Posts Tagged ‘Canadian Army’

CANADIAN TROOPS HEADING TO AFGHANISTAN GET SCREWED ON PAY; DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN DEFENCE REPORT

January 26, 2010

Foulup leaves troops out pay, benefits

‘Administrative error’ to blame: National Defence

By David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen

December 8, 2009

Troops now training at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa for a mission to Afghanistan next year are in the midst of a battle against the military bureaucracy over pay and health benefits.

It’s the second time in less than eight months that reserve soldiers assigned to the Afghan mission have run into pay problems. In February, soldiers contacted the Citizen after their pay was cut off while they fought in Afghanistan.

This time, soldiers say they have lost the extra pay they are entitled to because of a bureaucratic screw-up. According to the soldiers, the pay problems are due to a backlog in processing paperwork and an inadequate pay system at National Defence headquarters in Ottawa.

As well, there are problems with health coverage for families of the part-time soldiers.

“A caveat to the fact that they aren’t inputted into the regular force pay system is that their families (eligible dependents) at home are not eligible for medical coverage under the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP),” one individual wrote to the Citizen, complaining about the problem.

“Soldiers who once had coverage under their previous civilian careers are left with the medical expenses for their children and spouses until their contracts are processed.” About 300 reservists training at CFB Petawawa will head to Afghanistan in the spring.

Army spokesman Lt.-Col. Jay Janzen confirmed there are problems with pay. “The army is aware of pay issues affecting some reservists conducting pre-deployment training at Petawawa and we’re working quickly to address them,” he said.

Janzen said the soldiers are receiving their basic pay, but the problem centres around incentive pay they would receive. That problem is “due to an administrative error.”

Janzen didn’t have specific numbers affected, but added it is believed to be fewer than 100 reservists. He said that once the problem is sorted out, the soldiers would receive the money owed. A military source said the health-care issue will also be taken care of once the paperwork goes through for the reservists and they are assigned to the full-time regular force.

It’s not the first time there have been pay problems for part-time soldiers. From December 2008 to February of this year, some reserve soldiers fighting in Afghanistan said they had their pay cut off because their contracts with the army expired while they were serving overseas.

The troops continued to serve, but some told the Citizen they were worried they would not be covered by health insurance and other benefits if they were injured in battle.

At the time, the army confirmed in an e-mail that there had been problems, but it claimed that “at no time were the members’ pay and benefits at risk.”

The e-mail also added that emergency financial assistance was offered to anyone who needed it while the error was being fixed.

In 2006, former Canadian Forces Ombudsman Yves Côté launched an investigation into what he warned was a lack of services and inconsistent care available to members of the reserves when they are injured on overseas missions or during training at home. The investigation, completed in April, revealed numerous problems for reservists injured in the course of duty to Canada and subsequently required health care.

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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CANADIAN ARMY LOOKS FOR NEW UNIFORMS FOR URBAN WAR; DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN DEFENCE NEWS

January 26, 2010

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Defence Watch

OTTAWA — Future Canadian soldiers could be wearing new uniforms designed to provide camouflage on the streets of our largest cities.

The Defence Department will know by March what designs might work for what is being called a Canadian Urban Environment Pattern.

Those designs are to be based on the “unique requirements” of the urban settings of Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, according to an outline of the project being co-ordinated by scientists at Defence Research and Development Canada in Suffield, Alta.

Ottawa, the nerve centre of government and the military, was left off the list because it doesn’t rate as a major metropolitan centre.

“We’re not trying to slight any city in the country,” explained Scott Duncan, head of the soldier and systems protection group at DRDC Suffield. “We chose the three largest urban centres to have baseline data in this early development project.”

He said information gathered on what patterns might work best in those three cities could also have applications for other urban centres.

Duncan said the $25,000 study to come up with camouflage patterns did not necessarily mean a new uniform would be produced for the Canadian Forces anytime soon. Once the patterns are determined, the results will be presented to the Canadian military and it will be up to the leadership on how to proceed, he added.

