MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – September 16, 2013

Syria ….

…. and Elsewhere

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Jul 11

  • Afghanistan (1a)  Yet MORE “Canada’s Done with Combat Mission” stories from United Press International, PBS, The Canadian Press (more here) and QMI/Sun Media (including a “letter home to the folks” format story/op-ed).
  • Afghanistan (1b)  Even a Taliban spokesperson’s saying so long to Canada’s troops, with a hint they read the papers, too.  “…. The people of Canada have to ask their government and military chiefs what are the objectives and achievements that they have obtained during the past decade, apart from the innumerous losses in life and equipments. If they have no answer, then why they allow them to continue their illegitimate intervention in Afghanistan under another title in the name of military training. We are sure, the new mission of Canada under the name of military training will bring in only losses and bitter outcome like the precedent of their war mission which has had self-same consequences.”  More here.
  • Afghanistan (1c)  ANA General thanks Canada for the work (via CF’s Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (2)  NOW the Canadian Government Info-Machine cranks out the “lookit what a great job we did” stories on the PM’s latest visit, Canada’s work on polio vaccinations, work on an irrigation system, a May visit to a cultural centre, recognition of another cultural centre being helped by Canadians, a May graduation parade of Afghan officers and Canada’s help with nutrition programs.  Funny how a majority government makes one less reluctant to speak about what’s right.
  • Afghanistan (2a)  Continued legacy tea leaf reading:  “….the equation is not only what did Canada do for Afghanistan but what did Afghanistan do for Canada? Off the top it laid to rest, forever, the dewy-eyed concept of peacekeeping. A blue beret military had its place, an honourable one, in history. But that era has passed, unlikely ever to return. From the ashes of tacit demobilization, a robust Canadian Forces arose, Phoenix-like — a military fit to stand on guard for righteous wars in distant lands. Something that was lost has been found.” Best line from this column: “….Spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousaf Ahmadi put out a statement via email Friday, applauding Canada’s formal end-of-combat this past week, claiming the withdrawal from Kandahar had been “compelled’’ by the mujahedeen resistance …. “In addition to the life loss, the heavy economic burden of the war dawned on the people and members of the Parliament of Canada to press the ruling regime in Canada to withdraw their forces,’’ Yousaf Ahmadi says …. “The people of Canada have to ask their government and military chiefs what are the objectives and achievements that they have obtained during the past decade, apart from the innumerous losses in life and equipments. If they have no answer, then why they allow them to continue their illegitimate intervention in Afghanistan under another title in the name of military training?’’ There are some Canadian newspaper columnists who should sue Yousaf for plagiarism ….”
  • Afghanistan (2b)  Toronto Star editorial board’s take on the legacy and lessons learned:  “As Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan morphs into a training mission, many may well wonder Was it worth it? A generation of troops has been battle-hardened in Kandahar’s dusty villages and farmlands. We’ve invested $20 billion in our longest conflict, committed $2 billion in aid, lost 157 courageous men and women, and taken hundreds of casualties. Despite these costs, the answer is Yes, it was worth it ….”
  • Afghanistan (2c)  Another editorial“…. Despite our departure the work continues, including by a contingent of Canadians tasked with training Afghans to take charge of their own security. Elsewhere in the world we can only guess where the next trouble spot will be. We might not make a big deal come next July 5, but Canadians can take pride in the work done by our military personnel over the last decade and feel confident that whatever comes next, they’ll continue to make a difference on the world stage.”
  • Afghanistan (3)  Some still want to go back.
  • Afghainstan (4a)  A bit of what comes next“Now that Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan has ended, the lessons learned in battle will carry on in the fighting here, says a senior Canadian military leader. The deputy commander of the Canadian Contingent Training Mission, which will help mentor Afghan military leaders and instructors in Kabul until March 2014, says our forces have learned a great deal during the conflict. “Nothing tests soldiers and leaders as much as combat does, and our men and women have seen plenty of that in southern Afghanistan,” says Col. Peter Dawe, adding our soldiers worked extensively with Afghan army leaders while serving with mentoring and liaison teams ….”
  • Afghanistan (4b)  More on what’s next“In a ceremonial transfer of command authority held at Camp Blackhorse on the eastern edge of Kabul, Colonel Rory Radford of the Canadian Forces assumed command of the Consolidated Fielding Centre (CFC) on 3 July 2011. Supported by the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A), the CFC is a one-of-a-kind facility that prepares formed units of the Afghan National Army for integration into a corps. Each corps of the Afghan National Army is assigned to a province of Afghanistan. The outgoing commandant, Col Casey Griffith, is an officer of the U.S. Army ….”
  • Afghanistan (5)  Labatt donates beer to the troops still downrange.
