- Libya Mission (1) Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is leaving open the possibility of continuing Canadian military involvement in Libya after the scheduled Sept. 27 end date. Canada’s participation in NATO’s air mission over Libya has been extended once, but the government hasn’t yet said whether it will propose another extension. The NDP, the official Opposition, is against another extension. Asked what happens after Sept. 27, Baird said he’s taking the situation one day at a time. “This is quickly coming to an end. It’s not over yet. Canada will obviously be there in theatre to support the Libyan people,” Baird told (CBC) …. “The end is in sight. We’re not there yet, but let’s take it one day at a time,” he said. Pressed again on whether the troops will return to Canada on Sept. 27, Baird reiterated “the job is not yet complete.” “I would think that once the people of Libya are safe, that’ll be something that we’ll consider,” he said ….” More on this here.
- Libya Mission (2) “Canada is heading into high-level talks on Libya this week without formal offers of assistance for the country as it rebuilds after a bloody uprising. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief spokesman says the intent of the meeting in Paris is to determine what the rebels’ National Transitional Council needs. Dimitri Soudas says Canada can contribute in several ways but the international community first needs to co-ordinate assistance. “Before you just start putting things into force and implementing them, you actually have to make sure everyone is going the same direction,” he said in a briefing Tuesday. Mr. Soudas said Thursday’s meeting is also not a victory lap for NATO forces, even as military officials say their sustained campaign is seeing life slowly return to normal in many areas. “The definition of victory is always something that people try to establish,” he said. “Victory to a large extent is democracy in Libya.” ….” If the Government of Canada really means that bit in red, we may be there a while….
- Libya Mission (3) Academic: Canada should have own eyes, ears on the ground, not just sharing intelligence from NATO partners. “…. When asked where Canada is getting its information, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, referenced the NATO-led mission in which Canadian fighter aircraft and a navy frigate have been participating since March. “Don’t forget this is a co-ordinated effort,” he said, “and information is shared internally.” Walter Dorn, a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., said he was surprised to hear that Canada doesn’t have anyone on the ground in Libya given the importance the government has attached to the mission, both militarily and politically. “It is critical to have Canadian eyes and ears on the ground in order to make informed decisions,” he said. “We have to evaluate those in charge, provide humanitarian assistance and help build the peace.” ….”
- Libya Mission (4) “Canada is looking at how to “unfreeze” up to $2 billion in frozen Libyan assets for re-construction efforts in Libya, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman Dimitri Soudas. The assets were frozen in February following a United Nations sanctions resolution and now Ottawa, following the lead of the United States, is trying to determine whether the money can be released and channelled toward “humanitarian and other needs” to help establish a transition to a democratic government in Libya. Ottawa is “looking at options at how to proceed to unfreeze those assets and for them to be put towards that use,” said Soudas ….”
- Libya Mission (5) And for all those calling for a U.N. mission in Libya, this, from the rebels. “Libya is rejecting the idea of deploying United Nations military personnel to help stabilize the country. A 10-page document written by the UN Secretary General’s special adviser on Libya that was leaked and published online recently calls for the deployment of 200 unarmed UN military observers and 190 UN police to help stabilize the country …. that could include monitoring or mentoring police officers. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chairman of the transitional council, said Tuesday he had met a day earlier with NATO officials in Qatar, where it was decided that no foreign soldiers would be needed in Libya. “We decided that we do not need any forces to maintain security, be it international, Muslim or other,” he said ….”
- The CF’s Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) is getting a new boss tomorrow.
- Way Up North (1) Lookit what the South Koreans are up to (hat tip to Mark Collins for sharing this one) “Commercial ships able to route through the Northwest Passage without ice breaker assistance are a step closer to becoming a reality. Korean shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), announced a few days ago that a model of their 190,000 dwt iron ore bulk carrier had finished its test program in the world’s largest – 90 meters long – ice test tank at Canada’s Institute for Ocean Technology (IOT). With an awareness that the traditional ice-breaker bow construction (where the mass of the ship’s bow structure bears down to break up pack ice) acts as a drag on efficient progress in open waters, international collaboration between IOT and Korean researchers from Pusan National University aimed at finding the optimal bow design for a ship operating in various ice conditions. Numerical computer analysis by the team culminated in manoeuvring and resistance performance tests of the model bulk carrier in the special ice-test tank ….”