“If you were to refer back to the Canada First Defence Strategy, one of the principal mandates that has been given to our military is that they must provide protection to the citizens of Canada and help exercise Canadian sovereignty,” Duncan said.

“Given our large urban population, should any operations be required, there’s a good probability that some of them will be taking place in urban environments.”

However, Eric Graves, the editor of Soldier Systems Daily, a U.S. website that reports on the uniform and equipment industry, questioned whether it made sense to have camouflage based on the landscape of Canadian cities. Various studies indicate the world’s population in developing nations is becoming more focused in urban areas and military officers often talk about future warfare being in those areas.

“It makes zero sense for the Canadian military to produce an urban pattern based on their own cities unless they plan on fighting there,” Graves noted.

“If that’s the case, then it is the perfect choice.”

Still, Graves said, if the Canadian military strategy is to continue supporting the United Nations and NATO on its operations, “the answer is that they have to take a broader look, and develop a pattern more suited to use in ungoverned or under-governed areas that are rapidly urbanizing.”

The contract for the Canadian camouflage pattern was awarded to HyperStealth Biotechnology Corp. in Maple Ridge, B.C.

The original contract requirement from DRDC Suffield noted that the current military uniform to protect against chemical, biological and radiological substances was available in only the desert and temperate woodland patterns.

Clement Laforce, deputy director general for DRDC Suffield, said the patterns that would be produced are not just for chemical or biological protective suits, but also for general use for the Canadian Forces.

An urban camouflage uniform was designed in the U.S. in the 1990s based on slate grey patterns. It is used by some U.S. police tactical teams, U.S. special forces on urban missions and a number of foreign special forces and law enforcement units.

However, Duncan said uniforms designed for a U.S. urban environment might not work in a Canadian setting. “There’s factors such as light, the amount and types of vegetation and weather patterns,” he said. “These are all parameters you take into consideration when you develop these patterns.”

Get the latest military and counter-terrorism news on 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 WANT MORE AUTOMATIC GRENADE LAUNCHERS; DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN DEFENCE NEWS

January 26, 2010

CLOSE AREA SUPPRESSION WEAPON FOR THE AIR FORCE AND REMOTE WEAPON STATIONS

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Defence Watch

Government officials have still yet to make an announcement on the winning company to be selected to provide the Close Area Suppression Weapon (CASW) but there could be future purchases of the weapons for vehicles as well as for the Air Force for airfield security in deployed locations, according to documents obtained by Defence Watch.

At this point the program is to acquire an automatic grenade launcher for infantry. But the CASW is a dismounted system that can be mounted onto any vehicle using a pintle mount or a remote weapon station (RWS). Army sources say they expect whichever weapon wins the CASW project will be eventually mounted on a RWS, with additional weapon purchases if necessary.

Those views are backed up by an Oct. 24, 2007 briefing note obtained by Defence Watch which points out that in the future new vehicles being acquired by the Army could be outfitted with CASW, although new funding would have to be found for those weapons.

“Should the new vehicle programmes require CASW, the projects will fund any new CASW in accordance with standard practice,” the briefing note points out. “CASW for..Deployed Airfield security requirement could be acquired using various options in the eventual CASW Contract….once CAS (Chief of the Air Staff) provides the funding.”

The possiblity of CASW going on to a RWS is a distinct possibility. It seems more unlikely the air force would free up funds for a CASW, particularly at a time when budgets are getting tighter. In addition, if the air force does operate at deployed airfields, it could ask the army to provide protection.

Canada had received two bids to provide the Canadian Forces with a new automatic grenade launcher. One was from Rheinmetall Canada, the other for Singapore Technologies each put in a bid.

Singapore Technologies, which has kept a low profile during the competition, has its own 40mm grenade launcher and ammunition.

Last year defence sources told Defence Watch they expected the evaluation of the bids to be completed sometime in January 2010.

Testing of both weapons was done last year at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, NB.

The $100 million CASW project has been repeatedly delayed, with some industry officials pointing to it as an example of the major problems plague the Defence Department’s procurement system.

