Author Topic: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each  (Read 37977 times)

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Offline Cloud Cover

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #25 on: November 10, 2006, 15:24:50 »
To be honest, the government should have seen this coming. They are going to take the same drubbing for buying 30 excaliber rounds for 5million as they would for buying 1000 for 150 million, so they should have bought 1000 "precision guided tube lauched artillery shells."

I can't figure O'Connor and the Harper government out.
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Offline Babbling Brooks

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #26 on: November 10, 2006, 16:25:34 »
From a former U.S. Army redleg earlier today (http://www.thedonovan.com/archives/006651.html):

Quote
What caught my eye was the price tag. Last I saw on Excalibur was $220K a pop, with a hope for full-rate production to drive it down to $33K (pretty optimistic based on past experience). I did some checking, and $150K is in the neighborhood. What really caught my eye was this:

But the Excalibur costs roughly $100,000 more than a regular shell, and critics like New Democratic MP Dawn Black argue the extra money would be better spent on reconstruction projects.

Heh. Just what is a "regular" projectile to these people? Last I saw a price, oh, 2003 or so, a standard 155mm HE went for $240 w/o fuze. I did some digging, and I found some pricing for some stuff in the works, usually a form of special fuze or add-on guidance package that can go as high as $20K for some long-range navy stuff in the works.

He's still plugged into DoD, so I'd trust his assessment here.

I also think the earlier point that touched on CAS is a good one: PGM's from an M777 are as close as we're going to get to being able to call in our own cavalry over there in the immediate future.  I know it can't replace CAS, but it's better than nothing, and it's a lot cheaper than operating a CF-18.
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Offline dglad

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #27 on: November 10, 2006, 16:52:03 »
We should spend more on reconstruction? Get serious. We need to eliminate the threat otherwise they will blow up all these wonderfull water wells, schools and other infrastructure projects.

Actually, this is one thing I do agree with (the rest of the story is nonsense...it would be criminal to use unguided rounds in situations where precision-guided rounds are called for, are available, but we don't have them because we wanted to save a few bucks).  We DO need to spend more on reconstruction, both in terms of dollars and effort, irrespective of the threat.  The fact is that we may never actually ELIMINATE said threat, so holding back on reconstruction while waiting for that happen could actually undermine the strategic objective of winning over the Afghan people.  Frankly, if we build a school and the Taliban blow it up, who's the bad guy?  If we put in wells for fresh water and the Taliban destroy them, to whom is the sympathy likely to accrue?

To put it another way, the surest way to "eliminate" the threat is to make the Taliban an increasingly unattractive option to the local population (let's see...a school for my children, a clinic to keep my family healthy, new wells for fresh water...or a bunch of misogynistic theocrat-thugs interested only in dictating how I live?  Hmmm....)  After all, the strategic centre of gravity of any insurgency is its support from and credibility with the people.  The military efforts in the meantime can remain focused on containing, dislocating, disrupting and pre-empting the insurgents, and otherwise protecting the reconstruction efforts as much as possible.  The insurgent threat, under these conditions, becomes ever more marginalized and irrelevant until it ceases to be a meaningful threat at all.

For that matter, one could argue that under such a scenario, the Taliban destroying the new schools and wells we build actually contributes directly to our desired end-state....
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #28 on: November 10, 2006, 17:00:28 »
Would it be too cynical to suggest that for $150,000 the artillery finally buys the ability to hit what they are aiming at?  ;)  :warstory:

But really.... the truth of the matter is what others have noted.  As I understand it with a conventional round the farther you shoot the greater the chances that you are going to miss the target.  That means two things:
- having to shoot many more rounds (using up gas in forklifts, trucks, aircraft and boats as well as wearing out barrels, all the aforementioned vehicles and the muscles of the drivers and gunners)
- missing many more times which potentially kills and maims  non-targets as well as creating a lot of damage that costs a lot more to repair than the price of  $500 bullet.  

