Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘Ghazni City News Highlights – 28 Feb 11

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  • Canada’s Foreign Affairs department confirms it’s working on the “safe release” of a Canadian, Colin MacKenzie, in AfghanistanThe Taliban has issued a statement claiming a captured “Canadian national” is a spy, saying they’ll be releasing a video shortly.  A bit more from the Canadian Press here, here, here, Agence France-Presse here and the BBC here.
  • A couple of more versions of the Taliban’s “we have a Canadian spy” statement, in Arabic and Pashto (with a Google translation of the Arabic version) here.
  • It appears, according to media accounts here and here, that the missing man, 1)  has been missing for 3 months (with RCMP involvement since November), and 2)  wanted to learn Pashto. In case one needs reminding, here’s DFAIT’s recommendations about touristing in Afghanistan” …. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against all travel to Afghanistan. Canadians undertaking travel despite this warning take serious risks. Canadians already in Afghanistan should leave. The security situation remains extremely volatile and unpredictable ….”
  • A U.S. squadron will head to Kandahar’s Dand district next month in a move that will enable the Canadian military to start “saturating” the western neck of Panjwaii before the conclusion of combat operations, Canada’s top soldier in Afghanistan says. The 1st squadron of the 2nd Stryker Regiment will leave the Uruzgan province and take command of the Dand battle space in mid-March from the 1-71 Cavalry of 10th Mountain Division. The 500-member cavalry has been under the command of Task Force Kandahar, stationed alongside Canadian and Afghan forces in the relatively calm district since May. The 700-member Stryker squadron will fall under Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner’s command until the Canadian military mission ends in July. Two companies of soldiers will go to Dand and a third will be deployed to Panjwaii ….”
  • A snapshot of Canadian mentoring work with Afghan troops: “A hint of irritation is evident in Capt. Eric Bouchard’s voice as he tries to figure out where his counterpart in the Afghan National Army is going.  Canadian and Afghan forces have barely begun a two-day mission to search villages and fields in the central Panjwaii district, and already there’s confusion between the two groups. It seems the Afghan platoon commander paired with Bouchard has neglected to bring a proper map, and he’s leading his troops off the planned route.  Bouchard’s first instinct is to tell him to get back on track, but he restrains himself. After all, this operation has been organized by the Afghans and Bouchard’s job is to mentor their soldiers, not lecture them. Showing respect is paramount.  “Tell him the first objective is over that way,” Bouchard instructs his interpreter. “But … but, ask him where he wants to go.”  Such interactions are common for Canadians serving in the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team, also known as the OMLT or “omelette,” which provides on-the-job training for Afghan soldiers in the field ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda WatchMore attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan.
  • Wounded warrior preparing for run on artificial leg“When army Sergeant Jamie MacIntyre joined Toronto’s annual run in support of St. John’s Rehab Hospital two years ago, he had a special reason for taking part: Among those getting a new lease on life from the widely acclaimed facility was his friend Master Corporal Jody Mitic, who’d lost both legs in 2007 in Afghanistan after stepping on a land mine.  This year, Sgt. MacIntyre has a still better incentive for participating: Last June, two months into his second tour of Afghanistan, he too trod on a roadside bomb and his left foot was blown off. So when he does the Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K Run/Walk on March 13, together with his wife and some military colleagues, this time he’ll be running with an artificial leg …”
  • Operation GTFO Libya More details are coming to light about why Canadian planes had to leave empty from Libya last week. “…. MacKay said Sunday the two aircraft had arrived in the middle of the night and officials were having difficulty both identifying Canadians who were waiting at the airport and determining if they were allowed to leave the country. The planes had been given a limited amount of time to remain at the airport, so aircraft from other countries could land. “There was very little co-operation being extended to Canadians by officials at the airport,” MacKay told CTV’s Question Period in an interview from Halifax. “And so they were then told they had to leave because there were specific time slots that were being given to countries at that time.” ….”
  • Two more Canadian military planes are being dispatched to the eastern Mediterranean to help with the evacuation of Canadians in Libya. Defence Minister Peter MacKay tells CTV News’ Question Period the pair of Hercules transport aircraft were deployed and could be used to land in austere areas of Libya outside of the capital Tripoli. An estimated 100 Canadians are still trapped in the country, many of them believed to be oil workers. The British military, including members of its special forces, used a Hercules to fly under the Libyan radar and rescue 150 Britons and foreign nationals in a desert area. A spokesman for the prime minister said Stephen Harper was spending the day in briefings on the evolving situation in Libya ….” More on that from Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister here.
  • Here’s what the PM had to say about what happens next with Libya: “…. Canada earlier today implemented the following binding sanctions contained in the Resolution:
    • An arms embargo requiring all states to prevent the sale or supply of arms into Libya, or the export of arms from Libya;
    • The inspection of cargo going into Libya;
    • A travel ban on Muammar Qadhafi and 15 individuals closely associated with him; and
    • An asset freeze against Muammar Qadhafi and members of his family….” More from the Canadian Press here.
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • F-35 Tug o’ War The fighter plane at the centre of one of Ottawa’s hottest political debates has taken its first test flight over the skies of Texas.  The hour-long flight of the first production model of the Lockheed Martin F-35 II Lightning stealth fighter went off without a hitch, said test pilot Bill Gigliotti.  “The aircraft was rock-solid from takeoff to landing, and successfully completed all the tests we put it through during the flight,” Gigliotti said.  The flight was an important developmental milestone for the aircraft that Canada plans to begin using in 2016 to replace its aging CF-18 fleet ….”

