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Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘Haji Baran

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 23 Jan 11

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  • A new governor for Panjwai“A Canadian-patrolled part of Kandahar has a new political leader. The provincial government has named Haji Fazluddin Agha the new governor of Panjwaii district. Agha replaces the illiterate and mercurial Haji Baran. Rumours have swirled for weeks that Baran’s ouster was imminent. The new governor will work with officials from Canada and other NATO countries to secure the often troublesome district ….”
  • A bit of what some Canada Border Service Agency folks went through in Afghanistan.
  • Shaw Media + ABC = TV show about combat hospital in Afghanistan“Canadian broadcaster Shaw Media on Thursday said it will co-produce the homegrown medical procedural Combat Hospital with ABC. Confirmation of the American deal for the Canadian-U.K. drama means production on the now untitled series from Sienna Films, Artists Studios and Lookout Point can go ahead. There’s no word on casting. Shaw Media is set to announce Monday a veteran director attached to the Canadian medical drama. Shaw Media’s cable drama channel Showcase will air the 13-part series about a military medical facility in Afghanistan where doctors and nurses treat coalition troops and Afghan civilians next summer ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged across Kandahar.
  • Canada’s reportedly hunting for spare parts to keep the Snowbirds flying for another 9 years or so“The Defence Department is on the hunt to find parts for the military’s aging Snowbirds acrobatic aircraft as it tries to keep the fleet operating until 2020. The planes have been in the Canadian Forces inventory since 1963 and have been used by the Snowbirds team since 1970. But a number of systems on the aircraft are obsolete and will have to be fixed in the next few years, according to the department. In addition, Public Works recently issued a request for a number of parts, with responses expected back by Tuesday. The aircraft, known as CT114 Tutors, were to have reached the end of their estimated life expectancy last year but that was extended by the Defence Department to 2020. Defence Department spokeswoman Natalie Cruickshank noted in an email that the Snowbird fleet remains airworthy and sustainable. “Overall, DND is effectively managing the aircraft, its operation and ensuring a strong support network is in place for a healthy fleet until it is retired from service,” she added. She noted that a recent study identified two systems as requiring updates in the future …”
  • One of the military’s flying schools is cranking up its output a bit“3 Canadian Forces Flying Training School (CFFTS) at Southport is expected to step up its training this year by up to 30 per cent to meet a shortage by the Canadian Forces.  “We are actually expecting our production to increase,  in terms of the number of pilots we train … particularly the ones that graduate as fully qualified pilots, both on the multi- engine and on the rotary- wing side ,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Rob Kamphuis, commandant of  CFFTS. “It’s going to a busier year, even (more) than last year which was an increase from the year before.”  The flight school will be graduating an additional 10 multi-engine pilots and five or six rotary wing pilots in each course, which equals an increase of 30 per cent on the multi-engine side and 10 per cent on the rotary wing side.  “The air force right now as an institution is short of pilots,” said Kamphuis. “The long-term way to fill that shortage is to train more. We are part of the solution to get the air force back up to full strength where it needs to  be,  given all the operations the air force is doing both in Canada and internationally.”  Also, for the first time this year, flight students will be arriving from Saudi Arabia , starting in September.  About 20 students will be trained a year ….”
  • F-35 Tug of War Update: “Canada wants to buy 65 F-35 fighter jets. The government says the purchase price is $9 billion, including some spare parts and weapons but not including a long-term maintenance contract.  Today, Winslow Wheeler, the director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center For Defense Information in Washington, D.C., releases written testimony he was asked to give to the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence. Wheeler says he tries to answer three questions in his testimony:
    1. What will Canada’s F-35As cost?
    2. What will Canada obtain for that expense?
    3. Is there a good reason to wait?
    The short answers to those three questions: 1. Unable to know. 2. Unable to know 3. Yes ….”
