Posts Tagged ‘OMLT’
- Canada’s Foreign Affairs department confirms it’s working on the “safe release” of a Canadian, Colin MacKenzie, in Afghanistan. The Taliban has issued a statement claiming a captured “Canadian national” is a spy, saying they’ll be releasing a video shortly. A bit more from the Canadian Press here, CBC.ca here, CTV.ca here, Agence France-Presse here and the BBC here.
- A couple of more versions of the Taliban’s “we have a Canadian spy” statement, in Arabic and Pashto (with a Google translation of the Arabic version) here.
- It appears, according to media accounts here and here, that the missing man, 1) has been missing for 3 months (with RCMP involvement since November), and 2) wanted to learn Pashto. In case one needs reminding, here’s DFAIT’s recommendations about touristing in Afghanistan: ” …. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against all travel to Afghanistan. Canadians undertaking travel despite this warning take serious risks. Canadians already in Afghanistan should leave. The security situation remains extremely volatile and unpredictable ….”
- “A U.S. squadron will head to Kandahar’s Dand district next month in a move that will enable the Canadian military to start “saturating” the western neck of Panjwaii before the conclusion of combat operations, Canada’s top soldier in Afghanistan says. The 1st squadron of the 2nd Stryker Regiment will leave the Uruzgan province and take command of the Dand battle space in mid-March from the 1-71 Cavalry of 10th Mountain Division. The 500-member cavalry has been under the command of Task Force Kandahar, stationed alongside Canadian and Afghan forces in the relatively calm district since May. The 700-member Stryker squadron will fall under Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner’s command until the Canadian military mission ends in July. Two companies of soldiers will go to Dand and a third will be deployed to Panjwaii ….”
- A snapshot of Canadian mentoring work with Afghan troops: “A hint of irritation is evident in Capt. Eric Bouchard’s voice as he tries to figure out where his counterpart in the Afghan National Army is going. Canadian and Afghan forces have barely begun a two-day mission to search villages and fields in the central Panjwaii district, and already there’s confusion between the two groups. It seems the Afghan platoon commander paired with Bouchard has neglected to bring a proper map, and he’s leading his troops off the planned route. Bouchard’s first instinct is to tell him to get back on track, but he restrains himself. After all, this operation has been organized by the Afghans and Bouchard’s job is to mentor their soldiers, not lecture them. Showing respect is paramount. “Tell him the first objective is over that way,” Bouchard instructs his interpreter. “But … but, ask him where he wants to go.” Such interactions are common for Canadians serving in the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team, also known as the OMLT or “omelette,” which provides on-the-job training for Afghan soldiers in the field ….”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: More attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan.
- Wounded warrior preparing for run on artificial leg: “When army Sergeant Jamie MacIntyre joined Toronto’s annual run in support of St. John’s Rehab Hospital two years ago, he had a special reason for taking part: Among those getting a new lease on life from the widely acclaimed facility was his friend Master Corporal Jody Mitic, who’d lost both legs in 2007 in Afghanistan after stepping on a land mine. This year, Sgt. MacIntyre has a still better incentive for participating: Last June, two months into his second tour of Afghanistan, he too trod on a roadside bomb and his left foot was blown off. So when he does the Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K Run/Walk on March 13, together with his wife and some military colleagues, this time he’ll be running with an artificial leg …”
- Operation GTFO Libya More details are coming to light about why Canadian planes had to leave empty from Libya last week. “…. MacKay said Sunday the two aircraft had arrived in the middle of the night and officials were having difficulty both identifying Canadians who were waiting at the airport and determining if they were allowed to leave the country. The planes had been given a limited amount of time to remain at the airport, so aircraft from other countries could land. “There was very little co-operation being extended to Canadians by officials at the airport,” MacKay told CTV’s Question Period in an interview from Halifax. “And so they were then told they had to leave because there were specific time slots that were being given to countries at that time.” ….”
- “Two more Canadian military planes are being dispatched to the eastern Mediterranean to help with the evacuation of Canadians in Libya. Defence Minister Peter MacKay tells CTV News’ Question Period the pair of Hercules transport aircraft were deployed and could be used to land in austere areas of Libya outside of the capital Tripoli. An estimated 100 Canadians are still trapped in the country, many of them believed to be oil workers. The British military, including members of its special forces, used a Hercules to fly under the Libyan radar and rescue 150 Britons and foreign nationals in a desert area. A spokesman for the prime minister said Stephen Harper was spending the day in briefings on the evolving situation in Libya ….” More on that from Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister here.
