News Highlights – 5 Jan 11

  • The troops at work in Afghanistan. “The chopper comes in hard and fast, banking sharply before slamming onto a patch of rutted soil. Troops charge out the back of the Chinook and form a protective cordon. They kneel in the dirt and scan the horizon, rifles ready …. Military intelligence identified the village as a Taliban hiding spot. Until recently, foreign troops had rarely patrolled this part of southern Kandahar province. Their absence let the insurgents move freely, crossing in and out of safe havens in neighbouring Pakistan. The Taliban stage attacks out of Khenjakak. They move supplies and weapons along the nearby Tarnak River to other parts of the province. Military officers suspect they caught the Taliban by surprise last week when they raided Khenjakak for the first time. No one shot at them and the bombs they found were disconnected, a sign that the insurgents weren’t expecting foreign troops to find them. This time could be different. The insurgents know Khenjakak is being targeted. Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Imam Sahib expect a fight. Or booby traps ….”
  • The U.S. Army’s buying 80+ Light Armoured Vehicles from the General Dynamics plant in London, Ontario – deal worth ~$138 million. More from the Canadian Press here, and a company news release here (PDF).
  • On the Coptic Christians in Canada, the Globe & Mail says it has a piece of paper (that they don’t seem to be sharing) saying the risk to the (mostly) Egyptian Orthodox Christians is “medium”, while the Canadian Press says security is being cranked up as they get ready to celebrate Christmas this week.
  • What’s Canada Buying? Looking for someone to make a 155 gram/5.5 ounce “bullet” to be shot out of a special cannon at around 1400 meters per second/~5000 km per hour/3300 miles per hour for research purposes. More on hypervelocity gas guns here (usual Wikipedia caveats) and here.
  • The Canadian Press says it has a piece of paper (which it doesn’t seem to be sharing) saying CSIS is tightening up the rules for its’ foreign agents. “An internal review uncovered policy violations in the international wing of Canada’s spy agency — the latest indication of shortcomings at the branch that oversees growing operations in foreign hotspots. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service audit, completed in 2010, says the spy agency’s policy framework governing certain covert activities “is not adequate.” As a result, “practices frequently do not comply with policy and key controls have been weakened or eliminated.” CSIS said Tuesday that new policies have since been put in place to fill the gaps ….”
  • We’ll see….  “The federal government is poised to sign an international treaty that will make Canada legally responsible for search and rescue in its part of the Arctic. Northern experts say the deal, expected to be signed in May, could pressure Canada into upgrading its capabilities in the region. And, they add, it shows new resolve by the eight nations in the Arctic Council to show the rest of the world that they intend to set the rules for the uppermost reaches of the planet. “By ratcheting up the capabilities of the Arctic Council, countries like the United States, Russia and Canada are essentially saying, ‘No, we have matters under control. We are making laws for this area. You can relax,’ ” said Michael Byers, an international law professor at the University of British Columbia who has written extensively on the Arctic. The deal — quietly reached last December in Reykjavik, Iceland — divides the North into search-and-rescue regions and coordinates emergency response efforts between council members, which include Canada, the United States, Russia, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Taliban reject idea of permanent U.S. bases in Afghanistan.

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