News Highlights – 19 Aug 11

  • Report leaked to QMI:  CF way too top heavy.  The Department of Defence and the Canadian Forces are top heavy with too many civilian bosses in Ottawa and need to shift resources to the front lines, according to a secret defence report. Between 2004 and 2010, civilian hires at DND and the CF outpaced hires in the regular forces three to one, and while the number of sailors fell, staff at DND/CF headquarters in Ottawa ballooned by 38%. But the government says those hires were necessary to backfill positions left vacant by Canada’s heavy involvement in Afghanistan, “so that military members could focus their efforts on operational matters,” wrote Jay Paxton, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, in an e-mail Thursday. The transformation report, authored by Gen. Andrew Leslie, was submitted in early July but has yet to be released publicly. QMI Agency obtained a copy from a military source ….”  No word on sharing the report with anyone who wants to read it themselves.
  • Report leaked to Globe & Mail:  CF way too top heavy.  National Defence must take an axe to its bloated headquarters by dismissing or reassigning thousands of workers if the military is to meet its future obligations, concludes a landmark report charged with transforming the Canadian Forces. This scathing assessment by Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, who commanded the Canadian army during the Afghanistan war, arrives at a pivotal moment for the military, as the army returns from its troubled mission in Kandahar, the navy and air force seek new ships and aircraft, and the Conservative government vows to eliminate the federal deficit in a gloomy economy. “If we are serious about the future – and we must be – the impact of reallocating thousands of people and billions of dollars from what they are doing now to what we want them to do …will require some dramatic changes,” Gen. Leslie writes in Report on Transformation 2011. A copy of the report has been obtained by The Globe and Mail ….”  No word on sharing the report with anyone who wants to read it themselves.
  • Libya Mission (1)  More on HMCS Vancouver replacing HMCS Charlottetown from the CF Info-Machine.
  • Libya Mission (2)  More on Canadian boss reorg in Italy (via CF Info-Machine)
  • Way Up North (1)  “Peter Mackay, Canada’s defence minister, who arrived in Resolute Bay in the early hours of Aug. 18, made the most of his day-long visit to observe Operation Nanook, the Canadian Forces’ military exercise, shoring up support from every direction for his department’s increased visibility in Nunavut and the North. Mackay even managed to cram in a dive from an iceberg lodged in the bay outside Resolute with divers who have been learning how to work around icebergs. That, said Mackay, who donned a dry suit and full divers gear, was “disorienting,” but “incredible” as light shone through the iceberg into the water ….”
  • Way Up North (2)  CF Info-Machine coverage of Operation Nanook“Operation Nanook is well underway with Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aircraft and personnel providing valuable airlift during this major national and international operation. A combined Naval Task Group set sail from St. John’s, N.L. on Aug. 5, towards Canada’s Eastern and High Arctic, where other personnel and equipment from the Canadian Army, RCAF, and Canadian Rangers converged for the month-long, annual Arctic sovereignty exercise. In addition to the Canadian Forces, simulated major air disaster and maritime emergency scenarios involve the Canadian Coast Guard, Transportation Safety Board, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Public Safety Canada as well as the Government of Nunavut, the community of Resolute Bay and our private sector partners. Op Nanook, named for the Inuit word for polar bear, is the centerpiece of three annual northern sovereignty operations conducted by the Canadian Forces and its partners who share interest in Canada’s North ….”  More on Op NANOOK at the Canada Command page here.
  • Way Up North (3)  “A senior Canadian Army officer – Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw – is to travel to Moscow and other northern European capitals this fall for discussions about the Arctic. This development mocks the ludicrous media hype suggesting that there is a bitter rivalry involving Canada, Russia, the United States and Denmark (Greenland) over their sometimes competing claims and interests in the Arctic. To be sure, there are differences of opinion about the top of the world. But the reality is there is actually far more co-operation than there is friction. “This is beyond search and rescue,” the chief of Canada Command told me in a recent interview upon his European travel plans. “We are going to be talking about military co-operation in the North.” Officials from Russia and other Arctic Council countries will “table top” an international search-andrescue exercise in the Yukon in October. At this moment, Canadian and Danish warships and U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers are working together in Arctic waters after some of the vessels paid a courtesy call on a Greenlandic port. U.S. Coast Guard divers are on an exercise with Canadians on Cornwallis Island ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Canada’s air contingent in Afghanistan basically shuts down, after a very busy few years – these stats from the CF on how busy the planes and crews were since December 2008:   More from QMI’s David Akin here, and here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  How Canadian air force folks are helping create an Afghan air force (via CF Info-Machine).  “Kabul International Airport covers a vast area on the north side of the city. The sprawling complex includes civilian and military air terminals, air cargo centres, and International Security Assistance Force facilities. One military unit located on the airport grounds represents the future of the Afghan Air Force. The Afghan Air Training School (or Pohantoon e Hawayee, which means Big Air School) is where new members of the Afghan Air Force learn the basics of flying and maintaining aircraft and running an air unit. They also participate in literacy training, which is incorporated into nearly every course conducted by the Afghan national security forces. Ten advisors from Canada’s Air Force serve at the training school as part of the Canadian Forces contribution to the NATO training mission in Afghanistan. The Canadian staff are part of 738 Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron (738 AEAS), a NATO unit assigned to advise the the (school’s) Afghan commander and his senior staff ….”
  • The sacrifices made by members of the Canadian military and their families are being honoured with 26 bronze commemorative plaques that will be placed at intervals along the Highway of Heroes, which runs from Trenton, Ont., to Toronto. Announcement of the plaques took place Thursday in Toronto and was observed by at least 100 people, including Canadian soldiers, their families, parliamentarians and corporate sponsors. Each plaque is sponsored by a company, whose logo is visible below the image depicted on the plaque. Money raised through the sponsorship goes toward helping military families send children to summer camps, provide psychological counseling, retrofit homes and vehicles for soldiers returning with injuries or amputations and rehabilitate soldiers through athletics. Creation of the plaque program is a joint effort between the provincial Ministry of Transportation and True Patriot Love, a national foundation created by civilians with the aim of fostering better understanding between Canadians, the military and its endeavours ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Well, at least SOME of the U.S. Joint Strike Fighters are able to fly again.  “The F-35 Lightning II test fleet has been cleared for flight, the Pentagon announced Thursday. An Air Force safety investigation board is continuing its investigation of the failure of the AF-4’s Integrated Power Package on Aug. 2, which led to the grounding of the entire fleet of 20 aircraft. The AF-4 is the fourth conventional takeoff and landing variant produced by Lockheed Martin. A government and contractor engineering team determined that flight operations of the test aircraft could continue after reviewing data from ground and flight tests, and revised the test monitoring procedures that govern the IPP. Ground operations of the test fleet resumed Aug. 10 ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Here’s a taste of what happened at the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue industry day“…. A full complement of the right ADM’s and DG’s from Industry, Public Works and DND turned out, and it was noteworthy that they stayed until the end of the day.  In a procurement with this kind of history, little things can mean a lot, so government representatives handed out all their slide decks and notes in advance …. industry has until September 16 to get back to the government with its feedback, with a major focus on where the fixed-wing purchase can and should sit on a spectrum from full government ownership and ISS all the way through to full ASD, provided it still delivers the same ‘world-class’ capability as today.  This does not appear to be the only interaction the Crown intends, as this briefing is being followed by individual one on one corporate briefings, with the promise of follow-up sessions once inputs have been received and digested ….”
  • What’s Canada (Not) Buying?  Canada reportedly pulling out of Global Hawk UAV project“…. Canada has become the second country to withdraw from the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 alliance ground surveillance (AGS) program, but the remaining NATO partners are “very close” to signing a contract, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. The decision means AGS will lose another source of funding that must be compensated for by the 13 NATO members still committed …. Denmark also decided to withdraw from the partnership acquiring a six-aircraft RQ-4 fleet in June 2010. Meanwhile, Northrop and NATO officials are likely to sign a contract to launch the development phase of the AGS programme within several days. The contract award may still have to be approved by each of the national partners before it becomes official ….”
