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Posts Tagged ‘Sean Bruyea

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 8 Nov 11

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  • Royal Military College Academic:  Iran strikes might be the CF’s next shooting stint“Canada may get pulled into military strikes against Iran if it comes to a showdown between western powers and the rogue state. And things could get messy considering a new report from the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog that’s expected to indicate Tehran is on the brink of being able to develop a nuclear warheads, said Houchang Hassan-Yari, an expert in military and strategic issues at the Royal Military College of Canada. “If it gets to a military campaign, I think Canada will participate with the Americans and their allies,” the international relations professor said. “If sanctions are the next avenue, Canada will participate in that.” ….”
  • What a surprise:  the military appears to be planning and weighing how to deal with evacuating Canadians in trouble overseas“Plucking Canadians out of the world’s hot spots is a growing area of concern and study for military planners, who until a few years ago didn’t have their own tools or the resources to carry out such missions.  Internal Defence Department documents obtained by The Canadian Press show that in the aftermath of the Libyan crisis, the Canadian military is examining not only its war-fighting skills, but its newly enhanced ability to quickly organize evacuation and rescue missions.  Planners have been quietly taking stock of the world’s flash points and considering how to get military forces into those troubled regions, while at the same time smoothly getting civilians out of harm’s way …. internally at the Defence Department there has been angst about future evacuations, especially in light of expected budget cuts, suggest the documents obtained under Access to Information.  Among the most worrisome trouble spots is South Korea, where frequent and increasingly violent outbursts from the hermit kingdom in the North have military planners concerned and looking for guidance.  “With over 20,000 Canadian citizens resident in the (Republic of South Korea), in the event of a full-scale crisis (censored) the evacuation efforts required could significantly exceed those of the Lebanon evacuation,” said a Nov. 30, 2010 briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay ….”  I’ve asked if CP plans to share the obtained documents online for anyone interested to read – no word back yet.
  • Canada is taking part in U.S. Northern Command Exercise Operation Vigilant Shield ’12.  The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, as well as the Canadian military, have begun an extensive annual field training exercise for the U.S. Northern Command. “Operation Vigilant Shield 12” is the biggest multi-spectrum, high-level exercise for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. Northern Command is a Unified Combatant Command of the United States military, formed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 to protect the United States homeland and support local, state, and federal authorities. Operation Vigilant Shield 12, or VS 12, is a joint exercise supported by the Joint Coalition Warfare Center and conducted as a command post exercise with a supporting field training exercise in Key West, FL. The exercise is also linked to a Canada Command exercise called “Determined Dragon,” and runs concurrently with the Arizona’s “Vigilant Guard” exercise. It runs Nov. 1-10 ….”  More from the Pentagon Info-Machine here.
  • Scumbags, continued.  A recently restored First World War memorial that stands outside an east end high school has been vandalized. Neighbours of Malvern Collegiate, near Victoria Park Avenue and Kingston Road, awoke Sunday morning to find the granite statue wrapped in blue duct tape. With the help of about $44,000 in donations and grants, the statue had been restored and rededicated days before, just in time for Remembrance Day ….”
  • Remembrance Day (1)  Veterans’ Ombudsman on Veteran’s Week.
  • Remembrance Day (2)  Unambiguously Ambidextrous on Remembrance Day and Canada’s newest vets“…. There is a new generation of soldiers returning from war, something that has not been seen in Canada in about 50 years, or two generations. That’s not to trivialize Rwanda or Bosnia, but our country hasn’t had to deal with the reality of war dead in a half century and we have not handled their sacrifices very well. In fact, it would be fair to say we have broken faith with the dead, choosing not to carry on their torch and honour their sacrifices by seeing through the mission to success. It was a political decision made to pacify the pacifists created by two generations of peace. Today’s young people know nothing of war, and so their only reaction to it is revulsion ….”
