Posts Tagged ‘Operation Nanook’

Canada Opens Arctic To NATO, Plans Massive Weapons Buildup

August 29, 2010

Global Research, August 29, 2010
The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently concluded the largest of a series of so-called Canadian sovereignty exercises in the Arctic, Operation Nanook, which ran from August 6-26.

Harper, Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay and Chief of the Defence Staff of the Canadian Forces General Walter Natynczyk visited the nation’s 900 troops participating in the “Canadian Forces’ largest annual demonstration of Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic” [1] which included “Canada’s air force, navy, coast guard…testing their combat capabilities in the frigid cold.” [2]

Nanook military exercises were commenced in 2007 when Russia renewed its claims to parts of the Arctic and resumed air patrols in the region after an almost twenty year hiatus. They are complemented by two other Canadian military drills in the region, Operation Nunalivut in the High Arctic and Operation Nunakput in the western Arctic.

Canada is formally involved in territorial disputes with two other Arctic claimants: The United States over the Beaufort Sea lying between Canada’s Northwest Territories and Yukon Territory and the American state of Alaska, and Denmark over the Hans Island between Canada’s Ellesmere Island and Denmark’s Greenland possession on the other end of the Arctic.

Four of the five nations with Arctic claims, all except Russia, are founders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization whose charter commits member states to mutual military assistance.

With the melting of the polar ice cap and the opening of the fabled Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans for the first time in recorded history, the scramble for the Arctic – reported to contain 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 13 percent of undiscovered oil according to last year’s U.S. Geological Survey – is under way in earnest. The military value of the navigability of the passage is of even greater and more pressing significance.

The George W. Bush administration’s National Security Presidential Directive 66 of January 12, 2009 states:

“The United States has broad and fundamental national security interests in the Arctic region and is prepared to operate either independently or in conjunction with other states to safeguard these interests. These interests include such matters as missile defense and early warning; deployment of sea and air systems for strategic sealift, strategic deterrence, maritime presence, and maritime security operations; and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight.” [3]

The U.S. insists that the Northwest Passage is open to international navigation while Canada claims it as solely its own. Yet Ottawa has accommodated Washington at every turn while persisting in saber-rattling comments and actions alike vis-a-vis Russia.

Sixteen days after the release of the White House’s Arctic directive of last year NATO conducted a two-day Seminar on Security Prospects in the High North in Iceland attended by the military bloc’s secretary general, its two top military commanders and the chairman of its Military Committee, and stated that “Clearly, the High North is a region that is of strategic interest to the Alliance.” [4]

Although Canada’s territorial disputes in the Arctic are with fellow NATO members the U.S. and Denmark, the three nations have recently coordinated their strategies and in this year’s Operation Nanook have for the first time collectively participated in military exercises in the Arctic region.

In mid-July NATO’s chief European military commanders, Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and General Sir John McColl, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, arrived in the Canadian capital at the invitation of the nation’s military chief, General Walter Natynczyk. The three consulted on “how to take the Alliance forward” and Stavridis “conveyed his latest appraisal of NATO’s progress in Afghanistan and commended Canada on its contributions to NATO’s efforts around the world.” [5]

Canadian Defence Minister MacKay stated almost two years ago: “We are concerned about not just Russia’s claims through the international process, but Russia’s testing of Canadian airspace and other indications…(of) some desire to work outside of the international framework. That is obviously why we are taking a range of measures, including military measures, to strengthen our sovereignty in the North.” [6]

A year ago Canada and the U.S. conducted a 42-day joint Arctic expedition to survey the continental shelf for future bilateral demarcation, following a more modest effort along the same lines in 2008 and followed this year by one with U.S. and Canadian ships from August 7 to September 3. The latter was announced two weeks after a Russian research vessel left St. Petersburg on a mission to delimit the borders of Russia’s Arctic continental shelf.

The U.S. State Department described the purpose of this year’s expedition: “The mission will help delineate the outer limits of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean for the U.S. and Canada, and will also include the collection of data in the disputed area where the U.S. and Canada have not agreed to a maritime boundary.” [7] It is being held in the Canada Basin, the Beaufort Shelf, and the Alpha Mendeleev Ridge. The last, along with the Lomonosov Ridge, is the basis of Russian Arctic claims.

On May 14 Canada and Denmark signed a military agreement, a memorandum of understanding pledging to collaborate more closely in the Arctic “through enhanced consultation, information exchange, visits, and exercises,” according to the Canadian Forces. [8] The preceding month Denmark deployed a unit to participate in the Operation Nunalivut exercise in the High Arctic.

