IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Nov 26, 2019

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs want a House of Representatives committee to fast-track draft legislation which would enable outside groups to provide some mental health services as a key to reducing veterans’ suicides. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie says there is an opportunity to get the measure approved by Christmas even as he says is a “standstill” by Democrat Representatives.

Nov 26, 2019

U.S. plans to draw down its military presence in Afghanistan apparently are being undermined by inadequate indigenous capabilities to handle a war in which air strikes are a key tactic. A report by the Department of Defence Inspector General says that no more than 7.5 percent of strikes by Afghan helicopters and turboprop ground support aircraft involved any of the 46 Afghan tactical air controllers and 24 air liaison officers who help to develop target and strike packages.

Nov 26, 2019

New research at the University of California's Center for Climate Science points to the Arctic becoming “functionally free” of sea ice by September 2044 and no later than 2067. September is when the icepack isat its thinnest as the effect of summer heat builds up. The researchers say they have improved and narrowed past projections which had ranged from 2026 to 2132.

Nov 26, 2019

Two months after President Donald Trump’s administration orders their withdrawal, U.S. forces have resumed large-scale counterterrorism missions against Daesh in northern Syria in response to intelligence that the militants were mounting a comeback. The Americans and the Syrian Kurd allies effectively abandoned by Trump have conducted large-scale sweeps about 200 kilometres south of the Turkish border.

Nov 26, 2019

A collision between two Europcopter aircraft in Mali has killed 13 French military personnel during an operation against Islamist militants. The aircraft were an RC664 Tigre attack helicopter and an AS532 Cougar transport. France has 4,500 troops deployed to support the forces of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad against the militants.

Nov 25, 2019

The U.S. Government Accountability Office says some companies doing business with the Department of Defense have opaque ownership structures which could hide fraud and national security risks. Recommending the DOD include contractor ownership details in risk assessments, the GAO says the current policy could mean that foreign interests could gain access to sensitive information through U.S.-based companies.

Nov 25, 2019

The European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, of which Canada is a member, says developments in and around the Sea of Azov and the Strait of Hormuz this year have demonstrated how marine security measures and the disturbance of shipping may have immediate and/or long-term effects on the global economy. Moreover, it points out, the fact that most critical infrastructure is privately-owned makes it difficult for governments to prepare for threats.

Nov 25, 2019

U.S. Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer has confirmed his dismissal by Secretary of Defense Mark Esper at the behest of President Donald Trump. It is the latest fallout from Trump's intervention in the case of Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL who was convicted on the least serious of a number charges arising from his 2017 deployment to Iraq.

Nov 25, 2019

A $762.5 million contract modification to deliver 48 Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 engines for the U.S. Air Force’s Lockheed Martin F-35As and 10 F135-PW-600s for the F-35B variants flown by Marine Corps.

Nov 24, 2019

There is renewed political pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration for Canada and other NATO allies to spend two per cent of gross domestic product on defence spending.  The latest message is courtesy of National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien but Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, pointing out the government’s 2017 commitment to a 73 per cent defence spending hike by 2026-27, says it can’t be done overnight.

Nov 24, 2019

The Federal Communications Commission is cutting funding for U.S. telecoms which use 5G technology development by Huawei and ZTE, Chinese companies it considers “a national security threat.” The FCC says it will use its $8.5-billion Universal Service Fund, which underwrites equipment acquisition, to offset the impact of its decision on telecoms already committed to the Chinese products.

Nov 24, 2019

Two respected Canadian academics are urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s new government to rethink aspects of foreign policy, especially as it applies to Latin America. They contend that there having “some embarrassing choices of allies”, including countries with poor human rights records.

Nov 24, 2019

South Korea has opted to continue an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan just hours before it was scheduled to expire. The future of the General Security of Military Information Agreement had been threatened by a deepening trade and diplomatic dispute. South Korea had announced in August that it would terminate the pact and Japan responded by canceling Japan’s status as a favoured trading partner.

Nov 24, 2019

The latest Halifax International Security Forum has been used by the U.S. as a platform to warn Canada that permitting 5G technology developed by China’s Huawei telecom giant could undermine this country’s relations with its partners in the Five Eyes intelligence community. Robert O’Brien, recently appointed as White House national security adviser, told reporters that Huawei 5G would be a “Trojan horse”, a warning reiterated by U.S. lawmakers during the forum itself.