  • An audit into Veterans Affairs Canada and how it handles privacy issues will be released in early 2012, Canada’s privacy commissioner said Monday. The news came as a third veteran went public with complaints into the number of times civil servants accessed his file, and how his file was handled at the agency. Sylvain Chartrand, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Bosnia, says his file was accessed more than 4,000 times between 2003 and 2010. HIs complaint is similar to one by Sean Bruyea, another veteran who advocates for veterans’ rights, and whose private medical information was shared with both Liberal and Conservative ministers of veterans affairs. A statement by a spokeswoman for Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart says an audit into how Veterans Affairs handles private information is coming soon ….”
  • A military veteran on a hunger strike collapsed momentarily during the third day of his protest against the federal government Monday. (Pascal) Lacoste is trying to convince the government to recognize that he and other soldiers were poisoned while serving overseas. The 38-year-old former soldier was leaving a camper lent to him by a friend and heading back to his SUV when he fell to the ground. An ambulance was called as his mother rushed to hold him, clutching him to her chest. Lacoste eventually recovered after taking gasps of air from an oxygen mask. But the exhausted-looking man refused to go to hospital. He decided to continue his hunger strike instead ….”
  • All of a sudden, Canada’s Liberal Party is keen on helping veterans – more in an online petition here and an e-mail soliciting signatures to said petition here (PDF).
  • Libya Mission  How intelligence from HMCS Vancouver helped in the battle for Sirte (via the CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan  Author/blogger Terry Glavin reminds us that it’s Pakistan, the puppetmaster, that should be talked to, not the puppets.
  • CF testing new helmets (via Army News)
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Technical help in improving how explosives are detected via electronic beams (more details in excerpt from bid documents – PDF – here), and VICTORIA-class sub periscope simulators.
  • CF looking for more military artists.  The Canadian Forces Artists Program allows Canadian artists the opportunity to record Canada’s soldiers in Canada and around the world. It follows the long-standing tradition of Canadian war artists and is designed to portray today’s Canadian military experience through art while providing artists with a taste of military life. These artists, all volunteers, are helping usher in a new era of Canadian military art …. A new competition is currently being held for the selection of a new group of Canadian artists who wish to participate in the program. Selected artists will be able to participate in a military-related exercise for a period of approximately seven to ten days. This opportunity is designed to springboard their creativity, create works of art depicting military life and to provide memorable military experiences. There is no payment for artists, who in turn are not required to provide works to the program. However, artists may be asked to lend some works for promotional art tours or other uses. Deadline for applications is November 30, 2011 ….”
  • Canada and Foreign Intelligence (1)  “As the Harper government prepares to re-introduce the anti-terrorism measures that were allowed to lapse because of opposition concerns about privacy and Charter rights, there are whispers Conservative plans to expand the role of Canada’s spy service to operate overseas are being dusted off. Currently, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is largely concerned with domestic intelligence and is able to conduct covert operations overseas only if there is a direct threat to Canada. In their 2006 election platform, the Tories promised to overturn this arrangement and set up a separate foreign intelligence service. Once elected, they were persuaded by the bureaucracy that it would be quicker and cheaper to allow CSIS to take on the role ….”
  • Canada and Foreign Intelligence (2)  Why blogger/info curator Mark Collins is underwhelmed with the above-mentioned idea.
  • Unlike how media treat reporters being kidnapped, right?  “Former Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler, whose kidnapping by al-Qaida made international headlines, says media “blackouts” of such events can prevent ransom demands from escalating to the point where they cannot be met. Fowler, then a United Nations special envoy in Niger, was abducted Dec. 14, 2008 on a highway outside the country’s capital, Niamey. He spent the next 130 days in the Sahara Desert with his captors, members of a shadowy jihadist group known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Fowler told the Ottawa Citizen’s editorial board Monday that his web-savvy captors viewed media coverage of his kidnapping on laptop computers and Nokia cellphones. From it, he said, they came to believe he was on a “secret mission” in Niger, a suggestion reported in the Globe and Mail. “Was it harmful to me? Yes, likely,” he said. “The idea that you can write things here that won’t impact there is just — in this globalized world — crazy.” ….” 
