WHAT’S CANADA BUYING? Specialized parachute training and English-language courseware

Wanted:

CF IN HAITI: First Sailors In, Docs Complain about Unloading Priorities

Some of the latest:

A bit of a map to help orient you is available here.

  1. “Water related materials” (you can live longer without food than you can without water, and bad water makes more people sick)
  2. “Logistics Enablers” (stuff that helps get blocked roads open and aid into areas once routes are opened)
  3. Food materials (and)
  4. Medical supplies

Something else to remember:  these priorities change as the operation goes on, according to the World Food Program.

For more news, check out these sites (newest additions in bold):

CF IN HAITI: Security a Growing Concern, Base of Operations Chosen?

Some of the latest:

  • CBC News (via Twitter here and here and CBC.ca here) reports Canadian Forces ships are near Haiti, preparing to start deploying sailors and other experts to “clear roads of debris so that aid convoys can get in, offer first aid if they can, and look for Canadians and the bodies of Canadians so they can be returned home.”  CBC also says the focus of the CF’s work may be the town of Jacmel, a port community of approximately 30,000 on Haiti’s southern coast reportedly “(very) hard hit but getting less help to this point” (weather information available here, and tide information here).  It’s also the hometown of Canada’s Governor General Michaëlle Jean.
  • The Canadian Press reports that security is increasingly a problem that will be dealt with by Canadian Forces in Haiti:  “…. Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon says security has been fingered as one of the key challenges facing relief and reconstruction efforts as aid slowly ramps up and the death toll continues to mount. “Although the concern over an increase in civilian violence is shared by several countries involved, it will be resolved by our capacity to deliver aid and our capacity to stabilize Haiti,” Cannon said Monday….”

For more news, check out these sites (newest additions in bold):

CF IN HAITI: Former AFG Boss New Boss

The latest:

  • The Canadian Press reports, “the government has called on Brig.-Gen. Guy LaRoche, one of Canada’s top recent commanders in Afghanistan, to spearhead relief efforts in Haiti.”
  • A statement by RCMP Commissioner William Elliot says, “early this morning Superintendent Douglas Coates’ body was located by rescue crews searching through the rubble of the UN Headquarters
    building in Port au Prince Haiti which was destroyed during the recent earthquake there.  Identification was confirmed this afternoon.”
  • Meanwhile, the Toronto Sun reports, “The body of an RCMP officer killed when the earthquake struck Haiti should be back on Canadian soil this week.  A source tells the Sun that plans are underway to repatriate Sgt. Mark Gallagher on Wednesday or Thursday. “He will be brought to CFB Trenton in the same fashion fallen soldiers are,” the source said.”

For more news, check out these sites (newest additions in bold):

CF IN HAITI: More Headed South to Help?

Some of the latest:

  • The Canadian Press reports, “the army has put 800 troops on standby for possible peacekeeping deployment to Haiti. The Conservative government has yet to give the green light to the mission, but defence sources say the order to move could come as early as Saturday. The soldiers would be drawn from Canadian Forces Base Valcartier, Que. They would bring along engineering units, as well as headquarters and support elements – something that signals a sustained operation….”
  • The Toronto Star reports that because of a bottleneck at Port Au Prince Airport in Haiti, filled with planes filled with aid, Canadian military aircraft are having to wait their turn at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, with delayed flights, and changes in what the planes will be carrying.
  • Responding to reports of post-quake disorder in Haiti (more on that from the BBC and Voice of America), Commodore Art McDonald, commander of the Canada’s naval task force headed to Haiti, is quoted by CBC.ca saying, “I don’t want to deliver aid at the barrel of a gun, but we will bring aid in the most effective means possible.”

For more news, check out these sites (newest additions in bold):

CF IN HAITI: Mountie Found Dead; First Canadians Rescued

In order to help out in Haiti, I’m willing to donate $1 to the Red Cross for every comment left below suggesting any other good source of news/information on Haiti – $2.00 for a comment that shows you’ve read any other post on the blog. 😉


Some updates:

  • The RCMP has announced that it has “located the remains of Sgt. Mark Gallagher in the rubble of his residence in Port au Prince,” adding it “hold out hope that we will find Supt Douglas Coates alive.”  Condolences may be shared here.
  • CanWest/National Post reports that Canadian military firefighters and medics, part of the first group that arrived earlier this week, are at work helping recover the still-living and the dead from the rubble.
  • The Belleville Intelligencer reports that, “more troops and equipment are to leave (Canadian Forces Base Trenton) for Haiti today but Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) remained on standby (Thursday) night. Though expected to deploy to help victims of Tuesday’s earthquake, the DART as a whole had not been given the order to go into action. Yet some of the team’s members had been waiting at the base since 3 a.m. They were aboard the second CC-177 Globemaster sent by Canada to Haiti. The Globemaster departed just before 2 p.m. (Thursday). It was loaded with dozens of troops, food, water, medical supplies and a third CH-146 Griffon helicopter….”
  • The Canadian Press reports the first plane load of Canadians flown out of Haiti by Canadian military aircraft are in Montreal.