In 2004, Canadian Army officers said the weapons would be delivered in August 2006 for eventual use in Afghanistan. Then the delivery date was later set as the summer of 2008.

Later the delivery of the guns was revised to occur in late 2009.

The new date for delivery is now 2012.

Army officers have said that the grenade launcher will provide more and accurate firepower than the 60mm mortar, which will taken out of service since it is too old and considered unsupportable.

The Army examined the capabilities offered by mortars and automatic grenade launchers in urban fighting during a May 2003 study.

The study, called Iron Bombard, looked at the ability of several weapon systems to provide the Light Armoured Vehicle-3 Rifle Company with an internal suppression/neutralizing capability in an urban environment.

An undated briefing note for the CLS, prepared by Geoff Hutton of DLR, pointed out that the planned retirement of the 60mm light mortar makes CASW “NP neutral” meaning that the savings from getting rid of the motars would offset the acquistion of the grenade launcher.

The government expects to Rheinmetall Canada has been successful in its bid to provide the Canadian Army with a

, sources at National Defence headquarters tell Defence Watch.

There is no word, however, on when there will be an official announcement. But the firm, based in St. Jean sur Richelieu, will provide the army the Heckler and Koch 40mm grenade launcher which is being used by 16 militaries, including many NATO nations.

The project had to be restarted in the spring 2009 after government bureaucrats ruled that a defence company’s paperwork was not filled out properly.

At that time, only one firm – Rheinmetall Canada – bid on the project and although the HK gun technically fit all the army’s requirements, the government disqualified the firm’s bid. Public Works informed Rheinmetall Canada that the financial forms attached to its proposal didn’t provide enough information.

Rheinmetall Canada argued that it submitted a fully compliant bid. However, the government did not accept that position and the procurement process was begun again in the summer of 2009.

Army officers have said that the grenade launcher will provide more and accurate firepower than the 60mm mortar, which will taken out of service since it is too old and considered unsupportable.

The Army examined the capabilities offered by mortars and automatic grenade launchers in urban fighting during a May 2003 study.

The study, called Iron Bombard, looked at the ability of several weapon systems to provide the Light Armoured Vehicle-3 Rifle Company with an internal suppression/neutralizing capability in an urban environment.

The report, obtained under the Access to Information law by Defence Watch, was withheld for two years and only released after the Army was able to move ahead with its plans to purchase an automatic grenade launcher.

The weapon systems tested in Iron Bombard were used in the offence and defence during a series of house to house clearing scenarios, according to the report. The infantry section was also equipped with machine guns and rifles.

“The study concluded that no differences between the capabilities of the Advance Grenade Launcher and the mortars were observed, however the Advanced Grenade Launcher could make a contribution to the effectiveness of the Rifle Company and the 60mm and 81mm light mortars provided value because of their ability to provide smoke screens,” the report concluded. “The study recommends that the Advanced Grenade Launcher be considered as a possible support weapon for the LAV 111 Rifle Company and that there may be a requirement to retain mortars in the support mix.”

Iron Bombard was done because the present weapon system available is the 60mm M19 Mortar, generally considered by the Canadian Army to lack the range, lethality and accuracy to be effective. In order to alleviate that deficiency an 81mm light mortar and a 40 mm advanced grenade launcher were evaluated using the close action environment urban combat war game.

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 MOVES AHEAD WITH PLAN TO ACQUIRE THERMAL WEAPON SIGHTS: DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN JOURNALIST

January 26, 2010

ARMY MOVES AHEAD WITH PLAN TO ACQUIRE THERMAL WEAPON SIGHTS

BY DAVID PUGLIESE

Ottawa Citizen

The Army is moving a step closer to acquiring thermal weapon sights for a variety of weapons.

Industry has been told that they are to have their proposals in to the government by Dec. 15.

Earlier this year, Army officers in the directorate of land requirements told an industry forum that the initial operating capability for the Thermal Weapon Sights (TWS) was to be by 2009, according to documents provided to Defence Watch.