  • Afghanistan (6)  Canada apparently still working on getting that Canadian student reportedly kidnapped by Taliban earlier this year outta there.  “A Scarborough woman whose son is being held in Afghanistan by kidnappers is “sick with worry” and “can’t get a straight answer” from the federal government on how they will get her son home, local Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis says …. Media reports have said Rutherford’s kidnappers sent demands to Canada’s government, but Karygiannis, his mother’s MP in Scarborough-Agincourt, said she has not been told what the demands are and his own inquiries about the case have gone unanswered.  Karygiannis confirmed Rutherford’s mother does not want to speak to reporters, but in a release this week the Liberal MP quotes the woman as saying the federal government told her “due to privacy issues, they cannot discuss the case.”  A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Canada, which advises Canadians against all travel to Afghanistan, confirmed Rutherford, “after travelling to the country as a tourist,” is missing there.  “Canadian officials are working with Afghan authorities to assist the family in securing the safe release of their loved one,” Priya Sinha added on Wednesday. “We ask that the media respect the privacy of the family.” “  Taliban’s initial reports of the kidnapping here and here, with the Taliban video available here, and the statement accompanying the release of the video here (all links to non-terrorist sites).
  • Afghanistan (7)  Afghan-Canadians to rally at Queen’s Park today calling for Pakistan’s military intelligence service to butt out of Afghanistan’s business.
  • Anthony Joseph Boneca, 1985-2006, R.I.P.  Five years ago today.
  • Jordan Anderson, 1981-2007, R.I.P.  When Corporal Jordan Anderson prepared to go to war he made sure his wife knew what to expect should the worst happen. “He told me that the case that he comes home in is called a transfer case and that there is dry ice in it. It’s not the casket. I would have to choose a casket for him,” said Amanda Anderson. Cpl. Anderson told his wife details she didn’t want to hear, following her from room to room when she refused to listen. “He told me, ‘If I am shot you might be able to see my body depending on where I was shot, but if it is an IED, don’t even expect to see me.’ ” In this, Cpl. Anderson, who died when a massive IED killed him and six others, was wrong. “Maybe two days before the funeral they said that I could see him. He looked almost like himself. He just had a small scratch on one cheek,” she said. Cpl. Anderson even told his wife how the news would be broken to her ….”
  • Libya Mission:  One African dude’s opinion.  “…. Canada`s recognition of and support for the (Bengazi-based Transitional National Council ) TNC adds to similar moves by almost every western country, a very useful diplomatic weapon in the general campaign to remove Gadhafi. It was against this background that the spokesman for the TNC, Jalal el-Galal, thanked Canada for its support. The TNC spokesman also drew attention to the need to translate ‘recognition’ into ‘practical help’ to help meet the financial obligations to the people without which hunger and frustration could breed discontent that could play to Gadhafi’s favour. This was an open call for Ottawa to dig its hands deep into its pockets.”
  • Columnist sees Canada become HUGELY militaristic weeks after the election.  “…. For a country that has long prided itself on a reputation as a peacemaker, it’s a remarkable turn. Hawks of the western world? Who would have thunk it? It’s a play to our baser instincts, instincts that are more primitive than progressive. The Conservatives’s lock-‘em-up law-and-order policy is one example of this. The glorification of the military is another ….”  Yeah, that’s us:  Argentina-During-The-Dirty-War-North >>insert eyeroll here<<
  • Shame.  The first national study on homeless veterans has uncovered a group of former soldiers living in shelters and on the streets, struggling with alcoholism, mental illness and a sense of being lost in the country they served. Often middle-aged and retired from the service for decades, they did not get the glory of veterans returning from the World Wars or the support new veterans get, concludes the study by two University of Western Ontario researchers. “There is this gap, a group of people who came out of the service and spiralled into alcoholism and homelessness,” said Susan Ray, assistant professor of nursing at UWO. Ray and fellow researcher Cheryl Forchuk, associate director of nursing research at UWO, make several recommendations and suggestions based on one basic principle. That principle is: “Canadian society needs to make a social covenant to care for the homeless veteran population.” The federal government has not maintained this covenant, they concluded ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Several Nova Scotia companies will likely be interested in millions of dollars of work going up for grabs on the Canadian military’s new Chinook helicopters. Boeing issued requests for information this week looking for companies that want to do maintenance training and support work on the choppers, slated for delivery in 2013. “That’s definitely something that we are pursuing,” said Carl Daniels, vice-president and general manager of Dartmouth’s Atlantis Systems Eduplus. It’s hard to determine right now what the work could be worth, Daniels said. “What exactly Boeing is sub-contracting out is still to be determined. So we don’t have a full set of requirements in the spectrum,” he said. “It could be two years worth of work or it could be 20 years worth of work.” …. ”  Boeing did something similar in Canada about 18 months ago.
  • A monument commemorating the men and women of Canada’s Air Force, past and present, was unveiled in the United Kingdom at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire (Friday).  The monument is the first in the U.K. raised specifically to honour the Royal Canadian Air Force, especially its service during the Second World War, and Canada’s modern Air Force. It was dedicated “In honour of those who serve past and present in Canadian and Commonwealth Air Elements” …. Members of the Royal Air Force and Canada’s Air Force, serving in both the U.K. and in Canada, led this historic project from concept to unveiling after Flight Lieutenant Alfie Hall, from 609 West Riding Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, visited the National Memorial Arboretum ….”
  • Wanted:  New boss for the RCMP – must live in or near Ottawa.

