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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 24 Nov 11

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  • Afghanistan (1)  The latest quarterly report is out, this time tabled by the Defence Minister in the House of Commons (unlike the past few released by either the Foreign Affairs Minister or others) – more from media here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Another Canadian unit packs it in at Kandahar Airfield (via CF Info-Machine, only 8 days after the ceremony)
  • Afghanistan (3a)  Toronto Star continues pressing story of Afghan interpreter rejected for “fast-track move to Canada” program.  “An Afghan interpreter turned away from Canada says he has been hunted by insurgents on motorcycles because of his work with the Canadian military.  Sayed Shah Sharifi disputes the accounts of Canadian officials who have played down the threat he faces for aiding allied forces in Kandahar.  Indeed, Sharifi, 23, says he was forced to move his family out of Kandahar for more than two months last year for safety after motorcycle-borne insurgents left a chilling warning with his father.  “Your son works with the Canadian Forces and we will kill him,” Sharifi recalled Wednesday in a telephone interview with the Star ….”
  • Afghanistan (3b)  TorStar back stops coverage with letters.
  • Afghanistan (4)  Rabble.ca columnist complains about CBC call-in show featuring anti-Taliban writer Terry Glavin.  I’m still waiting to hear if the columnist even tried to call in.
  • Libya  Columnist shares kudos for Canadian mission commander as preparations continue for today’s “well done on the mission” parade at Parliament Hill.
  • Let’s not forget we have troops in Darfur, too – more on Operation Saturn here.
  • Mark Collins:  “Canadian Defence Spending–Less There Than Proclaimed”
  • Armenian media reports Canadians (military and/or civilian staff) helping NATO help Armenia.  “The NATO-sponsored international expert group is in the Armenian capital Yerevan, from Wednesday to Saturday, within the framework of assistance to Armenia’s reforms in military education. The group comprises military and civil representatives from US, Canada, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Romania, Switzerland, and NATO ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Wanted:  someone to design and build “Infrastructure for Tactical Control Radar Modernization, Primrose, AB”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  The Conservative government insists all of its new F-35 jets will arrive with the hardware needed to talk to ground troops and prevent friendly fire, but some will still need upgrades to make it workAssociate Defence Minister Julian Fantino said the stealth jets will be ready to do whatever the government asks, when it asks. “All of Canada’s F-35s will not only be capable of operating overseas the moment we get them, but be able to communicate with aircraft and know where friendly ground units are well in advance of deployment on operations,” Fantino said under questioning in the House of Commons ….”  More from yesterday’s exchange in the House of Commons here.
  • Canadian plane engine company STILL gets some business from an American buy.  “An unusual turn of events on a U.S. military procurement contract has lightly side-swiped three of Quebec’s largest aerospace firms. Wichita-based aircraft maker Hawker Beechcraft Corp. was excluded without explanation last week from a competition to supply 20 AT-6 Texan II light-attack and training planes to the Afghan air force. Its four main suppliers on the bid to the U.S. air force – which would then turn the aircraft over to the Afghan forces – were all Canadian: Longueuil’s Pratt & Whitney Canada for the PT6A-68D 1,600-horsepower engine, St. Laurent’s CAE Inc. for the crew training, St. Laurent’s CMC Esterline for the flight management system, as well as Burling-ton, Ont.-based L-3 Wescam, which was to provide day-light sensors, infrared cameras with zoom and various lasers. The elimination of Hawker Beechcraft apparently makes a winner of the Super Tucano trainer and light-attack aircraft produced by Brazil’s Embraer, the only other bidder for the contract. Matthew Perra, spokes-person for Pratt & Whitney Canada, said by email that “as with any competition there was some investment made, but this amount is not material to P&W Canada.” But it does not signify a loss for Pratt & Whitney Canada – it also supplies the same engine for Embraer’s Super Tucano ….”
  • My favourite bit from this piece from CBC.ca on monitoring efforts during the G8/G20:  “…. (an undercover police officer) told the court about how he attended a meeting prior to the Toronto summit. There, a protest-planning group that included several of the 17 main G20 defendants was discussing whether to lend their support to a First Nations rally. Adam Lewis, one of the 17 accused conspirators in the G20 case, interjected, “Kill whitey!” The group chuckled. Lewis, like all but one of his co-accused, is white. When a Crown lawyer asked the officer what he thought Lewis meant, Showan said in complete seriousness, to “kill white people.” “Deliberately or accidentally, the undercover officers misinterpreted hyperbolic jokes as literal statements of belief,” said Kalin Stacey, a community organizer, friend and supporter of the defendants ….”  Really?  I’m guessing is a similar statement was made about the protesters, it would NOT be taken as “hyperbolic jokes”.
