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Posts Tagged ‘Canadian mission in Afghanistan

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 28 Jan 11

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  • Canadian Defence Minister meets U.S. Secretary of Defensefrom Canada’s official statement “…. During their meeting, the Minister and the Secretary addressed important issues related to the security of the Western Hemisphere, such as the situation in Mexico and Central America and how Canada and the U.S. can assist their partners in the region. They also pledged to continue to support the work of civilian law enforcement agencies in countering illicit activities such as narcotics, human trafficking and piracy. On the bilateral front, Minister MacKay and Secretary Gates discussed efforts through NORAD and the new challenges facing defence and security institutions such as maritime domain awareness and cyber threats. Minister MacKay and Secretary Gates also discussed Afghanistan, NATO and global challenges like Iran.”
  • U.S. Secretary of Defense meets Canadian Defence Ministerfrom the U.S. military media “…. Gates and MacKay addressed threats to the Western Hemisphere, cooperation among the nations of the hemisphere and efforts to combat a range of international threats such as piracy, counterterrorism, narco-trafficking and human trafficking. Gates said he and MacKay discussed expanded cooperation in the Arctic, coordinating maritime security assistance to the Caribbean region and sharing defense practices for supporting civilian authorities. The two men also discussed the North American Aerospace Defense Command, especially the new maritime domain awareness mission assigned to the group. They also discussed the decision to allow the Joint Permanent Board on Defense to continue looking at ways to examine a cyberdefense role. Gates said the two nations will “examine together how the advanced defenses of our military networks might also be applied to critical civilian infrastructure.” Gates reaffirmed America’s strong commitment to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Canada is an integral partner in the program and the new fighter will be the Canadian military’s aviation backbone for decades. Gates said the Pentagon has made adjustments to the program, and that the United States is expecting to have 325 aircraft built by 2016 ….”
  • Oh, and what about the Afghan training mission thing?  Still chatting about it, apparently. “The top bosses of both the United States and Canadian militaries are in discussions “right now” to shape the upcoming Canadian training mission in Afghanistan, according to Defence Minister Peter MacKay.  With the training mission set to begin in July once the Canadian Forces pull out of insurgent-rich Kandahar, MacKay said work is now underway to shape Canada’s future role in war-torn Afghanistan.  Not only is Canada looking for a base-type facility in the relatively secure northern part of the country — as close as possible to the capital Kabul — from which to train the Afghan security forces, but also top military bosses from both the U.S. and Canada are sorting out what to teach them first.  “We’re in negotiations right now with NATO, with our closest allies including the United States, to determine specifically some of the more urgent types of training that are required,” he said Thursday at a press conference with U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates following a bilateral defence meeting in Ottawa.  “Our Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk is in these discussions right now with Admiral Mullen, his (U.S.) counterpart, as well as with (U.S.) Gen. Petraeus.” ….” More on Canada’s “Kabul-centric” approach from the Canadian Press here.
  • Taliban Propaganda WatchThe Taliban shows what a great administrative system, and announces a new English-language propaganda video.
  • Speaking of foreign visitors, the former “Governator” of California congratulates the contribution of Canada’s waves of troops – in Iraq. True, Canadians have served in Iraq (examples from the critics here, here and here) , but if he was quoted properly, it felt like he was thanking a group of troops.
  • F-35 Tug of War Update (1): Scrapping a plan to purchase American fighter jets risks leaving the Canadian Air Force grounded in 2020, the defence minister says. Peter MacKay says opposition to the purchase of 65 F-35 jets, which are experiencing delays and cost overruns, could result in an “operational gap” when the current fleet of fighter jets are pulled from service. There is no guarantee a replacement could be found on time. “There is, shall we say, a sweet spot in terms of the delivery time and the investment that allows us to be in that production line, that global supply chain when we start taking delivery,” MacKay said Thursday ….”
  • F-35 Tug of War Update (2): Canada’s participation in a massive fighter-jet purchase is critical for all players involved, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday, amid suggestions that a Liberal government could jeopardize the project. Following a bilateral meeting in Ottawa with Defence Minister Peter MacKay, Gates said he didn’t wish to interfere in Canada’s domestic affairs but that he hoped, “for all our sake,” all the partners involved in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program will “move forward” with it. Doing so, he suggested, would ensure the interoperability of allied fleets ….”
  • US buying RG-31s via Canadian Commercial Corporation (via Army.ca, with a h/t to Mark Collins for spotting it first)
  • WHAT’S CANADA BUYING? “Cultural Intelligence and Identity” & leadership paper (via Army.ca)
  • Easy come, easy go for the brother-in-law of Tunisia’s recently-booted leader. “The Canadian government has reportedly revoked the permanent-resident status of the billionaire brother-in-law of a Tunisian dictator. Belhassen Trabelsi, who arrived in Canada with his family last week, had his status revoked Thursday, Radio-Canada’s all-news channel reported. Mr. Trabelsi is the reputed leader of a family that ran much of Tunisia’s economy with an iron fist. His sister, Leila Trabelsi, married former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in the 1990s. The clan is accused of using their connections to the dictator to siphon off billions in public funds for their personal wealth ….” More from the Canadian Press here.
