Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘Colin Kenny News Highlights – 21 Sept 11

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  • Libya Mission (1a)  Three more months?  “Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he believes that the Canadian Forces will be able to wrap up their mission in Libya “well before” their next three-month mandate is over. Mr. Harper will ask the House of Commons this week to approve a three-month extension after NATO countries agreed to stay with the mission beyond the Sept. 27 deadline, but he said Canada’s goal is to wipe out the remaining threat of pro-Gadhadi forces and it should be over sooner ….” More from here and The Canadian Press here.  The PM’s officialese statements here and here.
  • Libya Mission (1b)  Here’s how the PM’s official statement put it:  “Canada has been at the forefront of international efforts to protect civilians in Libya against the oppressive Gaddafi regime and provide them with humanitarian assistance …. Canada will continue to support the people of Libya, standing ready to promote effective governance and institutions, a secure environment founded on the rule of law, economic development and prosperity, and respect for human rights.”  More in the “Lookit everything we’ve done” bit here.
  • Libya Mission (1c)  Softball question from the Conservative backbenches to the Parliamentary Secretary Deepak Obhrai, with a well-messaged response:  Mr. Peter Braid (Kitchener—Waterloo, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the situation in Libya this past summer has seen the toppling of the Gadhafi regime and the emergence of a real democratic hope. However, despite these gains we recognize that the situation does remain unstable. Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs please update the House on the situation in Libya?  Mr. Deepak Obhrai (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC): Mr. Speaker, today the Prime Minister attended the high-level meeting on Libya at the United Nations chaired by the Secretary-General. Canada has been at the forefront of the international effort to protect civilians in Libya against the oppressive Gadhafi regime. Canada stands ready to support the new Libyan government through the UN coordinated efforts committed to helping the people of Libya.”  Far better than when he said Afghanistan wasn’t really a war, but more like “providing a secure environment in a country in which there was a complete loss of security.”
  • Afghanistan (1a)  Former president, head of the Afghanistan High Peace Council and, in some eyes, warlord hard man Burhanuddin Rabbani killed by a explosives-packed turban on a suicide bomber.  Here’s Postmedia News’ take on what the killing means, and here’s the PM’s condolences (noticeably longer than these condolences from Canada’s envoy to Afghanistan for an even tougher warlord).
  • Afghanistan (1b)  Here’s former OMLT-eer Bruce Ralston’s take on the Rabbani assassination“There’s no question the Taliban’s improvement in their pursuit of “high value targets” this year has mirrored, if not exceeded the coalition’s.”
  • Afghanistan (2)  The combat mission in Kandahar is over, but Force Protection Company is still keeping busy (via CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (3)  Canadian General bearing still-useful leftovers for the Afghan National Army (via CF Info-Machine).
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (1)  Opinion, from a former subordinate George Petrolekas:  The CDS can’t get the work done on Air Canada that he can get done on a military executive jet.
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (2)  Opinion, from Senator Colin Kenny“…. General Walter Natynczyk, Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff, has been skewered by simplistic reporting this week. He is right to be indignant, wrong to be surprised, and out of luck if he thinks many in the media are going to stop and put everything in perspective ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (3)  Opinion, from QMI/Sun Media columnist Joe Warmington “Only in Canada would you see our top soldier sucker-punched in this way. Gen. Walter Natynczyk has looked into the crying eyes of the parents of many of the 157 hero warriors killed in action in Afghanistan, and now the same people who condoned millions for a fake lake and a giant fence are worried about our top soldier’s travel expenses? Only coming out of NDP critics could such hypocrisy reign. It’s funny how we have taxpayers’ money for their leader’s state funeral but we must count every penny for the man leading our troops, not in peace time but in the middle of war ….”
  • Natynczyk’s Plane Rides (3)  Opinion, from QMI/Sun Media columnist Charles Adler “…. So what about this trip to the Caribbean? Natynczyk had spent the previous two Christmases with our troops serving in Afghanistan. He was about to miss a much-deserved holiday with his family in order to pay respects to more of our fallen soldiers at a repatriation ceremony. The minister of defence ordered him to join his family, and approved the use of the jet to get there. It was a classy move on Peter MacKay’s part, and was completely justifiable ….”
  • “No” to expanding the Mo’?  “Canada’s bloated military bureaucracy has consistently defied explicit orders from government ministers to increase the size of the army militia as directed. The accusation is made in a scorching but carefully documented report by pre-eminent military scholar Jack English for the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and obtained in advance of its release Wednesday by only a few media outlets, including Postmedia ….”
  • DND changing how it funds research. “The Department of National Defence is changing how it pays for public research on the military, cutting funding by 80 per cent and moving to a new “agile” model that would mimic private consulting, according to scholars involved. By doing so, many of them charge that the department is squeezing the lifeblood out of almost three-quarters of research centres across Canada that are supported by the program, known as the Security and Defence Forum. DND, however, says it is only acting in the best interests of taxpayers. It says the move will transform the way it interacts with military experts, ultimately providing better value. Directors of the SDF, a decades-long effort by the government to link the military and universities to foster debate and research on security and defence issues, were disappointed to learn in July that their $2.5-million program would be shut down and replaced with a $0.5-million successor. They say DND will likely forge the new program into a system where it can commission work quickly, drawing in expert analysis on current affairs, or on subjects that immediately interest the government ….”
  • Somalia’s PM, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, is in Canada, asking for help (including military help)  “(Q) You spoke of the need for more military and police trainers in Somalia, and suggested this is an area where Canada could specifically contribute. Aren’t there already such trainers in Somalia? (A) No, we don’t have those. Not inside Somalia. The European Union is providing some training for the Somali national army. They are training outside the country but we don’t have American, British or Canadian trainers. We need these because security institutions are essential to law and order. We also need logistical support – communication, transportation, even providing salary in the short term – so that once we have a bigger, broader tax base we will be able to provide salaries for our soldiers. We need a lot of financial help.”  More from the Toronto Star here, and Agence France-Presse here.  Given Canada’s military track record in the country (let’s also remember this was a case a small number of very, very, very bad apples making the whole group look bad), this might be hard for the government to sell and message – we’ll have to wait and see what unfolds and how.
  • What’s Canada Buying: Big Honkin’ Ships Edition  Getting ready for mo’ shipbuilding work on the east coast.  “A baker’s dozen of employers and the Dexter government have contributed more than $400,000 in cash and equipment to double the number of metal fabrication students at the Nova Scotia Community College this fall. An Irving Shipbuilding official said he couldn’t say whether a further expansion would be needed if Irving Shipbuilding wins one of the huge federal government contracts for new combat and non-combat ships, to be announced within weeks. “It’s difficult to say,” Mike Roberts, Irving’s vice-president of corporate development, said after an announcement in Dartmouth ….” News Highlights – 18 Sept 11