For more news, check out these sites (newest additions in bold):

Remembrance Day: Only one in five say they’ll attend?

Am I the only person who thinks this isn’t great news? From Ipsos Reid:

Two in ten (20%) Canadians – which could represent almost 4.8 million adults – say they will attend an official Remembrance Day service on November 11th this year. Projected attendance at ceremonies rises to 26% among those who have a family member who served in the past, and 35% among those who currently have a family member in the Canadian Forces.

Attendance is up from 2008 when 16% of Canadians – which could represent up to 4 million adults – say they attended an official Remembrance Day service on November 11th last year. This proportion rises to 22% among those who had a family member serve in a past war or conflict, and to 31% among those who have a family member currently serving in the Canadian Forces.

TALIBAN PROPAGANDA WATCH: Canadian TF Commander, CF Troops Make Cameo Appearance in Taliban Video

DISCLAIMER/WARNING: I’m sharing this Taliban video for information purposes to give people a sense of what such propaganda is like.  If you think you’ll be upset or angry about some of the content, don’t look or don’t download it.

The Tailban’s Inf0-Machine has produced a new video, allegedly showing the suicide homicide bombers getting ready to execute the April 2009 attack against Kandahar government buildings.

The first mention I found of this video was on 4 Nov 09 at one of the Al Jazeera online forums (post in Arabic here, Google English translation here).

It’s almost 35 minutes long, and you can view it here, or you can download a compressed file of the video from a non-terrorist site here.

General sequence of the video (times approximate):

00:00 – Introduction

00:56 – Computer generated recreation of attack (check out the sequence on YouTube at a non-terrorist page here – note the computer graphic shows a large military-style truck, while the rest of the video shows a Toyota SUV allegedly involved in the attack)

1:32 – Assorted video of terrorist attacks on ISAF forces

2:15 – Visual bashing of various Afghan and western leaders

6:24 – Shots of (what look like) Canadian troops in (according to the Arabic commentary) Panjwai and/or Zhari, on patrol or searching compounds

CAN-TROOPS-1

CAN-TROOPS-2

CAN-TROOPS-3

7:53 – Stock news video of Kandahar governor Tooryalai Wesa with TF Afghanistan commander BGEN Jonathan Vance walking around and speaking to reporters

VANCE-WESA-2

8:29 – Attackers “pre-martyrdom suicide pre-homicide video” clips, probably saying how happy they are to go

TERRS-GP-SHOT

12:43 – Assorted shots of Toyota SUV full of explosives (with background blurred out to avoid giving away where the vehicle was loaded up)

14:08 – Taliban rule book video

14:56 – Various video of alleged Taliban dead and Taliban meeting, wandering the countryside

16:51 – Bad guys get into SUV and head to town

18:25 – Video of streets of Kandahar, with videographer in passenger seat of SUV

KHAR-STREET

20:05 – Videographer gets out, and sends van on its way into attack

20:34 – Computer graphic of attack on building (see above)

20:49 – Shaky video of (what appears to be) attack, taken from far away, with gunfire heard in background

23:19 – News conference footage with flames underneath (I guess the bad guys consider this guy a bad guy)

26:09 – Governor Wesa walking around with General Vance and Canadian troops, apparently looking over the attack site

VANCE-WESA-1
27:30 – Video of what appears to be more wreckage/LAV on streets/SUVs leaving area

LAV-IN-STREET

28:05 – Map graphic of Afghanistan & Kandahar, with homicide bomber face shots

29:26 – Guardian newspaper graphic, with flames underneath

32-51 – Closing video montage of photos of the fallen, showing coffins and the injured being treated in the field – includes imagery from Canada, Germany, the UK, Australia, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Denmark.

CAN-FALLEN-1

CAN-FALLEN-2

I leave it to smarter men and women than I to analyze how this fits into the broader messaging program of the Taliban, but I’ll share some highlights that stood out for me.

The video shows a greyish silver Toyota SUV packed with containers full of explosive – and I mean PACKED, as in “every bit of space except the driver’s leg room” packed.  Some screen captures below:

SUV-EXPLOSIVES-1

SUV-EXPLOSIVES-2

SUV-EXPLOSIVES-3

Spookiest scenes for me:  bad guys waving goodbye to the videographer before driving into the building…

TERRS-WAVING

… and the one terrorist looking mighty pleased to be meeting his maker as he climbs into the SUV:

TERR-WAVING

A glimpse at the enemy NATO is fighting in Afghanistan…

MCPL Paul Franklin Says More…

…about his departure from the Canadian Forces at Army.ca – some highlights:

There are gaps in the care and charitable needs of amputees.  These gaps fall into three main areas.