  • Canadian security officials: at least 20 Canadian”youths” (mostly from the GTA) have been recruited by Somalia’s al-Shabaab terrorists.
  • The feds are apparently looking for ways to deal with foreign bad guys in Canada without needing security certificates. “…. A federal interdepartmental body known as the Alternatives to Removal Working Group began meeting in March 2009 to explore policy options for managing people deemed a threat to national security, documents disclosed under the Access to Information Act show. The group, which includes the RCMP, Citizenship and Immigration, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Canada Border Services Agency, Justice, Public Safety and Foreign Affairs, has “produced a detailed body of work” on tools available under the law, says one internal memo. Among the alternatives to deportation identified are greater reliance on:
    — the Anti-terrorism Act to prosecute suspects;
    — other Criminal Code provisions relating to offences including violence, theft, forgery and conspiracy;
    — preventive measures including a peace bond, an order issued under the Criminal Code that allows authorities to keep someone under surveillance.  Another document shows the federal Privy Council Office was keenly eyeing the British debate over use of control orders — a means of strictly monitoring terror suspects through curfews and prohibitions on communication ….”
    — also viewable here if previous link doesn’t work
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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 2 Dec 10

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  • Looking into Canadian (and American) special forces incidents“There are calls for public oversight of an elite military unit amid allegations that a Canadian soldier was involved in an unlawful killing of an Afghan.  Federal politicians and a former member of the military are making the calls in light of a series of closed-door investigations in Ottawa that have been looking into the explosive claims involving the covert unit, Joint Task Force 2.  The allegations included claims that members of JTF2 witnessed American soldiers killing an unarmed man, and, in a separate incident, that a member of JTF2 killed a man who was surrendering.  Earlier this year, CBC News reported that the first probe, named Sand Trap, looked into the allegations that a Canadian was involved in the 2006 shooting death of an Afghan who had his hands up in the act of surrender. That probe ended without any charges.  Sand Trap Two, which is looking at the claims against American forces, is still ongoing ….” More on earlier allegations here, from Agence France-Presse here, and discussion of the latest at Army.ca here.
  • Remember the Canadian Chinook crash/hard landing in August in Kandahar? The initial report from the investigation is out: “Chinook CH147202 was conducting a sustainment mission that involved carrying coalition troops and supplies to military installations outside Kandahar Airfield (KAF).  While flying at low altitude from the forward operating base (FOB) Masum Ghar to the Panjwaii District Centre in Kandahar Province Afghanistan, the aircraft was forced down due to an in-flight fire.  The source of ignition is linked to insurgent fire directed towards the aircraft.  Immediately following the sound of a detonation, flames and black smoke entered the cabin from the left side of the open rear ramp.  Inside the cockpit, the smoke began to hamper the pilots’ visibility …. An examination of the wreckage did not provide any direct evidence of the type of weapon(s) used by the insurgents ….” You can read the rest of the report here.
  • Some CF-generated material out of Afghanistan, from a sailor writing about how cultural learning can work both ways, and an engineer working with Afghan contractors on getting work done outside the wire.
  • Columnist and former CBC reporter Brian Stewart (sorta) agrees with the new Canadian training mission in Afghanistan: “…. By staying on, we extend the risk that our own communities may be hit by a retaliatory attack and this point deserves to be highlighted by a full and open debate.  My own view favours extending the training mission as it has been proposed.  Serious nations can’t cringe in the face of terrorism and allow the likes of al-Qaeda to dictate their foreign policy. And I am sure many people will respect both Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff for taking such a bipartisan approach to help our hard-pressed allies.  That said, both leaders are equally wrong in not seeking a full debate before Parliament before setting us down this path.  As flawed as it is, Parliament is still the only venue that can represent the entire country and set out the pros and cons of such a change in direction, particularly when it regards a conflict that is now veering off into such dangerous waters.”
  • And the anti-war brigade finds an excuse to get rolling again! “…. The public debate that has opened up in Canada on the extension of the war mission in Afghanistan opens new and unprecedented opportunities to mobilize Canadians in demanding that all Canadian and foreign troops leave Afghanistan. This is the starting point of any effort to repay the people there for the terrible destruction that has befallen them at the hands of the U.S., Canada and their other warmaking allies.”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Tank allegedly destroyed in Kandahar.
