Begin the Afghan debate
Though the government has made it clear it intends to withdraw the Canadian Forces from Afghanistan in 2011, all and sundry have raised concerns about the fate of ongoing efforts to train Afghan security forces and maintain development initiatives.

Last month, the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence released an interim report asking “Where We Go From Here.”

While the committee does not call for military involvement after 2011, it does recommend “that Canada’s important and highly-valued contribution to the development of the leadership, training and mentoring of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police must continue beyond 2011, and that Parliament should, at its earliest opportunity, give careful consideration to the question of the role of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan after 2011.”

Its roster of witnesses has been accused of being one sided, but the report makes clear that many in the military believe there is an unfinished job to do. Neither is the army requesting a break. As BGen Jon Vance said, “I have not heard of anything that would demand that we take a rest.” The report also, rightly, suggests that a comprehensive debate on the topic is long over due.

The full report is available at:

Canada commits to buy F-35 Lighting II
The Canadian Forces will receive the first of an eventual 65 Lockheed-Martin Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) in 2016, said Defence Minister Peter MacKay at a mid-July announcement in Ottawa, but his colleague in defence procurement, Rona Ambrose, the minister for Public Works and Government Services, could not be more specific about the value of the in-service support (ISS) contract.

Calling it one of the biggest defence procurements in Canadian history, MacKay said the aircraft, compete with weapons and sensors, would cost about $9 billion but there have been reports that together with the necessary support items the cost to tax-payers could almost double. Ambrose said the ISS costs would only be known after negotiations with the other countries that plan to buy the F-35 are completed.

Anticipating criticism that the procurement is being sole-sourced, MacKay made the point that the JSF already won the competition to be the “fifth-generation” fighter of choice, because Canada took part in a four-year evaluation that ended in 2001.

MacKay said the F-35 is “the only fighter to meet Canadian Forces operational and inter-operational needs.” His cabinet colleague, Industry minister Tony Clement added that the procurement gives Canadian industry access to the $12 billion opportunity that the eventual global fleet of 3,000 aircraft represents.

Cloud of controversy
The Liberal party has already threatened to cancel the F-35 purchase, on the grounds that the procurement has not been competed. During the 1993 election campaign, Jean Chrétien threatened to cancel the purchase of the EH-101 marine helicopter and made good on that threat when he came to office, costing tax-payers almost half a billion dollars in termination payments.

Maple Flag tests combat readiness
The conflict began with an assault by the Biche Army across the border into Primrose in response to what the country called a violation of its national sovereignty, prompting international intervention.

So began the war scenario of Exercise Maple Flag 43, a four-week international air combat training exercise hosted by 4 Wing over the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range.

The fictitious scenario set the stage not only for critical air combat training, but also for transport, electronic warfare, air refuelling, air defence, and airborne early warning and control assets representing more than a dozen nations.

In total, 50 aircraft from seven nations engage in a 10-day air campaign over the 10,000 square kilometres of restricted airspace. The “blue” allied force comprised personnel from Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S. Top Aces, a private company, and U.S. Air Force personnel played the “red” force. Chile, Oman, Singapore, Colombia, India and South Korea participated under the International Observer Program.

“As a fighter pilot who has flown in theatre, I can tell you that Maple Flag gives pilots an understanding of what to expect in an environment where savvy and skill are critical to survival,” said Major Kirk Soroka, Officer Commanding the Air Force Tactical Training Centre before the exercise began. “The flying is intense and the scenarios are realistic.”

LGen Walter Semianiw assumed command of Canada Command in July, taking over Canada and North American defence responsibilities from VAdm Bruce Donaldson, who will become the next Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff.

Lieutenant-General Peter Devlin assumed command of Canada’s Army from Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie in an official ceremony at the Canadian War Museum.

LColDenis O’Reill assumed command from LCol Brian Derry of the 403 (Helicopter) Operational Training Squadron at CFB Gagetown.

Peter Jackson, formerly of Magellan Aerospace, was named president of Canadian operations for Northstar Aerospace, responsible for the company’s Milton and Windsor manufacturing sites.

Colonel Jean-Michel Désiré Verney, defence attaché to the Embassy of France in Ottawa from 2006 to 2010, was award the Meritorious Service Medal (Military Division) by Governor General Michaëlle Jean for his services.

Honourable Robert Décary, most recently arbitrator to the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Lausanne, Switzerland, was appointed the new Commissioner of the Communications Security Establishment.

Brigadier-General Guy Hamel, formerly the commander of Canadian Forces Base Borden and Formation Commander for Canadian Forces Support Training Group, assumed command of Joint Task Force North, replacing Brigadier-General David Millar.

Brigadier-General Alain Tremblay was appointed Commander of Land Force Quebec Area and will take command on July 30, 2010. He replaces BGen Daniel Ménard, who was to have taken command in July. Menard has been appointed to head the Military Personnel Management Capability Transformation Project.

Keyvan Fard was named executive VP, Business Development and OEM Alliances of Montreal-based CAE and will also serve as president of CAE Helicopter Solutions.

Kenneth C. Rowe, founder and executive chairman of Nova Scotia-based IMP Group, was named a Canadian business leader for outstanding achievement and merit by the Order of the Business Hall of Fame.

Ray Castelli, CEO of Vancouver-based Weatherhaven, was appointed to the board of Avcorp Industries.