IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Sep 12, 2020

The 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are being pressed by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “act” against China’s buildup and militarization of islands in the South China Sea. “Don’t let the Chinese Communist Party walk over us and our people,” he said during a video call to the alliance’s annual conference. “Don’t just speak up, but act.”

Sep 12, 2020

The foreign ministers of India and China say their countries have agreed to back away from a standoff which has resulted in violent confrontations along a poorly demarcated border. Calling the situation “not in the interest of either side,” they say that “border troops of both sides should continue their dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions.”

Sep 12, 2020

Britain, Denmark, Norway and the U.S. have completed an air and naval exercise designed to uphold freedom of navigation in the Arctic.

Sep 12, 2020

A year after Cameron Ortis, director its national intelligence coordination centre was charged with sharing information with a foreign entity, the RCMP evidently has not upgraded its protocols despite an internal review. “If the RCMP is publicly saying that they haven't done anything or haven't implemented any of the changes that maybe need to happen in terms of increasing the security posture, what are they telling allies?” asks Jessica Davis, formerly with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and now head of a private consultancy, “They’re obviously still receiving intelligence from the allies. So is the messaging the same to them? And if so, how are they taking that?”

Sep 12, 2020

Rasmus Hindrén, a former senior military advisor in Finland, has been named Head of International Relations in the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, effective 1 October. Succeeding Kirsti Narinen, who has returned to Finland’s foreign affairs ministry, he will be responsible for maintaining and developing relations with the Centre’s 28 participating states, the EU and NATO.

Sep 12, 2020

Canadian officials say they expect Ottawa to retaliate by 16 September to the U.S. administration’s 10 per cent tariff on imports of Canadian aluminum. Ottawa has threatened some $3.6 billion in countermeasures unless Washington backed down on President Donald Trump’s initiative.

Sep 11, 2020

The U.N. Security Council has been asked to refer actions on both sides of Yemen’s civil war to the International Criminal Court for possible war crimes prosecution, including U.S.-based Saudi forces and Houthi insurgents.  The allegations are laid out in a report from an expert panel designated by the U.N. Human Rights Council, which also urges the Security Council to expand sanctions against individuals involved in the conflict.

Sep 10, 2020

Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, senior U.S. commander in the Middle East, has confirmed plans for partial troop reductions in Iraq and Afghanistan before the upcoming U.S. presidential election. The force in Iraq will be cut to 3,000 from 5,200 by the end of September and the presence in Afghanistan to 4,500 from 8,600 by late October.

Sep 10, 2020

Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne and European Commission Vice-President Josep Borrell have reaffirmed their transatlantic commitment to tackle COVID-19 as well and other challenges. In a statement issued 10 September, they said that, among other things, they fully support the World Health Organization’s pandemic work, continue to cooperate in identifying and responding to foreign threats such as state-sponsored disinformation, and remain committed to the Paris Agreement climate goals.

Sep 10, 2020

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay marked World Suicide Prevention Day 10 September with a reminder that the suicide rate among vets remains higher than the national average. While “there are no easy solutions,” they say it remains a “priority” for their departments.

Sep 10, 2020

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs identified 55 suicides among veterans at its facilities in a recent two-year period but the Government Accountability Office says a review of departmental data found errors and has recommended improvement in how the DVA tracks and analyzes its own information so as to prevent “on-campus” deaths.

Sep 10, 2020

Iran's navy, air force and ground forces have begun a three-day exercise in the Gulf of Oman near the internationally-strategic Strait of Hormuz. A senior commander says the exercise is designed to improve “readiness in confronting foreign threats and any possible invasion.”

Sep 10, 2020

On the heels of a simulator test in which an AI defeated a human pilot, the U.S. is planning live trials pitting full-scale AI-controlled aircraft against human pilots in 2024.

Sep 10, 2020

Unmanned air, surface and underwater systems are to be deployed in the Pacific by the U.S. Navy next year to test their effectiveness in a fleetwide combat environment.

Sep 10, 2020

The U.S. Marine Corps plans to pay some pilots significant phased retention bonuses in an attempt to address personnel shortfalls. Fixed-wing pilots evidently are in the highest demand. The bonuses would be equal annuities over the length of a renewed contract.

