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The official website of Paul Franklin: a father, veteran, activist, motivational speaker, and proud Canadian.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Canadians pick peacekeeping over combat

A recent Globe and Mail article asked the simple question do Canadians want our troops in conflict or peacekeeping?  

The overall consensus was for peacekeeping (only 21 per cent of Canadians rated overseas combat missions as an important role for the military).
That's obvious but the real questions are being avoided. 

Peace building?
Peace support operations?
Combat missions?
Conflict resolution?

In 1956 Canada became part of the first peacekeeping missions that we as the people of Canada are so proud of.  Peacekeeping is not a neutral occurrence; countries, diplomats and armed forces go to these types of places to help secure peace, separate belligerent parties and even to uphold treaty commitments.  The first peacekeeping operation came about as Britain lost face and was losing in the Suez Crisis.  Canada as a close ally allowed them to walk away and still have a reliable ally in its place.  Egyptian forces often complained that the Canadian Forces replacing the UK forces had a bias in the implementation of peace and security.  The UK style uniforms from units such as the Kings Own Rifles and Princes Patrica's Canadian light Infantry did not help sell the Canadian independence and moral authority espoused by the UN that, instead, came over time and through each soldiers efforts and experience.

Canada is good at peacekeeping because it brings to the table a certain moral authority that other countries truly understand and expect.  Now we find ourselves as 55th (out of 108 troop contributing countries 2006) involved in UN missions.  Canada's involvement in the war in Afghanistan (approved by the UN) but now under NATO mandate has taken its toll both financially and in personnel since October of 2001.  The CF is in much better shape than it was in 2001 no longer wearing green in a desert, no longer driving small jeeps with no armour protection we now find us as one of the worlds most highly trained, well equipped fighting forces in the world.  But one of the costs is the traditional UN peacekeeping mandate.

The question is now that we this force what do we do with it?
Is our job to force parties to stop fighting?
Force parties to stop genocide?
Prevent invasion and stop it when it occurs?
Kill or immobilize leadership that a UN body or our allies find unacceptable?

Do we as a western power go into a sovereign nation and force our belief structure on the local populace?
The easy answer is of course we don't.

The reality is much more complex when we put names to places.
Do we go into Darfur to stop the tyrannical regime of Sudan from authorizing genocide against its own people?

When Southern Sudan votes on independence in January 2011 are we prepared for the outcomes?
A2Z Southern Sudan Map and Statistics

If the South becomes independent and is Christian and tribal African and the north is Arab and Muslim does that matter to the outcome?  
The oil is in the South and all financial gains go through the north mainly to Chinese, European and Canadian companies (Tailsman energy sold off its shares in the south in 2003).
Do we call for action from governments and the business sector to ensure that Sudan’s oil wealth contributes to peace and equitable development?
Does this change our response?

What do we as Canadians do now that there is a warrant for arrest for the president of Sudan Omar al-Bashir for war crimes in Sudan (March 2009)?
Do we invade Sudan?

Do we help the African Union peace support operations?

Grizzly APC
Do we send the special forces in and capture the president?

Do we support the Southern Independence vote?

This is but one country and the complex issues that surround it.

What of Yemen, Somalia, ensuring Kenya's borders are secure, ensuring Macedonia does not fall back under Serbian control, Central Asian republics, the issues of the Chinese Muslim population in the Western deserts, the military regime of Bangladesh, North Korea, the Congo and its own horrors, ensuring that peace remains in Rwanda, Madagascar and the problems of the military coup government destroying the ecology, Haiti and its corruption, its economy, Venezuela and its military push and nuclear ambitions, Israel and Palestine, and a powerful group of middle East countries that are flexing their political muscle.

These are just some of the challenges that the world now faces, it is no longer easy to just say peacekeeping or combat missions.  

Paul Franklin
MCpl (ret)

Some definitions from the UN:
"Peacekeeping refers to the prevention of further conflict between parties. The deployment of peacekeepers, both international military and civilian personnel, occurs once a cease-fire has been negotiated and requires the consent of the parties to the conflict. In general, peacekeepers are deployed in order to monitor the implementation of the cease-fire and to oversee the resolution of conflict. Peacekeepers may also be asked to assist in a number of additional tasks, including promoting human security, disarming opponents, repatriating refugees, providing electoral support, strengthening the rule of law, protecting the delivery of humanitarian relief, and train local police forces.

