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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – August 23, 2013

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  • Remember the question about whose info machine was sharing news about promises kept regarding Canadian Rangers?  An eagle-eyed reader shared some interesting information about the source code of the page in question.  If you look at one of the bits of metadata from the page, you’ll find this:  <meta name=”copyright” content=”Conservative Party Of Canada” />  Contrast this with the Copyright notice from the PM’s government site  “Materials on this website were produced and/or compiled by the Office of the Prime Minister for the purpose of providing Canadians with direct access to information about the programs and services offered by the Government of Canada.”  Also, the stephenharper.ca page announcement’s source info/code doesn’t contain the words “Government of Canada” in it anywhere.
  • The MP for Labrador has several meetings over the next couple of days on reductions at the weather office in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and the future of 5-Wing.  Yvonne Jones says Serco’s manual weather operations will be replaced by an automated system, resulting in a number of cuts to personnel manning the station. Jones told VOCM Open Line with Bill Rowe that changes to the system will have a significant impact on the region – many fear it’s just the first step in what will be the eventual demise of the base ….”
  • Meanwhile,A spokesman for the Department of National Defence (DND) says aerial search and rescue (SAR) by 444 Combat Support Squadron out of 5 Wing Goose Bay will not be affected by upcoming job cuts at the weather office there.  Capt. Jean-François Lambert of Air Force Public Affairs in Ottawa wrote in an email to The Labradorian Thursday morning that mission planning in support of SAR and combat utility flights at 444 Combat Support Squadron do not rely on the 5 Wing weather office.  “(We) instead follow a standard seen across the Royal Canadian Air Force (in) using the centralized service provided by the CAF Weather Service in conjunction with NAV Canada and the National Weather Service,” he noted ….”
  • Haiti  The latest, from the Info-machine (note:  the word “peacekeeping” only appears once in the article, even though our troops are wearing blue helmets)  “On 21 June, a platoon of 34 personnel from the Canadian Army left for Haiti as part of Operation HAMLET– Canada’s military contribution to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, commonly known by its French name as MINUSTAH.  But first they made a slight detour to Brazil ­– one of the largest contributors to the mission and an important ally to both Haiti and Canada. Here they were trained by the Brazilian Armed Forces and integrated into a Brazilian Battalion (BRABAT).  While Canadians have been a part of MINUSTAH since it began in May 2004, this has normally taken the form of five senior staff officers providing aid to the headquarters in regards to planning and coordinating operations. The arrival of the platoon from 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade group, originating from Valcartier, Que, means Canada is now able to make tactical contributions as well.  Within this new role CAF members deployed (with) the Brazilian battalion will help ensure security and stability in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Western Hemisphere.  Their primary task is to conduct patrols of their area of responsibility. But they also undertake guard duty for their camp and other points of interest, as well as conduct Civic-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) projects, such as the provision of clean water in neighbourhoods vulnerable to cholera ….”
  • “The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, and Pat Davidson, Member of Parliament for Sarnia–Lambton, (yesterday) joined together with Veterans, their families and members of the Sarnia community at a special luncheon to honour Korean War Veterans ….”
  • Oopsie (maybe?) (1)  Canada’s super-secret electronic spy agency may have illegally targeted Canadians over the past year, a government watchdog has concluded.  The findings, contained in a report tabled by retired judge Robert Decary in Parliament Wednesday, are particularly explosive now given revelations prompted by whistleblower Edward Snowden about the U.S. government conducting widespread snooping of its citizens.  Decary, who has served as independent watchdog for the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) since 2010, said he discovered the potentially illicit spying during a routine review of the electronic surveillance agency’s activities over the past year.  “A small number of records suggested the possibility that some activities may have been directed at Canadians, contrary to the law,” Decary wrote in his report.  But Decary said he was unable to determine conclusively whether the snooping was legal or not because “a number of CSEC records relating to these activities were unclear or incomplete.”  “After [an] in-depth and lengthy review, I was unable to reach a definitive conclusion about compliance or non-compliance with the law.” ….” – more from the media here, here, here and here
  • Oopsie (maybe?) (2This, from the Commissioner’s report“…. I had no concern with respect to the majority of the CSEC activities reviewed. However, a small number of records suggested the possibility that some activities may have been directed at Canadians, contrary to law. A number of CSEC records relating to these activities were unclear or incomplete. After in-depth and lengthy review, I was unable to reach a definitive conclusion about compliance or non-compliance with the law.  In the process of review, I found that a number of CSEC records relating to exchanges of information with CSIS were sometimes unclear, which led me to recommend that CSEC promulgate policy guidance respecting how to clearly and consistently communicate with its partners about what entity the activities are being directed at ….”
