MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 6 Nov 11

  • Libya Mission (1)  They’re home!  More here.
  • Libya Mission (2)  Some hairy times.  “It was early in the Libya mission when Italian authorities picked up the distress call. By the next morning, HMCS Charlottetown had gone from enforcing an arms embargo to providing humanitarian assistance. It was March and at the time the Canadian frigate was operating off the coast of Tripoli, part of a ring of NATO warships tasked with making sure weapons and ammunition didn’t get into the country and the hands of Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. But when the Italians relayed the distress call to NATO commanders, who in turn ordered the Canadian frigate to investigate, the Charlottetown’s crew leaped into action ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Byron Greff, R.I.P.  A town in central Alberta is paying tribute to a fallen soldier who died in a suicide attack in Afghanistan last week. Master Cpl. Byron Greff was among 17 people killed in Kabul last Saturday when a suicide bomber slammed a vehicle fill with explosives into a NATO bus. Friends and family in Greff’s hometown of Lacombe, Alta. plan to honour his life during a public memorial service on Saturday. The service will be held at 1 p.m. local time at Canadian University College and will occur shortly after Greff is laid to rest at a private family ceremony ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Debut of new film – “The Vandoos in Afghanistan” on the National Film Board’s web page this week (watch it for free this week).
  • Afghanistan (3)  What Remembrance Day means to one Canadian officer downrange (via Army News & Facebook)
  • Afghanistan (4)  Canadians among troops winning German shooting medals in northern Afghanistan base competition (via NATO Info-Machine)
  • Afghanistan (5)  Canadian ambassador with Eid al-Adha greetings.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  He says, they say“The F-35 program is progressing well and on track,” associate minister of defence Julian Fantino told the House Thursday, while answering a question from the Opposition on the fighter jet program. However, other countries continue to make moves that suggest the program is not doing as well as he claims ….”
  • In spite of Don MacLean suggesting he take the honourary degree from RMC, Grapes continues to decline with thanks.  Further proof here that he’s damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.
  • Remembrance Day (1)  All I can say is:  scumbags!  “City and military officials are shocked after learning one of Calgary’s newest war memorials was vandalized only days before Remembrance Day. Bill Bruce, the city’s chief bylaw officer, said graffiti was sprayed across the riverside wall of Poppy Plaza on Thursday night. Phil MacAulay, president of the No. 1 Royal Canadian Legion, said he was disappointed to learn of the damage. “It’s bad,” MacAulay said. “It’s disrespectful. “You just don’t think something like that would happen any time of year, but especially now. “It’s so close to Remembrance Day, you’d think they’d know,” added MacAulay, who spent five years in the Canadian Navy. “Unfortunately, some lamebrains don’t think of the consequences or anything like that ….”  More here.
  • Remembrance Day (2)  For the last 19 years, students at Ottawa’s Catholic Notre Dame High School have benefitted from a remarkable community program. Every Remembrance Day, local military veterans would come to the school and set up exhibits that the school’s students would visit throughout the day. The students could interact with Canadian military veterans, and examine military antiques, including uniforms, items of personal gear and some disabled military weapons loaned from museums …. what would have been the 20th Remembrance Day Symposium (and was set to include veterans from our war in Afghanistan) has been cancelled. The reason given: The school doesn’t want “guns or tanks” on its property.  Ridiculous. Displaying harmless military memorabilia, in the respectful hands of the men and women who carried it in our country’s wars, is a wonderful way to make Canada’s proud military history come alive to a generation that will, we hope, never come closer than a deactivated rifle to the horrors of total war …. “
  • Veterans’ advocates said Saturday they achieved their goal despite modest turnouts at some demonstrations to protest proposed cuts to the budget of Veterans Affairs Canada. Dozens of protesters, most of them veterans, gathered on Parliament Hill on Saturday afternoon to call attention to what they call the government’s lack of compassion for those who have fought for their country. A rally in Halifax drew some 30 protesters and onlookers to city hall despite the frigid fall weather. A similar demonstration was held outside the department’s headquarters in Charlottetown on Friday. “People on the Hill have come up and said, ‘I never knew,’ and that’s the object,” organizer Mike Blais of the group Canadian Veterans Advocacy said from Ottawa. “The object is to draw attention to the situation and I think … we’ve certainly accomplished our goal today,” he said Saturday afternoon …. ”  More here and here.
