MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 6 Sept 11

  • Afghanistan  Finally, a bit of info (from a visiting Canadian academic) from Herat, one of the spots where Canadian troops are helping train Afghan security forces during Operation Attention.  “…. Our participation in this training process, while likely the best course of action in a very challenging situation, simply adds to both the moral responsibility we owe Afghanistan and the strategic corner we have backed ourselves into. If we build this army, we had better be willing to fund it and support it long into the future. This will be added to the long-term development and humanitarian engagement we also have rightly committed to and have the obligation to maintain. Afghans, of course, have been taught to shoot RPGs before.”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch  New statement (link to non-terrorist web site):  child suicide bombers?  What child suicide bombers?  We have rules against that kinda stuff, ya know….  Meanwhile, here’s what Human Rights Watch has to say about using kids to blow themselves up:  “The Taliban’s use of children as suicide bombers is not only sickening, but it makes a mockery of Mullah Omar’s claim to protect children and civilians. Any political movement or army that manipulates or coerces children into becoming human bombs has lost touch with basic humanity.”
  • Libya Mission  Sun Media columnist says time to go home, not extend mission.  “…. Do Canadians really need to be mixed up in another protracted foreign military effort with an uncertain outcome? We may be headed into another recession. The federal government should keep its powder dry and focus now on the home front.”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (1)  “Canada is better positioned today to thwart a terrorist attack than before 9-11, but remains vulnerable to ever-evolving threats to national security — especially those targeted from within the country, says Public Safety Minister Vic Toews. Billions invested in beefed-up security measures, more information-sharing with allies and tighter controls on the movement of passengers, cargo and vehicles since Sept. 11, 2001, have all helped detect threats before they become too far advanced. But Canada must keep “alert” to new sources of danger — including home-grown terrorists and cyber-attackers. “Relatively speaking, we’re in a better position. I think back in 2001 we had no idea about the possibilities and types of threats,” Toews told iPolitics. “I think we’ve become much more sophisticated in recognizing potential threats than we were able to 10 years ago, so in that sense we’re in better shape. We’re also in better shape because we share information with our allies on a more regular and consistent basis.” ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (2)  “…. The consequences of 9/11 are a bit like the tip of an iceberg.  What you see is less important than what lies below the surface.  The most visible reminder of 9/11 is the inconvenience travellers face crossing the border …. The other major legacy of 9/11 is the resuscitation of hard power in Canada’s foreign policy …. That horrible day 10 years ago is a lasting reminder that Canada needs both hard and soft power to advance its interests in the world.”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (3)  EU, NATO:  World is safer post-9/11“…. A decade after Al-Qaeda traumatised the United States, the terror network has lost its leader, Osama bin Laden, and proved irrelevant in the revolutions sweeping the Arab world, said EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove. “The main finding is the real failure of the Al-Qaeda project,” he said. The once mighty group has been worn down by the NATO-led war in Afghanistan, which served as its safe haven prior to 9/11, and reinforced international cooperation, de Kerchove said. “Today an attack of the scale and sophistication of 9/11 is no longer possible,” he told a news conference. “Does it mean that we’re completely out of the threat? Probably not.” He added: “Are we safer today than before? I can say yes.” ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Wanted:  someone to plan and develop the next CF recruiting media campaign.  This from the bid document’s Statement of Work (PDF available here):  “…. the focus of advertising messaging will shift with the evolving focus of Canada’s military. Ongoing recruitment continues to be the priority and the emphasis will change to accurately reflect the reality of life in the CF. As Fight portrays the CF with a combat focus, and Priority Occupations promotes specific careers, future advertisement campaigns propose to showcase the CF’s readiness and proficiency in humanitarian efforts and domestic defence and support.  The readiness message should demonstrate that CF personnel are trained and the right equipment and necessary infrastructure are available when and where it is needed ….”  Check out the Statement of Work for suggested key messages and target audiences.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Jobs for east coast folks from one of the wanna-be TAPV competitors?  “A Dieppe company could be adding at least 120 new jobs to its roster if the Canadian government picks the Timberwolf as the newest tactical armoured patrol vehicle for the Canadian Forces. A prototype of the Timberwolf, a tactical armoured patrol vehicle designed specifically for the Canadian Forces, is seen in action. Dieppe’s Malley Industries Inc. will be the vehicle’s manufacturer if the design is selected. Specialty vehicle manufacturer Malley Industries Inc. will announce Tuesday that it has penned a deal with Force Protection Industries Inc., a leading United States designer and developer of military tactical vehicles. Malley Industries now joins a team of companies to potentially manufacture the Timberwolf – a tactical armoured patrol vehicle designed specifically for the Canadian Forces. There are at least three other teams vying for their vehicles to be picked. The government has until next July to choose a design. Up to 600 vehicles could be purchased ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying (3)  Wanted:  someone to build Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) building in Petawawa.