The only other ways to get the same kind of precision support is from:
- the Tanks (which can't be everywhere in the 5000 sq km area that a pair of M777s can cover with a 40 km range - and make delivery within minutes if not seconds),
- the GMRLS missiles (which we don't have but would be really nice to have)
- or through delivery by air which requires not just an aircraft, pilot and gas but a ground crew and runway which have to be defended.  (Not to mention the Hotel with Hot and Cold running maids for the Air Force).  

Interestingly enough the price of the Excalibur is in the same price bracket as the GMRLS, the Small Diameter Bomb and, I believe, the Hellfire.  All of them are in the $50-150,000 dollar range vs $200 to $2000 for similarly sized dumb rounds.

It isn't just the cost of the round.  That is just the manufacturing cost. Its the cost of manufacturing the round, the cost of transporting it to the target from the factory and the cost of missing - all versus the effect it produces.

Edit: dglad - just read your post while writing mine - there's a lot to be said for that strategy.  How many Afghans could we hire to make mudbricks to rebuild a school (or better yet perhaps set up a cinder-block plant), for the price of an Excalibur?  Not that it is an either or situation - just a matter of how many Excaliburs vs how many bricks.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2006, 17:08:36 by Kirkhill »
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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #29 on: November 10, 2006, 17:14:37 »
I know it's expensive, but I doubt very much it's $150,000 per round.

Hey Colin --
I'm the reporter who filed the story -- and I saw your subsequent post here that you thought it all  a pile of BS -- but on this small point -- allow me to provide my source: The Defence Minister in the House of Commons [Hansard online here http://tinyurl.com/yy7gtq ]

I was the only reporter in the Press Gallery at the time -- about 10 pm. This exchange, in the middle of a four-hour debate, is between Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor and Dawn Black. O'Connor made these comments with the CDS and the Deputy Minister sitting next to him so I assume he knew whereof he spoke.

====
[Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor] Mr. Chair, I am advised that if we have the shells, and when we had the shells, they would cost about $150,000 each.

Ms. Dawn Black: 
    Mr. Chair, I think that indicates we do have the shells. The information was tabled in the House of Commons and I do have the documents here. We spent $5.5 million to get them.


    During the last round of questions, the minister gave us the incremental costs of the mission to 2009, but I would like to know what the full cost is to DND. It is something that his department does track. It is published in the report on plans and priorities. I wonder if he could give us that information now. I have a sense that the minister or the department are lowballing the figures and using rather selective accounting. How much exactly are we spending?

    Hon. Gordon O'Connor: 
    Mr. Chair, before I answer that, I am going to answer the Excalibur question. Apparently we are going to receive three rounds for trial. We have no rounds. That is correct. We have none. We are going to receive three rounds for trial in the next few weeks, and the plan is, in February 2007, to acquire 27 more rounds if these three rounds work out. It is correct at the moment that we have no rounds.

===============

Offline Petard

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #30 on: November 10, 2006, 17:23:23 »
1st of all the main advantage of Excalibur is the accuracy it has at long range. At shorter ranges, say less than 20 Km, M777 is such a stable platform that it is doing a lot better than the stated 50M, but beyond 20 km, Excalibur would be a very useful tool in the box. Lew McKenzie I think was hitting on that in the news.

As for these examples of using GMLRS et al, there are tradeoffs to each, MLRS does not have a sustained fire capability unless you have a lot of them for example. A lot of this has been discussed in another thread
 http://forums.army.ca/forums/index.php/topic,50101.0.html

To me, what the politicians are sniffing around about is a dead end, like so many have said, what is the point of investing in reconstruction if you're not also investing in the capability to protect it? And Excalibur helps to cover that very large area reliably, quickly, and in all weather.

