Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – 28 May 11

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  • Libya Mission:  Stephen Harper is planning to extend Canada’s controversial military intervention in Libya and will ask the Commons, which he controls, to approve this. He announced this Friday at the Group of Eight leaders’ meetings in France. It’s not clear yet how long Mr. Harper intends to extend Canada’s involvement ….”  More here, here, here and here – more on Operation Mobile here.
  • Karl Manning, 5 RALC, R.I.P.:  A Canadian gunner was found dead from non-combat related wounds at approximately 5:30 a.m. local Kandahar time on 27 May 2011 at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Zangabad, southwest of Kandahar Airfield.  More here and here – condolences thread at here.
  • Afghanistan:  Meanwhile, work – including on roads – goes on.  “The Taliban tried to crash the Canadian army’s party Friday by launching an attack on the ceremonial opening of a road in the heart of the perilous Panjwaii district. The speakers weren’t even finished and pieces of the ribbon had just been picked up when a pair of explosions rang out, followed by small-arms fire. “Nothing like a few fireworks,” said Brig-Gen. Dean Milner, who was still speaking when the first muffled explosion occurred. Milner, unfazed, carried right on talking. “Like a good day in Afghanistan, there’s still lots of things that happen out there,” he said. “I think we even heard a couple of bangs. To make good things happen, you still have to challenge those bad guys, those insurgents.” ….”
  • Afghanistan: Reservists remember.Cpl. Scott Hahn came under fire for 20 minutes on his first patrol in Afghanistan. “You think right away you’re going to die,” he says. Then his infantry training kicked in. He started breathing properly, getting oxygen to his head, thinking straight. Ten minutes into the firefight he felt confident enough to start cracking jokes. “I’m glad it happened,” he says. “You learn your mistakes and how to correct them.” The war in Afghanistan left its mark on five soldiers from the local Royal Highland Fusiliers who completed tours of duty last year. Each went for up to eight months, undertaking different jobs in different places ….”
  • Manitoba Flooding: The Canadian Forces flood-relief mission in Manitoba is over, the military said Friday, having deployed 1,800 troops over the past 2½ weeks to pack and place sandbags, monitor dikes and help evacuate communities. “From coast to coast, the men and women of the Canadian Forces have proven they are ready and willing to assist Canadians in times of crisis,” Defence Minister Peter MacKay said in a written statement. “I’m very proud of their efforts to protect the people of Manitoba and their property from the flooded Assiniboine River.” This year’s seasonal flooding on the Assiniboine resulted in some of the highest water levels in a century. In Brandon, Man., about 1,400 people were forced from their homes more than three weeks ago and will return this weekend. The province’s second-largest city suffered the highest river crest since 1882 ….”  More from Postmedia/Global News here and QMI here, from the CF in its latest update here and its fact sheet here.
  • Quebec Flooding (1):  Defence Minister drops by.  “Defence Minister Peter MacKay toured the flood zone in southern Quebec’s Monteregie region Wednesday, meeting with area mayors and residents and clarifying the role of the Canadian Forces in the area. MacKay expressed pride in the work of the soldiers, saying they proved their versatility and efficiency but also made it clear that they were there only to provide emergency support and not to help in the cleanup. “We’ve taken the decision with the mayors and soldiers we will stay for the weekend and make day to day,” he said ….”
  • Quebec Flooding (2):  More on why militaries don’t tend to help clean up AFTER floods:  The Canadian army isn’t the only military force that doesn’t do cleanup. Local mayors and residents in flood-stricken areas near Montreal have been trying to get soldiers to stick around and help once waters eventually subside. But they need only look south of the border to see they’re not alone: the Vermont National Guard, which comes under the control of the state governor, is not allowed to help out on private property, either. Spokesperson Lt.-Col. Lloyd Goodrow says U.S. federal law doesn’t let National Guard members help people with their flooded basements. “That’s why people have insurance,” he told The Canadian Press on Friday. Goodrow says the National Guard is not allowed to provide any services that compete with the private sector ….”
  • Canadian, American and British intelligence troops practice their skills together in Arizona at Exercise Empire Challenge (hat tip to Bruce Ralston at Flit for sharing this).
  • Still MORE reading of the Julian Fantino tea leaves.  “Winning a majority government doesn’t make everything easier. Take, for example, the headache facing the Conservatives as they negotiate to buy the cost overrun-prone F-35 fighter-bomber from the United States, where a top Pentagon official recently called the jet-building program unaffordable without revisions. Helping sort this out and defend Canada’s purchase will now be Julian Fantino’s yoke to bear as the newly minted associate minister of defence with responsibility for procurement. Mr. Fantino will contend with two constants in his new job: Buying military hardware is infuriatingly complicated, and it gets more difficult during an era of belt-tightening. The retired cop’s appointment as Ottawa’s No. 2 defence minister after Peter MacKay gives the military a second voice at the cabinet table to promote and defend its big spending plans during a period of restraint when others might be inclined to delay. It also provides Stephen Harper with a point man to shepherd military procurement decisions through Ottawa’s frustrating and delay-plagued buying process – an assignment that may leave the Prime Minister feeling better-served on this file than in recent years ….”
  • A former radar site on Hudson’s Bay is about to be cleaned up. “Six decades after the radar operators gave up their search for Russian bombers streaking across the Northern Ontario sky, a massive cleanup effort will finally begin to erase a ghost town that was very briefly one of Canada’s most important military installations. The town doesn’t even have a formal name – military documents simply refer to it as Site 500. It was the operations centre for the Ontario portion of the Mid Canada Line Radar installation, a network of 17 sites built as part of a national network in the 1950s to monitor the skies for foreign invaders. Site 500 is now at the centre of the largest environmental remediation project ever undertaken in Ontario. Its scale is dwarfed only by the national cleanup of the Distant Early Warning radar line – a more northern string of radar installations that the federal government has already spent half a billion dollars cleaning ….”  More on the multiple tries to find a successful bidder for the work here.

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