- Way Up North (2) One academic’s view, post-Nanook 2011: “…. one could argue that the senior military leadership views the Arctic (especially in a post-Afghanistan milieu) as a means of further justifying its reason for being. Stated differently, it gives them a mission priority that has the firm backing of the Conservative government in Ottawa. This is critical because it allows the military to make the case to political masters that the defence budget should be insulated from any deep cuts in the rush to balance the books …. It would be better for the military to wrap itself in an Arctic mission (and to secure the requisite procurement) rather than have the Coast Guard squeeze out more money for sovereignty patrols, scientific investigation and a polar-class icebreaker. In short, the Canadian military is perfectly content to play around in the Arctic just as long as the money taps stay open and they can use their training there for other “hot spots” around the world. And if this is the case, you can look for the Canadian Forces to deepen its military footprint in the Arctic.”
- NATO’s mission boss in Kosovo: we’re not ready to cut back troops just yet because of violence here. Canada has five troops there with Operation KOBOLD – stay safe, folks.
- Afghanistan (1) Federal Court of Canada to Amir Attaran seeking pictures of detainees: no photos for YOU! (via Army.ca)
- Afghanistan (2a) Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing shuts down (via CEFCOM Info-Machine news release, 18 Aug 11)
- Afghanistan (2b) Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing shuts down (via CEFCOM Info-Machine feature story, 30 Aug 11)
- Afghanistan (3) QMI/Sun Media editorial: “If there was a truly down moment during Jack Layton’s funeral on Saturday, it was Stephen Lewis praising Layton for wanting to negotiate with the Taliban. And, worst of all, this venture into the absurd got a generous and lasting applause. Can you imagine anyone but the elite left giving a generous and lasting applause to something so offensive and so wrong-headed? Yet, they lapped up the Orange Crush like it was cultist Kool-Aid. How sad is that knowing those same Taliban that Lewis and Layton think would give credence to a negotiated end to their terror have taken the lives of more than 150 of our Canadian soldiers, plus a diplomat, plus a Canadian journalist? And that’s not counting the hell and death they have brought down on the Afghan people. But everybody Rise Up! Rise Up! ….”
- Afghanistan (4) I screwed up, missing this film from the CF Info-Machine: “…. You don’t have to wait for a telling, warts-and-all documentary made about one Canadian military experience in Kandahar. Desert Lions: Canadian Forces Mentors in Kandahar is a great piece of reporting and surprise, it’s a Canadian army production. A reservist with the Calgary Highlanders regiment and a former CBC television reporter, Mike Vernon spent several weeks in 2010 shooting footage and collecting stories in the volatile Panjwaii district of Kandahar. This was a hairy time for the Canadian Forces, especially in Nakhonay, the small, Taliban-infested village where Mr. Vernon found himself encamped with nine members of an Operational Mentor Liason Team (OMLT), reservists like himself, assigned to a complex and dangerous mission: To hold Nakhonay while helping “enable” a company of Afghan soldiers, some of them good, some of them awful. All of the men struggled with cultural barriers and stupid military politics, inside a deadly combat environment where the enemy was always present but seldom seen. Scary ….”
- What’s Canada Buying? (1) Vendors aiming to sell the CF a quiet electric snowmobile have a bit more time to send in their bids (via Army.ca).
- What’s Canada Buying (2) Wanted: someone to build a cold storage building in Petawawa.
- Royalizing the CF Survey says…. “According to (Harris Decima) Senior Vice-President Doug Anderson “By and large, Canadians agree with reverting to the traditional names for Canada’s Navy and Air Force and only one in ten are strongly opposed to the change. As might have been predicted based on historical evidence, Quebec residents find the lowest level of agreement on this point, but even there, opinion is fairly evenly split.” ….” More from The Canadian Press here.