- Here’s what the PM had to say about what happens next with Libya: “…. Canada earlier today implemented the following binding sanctions contained in the Resolution:
- An arms embargo requiring all states to prevent the sale or supply of arms into Libya, or the export of arms from Libya;
- The inspection of cargo going into Libya;
- A travel ban on Muammar Qadhafi and 15 individuals closely associated with him; and
- An asset freeze against Muammar Qadhafi and members of his family….” More from the Canadian Press here.
- More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief: Libya), here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
- F-35 Tug o’ War “The fighter plane at the centre of one of Ottawa’s hottest political debates has taken its first test flight over the skies of Texas. The hour-long flight of the first production model of the Lockheed Martin F-35 II Lightning stealth fighter went off without a hitch, said test pilot Bill Gigliotti. “The aircraft was rock-solid from takeoff to landing, and successfully completed all the tests we put it through during the flight,” Gigliotti said. The flight was an important developmental milestone for the aircraft that Canada plans to begin using in 2016 to replace its aging CF-18 fleet ….”
- A Canadian military briefing note for the Minister has come to light saying “If war breaks out on the Korean peninsula, Canada could become embroiled due to a half-century-old United Nations military alliance …. The note by the Defence Department’s policy branch, which was obtained by The Canadian Press, says the UN alliance could be used to generate an international fighting force if war erupts …. Because Canada was one of the combatants in the Korean War, it became part of an organization known as the United Nations Command — or UNC — following the 1953 armistice that ended three years of war between North and South Korea ….” No word from the CF or politicians, but at least one political scientist says it’s not bloody likely: ” “It’s a technical legal question, rather than a political question, not an automatic reprise of 1950-53,” said Paul Evans, the director of the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia. “The technical legal side is that Canada is a part of the commission. But it does not commit Canada or the UN — we’re not locked into any role in the event that hostilities resume.” “
- An officer, while on leave in Canada from a deployment to Afghanistan, died of natural causes. He was awarded the Sacrifice Medal. His name was added to the Book of Remembrance. His family was presented with the Memorial Cross. Now, Captain Francis (Frank) Cecil Paul is on the official list of those fallen: “Following a review of the Canadian Forces’ casualty policy, the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walt Natynczyk, today announced his decision to add the name of Captain Francis (Frank) Cecil Paul to the official list of Canadian Forces (CF) casualties sustained in support of the mission in Afghanistan. Capt Paul died in Canada last February while on leave from Kandahar. “Although his death came suddenly while on leave from his deployment in Afghanistan, he was still on duty and considered part of the mission, and therefore his death is no less important than any other CF member who served and died while in Afghanistan,” said Gen Natynczyk. “It is important that his name be added to the list of fallen.” …. Capt Paul’s photo has been placed on the CF’s Fallen Canadians web site and a minute of silence will be observed throughout Department of National Defence and CF facilities in the National Capital Region on Monday, November 29 ….”
- If quoted correctly, the outgoing boss of Canada’s mentor-trainers in Afghanistan sounds optimistic: “The outgoing commander of Canada’s mentoring team in Kandahar says the Taliban have been routed and won’t present a significant threat in the future. Col. Ian Creighton, who was in charge of the operational mentor liaison team _ or OMLT _ says the lull in violence across southern Afghanistan over the last few weeks has nothing to do with onset of colder weather, as in previous years. “This is not just a winter thing where some guys have gone back to Pakistan. They have been defeated on the battlefield,” he said Friday shortly after handing command to his replacement, Col. Hercule Gosselin …. Still, Creighton wasn’t reluctant to use an unambiguous word not often spoken here: “Victory” ….” I really, really hope he’s right – such certainty can always return to haunt one.
- If you’re an Afghan working for Canada on contract in the “sandbox”, and you’ve been on contact for almost 3 years, it appears you’re about to lose your job. This from Postmedia News: “The lives of Canadian soldiers could be put at greater risk because of Treasury Board regulations that prevent Task Force Kandahar from continuing to employ its best cultural advisers. About half a dozen of Canada’s top advisers, who are ethnic Afghans with Canadian citizenship, have been told that they cannot be rehired when their current contracts expire. They are being let go because of government rules that state that if they work for more than three years for any federal department they must be offered permanent employment in the public service ….”
