Posts Tagged ‘David Pugliese’

DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN: GETTING A LAUGH ABOUT A $3 BILLION CANADIAN FORCES SEARCH AND RESCUE AIRCRAFT PROJECT

April 15, 2010

By David Pugliese

Defence Watch

At a meeting with Air Force officers and defence industry representatives in Ottawa last week the extent of the paralysis that plagues the $3 billion Fixed Wing Search and Rescue project was front and centre.

An Air Force officer was running through the various equipment projects on the go while images were projected on to a screen.

When the slide came for FWSAR, the screen was filled with a giant question mark.

The defence industry representatives laughed but a number told Defense Watch that the incident was truly indicative of the state of the program. “The Air Force doesn’t know where it is going on this one,” said one industry representative.

The official line from the government is that it is studying a National Research Council report on the FWSAR project.

The NRC report was sought by the Department of National Defence, Public Works and Industry Canada as an independent view of what the minimal standards for the aircraft should be. That report came after allegations were made that the requirements for the fixed-wing search-and-rescue ((FWSAR) project had been rigged by the Air Force to favor Alenia’s C-27J.s

“A recommendation to Government on a proposed solution to acquire FWSAR is planned for Spring 2010,” DND stated in January. “The DND project office, with their counterparts at PWGSC and IC, is currently formulating the recommendation that will be advanced for Government approval.”

A spring 2010 “solution” appears highly unlikely now; thus the question mark when it came to the FWSAR slide in the Air Force equipment briefing.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay has not indicated if the government would follow the NRC recommendations to redo the requirements.

FWSAR was originally launched in the spring of 2004 as the top priority for the Air Force but it quickly became bogged down amid allegations from industry representatives about the favoritism towards the Alenia plane. In December 2008 MacKay said he was going to fast-track the project but again that quickly derailed amid the similar favoritism allegations made in the House of Commons and among industry.

At an industry day for the project, held last summer, company representatives were told the Defence Department would require all deliveries of aircraft to be completed within 60 months of a contract being awarded.  However, the department did not provide details on a timeline for the procurement, nor the number of planes needed, say industry officials.

At that time Canada said it was looking for an aircraft that could conduct search and rescue maneuvers equivalent to those currently performed as well as able to fly from one of four current bases to conduct a search for a minimum of an hour before returning to an airfield. According to a 14-page power point presentation from Public Works and Government Services Canada, presented at the industry day the aircraft must have a cargo compartment of sufficient height and width to allow search and rescue technicians to perform all necessary tasks and cockpit visibility to allow the crew to safely conduct maneuvers.

The FWSAR statement of requirements has never been formally released.

OTTAWA CITIZEN DAVID PUGLIESE: CANADIAN FORCES CHINOOKS OUTFITTED WITH MISSILE DEFENCE SYSTEM

March 11, 2010

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Canada’s new Chinooks will be outfitted with a new state-of-art laser-based counter-missile defense system, military officers have told Defence Watch.

The first of the 15 Chinook F models ordered by Canada are scheduled to arrive in the summer of 2013.

They will have undergone some modifications that the military deemed to be worthwhile for Canadian scenarios. Those include the installation of larger fuel tanks for increased range and an upgraded electrical system that is designed to handle improved avioncis as well as a laser-based counter-missile defence system.

The Canadian Chinooks are different from those being operated by the U.S. Army because of the increased fuel capacity, defensive suite and improved electrical system, said Canadian Air Force Lt. Col. Rick McLaughlin, operational requirements manager for the medium-heavy lift helicopter project.

The Canadian Chinooks will be outfitted with an enhanced survivability package using a directed infra-red countermeasures system, he noted. The turreted system constantly watches for missile launches and “defeats the eyeball on the heat-seeker (of a missile) using a laser shot,” McLaughlin said.

Also on board will be more traditional countermeasures against missiles such as flares. The upgraded electrical system that is being installed on the Canadian Chinooks is designed to handle the extra power needs to run the laser-based countermeasures system.

McLaughlin also said Canada will have large-size fuel tanks installed in the Chinooks for increased range, to deal with the country’s large geographic size as well as a result from lessons learned from Afghanistan. He noted that many operations being flown in-theater with Chinooks involved the use of fuel bladders, outfitted in the rear cabin area, to provide added range.