- “Ministers responsible for Veterans Affairs and senior officials from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Germany, Denmark, France and the Netherlands today completed two days of meetings to discuss support for Veterans. Ministers emphasized the need for collaborative research, policy development and programs for Veterans. The meetings were hosted in Ottawa by the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs …. The following statement was released by the Summit participants at the conclusion of the meetings: Honouring and providing services to Veterans is a shared goal around the world. All of our governments have programs in place to meet the needs of those transitioning from military to civilian life. Research is playing a growing part in allowing us to better understand the transition experience. By agreeing to collaborate more closely on common research projects, we will be able to develop improved ways of supporting Veterans throughout their lives ….”
- Border Security: Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird releases two reports on consultation results with Canadians – one here, the other here. Media coverage: folks seem to worry about privacy, information sharing/civil liberties (more on that here) and sovereignty (more on that here), while business wants a more open border.
- Vancouver PD to public: recognize any of these rioters? “Vancouver police have already received more than 50 tips after launching a website Tuesday aimed at identifying participants in the June 15 Stanley Cup riot. So far, police have posted photos of 40 suspected rioters, and scores more are expected to be added to the riot2011.vpd.ca site over the coming weeks. Police Chief Jim Chu said Tuesday that the riot investigation was proceeding carefully to ensure suspects could be charged with participating in a riot, rather than lesser crimes such as looting or mischief. “We’re not pulling our punches. We’re going for the most serious charges we can give,” said Chu. The first 40 suspects posted to the Riot 2011 website were randomly selected from a group of some 200 unidentified people police are investigating ….”
- How many Canadians have GTFO Libya so far? This from the PM’s chief spokesperson: “More than 650 Canadians have departed from Libya since the beginning of the crisis.”
- More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief: Libya), here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
- “A popular learning centre in Kandahar City has received new financial backing from the Canadian government, temporarily ending fears that the facility might have to close. Though less than half of what facility directors requested, the $250,000 grant from the Canadian International Development Agency will allow classes to continue at the Afghan-Canadian Community Center. An announcement of the funding was made this week at a ceremony to mark International Women’s Day. The centre, though catering to both male and female students, is an especially important educational outlet for Kandahari women and girls who often risk their lives to go to school, centre director Ehsanullah Ehsan said ….”
- Psychological Operations: (Sorta kinda) “the marketing arm of the military”
- U.N. stats (PDF report here) say 3 out of 4 civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2010 were caused by insurgents. The Canadian Press’ take on the report: “More Afghan civilians were killed in Kandahar than any other province last year, while counterinsurgency operations within Canada’s area of command resulted in “large-scale” property destruction, the United Nations said Wednesday. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan called on both NATO and insurgent forces to strengthen their efforts to protect Afghans as it released a report examining the severe toll the war has exacted on civilian lives and livelihoods …. It said NATO forces were careful in avoiding civilian casualties in Kandahar, but clearance operations in districts under the command of the Canadian military were singled out for leaving behind “large-scale” property destruction. “Elders’ fears that the Kandahar operations would involve the destruction of homes, crops, and irrigation systems were realized,” the 85-page report said ….”
- More work from Canada’s war poet Suzanne Steele: “limerick from OFMIK (our former man in KAF)”
- Remember how keen border state Senators were last month about getting military radar to keep those little planes full of drugs out of the U.S.? It appears they might be getting (at least some of) what they seek. “The US government will place military-grade radar along the border with Canada to thwart low-flying aircraft used to smuggle illegal drugs onto US soil, senators who sought the deployment said Wednesday …. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said Napolitano had indicated during a Senate Judiciary Committee that she was working to deploy the radar and called it “a critical step in the right direction.” …. In the hearing, Napolitano herself stopped well short of explicitly announcing such a step, though she did agree with Schumer that such a deployment would be a good idea. She assured Schumer that her department was “working with” the Pentagon and the US military’s Northern Command “on radar and other related issues and technologies in efforts on the northern border.” Asked whether that meant the deployment would go forward, Napolitano replied “this is moving very rapidly.” ….” More on this from American media here and here.