Offline Colin P

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #31 on: November 10, 2006, 17:26:31 »
David
Thanks for the note and I will retract the BS statement, sorry. Having written stuff for my various ministers though, they often repeat only that which is on the briefing note which is in their hand. How much he is involved in directly I would not know. I still find the price tag strangely high, although I understand they have not gone into full scale production.

Offline Petard

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #32 on: November 10, 2006, 17:32:24 »
To David

I was checking your posts during the debate (Tues Night? you must've been blackberrying it I guess), it seems to me the whole thing got started because the Minister of Defence caught the NDP without having their homework done, and they didn't like it.
Dawn Black I believe started off with a question about what the cost was for the Excalibur rounds that had been fired in Afghanistan, and O'Connor was given an "aha" by them since he knew, and so would anyone else if they researched it, that none had even been shipped to theatre.

I think the NDP got miffed at being shown up for not checking their story thoroughly, so this is somewhat of a smoke screen to cover that gaff.

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #33 on: November 10, 2006, 17:36:25 »
....

As for these examples of using GMLRS et al, there are tradeoffs to each, MLRS does not have a sustained fire capability unless you have a lot of them for example. A lot of this has been discussed in another thread
 http://forums.army.ca/forums/index.php/topic,50101.0.html

.....

Understood, accepted and agreed.  :)
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Offline Trinity

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #34 on: November 10, 2006, 18:22:39 »
It saves lives.

How much does it cost to train one soldier
 - pay them
 - training costs (all aspects of training, staff, fuel, ammo, materials, etc)
 - housing/food on course
 - send them overseas


etc...

I'm sure easily each private... on a basic level has had $100,000 invested into them by their second year?

Think about how much has been invested into a Sgt, WO, Capt?  That's a lot of money spent on one person to
have them trained to be on the ground.  Spending $150,000 on one exact round to save their lives seems to
be a good investment. 

So if a section is in trouble... simply put you have a lot of money invested in those troops regardless
of rank and to use this special round seems less like a costly endeavour and more like proper risk management.

All that from a business point of view.  I won't even get into the human factor.
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Offline Teddy Ruxpin

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #35 on: November 10, 2006, 19:25:04 »
We have to be very careful when discussing per round costs of a system not yet in service.  The Minister was very clear - we're buying three rounds at first, then an first batch of 27 if those three rounds work out.

Excalibur is still in low rate developmental production, so these three rounds will be much more expensive than full-rate production rounds, as we're paying some of the developmental costs.  Indeed, the entire US project (for 250000 rounds) was to cost $3 billion - including all the developmental costs.  This works out to $12,000 a round - a big difference, no?

Further to this:

Quote
Raytheon Delivers First Excalibur Production Rounds to the U.S. Army

(Source: Raytheon Co.; issued Oct. 9, 2006  Raytheon press releases at http://www.prnewswire.com/micro/RTNB)

TUCSON, Ariz. --- The Raytheon Missile Systems and BAE Systems Bofors' Excalibur team delivered the first production Excalibur global positioning system-guided 155 mm artillery rounds to the U.S. Army Sept. 19, paving the way for the next series of testing required to field the weapon in theater early next year.

Final assembly of the projectiles occurred at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in McAlester, Okla.

"These production rounds put us closer to providing our soldiers with a cannon-launched, precision projectile to meet the needs of the rapidly evolving operational environment," said Raymond Sicignano, U.S. Army deputy product manager for Excalibur. "Excalibur's accuracy and lethality will bring the howitzer into the 21st century to provide the precision and responsiveness required for operations in heavily populated areas."

The delivery of these Excalibur rounds marks the transition of development testing to production testing and user verification. Most remaining tests are in the hands of soldiers who will fire the projectiles in simulated tactical environments with their assigned equipment. Following the successful completion of acceptance testing and limited user testing, the Army will determine if the rounds are ready for deployment in ongoing operations worldwide.

