Tax exemption for those serving on overseas missions, the military exercise Maple Resolve and the announcement of defence deals with Saudi Arabia that has caused shares to jump for some defence giants. All on this episode of Vanguard Radio.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said late last week that the salaries of Canadian soldiers and police officers serving on overseas missions will no longer be federally taxed.
This tax exemption is retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year and will cover 1,450 personnel who are currently serving on international operations.
Almost 5,000 military personnel are at CFB Wainwright in Alberta, taking part in the largest and most comprehensive military exercise of the year - Exercise Maple Resolve. Of this number, 4,000 are Canadians and the other 1,000 are soldiers from the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Britain, training together in a fully immersive force-on-force battle scenario. Among the troops are hundreds of actors there to add friction to the war games.
The aim of this exercise is to help the military practice their skills in an environment that is as realistic as possible for when they are deployed.
Training centre commander Col. Peter Scott said the online news was used to help sway the opinions of the local population and is something that “commanders have to take into account in all of their planning going into any operations. I think the only thing that is missing is that there are not real bullets flying. We’ve created an environment that is as close as possible to what they will face on any given deployment.”
When the exercise is over, the entire group will sit down and look at what went right and what went wrong so soldiers can learn from their successes and failures.
Shares in defence giants rose
Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing shares rose on Monday, after a weekend of deals between US companies and Saudi Arabia. This came after President Trump’s first visit to Saudi Arabia, where a $110bn arms package was announced.
Lockheed Martin signed a $6bn deal to assemble 150 Blackhawk helicopters with the potential of future orders.
Raytheon also inked agreements for local defence contracts. Boeing has secured aircraft and helicopter contracts, announcing on Sunday that it has agreed to a potential sale of 16 wide-body commercial aircraft to a Saudi airline.
Thanks for listening.
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AI to model brains and Commissioner Hutchinson’s vision of the Coast Guard
In this episode of Vanguard Radio, Marcello Sukhdeo talks about the delay in Canada’s new defence policy, also he touches on a new military research program that aims to model artificially intelligent systems after the brains of living creatures and shares a snippet of an interview that he did with Commissioner Hutchinson of the Canadian Coast Guard.
New defence policy
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan announced that the new defence policy which was expected this week would be released on June 7.
This will be after the Prime Minister attends a meeting with other NATO leaders in Brussels on May 25.
This week the Defence Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister will hold scheduled talks in Washington with the Trump administration. This move has infuriated many from the opposition including Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose who said, “I know the chamber has not seen it, members of Parliament have not seen it, and the military has not seen it.”
“Why do Washington insiders get privileged access to Canadian defence policies before the Canadian public does and before the Canadian military does?” she said in question period.
Currently, Canada spends less than one per cent of GDP on defence, which is way below NATO’s target of two per cent. So, it will be interesting to see what the increase will be like when new defence policy is released on June 7th.
AI to model brains
A new military research program in the US aiming to model artificially intelligent systems after the brains of living creatures. The reason - biological systems don't completely freeze up when they encounter a new situation, but computers often do.
When an organism encounters a new environment or situation, it relies on past experience to help it make a decision. Artificial intelligence, on the other hand, relies on data, and if it hasn’t encountered a specific situation before or don’t have the date then it can’t select the next step.
The program named the Defense Advanced Research Projects Activity is searching for technology that constantly updates its decision-making framework to merge experience and new “lessons learned” to situations it encounters instead to what is being done today, that is to retrain the machine learning’s system with new relevant data sets relevant to manage the situation, by erasing the previous programming in favor of the new data.
Interview with Commissioner Hutchinson
Snippet of an interview with the Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, Jeffery Hutchinson on his focus and vision of the Canadian Coast Guard and as compared to that of his predecessor.
In this show, Marcello Sukhdeo talks about the call by the Senate’s defence committee to scrap the purchase of Boeing Super Hornets, also he touches on the grilling of Defence Minister Sajjan and developing the super soldier.
The Senate's defence committee is recommending that the Trudeau government forget about buying an interim fleet of Boeing’s Super Hornet fighters and instead look at replacing the entire fleet of CF-18s.
The Senate committee said that the interim Super Hornet purchase would hinder more than help. They are urging the federal government to hold a quick competition to pick a permanent solution for Canada’s next fighter plane and make a decision by end of June, 2018.