More on Taliban statements on missing Canadian

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Here’s a bit more from the Arabic version of the Taliban’s statement regarding Colin MacKenzie (Google translation):

Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate gave some time ago, the arrest of a foreign country continued to Kananda, called / (Rutherford Colin, Mackenzie) of the population of hot (169) Toronto Kananda state.  It was found after investigation that the alien in question has had the task of collecting intelligence in the city of Ghazni, about the centers of the mujahideen and their homes.  Also found with the Mujahideen captured documents indicate the intelligence its activities in the region.  Soon, God willing, will be publishing a video of this prisoner through the media.  It should be noted that it had been in contact with the body that appointed the Canadian government, but we have not received a positive response so far on the tapes which will be released prisoner.

Here’s a screen capture of the Arabic statement and its Google translation at

In case you know the language, here’s a link to the Pashto version of the statement (and a screen capture of same at

Canada confirms Canadian missing in Afghanistan

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This from the National Post:

Canadian Foreign Affairs officials confirmed Sunday that a Canadian tourist has gone missing in Afghanistan, after the Taliban issued a statement claiming that it had captured a Canadian “spy” in the eastern province of Ghazni.

The tourist is a Canadian citizen named Colin Rutherford, said Emmanuelle Lamoureux of Foreign Affairs.

“Canadian officials are working with Afghan authorities to assist the family in securing the safe release of their loved one,” she said in an emailed response to questions ….

