News Highlights – 22 Jun 11

  • More help coming for Canadian military families?  We’ll see later today.
  • A Winnipeg Free Press editorial on the Universality of Service provisions keeping some wounded warriors from being able to serve again. “Canadian military doctrine emphasizes flexibility and the ability to adapt to new circumstances, but when it comes to integrating wounded soldiers into the regular force, the generals and admirals at the National Defence Headquarters seem trapped in the past. The story of Cpl. Ryan Elrick is a case in point. Mr. Elrick was a combat soldier who lost both legs to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan five years ago. His combat days were over, but Mr. Elrick refused to throw in the towel and terminate his military career. Instead, he soldiered on, learned to walk with two prosthetic devices, and eventually found success in a new career as an air force intelligence analyst in Winnipeg. His superiors recommended him for promotion, but the brass in Ottawa sacked him instead. The case is now before the courts …. a policy of routine reintegration would be bad military policy. The military’s job is to prepare for the worst and its soldiers are trained to survive under harsh conditions with little food and no medical attention. The soldier-first policy doesn’t mean that seriously maimed soldiers cannot serve. Capt. Simon Mailloux lost a leg in Afghanistan but learned to run and carry heavy loads with his new prosthetic leg. As a result, he was redeployed as a brigade staff officer in Kandahar Airfield, basically an office job, albeit in a war zone …. Mr. Elrick is not a threat to the military or to its valid concerns about maintaining an effective fighting force, but the Armed Forces’ rigid attachment to doctrine could undermine the broad support it has received from Canadians.”
  • Libya Mission (1)  Update from the big boss there coming up today.
  • Libya Mission (2)  Good question“Canada’s involvement in Libya is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the country has in a short period of time boosted its international reputation and thus, its influence among the leaders in NATO. “(Canada’s contribution) is a very big effort for a military that still has a major presence in southern Afghanistan,” a senior NATO officer, who was not authorized to be quoted, told the Globe and Mail. Outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates also heaped praise upon his country’s northern neighbour. In a speech at a NATO gathering in Brussels, he commended Canada for being among a handful of members that has “managed to punch well above their weight” in a transatlantic alliance that faces a “dim” future due to American belt-tightening and European indifference. The international community is undoubtedly paying attention. But, as the stalemate continues and the number of civilians killed continues to rise, Canada risks being part of an increasingly unpopular conflict ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  No surprises from a online survey on the Libyan mission.
  • Afghanistan (1)  Canada’s mission continues to shift.  “As the last troops dribble in from the former Taliban heartland of Panjwaii, ending Canada’s bloody five-year combat commitment in southern Afghanistan, the Canadian army has already begun tackling a new, less dangerous mission in the north. Nearly 50 Canadian trainers started working with Afghan army recruits two weeks ago at a joint Afghan-NATO Regional Military Training Centre on the outskirts of Kabul ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Brace for detainee political fracas!  “The heated political debate over whether Canada was complicit in the abuse of Afghan detainees will suddenly re-emerge Wednesday, as the federal government releases thousands of pages of documents related to the issue. The long-awaited release of the records comes a year after the Conservatives, Liberals and Bloc Quebecois formed an ad hoc committee of MPs to review 40,000 pages of uncensored documents. The records focus on how the Canadian Forces transferred detainees to Afghan authorities during this country’s military mission, and whether there is any truth to allegations that Canadian soldiers and officials knew — but failed to act — on abuse and torture of those detainees by Afghans ….”  More from the Canadian Press here.
  • Afghanistan (3)  Remember the Canadian kidnapped last year by the Taliban in Afghanistan?  Not much to say during Question Period about what Canada’s doing to help – this from the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs“…. the government is aware of this case. Due to security and privacy concerns, it would be absolutely inappropriate for us to comment on this case.”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Former CF soldier tells the War on Terror story via a chess set “A chess set of Taliban fighters featuring Osama bin Laden as the king and a suicide bomber as the knight is selling hundreds of copies to coalition troops in Afghanistan. The Terror Chess sets feature hand-painted Taliban militants with a woman in a burka as the queen. Ranged against the insurgents are soldiers from a choice of coalition countries including American, Canada and Britain. In the British set, the king is Tony Blair and the queen is Queen Elizabeth, while the rook is Big Ben. In the American set they are replaced by Barack Obama, the Statue of Liberty and the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Jeffrey Train, a 48-year-old former Canadian soldier who designed the figures, said he had sold around 1,500 sets, mainly as souvenirs to troops serving in the 140,000-strong international coalition in Afghanistan. Read it on Global News: Canadian-designed Taliban chess set latest craze for troops ….”  Global TV story here, and more from here.