  • A Canadian man has been indicted in Seattle for allegedly conspiring to support the Sri Lankan terrorist group the Tamil Tigers nearly six years ago. The single-count indictment against Ramanan Mylvaganam, 34, is the result of a jurisdictional dispute between federal prosecutors in New York City’s Brooklyn borough and Mylvaganam’s attorneys. Mylvaganam is a former Bellevue resident. Brooklyn prosecutors in 2006 had indicted Mylvaganam along with nine others in connection with an alleged plot to pay to import surface-to-air missiles and other military equipment to the Tamil Tigers. The charges also alleged the group was attempting to bribe U.S. officials to have the Tamil Tigers removed from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Mylvaganam’s attorneys had argued that federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York had no jurisdiction over Mylvaganam’s alleged crimes because he was living at the time in Bellevue, according to court papers ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 23 Mar 11

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  • No Fly Zone in Libya (1) – Canadian military aircraft joined in a mission against ground targets in Libya on Tuesday, but did not drop their bombs amid concern there might be civilian casualties, military officials said.  Officials said two CF18 aircraft were assigned to attack a unspecified Libya airfield along with other aircraft from the U.S.-led coalition.  “Upon arrival on the scene in the target area, the air crew became aware of a risk (of collateral damage) they deemed as too high,” Major General Tom Lawson, Canada’s Assistant Chief of the Air Staff told reporters.  The Canadian jets returned safely to base …. It was the second mission for Canadian planes in the campaign to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya to halt attacks on rebels and civilians and open the way for humanitarian help. It was the first time they had been assigned to attack a target ….” More from the Canadian Press here, QMI Media here, Postmedia News here, CTV.ca here and the Toronto Star here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (2) – Military blogger & observer Bruce Ralston raises interesting points about those French jets blowing up Libyan tanks early on in the fight. “…. It’s hard not to wonder if that attack wasn’t a unilateral, or at least somewhat disjointed-from-the-rest-of-NATO French effort, trusting solely in surprise and speed of action… either that or it was a very deliberate attempt to bait the Libyans into some kind of hasty response, turning on their radars, even scrambling planes, that the still-assembling coalition could take advantage of. Gutsy, either way, though ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (3) – Former senior advisor to Prime Minister Harper and diplomat Derek Burney wonders why we’re doing what we’re doing in Libya. “…. There is every reason to deplore Gadhafi’s conduct and use sanctions, arms embargos and the threat of International Court prosecution to deter him from further outrages against his own people. But why should the onus for military action fall exclusively on the West, especially when the consequences of action – the end game – belie easy analysis. And why Canada? We are already doing much of the heavy-lifting in Afghanistan whereas several NATO allies have taken a pass. Is it because we were snubbed for a Security Council seat and want to re-establish our credentials for “peace-keeping”? Is it because we regard ourselves as an architect of the Responsibility to Protect concept adopted by the UN? If so, where will it lead – to Iran? Zimbabwe? North Korea? There is a long waiting list ….” More from Postmedia News here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (4) – Al Jazeera English is maintaining an interesting summary of open source information regarding who’s doing what in/over Libya at Google Docs – worth a look.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (5) – Good one from the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence on Twitter: “Good job BBC don’t aim cruise missiles — http://t.co/A3LcuhU — Naval base is in eastern corner of Tripoli harbour, 3.5km from Green Sq”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (6) – NATO steps in with help to enforce an arms embargo. “NATO has now decided to launch an operation to enforce the arms embargo against Libya. All Allies are committed to meet their responsibilities under the United Nations resolution to stop the intolerable violence against Libyan civilians. Our top operational commander, Admiral Stavridis, is activating NATO ships and aircraft in