  • Oopsie (maybe?) (3)  Put another way, from a summary of the report  “…. Two reviews this year — the review of certain foreign signals intelligence activities and the review of CSEC assistance to CSIS under part (c) of CSEC’s mandate and sections 12 and 21 of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act (CSIS Act) — identified the absence of certain historical information in a CSEC system and database relating to foreign signals intelligence collection. This system and database support the process by which CSEC determines that entities of foreign intelligence interest are indeed foreign and located outside of Canada, as required by the National Defence Act. The absence of the information limited my ability to assess the lawfulness of the CSEC activities in question, and could also affect review of other activities of CSEC. Due to the seriousness of this development, I directed my employees to conduct an in-depth examination of the issue to determine the implications and advise on a resolution ….”

Written by milnewsca

23 August 13 at 7:50

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – January 11, 2013

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  • The Canadian government has no intention of replacing counterfeit parts found in the cockpits of new Hercules military transport planes, officials said.  Documents show the Canadian military has known about the potentially dangerous parts being used since at least July 2012, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported Wednesday.  The discovery in Canada came after a 14-month investigation by the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee into counterfeit parts in the Hercules planes and other American-made military equipment.  In an interview this week, Conservative Parliament member Chris Alexander said the Canadian military “is satisfied the C-130Js are functioning properly, that any … counterfeit parts that there may be in the displays of those aircraft are not affecting their performance.”  “If they need to be replaced, if they’re unsafe, if they’re not functioning, they will be replaced,” he said ….” – more from the NDP here.
  • Your chance to vote on whether the CF should bill municipalities and/or provinces for disaster relief services via CBC.ca.  A note for the Parliamentary Secretary, who’s quoted saying “In budgetary terms, it certainly isn’t the dominant role or the main role of the Canadian Forces.”   If one of the top three elements of “Delivering excellence at home”, according to the Canada First Defence Strategy, is to “Assist civil authorities in responding to a wide range of threats – from natural disasters to terrorist attacks”, what’s it say about the CF when one of its top three domestic priorities is considered a non-dominant role?
  • Here’s hoping for a quick and complete recovery  A search and rescue technician injured during Canadian Forces parachute training in the Annapolis Valley is in stable condition in hospital after undergoing surgery, a 14 Wing Greenwood spokesman said Thursday.  The experienced technician from 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron was injured after jumping from a Hercules aircraft during a training exercise late Wednesday afternoon, Capt. John Pulchny said in an interview.  The technicians were jumping into a confined area around Cloud Lake, south of Kingston, at about 3:20 p.m., when a man who has not been identified hit the ground too hard.  A Cormorant helicopter crew was nearby and airlifted the injured man to the airport at 12 Wing Shearwater, where he was transferred to a Halifax hospital, Pulchny said.  The man’s injuries were not considered life-threatening when he first arrived at hospital.  “But later on through the evening, it was determined that he had some severe torso, back and rib injuries that were determined to be life-threatening,” Pulchny said.  “There were some internal injuries as well.”  The victim was rushed into surgery overnight and was listed in stable condition Thursday ….”
  • Nicole Shingoose is a new Canadian navy officer and a pioneer.  On Thursday, Shingoose became the first graduate of RMC’s Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year (ALOY) program to be commissioned as an officer in the Canadian Forces.  Shingoose, 24, from Spiritwood, Sask., joined eight other cadets who received their commission ahead of their graduation from the college in the spring.  “I’m very overwhelmed right now. It’s kind surreal actually, hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Shingoose said.  “It’s a lot of hard work and I know all my hard work paid off and it’s a relief.  “I feel proud. I feel proud to be aboriginal and to graduate from here. Most of all, I’m happy that I opened up the doors for aboriginals to come through here and show that it is possible to be commissioned and be successful here.”  Shingoose took part in the ALOY program in its inaugural year in 2008 and stayed on at RMC. This spring she is to graduate with a degree in mathematics with a minor in life science.  Shingoose was introduced to the Canadian Forces in 2007 through a navy summer program geared toward aboriginal youth. The navy way of life appealed to her.  She was commissioned Thursday as an acting sub-lieutenant.  Shingoose is to be posted back to her home province, to HMCS Unicorn, a navy reserve unit in Saskatoon.  She said she would like to take part in recruiting efforts in rural and aboriginal communities ….”
