Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘Guy Parent News Highlights – 8 Oct 11

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  • “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
  • 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 ….” News Highlights – 9 Feb 11

leave a comment » News Highlights – 28 Nov 10

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  • Cliché team, UP! The new commander of Canada’s battle group in Kandahar will have an iron fist, but hopes to use a velvet touch with the war-weary population of this embattled province. Lt.-Col. Michel-Henri St-Louis, who is in charge of the 1st Battalion Royal 22e Regiment combat team, officially took charge Saturday and will carry the baton through to the end of the country’s combat mission in July ….” More from United Press International here.
  • Uh, thanks mom – NOT! The mother of a Canadian soldier in Afghanistan picketed outside Liberal MP Bob Rae’s office on Saturday to urge the federal Conservative government to bring the troops home next year. Josie Forcadilla is upset about the extension of a Canadian military presence in Afghanistan until 2014. The government announced this month that a contingent of troops will remain to train Afghan troops after the combat mission ends in July 2011.  “Whether the mission is combat or non-combat, the soldiers will still be at risk,” she said, noting some of the 153 Canadian soldiers who have died in support of the Afghan mission were trainers.  Forcadilla, 54, was among roughly a dozen people protesting outside Rae’s constituency office Saturday afternoon ….” Not the first time she’s been at it, either.
  • Postmedia’s Matthew Fisher shares this story about an Afghan-Canadian going back to the old country to make a difference: “An Afghan-Canadian doctor has taken a drastic cut in pay to return to his homeland and open Afghanistan’s first heart clinic. “I feel that the nicest people in the world are Canadians, but I felt a duty to return to my homeland,” said Asmat Naebkhill, the director of the Alli Abad Cardiac Research Centre in Kabul. “I was not comfortable in Canada knowing how my people were suffering.” Naebkhill was living in Windsor, Ont., before relocating to Kabul ….”
  • Anti-war British MP George Galloway brings his message to Canada (note to George:  “Afghani” is the currency, “Afghans” is what you call the people):  “Canada’s mission in Afghanistan has been “doomed from the start,” controversial British politician George Galloway told an Ottawa crowd Saturday.  “Does no one in Canada ever ask why the Afghanis need so much training? We have been training them for 10 years. No one is training the Taliban and they’re doing quite well,” said Galloway, a former British MP, who was refused entry by the Canada Border Services Agency in 2009 because he reportedly donated money to the Hamas-led Palestinian government …. The decision to refuse Galloway entry was recently overturned in a Federal Court decision critical of the government.   “Until this matter is resolved, I will be coming back again and again and again,” Galloway told his 900 listeners.  As he had in other stops on the 10-city Canadian tour, Galloway blasted Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, saying he is initiating legal proceeding against Kenney and would give any compensation awarded to the Canadian antiwar movement ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan.
  • New Veterans Ombudsman Not Your Old Veterans Ombudsman?
  • Former newspaper magnate Conrad Black is throwing out his ideas on what the Canadian military should be looking like now, and down the road, via Postmedia News“…. The appropriate defence policy for Canada now would be to increase the forces by at least 75,000 (the Canadian Forces’ current strength is 67,000, plus 26,000 reservists) — a doubling of its size. Such a plan sounds radical, but in fact it would merely bring our per-capita spending up to the level of more militarily capable NATO countries. This increase in personnel could be deducted, directly or indirectly, from the ranks of the unemployed. Sensible use of these forces would confer greater stature on Canada than our recent failure to win a Security Council seat suggests we now enjoy. The most effective economic stimulus is advanced military-based research, and this should be pursued, especially in aerospace and shipbuilding. Stephen Harper is defence-friendly, and Peter Mackay is an excellent defence minister. They could sell such a program on economic grounds, as well as it being an indication of Canada assuming its rightful place in the world. I understand budgetary restraint, but constructive nationalism and economic largesse are not hard political, or in this case, policy, sells.” News Highlights – 17 Nov 10

