News Highlights – 30 Jun 11 News Highlights – 29 Jun 11

  • Francis Roy, R.I.P.  Arriving home later today.
  • Afghanistan (1)  How one woman is supporting the troops, one letter at a time.
  • Afghanistan (2)  “…. Over the past few months, on many mornings just like this, Maj. Frederic Pruneau has scanned the landscape, so lush in the nourished floodplain of the Arghandab River, and wondered: “Where are you?’’ It’s not his own place in the sweep of Afghanistan that puzzles Pruneau. He knows where he stands and why, in a few days, he’ll be leaving as his parachute troops — Alpha Company of 3 Van Doos, attached to the 1st Van Doos for this mission — depart the area of operations, depart the country, Task Force Kandahar fading to black. Rather, it’s the enigmatic no-see-em insurgency that has Pruneau taking the lay of the land, sizing up the significance of an opponent that has largely gone AWOL in this, the second half of the Para tour. The traditional spring and summer terrorism surge in Panjwaii has not materialized, insurgency dialed down to a whimper hereabouts. Though hereabouts is, quite frankly, small — a mere 35 square kilometres, south of the river, less than half of the Panjwaii area formerly under Canadian jurisdiction, before this and neighbouring districts devolved to the incoming Americans ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  One soldier’s story, via
  • Afghanistan (4)  If this country ever sorts itself out, Canadians will be remembered for their role. But perhaps bureaucracy will have played a small part as well. On Monday, the Canadian Battle Group commander attended his final regional security meeting – a gathering known as a shura. It was Canada that pushed for the weekly round tables of the major international and Afghan players who are trying to defeat the insurgency. Checks and balances maintain order in developed countries like Canada, so why shouldn’t they be used in Afghanistan? ….”
  • Afghanistan (5)  As Canadian combat forces leave Kandahar this summer, Canada’s man in Kabul has also been saying his goodbyes in the capital. Bill Crosbie’s two-year term as Ottawa’s envoy to Afghanistan ends shortly. In a farewell interview with Postmedia News at Canada’s new embassy complex in Kabul, Crosbie said that the capital, Kandahar, and the country in general are more secure than when he arrived in 2009. He was immensely proud of what Canadian diplomats, other public servants and soldiers have achieved so far in Afghanistan in security and with signature projects such as the Dahla Dam, which brings water to farmers in Kandahar. But the Newfoundlander, who is a cousin of former Mulroney minister John Crosbie, fretted about the country’s future because Afghan leaders are not yet seized with the importance of developing national institutions and the rule of law ….”
  • Afghanistan (6)  More on the troops packing up (video, via the CF Info-Machine)
  • Afghanistan (7)  Each story about alleged abuse of Afghan detainees received almost the same response from the government: Officials scrutinized every fact of every story to determine what was needed to be done in response to the media coverage. The facts were laid out in spreadsheets with the claim, its veracity and government response listed. The coverage spurred an official response and that response in turn spurred more coverage. The tidbits of the role the media played in the Afghan detainee affair are buried within the more than 4,200 pages of documents released last week. They are also evidence of changes in international reporting that have forced governments to react quicker to stories available immediately to worldwide audiences ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  More assassinations, airfield shellings alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan & Zabul.
  • Private Alexander Johnston, 1885-1918, R.I.P.:  The Department of National Defence (DND) has identified the remains of a First World War soldier found in Raillencourt Saint-Olle, France, in 2008, as those of Private Alexander Johnston of Hamilton, Ontario …. In July 2008, human remains were discovered in Raillencourt Saint-Olle, France. Found with the remains were two collar badges of the 78th Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers). The Directorate of History and Heritage was notified of the discovery in February 2009, and the remains were identified through mitochondrial DNA testing, as those of Private Johnston, on March 31, 2011 ….”  A bit more from The Canadian Press here.
  • What’s Canada Buying (1)  More EOD robots, apparently“The Canadian Army is planning on adding two new UGVs (Unmanned Ground Vehicles) to its family of EOD devices in an effort to continue the re-establishment of its EOD ROV capability. After ‘giving up’ on UGVs in 1995, the army has been moving towards re-developing its UGV capability, James Hewitt, director of combat support equipment management for the Canadian Forces, told the Military Robotics conference in London on 28 June. Working under a $(CAD)700 million equipment budget over eight years, the army plans to purchase two new UGVs to add to the four systems currently in service. ‘We’re building an inventory. That re-establishment is what’s really costing us,’ Hewitt told the conference. ‘You’ve got to spend a long time preparing for the introduction of the equipment. Basic UGV platforms do not change much, what does change are sensor packages, tools and accessories.’ The tender for the first – for a dismounted operations UGV system – is expected to be released by the end of 2011, and the requirements will include: a 5kg weight; the system to be throwable; the ability to fit into a soldier’s backpack; good camera outfit; and the ability to fire a recoilless disruptor. The second tender for a chemical, biological, reconnaissance, and nuclear (CBRN) reconnaissance UGV is expected at the end of 2012 and will call for a 75-100kg platform, which will therefore require a two or three man operation ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Sewer, water hook-up for proposed Chinook site in Petawawa, and research help figuring out bad guy’s psychology (via
  • Energy and water shortages combined with climate change could provoke wars within the next 15 years, warns an analysis by the Department of National Defence. “Global reserves of crude oil could become problematic by 2025,” wrote Maj. John Sheahan in a draft version of the report, Army 2040: First Look. He wrote that barring the discovery of significant new reserves and adequate adoption of alternative fuel sources, critical energy shortages could before 2025. “There can be little doubt that unrestricted access to reliable energy supplies is a global strategic issue, one for which, recently, numerous nations have been willing to fight, and have indeed done so,” said the report, released to Postmedia News through an Access to Information request. “Thus the trend that envisions depletion of fossil fuels such as crude oil in coming decades may also contribute to international tensions if not violent conflict.” ….” News Highlights – 28 Jun 11 News Highlights – 27 Jun 11