  • No allegations have been proven in court at this point.  “A military police officer has been charged for allegedly breaking into a home, assaulting a man and pointing a gun at another man while on duty.  Provincial police said Thursday they arrested the CFB Trenton military police officer after the alleged break-in Jan. 4.  Matthew Horner, 36, is charged with break and enter, unlawfully in a dwelling house, pointing a firearm and assault with a weapon.  He is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 17.”
  • A Nova Scotia judge has granted a three-week delay for the sentencing hearing of Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle, the navy spy who pleaded guilty to selling military secrets to Russia.  Judge Pat Curran adjourned the matter until Jan. 31 because a medical issue prevented the federal prosecutor from attending court in Halifax on Thursday.  “The Crown couldn’t fly down from Montreal. She just was unavailable, she simply couldn’t get here,” said Mike Taylor, Delisle’s lawyer.  Delisle pleaded guilty in October to breach of trust and two counts of passing information to a foreign entity over a three-and-a-half year period between July 2007 and Jan. 13, 2011.  According to court documents, Delisle sold military secrets to the Russians for cash using USB keys and unsent emails to transmit the information from downtown Halifax to his home, then on to Russian agents ….” – more from the ex-wife here.
  • …. Commissioner Bob Paulson of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police proudly presented 14 individuals with the prestigious Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery for their life-saving actions following the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010.  Thirteen police officers representing federal, provincial and municipal police services, as well as one Canadian Armed Forces member were recognized during today’s ceremony, which was held almost three years to the day since the earthquake. The event was hosted at the RCMP’s “C” Division headquarters in downtown Montreal ….” – more here.
  • Balancing trade & security on the Canada-U.S. border  “…. Canada and the U.S. must avoid and prevent our shared border from becoming a trade barrier causing excess costs that will be detrimental to our joint and separate global competitiveness.  Current events and very real threats dictate that Canada and the U.S. each have to act to protect and preserve their individual quality of life, and success would be best-served by strengthening cooperation and understanding while respecting each as separate sovereign nations.  Make no mistake, there will be major changes in the way Canada and the U.S. do business at the border, therefore, it is important to note that the end game is to construct a secure and trade-efficient Canada/U.S. border ….”
  • Baird Condemns Bomb Attacks in Pakistan …. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird …. issued the following statement:  “Canada strongly condemns (yesterday’s) deadly attacks in Pakistan that have killed scores of innocent people. On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those killed. I wish a swift recovery to the injured.  This type of violent extremism is entirely despicable. It is a stark reminder that the greatest threat to Pakistan is terrorist entities operating within its borders.  These attacks further underscore the importance of Pakistan continuing to fight extremists who threaten its people and the international community.  We hope that the perpetrators of these horrendous attacks will be brought to justice ….”

Written by milnewsca

11 January 13 at 7:45

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 16 Nov 11

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  • Afghanistan (1)  Toronto Star columnist becomes legal rep for teenager wanting student visa to attend school in Canada.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Someone (I’m guessing) in Ottawa is pissed at how ‘terps trying to come to Canada are being handled“Frustration is growing in government ranks that Ottawa is falling down on its vow to help Afghan interpreters and their families find a new life in Canada. “I would say longstanding and growing frustration,” a senior official said this week after the Star highlighted the plight. The target of that frustration is the Citizenship and Immigration department, which critics say is dragging its feet on a Conservative vow to help Afghans who helped the Canadian mission in Kandahar resettle in Canada. “There is a moral obligation to do the right thing here and it’s unfortunate that CIC doesn’t feel this way,” said the official, who asked to remain anonymous ….”
  • Afghanistan (3a)  Canadian Info-Machine officer Commodore Bill Truelove Taliban losing a grip on its troops“The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has said that “the Taliban leadership has lost control of their organization.” During an operational update by representatives from the ISAF headquarters and NATO on Monday, Canadian Commodore Bill Truelove, Deputy Director of the ISAF Communication Directorate, said the Taliban carried out several attacks recently in spite of the Afghan Eid holiday. “Over the past week, the Taliban showed their blatant disregard for this holy celebration through a series of attacks resulting in the deaths of many innocent civilians,” he told reporters in Kabul. Truelove said the attacks occurred after senior Taliban leaders issued specific orders to their troops, directing them to stop killing innocent Afghan civilians. “Still, enemy forces are realizing they are sacrificing their lives for a cause that is not just and under leaders who have no concern for this country or its people,” he added ….”