  • Too many strings attached to Canadian military contracts?  Good question. “A number of folks in industry have voiced concern about what they believe is a large number of mandatory requirements for Canadian Forces equipment procurement projects. For instance, the Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV) program has 600 mandatory requirements. A company must meet all of these requirements if they want to win the competition to supply the vehicles to the Canadian Forces. “Everyone is going to have trouble meeting all 600,” one industry official told Defence Watch. “DND talks about wanting an ‘off-the-shelf’ vehicle but when you have that many mandatories that isn’t off-the-shelf.” His view is that the customer (DND) should outline what they want a piece of kit to do and then let industry reach those performance parameters, instead of outlining requirements to such a specific nature ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 19 Jan 11

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  • Corporal Jean-Michel Déziel, R.I.P. “A soldier died at approximately 10:00 hrs Monday morning after falling from the roof of a building at CFB Valcartier. Corporal Jean-Michel Déziel, a member of the Headquarters and Signals Squadron, was in the process of installing a telecommunications antenna when the incident occurred. The soldier was immediately evacuated to the Laval Hospital, where he was pronounced dead ….” More from CBC.ca here and QMI Media here.
  • Taliban Propaganda WatchThe bad guys allege blowing up a Canadian “tank” in Panjwai – no confirmation on that.
  • Secret talks are underway in the Afghan capital and in the country’s south to replace the governor of a tumultuous district of Kandahar that is under Canada’s watch, The Canadian Press has learned. The backroom dealing centres around finding a replacement for the illiterate and mercurial Haji Baran, the current governor of Panjwaii. A security shura, or meeting of Afghan elders, was cancelled on Monday because Baran was in Kabul for meetings. Reached by telephone, Baran confirmed he was in the capital this week. Speaking in Pashto, he told a local journalist working for The Canadian Press that he has heard the talk that he will soon be replaced as Panjwaii’s governor. But Baran insisted he’s not going anywhere ….”
  • Canada’s military research arm has just published a military chronology of Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan – downloaable here (via Army.ca).
  • Remember this guy who said an unarmed Afghan teenager had been killed by Canadian troops in 2007?  The investigation says not so. “The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS), the independent investigative arm of the Canadian Forces Military Police, has concluded its investigation into the allegations made by Mr. Ahmadshah Malgarai before the House of Commons’ Special Committee on Afghanistan on April 14, 2010 with respect to his time spent employed as a language and cultural advisor in Afghanistan from July 2007 to July 2008. The CFNIS investigation determined that no service or criminal offences were committed ….” More from MSM outlets here, here, here, here, here and here (note the CBC’s choice of headline – “No proof of Afghan adviser’s shooting claims” – compared to the wording of the CF statement above).
  • CBC’s happy to be pretty declarative with this headline, though:  “JTF2 command ‘encouraged’ war crimes, soldier alleges“.   Note my highlights and what factoid is buried pretty far into the story “A member of Canada’s elite special forces unit says he felt his peers were being “encouraged” by the Canadian Forces chain of command to commit war crimes in Afghanistan, according to new documents obtained by CBC News.  The documents from the military ombudsman’s office show the member of the covert unit Joint Task Force 2, or JTF2, approached the watchdog in June 2008 to report the allegations of wrongdoing he had first made to his superior officers in 2006.  The soldier told the ombudsman’s office “that although he reported what he witnessed to his chain of command, he does not believe they are investigating, and are being ‘very nice to him,’ ” according to the documents, which CBC News obtained through access to information.  As such, the soldier alleged, the chain of command helped create an atmosphere that tolerated war crimes.  The ombudsman’s documents state the soldier was subsequently directed to the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, CFNIS, which in turn launched its own investigation.  The CFNIS told the ombudsman the investigation was “now their No. 1 priority.”  The member alleged that a fellow JTF2 member was involved in the 2006 shooting death of an Afghan who had his hands up in the act of surrender. That CFNIS probe ended without any charges ….”
  • More reaction to Jack Layton’s criticism of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan“…. By making exactly all the wrong comparisons to the Second World War and the great struggle against fascism’s European variants, Mr. Layton forgets that if we were fighting now the way we fought back then we would have turned Islamabad into Dresden by now and Tehran would be the name of a city we’d mention in the same breath with Hiroshima. We would have already forgotten the “war in Afghanistan” because it would have been over long ago ….”
  • Canadians and Americans are working together in search ways to help wounded warriors heal, especially the wounds we don’t see“…. Lt. Col. Stephane Grenier, who returned from duty in Rwanda in 1994 isolated, depressed and eventually suicidal, said today’s language of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) puts too much emphasis on “combat.” Warfare has become the “culturally acceptable excuse,” but troops in any role can get an operational stress injury from fatigue, grief and moral stressors, he said. “What happens to the clerk who never steps outside Kandahar Airfield but whose job is to write those letters, write the inventory of the equipment being shipped back to mom and dad?” said Grenier, who now works on the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s peer project team. Grenier is among a group of Canadian and U.S. military experts who gathered Tuesday to collaborate on ways to help wounded soldiers. Canadian Forces physicians, psychiatrists, chaplains and injured soldiers met with their American counterparts to discuss innovative programs and treatments in a symposium at the University of Southern California called “Wounded Warriors – Healing the Mind, Body and Soul.” ….” More on the conference here.