More on what the Taliban say happened to him here. News Highlights – 27 Feb 11

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  • Operation GTFO Libya The good news:  Canadians are being flown out of Libya in a Canadian military plane.  The not-so-good news:  it’s Canada’s embassy staff, including the Ambassador. More on that here, here, here and here.
  • More on managing expectations of a military incursion (involving Canadians, anyway) into Libya“…. Defence Minister Peter MacKay told a group of defence experts Friday not to expect Canadian troops — or even United Nations peacekeepers — to intervene in Libya anytime soon. When asked about the UN’s Responsibility to Protect resolution, which allows for quick action by the Security Council to intervene militarily in cases where innocent civilians are being brutalized, MacKay said the resolution is a “very important concept,” but it isn’t applied evenly. “As we’ve seen in places like Darfur, it (the resolution) has lost its lost lustre,” MacKay said. “I think the corollary to the Responsibility to Protect is not to overextend, and not to raise expectations that can’t be met.” ….”
  • Here’s what Irwin Cotler, a former Canadian Attorney General, says Canada should be doing about Libya.
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • The Taliban is claiming to have “captured” a “Canadian national” in Ghazni, Afghanistan – no mainstream media confirmation as of this posting.
  • An editorial voice saying Canada should stay to finish the job in Afghanistan“This summer, as Kandahar bakes in the relentless heat, Canada will formally end its combat role in Afghanistan. After nearly a decade of fighting, Canadians will transition to a training role — behind the wire — teaching the Afghan National Security Forces.  Canada must maintain a presence in Afghanistan, but it is difficult for Canadians to walk away from combat operations in Kandahar before the job is done, given the heroic efforts and sacrifices of our soldiers …. Soldiers go where they are told to and do as the government orders because that’s their job. They are loyal to the core.  Quietly though, many wonder what it was all for. There is a feeling of unfinished business, of being taken off the field in the last moments of the championship game when the critical moves are being made, when the score is so close.  …. Now, as the surge is in full swing, Canadian troops have to walk away without being allowed to finish what they started.  This is all the more grating because combat has not affected Canada’s ability to fight — it has affected our will to fight.  Ultimately the decision to leave combat had nothing to do with tactical success or failure on the ground and everything to do with political debates at home …. Much of the reputation the Canadian Forces have earned us in Afghanistan will be left in the dust of Kandahar.  Asked what could be done for his troops, one veteran officer answered, “Let them win, if you really want their efforts to have not been in vain.” “
  • Taliban Propaganda WatchMore on the Taliban’s view of those nasty, nasty people who say they’re talking with NATO, Afghanistan, the Americans, whoever.
  • A top Canadian general wants to cut the fat at national defence headquarters in Ottawa, a move he says will help create a leaner, meaner fighting machine. Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie was heavily critical of a system that favours headquarters staff members over soldiers in the field. “Before you want to talk, and none of you should be, about cutting one ship, one reserve or regular unit, or one capability that can contribute to operational outputs, let’s talk about HQ staffs,” Leslie told a conference of defence analysts and military officers. His heaviest opposition is coming from the bureaucrats he is facing off against. “Nothing will defend itself so vigorously, much akin to a wounded badger, as a HQ that is threatened with being shut down.” ….” Some interesting discussion and suggestions on this topic here at
  • F-35 Tug o’ War This from the Parliamentary Budget Officer in his latest report (PDF): “…. the federal government still hasn’t given him, or the committee, the information they say they need to hold the Conservatives fiscally accountable on crime bill costs, the F-35 fighter jet purchase and costs to the federal treasury of corporate tax cuts ….” This, specifically on the F-35, from the report itself:  “The GC’s (Government of Canada’s) response to FINA (House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance) on October 28 2010 confirms some of the relevant cost drivers associated with the GC’s planned purchase of 65 F-35s. These include the importance of specifications such as weight and materials, deflator rates to account for changes in prices, and a specific delivery schedule in order to determine the average unit cost of the aircraft. That said, there are two insufficiencies in the data. First, the data provided does not cover all the cost drivers. Second, the response does not provide the necessary degree of detail with respect to both the underlying assumptions upon which the GC’s figures are based and cost drivers themselves …. The PBO (Parliamentary Budget Office) will be providing parliamentarians with an independent estimate of the costs of the F-35 aircraft in the upcoming weeks ….”
  • A Quebec museum has bought itself a submarine for the princely sum of $4, plus tax.  The submarine is the former HMCS Onondaga, one of Canada’s Oberon-class submarines that was decommissioned in 2000 when the navy picked up its new Victoria-class subs from the British navy.  Annemarie Bourassa, assistant director of the Musee de la Mer de Pointe-au-Pere, told the Canadian Press that the sub will be a big draw for her museum.   “Rimouski is not a big city and there’s not a lot of big tourist attractions, so there’s a lot of people who are convinced that this will be good for everyone,” Bourassa said.  The submarine was headed to the Canada War Museum as an exhibit for children to climb through, but that museum bailed out when it worked out the cost of transporting the submarine to its new building in Ottawa ….”

Taliban alleges “Canadian national” captured in Ghazni?

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NOTE:  As of this post, there’s been no mainstream media confirmation of this incident.  I first spotted this when ISAF public affairs shared this via Twitter post ~0730E/1230UTC.  The ISAF Twitter post links to this from Iranian media , which has had some…. reliability issues in the past).

This from the Taliban’s web site (usual caveats about clicking on the link):

Mackenzie Rutherford Colin, a Canadian national, living in 166 Street, Toronto City, Canada has gotten captured in Ghazni City, the capital of the province of the same name.  He has been involved in some clandestine activities to get some fugitive information especially to learn about whereabouts of the Mujahideen, according to the admission of suspect.  Mujahideen gotten some documents out of the suspect describing him as a secrete agent.

You can click here to see a screen capture of the statement at a non-terrorist site (