Sep 10, 2020

French and Czech suppliers as well as domestic companies are short-listed for a proposed Polish procurement of several hundred armoured personnel carriers.

Sep 09, 2020

The recent decision to render the Royal Canadian Navy's junior rankings gender-neutral was not entirely legal, says LCol (Ret) Rory Fowler, a lawyer now in private practice. He says the Department of National Defence circumvented channels by changing regulations without proper authorization, an oversight DND has acknowledged.

Sep 09, 2020

British, Norwegian and U.S. ships are holding exercises with Norwegian and British frigates in international waters off Russia’s Arctic coast but within its claimed exclusive economic management zone. The exercises are taking place near the Kola Peninsula, home to Russia’s main submarine base and its huge Northern Fleet.

Sep 09, 2020

President Donald Trump’s statement that the U.S. military likes to prosecute wars to keep the defence industry “happy” has elicited a response from the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville. “I can assure the American people that the senior leaders would only recommend sending our troops to combat when it’s required for national security and a last resort,” he says.

Sep 09, 2020

Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $13.3 billion Ground Based Strategic Deterrent contract to build the next-generation U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles. Northrop says the new missiles will begin replacing 1970s-vintage LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBMs in 2029.

Sep 09, 2020

Lockheed Martin is gearing up to supply Poland with long-range unmanned aerial systems to enhance the operational capabilities of its 32 F-35A fighters, deliveries of which are expected to start in 2024. Jack O’Banion, vice president for strategy and customer requirements at LM’s Skunk Works division, says the company sees a “significant overlap” between U.S. and Polish tactical needs.

Sep 09, 2020

A $272-million contract through the U.S. Navy will supply the Czech Republic with eight Bell UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters and four AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters. The company considers the deal a stepping stone to further customers in the region, notably Poland.

Sep 09, 2020

A draft $11.7-billion contract to consolidate networks at 22 U.S. military agencies has been published by the Defense Information Systems Agency. The project would mandate a single service provider to provide “transition, infrastructure, network operations and management engineering and innovation, cybersecurity, and technical refresh support services” by 2026.

Sep 09, 2020

Anecdotal rumblings within government about the impact of COVID-19 on spending priorities are raising questions about whether the ballooning debt from various economic support programs will affect departments and agencies. One approach, to "anchor" budgets at a fixed percentage of gross domestic product, is being advanced by Robert Asselin, a advisor to former Finance Minister Bill Morneau and now Senior Vice-President, Policy at the Business Council of Canada.

Sep 08, 2020

The small Pacific nation of Palau wants the U.S. to build military bases on its archipelago and to deploy U.S. Coast Guard resources to patrol its vast marine reserves 1,500km east of the Philippines. President Tommy Remengesau says he broached the idea with visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who has accused China of  “destabilizing activities” in the region.

Sep 08, 2020

More than 1,600 former Canadian Armed Forces members have benefited from a legislated initiative to find them government employment but a new report suggests that some “barriers” have constrained the five-year-old program. The report says, among other things, that many veterans were simply unaware of the program.

Sep 08, 2020

President Donald Trump says U.S. military leaders “want to do nothing but fight wars so all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.”

Sep 08, 2020

The U.S. Army Research Office says a new approach to landmine detection could drastically reduce the incidence of false alarms and the need to dig up anything suspected of being an explosive. The ARO technology evidently relies on inducing vibrations inside a mine which can be measured and deciphered.

Sep 08, 2020

U.S. Air Force trainee pilots who will be flying the single-seat Lockheed Martin F-35 are being trained on decades-old instruments and techniques. “Our training system hasn't fundamentally changed, probably in six decades,” a senior USAF officer acknowledges. “We don't want to throw out the things that work, but the question is: in the 21st century, is it right that our primary training techniques still revolve around putting a poster on a wall and pretending we're flying an airplane?”

Sep 08, 2020

The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran has a 2,105kg stockpile of enriched uranium, more than 10 times the amount permitted under the terms of a 2015 agreement. Iran, which insists its development is for peaceful purposes, began reneging on its commitment after the U.S. abandoned the deal which also involved Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

Sep 08, 2020

In an attempt to reduce tensions in a disputed border region, defence ministers from India and China met in Moscow l4 September. Rajnath Singh said that recent Chinese buildup and aggression had violated an agreement but that his meeting with Gen Wei Fenghe was designed to ensure that the situation “should be handled responsibly and neither side should take any further action that could either complicate the situation or escalate matters.”

