IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Dec 17, 2021

HMCS Harry DeWolf, the lead Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship for the Royal Canadian Navy, returned to its Halifax homeport Dec. 16 after its inaugural voyage. The four-month deployment took it through the Northwest Passage.

Dec 17, 2021

Cracks have been confirmed in the tailcone areas of all but two of the Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters flown by the RCAF. As of Dec. 16 repairs with a manufacturer-developed fix had been completed on six and four more were in maintenance.

Dec 16, 2021

Could a 2017 federal policy designed to penalize bidders for defence contracts if there is “economic harm” to Canada have ramifications for Lockheed Martin’s offer of F-35s for new RCAF fighters? The U.S. government is the lead on the F-35 and with Canada threatening retaliation over a protectionist electric-vehicle incentive, the question is whether the F-35 bid could give Canada leverage.

Dec 16, 2021

Only a couple of weeks after seemingly interminable partisan wrangling threatened to undermine the latest U.S. defence spending plan, the Senate approved a $740-million Department of Defense authorization bill. It includes a 2022 pay military pay increase, more money that the administration had requested, an overhaul of how some sexual misconduct crimes are prosecuted, and a 2.7 per cent pay hike for military personnel. A proposal for more extensive changes to the military justice system was dropped, as was a plan to add women to the draft.

Dec 16, 2021

The world's public and private sectors were urged today by the JPMorgan International Council to collaborate more on countering cyber threats, which one member, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, calls “the most dangerous weapon in the world politically, economically and militarily.” An international corporate panel, the New York-based council has 250 members from 19 countries who convene annually.

Dec 16, 2021

Federal Court heard arguments Dec. 15 from four Canadian Armed Forces members who have refused to comply with a directive from the Chief of the Defence Staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The original deadline for compliance at the risk of dismissal was Nov. 30 but extended to Dec. 18. The members, who oppose the order on various grounds, also argue that their constitutional rights are being violated and that the threat of dismissal is extreme.

Dec 16, 2021

Canadians are being urged by the federal government to avoid non-essential foreign travel as the global spread of the coronavirus Omicron variant accelerates. “Now is not the time to travel,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said Dec. 15, stressing that the advice applies to everyone, regardless of their vaccination status, because they could “contract the virus or get stranded abroad.”

Dec 15, 2021

The government’s Dec. 14 apology for discrimination and sexual assault in the Canadian Armed Forces was genuine, says a former victim and now university academic, but she adds that culture change within the entire system must continue for it to be meaningful. “You can't just change things by changing the top or changing the bottom,” says Leah West, a former Army officer. “You need to change people's understanding and perception of what is OK all the way through the rank structure to get real culture change.”

Dec 15, 2021

A draft UN Security Council resolution which would have defined climate change as a threat to peace has been vetoed by Russia Dec. 13. Ambassador Vassily A. Nebenzia explained Dec. 13 that said Russia saw the proposal as pretext by western powers to justify meddling in other countries’ internal affairs.

Dec 15, 2021

As a UN group began a review in Geneva this week of weapons protocols, Secretary General Antonio Guterres preceded the session by pushing for new restrictions on autonomous weapons. He urged delegates “to agree on an ambitious plan for the future to establish restrictions on weapons which “can choose targets and kill people without human interference.”

Dec 15, 2021

The United Arab Emirates is suspending talks with the U.S. on a $23-billion procurement of 50 Lockheed Martin F-35s, 18 drone systems and other equipment. However, the Emirati embassy in Washington says talks on other issues would proceed because “the U.S. remains the UAE’s preferred provider for advanced defense requirements and discussions for the F-35 may be re-opened.”

Dec 15, 2021

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General says the department should demand a refund of $20.8 million from TransDigm Group, a Cleveland-based manufacturer of spare parts for aircraft. The OIG is accusing the company, which refunded $16 million in 2019, of continued “excess profit” on 150 contracts last year.

Dec 15, 2021

Moving into 2022, NATO is investing in investing in new cyber defence capabilities and refreshing policy, building on lessons from recent exercises such as Cyber Coalition 2021 in Estonia. The alliance’s Assistant Secretary-General for Emergency Security Challenges, David van Weel of the Netherlands, says the cost to member states will be up to €1 billion.

Dec 15, 2021

Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Dec. 14 that his country has “no plans to attack anyone” even as it continues troop buildups amidst speculation about a possible Russian attack which Moscow has repeatedly refuted. “We don’t plan to invade any other country’s territory,” Reznikov said. “Our defense capacity is important to protect our people, our society, our lives.”

