News Highlights – 4 Feb 11

  • A U.S. army brigade from Alaska is to replace Canadian troops when their combat mission in southern Afghanistan ends this July. About 4,000 troops of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division from Fort Wainwright, near Fairbanks, Alaska, are to “backfill” for Canada’s 2,800-member battle group, according to the Stars and Stripes, which cited a U.S. army colonel as its source. The “Arctic Wolves,” who served in Iraq in 2009, are to train in the Californian desert for their impending 12-month tour, said the independent daily newspaper funded by the U.S. Department of Defense ….” More from Stars & Stripes here.
  • Canadian choppers head to Arizona to prepare for Afghanistan.
  • They also serve who bring up the bullets & beans.“The men and women on forward operating bases (FOB) and in platoon houses do not have access to stores and cannot buy even simple items such as a package of gum. This is where members of the National Support Element (NSE) come in. Their crucial task is to supply all Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, whether they are at Kandahar Airfield (KAF) or outside of the main camp. “Everyone here is working for the guy out in his tank in the middle of the desert with only water and rations,” says NSE Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Sébastien Bouchard ….”
  • Egypt (1)  Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister says it’s time to go if you’re a Canadian still in Egypt these days“…. In total, 449 have been evacuated in five flights since Monday, with another scheduled to land here Friday morning with 40 Canadians aboard. The government meanwhile encouraged Canadians still in Egypt to board the flights. In a statement issued Thursday Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said any Canadians remaining in Egypt should leave as soon as possible as the North African country geared for a 10th consecutive day of increasingly violent protests. “All remaining Canadian citizens who wish to depart Egypt on a Canadian government chartered flight and who are able to do so should immediately proceed to the airport, terminal 1, departures area, as soon as possible on Feb. 3,” the statement said. “We strongly urge all Canadians to leave Egypt.” ….”
  • Egypt (2) “…. The minister said Ottawa was aware of the detention of two Canadian journalists working in Cairo for the Globe and Mail newspaper, as well as others from CBC, Radio-Canada, CTV and TVA who were “targeted and intimidated.” The Canadian government is “particularly disappointed and concerned that the protests that began with hope, order and enthusiasm are now fraught with violence, havoc and fear,” he said. “We are particularly concerned at reports of arrests of journalists. All detained journalists should be immediately released and their media equipment returned.” Cannon said he expressed his “grave concerns” regarding the targeting of foreign journalists to his Egyptian counterpart, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and to his envoy in Ottawa, urging Egypt’s government to “ensure that the army guarantees their safety.” ….”
  • Canadian troops will be taking part in a joint exercise in Africa – this from U.S. Africa Command: “Flintlock 11, the latest iteration of U.S. Africa Command’s premier Special Operations Forces exercise, kicks off February 21, 2011 in Thies, Senegal, and runs through March 11.  Conducted by Special Operations Command Africa, Flintlock is a joint multinational exercise to improve information sharing at the operational and tactical levels across the Saharan region while fostering increased collaboration and coordination. It’s focused on military interoperability and capacity-building for U.S., North American and European Partner Nations, and select units in Northern and Western Africa …. Approximately 800 personnel will be involved in Flintlock 11. This includes participants from the U.S., Canada, Spain, France, The Netherlands and Germany, as well as from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Senegal …” Who’s going from Canada?  More on that here.

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