  • Afghanistan (5)  Wonder what folks who’ve been there, done that had to say about the season premier of “Combat Hospital” (usual Wikipedia caveats) on Global TV last night?  A bit of feedback here at
  • Andrew James Eykelenboom, 1982-2006, R.I.P.:  Mom of one of the fallen honoured for her work“Ninety-four strapped on helmets and sunglasses on Friday and spilled out from Courtenay Civic Cemetery onto Mission Hill to begin the two-day Boomer’s Legacy Bike Ride to Victoria. Their purpose was the same as last year and the year before – to raise as much money as possible for the Boomer’s Legacy fund. Cpl. Andrew “Boomer” Eykelenboom may well have been among the riders last week, were it not for the suicide bombing that claimed his life in Afghanistan back in 2006. The young medic had often asked his mother, Maureen, to send him items for the women and children he saw each day during his duties – many of whom would be in want of basic medical or other necessities. But after Andrew was killed, Maureen vowed to keep continue her son’s dream of helping vulnerable Afghan civilians, and founded Boomer’s Legacy in 2007. Four years and four cycles later, Boomer’s Legacy has raised over $400,000 – a benchmark that earned special recognition from Canada’s chief of defence staff, Gen. Walt Natynczyk, just a few feet away from Boomer’s grave. Natynczyk presented Maureen with the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service, the highest military honour for a civilian ….”
  • It appears Prince William will be doing a bit of military flying while visiting Canada later this summer.  “Prince William will help perform the daring manoeuvre of landing a (Sea King) helicopter on water during the royal visit to Canada. William and Kate arrive in the country next week on their first foreign trip, and details of their eight-day itinerary were released today by the Canadian government. William – who was at work as an RAF search and rescue pilot in Anglesey today, on his 29th birthday, – will join members of the Royal Canadian Air Force as a co-pilot, as they carry out the “waterbirding” technique in a Sea King. The prince’s private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, said: “The Sea King, which operates below 500 feet or in a hover when conducting anti-submarine warfare or search-and-rescue operations, does not always have a safe landing site should an emergency occur – the closest ship or land could be miles away ….”  In case you didn’t know, Prince William’s day job is flying search and rescue helicopters (Sea Kings, specifically) with the RAF.  More on the Royals’ itinerary here.
  • Some Canadian fighters are back in the U.S. training, and helping others train. “…. Salina (Kansas) residents have become more accustomed to the sounds of freedom and our neighbors to the north are feeling more at home as the Salina Municipal Airport is now a regular forward operating location for the Canadian Army and Air Force. CF-18s on the flightline in Salina. Canada’s Tactical Fighter Squadrons have an economic impact of close to $2 million each deployment. “Salina always treats us well,” said Capt. Tyler West, detachment commanding officer. “We really enjoy it here. It’s good training.” The Canadian Air Force is supporting the Army during forward air controller training. The Army FACs will be training to serve as the eyes on the ground for the Air Force pilots. Through a number of methods, FACs communicate with the inbound pilots, guiding them to destroy enemy targets and minimize collateral damage. A composite squadron of airmen and equipment from 409 and 425 Tactical Fighting Squadrons along with U.S. Navy and U.S. Army exchange pilots have come together for this vital mission ….”
  • (Belated on my part) Happy Air Force Appreciation Day, Canadian Air Force!
  • Remember this incident where Jamaican troops (trained, in part, by Canadian special forces) stormed a jet and arrested a man wanting to hijack the plane about two years ago?  The convicted hijacker is appealing his 20 year sentence.

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