Dec 15, 2021

The U.S. will expand its military and economic relationships in Asia in a bid to push back against China’s assertiveness in the region, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Dec. 15 “Threats are evolving, our security approach has to evolve with them,” he said in Indonesia. “We’ll adopt a strategy that more closely weaves together all our instruments of national power — diplomacy, military, intelligence — with those of our allies and partners.”

Dec 15, 2021

Evolving threats put the planned ground-ground rockets unit of the Israeli defence force back on the table.

Dec 15, 2021

A U.S. military strike cell known as Talon Anvil is accused of repeatedly skirting protocols designed to protect civilians when it directed hundreds of attacks on Daesh targets in Syria between 2014 and 2019. A new report says that although most targets were jihadis, the cell’s disregard for safeguards resulted in the deaths of non-combatants. “They were ruthlessly efficient,” a former USAF intelligence officer says in the report. “But they also made a lot of bad strikes.”

Dec 14, 2021

Billions of dollars in new spending aimed at riding out the waves of coronavirus hitting Canada are at the heart of the federal government’s latest fiscal and economic update presented today by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, who called the pandemic “our most important national project.” Most Liberal commitments in the last election campaign have been shelved until the 2022 budget. The current fiscal year’s deficit is projected at $144.5 billion and the debt-to-GDP percentage is pegged at 51.2 compared with pre-pandemic levels around 30.

Dec 14, 2021

Defence Minister Anita Anand today reaffirmed the government’s commitment to a “fully costed and fully-funded defence policy” as the key to a modern professional military. “I will continue working diligently to ensure our nation’s military remains a strong force,” she said in a published statement. “Given the wide range of challenges we face at home and abroad, our government will continue to ensure our armed forces are ready, willing and able to support Canadians and our international allies and partners, wherever and whenever they are called upon to serve.”

Dec 14, 2021

India’s defence minister, Rajnath Singh, says his country’s preference for military self-reliance, a cornerstone of its defence production policy, has yielded a diversified product mix and market with global potential. “We aim to make India one of the top countries in the world for the defence sector, from design to production with enhanced reach to market, including exports through the active participation of the public and private sectors,” he says.

Dec 14, 2021

It’s no secret in Canada or other northern nations that the Arctic has become a bellwether for global warming. The World Meteorological Organization confirmed today that a record high of 38 degrees Celsius was reported on June 20 last year in Siberia. That was some 18 degrees above the region’s daily average for the month, a situation the UN agency said had contributed to “massive sea ice loss” and evoked the Mediterranean rather than the Arctic.”

Dec 14, 2021

An Ottawa elementary school raised so much during a food bank drive that the Army had to be called in to help to deal with boxes which lined the school’s hallways.

Dec 14, 2021

Australia is procuring 30 self-propelled howitzers and 15 ammunition resupply vehicles from Hanwha Defense in South Korea. At an estimated value of US$730 million, the highest-value export deal for the weaponry, the contract was witnessed in Canberra Dec. 13 by the countries’ prime ministers.

Dec 14, 2021

The Turkish Navy has commissioned the first of two new logistics support vessels in a project begun in 2014. It was launched by the Istanbul shipyard in in October 2016 and the second was launched in July 2017, but the handovers were delayed by financial difficulties at the yard. The second is expected to be commissioned in early 2024

Dec 14, 2021

As the U.S. winds down is combat mission against ISIS in Iraq, it is stepping the multinational push to counter the terrorists’ activities in Africa. The U.S. and Italy have announced an African focus group within the coalition with Morocco and Niger as co-chairs.

Dec 14, 2021

A shift to more domestic production and the near completion of some major capital projects has enabled Saudi Arabia to reduce its defence budget by some 10 per cent for 2022. One independent analyst speculates that Saudis could be getting rid of “some of the bloat” in their defence ministry but its budget still is equivalent to US$46 billion.

Dec 14, 2021

The Romanian parliament has been asked by its defence ministry to approve the purchase of 32 second-hand F-16 Fighting Falcon jets from Norway in a deal estimated to be worth €454 million. Similar proposals had been discussed with other allies but Norway, transitioning to Lockheed Martin F-35s, turned out to the most practicable partner.

Dec 13, 2021

With some studies suggesting that as many as half of civilian first responders such as firefighters and paramedics suffer from psychological trauma linked to their jobs, Wounded Warriors Canada is collaborating with First Responder Health Services in B.C. on a new digital mental health platform. The partnership is taking its training Canada-wide.

