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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 6 Nov 11

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  • Libya Mission (1)  They’re home!  More here.
  • Libya Mission (2)  Some hairy times.  “It was early in the Libya mission when Italian authorities picked up the distress call. By the next morning, HMCS Charlottetown had gone from enforcing an arms embargo to providing humanitarian assistance. It was March and at the time the Canadian frigate was operating off the coast of Tripoli, part of a ring of NATO warships tasked with making sure weapons and ammunition didn’t get into the country and the hands of Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. But when the Italians relayed the distress call to NATO commanders, who in turn ordered the Canadian frigate to investigate, the Charlottetown’s crew leaped into action ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Byron Greff, R.I.P.  A town in central Alberta is paying tribute to a fallen soldier who died in a suicide attack in Afghanistan last week. Master Cpl. Byron Greff was among 17 people killed in Kabul last Saturday when a suicide bomber slammed a vehicle fill with explosives into a NATO bus. Friends and family in Greff’s hometown of Lacombe, Alta. plan to honour his life during a public memorial service on Saturday. The service will be held at 1 p.m. local time at Canadian University College and will occur shortly after Greff is laid to rest at a private family ceremony ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Debut of new film – “The Vandoos in Afghanistan” on the National Film Board’s web page this week (watch it for free this week).
  • Afghanistan (3)  What Remembrance Day means to one Canadian officer downrange (via Army News & Facebook)
  • Afghanistan (4)  Canadians among troops winning German shooting medals in northern Afghanistan base competition (via NATO Info-Machine)
  • Afghanistan (5)  Canadian ambassador with Eid al-Adha greetings.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  He says, they say“The F-35 program is progressing well and on track,” associate minister of defence Julian Fantino told the House Thursday, while answering a question from the Opposition on the fighter jet program. However, other countries continue to make moves that suggest the program is not doing as well as he claims ….”
  • In spite of Don MacLean suggesting he take the honourary degree from RMC, Grapes continues to decline with thanks.  Further proof here that he’s damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.
  • Remembrance Day (1)  All I can say is:  scumbags!  “City and military officials are shocked after learning one of Calgary’s newest war memorials was vandalized only days before Remembrance Day. Bill Bruce, the city’s chief bylaw officer, said graffiti was sprayed across the riverside wall of Poppy Plaza on Thursday night. Phil MacAulay, president of the No. 1 Royal Canadian Legion, said he was disappointed to learn of the damage. “It’s bad,” MacAulay said. “It’s disrespectful. “You just don’t think something like that would happen any time of year, but especially now. “It’s so close to Remembrance Day, you’d think they’d know,” added MacAulay, who spent five years in the Canadian Navy. “Unfortunately, some lamebrains don’t think of the consequences or anything like that ….”  More here.
  • Remembrance Day (2)  For the last 19 years, students at Ottawa’s Catholic Notre Dame High School have benefitted from a remarkable community program. Every Remembrance Day, local military veterans would come to the school and set up exhibits that the school’s students would visit throughout the day. The students could interact with Canadian military veterans, and examine military antiques, including uniforms, items of personal gear and some disabled military weapons loaned from museums …. what would have been the 20th Remembrance Day Symposium (and was set to include veterans from our war in Afghanistan) has been cancelled. The reason given: The school doesn’t want “guns or tanks” on its property.  Ridiculous. Displaying harmless military memorabilia, in the respectful hands of the men and women who carried it in our country’s wars, is a wonderful way to make Canada’s proud military history come alive to a generation that will, we hope, never come closer than a deactivated rifle to the horrors of total war …. “
  • Veterans’ advocates said Saturday they achieved their goal despite modest turnouts at some demonstrations to protest proposed cuts to the budget of Veterans Affairs Canada. Dozens of protesters, most of them veterans, gathered on Parliament Hill on Saturday afternoon to call attention to what they call the government’s lack of compassion for those who have fought for their country. A rally in Halifax drew some 30 protesters and onlookers to city hall despite the frigid fall weather. A similar demonstration was held outside the department’s headquarters in Charlottetown on Friday. “People on the Hill have come up and said, ‘I never knew,’ and that’s the object,” organizer Mike Blais of the group Canadian Veterans Advocacy said from Ottawa. “The object is to draw attention to the situation and I think … we’ve certainly accomplished our goal today,” he said Saturday afternoon …. ”  More here and here.
  • The Royal Canadian Legion appears to be taking a stronger stance on veterans’ issues.  “The Royal Canadian Legion fired a shot across the federal government’s bow last month. Canada’s veterans, it said sternly, should be exempt from cuts under the government’s program review. “Getting our financial house in order should not be done on the backs of our wounded warriors and their families,” declared Pat Varga, the Legion’s dominion president. It was an unusually blunt public stance for an organization that has traditionally preferred to do its advocacy in private. But it also reflected a new determination by the Legion to speak up in the political arena in order to sharpen its image and help arrest decades of membership decline. “We do want to be able to inject into that debate. That should be our role,” says Brad White, the organization’s dominion secretary …. “
  • A former soldier who is staging a hunger strike to protest the way the federal government has handled his case is expected to meet today with Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney. Pascal Lacoste says he was poisoned while serving overseas and launched his hunger strike on Saturday outside Blaney’s riding office in this community near Quebec City. Lacoste blames his declining health, including chronic pain and a degenerative neurological disorder, on depleted-uranium poisoning he believes he contracted in Bosnia in the 1990s. The 38-year-old Quebec City resident vowed not to eat again until Blaney recognizes that he and other soldiers were contaminated with depleted uranium ….”