"Delivery of production Excalibur rounds to the U.S. Army is a significant step forward in the fielding of Excalibur," said Jim Riley, vice president of the Raytheon Land Combat product line. "The world's first GPS-guided artillery round is now in the hands of our soldiers for the kind of testing that only they can do. They will tell us if it is ready for combat."

These projectiles are the initial deliveries from the fiscal year 2005 contract. Deliveries from the fiscal year 2006 contract will begin in March 2007.

The Excalibur program currently is responding to an urgent request from the warfighter to accelerate fielding because of the projectile's better than 10-meter (33 feet) accuracy not available from any other artillery projectile. Because of its accuracy and increased effectiveness, Excalibur reduces the logistical burden for deployed ground forces. It also provides lower collateral damage through its concentrated fragmentation pattern, increased precision and near-vertical descent. Excalibur capability provides an essential tool for our warfighters operating in urban and complex terrain.

Excalibur produces a wide range of effects in all terrains at extended ranges and in all weather conditions. With 155 mm howitzers as part of the standard organization in current operations, Excalibur's precision effects are readily available to small-unit maneuver elements.

My emphasis added.  Sounds a lot like what our plans are, doesn't it?

TR

Edited to add link to Raytheon press release archive.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2006, 19:29:08 by Teddy Ruxpin »
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Offline George Wallace

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #36 on: November 10, 2006, 19:26:35 »
Fighting a war is expensive.......Hell!  Electing a Member of Parliament is even more expensive.  What expenses should we examine next?
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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #37 on: November 10, 2006, 20:39:14 »
Fighting a war is expensive.......Hell!  Electing a Member of Parliament is even more expensive.  What expenses should we examine next?

You want to put a cost on democracy ?

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #38 on: November 10, 2006, 21:05:48 »
DavidAkin,

I'm curious, and I don't mean this in a cynical kind of way, but what prompted the tone of the article?

To me the entire things reads of "Army to spend whackload on new gizmo, Steve Staples says something".

Would it have not been possible to write the article along the lines of "Army invests in new technology to save Afghan and Canadian lives"?

Now this is not a detailed breakdown of the article, nor do I intend to do a line by line theme analysis, but I am just curious as to why a negative rather than supporting tone was adopted in terms of the overall composition?

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #39 on: November 10, 2006, 22:10:41 »
....holding back on reconstruction while waiting for that happen could actually undermine the strategic objective of winning over the Afghan people.  Frankly, if we build a school and the Taliban blow it up, who's the bad guy?  If we put in wells for fresh water and the Taliban destroy them, to whom is the sympathy likely to accrue? ....

On the ground, the residents' sympathy would accrue to us, but.....

Maybe I'm a bit more cynical after the kind of week I've had, but my guess is that if we did this, the story line would be something like:  "If we're building schools, and they get blown up, why are we continuing to build schools?"

And if we continue building schools that the Taliban destroy?  "How many schools will it take to show the policy isn't working?  Are we pouring good money after bad?"

Once a "government can't get it right" story line takes hold, it's hard to shake.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2006, 22:23:46 by milnewstbay »
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Offline dglad

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #40 on: November 10, 2006, 22:46:47 »
On the ground, the residents' sympathy would accrue to us, but.....

Maybe I'm a bit more cynical after the kind of week I've had, but my guess is that if we did this, the story line would be something like:  "If we're building schools, and they get blown up, why are we continuing to build schools?"

And if we continue building schools that the Taliban destroy?  "How many schools will it take to show the policy isn't working?  Are we pouring good money after bad?"

Once a "government can't get it right" story line takes hold, it's hard to shake.

Good point, and something that would have to built into the communications strategy for the Canadian audience.  The spin (and I'm sure you're familiar with spin, Milnewstbay  ;) ) would be along the lines of "brave, dogged Canadian soldiers and reconstruction workers try to bring a better life to the Afghans by building schools, wells, etc., but look at what those Taliban do in response...they wantonly destroy these constructs of civil society...etc, etc...."  This rather lets us seize the moral high ground, which is always a superior fighting position.  The alternative is pretty much interminable combat.  Both are eventually going to tire out the Canadian public.  Which will do it sooner?