  • Afghanistan (3b)  Does one Taliban post including alleged security plans for a major meeting (link to copy of post at non-terrorist site) constitute a “propaganda war”?  “Afghanistan’s propaganda wars are becoming almost as intense as the actual fighting, as all sides jockey for position ahead of an anticipated NATO withdrawal in 2014. On Sunday, the Taliban took their psychological operations to a new level when they attempted to derail a loya jirga, or national council, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President, has called for Wednesday. This will discuss future U.S. troop withdrawals and possible peace talks with 2,000 community and tribal leaders. In addition to the usual threats to assassinate anyone who attends the meeting, the Taliban have published what they claim are highly classified documents detailing security arrangements for the council, scheduled to be held at the Polytechnical University in western Kabul ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Senator Pamela Wallin on the training mission“…. Canada has engaged in what is an incredible act of faith, inspired by the knowledge that if we educate and train the next generation of citizens and soldiers we will truly be giving peace – and Afghanistan – a chance.”
  • Afghanistan (5)  “International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo says his office will be releasing a report in the coming weeks that will decide whether to launch a formal investigation into Canada’s treatment of Afghan detainees, among other things. “There are serious allegations of crimes committed by different parties,” he said in an exclusive interview with Postmedia News during a stop at the University of Ottawa on Tuesday. “We are trying to find who is really allegedly responsible for crimes to check if there’s a need for us to investigate or not.” Moreno-Ocampo said his report will not specifically focus on Canada’s treatment of detainees in Afghanistan, but all crimes allegedly committed in that country and seven others. Most allegations, he added, are against the Taliban, but all claims are being looked at ….”
  • Canadian Forces reservists can face extra hardships after returning from deployments, researchers say. Difficulty finding employment and poor post-mission communications between reservists and military units are major barriers to soldiers reintegrating into civilian life. The findings of a study by Defence Research and Development Canada in Toronto were presented at the second annual Canadian Military and Veteran Health Research Forum in Kingston. The study involved 125 Canadian reserve soldiers who returned from an overseas deployment. The troops were contacted six to eight months after returning and about one-quarter of them took part in the 20-minute electronic survey. The results showed many reservists struggle to find work following their deployments. The lack of work added greatly to their struggle to reintegrate themselves into civilian life, said researcher Donna Pickering Tuesday afternoon ….”  A bit more on the Forum here, and the latest, updated (as of yesterday) CF Info-Machine backgrounder on PTSD here.
  • Another research tidbit from the same conference:  Almost one-quarter of a group of frontline soldiers sent to fight in Afghanistan in 2007 have been diagnosed with mental health problems, according to a new study by the Canadian Forces. The figure shines a light on the psychological risks facing Canada’s battle-hardened veterans not only in CFB Gagetown, where the study was conducted, but at CFB Petawawa in Ontario, CFB Edmonton in Alberta, CFB Valcartier in Quebec and at other major military bases where soldiers have deployed in great numbers over the last few years. The study of 792 members of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment, found 23.1 per cent of soldiers who served in Kandahar four years ago were now being treated for their mental health problems. One in five of those soldiers have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, one of the chief health risks to Canadian soldiers after a decade of combat in Afghanistan. The study was presented Tuesday at a military health-care conference (in Kingston) that is bringing together some of the country’s best minds to share the latest research on how to help soldiers with broken minds and bodies ….”
  • After almost five years of legal wrangling, Dennis Manuge says he’s relieved that Canada’s disabled veterans are finally getting their day in court. “How I feel about it is a little bit of relief and absolute faith in the justice system that we are going to begin to have our case (heard),” he said Tuesday. Manuge, of Musquodoboit Harbour, N.S., is the representative plaintiff in a lawsuit against the federal government that alleges it is illegally clawing back the long-term disability insurance benefits of injured veterans. The Federal Court in Halifax will begin hearing arguments Wednesday in the class action, which could potentially affect the benefits of as many as 6,000 injured veterans ….”
  • A reminder:  For the sixth year in a row, friends and families of Canadian troops deployed overseas will be able to send their holiday letters and parcels for free via Canada Post. The program, which started in 2006, has delivered close to 90,000 parcels to members of the Canadian Forces serving overseas in war zones. With capacity limitations on military aircraft carrying supplies to deployed forces, this program is restricted to family and friends of the deployed service men and women serving overseas in war zones. Troops serving on any of the deployed Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships are also included in the program. Canada Post will accept regular parcels free of charge to designated Canadian Forces Bases overseas from October 17, 2011 until January 13, 2012. Lettermail weighing up to 500 grams to deployed troops can be sent free of charge until December 31, 2012.”  More from Canada Post here.
  • Canada’s mission to help Jamaica is wrapping up – safe travels home, folks!  More on OP Jaguar here.