Dec 13, 2021

The U.S. Department of Defense said today that none of its personnel involved in an August drone strike that killed 10 Afghan civilians will be punished. An initial found no legal violations but did not fully exonerate those directly those involved. DoD spokesman John F. Kirby said it was due to “a breakdown in process, and execution in procedural events, not the result of negligence, not the result of misconduct, not the result of poor leadership.”

Dec 12, 2021

The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency reported today that white supremacists are an “active counter-intelligence threat” within the Canadian Armed Forces. It also said that while the responsibility cannot fall “uniquely on the military’s counter-intelligence unit, it “may not be fully utilized to proactively identify white supremacist” members.

Dec 13, 2021

On Dec 13th, a virtual public apology will be offered to all current and former members of the Defence Team who have been affected by sexual assault, sexual harassment or discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. Offering apologies will be the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence; General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff; and Jody Thomas, Deputy Minister of National Defence.

Dec 12, 2021

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has rejected a Russian foreign ministry demand that the alliance rescind a 2008 commitment to Ukraine that it would one day become a member. “NATO’s relationship with Ukraine is going to be decided by the 30 NATO allies and Ukraine, no one else,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels Dec. 10.

Dec 12, 2021

Mohammed Khalifa, 38, a Saudi-born Canadian citizen who traveled to Syria to join Daesh in 2013 pleaded guilty in a U.S. court Dec. 10 to conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, resulting in death. He had narrated propaganda videos designed to recruit Westerners to Daesh or to kill them as part of an international jihad.

Dec 10, 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin is ramping up the rhetoric about growing tensions in and around Ukraine, as his country masses troops and authorities in Kyiv say Moscow could be planning an offensive at the end of January. Reaching out to Russian-speakers outside his country, many of whom live in the Donbas region of Ukraine where there has been conflict, he said Dec. 9 that “what is happening . . . certainly look like genocide.”

Dec 10, 2021

Finland has become the 14th customer for the Lockheed Martin F-35 with the government announcing today that it plans to order 64 aircraft and weapons systems at a cost of US$9.4 billion. It will replace a legacy fleet of McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F/A-18s. Boeing had offered the Super Hornet and the other competitors were the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen from Saab, the French Rafale from Dassault and the Eurofighter Typhoon from BAE Systems.

Dec 10, 2021

The USAF Chief of Staff, Gen C.Q. Brown Jr., who led the air campaign against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria, says the multinational coalition’s interoperability offered crucial advantages and flexibility. “Given the challenges we face . . . we simply have no choice but to become more interoperable,” he says, urging a reexamination of policies and shared capabilities to avoid duplication among allies.

Dec 09, 2021

Complainants in two sexual assault cases in the Canadian Armed Forces say they were denied justice when their cases were closed without charges being laid because the men declined to be interviewed. “This does not make any sense to me whatsoever,” one says. “I was sexually assaulted and now I am being told they can't lay charges because they haven't spoken to the perpetrator?”

Dec 09, 2021

The federal government has added $7.7 million to a program designed to increase the participation of women in UN peacekeeping missions. However, in disclosing the development during a virtual conference this week, Defence Minister Anita Anand made no mention of a government promise to participate in a proposed UN rapid response force.

Dec 09, 2021

The final element of a $60-million U.S. security assistance package for Ukraine, small arms and ammunition, is being delivered this week, according to the Pentagon Dec. 8. Other elements have included anti-tank missiles, patrol boats and “more benign articles” such as medical gear.

Dec 09, 2021

Government forces in Myanmar are reported to have burned alive a number of villagers in apparent retribution for an IED attack on a military convoy. “This incident is quite brazen, and it happened in an area that was meant to be found, and seen, to scare people,” a Human Rights Watch researcher said, adding that it was similar to other recent attacks. “Our contacts are saying these were just boys and young people who were villagers who were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Dec 09, 2021

Even though he was not named in a class-action lawsuit against a Toronto school where abuse of students was allegedly wide-spread, LCol Gordon Mintz has resigned as commandant of the Canadian Forces Chaplain School and is quitting the military. He had been drawn into the school controversy as a witness 10 years after joining the military.

Dec 09, 2021

VAdm Craig Baines, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, has announced the names of the four new Naval Large Tugs that are being built by Ocean Industries Inc. of Isle-aux-Coudres, Quebec, under the National Shipbuilding Strategy. Named Haro, Barkerville, Canso, and Stella Maris the new tugs will provide support to enable warship movements and provide fire protection for the Navy’s Pacific and Atlantic Fleets.

