Posts Tagged ‘Sudan’
- In spite of all the poking around Russia seems to do in Canadian airspace (recent examples here, here and here), all seems to have gone well in a joint Canadian-American-Russian air interception exercise. “A first-of-its-kind hijacking exercise involving the U.S., Canadian and Russian militaries went so well that a similar drill is planned for 2011, an American officer said. Jet fighters from Russia and the North American Aerospace Defence Command pursued a small passenger jet playing the role of a hijacked jetliner across the Pacific and back during the August exercise. The aim: To practice handing off responsibility for a hijacked jet between Russia and NORAD, a joint U.S.-Canadian command that for decades devoted its efforts to tracking Soviet forces. Officers reviewed the exercise in November at NORAD headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. The verdict: It “was pretty much carried on flawlessly,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Lee Haefner, who was the lead planner. NORAD and Russian officers will meet in Russia in February to begin planning a second exercise, Haefner said ….” More on last year’s Exercise VIGILANT EAGLE here, here and here. A reminder: Canada bowed out of the exercise in 2008 because of Russia’s “visit” to neighbouring Georgia.
- Some interesting discussion at Army.ca here on what wounded warrior Paul Franklin suggests about Canada doing more in southern Sudan. Meanwhile, the Globe & Mail shares some of the factors to be considered if Canada wants to do more.
- Only 32 veterans were interviewed in a University of Western Ontario study, so it may not be statistically robust, but some of the findings remain disturbing. “Dozens of largely middle-aged veterans in Southwestern Ontario are battling homelessness after years of valiantly fighting to stay off the streets, a first-of-its-kind study in Canada finds. Nationwide, the number of homeless vets may number in the hundreds or thousands. And despite improvements in care over the past decade, a London, Ont., researcher leading the study warns new veterans may face the same challenges. “Veterans Affairs is getting better, but many could still slip through the cracks,” said Susan Ray, an assistant nursing professor at the University of Western Ontario (UWO). “A lot of the veterans I spoke to said, ‘I don’t know if anything can help me, but maybe it could help somebody now’.” Her more immediate concern is the group of vets, average age 52, who find themselves homeless several years after leaving the military structure. “Everything is looked after for you. It is a big family with the commander who is the big father,” Ray said. “They found it difficult to make the transition to civilian life. They found it difficult to have freedom and make choices.” ….” Other research conducted by the same investigator: “The Experience of Contemporary Peacekeepers Healing from Trauma,” “Contemporary Treatments for Psychological Trauma From the Perspective of Peacekeepers,” and “The Impact of PTSD on Veterans’ Family Relationships: An Interpretative Phenomenological Inquiry.”
- Remember the several hearings into how Canada is said to have treated Afghan detainees? Here’s an update on one of them: “Whether the Military Police Complaints Commission makes findings that sizzle or fizzle, the panel will claim an important place in the Afghan detainees affair. The quasi-judicial commission is the only forum to conduct a methodical examination of any element of the detainees issue amid repeated rejections by the federal government of opposition calls for a full-scale independent public inquiry. After a year of public hearings end early February with final arguments by lawyers, the commission says its “top priority” will be writing a report on whether Canada’s military police should have investigated military officers’ orders to transfer suspected Taliban captives to Afghan authorities despite a risk of torture ….” Here’s a chronology to help you keep track of the different proceedings.
- Troops in Winnipeg are getting ready to train in Canada’s far North. “Soldiers from the Arctic Response Company Group (ARCG) spent the first week of December building komatiks (wooden sleighs) in preparation for Exercise NORTHERN BISON 2011 from February 15–28. The Canadian Forces (CF) will be contributing to a top government priority—protecting the territorial integrity of the Arctic—and the komatiks will play a crucial role in ensuring that the soldiers can successfully move, shoot, communicate and sustain themselves in austere northern conditions. “We will be packing a komatik with the UMS [unit medical station] and another komatik will be like a snow ambulance,” said Master Corporal Calin Ritchie, a medical technician with 17 Field Ambulance. The komatiks will be pulled by snowmobiles throughout the exercise that will see both Regular and Reserve force soldiers work together with 1 and 4 Canadian Ranger Patrol Groups as they conduct a 300-km trek from Churchill, Manitoba to Arviat, Nunavut ….”
