Posts Tagged ‘David Akin’
- A new governor for Panjwai. “A Canadian-patrolled part of Kandahar has a new political leader. The provincial government has named Haji Fazluddin Agha the new governor of Panjwaii district. Agha replaces the illiterate and mercurial Haji Baran. Rumours have swirled for weeks that Baran’s ouster was imminent. The new governor will work with officials from Canada and other NATO countries to secure the often troublesome district ….”
- A bit of what some Canada Border Service Agency folks went through in Afghanistan.
- Shaw Media + ABC = TV show about combat hospital in Afghanistan. “Canadian broadcaster Shaw Media on Thursday said it will co-produce the homegrown medical procedural Combat Hospital with ABC. Confirmation of the American deal for the Canadian-U.K. drama means production on the now untitled series from Sienna Films, Artists Studios and Lookout Point can go ahead. There’s no word on casting. Shaw Media is set to announce Monday a veteran director attached to the Canadian medical drama. Shaw Media’s cable drama channel Showcase will air the 13-part series about a military medical facility in Afghanistan where doctors and nurses treat coalition troops and Afghan civilians next summer ….”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged across Kandahar.
- Canada’s reportedly hunting for spare parts to keep the Snowbirds flying for another 9 years or so. “The Defence Department is on the hunt to find parts for the military’s aging Snowbirds acrobatic aircraft as it tries to keep the fleet operating until 2020. The planes have been in the Canadian Forces inventory since 1963 and have been used by the Snowbirds team since 1970. But a number of systems on the aircraft are obsolete and will have to be fixed in the next few years, according to the department. In addition, Public Works recently issued a request for a number of parts, with responses expected back by Tuesday. The aircraft, known as CT114 Tutors, were to have reached the end of their estimated life expectancy last year but that was extended by the Defence Department to 2020. Defence Department spokeswoman Natalie Cruickshank noted in an email that the Snowbird fleet remains airworthy and sustainable. “Overall, DND is effectively managing the aircraft, its operation and ensuring a strong support network is in place for a healthy fleet until it is retired from service,” she added. She noted that a recent study identified two systems as requiring updates in the future …”
- One of the military’s flying schools is cranking up its output a bit. “3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School (CFFTS) at Southport is expected to step up its training this year by up to 30 per cent to meet a shortage by the Canadian Forces. “We are actually expecting our production to increase, in terms of the number of pilots we train … particularly the ones that graduate as fully qualified pilots, both on the multi- engine and on the rotary- wing side ,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Rob Kamphuis, commandant of CFFTS. “It’s going to a busier year, even (more) than last year which was an increase from the year before.” The flight school will be graduating an additional 10 multi-engine pilots and five or six rotary wing pilots in each course, which equals an increase of 30 per cent on the multi-engine side and 10 per cent on the rotary wing side. “The air force right now as an institution is short of pilots,” said Kamphuis. “The long-term way to fill that shortage is to train more. We are part of the solution to get the air force back up to full strength where it needs to be, given all the operations the air force is doing both in Canada and internationally.” Also, for the first time this year, flight students will be arriving from Saudi Arabia , starting in September. About 20 students will be trained a year ….”
- F-35 Tug of War Update: “Canada wants to buy 65 F-35 fighter jets. The government says the purchase price is $9 billion, including some spare parts and weapons but not including a long-term maintenance contract. Today, Winslow Wheeler, the director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center For Defense Information in Washington, D.C., releases written testimony he was asked to give to the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence. Wheeler says he tries to answer three questions in his testimony:
1. What will Canada’s F-35As cost?
2. What will Canada obtain for that expense?
3. Is there a good reason to wait?
The short answers to those three questions: 1. Unable to know. 2. Unable to know 3. Yes ….”
- Too many strings attached to Canadian military contracts? Good question. “A number of folks in industry have voiced concern about what they believe is a large number of mandatory requirements for Canadian Forces equipment procurement projects. For instance, the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV) program has 600 mandatory requirements. A company must meet all of these requirements if they want to win the competition to supply the vehicles to the Canadian Forces. “Everyone is going to have trouble meeting all 600,” one industry official told Defence Watch. “DND talks about wanting an ‘off-the-shelf’ vehicle but when you have that many mandatories that isn’t off-the-shelf.” His view is that the customer (DND) should outline what they want a piece of kit to do and then let industry reach those performance parameters, instead of outlining requirements to such a specific nature ….”
Written by milnewsca
23 January 11 at 8:00
Tagged with 3 CFFTS, ABC, Canada Border Services Agency, CBSA, Center For Defense Information, Combat Hospital, CT-114 Tutor, David Akin, F-35, Haji Baran, Haji Fazluddin Agha, House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence, military news, milnews.ca, Natalie Cruickshank, Panjwai, Portage La Prairie, Rob Kamphuis, Shaw Media, Showcase, Snowbirds, Straus Military Reform Project, Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle, TAPV, Winslow Wheeler
- A little more information on the claims that Canadians are in Waziristan training for attacks back here in Canada. Even more here.
