Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘ICOS News Highlights – 20 Nov 10

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  • News flash:  the U.S. Marines are sending tanks to southwestern Afghanistan Guess where the idea (may) have come from? “…. U.S. commanders have called on the tanks of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) to assist them during key combat operations against the Taliban including during a recent offensive. The German-built Leopards have also provided frequent fire support for American troops from within a base in Panjwaii District that overlooks Zhari District. Even before the decision by the Marines, the U.S. army was taking “a hard look at bringing them (tanks) over,” to Kandahar when Canada’s combat forces are withdrawn next summer, because of the successes that the Strathconas have had with them here, said Brig.-Gen. Frederick Hodges, who ran the war in Regional Command South until this month and now heads the Afghanistan Pakistan Co-ordination Centre for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington ….”
  • Survey Says “Let’s Stay to Train (But Parliament Should Vote on the Mission)” (news release also here if link above doesn’t work): “As Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Defence Minister Peter MacKay meet with their NATO counterparts to discuss the future of Allied efforts in Afghanistan, a new Ipsos Reid poll conducted exclusively for Postmedia News and Global Television shows that a majority (53%) of Canadians back the decision to have some Canadian Forces remain in Afghanistan strictly to train soldiers until 2014 but it comes with a caveat: a bigger majority (61%) believe that “there should be a vote in Parliament to determine whether Canadian Forces should stay in Afghanistan past 2011, even if it is for a training mission” thus echoing the demand of NDP Leader Jack Layton to do so …. These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid poll conducted on behalf of Postmedia News and Global Television from November 16-18, 2010. For the survey, a representative randomly-selected sample of 1,002 adult Canadians was interviewed by telephone. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ± 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult population of Canada been polled. ….” More from Global News here.
  • So, how much is this new Canadian mission in Afghanistan going to cost?  Good question, says the NDP“The NDP wants Parliament’s budget watchdog to calculate the true cost of extending Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan.  NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar says he’s asked Kevin Page to clarify the price tag of the three-year extension because he doesn’t trust the conflicting estimates offered by the Harper government so far.  Defence Minister Peter MacKay initially said it would cost up to $500 million per year to keep 950 military personnel in Afghanistan on a training mission until 2014, three years beyond the previously scheduled July 2011 end date for the combat mission.  International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda then added another $300 million over three years in development assistance, bringing the total annual tab to $600 million.  However, a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon subsequently emailed reporters to clarify that the extension will cost an estimated $700 million annually over three years and that “final costs will not be known until after 2014.” ….”
  • But at least NATO’s grateful, right? “Canada was praised for its “absolutely essential” commitment of military trainers in Afghanistan as a NATO summit opened Friday to chart the military alliance’s post-combat partnership with the war-worn country.  NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen personally thanked Prime Minister Stephen Harper before the leaders of 28 member countries gathered at Lisbon’s giant bayside EXPO centre, arriving in pouring rain under gloomy skies ….”
  • Some good news from a recent survey out of Afghanistan? “New field research shows some improvement in negative perceptions of the international presence in southern Afghanistan” The bad news? “92% of respondents in the south were unaware of 9/11 events”
  • Now that Canada’s hemmed,. hawed and decided to keep troops in Afghanistan until 2014, guess what? “International troops will be needed past 2014 in a non-combat training role in Afghanistan, the NATO chief said Friday, creating a potential new political headache for the Harper government.  NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed that view on the opening day of the NATO summit in Lisbon …. Rasmussen said it was “realistic” for NATO-led forces to successfully hand over security duties to the Afghans by the end of 2014 as hoped for by the alliance and its partner in Kabul.  “But let me stress that I foresee presence of international troops also after 2014 but not in a combat role, in a more supportive, including training and education of Afghan security forces,” Rasmussen said….”
  • Here’s hoping for a quick recovery: A military clearance diver was taken to hospital in Halifax on Thursday after he became unconscious while diving off HMCS St. John’s, said a military public affairs spokesman. The member of Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic was conducting regular dives off the ship into Halifax Harbour, when his supervisor noted that he was unresponsive in the water, Mike Bonin said. His supervisor recovered him and called an ambulance, Bonin said. The diver regained consciousness shortly after he was taken from the water and was in hospital for observation, said the spokesman.”
  • Remember murder-rapist Russell Williams’ uniforms and kit being burned Apparently, his days left in the military are numbered as well.
  • WHAT’S CANADA BUYING? Improving Blood Testing for Diver Problems
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged in Kandahar and Uruzgan and they claim to have shot down a helicopter in Helmand, too.