Harper versus Nicholson: Advise, assist — and accompany — in Iraq

A member of the Force Protection team participates in a weapons handling drill in Kuwait, during Operation IMPACT on January 18, 2015. (Photo: OP Impact, DND)

During Question Period in the House of Commons on Sept. 30, Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair wanted some precision from Prime Minister Stephen Harper about the extent of the mission of Canadian Forces Special Operations Forces (CF SOF) who would be on the ground in northern Iraq.

Speaking in French, Mulcair asked: ” Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said that the rules of engagement are to advise and assist the Iraqis, but the question is, assist them how? For instance, are Canadian soldiers currently going on patrols with Iraqis or Kurds?” (This English translation I’m using here is the one that is published in Hansard, FYI)

The Prime Minister began his reply in French — “Mr. Speaker, I said ‘advise and assist the Iraqis’ ” — but then he switched to his first language, English, to finish the answer.  The emphasis here is mine: “If I could just use the terminology in English, it is quite precise. It is to advise and to assist. It is not to accompany. I think that was laid out before the parliamentary committee.” Continue reading Harper versus Nicholson: Advise, assist — and accompany — in Iraq

What are you scared of? Canadians polled on security threats

CFB PETAWAWA, Ont. – A graduating student of the 2014 Patrol Pathfinder course holds a position as a CH-147F Chinook helicopter departs Garrison Petawawa on November 10, 2014. (Cpl Mark Schombs, 4 CDSB Petawawa Imaging)

Ipsos Reid polled citizens of 26 countries about security threats and released the results at the Halifax security conference on this weekend. Here’s the Canada-only results from that poll: Continue reading What are you scared of? Canadians polled on security threats

America's spies push for even more power

The New York Times reports on a jaw-dropping report produced by the U.S. National Security Agency — America’s spy agency — in which it pushes for even more powers:

…existing American laws were not adequate to meet the needs of the N.S.A. to conduct broad surveillance in what it cited as “the golden age of Sigint,” or signals intelligence. “The interpretation and guidelines for applying our authorities, and in some cases the authorities themselves, have not kept pace with the complexity of the technology and target environments, or the operational expectations levied on N.S.A.’s mission,” the document concluded.Using sweeping language, the paper also outlined some of the agency’s other ambitions. They included defeating the cybersecurity practices of adversaries in order to acquire the data the agency needs from “anyone, anytime, anywhere.”

Read the story: N.S.A. Report Outlined Goals for More Power – NYTimes.com.

Fascinating look at the National Security Agency

A chunk from a great Saturday read in today’s New York Times:

The agency’s Dishfire database — nothing happens without a code word at the N.S.A. — stores years of text messages from around the world, just in case. Its Tracfin collection accumulates gigabytes of credit card purchases. The fellow pretending to send a text message at an Internet cafe in Jordan may be using an N.S.A. technique code-named Polarbreeze to tap into nearby computers. The Russian businessman who is socially active on the web might just become food for Snacks, the acronym-mad agency’s Social Network Analysis Collaboration Knowledge Services, which figures out the personnel hierarchies of organizations from texts.

The spy agency’s station in Texas intercepted 478 emails while helping to foil a jihadist plot to kill a Swedish artist who had drawn pictures of the Prophet Muhammad. N.S.A. analysts delivered to authorities at Kennedy International Airport the names and flight numbers of workers dispatched by a Chinese human smuggling ring.

The agency’s eavesdropping gear, aboard a Defense Department plane flying 60,000 feet over Colombia, fed the location and plans of FARC rebels to the Colombian Army. In the Orlandocard operation, N.S.A. technicians set up what they called a “honeypot” computer on the web that attracted visits from 77,413 foreign computers and planted spyware on more than 1,000 that the agency deemed of potential future interest.

Read the rest at:  No Morsel Too Minuscule for All-Consuming N.S.A. .

South Korea goes with Boeing, dumps Lockheed-Martin's F-35

F-15 Super Eagle

The Government of South Korea looks set to pick Boeing and its F-15 Super Eagle (above) over Lockheed Martin’s F-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon. South Korea is set to spend US$7.2 billion to buy 15 two-seater jets and 45 single-seat jets.

Canada, by comparison, has budgeted CDN $8.99 billion to buy 65 new F-35s fighters  even as it undertakes an evaluation of its fighter jet options. Both the F-35 and the F-15 would be likely leading contenders to replace Canada’s aging fleet of CF-18s. The F-35 is a stealth fighter while the F-15E has some stealth technology.  Continue reading South Korea goes with Boeing, dumps Lockheed-Martin's F-35

Coast Guard gets first of its 'Hero' Class vessels, CCGS Private Robertson V.C.

CCGS Private Robertson V.C.

The federal government today put a brand new Coast Guard vesssel, the CCGS Private Robertson V.C. (handout pic above) into service in Sarnia, today.

From the press release announcing her service: Continue reading Coast Guard gets first of its 'Hero' Class vessels, CCGS Private Robertson V.C.

The War Museum's latest: The tank that launched Canada's Armoured Corps

Before restoration: Canadian War Museum's M1917 tank
BEFORE: This First World War M1917 tank was doing duty as a logging tractor near Bracebridge, ON before the Canadian War Museum acquired it in 1997.

The Canadian War Museum today unveiled the latest edition to its excellent LeBreton Gallery, the garage-like space in the building’s southeast corner that houses a very cool collection of military vehicles, artillery and one large jet plane. The latest edition is a restored M1917 Six-Ton Tank, one of only two such machines thought to exist in Canada from the 950 manufactured by the Americans at the end of the First World War. The tanks came off the line in the United States too late, though, to see any action in Europe. Nonetheless, this tank played a key role in the developed of Canada’s armoured capabilities in the Second World War: Continue reading The War Museum's latest: The tank that launched Canada's Armoured Corps