  • Two Canadian Forces members were listed on the National Sex Offender Registry, as of this spring, the Chief of the Defence Staff, has confirmed. “As of 11 May 2011, two Canadian Forces members were known to be subject to a SOIRA (Sex Offender Information Registration Act) order,” Gen. Walter Natynczyk said in a letter to Defence Minister Peter MacKay that was tabled in Parliament this week. Gen. Natynczyk said he has the power to temporarily exempt CF members from certain sex offender registry obligations, but noted he has never done so. Although a top government official told Huffington Post Canada the two members are still serving, Capt. Scott Costen, a Department of National Defence spokesman cautioned that administrative reviews, which are are launched after court martials or civilian criminal proceedings call into question the suitability of a member’s continued service, may be underway to release individuals from their military positions ….”
  • Some Twitter updates from the boss of Canada’s Army.  1) Senior Canadian medic recognized by U.S.  “BGen Hilary Jaeger was awarded the US Meritorious Service Medal for her outstanding leadership and great contribution to ISAF mission.”  2)  Change of assignment for senior Canadian officer working with U.S. forces.  “Great visit III Corps and Fort Hood. Atkinson‘s were awesome ambassadors for Canada. Welcome Milner‘s” (more on the senior Canadian appointment switch-around from the Fort Hood base newspaper here)
  • PM on Syria  Time for the boss to go.  “…. The Assad regime has lost all legitimacy by killing its own people to stay in power. I join with President Obama and other members of the international community in calling on President Assad to vacate his position, relinquish power and step down immediately. The Syrian people have a right to decide for themselves the next steps for Syria’s future ….”  More from Postmedia News here and Agence France-Presse here.
  • Lew-Mac on NATO“…. (Historian Jack) Granatstein rightly points out that, “In diplomacy as in baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out. Afghanistan was strike one; Libya was strike two. And strike three?” he asks. I suggest strike three already happened in 1999 during NATO’s 50th birthday celebrations when it was frantically searching for a role and an enemy now that the Cold War was over. It found an out of area mission bombing Serbia and Kosovo in support of the Kosovo Liberation Army, at the time a terrorist movement according to the CIA. Seventy-nine days of bombing later, Serbian infrastructure was devastated but her security forces were still defiant and little damaged. Diplomacy took over and NATO capitulated on the two poison pills in the Rambouillet Agreement that “justified” the bombing campaign in the first place, that is to say, NATO freedom of movement throughout Serbia and a referendum on Kosovo independence within three years. As a result of this Russian-led diplomacy Serbian forces pulled out of Kosovo. NATO’s military mission had failed which in my book makes it three strikes in 12 years ….”
  • MORE criminals (not just war criminals) on the CBSA “help us find these folks” web site – more from
  • Meanwhile,Anyone defending foreign criminals remaining here are naively ignoring their potential threat or are driven by unknown motives, Canada’s public safety minister warned Thursday. Vic Toews said some Canadians “condemn our soldiers as war criminals,” but not foreigners evading deportation to face charges of crimes against humanity. On Sun News, he said such stances — including Amnesty International objecting to the government seeking public help to catch 30 suspected war criminals, plus the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) seeking killer Omar Khadr’s return — exhibit a “culture gap. “Don’t you people understand what is going on in the world … there are some bad people out there,” Toews told Ezra Levant, host of The Source ….”
  • Several Canadian cities will be receiving artifacts from Hangar 17 — a makeshift museum inside New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport that houses pieces from the 9/11 wreckage. Thousands of meticulously catalogued steel beams, crushed cars and fire trucks can be found inside the 80,000-square-foot hangar that’s rarely open to the public. Tom Doucette, executive director of The Military Museums in Calgary, said they will be receiving a 15-foot long piece of steel from one of the fallen World Trade Center towers that weighs just under 3,000 pounds ….”
  • Just as they did during active duty, the Olympus and Okanagan continue to slip silently along Canada’s waterways. These days, however, they’re not doing so unnoticed. After all, it’s difficult to miss the 1,250-tonne submarines that are taking a voyage from Halifax to Port Maitland – especially when they’re travelling above the water. Decommissioned by the Canadian Department of National Defense, the former submarines are being transported on floating drydocks towed by barges. At the end of the journey, they’ll meet their fate. The Oberon class submarines are scheduled to be scrapped by Port Colborne-based Marine Recycling Corp. at the company’s Port Maitland shipyard. Now it’s just a matter of getting them there ….”