the Central Mediterranean. They will conduct operations to monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries. This will be done in close coordination with commercial shipping and regional organisations. And we will welcome contributions from NATO partners to our common endeavour ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – Defence Minister Peter MacKay on the back-and-forth on cost estimates for the F-35 cranked out by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO). “Mr. Speaker, the non-partisan, professional DND procurement experts stand by their cost projections. In fact, those costs are based on actual detailed estimates that were calculated from a multinational joint strike fighter program. They were not based on extrapolations that were made from drawing upon historical data of other aircraft from 50 years ago. They were not based on a flawed calculation that included the weight of the aircraft. They did not project out 30 years. They went with the 20 year standard.” Interesting message, but not quite complete.  Look at this footnote on page 10 of the PBO’s report: “Additional Costs include costs for project management, infrastructure, weapons, and a contingency. The PBO has not included these costs in its estimate. In addition, while the PBO operating and support cost is based on a 30-year program life, DND’s operating and support cost is based on a 20-year program life. For purposes of comparability, PBO has increased the DND’s forecast operating and support cost on a pro-rata basis to reflect a 30-year program life.” That means the figures in the PBO report really are comparing apples to apples.  That said, the criticism of the approach taken to figure out costs compared to other jet fighter acquisitions (by the kilogram?) still stands.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) – A former DND official who signed off on part of the F-35 process has these caveats“One of the main difficulties with the debate regarding the costs of the F-35 is that there are so many definitions of “cost.” For example, there is the “unit recurring flyaway cost”, the “total flyaway cost”, the “procurement cost”, the “acquisition cost”, the “life-cycle cost”, to name just a few. The fact is, only when Canada signs a contract will we know for certain how much money we will spend to buy and to sustain the aircraft we choose …. while it is important to understand the costs of this program, it is even more important to have a public debate on the aircraft requirements and their linkage to the role and mission of our military. To date, this has been lacking.”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (3) – A columnist is sharing the new message track that “sending the CF-18’s into Libya proves we need a new F-35 fighter because you never know when we need fighters to help out.” Really?  Silly me – all I take from Canada’s action in Libya is that we need fighters, not that we need these specific fighters.
  • One of the tidbits announced in this week’s federal budget“…. the Government will partner with the Building and Construction Trades Department, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, to support the Helmets to Hardhats program in Canada. This initiative will connect releasing Canadian Forces members and veterans with career opportunities in the construction industry. This will help provide many benefits for our armed services personnel as well as the Canadian economy. Details will be announced in the coming months.” So far, wounded warriors say they’re underwhelmed with this. More from Postmedia News here.
  • The mission in Afghanistan remains U.N. sanctioned for another year.
  • The (Senate’s) Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence today tabled Sovereignty & Security in Canada’s Arctic. The report calls on the Government to make acquisition of new fixed wing search and rescue (SAR) aircraft its top military procurement priority, and to make the procurement timeline public. These new aircraft, in the planning stage since 2004, will replace the Air Force’s aging CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130 Hercules aircraft. The Committee also recommends that the Government move some of its Canadian Forces SAR assets to a central Northern location so that there is always an aircraft on standby to respond quickly to emergencies. At present, Air Force search and rescue aircraft are based in southern Canada, many hours away from emergencies in the Arctic ….” More in a news release here, and from the Canadian Press here.
  • A London, Ontario MP with nice things to say about the Reserves in the House of Commons.
