Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘collateral damage News Highlights – 24 Mar 11

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Advertisements News Highlights – 23 Mar 11

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  • No Fly Zone in Libya (1) – Canadian military aircraft joined in a mission against ground targets in Libya on Tuesday, but did not drop their bombs amid concern there might be civilian casualties, military officials said.  Officials said two CF18 aircraft were assigned to attack a unspecified Libya airfield along with other aircraft from the U.S.-led coalition.  “Upon arrival on the scene in the target area, the air crew became aware of a risk (of collateral damage) they deemed as too high,” Major General Tom Lawson, Canada’s Assistant Chief of the Air Staff told reporters.  The Canadian jets returned safely to base …. It was the second mission for Canadian planes in the campaign to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya to halt attacks on rebels and civilians and open the way for humanitarian help. It was the first time they had been assigned to attack a target ….” More from the Canadian Press here, QMI Media here, Postmedia News here, here and the Toronto Star here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (2) – Military blogger & observer Bruce Ralston raises interesting points about those French jets blowing up Libyan tanks early on in the fight. “…. It’s hard not to wonder if that attack wasn’t a unilateral, or at least somewhat disjointed-from-the-rest-of-NATO French effort, trusting solely in surprise and speed of action… either that or it was a very deliberate attempt to bait the Libyans into some kind of hasty response, turning on their radars, even scrambling planes, that the still-assembling coalition could take advantage of. Gutsy, either way, though ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (3) – Former senior advisor to Prime Minister Harper and diplomat Derek Burney wonders why we’re doing what we’re doing in Libya. “…. There is every reason to deplore Gadhafi’s conduct and use sanctions, arms embargos and the threat of International Court prosecution to deter him from further outrages against his own people. But why should the onus for military action fall exclusively on the West, especially when the consequences of action – the end game – belie easy analysis. And why Canada? We are already doing much of the heavy-lifting in Afghanistan whereas several NATO allies have taken a pass. Is it because we were snubbed for a Security Council seat and want to re-establish our credentials for “peace-keeping”? Is it because we regard ourselves as an architect of the Responsibility to Protect concept adopted by the UN? If so, where will it lead – to Iran? Zimbabwe? North Korea? There is a long waiting list ….” More from Postmedia News here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (4) – Al Jazeera English is maintaining an interesting summary of open source information regarding who’s doing what in/over Libya at Google Docs – worth a look.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (5) – Good one from the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence on Twitter: “Good job BBC don’t aim cruise missiles — — Naval base is in eastern corner of Tripoli harbour, 3.5km from Green Sq”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (6) – NATO steps in with help to enforce an arms embargo. “NATO has now decided to launch an operation to enforce the arms embargo against Libya. All Allies are committed to meet their responsibilities under the United Nations resolution to stop the intolerable violence against Libyan civilians. Our top operational commander, Admiral Stavridis, is activating NATO ships and aircraft in the Central Mediterranean. They will conduct operations to monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries. This will be done in close coordination with commercial shipping and regional organisations. And we will welcome contributions from NATO partners to our common endeavour ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – Defence Minister Peter MacKay on the back-and-forth on cost estimates for the F-35 cranked out by the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO). “Mr. Speaker, the non-partisan, professional DND procurement experts stand by their cost projections. In fact, those costs are based on actual detailed estimates that were calculated from a multinational joint strike fighter program. They were not based on extrapolations that were made from drawing upon historical data of other aircraft from 50 years ago. They were not based on a flawed calculation that included the weight of the aircraft. They did not project out 30 years. They went with the 20 year standard.” Interesting message, but not quite complete.  Look at this footnote on page 10 of the PBO’s report: “Additional Costs include costs for project management, infrastructure, weapons, and a contingency. The PBO has not included these costs in its estimate. In addition, while the PBO operating and support cost is based on a 30-year program life, DND’s operating and support cost is based on a 20-year program life. For purposes of comparability, PBO has increased the DND’s forecast operating and support cost on a pro-rata basis to reflect a 30-year program life.” That means the figures in the PBO report really are comparing apples to apples.  That said, the criticism of the approach taken to figure out costs compared to other jet fighter acquisitions (by the kilogram?) still stands.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) – A former DND official who signed off on part of the F-35 process has these caveats“One of the main difficulties with the debate regarding the costs of the F-35 is that there are so many definitions of “cost.” For example, there is the “unit recurring flyaway cost”, the “total flyaway cost”, the “procurement cost”, the “acquisition cost”, the “life-cycle cost”, to name just a few. The fact is, only when Canada signs a contract will we know for certain how much money we will spend to buy and to sustain the aircraft we choose …. while it is important to understand the costs of this program, it is even more important to have a public debate on the aircraft requirements and their linkage to the role and mission of our military. To date, this has been lacking.”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (3) – A columnist is sharing the new message track that “sending the CF-18’s into Libya proves we need a new F-35 fighter because you never know when we need fighters to help out.” Really?  Silly me – all I take from Canada’s action in Libya is that we need fighters, not that we need these specific fighters.
  • One of the tidbits announced in this week’s federal budget“…. the Government will partner with the Building and Construction Trades Department, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, to support the Helmets to Hardhats program in Canada. This initiative will connect releasing Canadian Forces members and veterans with career opportunities in the construction industry. This will help provide many benefits for our armed services personnel as well as the Canadian economy. Details will be announced in the coming months.” So far, wounded warriors say they’re underwhelmed with this. More from Postmedia News here.
  • The mission in Afghanistan remains U.N. sanctioned for another year.
  • The (Senate’s) Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence today tabled Sovereignty & Security in Canada’s Arctic. The report calls on the Government to make acquisition of new fixed wing search and rescue (SAR) aircraft its top military procurement priority, and to make the procurement timeline public. These new aircraft, in the planning stage since 2004, will replace the Air Force’s aging CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130 Hercules aircraft. The Committee also recommends that the Government move some of its Canadian Forces SAR assets to a central Northern location so that there is always an aircraft on standby to respond quickly to emergencies. At present, Air Force search and rescue aircraft are based in southern Canada, many hours away from emergencies in the Arctic ….” More in a news release here, and from the Canadian Press here.
  • A London, Ontario MP with nice things to say about the Reserves in the House of Commons.
  • Oopsie….“A London mother has appealed directly to Defence Minister Peter MacKay, asking him to investigate how a pardoned sex offender became a cadet instructor at the 27 Air Squadron. “It is incumbent on all of us to ensure that this never happens again,” Rita Lepore said in a letter to MacKay dated Feb. 28, for which she has received no response. She told The Free Press local military and cadet officials downplayed the situation and “I don’t believe they will do anything until their hand is forced to do something.” So Lepore continues to wait for a reply from MacKay, whose department rejected Roger Micks when he applied to be a civilian instructor. Micks, now 50, was pardoned in June 2009 from a 1985 gross indecency conviction involving a 15-year-old boy. A volunteer with 27 Squadron for several years, Micks had been bestowed the “CI” ranking of a civilian instructor — despite the national-defence rejection. His photo appeared with that ranking on the squadron’s website ….” News Highlights – 13 Jan 11

