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Posts Tagged ‘Afghan-Canadian Community Centre

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 30 May 11

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  • Karl Manning, 5 RALC, R.I.P.:  On his way home as family, colleagues wonder – more here.
  • Afghanistan (1):  An organization that keeps track of threats to aid workers in Afghanistan is bracing for a tough, desperate summer and warns of an “escalating stalemate” as it says the Karzai government is losing its grip on northern parts of the country. A new report from the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office suggested insurgent forces are growing in areas that have previously been assessed as calm. We anticipate 2011 will be the most violent year since we have been keeping records,” said the organization’s quarterly report, which was released over the weekend ….”  Afghanistan NGO Safety Office site here, latest report mentioned in story here (PDF).
  • Afghanistan (2):  The Canadian-funded textbooks and computers aren’t overly expensive — certainly not compared to the price Afghan women risk having to pay for using them.The sort of mundane learning most westerners have long taken for granted carries a persistent and very real threat for female students in southern Afghanistan: injury or death at the hands of the Taliban. For the determined, however, it’s no deterrent. “For sure, I am afraid,” says Heena Tariq, a teenager who’s taking an online accounting course at a school in Kandahar city. “It’s not fair we are afraid and stay home. We have to be brave. We have to study for the future and brighten our lives.” Tariq is one of about 700 women who have defied custom and the threat of insurgent thuggery to attend the Afghan-Canadian Community Centre ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  Attacks claimed in Kandahar, Uruzgan.
  • Libya Mission (1):  One opinion.  “…. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said from the start that Canada was at “war” and Defence Minister Peter MacKay allowed that the mission “… isn’t without risk, let’s put it that way.” Canadians from coast to coast to coast, as they say, have a vested interest in the Libyan mission. And Harper recognized that when he committed Friday to consult Parliament on his wish to extend the Canadian military mission in Libya beyond the three-month limit approved by the Commons in mid-March …. But the need to draw all MPs into the debate isn’t founded on differing party philosophies alone, it’s also based on geography. Bombardier Karl Manning of Chicoutimi, Que. was the latest Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan, apparently as a result of suicide. An inordinate number of soldiers from Quebec and Atlantic Canada seem to have died in Afghanistan, likely reflecting the overall makeup of the Canadian military. So, it’s imperative that the voices of the MPs from those regions are heard, no matter what their party affiliations are ….”
  • Libya Mission (2):  Another opinion. “…. When Canada first committed military resources to support the UN-authorized intervention in Libya, all four political parties backed the proposal but agreed to review our participation after three months. While there was virtually no debate about Libya during the recent election, let’s hope that the lack of purpose and progress to date will be enough to convince the Harper government to abort this ill-fated venture before we get dragged into yet another costly unwinnable quagmire like Afghanistan.”
  • Environmental and funding concerns are adding years to the construction of an Arctic naval port considered crucial to enforcing Canadian control of the Northwest Passage. The Nanisivik port in Nunavut was originally supposed to be at least partially up and running by next summer, following a promise made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2007. But no construction is planned for this summer and defence officials admit that the refuelling station, intended to give the navy a permanent presence at the eastern gate of the contested passage, won’t be operating for years. “Construction work at the Nanisivik Naval Facility will begin in 2013,” said a defence department spokesman in an email. “It is forecasted that the (facility) will be operational in 2016.” Officials weren’t immediately available to explain why. But correspondence with the Nunavut Impact Review Board, which is conducting the project’s environmental review, suggests the extra years have been added to the project through a combination of bureaucratic delays, funding problems and environmental liabilities lingering from the site’s previous life as a lead-zinc mine. “There are many challenges operating in the North and DND now has a better understanding of the site condition,” wrote the spokesman ….”  Environmental screening documents on the project are available via the Nunavut Impact Review Board’s web page here.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War:  “Everything is bigger in Texas — the cowboy hats, the belt buckles, the steaks, and the factories. Lockheed Martin’s production line here, where the U.S. defence giant manufacturers the F-35 stealth fighter jet, is actually more than two kilometres long. And putting aside the mounting concerns of the program, the F-35 and the factory here have a very high cool-factor. If it weren’t so restricted, a visit to the facility should definitely be on the to-do list of anyone who’s ever had a fighter jet poster on his wall. But critics aren’t swayed by the cool quotient, and are sounding the alarm bells that the jets’ price will skyrocket ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Round two of “we need Large Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device Disrupter Systems”.  More on round one from March 2011 here and here (bullet #9).