Peacemaking, on the other hand, refers to peaceful efforts to stop a conflict or prevent its spread by bringing hostile parties to an agreement. These efforts are usually peaceful in nature; they incorporate diplomatic techniques such as facilitation, mediation, and arbitration. Peacemaking occurs prior to or during a conflict with the objective of negotiating a resolution to the conflict.

While both terms are different, they remain integrally related. Both peacemaking and peacekeeping efforts provide a strong foundation for post-conflict peace building, and help to prevent the re-emergence of violence."
UN Associations Canada

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

F-35 Lighting Fighter Jets and Some Hard Choices

Open Comment to the current Liberal leadership:
If the F-35 purchase of 65 fighter jets isn't right due to costs then say so.  

Find an alternative and be positive.  The CF-18's need to be replaced.

Should we buy the Super Hornet? (F-18 E/F a 4th generation fighter 1970's design)
The SAAB Gripen? (a 4th generation fighter)

Or should we look at getting out of NORAD and NATO air defence and just buy missiles (aka BOMARC... although they were nuclear tipped)?

Nuclear defence worked in the 1950's why not now?  Nuclear defence is cheap and the chance of ever using them is minimal so if we are to look at saving money then this may be an option.   Do we pull out of NATO or NORAD?  Space based defence systems?
If the questions are uncomfortable than good.
Suddenly several high tech fighters don't look so bad when the real options are on the table.

Honest debate instead of reaction is all Canadians are looking for.

Members of the CF and vets are frightened of the past... we can not return to it.  The CF of the future has a chance to continue to do good work around the world as a highly trained well equipped force that is willing to do the tough missions. Canada can be the strong middle power that stands on the principles of the women and kids of Afghanistan, the people of Darfur, the Muslims in Bosnia, peace and security in Europe and in North America.  Hard decisions are part of a politicians life... make them.  

We stand in front of the bullets and the explosions so that you don't have to. 

All we ask is the equipment to do the job.  

Look at our history... governments can fall over decisions like this.  The military is always an easy tool for political gain but the consequences can by dire.

(In 1961, the RCAF obtained 66 CF-101 Voodoo aircraft, one of the American designs the RCAF originally rejected, to serve in the role originally intended for the Avro Arrow. The controversy surrounding this acquisition, and Canada's acquiring nuclear weapons for the Voodoos and BOMARCs eventually contributed to the collapse of the Diefenbaker government in 1963.)

I will like to post part of an article that Iggy wrote in 2007 in regards to his first approval of the Iraq war and now his reflections on it.  I think his comments are worthy of note as we in the CF and Canada as a whole suffered under the cutbacks to the military that only a war in Afghanistan and a leader like Gen Hillier took to rebuild the CF we have today.

"I’ve learned that acquiring good judgment in politics starts with knowing when to admit your mistakes.  The philosopher Isaiah Berlin once said that the trouble with academics and commentators is that they care more about whether ideas are interesting than whether they are true. Politicians live by ideas just as much as professional thinkers do, but they can’t afford the luxury of entertaining ideas that are merely interesting. They have to work with the small number of ideas that happen to be true and the even smaller number that happen to be applicable to real life. In academic life, false ideas are merely false and useless ones can be fun to play with. In political life, false ideas can ruin the lives of millions and useless ones can waste precious resources. An intellectual’s responsibility for his ideas is to follow their consequences wherever they may lead. A politician’s responsibility is to master those consequences and prevent them from doing harm."

"I’ve learned that good judgment in politics looks different from good judgment in intellectual life. Among intellectuals, judgment is about generalizing and interpreting particular facts as instances of some big idea. In politics, everything is what it is and not another thing. Specifics matter more than generalities. Theory gets in the way. The attribute that underpins good judgment in politicians is a sense of reality. “What is called wisdom in statesmen,” Berlin wrote, referring to figures like Roosevelt and Churchill, “is understanding rather than knowledge — some kind of acquaintance with relevant facts of such a kind that it enables those who have it to tell what fits with what; what can be done in given circumstances and what cannot, what means will work in what situations and how far, without necessarily being able to explain how they know this or even what they know.” Politicians cannot afford to cocoon themselves in the inner world of their own imaginings. They must not confuse the world as it is with the world as they wish it to be. They must see Iraq — or anywhere else — as it is."
Michael Ignatieff 
New York Times Magazine 

The world as it is and will be.....

Chinese FC-1 and Pakistani JF-17 fighter

Chinese 5th generation stealth fighter under development.

Chinese H -10 stealth bomber (under development)
MIG 1.42 (Russian) 5th Generation stealth fighter
T-50 Sukhoi (Russian) PAK -FA 5th Generation stealth fighter.
Russian UAV Stealth bomber.

