News Highlights – 6 Jul 11

Please excuse today’s delayed distribution – internet connection was not co-0perating.  Thanks for your patience!

  • Afghainstan (1a)  “Combat mission’s over” stories from Postmedia News/National Post (more), the Globe & Mail, Agence France Presse, United Press International, and CNN (more).
  • Afghanistan (1b)  “…. Americans are concerned about that development – at least, those Americans who know about it.  In U.S. military circles, Canada’s withdrawal is viewed as an added burden to carry while the Americans are scaling back their involvement in Afghanistan, says Faheem Haider, Afghanistan analyst for the U.S.-based think tank, Foreign Policy Association. He says U.S. military leaders believe Canada has done “a brilliant job” meeting its objectives in Afghanistan, and adds that the absence of troops from Canada and other Western countries is going to become a serious issue for the Americans in the coming months. But Haider confirms that, outside military circles, there is virtually no awareness in the U.S. of the Canadian withdrawal from Afghanistan. In fact, the conflict is viewed as an American war because the U.S. has the lion’s share of troops there ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  The fighting’s over, but the fight isn’t over for some.  “The
    pain in his voice cuts through the stark words. “My three colleagues were hit by an IED. The vehicle was on fire, the driver was still trapped inside. “So basically we had to sit there and watch a friend burn to death and not be able to do anything . . . . “Instantly I felt myself die. That’s when everything changed for me.” Wayne McInnis, a 24-year-old combat engineer in Afghanistan’s lethal Panjwaii district, is back in Canada now, one of thousands of NATO
    troops to depart the modern world’s longest conflict. But like countless others, he felt the stranglehold of a war whose tentacles never loosed their grip, long after leaving the battlefield. The stories of McInnis and his colleagues are featured in the documentary, War in the Mind, to be aired on TV Ontario July 6. It explores the post-traumatic stress that leads some veterans to contemplate, or even commit, the ultimate act of violence against themselves. And as Canadian troops prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan, it’s a timely reminder that for some the battle is only beginning ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  When “improvised explosive devices” became the Taliban’s weapon of choice in Afghanistan, not only did our military commanders have to adjust their strategy, so did military doctors. Trauma surgeons and medics in the
    field made changes that have allowed soldiers to survive injuries that, even 10 years ago, would have been fatal. And now, some of those medical developments are being put to use in civilian hospitals back home in Canada …. Suddenly, medics and surgeons at Canada’s Role 3 hospital at the Kandahar Airfield were dealing not just with gunshot wounds, but with devastating blast injuries, such as amputated limbs and serious abdominal wounds. As surgeons and medics were forced to refine their approaches, they revived the use of a simple medical device that had fallen out of favour for years: the tourniquet.  When asked to name one medical advancement that has had the most impact in this war, trauma surgeon Dr. Homer Tien replies: “The biggest difference was by far the tourniquet, in my opinion.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  One letter-to-the-editor writer suggests a test to see how dangerous it would be for interpreters to be able to immigrate here via the (allegedly) fast-track system:  “…. Allow me to suggest a simple test to determine the danger: how dangerous would it be for a Canadian soldier to walk through Kandahar at night, alone and unarmed? How many nights would he be able to walk the same route before his neck was sliced from ear to ear? If it would be dangerous for a Canadian in that situation, why would there not be much more risk of death for an Afghan interpreter, considered by the Taliban as a “traitor” for assisting the “infidel” Canadian military?”
  • Afghanistan (4)  One academic’s view“…. Regardless of what our war in Afghanistan may have done for Afghans, it has eroded our civilized instincts. It has not left Canada a better place.”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  Array of attacks and assassinations alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul and Daikondi.
  • One wounded warrior’s next challenge“Making it to the top of Africa’s highest summit could prove difficult for anyone, let alone for a soldier who has lost limbs while on tour in Afghanistan. But Cpl. Mark Fuchko said stubbornness and determination will get him to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. “I’m extremely stubborn, and I want to make it to the top of this mountain,” he said. “I don’t care if I have to climb on all fours with two broken artificial limbs, I will make it to the top.” Fuchko lost both legs in
    March 2008, while on duty in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province. He’s among four soldiers leading the way as part of a group of 37 people that is set to climb Mount Kilimanjaro next month to raise funds for the Orthopedic Surgery Centre at the Royal Alexandra Hospital ….”
  • With Canada pulling its fighting troops out of Kandahar this month, there’s growing interest in whether the government’s enthusiasm for defence spending might wane once the heat of combat cools. Over at the National Post, for