  • What’s Canada Buying? Cleaning up a CF-18 crash site in Lethbridge and stem cell research to help wounds heal faster. More on the Lethbridge clean-up tender here, and the tender documents (warning:  mostly technical “what we want to see in the bids, and in what format” stuff) here.
  • Why a sole-source buy for new F-35 fighters?  Because honestly, they’re the only ones that meet all our needs – we checked! “…. Only Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 met all the criteria required to fulfil the variety of missions Canada’s armed forces demanded, said Andre Fillion, director general of major project delivery (air) for the Department of National Defence …. A briefing for journalists at St. Hubert’s airbase, several high-ranking officers said an exhaustive list of 14 mandatory requirements for the aircraft’s capabilities was drawn up during an analysis period that began as far back as 2005.  “Without them, an aircraft could not be considered,” said Major William Radiff, a fighter pilot on staff at DND’s directorate of air requirements.  A subset of 56 less absolute requirements was also included after extensive consultation across DND.   Lt.-Col. Gordon Zans, also of DND’s next generation capability team, said his briefing was designed to “dispel the impression, after Ottawa’s surprise announcement, that Canada did not do its due diligence.”  All emphatically denied the scenario that the requirements were devised to ensure that Lockheed obtained the deal ….”
  • Former Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier for Premier of Newfoundland?  Why not opines QMI/Sun Media Ottawa bureau boss David Akin: “…. The premiership would be his for the taking and Hillier is said to be seriously considering it.  He still has a keen desire for public service but is also wise enough to know he risks significant harm to his current excellent public image by mixing it up in the rough-and-tumble world of politics.  Hillier is great on leadership but the knock on him is he was never much of a policy guy. Where is he on health care? On equalization?  And while everyone knows Hillier loves the Toronto Maple Leafs, no one’s quite sure if he wears a blue or red jersey when it comes to politics.  Sources who worked with him during his military career tell me Hillier once described his political views in private conversation as “to the right of Attila the Hun” but in public he has tried to maintain his political neutrality and independence.  Still, he, too, is one of those outsized Newfoundland personalities that would enliven our national political life. And our national political class could certainly use his candour, wit, and good judgment.”
  • An interesting quote & caveat to keep in mind on the Wikileaks fracas, via the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy Blog:  “It is difficult, though by no means impossible, for a journalist to obtain access to original documents.  But these are often a snare and a delusion.  Just because a document is a document, it has a glamour which tempts the reader to give it more weight than it deserves. This document from the United States Embassy in Amman, for example. Is it a first draft, a second draft or the finished memorandum? Was it written by an official of standing, or by some dogsbody with a bright idea? Was it written with serious intent or just to enhance the writer’s reputation? Even if it is unmistakably a direct instruction to the United States Ambassador from the Secretary of State dated last Tuesday, is it still valid today?  In short, documentary intelligence, to be really valuable, must come as a steady stream, embellished with an awful lot of explanatory annotation. An hour’s serious discussion with a trustworthy informant is often more valuable than any number of original documents.” Click here to find out who shared these gems of intelligence.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 26 Nov 10

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 24 Nov 10

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  • Here’s what Canada’s PM has to say about the latest North Korean attacks“This is the latest in a series of aggressive and provocative actions by North Korea, which continue to represent a grave threat to international security and stability in northeast Asia.  Canada will continue to condemn all acts of aggression by North Korea in violation of international law.  On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my condolences to the families of those who were killed and injured as a result of this unprovoked attack.  Canada reiterates its firm support to the Republic of Korea, and urges North Korea to refrain from further reckless and belligerent actions and to abide by the Korean Armistice Agreement.  Canada remains committed to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula ….”
  • On Afghanistan, let’s start with the scummiest news, shall we? Quebec military police are after a prankster preying on families of soldiers deployed to Afghanistan by calling them in the middle of the night to say their loved one has died. The relatives of at least three soldiers currently serving in the war-torn country have been targeted by the prank, a spokesman at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier said Tuesday ….” WTF?  The last time something targeted this specifically against families of troops living in and around Valcartier was when letters showed up in troops’ homes from groups opposing the war as part of this campaign.  It makes me wonder how easy it is to spot soldiers’ homes in the area if one can mass mail or phone them.  Nobody’s saying anything about who did this, but IF this is some joker’s idea of expressing dissent, this is just vile.
  • Remember Daniel Ménard, the General who was fired from his job in Afghanistan because of an affair?   Next step:  A court martial“Brigadier-General Daniel Ménard will face a Court Martial in relation to charges of inappropriate conduct.  Charges were laid in July 2010 following allegations made in May 2010 while Brig.-Gen. Ménard was the Task Force Commander in Afghanistan …. The charges facing Brig.-Gen. Ménard are:  two counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline, laid in the alternative, contrary to section 129 of the National Defence Act (NDA), related to alleged inappropriate conduct as outlined in the Canadian Forces Personal Relationships and Fraternization directives; and  four counts of obstructing justice contrary to section 130 of the NDA, pursuant to section 139(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada ….”