- What’s Canada Buying? (1) New (Military) Police Academy (~$29 million), and Pockets on Sleeves
- What’s Canada Buying (2) Remember late last year, when Canada was going to “explore adapting the designs of recently built naval fleet replenishment ships that are operating with other NATO Navies”? Well, let’s try again, shall we? This from MERX (via Army.ca): “…. Canada has a requirement to assess two NATO Navy ship designs to determine their viability in relation to the Canadian Navy operational requirements for naval fleet replenishment SHIPS: a. the Berlin Class; and b. the Cantabria Class Canada intends to award two separate contracts, one to ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada Inc. (TKMSC) and the other to Navantia, S.A. (Navantia) to conduct Risk Reduction Design Studies (RRDS) for each design. This will enable Canada to ascertain the feasibility and affordability of adapting these designs to meet Canadian requirements. Canada is deploying a team of government representatives to shipyards in Germany and Spain to perform the RRDS and a follow-on Detailed Design Activity (DDA) ….” Link above contains some downloadable bid document details – more from MERX here, and from the Canadian Press here.
- More on Canada’s (still being-waited-for) new helicopters for the CF (hat-tip to Mark Collins for sharing this one): “Sikorsky could deliver the first of Canada’s much-delayed CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopters this month, said president Jeff Pino yesterday at the Heli-Expo show in Orlando. The initial helicopters will not be fully compliant with the Canadian requirement, but will allow training to begin ….”
- Buzzword Watch: What do CF wordsmiths call it when Reservists come home from Afghanistan to be greeted by the PM and Defence Minister? “Reintegration”
- If anyone can make a case for how Canada’s treating its wounded warriors, it’s a wounded warrior. “A major who lost both his legs in Afghanistan says the Harper government’s financial treatment of injured war veterans is an “abject betrayal” of a new generation of soldiers. Maj. Mark Campbell, who stepped on a bomb in June 2008 near a Canadian base west of Kandahar city, says the New Veteran’s Charter established in 2006 robs wounded soldiers of about 40 per cent of their income …. “This New Veteran’s Charter is a grotesque travesty. It is an abject betrayal by the government of Canada to our new generation of disabled and wounded veterans,” said Campbell …. “What kind of deal is that? The people of Canada should be outraged.” Campbell believes the new lump-sum payments and income replacement pale in comparison to the practice after the Second World War of granting lifetime pensions …. “Why are we saying people who sacrificed limbs in the service of their country should be subjected to a 25 per cent reduction in their families’ means of living? It’s ridiculous,” he said ….” More from Postmedia News here and CBC.ca here.
- “Veterans Affairs bureaucrats who rifled through the personal files of a department critic were handed written reprimands and three-day suspensions — penalties the victim calls a “slap on the wrist.” An internal investigation found 54 veterans bureaucrats improperly snooped through Sean Bruyea’s personal files, including medical and psychiatric reports. Some of them used the information to smear the outspoken critic. “These employees have been disciplined and department officials consider this matter has been successfully addressed and closed,” said a Feb. 25 letter to Bruyea, obtained by The Canadian Press. The two-month internal investigation determined that 614 employees handled his file over a number of years, but many had no need to do so. Some of his personal information was included in briefing notes to former veterans affairs minister Greg Thompson in 2006 as the Conservative government prepared to implement the New Veterans Charter, which substantially overhauled benefits for former soldiers ….”
- Interesting research from a university in Alberta: “Video games often get a bad rap, but their ability to desensitise players to violence could help soldiers sleep better. According to an online survey of 98 military personnel, regularly playing games that involve war and combat – like Call of Duty – decreased the level of harm and aggression experienced when they dreamed about war. Soldiers who didn’t play video games reported having more violent dreams combined with a sense of helplessness, says Jayne Gackenbach of Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada ….” More on that here. Also, here’s a paper from the same researcher on the subject from last summer.