Sep 04, 2020

Unpublished research prepared for an Afghan Peace Dialogue Project at Queen’s University in Ireland indicates that many Taliban prisoners released as part of a deal brokered by the U.S. have been returning to the insurgency. It has found that they were “participating in combat, being killed fighting, being taken prisoner and one case of an ex-prisoner being involved with revenge assassinations.”

Sep 04, 2020

Microsoft has again been awarded the U.S. Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud computing contract – but the journey may not be over yet. The latest decision by the Department of Defense follows a 10-month legal battle challenge by Amazon after Microsoft was awarded the original contract. Amazon could continue an outstanding protest before the Court of Federal Claims.

Sep 04, 2020

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is being pressed by a major human rights lobby to have all suspected acts of racism and white supremacy in the Canadian Armed Forces handled by a special internal task force or the RCMP. “We need to end this culture of tolerance for neo-Nazis and neo-Nazi activities within our Armed Forces and it needs to be done now,” said Jaime Kirzner Roberts, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Toronto, after a teleconference with Sajjan.

Sep 04, 2020

A survey of U.S. troops indicates widespread concern that white nationalism presents a national security threat on par with al-Qaida and the Islamic State and more worrisome that dangers posed by North Korea, Afghanistan or Iraq. Approximately one-third of troops surveyed had reported signs of white supremacy or racism in the ranks.

Sep 04, 2020

There evidently is growing unease in the U.S. and among its NATO allies about the prospect of a complete U.S. withdrawal from the alliance if President Donald Trump is re-elected in November. Former senior national security officials in his administration are said to be warning that Russia would welcome a withdrawal, which would be one of the largest global strategic shifts in generations.

Sep 04, 2020

Career federal public servant Lisa Campbell has been appointed president of the Canadian Space Agency, succeeding Sylvain Laporte, who led the CSA since 2015. Campbell comes from a senior position in Veterans Affairs and previously had spent three years at Public Services and Procurement as its assistant deputy minister for defence and marine procurement.

Sep 04, 2020

The Norwegian port of Tromsø has been improved to accommodate more visits by U.S.Navy nuclear submarines, facilitating closer monitoring of Russia’s northern fleet movements into the North Atlantic. Some 306 km above the Arctic Circle, Tromsø has a relatively moderate climate due to the influence of the Gulf Stream.

Sep 04, 2020

Despite confirmation by senior U.S. military officials, President Donald Trump is dismissing as “fake news” published accusations that he disparaged troops who had been captured or killed in battle. Among other things, he is reported to have cancelled a visit to a U.S. cemetery in France because it was “filled with losers” and called one group of casualties “suckers.” Trump infamously questioned the record of the late Republican Senator, John McCain, who was captured during the Vietnam War, saying he liked “people who weren’t captured.”

Sep 04, 2020

A New U.S. Marine Corps facility currently under construction in Quantio, Va., has been designed to run classified wargaming scenarios to deal with increasingly technology-sophisticated enemies. Once the facility opens in 2024, the Corps plans more than a dozen wargames annually, including two which would involve 250 personnel.

Sep 03, 2020

Canada’s Air Task Force–Romania has received its NATO readiness certification at Romanian Air Force Base Mihail Kogalniceanu, enabling it to begin its enhanced air policing mission 5 September under the umbrella of Operation REASSURANCE. Some 135 RCAF personnel and six Boeing CF-188 Hornets will help to secure the country’s airspace until December.

Sep 03, 2020

Walter Reid National Military Medical Center in Maryland is one of several U.S. sites chosen by the Department of Defense for Phase 3 clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine contender. The others are in Virginia, Texas and California. The British-based multinational, AstraZeneca, which developed the vaccine in collaboration with Oxford University researchers and is already undertaking late-stage trials in Brazil, Britain and South Africa, hopes to recruit 30,000 volunteers for the U.S. test.

Sep 03, 2020

Peter Jennings, Executive Director of the independent Australian Strategic Policy Institute, considers Canada “a valuable player” in the Indo-Pacific region but would like to see more military presence and cooperation with countries in the region. “We should be doing a better job is talking to each other more effectively on issues like China,” he says. “We must share internal thinking about how we are going to deal with the problem of this assertive, authoritarian state.”