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  • Here’s a bit more information and context behind at least one of the Challenger trips Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk in the media lately.
  • Afghanistan (1)  What the CF is doing about cleaning up the ground underneath what’s soon to be their former base in Kandahar.  “Master Corporal Ken Stewart has an important job. The water, fuel and environment technician (WFE tech) is responsible for soil remediation at Kandahar Airfield (KAF) as part of the Mission Transition Task Force (MTTF) working to close down Canadian operations there by the end of the year. Soil contamination from the daily activities of thousands of Canadian soldiers and hundreds of commercial and tactical vehicles is a major concern. Consequently, mitigation of soil degradation is a priority task for the MTTF, a responsibility being undertaken by a team of WFE techs, field engineers and infantry soldiers ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  The Army Run’s not JUST in Ottawa today.  “More than 600 civilians and military personnel representing multiple allied nations are expected to run tomorrow in the heat, dust and altitude of Kandahar Air Field (KAF), Afghanistan in the KAF Canada Army Run ….”  Good luck to all the participants.
  • Afghanistan (3)  A bit of one Canadian Forces Info-Machine worker’s story in Kabul.  “…. It is a somewhat surreal experience to be standing here in Afghanistan. The hot barren mountains of the Hindu Kush which surround the city have been witness to a dramatic stream of human history. I am now part of that history. As I ride in a convoy through the streets of Kabul I am amazed at the differences, and the similarities between here and Canada. On a side street, for example, I see a young father holding the seat of a bicycle while his son learns to ride. The feeling that most consumes me is an overwhelming sense of responsibility. I have a responsibility to the Afghan people who smile and wave to me on the street. I have a responsibility to the mission, and I have an inherent responsibility to those Canadians who have preceded me here. It is their dedication and sacrifice that passes the torch to me. I do not accept it lightly ….”
  • The Royal Canadian Mint has donated $10,000 to the Military Families Fund, raised from sales of its 2010 25-cent poppy coin collector card. The Military Families Fund is a non-profit organization that assist military families who land on unforeseen needs resulted from conditions of service. When launching the 25-cent collector card last October, it was announced all profits would be donated ….”
  • Way Up North  Senator Colin Kenny on how Canada can show that the Arctic is important. “…. If Canadians want to maintain our sovereignty in the Arctic, we should start demonstrating that we give a damn about the Arctic. Imposing tough environmental regulations on drilling would signal that we are not only in control in our portion of the Arctic, but that we deserve to be.”
  • Historian Jack Granatstein on what REALLY drives Canadian foreign and defence policy:  “…. for the Harper government, the new reality is that Alberta attitudes drive defence policy, not Quebec opinions. Virtually every opinion poll over recent decades has shown attitudes in Alberta consistently more hawkish than quasi-pacifist opinion in French Canada. The Tories have little support in Quebec, and the last election confirmed that they don’t need Quebec M.P.s to create a parliamentary majority. The coming addition of some thirty more seats in the House of Commons for Ontario and the West will entrench this new reality. In the circumstances, the Conservatives have a free hand to build the defence and foreign policy that suits their view of the world. And they will ….”
  • Remembering the Battle of Britain, 71 years later, with a renewed name” “For the first time in more than 40 years, we will celebrate the Battle of Britain with the restored name of the Royal Canadian Air Force,” said the Honorable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence …. The Battle of Britain, the first major campaign to be conducted entirely in the air, took place in the skies over south eastern Britain and the English Channel from July to October 1940. Vastly outnumbered by the German Luftwaffe, allied pilots and aircrews, including more than 100 Canadian pilots, held the enemy at bay and prevented Hitler’s planned invasion of Great Britain ….” News Highlights – 26 Aug 11