McLaughlin said Canada had safety issues about using such fuel bladders as well as concerns that putting the extra fuel containers in the rear of the aircraft would cut down on the number of troops that could be carried.

“For each one that goes in there you loose upwards of a dozen seats in the back,” he explained. “The whole issue of carrying gas in the back and losing cargo capability came into the discussion.”

All aircraft are expected to be delivered by June 2014.

DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN COMMENTARY: MOVEMENT ON A NEW CANADIAN FORCES SEARCH AND RESCUE AIRCRAFT BY THE SPRING?

February 8, 2010

DEFENCE WATCH ANALYSIS

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

The official word from the Defence Department on the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue aircraft project is that the various government players will be ready in the “spring” to make a recommendation on how to proceed on the program.

And the unofficial response from the aerospace industry? Don’t hold your breath.

Most people in the aerospace and defence community remember Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s boast in December 2008 that he was going to buy a new FWSAR aircraft fleet by the spring of 2009. Yes, buy.

“As Minister MacKay has noted, these aircraft are a critical component of Canada’s home guard and, simply put, we need to have them,” Jay Paxton, the minister’s press secretary, told Defence Watch on Dec. 17, 2008. “The minister’s goal is to procure FWSAR early in the new year. Beyond that, it is premature to speculate on the exact nature of the aircraft.”

It also appears it was a little premature of MacKay to claim that the government would buy a FWSAR aircraft in the spring of 2009.

So now the project will be moving forward in the spring of 2010.

But then again, DND can’t even give a specific date or define what the term “spring” means.

Would that be April, May or even June?

Asked what month in the “spring” that DND expects to make its recommendation on the way forward on FWSAR, Defence Department spokeswoman Lianne LeBel responded, “Spring.” (You have to feel sorry for some of these public affairs officials who are sent out with five or six printed “media response lines” that say nothing. The FWSAR project office is too scared to put someone up front to deal with the news media since they would be facing some tough/embarrassing questions, such as how come it is taking so long to buy an aircraft?….so they shove Ms. LeBel into the fray)

That aside, LeBel did give Defence Watch a rundown on the official government “media response” on what is happening with FWSAR.

“In July 2009, the Government of Canada requested industry’s feedback on the proposed requirements and key considerations detailed during the FWSAR Industry Day,” LeBel pointed out. “Industry was given 60 days to comment. The submission period concluded on September 15 and the Department of National Defence (DND), Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), and Industry Canada (IC) have reviewed the submissions from industry. Industry’s feedback will complement the work already done by DND to ensure the new aircraft is the best possible solution for Canada’s complex SAR environment. A recommendation to Government on a proposed solution to acquire FWSAR is planned for Spring 2010. The DND project office, with their counterparts at PWGSC and IC, is currently formulating the recommendation that will be advanced for Government approval.”

“Don’t buy into that DND line for the media,” one aerospace industry veteran told Defence Watch. “This program is moving at a snail’s pace. Don’t expect any fast action, spring or summer.”

Added another long-time FWSAR observer: “They told you it would be ready in the spring? Well, at least that’s an improvement over their usual the program will be moving forward ‘soon’.”

The Defence Department, Public Works and Industry Canada have brought in the National Research Council to look at search and rescue in the country and make recommendations on what is needed in an aircraft. In turn, NRC has brought in some researchers from various universities to help out. The report is due March 5 but could be delivered as early as Feb. 15, according to some observers.

DND does have some breathing room on FWSAR. The Buffalo will continue to fly until 2014/2015 or even perhaps beyond that date.

C-130s could also be used to contribute to SAR coverage as they do already. With the arrival of new C-130Js, older C-130s used for SAR could be replaced with “younger” C-130s now currently in the transport fleet. The only problem is that it the C-130 is an expensive aircraft to operate for SAR, air force officers acknowledge.

CANADA’S MARITIME HELICOPTER SAGA LAID OUT IN A NEW BOOK, THE POLITICS OF PROCUREMENT

January 28, 2010

DEFENCE WATCH BOOK REVIEW

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

The Politics of Procurement: Military Acquisition in Canada and the Sea King Helicopter

By Aaron Plamondon

254 pages

Publisher: UBC Press

ISBN-10: 0774817143

ISBN-13: 978-0774817141

With black and white photos

In The Politics of Procurement, University of Calgary military historian Aaron Plamondon skillfully lays out the multi-decade saga of the Defence Department’s quest to replace the air force’s aging Sea King helicopters.