But that isn’t going to happen and the IOC has slipped to next year, with full operational capability by 2012, sources have told Defence Watch.

The winning bidder must meet 326 listed requirements and have the lowest cost.

Some industry sources say that indicates that the program has a specific thermal weapon sight in mind, but others maintain that the requirements are flexible enough to promote competition and it is expected several firms will bid on the project.

DND has a requirement for a combined quantity of 826 Light, Medium and Heavy of TWS kits complete with accessories, spare parts and support equipment, and data, according to the details provided by the government on the MERX website. In-service support is also required for the repair and overhaul of the TWS Kits and for the provision of spare parts.

The requirement includes options to procure up to 1,128 additional TWS kits.

One request for proposal will cover two contracts to be awarded to the winning bidder. These two contracts are for the equipment acquisition, and in-service support. The proposed TWS kits must be “military-off-the-shelf.

Companies that do bid are required to have a minimum of 1,000 systems already sold or delivered to a NATO nation.

The delivery of the first Thermal Weapon Sight kits is required starting within three months of the contract award. Those would be for testing. The rest of the delivery would take place over a year-long period.

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/

DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN: NO DIFFERENCE IN CAPABILITIES OFFERED BY MORTARS AND AUTOMATIC GRENADE LAUNCHERS SAYS CANADIAN ARMY REPORT

November 23, 2009

There is no difference in the capabilities offered by mortars and automatic grenade launchers in urban fighting, according to a newly released Canadian Army report.

 

The May 2003 study, obtained by Defence Watch, examined the use of a Company Area Suppression Weapon in urban operations. The study, called Iron Bombard, looked at the ability of several weapon systems to provide the Light Armoured Vehicle-3 Rifle Company with an internal suppression/neutralizing capability in an urban environment.

 

The report, obtained under the Access to Information law, was withheld for two years and only released after the Army was able to move ahead with its plans to purchase an automatic grenade launcher. Army officers have said that the grenade launcher will provide more and accurate firepower than the 60mm mortar, which will taken out of service since it is too old and considered unsupportable.

 

Bids from two companies are now in for the Army’s Close Area Suppression Weapon (CASW) project. There is no indication when the winning bid will be selected but defence sources expect that to be completed by January or February 2010.

 

The weapon systems tested in Iron Bombard were used in the offence and defence during a series of house to house clearing scenarios, according to the report. The infantry section was also equipped with machine guns and rifles.

 

“The study concluded that no differences between the capabilities of the Advance Grenade Launcher and the mortars were observed, however the Advanced Grenade Launcher could make a contribution to the effectiveness of the Rifle Company and the 60mm and 81mm light mortars provided value because of their ability to provide smoke screens,” the report concluded. “The study recommends that the Advanced Grenade Launcher be considered as a possible support weapon for the LAV 111 Rifle Company and that there may be a requirement to retain mortars in the support mix.”

 

Iron Bombard was done because the present weapon system available is the 60mm M19 Mortar, generally considered by the Canadian Army to lack the range, lethality and accuracy to be effective. In order to alleviate that deficiency an 81mm light mortar and a 40 mm advanced grenade launcher were evaluated using the close action environment urban combat war game.

 

Meanwhile, the evaluation of the bids on CASW continues at Public Works. Rheinmetall Canada and Singapore Technologies each put in a bid, Defense Watch has learned.

 

Rheinmetall had offered the army the Heckler and Koch 40mm grenade launcher which is being used by 16 militaries, including many NATO nations. Singapore Technologies, which has kept a low profile during the competition, has its own 40mm grenade launcher and ammunition. If the Singapore Technologies gun is selected, then Canada would join the small number of nations which use the weapon.

 

The winner will be selected on the basis of the lowest cost meeting the requirements outlined by the Army.

 

Testing of both weapons was done several weeks ago at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, NB, according to sources.

 

The $100 million CASW project has been repeatedly delayed, with some industry officials pointing to it as an example of the major problems plague the Defence Department’s procurement system.