  • Cormorant search-and-rescue helicopters won’t be available to cover central and parts of Western Canada and the North until at least 2014 because of ongoing problems that have plagued the aircraft fleet, according to newly released Defence Department documents. The use of the helicopters for such missions was temporarily suspended in 2005. But last year the Defence Department quietly extended that until 2014, according to the documents. The area in question, equal to a million square kilometres, extends from the Prairies to Quebec and includes the Northwest Territories and much of Nunavut. Instead, search-and-rescue crews flying out of Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ont., will continue to use Griffon helicopters for those operations, despite critics’ warning that the smaller helicopter doesn’t have the capabilities for a large rescue operation …. “
  • Testing high-tech at Gagetown“The future face of Canada’s army is being defined this week at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown. The scenario is being played out at the Combat Training Centre via computer war games based on a scenario in the Horn of Africa. Known as Capability Development Experiment 2010, it’s part of an effort to determine what shape this country’s ground forces will take by 2021. Lt.-Col. William Cummings, the experiment director, said the military is trying to validate what it describes as an “adapted dispersed operations scenario.” That involves four major events going on at the same time …. “
  • Anonymous source, but interesting information nonetheless – highlights mine.  “…. Security intelligence authorities are warning that exiled Tamil rebel leaders are re-establishing their violent Sri Lankan separatist movement in Canada. “We don’t know how far advanced it is, but their intent is pretty clear — to set up a base-in-exile here for the leadership. Some leadership is already here,” a well-placed federal government official told the Ottawa Citizen. The warning accompanied a report late last week to senior government officials revealing that two southeast Asian smuggling syndicates are arranging the launch of two more shiploads of Tamil migrants to British Columbia in the coming weeks. The boats are expected to carry as many as 50 former Tamil Tiger rebel leaders and fighters, according to intelligence estimates. “Why here? It doesn’t make any sense because it is much easier to go to Australia,” said the official. “This is the reason.” Two previous cargo ships, Sun Sea and Ocean Lady, arrived off the West Coast last year and in 2009 carrying a total of 568 migrants, including several men the government suspects are former rebels. “How many have made it through, how advanced they are is not clear, (but) we’re concerned,” said the official. “Canadians expect us to avoid becoming a haven for terrorists.” ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 12 Dec 10

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  • Twenty five years ago today, more than 250 members of the 101st Airborne Division were killed in a plane crash in Gander, Newfoundland Gander is remembering.  More from Fort Campbell, Kentucky here.
  • Still loads o’ work to be done in Afghanistan, according to a 2009 report. “Afghanistan’s women and children continue to live a mainly wretched existence, despite a decade of well-intentioned, international intervention, says a new report obtained by The Canadian Press.  Mothers die in childbirth at alarming rates, aspiring female politicians face death threats and most school-age girls never see the inside of a classroom.  That portrait emerges from a 2009 Foreign Affairs report, the department’s most recent human-rights audit of the war-torn country. It contrasts sharply with the Harper government’s usual, upbeat talking points on the pace of progress in Afghanistan — particularly the educational gains of girls.  With Canada withdrawing combat troops next year in favour of a military training mission, the report underscores the formidable challenges that remain for Afghanistan’s most vulnerable …. “
  • On day, it won’t be “news” that women can lead men into battle. “Maj. Eleanor Taylor caused quite a stir when she deployed to a remote outpost deep in the Taliban heartland of western Kandahar last spring. When the 34-year-old soldier from Antigonish, N.S., took off her blast goggles and helmet, Afghan elders in Panjwaii were taken aback, meeting the first woman to command a Canadian infantry company in combat. “I would be disingenuous if I did not acknowledge that they were often very surprised,” Taylor said during an exclusive interview with Postmedia News at the end of her seven-month tour. “There was shock on their faces and they would exchange a couple of words among themselves. I know the word for women in Pushto and I heard that word.” ….” Good to see you and your troops are back safe and sound.  A photo from CF Combat Camera here.