And, as for the Afghan audience...well, as I said, we build it, the Taliban destroys it...from the point of view of an Afghan, who's the bad guy?

I would, finally, note that from a pragmatic military point of view, schools, wells, etc. are fixed targets, with known locations, approaches, details of intervisibility, etc.  That's a somewhat different target than a convoy one can shoot at, and then fade into the background, no?
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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #41 on: November 10, 2006, 23:04:53 »
DavidAkin,

I'm curious, and I don't mean this in a cynical kind of way, but what prompted the tone of the article?


I'm not sure what you mean by "the tone".  (And I should point out here that I did not write the article that is quoted at the beginning of this thread. I encourage you to click on the video link to the right of the article at http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20061109/military_shells_061109/20061110/ -- I wrote the script for the video and the article, written by a member of our online team, is based on that script.) 

In any event,  we thought that the simple fact that a single round costs $150,000 was interesting. Period. Posters here doubted it cost that much -- evidence that there's a "gee whiz' factor to the idea that a round could cost that much. So then we started asking a pile of people what they thought of a round that cost that much.

We first asked the Defence Department, through public affairs, at approx 9 am to provide us with a spokesperson, preferably an artillery officer, who could do an on-camera interview to describe the advantages of having a munition that can do what the Excalibur can do. During my request with DND Public Affairs, I explained that we have cameras across the country and so, whether that officer was in Gagetown or Wainwright, we were prepared to travel for that interview. At approx. 4 pm, I received a call saying it was impossible for DND to fulfill my request in one day.
Dawn Black, Steve Staples, Lew MacKenzie, and the folks at Jane's -- all of whom are in my piece -- bent over backwards to accomodate our interview request -- often within a few hours. Black and other members of the Commons Defence Committee was touring CFB Edmonton all day but said we could catch up with her before she departed Edmonton for her riding. Staples was in Toronto when I reached him en route that day to Saskatoon and was gracious enough to re-arrange his schedule to do an interview. Same thing with General MacKenzie. He was in Mississauga when we called but a few hours later, we met him at Pearson before he flew out. In Alexandria, Va., Jane's PR staff took about 90 minutes to track down a suitable analyst with knowledge of the Excalibur and arrange an interview. Raytheon, DND, and others were asked; they could not do it.

Many posters here, of course, have focused on the comments of Black and Staples, as if they were the only people we spoke to. Please watch the video piece -- MacKenzie is the first clip and the last clip and it seems to me MacKenzie did a very good job of encapsulating the viewpoint of many of the posters here. The analyst from Jane's also speaks about Excalibur's efficiency. And, yes, Black and Staples, question the suitability of the Excalibur as a munition for the CF. 

All I hoped is that viewers who watched it went - "$150,000? Holy s---!" and then turned to the person they might have been watching the news with to  perhaps have a discussion sparked by the comments made by Black, Staples, Mackenzie, et al.




Offline GAP

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #42 on: November 10, 2006, 23:11:46 »
Thank you David.
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #43 on: November 10, 2006, 23:13:49 »
Aye, thank you for the explanation David.
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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #44 on: November 10, 2006, 23:19:26 »
There is a plan afoot to deal with Mr. Staples.    He is no expert on military affairs and he is certanly not a reliable source of information- the only thing he can be relied upon is to distort information. One has to question why the media is relying upon his point of view. There are many better qualified people for the media to consult with who would provide a thoughtful and intelligent sort of opposing view point  to meet the "balance"  requirement deemed necessary for any particular piece of journalism  without resorting to a pathological liar such as Mr. Staples.  

On the matter of DND response time, everything must be cleared by the Minister in these matters. That takes time, and folks like Staples and Black know they can get their mistruths in before the military part of DND are allowed to react.