- Another Layton message on Afghanistan: it should be an election issue whenever the next election is.
- “Canada’s controversial national security-certificate system faces a new constitutional challenge from Mohamed Harkat — one month after a court declared the Ottawa man a danger to the country. Lawyers for Harkat, who is accused of links to terrorists, want the Federal Court of Appeal to determine whether the security certificate being used to deport him is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is one of several questions they’re asking Judge Simon Noel, who heard the original case, to approve for examination. Harkat, a former gas attendant and pizza delivery man, was arrested more than eight years ago under a security certificate on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent. He denies any involvement in terrorism. Harkat, 42, says he’s merely a refugee who fled strife-torn Algeria and worked with an aid agency in Pakistan before coming to Canada. He argues he will be tortured if returned to his homeland. In his December ruling, Noel called Harkat a security threat who maintained ties to Osama bin Laden’s terror network, including Ahmed Said Khadr — the late father of Toronto’s Omar Khadr, who has spent years in a U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba ….”
- “The Canadian Navy is proud to welcome Commodore David Craig as the new Commander Naval Reserve. The change of command ceremony took place on Saturday, January 15, 2011, at the Pointe-à-Carcy naval complex in Québec City with outgoing commander, Commodore Jennifer Bennett, the first female to command a Navy Formation. “It was an exciting and interesting time to have been Commander Naval Reserve,” said Commodore Bennett. “I have felt tremendously privileged and honoured to have been the formation commander and am extremely proud of all of our accomplishments, including support to the Vancouver Olympics and the tremendous number of events to commemorate the Naval Centennial.” ….”
- It’s one thing when alternative news/information sites call people who run away from the American military to Canada to avoid serving “resisters”. Why do mainstream media outlets (like here and here) I find it interesting that many mainstream media outlets call them “resisters” as well, instead of “deserters” (or, if they haven’t been found guilty yet, “alleged deserters)? Any insights via comments below greatly appreciated.
- Another question to mainstream media: why is the accused in this story is identified as a retired member of the military? I note the occupations of the complainants haven’t been included – what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander if journalistic balance is to be achieved, right? Or am I being too sensitive and “reading” some sort of “hint” about the accused being a former serviceman? Any insights via comments below greatly appreciated.
- A wounded warrior shares his thoughts on the 5th anniversary of the IED blast that changed his life forever.
- Well put: “The real test of the proposed changes (at Veterans Affairs Canada) will be whether veterans themselves will feel they are finally getting fair treatment and adequate support for their service and sacrifice. Until that becomes clear, the storm will be far from over.”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: NDS agent allegedly assassinated in killings claimed in Kandahar, Uruzgan.
Written by milnewsca
16 January 11 at 7:45
- Canadian Forces’ statistics show 2010 saw fewer deaths, injuries among Canadian troops in Afghanistan than the previous year. More from the Toronto Star here, and some interesting discussion on why those numbers have dropped at Army.ca here.
- On a related note, it’s WELL worth the 16 minutes or so you should spend listening to Postmedia News’ Matthew Fisher talk to TVO host Steve Paikin about how things are going in Afghanistan (good for NATO), why you’re not hearing exactly how it’s going in the mainstream media, and why casualty numbers are dropping.
- Canada has handed the keys (as well as command) of Kandahar’s Provincial Reconstruction Team (KPRT) to the United States.
- “He says” on reported collateral damage caused by a recent offensive/rebuilding effort: “A major coalition military operation in a volatile southern Afghan province has caused about 100 million dollars worth of damage to property, a government delegation said Tuesday. President Hamid Karzai dispatched the delegation, led by one of his advisers, to assess damage caused by Operation Omaid, which started in April and aims to root out the Taliban in Kandahar, a traditional heartland areas. The delegation then reported to the Western-backed leader, charging that the damage caused by the military offensive was worth over 100 million dollars, in part due to damage to crops, Karzai’s office said in a statement. International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman Brigadier-General Josef Blotz said he could not comment as he had not yet seen the statement. “As a result of military operation ‘Omaid’, significant property damage has been caused to the people in Arghandab, Zahri and Panjwayi districts in Kandahar province,” the delegation’s statement said ….”