  • A returning Mountie shares some of his story of training Afghan border cops. “It’s a wild and bloody 5,000-kilometre stretch that goes from Himalayan-type mountains to Sahara-style deserts and waters wide as the Mississippi River.  RCMP Supt. John Brewer has spent the last nine months helping Afghan Border Police secure this perilous, porous border that touches six neighbouring countries. As part of an international NATO team, Brewer has helped locals intercept insurgents and organized criminals running drugs, weapons and explosives along the loosely-defined “front line.”  “In peace time, this would be difficult enough. But in times of fighting an insurgency, that of course makes it even more difficult,” Brewer told QMI Agency in an interview from Kabul ….”
  • The Afghans know what the Taliban are really like. “The man in the white cloak and turquoise striped turban didn’t want to be photographed, and pleaded that his name remain a secret. That’s always a sign around here, but not necessarily a good one. “If you write my name, by the evening my throat will be slit,” the villager with anxious eyes said through an interpreter. A young boy of about 10 stood at his elbow. “Not only me, but they will kill my family. The Taliban know my face.” Just moments earlier, the man had stood shoulder to shoulder with the governor of Panjwaii district in an interview with a western journalist. He’d given his name and offered his support to Haji Baran, who’d come to put the Afghan government’s stamp on this enmeshed little corner of Kandahar province ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Taliban’s version of vehicle bombing of Kandahar City cop shop vs. mainstream media accounts here, here and here.
  • What’s Canada Buying? Big and small living spaces, looking into how troops in the Arctic can sleep better, and portable helicopter landing pads.  Also, army vs. air force preferences for snack cakes.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 22 Nov 10

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  • So, what’s with the mysterious Russian helicopters Canada is reportedly buying, according to the Ottawa Citizen, for “combat missions in Afghanistan”? Could it be another version of offering support to the military fight in a civilianized way, like we’re apparently doing with civilian spy planes?
  • Counterinsurgency as oncology – one Canadian general’s assessment of the fight in Afghanistan“A Canadian two-star general brought in to provide an independent assessment of the state of the war in southern Afghanistan for NATO’s new commander here says the Taliban is being dealt with as if it is a malignancy.  “It is a cancer and the cancer is being treated,” said Maj.-Gen. Dave Fraser, who commanded Canadian and coalition forces in Regional Command South during 2006. “Even if this cancer goes into remission — and that is a ways down the road here — you have to make sure it is not hiding somewhere and comes back.  “Once you are in that permanent watch category, as someone who has had cancer, people look out for you to make sure it doesn’t come back. We must never assume that this cancer is gone.” “
  • Meanwhile, “the tumour” lies speaks to southern tribal elders, who speak to the Canadian Press: “The district governor in Panjwaii says he’s been warned the Taliban intend to continue fighting throughout the winter months and not give NATO forces any rest.  Haji Baran, the Noorzai tribal elder who has been the face of the Afghan government in the restive district for three years, says he received the news from contacts in Pakistan.  His tribe has a deep, long-standing ties to the insurgency that normally chooses to fight between May and late October.  Baran urged Canadian military commanders to be vigilant in the coming weeks.  “The fall of Panjwaii is the fall of Kandahar,” he said Sunday, repeating a well-worn line of many in the rural part of the province.  “So we have to be careful with that.” …”
  • Remember all the video games the CF is buying?  It appears they’re headed downrange to the troops in Afghanistan“…. Defence officials confirm that 500 copies of games such as “Gears of War,” “Call of Duty,” “Mortal Kombat,” and “Assassins Creed” are destined for Canada’s forward operating bases in the war-ravaged country.  An estimated 500 to 600 soldiers are stationed at Ma’sum Ghar and Sperwan Ghar, Canada’s main bases outside Kandahar, which works out to a video game for almost every gamer-in-uniform.  “It helps in keeping good morale … to bring some relief to people working long hours,” Cmdr. Hubert Genest said in an interview ….”
