News Highlights – 27 Feb 11

  • Operation GTFO Libya The good news:  Canadians are being flown out of Libya in a Canadian military plane.  The not-so-good news:  it’s Canada’s embassy staff, including the Ambassador. More on that here, here, here and here.
  • More on managing expectations of a military incursion (involving Canadians, anyway) into Libya“…. Defence Minister Peter MacKay told a group of defence experts Friday not to expect Canadian troops — or even United Nations peacekeepers — to intervene in Libya anytime soon. When asked about the UN’s Responsibility to Protect resolution, which allows for quick action by the Security Council to intervene militarily in cases where innocent civilians are being brutalized, MacKay said the resolution is a “very important concept,” but it isn’t applied evenly. “As we’ve seen in places like Darfur, it (the resolution) has lost its lost lustre,” MacKay said. “I think the corollary to the Responsibility to Protect is not to overextend, and not to raise expectations that can’t be met.” ….”
  • Here’s what Irwin Cotler, a former Canadian Attorney General, says Canada should be doing about Libya.
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • The Taliban is claiming to have “captured” a “Canadian national” in Ghazni, Afghanistan – no mainstream media confirmation as of this posting.
  • An editorial voice saying Canada should stay to finish the job in Afghanistan“This summer, as Kandahar bakes in the relentless heat, Canada will formally end its combat role in Afghanistan. After nearly a decade of fighting, Canadians will transition to a training role — behind the wire — teaching the Afghan National Security Forces.  Canada must maintain a presence in Afghanistan, but it is difficult for Canadians to walk away from combat operations in Kandahar before the job is done, given the heroic efforts and sacrifices of our soldiers …. Soldiers go where they are told to and do as the government orders because that’s their job. They are loyal to the core.  Quietly though, many wonder what it was all for. There is a feeling of unfinished business, of being taken off the field in the last moments of the championship game when the critical moves are being made, when the score is so close.  …. Now, as the surge is in full swing, Canadian troops have to walk away without being allowed to finish what they started.  This is all the more grating because combat has not affected Canada’s ability to fight — it has affected our will to fight.  Ultimately the decision to leave combat had nothing to do with tactical success or failure on the ground and everything to do with political debates at home …. Much of the reputation the Canadian Forces have earned us in Afghanistan will be left in the dust of Kandahar.  Asked what could be done for his troops, one veteran officer answered, “Let them win, if you really want their efforts to have not been in vain.” “
  • Taliban Propaganda WatchMore on the Taliban’s view of those nasty, nasty people who say they’re talking with NATO, Afghanistan, the Americans, whoever.
  • A top Canadian general wants to cut the fat at national defence headquarters in Ottawa, a move he says will help create a leaner, meaner fighting machine. Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie was heavily critical of a system that favours headquarters staff members over soldiers in the field. “Before you want to talk, and none of you should be, about cutting one ship, one reserve or regular unit, or one capability that can contribute to operational outputs, let’s talk about HQ staffs,” Leslie told a conference of defence analysts and military officers. His heaviest opposition is coming from the bureaucrats he is facing off against. “Nothing will defend itself so vigorously, much akin to a wounded badger, as a HQ that is threatened with being shut down.” ….” Some interesting discussion and suggestions on this topic here at
  • F-35 Tug o’ War This from the Parliamentary Budget Officer in his latest report (PDF): “…. the federal government still hasn’t given him, or the committee, the information they say they need to hold the Conservatives fiscally accountable on crime bill costs, the F-35 fighter jet purchase and costs to the federal treasury of corporate tax cuts ….” This, specifically on the F-35, from the report itself:  “The GC’s (Government of Canada’s) response to FINA (House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance) on October 28 2010 confirms some of the relevant cost drivers associated with the GC’s planned purchase of 65 F-35s. These include the importance of specifications such as weight and materials, deflator rates to account for changes in prices, and a specific delivery schedule in order to determine the average unit cost of the aircraft. That said, there are two insufficiencies in the data. First, the data provided does not cover all the cost drivers. Second, the response does not provide the necessary degree of detail with respect to both the underlying assumptions upon which the GC’s figures are based and cost drivers themselves …. The PBO (Parliamentary Budget Office) will be providing parliamentarians with an independent estimate of the costs of the F-35 aircraft in the upcoming weeks ….”
  • A Quebec museum has bought itself a submarine for the princely sum of $4, plus tax.  The submarine is the former HMCS Onondaga, one of Canada’s Oberon-class submarines that was decommissioned in 2000 when the navy picked up its new Victoria-class subs from the British navy.  Annemarie Bourassa, assistant director of the Musee de la Mer de Pointe-au-Pere, told the Canadian Press that the sub will be a big draw for her museum.   “Rimouski is not a big city and there’s not a lot of big tourist attractions, so there’s a lot of people who are convinced that this will be good for everyone,” Bourassa said.  The submarine was headed to the Canada War Museum as an exhibit for children to climb through, but that museum bailed out when it worked out the cost of transporting the submarine to its new building in Ottawa ….”

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