- Remember those Coptic Christians named in jihadi forums not so long ago? Well, ever since a group of such Christians were suicide bombed in Egypt, Copts here in Canada have hired private security guards and want a wee bit more protection during their Orthodox Christmas season.
- This, reportedly from a briefing note obtained by QMI: “The RCMP wanted to stay involved with a controversial peace conference even as the minister in charge of the national police force ordered them out. Newly released documents also show that next time, the Mounties plan to stand their ground. A briefing note prepared for deputy commissioner Bob Paulson, the man in charge of federal and international policing, recommends that the Mounties not back out of future events deemed too hot to handle by the government. “It is recommended that in the future, the Minister of Public Safety supports the RCMP’s position with respect to National Security Community Outreach,” reads the memo. The conference in question was slated for the end of October at the Government Conference Centre, a federal building across the street from Parliament Hill. Among the participants were several Iranian academics tied to the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinehjad and Dr. Davood Ameri of the Islamic World Peace Forum ….” Since QMI doesn’t share said document with the world anyplace I looked, does the note say “we’ll disobey the Minister next time” or “we’ll give him the same advice next time”?
- The Toronto Star is doing a bit of catch-up, finally talking to members of a militia in Quebec where some members consider the Canadian Forces their “adversary”. “There’s no sign, per se, but there is a shirt in the window silkscreened with the image of militant Quebec separatist Pierre Falardeau and the words: “Now it’s your turn to be scared.” Inside, past a rack of nationalist books, including one called Quebec Bashing, which can be found alongside one on Mao Zedong, there is a wall of white, winter balaclavas and camouflage gas masks, another wall of boots and, to the right, a counter behind which hang realistic-looking paintball rifles. They hope to soon have a permit to sell real guns. This is the new recruitment centre for the Milice Patriotique Québécoise, a shadowy separatist militia that, after nearly a decade of existence, is only now coming into the light. The centre opened its doors at the end of November in a working class neighbourhood of east Montreal. The founder and leader, “Major” Serge Provost, is not out to make friends with this venture. Indeed, even other separatists are uncomfortable with him, mindful of Quebec’s painful history with the murderous Front de libération du Québec. But Provost says his group operates in a defensive mode only, “to protect the people of Quebec.” “The only entity able to protect Quebecers now is the Canadian army,” says Provost, 42. “So, the only ones who can help us are our adversaries.” ….” A bit more on this group from a previous MILNEWS.ca summary here.
- To space, and beyond! “Canada has the technological capacity to build its own rocket to launch small satellites, officials and documents have revealed, highlighting a top priority for future research at the Defence Department as well as something that’s being studied at the Canadian Space Agency. Canada relies on other countries, such as the United States, India and Russia, to launch its spacecraft into orbit, but both the Defence Department and the space agency are looking at the option of constructing a Canadian-made launcher. The Defence Department’s science organization, Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), is examining what would be needed for a small rocket as well as looking at different potential mission scenarios ….”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
- I’LL Say! “…. The West has poured blood and treasure into Afghanistan, and will be looking for signs of progress. Don’t expect to see much in the way of major improvements in 2011. The next 12 months will afford incremental progress as the West and some of Afghanistan’s neighbours attempt to work together to confront the country’s massive challenges. There is no quick fix. It will take until 2012 for the fruits of the surge and shift in strategy to manifest as significant, sustained change …. “
- Wounded warrior Paul Franklin suggests it may be time for Canada to consider doing something in Sudan.
- Photographer Louie Palu shares some of the job being done by medevac helicopter teams.