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  • Libya Mission  “NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity” says Canada punching above its weight in Libya“Canadian fighter jets were in the air again this week, striking at the Gaddafi regime’s tanks and artillery, part of this country’s surprisingly substantial contribution to the five-month-long NATO bombing campaign in Libya. As one of three nations carrying out the bulk of the sometimes-controversial air war, Canada with its aging CF-18 fighters has made a contribution clearly disproportionate to the compact size of its air force, say alliance and academic sources. While Britain and France have about three times as many fighter-bombers in the operation as this country and are usually credited with most of the fighting, Canada has been close behind in its role, said a NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity ….”
  • “New” Libyan diplomat recognized by Canada.  “Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird (Thursday) issued the following statement: I am pleased to welcome Abubaker Karmos, appointee of the National Transitional Council (NTC) of Libya, as chargé d’affaires ad interim at the Embassy of Libya in Canada. Mr. Karmos’ accreditation by Canada was completed this morning and he has already assumed his functions ….”  In case the name sounds familiar, here’s why:  “Former Libyan diplomat Abubaker Karmos, who defected from the Libyan Embassy in Ottawa in February, has been confirmed as the Libyan National Transitional Council’s representative in Ottawa, Foreign Minister John Baird announced Thursday ….”
  • A Canadian national has reportedly been killed fighting with the anti-regime rebels in Libya“A Canadian man died on the frontlines of the Libyan conflict this week while fighting with the rebels trying to oust Moammar Gadhafi from power. A friend has revealed that Nader Benrewin was shot dead by a sniper as he took part in a raid on Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, which Libyan rebels stormed on Tuesday. Benrewin, 24, was born in Edmonton, but worked in Ottawa for the past three years, Haitham Alabadleh told The Canadian Press. The Ottawa man made the decision to go back to Libya where his family was living and he pledged to fight with the rebels ….”  More from and Postmedia News.
  • A Canadian “independent journalist” is now free again.  “Dozens of journalists, including a Canadian, who were stranded in a hotel in downtown Tripoli by the fighting were released Wednesday. Journalists had been holed up inside the Rixos hotel under the watch of armed men loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi. Among those released from the hotel was Mahdi Nazemroaya, a 29-year-old freelance journalist from the Ottawa area. His friend, Briton Amos, said Wednesday that Nazemroaya left the hotel with the other journalists and was “out of danger.” The Centre for Research on Globalization, for which Nazemroaya works as a correspondent, said in a statement Wednesday that he was safe aboard a chartered boat from the International Organization for Migration. It said Nazemroaya was set to return to Canada ….”  Funny, the statement issued by the Centre doesn’t mention the bit I highlighted above in red.  I guess that kinda wrecks the “NATO as bad guy” story line, right?
  • Interesting prediction.  “…. events in Libya suggest we may be moving (toward) something very different, perhaps a war that is above and beyond the people. That’s as close as we want to get to raging conflicts. Among the officers I talk with, the strategic thinkers are straining to better understand these scenarios, and what they will mean for Canadian and other forces. No one knows the future, but critical spending decisions have to be made. The current mood strongly suggests that should we again become involved in foreign actions, we will want to rely more on airpower and naval supremacy, while the armies stay home. (Diplomats may also discover their talents are again in high demand.) ….”
  • Gwynne Dyer on what (may) happen next in Libya“…. Britain and France, in particular, have committed a great deal of political capital to the success of the Libyan revolution. They carried out more than half of the air strikes in support of the rebels, while other European democracies and Canada, all NATO members, did the rest. (The United States only contributed surveillance capabilities and occasional Predator drone strikes after the first few weeks.) These European allies need to justify their intervention to their own people, so they will do everything in their power to make sure that there are no massacres, that Gadhafi and his close allies, when caught, are handed over to the International Criminal Court for trial (much better for the stability of the country than trying him in Libya), and that the process of building a democratic government in Libya goes as smoothly as possible. They have a great deal of leverage over the rebel forces at the moment, and they will use it to keep the revolution on the tracks. Despite all the obstacles to a smooth transition that Libya faces, the outcome here could be surprisingly positive.”  One hopes.