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  • Guess what?  Canada’s keeping 950 military trainers and support staff (as well as about four dozen cops) in Afghanistan until 2014“…. The Canadian Forces (CF) will support ANSF training by providing up to 950 trainers to the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A). This training mission will build upon the CF’s established expertise in training the ANSF, thereby contributing to the goal of preparing Afghans to assume responsibility for their own security …. Through the deployment of up to 45 civilian police officers, Canada will continue its involvement in police reform by leading training programs, promoting the establishment of accountability and civilian oversight mechanisms, and advancing institutional reform and capacity building ….” Surprising, eh?  More on that from QMI/Sun Media, the New York Times, Reuters, Agence France-Presse and BBC.
  • What does this mean for the Canadian-led and run Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team (PDF copy of page here if link doesn’t work?  This from the Globe & MailCanada is slashing aid to Afghanistan and abandoning any presence in Kandahar by withdrawing not only troops but civilian aid officials next year. Despite the approval of a new training mission, the moves mark a turning point where Canada is significantly disengaging from Afghanistan: dramatically reducing the outlay of cash, reducing the risk to troops, and quitting the war-scarred southern province where Canada has led military and civilian efforts. There will be a deep cut to aid for Afghanistan. International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda said Canada will provide $100-million a year in development assistance for Afghanistan over the next three years, less than half the $205-million the government reported spending last year ….”
  • According to Postmedia News, late decision on new mission = rush to get ready for it.
  • Notice who’s name is listed first on the news release?  Not Canada’s Defence Minister Peter MacKay but Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon. Also, while Cannon got to answer questions in the House of Commons on the mission this week (Hansard transcripts here, here and here), Peter MacKay took a question on the F-35 fighter plane buy.  Yesterday, the PM fielded two questions (here and here) on Afghanistan, while McKay fiielded one question from a fellow Conservative party member (here).  Some see this as further proof that Peter MacKay may be on his way out (he says not so), but the government has been trying to civilianize the feel of the mission for at least the past couple of years – more on that theme here, here and here.
  • The Foreign Affairs Minister reminds us of the obvious, via“…. Cannon said the “non-combat” troops will be based in the Kabul area. However, Cannon admitted that soldiers would still be in danger, despite the relative security in Kabul compared to the current operation in Kandahar. “I am not going to hide the fact that there is a risk factor,” Cannon told CTV’s Power Play. “(But) our people will not be mentoring in the field, they will be in classrooms.” ….”
  • Who’s happy?  The White House and the NATO military alliance applauded Canada’s plan for a military training mission in Afghanistan Tuesday as Prime Minister Stephen Harper assured opposition parties that the armed forces will work safely “in classrooms behind the wire on bases.” ….” Here’s what NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen had to say: “I warmly welcome Prime Minister Harper’s announcement that Canada will deploy a substantial number of trainers to the NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan. Canada has contributed substantially, over many years, to the operation in Afghanistan. Canadian forces have made a real difference in the lives of the Afghan people, often at a high cost ….” More from the Canadian Press on that.
  • Who’s unhappy?  The usual suspects: “…. The NDP again accused the Conservatives of lying, saying it was “inevitable” that the 950-strong training contingent that will be in Afghanistan until 2014 would be drawn into combat because the whole of Afghanistan is a “war zone.” ….” The brigade has already come up with the rhyming chant:  “Activism Communiqué: The war in Af’stan, demand – Don’t Extend It. End It!” pipes in, too, comparing Afghanistan to Vietnam: Unaddressed by the ministers is whether the government really believes in the training mission it has committed Canadian troops to fulfill. No one seriously expects Afghanistan’s army and police forces to be ready to hold off the Taliban on their own in four years’ time. But it is still unclear whether NATO’s efforts to Vietnamize Afghanize the war are intended merely to provide a face-saving way for foreign forces to withdraw from a dead-end war or remain based on the illusory prospect of creating an ARVN ANA that can hold the field against the Taliban even in the south of Afghanistan ….”
  • It didn’t take long for the “Survey Says” crowd to get its numbers out there – this from Harris-DecimaCanadians Wary of Extension to Afghanistan Mission: The latest Canadian Press/Harris Decima survey asked about the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. According to Senior Vice-President Doug Anderson “At this point in time, Canadians are split over whether to leave troops in Afghanistan beyond the end of the combat mission. While few feel that the combat mission should be extended, there is clearly some support for Canadian troops continuing to play some role.” ….”  More on that from the Canadian Press.
  • Blog Watch: Congrats from Mark Collins at Unambiguously Ambidextrous for those rating it here, while Terry Glavin at Transmontanus shares his words of wisdom this way:  “…. The two-year paralysis that so utterly enfeebled Canada in the matter of this country’s post-2011 re-dedication to Afghanistan is now officially over. Ottawa has come out of its coma, and now rejoins the company of the grown-ups in the 43-member International Security Assistance Force. With today’s announcement, we take our place once again as a leader in the international cause of a sovereign and democratic Afghan republic ….”
  • Meanwhile, the transition continues on the ground in AfghanistanA scouting party from the NATO unit that could replace Canadian troops in Kandahar will be touring the area over the next few days. Planning for the departure of Task Force Kandahar is underway and a proposal on how the transition will take place is still being finalized, a senior U.S. officer with the alliance’s southern headquarters said Tuesday. The Canadians “are in a critical location,” said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was authorized to discuss the situation on background only. “We’ve got to make sure that area is still covered, and covered well.” ….”
  • The CF is working towards setting up a research institute devoted to studying military medicine. More from the Kingston-Whig Standard on a conference under way this week:  “…. That the military is taking the initiative seriously can be seen by the list of people attending, including Gen. Walt Natynczyk, the chief of the defence staff, senators Romeo Dallaire and Pamela Wallin, veterans affairs ombudsman Guy Parent, and (Commodore Hans) Jung, the military’s top medical officer.  “We are the only nation amongst our major allies that does not have such a national institute,” (former CFB Kingston base commander and Kingston General Hospital chairman Bill) Richard said, a fact lamented by many of the high-profile attendees.   The military would love universities to dig through its wealth of data — it has comprehensive medical records on everyone who ever served from the day they enlisted to the day they discharged and keeps the records 99 years, but Jung said only 5% of that data has been analyzed because it doesn’t have enough people to do it ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: The Taliaban’s main English-language site appears to be down, so there’s the Taliban’s Lies o’ the Day via News Highlights – 12 Nov 10