- More Canadians (and others) GTFO Libya. This from the PM’s chief spokesperson’s Twitter feed: “Another Canadian Armed Forces plane has left Tripoli with 10 Canadians, UK, Australians, Romanian and other evacuees.”
- A National Post editorial calls for NATO to do SOMETHING about Libya. “Pressure is growing for Western nations to intervene militarily in Libya’s emerging civil war …. there are good reasons to be wary about such a campaign. But Muammar Gaddafi’s apparent willingness to exterminate large numbers of his citizens in recent days has served to marginalize such concerns: Whatever the risks that attend military intervention, we must not permit a North African Srebrenica …. The heavy lifting associated with the no-fly mission should be performed by Italy, France, Germany and Spain — which, collectively, import 90% of Libya’s oil exports. Britain, too, has a well-established trade relationship with Libya. It is in these countries’ interests to remove Col. Gaddafi as quickly as possible and stabilize the country around a new government. There are roles for Canada, the United States and other Western nations, too. Even as the Canadian air force seeks to acquire a controversial new multi-purpose fighter jet, our old CF-18s are more than a match for anything the Libyans have to throw up against them. In the best case scenario, NATO will not have to fire a single shot or scramble a single aircraft — because Libyans will end Gaddafi’s cruel tyranny all by themselves. But failing that, we cannot stand by and permit a Libyan genocide to unfold.”
- The Winnipeg Free Press is even more specific about a no-fly zone. “As Libyan rebels, until recently rolling towards Tripoli, now reel under a fierce counter-attack by the military forces of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the world wonders what to do. It can sit back and do nothing other than shout encouragement to the revolutionaries from the sidelines, which is mostly what it is has done up until now — some nations have given humanitarian aid to the insurgents, a few have sent military aid and moral support to Col. Gadhafi …. The …. choice, and one that paradoxically has the strongest support and the strongest opposition, is to declare a “no-fly zone” over Libya. The arguments in favour of this are most persuasively that it would be an unmistakable statement of international support for the revolution that Col. Gadhafi could not ignore. It would ground the Libyan air force that has in recent days been a devastating psychological as well as tactical weapon in the government counter-attack. And it can be implemented without UN consent or the even the united approval of NATO. In short, it is doable and effective …. such a declaration still seems the best and most effective way of aiding the revolution. There is a real chance for democracy in Libya, and thousands of Libyans have died in its pursuit. If the West does nothing, then Carney’s prophecy will be self-fulfilling: If we don’t at least stay apace of events, we will be so far behind them that the next diplomatic mission to Tripoli may well be to pay respects to a rejuvenated Col. Gadhafi.”
- One of the standard MSM stories out of Afghanistan: the hockey stars drop by. Postmedia News’ version here and the Canadian Press’ version here.
- An interesting variation on the “sports for the troops” theme: a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) match is set for Afghanistan today. More on the match here.
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks claimed in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
- What’s Canada Buying? Fixing up radar at CFB Trenton: “Sensis Corporation’s modernization program for the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) Terminal Radar and Control System (TRACS) Area Surveillance Radar (ASR-3) has been formally accepted and is now commissioned and in use by the DND. The fully redundant ASR-3 radar modernization solution features a high performance signal/data processor and solid state L-band transmitter replacement along with six level National Weather Service (NWS) weather data processing capability embedded in the software. The modernization solution will extend the service life of 8 Wing/Canadian Forces Base Trenton’s radar by a minimum of 15 years while reducing life cycle, maintenance and operating costs ….”
- (Belated) bye, bye Arcturus. “The Aurora community marked the end of an era on Dec. 15, 2010, when the last of the CP-140A Arcturus aircraft, a variant of the CP-140 Aurora, performed its final operational mission for the Canadian Forces. Its 4,600 horsepower engines fired up one last time before it took off from 14 Greenwood, N.S., for a 16.1 hour mission – pushing the outer limit of endurance and setting a record for the longest flight in a CP-140A Arcturus. The crew of nine, composed mainly of members of 404 Long Range Patrol and Training Squadron, flew along the boundary of the eastern Canadian airspace to test the communications coverage of NORAD’s installations. The Arcturus departed Greenwood on a flight plan that took it north to a point near Frobisher Bay, Nunavut, and then south to a point near Yarmouth, N.S ….”
