Posts Tagged ‘Milnet.ca’
What a difference a few hours makes.
Remember when I guessed Prime Minister Harper wouldn’t use Remembrance Day to announce a change of heart on Canada’s future missio? I was wrong – this, from the Canadian Press:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he decided with some “reluctance” to reconsider his decision to pull Canadian troops out of Afghanistan next year. Speaking on the sidelines of meetings of the G20 leaders, Harper said he told his NATO allies in no uncertain terms that Canada’s combat role is coming to an end. But he said he sees merit in the argument that Afghan troops aren’t ready to stand on their own, and Canada could help in their training. “I do this with some reluctance but I think this is the best decision, when one looks at the options,” he said. “Look, I’m not going to kid you. Down deep my preference would be, would have been to see a complete end to the military mission.” …. Harper said Thursday he did not succumb to pressure, but decided to reconsider based on the fact that the Afghans aren’t ready for Canada to leave. “I don’t want to risk the gains that Canadian soldiers have fought for and have sacrificed in such significant numbers by pulling out too early, if we can avoid that.” Harper acknowledged he has been under pressure by NATO allies to continue in a combat role, but a training role was the most he could agree to …. “I think if we can continue a smaller mission that involves just training, I think frankly that presents minimal risks to Canada, but it helps us to ensure that the gains that we’ve made,” Harper said.
I like the idea of doing something to keep helping Afghanistan get on its own feet to protect itself (and, hopefully, keep bad guys who’d do harm to US out of the country).
It’ll be interesting to watch the next few news cycles. Now that he says “we should stay (at least a bit)”, will MSM who (lately) called for a training mission now say “hey, he did the right thing?”
Also, watch for public opinion polling in the next few days. Along these lines, look for a tight focus on “NO COMBAT” in the PM’s (and other government officials’) messaging from here on in.
Also, I wonder if the Taliban’ll have anything to say? The last report of Canadian casualties before the most recent one was in the summer. Will they think it’s important enough to either attack Canada’s decision (after all, they endorsed Canada’s decision to leave, right?)? Stay tuned…
First, the good news.
A reporter based in Kabul reached out to some military bloggers, some with first-hand experience in Afghanistan, bounce a thesis about for comment:
“non-US coalition partners (Canada included) are taking casualities because they simply are not driving vehicles that are effective against the IED”
Several people, myself included, shared information, much of it detailed, all in context, saying it’s not quite as simple as the thesis makes it look.
Now, for the bad news.
After thanking all for their input, here’s what he wrote:
Canadian reporter Michelle Lang spent her last moments in a Canadian Light Armored Vehicle rolling down a muddy path in Kandahar province on the day before New Year’s Eve.
The improvised explosive device that killed Lang and four Canadian soldiers flipped the 23-ton LAV upside down, according to the Canwest News Service, Lang’s employer. The Canadian LAV-III and LAV-25 closely resemble the American Stryker, an armored vehicle that U.S. soldiers have nicknamed the “Kevlar coffin.”
In Iraq and now in Afghanistan, the U.S. military has battled to keep pace as insurgents have devised IEDs that are big or sophisticated enough to cripple or destroy even the biggest American armored vehicles, the 33-ton Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle.
The MRAP, however, is still far superior to less heavily armored vehicles such as the Stryker and the Canadian LAVs. No MRAP has ever lost its entire crew to an IED, and if Lang and the soldiers who died with her had been in one, it’s less likely that the bomb would have killed them all….
My colleagues, who were also consulted, were underwhelmed like I was:
“There are none so blind as those who will not see” (Mark Damian, The Torch) <my mistake – sorry Damian)
“Trial and Error” (Brian, Canada-Afghanistan blog)
My only additional comments are on this part:
…. No MRAP has ever lost its entire crew to an IED, and if Lang and the soldiers who died with her had been in one, it’s less likely that the bomb would have killed them all….
1) I re-emphasize the fact, as others smarter than I have mentioned, the bit in blue is NOT TRUE.
2) I wonder how comforting the bit in red is for the families of those killed in the incident in question?
I realize most reporters are trying far harder than this to get the best information and the best story out, but like cops, teachers, soldiers and other professionals, the group is often judged by the worst possible example.
You’ve heard about the earthquake in Haiti. Before I go into how the CF is helping, here’s some links to good news resources to keep track of what’d happening in Haiti:
- European Commision News Brief aggregator (you can even pick the language of the feed)
- Google News search “Haiti+earthquake”
- Yahoo News search “Haiti+earthquake”
- NewsNow aggregator on Haiti earthquake
- Milnet.ca Discussion Forum (where military members and those interested share news/information about the work being done)
If you know any other resources, PLEASE let us know via comments below – always happy to share.