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  • A recurring theme this time of year:  Time remains the real assassin as the number of World War 2 vets decline over time at Remembrance Day ceremonies. This from the Canadian Press“…. The Historica-Dominion Institute says the average age of Canada’s 125,000 remaining Second World War veterans is 88 years. They are passing away at a rate of 400 to 500 a week, meaning that in another five years or so, all but the hardiest of Canada’s 1.1 million Second World War vets will be gone….”
  • Families of the fallen travel to Kandahar remember.
  • Soldiers are getting a chance to say goodbye to their fallen colleagues in a way that may help the survivors heal. More on that from Postemedia News.
  • Your parents could be taken away by their job for just a weekend and it might seem like forever, but some kids may never see their folks again.  It’s a feeling 16-year-old Madeline Mills knows too well. She’s spent most of her teen years helping care for her younger siblings while her dad fought in Afghanistan. She doesn’t want attention for her challenge, but attention may soon surround her.  Madeline shared her story in a new documentary about Canadian children whose parents have seen combat in Afghanistan. The National Film Board of Canada marked Remembrance Day with the national simultaneous release of the film, Children of Soldiers ….”
  • An interesting tidbit buried in this Globe & Mail piece, quoting military writer/publisher Scott Taylor:  “Only a “small sliver of the society is being impacted by the war in Afghanistan.” Most of the troops now are the sons and daughters of other soldiers, he said, explaining that 40 per cent of recruits either have one or both parents in the military ….” As others smarter than me have said, could this suggest Canadians’ support for the military is a mile wide and a millimeter deep?
  • Soldiers serving in Afghanistan were the first to receive the newly designed poppy coins on Remembrance Day. More than 3,000 troops stationed throughout Afghanistan were the first to receive the special 25-cent memento from the Royal Canadian Mint, each batch delivered in velvet pouches ….” More on the new coin here.
  • Again witrh the “should Parliament decide Canada’s next mission in Afghanistan?” question, but this time, with an answer from the PM.  This from the Globe & Mail“My position is if you’re going to put troops into combat, into a war situation, I do think for the sake of legitimacy, I do think the government does require the support of Parliament,” he said. “But when we’re talking simply about technical or training missions, I think that is something the executive can do on its own.”
  • So, is this a flip-flop on the Prime Minister’s part?  It sure is, according to Norman Spector writing at the Globe: “…. as the even the Prime Minister himself had to (very slightly) concede in the CTV interview, leaving any troops in any role in any region of Afghanistan would constitute a major shift in his position….”
  • Further to the right on the media political scale, QMI/Sun Media columnist Michael den Tandt wonders: “What took the Harper government so long? Why all the strenuous denials, month after month, that such an outcome was even possible? Because it was always likely, if not inevitable, given the situation on the ground and Canada’s alliances, that we would keep an armed force of some kind in Afghanistan beyond July, 2011 ….”
  • This, from former Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier, on the prospect of Canadian troops training Afghan forces while avoiding combat:  “You can come up with all kinds of schemes to hide away in camp and train people for the Afghan army, but they lack credibility …. If you try to help train and develop the Afghan army … you are going to be in combat.” says this is a quote from a “recent” interview with Macleans.  The original Macleans article where this was quoted is from October 22, 2009 (more from Hillier here).  Also, a point I raised about a year ago (or “recently”, using the CBC clock/calendar):  if the Canadians train Afghan troops and don’t go out to fight with them, how long will the Taliban Info-machine take to start the “they come to help, and send you to die” message track?
  • A new approach promised by Canada’s new Veterans Ombudsman this, via“Canada’s new ombudsman for veterans affairs said Thursday he’ll try to keep “buoyant” the issues raised by his predecessor, Pat Stogran.  “Mr. Stogran has brought the issues to the surface,” Guy Parent said in an interview with the CBC News program Power and Politics.  “I think my responsibility is to keep them buoyant now and to make sure we separate the issues into ‘chunkable’ pieces and that we can provide specific recommendations based on the issues.”  But Parent, whose term began Thursday, made it clear he would be taking a different approach to the role than Stogran did.  “I would definitely say so,” he said, laughing, when asked if he and Stogran had different styles.  “Sometimes you accomplish much more through negotiations than you do by being vocal.” ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Alleged Taliban Boss in Kandahar City Op Claims Taliban Rules the Night, “tried our best to completely end any civilians casualties on our part”.