MILNEWS.ca Blog

Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘Guantánamo

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 8 Oct 11

leave a comment »

  • “Canada’s top soldier is defending the use of Challenger jets in an email to all the staff at the Department of National Defence ….”  Here’s the text of the e-mail sent to all CF members this week – media coverage here, here, here, here and here.
  • Latest to the defence of the Minister, CDS on Challenger use:  former Ministers Graham and Pratt & former CDS’s Manson and Henault:  “…. We the undersigned, having served in the past respectively as ministers or chiefs of defence, view with concern the recent attacks regarding the use of government jets by the current incumbents. Alarming the Canadian public with dollar figures that dramatically inflate the real cost of using the Challengers, while misconstruing the context and realities of that use, does a disservice to the Minister of National Defence, the Chief of Defence Staff and the people they serve.”
  • Blogger/info curator Mark Collins on future missions for the CF (if the U.S. gets its way).
  • Afghanistan (1)  A timeline, ten years in – more here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Quebec Senator welcomes Valcartier troops back from Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan (3)  Khadr Boy on his way back to Canada?  “Omar Khadr has started the process to come back to Canada. Lawyers for Khadr, who is serving eight years in a U.S. prison for killing a U.S. soldier when he was 15, have filed the paperwork required to start the repatriation process. Corrections officials have received the request for transfer and now have to determine if Khadr is eligible to return to Canada to finish out his sentence. Once Canadian officials determine that, they send an official request to American officials. If U.S. officials agree, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has the final say. He has the option of refusing the transfer if he decides Khadr is a risk to public safety. The process is expected to take about 18 months ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch  Ten years after Americans hit Afghanistan, Taliban claim “divine victory is with us alike the previous ten years”.
  • One Naval Reservist’s job in the fight against pirates.  When she arrives at work each morning in a northwest suburb of London, Lt.-Cmdr. Susan Long-Poucher steps into the North Arabian Sea. Her windowless office at the the NATO shipping centre in Northwood is lined with maps of exotic locations such as the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Somali Basin and the Persian Gulf. From here, Long-Poucher, 49, helps keep tabs on pirates who, equipped with tiny speed boats and a handful of small arms, prey on a fortune of commercial shipping. “Even though I work in the United Kingdom, when I come to work I am in the gulf,” said Long-Poucher, commanding officer of HMCS Cataraqui, the local naval reserve unit. Long-Poucher is in the midst of a six-month assignment to the shipping centre as part of an international anti-piracy campaign. Long-Poucher is the senior of three Canadian officers assigned to the centre as part of Operation Saiph, Canada’s commitment to increasing maritime security in the waters around the Horn of Africa ….”
  • Changes proposed to military law, specifically in how courts martial are run and military judges get to be more independent – more here and here.
  • Talkin’ search and rescue way up north. “Delegates from eight circumpolar countries met in Whitehorse this week for a conference on Arctic search and rescue co-operation. The purpose of the meeting of members of the Arctic Council Oct. 5 and 6 was to study the Arctic Search and Rescue agreement signed in May in Nuuk, Greenland, and to examine ways to enhance search and rescue capability and response across the North. Besides Canada, the members of the Arctic Council are Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia and the United States. It took 30 hours for some of the delegates to get to Yukon ….”
  • “Come lookit our non-lethal weapon tech” conference and trade show scheduled for Ottawa 25-27 Oct 11.
  • What’s Canada Melting Down?  Loads of old pistols, apparently“Despite all its bluster about saving money and honouring Canada’s armed forces, the Conservative federal government is poised to melt down millions of dollars worth of military memorabilia. Specifically, the Department of Defence is planning to send 19,000 highly collectable Browning Hi-Power pistols made in Toronto more than 60 years ago to the smelter and destroy them, instead of allowing licensed firearm owners to buy them for hundreds of dollars each. As reported recently, the Canadian Forces are replacing the Browning Hi-Power semi-automatic pistols starting in the fall 2015. The decommissioned sidearms, the standard military issue pistol for the forces since 1944, are set to be destroyed ….”  Just a reminder – the process to replace the Browning HP has been “cancelled” – still no word from Public Works Canada re:  why.
  • Congrats on hour #3000“Major Miguel Bernard joined an elite club on Aug. 15, 2011 when he flew his 3,000th hour in the CF-18 Hornet fighter aircraft while transiting from Bagotville, Que. to Trapani, Italy, to support Operation Mobile. “It’s a significant milestone because not many people have it,” he said from Trapani. “It just takes time.” Maj Bernard is one of only two active CF-18 pilots with 3,000 hours in the aircraft ….”
  • Canada’s Veterans Ombudsman, Guy Parent, will travel to Quebec City to host a public town hall session (on 12 Oct 11) for Veterans, RCMP members, military members, families and other interested parties. Mr. Parent will deliver a short presentation outlining the mandate and services of the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman. This will be followed by a question and answer period with the audience ….”
  • (Alleged) Terrorist Bad Guy Update  Two men from a group accused of plotting terrorist attacks in Canada appeared briefly in court in Ottawa (this week) to learn some of the conditions of their upcoming trials. Misbahuddin Ahmed and Khurram Syed Sher and a third man, Hiva Alizadeh, were arrested and their homes raided last year in an RCMP investigation dubbed Project Samossa. All three were charged with conspiracy to facilitate terrorism. Police accused the three men of plotting with others in Canada and abroad to aid terrorism activities. Ahmed, an Ottawa X-ray technologist, is also charged with possessing an explosive substance with the intent to harm. On Wednesday, an Ontario court judge set aside a time from June 18 to July 13 next year for the pre-trial for both Ahmed and Sher ….”
  • (Maybe) (Alleged) Terrorist Bad Guy Update  The RCMP was last night interviewing a man in connection with a plot involving the national security of Canada. The man was first seen on Oct. 1 at a DocuServe Etc., store at 20 Dundas St. E., Mississauga, the Mounties. “We believe he can corroborate some information that we have received,” Const. Richard Rollings said. Rollings refused to comment on specifics citing an ongoing national security probe. Police said the man, who may be a suspect, holds answers regarding the legitimacy of a plot or where an incident may occur ….”  More from Postmedia News here, and a copy of the RCMP news release downloadable here (via Milnet.ca).
  • Oopsie…. “Researchers in Winnipeg’s National Microbiology lab must now obtain extra approval before they transport lethal pathogens, after a “miscommunication” three years ago left senior officials scrambling to find out why a shipment of Level 4 viruses was sent out of the secure lab ….”
Advertisements