Plamondon argues that the procurement of military weapons and equipment in Canada has often been controlled by partisan political considerations and not by a clear desire to increase the capability of the Canadian Forces. As a result, he maintains that Canada has often failed to be effective in the design, production, or even the purchase, of weapons and equipment.

Plamondon touches on some early Canadian military equipment procurements to prove his point but his prime example to argue his case is the Sea King helicopter procurement.

It is probably the most famous or (infamous) military procurement of recent time. The EH-101 was originally selected in the early 1990s to replace the Sea Kings but that contract was cancelled by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien when he came to power in 1993. Chrétien had made the EH-101 an election issue and he cited the helicopter as an example of how the Conservative government was poorly using taxpayer’s dollars. His government paid $478 million in cancellation fees to scuttle the deal.

The military had to restart the process to buy a Sea King replacement, with the project divided into two elements, the acquisition of a search and rescue helicopter and the eventual purchase of a maritime helicopter.

In 1998 the winning search and rescue aircraft was selected but much to the embarrassment of the Chrétien government, the Canadian Forces had selected the EH-101 variant, the Cormorant.

After that there were more delays on the purchase of the maritime helicopter,  allegations of political meddling and legal battles.

Plamondon’s coverage follows the early days of the Sea King replacement program to Chrétien’s cancellation of the EH-101 and on to the purchase of the Cormorant. The book also takes the reader into the current controversial and much delayed Cyclone maritime helicopter project.

The strength of the book is that it ties together the story of the helicopter procurement over many years. Plamondon uses DND documents obtained through the Access to Information process, records from the National Archives and DND’s history branch, interviews with former procurement officials as well as news articles from over the years about the EH-101 and Cyclone acquisitions (including some of this writer’s articles – ones I had forgotten I had penned since the Sea King replacement stretches back more than two decades).

The book is a very good read for anyone interested in Canadian defence policy and a must read for those studying procurement issues.

One suggestion, however, for readers. Unless you are independently wealthy I would take a pass on hardcover version of this book which costs $85. Instead try to get the more reasonably priced softcover version at $32.95. UBC Press says the publication date for the paperback is July.

U.S. ARMS EXPORT REGULATIONS FORCE COUNTRIES TO LOOK ELSEWHERE FOR EQUIPMENT: DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN

January 27, 2010

DEFENCE WATCH ANAYLSIS

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Is purchasing military equipment made with U.S. technology becoming more of a burden these days than it’s worth?

It’s a question some militaries are asking as they try to deal with U.S. regulations and restrictions on what the purchasing country can and cannot do with equipment that is outfitted with U.S. technology.

The latest to deal with the issue is the Canadian Navy. Faced with delays and restrictions about what it can and cannot do with U.S. technology, navy has opted to modernize its frigates using as much non-American equipment for it key systems as possible.

The Defence Department had stipulated that the command and control system on the multi-billion dollar Halifax-class frigate upgrade project be free of the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Lockheed Martin Canada’s vice president Don McClure told Defence Watch.

The only way to do that is to choose equipment that isn’t using sensitive U.S. technology.

ITAR problems have caused delays in the Canada’s Cyclone maritime helicopter project and other defence programs.

It has also presented hurdles in the past for Canada to receive approvals to donate Canadian Forces equipment to allied nations such as Afghanistan, according to a November, 2007 briefing note obtained by Defence Watch.

In the case of the frigate upgrade, prime contractor Lockheed Martin Canada in Ottawa has assembled a team that isn’t using U.S. technology for the C2 system on the vessels. Saab Aerospace of Sweden is Lockheed Martin’s main partner.

Key radars, sensors and software to be installed on the Halifax-class frigates are coming from Canada, Sweden, Israel, Germany, and the Netherlands.

According to a briefing provided to Defence Watch, Thales of the Netherlands is handling the 3D Air and Surveillance Radar and IFF, Raytheon’s German firm is doing Nav Radar and Display Unit, Elisra of Israel is doing the ESM, etc.

McClure said that the idea is to deliver an ITAR-free, low risk command and control solution.

The Navy wanted the flexibility offered by non-ITAR controlled equipment because it didn’t want to have to seek U.S. permission each time it wanted to modify or upgrade its command and control system.