TALIBAN PROPAGANDA WATCH: Omar on Unity, Threatening the West (maybe), and What He Doesn’t Say

A bit more to offer on this week’s “Eid Mubarak” message from Mullah Omar (PDF of official English & Arabic at non-terrorist site).  I’ve seen different English versions out there, so I’m going to base my read on the official English version at the Taliban’s own site.

“Colonial Watch” Count

Words whose root is “colony” pop up 14 times in this statement.  For an approximately 3100 word statement, we’re seeing a “colonial-esque” expression every 220 words – not quite as densely “colonized” as another recent statement (6 mentions in 560 words, or once every 87 words).

Multiple Unity,  Stability Pleas

There were several different calls for an end to infighting and divisiveness of various kinds:

Implement the injunctions of Allah practically and fully;  constantly strive for unity among your ranks and keep away from discord and friction.

Make the most of experience, consultation and proven tactics in the military operations and other affairs of Jihad so that you will block the door of differences, complaints and losses.

The ( former) communists formed tribal and unscrupulous groups under the name of tribal militia at a time when they were on the verge of defeat. The aim was to provoke internal conflicts, biases, racial differences and resultantly revenge themselves on (our) Mujahid people. The Americans and their allies too want to repeat the same failed experience.

The economic assistance, the mercenaries, the overt and covert ploys of the wicked companies have paved the way for( execution of these plans) and have set off hatred, discrimination and rivalries in the region.

I advise you to fully abide by the sacred rules of Islam in order to achieve the magnanimity and grandeur of Islam. Help (your) oppressed Muslim brothers and use your wisdom, sagacity and sobriety in the cause of Jihad and confrontation with the tyrant aggressors, particularly, the chiefs of the Jihadic movements should ponder over all aspects during performance of affairs of Jihad; avoid disunity and splintering among your ranks and be heedful to the conspiracies being engineered to malign Mujahideen.

The Americans and its allies have been hammering out plans overtly and covertly to destabilize the Islamic world and provoke differences in the Islamic countries.

While it’s clear Mullah Omar is blaming NATO/the West for engineering the rifts (real or perceived), it makes one wonder exactly how worried he might be about infighting with this many mentions.

“It Wasn’t Us, It Was Them!”

The theme of NATO causing the deaths of civilians, even in crowded market bombings pops up:

The cunning enemy wants to attack people’s congestion places like religious centers, mosques and other similar places in order to malign Mujahideen. They also launch sanguinary attacks under the name of martyrdom-seeking operations to mar the good name of Mujahiden.

Nothing new here, just more of the same.

Negotiations:  What Omar Says (and Doesn’t Say?)

On negotiations, the statement basically says any such talks are for NATO’s benefit, not Afghanistan’s:

Those who have occupied our country and taken our people as hostage, want to use the stratagem of negotiation like they used the drama of elections for some time in order to achieve their colonialist objectives. The invaders do not want negotiation aimed at granting independence to Afghanistan and ending their invasion but they want negotiation which will prolong their evil process of colonization and occupation. However, the people of Afghanistan will not agree to negotiation which prolongs and legitimatizes the invaders military presence in our beloved country. Afghanistan is our home. No one will ever be ready to negotiate with any one else about ownership of one’s home –still more to give share in administration and control of the home and himself ends up becoming homeless, powerless and servant in his own home.

The foreigners have occupied the land of the Afghans by dent of (military) might and savagery. If they want solution of the issue, they should put an end to the occupation of Afghanistan. The invading Americans want Mujahideen to surrender under the pretext of the negotiation. This is some thing impossible.

Some, including the Long War Journal, the Associated Press and Voice of America, see this as (continued) evidence that the Taliban don’t want to talk to Karzai.

Others, like Kandahar-based writer/journalist Alex Strick van Linschoten (co-editor of soon-to-be released memoirs of senior former Taliban official Abdul Salam Zaeef), see what’s NOT written – via Twitter here, here and here:

(Omar) didn’t rule out (talks), strictly speaking.  He said things need to change before he’d talk, but he doesn’t close the door completely, i.e. it’s implied but he doesn’t actively rule them out.