- “She says” on reported collateral damage caused by a recent offensive/rebuilding effort: “By building a road, Canadian troops may have burned some bridges. The commander of all NATO forces in southern Afghanistan says a major Canadian construction project is partly to blame for a recent slew of property-damage claims. The road Canadian troops are carving through the horn of Panjwaii is part of a much larger military effort in Kandahar province. This week, a delegation of Afghan government officials claimed the offensive has come at an astronomical cost: upwards of $100 million in damaged fruit crops, livestock and property …. The Canadian road cuts through farmers’ fields in a dusty corner of southwestern Kandahar that has long be a hotbed of the Taliban insurgency. Property owners who have found their land bisected by the thoroughfare have sought compensation, said Maj.-Gen. James Terry, who is in charge of the NATO contingent known as Regional Command South. “Some of the claims come from that, in terms of compensation back to the people because of putting that road in,” he said at a news conference in Kandahar city on Thursday. Terry, of the U.S. army’s 10th Mountain Division, pointed out that local elders asked for the road at a meeting, or shura. It will eventually link rural parts of the province and enable commerce ….” More on the road work in question here and here.
- More on the work to close Canada’s Camp Mirage in the UAE (via the CF).
- Remember that committee of politicians looking over all those Afghan detainee documents? Is there light at the end of the tunnel for them (or is it the light of an oncoming train coming)?
- The PM is apparently eyeing a special parliamentary committee to vet top-secret intelligence. “Prime Minister Stephen Harper is considering creating a multi-partisan parliamentary committee to vet the top-secret intelligence gathered by Canada’s national security agencies. Several of Canada’s close allies — including Britain and the United States — have established committees of lawmakers to keep tabs on the operations of their spy agencies. When asked Friday whether he would consider creating a parliamentary intelligence committee, Harper noted that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP leader Jack Layton have been sworn in as members of the Queen’s Privy Council, a process that allows them to receive sensitive national security intelligence under an oath of secrecy. But the prime minister said the government is looking at ways to broaden Parliament’s involvement. “I know that has been under consideration for some time. I don’t think we’ve yet landed on a particular model that we think would be ideal,” Harper told reporters at a news conference in Welland, Ont ….”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Almost 20 claimed killed in alleged attacks in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
- Canada’s Veterans Affairs Minister hits the road to let veterans know what’s coming to them – more on the road trip from QMI here.
- More on how it’s not necessarily the bureaucrats’ fault that some things happen the way they do at Veterans’ Affairs Canada. “…. Take the Sean Bruyea affair as an example: high level VAC officials briefed Ministers on Bruyea’s personal medical and financial information. Bruyea, involved in protesting the New Veterans’ Charter, found his benefits cut and claims stalled. There were even attempts by Veterans’ Affairs to have Sean commit himself to a mental hospital. All this came to light last fall. What did the government do? Apologise, settle Bruyea’s court case, and require all Veterans’ Affairs staff to undergo privacy training. The message? VAC staff messed up and we’ll make sure they know better. Implied course of events: the frontline staff was upset by Bruyea’s lobbying and tried to take him down …. Here’s an alternative scenario: Bruyea ruffles feathers in the upper echelon of Veteran’s Affairs – the Ministers and Deputy Ministers. Orders are sent down: pull Bruyea’s files. Files are reviewed, annotated, and included in briefing notes (all of which has been confirmed). Decisions are taken to “take the gloves off” with Bruyea, after which Sean’s descent into the nightmare begins. Who can make such a decision or issue such an order? Not the people answering the phones ….”
- QMI Ottawa bureau boss David Akin manages to see the forest in the midst of the trees. “…. Simply put: Our Canadian Forces needs billions and billions of dollars worth of new gear — not just new fighter planes — but no one has any clear plans to pay for what they need, particularly in a time of global fiscal restraint. Alternately, one party or the other could stand up and, as Conservatives have done in Britain and Democrats did in the U.S., start announcing big-time cuts to military acquisitions and other programs. Instead, we’ve been watching Conservatives and Liberals argue bitterly about the merits of purchasing the F-35 fighter plane, though both largely agree we will need some kind of new fighter plane to replace our fleet of excellent-but-aging CF-18s. Whatever plane we choose is going to cost us billions. How will we pay? And is that most urgent need? Is that the top spending priority? ….”
- Potential base closures are always publicly contentious because of how much money such facilities pump into neighbouring economies. As part of a strategic review of the military overall, a Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) paper ranks Canada’s military bases according to their “operational impact, infrastructure condition and efficiency, and economic impact”. The list, the paper’s executive summary and a link to the paper itself are all here (as well as always interesting discussion) at Army.ca.
- It’s still messy in Ivory Coast, where one guy says he won the election for president, and the other says he’s still president. Here’s how one academic says Canada could help: “….First, it should mobilize like-minded states to impose travel bans and freeze assets of Mr. Gbagbo’s family and close associates. Second, it should lead efforts to move Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the Nov. 28 presidential runoff who is under siege in a hotel in Abidjan, to Yamoussoukro, the capital, where he seems to have the backing of the local political establishment …. Third, Canada should work with other governments to press the African Union to give Mr. Gbagbo a deadline to step down or face comprehensive economic sanctions …. And fourth, Canada should help Mr. Ouattara to form his government by encouraging financial institutions such as the West African Monetary Union, the African Development Bank and the World Bank to deal with him ….”
