News Highlights – 11 Dec 11

  • Afghanistan (1a)  How some of the troops will spend Christmas (written by one of the troops in question).
  • Afghanistan (1b)  How some of the families of the deployed will spend Christmas.
  • Afghanistan (1c)  John Anderson knows how important it is to get a care package from home. As a reservist with the Nova Scotia Highlanders, Anderson recently returned home from Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he served seven months on force protection for Camp Nathan Smith. On Thursday, he was visiting children from Pictou Elementary School as they made homemade cards to send to Canadian soldiers still stationed in Afghanistan. “Its good for morale,” he said when asked if soldiers looked forward to receiving such mail. “You like to see that people haven’t forgotten you. You can get a little jaded when you are working 12-hour shifts, sitting and staring at the same spot in intense heat day after day.” He said there is a need for such a morale booster for Canadian troops still serving overseas in non-combative roles. “Even though I left Afghanistan, someone else took my spot and is still sitting in the same place for 12 hours at a time doing the same job,” he said. The school will be sending 270 handmade cards overseas with hopes of reaching them for Christmas. June Hill, an educational assistant with Pictou Elementary, said she first came up with the idea a few years ago, but she never actually put the plan in motion until this holiday season ….”
  • Afghanistan (2a)  More on that new prisoner deal.  “The remaining Canadian Forces’ troops in Afghanistan performing non-combat duties will face situations involving the capture of insurgents and transferring them to U.S. forces.  A Defence Department official suggests that while “the likelihood that Canadian Forces will be required to take detainees is very low,” it will happen. On Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced a new arrangement with the Americans that allows captured Taliban fighters and others to be transferred to a U.S. detention facility north of Kabul in Parwan. “A small number of detainees will be transferred to the new facility,” the official confirmed in an e-mail to QMI Agency. “Individuals are detained by the Canadian Forces because they have either attacked or killed Canadian soldiers and officials, Afghan citizens or our international partners,” says a background document. “Or because there is credible information to suggest that they intend to do so.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2b)  More on the prisoner deal from Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in the House of Commons“Mr. Speaker, with the combat mission in Afghanistan now complete, I am pleased to inform the House that our government has signed an arrangement with the Obama administration to facilitate the transfer of detainees, captured by Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, to U.S. custody at the detention facility in Parwan. The U.S. operates this facility with the full agreement of the Afghan government and detainees can be prosecuted under Afghan law. nadian officials will continue to be present on the ground to monitor all Canadian transferred detainees until they are sentenced or released. From the onset of our engagement in Afghanistan, our government has consistently adapted processes for transferring detainees in Afghanistan to ensure that we met our international legal obligations ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch (links to non-terrorist site) Statement attributed to Taliban leadership says they weren’t behind recent suicide bomb attacks on mosques in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif (so it MUST have been ISAF).
  • DefMin’s Chopper Ride Woes  Another question in the House of Commons.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Another question in the House of Commons.
  • Jamaican commandos storm the Tivoli Gardens slum in May 2010, hunting down an alleged trafficker and drug baron wanted in the United States. One year later on the other side of the world, a little-known squad of Afghan cops fend off volleys of Taliban bombs and bullets during a siege of the governor’s palace in Kandahar City. Tying the two events together are small groups of Canadian special forces who travel the world training foreign militaries how to fight terrorism. It’s a modest investment of foreign ministry money and Canadian Forces personnel meant to halt threats of violence and instability before they spread to Canadian shores. The emphasis is on “modest,” particularly in a time of federal deficits, budget reviews and economic uncertainty, said Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson, commander of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command. “If you’re in a resource-constrained environment why wouldn’t you make a small investment into the development of someone else’s forces if they’re gong to do that work for you,” he told the Star. With the training for the Jamaican Defence Force, which has been ongoing since 2008, Thompson likes to think his soldiers contributed in some way to the capture of Christopher Dudus Coke, the notorious gang leader and drug trafficker who operated with impunity. The rare peek behind the curtains of Canada’s special forces came during a conference in Kingston this week that brought Canadian and American soldiers together to discuss what could be the future of this country’s special operations ….”
  • The Union Jack flag will fly from Royal Canadian Navy ships and some federal buildings Sunday to mark Statute of Westminster Day. The anniversary refers to an important event in Canadian history – on Dec. 11, 1931, the British parliament passed legislation indicating that Canada, Newfoundland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were no longer considered colonies of Britain ….”

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