Friday, November 17, 2017

At the going down of the sun and in the morning...

The blog has been shuttered for a number of years now, but JMH, Minicapt has died, and we should mark his passing, even if nobody ever reads what is written tonight.

From his nephew:

It is with deep sadness that I announce the death of our beloved John. At 1302hrs on 17 November 2017, John - known to many of you as minicapt or JMH - passed away peacefully in palliative care. The ambulance and emergency room personnel tried very hard to revive John, but ultimately he went without oxygen to his brain for too long. Since you have now gathered that this email was not sent by John, I would like to briefly introduce myself. My name is Nolan, and I am one of John’s many nephews. Be rest assured, John (always a Strathcona) was always quick to poke fun at my naval career despite my belonging to the Senior service.

As you well know, John was a quiet and reserved man, and I have not had the pleasure of knowing any of the people from whom he drew comfort from in his worldwide online community. I do, however, know the intelligent, quick witted, and dignified man who honourably served his country for many, many years before retiring to his family home. John had unfortunately suffered from several medical issues these past few years, and I am relieved to report that his passing was peaceful and painless surrounded by family.

John was blessed with an excellent memory, a penchant for random acts of kindness and seeing to the needs of his friends and family. He had a unique sense of humour as well as a eclectic collection of books, swords and military paraphernalia which he loved to share with the people in his life, especially his youngest neices and nephews. They could often be found sitting with John checking out his latest acquisition in awe. John was the families resident Macintosh expert and frequently preached the virtues of the newest IOS or apple product.

In keeping with John’s desire for peace, quiet and lack of public spectacle, there will not be a memoral. I would ask that you please keep John’s family in your thoughts and prayers as they go through this difficult time.


Nolan (on behalf of JMH and the Heinrichs clan)

p.s. If you wish to contact a family member, please email John’s sister Martha at the following address:
John was a Strathcona, but lacking tanks, The Armorer will let Heimdall roar on his behalf.  There will be no formal memorial.
But at the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember him.

Monday, June 07, 2010

CF-18 Hornet replacement: Fix in for F-35?

Further to this post,
CF-18 Hornet replacement update: Can Canada afford the F-35? (Can anyone?)
things may be moving a lot faster than suggested in the May 29 story covered at this post. The latest from Le Devoir (via Norman's Spectator, edited Google translation):
Fighters: the air force has made its choice
The six billion contract is to be awarded to Lockheed Martin without proper bidding. There is surprise in defence circles.

Photo: Lockheed Martin
The Canadian Forces want to acquire the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter made by the U.S. multinational Lockheed Martin. The company would be willing to ensure to Canada a price just under 100 million dollars each. The plane, which is not yet in production, will feature the latest technology and will be stealthy (difficult to detect by radar).

The issue of replacement aircraft for the CF-18 is moving faster than expected. According to information obtained by Le Devoir, the Canadian Forces recommend that the government purchase the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, made by Lockheed Martin the U.S. multinational. The tender would be drafted so that other manufacturers will find it difficult to qualify.

There is surprise in defence circles. The purchase of new Canadian fighter planes was not expected until 2013, since the Air Force wants new planes in 2017. Generally, the government signs contracts three or four years before receiving aircraft.

The cabinet committee on economic growth should address the issue on Wednesday. If all goes well, the powerful cabinet plans and priorities committee, headed by the Prime Minister, would be seized of the matter next week. The Cabinet could then take a decision before the summer holidays and an announcement could be made this summer, according to our sources.

The document to be submitted to the government this week contains a recommendation to proceed with an advance contract award notice (ACAN). This procedure shows that the government intends to contract to a particular supplier [more here]...

Other companies therefore have few weeks to demonstrate their interest and to demonstrate that they can also meet the selection criteria--the latter very rarely happens since the government sets the criteria to suit a specific product.

The office of Defence Minister Peter MacKay refused to comment yesterday...