  • The Royal Canadian Legion appears to be taking a stronger stance on veterans’ issues.  “The Royal Canadian Legion fired a shot across the federal government’s bow last month. Canada’s veterans, it said sternly, should be exempt from cuts under the government’s program review. “Getting our financial house in order should not be done on the backs of our wounded warriors and their families,” declared Pat Varga, the Legion’s dominion president. It was an unusually blunt public stance for an organization that has traditionally preferred to do its advocacy in private. But it also reflected a new determination by the Legion to speak up in the political arena in order to sharpen its image and help arrest decades of membership decline. “We do want to be able to inject into that debate. That should be our role,” says Brad White, the organization’s dominion secretary …. “
  • A former soldier who is staging a hunger strike to protest the way the federal government has handled his case is expected to meet today with Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney. Pascal Lacoste says he was poisoned while serving overseas and launched his hunger strike on Saturday outside Blaney’s riding office in this community near Quebec City. Lacoste blames his declining health, including chronic pain and a degenerative neurological disorder, on depleted-uranium poisoning he believes he contracted in Bosnia in the 1990s. The 38-year-old Quebec City resident vowed not to eat again until Blaney recognizes that he and other soldiers were contaminated with depleted uranium ….”
  • What’s anti-military, pro-disarmament group ceasefire.ca up to in the coming year?  “…. This year we will be concentrating our efforts on opposing the growing National Security Establishment: that web of politicians, lobby groups, old generals and corporations that are robbing the treasury of public dollars for themselves and their own special interests. In the coming days I’ll be letting you know how the pro-war lobby is funded by the military, and how their influence reaches deep into the best-known news organizations in Canada ….”  We wait with interest.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 5 Nov 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 4 Nov 11

  • Janick Gilbert, R.I.P.  Funeral of rescue technician killed in rescue attempt set for tomorrow.
  • Libya Mission (1a)  CF members returning home from Libyan mission – welcome back!
  • Libya Mission (1b)  Canada’s Defence Minister set to welcome returning CF members at CFB Greenwood in Nova Scotia.
  • Libya Mission (1c)  Canada’s Associate Defence Minister set to welcome returning CF members at CFB Bagotville in Quebec.
  • Libya Mission (1d)  Canada’s Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence set to welcome returning CF members at CFB Trenton in Ontario.
  • Afghanistan (1)  How Canadian military engineers are training up Afghan military engineers (via the CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (2)  Former diplomat, political communicator reminds us of Canada’s legacy (while reminding us whose job it is now to keep it going) (PDF).  “In 2009-10, former political aide Renée Filiatrault volunteered for a tour of duty as a foreign service officer in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Here she provides a glimpse of the realities that Canada’s civilian and military team faced while fighting an insurgency on the ground. As Canada stood down its combat mission in Kandahar this summer, she says, despite some bitter lessons, it is a legacy of which Canada can be proud. Ultimately, she adds, “while we can set the conditions for success, winning is not up to us, but up to the government of Afghanistan, which all efforts are ultimately intended to support.”
  • Afghanistan (3)  An update on Captain Trevor Greene, who has been recovering from an axe to the head during a shura in Afghanistan in March 2006.
  • Taliban Propganada Watch:  What the Taliban Info-Machine has to say about the coward chap who killed 17 people, including one Canadian, in a homicide bombing attack in Kabul and tying the attack in to a coming Loya Jirga (both links to non-terrorist page).