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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 11 Mar 11

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  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  Parliament’s Budget Office (PBO):  Our estimates (based on production price per pound of plane and a longer service timeline – 30 years vs. the CF’s 20 years) show the F-35 will cost more than the Canadian government is saying now. (1.1 MB PDF, 65 pg).  The executive summary is downloadable here via Army.ca.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) Both the Liberals and the NDP started poking the government almost immediately during Question Period in the House of Commons on this one yesterday.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (3) MSM are full of stories on this one as well this from the Canadian Press, this from the Toronto Star, this from the National Post/Postmedia News, this from CTV.ca, and this from Reuters.
  • Mideast Unpleasantness (1)Canada is defending the effectiveness of sanctions against Libya, despite their apparent failure after Moammar Gadhafi’s troops managed to drive rebel forces out of a key oil port. Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Thursday that he thinks sanctions against Libya are working, but more are needed. He said all options for Libya remain on the table as he and fellow G8 foreign ministers prepare to meet in France early next week for talks on the crisis. “I think the sanctions regime is working. Obviously it has its merits and its objectives. There needs to be more, I believe. That is why we’re still examining the options.” Cannon rejected a suggestion that sanctions are failing because Gadhafi is still holding power and reclaiming rebel-held territory ….”
  • Mideast Unpleasantness (2) Retired General Lew Mackenzie with a reminder that a no-fly zone could morph into more than JUST a no-fly zone in Libya. “…. once you decide to militarily intervene in another country’s civil conflict, you have to be prepared to escalate even if it’s the wrong thing to do, because quitting your commitment when the initial plan fails is just not on …. Col. Gadhafi doesn’t need his air force to prevail, so its grounding or destruction would merely shift the fighting to the backs of his army. Libya is a big country, with 2,000 kilometres of coastline, so the major fighting would take place along the main coastal road. The opposition forces would be no match for even poorly organized army units if Col. Gadhafi decides to get serious.  Watching this unfold from 20,000 feet, the countries enforcing any no-fly zone would be unable to ignore the carnage below them. Backed into a corner, their political leaders would be forced to escalate and authorize attacks against the Libyan army – thereby becoming, in effect, the opposition’s air force. By so doing, they would assume a much larger role in Libya’s future, including reconstruction of the damage they inflicted ….”
  • Mideast Unpleasantness (3)  Speaker of the House of Commons:  Not unpleasant enough for an emergency debate right now.
  • A little more information on Canada coming through with more funding a school project in Kandahar. “…. the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, announced $250,000 in additional funding for the Afghan Canadian Community Centre (ACCC). This funding will allow the ACCC to continue providing successful literacy courses and training in Kandahar city …. The ACCC is a private training centre in Kandahar City that provides professional education in such subjects as business management, information technology, English and health care. This additional support will enable the Centre to continue delivering valuable training, establish a resource centre, and implement a self-sustainability plan. Translation of that last bit of government-speak in red:  some of the money the school is getting is to be used to come up with a plan to be able to run without any more outside funding (or at least from us).
  • A friend of Colin Rutherford, the Canadian reportedly being held hostage by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, sees world for what it is“…. We as students need to recognize that terrorism does not only happen to other people. Terrorists exist to cause fear, and through that fear they gain power. Colin was not afraid to go into a place that has been torn by war to try to help people who are different from himself, and to help them on their terms instead of his. It may not have been the brightest thing to do, but it was brave and motivated by a good heart. He may not come home alive or, if alive, not whole and sound. I pray every day for him. I hope I will get to see him again and hug him and tell him that I am proud of him for wanting to bring something positive into a bastion of terror ….”
  • Remember the “MMA Visits Afghanistan to Fight for the Troops?” story earlier this week (eighth bullet here) Here’s the U.S. military information machine’s story on the event.
