Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Ricks’
- Here’s what Canada’s PM has to say about the latest North Korean attacks: “This is the latest in a series of aggressive and provocative actions by North Korea, which continue to represent a grave threat to international security and stability in northeast Asia. Canada will continue to condemn all acts of aggression by North Korea in violation of international law. On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my condolences to the families of those who were killed and injured as a result of this unprovoked attack. Canada reiterates its firm support to the Republic of Korea, and urges North Korea to refrain from further reckless and belligerent actions and to abide by the Korean Armistice Agreement. Canada remains committed to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula ….”
- On Afghanistan, let’s start with the scummiest news, shall we? “Quebec military police are after a prankster preying on families of soldiers deployed to Afghanistan by calling them in the middle of the night to say their loved one has died. The relatives of at least three soldiers currently serving in the war-torn country have been targeted by the prank, a spokesman at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier said Tuesday ….” WTF? The last time something targeted this specifically against families of troops living in and around Valcartier was when letters showed up in troops’ homes from groups opposing the war as part of this campaign. It makes me wonder how easy it is to spot soldiers’ homes in the area if one can mass mail or phone them. Nobody’s saying anything about who did this, but IF this is some joker’s idea of expressing dissent, this is just vile.
- Remember Daniel Ménard, the General who was fired from his job in Afghanistan because of an affair? Next step: A court martial: “Brigadier-General Daniel Ménard will face a Court Martial in relation to charges of inappropriate conduct. Charges were laid in July 2010 following allegations made in May 2010 while Brig.-Gen. Ménard was the Task Force Commander in Afghanistan …. The charges facing Brig.-Gen. Ménard are: two counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline, laid in the alternative, contrary to section 129 of the National Defence Act (NDA), related to alleged inappropriate conduct as outlined in the Canadian Forces Personal Relationships and Fraternization directives; and four counts of obstructing justice contrary to section 130 of the NDA, pursuant to section 139(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada ….”
- An interesting question from the National Post‘s Full Comment: “With the recent NATO summit in Lisbon, the media have been filled with stories about Afghanistan. Stories about tactics, training, troop levels and timelines. Stories about governance and corruption. Stories about the hard slog of fighting a war that has gone on longer than both world wars and almost as long as the failed Soviet effort to do what NATO is failing to do now. But in all those words, there was almost nothing in response to the only question that matters: Why are we there? …. I’d like to support the war. I admire our soldiers. And I’m happy to see the facile myth of “peacekeeping” in the dustbin. But try as I might, all I can see is an expensive, pointless and endless conflict. And NATO isn’t helping me see anything else.”
- Don’t know if it’s a good thing, but Afghanistan’s ambassador to Canada makes a good point: “Afghan Ambassador Jawed Ludin said he felt once the training mission begins, it will become less of a front-page item for Canadians because media reporting tends to focus on negative developments. “This means it won’t be so highly reported on, which is a good thing because it means nothing bad is happening,” he said.”
- A little bit more on those mysterious Russian helicopters Canada’s reportedly buying for use in Afghanistan, from Laurie Hawn, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, during Question Period in the House of Commons: “…. The request came directly from the Canadian commanders in Kandahar as an urgent operational requirement for an increased troop movement capability to augment Griffon and Chinooks ops. The contract process, which followed all Government of Canada contract rules and guidelines and all Treasury Board guidelines, was very competitive, although it was not posted on MERX for security reasons. Several companies submitted bids and a decision was taken on the best value bid. This contract will end when the combat mission ends in 2011. …. This contract is temporary. Several companies bid on it. It followed all Treasury Board guidelines and all Government of Canada contracting guidelines. The contract will end in 2011, when the combat mission ends. It has nothing to do with future Chinook contracts at all ….” That last bit was in response to a question from the NDP’s defence critic, Jack Harris: “Did the government need to make this secret arrangement because the Chinook helicopters are five years late? Should we just add the cost of these helicopters onto the Chinooks, which are already 70% over budget?”