- In spite of how much Ottawa is pushing the F-35 fighter, a recent speech by Canada’s Defence Minister points to a different threat. “…. after Mr. MacKay had finished laying out what appeared to be the critical importance of cutting-edge air power in Canadian sovereignty, the minister said Canada was actually most vulnerable to maritime threats. “Not to sound too foreboding, [but] at the risk of being too honest, I think our greatest vulnerability, in my estimation, is waterborne,” he said. With the longest coastline in the world, “beware the water.” Mr. MacKay’s office says his comment about the overriding “vulnerability” of the maritime environment was a reference to the government’s plan to spend $35-billion—even more money than the projected costs of the F-35—on several new vessels for its navy. And his spokesperson Josh Zanin expanded on why Canada’s greatest vulnerability is maritime by noting that waterborne security not only involves military threats, but “directly affects the availability—and the cost—of essential goods, especially food and fuel, all over the world” by affecting international shipping, of which 95 per cent is done over water. Other defence experts agreed with this view ….”
- “The federal government is spending more on the military today than at any point since the end of the Second World War, according to a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives that argues Canada isn’t getting enough bang for its buck. This country is expected to spend more than $23 billion on the military in 2010-11, about 2% more than it did the previous year and about 26% more than it did the year the Berlin Wall came down. That said, Canada’s status as an international player has been undermined by its failure to win a seat on the UN Security Council. Author Bill Robinson argues that Canada has no real military power or influence despite being the world’s 13th biggest military spender and NATO’s sixth biggest spender, so ought shift to consider a drastic shift in priorities. “That kind of money would allow us to operate in a much more significant manner in other ways in the world, most notably through things like development assistance,” he said Tuesday ….” As of this post, no word of the study at the CCPA site yet.
- The PM’s Office is keeping the world updated via Twitter about Canadians GTFO’ing Libya. Most recent examples: “Canadian C130 has landed in Malta with 9 Cdn citizens, US, UK, Ukrainian, and others evacuated from Libya.” “Almost 330 Cdns have been evacuated from Libya thus far. Canadian Armed Forces flight scheduled today (Saturday) to continue evacuation.” Shame the politicians didn’t Tweet about the Afghan mission…. More on this from MSM coverage here and here.
- Conrad Black’s take on what Canada should do: “…. The best solution to Libya, as I suggested here recently, would be an Arab one; the fraternal invasion of Libya by Egypt, in support of an amenable regime, as all friendly parties engaged in the expulsion of Gaddafi would welcome such an initiative, and Egypt could negotiate in advance a revenue-producing arrangement for itself in securing the pacification of the country and the full resumption of oil flows …. At least all indications are that in the buzz of collegiality with which the West is noisily worrying about the dangers of doing anything about Libya except imitating King Canute from the White House balcony, Canada is being consulted. And there is something Canada can do, which would be noticed by our allies: We should recognize the provisional government of Libya as legitimate, and make contact with it. This could have a catalytic effect, inspirit the rebels, nudge the Americans and Europeans into doing something, and generally start a rockslide around Gaddafi. The Europeans, who are disposed to do something, would be grateful, and so would the U.S. Republicans, at the moment the majority party in the United States. Even President Obama says that Gaddafi lacks legitimacy; so let us confer legitimacy on those who have earned it. A gangster and terrorist regime is slaughtering its own population, which is fighting back gallantly. We owe them our support, and every day’s delay is shameful and could make a benign outcome more doubtful. For once, Canada could make a difference and be seen by the world to do so. There is no excuse for waiting.” The only problem: who’s in charge of the other side?