Why the rush to go get the article out before the department can respond? The excalibur round was no secret.  

Cheers

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Offline Michael O'Leary

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #45 on: November 10, 2006, 23:22:55 »
David,

Will you be doing a followup with the manufacturers to establish why Excalibur costs so much?

Will you be confirming what the comparative costs of a traditional round are, including the required explanation and multiplication to show a real cost based on the number of rounds needed to have a simlar effect on a point target?

Will we see these points given the same degree of media play?

And if Excalibur does prove itself, will you ever be writing an article critical of collateral damage caused by conventional rounds in the event an Excalibur isn't available?

What, in your opinion, is an acceptable price for the capability?

Offline Rodahn

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #46 on: November 10, 2006, 23:44:56 »
quote author=DavidAkin link=topic=53151.msg478587#msg478587 date=1163217893]
I'm not sure what you mean by "the tone".  (And I should point out here that I did not write the article that is quoted at the beginning of this thread. I encourage you to click on the video link to the right of the article at http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20061109/military_shells_061109/20061110/ -- I wrote the script for the video and the article, written by a member of our online team, is based on that script.) 

In any event,  we thought that the simple fact that a single round costs $150,000 was interesting. Period. Posters here doubted it cost that much -- evidence that there's a "gee whiz' factor to the idea that a round could cost that much. So then we started asking a pile of people what they thought of a round that cost that much.

We first asked the Defence Department, through public affairs, at approx 9 am to provide us with a spokesperson, preferably an artillery officer, who could do an on-camera interview to describe the advantages of having a munition that can do what the Excalibur can do. During my request with DND Public Affairs, I explained that we have cameras across the country and so, whether that officer was in Gagetown or Wainwright, we were prepared to travel for that interview. At approx. 4 pm, I received a call saying it was impossible for DND to fulfill my request in one day.
Dawn Black, Steve Staples, Lew MacKenzie, and the folks at Jane's -- all of whom are in my piece -- bent over backwards to accomodate our interview request -- often within a few hours. Black and other members of the Commons Defence Committee was touring CFB Edmonton all day but said we could catch up with her before she departed Edmonton for her riding. Staples was in Toronto when I reached him en route that day to Saskatoon and was gracious enough to re-arrange his schedule to do an interview. Same thing with General MacKenzie. He was in Mississauga when we called but a few hours later, we met him at Pearson before he flew out. In Alexandria, Va., Jane's PR staff took about 90 minutes to track down a suitable analyst with knowledge of the Excalibur and arrange an interview. Raytheon, DND, and others were asked; they could not do it.

Many posters here, of course, have focused on the comments of Black and Staples, as if they were the only people we spoke to. Please watch the video piece -- MacKenzie is the first clip and the last clip and it seems to me MacKenzie did a very good job of encapsulating the viewpoint of many of the posters here. The analyst from Jane's also speaks about Excalibur's efficiency. And, yes, Black and Staples, question the suitability of the Excalibur as a munition for the CF. 

All I hoped is that viewers who watched it went - "$150,000? Holy s---!" and then turned to the person they might have been watching the news with to  perhaps have a discussion sparked by the comments made by Black, Staples, Mackenzie, et al.[/quote]

David:

From my point of view it is wonderful that a member of the fifth estate will actually log into a forum such as this and glean feedback regarding the  the items you report on from the members that it will directly affect. In my opinion the members of the military have been "slagged" both politically and through the news services that the people here have developed an extremely cynical attitude. I for one am glad to see that you do in fact keep an eye on what the military members feel, and hope that this will also be reflected in some of your news bytes.

End of hijack...

Regards
Nihil declaro!

Me transmitte sursum, Caledoni!

Noli nothis permittere te terere!