There will be U.S. components on the ship but many of those will be commercial-off-the-shelf and not governed by ITARs, McClure said. (The frigate’s missile systems will be built in the U.S. and are governed by ITAR.)

It is still clear that the U.S. will continue to be the main supplier of equipment to its various allies around the world.

But there is a movement afoot in some areas to deal with the problem of ITARs by not buying U.S. equipment.

ITARs are supposed to be designed to keep U.S. technology out of the hands of particular nations such as Iran.

But they are also used by the U.S. as a vehicle to give American firms a leg up on the competition, according to representatives of Canadian defence firms.

For instance, if a Canadian defence product has a U.S. component in it, the State Department mat not approve of a particular sale, if that Canadian firm is going head to head with a U.S. company in that market.

A study last fall, partly funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, found that some European governments were looking for systems that weren’t covered by ITAR.

“Everybody tells us that ITAR slows the speed of obtaining licenses, limits the release of technology, creates the business uncertainty and makes the process very difficult,” Jeff Bialos, former deputy undersecretary for industrial affairs at the Pentagon and the author of the study, noted in a interview with Defense News in October.

“European countries are very concerned about their operational autonomy being limited by not having access to technology, by having a ‘black box’ and not being able to change it. They’re worried about program delays and risks.”

There are other consequences for the U.S. as foreign firms in countries fed up with have to deal with ITARs start making their own systems.

In 2008 retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Craig Weston, an associate fellow at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, told reporters that ITAR was hurting innovation in the U.S. space industry and threatening national security. “Rapidly emerging foreign industrial capabilities are challenging U.S. space superiority, which is contrary to the intent of ITAR,” Weston said. “Moreover, ITAR has blocked the U.S. from benefiting from the growth of foreign space capabilities.”

CANADIAN SPECIAL FORCES LOOKING FOR EXPERIENCED PERSONNEL

January 26, 2010

Defence Watch Analysis

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Keeping skilled personnel is always a challenge for most organizations, let alone a specialist unit such as the Canadian Joint Incident Response Unit (CJIRU) based in Trenton.

As part of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM), CJIRU has the job of providing a national response to chemical, biological and radioactive threats, whether it be tracking down and dealing with a weapon of mass destruction or collecting and cataloging evidence that might be used in court to prosecute terrorists for creating or setting off such a device. It also conducts detection, sampling and identification of a full range of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear hazards as well as providing advice to senior commanders and government officials in that speciality area.

But CJIRU has been losing some of its skilled operators and was facing a situation where it would have lost even more trained personnel.

That’s because Canadian Forces personnel would leave their parent trade or military occupation while working for CJIRU. Eventually, however, the parent MOC would require the individuals to return. The result: CJIRU was home to operators who built up unique skills with the unit, only to see them leave at a later date.

The solution? Create a new occupation in the Canadian Forces; that of Chemical, Biological, Radiological Nuclear Operator. CBRN Operator is now its own trade as of January 1.

With the creation of the CBRN Operator occupation, individuals will be able to remain in this specialty trade for longer periods of time.

The issue of retaining skilled personnel had come up when I spent several days at CFB Suffield with the unit in 2007 (then it was called the Joint Nuclear Biological and Chemical Defence Company. Its name was officially changed to the CJIRU in September 2007)

The issue was only made worse as the unit tended to attract experienced military personnel. “We’re looking for people who come with operational experience,” company Sgt.-Maj. Mike Bezeau explained at the time. “We tend to look for people who have demonstrated an ability to think on their feet.”

Being in the unit is challenging and rewarding work for those who don’t mind spending time in a CBRN suit, according to CJIRU personnel.

One individual I interviewed was Desi, an armored crewman, who decided to volunteer for the unit because of the unusual nature of the work. The 36-year-old sergeant (last name withheld for security reasons) told me he was intrigued by the various forms of chemical and biological agents  (anthrax, smallpox and the plague as  examples) he handled. As they say, to each his own.

At this point the CBRN Operator trade is open only to serving members of the Canadian Forces through the occupational transfer process.

Filling the vacancies in this new trade will be a phased process with the initial priority for occupational transfer going to those CBRN operators who are currently serving with the unit, or those who have served with CJIRU within the past two years and hold current qualifications in a number of specialities, according to CANSOFCOM officers.

