Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – 25 Mar 12

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  • Former Canadian diplomat on the latest fracas in Mali  “…. Mali’s friends have roundly condemned the action of the mutineers, as has the United Nations, and the Economic Community of West African States. Canada’s foreign minister, John Baird, has wisely and forthrightly suspended our aid program, branded the coup “illegitimate” and demanded that the mutineers withdraw “so that constitutional order, peace and stability may be restored and aid resumed.” The United States has called for the “immediate restoration” of constitutional rule in Mali, while the African Union has condemned the actions of the soldiers. If the mutineers refuse to heed such unequivocal demands, life for the citizens of Mali will take a dramatic turn for the worse as the MNLA rebels press southward and the coup perpetrators are abandoned by Mali’s friends and their generosity.”
  • PM’s Asian Road Trip (1)  PM commits to negotiating “Mutual Logistics Support Agreement” with Japan, agrees to continue “successful cross-dispatch of Canadian and Japanese trainers to Tanzania in February, 2012”  PM Info-Machine Backgrounder also downloadable here (via if link doesn’t work
  • PM’s Asian Road Trip (2)  Prime Minister Stephen Harper …. announced Canadian support for projects that will enhance peace and security in Thailand and Southeast Asia by addressing the threats of human smuggling, which also affects Canada’s security. The announcement was made during an official visit to Thailand by the Prime Minister …. Support for projects that combat human smuggling in Thailand and Southeast Asia will be provided through the Government of Canada’s Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP), and will enhance stability through increased cooperation and capacity building ….”  More in the Backgrounder here.
  • Afghanistan  Welcome back!  “After five months away with the military, the huge smiles of their children were a nice welcome back. Several Manitoba-based Canadian Forces soldiers returned to Winnipeg on Friday evening from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, and their emotions were all over their faces amid their families at Richardson International Airport. “It’s very exciting. I’m shaking — it’s unbelievable,” Sgt. Ian Thibeau of the 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery told reporters while surrounded by his wife Lisa, son Logan and daughter Mattie, immediately after completing the last leg of the military flight from Edmonton. Some of the returning soldiers based at CFB Shilo, near Brandon, appeared as if their young kids wouldn’t let go of them. “The kids have done without me for a long time. I think it will just be a reintegration now, getting back home and seeing how they’re doing,” Maj. Scott Lloyd, also of the Royal Canadian Horse, said as his daughter held his hand. “I want to make it a little easier on my wife, who has completely managed the house and the kids.” ….”
  • Way Up North  “The federal government says budget concerns are behind cuts to a planned Arctic naval facility. A defence department official says downgrades to plans for the Nanisivik station on the eastern gate of the Northwest Passage were necessary because of the unexpected high costs of building in the North. Kim Tulipan says the cuts were made to keep the project within its $100 million budget. Defence Minister Peter MacKay said last week the cuts wouldn’t make any difference to northern military operations. MacKay says the facility will still be an improvement …. “Any infrastructure work in the Arctic poses a number of unique challenges due to the remoteness of the location and various other difficulties, such as a shorter construction season and permafrost. Therefore, the original scope of 1/8Nanisivik 3/8 had to be reduced to ensure the project remained on budget,” Tulipan wrote in an email ….”
  • CF Info-machine adds a bit of context to what’s being said about the search and rescue concerns at Makkovik  “…. Historically, the Canadian federal aeronautical and maritime SAR system has responded to more than 9,000 cases annually, tasking CF aircraft or ships in about 1,100 of these cases. These actions over the years have saved many lives. Some CF members have also lost their own lives in search and rescue attempts ….”
  • Speaking of Makkovik and search and rescue….  “On Friday, March 23rd at approximately 10:30 p.m. (Eastern time), Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) Halifax dispatched a Cormorant helicopter from 103 Transport and Rescue Squadron, 9 Wing, Gander, Newfoundland & Labrador in response to a request from Newfoundland and Labrador provincial authorities to conduct an emergency evacuation of a patient from Makkovik, Labrador to Goose Bay, Labrador. Following established protocols and after exhausting all of their civilian resources to conduct an emergency medical evacuation, provincial authorities sought military support to carry out the air transportation of the patient …. The Cormorant crew successfully transferred the patient to Goose Bay for road transfer to a local hospital early Saturday morning and returned to base ….”
  • Editorial:  Speed up purchase of new search and rescue planes  “…. Canada’s military excels at rescuing people who get into trouble in rough seas, on Arctic ice or in dense bush. It takes skill and guts. Late last year Sgt. Janick Gilbert was rightly hailed as a hero when he died in Nunavut after courageously parachuting into a ferocious storm and ice-clogged waters during the rescue of two hunters. It also takes good, reliable equipment in the form of modern search-and-rescue aircraft and helicopters. And on that score, there’s reason to worry that Canada isn’t investing enough to maintain the right fleet in the right places ….”
  • Oopsie….  An RCAF master corporal has been fined $500 for falling asleep while guarding the aircraft of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other government members during a trip to Morocco. Master Cpl. C.J.S. Agnew was found guilty by a standing court martial on March 5 at CFB North Bay, according to documents from his court martial. Chief Military Judge Cmdr. Peter Lamont said Agnew pleaded guilty to a charge of neglect to the prejudice of good order and discipline and can pay his fine in $100 installments. “The facts of this case are not complicated,” Lamont said in a ruling. When a new shift came aboard to take over the responsibilities “they discovered that the offender was apparently asleep in the vehicle.” “The offender was charged with the responsibility of guarding the plane,” the decision stated. “He was awakened after about a minute of observation.” ….”  Full sentence report (PDF) here
  • When Omar Khadr, a former child soldier for Al Qaeda, agreed to plead guilty in a high-profile case before a military commission 17 months ago, the terms of his plea deal strongly signaled that after November 2011 he would be transferred to his native Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence. But that date has come and gone, and a frustrated Mr. Khadr remains at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Officials say his limbo status is the result of bureaucratic delays in processing his application to transfer, especially within the Canadian government. “He’s ready to go home,” said Lt. Col. Jon Jackson of the Army, Mr. Khadr’s military lawyer. “He’s upheld his end of the bargain.” …. Last spring, lawyers for Mr. Khadr on both sides of the border submitted his application to be transferred, and both countries began processing it. American officials acknowledge that they were not done reviewing that application by November, but say it has since been finished. All that remains is for Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to sign the final paperwork and give Congress a legally mandated 30-day notice of a pending transfer. But before Mr. Panetta can sign those papers, the Canadian minister of public safety, Vic Toews, must formally ask for Mr. Khadr. Despite the diplomatic note, he has not done so. The Khadr family is unpopular among many in Canada, and the administration of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been ambivalent about his case. “The file has not come to the minister’s office for review yet,” Mr. Patton said in an interview. “Where it is in the system, I don’t know.” ….”
  • On sniping  “…. In Afghanistan, 2002, Cpl. Rob Furlong of the Princess Pats, knocked off a Taliban at 2,657 yards (1.5 miles). Grateful Americans awarded Furlong a Bronze Star for his record-setting shot. Furlong’s record was shattered in 2009 by British Cpl. Craig Harrison of the Life Guards, who knocked off two Taliban operating a machine gun 2,707 yards away (1.54 miles) that was in the midst of ambushing a British Patrol. Harrison fired seven shots before his eighth one killed the gunner. His ninth shot killed the Taliban fighter who took over. Throughout, Harrison’s spotter with binoculars directed and corrected his fire. Put another way, Harrison’s fatal shot was roughly 27 football fields distant ….”

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