Nov 22, 2019

Plans to spend $1 billion on upgrades to NATO’s fleet of Boeing E-3 Airborne Early Warning and Control System fleet have been announced by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of a Nov. 27 meeting of NATO foreign ministers. Based on the Boeing 707, introduced in 1982 and flown by rotating crews, the aircraft are scheduled to remain in service until 2035.

Nov 22, 2019

National security concerns are behind a U.S. threat to pull out of the 2002 Treaty on Open Skies which permits unarmed aerial surveillance of its 34 signatory countries. President Donald Trump’s administration told NATO allies at a meeting in Brussels last week that unless they can assuage concerns about Russian misuse of the treaty to target “critical U.S. infrastructure”, the U.S. would withdraw.

Nov 22, 2019

U.S. Special Operations Command is trying out new ammunition which would enable its operators to fire their weapons underwater. The tungsten-tipped CAV-X bullet developed by DSG Technologies in Virginia supercavitates, creating a bubble which reduces drag.

Nov 22, 2019

A cold-weather survival kit under development by the U.S. Air Force in Alaska was supposed to keep Lockheed Martin F-35A pilots alive at minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the kit has surprised testers by keeping subjects reasonably warm for six hours in temperatures which dropped below minus 65. Personnel at the Eieleson Base Survival School developed the kit after it was discovered that an earlier version for older fighters would not fit below the F-35 ejection seat.

Nov 22, 2019

A high-tech “hoodie” hearing protector for military dogs & is being developed for the U.S. Army. Tests during helicopter operations “found a significant reduction in short-term hearing loss” in the dogs, hampering their response to handlers’ commands. Made of lightweight acoustic absorption materials, the new gear forms a seal around the dogs’ heads.

Nov 22, 2019

Mainly to support the first export customer for its Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System, Northrop Grumman has opened new headquarters in Poland. U.S. Ambassador Georgette Mosbacher said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony that the system will be the centrepiece of Poland's modernization strategy.

Nov 22, 2019

The U.S. Department of Defense is permitted to use flexible procurement measures to attract innovative companies with which it doesn’t normally do business, an "other transactions” approach not subject to some federal contract laws and requirements. The Government Accountability Office says their use for prototyping projects has increased significantly, including that two were not reviewed by appropriate officials, so it has called for improved guidance and internal controls.

Nov 22, 2019

NATO’s declaration that cyberspace is a warfare domain in which the individual defences of its member states will be called into play on a voluntary basis presents significant challenges, according to David Bailey, senior national security law advisor for the U.S. Army Cyber Command. He says that having command and control vested in the source country means it will be difficult to achieve the level of coordination in cyberspace that the military is used to in other domains “even in a NATO context.”

Nov 22, 2019

The U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center in Michigan says it has developed a standard software/sensor technology for turning wheeled and tracked vehicles into off-road robots. “Pretty much all the driver warning/driver assist features ... we’re basically buying from the commercial automotive industry and adapting them to the military,” says Bernard Theisen, a senior GVSC engineer. “That’s one of the nice things about being in Detroit.”

Nov 22, 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has declined an invitation from South Korean President Moon Jae-in to attend a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next month. While thanking Seoul for the invitation, North Korea asked for “understanding that we failed to find out the proper reason” for Kim to attend.

Nov 22, 2019

For an organization which has consumed and generate vast amount of data for decades as it oversees and audits the full array of federal activities, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has only recently hired its first Chief Data Scientist. Taka Ariga, who joined last month and also is Director of the Innovation Laboratory, has a mandate to advance the use of analytics and emerging technologies to improve how data are used. He is a former senior manager of forensic data analytics in Ernst & Young’s Washington office.

Nov 22, 2019

Russia will continue to develop a nuclear-powered rocket believed to have been at the centre of an explosion which resulted in seven deaths at a test range in August, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin when he met with the victims’ widows. “We will certainly be perfecting this weapon regardless of anything,” he said, because it offered “a most significant and reliable guarantee for peace on the planet.”

Nov 22, 2019

Senator Elizabeth Warren, considered by many as a front-runner in the Democrat presidential campaign for 2020, may have tipped her hand about future U.S. defence spending within the context of a campaign healthcare budget document. The suggestion is that the Massachusetts politician’s explanation of how she would pay for a national medicare plan could involve, among other things, a cutback in the U.S. global military presence.

Nov 22, 2019

There’s a legislative move in Congress for increased U.S. oversight of foreign aviation repair facilities but the Virginia-based Aeronautical Repair Station Association and other organizations dislike a Safe Aircraft Maintenance Standards Act introduced by the chair of the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Among other things, the bill would place a moratorium on Federal Aviation Administration approvals of new foreign stations.