According to our information, the government is moving ahead on this issue for two reasons. First of all, Lockheed Martin is ready to guarantee a fixed price for each aircraft that will be acquired between 2013 and 2017. All cost overruns would be borne by the U.S. multinational. A tantalizing promise for Ottawa, since the F-35 is in its final stages of development, which has sputtered. Reports from the U.S. Department of Defense claimed that the aircraft could cost more than $120 million unit once production started [see earlier post mentioned above]. However, Lockheed Martin would be willing to guarantee a price in Canada - kept secret for now - of just under 100 million each [emphasis added]. For 65 fighters a bill of nearly six billion
[more actually] to the Canadian government [that's fly-away cost only, not life-cycle].

Then, if Ottawa quickly proves its interest to buy the F-35, Lockheed Martin could allow more Canadian companies to participate in the assembly of the aircraft, mass production of which is to begin in 2012. It is also with this possibility in mind that the Canadian Forces will submit the issue this week to the cabinet committee on economic growth, not the one responsible for security and defense, which was the natural way [indeed].

Canada is an economic partner of the F-35 since 1997, in collaboration with other countries (U.S., Great Britain, Australia, etc..) [more here]. Ottawa has promised to inject $710 million in the project over a period of 40 years to allow Canadian companies to win contracts in developing this new generation of aircraft. So far, 80 companies have received contracts totaling 325 million dollars.

On May 27 in a Commons' committee, Minister Peter MacKay made several slips which gave the impression that the government's choice is made. "The Joint Strike Fighter, in which Canada has already made significant investments, will the next generation of combat capability. Canada will participate in this program and provide a device whose capacity will exceed current capacity. It's a beautiful device," he said, before adding:" This fighter will be subject to an open, competitive and transparent acquisiton process. " [This below is from the May 29 story noted above:
...MacKay went on to suggest the decision would be between the Joint Strike Fighter and another aircraft he didn't name [lots more here, with info on possible competitors--another one?]...]
Lockheed Martin is not alone in the race. The most serious competitor is Boeing and its new [sic] F-18 Super Hornet (USA), in production since 1999. Boeing estimates that the price of the device to Canada between $55 and $70 million. For 65 fighters, it would cost about four billion [fly-away again].

European EADS and its Eurofighter Typhoon are also under consideration, like the Saab Gripen. One of these three manufacturers, whose name was not disclosed at this time, promises to assemble the aircraft in Canada [!?!], which would be a sizeable economic argument, officials said.

The Canadian Forces estimate that in 2014 no other plane on the market will be comparable, hence the interest in an ACAN to accelerate the process. The military believe that the Typhoon will be too expensive (it is over 120 million dollars per unit) and that Boeing will no longer produce its Super Hornet, as the company expects its backlog will be empty in 2014 [maybe 2015]. If the assembly is closed, no need to consider, says a military source. But Boeing disagreed. Starting today, a letter will be sent to the Canadian government to ensure delivery capacity after 2014, because other orders should be added in coming months [Brazil? India? Australia has already bought 24, see end of this story] .
The Devoir piece looks pretty solid. In response to a question in the Commons today, obviously based on it, the MND replied "Stay tuned"--clearly implying a decision soon.

One wonders how the US Congress will feel if Canada gets F-35s at a lower price than the Americans are paying. One also wonders how our government will be able to afford the considerably advanced and very sizeable up-front purchase costs if a contract is signed for much earlier delivery than previously planned (budget crunch stuff here and here--figures at second link do not even include the new fighter; and then there's that mythical $35 billion for shipbuilding). And one wonders to what extent our Air Force--clearly in love with the plane--really needs the F-35's stealthy bomb truck capabilities for its most likely missions. After all its name, Joint Strike Fighter, reflects its primary role.

If the government goes ahead with an ACAN there will certainly be quite a political ruckus--well deserved in my view in the absence of a true competition based on realistically required mission capabilities. I mean, there is no rush for new fighters (the Hornets having just been upgraded): other than to be able to promise those politically delightful industrial and regional (Quebec esp.?) benefits sooner--and for the Air Force to lock in the plane it craves.

Sunday, June 06, 2010


A pretty comprehensive post from last year:
D-Day: 65th anniversary

Advocating what?