WTF? Here we go again…

….with a loved one happy to share the fallen’s thoughts and feelings with the media, via CTV.ca:

“As Canadian soldiers assembled at a ceremony in Afghanistan to send off the flag-draped casket carrying Pte. Jonathan Couturier, a report has surfaced in Quebec saying the 23-year old tried to stay positive about the mission, but quietly considered it as futile …. the young soldier’s brother told Le Soleil newspaper in Quebec city that Couturier doubted whether the NATO-led Afghanistan mission was accomplishing much.  “That war over there, he found it a bit useless — that they were wasting their time over there,” Nicolas Couturier was quoted as saying in the paper. Such criticism of the war is rarely heard from family members in the wake of a soldier’s death in Afghanistan. Relatives almost always speak of their belief in the mission’s purpose, saying their family member died for an important cause.  Couturier’s sister-in-law said he voiced his criticism quietly. “He wouldn’t talk about it, he stayed positive, but at some moments he said he was fed up,” Valerie Boucher said ….”

Here’s the original in French in Le Soleil (with a clunky Google English translation here).

This isn’t the first time the media has lept on the second- and third-hand sharing of alleged comments from the fallen (and a statement from another family member (PDF)  didn’t help much, either).

A bit advice from Christie Blatchford, Peter Worthington and National Post columnist Brigitte Pellerin about maintaining some perspective in interpreting such statements – let’s see if there’ve been any lessons learned here, shall we?