around but managed to reach a retroactive agreement earlier this year.

Dec 18, 2019

A $788-billioh defence spending bill, approved by Congress and requiring President Donald Trump’s signature, includes initial Space Force funding. The Republican-controlled Senate passed the draft 2020 National Defense Authorization Act 17 December only a few days after the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives had approved it.

Dec 18, 2019

All members of the German military, the Bundeswehr, will be able to travel free on the national rail service, Deutsche Bahn, through a new program which will cost the government an estimated €4 million annually. The initiative evidently is designed to improve military recruitment and to address a slump in passenger rail traffic

Dec 18, 2019

China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier, the Shandong, has been commissioned in a 17 December ceremony attended by President Xi Jinping. Conventionally powered, it is similar in basic design to a Soviet-era carrier purchased from Ukraine in 1998.

Dec 18, 2019

Britain’s new Conservative government under Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning to block at extension of the post-Brexit transition period beyond 2020. It could have been extended by two years but Johnson has told Parliament that draft legislation to prevent that is designed to end years of “deadlock, dither and delay.” He also reiterated his determination to “get Brexit done” by 31 January. 

Dec 18, 2019

It’s been seven years since the Canadian Army retired its last ground-based air defence systems and with the prospect of no replacement for perhaps eight more years, the new Commander of the Canadian Army, LGen Wayne Ayre, says the program is “right at the top of the pile of stuff I want to get into.” He says the September drone and cruise missile attacks on Saudi petroleum facilities underscores the “emerging threat.”

Dec 17, 2019

Researchers at several U.S. facilities are collecting and deciphering data from high energy x-rays of skulls to better understand bone mechanics and potentially develop better military helmets.

Dec 17, 2019

The fact that a U.S. Air Force prototype unmanned aerial system flew for two and a half days recently is seen as something of a breakthrough in that commercial technology can be adapted to build affordable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The autonomous Ultra-Long Endurance Aircraft Platform, which is expected to reduced procurement costs, is slated to remain aloft even longer in future testing.

Dec 17, 2019

The U.S. and China have agreed to the first phase of a trade agreement that will see the U.S. reduce tariffs and at least temporarily calm fears of an escalating trade war. The deal hinges on China buying more U.S. agricultural produce and making new commitments on intellectual property, technology transfers and currency.

Dec 17, 2019

With Boeing opting not to bid on the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation intercontinental ballistic missiles, Northrop Grumman has emerged as the sole contender for the $85 billion design contract. Both companies were awarded contracts for technical and cost elements in 2017. The USAF expects the next contract to be awarded late in the 2020 fiscal year.

Dec 17, 2019

Some details of an otherwise classified U.S. helicopter deployment over Washington, which has been generating noises complaints by local residents, have been made public by the Army. It received congressional approval in September to reallocate funds for an “emerging classified flight mission”, includong $1.55 million for aircraft maintenance, air crews and travel. Operational details remain classified, but the Army says it now is “prepared to respond to a natural or manmade disaster.”

Dec 17, 2019

The U.S. Department of Defense says that, contrary to public assumptions, increased combat operations do not lead to more suicides by military personnel and, conversely, may reduce the prospect. This is according to a study of more than 17 decades of Army data.

Dec 17, 2019

A Chinese university student is effectively being shut out of mainstream Chinese society for having quit the People’s Liberation Army. A PLA website says Zhang Moukang faces eight penalties, including a two-year ban on foreign travel; traveling within China on planes, long-distance trains or buses; buying real estate; getting loans or insurance; opening a business; and enrolling or studying in college or secondary school. Nor will he be permitted to get a government job, even temporarily, including with enterprises where the state controls most companies.