  • What’s Canada Selling?  “CAE today announced that it has been awarded a series of military contracts valued at more than C$100 million, including a subcontract to design and manufacture four additional C-130J simulators for the United States Air Force (USAF) as well as contracts in Germany to provide support services for the German Air Force’s Eurofighter simulators and to upgrade Tornado flight simulators …. Under terms of a subcontract from the prime contractor, CAE will design and manufacture four C-130J weapon systems trainers (WSTs) to support the USAF’s Air Mobility Command (AMC), Air Combat Command (ACC), and Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). Three of the simulators will be HC/MC-130J WSTs for ACC and AFSOC, and one will be a C-130J simulator for AMC ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 02 Jan 11

  • First off, welcome back.  I hope you had a great holiday season, and that the coming year will be even better for you than the last.
  • It appears Canadian troops being sent to train Afghan security forces will NOT necessarily be working out of Kabul (highlights mine). “The Canadian Forces is rushing to draw up a list of military trainers to send to Afghanistan once Canada’s combat mission ends next summer, but senior officers say training positions in the safer regions of the country are already growing few and far between. The federal government announced earlier this year that up to 950 Canadian soldiers would participate in a three-year mission to train the nascent Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police force. The Conservative government insisted that the Canadian trainers would be based “inside the wire,” working in secure bases in the relatively stable area around Kabul, the Afghan capital. But the NATO training organization in Afghanistan is expanding rapidly and needs trainers at sites across the country. Many of the training jobs in Kabul have been snapped up by nations who committed to the training mission much earlier and Canada may have to send its soldiers into riskier regions of the country. Maj.-Gen. Stuart Beare, the Canadian deputy commander of the NATO training mission, told CTV News that the coalition needs military and police trainers in almost every province of Afghanistan. “At the end of the day, the NATO requirements are for trainers across the whole of the country,” he said ….” You snooze ….
  • I hope the Prime Minister Harper is correct, then, in this from a year-end interview“The risk to Canadian lives, relative to what we’ve had to this point, is relatively small.”
  • How Canadian troops are dealing with personal politics among Afghan players in southern Afghanistan (1)“An influential tribal leader with close ties to the Afghan president has returned to a key area of operations for Canadian troops in Kandahar. All eyes are now on the restive Panjwaii district, where a power struggle is already playing out. The re-emregence of Hajji Fazluddin Agha threatens to upset the balance of power there. Agha is one of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s most important political allies in Kandahar. The fallout from the turf war between Agha and the current local leader, Hajji Baran, could have profound ramifications on NATO’s push into the horn-shaped hotbed of the insurgency ….” Another version of the same tension from Postmedia News here, with a bit of back story on the dude in question from Pakistani media here.
  • How Canadian troops are dealing with personal politics among Afghan players in southern Afghanistan (2)“He reportedly makes no apologies for killing his “enemies” on sight and has been instrumental in NATO’s attempt this fall to pacify Kandahar one brutal step at a time. There are those in Afghanistan who have labelled Col. Abdul Raziq a “butcher” in the past, and some have accused him of profiting from the burgeoning illegal drug trade. Yet others in the provincial government and western armies hail him as a hero who is helping to bring stability to a troubled land, with a series of lightning-style raids deep in Taliban enclaves …. He has been all over the war-wasted province this fall to the enthusiastic applause of American commanders who regard him as “tremendously respected among the Afghans” and “a great partner” for NATO. Knowing his history, Canadian officers are more circumspect. “He’s been extremely effective,” Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, the commander of Canadian troops, said in a recent interview. “I think you always have a few concerns because he’s had some challenges in the past.” ….”
  • Afghan soldiers fire at Canadian convoy after Kandahar fender bender:  A small group of Afghan army soldiers shot at a Canadian convoy after a recent road accident outside Kandahar city, the military said Tuesday. The Afghan troops were manning a checkpoint near the Dand district centre, southwest of the city, on Boxing Day when a re-supply convoy struck one of their vehicles. The Canadians stopped to fill out paperwork and then started off down the road. But the Afghan soldiers didn’t want the Canadians to leave the scene and fired their weapons at the convoy and into the air. The Canadian military says none of its soldiers were injured, nor did they return fire ….” More here.
  • More on the challenges of helping the Afghans. “In the nine months he worked as senior adviser to the chief of the Border Police, John Brewer relied on a local translator to navigate Afghan culture. Yet the Canadian Mountie spent as much time trying to interpret the actions of foreign forces to equally puzzled Afghans. Why, they asked him, did Germany provide their training base with drug-sniffing police dogs but not dog food or kennels? Why would the Americans build a brand new border police headquarters on land with no water? And what should be done with the thousands of donated European radios that do not operate on the same frequency as the Afghan ones? ….”