- Anti-Gadhafi Libyans in Regina highlight the situation. “People in Regina with roots in Libya have rallied for the third weekend in a row to show support for anti-Gadhafi protests. About 30 people carrying signs calling for the downfall of the Libyan leader marched and talked with passersby on Saturday during a demonstration at Victoria Park in the city’s downtown. They said they want to ensure people in Saskatchewan know what family and friends are facing in Libya …. Muftah said the group will continue to hold demonstrations in Regina every week until major change happens in Libya ….”
- Meanwhile, some British special forces troops and a diplomatic team seem to be…. guests? …. of anti-Gaddafi forces. “Details of a UK operation to rebel-held Benghazi in Libya in which eight men – six reportedly SAS – were arrested, have been disclosed to the BBC. Defence Secretary Liam Fox told the BBC a small diplomatic team was in Benghazi and “they were in touch with them”. The BBC’s Jon Leyne said eyewitnesses saw six men in black overalls land in a helicopter near the city early on Friday who were met by two others. They were later arrested when it was discovered they were carrying weapons. According to an earlier report in the Sunday Times the unit was trying to put UK diplomats in touch with rebels trying to topple the Gaddafi regime. In a statement, the MoD said: “We neither confirm nor deny the story and we do not comment on the special forces.” ….”
- More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief: Libya), here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
- What’s Canada Buying? More details on the scrapping of 2 (maybe 3) Oberon-class submarines in the Statement of Work from the bid documents downloadable at Milnet.ca here.
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks and assassinations alleged in Kandahar.
- What’s next for Canada’s response to Libya? Canada pledges humanitarian aid to Libya (without explaining what kind) + CF reconnaissance and medical team in Malta (More) = DART deployment? Time will tell.
- Canada to Gadhafi: Maybe it’s time to go? “Canada is warning that the desire for freedom in Libya and across the region will overwhelm leaders who withhold democracy and abuse their citizens. After criticism of its reluctant embrace of the pro-democracy rebellion that toppled Egypt’s longtime ruler, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is now positioning itself squarely behind Libyan rebels who are massing on Tripoli’s doorstep and preparing for battle with their dictator. In Ottawa, Government House Leader John Baird tabled sanctions in the House of Commons and spoke openly of “regime change” to end Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s 41-year rule. At a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva Monday, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon spoke hopefully of a “tide of change” sweeping through the Middle East and North Africa ….”
- How about a no-fly zone over Libya? No consensus, says Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister. “A military no-fly zone over Libya is unlikely to get off the ground as several allies are balking at the plan, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Monday. “In terms of the no-fly zone, there doesn’t seem to be consensus among our allies,” Cannon told a teleconference from Geneva, declining to offer Canada’s position. “There are too many elements still not known, so I would not want to offer an opinion at this time,” he said. “We still don’t have enough information.” Earlier, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain was working with its allies to draw up a plan for a military no-fly zone over Libya ….”
- What Canada’s up to, 140 characters at a time from the PM’s chief spokesperson Dimitri Soudas. How many out so far? Brit warship gives some Canadians a lift to Malta. Where’s Canada’s big military plane in the area?
- More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief: Libya), here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
- More tidbits of information about missing Canadian Colin Rutherford in Afghanistan. This from CBC.ca: “…. The police chief in Ghazni province confirmed that Rutherford was living in the region for almost a month and that he was seen dressed in local clothing several times ….” This from the Toronto Star: “…. In late October, just six months into a new job as a media auditor in Toronto, Rutherford told his boss he was going on vacation. The 26-year-old wanted to learn Pashto, one of Afghanistan’s two official languages. “He went to Afghanistan and didn’t come back,” said Zia Hasan, manager of audit operations at the Toronto-based Canadian Circulations Audit Board. Rutherford had booked two weeks off. “We just thought he decided not to come back. Sometimes people do that. We’re obviously concerned for his welfare. We’re cooperating with the local authorities for any information that they require,” Hasan said ….”