Dec 17, 2019

Results of a poll by the non-profit Angus Reid Institute, released 17 December, suggest that Canadians want to see the Conservative Party become more centrist in its policies. Some 60 per cent of the respondents said they want the party to take climate change more seriously and 57 per cent say they want a more progressive stance on social values. In each case, 40 per cent of “core” Conservatives shared those views. As for who should succeed Andre Scheer as leader, former federal procurement minister Rona Ambrose appears be the preference not only of the broader sampling but also the Conservative core.

Dec 17, 2019

Pakistan’s former military leader, Pervez Musharraf, was sentenced to death in absentia by a special court in Islamabad 17 December. The court ruled 2-1 that he had committed high treason, a charge pending since 2013 and arising from his suspension of the country’s constitution in 2007 and imposition of emergency rule in a bid to extend his presidency. Musharraf led a coup in 1999 and served as president from 2001 until he resigned in 2008 to avoid impeachment. In Dubai for medical treatment since 2016, he calls the case against him baseless.

Dec 17, 2019

Former Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, 75, convicted of money laundering and corruption, has been sentenced in Khartoum to two years detention in a centre for older prisoners. Also accused of genocide, al-Bashir jailed opponents and former allies during his nearly three decades in power.

 

Dec 17, 2019

An Economic Update released by Finance Minister Bill Morneau 16 December projects the federal budget deficit for the current fiscal year at $26.6 billion. That compares with last spring’s budget forecast of $19.8 billion. The 2020-2021 deficit is expected to be at least $28.1 billion. Morneau’s department says the increase in this year’s outlook is largely driven by changes to how employee pensions and benefits are calculated but it also accounts for income tax break scheduled to take effect in two weeks.

Dec 17, 2019

Sami Bébawi, a former senior SNC-Lavalin executive has been found guilty in Quebec Superior Court on five counts of fraud and corruption arising from the engineering giant’s close ties with the regime of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Having headed the company’s international construction division, he was portrayed by Crown prosecutors as the key to an elaborate scheme to bribe Libyan officials.

Dec 17, 2019

Bryan Brulotte, a Royal Military College graduate who served overseas with the Royal 22nd Regiment, has confirmed that he plans to seek the federal Conservative Party leadership. An unsuccessful Progressive Conservative candidate in the 2008 federal election, he is “fully committed” to running to succeed Andrew Scheer.

Dec 17, 2019

Royal Canadian Navy Cmdre Josée Kurtzhas  transferred command of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two to Italian RAdm Paolo Fantoni at Taranto Naval Base in Italy 16 December. Kurtz had commanded SNMG2 since 15 June. The deployment is Canada’s contribution to NATO security in the Mediterranean and Black Sea region.

Dec 17, 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin said 16 December that he expects his country’s arms exports to top $13 million this year, which would be up more than 15 per cent from 2018. He also told a meeting with senior officials that Russia’s market gains have been despite Western sanctions that that Russian arms manufacturers now have foreign orders totaling $50 billion.

Dec 17, 2019

Two Chinese embassy officials in the U.S. were quietly expelled in September after they were found on a military base in Virginia. Neither Washington nor Beijing made the episode public at the time, but officials say China is expanding its intelligence activities in the U.S.

Dec 17, 2019

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper considers foreign military training program in the U.S. a “critical long-term investment” that makes for productive international partnerships. “I want to increase that by 50 per cent over the coming five years,” he says. Nearly 5,200 foreign students from 153 countries are currently undergoing security cooperation training in the U.S.

Dec 17, 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has broached the prospect of shutting down Incirlik air base and a key radar facility in response to threatened U.S. sanctions and a U.S. Senate resolution that recognized mass killings of Armenians a century ago as genocide. “We have the authority,” he says. “If they are threatening us with the implementation of these sanctions, of course we will be retaliating.”

Dec 13, 2019

Senior U.S. military officials have been told during a House of Representatives committee hearing that they need to ensure that minorities and women have better prospects of becoming general officers. While there has been progress among lower ranks, the brass were told that they were still falling short at the top end.

Dec 13, 2019

Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles says her country’s special forces are opening more roles for women as part of the multinational response to terrorism and unconventional warfare. Arabic-speaking women are among those sought for UN or NATO missions in the Middle East.