  • An interesting question from the National Post‘s Full CommentWith the recent NATO summit in Lisbon, the media have been filled with stories about Afghanistan. Stories about tactics, training, troop levels and timelines. Stories about governance and corruption. Stories about the hard slog of fighting a war that has gone on longer than both world wars and almost as long as the failed Soviet effort to do what NATO is failing to do now.  But in all those words, there was almost nothing in response to the only question that matters: Why are we there? …. I’d like to support the war. I admire our soldiers. And I’m happy to see the facile myth of “peacekeeping” in the dustbin. But try as I might, all I can see is an expensive, pointless and endless conflict.  And NATO isn’t helping me see anything else.”
  • Don’t know if it’s a good thing, but Afghanistan’s ambassador to Canada makes a good point: Afghan Ambassador Jawed Ludin said he felt once the training mission begins, it will become less of a front-page item for Canadians because media reporting tends to focus on negative developments. “This means it won’t be so highly reported on, which is a good thing because it means nothing bad is happening,” he said.”
  • A little bit more on those mysterious Russian helicopters Canada’s reportedly buying for use in Afghanistan, from Laurie Hawn, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, during Question Period in the House of Commons“…. The request came directly from the Canadian commanders in Kandahar as an urgent operational requirement for an increased troop movement capability to augment Griffon and Chinooks ops.  The contract process, which followed all Government of Canada contract rules and guidelines and all Treasury Board guidelines, was very competitive, although it was not posted on MERX for security reasons. Several companies submitted bids and a decision was taken on the best value bid.  This contract will end when the combat mission ends in 2011. …. This contract is temporary. Several companies bid on it. It followed all Treasury Board guidelines and all Government of Canada contracting guidelines. The contract will end in 2011, when the combat mission ends. It has nothing to do with future Chinook contracts at all ….” That last bit was in response to a question from the NDP’s defence critic, Jack Harris:  “Did the government need to make this secret arrangement because the Chinook helicopters are five years late? Should we just add the cost of these helicopters onto the Chinooks, which are already 70% over budget?”
  • At this point, it appears, the only “hush-hush” element of the recent Russian chopper “mystery” is who’s doing the work, and for how much – this time. When the idea of leasing Russian-made choppers was out there in 2008 (CTV.ca here, Toronto Star here, the Canadian Press here), there was even a name publicly attached to the idea.  At that point, Sky Link Aviation (priding itself on providing “hundreds of air charters to destinations across Afghanistan on behalf of governments, commercial clients, and NATO forces since 2002” on its web page) leased out six smaller Mi-8 helicopters for a year.
  • A alternative explanation for the mystery surrounding the Russian helicopters, via Thomas Rick’s “The Best Defense” blog at Foreign Policy“My guess is that because both the Afghan and Pakistani militaries use the Mi-17, this makes it more convenient to fly NATO forces across the border and into the FATA as necessary, with lots of plausible deniability, especially if they are flown at night and no one gets around to painting a lot of markings on the aircraft. That would explain why, as the Canadian report puts it, “details were kept off the MERX web-site, which formally lists government procurement competitions, and no news release was issued about the new choppers, which have been in use since the spring.” “ Even if you factor in how Canada is apparently having the private sector collect and share signals intelligence in the area, I’m going to go with Mark Collins on this onefaaaaaaaaaar too risky for an already Afghanistan-message-averse government like ours.
  • QMI’s David Akin shares the Bloc Quebecois’ motion to be debated in the House of Commons tomorrow“That this House condemns the government’s decision to unilaterally extend the Canadian mission in Afghanistan until 2014, thus denying two promises made to the people, one made in the House May 10, 2006 and reiterated in the Speech from the Throne from 2007 to present a vote of Parliament and that any military deployment made January 6, 2010 to the mission in Afghanistan a strictly civil mission after 2011, no military presence other than the care necessary to protect the embassy.” Read on for a comprehensive summary of what the PM’s said in various venues about the mssion – good reading.
  • Here’s more on the cabinet minister who suggests Canada’s not at war.  According to Hansard, here’s what John Baird had to say in response to questions in the House of Commons this week on the mission from Jack Layton“Mr. Speaker, our government has been very clear that if we are going to put troops into combat, into a war situation, for the sake of legitimacy we are going to bring it bfore Parliament. That has been our practice as a government.  What we are talking about here is a technical and a training mission. Our recent deployment of military personnel to Haiti following the recent earthquake is a perfect example of troop deployment in a non-combat role ….” I’ll bet a loonie the bit I’ve highlighted in red will come back to haunt the Minister, given that, unlike the Taliban and their allies, Haitians weren’t intent on blowing up people coming to help out.