Dec 09, 2021

Data storage devices containing classified operational data have been reported missing from a Royal Canadian Navy frigate despite tightened security. They include thumb drives, a hard drive and a DVD that holds information about threat emitters.

Dec 08, 2021

The House of Representatives has approved a new compromise National Defense Authorization Act that adds US$25 billion to the administration’s budget request for 2022, boosting the total plan to $768 billion. However, the Dec. 7 vote was 363-70 as 51 Democrats and 19 Republications voted against it and it now goes to the Senate, where there’s bipartisan resistance to some proposed military justice weakened during negotiations, leaving Congress with a narrow window to send the package to President Joe Biden this year.

Dec 08, 2021

Collins Aerospace helmets worn by Lockheed-Martin F-35 pilots, costing upwards of US$400,000, are being upgraded for U.S. Navy and Marine Corps pilots to address a problem which had arisen during night operations. Its internal “green glow” evidently causes vision problems and disorientation and although it was first noted by an Air Force instructor pilot, the USAF has yet to sign off on the upgrade.

Dec 08, 2021

As the U.S. prepared to begin hosting some 100 countries for a virtual Summit for Democracy, China, which wasn’t invited, derided the Dec. 9-10 event as an “exercise in hypocrisy” designed to promote U.S. hegemony by permitting Taiwan to participate. It also hosted its own summit, stepping up propaganda designed to promote its own model of “democracy” to fit its authoritarian one-party system.

Dec 08, 2021

Former Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz formally succeeded Angela Merkel today as Germany’s Chancellor. Merkel, who had held the position for 16 years, advised her Social Democratic Party successor to approach the role “with joy.”

Dec 08, 2021

Noting that Department of Defense contractors are a favourite target of cybercriminals, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said today that the military needs to accelerate development of its cybersecurity certification program. “DOD hasn't communicated key details for defense contractors, such as reciprocity between its certification and others,” it said, recommending development of “performance outcome-oriented measures and more.”

Dec 08, 2021

Israeli sources warn that the pending withdrawal of U.S. military from Iraq, on 31 Dec 2021, will dramatically change the landscape of geopolitical hostilities in the region.

Dec 08, 2021

VAdm Haydn Edmundson, former head of RCN Human Resources, has been charged with sexual assault and indecent acts, DND confirmed Dec. 7. The charges, to be heard in civilian court, arise from allegations by a former sailor that she was raped in 1991 aboard the supply ship HMCS Provider where Edmundson was a Lieutenant Commander.

Dec 08, 2021

Nearly 20 years after the U.S. set up its Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba, the Senate Judiciary Committee has been told by Marine BGen John Baker, chief counsel for the Military Commissions Defense Organization, that “no one can seriously argue that the military commissions in Guantanamo have been anything but a failed experiment.” He shared his views Dec. 7 with the Senate Judiciary Committee as it began considering the utility of the base set up to handle suspected terrorists

Dec 08, 2021

India's Chief of the Defence Staff, Army Gen Bipin Rawat, died today in a helicopter crash along with his wife and 11 others. The Russian-designed Mi-17V5 crashed in the southern state of Tamil Nadu shortly after takeoff. Rawat, 63, was appointed in January 2019.

Dec 07, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden used a two-hour video link today with Russian President Vladimir Putin to reiterate a threat of “strong economic and other measures” from the U.S. and its European allies if military tensions with Ukraine escalates. Tens of thousands of Russian troops have been massing along Russia’s border with Ukraine, prompting rising fears in Kyiv that an invasion was imminent. The Kremlin said on the eve of the Biden-Putin link that relations were “lamentable.”

Dec 07, 2021

The U.S. Air Force is testing a Vermont-based company’s solution for fighter pilots who needo heed nature’s call during a mission, especially for the growing number of females in the cockpit. Omni Defense Technologies’ system, Skydrate, is seen as an improvement on the common “piddle pack” plastic bag and also reduces the need for “tactical dehydration” which can impair pilots’ performance.

Dec 06, 2021

Dominated by U.S. companies, global sales of weapons and military services by the world’s 100 biggest arms companies totalled a record US$531 billion in 2020, up 1.3 per cent from the previous year. Releasing its latest annual review, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said today that growth was sustained even as the global economy shrank. “The industry giants were largely shielded by sustained government demand,” SIPRI Alexandra Marksteiner said. “In much of the world, military spending grew and some governments even accelerated payments to the arms industry in order to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.”

