MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 28 Oct 11

  • Libya Mission (1)  U.N. mandate wrapping up end of Hallowe’en Day – Security Council resolution text here NATO defence ministers meeting today to discuss end of mission.
  • Libya Mission (2)  What’s NOT expected:  guerilla fighting“…. Brig.-Gen. Craig King, military operations chief, told MPs on Thursday he does not expect to see an insurgency grow out of the conflict between Col. Gadhafi’s now-defeated forces and the victorious rebels. “In order for an insurgency to exist, you have to have popular support of some kind and it has to be coalesced around some kind of leadership,” Mr. King told the Commons defence committee. “We’re not anticipating that. And, certainly, the former regime has no legitimacy or credibility that would lend itself to an insurgency to which we would have to apply a counter-insurgency.” ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  Still stuff left to be done, though“Weapons, untrained militias and enshrining women’s rights are key hurdles Libya faces as it transitions towards democracy, MPs were told Thursday. Foreign Affairs bureaucrats and Canadian Forces staff testified before the national defence committee on the situation unfolding in post-Moammar Gadhafi Libya. “Clearly we’re in a period of transition,” said Brig.-Gen. Craig King, highlighting the need for rebel militias spread out across the country to be organized into a cohesive and professional national military ….”  A bit more along these lines here.
  • Libya Mission (4)  CF Info-Machine on CF-18’s dropping first JDAM bombs 3 weeks ago, one sailor’s first ship boarding mission and HMCS Vancouver wrapping up its first patrol.
  • Afghanistan (1)  More from CF Info-Machine on still packing up in Kandahar – not so much yet on the training mission.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Breaking News:  bad guys attack base where Canadians USED TO be (more here) – Taliban claims responsibility (usual caveats about linking to terrorist web pages).
  • Operation JAGUAR in Jamaica:  CF passes 200 mission mark 15 Oct 11 (CF Info-Machine shares the news 27 Oct 11)
  • Mark Collins on “What States Might the (Royal Canadian Navy) Fight?”
  • DRDC Paper (PDF):  How best to patrol the Gulf of Aden to hunt for pirates – abstract and executive summary downloadable here.
  • CBC:  Canada eyeing nuke subs?  “CBC News has learned the Harper government is considering buying nuclear submarines to replace its problem-plagued fleet of diesel-powered subs, all of which are currently awash in red ink and out of service for major repairs …. High-ranking sources tell CBC News the government is actively considering cutting its losses on the dud subs, and mothballing some if not all of them. Defence Minister Peter MacKay is hinting they might be replaced with nuclear submarines that could patrol under the Arctic ice, something the existing diesel-electric subs cannot do. Outside the Commons this week, MacKay told CBC the government is anxious to have its submarine fleet fully operational as soon as possible, providing a “very important capability for the Canadian Forces.” But asked whether the government might look at other subs, MacKay said: “Well there was a position taken some time ago to go with diesel-electric. “But you know, in an ideal world, I know nuclear subs are what’s needed under deep water, deep ice.” ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  NDP presses government during Question Period on buying into U.S. satellite comms system that may have some problems.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  Unnamed insider says project’s “a mess”.  “The Conservative government’s controversial F-35 jet fighter project, plagued by delays, cost overruns and now economic turmoil in Europe, is at growing risk of being sharply curtailed or shelved — the defence minister’s protestations notwithstanding. “It just seems like it’s slowly unravelling,” said an industry insider who specializes in aircraft procurement. “It’s a mess.” ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Underwhelming news from the U.S. on the planes.
  • Whazzup with the meetings of the House of Commons committee on veterans’ affairs?  “Mr. Sean Casey (Charlottetown, Lib.):  Mr. Speaker, my question is not to the minister but to the chair of the veterans affairs committee. Public hearings about the cuts at the Veterans Affairs Department were terminated today, cancelled without hearing from one veteran, the ombudsman, and not even the Royal Canadian Legion. Veterans fought and paid the ultimate sacrifice for the right and freedom to be heard, and to be heard in public. Secret meetings to avoid accountability are anti-democratic and a slap in the face to veterans. Why the secrecy?  Mr. Greg Kerr (West Nova, CPC): Mr. Speaker, I know a chair must be fair and neutral, but the bizarre behaviour of this member forces me to answer with what he has been trying to do in the last number of days. Our committee has been looking very carefully at the accusations he made about great cutbacks and loss of opportunity for veterans. That was proven by the witnesses to be absolutely wrong. Our government has made major commitments to veterans and will continue to do so because it is so important. The fact that the member continues to disrupt the committee is something he has to look within himself for. The committee membership—“

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 24 Jun 11

  • Scumbag, pure and simple. “A widow is asking the public for help after the theft of her wedding ring and other reminders of her late husband were stolen. Barb Stirling, of the town of Crossfield, is missing a jewelry box, bought by her husband T.J. Stirling while he was serving in Afghanistan. Inside were photos and a postcard sent from her husband to their son. Stirling died in 2009 after two tours in Afghanistan. The jewelry box was stolen from her home last week. “If anyone finds any articles of value, it’s best just to return them to police so we can connect them to the rightful owners,” said Airdrie RCMP Constable Francine Hennelly ….”
