MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – October 29, 2012
- New Chief of Defence Staff starts work today “Canada’s military will formally get a new boss today. Lt.-Gen. Thomas Lawson will be installed as Chief of Defence Staff, replacing the outgoing General Walt Natynczyk. Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be among the dignitaries speaking at today’s change of command ceremony ….” – more here.
- Afghanistan (1) Mainstream media reporting (from Toronto) “The signs of life are hard to ignore in Kabul and where there is life there is hope. So says a senior Canadian soldier who knows more than most about the recent travails of Afghanistan. He says the schools are full and the hospitals are open. The roads are busy, the market places crowded and there is a sense of busy purpose around the ancient city. It’s all a far cry from the fractured society that came with Taliban rule from 1996 until the US-led invasion drove them out in 2001. Now this ancient city, fifth-fastest growing metropolis in the world, is home base to around 950 Canadian Forces troops and force deputy-commander, Colonel Greg Smith, says they’re busy transferring skills and leadership to local forces. Since February 2012, the Canadian Forces personnel, primarily from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, in Gagetown, New Brunswick, have been actively involved in training and preparing the Afghan National Security Forces in Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif for the time when NATO departs. Called Roto (rotation)-1, this group of personnel took over from the first Canadian contingent Roto-0 that arrived in country around mid-2011. “In their own self deprecating Canadian way, our men and women are reaching out and helping to build society with their Afghan comrades,” Smith said via phone interview from Kabul. “We are standing alongside the local forces and working together, letting our partners more and more take the lead ….”
- Afghanistan (2) “As a member of Canada’s Armed Forces, trauma surgeon Dr. Naisan Garraway has used his military surgery experience in Kandahar to provide the best care to trauma patients at Royal Columbian Hospital. Since 2006 he has been deployed to Afghanistan four times and has seen more than his fair share of trauma, whether related to explosions or high-powered rifle fire, during those tours ….”
- Afghanistan (3) “Cenotaph and first of 158 trees – one for each Canadian soldier killed overseas – will be unveiled in Langley on Nov. 11“
- CF Chinese communicator recognized “Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, Commander Royal Canadian Navy issued the following statement after presenting, on October 27, Lieutenant-Commander Albert Wong the 2012 Chinese Canadian Legend Award on behalf of the Asian Business Network Association: “I am pleased to extend my personal congratulations to Lieutenant-Commander Albert Wong and his family. His career achievements and his dedication to both the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Forces have been exceptional. “Lieutenant-Commander Wong has long been recognized for his gifts as a strategic communications planner and for his work as a communications advisor to the senior leadership of Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Forces. Of particular note, during an assignment to Afghanistan, he acted as strategic communications advisor to the Chief of Staff of the President of Afghanistan. Moreover, while deployed there, he also established a charity to bring special needs education to children with disabilities in Afghanistan. “Lieutenant-Commander Wong is a true role model, not only for Chinese Canadians, but for all of us who proudly choose to wear the uniform in the service of Canada. As the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy and on behalf of all the sailors, soldiers, airmen, and airwomen of the Canadian Forces I wish to again offer my heartiest congratulations to Lieutenant-Commander Wong and extend my warmest appreciation to him. As the Canadian Forces Champion for visible minorities, I am personally very proud of his accomplishments as a Chinese Canadian Legend in the Canadian Forces.” ….”
- “Minister MacKay Congratulates Albert Wong: A Chinese Canadian Legend”
- “Fifty years ago to the day, then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev agreed reluctantly to pull medium-range ballistic missiles and theatre nuclear weapons out of Cuba — ostensibly ending the perilous Cuban Missile Crisis. As U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk famously said at the time: “We were eyeball to eyeball, and the Soviets blinked.” U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s opting for a naval quarantine — as opposed to a full-out military invasion or “surgical” air strike — did the trick by both buying precious time and giving Moscow a way to save face. Accordingly, some historians and commentators have described this tense period as Kennedy’s “finest hour” and highlighted his decisiveness and adroit leadership skills. Others are less effusive in their praise, saying that Kennedy was close to having this crisis spin out of control and barely averted a nuclear confrontation. Avoiding a nuclear cataclysm also had profound implications for Canada, since many of the missiles in Cuba could reach into Canadian territory. While much was made at the time of Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s unwillingness to immediately accept the U.S. line on the crisis, underscored by the intense personal enmity between Diefenbaker and Kennedy, few are aware of Canada’s naval contribution during that nerve-racking period ….” - more here.
- “Bragging about raping women, executing civilians and strafing children from a fighter plane was nothing more than locker room banter for German prisoners during World War II. But these surreptitiously recorded conversations show the average Nazi was no different than any soldier, even American or Canadian forces serving in Afghanistan today, says the author of a new book that analyzes the newly discovered discussions between Nazi PoWs in British and American camps. “They speak about mass violence like a bricklayer talks about building a house,” said German historian Sonke Neitzel, who combed through 150,000 pages of transcripts of everyday conversations between captured German infantry, pilots, seamen and officers secretly recorded by their captors. “A lot of what appears horrible, lawless and barbaric about war crimes is actually part of the usual frame of reference in wartime,” Neitzel writes in his book Soldaten, released in Canada last month. “It’s time to stop overestimating the effects of ideology. Ideology may provide reasons for war, but it does not explain why soldiers kill or commit war crimes.” ….”