  • Haiti’s efforts to restore its disbanded army could deplete resources from more pressing matters in the Caribbean nation, which is still recovering from the massive earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people almost two years ago, a Canadian diplomat said Tuesday. John Babcock, a spokesman for Canadian Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Diane Ablonczy, said in an email to The Associated Press that Haiti’s decision to create a second security force is a sovereign right but that its formation “seems premature” because of the difficult living conditions that many Haitians still face following the January 2010 earthquake. “Canada fears that creating a second security force will significantly reduce resources available for Haiti’s other important priorities,” one of them being the need to strengthen Haiti’s national police department, Babcock wrote. Haitian President Michel Martelly is moving ahead with a plan to restore the national army that was disbanded in 1995, and recruiting an initial force of 500 troops would cost an estimated $25 million. Babcock said Tuesday Canada wouldn’t help pay for a second security force, echoing sentiments of foreign diplomats who told Martelly in October they wouldn’t fund the force ….”  Here’s a bit of what Canada’s done for Haiti’s police force, as well as the official line on our relations with Haiti.
  • Way Up North  More on how expensive it could be to keep troops in the north (again with no disclosure of “obtained” documents).
  • At least one Canadian Press reporter is not personally averse to the idea of sharing documents obtained through Access to Information Act requests, even if his employer doesn’t seem to be using available technology to make that happen yet – one can hope….
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  “U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned the F-35 project will be scrapped if a congressional “super committee” doesn’t come up with a credible plan to reduce the U.S. federal deficit by next week. Opposition parties in Ottawa jumped on the comments Tuesday, accusing the federal government of continuing to bury its head in the sand as the stealth fighter program suffers ever-increasing amounts of turbulence. But the government again stood firm, saying Panetta’s comments were in response to internal U.S. politics while expressing fresh confidence in the controversial military jet being delivered to Canada on time and on budget ….”  More on Canada continuing to stand behind its decision here, and how it could cost way more if the U.S. cancels here.
  • As the nuclear crisis over Iran heats up, Canada is veering toward a dangerous place. Israel is again contemplating a military attack on Iran to prevent its developing atomic weapons. This time it’s not clear that U.S. President Barack Obama can forestall the Jewish state …. In the past, Canada would have happily stayed on the sidelines …. Under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, however, Canada has taken a more militant approach to international affairs. His support for Israel has been rock-hard. He has also shown himself willing to deploy Canada’s small but effective military in combat operations the government deems politically useful …. In short, both sides now see the nuclear issue as life or death. The question for nations like Canada is not which country we like more but which alternative is worse. Is it better to let Iran follow in the footsteps of the U.S., France, Britain, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea by acquiring nuclear weapons? Or is better to unleash another Mideast war?”
  • A bit of Canadian aviation history will become a bit of a British monument honouring Bomber Command (PDF).  “A Royal Canadian Air Force C-17 Transport (landed) in Lethbridge, Alberta on Remembrance Day to pick up 800 pounds of aluminum that was once part of a wartime RCAF Halifax Bomber. The metal will become part of a £6,000,000 Bomber Command Memorial currently under construction in Green Park, London. The aluminum is being provided by the Bomber Command Museum of Canada to draw attention to the fact that 10,000 of the over 55,000 airmen lost with Bomber Command during World War II were Canadians. Halifax Bomber LW682 was part of 426 “Thunderbird” Squadron RCAF. It was shot down in 1944 and crashed into a swamp in Belgium. The seven Canadians and one Briton aboard were killed. The bodies of three of the Canadian airmen, missing in action and entombed in the Halifax bomber, were recovered in 1997 and given a full military funeral in Gerarrdsbergen, Belgium. The recovered parts of the Halifax were all saved and brought to Canada. Some of the parts were used in the restoration of the Halifax currently on display at Trenton, Ontario. The unusable aluminum was saved due to the rarity and heritage of this RCAF metal and was then melted down into ingots to be used into the future for Air Force Memorials, plaques, and statues by the Bomber Command Museum of Canada ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 16 Jul 11

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  • Libya Mission (1)  Canada is looking at opening a line of credit worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the group orchestrating the overthrow of Libyan madman Moammar Gadhafi and establishing a diplomatic post in the rebel-held city where the Transitional National Council is based. Officials are looking at the feasibility of funnelling upwards of 20% of the value of Libyan assets frozen here and abroad in Canadian financial institutions to the council. A United Nations resolution prohibits Canada from unfreezing the assets — believed to be about $2.3 billion. The government would recoup the cash from the assets after the UN gives the green light to unlock the accounts. The Americans have seized about $30 billion in Gadhafi plunder ….”  More on this here, here and here.
