News Highlights – 28 May 11

  • Libya Mission:  Stephen Harper is planning to extend Canada’s controversial military intervention in Libya and will ask the Commons, which he controls, to approve this. He announced this Friday at the Group of Eight leaders’ meetings in France. It’s not clear yet how long Mr. Harper intends to extend Canada’s involvement ….”  More here, here, here and here – more on Operation Mobile here.
  • Karl Manning, 5 RALC, R.I.P.:  A Canadian gunner was found dead from non-combat related wounds at approximately 5:30 a.m. local Kandahar time on 27 May 2011 at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Zangabad, southwest of Kandahar Airfield.  More here and here – condolences thread at here.
  • Afghanistan:  Meanwhile, work – including on roads – goes on.  “The Taliban tried to crash the Canadian army’s party Friday by launching an attack on the ceremonial opening of a road in the heart of the perilous Panjwaii district. The speakers weren’t even finished and pieces of the ribbon had just been picked up when a pair of explosions rang out, followed by small-arms fire. “Nothing like a few fireworks,” said Brig-Gen. Dean Milner, who was still speaking when the first muffled explosion occurred. Milner, unfazed, carried right on talking. “Like a good day in Afghanistan, there’s still lots of things that happen out there,” he said. “I think we even heard a couple of bangs. To make good things happen, you still have to challenge those bad guys, those insurgents.” ….”
  • Afghanistan: Reservists remember.Cpl. Scott Hahn came under fire for 20 minutes on his first patrol in Afghanistan. “You think right away you’re going to die,” he says. Then his infantry training kicked in. He started breathing properly, getting oxygen to his head, thinking straight. Ten minutes into the firefight he felt confident enough to start cracking jokes. “I’m glad it happened,” he says. “You learn your mistakes and how to correct them.” The war in Afghanistan left its mark on five soldiers from the local Royal Highland Fusiliers who completed tours of duty last year. Each went for up to eight months, undertaking different jobs in different places ….”
  • Manitoba Flooding: The Canadian Forces flood-relief mission in Manitoba is over, the military said Friday, having deployed 1,800 troops over the past 2½ weeks to pack and place sandbags, monitor dikes and help evacuate communities. “From coast to coast, the men and women of the Canadian Forces have proven they are ready and willing to assist Canadians in times of crisis,” Defence Minister Peter MacKay said in a written statement. “I’m very proud of their efforts to protect the people of Manitoba and their property from the flooded Assiniboine River.” This year’s seasonal flooding on the Assiniboine resulted in some of the highest water levels in a century. In Brandon, Man., about 1,400 people were forced from their homes more than three weeks ago and will return this weekend. The province’s second-largest city suffered the highest river crest since 1882 ….”  More from Postmedia/Global News here and QMI here, from the CF in its latest update here and its fact sheet here.
  • Quebec Flooding (1):  Defence Minister drops by.  “Defence Minister Peter MacKay toured the flood zone in southern Quebec’s Monteregie region Wednesday, meeting with area mayors and residents and clarifying the role of the Canadian Forces in the area. MacKay expressed pride in the work of the soldiers, saying they proved their versatility and efficiency but also made it clear that they were there only to provide emergency support and not to help in the cleanup. “We’ve taken the decision with the mayors and soldiers we will stay for the weekend and make day to day,” he said ….”
  • Quebec Flooding (2):  More on why militaries don’t tend to help clean up AFTER floods:  The Canadian army isn’t the only military force that doesn’t do cleanup. Local mayors and residents in flood-stricken areas near Montreal have been trying to get soldiers to stick around and help once waters eventually subside. But they need only look south of the border to see they’re not alone: the Vermont National Guard, which comes under the control of the state governor, is not allowed to help out on private property, either. Spokesperson Lt.-Col. Lloyd Goodrow says U.S. federal law doesn’t let National Guard members help people with their flooded basements. “That’s why people have insurance,” he told The Canadian Press on Friday. Goodrow says the National Guard is not allowed to provide any services that compete with the private sector ….”
  • Canadian, American and British intelligence troops practice their skills together in Arizona at Exercise Empire Challenge (hat tip to Bruce Ralston at Flit for sharing this).
  • Still MORE reading of the Julian Fantino tea leaves.  “Winning a majority government doesn’t make everything easier. Take, for example, the headache facing the Conservatives as they negotiate to buy the cost overrun-prone F-35 fighter-bomber from the United States, where a top Pentagon official recently called the jet-building program unaffordable without revisions. Helping sort this out and defend Canada’s purchase will now be Julian Fantino’s yoke to bear as the newly minted associate minister of defence with responsibility for procurement. Mr. Fantino will contend with two constants in his new job: Buying military hardware is infuriatingly complicated, and it gets more difficult during an era of belt-tightening. The retired cop’s appointment as Ottawa’s No. 2 defence minister after Peter MacKay gives the military a second voice at the cabinet table to promote and defend its big spending plans during a period of restraint when others might be inclined to delay. It also provides Stephen Harper with a point man to shepherd military procurement decisions through Ottawa’s frustrating and delay-plagued buying process – an assignment that may leave the Prime Minister feeling better-served on this file than in recent years ….”
  • A former radar site on Hudson’s Bay is about to be cleaned up. “Six decades after the radar operators gave up their search for Russian bombers streaking across the Northern Ontario sky, a massive cleanup effort will finally begin to erase a ghost town that was very briefly one of Canada’s most important military installations. The town doesn’t even have a formal name – military documents simply refer to it as Site 500. It was the operations centre for the Ontario portion of the Mid Canada Line Radar installation, a network of 17 sites built as part of a national network in the 1950s to monitor the skies for foreign invaders. Site 500 is now at the centre of the largest environmental remediation project ever undertaken in Ontario. Its scale is dwarfed only by the national cleanup of the Distant Early Warning radar line – a more northern string of radar installations that the federal government has already spent half a billion dollars cleaning ….”  More on the multiple tries to find a successful bidder for the work here.