  • First of Canada’s newest Hercs (CC-130J) now downrange. More on the plane here and here.
  • Reportage odds-and-ends from Postmedia News’ Doug Schmidt.
  • Former Captain Robert Semrau can now move on with his life. “The Canadian military will not appeal the sentence handed to former captain Robert Semrau in his unprecedented court martial. Semrau, 36, was demoted and dismissed from the military in September after being convicted of disgraceful conduct for shooting a severely wounded Taliban fighter on an Afghan battlefield. The military tribunal heard evidence suggesting the incident was an act of mercy intended to end the dying man’s suffering. Military prosecutors had asked for a two-year jail tern, but the judge in the case, Lt.-Col. Jean-Guy Perron, rejected that recommendation and imposed a more lenient sentence. The appellate counsel at the Canadian Military Prosecutions Service, Maj. Steven Richards, recently confirmed that the appeal period in the case has expired. The military, he said, did not appeal Semrau’s acquittal on more serious charges — second-degree murder and attempted murder — or his sentence. Semrau’s legal team also did not file a notice of appeal ….”
  • It ain’t JUST the hurt you get during bad times, it’s also the hurt you get when the system doesn’t treat you well. “Secondary wounding is a significant issue in both the civilian and military communities.  Lt.-Col Rakesh Jetly (link to bio), a psychiatrist and senior mental health adviser with the Canadian Forces, said the condition is well-known within the trauma treatment world.  “Secondary wounding isn’t a diagnosable illness per se,” Jetly said. “It’s a component of another illness.”  Secondary wounding occurs when a traumatized individual, quite often suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), experiences further psychological harm at the hands of his or her support system or society at large …. Jetly said that while there are no exact numbers on who may be affected, the vast majority of people with PTSD at some point will feel that they have been secondarily wounded …. Secondary wounding is often caused by ignorance and a lack of understanding from people, organizations or institutions, Jetly said ….”
  • Latest poochie story:  “Psychiatric dog program embraced by soldiers but in need of money – …. The use of psychiatric support dogs started in the United States and spread to Canada in the form of a handful of pilot projects. The Ottawa program was a six-month pilot project. The Wounded Warriors charity provided $35,000 in funding, but the money ran out in mid-December. “We fund programs that tend to injured [Canadian Forces] members,” Wounded Warriors founder Capt. Wayne Johnston says. “This one interested us.” But Johnston, who himself has post-traumatic stress disorder, says the organization “wants to see some real scientific results” before it provides more funding. “I don’t believe we would make that decision unless we would have some medical people there to monitor, properly monitor what is going on,” he said. O’Neill says it can cost $8,000 to $40,000 to fully train and certify a service animal, depending on how much work is required. Still, she’s optimistic the government will embrace the program and provide funding for it. “I believe that upon further review there’ll be no question that this is a necessity,” she said. The Canadian Forces says it is prepared to study the effects of psychiatric support dogs.”
  • The Canadian Press has this summary of the deaths of several Reservists and a Canadian journalist in an IED blast in Afghanistan last year. One hopes this wasn’t done JUST because a journalist was killed – an “anniversary of Michelle Lang’s death” piece here from Postmedia News, for example.
  • Entertainers aren’t JUST headed to Afghanistan to entertain the troops. “In early December, Edmonton comedian Paul Sveen embarked on a cross-Canada tour of military bases with rocker Sass Jordan and the band Paper Lions. The tour took them to Alert, on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island, the northernmost permanent settlement in the world ….”
  • Military research paper:  Canada’s energy system needs better protection (via Army.ca)
  • What’s Canada Buying (1):  Wanted: Someone to run/maintain Canadian Arctic underwater unmanned subs. More on the work required here (Statement of Work, PDF).  More background on Canada’s work mapping the Arctic floor here.
  • What’s Canada Buying (2): Boeing doing some work on Canada’s CF-18’s.
  • Note to Canadian Forces civilian staff:  watch out. “Canada’s military has 3,500 more civilian employees – 14 per cent – than it is supposed to, according to documents that say the critical overstaffing needs to be fixed through “zero growth” and attrition. “The civilian work force at DND is currently approximately 28,500 [full-time-equivalents], which exceeds the mandated target [of 25,000] and must be rigorously managed,” say Defence Department memos obtained by The Globe and Mail. The memos contemplate slowly rolling back some of the staffing levels added during the decade-long Afghanistan deployment, during which civilians were hired to support troops in Canada and in-theatre. The Canadian combat mission is to be scaled down in coming months, with a rump of troops staying behind to take on a new mission training Afghan security forces ….”