  • Ooopsie…. “At a time of unprecedented tension between the west and Hamid Karzai over the killing of civilians, Nato has accidentally shot dead one of the Afghan president’s own family members during a botched night raid. Officials in the southern province of Kandahar said Haji Yar Mohammad Karzai, a second cousin of the president, was killed during an operation by US special forces in Karz, the ancestral Karzai home on the outskirts of Kandahar city. In what appears to have been a major intelligence failure, the 63-year-old tribal elder was mistaken for the father of a Taliban commander …. Mahmoud Karzai, one of the president’s brothers, said he “smelled a very deep conspiracy” over the killing of Haji Yar Mohammad and said he feared Nato had been fed false information by someone from within the Karzai family ….” Here’s ISAF’s first statement on the incident, with a follow-up update here.  More on the touchiness of the situation from the Canadian Press here.
  • Canadian shipyard workers pipe in on Canada’s plans to look at foreign designs for new big honkin’ ships for the Navy. “Canada should not adapt foreign designs to replace its 40-year-old supply ships, says the man who represents over 1,000 workers at Halifax Shipyard. The navy is looking for consultants to assess the risks and cost of altering current German and Spanish military supply-ship designs to Canadian needs. They are also being told to be ready to assist federal officials with detailed drawings. “No matter what way you slice the pie, its Canadian tax dollars leaving Canada to go to another country to help them out in an economic crisis when we’re in our own,” Jamie Vaslet of the CAW/Marine Workers Federation, said Thursday. “Made in Canada is not a bad name, so designed in Canada is not a bad name, either. We designed and built some of, if not the best, world-class frigates.” ….”
  • Meanwhile, Mark Collins wonders how sloooooooooooooooooooow one can go to build new ships needed by Canada’s Navy.
  • Remember the shipload o’ Tamils dropped on the west coast by the MV Sun Sea last summerOne of the passengers admitted to being a bad guy, and has been ordered deported (eventually). “A passenger on the MV Sun Sea ship has admitted to being a member of the Tamil Tigers and ordered out of Canada, but don’t expect the unnamed man to be booted out anytime soon.  The man, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, initially denied being associated with the Tiger terrorist group but later admitted to officials with the Canadian Border Services Agency that he had been a member …. “We are pleased that these hearings are moving ahead,” said Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, the man in charge of the CBSA …. Toews has stated several times that the ship has terrorist links but this case is the first to come with a deportation order.  “That ship, that voyage was co-ordinated by the Tamil Tigers,” Toews told QMI Agency on Wednesday. “Our commitment has been to ensure that individuals who are associated with terrorist organizations do not find refuge in this country.” ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 10 Mar 11

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  • How many Canadians have GTFO Libya so far? This from the PM’s chief spokesperson:  “More than 650 Canadians have departed from Libya since the beginning of the crisis.”
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • A popular learning centre in Kandahar City has received new financial backing from the Canadian government, temporarily ending fears that the facility might have to close. Though less than half of what facility directors requested, the $250,000 grant from the Canadian International Development Agency will allow classes to continue at the Afghan-Canadian Community Center. An announcement of the funding was made this week at a ceremony to mark International Women’s Day. The centre, though catering to both male and female students, is an especially important educational outlet for Kandahari women and girls who often risk their lives to go to school, centre director Ehsanullah Ehsan said ….”
  • Psychological Operations:  (Sorta kinda) “the marketing arm of the military”
  • U.N. stats (PDF report here) say 3 out of 4 civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2010 were caused by insurgents.  The Canadian Press’ take on the report: “More Afghan civilians were killed in Kandahar than any other province last year, while counterinsurgency operations within Canada’s area of command resulted in “large-scale” property destruction, the United Nations said Wednesday.  The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan called on both NATO and insurgent forces to strengthen their efforts to protect Afghans as it released a report examining the severe toll the war has exacted on civilian lives and livelihoods …. It said NATO forces were careful in avoiding civilian casualties in Kandahar, but clearance operations in districts under the command of the Canadian military were singled out for leaving behind “large-scale” property destruction.  “Elders’ fears that the Kandahar operations would involve the destruction of homes, crops, and irrigation systems were realized,” the 85-page report said ….”