- At this point, it appears, the only “hush-hush” element of the recent Russian chopper “mystery” is who’s doing the work, and for how much – this time. When the idea of leasing Russian-made choppers was out there in 2008 (CTV.ca here, Toronto Star here, the Canadian Press here), there was even a name publicly attached to the idea. At that point, Sky Link Aviation (priding itself on providing “hundreds of air charters to destinations across Afghanistan on behalf of governments, commercial clients, and NATO forces since 2002″ on its web page) leased out six smaller Mi-8 helicopters for a year.
- A alternative explanation for the mystery surrounding the Russian helicopters, via Thomas Rick’s “The Best Defense” blog at Foreign Policy: “My guess is that because both the Afghan and Pakistani militaries use the Mi-17, this makes it more convenient to fly NATO forces across the border and into the FATA as necessary, with lots of plausible deniability, especially if they are flown at night and no one gets around to painting a lot of markings on the aircraft. That would explain why, as the Canadian report puts it, “details were kept off the MERX web-site, which formally lists government procurement competitions, and no news release was issued about the new choppers, which have been in use since the spring.” “ Even if you factor in how Canada is apparently having the private sector collect and share signals intelligence in the area, I’m going to go with Mark Collins on this one – faaaaaaaaaar too risky for an already Afghanistan-message-averse government like ours.
- QMI’s David Akin shares the Bloc Quebecois’ motion to be debated in the House of Commons tomorrow: “That this House condemns the government’s decision to unilaterally extend the Canadian mission in Afghanistan until 2014, thus denying two promises made to the people, one made in the House May 10, 2006 and reiterated in the Speech from the Throne from 2007 to present a vote of Parliament and that any military deployment made January 6, 2010 to the mission in Afghanistan a strictly civil mission after 2011, no military presence other than the care necessary to protect the embassy.” Read on for a comprehensive summary of what the PM’s said in various venues about the mssion – good reading.
- Here’s more on the cabinet minister who suggests Canada’s not at war. According to Hansard, here’s what John Baird had to say in response to questions in the House of Commons this week on the mission from Jack Layton: “Mr. Speaker, our government has been very clear that if we are going to put troops into combat, into a war situation, for the sake of legitimacy we are going to bring it bfore Parliament. That has been our practice as a government. What we are talking about here is a technical and a training mission. Our recent deployment of military personnel to Haiti following the recent earthquake is a perfect example of troop deployment in a non-combat role ….” I’ll bet a loonie the bit I’ve highlighted in red will come back to haunt the Minister, given that, unlike the Taliban and their allies, Haitians weren’t intent on blowing up people coming to help out.
- Remember way back, when Canadian politicians complained about European countries imposing caveats on their forces in Afghanistan, preventing their armies from contributing to the fight if it was at all risky? Well, according to Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno (who has spent a fair bit of time in Afghanistan), let he who is without caveat cast the first stone: “Make no mistake. Dress it up as both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff might like: If this new stay-in plan is put to effect as advertised — and I have my doubts about that — Canadian troops, highly valued for their combat skills in everything from reconnaissance to sniper proficiency, will be little more than decorative tassels on the Afghanistan uniform, their primary value to pick up the mentoring slack left behind by other bolting allies so that Americans can carry on their terrorist-tracking pursuits.” Ouch!
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Bad guys allege blowing up a “tank” in Zabul.
- What’s Canada Buying? Pouches, corrosion protection for subs and sword knots.
Written by milnewsca
24 November 10 at 7:45
Tagged with Afghanistan, Bloc Quebecois, Canada leasing Russian helicopters, Canadian mission in Afghanistan, caveats in Afghanistan, CH-47, chinook, chinooks, Dan Gardner, Daniel Menard, David Akin, Foreign Policy, Gilles Duceppe, Haiti, Jack Harris, Jawed Ludin, John Baird, Laurie Hawn, Mark Collins, Mi-7, Michael Ignatieff, military news, milnews.ca, north korea, Rosie DiManno, Russian helicopters, Stephen Harper, Thomas Ricks, Valcartier2007.ca
A “must read” from Thomas Ricks at Foreignpolicy.com, highlighting comments from none other than BruceR, the star of Flit.
My fave highlight:
Afghan National Army military intelligence officers brought an interesting perspective to signals interception: “rather than passively listening [to enemy radio traffic], the ANA had a tendency to get into arguments with insurgents.”
PDF version with some comments here – enjoy!