- It wouldn’t be New Year’s without media stories about levées – in Thunder Bay, and elsewhere.
- Canada is apparently continuing to use a controversial Afghan security company to help protect a big dam project in Afghanistan. “Canada is standing by a controversial Afghan security firm that’s controlled by Afghanistan’s ruling Karzai family despite a U.S. military decision to sever ties with it, The Star has learned. The Watan Group, which safeguards Canada’s signature Dahla Dam restoration project in Kandahar, was blacklisted this week as part of a U.S. effort to stop aid dollars slipping into the hands of corrupt officials and Taliban commanders. But Watan Risk Management, the specific subsidiary facing intense American scrutiny, will remain Canada’s security partner on the ground, according to Montreal-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, the lead partner in the project. “For the moment, we have no plans to replace Watan. Until or unless we have evidence that these contractors have done something illegal we will continue to employ them,” SNC-Lavalin spokesman Leslie Quintan confirmed in an email to The Star. “Our primary concern is, as always, the safety and security of our people and we will do nothing to put them in jeopardy.” ….” Meanwhile, the U.S. military is apparently blacklisting said security firm “to clean up a contracting process in Afghanistan that has been riddled with corruption and allowed U.S. funds to pass to insurgents.” A bit of the rocky history of the company protecting Canada’s signature dam project here at Army.ca.
- The past (Canadian) chair of Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission says some progress is being made, and Canada can still help make the voting process there better. “…. Now is the precisely the time for Canada to renew and redouble our efforts in this area by working with Afghans as they continue to build their nascent democracy. Let’s use the momentum that the IEC has created so that the next elections are less fraudulent, more inclusive, credible and transparent than has been the case to date.”
- Meanwhile, John Manley (of the 2008 Manley team report on Canada’s mission in Afghanistan) also says Canada can still help out there. “…. Afghanistan has surely taught us that there are limits to what can be achieved through traditional military/ civilian approaches to state-building. Canadians who have grown weary of the war in Afghanistan will welcome the shift to a new, less dangerous role for Canadian troops in that country — a role that will mean fewer ramp ceremonies and solemn processions along the Highway of Heroes in southern Ontario. So Afghanistan will fade from the daily news. But the chilling era of terror that we entered unexpectedly in 2001 will still be with us. We must be intelligent about how we deal with these risks. And we must not allow our will to weaken, nor our determination to flag.”
- A number of authors and analysts have signed this open letter to U.S. President Obama, calling for the United States to “sanction and support a direct dialogue and negotiation with the Afghan Taliban leadership residing in Pakistan”. From the letter: “The Taliban’s leadership has indicated its willingness to negotiate”. Who put up the letter? Good question, considering Alexa.com shows no stats or information to track for the address, and the URL is registered with a company that hosts addresses. While I understand that public statements only show part of the picture, the public statements I’ve read all seem to say “no talks until foreign soldiers leave” (check here, here, here and here for some of the latest variations on the “you go, we talk” theme). I’ve asked signers of the open letter for open source information showing the willingness mentioned in the letter – I’ll share that information as soon as I get it. Meanwhile, a tidbit from a Taliban statement just posted this morning (links to Scribd.com): “(The Taliban) is determined that it would never show its readiness for negotiation in conditions that the foreign forces are stationing in the country.”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Taliban claims to have destroyed a new U.S. base in Kandahar.
- More “Question the F-35 Purchase” copy from the Ottawa Citizen here, here and here. Some supporting commentary here, and more partisan “Attack the F-35 Purchase” copy here.