There has been much speculation recently regarding the possibility of maintaining some sort of Canadian Forces presence in Afghanistan post-2011. From what has been reported, one could be forgiven for believing the Liberals on the Afghanistan parliamentary committee have had some sort of epiphany.

But Bob Rae angrily clarified his party's position today on CTV's Question Period, and what's being proposed is hardly heavy lifting. Specifically, he said that committee members were open to considering the idea of having some Canadian soldiers training Afghans, but solely "inside the wire."

Perhaps there's a role there for us. Perhaps there's value to the Afghans in having trainers who teach theory only, and don't accompany them into the field. Perhaps there's value to our allies in freeing up non-combat troops - backfilling personnel, as it were. I don't know.

What I do know is that our current trainers - CF, police, correctional services, even diplomatic mentors - all go outside the wire regularly to do their work. Many of them want to get out into the field with the Afghans they teach even more. Because the work of building Afghanistan really takes place outside the wire.

None of that is even on the table, apparently.

So much for the grand move towards compromise of our Official Opposition, and the stubborn intransigence of our government. This is an argument over half-measures at best.

Even the Toronto Star looking favourably at CF role in Afstan post-2011

Dear Mr Harper,

Please get with the program. The Dutch may do it. Do you want Canada to be the first NATO member to bug out completely?

Update: Adrian MacNair looks at the politics and reality of it all and concludes (judicious fellow):
The truth is that Bob Rae does deserve a considerable amount of heat for his about-face, if only because he and his party has been determined to undermine the mission in every way possible for the past year with the “torture-rendition-war crimes” inquisition of our military. Nobody has worked harder to control a negative perception of the mission in Afghanistan than the Liberal Party...’s not difficult to see why the sudden offering of support for a post-2011 role would be met with mistrust and skepticism. But that does not mean we can ignore the branch that has been offered. This is an opportunity too valuable to scoff at. And though the professionalism, maturity, and sensibility appear to have arrived at a most tardy moment, it would be wrong-headed to simply turn away...

It is positively surreal to see Bob Rae sitting on CTV’s Question Period, making sensible comments and suggestions about the importance of providing ongoing security training for the Afghan police and army [my reaction to Mr Rae's slap down of Craig Oliver in second comment here-- at Babbling's post on the matter]. We can either mock him for his late arrival to table, or we can take this opportunity to spur on a much-needed discussion about our post-2011 role in Afghanistan, and maintain our commitments to our allies. If the comments of Conservative MP James Rajotte are any indication, there is at least some willingness to do that from within the government...
Upperdate: A good recap of some of the political nonsense that has been going on at The Canada - Afghanistan Blog--with this apposite comment by
Rae seemed to have a good grip on the issue last fall, when he spoke during debate in Parliament on the issue - PDF of 5 Oct 09 Hansard excerpt at here. Well worth the read.

Now, what'll it take to get anybody from the Government side to speak in this level of detail and clarity.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Operation K2K

"I've seen the X-rays of my ankles and it looks like a bad junk-yard in there with all the screws and pins..."
- OCdt Shaun Fevens

Read. It. All.

Update: Those in the know believe $80,000 was raised - to be split between Soldier On and Providence Care Rehab hospital in Kingston. BZ to all involved.

Our first C-130J delivered, more fairly soon

Further to this post,
First C-130J to arrive Trenton Friday, June 4
the Jerc has landed (official news release):
New generation of CC-130J Hercules arrives in Canada

June 4, 2010

The first of 17 new CC-130J Hercules tactical airlift aircraft landed at 8 Wing Trenton, Ont. today, contributing to the modernization and strengthening of the Canadian Forces.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay arrives in Trenton onboard the new CC-130J Hercules.
Credit: WO Carole Morissette
[bringing back the open cockpit, Peter?].

The Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Peter MacKay, and the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, were present to mark this important milestone...