 

In 2004, Canadian Army officers said the weapons would be delivered in August 2006 for eventual use in Afghanistan. Then the delivery date was later set as the summer of 2008.

 

Later the delivery of the guns was revised to occur in late 2009.

 

The new date for delivery is now 2012.

 

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:

 

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

 

TWO TYPES OF GRENADE LAUNCHERS BEING CONSIDERED FOR CANADIAN ARMY BY DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN REPORTER

November 17, 2009

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Canada has received two bids to provide the Canadian Forces with a new automatic grenade launcher but no date has been set for when the winning weapon system is selected.

A Defence Department spokeswoman told Defense Watch on Monday that request for proposal for the Close Area Suppression Weapon (CASW) project closed on October 8 and the proposals are now being examined by Public Works and Government Services. There is no indication when the winning bid will be selected but defence sources expect that to be completed by January or February 2010.

Rheinmetall Canada and Singapore Technologies each put in a bid, Defense Watch has learned.

Rheinmetall had offered the army the Heckler and Koch 40mm grenade launcher which is being used by 16 militaries, including many NATO nations. Singapore Technologies, which has kept a low profile during the competition, has its own 40mm grenade launcher and ammunition. If the Singapore Technologies gun is selected, then Canada would join the small number of nations which use the weapon.

The winner will be selected on the basis of the lowest cost meeting the requirements outlined by the Army.

Testing of both weapons was done several weeks ago at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, NB, according to sources.

The $100 million CASW project has been repeatedly delayed, with some industry officials pointing to it as an example of the major problems plague the Defence Department’s procurement system.

In 2004, Canadian Army officers said the weapons would be delivered in August 2006 for eventual use in Afghanistan. Then the delivery date was later set as the summer of 2008.

Later the delivery of the guns was revised to occur in late 2009.

The new date for delivery is now 2012.

The project had to be restarted in the spring after government bureaucrats ruled that a defence company’s paperwork was not filled out properly.

Only one firm, Rheinmetall Canada, based in Quebec, bid on the project and although the HK gun technically fit all the army’s requirements, the government disqualified the firm’s bid. Public Works informed Rheinmetall Canada that the financial forms attached to its proposal didn’t provide enough information.

Rheinmetall Canada argued that it submitted a fully compliant bid. However, the government did not accept that position and the procurement process was begin again this summer.

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:

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

AFGHAN ARMY WANTS CANADIAN LEOPARDS BY DAVID PUGLIESE OTTAWA CITIZEN

November 11, 2009

Canada may supply Afghan military with Leopard tanks, says U.S. General.

 

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

 

May 21, 2007

 

KABUL, Afghanistan — Canada is in discussions with NATO to provide Afghanistan’s fledgling army with Leopard tanks so it can better fight insurgents.

 

Military officials say future plans call for the Afghan National Army (ANA) to switch from its Soviet-designed equipment to gear that is more compatible with the NATO nations fighting in this south Asia country. Defence sources here confirm that Canada is interested in supplying some of its older Leopard tanks to the Afghans and initial discussions have begun on that potential deal.

 

NATO nations would be expected to donate equipment to the ANA.

 

U.S. Army Maj.-Gen. Robert Durbin, who heads the effort to help develop Afghanistan’s army and police forces, said any move to supply the tanks would be handled through NATO. “So we’ve had some interesting discussions,” said Durbin. “Canada is one nation. You’ve got Germany. Even New Zealand has Leopards.”

 

Asked whether plans could involve the Canadian Forces turning over the Leopard tanks it already uses in Kandahar to the Afghan army, Durbin responded, “that might be one option that could make sense.”

 

The general added, however, that he would not be involved in such a decision.

 

The Canadian Forces shipped 17 Leopard tanks to Kandahar in the fall of 2006 after troops requested more firepower to use against insurgents. The Conservative government recently announced it would lease more modern Leopards for the Afghanistan mission from Germany. It will also buy 100 Leopard 2s at a cost of $1.3 billion. That price tag includes a 20-year maintenance and upgrade deal.

