Posts Tagged ‘POMLT’
- Libya Ops – “Prime Minister Stephen Harper underlined today that there will be no Canadian boots on the ground in Libya, but he would not say if he believes allies should arm rebels to overthrow dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Harper says contributing ground troops was never part the mission authorized by Parliament before his minority government was defeated in a confidence motion last motion last Friday …. Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Canada should be working the diplomatic backrooms to get Gadhafi to leave. Harper, at a campaign stop in Halifax, said the federal government’s position has always been that the dictator has lost all legitimacy and should step down. NDP Leader Jack Layton said he’s already warned the prime minister that he’s concerned about mission creep and his party would oppose the inclusion of ground troops. None of the party leaders addressed the issue of the mission’s unknown cost ….” More on that from the Globe & Mail here and QMI/Sun Media here, as well as why it’s not likely to come up more on the federal election campaign trail from Postmedia News here.
- “The greatest challenge for police participating in Canada’s upcoming training mission in Afghanistan will be building trust between the Afghan police and locals, an RCMP deputy commissioner said Thursday after touring the war-torn country. Several senior police commanders wrapped up a weeklong visit of Kabul and Kandahar in a bid to better define what their officers will be teaching their Afghan counterparts once the training mission, dubbed Operation Attention, begins this summer. RCMP deputy commissioner Bob Paulson, who oversees federal and international policing, echoed the oft-repeated sentiment of military commanders when he said strengthening the links between the community and Afghan police will be a major goal ….”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged across Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
- “The military’s top cop will gain greater authority and power in a quiet reorganization that takes effect Friday, The Canadian Press has learned. The changes will see all military police report directly to the Canadian Forces provost marshal in a shuffle that critics say should have been done long ago and could have prevented the Afghan prisoner controversy from becoming a scandal. At the heart of the abuse debate was the question of whether military police should have investigated reports that Afghan jailers might have tortured prisoners handed over by Canadian troops. Critics said repeatedly throughout public hearings into the abuse allegations that military police in Afghanistan, who reported to the local commander, were in a conflict of interest and should have had more independence. There were also complaints that the provost marshal did not have the overall authority to direct all military cops. Changes were ordered by Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walt Natynczyk last summer. All military police will now report to the provost marshal, instead of a local commander. “What it will do is allow us a bit more oversight on general policing duties in a place like Kandahar Airfield or Kabul to identify something that is more serious that needs to be examined and reach in with a bit more agility,” said Col. Tim Grubb, the current provost marshal ….”
- F-35 Tug o’ War – Academic argues we should be discussing the “why?” more than the “how much?” “…. Obsessive controversy over acquisition costs and technical capacities embarrasses our heritage, the proud service of Canada’s military, and the moral imperative of our action in the world. If these are the tools we need, then let’s not dither. But at least give us the dignity of debating the why of our role in the world. At least give us some soul in Canadian foreign policy.”
- Ooopsie…. “A Beamsville man is facing a slew of charges in the wake of a joint investigation by the Canadian Forces and Niagara police. Aaron Lacey, 38, was arrested at his Hawthorne Drive home Wednesday morning and charged with five counts of personating a Canadian military officer, criminal harassment and 10 counts of breach of recognizance, according to police. The Ottawa-based Canadian Forces National Investigation Service launched its investigation last fall on the suspicion that Lacey was involved with criminally harassing a senior military officer. It’s not Lacey’s first run-in with the law — or the military. Last August, he was also charged with personating a Canadian military officer, attempted fraud over $5,000, four counts of forgery and uttering a forged document. Police say Wednesday’s breach of recognizance charges stem from those incidents ….” A bit more from the media here, here’s what the Niagara police have to say, and here’s some discussion on Army.ca about the case.
- A man claiming to be learning parachuting to train Canadian military forces has been killed in a parachute accident in the U.S. “A longtime skydiving instructor was one of two parachutists who fell to their deaths Thursday after their parachutes collided over Perris Valley Airport. Patrick McGowan had worked with Skydive Perris for almost two decades and oversaw parachuting activities at the airport. The collision appears to have happened 300 to 400 feet above the ground, said the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in a news release. The parachutes collided, deflating both. Neither reinflated and the men fell. A rescue crew from the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department was alerted to the incident at 3:36 p.m., said Melody Hendrickson, a Cal Fire spokeswoman, in a news release. When firefighters arrived at the popular skydiving venue, they found airport personnel administering CPR. Both men were pronounced dead at 4 p.m., Cal Fire said. Scott Smith, western regional director of the U.S. Parachute Association, said Smith was a veteran skydiver and instructor. “He had over 17,000 jumps,” Smith said. The other man was identified by Riverside County sheriff’s as Christopher David Stasky, 42, of San Diego. Smith said he was helping McGowan train parachute instructors for the Canadian military ….”
