News Highlights – 30 Nov 10

  • Remembering the fallen, one tree at a time“The first tree planted in the Afghanistan Memorial Forest at CFB Petawawa has been dedicated to the memory of Sapper Sean Greenfield, who was killed in Afghanistan on January 31, 2009.  “Spr Greenfield’s tree will be the first of many planted here,” said base commander Lieutenant-Colonel Keith Rudderham.  The Memorial Forest is in the Memorial Park on the eastern edge of the base. Its purpose is to provide a lasting link for the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan for generations to come ….”
  • Looking for Wikileaks’ diplomatic cables? Sorry, but just like the Afghanistan and Iraq leaks, every piece of paper is an individual snapshot of what one report writer had to say about a specific meeting.  Do we know if all the cables are there to show a full picture?  If they were, would mainstream media go for the meat (digging and waiting for some context) or the sizzle (what tidbits can we mine NOW)?  Nothing to see here, friend – feel free to move on to other news.
  • Well, we know ONE place diplomatic paperwork apparently didn’t find its way to: “Canadian reports about torture in Afghan prisons could have been helpful — if they had been passed on — the military’s former head of investigations said Monday. Retired lieutenant-colonel William Garrick was the commanding officer of the Canadian Forces National Investigative Service when detainees transferred to Afghan authorities told foreign affairs department officials they had been tortured. But Garrick told the Military Police Complaints Commission he didn’t see any of those allegations. When asked about reports that detail several prisoners’ allegations they were kicked, beaten with electrical cables and given electric shocks, Garrick said he wasn’t aware of the reports. He also said he didn’t know about site reports foreign affairs officials filed after visiting prisons and interviewing detainees ….”
  • Some questions about from how Canada handled juvenile detainees in Afghanistan: “The Canadian Forces have for years arrested children suspected of working with the Taliban and handed them over to an Afghan security unit accused of torture …. Allegations that militants captured by Canada were transferred to Afghan forces and later tortured were hotly debated in Parliament last fall.  A document obtained by the CBC’s investigative unit shows that Canadian soldiers captured children as well in the fight against the Taliban, and that many of them were transferred to the custody of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, or NDS.  The document, obtained under an Access to Information request and marked “secret,” shows that Defence Minister Peter MacKay was briefed on the topic of juvenile detainees in Afghanistan March 30.  The “Canadian eyes only” note informs MacKay of how many children suspected of “participating in the insurgency” have been arrested by Canadian Forces and how many of them have been transferred into Afghan custody in the previous four years ….” Kudos, by the way, to for sharing the briefing note in question here.  The “Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre” in Afghanistan where the kids were sent popped up in Canada’s backgrounder on detainees recently:  here’s the original backgrounder, and here’s the latest version.  When did it change?  Apparently, about the time CBC got the briefing note.  More from here, the Globe & Mail here, Postmedia News here, QMI/Sun Media here and United Press International here.
  • One columnist’s take on the Liberals supporting the extended mission in Afghanistan“…. In that sense Ignatieff, with a very public nudge from foreign affairs critic Bob Rae, planted the party’s foreign policy flag on high ground. Staying in Afghanistan in hopes of morphing a military stalemate into a rough facsimile of peace makes sense in many ways. It accepts Canada’s responsibilities as a good Samaritan middle power, recognizes the domestic economic realities of being sensitive to Washington’s international security preoccupation, and is consistent with Liberal proposals to equip the military with the “kit” it requires, not stealth fighters Canada neither needs nor can afford. But while getting policy right, Ignatieff and Rae got the politics wrong. By giving Conservatives a free Afghanistan pass, Liberals further undermined their already suspect prospects in a federal election now widely expected to be just months away ….” Gee, you’d think the columnist in question prefers the Liberals to win than do something that might help – or am I being cynical here?
  • For those who think “it’s just sex” when it comes to Daniel Menard’s court martial for an alleged affair and for reportedly destroying evidence: “…. Daniel Menard was not summoned to face a court martial nor did he resign his commission because he had sex with Master Cpl. Bianka Langlois. He was charged because he broke the rules …. Had Menard simply had an affair with a subordinate, he would have likely suffered at least a minor blow to his career. However, by attempting to use his position to obstruct justice, Menard committed a far more serious breach of discipline ….”
  • Worries about how much (more than planned?) proposed new F-35 jet fighters will cost: “Canada’s new stealth fighter aircraft will require extensive maintenance, as well as very expensive changes to improve security at the military bases they operate from, according to Defence Department documents obtained by the Citizen.  Critics of the Conservative government’s proposal to buy the high-tech Joint Strike Fighters have been warning that the purchase will come with hidden costs that could drive up the price tag far beyond the current estimate of $16 billion.  The 2006 DND report, which looked at next generation fighter planes as well as the stealth Joint Strike Fighter, highlighted issues that could play a factor in any aircraft purchase ….” Unlike, though, the Ottawa Citizen doesn’t appear to be sharing the briefing note with its readers.
  • Some folks would like to see Canada go back to calling the Navy the “Royal Canadian Navy”.  The latest?  Great name, but not bloody likely.
  • Elvis murderer-rapist Russell Williams continues to leave the buildingmore here.
  • On a more pleasant note, five new pilots rotate into positions with Canada’s Snowbirds “Five Canadian Forces pilots were officially introduced as the latest members of 431 (Air Demonstration) Squadron, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, Wednesday, November 24 at 15 Wing, Moose Jaw, Sask., after a rigorous selection process and months of preparation. The newest squadron members are Snowbird 3, Captain Padruig MacIntosh, of Windsor, Ont.; Snowbird 5, Captain Brett Parker, of Edmonton, Alta.; Snowbird 6, Captain Denis Bandet, of Regina, Sask.; Snowbird 8, Major Ryan Stich, of Toronto, Ont.; and Advance and Safety Pilot – Snowbird 11, Captain Robert Chagnon, of Laval, Que. ….”
  • Surely he can’t be dead?  Yes he can – and don’t call him Shirley. Erik Nielsen, dead of complications from pneumonia at 84, predeceased by his brother, former Canadian Minister of National Defence (1985-1986) Erik Nielsen.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: IED’s allegedly destroy “tanks” in Arghandab.

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