News Highlights – 17 Oct 11

  • Afghanistan (1)  The war that everyone would like to forget began its second decade this week with little fanfare. Ten years ago last Friday, the United States, backed by NATO allies like Canada, invaded Afghanistan. Billed as an act of both retribution and prevention, the Oct. 7, 2001 invasion was aimed at deposing a Taliban regime that had harboured Al Qaeda terrorists the U.S. believed responsible for attacking New York and Washington. Its stated goals were to capture or kill Al Qaeda mastermind Osama Bin Laden and ensure that the rugged Afghan hills could never again nourish those devoted to attacking the West. “This is a battle with only one outcome,” British prime minister Tony Blair boasted, as American bombers pounded Taliban positions. “Our victory, not theirs.” Canada’s Liberal government, while more circumspect, was also firmly on side. Within a few months, Ottawa sent in the first of hundreds of Canadian troops ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Fewer Canadians are interested in troops remaining in Afghanistan, seeing the mission as “no longer worth it,” according to the results of government-commissioned public opinion research. The same poll also found that many Canadians felt that Arctic sovereignty wasn’t as great of a priority as the government says it is. The annual poll on public perceptions of the Canadian Forces showed declining interest in and knowledge of the Afghan mission with many participants describing the mission as “dangerous,” “expensive,” a “failure,” “underfunded” and “endless.” The poll found 60 per cent support the mission in Afghanistan, a decline from a peak of 67 per cent in 2008. About two-thirds knew of Canada’s changing role in Afghanistan, while about one-quarter believed Canada should pull all troops out this year ….”  More here and here – will share report link once I find it.
  • Afghanistan (3)  One mentor’s view so far (recurring first-person column via Postmedia)
  • Afghanistan (4)  A new research paper by the Canadian Foreign Affairs and Defence Institute sheds new light on what the military knew before embarking on the war in Kandahar. Through interviews and documentation, the researchers uncovered how U.S. intelligence agencies warned the Canadian military before their deployment that a resurgent Taliban and al-Qaeda were preparing a “surge” in southern Afghanistan co-inciding with the arrival of NATO troops in Kandahar. The report, penned by David Bercuson, historian Jack Granatstein and Nancy Pearson Mackie, principally argues that Ottawa must look at its 10 year involvement in Afghanistan and that “unless our politicians and bureaucrats also learned the lessons of the Afghan War, the price paid by Canada and Canadians will have been far too high.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (5)  What’s Canada’s aid done in Afghanistan?  (part one of four by Postmedia News)
  • Senate Standing Committee on National Security & Defence plans to “examine and report on Canada’s national security and defence policies, practices, circumstances and capabilities” today – you can watch the webcast here.
  • Veterans Affairs Canada plans to cut more than $226-million from its budget in the next two years in what’s expected to be the first wave of reductions in the department, according (to) federal documents. The department’s plans and priorities report, which lays out spending up to 2014, shows compensation and financial support for ex-soldiers will see the biggest reduction ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Big Honkin’ Ship Update  “In the jockeying and political posturing over who will win Ottawa’s enormous $35-billion shipbuilding contract, the public could be forgiven for thinking this will be a winner-takes-all competition. It’s not. The three big bidders still in the race will share the podium, even if only one will gets the top spot. Stephen Harper’s Conservative government designed the competition, which goes under the unwieldy name of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, to ensure there’s a big winner, a respectable runner up and one company settling for the consolation prize. This is important because each region representing the companies – the Maritimes, Quebec-Ontario and British Columbia – is exerting considerable political pressure to ensure its side gets a piece of the action ….”  More here and here.
  • The Russian intelligence service’s illegal use of the Canadian passport poses a “troubling threat” to the travel document’s integrity, newly released federal memos warn. Canada “strongly deplores” the exploitation of its passport by Russian agents to establish a spy ring in the United States, say the internal Foreign Affairs Department records. But it seems Moscow’s Cold War-style tactics, exposed last year by U.S. authorities, did little to chill relations with Ottawa. In fact, the embassy of the Russian Federation said Canadian officials didn’t even raise the matter. “There was no fuss about that,” said embassy spokesman Dmitry Avdeev. “I did not know anything about it.” Foreign Affairs spokesman Jean-Francois Lacelle declined to discuss the matter, saying only that communication with other countries is confidential ….”