The Royal Danish Navy sent the HDMS Vaedderen ocean patrol vessel and the HDMS Knud Rasmussen offshore patrol vessel to join the recently concluded Nanook 10 exercises, where they were joined by the U.S. Second Fleet’s naval destroyer USS Porter and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder “for the purpose of exercising and increasing…interoperability with Arctic allies.”

As for the Canadian contribution, “The Air Force [provided] air movement and mission support through the CC-177 Globemaster III, CC-130 Hercules, CP-140 Aurora, CH-146 Griffon, and CC-138 Twin Otter aircraft.

“The maritime component [included] Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Montreal, Glace Bay and Goose Bay; and Canadian Coast Guard Ships CCGS Des Groseilliers and CCGS Henry Larsen.” [9]

Military personnel involved included “About 900 Canadian troops [who patrolled] parts of the Eastern and Northern Arctic by air, land and sea.” Another “600 military personnel from the Danish Royal Navy, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard are also [took] part in the operation.” [10]

In the words of Lieutenant Commander Albert Wong of Canada Command, “They’re our allies. Collaboration is part of what Canada does.” [11]

This year’s exercise was based in Resolute Bay in the Nunavut federal territory where the Harper government is building a new army Arctic warfare training center in Resolute and a deep-sea port for the Nanisivik Naval Facility to be constructed on Baffin Island. Canadian Navy Lieutenant Commander Robert Houle said before the event that “2010’s military operation will push further north than in past years.” [12] That is, north of the Arctic Circle for the first time.

“The US Navy 2nd Fleet, the US Coast Guard and the Royal Danish Navy…joined in the war games in an effort to enhance the allies’ capabilities to cooperate in Arctic waters.” [13]

In fact the NATO allies collaborated to an unprecedented degree, as “Danish and American vessels” conducted “ocean exercises throughout eastern Nunavut.” [14]

After visits by Canada’s defense and military chiefs to inspect the multinational war games, Prime Minister Harper arrived in Resolute on August 25, the penultimate day of the 20-day military maneuvers, to – in the words of one of the nation’s main news agencies – rally the 1,500 Canadian, American and Danish troops present. [15]

Harper’s visit to inspect the exercise occurred only hours after another – potentially dangerous – publicity stunt by his government: Dispatching CF-18 fighter jets (variants of the American F/A-18 Hornet) to allegedly ward off two Russian Tupolev Tu-95 (Bear) strategic bombers patrolling off Canada’s northern border, “something the Russian military does frequently.” [16]

Harper’s press secretary, Dimitri Soudas, “said the two CF-18 Hornet fighters visually identified the two Russian aircraft approximately 120 nautical miles north of Inuvik in Northwest Territories,” [17] over international waters.

The timing of the Canadian action, as that of its announcement, was calculated. As was a comparable incident in February of 2009 when then recently installed U.S. President Barack Obama paid his first visit abroad to Ottawa, to meet with Harper, and his host scrambled warplanes to intercept a Russian Tu-95 bomber – on a routine mission thousands of kilometers from the Canadian capital – in a show of bravado and of loyalty to his ally south of the border.

“The Russians said then the plane never encroached on Canadian airspace and that Canada had been told about the flight beforehand.” [18]

Last year Canada’s prime minister and defence minister made the following comments:

Harper: “We have scrambled F-18 [CF-18] jets in the past, and they’ll always be there to meet them.”

MacKay: “When we see a Russian Bear [Tu-95] approaching Canadian air space, we meet them with an F-18.” [19]

A few days before Operation Nanook began, July 28, Canada also deployed CF-18 fighters against Russian Tu-95 bombers “as debate rage[d] over whether Canada needs the next generation of fighter jets to replace the nearly 30-year-old CF 18s. The Harper government has committed to buying 65 F-35 stealth fighters at a cost of $9 billion. Critics have said such Cold War-type jets are no longer needed.” [20]

The same source provided background information concerning what is being fought over:

“Canada is in a race with Russia and other Arctic nations to lay claim to the frozen territory that may hold untold treasures.