  • Oopsie….“A London mother has appealed directly to Defence Minister Peter MacKay, asking him to investigate how a pardoned sex offender became a cadet instructor at the 27 Air Squadron. “It is incumbent on all of us to ensure that this never happens again,” Rita Lepore said in a letter to MacKay dated Feb. 28, for which she has received no response. She told The Free Press local military and cadet officials downplayed the situation and “I don’t believe they will do anything until their hand is forced to do something.” So Lepore continues to wait for a reply from MacKay, whose department rejected Roger Micks when he applied to be a civilian instructor. Micks, now 50, was pardoned in June 2009 from a 1985 gross indecency conviction involving a 15-year-old boy. A volunteer with 27 Squadron for several years, Micks had been bestowed the “CI” ranking of a civilian instructor — despite the national-defence rejection. His photo appeared with that ranking on the squadron’s website ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Mar 11

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  • If anyone can make a case for how Canada’s treating its wounded warriors, it’s a wounded warriorA major who lost both his legs in Afghanistan says the Harper government’s financial treatment of injured war veterans is an “abject betrayal” of a new generation of soldiers.  Maj. Mark Campbell, who stepped on a bomb in June 2008 near a Canadian base west of Kandahar city, says the New Veteran’s Charter established in 2006 robs wounded soldiers of about 40 per cent of their income …. “This New Veteran’s Charter is a grotesque travesty. It is an abject betrayal by the government of Canada to our new generation of disabled and wounded veterans,” said Campbell …. “What kind of deal is that? The people of Canada should be outraged.”  Campbell believes the new lump-sum payments and income replacement pale in comparison to the practice after the Second World War of granting lifetime pensions …. “Why are we saying people who sacrificed limbs in the service of their country should be subjected to a 25 per cent reduction in their families’ means of living? It’s ridiculous,” he said ….” More from Postmedia News here and CBC.ca here.
  • Veterans Affairs bureaucrats who rifled through the personal files of a department critic were handed written reprimands and three-day suspensions — penalties the victim calls a “slap on the wrist.” An internal investigation found 54 veterans bureaucrats improperly snooped through Sean Bruyea’s personal files, including medical and psychiatric reports. Some of them used the information to smear the outspoken critic.  “These employees have been disciplined and department officials consider this matter has been successfully addressed and closed,” said a Feb. 25 letter to Bruyea, obtained by The Canadian Press.  The two-month internal investigation determined that 614 employees handled his file over a number of years, but many had no need to do so.  Some of his personal information was included in briefing notes to former veterans affairs minister Greg Thompson in 2006 as the Conservative government prepared to implement the New Veterans Charter, which substantially overhauled benefits for former soldiers ….”
  • Interesting research from a university in Alberta: “Video games often get a bad rap, but their ability to desensitise players to violence could help soldiers sleep better. According to an online survey of 98 military personnel, regularly playing games that involve war and combat – like Call of Duty – decreased the level of harm and aggression experienced when they dreamed about war. Soldiers who didn’t play video games reported having more violent dreams combined with a sense of helplessness, says Jayne Gackenbach of Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada ….” More on that here.  Also, here’s a paper from the same researcher on the subject from last summer.
  • More Canadians (and others) GTFO Libya.  This from the PM’s chief spokesperson’s Twitter feed:  “Another Canadian Armed Forces plane has left Tripoli with 10 Canadians, UK, Australians, Romanian and other evacuees.”
  • A National Post editorial calls for NATO to do SOMETHING about Libya“Pressure is growing for Western nations to intervene militarily in Libya’s emerging civil war …. there are good reasons to be wary about such a campaign. But Muammar Gaddafi’s apparent willingness to exterminate large numbers of his citizens in recent days has served to marginalize such concerns: Whatever the risks that attend military intervention, we must not permit a North African Srebrenica …. The heavy lifting associated with the no-fly mission should be performed by Italy, France, Germany and Spain — which, collectively, import 90% of Libya’s oil exports. Britain, too, has a well-established trade relationship with Libya. It is in these countries’ interests to remove Col. Gaddafi as quickly as possible and stabilize the country around a new government. There are roles for Canada, the United States and other Western nations, too. Even as the Canadian air force seeks to acquire a controversial new multi-purpose fighter jet, our old CF-18s are more than a match for anything the Libyans have to throw up against them.  In the best case scenario, NATO will not have to fire a single shot or scramble a single aircraft — because Libyans will end Gaddafi’s cruel tyranny all by themselves. But failing that, we cannot stand by and permit a Libyan genocide to unfold.”