Dec 13, 2019

At least three former Conservative cabinet ministers who had defence-related roles are apparently among the potential candidates to succeed Andrew Scheer, who announced 12 December that he will be stepping down for “family” reasons. They are: Peter MacKay, National Defence (2007-2013); Rona Ambrose, Public Works & Government Services (2008-2010); and Erin O’Toole, Veterans Affairs (2015). Ambrose also has served as the party’s interim leader in Parliament and O’Toole is a former RCAF navigator.

Dec 12, 2019

For the second time since the U.S. administration withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia in early August, it has fired a missile with a previously banned range capability. The “prototype conventionally-figured ground-launched ballistic missile”, which flew more than 500km before falling into the Pacific, was launched 12 December from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The first test, about two weeks after the withdrawal from the INF, involved a medium-range ground-launched cruise missile.

Dec 12, 2019

Sales of arms and military services by the sector’s largest 100 companies, excluding Chinese interests due to a lack of useful data, totalled US$420 billion in 2018, a 4.6 per cent increase from 2017. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute also reports that 80 of the listed companies were based in the U.S., Europe and Russia compared with six in Japan, three each in Israel, India and South Korea, two in Turkey and one each in Australia, Canada and Singapore.

Dec 12, 2019

Conservative party leader Andrew Scheer resigned from the position today, but will remain on until a new leader can be chosen. He will remain as MP of his Saskatchewan riding of Regina – Qu'Appelle.

Dec 12, 2019

A leaked report indicates that the UN has been unable so far to confirm that Iran was behind attacks by unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missile attacks on two key Saudi oil facilities in September which knocked out half of the kingdom’s crude production. Iran denied any involvement and Yemeni Houthi rebels claimed responsibility.

Dec 12, 2019

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper says that despite a significant Russian footprint in Syria since U.S. troops withdrew, he’s more worried about Moscow’s involvement in Egypt, Saudi Arabia an “other places.”

Dec 12, 2019

The U.S. has announced additional sanctions against Iran, targeting three agents of an airline and a shipping network allegedly smuggling “lethal aid” to Syria and Yemen. “The Iranian regime uses its aviation and shipping industries to supply its regional terrorist and militant groups with weapons, directly contributing to the devastating humanitarian crises,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said 12 December. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iranian companies were involved in “siphoning of funds away from the oppressed Iranian people and the augment the regime's campaign of terror and intimidation at home and throughout the world.”

Dec 12, 2019

The Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia's only aircraft carrier, caught fire 12 December when it was in the Arctic port of Murmansk for maintenance.

Dec 12, 2019

Human remains and wreckage have been located in the ocean close to where a Chilean Air Force C-130J transport vanished 9 December during a supply flight to Antarctica with 38 persons aboard.

Dec 12, 2019
At least 71 soldiers have been killed and 12 injured in a militants’ attack against a military base in western Niger. While no group has claimed responsibility, militants linked to al-Qaeda and Daesh have been mounting attacks in an escalating insurgency in the Sahel region.
Dec 12, 2019

Voters in Israel will be going to the polls March 2 in their third general election in 12 months. The Knesset was automatically dissolved at midnight 11 December after parties remained deadlocked since the previous election in September were unable to form a government, which also was the case after an election last April.

Dec 12, 2019

Women remain underrepresented at all levels of UN peacekeeping operations, particularly among on-the-ground troops, despite Security Council resolutions which were supposed to address the gender disparity issue. A new study indicates that so far this year, the average female deployment totalled 5,000 out of a total of 88,700 personnel.

Dec 12, 2019

Two civilians were killed and more than 70 other persons were injured 12 December in a suicide bomber attack on the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed responsibility, possible derailing plans to revive peace talks.