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…
Almost four months ago, I asked this question:
“Who’ll be protecting those carrying out the “humanitarian and development missions”? Other military forces? Private security forces? The goodwill of the Taliban?”
Now, the RCMP is trying to figure that out – this from the Canadian Press (emphasis mine):
The RCMP has started looking at how to continue the police training mission in Afghanistan after the Canadian military pulls out next year, the Mounties’ top man said Saturday.
But Commissioner William Elliot noted there are a number of details and variables to be worked out, among them, who would protect and transport the police trainers as they go about their business in the volatile country.
There are 48 Canadian police trainers at the joint Canadian and American provincial reconstruction base in Kandahar. But they rely heavily on the Canadian army for protection and movement throughout the city, and the rural areas.
There is the possibility that members from the U.S. army’s 97th Military Police Battalion which is already located at the reconstruction base, could step in to the role vacated by the army, said Elliot.
“I think there are a lot of specifics to be worked out,” he added ….
Good to see someone’s (finally) asking.
Earlier whining on my part
I’ve compared the Canadian government’s lack of clarity to the “mission mambo”. Now, I have a different picture in my head – Canadians only deserve to learn about Canada’s post-2011 mission a tiny scrap at a time, as through an eyedropper. The latest droplet, via the National Post:
Canada will continue to train the Afghan police force after the military mission in the war-torn country officially ends next year, says the federal defence minister. Peter MacKay said Saturday that despite U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s urging that Canada keep soldiers in Afghanistan past 2011, the military mission will end.
“We will work within the parameters of the parliamentary motion, which states very clearly that the military mission will come to an end in 2011,” Mr. MacKay said from Kandahar while visiting Afghanistan with Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose.
“We will then transition into some of the other important work that we’re doing. That includes a focus on police training. The prime minister has been clear in saying our commitment to Afghanistan is for the long-term.” ….
OK, so now we’re told part of the job will be a “focus on police training”.
Another drip, from the Representative of Canada in Kandahar, on whether civilians will even be staying in Kandahar, via the Canadian Press:
…. Although the combat mission ends in July 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has pledged that the diplomatic and development mission will continue after the withdrawal.
But whether that takes place in Kandahar, or somewhere else in Afghanistan remains undecided.
“We’re awaiting direction from our ministers in Ottawa,” Ben Rowswell, Canada’s representative in Kandahar said Sunday in an interview.
“We know that we’re committed to delivering development projects beyond 2011, but there are many ways you can deliver development projects, depending on how you do it. You either have civilians on the ground – or you don’t.” ….
Okaaaaaaaay, now we don’t even know if civilians will be staying in Kandahar’s PRT. The Commons resolution of March 2008 says:
…. the government of Canada (will) notify NATO that Canada will end its presence in Kandahar as of July 2011, and, as of that date, the redeployment of Canadian Forces troops out of Kandahar and their replacement by Afghan forces start as soon as possible, so that it will have been completed by December 2011 ….
So, the bit in red suggests Canada’s leaving Kandahar completely by July of next year, while the bit in blue suggests only troops are leaving.
Stay tuned for the next droplet.
This, from the Canadian Press, from a news conference in Kabul:
Canada will send an additional 90 troops to Afghanistan to help train both the fledgling army and local police forces.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay made the surprise announcement in Kabul, only one day after Prime Minister Stephen Harper unleashed blistering criticism of President Hamid Karzai.
The prime minister took Karzai to task for his recent anti-Western rants and a reported suggestion that he might join the Taliban, if pressure from his allies to curb corruption doesn’t ease up.
Nevertheless, Ottawa stepped forward with the extra soldiers, answering a call from NATO to boost training of Afghan security forces.
“The Government of Canada is proud to contribute additional Canadian Forces personnel to prepare Afghans in order to build a stable, strong and peaceful nation, which they deserve,” MacKay said in a statement.
Some of the reinforcements will be sent to the NATO training centre in Kabul, while others are expected to bolster training forces in Kandahar and help at the Canadian task force headquarters.
The additions bring the number of Canadian troops and aircrew in Afghanistan to almost 3,000.
MacKay says the trainers will stay until Canada begins drawing down its forces, starting in July of next year ….
Great – any more detailed word on what happens AFTER all our troops leave? Like who’s going to protect those doing the development, governance and humanitarian aid work after Canada’s soldiers leave?
This, from a DND statement:
One Canadian soldier was killed and two injured by an improvised explosive device that detonated near their dismounted patrol. The incident occurred approximately 20 kilometres south-west of Kandahar City at around 9 a.m., Kandahar time, on 28 October 2009.
Killed in action was Lieutenant Justin Boyes of the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, serving with the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team.
The injured soldiers were evacuated by helicopter to the Multi-National Medical Facility at the Kandahar Airfield and are in good condition. The next of kin for the injured soldiers have also been notified. The identities of the injured soldiers will not be released.
Our thoughts and condolences go to the family and friends of our fallen comrade.