Nov 22, 2019

Products containing Cannabidiol (CBD oil are off limits for U.S. Air Force personnel who are being advised that consumption could result in career-killing positive testsfor marijuana use. Officials are concerned that despite the growing legality of the mostly hemp-based product for medicinal reasons, some versions could contain undisclosed levels of the psychotropic substance tetrahydrocannabinol.

Nov 22, 2019

Israel’s politically-beleaguered Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been indicted by his own government on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust but he insists that he will remain in power. The charges, which he dismisses as a “coup”, arise from allegations that he accepted gifts from wealthy businessmen and dispensed favours to try to get more positive media coverage.

Nov 21, 2019

The Chinese government’s apparent success in recruiting U.S.-based scientists and researchers to work indirectly for Beijing has prompted the Senate to press the FBI to work with universities and federal research bodies which dole out billions in grant money. A bipartisan subcommittee has found that research results have been co-opted for China’s benefit since the early 2000s.

Nov 21, 2019

There’s a long-standing tradition that the captain of a vessel is ultimately responsible for the fate of his or her ship and its crew. U.S. Navy Cdr Bryce Benson acknowledged that by accepting responsibility for a fatal June 2017 collision between his destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald, and a cargo ship off Japan even though he was asleep in his cabin at the time and the on-duty crew did not follow procedure. Last year, the USN -- responding to political pressure in Congress after another fatal collision between another USN destroyer and a tanker -- decided to court-martial both commanders in connection with their sailors’ deaths.

Nov 21, 2019

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says the alliance’s foreign ministers have for the first time formally declared space to be as much an “operational domain” as air, land, sea and cyberspace. He says this enables NATO planners to request allies’ capabilities and services such as hours of satellite time. He also says the ministers consider the domain essential to deterrence and defense, including the ability to navigate, gather intelligence and detect missile launches.

Nov 21, 2019

Global Affairs Canada evidently has not uncovered any credible evidence linking exports to Saudi Arabia of Light Armoured Vehicles to alleged human rights violations by the Saudi government. This has been disclosed in the details of a briefing note prepared earlier this year for Chrystia Freeland when she was still Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Nov 21, 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s long-time rival, Benny Gantz, has failed to form a new government by a Nov. 20 deadline, potentially setting up the country for an unprecedented third election in less than a year. Gantz, a former military chief, was tapped as the prime minister-designate last month after Netanyahu failed to cobble together a coalition government in the wake of inconclusive September elections.

Nov 21, 2019

A young corporal alleges he faced reprisals after choosing to accompany a female colleague to report sexual assault incidents in 2013. Citing verified facts, an April 2016 report by a DND grievance analyst concluded that allegations subsequent to his support of the young woman were inaccurate and that his actions were properly justified, and yet everyone along the line, ultimately to General Vance's office, eventually looked the other way as the young man's integrity was destroyed.

Nov 20, 2019

Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence since he was appointed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s inaugural cabinet four years ago, has retained that responsibility in the Nov. 20 reshuffled cabinet. Sajjan, 49, a Vancouver MP and former Canadian Armed Forces officer, who was deployed three times to Afghanistan, stays on a time when the government continues to wrestle with overdue major procurement programs. Lawrence MacAuley, 73, a Prince Edward Island MP since 1988 and a minister in earlier cabinets, also is staying on as Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, appointed to those posts last March.  

Nov 20, 2019

Sergei Chemezov, chief executive officer of Rostec, Russia's state-owned defence export company, says that despite U.S. sanctions, his country’s arms sales are on track to match last year’s revenues. It had confirmed the equivalent of US$11 billion in exports by the end of October and Chemezov is optimistic that 2019 will yield between $13.5 billion and $13.7 billion.

Nov 20, 2019

Nearly two decades of war in Iraq and Afghanistan have seen improvised explosive devices evolve as a major threat to western forces. However, all U.S. Marine Corps ordnance disposal specialists now have a new detector for finding buried IED command detonation wires.

Nov 20, 2019

BAE Systems Technology has a $104.7 million U.S. Navy contract to provide lifetime engineering and technical services aboard some naval and U.S. Coast Guard vessels. Work is expected to be completed by 2025 at yards in several states.

Nov 20, 2019

The U.S. Navy says it has accelerated processing of recruits by using fingerprinting rather than traditional signatures on their paperwork. Having gone into effect Oct. 1, biometrics enables recruiters to work digitally instead of printing pages for signatures which then had to be scanned into their system. Before the new approach was put in place, prospective sailors had an enlistment kit of about 150 pages, each requiring four copies.