 

Some Canadian soldiers who have worked with the Afghan army in operations against insurgents said the plan to provide the ANA with more modern NATO-type equipment makes sense.

 

Warrant Officer Chuck Graham said such a move would make it easier for coalition forces to resupply Afghan troops as everyone would be using the same equipment. He said although the Afghans are natural warriors, one of the main challenges is shaping them into a professional army.

 

Graham also predicted it might be sometime before the ANA was ready to switch from Russian-designed to NATO tanks. “As far as going from the (Russian) T62 to the Leopard, I think that’s a ways down the road,” he said.

 

Afghanistan is in the process of beefing up its army and police force. The Afghan army is expected to have around 70,000 personnel and 82,000 police by 2008.

 

Afghanistan’s defence ministry is also working on fielding an air corps made up of 150 to 200 helicopters and planes. Future plans call for the Afghans to play more of a role in leading the fight against the Taliban and other insurgents.

 

“The Afghans want to do this,” explained Durbin. “They want to stand up on their own two feet. They want to take the lead.”

 

The Afghan army is also creating six new commando battalions of about 650 soldiers each. The battalions would be given the best equipment and most advanced training. The men, most of them combat veterans, have been specially recruited for the units.

 

Durbin said the Afghan army would decide where the commandos would be used but he suggested that it is most likely they would be sent to southern part of the country where insurgents are the most active. All six battalions would be in place by the end of 2008.

 

That could provide some relief for Canadian and other NATO troops, he suggested. “So maybe (in the) spring 2009 you’re going to see an even more significant ability of the Afghan national security forces to stand on their own two feet and take on this fight,” Durbin said. “That would be a timeframe where maybe we can have the flexibility to make some strategic decisions about how much of a footprint NATO would be comfortable having in Afghanistan.”

 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said the Canadian mission in Afghanistan ends in 2009. But officers here doubt the Conservative government will walk away completely from Afghanistan since Canada has sacrificed too many soldiers and spent billions of dollars on the mission.

 

They expect the government to further extend the mission but it is not clear how many troops that would involve.

CANADIAN FORCES EMBARKS ON FUTURE SOLDIER PROGRAM

December 26, 2008

  

 

 

 

Firms battle to build future warrior; $310M program seeks to integrate key equipment into a package straight out of sci-fi

 

The Ottawa Citizen

Monday, July 21, 2008

Page: A1 / FRONT

 

By David Pugliese

 

Two Ottawa-based companies and a Montreal-area firm plan to enter the race to provide the Canadian military with a new soldier ensemble straight out of a sci-fi film.

 

The $310-million program would provide equipment not only to allow troops to track each other as they move throughout the battlefield, but feed communications and targeting information into their helmets or to a small personal data device they would each carry.

 

The Integrated Soldier System Project has received approval from Defence Minister Peter MacKay and will now proceed to Treasury Board to get the OK for initial funding. The project is expected to unfold over the next 10 years with various changes in the gear being brought in as technology improves.

 

But the first of the new systems could be in use in Afghanistan before the Canadian military is scheduled to pull out in 2011, according to defence insiders.

 

“It’s clearly a priority for the army,” said Luc Bentolila, vice-president for Canadian sales for EADS Defence and Security of Ottawa, one of the firms that will bid on the project.

 

Currently, Canadian soldiers carry, or at least have access to, equipment such as radios, night-vision goggles and global positioning systems to indicate their locations. Some of their weapons are also outfitted with targeting systems using lasers. Other gear can include thermal imaging systems that can locate objects by the heat they radiate.

 

But all of this gear is separately operated and each needs to be powered by batteries carried by the troops. A Canadian soldier fighting in Afghanistan is carrying a minimum of 16 batteries to operate the equipment and it’s not uncommon for them to each carry another 24 batteries for backup, according to officers.

 

The future soldier system would combine equipment into an integrated package with a single power unit and a data-bus. Communications and information downloaded from everything from aerial drones to satellite data from global positioning systems could be fed into the integrated system and displayed on an eye-piece mounted on a helmet or onto a personal data assistant.