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  More from The Canadian Press’s obtained (but not shared with the readers) stack o’ briefing notes.  “Canadian pilots are expected to receive training for the F-35 stealth jet at a U.S. Air Force base in Florida, a plan that raises questions about the future of the country’s existing advanced fighter training school. Internal Defence Department documents show that a fee-for-service plan involving an international training centre, already constructed at Eglin Air Force Base by manufacturer Lockheed Martin, has been the main option under consideration. Several air force briefings compiled last year and obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information laws show that not only is there “potential for NO pilot training in Canada,” but that “pooled” training with international partners is likely the most cost-effective plan ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  CDS:  more would sure be nice“Canada’s top soldier says the 65 stealth fighters the government is planning to buy are the minimum number the military needs – but he hinted the back-up if jets are destroyed is that more will be for sale later. General Walter Natynczyk, the Chief of Defence Staff, told members of the Commons defence committee Thursday that the 65 F-35 fighters the government is planning to buy “is the minimum operational essential for the needs of Canada.” ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (3)  CDS:  pilots want the F-35“Pilots with the Royal Canadian Air Force want to fly in F-35 stealth fighter jets when the current CF-18s are retired, according to the chief of defence staff. Walt Natynczyk, the military’s top boss, appeared before Parliament’s defence committee Thursday to talk about military preparedness but was peppered instead with questions about the controversial purchase of the multi-role fighter jets. “Let me tell you that when I go to Cold Lake and I go to Bagotville and I talk to those young men and women who get in the F-18 and I ask them ‘What aircraft so you want?’ they tell me that they want the F-35 because it is the only fifth-generation, capable fighter for that next phase,” Natynczyk told reporters after his committee appearance ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (4)  Yet AGAIN with the Questions in the House of Commons.
  • A reminder from the Chief of Defence Staff:  to a certain extent, anyway, you get what you pay for.  “The country’s top soldier says that the speed with which Canada contributed to the mission in Libya and post-earthquake relief in Haiti would not have been possible without a trained and well-equipped military. But Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk, whose department is struggling with pending budget cuts during the first real lull in combat operations since 2006, said such capabilities do not come cheap. “If you ask me how we’re doing in maintaining our readiness, I’d say we’re doing the best we can with all the resources we have,” Natynczyk told members of the Commons’ defence committee Thursday. “Readiness is a perishable commodity and it’s expensive.” ….”
  • This year’s Public Accounts are out, and at least one reporter noticed 42 “weapons and accessories” missing.  You can download the DND’s list o’ missing cash & property here (via Army.ca) and the entire government list o’ lost cash and stuff here (28 page small-print PDF).
  • Remembrance Day (1)  No “tanks”, no guns, no displays at Ottawa Catholic school for Remembrance Day“For the past 19 years, students at an Ottawa high school have hoisted 10-pound military rifles to feel what it may be like to lug one around in the muddy trenches. They’ve met veterans and heard their stories, learning how their families were affected and what it was like to fight so far from home. But this year — the year that was supposed to mark the 20th Remembrance Day Symposium at Notre Dame High School — they will get no such chance. The traditional school event, scheduled for Nov. 10, has been cancelled because of a school committee decision to ensure there were “no tanks or guns” at the event, its co-ordinator told participants in an email last Friday …. The event was cancelled because some students who hail from countries touched by war raised concerns about it last year, said Lauren Rocque, a spokeswoman for the Ottawa Catholic School Board. “There are many students in that school that come from war-torn countries and when they saw replica guns in the hallway, it did upset them.” Ms. Rocque was unable to say whether the students had complained to the principal directly. “The tanks on the front lawn, that upset them too, so the committee decided to take this different direction,” she added. Mr. Mac Culloch said he doesn’t remember any tanks — just a variety of other military vehicles ….”  More on this from QMI/Sun Media here, a good question from the Globe & Mail here and discussion over at Army.ca here.