“Geologists believe the Arctic shelf holds vast stores of oil, natural gas, diamonds, gold and minerals. A 2007 Russian intelligence report predicted that conflict with other Arctic nations is a distinct possibility, including military action ‘in a competition for resources.'” [21]

Regarding the later occurrence on August 24, “The Prime Minister’s Office used the incident to promote Ottawa’s plan to buy 65 stealth fighter jets for $16 billion.” [22]

The discrepancy in (Canadian) dollar amounts is attributable to Ottawa’s attempt in May to underestimate the actual cost of the purchase when Defence Minister MacKay said “There is eye-watering technology now available, and a fifth-generation fighter aircraft will be brought to Canada after the year 2017.” [23], but failed to disclose the total cost.

When in-service support and other additional outlays are included, the total package will be $16 billion, according to a major Canadian newspaper “one of the most expensive military equipment purchases ever.” [24]

In fact the F-35 Lightning II fifth generation stealth fighter project also has been estimated to be “the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program” at a  cost of $323 billion for 2,443 of the warplanes. [25]

Last month Defence Minister MacKay confirmed that Canada will buy 65 of the Joint Strike Fighters. At the same time Ottawa announced that the $3 billion Joint Support Ship project will be restarted, as “the military [wants] Joint Supply Ships to be capable of carrying army vehicles and to provide support to ground forces ashore. The ships would also have an air-force element on board, having helicopters and repair facilities for those aircraft. A hospital would also be included on the vessels.” [26]

On August 25 Dmitri Soudas, Harper’s director of communications, trumpeted the news of the non-encounter between Canadian and Russian military aircraft and laid the bravado on thickly – and not without a purpose. His comments included:

“Thanks to the rapid response of the Canadian Forces, at no time did the Russian aircraft enter sovereign Canadian airspace.

“The Harper Government has ensured our Forces have the tools, the readiness and the personnel to continue to meet any challenges to Canadian sovereignty with a robust response.

“This is true today, it will be true tomorrow and it will be true well into the future.

“The CF-18 is an incredible aircraft that enables our Forces to meet Russian challenges in our North. That proud tradition will continue after the retirement of the CF-18 fleet as the new, highly capable and technologically-advanced F-35 comes into service. It is the best plane our Government could provide our Forces, and when you are a pilot staring down Russian long range bombers, that’s an important fact to remember.” [27]

The Associated Press reported on the above statement that “Soudas noted…Canada’s recent purchase of 65 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets from U.S. aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Corp. The $8.5 billion purchase, one of the biggest military equipment purchases in the country’s history, was due to be debated at a parliamentary defense committee hearing on Wednesday. [August 25, the date of Soudas’ comments]. The jets will replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of CF-18s.” [28]

According to a Canadian journalist:

“This week…we learned that the Cold War is not, in fact, over and that Russia remains an active threat in the north….Harper’s press spokesman, noted Sovietologist Dimitri Soudas, explicitly turned the Russian flyby into an argument for a $16-billion, sole-sourced upgrade of Canada’s fighter-plane fleet.” [29]

Canada requires an adversary to justify large-scale arms acquisitions. In the past three years it has bought and leased 120 Leopard tanks from Germany and the Netherlands for the war in Afghanistan. It has purchased and used Israeli-made Heron drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) for the same war theater and beyond, one of which crashed near a military base in Alberta last month knocking out power lines.

It has also acquired Chinook, Griffon and Mi-8 helicopters for NATO’s war in South Asia, where it has deployed 2,830 troops and where 151 of its soldiers have been killed.

The Polar Epsilon spaced-based satellite project is being developed for the Arctic, and while in Resolute Bay on Wednesday Prime Minister Harper reiterated that the RADARSAT Constellation Mission, a three-spacecraft fleet of satellites that is the centerpiece of Polar Epsilon, “will provide the Canadian military with daily coverage of Canada’s land mass and ocean approaches ‘from coast-to-coast-to-coast, especially in the Arctic.'” [30]

In June defense chief MacKay disclosed that Canada will spend over $30 billion “to build 28 large vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard and navy, as well as 100 smaller ships.” [31]

Canada is, as NATO’s top military commander Admiral Stavridis remarked in Ottawa last month, providing the Western military bloc and the Pentagon indispensable services around the world. In the Arctic as much as if not more than anywhere else.