  • Way Up North  How it’s not all competition and conflict in the Arctic “…. Together, the CCGS Louis S. St. Laurent and USCGC Healy will map the Alpha Ridge, a 2,000 kilometre-long range of underwater mountains running from the northwest flank of Canada’s Ellesmere Island toward Russia’s (Wrangel) Island. The Alpha Ridge parallels the more famous Lomonosov Ridge, which lies between it and the geographic North Pole. The Healy is equipped with an advanced multi-beam sonar system that provides detailed information about the shape of the ocean floor. The Louis S. St. Laurent carries a sophisticated seismic array that measures the character and thickness of seabed sediments. However, vibrations from icebreaking can affect the accuracy of these instruments. And so the two ships take turns clearing a path for each other, with the resulting sonar and seismic data being shared between the U.S. and Canada. It’s a partnership born of necessity. Neither country has two icebreakers capable of the task, and both require a complete scientific picture of the seabed in order to determine their rights over offshore oil and gas ….”
  • Senator:  Now’s the time to grasp the nettle and close bases to save money“…. Stephen Harper should take advantage of a moment in Canada’s political history that isn’t likely to come along again for some time: a majority government, with at least four more years in power guaranteed. If the Prime Minister moved quickly, he could put a plan in place that would rationalize Canada’s military infrastructure without paying an enormous price at the ballot box. Harper doesn’t even have to finger the infrastructure that should go – in fact, he shouldn’t. He should instruct his military leaders to do an assessment of what infrastructure is still needed, and what can be eliminated in the interests of efficiency and effectiveness. Once that report was in – and it would be a controversial one no matter what bases and installations were selected for closure – the government should enact it, on the military’s advice. The Prime Minister should make it clear to all Canadians that this is an arm’s-length operation – no interference from the Cabinet or other members of Parliament ….”
  • Report leaked to Postmedia News  Editorial“…. past attempts to bring needed change had failed because of internal resistance. People in the forces feared the loss of status, power and resources, or increased accountability. That’s not surprising. Any large organization likely faces the same challenge in making changes to increase effectiveness. Many people have a strong vested interest in the status quo and the ability to find no end of ways to delay and impede change …. The expertise of managers in the Canadian Forces, or anywhere else, should be respected. But Leslie, who is leaving the military for a private sector job next month, comes from those ranks. What’s needed is leadership at the very top. In this case, it must come from MacKay and Harper. Our troops – and taxpayers – deserve no less.”
  • Afghanistan  What one Canadian says we could be doing.  “…. if we in Canada can find some of the enthusiasm Afghans have for the possibilities education can breathe into the country, we can push for education to be at the fore of rebuilding there. Canada has invested precious human lives and billions of dollars in Afghanistan. What greater legacy could we leave than to advocate for, and invest generously in, a robust public education system that could finally put Afghanistan on the path to peace?”
  • Ronald Kevin Megeney, 1982-2007, R.I.P.:  A Canadian soldier says he handled two weapons immediately after a fellow soldier was fatally shot at a military base in Afghanistan in 2007 and noticed that one of the pistols was loaded. Master Cpl. Andrew Noseworthy told the court martial Thursday of former reservist Matthew Wilcox that he was on the opposite side of a partition in a tent watching a movie on a laptop with another soldier when he heard a shot at the Kandahar Airfield. He said he ran around to the other side of the tent where he saw Cpl. Kevin Megeney lying next to his bed and Wilcox kneeling beside him. “I can’t recall what he (Wilcox) was doing,” Noseworthy said ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Finally, all of the U.S. Joint Strike Fighters can fly again. News Highlights – 21 Jul 11