  • Remembrance Day (2)  Editorial:  “In Toronto and Hamilton, human scum steal poppy boxes filled with donated money to help war vets and their families, leading up to Remembrance Day on Nov. 11. In London, a war vet coming in to man his poppy station at a local mall finds a cartoon describing Canadian soldiers as “hired killers”. In Ottawa, a high school cancels a two-decade old program in which vets share their war-time experiences with students and show them the equipment they used, because of a decision to ban “tanks and guns” from the school, even though no tanks have been displayed and the guns are inoperable. That this is happening in the year Canada ends its 10-year military mission in Afghanistan, in which 158 of our soldiers died, is a disgrace ….”
  • Remembrance Day (3)  Conservative MP reminds the House of Commons“Mr. Speaker, July 2011 marked the end of Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan. While the combat mission has come to an end, the Canadian Forces continue to play an active role in training their Afghan counterparts. The past 10 years have brought about many changes for Afghanistan. Afghanistan has held three elections, government agencies have been improved, its economy has gained momentum, girls are going to school and the Afghan security forces have been provided with invaluable training and mentoring. One hundred and fifty-nine Canadian Forces members have made the ultimate sacrifice to help Afghans obtain a taste of the freedoms that we hold so dear, tragically, joined recently by Master Corporal Byron Greff, of Edmonton’s Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. In addition to Afghanistan, Canadian Forces are serving in 15 overseas missions, including Libya, Haiti, and Sudan. At home, they save lives during search and rescue missions, provide assistance when natural disasters strike, and protect our nation’s sovereignty on a daily basis. This Veterans’ Week, let us remember the service and sacrifice of our Canadian Forces members and their families. “To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die”.
  • Remembrance Day (4)  Politicians set to kick off Veterans Week this morning.
  • More on the soon-to-be hunger-striking vet wanting action on the depleted uranium in his body, from Question Period in the House of Commons.
  • A Canadian indicted in the U.S. on charges he supplied al-Qaida with weapons in Pakistan will not be extradited to the United States after Canada’s Supreme Court said Thursday it wouldn’t hear the case. Abdullah Khadr had been held in Canada on a U.S. warrant after his December 2005 arrest before he was released in 2010. He was released after two provincial courts in Ontario suspended his extradition, ruling his rights were violated during his detention in Pakistan. Dennis Edney, his lawyer, said the top court’s decision not to hear the Canadian government’s appeal means the case is over. The government had argued it was wrong to prevent an “admitted” terrorist from facing trial in the U.S. ….”  More from The Canadian Press, CBC.ca, Agence France-Presse, Reuters and lots of others.
  • Ottawa is bungling rescue missions by not telling families in Canada whether their loved ones are alive or dead, a Canadian diplomat once held hostage overseas says. Robert Fowler says that Ottawa’s mission to free him is tarnished by the fact that his wife, Mary, was kept in emotional limbo for much of his 130-day ordeal. She got so frustrated by official silence in Ottawa that she went to the United Nations complex in Manhattan to demand answers. “Mary stormed down to the UN headquarters in New York, where she had arranged to meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,” reads Mr. Fowler’s new memoir. The world’s top diplomat told Ms. Fowler what the Canadian government had not. “‘We have good and explicit reason to believe they [the hostages] are alive and in good health.’” ….”
  • Don Cherry is getting an honourary degree from Royal Military College (and some profs are pissed).  “…. The college’s senate approved awarding the controversial hockey commentator with the honour at a recent closed-door meeting. But now at least one protesting member of the faculty is protesting the decision publicly. French professor Catherine Lord criticized the college’s decision to honour Cherry in a letter sent to local media. “On many occasions he publicly expressed his contempt for many groups of the Canadian population, notably for the French-speaking Canadians, for the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) community and for the immigrants,” Lord wrote. “RMC is increasingly representative of the diverse society in which we live. RMC is a strong and unifying place.” Lord questioned what kind of message granting the honorary doctorate would send to the rest of the country. “What message will RMC send, in celebrating Don Cherry, to the students coming from these groups? And what will the Canadian people remember from RMC, as a serious and prestigious institution?” ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 11 Feb 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Jan 11

  • PM:  There’s ALWAYS something around the corner needing Canadian military might“Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he has no immediate action planned for Canada’s military once its combat mission in Afghanistan ends, but he expects the nation’s soldiers will be needed sooner rather than later. “There always ends up being a need,” Harper said during an interview with The Standard Friday in Thorold. “Something will come up in the next few years that demands — and I don’t mean disaster relief — that demands the sustained involvement of Canadian forces in a significant mission.” ….”
