Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight News Highlights – January 17, 2013

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  • More Mali (1a)  The Canadian military operation to support the French-led mission in Mali is “going smoothly” and within “expectations,” according to officials at the Department of National Defence.  A Canadian C-17 military transport plane has arrived at a base in France and will leave for the Mali capital of Bamako once it is loaded with heavy equipment, according to Jay Paxton, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter Mackay.  Paxton told CBC News the plane will likely arrive in Bamko on Thursday and will operate in a non-combat role.  The transport plane left CFB Trenton on Tuesday afternoon, the second aircraft prepared for the mission after the first C-17 experienced a problem with its generator ….”
  • More Mali (1b)  If this is true, the RCAF Info-machine is a bit ahead of itself with its page title.
  • More Mali (2)  Meanwhile, not too far away…. “Helicopters and personnel from Canadian Forces Base Petawawa are heading to Mauritania within weeks to support training for African troops, joining Canadian special forces soldiers also heading to that nation.  The Canadian military will also consider future training missions in Africa after it assesses the exercise which takes place in February and March.  The military personnel, including pilots and maintenance staff, are from the 427 Special Operations Aviation Squadron. They will be taking part in Flintlock 13, a U.S.-sponsored training exercise in Mauritania. A small detachment of Griffon helicopters are also being sent to Mauritania.  The helicopters and crew will eventually join up with around two dozen personnel from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR), also from Petawawa. Those soldiers arrived in Niger on Monday to begin working with soldiers from that nation. The Niger and Canadian soldiers will then travel to Mauritania.  In total, around 50 Canadian special forces members will be involved in Flintlock.  Flintlock 13 is billed as an exercise that is aimed at “capacity building of several countries within the Western Africa Sahel Region which contributes to regional security.” But officers involved in past Flintlock exercises have acknowledged that the training will help countries in the region in their battle against al-Qaeda ….”
  • More Mali (3a)  Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Ottawa will “reflect” on its involvement in Mali after a meeting with French and African ambassadors, but there are still no plans to send Canadian troops to the troubled nationBaird met with the ambassadors of France, Mali and the Ivory Coast Wednesday, a day after Canada sent a C-17 military transport plane to provide support to French troops in Mali’s volatile north, occupied by al Qaeda-linked rebels.  The ambassadors filled Baird in on the current situation in Mali and the military efforts to stop the rebels from infiltrating southern parts of the country ….  “A big part of the solution has got to be how can we help Mali’s neighbours provide support to Mali.”  In the meantime, Canada can assist France “in a variety of ways,” such as providing humanitarian aid, he said ….” – more here.
  • More Mali (3b)  France:  if you can’t send troops, we’re happy to take cash – more here.
  • More Mali (3c)  “…. while France is now asking for money to help pay for its international intervention there, expectations are low that Canada is about to ramp up its role in Mali anytime soon thanks to federal budget cuts, “war weariness,” concerns about the Malian government and a variety of other factors “You might see a little more help here or there,” said David Bercuson, a distinguished research fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.  “But I don’t think the government is ready for a Mali operation now,” ….”
  • More Mali (4a)  Columnist on how Harper sucks no matter what he does  “…. Ready to join the invasion of Iraq. Unwilling to send more than one plane for one week to Mali. That’s a long road. But Mr. Harper has not walked it alone. At each turn, he was right behind the Americans ….”
  • More Mali (4b)  Another columnist on how Harper sucks no matter what he does  “What a difference experience makes. Fightin’ Steve Harper has become the reluctant warrior.  The man who used to castigate Jean Chrétien’s Liberals for their mealy-mouthed approach to the war on terror now sounds a lot like … Jean Chrétien.  Harper grudgingly agreed this weekend to have the Royal Canadian Air Force aid French forces intervening in Mali. But he insists that Canada is still not militarily involved in the West African country’s civil war ….”
  • More Mali (4c)  A former hostage held by AQ in Africa has a warning  “…. If Mali and the wider Sahel region is to be freed from the jihadi scourge, we will have to better remember this hard-learned lesson. This must be about so damaging and degrading the capabilities and numbers of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its clones that they won’t soon again threaten the peace and stability of our friends across this vulnerable region; nothing else.”
  • More Mali (4d)  Analyst  “Since France began aerial bombardment of Islamist rebels in Mali last week, the larger worry has shifted from within the beleaguered country’s borders to the wider world. There are concerns not only about Operation Serval, as this military intervention is known, causing belligerents or other kinds of chaos to cross neighboring states’ borders, but also fears of international retaliation – perhaps in the form of a terrorist attack, or an assault on foreign diplomatic targets ….”
  • More Mali (5a)  And how do the bad guys respond to drag others into the mess?  Islamist gunmen holding dozens of Western hostages and scores of Algerians at a gas plant deep in the Sahara desert let some them speak to the media on Thursday to warn that they would be blown up if the site is stormed.  Governments around the globe were holding emergency meetings to respond to one of the biggest international hostage crises in decades, which sharply raises the stakes over a week-old French campaign against al Qaeda-linked fighters in neighbouring Mali.  A group calling itself the “Battalion of Blood” says it seized 41 foreigners, including Americans, Japanese and Europeans, after storming a natural gas pumping station and employee barracks in Algeria before dawn on Wednesday.  The attackers have demanded an end to the French military campaign in Mali, where hundreds of French paratroops and marines are launching a ground offensive against rebels in a campaign that began a week ago with air strikes ….”
  • More Mali (5b)  More on whazzup in Mali here (Google News), here (EMM Explorer) and here (France’s defence ministry’s latest update in French)
  • The Forces & Families Campaign, a new third party initiative to raise funds for the Military Families Fund was launched at a ceremony on Saturday, 12 January 2013, following a hockey game at the Air Canada Centre between a Canadian Forces All-Star team and Toronto Maple Leaf AlumniSpearheaded by John Randolph, a philanthropist and founder of the successful annual Canadian Forces Appreciation Day in Toronto, this Campaign will be executed in close partnership with Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services (CFPFSS) to meet the ongoing needs of the Canadian Forces Community.  The Forces and Families initiative will feature innovative media tools, membership drives, the sale of custom goods in retail outlets and partnerships with professional associations, corporate Canada and individual Canadians. All proceeds from this initiative will accrue to the Military Families Fund to address mental health wellness issues facing members of the Canadian Forces Community ….”

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17 January 13 at 7:45

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