  • Remember way back, when Canadian politicians complained about European countries imposing caveats on their forces in Afghanistan, preventing their armies from contributing to the fight if it was at all risky?  Well, according to Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiManno (who has spent a fair bit of time in Afghanistan), let he who is without caveat cast the first stone: “Make no mistake. Dress it up as both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff might like: If this new stay-in plan is put to effect as advertised — and I have my doubts about that — Canadian troops, highly valued for their combat skills in everything from reconnaissance to sniper proficiency, will be little more than decorative tassels on the Afghanistan uniform, their primary value to pick up the mentoring slack left behind by other bolting allies so that Americans can carry on their terrorist-tracking pursuits.” Ouch!
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Bad guys allege blowing up a “tank” in Zabul.
  • What’s Canada Buying? Pouches, corrosion protection for subs and sword knots.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 22 Nov 10

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  • So, what’s with the mysterious Russian helicopters Canada is reportedly buying, according to the Ottawa Citizen, for “combat missions in Afghanistan”? Could it be another version of offering support to the military fight in a civilianized way, like we’re apparently doing with civilian spy planes?
  • Counterinsurgency as oncology – one Canadian general’s assessment of the fight in Afghanistan“A Canadian two-star general brought in to provide an independent assessment of the state of the war in southern Afghanistan for NATO’s new commander here says the Taliban is being dealt with as if it is a malignancy.  “It is a cancer and the cancer is being treated,” said Maj.-Gen. Dave Fraser, who commanded Canadian and coalition forces in Regional Command South during 2006. “Even if this cancer goes into remission — and that is a ways down the road here — you have to make sure it is not hiding somewhere and comes back.  “Once you are in that permanent watch category, as someone who has had cancer, people look out for you to make sure it doesn’t come back. We must never assume that this cancer is gone.” “
  • Meanwhile, “the tumour” lies speaks to southern tribal elders, who speak to the Canadian Press: “The district governor in Panjwaii says he’s been warned the Taliban intend to continue fighting throughout the winter months and not give NATO forces any rest.  Haji Baran, the Noorzai tribal elder who has been the face of the Afghan government in the restive district for three years, says he received the news from contacts in Pakistan.  His tribe has a deep, long-standing ties to the insurgency that normally chooses to fight between May and late October.  Baran urged Canadian military commanders to be vigilant in the coming weeks.  “The fall of Panjwaii is the fall of Kandahar,” he said Sunday, repeating a well-worn line of many in the rural part of the province.  “So we have to be careful with that.” …”
  • Remember all the video games the CF is buying?  It appears they’re headed downrange to the troops in Afghanistan“…. Defence officials confirm that 500 copies of games such as “Gears of War,” “Call of Duty,” “Mortal Kombat,” and “Assassins Creed” are destined for Canada’s forward operating bases in the war-ravaged country.  An estimated 500 to 600 soldiers are stationed at Ma’sum Ghar and Sperwan Ghar, Canada’s main bases outside Kandahar, which works out to a video game for almost every gamer-in-uniform.  “It helps in keeping good morale … to bring some relief to people working long hours,” Cmdr. Hubert Genest said in an interview ….”
  • On the political front, NDP leader Jack Layton accuses the PM (and the Liberal leader a little bit) of “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire”“The Conservative can’t be trusted to end the Afghan training mission in 2014, NDP Leader Jack Layton charged Sunday.  “I remember when he said 2011 was the absolute limit, the end of the military mission, we are out of there,” Layton told CTV’s Question Period.  “And now they are saying 2014. I don’t think anybody believes them.” In 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked Parliament to extend the military mission in Afghanistan until 2008. In 2008, he asked MPs to approve extending the mission until 2011. Layton warned at that time the government couldn’t be trusted to end the mission in 2011.  Now, the NDP leader says 2014 is an arbitrary deadline that is unlikely to be met because of unpredictable conditions on the ground ….”
  • CBC’s Brian Stewart reminds us that Canadian troops training Afghan security forces “inside the wire” doesn’t mean zero risk“…. To almost every question so far, the prime minister and his team have repeated the mantra that this will be “a non-combat mission” only, suggesting maximum safety.  But keep in mind that the Taliban will also have an important say in this …. Rockets and mortars regularly rain down on training camps and Taliban units have grown increasingly bold in striking at highly protected NATO camps and headquarters …. nowhere in Afghanistan can now be assumed to be beyond attack. Even the heavily guarded diplomatic corps of Kabul has been hit this year and is always braced for a possible suicide offensive ….” Also, let’s not forget instances where NATO trainers have been killed by their Afghan security force trainees (examples here, here and here).