In spite of this, as well as other messaging outliers like the former Taliban U.N. rep laying out conditions for participation in a loya jirga, for now I’m going to keep reading Mullah Omar’s latest statement as further support for the “OFFICIALLY, no talking until the foreign troops are gone” message track we’ve seen elsewhere.

Future Threat to U.S., the West?

This is one of the questions reportedly being pondered by all sorts of government officials in considering next steps in Afghanistan.  On the one hand, we see another reinforcement of “we’re here to be friendly to our neighbours” message:

We only want establishment of an Islamic system in our country which will protect rights of all individuals of this nation both men and women—a system depending on its own feet,  fully independent, its internal and external policy  being based on this Islamic principle: not harming others and not allowing others to harm us.

This builds on previous statements (here and here, for example) as part of  the Taliban, in the words of the Institute for the Study of War’s Jeffrey Dressler, “aggressively attempting to rebrand their image and feed talking points to those in favor of de-escalation.”

On the other hand, though, we also see this:

We consider the whole region as a common home against colonialism and, as a responsible force, want to play our role in stability and peace of the region in future.


The statement on the Taliban’s web page about the Fort Hood shooting mentions this:

This is a natural reaction and resentment against the brutalities, atrocities, bombardment and tortures  of prisoners at the hand of  the American soldiers  in these two Muslim countries. The American army has killed hundred of thousands of miserable Afghans and Iraqis during the past eight years as a result of an unjustified and arrogant  wars.

In the Taliban’s statement following the attack on UNAMA’s residence in Kabul, we see this:

If we have a glimpse at events in Palestine, Iraq and other issues and  the bloodbath now going on at the  level  of the Ummah, we will readily know that  how callously and brutally the invading colonialists kill common Muslims collectively  and invade Islamic lands flagrantly.

So, do these last two quotes mean that as long as the Taliban see the U.S. as a threat in Iraq or the Middle East, they’ll still be “colonialist” enough to consider the bad guy?  If that’s the case, using the region as a base for any anti-US/anti-colonial could be seen as OK.

There are yet other signals out there muddying the waters as well, such as the guy calling himself a Taliban commander saying “If the Americans leave, then we will not concern ourselves with them any longer …. we will never again allow our country to be used in the same way as it was used against America in the past.”

My two cents – I’m happy to leave deeper analysis to the professionals who don’t need Google Translator to do the work.

TALIBAN PROPAGANDA WATCH: Talib Info-Machine in a hurry?

Just spotted this tidbit (Voice of Jihad English here, PDF at here).

Credit Where Due:  I have to say the Taliban is becoming quicker and more timely in some of its op-ed statements – this appears to be in response to an Associated Press article (PDF here if link doesn’t work) discussing the results of battlefield surveys conductedby the U.S. Army.

The Taliban Info-Machine is pretty good at using open source info from western sources (in this case, the U.S. Army’s own information about the need for my psychiatric services) against the West.

That said, it appears that the Taliban’s translators were in a hurry, or their machine translation software needs tweaking:

There are also some reports on the mental problems of the U.S soldiers since a shooting rampage at Fart Hood in Taxes last week…



NOTE: This material is from web pages and forums carrying statements attributed to the Taliban, Taliban spokespersons or supporters of the Taliban, or analysis thereof. Posting of this material neither confirms nor endorses any of its content – it is shared for information only. When material translated into English is not available, Google Translate is used to translate the original  – this is only a machine translation, NOT an official one.

Prisoners under the central prison in Kandahar city to severe torture (Original in Arabic) – Google English translation


…. If you do not respond as well as prison officials do not seek human rights associations in response to the demands of the prisoners, all you get to later disastrous consequences are the responsibility of those actors….

6 NATO invading terrorists killed and a tank blown up in Helmand

Tuesday, 10 November 2009 17:48 Reported by Qari Muhammad Yousuf
Tuesday morning 10-11-2009 at around 10 am local time, Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan with improvised explosive device blew up a tank of the NATO invaders in Khisraw Abad area near Lashkarga city in Helmand province, in the blast the tank was destroyed and six terrorists in it were killed, soon after the blast the enemy convoy was ambushed, inflicting more losses in the ranks of the enemy.