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  • Canadian Forces’ statistics show 2010 saw fewer deaths, injuries among Canadian troops in Afghanistan than the previous year. More from the Toronto Star here, and some interesting discussion on why those numbers have dropped at here.
  • On a related note, it’s WELL worth the 16 minutes or so you should spend listening to Postmedia News’ Matthew Fisher talk to TVO host Steve Paikin about how things are going in Afghanistan (good for NATO), why you’re not hearing exactly how it’s going in the mainstream media, and why casualty numbers are dropping.
  • Canada has handed the keys (as well as command) of Kandahar’s Provincial Reconstruction Team (KPRT) to the United States.
  • “He says” on reported collateral damage caused by a recent offensive/rebuilding effort“A major coalition military operation in a volatile southern Afghan province has caused about 100 million dollars worth of damage to property, a government delegation said Tuesday. President Hamid Karzai dispatched the delegation, led by one of his advisers, to assess damage caused by Operation Omaid, which started in April and aims to root out the Taliban in Kandahar, a traditional heartland areas. The delegation then reported to the Western-backed leader, charging that the damage caused by the military offensive was worth over 100 million dollars, in part due to damage to crops, Karzai’s office said in a statement. International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman Brigadier-General Josef Blotz said he could not comment as he had not yet seen the statement. “As a result of military operation ‘Omaid’, significant property damage has been caused to the people in Arghandab, Zahri and Panjwayi districts in Kandahar province,” the delegation’s statement said ….”
  • “She says” on reported collateral damage caused by a recent offensive/rebuilding effort“By building a road, Canadian troops may have burned some bridges.  The commander of all NATO forces in southern Afghanistan says a major Canadian construction project is partly to blame for a recent slew of property-damage claims.  The road Canadian troops are carving through the horn of Panjwaii is part of a much larger military effort in Kandahar province. This week, a delegation of Afghan government officials claimed the offensive has come at an astronomical cost: upwards of $100 million in damaged fruit crops, livestock and property …. The Canadian road cuts through farmers’ fields in a dusty corner of southwestern Kandahar that has long be a hotbed of the Taliban insurgency.  Property owners who have found their land bisected by the thoroughfare have sought compensation, said Maj.-Gen. James Terry, who is in charge of the NATO contingent known as Regional Command South.  “Some of the claims come from that, in terms of compensation back to the people because of putting that road in,” he said at a news conference in Kandahar city on Thursday.  Terry, of the U.S. army’s 10th Mountain Division, pointed out that local elders asked for the road at a meeting, or shura. It will eventually link rural parts of the province and enable commerce ….” More on the road work in question here and here.
  • More on the work to close Canada’s Camp Mirage in the UAE (via the CF).
  • Remember that committee of politicians looking over all those Afghan detainee documents? Is there light at the end of the tunnel for them (or is it the light of an oncoming train coming)?
  • The PM is apparently eyeing a special parliamentary committee to vet top-secret intelligence. “Prime Minister Stephen Harper is considering creating a multi-partisan parliamentary committee to vet the top-secret intelligence gathered by Canada’s national security agencies. Several of Canada’s close allies — including Britain and the United States — have established committees of lawmakers to keep tabs on the operations of their spy agencies. When asked Friday whether he would consider creating a parliamentary intelligence committee, Harper noted that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP leader Jack Layton have been sworn in as members of the Queen’s Privy Council, a process that allows them to receive sensitive national security intelligence under an oath of secrecy. But the prime minister said the government is looking at ways to broaden Parliament’s involvement. “I know that has been under consideration for some time. I don’t think we’ve yet landed on a particular model that we think would be ideal,” Harper told reporters at a news conference in Welland, Ont ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Almost 20 claimed killed in alleged attacks in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
