News Highlights – 14 Feb 11

  • More on Canadian generals helping train Afghan security forces“Two senior Canadian generals are to oversee critical multi-billion dollar training programs that NATO hopes will lead to Afghan security forces taking over the lead from alliance forces by the end of 2014. “That is an incredible compliment to Canada,” one of the officers, Maj-Gen. Stu Beare, said in a telephone interview from his police training headquarters in Kabul. Maj-Gen. Beare has run police training for the alliance since last fall. Some time in April or May he is to be joined on the army side of NATO’s training house by Maj.-Gen. Mike Day, who until a few days ago oversaw Canada’s secretive special forces. Maj.-Gen. Day will wear two hats as he will also lead a contingent of as many as 950 Canadian soldiers that Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided last November will continue Ottawa’s military participation in Afghanistan as trainers to assist Afghan forces in the north of the country ….”
  • Meanwhile, the boss of NATO’s training effort in Afghanistan says still MORE trainers are needed. “More nations are pledging support, yet NATO still faces a shortage of 740 trainers needed to get Afghan soldiers and policemen ready to take the lead in securing their nation, the coalition’s top training official says. Needed most are 290 police trainers, including those to work in new training centers opening in Afghanistan this year, U.S. Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, the commander of NATO’s training mission, told The Associated Press in an interview Saturday. Afghan President Hamid Karzai wants his nation’s police and army to take the lead in protecting and defending their homeland by 2014, a deadline that will be reached only if the training effort — already on a fast track — gets even more support from NATO and other nations. Caldwell said the coalition wants to have the additional 740 trainers in place by this summer ….”
  • If you believe the paper trail mentioned here (love to see some of those documents posted publicly with the articles), two years of bureaucratic and political energy were consumed on this? “Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been locked in a lengthy tug of war with his defence minister over the future of the military’s VIP Airbus, newly disclosed documents show. Peter MacKay has repeatedly rejected requests from the prime minister’s staff to have the Airbus painted a civilian white and red instead of its current military grey. MacKay and senior officers argue that the white colour scheme would be too visible whenever the passenger jet is sent on troop and cargo missions to risky locales, as happens now when the aircraft is not needed by the prime minister or the Governor General. Senior government officials say no final decision has been made. But internal emails indicate the Privy Council Office — Harper’s own department — in fact ordered the military last September to arrange for the new paint job at the next scheduled maintenance. Documents outlining the two-year tussle over the VIP plane were obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Taliban claims responsibility for more attacks in Kandahar City.

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