Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – November 8, 2012

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  • Remembering (1)  Remembering who, exactly“When it comes to honouring soldiers on Remembrance Day, most Canadians are more likely to think of aging Second World War veterans than those who fought over the last decade in Afghanistan, according to Nanos poll released this week.  The phone survey of 1,000 people found that 82.1 per cent of Canadians think primarily of veterans of the First and Second world wars on Remembrance Day, and that a majority (61 per cent) believe the importance of the occasion hasn’t changed since the start of the Afghanistan conflict.  The poll — released by Commissionaires, a non-profit that helps veterans transition to the civilian workforce — was conducted in early October. It has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20 ….”  Here’s a good example of reporters/media tailoring the story to what’s happening nowhere’s the news release on the Nanos poll (PDF), where the main points are that Canadians think vets deserve better care.  That part comes up in the lower half of the story.
  • Remembering (2)  How about a special day just to remember Korean War veterans?  That’s the plan behind a proposed Bill coming out of the Senate this week.  Let’s see how far it goes through the law-making sausage machine.
  • Remembering (3)  News readers at the French-language side of CBC not wearing poppies yet, even though those on the English side are?  That’s the case according to Senator Romeo Dallaire.  Wonder what that is?
  • Remembering (4)  Remembering at Canada’s war memorial in Ottawa  “From November 7 to 11, 2012, six Canadian Forces members and a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will participate in the Remembrance Day Sentry Program in Ottawa …. Created in 1998, the Remembrance Day Sentry Program recognizes outstanding Regular and Reserve Force sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen of the Canadian Forces, as well as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, for their dedication, professionalism and performance. Members are nominated by their respective environments, with selections based on various factors, including deployment experience, community involvement, physical fitness and deportment ….”– more on one of the sentries here.
  • Remembering (5)  Veterans Affairs Minister takes in a movie  “The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, joined more than 100 people, including Canadian Veterans and Canadian Armed Forces personnel, at a special screening of War Story at Shaw Communications in Ottawa …. Through interviews with Canadian Veterans, War Story provides a look at what it was like for the men and women who fought on battlefields. The Canadian original series War Story is part of HISTORY’s “Days of Remembrance” schedule ….”
  • Remembering (6)  Bob Zimmer, Member of Parliament for Prince George–Peace River and Member of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, representative of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, will join Veterans and students from across the country for a “Wartime Supper.” The supper is part of the ‘Canada Remembers’ theme week at the Historica-Dominion Institute’s Encounters with Canada program ….”
  • Remember this?  “The growing number of federal employees declared surplus as departments digest the Conservatives government’s spending cuts are squeezing out medically discharged veterans who have also been promised a shot at jobs in the public service ….  Here’s part of what the Veterans Affairs Minister has to say in response“Our Conservative government recognizes that employment is an important factor to successfully making the transition from military to civilian life for veterans. That’s why I recently asked the Public Service Commission to explore options to provide medically released Canadian Forces members with hiring priority in the public service.  Veterans Affairs has taken steps to increase the number of former CF and RCMP members working with the department, including opening internal competitions and taking CF experience into greater account during the hiring process. We also hired Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw who is now our new assistant deputy minister, to strengthen the relationship with DND ….”
  • Good point  “Canada has no defence policy and members of parliament seem disinterested in the fact that no such policy exists – thereby failing Canadians in two significant ways. First, they are putting Canada at risk by failing to ensure government is acting appropriately and effectively in the national interest when it comes to issues of national defence. Second, they are ­contributing to a worrisome democratic deficit, whereby government is allowed to treat Canadians like mushrooms – keep them in the dark and feed them… well, you know what ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  How did female infanteers do?  Who knows?  “…. How well did Canadian women who patrolled on foot ‘outside the wire’ withstand the physical challenges of frontline infantry work?  As yet, either nobody knows, or they aren’t talking. The Department of National Defence insists it has not collected information specifically about women’s combat experience in Afghanistan, and has no definite plans to do so. Commendable, in a superficial way, but is that truly a responsible option when considering the life-and-death situations infantry soldiers may find themselves in? ….”  