- A reminder to journalists who want to talk about how “hard” they are for their embedded work in Afghanistan compared to politicians who had it softer: the politician may have had it softer, but keep in mind men and women stayed there and get shot at after you left too. There’s ALWAYS someone harder than you. Not being hard myself, I’m guessing those that really are don’t complain much, especially in public.
- No, this hasn’t gone away. “The inquiry by the Military Police Complaints Commission into whether military police failed to investigate if commanders illegally ordered the transfer of detainees to a known risk of torture in Afghanistan will hear the final witnesses next week. The hearings are based on complaints that were filed by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and Amnesty International Canada in 2007 and 2008. Since the filing of the complaints, startling information about the conditions prisoners faced and the Canadian Forces’ failure to investigate the legality of the transfers has been made public ….”
- Blog Watch: More kudos for Liberal Bob Rae for his nuanced and intelligent debate on the Afghanistan mission. More on that here, too.
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul. Also, a writer-analyst living in Kandahar has spotted a statement made by a former Taliban envoy to Pakistan saying Osama Bin Laden lied to the Taliban when asked directly if he was responsible for 9/11. A way for the Afghan Taliban to distance themselves from OBL and become less nasty looking? Time will tell, but an interesting thing to say out loud, nonetheless.
- Agent Orange compensation for those exposed while spraying at CF bases? One dollar out of every three earmarked for compensation is going back to general revenue: “The Harper government has returned more than $33 million set aside to compensate veterans exposed to the defoliant Agent Orange to government coffers after many veterans failed to meet its strict qualifications for payments. Liberal Senator Percy Downe said the veterans didn’t qualify because compensation was narrowly limited to those affected by the chemical spraying at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown between 1966 and 1967. As a result, about one-third of the $96 million earmarked by the government for compensation was never paid out and has been returned to the Consolidated Revenue Fund ….”
- Column: Killer-rapist Russell Williams kit burning as “excorcism”
- Canada’s (No Longer Nameless) Navy Mascot Update: First was the tender process for the costume/character (with caveats in the Statement of Work like “His personality will be that of an average young boy of no particular age. He will be clean living, fun loving, bashful around girls, polite, brave and clever. He will not be a clown, nor silly or dumb.”) Then, the contest to find the mascot, a Labrador poochie, a name. Now, at long last, the Navy mascot has a name. Welcome to the CF family, SONAR!
- Watching the Grey Cup? Watch for these guys flying by.
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…
Canadian troops could remain “behind the wire” in Afghanistan involved in training local troops after their combat mission ends next summer, the Star has learned.
While the Conservative government is holding firm that the combat mission will end in 2011, one of three options emerging is that some soldiers could remain in the troubled nation, well away from combat zones, as trainers.
The other two potential roles on the table are aid and development, a senior government official told the Star. There are roughly 3,000 soldiers involved in Canada’s Afghan mission. The size of the training contingent would be “much smaller” and would be away from Kandahar, a hotbed of the insurgency, the official said …. there’s a chance that Harper will be ready to present allied leaders with several options of what Canada is prepared to do in Afghanistan post-2011.
With less than a year before troops begin their pullout, discussions between officials at foreign affairs, defence and international development have taken on fresh urgency to frame the next stage of the mission.
Officials have already briefed the Liberals in their role as the official opposition about the options being considered, suggesting the Conservatives are hoping to avoid a bitter partisan fight over the future of Canada’s biggest foreign policy priority.
Conservatives have taken note of comments by both Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and Liberal MP Bob Rae, the party’s foreign affairs critic, suggesting their party would be open to a continued Afghan role for Canada ….
Why doesn’t anyone have the courage to either say, “hey, we’re done” or “no, the right thing to do is to keep helping”? Could it be the polls?
Or could it be, as some theorize, a case of different sides in the government wanting different things?
I’ll believe a change when I see it.
- Canada’s Governor General and Commander-in-Chief David Johnston is back from his first visit to Afghanistan. - more on that from Postmedia News and the Canadian Press.