TU160 Blackjack (with cruise missile attached over Norwegian Coast 2010)
TU160 Blackjack  (Russian upgraded Strategic Bomber of 2025)
PAK- DA (Future Russian Stealth bomber).
Iranian stealth fighter (Light Combat Aircraft)
Iranian cruise missiles:
X55 and BM- 25 (both nuclear capable and with 3000 kms range)
H-55 AS-15 Kent 2008 G1.jpg

Each country has a chance at greatness but  mistakes of the past must not and can not be repeated.

Leadership is not a text book answer it must be earned.

Paul Franklin
MCpl (ret)

F- 35 ( JSF CTOL 5th generation) cost $96 million each. (Israeli purchase).
F- 22 (Raptor 5th generation) $361 million each (not available for foreign purchase).

F - 16 A/B cost $25 million each. (Taiwan purchase)
F -16 E/ F (Block 60) cost $80 million each.
F - 16 I cost $45 million each.
Comparison of the F-16, F-35, and F-22

Super Hornet (F-18) cost $49.9 million each.
JAS - 39 (Gripen) cost $37.5 million each.
F -15 E (Strike Eagle) cost $108 million each.
Dassualt Rafale C cost $62 million each.
Dassualt Rafale M cost $ 68 million each.
Euro Fighter Typhoon cost $118 million each.
IPB Image
Su 27 (Flanker) Series
J-10 (FC -1)
F-16 E/F (Block 60)

SU- 27 cost $30 million each.
SU- 35 cost $45 million to $65 million each.
PAK -FA (T 50 Sukhoi 5th generation) cost $100 million each.

FC -1 (Chinese 4th generation)  JF - 17 Thunder (Pakistan) cost $17 million each.
J - 10 (Chinese 5th generation) cost $28 million each.

Although these aircraft were all developed beginning in the late 1980s (5th Generation), and for broadly similar missions, there is no common ratio between R&D and acquisition costs.

Below is  piece from an Australian website and showcases some of the needs that the ADF is now facing.  They have chosen the Super Hornet (F-18) but as you can see many feel that it isn't good enough.

"Australia is however pursuing the opposite path in its planning for the future 
region, acquiring 'interim' F/A-18F Super Hornets, and seeking the Joint Strike 
Fighter long term, neither of which are competitive against advanced Flanker variants."

"The new Su-35S is labelled a “4++ Generation”  derivative of the baseline Su-27S 
Flanker B. It is a comprehensive  redesign of the aircraft's systems, and employs a 
supercruise capable 117S variant engine. Depicted the second prototype during 
flight test. The Su-35S is expected to be the last Flanker variant to be mass 
produced before the PAK-FA enters full rate production."

"Reacting to the proliferation of the Flanker, Japan is seeking to acquire the F-22A 

Raptor. South Korean public debate shows an increasing interest in acquiring the 
F-22A, for the same reasons Japan seeks it."

Worst cities in Canada for Disabled travellers.

I have travelled throughout Canada, the UK, Australia and the United States both in my job with the Canadian Forces and with my charity.  As my travels have taken to three continents I'd like to share some of my thoughts on travelling as a disabled person.

Canada as a new and modern country has great access to hotels, shops and transportation.  That being said there are a few cities that need help.

1. Montreal
As far as cities go the downtown core of Montreal is quite distressing as a disabled person.  The sidewalks are in very poor shape (they were cleaned up for the 1976 Olympics and haven't been fixed since then) and the notorious traffic is a hazard even for the most able of pedestrians.  The metro is all but inaccessible but the pubs on St Catherine's are generally easy to get into. The underground is a complex path of ramps and confusion although it is better than attaching a plow on the front of your chair and attempting the streets in winter.

2. Halifax
I don't have many bad things to say about Halifax as a city that defiantly tries to do its best with accessibility.  Ramps to stores, handicap access in pubs and restaurants is all generally good.  The hard part is that its built on a hill and if you start your day at the citadel by mid day you will find yourself in the properties. Hills are the killer of dudes in wheelchairs or with fake legs.  All this being said there are some great pubs at the waterfront and its something that maybe St. Johns could do..... pubs at the waterfront as when you leave George Street you tend to roll downhill.