- Remember the young guy masked as an old guy who flew to Canada from Hong Kong last October? Well, he may have been one of nine Chinese smuggled here, according to Hong Kong authorities. The good news: some arrests have been made in Hong Kong – a bit more from Hong Kong media here, here and here.
Written by milnewsca
13 January 11 at 7:45
Tagged with A Prioritization Methodology to Support Investment Decisions at Major Defence Infrastructure Sites, Alassane Ouattara, collateral damage, D.W. Mason, David Akin, detainee documents, DRDC, Ivory Coast, James Terry, Kandahar provincial reconstruction team, KPRT, L.F. Kerzner, masked man entering Canada from Hong Kong, Matthew Fisher, military news, milnews.ca, Operation OMAID, road construction, Sean Bruyea, Steve Paikin, Thomas Kwasi Tieku, TVO, Veterans Affairs Canada
- Looking into Canadian (and American) special forces incidents: “There are calls for public oversight of an elite military unit amid allegations that a Canadian soldier was involved in an unlawful killing of an Afghan. Federal politicians and a former member of the military are making the calls in light of a series of closed-door investigations in Ottawa that have been looking into the explosive claims involving the covert unit, Joint Task Force 2. The allegations included claims that members of JTF2 witnessed American soldiers killing an unarmed man, and, in a separate incident, that a member of JTF2 killed a man who was surrendering. Earlier this year, CBC News reported that the first probe, named Sand Trap, looked into the allegations that a Canadian was involved in the 2006 shooting death of an Afghan who had his hands up in the act of surrender. That probe ended without any charges. Sand Trap Two, which is looking at the claims against American forces, is still ongoing ….” More on earlier allegations here, from Agence France-Presse here, and discussion of the latest at Army.ca here.
- Remember the Canadian Chinook crash/hard landing in August in Kandahar? The initial report from the investigation is out: “Chinook CH147202 was conducting a sustainment mission that involved carrying coalition troops and supplies to military installations outside Kandahar Airfield (KAF). While flying at low altitude from the forward operating base (FOB) Masum Ghar to the Panjwaii District Centre in Kandahar Province Afghanistan, the aircraft was forced down due to an in-flight fire. The source of ignition is linked to insurgent fire directed towards the aircraft. Immediately following the sound of a detonation, flames and black smoke entered the cabin from the left side of the open rear ramp. Inside the cockpit, the smoke began to hamper the pilots’ visibility …. An examination of the wreckage did not provide any direct evidence of the type of weapon(s) used by the insurgents ….” You can read the rest of the report here.
- Some CF-generated material out of Afghanistan, from a sailor writing about how cultural learning can work both ways, and an engineer working with Afghan contractors on getting work done outside the wire.
- Columnist and former CBC reporter Brian Stewart (sorta) agrees with the new Canadian training mission in Afghanistan: “…. By staying on, we extend the risk that our own communities may be hit by a retaliatory attack and this point deserves to be highlighted by a full and open debate. My own view favours extending the training mission as it has been proposed. Serious nations can’t cringe in the face of terrorism and allow the likes of al-Qaeda to dictate their foreign policy. And I am sure many people will respect both Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff for taking such a bipartisan approach to help our hard-pressed allies. That said, both leaders are equally wrong in not seeking a full debate before Parliament before setting us down this path. As flawed as it is, Parliament is still the only venue that can represent the entire country and set out the pros and cons of such a change in direction, particularly when it regards a conflict that is now veering off into such dangerous waters.”
- And the anti-war brigade finds an excuse to get rolling again! “…. The public debate that has opened up in Canada on the extension of the war mission in Afghanistan opens new and unprecedented opportunities to mobilize Canadians in demanding that all Canadian and foreign troops leave Afghanistan. This is the starting point of any effort to repay the people there for the terrible destruction that has befallen them at the hands of the U.S., Canada and their other warmaking allies.”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Tank allegedly destroyed in Kandahar.
- What’s Canada Buying? Cleaning up a CF-18 crash site in Lethbridge and stem cell research to help wounds heal faster. More on the Lethbridge clean-up tender here, and the tender documents (warning: mostly technical “what we want to see in the bids, and in what format” stuff) here.