A few weeks ago, the same committee released another report which reveals that our current defence spending is at an historic low — at around 0.88 per cent of gross domestic product. The committee recommends that the federal government lay out a plan to increase spending to two per cent of GDP over an 11-year period.
This report is not binding on the federal government and in the past, the previous administrations have ignored what Senate committees say. But, given what is going on currently in the political realm, with the Trump administration really pushing allies on defence spending, we can see what the Senate committee is recommending may push the federal government to increase defence spending.
The minister and his fellow Liberal MPs are trying to shift the conversation and by blaming the conservatives of inconsistent investment in defence over the years.
MPs on the other hand are trying to make the case that he should no longer serve as Defence Minister. The motion says, “the House has lost confidence in the Minister of National Defence’s ability to carry out his responsibilities on behalf of the Government since, on multiple occasions the Minister misrepresented his military service and provided misleading information to the House.”
A vote on the matter is expected anytime soon and it looks like Liberal majority in the Commons will vote for the motion to not pass.
In the battlefield, maintaining a competitive advantage not only requires sound military strategy and weaponry, but also a consistently high degree of performance by soldiers, operating in multi-dimensional roles.
To get to the level of super soldiers, military leaders and defence experts are looking to enhance the critical, social, cultural and ethical skills and knowledge of soldiers to improve overall military performance.
This subject will be addressed at the twelfth annual Kingston Conference on International Security (KCIS).
The two-day event has six panels that will delve into overcoming human limitations, emerging technologies to successfully accelerate the physical limits of troops, processing and analyzing information for optimal decision making in operational environments.
The panels on the second day will include increasing social, cultural, and gender-based awareness, the multiple dimensions of resilience and how we should approach military performance enhancement.
This event will take place from June 12 to 14 in Kingston, Ontario. If you would like to know more, please go here.
The major challenges of body-worn cameras
In this episode, Marcello Sukhdeo talks about body-worn camera technology and the benefits and challenges of it. Also, he shares the latest Vanguard's game changers that will be published in the Apr/May issue.
Over the recent months and years, we have seen incidents of the use of force by law enforcement officers triggering a public outcry and civil rights concerns.
Many police services have started experimenting with body-worn cameras to help protect their officers while having a record of their interactions with the public.
But this according to an article written by Valarie Findlay there is uncertainty about how much body-worn cameras will help with officers' interactions with the public — and whether it will improve the behaviours of both the public and police officers in all situations?
Recently Ottawa Police Services announced they will be launching a body-worn camera pilot project to test the effectiveness of this technology.
But the question to ask is: Are Canadian law enforcement organizations — and the public — ready for the challenges that come with the technology?
To get the answer we need to take a look at the early body-worn camera programs, such as the one with Devon and Cornwall Police (UK). The focus was on getting evidence and preserving victim first-disclosure. Also, to reduce public complaints and inappropriate behaviours while being a tool to reduce the use of force.
In the U.S., for example, the demand for body-worn cameras and rapid adoption have ramped up as a result of increased racial conflicts and race-related shootings in interactions with police. In in the U.S. in 2013, about 95 per cent of the 17,500 state and local law enforcement agencies were either committed to body cameras or had completed their implementation. That's a high percentage.
Many of these pilot programs have produced data indicating high success rates, but what does the research say? Studies showed that body-worn cameras did improve complaints and interactions, but further examination of the data revealed that some officers wore cameras only half of the time, on the positive side, complaints were resolved quickly due to the accessibility of video evidence.
As the acceptance of this technology by the public and by officers grows, there are concerns over privacy.
Privacy and the cost to implement and sustain this program are the main challenges that the body-worn camera project faces.
For Canadian law enforcement organizations, they are in a good position to glean lessons learned in the U.S. and the U.K. before implementing and by then the cost of this technology and deployment will hopefully be more affordable to warrant implementation.
Vanguard's Game Changers
· Len Anderson, CEO of Renaissance Repair and Supply and Terra Nova Eng
· Philippe Dupuis, President of Precision 3D
· Duane Barry, VP of Business Development and acting Managing Director of QinetiQ Canada
For the full interviews, go to VanguardCanada.com and click on the Game Changers tab.