  • Afghanistan (2)  “Major Sandy Scott’s small office is packed with memorabilia from his career in the Canadian Forces. Covering the wall, are newspaper clippings, photos of Afghanistan and a picture of Scott receiving a Meritorious Service Medal from the Chief of Defense Staff cover the walls.  There is also a stack of free bibles on a shelf by the door next to his preacher’s scarf. Scott is a reservist chaplain in the Canadian Army. A padre, as they are called in the forces — a holy soldier tasked with a mission to keep soldiers spiritually sound.  Scott sits back in his chair and smiles when he talks about becoming a chaplain. But his tone is different when the subject is Afghanistan ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  Interesting question:  NOTHING done in AFG worthy of a V.C.?  “Canadians are a humble bunch. Maybe too humble.  Within a few weeks, Gov. Gen. David Johnston will bestow a final batch of bravery decorations on Canadian troops who fought in southern Afghanistan, but the list likely won’t include the nation’s highest battle honour: the Victoria Cross.  The notion that Canada will exit its first major shooting war in 60 years without such recognition has some asking what precisely a Canadian soldier must do to win the honour — and whether the criteria in a professional, often self-deprecating military is too stringent.  The British, the Australians, and New Zealand have all given out a handful of VCs for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the United States has awarded 10 Medals of Honour, the American equivalent, in both wars.  The lack of Canadian Victoria Crosses is also strange in light of the intensity of fighting that took place in the heartland of the Taliban insurgency, as well as the Harper government’s apparent fondness for military pageantry ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Message from the boss to the outgoing and incoming ROTO  “On 1 November 2012, Colonel Roch Pelletier officially replaced Colonel Greg Smith as Deputy Commander of the Canadian Contribution to the Training Mission in Afghanistan (CCTM-A). With this transfer of authority, our task force in Afghanistan — currently the largest deployed by the Canadian Forces — headed into its third rotation of service with the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A).  I am writing today to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who served during Rotation 1 of Operation ATTENTION, and to welcome the Roto 2 team to our ongoing mission in Afghanistan ….”
  • Way Up North  On keeping an eye on Canada’s north  “The summer of 2012 was another record-breaking year for diminishing sea ice in the Arctic Ocean Basin and scientists have predicted that the Arctic could be ice free by summer 2016. While Canada inches forward on its own internal timeline, both commercial marine and illegal activities continue to escalate in the increasingly ice-free Arctic.  To exercise sovereignty, a nation must be aware, and be able to respond and enforce. The requirement to maintain marine domain awareness in its vast Arctic ocean space is a cornerstone of Canada’s sovereignty infrastructure as set out in the Canada Northern Strategy. To do this cost-effectively in a short timeframe, we should make better use of the Canadian Rangers and also leading-edge technologies, including the use of space-based assets such as MDA’s Radarsat Constellation, High Frequency radar, UAVs, and various ocean and ground-based sensors and cameras ….”       
  • Ooopsie…. (1)  “Emergency crews needed several hours to cap a propane leak that forced evacuations at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt, just west of Victoria.  The incident occurred Tuesday afternoon when maintenance workers discovered a leak in a 65,000-litre propane tank stored at a facility across the harbour from the busiest part of the naval base.  Capt. Jenn Jackson says the tank was about half full when the leak was found, but she couldn’t say how much propane had leaked.  A one-kilometre area was cordoned off and non-essential personnel within 800 metres were evacuated ….”
  • Ooopsie…. (2)  The Canadian military has launched a formal investigation after a racially charged video was leaked to CBC News.  The video features an unidentified member of Canadian Forces Base Greenwood in Nova Scotia. The man is in brown makeup and wearing a turban, pretending to be Osama bin Laden’s brother.  The video was produced for a formal dinner on the base in January 2010, a time when Afghanistan was still a combat mission for Canada and there were about 2,800 Canadian military personnel serving there.  In a four-minute excerpt, the bin Laden character jokingly boasts of working directly for his brother.  Speaking with a thick accent, he refuses to reveal where bin Laden is hiding.  “It seems you silly infidels will never find him. I do not want to be talking about him. It is always about him. I get the guns, I steal the bullets, I make the bombs, I do everything. All he ever does is take credit for my shit.” ….”
  • Old Canadian sub a bit closer to its final resting place at a museum  “A submarine classic from Canada’s Cold War era is set for her final journey through the Welland Canal to Port Burwell museum.  HMCS Ojibwa — the country’s last Oberon-class submarine during that period — will leave from Hamilton Harbour next mid-week.  From there, she’ll make her way to a new destination at the Elgin Military Museum of Naval History on Lake Erie.  “It’s one of a kind in that it’s such a great story, a piece of Canadian history we’re proud to be part of it,” said Kathy McKeil, director of corporate communications for McKeil Marine Ltd., involved in arranging the sub’s transportation.  “She will be towed with two of our tugs, small but mighty,” said McKeil.  “And we now have the sub sitting now on that barge it will be towed on.” ….”

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8 November 12 at 7:55

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