  • The Winnipeg Free Press is even more specific about a no-fly zone. “As Libyan rebels, until recently rolling towards Tripoli, now reel under a fierce counter-attack by the military forces of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the world wonders what to do. It can sit back and do nothing other than shout encouragement to the revolutionaries from the sidelines, which is mostly what it is has done up until now — some nations have given humanitarian aid to the insurgents, a few have sent military aid and moral support to Col. Gadhafi …. The …. choice, and one that paradoxically has the strongest support and the strongest opposition, is to declare a “no-fly zone” over Libya. The arguments in favour of this are most persuasively that it would be an unmistakable statement of international support for the revolution that Col. Gadhafi could not ignore. It would ground the Libyan air force that has in recent days been a devastating psychological as well as tactical weapon in the government counter-attack. And it can be implemented without UN consent or the even the united approval of NATO. In short, it is doable and effective …. such a declaration still seems the best and most effective way of aiding the revolution. There is a real chance for democracy in Libya, and thousands of Libyans have died in its pursuit. If the West does nothing, then Carney’s prophecy will be self-fulfilling: If we don’t at least stay apace of events, we will be so far behind them that the next diplomatic mission to Tripoli may well be to pay respects to a rejuvenated Col. Gadhafi.”
  • One of the standard MSM stories out of Afghanistan:  the hockey stars drop by.  Postmedia News’ version here and the Canadian Press’ version here.
  • An interesting variation on the “sports for the troops” theme:  a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) match is set for Afghanistan today. More on the match here.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Attacks claimed in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Fixing up radar at CFB Trenton: “Sensis Corporation’s modernization program for the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) Terminal Radar and Control System (TRACS) Area Surveillance Radar (ASR-3) has been formally accepted and is now commissioned and in use by the DND. The fully redundant ASR-3 radar modernization solution features a high performance signal/data processor and solid state L-band transmitter replacement along with six level National Weather Service (NWS) weather data processing capability embedded in the software. The modernization solution will extend the service life of 8 Wing/Canadian Forces Base Trenton’s radar by a minimum of 15 years while reducing life cycle, maintenance and operating costs ….”
  • (Belated) bye, bye Arcturus.The Aurora community marked the end of an era on Dec. 15, 2010, when the last of the CP-140A Arcturus aircraft, a variant of the CP-140 Aurora, performed its final operational mission for the Canadian Forces. Its 4,600 horsepower engines fired up one last time before it took off from 14 Greenwood, N.S., for a 16.1 hour mission – pushing the outer limit of endurance and setting a record for the longest flight in a CP-140A Arcturus. The crew of nine, composed mainly of members of 404 Long Range Patrol and Training Squadron, flew along the boundary of the eastern Canadian airspace to test the communications coverage of NORAD’s installations. The Arcturus departed Greenwood on a flight plan that took it north to a point near Frobisher Bay, Nunavut, and then south to a point near Yarmouth, N.S ….”
  • In spite of how much Ottawa is pushing the F-35 fighter, a recent speech by Canada’s Defence Minister points to a different threat. “…. after Mr. MacKay had finished laying out what appeared to be the critical importance of cutting-edge air power in Canadian sovereignty, the minister said Canada was actually most vulnerable to maritime threats. “Not to sound too foreboding, [but] at the risk of being too honest, I think our greatest vulnerability, in my estimation, is waterborne,” he said. With the longest coastline in the world, “beware the water.” Mr. MacKay’s office says his comment about the overriding “vulnerability” of the maritime environment was a reference to the government’s plan to spend $35-billion—even more money than the projected costs of the F-35—on several new vessels for its navy. And his spokesperson Josh Zanin expanded on why Canada’s greatest vulnerability is maritime by noting that waterborne security not only involves military threats, but “directly affects the availability—and the cost—of essential goods, especially food and fuel, all over the world” by affecting international shipping, of which 95 per cent is done over water. Other defence experts agreed with this view ….”