  • Afghanistan (1) Ladies and gentlemen, the Canadian flag no longer flies over Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar – this from the House of Commons yesterday: “Mr. Speaker, (Wednesday) was a momentous day in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. The Canadian flag was lowered for good at Camp Nathan Smith, where Canadian civilians have been serving for the last six years. This solemn moment marks both the achievements and sacrifices of all Canadians who have served in Afghanistan. It is a step forward in the transition of that country’s future to the Afghan people. It is also a chance to pay tribute to all those who have sacrificed, some with the ultimate price, in the fight against the Taliban and terror generally. Afghanistan today is a better, freer place than Canadians found it when they first arrived at Camp Nathan Smith. The people who have used the camp as a base for their work have helped tangibly to improve the lives of people in the region and the country as a whole. Canada’s commitment to Afghanistan’s future continues. I would ask all hon. members to join me in saluting the men and women who have served with honour and distinction at Camp Nathan Smith. Theirs is an impressive legacy, indeed.”
  • Afghanistan (2)  While the end of Canada’s combat mission is close, our soldiers are not taking the easy way home. Most sane people — weeks and days from the end of the combat mission — would opt to stay inside the wire more. Or avoid looking for trouble with insurgents. And while the Canadians have earned that small grace, professional soldiers rarely can take a soft option. Canadian officials here say as they make the transition from a combat to training mission — handing over hard won areas to American and Afghan forces — they are still bringing the fight to the enemy. “We are killing Taliban almost daily in the battle space,” says Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, the Canadian commander of Task Force Kandahar. “That’ll be the big focus for me to stay aggressive right until the point I have my troops out of the battle space.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (3a)  Thousands of pages of newly released documents about Afghan detainees show diplomats were aware of widespread abuse, such as electrocutions, whippings and sleep deprivation, in Afghan prisons where Canada’s detainees were held. The documents appear to support the government’s assertion that Canadians did not knowingly transfer detainees who were tortured. However, the 362 heavily censored documents released Wednesday describe private torture chambers, squalid prisons, rumours of summary executions and officials losing track of Canada’s detainees. The political fallout continued Thursday, a day after the government released more than 4,000 pages of documents. Opposition parties are demanding a public inquiry, saying the document dump had not answered key questions ….”
  • Afghanistan (3b)  Still more culling to be done of the detainee documents?  The retired Supreme Court justices behind this week’s Afghan-detainee document dump say their work of vetting the files for public disclosure was unfinished when they were called off by the government. “We understand that no further work is now expected,” Claire L’Heureux-Dubé and Frank Iacobucci wrote in a June 15 letter to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson. With that, the judges handed over what they called “the results completed by the [judicial] panel to date” and also the “the results of the panel’s review of an initial set of documents.” ….”  More from CBC.ca (here, too), including the report from said former judges.
  • Afghanistan (3c)  Why the alleged no more scrutiny?  “…. Asked why the government did not strike the special committee reviewing the documents in the new Parliament, Pamela Stephens, press secretary to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson (Niagara Falls, Ont.) replied to The Hill Times in part in an email: “The current official opposition does not wish to restart the process.” That response suggested the government asked the NDP if it wished to continue the process, and the party declined. NDP MP Jack Harris (St. John’s East, Nfld.) said he was unaware of any discussions between his party and the government on the subject. He reiterated his call for a judicial inquiry. Ms. Stephens also said it was the opposition parties that ended the review when they forced the election through a confidence vote last March, and noted two of the original signatories—Mr. Duceppe and Mr. Ignatieff—lost their seats in the election …”
  • Afghanistan (3d)  Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says there’s no need for a public inquiry, thanks“…. our government is and has always been committed to handling Afghan Taliban prisoners in accordance with our international obligations. We have just been through a 12-month $12 million process where an unprecedented amount of information has been put before a number of parliamentarians of this place. It has been ruled upon by former members of the Supreme Court who have done an outstanding job for this country. I think Canadians have a clear picture that our men and women in uniform fully accepted all our international obligations and have done a heck of a good job representing this country …. I was, as I am sure many members in this place were, tremendously disappointed when the New Democratic Party refused to participate in this committee of parliamentarians.  Yesterday some 4,200 pieces of documentation on this important issue were released. We offered a briefing to all three of the opposition parties and let me say that I was even more disappointed that not one person from the New Democratic Party bothered to show up for that briefing to have this information explained.”  And who didn’t show up at a briefing on the released paperwork?  Click here to find out.
  • Afghanistan (3d)  No evidence of issues, but still a chance to use “war crimes” in a headline, right? It had to be “War-crimes evidence proves hard to find,” not “Documents: no evidence found of war crimes”.  “One Taliban suspect was feared dragged to death. Another may have been driven to his grave in the back of a Ford Ranger. Still others were said to have been executed behind buildings. The secret probe of these complaints was known as Operation Centipede. The goal? Check out accounts of war crimes, ones allegedly committed by allied Afghan forces and witnessed by Canadians. In the end, military investigators usually concluded there was less to the allegations than first thought. While possible Canadian complicity in torture in Afghan jails has long gripped politicians in Ottawa, this week’s disclosure of 4,000 pages of released records failed to reveal any smoking guns ….”
