Front Lines

Most expensive fighter in history now ready. Kind of. Not really.
Front Lines

Most expensive fighter in history now ready. Kind of. Not really.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has been an ongoing headache for successive Canadian governments. And for the American government. And for pretty much everyone else, as well. More than 15 years after it was announced and ten years after it first flew, the fighter is still beset by production problems, skyrocketing costs, and some major public perception issues. While Canada was once on board to purchase the planes, that plan has been officially shelved. Except for that maybe we’re considering buying them again. It’s hard to say. On June 24, 2016 the Liberal government quietly paid $32.9 million to stay in the F-35 program, bringing the total spent on the jet by Canada to more than $300 million. Now though, there is at least the appearance of good news where the F-35 is concerned. Th...
A dead Canadian general, Osama bin Laden, and the world’s worst ally
Front Lines

A dead Canadian general, Osama bin Laden, and the world’s worst ally

Canada has a long history in Pakistan. It was there during one of the first United Nations peacekeeping missions—UNMOGIP or United Nations Military Observer Group India-Pakistan—that Canada lost its first peacekeeper. UNMOGIP began on Jan. 24, 1949, with a mandate to supervise the ceasefire between India and Pakistan in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Canadian Brigadier-General Harry Angle was named as the mission’s first chief military observer. But shortly after taking his post, he died in a plane crash while travelling to Kashmir. That happened on July 17, 1950. Angle was 44. He had commanded the British Columbia Dragoons in the Italian and Netherlands campaigns during the Second World War. In the time since Angle’s death, both Canada and the United States have failed to ma...
This is not peacekeeping, more like Cold War II
Front Lines

This is not peacekeeping, more like Cold War II

Canada has announced that it will send up to 1,000 troops to Latvia to help bolster a NATO force sent there to face down Russian aggression. Canada has long been operating in the region–troops in Poland and Ukraine, CF-18s in the sky above, warships at sea–all as a part of a mission called Operation Reassurance, which was meant to provide comfort to our shaky NATO allies that we are, indeed, allies. But now this mission has, well, escalated--Operation Reassurance is more like Operation Deterrence. It all started with U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Ottawa last week. "As your NATO ally and your friend, let me say, we'll be more secure when every NATO member, including Canada, contributes its full share to our common security," said Obama. "Because the Canadian Armed Forces a...
Canada’s special operations come out of the shadows. Again. Kind of.
Front Lines

Canada’s special operations come out of the shadows. Again. Kind of.

The Toronto Star has a series of articles out on the secretive Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) that will certainly interest many readers. Since its inception in 2006, CANSOFCOM has periodically made attempts to raise its profile with Canadians. This is clearly a good idea during a defence review, such as the one happening now. It’s probably important that everyone knows what your capabilities are–and that they’re important–lest your budget get slashed. So what did we learn from this recent round of publicity? Not much. CANSOFCOM has four main units: Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) are the top-of-the-line counter-terrorist force (think U.S. Navy Seals or maybe even Delta Force); the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) sometimes work alongside JTF2 and somet...
Crazy Ivan’s back and he’s dropping bombs on our allies
Front Lines

Crazy Ivan’s back and he’s dropping bombs on our allies

In Syria last week, the Russian military raised the stakes in their global confrontation against the Western world when they launched a series of airstrikes against the New Syrian Army (NSA), a specially-selected group of moderates who are trained and backed by the United States. The global intelligence firm STRATFOR called it “a brazen Russian gambit in Syria.” And it was brazen. Not only does the New Syrian Army frequently have Western and Jordanian special operations forces embedded with them, but they have American air support. Which means that the Russians may not only have killed or injured allied special operations forces, but they could have found themselves in air-to-air combat with U.S. fighter jets. It was reminiscent of the Cold War concept of Crazy Ivan, the possibility ...
Clash of civilizations as Russia mobilizes for war
Front Lines

Clash of civilizations as Russia mobilizes for war

In the years and months leading up to the First World War, all of the great European powers eventually succumbed to the pressure of the situation and mobilized their military forces. War itself wasn’t the aim of the mobilization—up until the last months, hardly anyone thought war would actually happen—instead, the mobilization was intended as sabre rattling, meant to deter aggression by other countries. Most of Europe’s armies were ready for war by 1914, so it’s no surprise that war was the result. With all eyes on our war in the Middle East, it’s easy to forget that our old foe, Russia, is not only resurgent but genuinely belligerent. And it is preparing for war. At least, that’s what the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) thinks is happening. In a report called 2018 S...
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