  • Credit where credit is due:  CBC.ca shared the documents it’s writing about in the above-mentioned story via documentcloud.org (like here for example).  Hello?  Reporters?  News outlets?  Are you listening about sharing ATIP’ed documents?
  • Private Members Bill C-354, An Act respecting the establishment and award of a Defence of Canada Medal (1946-1989), makes it through First Reading in Parliament after being introduced by NDP MP Carol Hughes“Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be able to reintroduce this bill for the establishment and award of a defence of Canada medal for the men and women who served in the defence of Canada during the cold war. This act represents the hard work and vision of one of my constituents, retired Captain Ulrich Krings of Elliot Lake, who presented me with this proposal shortly after I was elected in 2008. Its purpose is to formally honour the people who defended Canada from within Canada for the period from 1946 to 1989. As such, it is intended to be awarded to individuals who served in the regular and reserve forces, police forces, emergency measures organizations, as well as civil organizations, such as St. John Ambulance, all of whom were concerned with the protection of Canada from the threat posed by the countries behind the Iron Curtain. This medal will recognize the support of the men and woman who gave countless hours to Canadians as they trained and prepared in case of an attack on Canadian soil, which fortunately never took place. Their service to our country came at a time when we became aware of how fragile peace can be and how vulnerable we may become to advances in weapons of warfare. This medal would give something back to all those who worked in those years to keep us safe and prepared. I thank my colleague from Thunder Bay—Rainy River (John Rafferty) for his continued support on this bill and for seconding this item for a second time.”  Caveat:  most Private Members Bills do not end up becoming law.  Discussion at Army.ca here.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 3 Jul 11

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  • Troops headed to Manitoba to help with floods – again.  “The Government of Canada is sending approximately 200 Canadian Forces personnel to the town of Souris, Manitoba today to assist provincial and municipal authorities in reinforcing flood control measures along the Souris River …. Canada Command’s Joint Task Force West, headquartered in Edmonton, will be coordinating the Canadian Forces assistance effort and work closely with regional authorities to contain and control the flooding. As the Souris river is expected to crest in the next few days, the soldiers from 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2 PPCLI) and 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (1 RCHA), CFB Shilo, will place sandbags to reinforce the dikes over the affected area ….”  More here, here and here.
  • Afghanistan (1)  CDS tells troops to help their colleagues“Canada’s top commander attempted to bind fresh and old wounds on Saturday when he bid farewell to combat troops in Kandahar. Gen. Walt Natynczyk, in his final address before the formal end of operations, urged returning soldiers to watch their “battle buddies” and take care of each other as they begin the long journey back to regular life at home. His remarks had a poignant ring for the soldiers of the 1st Battalion Royal 22e Regiment, as two of the four deaths in the last combat tour were suspected suicides. Military police are still investigating the cases of Bombardier Karl Manning and Cpl. Francis Roy — both who were found dead of non-battle related injuries over the last month, just before the end of their seven month tours ….”
  • Christopher Reid, 1971-2006, R.I.P.A mother of an Edmonton-based soldier killed in a deadly blast from a roadside bomb in Afghanistan says she is proud of Canada’s mission as troops are preparing to come home. “All of what the soldiers fought for is to make things better in Afghanistan,” said Angela Reid, 64, who lost her son, 34-year-old Cpl. Christopher Johnathan Reid to a roadside bomb in Aug. 3, 2006. “The soldiers have made some headway when they went over there. Afghanistan was in dire straights before they arrived.” ….”
  • Nathan Hornburg, 1983-2007, R.I.P.  “When triumph and tragedy bleed together, it’s a little bittersweet. That’s how some family members of soldiers’ who’ve served and died in Afghanistan view this month’s end to Canada’s combat mission in that country. Then there is the lingering question — was it all worth it? “Something that keeps coming up for me, when I think about all of the heartache and about my own son, is just the waste (of human life) with all of this craziness, starting way back with the attacks on the World Trade Centre,” said Michael Hornburg, father of Calgarian Cpl. Nathan Hornburg, who died in combat trying to rescue a disabled tank Sept. 24, 2007. “Hopefully it will be (worth it) for Afghanistan, but certainly not for me personally … nothing would have been worth it for me (if I could) still have him here with me.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Rex Murphy shares his thoughts“…. It may be unpalatable to admit it, but we are starting to end our presence in Afghanistan with neither victory, the only real end of wars even in our enlightened day, nor the fulfillment of those broader and noble pledges toward rebuilding that sad country we made early on.”
  • Afghanistan (3)  More on the “packing up to leave” theme.  “A mammoth operation is underway in Kandahar — not to boost security in the area but to tear down the facilities that have housed much of Canada’s military presence in Afghanistan. Work crews are readying a huge amount of equipment to be shipped home thousands of kilometres away. It’s a formidable task, and part of a transition that will see U.S. forces take over security responsibilities in Kandahar province as Canadian combat troops pull out of the war-torn country. Everything from dust filters to armoured vehicles need to be cleaned, fumigated, bar-coded and categorized before they’re packed up ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Daikondi.