  • The federal government is spending more on the military today than at any point since the end of the Second World War, according to a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives that argues Canada isn’t getting enough bang for its buck. This country is expected to spend more than $23 billion on the military in 2010-11, about 2% more than it did the previous year and about 26% more than it did the year the Berlin Wall came down. That said, Canada’s status as an international player has been undermined by its failure to win a seat on the UN Security Council. Author Bill Robinson argues that Canada has no real military power or influence despite being the world’s 13th biggest military spender and NATO’s sixth biggest spender, so ought shift to consider a drastic shift in priorities. “That kind of money would allow us to operate in a much more significant manner in other ways in the world, most notably through things like development assistance,” he said Tuesday ….” As of this post, no word of the study at the CCPA site yet.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 13 Jan 11

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  • Canadian Forces’ statistics show 2010 saw fewer deaths, injuries among Canadian troops in Afghanistan than the previous year. More from the Toronto Star here, and some interesting discussion on why those numbers have dropped at Army.ca here.
  • On a related note, it’s WELL worth the 16 minutes or so you should spend listening to Postmedia News’ Matthew Fisher talk to TVO host Steve Paikin about how things are going in Afghanistan (good for NATO), why you’re not hearing exactly how it’s going in the mainstream media, and why casualty numbers are dropping.
  • Canada has handed the keys (as well as command) of Kandahar’s Provincial Reconstruction Team (KPRT) to the United States.
  • “He says” on reported collateral damage caused by a recent offensive/rebuilding effort“A major coalition military operation in a volatile southern Afghan province has caused about 100 million dollars worth of damage to property, a government delegation said Tuesday. President Hamid Karzai dispatched the delegation, led by one of his advisers, to assess damage caused by Operation Omaid, which started in April and aims to root out the Taliban in Kandahar, a traditional heartland areas. The delegation then reported to the Western-backed leader, charging that the damage caused by the military offensive was worth over 100 million dollars, in part due to damage to crops, Karzai’s office said in a statement. International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman Brigadier-General Josef Blotz said he could not comment as he had not yet seen the statement. “As a result of military operation ‘Omaid’, significant property damage has been caused to the people in Arghandab, Zahri and Panjwayi districts in Kandahar province,” the delegation’s statement said ….”
  • “She says” on reported collateral damage caused by a recent offensive/rebuilding effort“By building a road, Canadian troops may have burned some bridges.  The commander of all NATO forces in southern Afghanistan says a major Canadian construction project is partly to blame for a recent slew of property-damage claims.  The road Canadian troops are carving through the horn of Panjwaii is part of a much larger military effort in Kandahar province. This week, a delegation of Afghan government officials claimed the offensive has come at an astronomical cost: upwards of $100 million in damaged fruit crops, livestock and property …. The Canadian road cuts through farmers’ fields in a dusty corner of southwestern Kandahar that has long be a hotbed of the Taliban insurgency.  Property owners who have found their land bisected by the thoroughfare have sought compensation, said Maj.-Gen. James Terry, who is in charge of the NATO contingent known as Regional Command South.  “Some of the claims come from that, in terms of compensation back to the people because of putting that road in,” he said at a news conference in Kandahar city on Thursday.  Terry, of the U.S. army’s 10th Mountain Division, pointed out that local elders asked for the road at a meeting, or shura. It will eventually link rural parts of the province and enable commerce ….” More on the road work in question here and here.
  • More on the work to close Canada’s Camp Mirage in the UAE (via the CF).
  • Remember that committee of politicians looking over all those Afghan detainee documents? Is there light at the end of the tunnel for them (or is it the light of an oncoming train coming)?