"The arrival of the first CC-130J Hercules aircraft marks a new era in the Canadian military, bringing with it lasting economic benefits to Canada's aerospace and defence industries," said the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry. “The Industrial and Regional Benefits related to this airlift fleet, at $2.3 billion, will bring high value and high paying jobs, and economic growth to communities across the country [pork, pork and more pork--see also here and here].”

The delivery of the first CC-130J is six months ahead of the original scheduled delivery and under budget [emphasis added: good on LM and the US government, not so much our government, more here--and remember those who argued we should consider the A400M (more here)? note its first delivery now planned for "early 2013"]; it is another example of how the improved military procurement process ensures that the men and women of the Canadian Forces get the equipment they need faster, while ensuring best value and results for Canadians [tell it to la marine].

CC-130s are used in a wide variety of roles, including transporting equipment, troops and supplies to, within and from a theatre of operations.

“The new J-model Hercules is both proven and improved,” said Major-General Tom Lawson, Assistant Chief of Air Staff. “The value of versatile tactical airlift has been clearly demonstrated in recent operations, including Afghanistan and Haiti. We will be putting these new aircraft to good use without delay.”

Up to four other aircraft are expected this year with the final one to be delivered by 2012 [emphasis added, good work]. All 17 CC-130Js will be based at 8 Wing Trenton, thus obtaining maximum operational and financial efficiencies from common training, maintenance and infrastructure requirements...

The new CC-130J Hercules arrives in Trenton.
Photo Credit: WO Carole Morissette.

For comprehensive information, consult the backgrounder at:

For more information on technical specifications and imagery, visit the Air Force Webpage at:

For high resolution imagery of the CC-130J:

Update: Lots more from the Trentonian with photos, including a lovely one of fresh-air Peter.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Kandahar: Brig.-Gen. Vance back/Major US Army reinforcements coming

Americans going large for this fall's activities (whatever one calls them, see para before Update comment here for timing--links added to quote below):
Brig.-Gen. Jon Vance arrived in Kandahar on Friday morning to take over command of Canada's 2,800 troops in Afghanistan and South Asia.

The general's return came only five and a half days after he was named by Canadian Expeditionary Force Command as an emergency replacement for Brig.-Gen. Daniel Menard, who was abruptly fired last Saturday for alleged sexual misconduct with a female soldier under his command...

Thanks to an influx of American troops ordered by President Barack Obama, Vance has a fresh cavalry squadron from the 10th Mountain Division under his command in Dand District [see final para of this quote], as well as far more American military policemen in Kandahar City and the first wave of a brigade of troops from the 101st Airborne Division to the north and west of the provincial capital [I'm pretty certain this brigade combat team is not actually under Brig.-Gen. Vance].

Over the next couple of months several more American brigades are expected, at least doubling the number of troops in Kandahar from perhaps 7,000 today. As the American forces arrive, it is expected that Canada's military focus will narrow considerably, eventually concentrating almost entirely on Panjwaii District to the west of Kandahar City.

For the moment, however, Vance remains in charge of a powerful joint Canadian-American force [Task Force Kandahar (TFK--1st Squadron of US Army's 71st Cavalry Regiment has now been included with US units; the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry is no longer listed, likely replaced by a battalion from the 101st Airborne brigade not under TFK--see sixth para of quote here)] responsible for much of the province, which the Taliban regard as their spiritual homeland...
I doubt "several more American brigades" will be arriving at Kandahar over the next few months; I would imagine two more to be the limit. The US Army has had the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team in the region since last summer (the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, some 4,000 troops, will replace it this summer). The 2nd BCT, 101st Airborne is now arriving. That is two US brigades of ground troops; two more would make four, five brigades with TFK which is now about brigade strength. Then there is the US Army's combat aviation brigade at KAF.

So maybe six brigades in all, and some units not attached to the brigades. Now a division has traditionally had three brigades. So U.S. Major General James Terry and his 10th Mountain Division HQ will have their hands rather full when they take charge of reconfigured ISAF Regional Command (South) this fall.

Update: Note comment by Starbuck; time--and the US Army organizationally--marches on.