  • Francis Roy, R.I.P.  Latest CF dead identified (CF statement here, another statement by Minister of National Defence here) – more here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
  • While I disagree with Rosie DiManno’s assessment that any in the CF committing suicide could be seen as “a traitor to his own kind and, at least in some quarters, viewed differently as a casualty of war”, this part disturbs me a bit:  “…. Master Corporal Roy’s colleagues and friends have been offered counseling by Padre Grahame Thompson, Task Force Kandahar senior chaplain and a major. Asked if any had availed themselves of his solacing, Thompson said last night: “To be truthful, none, not yet.” ” One hopes that people who need any kind of help will avail themselves of it.
  • Afghanistan (1):  The Canadian Press offers up this round-up of “the good, the bad and the ugly” of the mission.
  • Afghanistan (2):  Remember MP and former DefMin John McCallum suggesting Canadian troops may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan?  At least one columnist demands an apology now.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  At least 25 alleged killed, +7 “tanks” claimed destroyed in recent Taliban statements.
  • Open source information bibliography on Taliban anti-air claims and capabilities updated here.
  • Point, on how DND treats its war wounded, from the Winnipeg Free Press“Canadian military doctrine emphasizes flexibility and the ability to adapt to new circumstances, but when it comes to integrating wounded soldiers into the regular force, the generals and admirals at the National Defence Headquarters seem trapped in the past ….”
  • Counterpoint, on how DND treats its war wounded, from Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff (highlights mine):  “…. We will ensure our men and women in uniform who have sacrificed so much receive the very best medical treatment and support possible. Furthermore, I have directed that no service person who has been wounded in Afghanistan be released, unless they have personally initiated the release process themselves. I can also assure you the Canadian Forces provide all wounded-in-action personnel the necessary time and support needed to recover from their wounds. We will also assist them in seeking additional opportunities to transition with confidence to the next phase of their lives ….”
  • Libya Mission (1)  Winnipeg Free Press editorial:  “…. That there has been a civilian death toll resulting from the NATO involvement in Libya is not in dispute. Col. Gadhafi’s claim, however, has exacerbated anxieties that already existed within the NATO alliance that the United Nations authorized a no-fly zone over Libya to protect that country’s citizens from the atrocities committed by its megalomaniacal leader. Faltering members of the alliance are using this as justification for their apparently imminent withdrawal. Even some Canadians, who have a huge military investment in the Libyan operation, are now expressing doubts. Ending the operation, however, is not a useful option. It would simply mean that civilians who died have died in vain, as Col. Gadhafi resumes his dictatorship and exacts his revenge upon the rebels. Civilian casualties in Libya are martyrs, not victims. It is a Canadian responsibility to stay the course and to ensure that they were not martyred for no purpose.”
  • Libya Mission (2)  Funny how a lot of media focus on how firm the PM is with his caucus, but only a few outlets note Jack Layton weilding the no-longer-socialist whip across the floor, in this case regarding the recent Libyan mission extension vote.
  • What’s Canada Buying:  Big Honkin’ Ship Edition  “…. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his ministers say on every occasion that the yards will be selected through a merit-based, transparent competition, and that officials will make the decisions on the basis of the proposals, not politics. They show every sign of meaning what they say, but the request for an extension ratchets up the pressure. One shipyard will get about $25 billion of the work, another will receive an $8-billion share, and the third will get table scraps. Three provinces have a lot riding on this, and there can be only two winners. Whichever premier loses will be more or less forced to complain bitterly and allege impropriety. It’s hard to keep the politics out of politics.”
  • Remember this idiot, taking a whizz on a war memorial in Ottawa a few years ago?  Measures are in place to keep this from happening again.

Francis Roy, CSOR, R.I.P.

This from DND:

Earlier today, Brigadier General Dean Milner, Commander, Joint Task Force Afghanistan announced the name of the Canadian Forces member who was found dead from non-combat related wounds on 25 June 2011.

Master Corporal Francis Roy from the Canadian Special Operations Regiment based at CFB Petawawa, Ontario, was serving in Afghanistan as a member of the Special Operations Task Force.

As the incident is presently under investigation by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, no further details are available at this time ….

Condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the fallen.  We mourn with you.