3. Quebec City
Old city and the lower city all have great access to all the great areas of this tourist destination (they cater to the cruise ship crowd which is demanding in accessibility issues).  The same comment about Halifax is even worse for Quebec City in that its built on a steep hill.  Nothing you can do about it but steer downhill when you have a pint or two.  In Quebec at least they have the Funicular which is free for wheelchair dudes and puts you back at the top of the hill.  Kind of like a ski hill.  The downtown and the rest of Quebec City all have poor access to businesses and other areas and again the traffic is a concern when you sit at below a drivers eye line.

4. Ottawa
You would think that as the nations capital they would be the prime example of accessibility.  This is unfortunately not true.  From some of the slowest elevators in existence to bathrooms located invariably in basements the challenges of having fun and travelling in Ottawa is tough.  A point of contention is that any new restaurant or shop should have a ramp to access the store.  Generally in the market area the store fronts are only one or two steps which for dudes with legs is easy but for others it can be a challenge.  As the population ages it would behove the city to ensure that any new construction or renovation falls under accessibility guidelines.  Although this is a city that has talked of light rail for the last 20 years so my expectations are low.

5. Toronto
The downtown area is fairly new and one would expect that accessibility in this world class city would be of a top concern.  Many business towers are either inaccessible or they place the ramps on the backsides in alleys, bathrooms in basements, curbs that are too high to roll over or climb up.  I always stay downtown and it is always frustrating trying to find a restaurant or pub that I can either get in or have to plan at least one bathroom break away. The TTC is generally accessible except for the trolleys but there is always a bus or subway station close by so no worries.

6. Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria
Why did I group all these Western cities together is there some sort of bias?
The real reason is that they are flat.

Most of these cities are new and have a good infrastructure so curbs are easy to use, hotels, restaurants, pubs are easy to get into and the shopping is accessible.  All this even though in places like Vancouver and Victoria there are many old stores and they have made the decision to allow disabled people the ability to shop and enjoy which of course adds to their bottom line.

As the population ages the cities at the top of the list are going to have to make decisions about how they are going to incorporate accessibility guidelines into their new builds and their renovations.  Places like St. Johns, Halifax and Quebec City are examples of at least trying in a hard environment that is not forgiving to disabled people.  Hills are the fact of life.  That being said any new buildings or renovations should allow access.  Disabled people are money earners, pensioners, retired, and students and if companies of the future want to have a profitable business it will benefit them to open their doors, have ramps and accessible bathrooms.  It only makes common sense.

Paul Franklin
MCpl (ret)
Fundraising Chair
Franklin Fund - Amputee Coalition of Canada

Sophia Anderson a close friend of mine thought I should mention a few more points and I have to totally agree with her.

"Sophie Anderson 
It's a great start Paul! But, there's definitely a lot more to be said about accessibility, which is brutal in Grande Prairie - from either wheelchair or a parent with a stroller ... narrow doorways, iinability to manoever in an entrance or public washroom, wheelchair access doors not turned on or the buttons are in a very inappropriate location, stores with stock all over the floor so aisles are so narrow you can't actually get through, ... to lack of snow and ice removal on sidewalks and ramps to stores (one store piled all the snow from the ramp at the base of the ramp, so you couldn't access it from the parking lot!). We have so much further to go ..."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Association Canadian Orthopaedic Issue 86

War has always been an impetus for change. As wars advance and we produce new technology to kill people, we also produce new methods and tactics to save people.
The Canadian experience in Afghanistan is no exception. I joined the military as a medic in 1998 and we were taught St John first aid methodology. As we got to the next level of training, it was the civilian paramedic programs that gave us the knowledge to save lives. All medics are trained to treat according to the way we fight; unfortunately it is always based on the last war. The Canadian Forces (CF) last war was the conflict in Korea, with some smattering of ideas from the Vietnam War. After September 11, the CF was tasked to send troops to Kandahar; the homeland of the Taliban and its Arab guests, Al Queda. As part of our training, an American gave a brief one hour lecture on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC). The lecture, although forgotten by many, was not forgotten by the medics and those with medical knowledge. They realized very quickly that this was an important and revolutionary approach to battlefield casualty care4.
TCCC was developed by Capt. Frank Butler of the US Navy in 1996 and is now in use in the most advanced western professional armies. TCCC teaches that the best medicine is fire superiority; in other words "bullets down range". Our job is to first kill the enemy or make the battle move from the current position, so that the wounded can be assessed. When bullets and explosions are happening, there is no time for advanced airway methods or even spinal precautions. These treatments have to wait until after the fire fight, or after the wounded soldier has been moved to a safe location2. Within TCCC there are three phases: 1) Care Under Fire, 2) Tactical Field Care, and 3) Casualty Evacuation. In the Care Under Fire phase, we focus on what kills a person the quickest. statistically, blood loss is the number one killer of treatable injuries, followed by tension pneumothorax and airway concerns2.
Tactical Field Care occurs only when the patient and the medic are in a safe position. TCCC teaches that all extremity bleeds should have a tourniquet. Once the main causes of death in combat are addressed, then the medic can fall back to the traditional ABC methodology and secondary survey and stabilization2,4.
The wounded soldier is then evacuated by helicopter directly to one of the best battle field hospitals in the world (Role 3 facility at Kandahar Air Base). The aim is to reduce time spent on the roads due to the enemy threat and risk of improvised explosive devices4. Casualty evacuation directly to the Role 3 allows the precise surgical and medical teams to take over.