  • Research
  • Education
  • Peer support (The FF works with the Amputee Coaliton of Canada and the Amputee Coaliton of America to make this happen)

That is the goal of the Franklin Foundation (www.franklinfoundation.ca)  It was originally conceived in 2006 as the Northern Alberta Amputee Program and started from my experience while being a patient at the University of Alberta hospital and the Glenrose Rehab Hospital.  While there I noticed that the care I was receiving was for a longer time line than the civilian patients around me.  This and then the advanced prosthetic devices that I was allowed to own showed that there was a gap in what we got and in what civilians got.  There should be pairity for all amputees across Canada, be they military, police firefighters, EMT, doctors, car accident victims, diabetics, or someone who suffers an amputation from an illness.

(…)

We need to change policy in one way or another.  State that a 100% disabled per is not wanted by the CF…..plain and simple.  If we don’t say that then we need to find ways to use the experiences that our wounded and injured can provide to the CF.  Schools, training areas, advocates for the wounded, JPSU, Soldier On are all places that these types of mbrs can not only work but excel.  This means we also need to promote and allow these people to go on courses and postings. (sorry standing on my soap box now)  There are too many desk jobs and places that our 600 wounded and NBI can fit.  I believe its our duty to give them these positions and allow them to prosper.

(….)

Remember that the media sometimes gets it wrong.  The Sun article was three paragraphs long and they managed to squeeze in 3 mistakes.  The CBC article and radio piece were good and helped explain my upcoming retirement and my future goals.

Again, thanks for all you’ve done, and what’s coming next.

A Delicate, But Important Subject

David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen has been recently chasing the story of some Canadian Forces troops in Afghanistan concerned about Afghan security forces sexually assaulting young boys (latest updates here and here).

There’s still a Board of Inquiry under way after similar claims in the Toronto Star led to an CF National Investigative Service probe finding “no evidence that any CF members committed any service or criminal offences in relation to the alleged sexual abuse of Afghan male children.”

At one level,  it’s simple:  you can’t have Afghan soldiers or cops raping young Afghan men (or women, for that matter, breaking Afghan law – check page 136 of the PDF) if you expect the population to trust them.

Canada has soldiers training and mentoring Afghan soldiers, and police officers training and mentoring Afghan police officers.  What should they do?

The whole issue has generated a LOT of often passionate discussion on Milnet.ca and the Small Wars Council forums.

Many think it’s a “cultural issue” outside the lanes of the Canadian Forces – in fact, this, from Pugliese in the National Post, sums up the CF position:

“It is the position of the Canadian Forces that its troops have no jurisdiction over the activities of Afghan military and police personnel, even those operating on Canadian bases.”

Interesting, especially when compared to what then-CDS Rick Hillier had to say to the House of Commonse Defence Committee about the issue in June 2008:

“If somebody is being seriously abused, we are not going to stand by and see that continue. I expect young men and young women to have their actions mirror their values that they bring with them from Canada …. I don’t want any ambiguity on that whatsoever.”

I, among others, have asked, “how is sexual abuse of boys different than, say, keeping girls out of school?”  This tidbit, from Ken White over at the Small Wars Council, flicked a switch for me, as it were, explaining exactly why this is a tough issue to deal with:

“It’s one thing to insist on elimination of age old custom when the issue is overt and acknowledged (female status) and yet another when the issue is denied and hidden (pederasty). Try pressuring one of your friends to stop doing something they hide but you know they do; then try to get a Police Officer to accost them about it…”

So, what’s to be done? 

According to Babbling Brooks over at The Torch, something is starting to happen:

“I’m told that the OMLT’s <Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams> and POMLT’s <Police Operational Mentor and Liaison Teams> are already advising the ANSF <Afghan security forces> that they mentor that regardless of cultural traditions, it’s unprofessional conduct from a force whose raison d’etre is the protection of Afghan citizens.”

Still, given the level of sensitivity, E.R. Campbell over at Milnet.ca offers a solution (albeit an imperfect one, given the state of Afghanistan’s police and justice systems):

“Canadians may not have any direct authority to intervene or to force changes but, at the very least, we need:

1. A formal channel of reporting – so that soldiers can, at least, have “done something,” however inadequate, and so that, at the very least, the CF does not have to endure a constant drubbing in the press because it ignores the problem;

2. A formal channel for advising the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan that these actions lower the level of Canadian support for the mission and for the Afghan government; and

3. A formal feedback channel – so that the soldier who made the intial report knows that something, however inadequate, was done about the issue.”

I look forward to the results of the Board of Inquiry, and I hope more can be done to deal with this kind of alleged behaviour among members of the Afghan security forces.