- More on Canada’s JTF-2: they’re more likely to nab bad guys than nail them. “Canadian special forces in Afghanistan capture more insurgents than they kill. Surprised? Well it’s true. Like most issues surrounding the secretive Canadian special operations community, the truth is more nuanced and complex than the myth. Contrary to popular belief, Joint Task Force Two (JTF2) is not Canada’s only special operations unit, nor does it spend most of its time shooting. “You can’t kill your way to victory,” says Brig.-Gen. Michael Day, commander of Canadian Special Operations Command (CANSOFCOM). Day shatters the shoot-’em-up, cowboy special forces image of popular culture. Apparently, Canada’s elite commandos don’t go around kicking down doors and shooting up insurgent compounds. Canadian special operations forces (known as SOF) “pull the trigger less than a quarter of the time,” Day explains ….” The information seems to come from a conference in Kingston last week (information on conference here and here, both via Google’s web cache, or here at Scribd.com of those links no longer work), where the author, Mercedes Stephenson, participated in a media panel. An interesting message at the end of the column: “…. This column isn’t long enough to smash every special operations myth, but there’s one more worth mentioning: SOF are expensive. The entire budget for Canadian special operations this year is $205 million. A number that small is peanuts in the defence budget. Now that’s value for money.” Out of a total budget of about $22 billion (according to Treasury Board budget documents), that’s just under 1%.
- The Toronto Star uses the story of one Canadian military officer to seque into lamenting the loss of Canada’s “peacekeepers”. “Unlike most other Canadian soldiers, Lt.-Col. Dalton Cote doesn’t carry a gun. He is a peacekeeper, one of 27 left in a military that used to be defined by that role. For the past six months, while his comrades in arms were patrolling through Kandahar and sidestepping IEDs, Cote left his guns at home, donned a blue beret, climbed into a UN truck and negotiated his way through checkpoints in an effort to observe troop movements, monitor weapon stashes and investigate violent attacks on both sides of the makeshift border that could next month become the official partition between north and south Sudan. As the leader of 20 Canadian peacekeepers sprinkled across the Sudanese countryside, Cote, a 45-year-old father of two, was, until five weeks ago, leading the largest Canadian peacekeeping contingent currently deployed ….” More on Canada’s mission in Sudan here, and how the CF’s helping out in Darfur here.
- Oopsie at Veterans Affairs Canada or the Canadian Forces. ” The Department of Defence has launched an investigation after a former member of the Canadian Forces found sensitive health and personal information about other military personnel in his medical file. Wayne Finn said he was stunned to discover everything from other service members’ social insurance numbers, blood test results, X-ray reports to dates of birth mixed in with his military medical file. The 49-year-old Nova Scotia man said he still has information referring to about 20 people in his file, even after returning the files of eight others to the base in Halifax where he was serving ….”
- Canada willing to help Haiti (but nobody’s asked for more troops at this point). “Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon says Canada is ready to do whatever it is asked to help maintain order in Haiti, but doubts that will mean sending more troops to the troubled Caribbean nation. Cannon told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday that Canadian soldiers and police officers are already part of a UN-led security force in Haiti, and Canada has not been asked to send more …” More on Canada’s military presence still in Haiti working under a U.N. mandate, and more on the current unpleasantness there here.
- What’s Canada Buying? A review of a big plane contract review, and starches in pouches
…in larger military numbers*, instead of Afghanistan (as several politicians and activists have suggested here, here, and here), this excerpt from The Economist is a good summary of how straightforward the Darfur situation is – NOT….
“Gone is the neat division between attacker and defender. Instead there is a messy and poisonous plurality of rival groups, tribes and bandits; some co-operate with the government, others with the assorted rebels. Allegiances are fickle, loyalties easily bought. The two original rebel groups have fragmented into at least 20 factions. The International Criminal Court at The Hague has indicted Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, for war crimes in Darfur. But it has also accused three rebel leaders of similar crimes. Even the notorious janjaweed, an Arab militia that served as proxies for the Sudanese army, are now as likely to fight each other or even to turn on the government if they have not been paid on time. It is wrongheaded nowadays simply to tag the rebels as “good” and the Sudanese government forces as “evil”.”
Are there things to fix in Darfur? Yes.
Is it going to be more clear-cut and straightforward than Afghanistan? I don’t think so…
- edited to include info on Canada’s current commitment in Sudan -