Dec 12, 2019

Facing strong criticism from within his own party in the aftermath of the October general election and despite insisting earlier that he would stay on as Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer announced 12 December that he plans to step down as soon as a new leader is chosen.

Dec 12, 2019

The Prime Minister’s Office has published the roster of Parliamentary Secretaries who essentially function as backups to ministers and are accountable to the respective minister. Click for complete list.

Dec 11, 2019

Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian face of Myanmar’s military-controlled government, has defended her country against allegations of genocide against its Muslim Rohingya minority. Appearing 10 December before the UN International Court of Justice, she said the case against Myanmar is “incomplete and incorrect” and describe the government’s actions as an “internal armed conflict” in response to Rohingya attacks on government security posts. She also said that if any soldiers had committed war crimes “they will be prosecuted."

Dec 11, 2019

Former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai says the U.S. helped to foster corruption in his country by spending billions of dollars there over nearly two decades without accountability. However, U.S. government files obtained by The Washington Post also say Karzai's government had “self-organized into a kleptocracy.” Karzai became president after a 2001 U.S.-led invasion ousted the Taliban government. 

Dec 11, 2019

The shootings at a U.S. Naval Air Station in Florida on 8 December has prompted the Department of Defense to order a review of how international students enter U.S. training programs. A Saudi Arabian national killed three Americans before committing suicide. Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist also has suspended operational training for all Saudi students in U.S. military programs.

Dec 11, 2019

Turkey plans to boost its defence and aerospace exports to the equivalent of more than $13 billion by 2023, compared with some $2.6 billion in 2018. It also expects indigenous suppliers to meet 75 per cent of its domestic military needs by 2023 compared with 65 percent in 2018.

Dec 11, 2019

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said 10 December that his country would retaliate against any U.S. sanctions over its purchase of Russian defense systems. He was commenting on the prospect of congressional approval of a bill to that effect later in the day.

Dec 11, 2019

Thirty-five Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters ordered by Turkey remain could be going into cold storage as the U.S. decides what to do with them after it shelved the sale when Turkey acquired Russian missile launchers. Congress has given the Department of Defense the option of buying the aircraft and related equipment, and spending up $30 million to store them pending final disposition.

Dec 11, 2019

The U.S. Department of Defense is being pressed by Congress to produce a five-year plan for the European Deterrence Initiative, starting wih the 2020 fiscal year. Previously the European Reassurance Initiative, it was designed to help Eastern European allies deter Russia from further incursion into Europe following its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and continued military activity in the region.

Dec 11, 2019

A new European Defence Agency initiative, the Cooperative Financial Mechanism, is designed to protect multilateral defence programs against temporary funding shortfalls in member states’ budgets. The EDA says a 2016 review indicated that up to 20 per cent of collaborative programs have been affected by delays in getting final budget approvals.

Dec 10, 2019

Lawyers representing Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive detained in Vancouver last December by Canada Border Services Agency officers Canada at the request of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation during a trip to Argentina from Hong Kong, are being given access to documents they believe will show that there was a conspiracy to have her extradicted to the U.S. In ruling on the request, the B.C. Supreme Court’s associate chief justice, Heather Holmes agreed that Meng's lawyers had raised enough questions to give an “air of reality” to their allegations. She also said the documentation already provided by the Crown at the extradition hearing in Vancouver was “impoverished in its substance.”

Dec 10, 2019

Canada has signed an agreement updating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and the United States, clearing the way for ratification. In Mexico for the signing ceremony with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Mexico's Undersecretary for North America, Jesús Seade, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement would benefit all three countries. “This has been a long arduous and, at times, fraught negotiation,” she said Dec. 10. “We made it to the finish line because we learned how to work together.”

Dec 10, 2019

Royal Norwegian Navy Commodore Yngve Skoglund took over the command of the Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) from U.S. Navy Rear-Admiral Edward Cashman at a ceremony in Bergen on 9 December 2019.

