Posts Tagged ‘Panjwai’
- Scott Vernelli, 1980-2009 & John Faught, 1965-2010, R.I.P. Remembering the fallen in Sault Ste. Marie. “Mandy Dickson is putting a face to the name of every Canadian killed during Operation Enduring Freedom. Dickson, a former Sault Ste. Marie resident, has created her own “wall of heroes” tribute at her Mr. Sub outlet in Angus, Ont. “It’s important to me . . . It puts a face to every name,” said Dickson, in regards to the 154 three-inch-by-five-inch photos of Canada’s war dead in Afghanistan. “My husband Master Cpl. Scott Dickson and I know a lot of people on the wall . . . This is our salute to their ultimate sacrifice.” Among the miliitary dead they knew were Sgt. John Faught, 44, of the Sault, a cousin of Master Cpl. Dickson’s, and Master Cpl. Scott Vernelli, 28, also of the Sault, who the Dicksons got to know while stationed at CFB Petawawa ….”
- “A mostly Canadian-led seven day sweep across Panjwaii district that involved thousands of Canadian, American and Afghan troops ended Sunday, having found a trove of Taliban weaponry and homemade explosives as well as large quantities of drugs often used to fund the insurgency. The weapons and improvised explosive device caches discovered during Operation Hamaghe Shay II were expected to make it much harder for insurgents to plant homemade bombs during the summer fighting season in Kandahar. Attacks by the Taliban are expected to increase when the annual poppy harvest ends in a few weeks. “The caches were mostly in the fields, not in the compounds,” said Maj. Martin Larose, operations officer for the Royal 22nd Regiment battle group. “Because we also found a lot of stuff in compounds in January and February, they may have changed their tactics.” ….”
- Is anybody out there watching anymore? “Where have all the embeds gone? At any one time in 2006, when the Canadian military formally launched its embed program in Kandahar, and throughout 2007 and 2008, between 10 and 15 journalists were always embedded in Kandahar to chronicle Canada’s first major combat mission in half a century. However, for the first time since the formal embed program was established in Kandahar just over five years ago, only two reporters are embedded with the troops today — yours truly from Postmedia News and a journalist from The Canadian Press …. You would think that this would be the ideal time for journalists to assess Canada’s military and diplomatic triumphs and failures in Kandahar and to provide insights into the Harper government’s controversial new training mission, which is soon to begin in northern Afghanistan. But Canadian editors obviously have different priorities. For them — although certainly not for the soldiers and their kin or Canadian taxpayers, Afghanistan is yesterday’s war ….”
- “Afghanistan: Should the Canadian mission continue to 2014?” CBC online survey says (so far), no.
- “Canada’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, now a Conservative candidate, says Canadian soldiers never knowingly handed detainees over to a high risk of torture though he admitted the Afghan system was rife with abuse. Chris Alexander, a former United Nations deputy envoy in Kabul who’s running in the riding of Ajax-Pickering, says the controversy over the treatment of Afghan detainees transferred to Afghan custody is overblown. Until now, Alexander has resisted public comment about allegations by fellow Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin that Canadian government officials turned a blind eye to reports about the clear risk of torture facing prisoners transferred by Canadian soldiers. But in a wide-ranging interview with the Star, Alexander flatly disagreed with Colvin’s interpretation. “I don’t think that happened at all. “I don’t think any Canadian ever handed over a detainee knowing there was a high risk (of torture) because anyone handed over by Canada — as the record shows — was going to be tracked through the system, was going to be monitored more than other detainees would. As a UN official, I was much more worried about people who were being detained by the Afghans or other countries that weren’t as careful as we were.” ….”
- Here’s the report I mentioned yesterday, saying a training mission in Afghanistan would be dangerous for Canadian troops (PDF). Here’s some of what someone who’s been there, done that in Afghanistan has to say: “…. this was a rather shoddy paper, even by CCPA standards. What was remarkable about it to me was that the writers did no real research of any kind, with all their citations pointing to news articles or other similar papers. They didn’t interview a single soldier or former soldier, or anyone with any first-hand knowledge of Afghan military training in Canada or outside. (The bibliography is also bereft of any references to Afghan sources of any kind, for that matter.) I doubt I’d have said anything if they had called, but I really don’t think we’re all that hard to find. So there’s no real reason to take anything they have to say seriously ….” More from CTV.ca here and CBC.ca here.
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Assassinations and attacks claimed in Kandahar, Uruzgan, and Taliban (responsible for 3/4 of civilian casualties) worries about civilian casualties.