with one comment News Highlights – 14 Jul 11

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  • Afghanistan (1)  Title of Canadian Ambassador’s statement on the assassination of Ahmed Wali Karzai is one word longer than the statement itself“Canada strongly condemns the killing of Kandahar Provincial Council Chair Ahmad Wali Karzai and extends its condolences to his family and to President Hamid Karzai.”  Am I the only one thinking of this Dilbert cartoon when reading a statement this brief?
  • Afghanistan (2)  CF Info-Machine’s take on the Vandoos packing up Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan, including three days of ceremonies.
  • Afghanistan (3)  One of the other victims?  “Dodging bullets from children, stumbling across a boy with his face blown off and grasping a dead friend in his arms — the horror was more than Stefan Jankowski could bear. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and hooked on prescription drugs, the 25-year-old Windsor soldier returned home from the war in Afghanistan to face a losing battle with his own demons. His family said he died Saturday from a prescription drug overdose, after getting little help from the military he dreamt of serving from boyhood. They want answers, saying the military “washed their hands of him” and didn’t give Jankowski the help he needed after he was discharged ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Canadian Senator, again, points out how he thinks the mission was not a success.  “…. the UN says 2,579 NATO troops have died in Afghanistan since 2001. UN figures show that 8,832 Afghan civilians have been killed as a result of military operations since 2007 (nobody had deemed it essential to count before then). I don’t think this adds up to success. Then again, if you believe that it is important to look at this war through rose-coloured glasses to make everyone feel better, I guess we should just forget about all these repugnant little numbers ….”  Note to the Senator:  on this stat alone, let’s remember that between 7 and 8 out of 10 of the civilians killed were killed by the Taliban – more on that here and here.
  • Libya Mission (1)  Media are invited to attend a video-teleconference (this morning) with the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, Commander, Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) Op Unified Protector, the NATO-led effort to impose on Libya the arms embargo and no-fly zone authorized for the protection of civilians in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 ….”
  • Libya Mission (2) “As part of Canada’s “enhanced engagement strategy” in Libya, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will for the first time Friday meet with allies dedicated to mapping out the political future of the embattled North African country. Baird announced Wednesday that he’s headed to Istanbul for the fourth meeting of the Contact Group on Libya — a body that includes foreign ministers from Western and Arab countries, Libyan rebel leaders as well as representatives from the United Nations, NATO and various non-governmental organizations. “We need to maintain political and military pressure on the regime to end its violence against civilians as well as to continue to demonstrate international solidarity in support of the Libyan people,” Baird’s spokesman Chris Day told Postmedia News ….”
  • Ministers of Defence, Public Safety:  Thanks, troops, for the hard work in the Manitoba floods.  “…. A total of 375 Canadian Forces members, drawn from the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery and Land Force Western Area Primary Reserve courses, assisted the Province of Manitoba in their operations to mitigate the effects of the flood, including the reinforcement of existing dikes and water embankments in the general vicinity of Souris. More than 1,800 Regular and Reserve Force personnel from the Navy, Army, and Air Force earlier assisted Provincial authorities by conducting extensive repairs to both the Assiniboine River dikes and the Assiniboine Diversion dikes, monitoring dikes on the ground and from the air, evacuating affected residents, producing more than 167,000 sandbags and placing more that 48 per cent of the total of 891,000 sandbags produced in the Province. More than 160 private residences were protected from flooding as a result of CF efforts …. On behalf of our government and all those Canadians who have been helped by Canadian Forces’ efforts this spring, we thank the men and women in uniform.”
  • More details about Canada’s (at least proposed) plans for the Arctic?  “It is costly to operate in the vast and inhospitable Arctic. But the Canadian military is exploring a way to cut costs and speed up the movement of troops and equipment by building several new northern bases. Along the way it could help to strengthen the country’s Arctic sovereignty claims by placing additional boots on the tundra throughout the year. The plan, sketched out in a study that was commissioned by the force’s operational support command, is a variation of the one put in place for overseas operations. Barebones transportation hubs — essentially a suitable landing strip and storage facility — at strategic spots around the globe make it more efficient when soldiers are called out to a global hot spot in a pinch …. The military is looking at a domestic variant of those overseas hubs. The plan could result in remote bases and a small-but-permanent military presence in far-off communities. Locations could include Alert, Inuvik, Whitehorse, Rankin Inlet, Iqaluit or Nanisivik, according to the technical memorandum prepared by the research wing of the military last year ….” The Canadian Forces says no decision has been made to go ahead with the construction of new hubs. That could change. “The hub concept referred to in this report is just one of many ideas being examined at the time to enhance our capabilities up in the North,” said Navy Lt. Greg Menzies….”  Since the Toronto Star isn’t sharing the full study, here it is (150 page PDF) if you’re interested (or here if the other link doesn’t work), and here’s a call from earlier this year (second-last bullet) for someone to summarize Canadian military research done in the Arctic.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  This from “prolific blogger” Mark Collins: “Boeing is trying to take advantage of F-35 production delays ….”
  • Troops of Canada’s Army of the West prepare to practice mountain warfare.  “With its mountainous terrain and warm climate, Kamloops is an ideal place for the Canadian Armed Forces to conduct training exercises in anticipation of duties overseas. Which is why soldiers from the Third Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry will be in the region from July 17-28 to conduct mountaineering training. Capt. Tony Meier of 3 PPCLI said about 60 troops will form a base camp near the New Gold Mine site, west of Kamloops, but the majority of training will take place at Roche Lake. The contingent will grow to about 180 troops for a major exercise north of Lac Du Bois from July 24-28 ….”
  • The CF’s apparently having trouble recruiting Chinese and other visible minorities.  “More new Canadian citizens hail from China than almost any other country in the world, but military brass in Ottawa are facing an uphill battle in persuading a significantly greater proportion of Chinese-Canadians to embrace a career in the armed forces. Chinese-Canadians are among the fastest-growing visible minority groups in the country, and the People’s Republic of China has ranked first or second as a source of new citizens in recent years. But getting Chinese Canadians to don a uniform isn’t easy – part of the same challenge the military faces with all visible minorities even as the country becomes more ethnically diverse ….”
  • A send off parade was held today at the Canadian War Museum to mark the upcoming participation of a contingent of 205 Canadian Forces (CF) members in the 95th annual International Four Days Marches Nijmegen, to be held from July 19 to July 22. Canadian military contingents have participated in this prestigious long-distance marching event, held in the Netherlands since 1952 ….”  More on the March here.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  R&D sought for a new coastal radar facility (maybe two) in Nova Scotia and someone to cook/pouch LOADS (as many as “a minimum of one million pouches of entrées and fruit pouches totaling two million pouches within a six (6) to eight (8) month period”) of ration packs. News Highlights – 22 Nov 10

