News Highlights – 28 Mar 11

  • Cpl. Yannick Scherrer, Royal 22e Régiment, R.I.P. A Canadian soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated during a dismounted partnered patrol in the Panjwa’i district of Kandahar Province at approximately 12 p.m. (noon) Kandahar time on Sunday, March 27, 2011.  More from the Canadian Press here, Postmedia News here and the Globe & Mail here.  Statements from the Governor General here, the PM here and Minister of Defence here.  An condolences thread can be read and posted to here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (1) – NATO’s taking on the WHOLE Libyan job now. More from Al Jazeera English here, BBC here, Reuters here and AFP here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (2) – Here’s what the first wave o’ cruise missiles looked like to some on the HMCS Charlottetown. “A small crowd is gathered on the port bridge wing of HMCS Charlottetown. Slowly heading west, the ship is following a shimmering path of light laid on the water by the full moon, now low on the horizon. The clear sky is full of stars from horizon to horizon, a sight rarely seen ashore. Warships ride the waves, visible only as dim shapes punctuated by the red and green dots of their navigation lights. Abruptly, a large plume of flame rises from the sea some distance to the south. After a few seconds of climbing, the bright glow vanishes as the cruise missile jettisons its booster and begins flying its programmed course. The first Tomahawk is on its way ….”
  • No Fly Zone in LIbya (3) – So far, so good, according to the U.S. Secretary of State and Defense Secretary. “U.S. and coalition forces have accomplished the no-fly zone aspect of the United Nations mission in Libya, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said during a television interview …. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and discussed what coalition nations have achieved as actions in Libya enter a second week. U.S. and coalition partners have suppressed Moammar Gadhafi’s air defenses in Libya and have not seen his planes in the air since the no-fly zone was put in place March 19, Gates said …. “
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (4) – Some good questions from the Toronto Star: “…. Is a stalemate that lets Gadhafi hang on in a partitioned Libya a viable option? Should the world follow France and recognize the Benghazi-based rebel leadership? If not now, when? Finally, how will NATO react if Libyans who live in Tripoli or other areas under his control also rise up? At the end of the day it isn’t likely to matter much whether these essentially political questions are answered by the regular NATO club, or by the nominally wider “coalition of the willing” that includes such Arab states as Qatar and the Emirates. What’s important is that things be clarified, sooner rather than later ….”
  • One CF wife’s story. “You don’t know what it’s like until you get in. It’s such a tight-knit community. Usually military families are friends with other military families. It was different at first to realize that you no longer control where you live, but it’s a lifestyle I would never give up. I love the closeness. I love that there is always someone there for you. Everyone watches everyone’s back.”
  • A swack of senior Canadian officers are in line for big international jobs. “Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, who was chosen on Friday to navigate NATO’s immensely complex air war against Moammar Gadhafi’s Libyan regime, is not the only Canadian flag officer getting an immensely challenging international command. It is expected that a Canadian army general will soon be named to a big UN peacekeeping posting in the Middle East. These two developments follow by a few weeks the announcement that Maj.-Gen. Mike Day is to take over responsibility for training the Afghan army for NATO. Day joins Maj.-Gen. Stu Beare, who is to continue running Afghan police training for the alliance until he takes up a senior appointment in Ottawa this fall that will draw heavily on his overseas experience ….”
  • Good point.  “In any other country, a spy chief revealing concerns that members of government are believed to be under “at least the general influence” of foreign powers would have been a wakeup call. In Canada, it resulted in calls for the senior spy’s head …. Richard Fadden wasn’t trying to fearmonger, he was raising a legitimate red flag about a threat to our national security. Hey, politicians, wake up! You may be doing another country’s bidding. He was also sending a very public message to the offending countries in question. Yes, there is more than one. Add Russia, Iran and several African, Latin American and western European countries to that list. Instead of waking up, opposition politicians decided to try to shut him up for doing his job — identifying a threat and challenging it head on …. For all the calls the opposition makes demanding more transparency in Canada’s security apparatuses, when they finally got it, they didn’t like it very much. But that’s the thing about the truth, sometimes it hurts.”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War: wants the Joint Strike Fighter to be an election issue.
  • Remember the Canadian in the U.S. Special Forces named last month to receive a Silver Star for bravery in Afghanistan (second last item)?  He’s received it.

Yannick Scherrer, Royal 22e Régiment, R.I.P.

This from a CF news release:

“One Canadian soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated during a dismounted partnered patrol in the Panjwa’i district of Kandahar Province at approximately 12 p.m. (noon) Kandahar time on Sunday, March 27, 2011.  Killed in action was Corporal Yannick Scherrer, from 1er Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment, based at CFB Valcartier, Quebec serving with 1er Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group.  We are all thinking of the family and friends of our Canadian fallen comrade during this sad time. We will not forget Cpl Scherrer’s sacrifice as we continue to bring security and hope to the people of Kandahar Province ….”

Condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the fallen.  We mourn with you. News Highlights – 10 Feb 11

  • When the troops leave Kandahar, the civvies go, too“When Canada’s combat troops leave Kandahar this summer, all Canadian government workers in the South will depart, too. The thinning out of the combat mission — which still numbers well more than 3,000 soldiers — is expected to begin sometime late this spring. The wind-down of the civilian mission, which began several months before combat troops arrived in the spring of 2006, has already begun. Only 60 Canadian civilians are now based in Kandahar, down from 75 last summer. Starting next month, more civilians will be catching flights for home. “When I was preparing to come here it was clear — this was the last rotation of civilians in the context of completing what the government set out to do,” said Canada’s top diplomat in the South, Tim Martin, who transferred leadership of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team to an American diplomat last month ….”
  • Remember these stats, from a few weeks ago, showing the number of Canadians killed and wounded in action in Afghanistan dropped for 2010 from the previous year?  Another story has popped up about the numbers“For many, any death involving members of our Armed Forces is a bitter pill to swallow. But when soldiers are involved in a combat mission, such as what’s currently ongoing in Afghanistan, casualties occur. It’s an unfortunate fact of life in a war zone. Although it’s small comfort to families and friends who have lost loved ones over the last year in central Asia, 2010 actually produced the least number of deaths since 2005. According to statistics released in January by the Department of National Defence, 2010 saw 16 of our soldiers die in Afghanistan – 14 were killed in action and two more lost their lives as a result of other circumstances. The drop in Canadian deaths can be attributed to three factors – the build-up of coalition troops in southern Afghanistan, a change in the Canadian area of operations, and an increased involvement by Afghan National Army personnel and police ….” If you’ve spotted a story on these stats, please share a link, because I haven’t seen one yet.
  • Canadian General talks about his work as 2 i/c for police training, NATO Training Mission Afghanistan. (Government of Canada story & video)
  • Taliban assassination via motorcycle. “Day and night, Taliban assassins on motorbikes hunt their victims, often taunting them over the telephone before gunning them down in the city’s streets. They are working their way through lists, meticulously killing off people fingered as collaborators with the Afghan government or its foreign backers. Unlike suicide bombers, who make headlines with periodic attacks that take themselves out along with their targets, most insurgent assassins escape as quickly, and anonymously, as they strike. They slip quietly back into Kandahar’s shadows, still in the hunt, sewing terror with murders that number in the hundreds each year. Each one sends a chilling message to anyone who doesn’t fall in line: You may be the next to go down. The execution could even come in broad daylight, close to home, in front of your children ….”
  • Human rights groups (finally) spending more time hounding Taliban for human rights abuses.
  • Nichola Goddard, 1960-2006, R.I.P.: Coast Guard to name ships after fallen in Afghanistan? Here’s the type of ship in question.
  • More grousing back and forth in the House of Commons over Canadian helicopter buying processes.
  • Convicted Canadian war criminal Omar Khadr will be seeking clemency in hopes of an early release from his prison cell in Guantanamo Bay and a quicker return to Canada, The Canadian Press has learned. An application which could seek remedies ranging from an outright acquittal to a commuting of his eight-year sentence is set to go before the head of the military commissions within a few weeks. Speaking from Memphis, Tenn., Khadr’s Pentagon-appointed lawyer Lt. Col. Jon Jackson confirmed that Khadr’s defence team was finalizing the application to the convening authority. “We haven’t made any final decision on what we’re going to request,” Jackson said Wednesday. “We’re (also) currently in the process of determining what specific areas of law we’re going to address.” The clemency application is expected to be submitted in about two weeks, and a decision could come shortly after ….” A bit more from QMI/Sun Media here.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Permanent U.S. bases in Afghanistan = continued occupation Highlights – 1 Oct 10

Main website’s on the fritz, so I’m sharing some Canadian military news tidbits that catch my eye here – enjoy!

Geoff Parker, R.I.P.

This from the CF newsroom:

One Canadian Forces member travelling in a NATO convoy was killed after an insurgent detonated a vehicle borne improvised explosive device between the convoy of vehicles in Kabul at approximately 8 a.m. local Afghanistan time on 18 May 2010.

Killed in action was Colonel Geoff Parker from the Royal Canadian Regiment, working at Land Force Central Area Headquarters. At the time of his death, Colonel Parker was in Kabul as part of a NATO team preparing for their upcoming mission ….

Condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the fallen – we mourn with you.

Kevin Thomas McKay, R.I.P.

This from the CF:

One Canadian soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated during a dismounted night patrol in the Panjwayi district, approximately 15 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City, at 8:00 p.m. Kandahar time on May 13, 2010.

Killed in action was Private Kevin Thomas McKay from the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, Alberta. He was serving as a member of the Task Force 3-09 Battle Group ….

Condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the fallen – we mourn with you.

Darren James Fitzpatrick, R.I.P.

This from DND:

The Canadian Army regrets to announce the death of Cpl. Darren James Fitzpatrick at the University of Alberta Hospital Saturday as a result of wounds he sustained in Afghanistan on March 6.

Cpl. Fitzpatrick, of Prince George, B.C., was a 21-year-old Infantryman and a member of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, based at CFB Edmonton.

This was Cpl. Fitzpatrick’s first operational tour. He joined the Canadian Forces in 2006 and had been serving in Afghanistan with the Operational Mentor Liaison Team since last October.

Cpl. Fitzpatrick was critically wounded by an improvised explosive device during a joint Canadian/Afghan dismounted patrol 25 km West of Kandahar City in Zharey district on March 6. He was treated at the Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit at Kandahar Airfield and was then moved to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Cpl. Fitzpatrick was evacuated from LRMC to the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton on Friday.

Cpl. Darren James Fitzpatrick passed away late Saturday afternoon surrounded by his family.

Condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the fallen.  We mourn with you.