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 8 Mar 11

leave a comment »

  • A quick Afghan media snippet on the Canadian reportedly held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. “Taliban militants on Monday said they had offered to free a Canadian citizen held hostage for two months in return for the release of several of their captured comrades…”
  • Canada says it would consider direct diplomatic contact with anti-Gadhafi forces in Libya, but unlike its ally Britain, it hasn’t moved in that direction yet. “This is a continuous moving target so, this is the first I hear of this,” Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Monday. “There’s always a great deal of validity in being able to speak to these people.” Opposition MPs urged the Harper government to talk directly to Libyan rebels fighting Moammar Gadhafi. Liberal MP Bob Rae presented the option as one of the more “active and inventive” ways Canada could help speed Gadhafi’s overthrow. The National Libyan Council has now positioned itself as the political branch of the anti-Gadhafi forces ….” Let’s see if any OTHER “councils” or “committees” pop out of the woodwork before deciding who to talk to, shall we?  More from CBC.ca here and QMI/Sun Media here.
  • Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae says Canada (and others) have to do more about Libya. “There are many other plans of action the government should be taking against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi right now according to Liberal critic Bob Rae. Rae said he would like to see Canada prepare itself to take part in a no fly zone and place further sanctions on individuals and countries that help the regime by doing things such as buying Libyan oil. “It is no longer a matter of it’s important to try to do this. I think it’s absolutely necessary for Canada to do this. We simply have to engage on the governance issues. We have to engage on the human rights issues and we have to engage successfully in making sure Colonel Gaddafi is history,” said Rae.  ….”
  • Meanwhile, what’s NATO considering? “NATO has decided to boost surveillance flights over Libya as the alliance debates the utility of imposing a “no-fly zone” over the country. U.S. ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, said allies agreed on Monday to increase AWACS flights from 10 to 24 hours a day, an expansion that is part of contingency planning for possible military intervention in Libya beyond humanitarian efforts. The decision came as the alliance’s governing board met to discuss what unique capabilities NATO could bring to Libya. Daalder said other ideas being considered are redeploying NATO vessels in the Mediterranean Sea, along with nearby air assets, to deal with humanitarian aid as well as establishing a command and control structure to co-ordinate relief efforts ….”
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • Canada’s Defence Minister, answering questions in the House of Commons, says “Kabul-centric” means “in/around Kabul” when it comes to Canada’s future training mission in Afghanistan. “What we have said is that the combat mission will come to an end this year, that we will transition into a training mission, which will be Kabul-centric, meaning in the Kabul region; and that there will be work done to continue the important efforts by the Canadian Forces to impart the skill set needed by the Afghan security forces to do what we do.” A bit more detail from another question: “The combat mission will come to an end. The Canadian Forces will then transition into a training mission in a Kabul-centric, behind the wire configuration. That is the position of the Government of Canada. “
  • A major Canadian road project in southern Afghanistan has been hampered by an element the military has no control over, one rarely associated with the arid region of Kandahar: rain. Heavy downpours over the past couple of weeks have slowed construction of a 22-kilometre road in the Panjwaii district, a volatile area where the Canadian battle group is conducting one last push to win over locals before combat operations end in July. “I would say that up until the last few weeks, it was going pretty well,” said Capt. Jean-Francois Huot of the 5 Combat Engineer Regiment. “The first rain didn’t affect much, but then with the accumulation and the speed at which it evaporates we’ve seen, well, look how slow it is.” The deluge has clogged irrigation canals and left sandy plains a muddy mess. Last week, a crew from the Kandahar Air Wing had to be dispatched to rescue two Afghan men whose truck became stranded because of flash flooding. The Royal 22e Regiment had hoped to have the road finished by mid-April. Military officials say once completed, the road will link rural villages together, boost commerce and trade and improve the freedom of movement for Afghans ….”
  • Remember this paper on using biometrics to measure bad guy intent? The DRDC publications page is working much better today, so here’s a link to the report, “Biometrics of Intent:  From Psychophysiology to Behaviour.” (405 KB, 27 page PDF).