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  • So, what’s with the mysterious Russian helicopters Canada is reportedly buying, according to the Ottawa Citizen, for “combat missions in Afghanistan”? Could it be another version of offering support to the military fight in a civilianized way, like we’re apparently doing with civilian spy planes?
  • Counterinsurgency as oncology – one Canadian general’s assessment of the fight in Afghanistan“A Canadian two-star general brought in to provide an independent assessment of the state of the war in southern Afghanistan for NATO’s new commander here says the Taliban is being dealt with as if it is a malignancy.  “It is a cancer and the cancer is being treated,” said Maj.-Gen. Dave Fraser, who commanded Canadian and coalition forces in Regional Command South during 2006. “Even if this cancer goes into remission — and that is a ways down the road here — you have to make sure it is not hiding somewhere and comes back.  “Once you are in that permanent watch category, as someone who has had cancer, people look out for you to make sure it doesn’t come back. We must never assume that this cancer is gone.” “
  • Meanwhile, “the tumour” lies speaks to southern tribal elders, who speak to the Canadian Press: “The district governor in Panjwaii says he’s been warned the Taliban intend to continue fighting throughout the winter months and not give NATO forces any rest.  Haji Baran, the Noorzai tribal elder who has been the face of the Afghan government in the restive district for three years, says he received the news from contacts in Pakistan.  His tribe has a deep, long-standing ties to the insurgency that normally chooses to fight between May and late October.  Baran urged Canadian military commanders to be vigilant in the coming weeks.  “The fall of Panjwaii is the fall of Kandahar,” he said Sunday, repeating a well-worn line of many in the rural part of the province.  “So we have to be careful with that.” …”
  • Remember all the video games the CF is buying?  It appears they’re headed downrange to the troops in Afghanistan“…. Defence officials confirm that 500 copies of games such as “Gears of War,” “Call of Duty,” “Mortal Kombat,” and “Assassins Creed” are destined for Canada’s forward operating bases in the war-ravaged country.  An estimated 500 to 600 soldiers are stationed at Ma’sum Ghar and Sperwan Ghar, Canada’s main bases outside Kandahar, which works out to a video game for almost every gamer-in-uniform.  “It helps in keeping good morale … to bring some relief to people working long hours,” Cmdr. Hubert Genest said in an interview ….”
  • On the political front, NDP leader Jack Layton accuses the PM (and the Liberal leader a little bit) of “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire”“The Conservative can’t be trusted to end the Afghan training mission in 2014, NDP Leader Jack Layton charged Sunday.  “I remember when he said 2011 was the absolute limit, the end of the military mission, we are out of there,” Layton told CTV’s Question Period.  “And now they are saying 2014. I don’t think anybody believes them.” In 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked Parliament to extend the military mission in Afghanistan until 2008. In 2008, he asked MPs to approve extending the mission until 2011. Layton warned at that time the government couldn’t be trusted to end the mission in 2011.  Now, the NDP leader says 2014 is an arbitrary deadline that is unlikely to be met because of unpredictable conditions on the ground ….”
  • CBC’s Brian Stewart reminds us that Canadian troops training Afghan security forces “inside the wire” doesn’t mean zero risk“…. To almost every question so far, the prime minister and his team have repeated the mantra that this will be “a non-combat mission” only, suggesting maximum safety.  But keep in mind that the Taliban will also have an important say in this …. Rockets and mortars regularly rain down on training camps and Taliban units have grown increasingly bold in striking at highly protected NATO camps and headquarters …. nowhere in Afghanistan can now be assumed to be beyond attack. Even the heavily guarded diplomatic corps of Kabul has been hit this year and is always braced for a possible suicide offensive ….” Also, let’s not forget instances where NATO trainers have been killed by their Afghan security force trainees (examples here, here and here).