Those include at least one of the following four CBRN Operator specialties:

·      SIBCRA (Sampling and Identification of Chemical, Biological, Radiological Agents

·      Decontamination

·      Surveillance Operator and

·      Command Centre Operator

CANSOFCOM is looking to fill the first billets in March and April of this year. The command has noted that the deadline for applications is February 19.

The changes affect only the CBRN Operator billets and does not affect support roles at the unit such as medical technician, signal operator or electronic-optronic technician. That remains unchanged.

A COMPARISON BETWEEN CANADA’S JOINT SUPPORT SHIP AND THE NEW DUTCH JSS; DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN DEFENCE REPORT

January 26, 2010

A COMPARISON BETWEEN CANADA’S JOINT SUPPORT SHIP AND THE NEW DUTCH JSS

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

As the Canadian Navy’s Joint Support Ship remains stalled, the Royal Netherlands Navy is moving ahead with the construction of its own similar vessel.

The Royal Netherlands Navy has signed a contract for the construction of its JSS with Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) slated to build the vessel. The JSS will replace HNLMS Zuiderkruis, a supply ship more than three decades old.

Canada’s JSS project is still in limbo, waiting for the Harper government to move on producing a national shipbuilding strategy. Canadian defence industry representatives told Defence Watch on Friday that they expect the shipbuilding strategy to be completed by the spring. “There are indications it’s coming by the end of the first quarter,” said an industry official said.

The three Canadian JSS would replace the existing 40-year-old plus supply vessels which haul fuel and ammunition for naval task groups at sea. The ships would also provide support to the Canadian Army and special forces, carrying troops, vehicles, helicopters, ammunition and a hospital, as well as act as a command center for ground forces sent ashore.

The Royal Netherlands Navy’s ship appears similar. It  is to measure 205 metres in length and will displace over 28,000 tons. The JSS will be used for a wide variety of missions, including replenishment-at-sea,  transport of materiel and personnel, medical, technical and logistic support, and for strategic sea-lift and sea-basing missions. The number of crew is set at around 150. The ship’s speed is expected to be 18 knots.

The Dutch JSS would have roll on/roll off capabilities and a steel beach stern for accommodating cargo transfer via landing craft. The JSS is to be delivered in July 2014.  The Canadian JSS is supposed to be around 28,000 tonnes and 200 metres in length, with a speed of 21 knots. It would carry a crew of a little more than 200 and have a roll-on/roll-off capability as well.

The difference between the Canadian and Dutch JSS is in the procurement approach. The Dutch vessel’s hull will be built at the Damen shipyard in Galati, Romania, with the rest of the construction in the Netherlands.

Canada’s JSS fleet would be built entirely in Canada.

The JSS was originally announced in 2004 by the Martin government but the focus on Afghanistan diverted DND’s attention to equipment issues related to that war.

As a result, JSS went on to the backburner for a bit. It did eventually proceed, only to derail in August 2008 after industry failed to meet the government’s specifications within the allotted budget.

“We’re pretty much ready to be talking to the [defense] minister about what we need to do to advance the JSS so we’re ready to go,” Vice Admiral Dean McFadden told Defence Watch in the summer.

FOR MORE NEWS SEE DAVID PUGLIESE’S DEFENCE WATCH

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

CANADIAN FORCES TO SHIP MORE TANKS TO AFGHANISTAN; DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN DEFENCE REPORT

January 26, 2010

Canada to ship 20 tanks to Afghanistan as pullout looms

The Ottawa Citizen

Tue Dec 29 2009

By David Pugliese

The Ottawa Citizen

Canada will ship another 20 tanks to Afghanistan in the fall of 2010 to replace those that have been destroyed by insurgents or worn out through repeated use.

The Leopard 2 tanks will be shipped directly from Germany, where they are being refurbished, to Kandahar starting in September.

Although the tanks will only be on the ground for nine to 10 months before they have to be shipped back when the Canadian military mission ends in July 2011, Defence Department officials say the armoured vehicles are essential.

“The tanks currently deployed to Afghanistan have been operating under some of the most austere field conditions in the world,” said Defence Department spokeswoman Lynne Rattray. “They will soon require repair and overhaul beyond that possible by regular in-theatre maintenance.”

The cost of shipping the tanks from Germany to Afghanistan has not been determined, as that will depend on the type of transport used, according to DND spokeswoman Annie Dicaire.

