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The Canadian Press
The HMCS Calgary is seen behind sailors during a change of command ceremony at CFB Esquimalt, in Esquimalt, B.C., Wednesday, June 24, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
It's been billed as the largest-ever investment in the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard during a time of peace.
Over the next decade, the federal government will invest tens of billions of dollars into new science ships, icebreakers, supply vessels and warships.
Yet as they prepare to welcome those new ships with open arms, given the age of their current fleets, top officials at both the navy and coast guard are wrestling with a difficult but critical question: Who will sail the vessels?
That is because the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard need hundreds more sailors between them. And while the situation isn't critical yet, it has become one of the top priorities for both services.
"It's good to get all those resources, all this new technology and new ships," Canadian Coast Guard Commissioner Mario Pelletier said in a recent interview. "But without people, I'm not going to be able to operate or to support or to manage the operations. So I need people."
The coast guard says up to 15 per cent of its positions are currently vacant, representing a shortfall of roughly 1,000 people. While that alone is cause for concern, the organization released a business plan last year that noted the workforce is also getting older.
The same business plan identified recruitment as "one of the most difficult challenges" for the organization -- an assessment echoed by Pelletier. It is for those reasons that he identified recruitment as well as retention as a key focus when he became commissioner in December.
Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, who took over as commander of the Royal Canadian Navy last June, has the same priority: getting more young men and women to sign up to sail with the navy, which is short roughly 850 members.
The shortfall is manageable now, but McDonald said the concern is what would happen should the navy find itself needing to dramatically ramp up its operations -- something that can't be ruled out given the current state of the world.
"So on one hand, my broad message to you is it's very manageable, the shortfalls we're currently experiencing," he said. "But in a volatile world where we may be required to do more, we need to be able to push to fill those numbers in -- and we are."
The navy and coast guard are not alone when it comes to having trouble recruiting new sailors. Canada's entire marine industry is facing a similar shortage of bodies, as older sailors leave faster than they can be replaced and new technology sparks shortages of certain skills.
"We've identified a shortage over the next five to 10 years of about 5,000 people," said Bruce Burrows, president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. "And we are having to temporarily bring, for example, foreign captains."
Why aren't people considering a career in the navy, coast guard or marine industry? Officials have previously cited the fight for employees at a time when unemployment is low and many people don't want to be away from home for long periods of time.
Yet McDonald, Pelletier and Burrows all cite a lack of awareness. McDonald calls it "maritime blindness." Not only have most Canadians never been on -- or perhaps even close to -- a large vessel, but those interviewed believe there is a misconception about the job.
Burrows is quick to list the many ways in which the industry has tried to become more appealing, including shorter stints at sea, more emphasis on high-tech skills as vessels have become more modern, and better food and connectivity to home.
The navy, meanwhile, has been implementing wireless networks onto its ships so sailors can stay connected to home while highlighting the ability to learn new skills in a fast-paced environment.
"We just have to get our story out," McDonald said. "And what millennials and others are looking for is a chance to do a relevant job where they get to shape what the output is and have a voice to be heard and to contribute."
The federal government and industry teamed up in January to create the Canadian Marine Industry Foundation, whose purpose will be to promote careers in the marine sector and bring in much-needed new blood.
For McDonald, the stakes are high over the next few years.
"My concern is being 850 down this year, we need to get those people in. We have a message that we're hiring because robustness, resilience and our ability to fully meet the surge if we get asked to do more than we're doing now means that I need those extra people to come in."
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from the Toronto Police Service as of this past Saturday ...
On Friday, February 21, 2020 the Toronto Police Service received multiple calls for a possible medical complaint at Sheppard Avenue East near Markham Road
It is reported that:
The victim, a woman, was walking eastbound along Sheppard Avenue East near Markham Road when she was attacked by a man armed with a hammer. She succumbed to her injuries.
The victim has been identified as Hang-Kam Annie Chiu, age 64, of Scarborough.
The accused, Saad Akhtar, age 30, of Scarborough, turned himself in at 42 Division. He was charged with:
1) First-Degree Murder ...
... with this from the attached joint TPS-RCMP news release ...
The Toronto Police Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Policeare providing an update to the news release that was issued about Homicide 11/2020 (GO# 2020-372105) onSaturday, February 22, 2020.
During the investigation, evidence was discovered which led investigators to believe the homicide may have been a terrorist-related offence.In line with existing protocols, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) was contacted and investigative assistance was requested.