    example, Mercedes Stephenson warns against “nickel and diming ourselves into another decade of darkness.” That’s a reference to former chief of defence staff Rick Hiller’s evocative characterization of the supposedly dismal era of military spending restraint, imposed by Jean Chrétien’s deficit-fighting Liberal government, which is often said to have brought the Armed Forces such a low point in the 1990s and early in this century. Voices on the right
    tend to see the Liberals as inherently unsympathetic to the military, while viewing the Conservatives as naturally inclined to spend more freely on the Forces. But can this pattern be seen in the historical data?
  • What’s Canada Buying – Big Honkin’ Ship Version (1)  The Harper government’s long-promised fleet of vessels to patrol the Arctic has seen two of its project deadlines formally pushed back in recent weeks, meaning Canadians will have to wait even longer before they see any of these vessels in the water. The Canadian Navy currently does not have the capability to robustly patrol Canadian waters in the Arctic Ocean year-round, a fact that has always been a thorn in the side of Prime Minister Stephen
    Harper’s Arctic sovereignty strategy. That is why he promised in 2005 to equip the military with such warships. But the Department of National Defence has now made it official that it expects the delivery of the first of the $3.1-billion Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships to occur a year later than it previously forecast. The ships are one of the three large Navy construction projects expected to be handed to two Canadian shipyards this fall under the government’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying – Big Honkin’ Ship Version (2)  Despite facing a tight deadline, a St. Catharines shipyard is hoping a partnership can help secure a piece of Canada’s largest shipbuilding contract. The federal public works department recently announced proposals for the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy would be extended two weeks to July 21.  That, despite two potential bidders for the $35 billion worth of contracts requesting the deadline be extended to Sept. 12 from July 7. John Dewar, a vice-president for Upper Lakes Marine and Industrial Inc., has not said if his company asked for the longer extension. However, media accounts suggest Upper Lakes, which owns the Seaway Marine and Industrial dry docks, is among two that made the request. “We are still exploring all options for a partnership that will allow us to secure work … that (we can do),” said Dewar in an e-mail Tuesday ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  There are no plans to set up a single defence procurement agency, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday. A media report the day before said an independent analysis done for the Department of National Defence agreed with an industry recommendation to centralize military purchases, for which the government has earmarked $240 billion. Asked whether
    the government plans to open a new agency to handle procurement, a spokeswoman for Harper said it would be unnecessary. “There are no plans to create another bureaucracy or more red tape in Ottawa,” Sara MacIntyre said. “I think the question is answered by the fact that Julian Fantino has specific responsibility for military procurement.” ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Initial specs out for CF to replace wheeled vehicles (but this is NOT a call for bids) – spec package here (via
  • What’s Canada Buying? (3)  Wanted:  a swack of hotel rooms for CF personnel working at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.
  • CAE …. announced it has been awarded a series of military contracts valued at
    more than C$115 million
    , including a contract from the United States Navy to develop two MH-60R helicopter simulators, a contract from Boeing to design and manufacture training devices as part of the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) for the United States Air Force, a contract from Professional Way in Malaysia to build a CAE 3000 Series AW139 full-flight simulator and a contract from the United States Army to develop a suite of Abrams tank maintenance trainers ….”
  • CF-Royals Link (1)  Minister of National Defence meets Royals in Yellowknife.
  • Pakistani Taliban bad boy group now officially considered terrorists in Canadamore from Canadian Press, National Post, and QMI/SUn Media.
  • This summer, a torpedo-shaped robot will try to do what 160 years of navy expeditions, RCMP search parties and eagle-eyed Northern hunters could not. In August, when the Arctic ice is thinnest, a small icebreaker filled with Parks Canada archaeologists will make its third attempt to find the Erebus and Terror, the long-lost vessels of the Franklin expedition, a doomed 1845 voyage to find the Northwest Passage. While underwater searches in 2008 and 2010 relied largely on sonar, this year researchers will be bringing along an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle to “dramatically increase the size of the search area.” “This is the year I hope we will solve one of the great mysteries in the history of Arctic exploration,” said federal environment minister Peter Kent in an announcement last week ….”

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