  • A senior Afghan officer, speaking to QMI/Sun Media’s Mercedes Stephenson, sums it up pretty succinctly when it comes to what will happen when we leave Afghanistan completely: ” “Please,” he implored, “go home and explain to your people what will happen if they leave us alone here with these terrorists. Everything we have worked for will be gone. They will kill us all.  “We need Canada to stay.” “
  • Blog Watch: Terry Glavin over at Chronicles & Dissent offers an interesting theory regarding why more Canadians are not supporting a Canadian mission in Afghanistan“…. The best explanation I know about is revealed in an ambitious 20-country opinion poll conducted under the auspices of the University of Maryland’s World Public Opinion initiative, which shows global opinion similarly split, with the following insight: “Among those who believe that the Afghan people want NATO forces to leave, 76 percent say that NATO forces should leave. Among those who believe that the Afghan people want NATO forces to stay, 83 percent say NATO forces should stay.”  I don’t have any polling data to prove it, but I would bet a dollar to a dime that most Canadians believe the lie that most Afghans want NATO forces to leave their country. The primary function of Canada’s so-called “anti-war” activists is to make you to believe that lie, and Canada’s punditocracy has encouraged you to believe it.  I would also bet a dollar to a dime that if most Canadians knew the truth, which is that the overwhelming majority of Afghans have consistently supported and continue to support NATO’s efforts in their country, Canadian support for a robust Afghan mission would be overwhelmingly favorable …. And then we could move the Canadian debates out of the weeds, to questions that really matter ….”
  • While Canada and others are saying aid shouldn’t be flowed through the hands of Afghanistan’s, um,  “fiscally leaky” government, an Afghan human rights group says doing anything different will cut into the government’s legitimacy. “The chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission says that if the Hamid Karzai government doesn’t receive foreign aid from Canada and other countries, it will never achieve legitimacy in the eyes of the Afghan people.  Dr. Sima Samar (said) “After all, (Karzai) is elected president …. We want him to complete his term, so we have to find ways to help him and to put him in the right direction.”….” Same same from an international development professor, via the Ottawa Citizen:  “…. Because the donors plan, implement and control the budgets of the bulk of the programs, without delegating these responsibilities to Afghans, the latter lose the opportunity to learn the trade ….”
  • Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, former chair of the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence, continues to be underwhelmed about how wounded warriors and their families are treated“…. The New Veterans Charter was a mistake. All parliamentarians are complicit because the charter was passed unanimously. But that doesn’t relieve the government of its obligation to fix the mistake. The Charter does deal more fairly with some people than did the old Pension Plan, such as war widows (or widowers) and their families and soldiers in the highest ranks. But when you look closely at who comes out ahead, that’s about it.  Who’s worse off? Just about everybody else.  The biggest losers are privates and corporals (those most often wounded on any battlefield), members of the reserves, wounded vets who manage to live to 65, wounded vets with families and wounded vets who don’t live near case workers ….” Meanwhile, here’s one man’s story after losing his legs on operations in Bosnia, via the Kingston Whig-Standard.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch A quick response to what the NATO bosses decided in Lisbon (links to non-terrorist web site).

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 21 Nov 10

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  • Ceasefire.ca, always against anything military Canada is doing or wants to do (except for “peacekeeping”), has a new online petition against the new mission in Afghanistan “Tell Stephen Harper, other party leaders, and your own MP that you do not support the proposed training mission for the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan. Send your letter, right away.” The web site allows you to personalize the letter to the government.  I wonder how many people would dare personalize it to the point where it says they support the mission?  As Yoda might say, quite funny that would be ….
  • The PM’s issued a statement following the NATO weekend conference in Lisbon, and (no surprise) Afghanistan came up“…. Next year will mark the beginning of a new chapter in Afghanistan’s history. Over a transition period, between 2011 and 2014, Afghan forces will assume primary responsibility for the security of their country.  As this transition proceeds, Canada will assist the Afghan people build a stronger future. After the combat mission ends next year, this assistance will be in the form of aid, development and military training, centred in Kabul.  Leaders also re-iterated their deep respect for the contribution and enormous sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform, our development workers and our diplomats. These brave individuals continue to make Canada proud.”
  • He also had something to say to Afghan President Hamid Karzai: “Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday that he must reduce corruption or Canada will “not dispense a dime” directly to his government. Harper said Karzai expressed an expectation at the NATO summit in Lisbon that 50 per cent of the multibillion-dollar aid coming from donor countries go directly to his government instead of through the United Nations and other multilateral programs or non-government aid agencies. “In that case, our answer is very clear,” Harper said at a news conference. “We will not dispense a dime to the government of Afghanistan unless we are convinced that that money will be spent in the way that it’s intended to be spent.” ….” More on that from the Canadian Press here and from QMI/Sun Media here.
