News Highlights – 10 Jul 11

  • Afghanistan (1)  The National Post‘s Christie Blatchford highlights the results of a recent paper by a senior CF officer, “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished,” about what policies may be cutting into the CF’s martial spirit.  “…. The policies are (1) tour length (including a policy that provides a paid trip home from the theatre of war); (2) support to deployed troops (everything from the quality of food, gyms, barber services to availability of web access); (3) bonus “environmental duty allowances” (which pay deployed soldiers, depending on their length of service, anywhere from an extra $300 to $750 a month); and (4) so-called universality of service, which means that soldiers must meet a minimum fitness level, a requirement which is now being waived or bent for injured troops. (Military engineer and Afghanistan vet  Major Mark) Gasparotto uses the results of his survey of senior officers and non-commissioned members — 127 leaders anonymously completed the survey — to bolster his concerns. Fully 40% agreed or strongly agreed that the CF focus on troops’ well-being threatens the primacy of mission success ….”  I’m still looking for a link to the paper – feel free to share via comments if you can find it before I do.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Hundreds of supporters of Canada’s peace-building efforts in Afghanistan rallied in Toronto Saturday to oppose what they call the “long-standing meddling” of Pakistan’s powerful spy agency. “The Afghan community in Ontario organized this rally to protest and condemn the Pakistani Army and the ISI (Inter-services Intelligence) for its continuing support to al-Qaida, to the Taliban and to other terrorist groups,” said Babur Mawladin, president of the Canada Afghanistan Solidarity Committee, in a statement. “The ISI supports the ongoing violence in Afghanistan by providing sanctuary and other forms of support to terrorists who then enter Afghanistan from Pakistan to carry out suicide bombings and other acts of violence.” More than 500 people from all over Ontario, the 34-year-old said, converged on Queen’s Park bearing the flags of Canada and Afghanistan and listened to speakers in Farsi and English ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  A critic of ANY Canadian presence in Afghanistan highlights the continued risks. “…. Now that Canada has ceased its combat mission, do we seriously believe every Canadian left in that country will survive to come home? Regardless they are there to supply aid and training to the Afghans, they remain foreigners. They are still targets. That is our legacy of turning peacekeeping into peacemaking, a euphemism for warmongering ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Globe & Mail writer Graeme Smith is going to be online tomorrow from noon until 1pm Eastern to talk about Afghanistan and what he’s seen in his time there here’s one of his more recent pieces.
  • A drama in Canadian airspace last fall over a foreign airliner carrying a potential bomb is just now shedding light on the military’s rules of engagement for shooting down hostile commercial aircraft. “If they really think that a plane is going to be used as a weapon and either crashed into something or blown up over a major centre, there is a protocol by which the plane is shot down,” a senior government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Ottawa Citizen. “It’s one of those calls that nobody hopes is ever necessary, but there is a protocol to do the unthinkable, because you’ve got to think about it.” ….”
  • Blogger Mark Collins tells the Toronto Sun about what threats there really are in Canada’s Arctic. “…. There is in fact no threat to Canadian sovereignty over our northern land. No Russian troops are heading to Canada. The government’s own paper, “Canada’s Northern Strategy,” says “Canada’s sovereignty over its Arctic lands and islands is undisputed, with the exception of (tiny) Hans Island, which is claimed by Denmark.” There is as much need to assert our sovereignty by increasing Canada’s military and governmental presence in the north as there is in, say, Labrador. What is chiefly in dispute is Canada’s claim the Northwest Passage is Canadian “internal waters” — a claim almost nobody else accepts, including the U.S., the European Union, and Japan ….”
  • Canada’s Defence Minister thanks CF members for their work during the Royal Visit. “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, congratulates the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces who have so professionally supported the highly successful tour of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. “The outstanding support of our service personnel who represent all branches of the Canadian Forces, has been exemplary from the planning stages and throughout the Royal Tour,” said Minister MacKay. “Their excellence has been broadcast daily in the media across Canada and around the world. I extend my heartiest congratulations to them all.” Operations planners at Canada Command Headquarters in Ottawa and at the Regional Joint Task Forces in Toronto, Halifax, Yellowknife and Edmonton have worked in close cooperation with colleagues from Canadian Heritage to ensure that the logistics, transportation and ceremonial aspects of the tour have been carried out in every detail ….”
  • A new hang(a)r and air cadet glider school will be built at CFB Trenton in the coming months. Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, announced contract awards totalling more than $52 million for two infrastructure projects on July 6 during a visit to 8 Wing Trenton. The projects include the construction of a maintenance hangar for the new CC-130J Hercules and the construction of a new facility for the air cadet glider school. Hangar 2, a two-bay hangar, will cost $44.2 million, measure 11,582 square metres and hold two CC-130J aircraft. Its completion is estimated for spring 2013. The $8.5-million air cadet glider school facility will be used for aircraft maintenance and storage and contain classrooms for instruction. It will measure 4,924 square metres and should be finished by summer 2012 ….”
  • Any chance of being able to see the documents, Canadian Press?  The cleanup of two Canadian Forces bases in Germany that closed after the Cold War cost Canada millions of dollars, new documents show. The federal government has paid the Germans $6 million in claims for environmental damage to former Canadian Forces Bases Lahr and Baden-Soellingen. But a soldier who served at one of the bases says some of the damages were probably caused long before Canadian troops moved in. The Canadian Forces maintained the two, full-fledged air and army bases in what was once West Germany during the Cold War. The bases were closed in the early 1990s after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the reunification of East and West Germany. A summary of payments obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act does not say what environmental damages were claimed by the German government ….”
  • Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww, what a shame….  “Canadian activists trying to deliver aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip have decided to put off their voyage for now. Organizers announced the decision Saturday after the Canadian ship, known as the Tahrir, had been prevented from leaving a port in Greece for several weeks. Greece has banned vessels heading to the blockaded strip, citing safety concerns. After inspections and administrative delays, the Canadian ship tried to leave for Gaza on Monday but was quickly turned back to shore by the Greek coast guard. Organizer David Heap, who was aboard the Tahrir, said he’s disappointed the ship wasn’t able to bring aid to Gaza ….”  More on that here.

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