  • A senior Afghan officer, speaking to QMI/Sun Media’s Mercedes Stephenson, sums it up pretty succinctly when it comes to what will happen when we leave Afghanistan completely: ” “Please,” he implored, “go home and explain to your people what will happen if they leave us alone here with these terrorists. Everything we have worked for will be gone. They will kill us all.  “We need Canada to stay.” “
  • Blog Watch: Terry Glavin over at Chronicles & Dissent offers an interesting theory regarding why more Canadians are not supporting a Canadian mission in Afghanistan“…. The best explanation I know about is revealed in an ambitious 20-country opinion poll conducted under the auspices of the University of Maryland’s World Public Opinion initiative, which shows global opinion similarly split, with the following insight: “Among those who believe that the Afghan people want NATO forces to leave, 76 percent say that NATO forces should leave. Among those who believe that the Afghan people want NATO forces to stay, 83 percent say NATO forces should stay.”  I don’t have any polling data to prove it, but I would bet a dollar to a dime that most Canadians believe the lie that most Afghans want NATO forces to leave their country. The primary function of Canada’s so-called “anti-war” activists is to make you to believe that lie, and Canada’s punditocracy has encouraged you to believe it.  I would also bet a dollar to a dime that if most Canadians knew the truth, which is that the overwhelming majority of Afghans have consistently supported and continue to support NATO’s efforts in their country, Canadian support for a robust Afghan mission would be overwhelmingly favorable …. And then we could move the Canadian debates out of the weeds, to questions that really matter ….”
  • While Canada and others are saying aid shouldn’t be flowed through the hands of Afghanistan’s, um,  “fiscally leaky” government, an Afghan human rights group says doing anything different will cut into the government’s legitimacy. “The chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission says that if the Hamid Karzai government doesn’t receive foreign aid from Canada and other countries, it will never achieve legitimacy in the eyes of the Afghan people.  Dr. Sima Samar (said) “After all, (Karzai) is elected president …. We want him to complete his term, so we have to find ways to help him and to put him in the right direction.”….” Same same from an international development professor, via the Ottawa Citizen:  “…. Because the donors plan, implement and control the budgets of the bulk of the programs, without delegating these responsibilities to Afghans, the latter lose the opportunity to learn the trade ….”
  • Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, former chair of the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence, continues to be underwhelmed about how wounded warriors and their families are treated“…. The New Veterans Charter was a mistake. All parliamentarians are complicit because the charter was passed unanimously. But that doesn’t relieve the government of its obligation to fix the mistake. The Charter does deal more fairly with some people than did the old Pension Plan, such as war widows (or widowers) and their families and soldiers in the highest ranks. But when you look closely at who comes out ahead, that’s about it.  Who’s worse off? Just about everybody else.  The biggest losers are privates and corporals (those most often wounded on any battlefield), members of the reserves, wounded vets who manage to live to 65, wounded vets with families and wounded vets who don’t live near case workers ….” Meanwhile, here’s one man’s story after losing his legs on operations in Bosnia, via the Kingston Whig-Standard.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch A quick response to what the NATO bosses decided in Lisbon (links to non-terrorist web site). News Highlights – 16 Nov 10