David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen has been recently chasing the story of some Canadian Forces troops in Afghanistan concerned about Afghan security forces sexually assaulting young boys (latest updates here and here).
There’s still a Board of Inquiry under way after similar claims in the Toronto Star led to an CF National Investigative Service probe finding “no evidence that any CF members committed any service or criminal offences in relation to the alleged sexual abuse of Afghan male children.”
At one level, it’s simple: you can’t have Afghan soldiers or cops raping young Afghan men (or women, for that matter, breaking Afghan law – check page 136 of the PDF) if you expect the population to trust them.
Canada has soldiers training and mentoring Afghan soldiers, and police officers training and mentoring Afghan police officers. What should they do?
Many think it’s a “cultural issue” outside the lanes of the Canadian Forces – in fact, this, from Pugliese in the National Post, sums up the CF position:
“It is the position of the Canadian Forces that its troops have no jurisdiction over the activities of Afghan military and police personnel, even those operating on Canadian bases.”
Interesting, especially when compared to what then-CDS Rick Hillier had to say to the House of Commonse Defence Committee about the issue in June 2008:
“If somebody is being seriously abused, we are not going to stand by and see that continue. I expect young men and young women to have their actions mirror their values that they bring with them from Canada …. I don’t want any ambiguity on that whatsoever.”
I, among others, have asked, “how is sexual abuse of boys different than, say, keeping girls out of school?” This tidbit, from Ken White over at the Small Wars Council, flicked a switch for me, as it were, explaining exactly why this is a tough issue to deal with:
“It’s one thing to insist on elimination of age old custom when the issue is overt and acknowledged (female status) and yet another when the issue is denied and hidden (pederasty). Try pressuring one of your friends to stop doing something they hide but you know they do; then try to get a Police Officer to accost them about it…”
According to Babbling Brooks over at The Torch, something is starting to happen:
“I’m told that the OMLT’s <Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams> and POMLT’s <Police Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams> are already advising the ANSF <Afghan security forces> that they mentor that regardless of cultural traditions, it’s unprofessional conduct from a force whose raison d’etre is the protection of Afghan citizens.”
“Canadians may not have any direct authority to intervene or to force changes but, at the very least, we need:
1. A formal channel of reporting – so that soldiers can, at least, have “done something,” however inadequate, and so that, at the very least, the CF does not have to endure a constant drubbing in the press because it ignores the problem;
2. A formal channel for advising the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan that these actions lower the level of Canadian support for the mission and for the Afghan government; and
3. A formal feedback channel – so that the soldier who made the intial report knows that something, however inadequate, was done about the issue.”
Kudos to Sgt. Damian Coakeley and all the other police officers helping train Afghan police officers.
To the Government of Canada Information Machine (GoCIM): it would have been cooler seeing it just before or just after the election, not a month later.
Good details here from CanWest’s Matthew Fisher about Canadian police trainers in Kandahar City soon to be getting help from American military police officers. Some highlights:
“The American MPs are to live alongside Canadian police mentors at a Canadian base in Kandahar City. Their presence should allow the police mentors to have greater mobility which in turn should permit them to spend more time with Afghan police from nine or 10 sub-stations in the city, (RCMP Assistant Commissioner Graham) Muir said.
“It is a force multiplier for us to be in the presence of the ANP with considerably more frequency,” he said, adding “as much as humanly possible, coaching and training needs to be done in the field.”
The goal was for Afghan police to be able to move at will, own the night and know their neighbourhoods better, said Muir, a veteran of previous tours on behalf of the Mounties in the Balkans and Haiti.
“If the police can move freely, the corollary is that there is less space for the bad guys,” Muir said. “To own the night is self-explanatory. Knowing your public means knowing who belongs (in an area) and who doesn’t.”
But such an approach is an uneasy fit with Afghanistan’s existing police culture.
“The police here are mostly static at checkpoints, guarding buildings or waiting in their stations to be called,” he said, referring to this as “a garrison mentality.” “
On how much time Canada’s trainer cops spend behind the wire:
“Unlike Canada’s mentors who spend much of their time walking the beat with Afghan police, hundreds of police mentors from Europe here mainly assist at the strategic level and seldom venture “outside the wire.”
“We are kind of unique because we have federal police, provincial police from small towns and police from big cities,” Muir said.”
On female officers headed downrange:
“Three of the eight new Canadian officers coming in November are women.
“The centre of gravity is in the south and that would suggest that two of the three (women) are probably heading south,” Muir said. “Kandahar is where the bulk of the effort is, but there is a reason to be in Kabul, too.”
The other female officer from Canada will likely be based in the capital so that she can contribute to broader policy development such as how to advance gender issues within the police beyond security issues.”
On the reputation of the Afghan Police being trained:
“I hear a lot of disparaging remarks,” Muir acknowledged, “but it is better to light a candle than disparage the darkness.”
Good to see more about other elements of Canada’s work helping Afghanistan.