News Highlights – 20 Feb 11

  • Word of a big push in southern Afghanistan, with Canadians doing some of the pushing. “A large-scale military sweep in southern Afghanistan involving Canadian troops has yielded the seizure of massive weapons caches hidden in fields around a tactically crucial region in Kandahar province. The goal of the recently concluded five-day operation, planned and led by the Afghan National Army with support from Canada’s Royal 22nd Regiment, a battle group nicknamed the Van Doos, and an American company was to find weapons and capture Taliban militants just arriving in the region. In doing so, the coalition of 2,200 soldiers hopes to take some steam out of an upcoming spring fighting season. The mission is aimed at reducing fighting during the eventual handover of the Panjwaii district to U.S. forces this summer ….”
  • More on the lastest push “Canada’s top soldier marches through a narrow lane known among some troops as Ambush Alley, hoping to build trust in an Afghan village that has proven difficult to win over in recent years. Against the backdrop of a crumbled clay wall — the result of an improvised explosive device last week — Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner offers a sobering assessment of the public mood in Nakhonay. “I think they are sitting on the fence right now and they’re waiting to see who is more capable, who is winning,” Milner says. “They’ve been intimidated for so long. Right now is that waiting period to understand what the situation is going to be like during fighting season.” Milner joined his troops during Operation Hamaghe Shay, a four-day mission that yielded weapons and IEDs on a daily and nightly basis throughout the Panjwaii district. It culminated Saturday with a two-hour shura in the nearby village of Haji Baba, where Panjwaii’s new governor railed against the Taliban — to the point where he said he would “take a gun and shoot them myself” if they brought harm to the locals ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan.
  • Now Ron Cundell wants the Canadian Military’s other boot to drop. The Angus resident praised Friday’s announcement that Borden will house one of five new integrated personnel support centres to care for injured or ill Canadian Forces members, and their families. Cundell, who was medically released from the forces after serving from 1981-2000, says the Department of National Defence (DND) is doing its part -but that’s only half of the solution. ” Veterans Affairs (Canada) needs to change their culture of deniability,” he said. “What happens when the claim is denied? Where will they (veterans) go for help? How will they go for help? “I was left alone, fed to the wolves. That is why I am here today. It’s sad how much I know about this system.” ….”
  • Troops from across Western Canada are headed to the Arctic for a big training exercise.  Click here if you want to follow them on an online map.
  • Speaking of the North, an NDP MP is calling for the Arctic to be declared a nuclear weapons free zone, via Private Members Bill C-629. One question, though:  unless Canada builds up its military to the extent that it can challenge ALL comers to Canada’s Arctic (and we know the NDP’s not big on building anything other than “peacekeeping” forces), how do you stop, say, folks from just passing on through?

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