Newsletter - RUSI Vancouver

Highlights of the December 12 Newsletter

World War II:  Dec. 13 - 19, 1942
John Thompson Strategic Analyst - Quotes from his book “Spirit Over Steel”
The War Diary of C31 L/Sgt CD Phelan, A Battery, RCHA 1939 - 1945
Edited by BGen (ret’d) Robert P (Bob) Beaudry CD
      Chapter 38. The Gothic Line
The Digital Age and Joint Targeting
Daniel Landry - Aug. 14, 2017
Newsletter Posters

Vancouver Welsh Men's Choir, Sounds of Christmas - Various dates, Dec. 2 - 16

The Band of the 5th (BC) Field Regiment - Dec. 17

CLICK HERE to Download the complete December 12 RUSI Vancouver Newsletter  (.pdf file)

Robert W. Mackay's Newsletter "Forces with History"

November 21

I had intended to have this, the 100th issue of Forces With History, deal with the upcoming centennial of the 1918 Battle of Moreuil Wood, but reality has intervened.

Somewhere in the South Atlantic the Argentine navy’s ARA SAN JUAN is in trouble. She may be still on the stormy surface, her communication systems out of action. She may be in that shallow band of the sea, from the surface to 300 metres, where she can survive for a time. Or, worst of all but increasingly likely, she lies somewhere below with her crew of 44.

San Juan is a diesel-electric submarine, similar in many ways to the RCN’s Victoria-class. She is a TR-1700, built in Germany in the early 1980s. Her length over-all is 216 feet (Victorias 230), displacement 2200 tons (Victorias 2400); surfaced and dived speed slightly higher than the Victorias; with similar armament of six 21-inch torpedo tubes.

Submarines of every class are vulnerable. When dived they are neutrally buoyant, so as to neither sink nor surface in their narrow operating range, from periscope depth to a few hundred metres. An unexpected leak, a burst pipe or fitting, or a wave through an open hatch on the surface can mean a life-or-death situation. It was the latter circumstance that put HMCS CHICOUTIMI at risk during her first Atlantic crossing and resulted in the death of one of her officers.

Nations, navies, and especially submariners the world over are hoping for the best. Ships, aircraft, and surveillance systems, including those of former enemies, are helping with the search. Here’s hoping they can pull off a miracle.

November 3

Much in various Canadian news outlets these days is Parliament’s passage of Bill S-226, the so-called Magnitsky Act. Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer who ran afoul of Vladimir Putin and his thuggish cronies by questioning a theft of private property valued in the hundreds of millions.

Magnitsky worked for Bill Browder, American-born owner of a large hedge fund, Hermitage Capital Management. Browder has written an expose of the Russians’ jailing and killing of Mr. Magnitsky, RED NOTICE: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice.

Since Magnitsky’s death, Browder has led international efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice. The US was the first country to pass a Magnitsky law thanks to the efforts of Senator John McCain among others. Canada has now done so as well, and is losing no time in putting the law to work, announcing measures against Russian and Venezuelan individuals. (The Act is not directed solely against Russia.)

RED NOTICE is highly recommended. It reads like a spy novel, but reveals much about the Putin regime—none of it positive, to put mildly. Interestingly, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chrystia Freeland, features in the story from her days as a reporter in Moscow.

September 14

Followers of Canada's defence department have been whipsawed by the latest news.

First out of the gate, a very positive item from the RCN's point of view. The silly idea of naming warships after land battles has been shelved, and the eventual future fleet replenishment and supply ships will be christened HMCS PROTECTEUR and PRESERVER respectively, the names proudly carried by their predecessors. And that earns the naming committee a BRAVO ZULU from this corner.

Not positive, and very negative, is the ongoing intention of the government to buy interim fighter aircraft. These planes, if the plan is carried out, will chew through billions of dollars that could be used to accelerate the assessment and purchase of the replacements for the entire fleet of fighter aircraft. Not to mention adding a third class of fighter to further complicate training, maintenance, and efficiency of the air force.

For a little lighter relief, check out more photos taken at the Strathcona's Mounted Troop in Comox in late August.

August 21

Fair-goers at the Comox Valley Exhibition will see a thundering exhibition of horsemanship and long-lost cavalry arts this coming weekend, August 25th to 27th. The Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) Mounted Troop will perform at the exhibition grounds at 6 pm nightly.

The famed troop, which is privately funded but manned by regular LSH(RC) troopers, will feature a special feature: authentic World War I uniforms, in place of their traditional scarlets.

I'll be attending the Saturday performance, and look forward to meeting members of the troop. And not entirely coincidentally, my publisher has arranged for a number of copies of "Soldier of the Horse", my novel based on my father's WW I exploits, to be available at The Laughing Oyster bookstore in Courtenay.

August 2

The following excerpt was copied from a tattered sheet in a plain brown envelope pushed over the transom in the Forces With History editorial office. Its provenance is unknown; perhaps readers will have thoughts on the matter.

PM: “Yes, minister?”

MND: (Arm twitching, apparently fighting the impulse to salute)  “A couple of things, sir.”

PM: (Balancing on two hands on the front lip of his desk)  “Go ahead.”

MND: (Takes a nervous step back)  “About the F-thirty—er, fighter replacement program, sir. We could probably make a decision now, given the voluminous studies done by other countries.”

PM: (Now in the lotus position, eyes gently closed)  “Come now, minister. Surely you realize we need a made-in-Canada decision, done in the Canadian way. Even common knowledge is that haste makes waste. Not to mention that the deficit is bigger than ever. No, a five year study should do it.”

(Eyes open, he frowns.)  “I asked you to be agile, minister.”

MND: (Shifting from foot to foot)  “I’ve been thinking about the navy’s new surface combatants. Warships, right? We’ve started a competition for design bids. I’d like to get on with it.”

PM: (Frown deepens.)

MND: (Swallows, clears throat.)  “Perhaps we could leave the process open-ended? Keep everyone guessing for a few more years?”

PM: (Eyes shining.)  “Well done, minister. That’s what I call agile thinking. Sunny ways, my friend!”



* P. S.You're entitled to a free ebook when you buy a paperback copy

CLICK HERE for "Forces with History" Archives

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RUSI Vancouver members gather for lunch on Wednesdays at 12:00 Noon at the Officers' Mess of the 15th Field Regiment (RCA) located in the Bessborough Armouries, 2013 West 11th Avenue, Vancouver, BC.




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