British Invaders patrols blown up in Helmand

Tuesday, 10 November 2009 05:04 Reported by Qari Muhammad Yousuf
Monday afternoon 09-11-2009, Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan blew up a foot patrol of the British invading terrorists in Sori gul area near Sarwan killa in Sangeen district of Helmand province, in the blasts four British terrorists were killed and six were wounded. According to another report, Sunday afternoon 08-11-2009, the Mujahideen destroyed a armored vehicle of the British invaders in Opashak area in Gereshk district of Helmand province, the vehicle was blown up when the enemy were patrolling, in the blast the vehicle was destroyed and all terrorists in it were killed.

Lanndmine targets invaders’ tank adjacent to Lashkargh

Tuesday, 10 November 2009 15:44 By Qari Yosuf Ahmadi
HELMAND, Nov 10 – In the late morning hours of November 10, an occupiers’ mine-resistant tank got blown up in an IED blast in Khisrowabad of Nawa district, near about Lashkargah, capital of Helmand province. According to the regional Mujahideen, the tank, meant to carry out an operation against Mujahihideen, was targeted by a
landmine, burning down to ash and killing 5 foreign soldiers on the spot, while the enemy came under attack right after the incident.

The bombing of a U.S. tank improvised explosive device in the castle of New (Original in Arabic) – Google English translation

Continental / Yousuf Ahmadi
Exploded before noon yesterday (2009-11-09) tank of U.S. forces improvised explosive device in the Directorate of Kanchin in Helmand. Officials said the jihadists from the region: The accident occurred when the enemy tanks on the way hovering position at the New Castle area that the Directorate, one of which hit the explosive device planted by the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate. Scattered enemy tank in the blast completely, and saw cut this morning at the scene.

Mujahideen destroyed two Ranger in Cmzay (Original in Arabic) – Google English translation

Continental / Yousuf Ahmadi
Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate was destroyed yesterday (2009-11-09) my car for the Army Ranger client in two separate State Department Cmzay Zabul. According to news Linker targeted vehicles of the enemy all day yesterday with improvised explosive devices in the “Dorahi” when they were on their way towards the center of the Directorate. Five Ten soldiers were killed in the blasts occurred one extreme noon and the other in the afternoon. Said of the two officers were among the dead as well.

District Khakshrod comes under attack (Official English) – Arabic version

Tuesday, 10 November 2009 15:47 By Qari Yusuf Ahmadi
NIMROZ, Nov 10 – The region Ghorghori situated in the in the Khashrod district of the Nimroz province came under attack by the Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate. The report says that the Mujahids have inflicted heavy losses the life and property on the enemy, adding that there have been no further information about the casualties of the foreign and Afghan guests staying in the region.

Texas guide to attack U.S. soldiers from the repulsion of the war! (Original in Arabic) – Google English translation

…. The recent attack in a Texas military warns that if policy continued occupation of the rulers of America like this, do not praise the table occupation and the encroachment of the level of Afghanistan and Iraq, is only natural to extend incidents and attacks similar to Texas to the rest of the Pentagon and military centers of America, must be The people of conscience reaction, and the fundamentalist insurgency!!

PDF version of this page also available
at non-terrorist site here.

My Only Fort Hood Thoughts for Now

Sincerest condolences to the families, colleagues and friends of those killed in the tragedy.

Hopes for a speedy and full recovery to all the wounded (both physically and emotionally).

Posts like this or this do NOT help sort out what really happened.

Right now, I have to agree with this, from a terrorism analyst/blogger:

I find it  disturbing that there are those in my field out there rushing to publish, throwing their judgment around in what is, to be perfectly frank, a self aggrandizing race to be the first to comment.

Their choice. But in complex situations like this, and before clear information has emerged making what can only then be characterised as ill-informed comment can cause great harm  to already marginalised and vulnerable communities,  and I think it would be extremely poor form for me to offer comment, before the facts are in, let alone go announcing this is some new jihad as I note some are already doing.

I await more on this once everyone has regained their breath a bit.