- How’re the Afghan troops being trained by Canadian and NATO troops doing? Not all that great yet according to one journalist blogger: “…. The question on everyone’s mind these days is whether the OMLTs (Operational Mentoring Liaison Teams) can mould the Afghans into an independent fighting force by the time Canada’s military withdraws from combat operations in a few months. Based on my two days on foot patrol with the OMLT (which hardly makes me an expert), the short answer to that question is no. The Afghan company I observed showed a capability to orchestrate simple security missions, though not without some problems. Capt. Eric Bouchard believes Afghans are now at a point where they can successfully conduct searches of compounds and fields for weapons. They are also fast at responding to Taliban activity. But as for more complicated missions, the Afghans seem to be lacking a level of sophistication ….”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks, assassinations alleged in Kandahar.
- February highlights of what Canada’s buying.
- Defence research paper (PDF): Soldiers identified good-vs-bad guys better with Combat ID (CID) System than without (bot both CID systems were the same re: effectiveness)
There will still be a need for security and counter-insurgency operations when Canada’s current mandate expires in 2011, he said. If experienced Canadian troops leave Kanadhar, some other nation, likely less familiar with the local terrain and power brokers, will have to do the job.
Hillier also said there’s also no need for Canadian troops, except in Kandahar or the northeast, and there’s no way Canada can carry out a goodwill mission without encountering frequent violence.
“If you stay in the south and try to do something like training, you will still be in combat. I don’t care what (political) staffers say in the media about how they can find a way to do it. You simply will not. You will be in combat,” Hillier said during a promotional interview for his new book, A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War.
Living behind blast walls and trying to carry out aid and reconstruction projects are futile, and potentially dangerous in a country where NATO and insurgent forces are battling for the trust of the local population.
“It would be like going to shore at Normandy on the sixth of June (1944) and driving around . . . sightseeing and leaving the enemy the opportunity, flexibility and initiative to attack you when they want,” Hillier said … “to have people and staffers coming out and saying that we can do this job in two years or five years, or we can train without being in combat . . . it’s just baloney.”
Get it now?
UPDATE (1): More of the same quoted by Macleans:
Is there a safer way to teach those Afghan recruits? Hillier doesn’t think so. Here’s what he told us about the sort of scenario sketched by Soudas: “You can come up with all kinds of schemes to hide away in a camp and train people for the Afghan army or police, but they lack credibility. If you try to help train and develop the Afghan army or police in southern Afghanistan, you are going to be in combat.”
“By 2011, when this military mission ends, our Canadian soldiers will have served there a decade on the front lines, much longer than during either of the world wars,” Harper said at Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa, which became a national cemetery earlier this year honouring Canada’s war dead from all conflicts.”
“Canada will not extend its mission in Afghanistan even if President Barack Obama asks him to when the countries’ leaders meet this week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s office said Monday. Harper spokesman Dimitri Soudas reiterated in a briefing Monday that Canada will withdraw its troops in 2011 …. “Canada’s position is clear,” Soudas said. “The military component of the mission ends in 2011.” “
Now, we see these words in a news release that, I’m guessing, has been approved by everyone in the government food chain (including the Prime Minister and his team) about a program to allow easier immigration to Canada for Afghans at risk because their helping Canadians in Afghanistan:
“Successful applicants will receive health-care coverage under the Interim Federal Health Program as well as resettlement services similar to what is currently offered to government-assisted refugees, including up to 12 months of income support upon arrival in Canada. Applicants may apply under this program until the end of the Canadian combat mission in Kandahar in 2011.“
Now, even the latest quarterly report on Canada’s mission in Afghanistan (PDF) has its own iteration:
“Under the House of Commons motion of March 13, 2008, the Canadian military presence in Kandahar is to end in 2011.”
The first two quotes, to me, mean “no more Canadian troops left in Afghanistan” by the end of 2011, while the last one can mean “no more troops fighting in Kandahar”.
All this, overlaid on top of the the wording of the March 2008 resolution of Parliament.
Yes, words matter. And consistent words send a consistent message.
You wonder why Canadians just don’t get it?
– edited to add link to official text of PM’s speech and QP exchange –