Nov 20, 2019

Even though the Bell-Boeing CV-22 Osprey is relatively new to U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, a successor platform is already being considered. Its director of strategic plans, programs and requirements admits that the tilt-rotor has enhanced how special operations are mounted, he would like to see more cargo-carrying capacity, higher speed and stealthier capability.

Nov 20, 2019

Israeli says its continued missile strikes into Syria are in response to rocket attacks by an Iranian unit in the Damascus area. Syria officials say two civilians died and its air defences shot down most of the Israeli missiles. Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria since civil war erupted in 2011, saying it is trying counter Iran's “military entrenchment” and block shipments of Iranian weapons to Hezbollah forces in Lebanon.

Nov 20, 2019

Iran’s deployment of military in support of allies across the Middle East is contributing to increased destabilization of the region, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency says in a report released Nov. 18. While it considers Iran’s extraterritorial capability “limited”, it has conducted operations as far afield as China, South Africa and the Mediterranean. 

Nov 20, 2019

A perceived looming crisis from declining ranks of qualified and interested recruit apparently is prompting some to suggest that restoring compulsory service might be the solution. The Pentagon estimates that of the 30 per cent of the four million Americans who could age-qualify for military service every year, only a small percentage seem willing.

Nov 20, 2019

In a significant departure from years of abstention, Canada voted Nov. 19 in favour of a United Nations resolution which supports Palestinians' right to self-determination. The initiative was opposed by the U.S. and Israel as well as three small Pacific island nations dependent on U.S. support. A Global Affairs Canada official says the Canadian vote is a message that it Canada disagrees with the Nov. 18 announcement by Washington that Israeli settlements in the contested West Bank are not “per se” inconsistent with international law.

Nov 19, 2019

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper says more U.S. patrols in the South China Sea are proof of his country’s determination to maintain freedom in a region crucial for global trade. He told reporters the U.S. “rejects attempts by any nation to use coercion or intimidation to advance international interests at the expense of others.” A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman countered by accusing the U.S. of having long sought to “fan the flames” in the region.

Nov 19, 2019

Amid widespread discussion about NATO’s long-term viability, Prime Minister Trudeau and key ministers are preparing to attend 70th anniversary celebrations in London next month. Robert Baines, president of the NATO Association of Canada, credits the alliance with having maintained decades of relative peace and security. While concerned about its future and the implications for Canada, he says Trudeau could play the “Canadian archetype of the peacemaker and the bridge-builder” between the U.S. and Europe.

Nov 19, 2019

A widely-anticipated U.S. Air Force contract for military space launches has been successfully challenged by Blue Origin – set up by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos – before a contract has even been issued. The Government Accountability Organization upheld the challenge to how the USAF had structured the contract which is expected to lead to the selection of two launch-providers next year.

Nov 19, 2019

Fresh off a general election which renewed his mandate, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki says any moves to question NATO’s collective defenses are a threat to the future of the European Union and the military alliance. French President Emmanuel Macron had said earlier this month that NATO was experiencing “brain death” due to U.S. unpredictability and a lack of coordination.

Nov 19, 2019

Lockheed Martin has received a sole-source $3.3 billion contract for operations, logistics and support of three U.S. Air Force six-satellite constellations. The Canadian Armed Forces and its British and Dutch counterparts also use data from the satellites. LM has been the preferred contractor on the programs since 2009.

Nov 19, 2019

A former U.S. Marine who holds Canadian, British and Irish passports in addition to his U.S. documentation, remains in custody in Russia on espionage charges. A court has rejected Paul Whelan’s appeal of the extension of his detention until late December. Detained 11 months, he says he was set up for political reasons.

Nov 19, 2019

While it continues to learn from its experience with the Lockheed Martin F-35, the U.S. Air Force ism’t ready to commit to a next-generation fighter design. LGen David Nahom, USAF deputy chief of staff for plans and programs, points out that ongoing F-35 deliveries and the still relatively young LM F-22 Raptor fleet means “we’re not in a hurry.”

Nov 19, 2019

The U.S. Department of Defense evidently is considering mothballing 21 of its 35 Northgrop Grumman RA-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial systems as part of a shift toward other capabilities. The proposal has been submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense for review.

Nov 19, 2019

Saab’s fast-paced development of its GlobalEye airborne early warning and control platform, based on a Bombardier Global 6000, is being set up for imminent delivery. The Swedish company rolled out the first aircraft in 2018, flew it a month later, and expects to deliver to its launch customer, the United Arab Emirates, in 2020.

