IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

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.

Dec 09, 2019

Eight-inch floppy disks, used by U.S. Strategic Command to communicate “emergency-response” messages from its headquarters to ballistic-missile launch sites, bombers, tankers and reconnaissance aircraft, have finally been phased out nearly five years after the decades-old technology was found to be still in use.

Dec 09, 2019

U.S. Air Force efforts to leverage civilian augmented and virtual reality technologies are being frustrated by the fact that too many have parts manufactured in China to be considered for operational environments. “I don’t think that’s good for us,” says Col. Gerard Ryan, USAF’s operational training infrastructure division head. “If we’re going to use a gaming engine, let’s make sure it’s not made by a foreign country that we don’t like.”

Dec 09, 2019

A lack of international standards for the western allies’ behavior in cyberspace prevents them from policing adversaries to protect data and systems, says Adm. Michael Gilday, Chief of U.S. Naval Operations. “We have international norms in the maritime; we don’t have those in cyber,” he says, adding that it’s “difficult to enforce standard that don’t exist, and to therefore hold nations accountable for nefarious behavior.”

Dec 09, 2019

The U.S. General Services Administration expects that civilian agencies will ultimately benefit from its new partnership with the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, which was set up last year to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence by the Department of Defense.

Dec 07, 2019

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says a “very clearly articulated list” of military-style long guns the government plans to ban will be published “as quickly as possible.” He says he doesn’t want “individuals going out and acquiring those weapons before the publishing of that list.”

Dec 07, 2019

A 22-year-old Ontario man, Ikar Mao, has been charged by RCMP with one count of leaving Canada to participate in a terrorist group and one count of actual participation. If convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison on each charge. An RCMP spokesperson, explaining that the investigation is ongoing, says Mao was accused of involvement in the Islamic State.

Dec 06, 2019

A shooting Dec. 6 at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola has resulted in four deaths, including the gunman who shot himself. He has been identifed as a Saudi Air Force officer training at the base. At least 11 other victims were taken to hospital. Two days earlier, a U.S. submarine crewmember at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii shot two civilians to death and wounded a third before committing suicide.

MRAP lawsuit alleges fraud
Dec 06, 2019

The U.S. government has joined in a whistleblower lawsuit which alleges that Illinois-based Navistar defrauded the Department of Defense by inflating costs in a 2007 contract to supply Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles to the Marine Corps. Confirming the government’s decision to become involved, Jody Hunt, assistant attorney general for the civil division of the Department of Justice, said in a Dec. 4 statement that “contractors who falsify information to induce the military to pay inflated prices will be held accountable.” The suit originates with a former Navistar employee.

Dec 06, 2019

With the 2010 Strategic Arms Control Treaty between the U.S. and Russia set to expire in 14 months, Russian President Vladimir Putin says he’s ready to begin talks on extending it by five years. However, while his U.S counterpart, Donald Trump, said during the recent NATO Summit that the extension provided for in the 2010 pact would be “a good thing,” a State Department official has told Congress that the idea is still under consideration.

Dec 06, 2019

Development of innovative textiles and “smart” materials to improve protection against chemical and biological threats is being pushed by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Its Biological Technologies Office says the current threat environment is comprised of “broadly acting, highly pathogenic, and sometimes immediately lethal threats that are capable of entering the body.” It also says warfighters still are at risk despite decades-long substantial investments by the U.S.. 

Dec 06, 2019

The United Nations has been told by Britain, France and Germany that Iran is violating Security Council Resolution 2231, which “calls upon” Iran not to undertake “any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” In their letter, the three European Union members say Iran has tested a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has dismissed the letter as a “desperate falsehood.”

Dec 06, 2019

The results of a national U.S. opinion poll on security has disclosed that a significant number of Americans continue to believe that Russia is a U.S. ally. Conducted for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute, it shows, among other things, that 28 per cent held that view, up from 19 per cent in a similar 2018 poll. Ironically, however, 71 per cent of the latest survey group see Russia as a threat to the U.S. and 25 per cent call it the greatest threat. Cyber attacks were seen as the top “near term threat” with nearly 90 per cent of those polls expressing concern about attacks on government and nearly as many concerned about their personal computers and accounts.