- Why a sole-source buy for new F-35 fighters? Because honestly, they’re the only ones that meet all our needs – we checked! “…. Only Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 met all the criteria required to fulfil the variety of missions Canada’s armed forces demanded, said Andre Fillion, director general of major project delivery (air) for the Department of National Defence …. A briefing for journalists at St. Hubert’s airbase, several high-ranking officers said an exhaustive list of 14 mandatory requirements for the aircraft’s capabilities was drawn up during an analysis period that began as far back as 2005. “Without them, an aircraft could not be considered,” said Major William Radiff, a fighter pilot on staff at DND’s directorate of air requirements. A subset of 56 less absolute requirements was also included after extensive consultation across DND. Lt.-Col. Gordon Zans, also of DND’s next generation capability team, said his briefing was designed to “dispel the impression, after Ottawa’s surprise announcement, that Canada did not do its due diligence.” All emphatically denied the scenario that the requirements were devised to ensure that Lockheed obtained the deal ….”
- Former Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier for Premier of Newfoundland? Why not opines QMI/Sun Media Ottawa bureau boss David Akin: “…. The premiership would be his for the taking and Hillier is said to be seriously considering it. He still has a keen desire for public service but is also wise enough to know he risks significant harm to his current excellent public image by mixing it up in the rough-and-tumble world of politics. Hillier is great on leadership but the knock on him is he was never much of a policy guy. Where is he on health care? On equalization? And while everyone knows Hillier loves the Toronto Maple Leafs, no one’s quite sure if he wears a blue or red jersey when it comes to politics. Sources who worked with him during his military career tell me Hillier once described his political views in private conversation as “to the right of Attila the Hun” but in public he has tried to maintain his political neutrality and independence. Still, he, too, is one of those outsized Newfoundland personalities that would enliven our national political life. And our national political class could certainly use his candour, wit, and good judgment.”
- An interesting quote & caveat to keep in mind on the Wikileaks fracas, via the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy Blog: “It is difficult, though by no means impossible, for a journalist to obtain access to original documents. But these are often a snare and a delusion. Just because a document is a document, it has a glamour which tempts the reader to give it more weight than it deserves. This document from the United States Embassy in Amman, for example. Is it a first draft, a second draft or the finished memorandum? Was it written by an official of standing, or by some dogsbody with a bright idea? Was it written with serious intent or just to enhance the writer’s reputation? Even if it is unmistakably a direct instruction to the United States Ambassador from the Secretary of State dated last Tuesday, is it still valid today? In short, documentary intelligence, to be really valuable, must come as a steady stream, embellished with an awful lot of explanatory annotation. An hour’s serious discussion with a trustworthy informant is often more valuable than any number of original documents.” Click here to find out who shared these gems of intelligence.
Written by milnewsca
2 December 10 at 7:45
Tagged with accessible housing, Andre Fillion, Brian Stewart, Canadian mission in Afghanistan, chinook, David Akin, Engineer Support Squadron, Eric Barney, F-35, FAS Secrecy Blog, Gordon Zans, Joleen Mooney, JTF-2, MERX, military news, milnews.ca, OP Athena, Petawawa, Rick Hillier premier, Roger Annis, Sandtrap, Shilo, stem cells, Steven Aftergood, Tim Kennelly, William Radiff
- Here’s what Canada’s PM has to say about the latest North Korean attacks: “This is the latest in a series of aggressive and provocative actions by North Korea, which continue to represent a grave threat to international security and stability in northeast Asia. Canada will continue to condemn all acts of aggression by North Korea in violation of international law. On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my condolences to the families of those who were killed and injured as a result of this unprovoked attack. Canada reiterates its firm support to the Republic of Korea, and urges North Korea to refrain from further reckless and belligerent actions and to abide by the Korean Armistice Agreement. Canada remains committed to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula ….”
- On Afghanistan, let’s start with the scummiest news, shall we? “Quebec military police are after a prankster preying on families of soldiers deployed to Afghanistan by calling them in the middle of the night to say their loved one has died. The relatives of at least three soldiers currently serving in the war-torn country have been targeted by the prank, a spokesman at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier said Tuesday ….” WTF? The last time something targeted this specifically against families of troops living in and around Valcartier was when letters showed up in troops’ homes from groups opposing the war as part of this campaign. It makes me wonder how easy it is to spot soldiers’ homes in the area if one can mass mail or phone them. Nobody’s saying anything about who did this, but IF this is some joker’s idea of expressing dissent, this is just vile.
- Remember Daniel Ménard, the General who was fired from his job in Afghanistan because of an affair? Next step: A court martial: “Brigadier-General Daniel Ménard will face a Court Martial in relation to charges of inappropriate conduct. Charges were laid in July 2010 following allegations made in May 2010 while Brig.-Gen. Ménard was the Task Force Commander in Afghanistan …. The charges facing Brig.-Gen. Ménard are: two counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline, laid in the alternative, contrary to section 129 of the National Defence Act (NDA), related to alleged inappropriate conduct as outlined in the Canadian Forces Personal Relationships and Fraternization directives; and four counts of obstructing justice contrary to section 130 of the NDA, pursuant to section 139(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada ….”