Upperdate: June 14--US Army orbat changes:

1) Zhari district:
With the combat boot prints of First Strike soldiers now upon the rugged terrain of the Kandahar province, Afghanistan, the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, has officially taken control of operations in the Zhari District within the Kandahar province during a transfer of authority ceremony held at Forward Operating Base Wilson, May 29 .

The 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, relinquished its control and responsibility of Zhari [the new battalion is under US command, not CF's Task Force Kandahar as the 1-12 was]...
2) KAF
...Pegasus soldiers are from the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade and Destiny is from the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade. The 82nd is transferring authority to the 101st in Regional Command South [more here, here and here].

"Afghanistan and the Turkish Flotilla Incident"

Start of Conference of Defence Associations' media round-up:
Peter Goodspeed for The National Post writes that ISAF’s approaching campaign in Kandahar, the heartland of the Taliban insurgency, will be a decisive battle in the mission.

Russell Hampsey and Sean P. McKenna for the Armed Forces Journal argue that COIN practitioners in Afghanistan need to listen and respond to Afghan concerns instead of telling them what they need.

The Strategy Page reports that all services operating in Afghanistan have been ordered to adopt the COIN strategy developed by General Stanley McChrystal and informed by generations of US Army Special Forces experience.

Miles Amoore for Times interviews Naimatullah, a Taliban bomb maker and trainer, who explains the process and the will behind their determination to murder ‘Western infidels.’

Anthony Lloyd for Times writes that Afghan Intelligence believes million of dollars from Saudi Arabia have sponsored terrorism in the country.

Radio Free Europe interviews General Stanley McChrystal who reconfirms his commitment to security in Afghanistan.

Global Security argues that the omission of Taliban members at the upcoming Consultative Peace Jirga coupled with a search for quick fixes represents a flawed strategy and according to Afghan expert Khalil Roman, “We must know the price for peace.”

CF in Afstan post-2011? PM still "the biggest stumbling block"

That's what he may be, as Matthew Fisher of Canwest News put it--see this post:
Maybe the CF could stay in Afstan post-2011 after all

Looks like some opposition politicos may be getting reasonable...
Mr Harper's latest:
...“I think we’ve been very clear. We’re working according to the parliamentary resolution that was adopted in 2008 by which Canada’s military mission will end and will transition to a civilian and development mission at the end of 2011. And that continues to be our workplan according to the resolution adopted by Parliament.”..
But he's not telling the truth:

The problem is the Commons' motion (not a "parliamentary" one) of March 12, 2008, makes no mention of the CF's leaving Afghanistan; it refers only to Kandahar:

...this extension of Canada’s military presence in Afghanistan is approved by this House expressly on the condition that:


(c) the government of Canada notify NATO that Canada will end its presence in Kandahar as of July 2011, and, as of that date, the redeployment of Canadian Forces troops out of Kandahar and their replacement by Afghan forces start as soon as possible, so that it will have been completed by December 2011...

The government is simply lying--there is sadly no other word--when it says the motion demands "the military mission will come to an end in 2011".
Update thought: Can't the fellow even try to get "Yes" for an answer? What must Secretary of State Clinton think?

Upperdate: One colonel's view:
Canadians could train Afghans after 2011: military

The Canadian military is capable of training Afghan security forces past 2011, but it could be a challenging task depending on the number of experienced personnel required, the leader of Canada's mentoring teams in Afghanistan said Friday.

Col. Ian Creighton, who became commander of Canada's Operational and Mentoring Liaison Teams [they go outside the wire and fight alongside the Afghans--see middle of this post, plus here and here--not what is now envisaged for a post-2011 training mission, see following para] a month ago, said the Canadian Forces could continue training the Afghan police and army if Ottawa decided in favour of it.

"Could we do training up in Kabul or some place like that at some training centre [we are in fact already sending a fairly small number of "inside the wire" trainers to Kabul]? Sure, absolutely, if that's where the government wants to go," Creighton said. "How many? Not sure."

Creighton said maintaining a training role could be difficult depending on the number of Canadian military leaders who would be needed.

"If you've got a force of 200 trainers ... that's like two battalions' worth of leaders," he said...