Dec 06, 2019

A proposal by two Conservative senators to table a motion next week calling on the federal government to impose sanctions on China for alleged human rights abuses has drawn a sharp response from Cong Peiwu, the new ambassador to Canada. He has promised “very firm countermeasures” against what he described as “dangerous” interference in his country’s domestic affairs.

Dec 06, 2019

A U.S. Coast Guard contract for new offshore cutters, worth a potential $10.5 billion, is going to be up for retendering because hurricane damage at the original Florida shipyard which was chosen means that the already delayed program would fall further behind schedule and overall costs would rise. A contract for three additional vessels has yet to be finalized.

Dec 05, 2019

The Speech from the Throne signals that the new minority Liberal government is prepared to stay the course on the defence, security and foreign policies it committed to in the previous Parliament. Read the full text and some context here.

Dec 05, 2019

When French President Emmanuel Macron declared recently that "we are experiencing the brain death of NATO", he was stating longstanding French policy favouring a more united Europe and less dependence on the U.S. for security. So says James Dobbins, a former U.S. State Department's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. While he says Macron is right to wonder how President Donald Trump would respond to any threat to Europe, he was wrong to attribute the uncertainty to any diminished support for the alliance among Americans generally.

Dec 05, 2019

John Rood, the U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, says that despite additional U.S. troops deployments to the Middle East in the last six months, Iran remains a threat. He told reporters Nov. 4 that the U.S. continues to see “indications . . . that potential Iranian aggression could occur.” He spoke in the wake of a Defense Intelligence Agency report that Iran is producing “increasingly capable” ballistic and cruise missiles.

Dec 05, 2019

Persistent and substantial maintenance delays are hindering the U.S. Navy’s its ability to be ready for operations and training. The Government Accountability Office says vessels have spent at least 33,700 more days in maintenance than expected due to insufficient shipyard capacity and a shortage of skilled workers, among other things. The GAO also says that while the USN is trying to remedy the situation, it has not complied with 11 of 17 earlier recommendations.

Dec 05, 2019

The Royal Canadian Air Force has confirmed that two of its five CC-150 Polaris transports have been grounded. One was damaged when it rolled into a hangar wall at Trenton while the second was deemed “unserviceable” after a routine inspection disclosed an engine problem. The converted Airbus A-310-300s, acquired in 1992, are used for VIP transport and other missions.

Dec 05, 2019

Helping veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder is the reason for a new U.S. Postal Service stamp. Proceeds from sales will be donated to the Department of Veterans Affairs and to the National Center for PTSD.

Dec 05, 2019

A “significant cache” of suspected Iranian guided missile parts headed to rebels in Yemen has been seized by U.S. Navy and Coast Guard crews in the northern Arabian sea. The U.S. has consistently accused Iran of illegally smuggling arms to Houthi rebels but until now had intercepted only smaller and less sophisticated weapons.

Dec 05, 2019

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper says the U.S. has completed its military pullback in northeastern Syria, settling into a more stable posture of about 600 troops in the rest of the country. That represents a 40 per cent reduction since President Donald Trump’s initial withdrawal order in October, but Esper says he still can redeploy smaller numbers as needed.

Dec 05, 2019

A senior Department of Defense official says President Donald Trump will request at least $250 million more in “security aid” for Ukraine in his upcoming budget request to Congress. The package evidently could include Javelin anti-tank weapons but those would have to be requested by Ukraine. A $39 million sale of 150 anti-tank missiles and two additional launchers is already pending atop 200 missiles and 37 launchers the U.S. sold to Ukraine last year.

Dec 05, 2019

A reservist in Calgary with a history of ties to hate groups and spreading racism is being investigated by the Royal Canadian Navy nearly four years after enlisting. Boris Mihajlovic was an administrator of a now-defunct neo-Nazi website as well as being involved with another froup identified by the government as a terrorist organization. Mihajlovic now says no longer holds those views and has tried to turn his life around.

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