  • Advice for the Liberals on how to play the “we wouldn’t buy the F-35” card“…. This is the biggest military procurement in Canadian history. The Tories have made a political decision to make the purchase with a sole-source contract, so it does seem like a sensible issue for an election debate. It is unlikely, though, to be a reasoned debate, because it’s hard to get down to a real consideration of the main issues: the purchasing process, and whether we want to pay more money for stealth capability. The Tories seem to want to avoid a debate on those terms, likely because they remember — Grrrr! — how Chretien jammed them in 1993, and they are afraid Canadians will again agree with the Liberals. I think they are right to be afraid of that, and so they have been working hard to drum up industry support for the F-35s ….”
  • Still MORE whining about Don Cherry supporting the troops! “…. Many hockey fans across Canada have been disturbed by a larger trend—the strategy of the Harper Conservatives to turn athletes and the Canadian Armed Forces into props for their war-making agenda. It’s difficult these days to find a major sports event which does not incorporate reference to “our brave troops in Kandahar”. For me, the most gut-wrenching was at the Oct. 31 Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. B.C. Lions game at Empire Stadium in Vancouver. The psychological aim of this strategy is to sow divisions among Canadians, particularly among the solid majority who want an early return home for the troops in Afghanistan. “Real” hockey fans and “real” Canadians, we are urged to believe, all “support the troops” and therefore back the alleged aims of the military mission. Anyone who questions this reasoning is immediately under suspicion. Such individuals are somehow not considered true fans or “patriotic” Canadians ….”
  • Threats against Canada’s Coptic Christians (1) “Liberals want Ottawa to cough up cash for Coptic churches”
  • Threats against Canada’s Coptic Christians (2) – “…. “It’s not really practical to do such a thing, honestly,” said Sherif Mansour, the Ottawa-based spokesman for the Canadian Coptic Association. “I would like to see more effort on monitoring the groups that we know are the source of troubles . . . That’s much, much, much better to empower the law enforcement agencies instead of wasting money on cameras,” said Mansour, who added that his name was on a list of some 100 Canadian Copts published on an Islamic website in December along with addresses and photos, which security experts feared could be used by the radical Muslims to inflict harm ….”
  • Threats against Canada’s Coptic Christians (3) – What Muslims in Egypt are doing to show solidarity with the Copts: “…. Egypt’s Ahramonline reported that droves of Muslims had turned up at Coptic churches to act as “human shields.” It quoted Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon credited with first floating the “human shield” idea, as saying, “We either live together, or we die together.” “This is not about us and them,” Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly, told Ahramonline. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.” ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: All sorts of Americans and “puppets” claimed killed across Kandahar, Zabul.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 8 Jan 11

  • Reporter shares moment where soldiers get frustrated when locals don’t tell them about dangerous things that could go boom“The Canadian and Afghan army foot patrol gets less than 100 metres up the road from a typical Afghan village store where it had stopped Thursday when the bomb sniffer dog smells something funny.   A group of shopkeepers and other locals have just finished telling the soldiers they know nothing of the militants the soldiers suspect live among them and who are setting the roadside bombs that are killing and maiming coalition forces and civilians.  It is to this store that the soldiers now withdraw after the dog’s suspicions are confirmed. It’s a homemade bomb filled with shrapnel and planted below the surface on a busy path. The projectile-shaped improvised explosive device is angled to strike in the direction of the person who unwittingly sets it off — perfectly designed for a foot patrol like this.  “We’re not f–king dumb, you know, we know some of you people are helping these guys,” an angry Master Cpl. Stephane Tremblay Morin tells the group during the long wait as a team of explosives-disposal experts from a nearby military base tackles the bomb ….”