Sep 03, 2020

As the U.S. Navy shifted increasingly to remote work for many personnel early in the COVID-19 pandemic, its chief information says there was a jump in malicious cyber activity. Aaron Weis says it began with basic phishing activity but ramped up to spoofing and outright attacks from ostensibly “trustworthy” sources even after the U.S. deployed countermeasures.

Sep 03, 2020

Airbus and its Satair Group subsidiary have completed the absorption of one of the last pieces of Bombardier’s engagement with the A220, its spare parts distribution. Airbus acquired Bombardier’s part of the A220 aircraft program, developed as the CSeries passenger jet, last January, but the Montreal company continued to purchase, stock, sell and distribute spares.

Sep 03, 2020

A new type of fragmentation bomb designed to diminish the risk of unexploded legacy cluster munitions has been tested by the U.S. Air Force. “The operational tests were designed to gather data to determine the operational performance of the BLU-136,” says LCol Daniel Lambert, adding that the data would to demonstrate the 2,000lb weapon’s viability as an alternative.

Sep 03, 2020

The U.S. and Russia both have indicated a willingness to extend the New START nuclear pact before it expires next February, but a Pentagon official says it’s now up to Russia to deal with U.S. proposals. The U.S. said during recent talks in Vienna that it would consider an extended deadline if Russia’s range of unconstrained nonstrategic nuclear weapons and the implementation of stronger verification measures were included. The U.S. also has suggested the eventual inclusion of China in the treaty but Beijing has said it’s not interested and Moscow is disinclined to put pressure on China. 

Sep 03, 2020

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Urusky says a recent visit to Turkey is part of a push toward increased defence sector cooperation between the NATO Black Sea neighbours. The possibilities evidently include development of a new aircraft engine and co-production of the Antonov AN-178 heavy transport.

Sep 03, 2020

Oracle Corp. has lost its latest legal challenge of how the U.S. Department of Defense awarded a multi-billion-dollar cloud-computing contract for its Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure. The contract originally was awarded to Microsoft after a competition with Amazon Web Services, but Oracle contended that the contract requirements had been tailored to the other companies’ advantage.

Sep 03, 2020

The new U.S. Air Force chief of staff, Gen Charles Brown, says budget pressures likely will require major reductions in the range of platforms the USAF flies in the next couple of years as it reorganises to meet “near-peer” foreign competition. Calling it “the most difficult force structure decisions in generations,” he says the USAF must divest or take risk in legacy missions and capabilities.

Sep 03, 2020

Colorado-based AMERGINT Technologies Holdings has completed the purchase of Collins Aerospace’s space-based optics business from Raytheon Technologies, renaming the business Danbury Mission Technologies. The divestiture was required by the Justice Department when it approved the merger of Raytheon and United Technologies in March.

Sep 02, 2020

Senior officers of the International Criminal Court, including its chief prosecutor, are being sanction by the U.S. for what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says are “illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction.” Created by the UN in 2002 and never recognized by the U.S., which calls it a “corrupted institution,” the ICC is currently investigating whether U.S. forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

Sep 02, 2020

A 59-year-old retired U.S. Marine has just graduated from Army basic training, a prerequisite for entry to the Army Reserve. SSgt Monte Gould, who served in Afghanistan in 2004, retired in 2009 to spend more time with his family but then sought to re-enlist when things quieted down. “For some of these kids, I’m older than their grandparents,” he points out.

Sep 02, 2020

The Department of Defense says that the U.S. is falling behind China in shipbuilding and missiles. It also says in its latest annual China Military Power report that while much of China’s modernization remains a work in progress, it could rival the U.S. militarily by mid-century.

Sep 02, 2020

First flight of the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider long-range strike bomber has been postponed by the U.S. Air Force to no earlier than 2022 rather than late next year as originally scheduled. USAF Force MGen Mark Weatherington says, however, that initial operation could happen earlier than expected if eventual deliveries are accelerated. The B-21 is part of an initiative to modernize the entire bomber fleet, much of which has been flying for decades.