Franklin_Figure1G-wagon driven by MCpl Franklin after attack by a suicide bomber.                     

Canada has had a challenging time determining the best placement of TCCC and the two day introduction course called Combat First Aid (CFA). After the friendly fire incident in 2002, Cpl. Chris Kopp wrote a Briefing Note telling the CF of this program from the US and how it was used on our troops in the incident and the decisions that were made that directly saved lives4. Not because they used their traditional training, but because they went against it. In the After Action review of the incident, TCCC was singled out and it was recommended that more troops be placed on the course. However, reports in 2007 indicated that "the director of the military's health services branch, Col. Maureen Haberstock, has criticized the proposal, saying combat casualty care is training that should be reserved for 'exceptional' soldiers." Lt.-Cmdr. Ian Torrie, a physician expert in combat casualty training, was further quoted as saying in an interview: "The people who are going to get this extra training, you really want your brightest person. You really don't want everybody to have it. Some of the skills taught, if performed unnecessarily or incorrectly can be harmful, or even fatal."1
However the medics that worked in the field knew the value of TCCC and began to teach CFA. They knew that in the midst of a fire fight you could not count on having the best and brightest standing beside you. You want everyone to have the training required to save lives, including medics who know how to shoot and infantry who know TCCC. The field medics began to teach the troops the skills of TCCC to give them the medical tools necessary for survival.

 Helicopter evacuation of wounded soldier.

From a personal perspective, on January 15, 2006 while driving in a four vehicle convoy, my G-wagon was hit by a car carrying 56 kilos of explosive. The suicide blast killed Glen Berry, the VIP in my vehicle, and severely wounded myself and two other soldiers. The training that we had given our troops saved our lives. I am now a double above the knee amputee and was saved by Cpl. Jake Petton who put a tourniquet on my shattered left leg. The other two soldiers who were in the vehicle are still serving in the CF despite head injuries. They survived because of the interventions of their fellow infantry while myself, their medic, was wounded on the ground.

Combat First Aid is now given to all troops going overseas and we are seeing, as a direct result of this and the advanced TCCC courses (given to soldiers and medics that train the Afghan army and Police), that fewer CF troops are dying of wounds. If we use historical examples to compare casualty rates for the War in Afghanistan, the expectation is 3500 wounded and just about 340 fallen; instead we have 660 wounded and 128 fallen3. The reason for the low numbers is the quick reaction that the leadership has taken in bringing armoured vehicles and equipment into the fight and the acceptance that TCCC saves lives.

Arguments over the value of TCCC have fallen to the wayside.
MCpl Paul Franklin in 2005 prior to the incident.

Paul Franklin
Master Corporal
Medical Technician
Casualty Care, Land Forces Western Area

  1. Brewster M., Military says only brightest soldiers should have advanced first-aid training, CNEWS, War on Terror, 11 April 2007, http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/War_Terror/2007/04/11/pf-3982853.html (original link) currrent link: Canoe News, "War on Terror 2007".
  2. Butler Capt F., Hagmann LTC J., Butler ENS G., Tactical Combat Casualty Care in Special OperationsMilitary Medicine, 161, Suppl:3, 1996.
  3. Franklin, MCpl. P. CAS SUPPORT BRIEFING NOTE V2: Actual Casualty Rates for Task Force 1-08. 26 August, 2008, Internal CF Briefing Note.
  4. Kopp, Cpl. C., Introduction to Tactical Combat Casualty Care, Version 1, 17 August 2007, Internal CF Publication.

If you are interested in learning more about Tactical medicine or are wanting to take a course please contact.

Chris Kopp MSM CD
Canadian Tactical & Operational Medical Solutions

Paul Franklin
MCpl (ret)
Fund Raising Chair
Franklin Fund- Amputee Coalition of Canada