- An interesting question from the National Post‘s Full Comment: “With the recent NATO summit in Lisbon, the media have been filled with stories about Afghanistan. Stories about tactics, training, troop levels and timelines. Stories about governance and corruption. Stories about the hard slog of fighting a war that has gone on longer than both world wars and almost as long as the failed Soviet effort to do what NATO is failing to do now. But in all those words, there was almost nothing in response to the only question that matters: Why are we there? …. I’d like to support the war. I admire our soldiers. And I’m happy to see the facile myth of “peacekeeping” in the dustbin. But try as I might, all I can see is an expensive, pointless and endless conflict. And NATO isn’t helping me see anything else.”
- Don’t know if it’s a good thing, but Afghanistan’s ambassador to Canada makes a good point: “Afghan Ambassador Jawed Ludin said he felt once the training mission begins, it will become less of a front-page item for Canadians because media reporting tends to focus on negative developments. “This means it won’t be so highly reported on, which is a good thing because it means nothing bad is happening,” he said.”
- A little bit more on those mysterious Russian helicopters Canada’s reportedly buying for use in Afghanistan, from Laurie Hawn, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, during Question Period in the House of Commons: “…. The request came directly from the Canadian commanders in Kandahar as an urgent operational requirement for an increased troop movement capability to augment Griffon and Chinooks ops. The contract process, which followed all Government of Canada contract rules and guidelines and all Treasury Board guidelines, was very competitive, although it was not posted on MERX for security reasons. Several companies submitted bids and a decision was taken on the best value bid. This contract will end when the combat mission ends in 2011. …. This contract is temporary. Several companies bid on it. It followed all Treasury Board guidelines and all Government of Canada contracting guidelines. The contract will end in 2011, when the combat mission ends. It has nothing to do with future Chinook contracts at all ….” That last bit was in response to a question from the NDP’s defence critic, Jack Harris: “Did the government need to make this secret arrangement because the Chinook helicopters are five years late? Should we just add the cost of these helicopters onto the Chinooks, which are already 70% over budget?”
- At this point, it appears, the only “hush-hush” element of the recent Russian chopper “mystery” is who’s doing the work, and for how much – this time. When the idea of leasing Russian-made choppers was out there in 2008 (CTV.ca here, Toronto Star here, the Canadian Press here), there was even a name publicly attached to the idea. At that point, Sky Link Aviation (priding itself on providing “hundreds of air charters to destinations across Afghanistan on behalf of governments, commercial clients, and NATO forces since 2002″ on its web page) leased out six smaller Mi-8 helicopters for a year.
- A alternative explanation for the mystery surrounding the Russian helicopters, via Thomas Rick’s “The Best Defense” blog at Foreign Policy: “My guess is that because both the Afghan and Pakistani militaries use the Mi-17, this makes it more convenient to fly NATO forces across the border and into the FATA as necessary, with lots of plausible deniability, especially if they are flown at night and no one gets around to painting a lot of markings on the aircraft. That would explain why, as the Canadian report puts it, “details were kept off the MERX web-site, which formally lists government procurement competitions, and no news release was issued about the new choppers, which have been in use since the spring.” “ Even if you factor in how Canada is apparently having the private sector collect and share signals intelligence in the area, I’m going to go with Mark Collins on this one – faaaaaaaaaar too risky for an already Afghanistan-message-averse government like ours.
- QMI’s David Akin shares the Bloc Quebecois’ motion to be debated in the House of Commons tomorrow: “That this House condemns the government’s decision to unilaterally extend the Canadian mission in Afghanistan until 2014, thus denying two promises made to the people, one made in the House May 10, 2006 and reiterated in the Speech from the Throne from 2007 to present a vote of Parliament and that any military deployment made January 6, 2010 to the mission in Afghanistan a strictly civil mission after 2011, no military presence other than the care necessary to protect the embassy.” Read on for a comprehensive summary of what the PM’s said in various venues about the mssion – good reading.
- Here’s more on the cabinet minister who suggests Canada’s not at war. According to Hansard, here’s what John Baird had to say in response to questions in the House of Commons this week on the mission from Jack Layton: “Mr. Speaker, our government has been very clear that if we are going to put troops into combat, into a war situation, for the sake of legitimacy we are going to bring it bfore Parliament. That has been our practice as a government. What we are talking about here is a technical and a training mission. Our recent deployment of military personnel to Haiti following the recent earthquake is a perfect example of troop deployment in a non-combat role ….” I’ll bet a loonie the bit I’ve highlighted in red will come back to haunt the Minister, given that, unlike the Taliban and their allies, Haitians weren’t intent on blowing up people coming to help out.