  • Karzai, meanwhile, is glad to see Canada stay & train“Canada has been at the forefront of assistance to Afghanistan from the very beginning …. The Afghan people are extremely grateful for the Canadian contribution to the well-being of the Afghan people.  Canada’s decision to continue to assist Afghanistan after they have ended their military mission is welcome and . . . we are very grateful for that.”
  • NATO’s newest positionNATO has agreed to hand control of security in Afghanistan to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.”  The Taliban’s response? You should leave sooner, not later (links to statement at Scribd.com): “The real solution of the Afghan issue lies in withdrawal of the foreign forces. Hence the NATO decision to start withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan in 2014 is an irrational decision because until then, various untoward and tragic events and battles will take place as a result of this meaningless, imposed and unwinning war. The bottom line for them is to immediately implement what they would ultimately have to implement though after colossal casualties. They should not postpone withdrawal of their forces even be it for one day.”
  • Back in Canada, according to CBC.ca, even Quebec separatists appear nervous about a group calling itself the Patriotic Militia of Quebec, which is now opening a recruiting office in Montreal. For example:  “…. Organizers insist the group is non-violent and say they sometimes show up to help with the response to natural disasters. But founder Serge Provost insists the group needs to be prepared to defend Quebec if it is attacked.  “If we want to defend our people, we have no choice but to use the same weapons as our aggressors,” Provost said, adding the group has applied to Quebec provincial police for permission to build a firing range ….” Here’s a link to the group’s web site (Google English translation – since the group doesn’t have an English page – here), and here’s some previous debate/discussion on the group over at Army.ca.
  • Coming up soon (or, according to one military expert, it should be):  a Canadian space defence policy“…. the man in charge of space development for the defence department predicts the initial steps of the next major conflict are more than likely to start in orbit and Canada should be prepared. There will “absolutely” be more of a military role for Canada in space than in the past, Col. Andre Dupuis said on Saturday as he discussed the defence department’s plans to overhaul its space defence policy. “The first line in the sand for the next major conflict may very well be in space or cyberspace, but probably not on the ground or in the air or in the seas,” Dupuis said in an interview while attending the annual conference of the Canadian Space Society ….”
  • Just a reminder that you don’t need to wear a uniform to make a difference in Afghanistan: “…. This hero read a newspaper article about an injustice at the age of 14 and instead of just fuming silently, she has now spent fully half of her 28 years on this planet battling to improve the peace and security of the world by building literacy and hope in a land where both were almost extinguished by the murderous, medieval Taliban government that came to power in Afghanistan in 1996. Her name is Lauryn Oates and she is one of the founders of the Calgary and Montreal chapters of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan). The PhD student in language and literacy education, who has been published numerous times on these pages in the Herald, has just returned from her 19th trip to Afghanistan. She tries hard to hide it, but anger flashes in her blue eyes when she talks about the cultural relativism she hears from too many westerners every time she speaks of the grassroots work she is doing in Afghanistan to help train teachers and help women in that troubled land build the civil infrastructure needed to enhance literacy, health care and democracy ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Taliban call on U.S. to come up with withdrawal plan (again).

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 17 Nov 10

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  • Guess what?  Canada’s keeping 950 military trainers and support staff (as well as about four dozen cops) in Afghanistan until 2014“…. The Canadian Forces (CF) will support ANSF training by providing up to 950 trainers to the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A). This training mission will build upon the CF’s established expertise in training the ANSF, thereby contributing to the goal of preparing Afghans to assume responsibility for their own security …. Through the deployment of up to 45 civilian police officers, Canada will continue its involvement in police reform by leading training programs, promoting the establishment of accountability and civilian oversight mechanisms, and advancing institutional reform and capacity building ….” Surprising, eh?  More on that from QMI/Sun Media, the New York Times, Reuters, Agence France-Presse and BBC.
  • What does this mean for the Canadian-led and run Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team (PDF copy of page here if link doesn’t work?  This from the Globe & MailCanada is slashing aid to Afghanistan and abandoning any presence in Kandahar by withdrawing not only troops but civilian aid officials next year. Despite the approval of a new training mission, the moves mark a turning point where Canada is significantly disengaging from Afghanistan: dramatically reducing the outlay of cash, reducing the risk to troops, and quitting the war-scarred southern province where Canada has led military and civilian efforts. There will be a deep cut to aid for Afghanistan. International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda said Canada will provide $100-million a year in development assistance for Afghanistan over the next three years, less than half the $205-million the government reported spending last year ….”
  • According to Postmedia News, late decision on new mission = rush to get ready for it.
  • Notice who’s name is listed first on the news release?  Not Canada’s Defence Minister Peter MacKay but Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon. Also, while Cannon got to answer questions in the House of Commons on the mission this week (Hansard transcripts here, here and here), Peter MacKay took a question on the F-35 fighter plane buy.  Yesterday, the PM fielded two questions (here and here) on Afghanistan, while McKay fiielded one question from a fellow Conservative party member (here).  Some see this as further proof that Peter MacKay may be on his way out (he says not so), but the government has been trying to civilianize the feel of the mission for at least the past couple of years – more on that theme here, here and here.