  • A bit of a hiccup at Postmedia News? Here’s their 11 Dec 10 story on a Canadian female company commander serving in Afghanistan.  Here’s their 5 Jan 11 story on a Canadian female company commander serving in Afghanistan, written by the same author as the first story, who I don’t believe is in theatre any longer (check byline of story above).  Like the old commercial says:  Can you tell the difference?  I can’t tell the difference.
  • Note to headline writer at QMI:  the “Blast Boxers” have ALWAYS been available to Canadian troops, as long as they ordered them from the U.K.
  • The New York Times picks up the “anti-war protesters pissed at Don Cherry” story.
  • Study: How well does EX Maple Guardian prepare non-CF participants for deploying to Afghanistan? (PDF)
  • Another study:  Yeah, you really DO need height restrictions for people wanting to do certain jobs in certain planes in the Canadian Forces (PDF).
  • What’s Canada Buying? Unmanned boats, and a simulator to train Hercules observers wearing night vision goggles.
  • Toronto 18 Update: “On the final day of a sentencing hearing for convicted Toronto 18 terrorist Shareef Abdelhaleem, the Crown painted him as both a detached delegator and “principal architect” of the group’s bomb plot, contradicting a key defence argument that minimized his level of involvement …. on Thursday, Crown attorney Iona Jaffe inverted that argument, noting higher-ranking terrorists “may take a distance from the front lines,” passing mundane tasks to their foot soldiers.  “Mr. Abdelhaleem was obviously imparting information. He was obviously delegating,” Ms. Jaffe said, citing his involvement in passing information to Toronto 18 member Saad Khalid, who made calls to investigate a possible chemical storehouse location.  “[Abdelhaleem] kept a distance,” Ms. Jaffe noted. “He didn’t want to get too close to the fire.”  …. The Crown has requested a life sentence, while the defence is asking for fewer than 20 years. Justice Fletcher Dawson is expected to rule in March ….”
  • Remember “Operation Samosa”, where police arrested some folks in Ottawa looking like they were preparing to make some bombs here in Canada?  La Presse says the investigation cost almost $3 milliion (French versionGoogle English version).
  • Are hacker/I.D. thieves sending stolen money to Canada? “The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is cracking down on a international criminal ring, based in Vietnam, that is thought to have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from online merchants using hacking and identity theft. Last month, agents from the DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigations unit raided the home of two Vietnamese exchange students at Minnesota’s Winona State University, seizing documents and computer equipment. According to an affidavit filed in support of the search warrant in this case, the students, Tram Vo and Khoi Van, made more than $1.2 million selling software, videogames and Apple gift cards on eBay, and then shipping buyers products that they’d purchased with stolen credit card numbers. The scam that Vo and Van are accused of has become a big problem for U.S. merchants, according to the affidavit, which was unsealed last week. Here’s how it works. Using stolen information the criminals set up eBay and PayPal accounts in other people’s names and start selling products — $400 Rosetta Stone software or iTunes gift cards, for example. When legitimate buyers purchase these products using PayPal, the scammers then order them direct from the manufacturer, using stolen credit card numbers. By the time the credit card user reports the fraud, the scammers have already moved their money from PayPal to another bank account. Then they move it offshore to accounts in Canada or Vietnam ….” Here’s the affadavit used to get the warrant (PDF).
  • Finally, what’s CSIS spokesperson Isabelle Scott got to say about CBC’s latest TV comedy show “InSecurity” which started this week? “The entertainment industry has had a long fascination with the intelligence business, and that’s perfectly legitimate. We, too, think our work is pretty interesting …. That said, screenwriters don’t always get it right. CSIS officers don’t routinely disarm missiles while wearing tuxedos. It’s not CSIS’ place to review this new CBC comedy, though we will say that we take our role seriously in keeping Canadians safe.” (Full disclosure: I have no cable TV access, so I can’t even watch the show, making me truly without prejudice, not to mention a bit geeky, right?).