Sep 02, 2020

After a fatal crash in British Columbia 17 May resulted in their grounding, the first of the RCAF’s Snowbirds demonstration squadron returned to their Saskatchewan base 01 September. The rest of the team is expected to return within the next week. The crash, which resulted in the death of the team’s public affairs officer, has been attributed to a bird strike on takeoff from Kamloops during a cross-country tour.

Sep 02, 2020

CAE USA Mission Solutions, a Florida-based unit of Montreal-based CAE’s U.S. subsidiary, has been awarded a contract to support Special Operations Forces' Global Situational Awareness initiative. The contract will facilitate research and development as well as prototyping software which could enhance readiness and interoperability with allied forces.

Sep 01, 2020

Prince Fahad bin Turki has been relieved of command of joint forces in a Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen and his son has been removed as deputy governor of a northern Saudi province. They and four military officers are being investigated for alleged corruption.

Sep 01, 2020

Dr. Victoria Coleman, an artificial intelligence and microelectronics specialist, is the new director of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. She previously had been the inaugural chief executive office of Atlas AI, a 2018 California startup company.

Sep 01, 2020

California-based Capella Space has successfully deployed the first satellite in a planned private-sector constellation of 36 designed to offer global on-demand synthetic aperture radar imagery for a broad range of civil and defence applications. The Palo Alto company plans to cover the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula, Japan, Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa and North America.

Aug 31, 2020

U.S. Army Gen Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has told Congress that his forces will have no role in November’s presidential election or in resolving disputed results. He was effectively responding to suggestions by the incumbent that mail ballots will make the vote “fraudulent” and he might not accept the results if he loses. “In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military,” he replied to questions from Democratic members of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee.

Aug 31, 2020

The U.S. Defense Information Systems Agency plans to call for bids within the new few weeks on an $11.7-billion sole-source information technology contract to be awarded in 2021. The goal is “common-use IT systems” which would cover infrastructure, networking and cybersecurity as the Pentagon consolidates its agencies.

Aug 28, 2020

The recent virtual dogfight between an F-16 pilot and an artificial intelligence enemy is seen by an expert on unmanned systems as evidence of a “need to be thinking harder about the changes that smart machines are bringing to the battlefield.” Current U.S. policy requires human oversight of autonomous weapons but Zachary Kallenborn says the long-term outlook is unclear as robotics and AI evolve.

Aug 28, 2020

The U.S. Navy is turning to cloud-based technology to improve how it identifies corrosion on its ships with a view to enhancing predictive maintenance. Google vice-president Mike Daniels says the technology facilitates rapid examination of thousands of images and while physical inspection remains the norm, the USN stands to save “billion” of dollars annually and improve its fleets’ readiness by using artificial intelligence-supported drones to capture images.

Aug 28, 2020

A U.S. Army unit has been given permission to reboot an advisory mission in Colombia after the country’s Senate concluded that the mission does not constitute deployment of foreign troops. A court had ordered to government to suspend the mission in July after opposition legislators filed suit.

Aug 28, 2020

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, has announced that he plans to resign for health reasons as soon as a successor is chosen. The 65-year-old, who has strengthen his country’s defence capabilities since 2012, has suffered for many years from ulcerative colitis.

Aug 28, 2020

An unspecified number of Chinese officials and business executives the U.S. says are responsible for Beijing’s military buildup in the South China Sea are the target of new travel restrictions which might also apply to immediate family members.

Aug 27, 2020

The U.S. embassy in Ottawa is commending “the service and sacrifice of our Canadian allies” after a top White House adviser criticized the Canadian Armed Forces’ role in Afghanistan. In his capacity as acting ambassador, Chargé d’Affaires Richard Mills has issued a statement that his country “deeply values the service and sacrifice of our Canadian allies in support of the defense of freedom and global security.”

Aug 27, 2020

As part of a move “to create a more inclusive environment within the workplaces”, the Royal Canadian Navy has chosen new English junior rank designations. Effective in early September, Ordinary, Able, Leading and Master seamen will be Sailor Third Class, Second Class, First Class and Master Sailor, respectively.

Aug 27, 2020

EllisDon Construction Services of Edmonton has been awarded a $9.2-million contract to design of a new fighter facility at 4 Wing Cold Lake, one of two main operating bases for Canada’s future fighter aircraft. A contract for a new facility at 3 Wing Bagotville is expected to be awarded in September.

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