 

Some of the systems already proposed look similar to those worn by the future soldiers in the film Aliens.

 

Not only would the weight troops carry be significantly reduced, but a soldier would be able to communicate with fellow soldiers more quickly. As many as 17,000 integrated soldier systems would be bought by the Department of National Defence.

 

Besides EADS, Thales Canada of Ottawa and Rheinmetall Canada of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., are all interested in bidding on the program. General Dynamics Canada, of Ottawa, has been identified as another firm that could provide such equipment, but the company declined to comment.

 

Mr. Bentolila said his company is looking at using its “Warrior 21” system as a base to build on for a Canadian bid. That system has been or is being provided to the German, Spanish and Swiss militaries.

 

“Because we have an operational and proven capability, we believe this might be of interest to Canada,” he said.

 

Mr. Bentolila said the firm has an agreement with xwave of Stittsville and is looking for other industrial team members. The company has also purchased another firm in Gatineau, PlantCML, which could be involved in service support for the soldier system.

 

Rheinmetall Canada, which provides future soldier equipment for the French and German militaries, has a system that weighs less than five kilograms, said Sylvain Lefrançois, director of battle management projects for the firm.

 

“We feel it’s the right time to procure these type of system because the technology has matured,” he added.

 

Mr. Lefrançois said the Canadian military is emphasizing power consumption and lightweight systems for its future soldier gear. Interoperability with other armies and soldiers’ acceptance of the equipment are also key.

 

Rheinmetall Canada has already worked on technology demonstration projects for the Canadian military that highlighted how the future troops might be outfitted.

 

Bud Walsh of Thales Canada in Ottawa said the firm is still waiting to get more specific details from the military and is closely watching how the project develops before it determines how to proceed. “We’ve got a lot of capability in the company and we’ve done programs of a similar nature in the United Kingdom and Germany and throughout Europe,” he added.

 

Mr. Walsh said the technological needs of the project may require a number of companies to join forces to meet the military’s requirements.

 

He said the Canadian Forces is not looking to get locked into one type of technology, but will be introducing the equipment in cycles so it can take advantage of developments as they come. For instance, new technology might provide a lightweight fuel cell troops could carry to power their equipment.

 

Thales Canada, like EADS and Rheinmetall, is owned by a European parent firm. Another company, SAGEM of France, is also seen as a potential supplier for the soldier system.

 

Asked about the project, the Defence Department issued an e-mail stating that the Integrated Soldier System will significantly enhance the capabilities of the troops. “The project will allow the CF soldier to operate in coalition operations with advanced situational awareness, increased target acquisition and lethality so that mission success can be achieved,” the e-mail said.

 

 

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

 

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

 

 

 

CANADIAN ARMY STRETCHED TO BREAKING POINT

June 10, 2008

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Canada’s army is stretched almost to the breaking point and replacement stocks of equipment for Afghanistan have long been used up, either destroyed by the enemy or in the process of being repaired, warns the head of land force.

 

In a strategic assessment written in January, Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie discloses that the size of the army has actually shrunk by 30 soldiers since 2005 even though the service is supplying 80 per cent of the personnel for the Afghanistan mission.

 

“The Army is now stretched almost to the breaking point and something is going to have to give if we are to be sustainable over the short and mid-term,” the general writes in his 2008 business plan leaked to the Citizen.

 

He predicts the personnel situation will only get worse in the short term.

 

The army is short 250 officers and 1,000 non-commissioned members.

 

Lt.-Gen. Leslie warns the army is also facing a serious problem with equipment. Spare parts are in short supply and the Afghanistan mission is taking its toll on a significant amount of equipment.

 

“Obviously all of it has to be replaced from existing stocks, but the initial pool of stocked equipment has long since been used up, either destroyed by the foe or is off being repaired,” the general writes. “To create a stock of equipment we have to take it from the home based training systems, which has an immediate and negative impact on training. All of our equipment is either deployed, being reset, used in training or broken and waiting either labor or spare parts.”