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 7 Jan 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 26 Dec 10

  • Guess who spent part of Christmas visiting the troops downrange? Don Cherry (more more) and Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay.
  • Meanwhile, the next gang appears to be getting ready to head to Afghanistan to train Afghan forces. “As Canada slowly begins to wind down its combat operations in Afghanistan, Edmonton soldiers are brushing up on their teaching skills. The federal government recently announced Canadian troops will be staying in Afghanistan for another three years, but they will be taken off the battlefield and put in the classroom to help train the Afghan National Army. Based in Kandahar, Canada has rotations of up to 3,000 soldiers at a time out in the Taliban-infested southern part of Afghanistan. Approximately half those soldiers are based in Edmonton and will soon “pack everything out and bring it home,” according to Cpl. Scott Kennedy, Commander of 1 Area Support Group (note to reporter:  a Corporal would not be in such a command position), an army support foundation that includes all army bases in western Canada and several Edmonton-based units. Next summer, between 500 to 600 personnel from Edmonton will help move Canada’s base to the country’s capital of Kabul, where about 950 military trainers and support personnel will be based until 2014 ….”
  • Latest Year End Interview Tidbit: “Prime Minister Stephen Harper says that keeping a Canadian training force in Afghanistan past the 2011 combat deadline was a decision based on an eye to the future. “We know that if we just leave Afghanistan to fall into chaos, we know it’s going to come back to haunt us,” Harper told CTV News in an exclusive year-end interview. Harper added that keeping a training force in the war-torn nation until 2014 is a way to “really honour” the sacrifice made by Canadian troops. He stressed that keeping the training force in Afghanistan will also help transition the country away from being a foreign-dominated nation ….”
  • Oooopsie. “Defence officials are reviewing the medical records of several Forces personnel after an investigation showed their personal health information was mistakenly placed in a veteran’s military medical file. Maj. Cindy Tessier said the file belonging to navy veteran Wayne Finn was retrieved and all references to other people’s medical and personal information were severed. Tessier said the revelation has prompted officials to take a close look at those records and possibly others to make sure there are no other similar breaches under the Privacy Act. “We’re looking at the files of the people named, but it won’t completely stop there,” she said from Ottawa, suggesting other personnel’s records may be reviewed as well. The Department of Defence launched an investigation after Finn found about 30 other service members’ social insurance numbers, blood test results, X-ray reports and dates of birth mixed in with his medical file ….”

Don Cherry an Honourary “Patricia”

This, from the Colonel of the Regiment of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (via Milnet.ca):

“…. On behalf of the Colonel of the Regiment, Brigadier General (Ret’d) Gollner, it is my distinct pleasure to announce Mr. Don Cherry’s appointment as an Honorary Patricia …. Our soldiers have often said that Don Cherry should be a Patricia.  They admire and respect Don Cherry’s unabashed pride of being a Canadian, his unstinting public support of the Canadian Forces, especially since the beginning of the Afghan campaign, and his recognition of the families of Canadian Forces members.  They like his unmatched hockey knowledge too.  They feel that Don Cherry shares many common values with us and as such is worthy of being a Patricia.   Earlier this year acting on our soldier’s behalf I asked our Regiment’s Commanding Officers to discreetly poll their units to see if the proposal to make Don Cherry an Honorary Patricia was widely held.  Additionally, senior members of the Regiment and our Association advice were sought.  Across the family the results were clear; make Don Cherry an Honorary Patricia.  I asked Don and he agreed to join our Regimental family.  We are all pleased and proud of having him as a member of our Regimental family and look forward to welcoming him into our family….”

Well done to Don for his support for the troops, and to the PPCLI for rewarding such support.