  • More work from Canada’s war poet Suzanne Steele “limerick from OFMIK (our former man in KAF)”
  • Remember how keen border state Senators were last month about getting military radar to keep those little planes full of drugs out of the U.S.?  It appears they might be getting (at least some of) what they seek. “The US government will place military-grade radar along the border with Canada to thwart low-flying aircraft used to smuggle illegal drugs onto US soil, senators who sought the deployment said Wednesday …. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said Napolitano had indicated during a Senate Judiciary Committee that she was working to deploy the radar and called it “a critical step in the right direction.” …. In the hearing, Napolitano herself stopped well short of explicitly announcing such a step, though she did agree with Schumer that such a deployment would be a good idea.  She assured Schumer that her department was “working with” the Pentagon and the US military’s Northern Command “on radar and other related issues and technologies in efforts on the northern border.”  Asked whether that meant the deployment would go forward, Napolitano replied “this is moving very rapidly.” ….” More on this from American media here and here.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1) New (Military) Police Academy (~$29 million), and Pockets on Sleeves
  • What’s Canada Buying (2) Remember late last year, when Canada was going to explore adapting the designs of recently built naval fleet replenishment ships that are operating with other NATO Navies”?  Well, let’s try again, shall we?  This from MERX (via Army.ca)“…. Canada has a requirement to assess two NATO Navy ship designs to determine their viability in relation to the Canadian Navy operational requirements for naval fleet replenishment SHIPS: a. the Berlin Class; and b. the Cantabria Class Canada intends to award two separate contracts, one to ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada Inc. (TKMSC) and the other to Navantia, S.A. (Navantia) to conduct Risk Reduction Design Studies (RRDS) for each design. This will enable Canada to ascertain the feasibility and affordability of adapting these designs to meet Canadian requirements. Canada is deploying a team of government representatives to shipyards in Germany and Spain to perform the RRDS and a follow-on Detailed Design Activity (DDA) ….” Link above contains some downloadable bid document details – more from MERX here, and from the Canadian Press here.
  • More on Canada’s (still being-waited-for) new helicopters for the CF (hat-tip to Mark Collins for sharing this one): Sikorsky could deliver the first of Canada’s much-delayed CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters this month, said president Jeff Pino yesterday at the Heli-Expo show in Orlando. The initial helicopters will not be fully compliant with the Canadian requirement, but will allow training to begin ….”
  • Buzzword Watch:  What do CF wordsmiths call it when Reservists come home from Afghanistan to be greeted by the PM and Defence Minister?  “Reintegration”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 7 Feb 11

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  • Canada’s newest upgraded tanks arrive in Afghanistan to help in (what’s left of) the fight (via Army.ca).
  • Another way Canada’s helping in Afghanistan:  building secure quarters to protect Afghan public servants “Two weeks ago, Kandahar deputy governor Abdul Latif Ashna inspected a Canadian project to provide secure homes for 15 Afghan government officials and their families. Exactly one week later the Afghan lead on the Committee to Secure Civil Servants was dead when the car he was riding in was blown up by a suspected suicide bomber on a motorcycle. “Ashna’s death was very poignant,” said Philip Lupul, a Canadian diplomat who worked closely with Mr. Ashna on the housing project, which is to be completed by the end of next month. “He had pointed out some changes that he thought should be made to the houses and we had accepted them. “One of the tragedies of this is that he would certainly have been a candidate for one of these homes. We lost a good friend who was part of this project.” …. “
  • Canada spent more than $41 million on hired guns in Afghanistan over four years, much of it going to security companies slammed by the U.S. Senate for having warlords on the payroll. Both the Defence and Foreign Affairs departments have employed 11 security contractors in Kabul and Kandahar since 2006, but have kept quiet about the details. Now documents tabled in Parliament at the request of the New Democrats provide the first comprehensive picture of the use of private contractors, which have been accused of adding to the chaos in Afghanistan. The records show Foreign Affairs paid nearly $8 million to ArmorGroup Securities Ltd., recently cited in a U.S. Senate investigation (link to news release – 105 page, 23 MB PDF report downloadable here) as relying on Afghan warlords who in 2007 were engaged in “murder, kidnapping, bribery and anti-Coalition activities.” The company, which has since been taken over by G4S Risk Management, provided security around the Canadian embassy in Kabul and guarded diplomats. Tundra SCA stands on guard for the Defence Department outside Canadian military forward operating bases and has collected more than $5.3 million ….” A bit more on one of the bad boys turned good boys here.
