News Highlights – 7 Mar 11

  • So now, some media are reading “Kabul-centric” when it comes to talking about Canada’s upcoming training mission in Afghanistan to mean “base in Kabul, but not necessarily ALL in Kabul.” “The federal cabinet is being asked to decide quickly on the specifics of the Canadian military training mission in Afghanistan as other countries jockey for prime classroom instruction posts, say NATO and Canadian defence sources.  National Defence will present its recommendations to the Conservative government in the very near future and will ask to deploy “a small number” of troops at regional training centres in addition to stationing soldiers at classrooms in the Afghan capital.  “We’ll need to start laying down our markers by April in order to get the slots we want,” said one defence source.  The locations under consideration include the western city of Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif in the north and Jalalabad, near the border with Pakistan …. a certain obfuscation crept into the message in January. Officials and ministers started telegraphing that deployment would be “Kabul-centric” — meaning it’ll be based in the capital but not exclusively in Kabul.  In fact, each of the regional training centres under consideration is ranked safer than Kabul, according to the military’s threat assessment. The Afghan capital has been rocked by a string of attacks this winter, including a suicide bombing last month that killed two people at the entrance to a hotel ….”
  • Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan were hospitalized for traumatic brain injury between 2006 and 2009 at almost three times the rate of Americans fighting there in earlier years before the war escalated, according to a National Defence study obtained by The Globe and Mail. The military attributed the “significantly higher” hospitalization rate to “the risky nature of our Kandahar operation” in a report acquired under Access to Information …. The total number of Canadian soldiers diagnosed with TBI was only 83; seventeen of those were classified with a “more serious forms of brain injury.” Still, the study found the hospitalization numbers taken from the trauma registry database at Kandahar were “significantly higher than the expected rate,” amounting to a hospitalization rate of 71 per 10,000 deployed person-years of all Canadians serving in Afghanistan for the three years ending in 2009. That compares with a rate of only 25 per 10,000 for U.S. troops in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2007 – before the increased fighting in recent years and last year’s surge of American troops in heavy combat regions ….” Again, MSM writes a story on a report, without sharing the report.
  • Some of the latest (a few weeks after the fact) from the CF’s media machine on what’s up in Afghanistan: “Operation HAMAGHE SHAY (“Same Team”) took place in Panjwa’i District from 16 February to 18 February 2011. Led and largely planned by the officers of Kandak 6, 1st Brigade 205 (Hero) Corps Afghan National Army (Kandak 6/1/205 ANA), its primary objective was to clear the village of Nakhonay and the surrounding countryside of insurgents and their stockpiles of weapons, bomb-making materials and illegal drugs ….”
  • Nearly 100 Canadians are still trapped in strife-torn Libya as fighting intensifies and rebel forces battle their way towards the capital city of Tripoli. Foreign Affairs confirmed Sunday they were in contact with about 90 Canadians and looking for ways to get them home safely. On Saturday, Canada managed to pluck nine Canadians, along with U.S., U.K. And Ukrainian citizens, from Libya using a C130 Hercules military aircraft to take them to nearby Malta. Some 330 Canadians have been evacuated from the North African nation so far ….”
  • Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff:  Setting up a no-fly zone over Libya = “major military offensive” “….”I don’t think you can understate the severity of a no fly zone scenario,” (Gen. Walter) Natynczyk told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday, describing the process involved as a major military operation.  “Before you can fly and ensure the security of a region you have to dismantle the air defences on the ground. That includes the runways and the aircraft on the ground, and the command and control facilities on the ground. That is a major military operation; it is an offensive operation.” ….”
  • Academic:  Setting up a no-fly zone over Libya = “a significant escalation in the West’s involvement in a conflict” “Canada and its allies have an obligation to step in and take military action in conflict-stricken Libya, including the enforcement of a no-fly zone, if rumours of mass killings of civilians prove to be true, a Canadian international affairs expert says.  Roland Paris, an expert in international security at the University of Ottawa, acknowledged that establishing a no-fly zone in Libya — a hot-button issue on political talk shows both in the U.S. and Canada on Sunday — would be a tricky sell in the Arab world, but adds that information trickling out might make a significant military intervention necessary …. Paris said a no fly-zone, which would include disabling runways and destroying Libyan anti-aircraft installations, would be a significant escalation in the West’s involvement …. But if reports of human rights abuses and fighter jets being used to quell the rebellion — all currently being investigated by the International Criminal Court — prove to be true, intervention needs to be strongly considered, Paris said ….”