Nov 19, 2019

Australian and American hostages have been released by the Afghan Taliban after more than three years in captivity in return for the release of three Taliban commanders. The development is seen as a step toward direct talks with the Islamist militants.

Nov 19, 2019

A suggestion on social media by U.S. President Donald Trump that he is open to another nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been rebuffed. Foreign Ministry adviser Kim Kye Gwan says there is no point unless the proposal meeting yielded something substantive for his government.

Nov 19, 2019

An Embraer multi-mission aircraft, to be sold through a new joint venture with Boeing, has been rebranded by the Sao Paulo-based manufacturer as the C-390 Millennium. The companies say that the creation of Boeing-Embraer Defense is a step toward the establishment of a division which would specifically market the C-390 and a KC-390 tanker version.

Nov 19, 2019

In a rare public sign of discord in a 70-year alliance against North Korean aggression, the U.S. has broken off talks with South Korea over the cost of the huge U.S. military presence on the peninsula. Each side blames the other for a lack of willingness to compromise after President Donald Trump proposed a 400 per cent increase in South Korean funding.

Nov 19, 2019

A Nova Scotia judicial inquiry into the death of a Canadian Army veteran who killed his family and himself in 2017 was adjourned Nov. 18, the day it was to begin. Lionel Desmond had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after a 2007 tour in Afghanistan. Judge Warren Zimmer granted a request for adjournment by a new lawyer representing the family of Desmond’s wife.

Nov 18, 2019

Reversing decades of U.S. policy on Israel’s annexation of the West Bank, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Nov. 18 that President Donald Trump’s administration no longer considers Israeli settlements in the violently-disputed territory a violation of international law. The United Nations, European governments and U.S. allies in the region have long supported Palestinian demands for a West Bank state.

Nov 18, 2019

China told the U.S. Nov. 18 to “stop flexing muscles” in the South China Sea and to avoid “new uncertainties” over Taiwan. Defence Minister Wei Fenghe warned U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on the sidelines of a ministerial-level meeting in Bangkok a day after Esper had accused China of “increasingly resorting to coercion and intimidation to advance its strategic objectives” in the region.

Nov 18, 2019

Two years after confirming that the U.S. was getting ready to discuss selling Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters to the United Arab Emirates, a senior Pentagon official has confirmed that the focus of discussions has shifted to upgrading the UAE’s fleet of General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons.

Nov 18, 2019

A week after President Donald Trump said he wants South Korea to increase its financial commitment to maintaining U.S. troops there, it has been disclosed that Japan has been asked to cover more of the cost of relocating U.S. Marine Corps personnel from the Japanese island of Okinawa across the Philippine Sea to the U.S. territory of Guam.

Nov 18, 2019

A Chinese aircraft carrier group’s passage near Taiwan Nov. 17 prompted the island state to scramble air force and naval assets. Taiwan’s defence ministry says the Chinese fleet, which also was being shadowed by Japanese and U.S. ships, remained on its side of a dividing line in the Taiwan Strait.

Nov 18, 2019

Russia has established a helicopter base in northern Syria, according to defence ministry television. The Zvezda network has shown attack and transport helicopters at the base near the Kurdish-controlled city of Qamishli as the U.S. continues to withdraw troops from the region.

Nov 18, 2019

The International Criminal Court says it will “independently assess”  unsubstantiated allegations that British military personnel have committed war crimes. The allegations were made in a BBC program which said there was evidence that British troops had killed civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Nov 18, 2019

Ship collisions which resulted in the deaths of 17 U.S. sailors in 2017 and cause significant damage to their ships has prompted the U.S. Navy to triple ship-driving training time for its Surface Warfare Operators by 2021. The upgrade includes added classroom and simulator time but the Government Accountability Office says there is no plan to collect fleet-wide feedback on the quality of the new training or routinely test ship-driving skills.

Nov 18, 2019

The U.S. Air Force Commercial Satellite Communications Office says commercial satellite companies hoping to sell their services to the Department of Defense will require independent third-party cybersecurity certification. The office plans to have an Information Asset Pre-assessment program in place in early 2020 in an effort to “raise the cultural bar on cybersecurity” in the commercial sector

Nov 18, 2019

Russia and China are generally considered the most significant threats in the cyber domain, but one expert worries that “minor or middle powers” might be a more immediate concern. Brandon Valeriano, chair of Armed Politics at the Marine Corps University and a member of the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission, was part of a panel at CyberCon 2019.

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