  • Afghanistan (3e)  More “glass is half empty” coverage:  “A human-rights lawyer believes Canadian troops could hand over detainees from other countries only for them to be tortured, just as were the Afghans under Canada’s watch. “The question is, when Canadian forces are deployed into an armed conflict, we understand that they are going to have to necessarily partner up or be allies with—temporarily or for a longer period of time—militias or with state armies that might not have the best human-rights records,” Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ told the Straight by phone. “So, how do we navigate those relationships and how do our human-rights obligations affect what we do with individuals we capture? I don’t think there have been a lot of lessons learned from the Afghan-detainee transfer issue such that it wouldn’t happen again. And that’s what is most disturbing of all at this point.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Kandahar has long seemed like a city on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but as Canadians prepare to withdraw, there is a growing sense of a mellowing vibe. It has nothing to do with opium or hashish, despite the city’s notoriety as a hotbed of both, or its persistent reputation as Mecca for hippies. Indeed, quite the opposite: it’s the presence of U.S. troops that’s giving off the sedative effect. Kandahar city is far from normal, but a flood of American cash, public works projects and the visibility of Afghan soldiers, cops and auxiliary police on the streets are all contributing to an uneasy sense of calm ….”
  • Afghanistan (5)  “…. As Canadian combat draws to a close next month, polls done for the Department of National Defence last year suggest that after nine years, billions of dollars and 156 soldiers killed as part of the mission, Canadians support their troops — but still wonder why they were in Afghanistan in the first place. The surveys — conducted by Ipsos Reid and quietly released online, though not widely reported — found that 92 per cent of respondents had a positive impression of the people who serve in the Canadian Forces, and 85 per cent cited the military as a source of pride ….”  Wonder why the poll wasn’t “widely reported”?  Too much work to find information supporting the CF?
  • Afghanistan (6)  One columnist’s read of the Canadian campaign.  “…. It is fair to ask of the Canadian generals who sent their troops into Zhari and Arghandab and Maywand whether they knew, in their bones, that these were futile offensives, with an indefensibly high cost in blood and treasure. Everywhere Canadians went, their gains were overturned, until Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance came along in 2008 and switched the mission to one of classic counter-insurgency. That was a seminal point in Canada’s Afghan adventure, troops no longer running around as if without strategic purpose, swatting at insurgents, yet too sparsely arrayed to nail down the battle space ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  Taliban downplays U.S. announcement of starting to pull troops out.
  • Libya Mission An MP spreads the message defends the mission in one of his hometown papers.
  • A Defence Research and Development Canada paper recommends trying out a new type of software to analyze documents and cull intelligence about people from them. (via Army.ca)
  • Congratulations Canadian Forces Health Service!  …. The CF Health Services Group is the first and only federal pan-Canadian primary and ambulatory health care system to (be granted system-wide Accredited status by Accreditation Canada). Accreditation Canada granted the Canadian Forces health system Accredited status for the first time on 18 January 2011. In past years, only individual clinics were accredited. This Accreditation reaffirms that Canadian Forces Health Services personnel are highly trained medical professionals committed to observing best practice and evidence-based interdisciplinary care. With the support of their health care partners, the Canadian Forces Health Services provides full spectrum and high standard health care to Canada’s military personnel, wherever and whenever they serve. Being accredited by a highly respected civilian organization demonstrates to Canadian Forces patients and leadership, to civilian health care organizations, and to community partners that the Canadian Forces Health Services is delivering high quality health care. We extend our sincere congratulations and thanks to Canadian Forces Health Services personnel for their continued commitment to delivering excellent care to the men and women of the Canadian Forces.” “
  • “…. the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence announced the launch of the Canadian Forces Appreciation Program, the official discount program of the Canadian Forces and the primary means for its members to find savings on a variety of goods and services …. International, national and local industry partners have joined the program in recognition of the sacrifices, commitment and dedication of military members and their families. Full, detailed information about the web-based program may be found at: www.CFappreciation.ca. The program offers eight distinct categories including: Accommodations, Attractions, Dining, Entertainment, Home & Lifestyle, Shops & Services, Transportation and Travel ….”
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Thursday) marked the seventh annual National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism by launching the Kanishka Project and unveiling the fourth and final memorial for the victims of the Air India Flight 182 atrocity, which occurred 26 years ago …. The Prime Minister was accompanied by Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety. “On this day, we pause to remember those who have lost their lives due to acts of terrorism, both here in Canada and around the world,” said Prime Minister Harper. “On June 23, 1985, Canadians experienced the worst terrorist attack in our history when a bomb on Air India Flight 182 killed all 329 passengers and crew members aboard, most of them Canadian.” The last of four memorials unveiled today for the victims of Air India Flight 182 honours the innocent lives that were lost and serves as a reminder of the need for continued vigilance. The Montreal memorial and three others in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver ensure that their deaths and the loss experienced by their loved ones will not be forgotten ….”
  • Again with the worries about closing search and rescue communications bases in Newfoundland and Quebec.