Dec 06, 2021

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance’s political leaders will endorse its latest Strategic Concept at a summit set for Spain next June. He says it will cover’s NATO’s relationship with China and give more prominence to technology and climate “reaffirming the centrality of the trans-Atlantic bond to our security and defense” during “turbulent times.”

Dec 06, 2021

Myanmar opposition politician Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced to four years in prison, the first in a series of verdicts which eventually mean life in prison. Detained since a military coup in February which toppled her civilian government, she was convicted on charges of inciting dissent and breaking pandemic rules, as was former President and ally Win Myint. Suu Kyui became one of the world’s most prominent political prisoners when she was detained for 21 years by a pevious junta.

Dec 06, 2021

Cracks have been confirmed in the tail structure of most of the RCAF’s fleet of 24 Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters but DND said on the weekend that repairs are expected to be completed “the next few days.” The problem was initially confirmed during routine inspection of one aircraft Nov. 26. Two were found to have no issues and two more are undergoing scheduled long-term maintenance.

Dec 03, 2021

The Russian space agency said today that debris from a U.S. rocket forced a change in the International Space Station’s orbit. Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin said the debris was from a NASA rocket used to launch a Pegasus micrometeorite research satellite and that the ISS was moved by using thrusters on a Russian freighter capsule docked at the station.

Dec 03, 2021

Russia has deployed coastal defense missile systems on a deserted island in the volcanic Kuril archipelago between Hokkaido and the Kamtchatka Peninsula and includes four islands claimed by Japan. Video released by the Russian defence department shows launchers being landed and moved into firing positions. The department also said living quarters, hangars and other infrastrucure were being constructed as part of an exercise.

Dec 03, 2021

The widow of a Royal Canadian Navy veteran who died in 2012, four years after being diagnosed with a rare neurodegenerative disease linked to his tour aboard HMCS Nipigon in the mid-1960s, finally has received disability benefits from Veterans Affairs. While she declined to provide specific details about the settlement, she says the department had “put me through hell” ever since she applied.

Dec 03, 2021

The U.S. administration announced Dec. 2 that effective next Monday, Canadians and other foreign air passengers must have a negative COVID-19 test result within 24 hours of their departure, regardless of their vaccination status. Canadians entering by land evidently will not be affected.

Dec 03, 2021

As world leaders explore solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, defence communities are stepping up efforts to ensure better preparedness for climate change, including by revising combat doctrines, altering training, adapting infrastructure, equipment, personnel, and procurement protocols, and designing climate scenarios.

Dec 03, 2021

Although the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has not been allowed to inspect all areas of Syria, it has not uncovered any chemical weapons arsenals. Syria denies the accusation but Israeli intelligence alleges that Syria continues to keep a stockpile of different chemical weapons.

Dec 02, 2021

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Dec. 1 that Russia faces “severe costs” if it invades neighbouring Ukraine and that NATO is ready to increase its presence. “We must prepare for all contingencies,” Blinken said after an alliance ministerial meeting in Riga ahead of a planned meeting in Sweden today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Dec 02, 2021

Public Services and Procurement Canada has confirmed that Lockheed Martin and Saab are the only contenders that “remain eligible” in the long-delayed plan to supply the RCAF with 88 new fighters as replacement for its legacy fleet of CF-188 Hornets.

Dec 02, 2021

A United States Space Priorities Framework issued Dec. 1 by the White House is designed to “transition to a more resilient national security space posture and strengthen its ability to detect and attribute hostile acts in space.” It also, among other things, commits to space-based observation to “support action on climate change” and to protect “space-related critical infrastructure.”

Dec 02, 2021

The UN says the global need for humanitarian aid is rocketing toward an all-time high in 2022 as COVID-19, climate change and regional conflicts exacerbate the prospect of widespread famine. Accordingly, its humanitarian relief arm appealed today for a record US$41 billion in funding to help people it says are most in need, up from $35 billion in 2021 and double what it sought four years ago.

Dec 02, 2021

President Vladimir Putin said Dec. 1 that he wants “legal guarantees” that NATO would stop deployments near Ukraine’s borders with Russia. “Any agreements must take interests of Russia and all Euro-Atlantic countries into account,” he told newly-accredited foreign diplomats. “A calm and stable situation must be ensured for all.”

Dec 01, 2021

Lockheed Martin has developed a pared-down F-35 trainer with 90 per cent less hardware which could see air forces expand their training capacity at reduced cost. F-35 Mission Rehearsal Trainer Lightning Integrated Training Environment was unveiled after some 18 months of development and demonstrations to customers.

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