After consulting with federal and provincial Crown Attorneys and with consents from the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Attorney General of Canada, Saad Akhtar appeared in court, for a second time, at 1911 Eglinton Avenue East, on Tuesday, February 25, 2020.
The charge has now been updated to:
1.First-Degree Murder –Including Terrorist Activity, invoking Section 231 (6.01) of the Criminal Code of Canada.
While the investigation, and prosecution, will be a collaborative effort between Toronto Police Service Homicide and INSET Toronto, the public can be assured this appears to be an isolated incident and there is no further known threat to the public associated to the accused at this time ...
... and this from MSM
A hammer attack that killed a 64-year-old woman in Toronto on Feb. 21 has been linked by police to terrorism, with the alleged murderer now facing a terrorism-related charge.
Saad Akhtar, 30, was already facing a first-degree murder charge over the apparently random killing of the woman, attacked by a man with a hammer on Friday evening.
But on Tuesday, prosecutors updated charge to “murder – terrorist activity.” The charge applies to a murder “if the act or omission constituting the offence also constitutes a terrorist activity.”
The RCMP and Toronto police said in a joint news release the attack “appears to be an isolated incident and there is no further known threat to the public associated to the accused at this time.”
The victim has been identified by police as Hang-Kam Annie Chiu. She was walking on Toronto’s Sheppard Ave. East near Markham Rd. when she was attacked at around 7 p.m.
The accused’s mother told Global News she had no idea who the victim was, calling Chiu “a stranger” to the family and her son.
Akhtar turned himself in to the Toronto Police Service’s 42 Division following the attack.
“As part of our investigation into the homicide, we came across evidence that lead us to believe there may be a terrorism-related offence,” said Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray.
Police then contacted the RCMP-led Integrated National Security Enforcement Team in Toronto, which probes terrorism cases.
“And that’s what’s brought us to today where the updated charge was laid in court this morning,” said Gray ...
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Watch Israel’s new drone-killing laser weapon in action
An Israeli-manufactured drone-killer has had a 100% success rate in all test scenarios, according to its developer, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, who released a video of the weapon in action.
The weapon, called the Drone Dome C-UAS, was able to successfully track its targets, small drones, and shoot them out of the sky while they were performing evasive maneuvers.
“The system achieved 100 percent success in all test scenarios,” Rafael said in a statement, as the Times of Israel reported.
According to Rafael, hostile drones are one of the fastest-growing threats which pose a serious security concern. Terrorists and other types of criminals are increasingly using autonomous drone attacks more often.
“These threats include drones flying near airports, endangering civilian flights and passengers’ lives,” according to its webpage on the Drone Dome C-UAS.
In November, Russia said it tested the use of small, autonomous drones in its massive Tsentr-2019 wargame the nation conducted in September.
“During the attack, the drone destroys objects with the help of air bombs or special guided missiles placed on board in small containers. Video cameras make sure that the target is destroyed,” Russian newspaper Izvestia reported.
The paper added that the drones used radar and radio find the targets “autonomously, without resorting to other weapons systems.”
Rafael acknowledges the threat from hostile militaries, so it has been offering advanced solutions for “maneuvering forces and military facilities, critical border protection, as well as civilian targets such as airports, public facilities, or any other sites that might be vulnerable to the increasing threat of both terror and criminal drones.”
The Drone Dome can detect objects as small as 0.021 square feet from 2.1 miles away
. After it detects the object, it locks on to it, and blasts it with its laser, melting the drone’s plastic housing.
This latest drone-killer is just one in a line of measures the Israeli military has developed in order to bolster their defenses.
Last month, Israeli officials said they have successfully tested another laser system against incoming mortar shells, drones, and anti-tank missiles. The head of the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Research and Development, Israeli Gen. Yaniv Rotem, said the nation is one of the leaders in developing high-energy laser systems, as they have been working on developing the technology for over a decade.
“We will add a laser sword when dealing with threats from the North or the South,” Israel’s Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said. “The enemies of Israel better not test our resolve or our abilities.”
Rotem said the laser defense system could reduce the need for other systems.
“During a war, missile interceptors will at one point run out, but with this system, as long as you have electricity, you have a never-ending supply,” Rotem said.
*video available on link*
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Canada nearly lost 2018 UN mission because it didn't have enough women in uniform
The scramble to secure the mission highlights Ottawa's struggles to recruit more women
Canada came within a whisker of losing its place in a United Nations peacekeeping mission in the fall of 2018 because of the military's inability to consistently deploy enough women to meet the world body's guidelines.