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Mission Messaging Mambo: What the Defence Minister Said (Lately)

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You’ve heard or read all the iterations of the predicted mission in Afghanistan post-2011 (check, chronologically, here, here, here and here if you feel like confusing yourself).  We’ve now heard from Canada’s Defence Minister, and it doesn’t seem to help a whole lot.

CBC had a chance to chat with him briefly (less than 2 minutes) on the issue (video of exchange here), and here’s what the Minister said when asked about the gap between previous political statements of Canadian troops staying behind post-2011, and the CDS’s read that none (apart from a few at the embassy) will be there:

The military mission as enunciated in the parliamentary motion calls for an end to military operations, so that is clear.

I think I said many, many times we are living within the spirit of the parliamentary motion.  We are respecting the democratic decision that was made by a majority of parliamentarians here.

I’m saying we’ll live within the spirit of the parliamentary motion.


Well, the TEXT of the motion reads, in part (highlights mine):

…. the government of Canada notify NATO that Canada will end its presence in Kandahar as of July 2011, and, as of that date, the redeployment of Canadian Forces troops out of Kandahar and their replacement by Afghan forces start as soon as possible, so that it will have been completed by December 2011 ….

Now, what do you think the “spirit” of the motion might be?

More tea leaves to be read, I suppose.

A bit more on the (lack of) evolution of the mission messaging here.

Meanwhile, a Canadian Senator opines we may be waiting:

(Colin) Kenny acknowledged that Canada may be delaying any post-2011 pronouncement until after the American strategy becomes clearer.

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to decide imminently whether to send a troop surge to Afghanistan.

The reality is, Canada has no natural allies in Congress and must always rely on the administration to be positively disposed to it.

Thus, any request for help in Afghanistan from the Obama team would have to be carefully considered.

“Canadians don’t like to hear that too often, but it’s a reality.”

Finally, someone being clear.

Kenny: Defeatist, Yes, but not Entirely Wrong

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You know I’ve been cranky in the past about Canada’s politicians not being out there communicating about the Afghanistan mission.

While I agree with Mark at The Torch about Senator Colin Kenny’s recent defeatism about the mission, I have to agree with this bit from the Senator:

“The Prime Minister should be leading this dialogue, but he is not. He issues the odd platitude, but is largely mute on what seems to be going so terribly wrong, and what he thinks we can do about it.

Similarly, if Michael Ignatieff – who has in the past voiced his strong belief in the role of the noble western warrior – believes that we should dig in and continue to try to play that role in Afghanistan, I would like to hear his arguments. Let the dialogue begin.”

We wait with bated breath…

Big Booster of CF Says Time to Leave AFG

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They don’t get much more behind the Canadian Forces than Senator Colin Kenny. He’s now the latest (Liberal Party of Canada) voice calling for Canada to GTFO* Afghanistan – this, from the Ottawa Citizen:

“…. Our troops have performed magnificently under conditions much more odious than any of us would have predicted. They persevered as a tiny band against huge odds, and the lack of success of far greater numbers of U.S. troops demonstrates what an impossible mission they were faced with.

But we are not achieving anything close to our objectives in Afghanistan, and there is no sign that we will. Why would we continue to risk lives under the pretense that there is good news around the corner?

If Prime Minister Harper has good news, he should share it. Otherwise, he should do the right thing, and start moving toward a word that no soldier likes to hear, but that is sometimes the only intelligent thing to do. That word is retreat.”


* – GTFO:  Get the f**k outta

Written by milnewsca

11 September 09 at 16:38


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