  • Canada’s Veterans Affairs Minister hits the road to let veterans know what’s coming to them – more on the road trip from QMI here.
  • More on how it’s not necessarily the bureaucrats’ fault that some things happen the way they do at Veterans’ Affairs Canada. “…. Take the Sean Bruyea affair as an example: high level VAC officials briefed Ministers on Bruyea’s personal medical and financial information. Bruyea, involved in protesting the New Veterans’ Charter, found his benefits cut and claims stalled. There were even attempts by Veterans’ Affairs to have Sean commit himself to a mental hospital. All this came to light last fall. What did the government do? Apologise, settle Bruyea’s court case, and require all Veterans’ Affairs staff to undergo privacy training. The message? VAC staff messed up and we’ll make sure they know better. Implied course of events: the frontline staff was upset by Bruyea’s lobbying and tried to take him down …. Here’s an alternative scenario: Bruyea ruffles feathers in the upper echelon of Veteran’s Affairs – the Ministers and Deputy Ministers. Orders are sent down: pull Bruyea’s files. Files are reviewed, annotated, and included in briefing notes (all of which has been confirmed). Decisions are taken to “take the gloves off” with Bruyea, after which Sean’s descent into the nightmare begins. Who can make such a decision or issue such an order? Not the people answering the phones ….”
  • QMI Ottawa bureau boss David Akin manages to see the forest in the midst of the trees. “…. Simply put: Our Canadian Forces needs billions and billions of dollars worth of new gear — not just new fighter planes — but no one has any clear plans to pay for what they need, particularly in a time of global fiscal restraint.  Alternately, one party or the other could stand up and, as Conservatives have done in Britain and Democrats did in the U.S., start announcing big-time cuts to military acquisitions and other programs.  Instead, we’ve been watching Conservatives and Liberals argue bitterly about the merits of purchasing the F-35 fighter plane, though both largely agree we will need some kind of new fighter plane to replace our fleet of excellent-but-aging CF-18s.  Whatever plane we choose is going to cost us billions. How will we pay?  And is that most urgent need? Is that the top spending priority? ….”
  • Potential base closures are always publicly contentious because of how much money such facilities pump into neighbouring economies.  As part of a strategic review of the military overall, a Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) paper ranks Canada’s military bases according to their “operational impact, infrastructure condition and efficiency, and economic impact”.  The list, the paper’s executive summary and a link to the paper itself are all here (as well as always interesting discussion) at
  • It’s still messy in Ivory Coast, where one guy says he won the election for president, and the other says he’s still president.  Here’s how one academic says Canada could help“….First, it should mobilize like-minded states to impose travel bans and freeze assets of Mr. Gbagbo’s family and close associates. Second, it should lead efforts to move Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the Nov. 28 presidential runoff who is under siege in a hotel in Abidjan, to Yamoussoukro, the capital, where he seems to have the backing of the local political establishment …. Third, Canada should work with other governments to press the African Union to give Mr. Gbagbo a deadline to step down or face comprehensive economic sanctions …. And fourth, Canada should help Mr. Ouattara to form his government by encouraging financial institutions such as the West African Monetary Union, the African Development Bank and the World Bank to deal with him ….”
  • Remember the young guy masked as an old guy who flew to Canada from Hong Kong last October?  Well, he may have been one of nine Chinese smuggled here, according to Hong Kong authorities.  The good news:  some arrests have been made in Hong Kong – a bit more from Hong Kong media here, here and here.

Civvy Casualties: Compare and Contrast

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Here’s an example of what NATO does to avoid civilian casualties.

Here’s an example of how the Taliban doesn’t give a shit about civilian casualties.

Any questions?

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15 October 09 at 13:17