News Highlights – 8 Jan 12

  • HMCS Charlottetown preparing to head back to the Med – safe travels!
  • Afghanistan (1)  What’s up with the training mission, from one of the troops “Since the last time I wrote, another Basic Warrior Training (BWT) course has been completed at the Afghan National Army’s Regional Military Training Centre – North near Mazar-e-Sharif, and another has started. To me it seems like Afghan National Army BWT courses go by very quickly, but I am sure the recruits would disagree. Basic Warrior Training is tough, but the faces of graduates show their satisfaction at the end of the training. It is interesting to watch ANA recruits arrive at the training centre. Some arrive with sandals and no winter clothes despite the snow on the ground and the wind that makes your hair stand on end. The recruits are able to handle the elements better after ANA staff is-sue them appropriate clothing and personal equipment. Usually, our team of training advisers will stand for a moment and gaze across at the faces of the people staring right back at us ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Point“What on earth were we doing in Kandahar? Now that it’s all over, that question hangs in the air. Decades hence, students will be stumped by that question in much the same way I was when my high-school textbook opened to Canada’s place in the Boer War. It was full of sound and fury, but signifying exactly what? How did we pour five years, more than $18-billion and 158 lives into something so large and nebulous? How do we avoid repeating the mistake? ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  Counterpoint:  “…. The CF had nothing to do with Kabul in 2001. Rather a combat battle group spent six months working with the Americans at Kandahar in the first half of 2002 and was then withdrawn. The CF returned to Afghanistan a year later in considerably greater strength as part of ISAF in Kabul, in what was generally a peacekeeping type of mission that lasted some two and a quarter years. So Mr Saunders gets our first military action in the country wrong and ignores the second quite major one ….”
  • There are Canadians who delight in accusing our military leaders of only being able to fight the last war. Our generals and admirals, they tell us, have no foresight and vision and cannot look ahead at the challenges that Canada faces in our uncertain future. These anti-military advocates fail to understand that our senior military staff are engaged in evaluating global trends and conflicts, assessing their impact on Canadian security, and developing appropriate responses should the Canadian Forces need to become engaged. Our military has admirably represented and defended Canadian interests and values in nearly three dozen peacekeeping and humanitarian missions, and conflicts such as the Gulf War of 1990 and the recent Libyan civil war. Our Defence Department’s Chief of Force Development (CFD) has prepared a comprehensive roadmap to understanding the complexities of the 21st-century’s global strategic environment with its paper The Future Security Environment 2008-2030 (FSE). The document looks at five sets of trends: economic and social; environmental and resource; geopolitical; science and technology; and military and security ….”
  • How America’s approach affects Canada (1):   TorStar Editorial“…. Canada has been a staunch U.S. partner in Afghanistan and Libya on Harper’s watch. But Washington’s new doctrine, which may outlive the Obama administration, places a significant premium on allies who can be helpful in a wide variety of diplomatic and military contexts. By neglecting the UN, shirking any honest broker role in the Mideast and waking late to Asia’s importance, Ottawa under Harper has less traction in areas that are increasingly important to our main ally. It’s not where we should aspire to be.”
  • How America’s approach affects Canada (2):  Blogger/info curator Mark Collins – “…. does the Canadian government share the Obama administration’s view that the Pacific (read China) should be the major focus for security–and hence military–attention? If so, how should the CF be shaped with that in mind? If not, towards what else should they be shaped?….”
  • Peter Worthington on how to deal with post-traumatic stress “…. (Romeo) Dallaire writes that soldiers returning from Afghanistan may feel “shock” at the “unseemly opulence of our country,” and the “posturing of politicians,” and the “security that envelopes civilians.” Frankly, I doubt many soldiers are as shocked as Dallaire claims. Indeed, many Canadians became soldiers to preserve Canada’s way of life. Maybe Romeo Dallaire was adversely affected, but his is an individual case and not applicable to everyone. As Smokey Smith said when questioned by the CBC about whether he had nightmares after winning the Victoria Cross in the Second World War: “Naw, I just put it behind me and went on with my life.” Maybe that’s what Dallaire should do.”

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