The government spent $1 million to transport each tank when the first group of Leopards were originally sent from Canada to Kandahar in the fall of 2006. At the time, it used commercial aircraft and U.S. military planes. Since then, Canada has received its own C-17 transport aircraft, which could be used to move the Leopards.

The Canadian Forces already had deployed 20 Leopard 2 tanks to Afghanistan and before that as many as 15 Leopard 1s.

Dan Ross, the Defence Department’s assistant deputy minister for materiel, told the Senate earlier this year that several tanks had been damaged. Military officers say insurgents have damaged three Leopards beyond the level of repair available in Kandahar.

Replacement parts are in short supply, making repairs on the tank fleet difficult. The government did not put in place a proper system for parts, those familiar with the tank project pointed out.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay had approved the deployment of 20 more Leopard 2s in the spring, but details of when the tanks would arrive in Kandahar hadn’t been figured out at that time.

Military officers say the tanks save lives by providing soldiers with a high level of protection.

When he was in charge of the army, Gen. Rick Hillier called the Leopards a “millstone” around the military’s neck and said they had limited use for Canada. The army was in the process of destroying or selling its Leopards when the request came in from officers in Kandahar that the tanks were needed. Since then, the tanks have been used extensively in Afghanistan, saving lives of troops in the process, officers say.

Canada is spending $1 billion on the tank project, which saw the purchase of 100 used Leopards from the Netherlands.

The tanks are being refurbished by the manufacturer, Krauss Maffei-Wegmann of Germany. That firm was awarded an $87-million contract in June for the repair and overhaul of some of the armoured vehicles.

FOR MORE NEWS SEE DAVID PUGLIESE’S DEFENCE WATCH

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

CANADIAN FORCES HIT BY BUDGET CUTS; DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN DEFENCE REPORT

January 26, 2010

Forces attack expenses to save $190M; Money to be redirected to Harper government’s Canada First defence strategy

The Ottawa Citizen

Dec 28 2009

By David Pugliese

The Ottawa Citizen

The Canadian military is looking for savings of more than $190 million by March to help pay for the Harper government’s defence strategy.

The navy will cut training for its reserve forces in January and reduce infrastructure maintenance and repairs while the air force will scale back on non-operational training, cut some of its flying time as well as scale back non-essential repairs.

The army recently revealed its cuts including trimming some training and reducing the number of reserve soldiers employed full-time.

The reductions come as the federal deficit has climbed to more than $55 billion this year and the Conservative government has signalled the public service will face cuts.

The air force is required to cut $59 million while the navy has $52 million in reductions to make, according to the Canadian Forces. It was recently revealed that the army’s portion of the reduction is $80 million.

The air force’s reductions represent seven per cent of its annual budget; the navy’s is six per cent. The army’s share is five per cent of its budget.

All three services are reducing travel and attendance at conferences.

The Defence Department could not say whether other organizations within DND are also facing reductions.

The Canadian Forces is not calling the reductions a “cutback.” Officers are instead referring to them as “adjustments” as the money saved is being redirected toward the priorities of the Canada First defence strategy.

The strategy, the Harper government’s blueprint for the future military, promises to spend tens of billions of dollars on new equipment.

Steve Staples, president of the Rideau Institute in Ottawa, said DND is in a better position than other departments to weather the expected cuts to the federal government. He said social, health and arts spending will likely be hit hardest as the Conservatives tighten budgets.

“These cuts that DND has to make are a drop in the bucket since the department has been enjoying large increases each year for many years,” said Staples, who has criticized what he calls excessive spending on the military. “Compared to other departments, DND is the teacher’s pet of the government.”

The money saved is to be “allocated to best meet responsibilities defined by the Canada First Defence Strategy,” an e-mail from the Canadian Forces noted.

Some defence analysts had questioned where the money would come from for the strategy, but in May 2009, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the policy was fully funded. “The funding will be there, I assure you. It’s locked in,” he told an audience of hundreds of industry and defence representatives in Ottawa during a military trade show.

MacKay also assured the audience the recession would not affect Canadian Forces’ plans to spend billions on new equipment and that he had the support of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

Military officers characterized the “adjustments” as a normal part of the Defence Department’s financial management process.

A recently released report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, done in conjunction with the Rideau Institute, determined that for the fiscal year ending in March, Canada will have spent a little more than $21 billion on national defence. That’s nearly 10 per cent of all federal spending.