  • Hello, hello, hello, what’s this about Russian news agency Pravda spotting a Canadian accent being spoken by Libyan anti-government forces as proof that NATO’s goin’ in with imperialist guns blazing? “After NATO’s acts of terrorism in recent years, after the blatant disregard for human rights and human life when depleted uranium rendered swathes of Yugoslavia uninhabitable and destroyed the futures of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, would it surprise anyone to learn that Libya is a NATO campaign?  What NATO is capable of, we have already seen in Yugoslavia, what the West is capable of, we saw in Georgia. We have seen the blatant barefaced lies, we have seen indiscriminate acts of murder, war crimes and crimes against humanity, all glossed over by the controlled media. So would it surprise anyone that NATO is indeed operating in Libya? ….  Interesting it was that the eastern and western borders were secured (Tunisia and Egypt) over which equipment and men poured, interesting it is that already two teams of NATO special forces have been captured inside Libya (Dutch Navy Force and British SAS), interesting was SKY News’ interview with a “front-line rebel” speaking in a broad Canadian accent ….”
  • About those NATO special forces captured inside Libya…. A British diplomatic team, including six soldiers believed to be SAS, have been freed two days after being detained in eastern Libya. The men are understood to have left Benghazi bound for Malta on board the Royal Navy frigate HMS Cumberland. It is thought the special forces soldiers were with a diplomat who was making contact with opposition leaders ….”
  • 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 next “You Should Be Outta There” hot spot, according to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Ministry:  Yemen. “Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against all travel to Yemen. The level of risk to foreigners is very high. Canadians in Yemen should review their circumstances to determine if their continued presence is warranted and seriously consider departing Yemen by commercial means while these are still available ….” More from MSM on the advisory here and here, and the latest news from Yemen here (Google News), here (EMM News Explorer) and here (NewsNow).
  • The Conservative government is slamming the door shut on a British proposal that the two countries work together in building new warships.  “Canada will not be pursuing collaboration with the United Kingdom on our new surface combatant fleet,” Jay Paxton, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, said Sunday.  Paxton was reacting to comments made by London’s top diplomat in Ottawa, who told The Canadian Press that Canada and Britain could make better use of scarce public dollars by collaborating on new warships.  British High Commissioner Andrew Pocock said that with the economic crisis exerting pressure on defence spending everywhere, it makes sense for Ottawa and London to be discussing ways to co-operate on replacing aging frigates in their respective navies.  “We live in a much more financially constrained world. Every government faces a challenge in making its defence and other spending go as far as possible,” Pocock said in an interview ….”
  • Who’s allowed to bid on the Standard Military Pattern (SMP) Vehicle part of the CF’s Medium Support Vehicle System Project (MSVS)?  Check here.
  • Canadian defence researchers are investigating how brain signals might distinguish hostile intent from everyday emotions such as anger and fear. Though there is still much to learn, the goal is to push biometric science beyond identification techniques to a new frontier where covert security technology would secretly scan peoples’ minds to determine whether they harbour malicious intent. “This ability can be used by members of the military and the security forces to isolate adversaries prior to commission of actions,” according to a research paper posted on the federal government’s Defence Research and Development Canada website ….” Since I can’t find a link through which Postmedia News is sharing the paper, you can Google the title of the paper, “Biometrics of Intent: From Psychophysiology to Behaviour”.  As of this posting, though, the Defence Research and Development Canada publications page doesn’t seem to be working.  Until it gets working, here’s a summary of the paper:  “In the current defence and security environment, covert detection of adversarial intent is becoming increasingly important. However, valid and reliable detection of adversarial intent is contingent on the ability to discriminate this intentional mental state from related stress-induced negative emotional states. A preliminary theoretical framework is proposed that extends current knowledge about the psychophysiology of emotion toward achieving this aim. This framework takes as its starting point two assumptions: First, biomarkers in the autonomic and central nervous systems can be combined to predict specific emotional states. Second, the establishment of a normative psychophysiological and behavioural databank for specific emotional states can be used to measure the extent to which individuals deviate from established norms. Building on our understanding of the psychophysiological underpinnings of emotional states, this framework can be applied to isolate the physiology of intentional states.”
  • On a related note, the CF’s also done research on reading hostile intent by reading faces.

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