Karl Manning, R.I.P.

This from a CF statement:

One Canadian Forces member was found dead from non-combat related wounds at approximately 5:30 a.m. local Kandahar time on 27 May 2011 at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Zangabad, located 45 Kilometres southwest of Kandahar Airfield.

Bombardier Karl Manning, from 5e Régiment d’artillerie légère du Canada based at CFB Valcartier, Quebec serving as a member of the 1er Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group was found dead from non-combat related wounds.

A Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) investigation is ongoing to establish the circumstances of this incident. No further details are available at this time, although enemy action has been ruled out ….

Condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the fallen.  We will remember him.

Steve Martin, R22eR, R.I.P.

This from a CF news release:

“One Canadian Forces member was killed yesterday, December 18th, 2010, after an improvised explosive device detonated while on operations in the Panjwa’i district of Kandahar Province, at approximately 12:30 p.m. local time.  Killed in action was Corporal Steve Martin, from 3rd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment, serving with 1st Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group, based at CFB Valcartier, Quebec.  Our thoughts are with the families and friends of our fallen soldier during this difficult time …. “

Condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the latest fallen.  We mourn with you. News Highlights – 10 Dec 10

  • Last batch of Vandoos enroute to Afghanistan for latest ROTO – bonne chance et bonne chasse!
  • Care packages:  they’re not JUST for the troops anymore “…. Soldiers in Afghanistan regularly receive care packages from home, but the Bomb Disposal Dogs that work alongside our troops are often forgotten. That is until now ….” CF video here, full transcript here.
  • Alternative explanation:  the Taliban could just be waiting for a better chance. NATO’s offensive through restive western Kandahar this fall seems to have caught the Taliban off guard. American and Canadian troops uncovered several large stockpiles of semi-prepared homemade bombs during their push into the area known as the horn of Panjwaii. Many of the explosives were either very old or missing their power sources. Maj. Pierre Leroux, the commander of Alpha Company from the 1st Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment, says it appears insurgents in the notorious Zangabad area simply up and left their compounds — perhaps in a hurry — when the initial U.S. assault wave hit. “This push was a surprise for them,” Leroux said in an interview Thursday with The Canadian Press. “They were probably expecting something last summer.” ….”
  • He says:  NDP cranky over lack of Canadian detainee documents. “NDP Leader Jack Layton is calling on the Liberals and Bloc Québécois to pull out of a special panel with the Conservative government that examines documents related to the Afghan detainee transfers. At a news conference Thursday on the one-year anniversary of Parliament’s demand for access to the thousands of pages of uncensored documents, Layton also called on Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe to join his party’s call for a full public inquiry ….” She says:  they’re coming, they’re coming! “Canadians will soon get their first official glimpse of sensitive Afghan detainee documents — more than a year after the House of Commons demanded disclosure of some 40,000 pages of confidential information. Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe said a special multi-party committee that’s been vetting the documents since July will finally start disclosing “an important number” of documents next month. Liberals were somewhat less specific, saying only that the first round of document disclosures will come “very soon.” ….”
  • Is the CF at war, while Canada is at the mall?
  • A judge says there are grounds to believe Algerian-born Mohamed Harkat is a security threat who maintained ties to Osama bin Laden’s terror network after coming to Canada. The Federal Court decision Thursday could pave the way for Harkat’s deportation to his native country.  In a separate ruling, Judge Simon Noel upheld the constitutionality of the national security certificate system the government is using to remove Harkat, which denies the person named full access to the evidence.  Harkat, a 42-year-old former gas bar attendant and pizza delivery man, was arrested eight years ago on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent. He is free on bail under strict conditions, and must wear an ankle bracelet that allows authorities to track him.” More in the Federal Court of Canada decision summary here (PDF), as well as in individual judgement documents here, here and here (all PDF).
  • The Canadian Army’s training system has a new boss as of todayMajor-General David Fraser will assume command on December 10 of Land Force Doctrine and Training System (LFDTS) from Major-General Guy Laroche in an official ceremony at the Normandy Hall, CFB Kingston ….”
  • An interesting contrast of headlines to behold among different media regarding word that Canada and the U.S. are discussing some common “perimeter security” measures. Postmedia News/Global TV“Canada, U.S. on verge of North American trade, security ’perimeter.’ “ Globe & Mail“Canada negotiating perimeter security deal with U.S.” Toronto Star“Border security talks with U.S. fan sovereignty concerns”“Reported security deal draws House sparks”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Bad guys claim responsibility for killing Karzai’s brother’s bodyguard in Kandahar.