Learning to Kill: What Canadians' Tax Dollars Did on Their Summer Vacation:

Canada Manufacturing the New "Hunter, Killer, Survivor" Copters Bound for Iraq, Afghanistan

AUGUST 11, 2005 -- It can not only "track its prey, it can move in for the kill." It features a 2,000 rounds-per-minute machine gun, Hellfire missiles, and space for up to 38 tubes of Advanced Precision Kill Weapons Systems (APKWS), which promise a "lower cost per kill" than the other leading brands.

And it's being built right here in peace-lovin' Canada. The Bell Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, advertised on the company's website as "Hunter. Killer. Survivor," is, according to a company news release, able to "provide the [U.S.] Army with exceptional mission versatility and with the flexibility to accomplish armed

reconnaissance, light attack, troop insertion, and special operations missions with a single aircraft. The Bell ARH will also provide greater deployability, interoperability and survivability."

The helicopters will be put together in the corporation's Mirabel, Quebec plant before being shipped to the U.S. for completion and delivery.

Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters are an increasingly popular part of the war against Iraq for U.S. forces. According to an article in Flight International, March 16, 2004, the copters are part of an army overhaul of its strategic vision. The article quotes General Richard Cody, the U.S. army's deputy chief of staff for operations, as claiming that what is changing is "the army's propensity to fight more joint operations with helicopters more in the close fight supporting our ground manoeuvre forces for killing, reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition."

The article also notes that the ARHs would replace the Kiowa Warrior copters which, despite the aircraft's limitations, have provided numerous "valuable" lessons on the advantage of using small aerial gunships to support ground units.

By now, it is hoped that Canadians are not terribly surprised by this latest in a decades-long corporate participation in U.S. wars. Indeed, when those warrior gunships head in low and spray a wedding, market, or hospital with bullets, chances are those bullets ripping apart human flesh below are supplied by SNC-TEC, the Quebec-based military manufacturer owned by multinational giant SNC-Lavalin. At their annual general meeting in May, overshadowed by a noisy street protest, CEO Jacques Lamarre pleaded with reporters to call his product "ammunition," not "bullets."

Chances are as well that in Basra and Baghdad, Kabul and Kandahar, machine guns and other rapid-firing weapons supplied by Kitchener, Ontario's Diemaco, Canada's "Centre of Excellence for Small Arms," are pumping out those SNC bullets at the rate of 800 rounds a minute.

"This is not a sporting rifle, and war is not a sporting activity," Harvie Andre, former Associate Minister of War, said in reference to the Diemaco C-7 Rifle.

"If it can be said of a death-dealing weapon, [the C-7] appeared to have no vices when I fired it on the highly sophisticated indoor range at Diemaco...the C-7 fires around 800 rounds a minute," then military affairs reporter Ron Lowman told Toronto Star readers 1986.

Meanwhile, Milton, Ontario's Northstar Aerospace is working to improve the efficiency of another U.S. Army killing machine, the Apache AH-64, that "will facilitate added horsepower without the penalty of added weight." Northstar is providing what it calls "Face Gear" technology, developed with research and development funding support from Technology Partnerships Canada, an agency of Industry Canada.

Described by industry analyst Global Security as the world's "most sophisticated -- and expensive -- attack helicopter," the Apache has been used extensively in Afghanistan and Iraq, highly praised for its deadly nature, and has been implicated in numerous civilian massacres in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bob Hunt, an Army aviation spokesman at the Redstone Arsenal, home of the Army Aviation and Missile Command in Huntsville, Alabama, praises Apache because with it, "You designate the targets, you shoot your missiles, and you turn around and leave. Push the button, shoot and scoot. Big advantages for survivability and lethality."

And what is modern war without real-time surveillance, tracking, and targetting data provided by the space warfare geniuses at COMDEV, the Cambridge, Ontario based manufacturers who won yet another "unspecified" military contract in June worth $8.2 million but "the name of the customer and the satellite program involved cannot be named at this time," according to a company press release. COMDEV was also a corporate consultant to the Pentagon's Vision 2020 document, the hallucinatory wet dream of space warriors predicting the stationing of offensive weapons platforms in the heavens within the next 20 years.

The latest profit-taking on the murder market, traditionally a strong suit of the Canadian business community (Korea and Vietnam did wonders for the industry, and the ongoing nuclear arms build-up provides mega profits for this country's shameful uranium mining and processing industry), provides a backdrop to an even larger part of Canadian complicity in worldwide warmaking: the provision of vast areas of this country for war training camps, as well as government-funded "advances" in killing technology.

At "Defence and Research Development Canada," for example, Canadian scientists continue working feverishly on the burning question which also haunted the minds of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorists: "how do we fit 70 tons of lethality [killing power] into a 20 ton package?"

In Ottawa in June, a major exercise called Coalition Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (CWID) 2005 took place at the space warfare research centre at Shirley's Bay.

"Managed by the U.S. Joint Forces Command and by the Defence Information Systems Agency, CWID 2005 focuses on global solutions for linking agencies and systems involved with homeland security and defence issues," according to a War Dept. press release. The 10-day exercise took place as Canadian General Ray Henault assumed duties as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, thereby becoming NATO's highest-ranking military officer, charged with the task of figuring out where NATO can drop its bombs next.