  • What’s Canada Buying? “The Department of National Defence Canada has a requirement for the provision of Large Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device Disrupter Systems for Canadian Forces’ training and operations ….” (via Milnet.ca)
  • F-35 Tug o’ War “As part of the Harper government’s efforts to promote the F-35 stealth fighter, a top Conservative MP is criticizing a respected retired public servant who has advised government on defence purchases. Edmonton MP Laurie Hawn, who’s the parliamentary secretary to Defence Minister Peter MacKay, has been sending out e-mails promoting the F-35 purchase and attacking critics of the deal, including former Defence Department assistant deputy minister Alan Williams. The e-mail, which has circulated among retired and serving Canadian Forces members as well as journalists, also attacks a retired Australian air force officer who has raised questions about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and an Australian aviation analyst who has done the same ….” Here’s some of what Williams had to say about the deal he signed in February 2002 (more in a recent letter to the editor here).
  • Sikorsky on the CH-148 Cyclone choppers: They’re coming, honest, really soon! “Sikorsky is ‘weeks rather than months’ away from finally delivering the first interim aircraft for the CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter programme for the Canadian Forces (CF), according to CEO Jeff Pino. A long-running dispute regarding the purchase of the maritime helicopters was seemingly settled when 28 Cyclones were ordered under a $1.8 billion contract to replace the primary Canadian shipboard helicopter, the CH-124 Sea King. Following delays due to issues surrounding the mission system integration aboard the aircraft, in June 2010 Sikorsky announced that as a provisional measure the CF would receive six interim CH-148 Cyclones in November. However, delivery of these aircraft was also delayed due to undisclosed issues Sikorsky claimed was beyond its control. Speaking to reporters at a ‘state of Sikorsky’ presentation at Heli-Expo in Orlando, Pino said delivery of interim aircraft was now ‘imminent’ and highlighted progress on the programme that included 750 flight hours completed, ongoing sea trials in Canada and the finalising of the aircraft’s certification ….”
  • The rehab of Omar Khadr continues apace in Guantanamo. “Providing Omar Khadr with a formal education should help allay fears expressed by many Canadians that he will return to Canada an angry and perhaps dangerous young man with a grudge against society, says his Canadian lawyer. To prepare the 24-year-old for his return to Canada, Khadr’s defence team enlisted a Canadian university professor to design a home schooling program, says lawyer Dennis Edney. Pentagon lawyers travel to the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, every other week to do the teaching. “We provide them with the material and then they go to Guantanamo and sit with Omar and they take him through the subject matter,” Edney explains. The curriculum includes math, history, astronomy and is heavy on English grammar. If Khadr passes a high school equivalency exam, he intends to apply for admission to a college or university as a mature student …..”
  • It was a thundering display of Canada’s Northern resolve with jet fighters, a frigate and even a submarine, but a recently released poll suggests such exercises in military prowess play to the public’s mistaken belief the Arctic is under threat. When Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Defence Minister Peter MacKay posed for a photo-op on the deck of HMCS Toronto 18 months ago in Frobisher Bay, internal polling told them a majority of Canadians believed the North was in peril — a view not shared by defence officials. “Three in five Canadians (60 per cent) living north of 60 degrees, and one-half of Canadians (52 per cent) in the south, believe there is a threat to Canada’s Arctic sovereignty or to the security of its northern border,” says a 2009 Environics survey. The poll was commissioned by the Defence Department and released under the Access to Information Act after long delays. But a Defence Department briefing note that same year assured the minister there was no real threat. “There is no longer a conventional military threat in the Arctic,” says the Aug. 11, 2009, briefing note, also obtained by The Canadian Press under the access law. “The resumption of Russian military exercises in the region is more symbolic of Moscow wanting to be taken seriously as a world power than a return to the armed standoff of the Cold War.” ….”
  • A Utah artist who paints oil portraits of fallen soldiers to pay respect to their lives and sacrifice says her gift is open to families from Victoria, B.C. to Jamestown, New York. “Their lives (Canadians) and their willingness is every bit as precious as an American soldier as they are fighting for the same thing — trying to suppress tyranny and oppression,” said Kaziah Hancock, 62, in a phone interview from, Manti Utah ….” More on the painting program here.
  • G20 protest participant admits to throwing a burning paper into a police car, then says he’s a scapegoat when he pleads guilty to destroying the car?  Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight….