Related articles:

Canada: Battle Line In East-West Conflict Over The Arctic
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/31/canada-battle-line-in-east-west-conflict-over-the-arctic

Encroachment From All Compass Points: Canada Leads NATO Confrontation With Russia In North
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/encroachment-from-all-compass-points-canada-leads-nato-confrontation-with-russia-in-north

Loose Cannon And Nuclear Submarines: West Prepares For Arctic Warfare
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/12/01/loose-cannon-and-nuclear-submarines-west-prepares-for-arctic-warfare

Canada: In Service To The Pentagon And NATO At Home And Abroad
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/28/canada-in-service-to-the-pentagon-and-nato-at-home-and-abroad

Notes

1) Xinhua News Agency, August 7, 2010
2) Agence France-Presse, August 25, 2010
3) NATO’s, Pentagon’s New Strategic Battleground: The Arctic
Stop NATO, February 2, 2009
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/natos-pentagons-new-strategic-battleground-the-arctic
4) Ibid
5) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
July 11, 2010
6) Canwest News Service, September 12, 2008
7) Russian Information Agency Novosti, July 27, 2010
8) Nunatsiaq News, May 24, 2010
9) Xinhua News Agency, August 7, 2010
10) CTV, August 25, 2010
11) Nunatsiaq News, June 16, 2010
12) CBC News, August 3, 2010
13) Agence France-Presse, August 25, 2010
14) CBC News, August 18, 2010
15) Canadian Press, August 25, 2010
16) CTV, August 25, 2010
17) Xinhua News Agency, August 25, 2010
18) Associated Press, August 25, 2010
19) Encroachment From All Compass Points: Canada Leads NATO Confrontation With
Russia In North
Stop NATO, August 5, 2009
http://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/encroachment-from-all-compass-points-canada-leads-nato-confrontation-with-russia-in-north
20) Toronto Sun
Quebec Media, Inc. Agency
July 30, 2010
21) Ibid
22) CTV, August 25, 2010
23) Canwest News Service, May 28, 2010
24) Ottawa Citizen, July 12, 2010
25) PBS Newshour, April 21, 2010
26) Ottawa Citizen, July 12, 2010
27) CBC News, August 25, 2010
28) Associated Press, August 25, 2010
29) Susan Riley, The Russians aren’t coming
Ottawa Citizen, August 27, 2010
30) Agence France-Presse, August 25, 2010
31) Xinhua News Agency, June 4, 2010

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Original article here

Canada flexes military muscle: arctic sovereignty Operation NANOOK

August 11, 2010

Below is a straight up press release from The Department of National Defense, Canada Command. They’re heavily increasing their military presence, and note how they stress “sovereignty” and “presence”. Those are fightin’ words, as a great many countries want their tradeships to pass through the arctic unhindered, and many view the North West passage as international waters. They are also in a strategic collaboration with their “arctic allies” USA and Denmark, who participate in the operation. On the other hand, they are also practicing for possible oil spills, but we’d like to see as little traffic as possible in the Arctic, military or commercial. Jonas/Hornorkesteret

Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

Canada Command

Canada Command

Aug 06, 2010 17:19 ET

Canada Begins Annual Arctic Sovereignty Operation

OTTAWA, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Aug. 6, 2010) – The Canadian Forces’ largest annual demonstration of Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic, known as Operation NANOOK, began today as the Canadian-led Naval Task Group crossed the 60th parallel en route to the High Arctic.

This year, the 20-day event will be based out of Resolute, Nunavut—the northernmost location to host the operation since its inception in 2007. Operation NANOOK will feature sovereignty and presence patrolling, military exercises, and will culminate with a whole-of-government exercise that focuses on fuel spill containment and remediation of a simulated leak in the Resolute Bay area.

“The NANOOK operations are an important demonstration of our Government’s commitment to the Arctic region” said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. “Building from experience and successes of previous operations, Operation NANOOK is the most complex operation of its kind, demonstrating our increased capacity and confidence in operating in the high Arctic.”

“Operation NANOOK is a clear demonstration of the Canadian Forces fulfilling our primary mission as stated in the Canada First Defence Strategy,” said General Walt Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff. “We are committed to ensuring the security of all Canadians and to enhancing our presence in the Arctic by conducting sovereignty exercises and operations in cooperation with other government departments.”

As part of the Arctic Reserve Company Group, members of southern-Ontario Army Reserve units will conduct training exercises with Canadian Rangers in Resolute Bay and Pond Inlet. The Air Force will be providing air movement and mission support through the CC-177 Globemaster III, CC-130 Hercules, CP-140 Aurora, CH-146 Griffon, and CC-138 Twin Otter aircraft. The maritime component will include Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Montreal, Glace Bay and Goose Bay; and Canadian Coast Guard Ships CCGS Des Groseilliers and CCGS Henry Larsen;

Canada has also invited the American naval destroyer USS Porter from the United States Second Fleet; the United States Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Alder; and the Royal Danish Navy ocean patrol vessel HDMS Vaedderen and offshore patrol vessel HDMS Knud Rasmussen for the purpose of exercising and increasing our interoperability with Arctic allies.