- Remember way back, when Canadian politicians complained about European countries imposing caveats on their forces in Afghanistan, preventing their armies from contributing to the fight if it was at all risky? Well, according to Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno (who has spent a fair bit of time in Afghanistan), let he who is without caveat cast the first stone: “Make no mistake. Dress it up as both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff might like: If this new stay-in plan is put to effect as advertised — and I have my doubts about that — Canadian troops, highly valued for their combat skills in everything from reconnaissance to sniper proficiency, will be little more than decorative tassels on the Afghanistan uniform, their primary value to pick up the mentoring slack left behind by other bolting allies so that Americans can carry on their terrorist-tracking pursuits.” Ouch!
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Bad guys allege blowing up a “tank” in Zabul.
- What’s Canada Buying? Pouches, corrosion protection for subs and sword knots.
Written by milnewsca
24 November 10 at 7:45
Tagged with Afghanistan, Bloc Quebecois, Canada leasing Russian helicopters, Canadian mission in Afghanistan, caveats in Afghanistan, CH-47, chinook, chinooks, Dan Gardner, Daniel Menard, David Akin, Foreign Policy, Gilles Duceppe, Haiti, Jack Harris, Jawed Ludin, John Baird, Laurie Hawn, Mark Collins, Mi-7, Michael Ignatieff, military news, milnews.ca, north korea, Rosie DiManno, Russian helicopters, Stephen Harper, Thomas Ricks, Valcartier2007.ca
- Short and sweet on the plane that crashed near Cold Lake, from the CF news release: “At approximately 11:45 p.m. MST on November 17, a CF-18 Hornet fighter jet crashed in a field approximately 13 kilometers northwest of 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta. The pilot, Captain Darren Blakie of 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron, successfully ejected from the aircraft and was taken to hospital upon being recovered. He is in good condition and is being released from hospital. The exact cause of the crash is unknown at this time. The Directorate of Flight Safety has begun an investigation into the crash.” A bit more from the Canadian Press here, CBC.ca here, as well as a “how many of these things have crashed lately?” round-up here.
- Guess what NATO leaders are going to be talking about in Lisbon this weekend? Got it in one. Now that the PM has said out loud that we’re keeping troops in Afghanistan until 2014, one of the regulars at the Army.ca forums raises a good point for NATO to remember when Canada offers its help (again): “…. My guess is that this week, in Portugal, Minister MacKay will tell NATO/ISAF what to tell us to do. If we decide that we are going to train computer engineering officers and kosher cooks then, Presto!, computer engineering and kosher cooking will, suddenly, be top of ISAF’s list of priorities for training. We have earned, and had bloody well better use, our right to a caveat or two. We will teach the Afghans whatever in hell we want to teach and NATO/ISAF will be suitably grateful for our efforts ….”
- Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae sums it up best when it comes to the debate (or lack thereof) on Canada’s Afghanistan mission: “…. We went into Afghanistan with our NATO partners, with the full approval of the United Nations. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, ravaged by 30 years of civil war. Al Qaeda and other extremist groups have found a haven in the south of the country and the north of Pakistan. Of course all issues are about politics. But some issues can transcend partisanship. In every other country in the NATO alliance there is multipartisan support for efforts in Afghanistan, a willingness to discuss options, in a climate of public candour. Why should Canada be any different ? Our political culture is now all about trench warfare. Everything is supposed to seen through a partisan lens, and everything played to short term advantage. Anyone who asks “what’s best for Afghanistan ?”, or “what’s best for Canada, our role as a reliable member of NATO and the UN ?” is portrayed as some kind of poor sap who doesn’t “get” politics. It’s called doing what you think is right, talking to the public about it, and worrying less about who gets credit. There’s something almost pathological about the state of our politics, to say nothing of political commentary, if we can’t have that kind of conversation ….” Check out his detailed and nuanced discussion of the issue during debate in the House of Commons more than a year ago here.
- Peter Kent, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, said something interesting in the House of Commons yesterday during Question Period: “If we were sending troops into a war situation again, we would put the matter before Parliament. However, the assignment post-2011 for Canadian Forces troops will be to train behind the wire.” Really? We’ll see, then, 1) next time and 2) if a Conservative government is still in power. More on the “why?” of such a vote here and here, and the “why not?” here and here.
- Blog Watch: QMI/Sun Media’s Ottawa bureau boss David Akin reminds us that the latest decision on the mission in Afghanistan fits into the guidelines of the March 2008 motion of the House of Commons. In the comments section, Mark Collins of Unambiguously Ambidextrous fame reminds us who’s been saying something different. Hmmm, where else have I read this? Meanwhile, former OMLT-eer Bruce Ralston points out where ELSE in Afghanistan Canadian trainers could be deployed (as well as what’s needed vs. what Canada is offering).