- According to QMI/Sun Media: “Five previously unnamed lakes in northeastern Manitoba now bear the names of some of the province’s fallen sons. Pte. Lane Watkins, Cpl. James Arnal, Cpl. Michael Seggie, Sapper Sean Greenfield and Trooper Corey Hayes (links to entries in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial) were honoured by the Manitoba government during a ceremony at the legislature Thursday where it was announced small lakes northwest of Utik Lake, located about 50 kilometres north of Oxford House, will forever bear the names of the fallen soldiers …. The families of Watkins, Arnal, Seggie and Greenfield attended the ceremony and were presented with plaques by Premier Greg Selinger. Hayes will be honoured at a separate ceremony at a later date as his family was unable to attend Thursday …. “ More from the Winnipeg Free Press here and CTV Winnipeg here – Manitoba’s news release here. One of the parents, though, is quoted saying “standing in line behind an NHL hockey player takes the lustre off the honour”.
- The Toronto Star looks over a statistical snapshot of Canadians wounded more than two years ago: “Gun shot wounds, buried bombs, vehicle rollovers, rocket attacks and suicide bombers. For seven months in 2008 — from March to September — those were just a few of the battlefield traumas suffered by Canadian troops as they tangled with insurgents. They are the very incidents that the military has tried to keep out of the public eye with its decision to keep details on wounded soldiers under wraps. The policy of releasing the number of injured soldiers only once a year — on Dec. 31 — has obscured the intensity of fight facing Canadian soldiers, as well as the nature of the sometimes life-altering injuries. It has also given Canadians back home a mental buffer against the numbing realities of war — soldiers who fight hard also get hurt ….”
- Going into more detail, the Toronto Star also shares the ongoing story of a Sudbury reservist, Bill Kerr, as he learns to live without his legs and one arm: “Cpl. Billy Kerr has a burning sensation in his heel and on the last two toes on his right foot. “I look down and I want to scratch them,” he says. “I feel it.” He can’t scratch them. He doesn’t have heels. Or toes. On the morning of Oct. 15, 2008, he stepped inside a mud compound in Afghanistan shortly before noon and a bomb ripped off his legs above the knee and his left arm a few inches below his elbow. Kerr, Canada’s only triple amputee to return from Afghanistan, remembers everything about that day ….”
- More on Canada leaving Camp Mirage in Dubai, via the Globe & Mail: “…. Military planners were given one month to vacate a base that was not only an operational hub, but one they had been counting for Canada’s withdrawal from Afghanistan next year. “It was a scramble,” chief of Defence staff General Walter Natynczyk said during a visit to Kandahar Airfield. “We had to move a lot of equipment over a month’s period of time.” Much of the logistical capacity has been transferred to an American base in Spangdahlem, Germany …. (and) the Canadian government was in the process of hammering out a memorandum of understanding with another country for use of an additional site ….” More on that from the Canadian Press. (P.S.: If you you believe the G&M’s anonymous “government source”, it wasn’t cheap, either.)
- How’s Canada’s withdrawal from Afghanistan going down in some quarters? Not well, according to Macleans.ca: “In private, American and British military officers have never hidden their disdain for the way Canada is handling this pullout. In February, a British general I was speaking with in Kabul called it “bad campaign work, and bad coalition work”. When I was back there in late September, I asked an American two-star general working at the IJC what they were going to do when Canada left. He sighed, then shrugged his shoulders ….” (Hat tip to Mark at unambig.com) First to pipe up on the record (politely), via the Canadian Press: Estonia.
- Some details about how Canadian troops are helping Afghan troops train, from the Canadian Forces information machine: “4th Company is just about ready for the big time. The artillery battery of Kandak 4, 1st Brigade, 205th (Hero) Corps, Afghan National Army (ANA), showed its stuff recently in a highly successful training shoot with live ammunition …. The soldiers of the Kandak 4 Artillery Mentor Team — Warrant Officer John Lannigan, WO Steph Meinert, Sergeant Steph Houde, Bombardier Matt McCron and (Lieutenant Joshua Barber) — have worked tirelessly for seven months with 4th Company ….”
- Russia to NATO: “Hey, whaddya doin’, driving the Taliban outta Kandahar into northern Afghanistan? You think we want THEM as neighbours again?”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Usual list o’ alleged attacks in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul, plus a
pack o’ liesinterview with an alleged Taliban commander in Arghandab.
- Canada’s Special Operations Command (CANSOFCOM) has a new (and first-ever) Colonel Commandant, according to this CF news release.
- Well done to VIA Rail, which is offering discounted rail travel year-round to “Forces’ members and veterans who qualify” – waiting to hear back from VIA regarding what kind of proof you need of former military service to get the discount.
Enjoy your weekend!