U.S. Troops Hoping to Court Mullah Omar’s Father-in-law?

leave a comment »

The Financial Times says the Americans are trying to hook up with a Kandahar elder who’s been a guest of the U.S. several times as part of getting Afghans onside:

Once locked up in Guantánamo Bay as a suspected Taliban commander, Said Amir Mohammad Agha, a spry 61-year-old, is now high on the list of Afghan elders that US forces want to befriend.

(…. )

Mr Agha was detained three times by US forces in Afghanistan and spent time in the Guantánamo detention facility in Cuba before being repatriated. US officers believe Mr Agha has retired from active duty as a Taliban commander but maintains contacts with the movement.

Sporting a grey beard and turban of the type favoured by Pashtun elders, Mr Agha’s loyalties remain uncertain. Putting aside his prayer beads, he reaches into his robes to produce a certificate from US forces saying he had been deemed not to pose a threat after being detained in Afghanistan from January to June 2004.

The red highlight is particularly interesting, thanks to Strick van Linschoten’s extra tidbit of information on Agha:

…. I was greatly disappointed, however, that (the article’s author)missed out on the key point when it comes to Amir Mohammad Agha — he is Mullah Mohammad Omar’s father-in-law. (And) with that, he also missed the extremely important 1980s context and just how involved Amir Mohamad Agha was involved in the early years of the Taliban movement post-1994.

It’ll be interesting to see how this unfolds.

Update: Crossposted to Long War Journal’s Threat Matrix.