How One Reporter Makes the Others Look Bad

First, the good news.

A reporter based in Kabul reached out to some military bloggers, some with first-hand experience in Afghanistan, bounce a thesis about for comment:

“non-US coalition partners (Canada included) are taking casualities because they simply are not driving vehicles that are effective against the IED”

Several people, myself included, shared information, much of it detailed, all in context, saying it’s not quite as simple as the thesis makes it look.

Now, for the bad news.

After thanking all for their input, here’s what he wrote:

Canadian reporter Michelle Lang spent her last moments in a Canadian Light Armored Vehicle rolling down a muddy path in Kandahar province on the day before New Year’s Eve.

The improvised explosive device that killed Lang and four Canadian soldiers flipped the 23-ton LAV upside down, according to the Canwest News Service, Lang’s employer. The Canadian LAV-III and LAV-25 closely resemble the American Stryker, an armored vehicle that U.S. soldiers have nicknamed the “Kevlar coffin.”

In Iraq and now in Afghanistan, the U.S. military has battled to keep pace as insurgents have devised IEDs that are big or sophisticated enough to cripple or destroy even the biggest American armored vehicles, the 33-ton Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle.

The MRAP, however, is still far superior to less heavily armored vehicles such as the Stryker and the Canadian LAVs. No MRAP has ever lost its entire crew to an IED, and if Lang and the soldiers who died with her had been in one, it’s less likely that the bomb would have killed them all….

My colleagues, who were also consulted, were underwhelmed like I was:

“There are none so blind as those who will not see” (Mark Damian, The Torch) <my mistake – sorry Damian)

“Trial and Error” (Brian, Canada-Afghanistan blog)

Some on Milnet.ca were even MORE underwhelmed.

My only additional comments are on this part:

…. No MRAP has ever lost its entire crew to an IED, and if Lang and the soldiers who died with her had been in one, it’s less likely that the bomb would have killed them all….

1)  I re-emphasize the fact, as others smarter than I have mentioned, the bit in blue is NOT TRUE.

2)  I wonder how comforting the bit in red is for the families of those killed in the incident in question?

I realize most reporters are trying far harder than this to get the best information and the best story out, but like cops, teachers, soldiers and other professionals, the group is often judged by the worst possible example.

Update (1): Small Dead Animals joins the parade of the underwhelmed.

Wounded Warrior Documentary Wins Gemini

From David Pugliese’s Defence Watch (with a h/t to the Canada-Afghanistan Blog for the tip off):

Peace Warrior, a documentary about Canadian soldier Trevor Greene, his fiancée Debbie Lepore and their struggle to recover from Trevor’s traumatic brain injury has won Canada’s top television honour, the Gemini Award for Best Biography Documentary.

Peace Warrior followed Trevor and Debbie for more than a year as Trevor underwent brain injury rehabilitation at the Halvar Jonson Centre for Brain Injury in Ponoka, Alberta.

Well done!

Yet ANOTHER Motive Behind the Mission Messaging Mambo ©

You’ve seen my read (as well as another more finessed, tug-of-war model) of why the government’s messaging on the future mission in Afghanistan has been so Jello-like.

In addition to thanking Brian Platt at the Canada-Afghanistan Blog for the mention, I have to share his even shorter, sweeter assessment of the Mission Messaging Mambo:

Canadian politicians are feverishly avoiding as many details as they can. Vagueness means votes–or so their demented thinking goes.

Good one.

“Messaging Bitch Fight” =/= Debate on Afghanistan

Thanks to Mark at The Torch for drawing my eye to this item from Brian Platt at The Canada-Afghanistan Blog on a recent radio debate on Afghanistan:

“The bulk of the show was taken up by a panel discussion with three MPs: Andrew Saxton from the Tories, Ujjal Dosanjh from the Liberals, and Peter Julian from the NDP. The segment was mostly useless, with the MPs spouting their talking points and trying to score points off each other. Why on earth would CKNW think that was the best use of the show’s time? Beats the hell out of me.”

Generally, I like to bitch and moan about media coverage, and to a certain extent, I have to agree with Brian that a session of “dueling messages” does not a debate make.

However, I like to think that more than one person listening to that sort of exchange will realize that it is, indeed, NOT a debate but a political bun fight while Canadian men and women are working hard to help  make things better in Afghanistan.

Brian is correct, as well, about Terry Glavin’s (of Chronicles & Dissent blog fame) closing summary on the show – three minutes of great radio (mp3).

TALIBAN PROPAGANDA WATCH: End o’ Ramadan Message

They’re a day early this year, but the Taliban’ s boss, Mullah Omar (a.k.a. “the Amir-ul-Momineen of Afghan resistance”) has issued an “end of Ramadan” message in English on its Voice of Jihad web page (PDF of statement at non-terrorist sit here).

A few highlights:

1)  They still want foreign troops out of Afghanistan.

“Our goal is to gain independence of the country and establish a just Islamic system there on the basis of the aspirations of the Muslim nation. We can consider any option that could lead to the achievement of this goal. We have left open all options and ways towards this end. However, this will only be feasible when the country is free from the trampling steps of the invading forces and has gained independence.”

2)  They want to like the alternative, kinder, gentler governing alternative.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has distinctive and useful plans for the future of Afghanistan under the shade of the just social system of Islam after the withdrawal of the foreign forces. They include rehabilitation of social and economic infrastructure, advancement and development of the educational sector, industrializations of the country and development of agriculture ….  The Islamic Emirate (IE) believes in social and internal reform as well as in positive initiatives in the context of Sharia.”

3)   They will be harsh on anyone softening and talking to ISAF or Afghanistan.

“The Islamic Emirate considers the purge of its ranks and self-accountability an everlasting and necessary obligation.  The enemy has faced defeat in the field of the battle and it is not far way that it will swallow the bitter poison of a complete defeat.  But as a last tactic, it is trying to spread seed of disunity and division among the nation to turn its defeat into victory. “

4)  They’re really trying to be good neighbours.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan wants to maintain good and positive relations with all neighbors based on mutual respect and open a new chapter of good neighborliness of mutual cooperation and  economic development.  We consider the whole region as a common home against colonialism and want to play our role in peace and stability of the region. We assure all countries that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as a responsible force, will not extend its hand to cause jeopardy to others as it itself does not allow others to jeopardize us.”

5)  They still read the papers.

“Even if (the Coalition) are not ready to review the loss and benefits of these years, at least, they should ponder over the consequences of the extensive operations launched under the name of Khanjar “sword” and the panther’s claw. What did they achieve?  Is this disgrace and historical defeat not enough for them (to take lesson)?”

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan calls on the public of the West not to be deceived by the assertions of Obama, who says the war in Afghanistan, is a war of necessity …. The public of the West should also not be deceived by the assertions of the General Secretary of NATO and British Prime Minister who claim the war in Afghanistan is for the defense of the West. “

More on the statement from the Associated Press, the Afghan Islamic Press, AFP, and VOA.

Keep enjoying the lies!

Update: A bit of welcome context from the Canada-Afghanistan Blog.