  • What’s anti-military, pro-disarmament group ceasefire.ca up to in the coming year?  “…. This year we will be concentrating our efforts on opposing the growing National Security Establishment: that web of politicians, lobby groups, old generals and corporations that are robbing the treasury of public dollars for themselves and their own special interests. In the coming days I’ll be letting you know how the pro-war lobby is funded by the military, and how their influence reaches deep into the best-known news organizations in Canada ….”  We wait with interest.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 12 Nov 10

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  • A recurring theme this time of year:  Time remains the real assassin as the number of World War 2 vets decline over time at Remembrance Day ceremonies. This from the Canadian Press“…. The Historica-Dominion Institute says the average age of Canada’s 125,000 remaining Second World War veterans is 88 years. They are passing away at a rate of 400 to 500 a week, meaning that in another five years or so, all but the hardiest of Canada’s 1.1 million Second World War vets will be gone….”
  • Families of the fallen travel to Kandahar remember.
  • Soldiers are getting a chance to say goodbye to their fallen colleagues in a way that may help the survivors heal. More on that from Postemedia News.
  • Your parents could be taken away by their job for just a weekend and it might seem like forever, but some kids may never see their folks again.  It’s a feeling 16-year-old Madeline Mills knows too well. She’s spent most of her teen years helping care for her younger siblings while her dad fought in Afghanistan. She doesn’t want attention for her challenge, but attention may soon surround her.  Madeline shared her story in a new documentary about Canadian children whose parents have seen combat in Afghanistan. The National Film Board of Canada marked Remembrance Day with the national simultaneous release of the film, Children of Soldiers ….”
  • An interesting tidbit buried in this Globe & Mail piece, quoting military writer/publisher Scott Taylor:  “Only a “small sliver of the society is being impacted by the war in Afghanistan.” Most of the troops now are the sons and daughters of other soldiers, he said, explaining that 40 per cent of recruits either have one or both parents in the military ….” As others smarter than me have said, could this suggest Canadians’ support for the military is a mile wide and a millimeter deep?
  • Soldiers serving in Afghanistan were the first to receive the newly designed poppy coins on Remembrance Day. More than 3,000 troops stationed throughout Afghanistan were the first to receive the special 25-cent memento from the Royal Canadian Mint, each batch delivered in velvet pouches ….” More on the new coin here.
  • Again witrh the “should Parliament decide Canada’s next mission in Afghanistan?” question, but this time, with an answer from the PM.  This from the Globe & Mail“My position is if you’re going to put troops into combat, into a war situation, I do think for the sake of legitimacy, I do think the government does require the support of Parliament,” he said. “But when we’re talking simply about technical or training missions, I think that is something the executive can do on its own.”
  • So, is this a flip-flop on the Prime Minister’s part?  It sure is, according to Norman Spector writing at the Globe: “…. as the even the Prime Minister himself had to (very slightly) concede in the CTV interview, leaving any troops in any role in any region of Afghanistan would constitute a major shift in his position….”
  • Further to the right on the media political scale, QMI/Sun Media columnist Michael den Tandt wonders: “What took the Harper government so long? Why all the strenuous denials, month after month, that such an outcome was even possible? Because it was always likely, if not inevitable, given the situation on the ground and Canada’s alliances, that we would keep an armed force of some kind in Afghanistan beyond July, 2011 ….”
  • This, from former Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier, on the prospect of Canadian troops training Afghan forces while avoiding combat:  “You can come up with all kinds of schemes to hide away in camp and train people for the Afghan army, but they lack credibility …. If you try to help train and develop the Afghan army … you are going to be in combat.” CBC.ca says this is a quote from a “recent” interview with Macleans.  The original Macleans article where this was quoted is from October 22, 2009 (more from Hillier here).  Also, a point I raised about a year ago (or “recently”, using the CBC clock/calendar):  if the Canadians train Afghan troops and don’t go out to fight with them, how long will the Taliban Info-machine take to start the “they come to help, and send you to die” message track?
  • A new approach promised by Canada’s new Veterans Ombudsman this, via CBC.ca“Canada’s new ombudsman for veterans affairs said Thursday he’ll try to keep “buoyant” the issues raised by his predecessor, Pat Stogran.  “Mr. Stogran has brought the issues to the surface,” Guy Parent said in an interview with the CBC News program Power and Politics.  “I think my responsibility is to keep them buoyant now and to make sure we separate the issues into ‘chunkable’ pieces and that we can provide specific recommendations based on the issues.”  But Parent, whose term began Thursday, made it clear he would be taking a different approach to the role than Stogran did.  “I would definitely say so,” he said, laughing, when asked if he and Stogran had different styles.  “Sometimes you accomplish much more through negotiations than you do by being vocal.” ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Alleged Taliban Boss in Kandahar City Op Claims Taliban Rules the Night, “tried our best to completely end any civilians casualties on our part”.
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