  • The PM is apparently eyeing a special parliamentary committee to vet top-secret intelligence. “Prime Minister Stephen Harper is considering creating a multi-partisan parliamentary committee to vet the top-secret intelligence gathered by Canada’s national security agencies. Several of Canada’s close allies — including Britain and the United States — have established committees of lawmakers to keep tabs on the operations of their spy agencies. When asked Friday whether he would consider creating a parliamentary intelligence committee, Harper noted that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP leader Jack Layton have been sworn in as members of the Queen’s Privy Council, a process that allows them to receive sensitive national security intelligence under an oath of secrecy. But the prime minister said the government is looking at ways to broaden Parliament’s involvement. “I know that has been under consideration for some time. I don’t think we’ve yet landed on a particular model that we think would be ideal,” Harper told reporters at a news conference in Welland, Ont ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Almost 20 claimed killed in alleged attacks in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
  • Canada’s Veterans Affairs Minister hits the road to let veterans know what’s coming to them – more on the road trip from QMI here.
  • More on how it’s not necessarily the bureaucrats’ fault that some things happen the way they do at Veterans’ Affairs Canada. “…. Take the Sean Bruyea affair as an example: high level VAC officials briefed Ministers on Bruyea’s personal medical and financial information. Bruyea, involved in protesting the New Veterans’ Charter, found his benefits cut and claims stalled. There were even attempts by Veterans’ Affairs to have Sean commit himself to a mental hospital. All this came to light last fall. What did the government do? Apologise, settle Bruyea’s court case, and require all Veterans’ Affairs staff to undergo privacy training. The message? VAC staff messed up and we’ll make sure they know better. Implied course of events: the frontline staff was upset by Bruyea’s lobbying and tried to take him down …. Here’s an alternative scenario: Bruyea ruffles feathers in the upper echelon of Veteran’s Affairs – the Ministers and Deputy Ministers. Orders are sent down: pull Bruyea’s files. Files are reviewed, annotated, and included in briefing notes (all of which has been confirmed). Decisions are taken to “take the gloves off” with Bruyea, after which Sean’s descent into the nightmare begins. Who can make such a decision or issue such an order? Not the people answering the phones ….”
  • QMI Ottawa bureau boss David Akin manages to see the forest in the midst of the trees. “…. Simply put: Our Canadian Forces needs billions and billions of dollars worth of new gear — not just new fighter planes — but no one has any clear plans to pay for what they need, particularly in a time of global fiscal restraint.  Alternately, one party or the other could stand up and, as Conservatives have done in Britain and Democrats did in the U.S., start announcing big-time cuts to military acquisitions and other programs.  Instead, we’ve been watching Conservatives and Liberals argue bitterly about the merits of purchasing the F-35 fighter plane, though both largely agree we will need some kind of new fighter plane to replace our fleet of excellent-but-aging CF-18s.  Whatever plane we choose is going to cost us billions. How will we pay?  And is that most urgent need? Is that the top spending priority? ….”
  • Potential base closures are always publicly contentious because of how much money such facilities pump into neighbouring economies.  As part of a strategic review of the military overall, a Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) paper ranks Canada’s military bases according to their “operational impact, infrastructure condition and efficiency, and economic impact”.  The list, the paper’s executive summary and a link to the paper itself are all here (as well as always interesting discussion) at Army.ca.
  • It’s still messy in Ivory Coast, where one guy says he won the election for president, and the other says he’s still president.  Here’s how one academic says Canada could help“….First, it should mobilize like-minded states to impose travel bans and freeze assets of Mr. Gbagbo’s family and close associates. Second, it should lead efforts to move Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the Nov. 28 presidential runoff who is under siege in a hotel in Abidjan, to Yamoussoukro, the capital, where he seems to have the backing of the local political establishment …. Third, Canada should work with other governments to press the African Union to give Mr. Gbagbo a deadline to step down or face comprehensive economic sanctions …. And fourth, Canada should help Mr. Ouattara to form his government by encouraging financial institutions such as the West African Monetary Union, the African Development Bank and the World Bank to deal with him ….”
  • Remember the young guy masked as an old guy who flew to Canada from Hong Kong last October?  Well, he may have been one of nine Chinese smuggled here, according to Hong Kong authorities.  The good news:  some arrests have been made in Hong Kong – a bit more from Hong Kong media here, here and here.
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