  • Libya Mission (2) “…. Five months after a protest movement to oust Colonel Gadhafi in February turned into an all-out war with military support from NATO, nobody has a clear idea how the war might be brought to an end – and few nations place much trust in the Libyan actors who are promising to end it ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  The first of the stories about the new job.  “If Canada’s nine-year war in Afghanistan is over, nobody told Cpl. Austin Dickson. The 21-year-old Victorian is in a force-protection platoon, spends his days shepherding fellow Canadian soldiers from base to base in and around Kabul. Canada’s combat role might have ended with great fanfare this month, but now the next phase has begun, Ottawa committing up to 950 troops to help train the Afghan military in a mission due to last until March 2014. About 430 of the Canadians have arrived so far ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Niiiice……  Military police in Edmonton are tracking down soldiers in Afghanistan and asking if they are missing any campers, ATVs or snowmobiles back home. The call-out is to help an ongoing city police investigation of two soldiers accused of stealing and trying to sell recreational vehicles owned by three of their colleagues who were serving overseas. Capt. Derrick Forsythe, a spokesman at Edmonton Garrison, said there may well be more victims. But it’s been difficult reaching soldiers in Afghanistan who are busy and may not know if their toys are missing from a shared storage compound on the Edmonton base. “Trying to get a hold of them in Afghanistan with everything that’s going on over there with packing up of the kit and bringing it home — they’re kind of busy at the other end,” Forsythe said Friday …. Two of the soldiers robbed of recreational vehicles are still in Afghanistan. The third was recently injured and sent home. Forsythe said soldiers targeting other soldiers is disturbing. “There’s a pretty strong culture of trust inside the military. There has to be. It’s the nature of the job. So any time something like this happens, it’s particularly troubling.” Privates Varrel Fitz-Charles, 25, and Kieran Lawless-Johnston, 21, were charged last month with possession of stolen property, and break, enter and theft. They are to appear in court in August ….”  A reminder:  The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Canada’s constitution, guarantees the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.  More on this one here, here and here.
  • Afghanistan (3)  More on the Afghan interpreters being fast-tracked into Canada. “The federal government will resettle hundreds of Afghans who worked as interpreters for the Canadian military mission in Kandahar, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Friday in Calgary. A group of interpreters and their families — 56 people in total — have arrived since the special immigration program was first announced in 2009. Interpreters working in Kandahar province for Canadian soldiers and officials faced serious risks and threats from insurgents as a result of their work, Kenney said at the time of the program’s announcement. “There are Afghans who face extraordinary personal risk as a result of their work in support of Canada’s mission in Kandahar,” he said. “Their lives and those of their families may be threatened by insurgents, and some have suffered serious injury and can no longer work.” Another 33 Afghan nationals are expected to arrive in Canada over the summer, and 130 more in the fall, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada told Postmedia News in an email. The program allows for resettlement of 550 people in total and should wrap up in spring 2012, she said ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  “How Capt. Trevor Greene came back from an Afghan axe to the head
  • Afghanistan (5)  How other wounded warriors (and not-as-old-as-they-used-to-be vets) are coping.
  • Afghanistan (6)  Other allied nations have made no secret of their wish to follow suit, and the withdrawals will place a heavier burden on those troops left behind. Senior U.S. officials have been reassuring wary Afghans, who say violence is still rampant ….”
  • Afghanistan (7)  Uh, riiiiiight….  “…. If Canada were to be an integral part of stopping the New World Order agenda which would need to including stopping the Security and Prosperity and Partnership North American Union (SPP-NAU) agenda now, and rooting out the evil that exists and will persist, they might be able to save face with the rest of the world. 9/11 was an inside job, for sure. Bring home the troops Canada without any further delay, you’ve been fooled from the beginning. The people are waking to the truth. If you want the truth then seek it and it will set you free. No more innocent children and women need to die in Afghanistan ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch (1)  Taliban’s further take on the assassination of Karzai’s half-brother warlord/facilitator in Kandahar.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch (2)  The Canadian Press declares Taliban’s propaganda campaign a success based on speaking to two subject matter expertsIf having the west GTFO, yes, it’s succeeded.  I guess the mainstream media missed the 14:1 ratio of Canadians the Taliban said it had killed versus every one that had been killed.  They did catch the Taliban hitting Twitter (here, too) though.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) “Those Pesky F-35 Costs: “A Billion Here, A Billion There” “ (h/t to Mark Collins)
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  First one delivered to U.S. military “to fly in a non-testing role”.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Defence Construction Canada (DCC) has hired three Vancouver Island firms to complete $330,000 in upgrades at CFB Comox. DCC – the Crown corporation tasked with awarding infrastructure contracts on behalf of the Canadian military – awarded a $150,000 tender to Nelson Roofing and Sheet Metal Ltd. for replacement and removal of existing roofs on two buildings on the Base. Wacor Holdings Ltd., meanwhile, secured a $110,000 contract to complete a new parking lot next to CFB Comox’s child care centre. And Comox Consolidators Ltd. is being paid $70,000 to replace brick chimneys at the residential housing complex, near to the Base ….”