DavidAkin

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #47 on: November 11, 2006, 00:03:41 »
To David

I was checking your posts during the debate (Tues Night? you must've been blackberrying it I guess), it seems to me the whole thing got started because the Minister of Defence caught the NDP without having their homework done, and they didn't like it.
Dawn Black I believe started off with a question about what the cost was for the Excalibur rounds that had been fired in Afghanistan, and O'Connor was given an "aha" by them since he knew, and so would anyone else if they researched it, that none had even been shipped to theatre.

I think the NDP got miffed at being shown up for not checking their story thoroughly, so this is somewhat of a smoke screen to cover that gaff.

In fact, it was precisely the reverse. The Defence Minister was caught without his homework. Black and her staff have done a tremendous amount of homework and had indeed checked their story thoroughly. How do I know that? Pardon me for the long post, but here's the answer (All the quotes here are taken from Parliamentary documents, online at http:www.parl.gc.ca):

On Sept. 19, Black put the following question on the Commons Order Paper (:
========
Q-1082 — September 19, 2006 — Ms. Black (New Westminster—Coquitlam) — With regard to the Canadian presence in Afghanistan: (a) what is the allotment of money set aside in the fiscal framework for the remainder of the mission; (b) how does the mission effect the fiscal framework; (c) what new weapons systems have been purchased, or will be purchased for the remainder of the mission; (d) was there a M777 howitzer purchased for the mission in Kandahar and, if so, what was the cost of the system; (e) does the Canadian Forces use the Excalibur ordinance system developed by Raytheon and, if so, what is the unit cost per shell of the Excalibur ordinance system; (f) what is the added cost associated with the deployment of a leopard tank squadron; and (g) what are the project names and budgets, itemized by project, for each foreign aid project that Canada is financing in Afghanistan?
========

Under the procedural rules in the House of Commons, the government must answer these kinds of questions within 45 days or they are automatically referred to a Commons committee. (Committees have the legal power to subpoena witnesses and, so, can compel answers).

Black had not yet received her answer when, on October 18, O'Connor and Hillier appeared at the  the Commons Committee on National Defence.  The transcript of that meeting is at http://cmte.parl.gc.ca/cmte/CommitteePublication.aspx?SourceId=178814#Int-1702785 .  During that meeting, this exchange took place:

=========
Ms. Dawn Black:  The previous government bought the M777 howitzers and the Excalibur munitions for use in Kandahar. I'd like to know what the precise cost of each shell is, if you could get that to me. Do you know that?
Hon. Gordon O'Connor:  No, I wouldn't, off the top of my head. We'll get that number for you.
Ms. Dawn Black: It has been denied to me when I've asked for it.
Hon. Gordon O'Connor:  It has, has it? The price of a shell?
Gen R.J. Hillier: Actually, you're asking the price of the Excalibur round.
Ms. Dawn Black: Yes.
Gen R.J. Hillier:   It's an expensive round.
Ms. Dawn Black: Yes, I know that.
Gen R.J. Hillier:   I don't have the precise dollar figure at hand, but as the minister has said, we'll provide the minister the information on it.
Ms. Dawn Black: Thank you. I'll look forward to getting it.
Gen R.J. Hillier:  Could I just say that it's an expensive round because it's a precision round. Going back to the question you asked about making sure we're not driving people away from the government, etc., because of things like collateral damage, this is one of the things we want to precisely use against those who are bringing violence against us or against Afghans only, and therefore it's a very expensive round. I'll provide the minister the cost information.