And every year, the NDP government of Saskatchewan proudly hosts one of the world's largest air warfare "training" exercises, teaching young men and women to drop bombs from thousands of feet up.

This year, the MAPLE FLAG XXXVIII "exercise" included many NATO nations as well as, for the first time, the war-crimes tainted Israeli Air Force. More than 5,000 warriors took part in the six-week training regime.

"Maple Flag provides critically important air combat training for Canadians and our friends and allies," says Col. C.S. "Duff" Sullivan, Wing Commander of 4 Wing Cold Lake in a War Department website puff piece. "The exercise continually strives to provide top-notch training that is relevant and prepares military forces for the

battleground of the future. This year, for example, we introduced moving and time-sensitive targets, thus adding to the realism and challenge of the exercise."

Air crews took part in simulated 10-day "air campaigns" (the nice euphemism for bombing runs) employed over the "vast, unrestricted airspace and more than 640 targets of the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR)."

Writes Lieutenant Sonia "Sonic" Dumouchel-Connock of the Maple Flag Public Affairs squad, "Exercise Maple Flag is one of Canada's contributions to making NATO a strong, combat-capable and ready force.

"The range, the play area [that's right, kids, the "play" area!] with the ground-based threats and Red Air air-threats is very good training," says Capt. Jonas "Nero" Nerell, the aircraft commander of a Swedish Air Force C-130 Hercules transport aircraft that participated in period two of the exercise. "We don't have it in Sweden - which is why we come here to participate in MAPLE FLAG every year."

In a May 12 release, "Sonic" Dumouchel-Connock notes that the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) is "the place to go to conduct air combat training. Covering more than 1 million hectares, the CLAWR covers a good portion of northwestern Saskatchewan and northeastern Alberta-and is part of the larger 4 Wing Low Level Flying Area that spans from British Columbia to Manitoba....The realism and abundance of targets has earned the range the label of 'world's largest Hollywood set'."

Maple Leaf is but a part of the daily air testing that Canada hosts for U.S. military equipment. Canadian airspace has been designated for U.S. training of its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program, enabling the Air Force to play with the concept of pilotless bombers which, if crashed, do not produce the politically sensitive need for a body bag.

In 2004, Nova Scotia hosted testing of the U.S. Air Force V-22 Osprey, which according to the Pentagon is "the most flexible, capable, and revolutionary combat troop transport aircraft in the world. It will be the weapon of choice for the full spectrum of combat."

"This war [Iraq] has definitely exposed the need for a V-22," U.S. Lt. Gen. Maxwell C. Bailey was quoted as saying at the time. And so Canada was more than happy to open up some airspace to help fill that need.

"It's fitting that this milestone was reached by Osprey No. 24 on our crucial icing detachment in Canada," said Col. Craig Olson, USAF, V-22 Joint Program Manager.

And so it should come as no surprise that, with a war budget in Canada rapidly approaching $20 billion annually (or $55 million a day), Canada's general's have developed a a freedom to shoot from the lip without any concern about sntimental liberal backlash.

Few would be unfamiliar by now with the bull-in-a-china-shop ravings of Canada's military head Rick Hillier, a soldier's soldier who reminded Canadians that " We are the Canadian Forces and our job is to be able to kill people."

Hillier's comments received support from all political parties, including NDP leader Jack Layton, who found Hillier's foaming at the mouth an "appropriate response" rather than indicative of the need for a quick psychological checkup or at least a rabies shot. The NDP was similarly acquiescent on the new Martin war economy budget.

While Hillier's comments offended the sensibilities of liberal Canadians who prefer to think that the massive amount of money spent annually in this country is for nice things like water purification and handing out blankets (though how a CF-18 bomber is helpful in either is beyond comprehension), it is at least an acknowledgment of what the army IS for. Indeed, few blinked a few years ago when former Canadian general Lewis Mackenzie wrote in the Globe and Mail:

"As much as Canadians would like to ignore the fact, the role of a soldier is to kill as efficiently as possible with the resources available once he is ordered to do so by his government. There are many sidelines to his profession that make us all feel warm and fuzzy...But they are all subordinate to one overriding responsibility, and that is to kill on demand."

So what are we as Canadians to do after our summer of preparations to kill? Perhaps we once again need to look long and hard at our wartime economy. We continue to suffer from a crisis in homelessness (the homeless memorial in downtown Toronto has gone over the 400 mark), a crisis in poverty across the nation, especially on First Nations reserves, environmental pollution (5,800 premature deaths in Ontario each year from poisons in the air), long lists for childcare spaces, long health care waits, student debt, the list goes on.

And yet, billions continue to go down the rathole of Canadian militarism. Excluding money spent on the hyper-paranoid souls at Emergency Preparedness Canada, excluding the paramilitary organizations like the RCMP and major urban police forces, and excluding government subsidies through agencies such as Industry Canada, Canadians are currently forking out, on average, $47 million DAILY for the Canadian war machine.

Perhaps it's time all of us, in all of our communities, tried to imagine a day without the War Dept. What would YOUR community be able to do with $47 million? Imagine it, then make it happen. It seems it truly is time to look towards the kind of campaign that would demilitarize Canada. Imagine the signs that we could put at the border: "Welcome to Canada: One less place training and preparing for war. Have a peaceful trip."

(report from Matthew Behrens of Homes not Bombs--Because Canada should build homes, not blow them up.)