  • The Canadian government is trying to spare hunting rifles and sporting arms from a United Nations one-size-fits-all international standard to regulate the flow of weapons around the world. Gun advocates in Canada praised the feds Friday, but gun control advocates and the opposition blasted the move as an irresponsible ploy to hamper the UN’s efforts to save lives. On Thursday, Canadian diplomats at the treaty’s preliminary negotiations in New York tried to exempt sporting and hunting firearms in the treaty’s preamble, remove ammunition and other high-volume items from the reporting requirements and add a clause that reads, in part, “small arms have certain legitimate civilian uses, including sporting, hunting and collecting purposes.” Tony Bernardo, a spokesman for the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, derided the UN as “incredibly anti-gun” and said Canada’s attempts to exempt sporting arms is the right call ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 24 May 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 17 Feb 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 12 Jan 11

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  • A bit more excitement at CSIS offices in Toronto than they would have liked“Toronto police say they have arrested a man in connection with a bomb scare in the city’s downtown. Police used a stun gun to incapacitate the man they believe left his car and suitcases in front of the CSIS building, prompting a bomb scare …. one of the city’s main traffic arteries, was shut down for a second time during the height of the evening rush hour as police reopened their investigation into the incident. Police told CBC News that the man they arrested was the owner of the car involved in the earlier incident. The man apparently put up a struggle with police even after being stunned with a Taser and was taken to hospital for observation, said police spokesman Const. Tony Vella. During the evening there were three loud noises near Front Street. Police later explained they were controlled explosions, detonating a package the man was carrying when he was arrested. The earlier bomb scare ended quietly after police cleared an area outside the offices of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service after finding nothing untoward in two abandoned pieces of luggage and a car parked nearby ….”
  • Here’s what the head of NATO’s training effort in Afghanistan had to say in a recent paper on what Canada could do in Afghanistan (PDF):  “…. The Canadian military and civilian police forces have done much to support NTM-A (NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan) and the development of the ANSF (Afghan national security forces). The recent addition of 44 police trainers and 10 air mentor trainers to the NTM-A mission has been invaluable, as these specialties are particularly hard to fill.  However, to move from building the basic Afghan military and police forces to developing the key capabilities required for those forces to be self-sustaining requires, more of your trainers with specialized skills and experience are required. Police, air, and medical trainers are especially needed, and your nation has the capabilities to provide more air mentor teams in Kandahar, police trainers in Kandahar, trainers at the ANA medical facility in Kandahar, and logistics facilities across the country. Your forces are more broadly experienced than most other nations serving in the International Security Assistance Force, and such mature soldiers, with multiple tours serving in Afghanistan, would be extremely effective trainers for the ANSF ….” Sorry, General, but there’s a parliamentary motion out there that says we’re outta Kandahar, but thanks for the compliment.  More on the U.S. aching for Canada to stay in Kandahar here, here and here.
  • In case you missed it in yesterday’s e-mailed version, The military will ground Canada’s spy plane program after the Afghan combat mission ends this summer. The commander of the prop-driven CU-170 Herons, which operate out of Kandahar Airfield, said the Canadian Forces will disband his squadron once troops pull out of Kandahar. Maj. Dave Bolton, the new and final commander of Task Force Erebus, said his team will then go on to other jobs within the military. “There’s a lot of very young people that were involved with this program,” he said in an interview. “There’s probably going to be a hiatus of somewhere between two and five years ….”
  • “…. Bureaucrats working alongside the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan are baffled why civilian police officers and Tim Hortons employees at Kandahar Airfield are eligible for military medals but they aren’t. Public servants were eligible for the military’s General Service Medal when the mission began in 2002 and they worked under the authority of the Canadian Forces. But several months ago, bureaucrats were notified by Afghanistan Task Force officials they no longer qualified because they don’t work for the military. The change ruffled feathers earlier this month when Task Force Commander Brig-Gen. Dean Milner handed out medals to 14 civilian police officers at the Kandahar Airfield for their nine-month stint working with Afghan police. Bureaucrats say most police officers are paid by the Foreign Affairs Department and work for it on its projects. National Defence officials have since begun an examination into whom the civilian police reported to and whether they were given the wrong medal ….”