  • The Foreign Affairs Minister reminds us of the obvious, via CTV.ca“…. Cannon said the “non-combat” troops will be based in the Kabul area. However, Cannon admitted that soldiers would still be in danger, despite the relative security in Kabul compared to the current operation in Kandahar. “I am not going to hide the fact that there is a risk factor,” Cannon told CTV’s Power Play. “(But) our people will not be mentoring in the field, they will be in classrooms.” ….”
  • Who’s happy?  The White House and the NATO military alliance applauded Canada’s plan for a military training mission in Afghanistan Tuesday as Prime Minister Stephen Harper assured opposition parties that the armed forces will work safely “in classrooms behind the wire on bases.” ….” Here’s what NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen had to say: “I warmly welcome Prime Minister Harper’s announcement that Canada will deploy a substantial number of trainers to the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan. Canada has contributed substantially, over many years, to the operation in Afghanistan. Canadian forces have made a real difference in the lives of the Afghan people, often at a high cost ….” More from the Canadian Press on that.
  • Who’s unhappy?  The usual suspects: “…. The NDP again accused the Conservatives of lying, saying it was “inevitable” that the 950-strong training contingent that will be in Afghanistan until 2014 would be drawn into combat because the whole of Afghanistan is a “war zone.” ….” The rabble.ca brigade has already come up with the rhyming chant:  “Activism Communiqué: The war in Af’stan, demand – Don’t Extend It. End It!” Ceasefire.ca pipes in, too, comparing Afghanistan to Vietnam: Unaddressed by the ministers is whether the government really believes in the training mission it has committed Canadian troops to fulfill. No one seriously expects Afghanistan’s army and police forces to be ready to hold off the Taliban on their own in four years’ time. But it is still unclear whether NATO’s efforts to Vietnamize Afghanize the war are intended merely to provide a face-saving way for foreign forces to withdraw from a dead-end war or remain based on the illusory prospect of creating an ARVN ANA that can hold the field against the Taliban even in the south of Afghanistan ….”
  • It didn’t take long for the “Survey Says” crowd to get its numbers out there – this from Harris-DecimaCanadians Wary of Extension to Afghanistan Mission: The latest Canadian Press/Harris Decima survey asked about the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. According to Senior Vice-President Doug Anderson “At this point in time, Canadians are split over whether to leave troops in Afghanistan beyond the end of the combat mission. While few feel that the combat mission should be extended, there is clearly some support for Canadian troops continuing to play some role.” ….”  More on that from the Canadian Press.
  • Blog Watch: Congrats from Mark Collins at Unambiguously Ambidextrous for those rating it here, while Terry Glavin at Transmontanus shares his words of wisdom this way:  “…. The two-year paralysis that so utterly enfeebled Canada in the matter of this country’s post-2011 re-dedication to Afghanistan is now officially over. Ottawa has come out of its coma, and now rejoins the company of the grown-ups in the 43-member International Security Assistance Force. With today’s announcement, we take our place once again as a leader in the international cause of a sovereign and democratic Afghan republic ….”
  • Meanwhile, the transition continues on the ground in AfghanistanA scouting party from the NATO unit that could replace Canadian troops in Kandahar will be touring the area over the next few days. Planning for the departure of Task Force Kandahar is underway and a proposal on how the transition will take place is still being finalized, a senior U.S. officer with the alliance’s southern headquarters said Tuesday. The Canadians “are in a critical location,” said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was authorized to discuss the situation on background only. “We’ve got to make sure that area is still covered, and covered well.” ….”
  • The CF is working towards setting up a research institute devoted to studying military medicine. More from the Kingston-Whig Standard on a conference under way this week:  “…. That the military is taking the initiative seriously can be seen by the list of people attending, including Gen. Walt Natynczyk, the chief of the defence staff, senators Romeo Dallaire and Pamela Wallin, veterans affairs ombudsman Guy Parent, and (Commodore Hans) Jung, the military’s top medical officer.  “We are the only nation amongst our major allies that does not have such a national institute,” (former CFB Kingston base commander and Kingston General Hospital chairman Bill) Richard said, a fact lamented by many of the high-profile attendees.   The military would love universities to dig through its wealth of data — it has comprehensive medical records on everyone who ever served from the day they enlisted to the day they discharged and keeps the records 99 years, but Jung said only 5% of that data has been analyzed because it doesn’t have enough people to do it ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: The Taliaban’s main English-language site appears to be down, so there’s the Taliban’s Lies o’ the Day via theunjustmedia.com.