  • From Afghanistan to the Arctic“While Canada’s combat mission in Kandahar is in its last days, a new training mission has started in Kabul, Canadian fighter aircraft are making daily bombing runs against Libya, and now the armed forces is preparing to send more than 1,000 troops on a huge exercise in the High Arctic next month. “It will be the largest operation that has taken place in recent history,” Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Saturday, moments after bidding an emotional farewell to combat troops now leaving Kandahar. “All of this is very much about enlarging the footprint and the permanent and seasonal presence we have in the North. It is something that we as a government intend to keep investing in.” Exercise Nanook is to play out in several phases on and near Baffin Island and Ellesmere Island throughout August. It will involve CF-18 fighter jets as well as surveillance and transport aircraft, a warship, infantry companies from Quebec and Alberta and 5 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group — Inuit reservists who have broad experience surviving in the extremely austere environment of the Far North ….”  A Russian media take on this here, and more on Canada’s military in the Arctic here.
  • New bosses for the Canadian Forces Joint Signal Regiment, 17 Wing Winnipeg, 429 Transport Squadron, 22 Wing North Bay, 722 Air Control Squadron, 51 Aerospace Control and Warning (Operational Training) Squadron and Land Force Central Area Training Centre Meaford.
  • CF-Royals Link  As Master Cpl. Jody Mitic stood chatting with Prince William, his young daughter seemed unfazed to be in the presence of royalty. Perhaps that’s because to her family, Mitic wasn’t necessarily talking to a future monarch, but to someone more like himself. He’s been through all the same training. Just because they’re royals doesn’t mean they don’t have to do the basic training,” said Mitic. “In our opinion, it’s a brotherhood.” Both William and his younger brother Harry are military men. William is a search-and-rescue pilot and Harry has served a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He also did some of his training in Alberta. William’s wife Kate also has a connection to the Canadian military; her grandfather trained military pilots in Alberta. The royal couple have made a specific effort to meet veterans over the course of their Canadian tour ….”
  • Royal Kate gets it“The Duchess of Cambridge fears that Prince William will have an accident on a risky helicopter rescue mission …. She opened her heart about her concerns to a military wife on the couple’s royal tour of Canada. Kate said: ‘I always worry, but my job is to support my husband. You should always support your husband.’ She revealed her worries after laying wreaths with William on the tomb of the unknown soldier at Ottawa’s war memorial …. after paying respects to Canada’s war dead, the 29-year-old Duchess spoke to former army private Celine Drapeau. Celine, 52, told her she worried for the safety of her husband, a military policeman, who was away for long periods. ‘You always fear for them not knowing if something is going to happen and it can be very hard.’ Celine said later that she thought it was ‘very brave’ of Kate to reveal her true feelings and it was a ‘great comfort’ to know she understood the fears of service families ….”  More here.
  • New, purpler prose attacking Canada’s plans for “foreign bases,” courtesy of the Canadian Peace Congress.  “The Canadian Peace Congress condemns and calls for an immediate halt to the Canadian government’s negotiations for military basing rights as part of the Operational Support Hubs Network, and abrogating and renouncing rights already negotiated with Germany and Jamaica. As Defence Minister Peter MacKay has already admitted, Canada’s “military tempo” is at the highest levels since the Korean War. Instead of opening the way for more bombings and destruction with basing rights spread throughout the world, Canada should reverse its military aggression, which is only in the interests of an imperialist minority and against the interests of the peace-loving majority. The basing agreements allow the Canadian military to enter other countries at any time, violating the sovereignty of the host country, in order to rain death and destruction on a third country ….”
  • In an out-of-the-way spot in an old Dutch cemetery, there’s a place that is forever New Brunswick. Anyone visiting the Gorinchem cemetery from this province could pick it out immediately: a small New Brunswick flag is there, and, at the base of the white headstone, a painted rock from McLaren’s Beach in Saint John. Buried in the grave is the body of Harold Magnusson, a 22-year-old from Saint John who was killed in 1944 in the operation immortalized in book and film as A Bridge Too Far. But the mystery of his burial in a civilian cemetery far from the horrors of Arnhem has created a bridge of a different sort for a Dutch woman who has used the story to reach across time and distance to Canadians. “It was as if someone tapped me on the shoulder when I walked into that cemetery and said ‘Solve this puzzle,’ ” Alice van Bekkum said in an interview during a recent visit to New Brunswick. “I became gripped by the story and it has led to wonderful new friendships … I got involved with Magnusson, and I fell in love with Canada ….”
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