Media and other open sources indicate the following:
- “A C-130 (Hercules) military transport plane arrived in Haiti on Wednesday with a reconnaissance team that will assess what military personnel and equipment is needed.” This would likely involve people with engineering (building/rebuilding as well as purifying water), medical and logistical expertise to decide how best to deploy Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART).
- Another larger plane – a CC-177 Globemaster - is to have left tonight (Wednesday) “with humanitarian assistance that will be provided to the people of Haiti on behalf of the Canadian Government (including) components of the Canadian Forces Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART).”
- There are also reports that “a (Globemaster) transport plane and two Griffon search-and-rescue helicopters have been assigned to help with the relief efforts in Haiti.” Canada has four Globemasters, so this suggests that if one has already left, one more may be getting ready to go.
- Two CF ships – HMCS Halifax and HMCS Athabaskan – are headed to Halifax to load up on “medical supplies, food, water purification tablets, construction materials and other equipment” to bring to Haiti. “The two ships are expected to leave Thursday morning and will take about five days to reach Haiti, arriving Jan. 18 or 19.”
Safe travels to all the folks headed to Haiti to help out.
More, as I have time to plug it in.
You’ve seen the tea leaf reading here and elsewhere about how Canadian politicians have been weasel-wording their way around what the task will be in Afghanistan post-2011.
I chalk it up to two things:
1) Nobody knows exactly what the new, improved mission will look like.
2) Poor communications about what little is known.
E.R. Campbell over at Milnet.ca has an interesting, maybe more elegant theory (emphasis his):
I’m guessing we are watching, in all these contradictory statements from official Ottawa, a few of the symptoms of a very intense battle for the foreign policy soul of the Conservative Party of Canada.
On one side, on what I will call the activist/internationalist (or, maybe, the Liberal St Laurent/Martin) side are, I think, Peter MacKay and a few Alberta and Ontario MPs including e.g. Jim Prentice, Jim Flaherty and Peter Kent. On the other side, on what I will call the domestic/isolationist side are Stephen Harper and his closest political advisors.
The activist/internationalist position is fairly easy to describe, and Paul Martin did so, quite well, in the link above.
The domestic/isolationist view is a bit more complex: at its roots it says, “Trudeau was on the right track; we have too many problems of our own; we cannot afford to go swaning about, all over the world, helping or fighting all and sundry. We are not going to back away, completely, but we are going to focus on our own backyard, basically the Caribbean. And we will be joining with the Americans, in military mission, now and again, when helping them advances our national interests. Our strengths are economic and we must play to that strength by leading in e.g. the G-20. We are not a significant military power and Canadians do not want to be a military power. We recognize the need for small, but very flexible and effective armed forces and we will spend what is necessary to have them. We will, occasionally, use our military ‘tools,’ but only when other means of advancing our national interests fail.”
It is not clear to me that either side has the political capital to win its position. This war, which has, from day one, been seen as an American war, into which we were dragged – how soon we forget the national mood in the late summer of 2001 – has damaged the activist/internationalist side, but it has done so without strengthening Harper’s position. Canadians remain, very broadly but not too deeply, wedded to a variant of the St Laurent/Martin, Liberal position, but they want to be Pearsonian “helpful fixers” without paying the price in lives or treasure that Mike Pearson so clearly foresaw.
Political food for thought.
This, from the Colonel of the Regiment of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (via Milnet.ca):
“…. On behalf of the Colonel of the Regiment, Brigadier General (Ret’d) Gollner, it is my distinct pleasure to announce Mr. Don Cherry’s appointment as an Honorary Patricia …. Our soldiers have often said that Don Cherry should be a Patricia. They admire and respect Don Cherry’s unabashed pride of being a Canadian, his unstinting public support of the Canadian Forces, especially since the beginning of the Afghan campaign, and his recognition of the families of Canadian Forces members. They like his unmatched hockey knowledge too. They feel that Don Cherry shares many common values with us and as such is worthy of being a Patricia. Earlier this year acting on our soldier’s behalf I asked our Regiment’s Commanding Officers to discreetly poll their units to see if the proposal to make Don Cherry an Honorary Patricia was widely held. Additionally, senior members of the Regiment and our Association advice were sought. Across the family the results were clear; make Don Cherry an Honorary Patricia. I asked Don and he agreed to join our Regimental family. We are all pleased and proud of having him as a member of our Regimental family and look forward to welcoming him into our family….”
Well done to Don for his support for the troops, and to the PPCLI for rewarding such support.