After adjusting for inflation, Canadian military spending this year was up 9.6 per cent compared to last year and is 15 per cent higher than Canada’s defence spending at the peak of the Cold War in 1952-1953, the report noted.

But other groups have argued that more money needs to be spent on the Canadian Forces to re-equip it for the future.

Air force spokesman Maj. Jim Hutcheson said most of the cuts for that service are based on its fuel and oil budget. “While some of this year’s budget adjustment is absorbed due to the fact that fuel prices have remained lower than last year’s average, there may be some selective reduction in flying hours,” Hutcheson explained.

He did not give further details on what aircraft flights might be reduced.

Although the navy is cutting its spending on petroleum and oil, those reductions will not affect ship operations, Lt.-Cmdr. Sue Stefko noted.

Normally the navy would use extra money at the end of the government’s fiscal year to buy additional fuel for its strategic reserve. As a result of the reductions, there will less fuel for that reserve.

Army spokesman Lt.-Col. Jay Janzen said the money saved by that service will be used to support other higher priority programs such as training soldiers for international and domestic operations and purchasing new equipment.

The army has a $5-billion plan to purchase several types of new armored vehicles as well as refurbish light-armored vehicles damaged or heavily used during the war in Afghanistan.

The reductions that hit the army reserves, however, have angered some of the part-time soldiers who said they left their civilian jobs for temporary full-time work with the regular forces, only to be told they are no longer needed.

FOR MORE NEWS SEE DAVID PUGLIESE’S DEFENCE WATCH

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/

CANADIAN ARMY RESERVES HIT BY BUDGET CUTS; DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN DEFENCE REPORT

January 26, 2010

ARMY RESERVE TRAINING TAKES BRUNT OF DND FISCAL “ADJUSTMENTS”

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Defence Watch

The Army, Navy and Air Force are all facing budget “adjustments” that have to be made by the end of March but the extent of the impact appears to be felt the hardest on the Army reserves.

“The main thing for the Reserves is that training has stopped,” said one Defence Watch reader in the reserves recently noted. “We can’t train any new recruits, drivers, signallers, junior NCOs, nothing.”

The navy will cut some training for its reserve forces in January and reduce infrastructure maintenance and repairs while the air force will scale back on non-operational training, cut some of its flying time as well as scale back non-essential repairs.

The army is cutting some training and reducing the number of reserve soldiers who are employed full-time as Class B reservists.

The air force is required to “adjust” $59 million of its budget while the navy has $52 million in adjustments to make, according to the Canadian Forces. The army’s portion of the adjustments is $80 million. The money is being redirected to priority areas, according to DND.

The air force’s adjustments represent seven percent of its annual budget; the navy’s is six per cent. The army’s share is five per cent of its budget.

“We’re moving around about $80 million to support higher CF priorities this fiscal year,” Army spokesman Lt.-Col. Jay Janzen told Defence Watch. “Of that about $2 million have been assigned to full-time reserve budgets.”

“But local commanders may decide to make further reductions in that area,” he added.

Officially, the unit budgets have only been cut by 10 per cent, some reservists told Defence Watch. There are still parade nights, and possibly a weekend exercise or two.  “But the meat and potatoes of our training cycle is gone and there is no information whatsoever,” said one reservist.

At 31 Canadian Brigade Group in Southwestern Ontario, the budget has been cut by about 16 per cent. That works out to about $2.5 million on its $18.2-million budget, according to news reports. The brigade also cut 25 full-time jobs.

Reservists report how the cuts have affected their units:

– Ongoing courses including the BMQ (recruit course) and PLQ (junior leadership course) were shut down at the last minute even though they were ongoing.

– Emails came in from Army in the morning to “cease training” immediately and reservists were phoned at home to inform them not to show up for pre-scheduled training that night.

–There is little information provided for units about the way ahead. More is expected in April when the government announces its budget.

-Until the BMQ courses are complete, other training (SQ, DP1, etc…) cannot be done so everything else gets backlogged.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay has remained silent on the cuts. However, Conservative Senator Marjory LeBreton, the government leader in the Senate, has said she read about the cuts in the newspaper and that every effort was being made to ensure that reservists are prepared for any operational activity.

The Harper government, she noted, is committed to treating the reservists reasonably so that they remain fully operational.

But when asked about the reserve cuts in December by Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire, LeBreton originally denied that such a thing had happened.

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/defencewatch/


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