Dec 10, 2019

A new active protection technology will be tested by the U.S. Army on M1 Abrams tanks during Defender Europe 2020, the largest exercise in Europe in last 25 years and held in 10 countries in April and May. The Israeli-developed Trophy system uses sensors to detect incoming rocket-propelled grenades and other anti-tank munitions. 

Dec 10, 2019

A Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules transport with 38 persons aboard has disappeared on a flight to provide logistical support to a military base in Antarctica. No distress call was received, and the Chilean air force said the aircraft was some 725 km into the 1,240 km flight when it vanished.

Dec 10, 2019

China is hinting at upcoming trials for two Canadian citizens held for a year on vague national security charges. A foreign ministry spokesperson told reporters Dec. 10 that the cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been transferred to prosecutors for “review and prosecution in accordance with the law.” They were arrested last December only days after Canada detained a senior Huawei executive at the request of the U.S.

Dec 10, 2019

Last month’s vote at the UN by Canada in support of a resolution endorsing Palestinian self-determination was not a policy shift, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He said at a Dec. 9 menorah-lighting ceremony that he understood the concerns in the Jewish community that Canada would continue “to stand strongly against the singling out of Israel at the UN” but that his government felt it important to restate its commitment to a two-party solution at a time when its prospects were threatened.

Dec 10, 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, have agreed to commit to a full ceasefire in eastern Ukraine before the end of December. At a meeting in Paris with French and German leaders, all agreed to press for full prisoner exchanges but did not resolve issues such as a timeline for local elections and border controls.

Dec 10, 2019

Shirin Ebadi, who won the 2003 Nobel Prize for Peace for her efforts to promote democracy and human rights in her homeland, says the latest wave of unrest there is a prelude to the collapse of its hard-line regime. She says the scale of protests and the government backlash suggests that the rift between the people and the government is too deep to be bridged.

Dec 10, 2019

Public Service Minister Bill Blair has been asked for an update on whether the government will decide soon on whether Huawei will be permitted to join Canada's 5G wireless network. The request comes in the form of a letter from two Conservative MPs, Pierre Paul-Hus and Glen Motz. Blair’s predecessor, Ralph Goodale, who lost his Saskatchewan seat in the Oct. 21 general election, had said during the campaign that a decision would be made after the election.

Dec 09, 2019

In a classic case of tit-for-tat, the Chinese government is reported to have directed all government and public institutions to get rid of U.S.-made computer hardware and software, giving them until 2022 to replace them with Chinese alternatives.

Dec 09, 2019

Effective in early January, the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority will discontinue its Hazardous Inflight Weather Advisory Service, which has operated since the early 1980s, as part of an effort to update and streamline its services. “Pilots are migrating to other means of obtaining inflight weather advisories,” officials say. “Multiple sources are available that provide access to weather and aeronautical information to pilots in the cockpit, often presented in a graphical format, making it easier to visualize what is going on along the route of flight.”

Dec 09, 2019

The annual defence spending authorization bill could be submitted to President Donald Trup as early as next week. Described as the largest ever drafted in 58 years, it includes a host of pay and bonus re-authorizations, military housing improvement programs, and personnel issues. The measure had been stalled by issues related to Trump’s push to transfer military construction funding to other priorities.

Dec 09, 2019

U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has held the first official talks with the Taliban since President Donald Trump’s declaration in September that a peace deal with the Afghan insurgency was dead. Initial talks are go focus on having the Taliban reduce violence, setting up for a permanent ceasefire, Khalilzad is also trying to lay the groundwork for negotiations between Afghans on both sides.

Dec 09, 2019

Gen. Nick Carter, Chief of the British Defence Staff, says any future review must begin with a basic threat assessment which he suggests could mean that the U.K. approach to deterrence might need to be updated. Both the Conservatives and Labour parties have committed to a review if they win the Dec. 12 general election. A 2010 review saw capabilities cut in order to balance the national budget and while some equipment was replaced after a 2015 review, funding depended on finding efficiencies.

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