- Libya Ops (1) – Canada backfills fighters to ensure Iceland has air cover now that CF-18’s are in Libya. “Three fighter jets landed at Iceland’s Keflavik airport and NATO military base yesterday evening and three more are expected later today. The air cover for Iceland had to be swiftly re-arranged because the Canadian Forces Air Command decided to send the team originally earmarked for Iceland on a mission to Libya. Canada has just taken over responsibility for Icelandic airspace under the NATO arrangement which sees allied nations take turns to patrol the air above Iceland. Air forces often also take the opportunity to use Iceland for exercises, as the NATO member country has the relevant equipment and ground crews despite not having a military of its own. Before the three F-18 fighters arrived yesterday, Canada had already sent personnel, tools and equipment to Iceland. Later today one more F-18 will arrive, along with a P-3 aircraft used for aerial re-fuelling. Some 150 personnel accompany the planes and will be staying at the Keflavik base over the coming weeks. As well as patrolling, the Canadians also plan to conduct exercises and landing practice at Keflavik, Akureyri and Egilsstadir ….”
- Libya Ops (2) – Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister: Off the campaign trail, over to discuss Libya. “After taking heat for skipping a major international conference on Libya to stay on the hustings, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon will globetrot this week to two major meetings aimed at finding a way around the impasse in the country. With nations around the world looking for a way past what appears to be military stalemate and a divide over whether Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi must depart before a ceasefire can be struck, Mr. Cannon is leaving the campaign trail this time – but first asked for a blessing from opposition parties ….”
- Election 2011 – Blogger Mark Collins on the Conservative and Liberal platforms on defence.
- Remember James Loney, the Canadian peace activist kidnapped with some others in Iraq, then rescued in 2006? He has a new book out about his experiences. “An angry soldier told a Canadian hostage in Iraq that many people risked their lives to rescue him from terrorist kidnappers, according to a new book. Captivity by Christian activist James Loney reveals how a team of Mounties, soldiers and diplomats teamed up for a joint British-Canadian operation that apparently relied heavily on the mass surveillance of cellphone signals to pinpoint the hostages and their captors ….” My own humble open source analysis of what was said in public about the rescue here (Scribd.com). Amazon.com only has the Kindle version out for now here.
- Added #100 to my list of Fave War Flicks here.
- “It is a question that gives Maj. Robert Tesselaar pause. How much have Afghan forces “honestly” planned the latest operation to be conducted in Kandahar’s Panjwaii district? “Not as much as I would’ve liked as the lead planner,” Tesselaar said. “But a fair bit.” With that concise answer, Tesselaar cuts through the generic, sanitized claims of battlefield success and underscores the challenge that will remain once Canadian troops pull out of the war-torn province this summer. The Afghan National Security Forces have indeed improved their skills and boosted their ranks under the guidance of the Canadian military. They have also recently taken on a greater role in planning operations in an effort to flush the Taliban out of strongholds and reassure locals that communities are becoming safer. But the ability of Afghan forces to maintain security independently is an open question, despite Canada’s five-year stay in Kandahar ….”
- “Some chaplains in the Canadian military say they are losing the very programs meant to help them cope with the suicides, marital breakdowns and combat-related stress they face in their work. Monthly reports prepared for the Chaplain General highlight concerns over funding cuts that are affecting some chaplaincy training courses, retreats and meetings that address the strain of tending to Canadian Forces personnel. One branch of the chaplaincy in Halifax reported concerns about the loss of these programs at a time when staff are heavily affected by the ongoing combat mission in Afghanistan, post-traumatic stress disorder among soldiers and increasing workloads. “This is particularly disheartening given that many of these programs were put in place to ensure chaplaincy resilience after so many chaplains were lost to PTSD,” states a report from last July that was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act ….”
- Election 2011 – “NDP leader Jack Layton unveiled a defence plan Friday that would take the government’s bid for stealth fighter jets back to “square one” so defence priorities could return to peacekeeping and improving Canada’s navy. If elected, Layton said he would abandon the government’s plan to buy 65 stealth fighter jets — which experts say could cost up to $29 billion over three decades — so that Canada’s naval forces are served first ….”
- “This year’s anniversary of the battle at Vimy Ridge is the end of an era, with no surviving First World War veterans in Canada. But 2011 also marks the beginning of a new era, with the first youth-led candlelight ceremony on the eve of the battle’s 94th anniversary. Gov. Gen. David Johnston said this event proved those soldiers who risked their lives for Canada will never be forgotten. “This is the largest youth contingent ever to observe Vimy Ridge Day in Canada. It is an honour to share this moment with you,” Johnston told a group of about 450 youth in attendance at the National War Memorial Friday evening ….” More from the Governor General’s office here.
- CBS News in the U.S. picks up the story of Russell Williams – video version here.
This from a CF news release:
“One Canadian soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated during a dismounted partnered patrol in the Panjwa’i district of Kandahar Province at approximately 12 p.m. (noon) Kandahar time on Sunday, March 27, 2011. Killed in action was Corporal Yannick Scherrer, from 1er Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment, based at CFB Valcartier, Quebec serving with 1er Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group. We are all thinking of the family and friends of our Canadian fallen comrade during this sad time. We will not forget Cpl Scherrer’s sacrifice as we continue to bring security and hope to the people of Kandahar Province ….”
Condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the fallen. We mourn with you.
- No Fly Zone Libya (1) – They call it Operation Odyssey Dawn. First in: 100+ Tomahawk missiles, French ground attack planes. Who’s running the show? U.S. Africa Command for now – here’s AFRICOM’s boss’ initial word on the job..
- No Fly Zone Libya (2) – Who’s who in the OP Odyssey Dawn zoo (including HMCS Charlottetown in the Med, and 6 x CF-18’s), courtesy of Reuters and the Associated Press.
- No Fly Zone Libya (3) – PM Harper’s latest statement: “…. Canadian aircraft and HMCS Charlottetown have joined an international force assembling in the region. Faced with the threat of military action, the regime proclaimed a ceasefire. But the ceasefire was a lie, an obvious lie from the beginning. The facts on the ground are changing in the opposite direction. Canada has said, and leaders have agreed, that we must act urgently. “We must help the Libyan people, help them now, or the threat to them and to the stability of the whole region will only increase. “We must also ensure humanitarian needs are met, and that the humanitarian appeal is fully subscribed. “Finally, we should all acknowledge that ultimately, only the Libyan people can or should decide their future. “But we all have a mutual interest in their peaceful transition to a better future.”
- More from the PM: “Canada needs to move quickly but tread carefully as it engages in “acts of war” against a defiant Col. Moammar Gadhafi and his brutal regime, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “We should not kid ourselves. Whenever you engage in military action, essentially acts of war, these are difficult situations,” Harper told reporters in Paris on Saturday following an emergency summit on the crisis in Libya, during which international partners, led by France, agreed to turn the screws on the dangerous despot. “We need to monitor this very closely and be very careful what we do every step of the way,” Harper said ….”
- Commentary on Canadian-built LAVs being used by Saudi Arabia to help, uh, sort things out in Bahrain: “…. It does regrettably tend to put Canada’s support for “Responsibility to Protect” policies in the Middle East these days in something of a different light. And yes, at around 2:30 in the video you see the distinctive boat hulls of LAVs, most with the 90mm main gun armament that is unique to the Saudi variant. Made in Canada? Yes, most likely …. This is not, however, an issue that any party courting the Ontario auto union vote is likely ever to bring up to the public, so this shouldn’t be an issue, at least until one of the Saudi drivers runs over a news crew or something.”
- More parents of the fallen visit Afghanistan seeking some closure. “The families of 10 Canadians killed in Afghanistan paid tribute Sunday to their loved ones in what could be the last ceremony of its kind before combat operations end in the war-torn country. A next-of-kin memorial service was held at Kandahar Airfield’s Canadian compound. The parents, spouses and siblings of those killed placed wreaths at the foot of the monument dedicated to Canadians who have died as part of the Afghan mission. The father of Capt. Nichola Goddard, who was the first Canadian woman to be killed in action while serving in a combat role, said he felt compelled to visit Kandahar. “For me, it was quite peaceful, more than I anticipated,” Tim Goddard said ….”
- What the troops are up to in Afghanistan: “A glance at a map of the Panjwai District tells you where the river is, because that’s where the people are. Villages speckle the landscape around the Arghandab River and its dozens of tributaries, which provide the irrigation water that makes agriculture possible. In winter, when the area receives almost its entire annual rainfall, streams swell with run-off from the mountains and the soil becomes saturated. Unless drainage is provided, many houses are damaged. When the District Governor received a petition from residents of Bazaar-e-Panjwa’i for help with recurring flood damage, he asked ISAF Regional Command (South) for engineering support to execute a drainage control project. Panjwai District is in the Task Force Kandahar (TFK) area of responsibility, so the project came to the TFK Engineer Regiment — specifically, the Engineer Construction Squadron (ECS), the regiment’s project management team ….”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks, logistics convoy ambushes and assassinations claimed in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
- “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, today announced plans to construct a new Integrated Personnel Support Center at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Halifax. Located at Windsor Park, the new facility will provide a 662 m2 facility that will equip the unit with the space they require to administer the full spectrum of services they can offer …. The new facility, valued at approximately $4.2 million, will accommodate the 27 members of the Integrated Personnel Support Centre at CFB Halifax. The new facility also addresses current accessibility issues and will meet the Universal Design and Barrier Free Access Guidelines, making it more conducive to providing the services required for ill or injured personnel ….” More from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald here.
- “(U.S.) Army officials are preparing to conduct what they say is a rare training event involving the U.S. military, the CIA, Canadian officers and other government agencies. The Joint Intermediate Staff Planning Exercise will be held March 21-25 at Fort Leavenworth’s Lewis and Clark Center, home of the Army Command and General Staff College. The weeklong event is designed to encourage participants to confront the challenges and uncertainties of joint, interagency and multinational operations ….”