 

Additional money is needed to buy parts and to hire more people, military or civilian, to fix the equipment which is used for training for Afghanistan, Lt.-Gen. Leslie writes.

 

The army is not alone in dealing with excessive wear and tear on its vehicle fleets and equipment. The U.S. military is going through similar problems because of the Afghan and Iraq wars and has had to go back to government for additional funding for repair and overhaul of vehicles and gear.

 

On the issue of personnel shortages, Lt.-Gen. Leslie cites increasing attrition rates in the army and in the Canadian Forces overall. That is due to an aging workforce approaching retirement and a strong economy which appreciates skills possessed by military veterans.

 

The other reason is that many hundreds of the army’s most experienced field personnel have been taken to fill new positions in recently created headquarters and units, he writes.

 

Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier has started a process to transform the military for the future. Part of that has been creating new commands as well as units such as the Canadian Special Operations Regiment.

 

Lt.-Gen. Leslie warns in his business plan the army can’t sustain both the current operational needs and the requirement to provide new units and headquarters with staff.

 

A similar assessment by the navy in December warned there will be a decrease in maritime capabilities as the service sidelines some of its ships in the coming years with no immediate replacements. The air force warned in its assessment in November that it may reduce flying hours for aircraft since it did not have enough money for spare parts and fuel. The navy and air force also said they were facing major issues in recruiting skilled personnel.

 

But Defence Department spokesman Lt.-Col. Jamie Robertson said in an email the army, navy and air force assessments do not reflect the current situation. He noted the government “continues to provide stable, predictable funding with annual increases which will directly result in a stronger, better-equipped, flexible Canadian military.”

 

In his email statement Lt.-Col. Robertson pointed out, for instance, that “the Army will be able to successfully conclude its personnel training and equipping requirements within the funding levels and equipment envelope provided to it by the Government of Canada.”

 

Asked for other examples of where issues raised by the assessments are being dealt with, the department did not provide any.

 

Lt.-Col. Robertson also said the use of the “six-month old Strategic Assessments misleads the Canadian public into believing the CF is being inadequately funded. This is simply not the case.”

 

The army document cited by the Citizen, however, was dated Jan. 10, 2008, a little more than three months old.

 

Privately, officers have said many of the problems identified in the navy and air force assessments and the army’s business plan have not been fixed and won’t be for a long time, if at all. They noted, for instance, that contrary to what is being claimed by the Defence department, there are still ongoing issues with recruiting, retention and equipment.

 

Officers also say there will indeed be a drop in maritime capability since the navy’s destroyers will be removed from the water before there are replacements for them. The air force, which stated in its assessment that it was short more than $500 million in its budget, will receive only $97 million.

 

In an email, army spokesman Doug Drever noted the service is dealing with its personnel shortages. The army is accelerating junior leadership training and will graduate 1,000 junior non-commissioned officers this year to address both routine needs and address the personnel gap, Mr. Drever added.

 

“The Army continues to grow each year, expanding by a total of 3,000 positions in the coming years to bolster existing formations and units,” his email noted.

 

Asked how the army will deal with the overall concerns raised in the assessment, Mr. Drever responded in an email “the foundation for building the Canadian Forces of tomorrow was laid with the $5.3-billion, five-year plan announced in Budget 2006.”

 

But Liberal senator Colin Kenny points out the army, navy and air force documents clearly show the level of funding is not enough. The situation, he added, has not changed in the last five or six months.

 

“You can see how the organization has been eating its stock of seeds and really eliminating its capacity to regenerate simply by getting worn down and not getting the resources to come back,” said Mr. Kenny, chairman of the senate defence committee. “We’re getting to a point where we’re going to see capabilities falling off the table.”

 

Mr. Kenny said whoever is chosen to replace Gen. Hillier as defence chief will have a unique opportunity to speak forthrightly about the funding problems. “A savvy CDS who knows he is untouchable for the first little while can come in and point out to Canadians what the military doesn’t have,” he said.

 

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

 

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