  • On the political front, NDP leader Jack Layton accuses the PM (and the Liberal leader a little bit) of “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire”“The Conservative can’t be trusted to end the Afghan training mission in 2014, NDP Leader Jack Layton charged Sunday.  “I remember when he said 2011 was the absolute limit, the end of the military mission, we are out of there,” Layton told CTV’s Question Period.  “And now they are saying 2014. I don’t think anybody believes them.” In 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked Parliament to extend the military mission in Afghanistan until 2008. In 2008, he asked MPs to approve extending the mission until 2011. Layton warned at that time the government couldn’t be trusted to end the mission in 2011.  Now, the NDP leader says 2014 is an arbitrary deadline that is unlikely to be met because of unpredictable conditions on the ground ….”
  • CBC’s Brian Stewart reminds us that Canadian troops training Afghan security forces “inside the wire” doesn’t mean zero risk“…. To almost every question so far, the prime minister and his team have repeated the mantra that this will be “a non-combat mission” only, suggesting maximum safety.  But keep in mind that the Taliban will also have an important say in this …. Rockets and mortars regularly rain down on training camps and Taliban units have grown increasingly bold in striking at highly protected NATO camps and headquarters …. nowhere in Afghanistan can now be assumed to be beyond attack. Even the heavily guarded diplomatic corps of Kabul has been hit this year and is always braced for a possible suicide offensive ….” Also, let’s not forget instances where NATO trainers have been killed by their Afghan security force trainees (examples here, here and here).
  • A senior Afghan officer, speaking to QMI/Sun Media’s Mercedes Stephenson, sums it up pretty succinctly when it comes to what will happen when we leave Afghanistan completely: ” “Please,” he implored, “go home and explain to your people what will happen if they leave us alone here with these terrorists. Everything we have worked for will be gone. They will kill us all.  “We need Canada to stay.” “
  • Blog Watch: Terry Glavin over at Chronicles & Dissent offers an interesting theory regarding why more Canadians are not supporting a Canadian mission in Afghanistan“…. The best explanation I know about is revealed in an ambitious 20-country opinion poll conducted under the auspices of the University of Maryland’s World Public Opinion initiative, which shows global opinion similarly split, with the following insight: “Among those who believe that the Afghan people want NATO forces to leave, 76 percent say that NATO forces should leave. Among those who believe that the Afghan people want NATO forces to stay, 83 percent say NATO forces should stay.”  I don’t have any polling data to prove it, but I would bet a dollar to a dime that most Canadians believe the lie that most Afghans want NATO forces to leave their country. The primary function of Canada’s so-called “anti-war” activists is to make you to believe that lie, and Canada’s punditocracy has encouraged you to believe it.  I would also bet a dollar to a dime that if most Canadians knew the truth, which is that the overwhelming majority of Afghans have consistently supported and continue to support NATO’s efforts in their country, Canadian support for a robust Afghan mission would be overwhelmingly favorable …. And then we could move the Canadian debates out of the weeds, to questions that really matter ….”
  • While Canada and others are saying aid shouldn’t be flowed through the hands of Afghanistan’s, um,  “fiscally leaky” government, an Afghan human rights group says doing anything different will cut into the government’s legitimacy. “The chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission says that if the Hamid Karzai government doesn’t receive foreign aid from Canada and other countries, it will never achieve legitimacy in the eyes of the Afghan people.  Dr. Sima Samar (said) “After all, (Karzai) is elected president …. We want him to complete his term, so we have to find ways to help him and to put him in the right direction.”….” Same same from an international development professor, via the Ottawa Citizen:  “…. Because the donors plan, implement and control the budgets of the bulk of the programs, without delegating these responsibilities to Afghans, the latter lose the opportunity to learn the trade ….”
  • Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, former chair of the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence, continues to be underwhelmed about how wounded warriors and their families are treated“…. The New Veterans Charter was a mistake. All parliamentarians are complicit because the charter was passed unanimously. But that doesn’t relieve the government of its obligation to fix the mistake. The Charter does deal more fairly with some people than did the old Pension Plan, such as war widows (or widowers) and their families and soldiers in the highest ranks. But when you look closely at who comes out ahead, that’s about it.  Who’s worse off? Just about everybody else.  The biggest losers are privates and corporals (those most often wounded on any battlefield), members of the reserves, wounded vets who manage to live to 65, wounded vets with families and wounded vets who don’t live near case workers ….” Meanwhile, here’s one man’s story after losing his legs on operations in Bosnia, via the Kingston Whig-Standard.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch A quick response to what the NATO bosses decided in Lisbon (links to non-terrorist web site).