=========
So that was on October 18. Some time between that point and the debate last Tuesday night, Black received the answer to her Order Paper question. But she wanted that answer on the record, in the House of Commons, from the Defence Minister. So, during last Tuesday's debate, she said, at about 7:40 in the evening:
=========
Ms. Dawn Black:  ...     I also asked through a written question to the minister, and I asked him in committee, and my office has even used the access to information system to try to find out the cost of a particular item of departmental spending. How much did Canada pay last November for each Excalibur round to be used with the M777?  The government spent $5.5 million for these shells. That is about the same amount of money that was spent on the court challenges program, in fact a little bit more than that, before it was cut.
The minister promised me at the defence committee that he would find out this information, so I am wondering if he could share that with us now. What is the exact cost of each one of those shells?
Hon. Gordon O'Connor:   Mr. Chair, the hon. member had a number of questions. I hope I can keep track of them. The total cost to send the tanks, the cannon mortar and the engineers to Afghanistan was $189 million and that was the transportation plus what was necessary to get all the equipment up to standard for operations. With respect to Excalibur, we do not own nor do we have any Excaliburs in the armed forces. I think someone is still trying to find out what the theoretical price is from a company but we do not have any rounds in the armed forces.
========

But, in fact, Black had done her homework and actually received the information she was seeking. Indeed O'Connor's own department had tabled the information in response to her Order Paper question. She was simply asking the Minister in the House of Commons so that the Minister could put it on the record. She was surprised, needless to say, that -- even though General Hillier and Defence Department Deputy Minister Ward Elcock were sitting right in front of O'Connor for this entire debate -- O'Connor could not provide the figures. So Black left the Commons -- I was there and watching the whole thing -- and went back to her office, got the information provided to her by O'Connor's department, photocopied it, and went back to the House of Commons. She didn't get another chance to speak until a couple of  hours later but, before she did, she crossed the floor of the House and I saw her give O'Connor some documents -- documents which I later found out contained the information about the Excaliburs that Black had been given by O'Connor's own department -- and I saw O'Connor thank her.
Then Black stood up and asked this:
========
Ms. Dawn Black:  ..so now I am asking the minister, is he saying that we do not have these shells, or is he not about to reveal the cost of the shells? Did the government table this information in the House of Commons in error? Is the minister not informed by his own department? What is the cost of each of these shells, please?
Hon. Gordon O'Connor:   Mr. Chair, I am advised that if we have the shells, and when we had the shells, they would cost about $150,000 each.
Ms. Dawn Black:    Mr. Chair, I think that indicates we do have the shells. The information was tabled in the House of Commons and I do have the documents here. We spent $5.5 million to get them. During the last round of questions, the minister gave us the incremental costs of the mission to 2009, but I would like to know what the full cost is to DND. It is something that his department does track. It is published in the report on plans and priorities. I wonder if he could give us that information now. I have a sense that the minister or the department are lowballing the figures and using rather selective accounting. How much exactly are we spending?
======

At this point, I saw O'Connor quickly confer with Hillier. Black sat down and there was a moment of silence while O'Connor appeared to be talking to Hillier and Elcock. Then, he replied:

======
Hon. Gordon O'Connor:       Mr. Chair, before I answer that, I am going to answer the Excalibur question. Apparently we are going to receive three rounds for trial. We have no rounds. That is correct. We have none. We are going to receive three rounds for trial in the next few weeks, and the plan is, in February 2007, to acquire 27 more rounds if these three rounds work out. It is correct at the moment that we have no rounds.

======


 

Offline old medic

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #48 on: November 11, 2006, 00:27:10 »
Quote
Ms. Dawn Black:  ...     I also asked through a written question to the minister, and I asked him in committee, and my office has even used the access to information system to try to find out the cost of a particular item of departmental spending. How much did Canada pay last November for each Excalibur round to be used with the M777?  The government spent $5.5 million for these shells. That is about the same amount of money that was spent on the court challenges program, in fact a little bit more than that, before it was cut.

There is the answer.
An absurd question, trying to link it to her cut social program and imply that it should be safety net before security.
She doesn't care one bit about those shells.


 
re-answering vision questions since 2004.

couchcommander

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Re: CTV News: Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each
« Reply #49 on: November 11, 2006, 00:32:25 »
At approx. 4 pm, I received a call saying it was impossible for DND to fulfill my request in one day.

Ah, and there it is.

Thank you very much for your time.