News Highlights – 12 Nov 10

  • A recurring theme this time of year:  Time remains the real assassin as the number of World War 2 vets decline over time at Remembrance Day ceremonies. This from the Canadian Press“…. The Historica-Dominion Institute says the average age of Canada’s 125,000 remaining Second World War veterans is 88 years. They are passing away at a rate of 400 to 500 a week, meaning that in another five years or so, all but the hardiest of Canada’s 1.1 million Second World War vets will be gone….”
  • Families of the fallen travel to Kandahar remember.
  • Soldiers are getting a chance to say goodbye to their fallen colleagues in a way that may help the survivors heal. More on that from Postemedia News.
  • Your parents could be taken away by their job for just a weekend and it might seem like forever, but some kids may never see their folks again.  It’s a feeling 16-year-old Madeline Mills knows too well. She’s spent most of her teen years helping care for her younger siblings while her dad fought in Afghanistan. She doesn’t want attention for her challenge, but attention may soon surround her.  Madeline shared her story in a new documentary about Canadian children whose parents have seen combat in Afghanistan. The National Film Board of Canada marked Remembrance Day with the national simultaneous release of the film, Children of Soldiers ….”
  • An interesting tidbit buried in this Globe & Mail piece, quoting military writer/publisher Scott Taylor:  “Only a “small sliver of the society is being impacted by the war in Afghanistan.” Most of the troops now are the sons and daughters of other soldiers, he said, explaining that 40 per cent of recruits either have one or both parents in the military ….” As others smarter than me have said, could this suggest Canadians’ support for the military is a mile wide and a millimeter deep?
  • Soldiers serving in Afghanistan were the first to receive the newly designed poppy coins on Remembrance Day. More than 3,000 troops stationed throughout Afghanistan were the first to receive the special 25-cent memento from the Royal Canadian Mint, each batch delivered in velvet pouches ….” More on the new coin here.
  • Again witrh the “should Parliament decide Canada’s next mission in Afghanistan?” question, but this time, with an answer from the PM.  This from the Globe & Mail“My position is if you’re going to put troops into combat, into a war situation, I do think for the sake of legitimacy, I do think the government does require the support of Parliament,” he said. “But when we’re talking simply about technical or training missions, I think that is something the executive can do on its own.”
  • So, is this a flip-flop on the Prime Minister’s part?  It sure is, according to Norman Spector writing at the Globe: “…. as the even the Prime Minister himself had to (very slightly) concede in the CTV interview, leaving any troops in any role in any region of Afghanistan would constitute a major shift in his position….”
  • Further to the right on the media political scale, QMI/Sun Media columnist Michael den Tandt wonders: “What took the Harper government so long? Why all the strenuous denials, month after month, that such an outcome was even possible? Because it was always likely, if not inevitable, given the situation on the ground and Canada’s alliances, that we would keep an armed force of some kind in Afghanistan beyond July, 2011 ….”
  • This, from former Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier, on the prospect of Canadian troops training Afghan forces while avoiding combat:  “You can come up with all kinds of schemes to hide away in camp and train people for the Afghan army, but they lack credibility …. If you try to help train and develop the Afghan army … you are going to be in combat.” says this is a quote from a “recent” interview with Macleans.  The original Macleans article where this was quoted is from October 22, 2009 (more from Hillier here).  Also, a point I raised about a year ago (or “recently”, using the CBC clock/calendar):  if the Canadians train Afghan troops and don’t go out to fight with them, how long will the Taliban Info-machine take to start the “they come to help, and send you to die” message track?
  • A new approach promised by Canada’s new Veterans Ombudsman this, via“Canada’s new ombudsman for veterans affairs said Thursday he’ll try to keep “buoyant” the issues raised by his predecessor, Pat Stogran.  “Mr. Stogran has brought the issues to the surface,” Guy Parent said in an interview with the CBC News program Power and Politics.  “I think my responsibility is to keep them buoyant now and to make sure we separate the issues into ‘chunkable’ pieces and that we can provide specific recommendations based on the issues.”  But Parent, whose term began Thursday, made it clear he would be taking a different approach to the role than Stogran did.  “I would definitely say so,” he said, laughing, when asked if he and Stogran had different styles.  “Sometimes you accomplish much more through negotiations than you do by being vocal.” ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Alleged Taliban Boss in Kandahar City Op Claims Taliban Rules the Night, “tried our best to completely end any civilians casualties on our part”.

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