  • A school that’s a hallmark of Canada’s struggle against Afghan insurgents is on the brink of getting rid of some teachers and classes as Ottawa ponders whether to toss a lifeline. The Afghan-Canadian Community Centre, where thousands of girls and women have braved Taliban threats to get an education, needs more than $500,000 by month’s end to avoid severe cutbacks, said Ryan Aldred, who heads a charity that supports the school.  Thousands of women, girls and men have learned skills such as how to use computers, start a business or speak English at the centre …. The Canadian International Development Agency has contributed $313,773 to keep the school open, but when Aldred applied for more money in late 2009, CIDA eventually turned him down.  “Although approved in principle, the grant was declined in May 2010 due to a ‘lack of resources to support new initiatives’ and ‘the priority currently placed on initiatives that directly support the attainment of (CIDA’s) benchmarks,’ ” Aldred said ….”
  • Meanwhile, a wounded warrior says in the reality that is Afghanistan, sometimes a good warlord can help keep a grip on things“The Canadian Forces have always been pragmatic in who it uses to help the CF in places like Kandahar. White western forces are at a disadvantage in a place where it is incredibly difficult to know who is on first. That’s why warlords and those on the ground are the way to ensure peace. Their troubled past will not make these people go away and in fact Col Toorjan is well known as the protector of the Provincial Reconstruction Team ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Claims of civilian casualties in Kandahar.
  • F-35 Watch With all the buzz around Ottawa about a potential spring election, there remains a drought of hot-button political issues over which the coming campaign will be contested. One exception to this, of course, is the Conservative government’s controversial commitment to purchase the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Although no contract has been signed, the Harper Tories remain adamant that they will proceed with the purchase of 65 of the sophisticated aircraft, which, at an initial procurement cost of $9 billion and an estimated $7 billion in future maintenance expenses, makes this the largest military project expenditure in Canada’s history ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? Translation cards (~$47,000 worth) that soldiers can point at when they don’t know the language of the locals (via Army.ca).
  • Canada’s lead weapons treaty negotiator has been removed from his post after American negotiators complained he was “too tough and aggressive” on behalf of Canada in disarmament talks. The Ottawa Citizen has learned that veteran Foreign Affairs arms treaty expert Earl Turcotte has also run afoul of his bosses after apparently objecting to key elements in long-awaited legislation that will see Canada ratify the international Convention on Cluster Munitions. Turcotte, widely respected and often publicly praised at international negotiations for his negotiating skills, has emailed colleagues across the world telling them he will soon resign from Foreign Affairs to independently advocate for the cluster treaty he helped to craft in Dublin in May 2008 ….”
  • Members of Canada’s civilian intelligence service are apparently being asked to be more discrete with the swag they can buy in their kit shop“Canadian spies are being warned not to wear their loyalty on their sleeve — or their wrist or lapel.  The hush-hush reminder to employees of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service advises keeping polo shirts, watches and pins emblazoned with the distinctive CSIS crest away from curious eyes.  The items are sold in a secret shop tucked away on the lower level of CSIS headquarters in Ottawa, and made available to employees posted elsewhere through the agency’s online memorabilia catalogue.  The souvenirs — which also include hoodies, key chains, mugs, pens and plaques — offer members of the intelligence service “a tangible sense of belonging to the organization,” says an internal CSIS article obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.  But in keeping with CSIS policy, it seems the stylish spy must be careful to keep the merchandise undercover.  “Although the clothing does not display the Service’s acronym, it does feature the emblem,” says the October 2010 publication, parts of which remain classified …. “The policy essentially states that employees should exercise discretion in disclosing employment outside the work environment. Furthermore, employees working in (deleted from document) must be particularly vigilant in concealing their employer or any association with CSIS.” ….”
  • Egypt Watch:  My guess is that someone with a rank in his title will be boss in Egypt before end of week. “…. Since it would be the army that finally tells Mubarak to leave, the military would dominate the interim regime. They would not want to put yet another general out front, so they might decide that ElBaradei is the right candidate for interim leader, precisely because he has no independent power base ….”