For the Liberal government, the political optics would have been horrible had the UN's department of peacekeeping carried out its threat to "reallocate" the post in the critical international mission in South Sudan.
The government has made the recruitment of more women for peacekeeping operations a policy priority — something that was mentioned prominently during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's recent tour of Africa, where he attempted to drum up support for Canada's bid for a Security Council seat.
In 2018, the UN was talked out of dropping Canada from the Sudan mission by Canadian officials who assured the world body that a better rotation system was being put in place by the Department of National Defence — one that would see the required number of women attached to the mission.
That near-miss, however, points to the Canadian military's wider struggle to recruit women in large numbers, and to the extraordinary pressure the UN guidelines have imposed on the existing pool of talented, qualified female soldiers.
UN guidelines mandate that, for observer missions like the one in South Sudan, 15 per cent of each country's staff officer and military observer positions must be filled by women. (Deployed operations, such as the recently concluded mission to Mali, have different, less strict metrics.)
In order to boost representation on the observer missions, the UN peacekeeping department even relaxed the rules for each country, allowing for women lower in the ranks (such as lieutenants and warrant officers) to be counted, where previously they had not.
The UN reviews countries' mission representation every quarter. In the fall of 2018, Canada was told it would lose its deployment to South Sudan, documents obtained by CBC News reveal.
"Canada failed to meet the target in the last quarter, and as a result, at the end of September the UN advised that the CAF position in UNMISS (UN Mission in South Sudan) was going to be reallocated to another country. The UN has since indicated that it will not reallocate the position, given the measures the CAF is putting in place to rectify the situation." said a briefing note for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan dated Oct. 29, 2018.
Canada gets an exemption
The Canadian office at the UN was notified of the decision by fax and it set off an immediate response. A defence official with knowledge of the file said Canada wasn't the only nation to receive the warning in the fall of 2018.
Once the UN's department of peacekeeping was told about the measures the government was putting in place, an exemption was granted, said the official, who spoke on background but was not authorized to publicly address the issue.
Canada's inability to meet the recruitment threshold had been a long-standing issue, according to the briefing note.
"Initial reporting has shown for over a year that we have not been consistently meeting the 15 per cent target. For example, we were at 8.7 per cent in October 2017, 15.8 per cent in May 2018 and 4.8 per cent in August," said the document, obtained by CBC News through access to information legislation.
The report goes on to note that, "based on the amount of UN officer and military observer positions allocated to Canada, Canada needs at least five women deployed" on observer missions at any one time. At the time the briefing was written, only one woman was in the field.
Despite the government's political pronouncements, the Canadian military is still getting used to looking at deployments through a gender lens.
A 'strain' on the Canadian Forces
The "process for identifying the right member for deployment is aimed — above all else — [at] ensuring the selected member has the right qualifications, skill set and experience for the position at hand," said the briefing note, adding that having a larger pool of women serving throughout the military eventually would solve the problem.
Stefani von Hlatky, an associate professor of political studies at Queen's University, said the issue is about more than just recruiting more women — it's also about having women with the right skill sets.
"There is typically a high demand [on UN missions] for infantry officers and that is not a trade where women are particularly well-represented," she told CBC News.
"If Canada is to meet, consistently, targets that are imposed by the UN when it comes to the representation of women in UN missions, then it is constantly going to be a strain for the Canadian Armed Forces."
Women already serving in the Canadian Forces could face unique pressure, given their limited numbers.
"There is the consideration that if the Canadian Armed Forces is asked to constantly meet that target and simply doesn't have the numbers to consistently hit the 15 per cent target from rotation to rotation, there might be more pressure on women to deploy more often and might impact the career trajectory of individual women," Von Hlatky said.The defence minister said he recognizes the challenges and the amount of work it will take to ensure there is meaningful representation by women on UN observer operations.
Harjit Sajjan also defended the government's record.
"We've worked very hard to ensure that if we've been telling other nations to have more women in peacekeeping operations, that we're going to lead by example, and we have," said Sajjan, who noted Canada has put women in charge of NATO operations and in senior posts within the military alliance.
But NATO, said von Hlatky, does not impose specific gender targets on its missions — and Canada's soaring rhetoric and promises have created expectations.
"I definitely think there is a gap between the rhetoric and the practice," she said.
"I think Canada, in terms of its rhetoric, should be careful to adjust that rhetoric to its means."
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Fighting is like champagne. It goes to the heads of cowards as quickly as of heroes. Any fool can be brave on a battlefield when it's be brave or else be killed.
- Margaret Mitchell
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