Operation NANOOK is based in the Eastern Arctic and is one of three major recurring sovereignty operations conducted annually by the CF in Canada’s Arctic, along with Operation NUNALIVUT in the High Arctic, and Operation NUNAKPUT in the Western Arctic. Planned and directed by Joint Task Force North in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, these annual operations highlight interoperability, command and control, and cooperation with interdepartmental and intergovernmental partners in the North.

Note to Editors:

Still imagery will be available for download throughout the operation on the Canadian Forces Image Gallery at: www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca.

Video B-Roll will also be available for download on the Canadian Forces Combat Camera Video Download Site: www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca/common/combatcamera/news.

For more information about Canada Command and Operation NANOOK visit the Canada Command website: http://www.canadacom.forces.gc.ca/daily/archive-nanook-eng.asp.

For more information on Operation NANOOK 10 please contact Lieutenant-Commander Albert Wong, Public Affairs Officer, at (416) 738-3099.

For more information, please contact

MLO Media Liaison Office
1-866-377-0811
www.forces.gc.ca

Original article here

Inuit need greater role in protecting Arctic: Committee

June 18, 2010

By Juliet O’Neill, Canwest News Service June 17, 2010

An all-party report expressed "concern" that Indigenous peoples have not been accorded proper recognition for their historic role in helping ensure Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic by living in the region. Photograph by: Ed Struzik, edmontonjournal.com

OTTAWA — The government should get cracking on implementing Nunavut land claims and involving Indigenous peoples more in protecting Arctic sovereignty, the House of Commons defence committee said Thursday.

An all-party report expressed “concern” that Indigenous peoples have not been accorded proper recognition for their historic role in helping ensure Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic by living in the region.

“The assertion that our sovereignty depends largely on Inuit occupation of the region are a bit hollow if we continue to lag on our commitments to the Inuit and prolong the failure to implement the Nunavut land claims agreement,” Jack Harris, New Democratic Party defence critic, said at a news conference by committee members.

The MPs also recommended the Arctic Council should be strengthened, the government should re-establish the office of Arctic ambassador, create a cabinet committee on Arctic affairs and give priority to resolving a dispute over the Beaufort Sea with the United States.

The report generally supported the broad direction of government policy but chair Maxime Bernier said the recommendations aim to ensure Canada has the right tools. While the committee concluded the Canadian Forces are equipped to defend the region, it was concerned the building of Arctic patrol ships and the icebreaker John G. Diefenbaker are falling significantly behind schedule.

The committee recommended the government make development and long-term maintenance of viable Indigenous communities a priority and ensure that the Inuit be included in Northern environment scientific projects.

“It is especially important that Canada’s Indigenous peoples be an integral part of any decision making process affecting policies regarding the Arctic,” the report said. “In line with this, we believe it important that outstanding land claims in the region be settled quickly.”

Harris issued a supplementary report emphasizing the long-stalled process of implementing the 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

“After 17 years, only 50 per cent of the agreement has been implemented,” he said, citing provision of educational services as a key to the future of Nunavut’s ability to run its own affairs and participate in national and international decision making about the Arctic.

“We must stress the importance and urgency for the government of Canada to fulfil its obligations to our indigenous partners in the Arctic.”

The committee heard testimony that a dispute resolution mechanism in the agreement was not working and Inuit leader Mary Simon had told the committee that “along with the building of military infrastructure in the region we also need to build sustainable communities.”

The committee said “Canada’s legal title to its Arctic territories is well established” and there is no immediate military threat to Canadian territories either in or “through” the Arctic. But it said that “given the increased interest and anticipated activity in the Arctic, Canada needs to increase its ‘presence’ in the region.”

Meanwhile, Operation Nanook, the Canadian Forces’ summer Arctic sovereignty exercise, moves north of the Arctic Circle for the first time this summer, and in a twist will include ships from the Danish and American navies, plus a ship and dive team from the United States Coast Guard.

The participation by the Danes and Americans is notable for a Canadian sovereignty exercise, since Canada has lingering offshore boundary disputes with both Denmark and the U.S.

With a file from the Nunatsiaq News

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
Original article here