  • An interesting suggestion from a former Canadian general on how to improve Veterans Affairs Canada “…. The only way to change Veterans Affairs in favour of instead of against Veterans is to convert the place into a department filled with younger Veterans of all three services starting with the post of Deputy Minister–if the Prime Minister can’t find a Veteran in his caucus to be minister.” I have to disagree, General.  The people implementing it aren’t the problem – it’s the RULES that have to change.
  • Remember this woman, who ran a pro-Taliban/jihadi news page, who was kidnapped in Pakistan and reported dead?  It appears some journalists aren’t happy with the lack of attention paid to her (reported) plight“…. Giesbrecht never defined herself as such but she was, in a sense, a practitioner of immersion journalism—sometimes defined as reporting from an intensive personal perspective. As author/journalist Norah Vincent puts it in her book Voluntary Madness: “The whole point is that you are not objective.” As for her controversial website, friends say it was not propaganda, but rather a tool to gain the confidence of the people she wanted to interview. “If you put up a website that looks like another CNN wannabe,” says one close friend in Canada, Glen Cooper, “they’re not going to pay much attention to you.” Giesbrecht herself said of her website: “It is my hope that this will inspire others to Islam and to take a stand against this shameful war on ‘terrorism.’ I am not a ‘terrorist,’ a fanatic or mentally unbalanced. On the contrary, I am a level-headed, capable woman, a humanitarian and a contributing member of society.” ….” In my as-yet unposted comment, I raise the point that if she was “inspiring” people to “take a stand” and running pro-Taliban material to seek the group’s attention, 1)  this is a columnist, not a journalist, and 2)  be careful what you wish for.
  • Latest volley in the “the F-35 is great – no it’s not!” fight comes from a senior politician“The federal government is standing by its multi-billion dollar investment in the Joint Strike Fighter program, which has boosted the country’s economy and will create job opportunities in the Canadian aerospace industry for decades, Government House leader John Baird said Tuesday. Baird defended the government’s commitment to purchase 65 F-35s, insisting the deal will help the Canadian Forces while significantly contributing to the economy. “It’s the right thing to do and our government is committed to seeing this through,” Baird said of the planned purchase, which is estimated to be at least $14 billion, while touring MDS Aero Support Corporation, an Ottawa-based engineering organization involved with the development of fighter jet engines ….”
  • It seems I’m not the only person out there thinking this column on the woes and misery that will befall the U.S. military when it allows gays/lesbians to serve is a bit beyond its best-before date“…. The article actually tries to make the point that European countries have gays in the military but have underperformed in Afghanistan. Tell that to the Danes that have been fighting hard in the toughest parts of Afghanistan with few restrictions (few caveats) and paying a high price in casualties–highest per capita. Tell that to the Aussies who have been working hard in Uruzgan but/and have gays in their military. Same for the British ….” Another take“…. He cites some NATO countries lack of “resolve” to continue the fight in Afghanistan, as if all decisions related to the Afghanistan adventure somehow hinge upon the fighting ability of homosexual soldiers. In this narrow view of the world, Stephen Harper’s decision to end Canada’s “combat” role in Afghanistan must be because gay soldiers have inundated Defence Minister Lawrence Cannon’s office with pleas to come home, or to at least relocate behind the wire in Kabul. Likely, the truth is that the Conservatives received more letters from those upset with the long form census than from gay soldiers lacking the will to carry on Canada’s mission. ….”
  • A UN official says Canada was asked “pretty please” to keep its post-earthquake military presence in Haiti longer. “The Canadian government turned down a plea to extend its military relief effort in Haiti after last year’s earthquake, says a top United Nations official in Port-au-Prince. Canada was widely praised for rushing to provide emergency help, including clean water, security and medical care, following the devastating temblor last Jan. 12. Armed with heavy equipment, Canadian military engineers also cleared rubble and helped Haitians reopen their roads, particularly in the hard-hit areas around the cities of Leogane and Jacmel. But despite attempts by the UN and local authorities to persuade Ottawa to keep the engineers in Haiti beyond the end of Canada’s relief mandate, the military packed up and left. “I think there was a strong request that they stay on,” Nigel Fisher, the UN’s head of humanitarian aid in Haiti, told The Canadian Press in an interview from Port-au-Prince. “Many felt that they wished they had stayed because they were extremely effective.” ….” More from The Canadian Press here.  Meanwhile, this just in:  Canada finds $90 million for Haiti assistance – more on that from Postmedia News here.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Taliban page post asks, “Why isn’t the Peace Council calling for American forces to withdraw from Afghanistan?!?”
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