- Remember the Leopard tanks we borrowed from the Germans for Afghanistan while we bought some from the Dutch? They’re on their way home now: “…. the Canadian army is taking the opportunity to return some of the tanks it hastily borrowed from Germany more than three years ago as the war was exploding in the withered farmland west of Kandahar city. The heavily armoured Leopard 2 A6Ms were rushed into Kandahar in the summer of 2007 to help defend troops against bigger and more powerful roadside bombs. Fewer than half a dozen of the 20 borrowed machines are being replaced with upgraded Leopard 2 A4M tanks, which the Defence Department purchased from the Dutch and modified for use in Afghanistan’s arid desert, said Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin, the head of the army. All of the borrowed vehicles will be returned after the combat mission ends next spring, and will have to be refurbished before they are returned, Devlin said in a recent interview. “The ones going now are part of the normal replacement, based on hours and mileage.” ….”
- The Office of the Veterans Ombudsman Annual Report 2009-2010 is now available here.
- The Kingston-Whig Standard tells us more work may be forthcoming to look into the health of serving and former CF members: “A national centre to study the health of veterans and serving military members is on its way to being established and Senator Pamela Wallin said Thursday morning that an institute to co-ordinate research is all but certain to be placed in Kingston. “This is going to happen,” said Wallin, who was interviewed in the wake of a two-day international conference in Kingston this week that brought together scientists, military brass and veterans advocates. “We have the right people in the right places and I am behind this, 1,000%.” The conference was organized by Queen’s University and Royal Military College to bring together researchers from different universities and countries to share their data and experiences in the field, which range from combat injuries to long-term problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder and the effects of chemical exposure ….” More on that conference from the CF here.
- Speaking of research – Available: Software developed by Canadian military researchers that can scan loads o’ documents, pick out target words, and analyze patterns with those words. Wanted: some help to make some money selling that software.
- Who’s causing civilian casualties in Afghanistan? If all you read this story by Postmedia News, the aid groups spoken to talk only about NATO forces. The news release, announcing a new report calling for more protection of civilians during the fight, isn’t much better, although it does admit, “Anti-government groups cause most Afghan civilian casualties.” The report (22 page PDF here) spends most time talking about what NATO/ISAF should do, but a closer reading shows it doesn’t let the bad guys completely off the hook: “…. (Armed Opposition Groups, or) AOG continue to be responsible for the great majority of casualties, and are increasingly utilizing tactics that violate the principles of distinction and proportionality. While a recently issued Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) Code of Conduct states that “the utmost effort should be made to avoid civilian casualties” and “the Taliban must treat civilians according to Islamic norms and morality,” this appears to have had little impact on the ground …. Another major tactic of concern is assassinations and executions of civilians by AOG, which account for 14% of all civilian deaths. Assassinations reached a record average high of 18 per week in May and June 2010, representing a “systematic and sustained campaign of targeting tribal elders, community leaders and others working for, or perceived to be supportive of the Government and IMF,” according to the UN ….” Pretty consistent reporting from the UN and other sources (check here, here and here) indicate more than 2 out of 3 civilian casualties are caused by the bad guys. Should we be less careful? No way. Should the bad guys be maybe nagged a bit? Oh yeah.
- Here’s one way to keep a multiple murder-rapist’s paraphenalia off ebay: “The Canadian Forces have searched convicted serial killer Russell Williams’ Tweed cottage to retrieve his military kit — and burnt his military clothing. Four military officials, including two police officers, entered the Tweed cottage on Tuesday with the former air force colonel’s permission. They emerged after 90 minutes with enough military equipment, including books and manuals, to almost fill a van. “All his military clothes — boots, headdress, shirts and everything — as soon it was taken it was also disposed of, it was actually burned the same day,” Cmdr. Hubert Genest, a Canadian Forces spokesperson, said in an interview. He added that while the retrieving of military equipment is standard procedure for anyone who leaves the army, the burning of uniforms is not. Normally, the military tries to recycle and reuse clothing. “In this case,” Genest said, “all of his clothing had his name on it, and we felt it was actually more appropriate to actually dispose of it by burning the equipment.” Asked why it was burned, he said: “I could speculate about what could happen to the clothing, but by disposing of it like this, we’re sure it’s not going to be used again.” ….”
Written by milnewsca
19 November 10 at 7:45
Tagged with Army.ca, Bob Rae, Bruce Ralston, Canadian Military and Veteran Health Research Forum, civilian casualties in Afghanistan, David Akin, E.R. Campbell, Flit, Hans Jung, Mark Collins, military news, milnews.ca, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, Nowhere to Turn, Office of the Veterans Ombudsman, OMLT, Oxfam, Pam Wallin, Peter Kent, Russell Williams, Surgeon General for the Canadian Forces, Walt Natynczyk