News Highlights – 4 Jan 11

  • 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 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 QMIThe 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 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.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s