  • Alexander Johnston, 1885-1918, R.I.P  Members of the media are invited to attend the military funeral of Private Alexander Johnston to be held in Sailly-lez-Cambrai, France, on October 25, 2011. Private Johnston served with the 78th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, and died during the Battle of the Canal du Nord on September 29, 1918. His remains were discovered in July 2008, and identified through mitochondrial DNA testing on March 31, 2011 ….”
  • Jockeying for War of 1812 for monument location, via the editorial pages. “…. By all means build a monument — but not in the Ottawa area, which played no role in the war and was home to only a few farmers and loggers two centuries ago. Besides, Ottawa has monuments enough. It would be far more appropriate to locate a memorial to 1812 where the war was actually fought. Niagara-on-the-Lake might be a candidate. It was literally at the front line in the struggle and suffered accordingly. If that’s deemed too near to Brock’s Monument, erected in honour of the British general Sir Isaac Brock in neighbouring Queenston, why not locate an inspiring new War of 1812 memorial in York itself — a.k.a. Toronto? Fort York, rebuilt after the Americans withdrew, holds Canada’s largest collection of original buildings from this conflict. A memorial here would be an ideal way to honour the almost 200 British, Canadian and Indian dead and wounded who shed their blood defending York on that April day almost 200 years ago.” News Highlights – 7 Sept 11

  • Stuart Langridge, R.I.P  In late April 2011, the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) said it was doing an initial probe into the 2008 suicide of Corporal Langridge of CFB Edmonton.  Now, the MPCC says it’s going to hold public hearings into the suicide – no dates set yet.  More from the media here (Google News search).
  • Libya Mission  One columnist’s view:  “…. If the foreigners’ motives really were humanitarian — they wanted to stop Gadhafi’s atrocious regime from killing his own subjects, and thought that Libyans would be better off without him — then they actually were using force as an instrument of love. Not “love” as in the love songs, but love meaning a genuine concern for the welfare of others. Most resorts to force do not meet this criterion (although those using the force generally claim that they do). The United States did not invade Iraq out of concern for the welfare of Iraqis, for example. But once in a while there is a shining exception, and this is one of those times. The British, French, Canadians, Swedes, Qataris and so on would not have done it if it involved large casualties in their own forces. (In fact, they had no casualties.) Most Western soldiers didn’t think the operation would succeed in removing Gadhafi, and the outcome has been greeted with surprise and relief in most of the capitals that sent aircraft. But they did it, and that counts for a lot.”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (1)  Canadians are more concerned about a terrorist attack on Canada now than before 9/11, says a new (Ipsos-Reid poll conducted for Postmedia News and Global TV). Enhanced airport security, no-fly lists and Canada’s participation in the Afghanistan war are just some of the considerable measures taken after 9/11, but Canadians are still worried about potential terrorist attacks within our borders. Half of the respondents said they felt “no change” in safety levels with military intervention and just under half feel ‘more safe’ as a result of domestic security measures ….”
  • 9/11 Plus Ten (2)  The CSIS Info-Machine is sharing some stories from officers about their feelings about 9/11 here and here – a bit of a “Canadian milestones in counter-terrorism since 9-11” selected chronology here.
  • Wanted:  some damned good number crunchers and technogeeks for breaking codes.  “It boasts some of the top math minds in the country, it’s looking to recruit more, and you still won’t find its name listed among any universities. The Tutte Institute for Mathematics and Computing is like a school for spies – a government-backed “classified research institute” that exists to entice academics who can help the government create and crack codes in the service of national security. The federal government has actually employed a small stable of arms-length academic cryptographers for several years now, but this summer it opted to redouble and rebrand the effort. In doing so, Ottawa has stepped up its quiet drive to lure some of the smartest PhD-calibre mathematicians away from ivory towers and into applied government work ….”  And where’d the name of the new institute, part of Communications Security Establishment Canada, come from? “…. In the 1940s, William Tutte, a math genius, figured out ways to spy on encrypted, high-level Nazi communications, a contribution so profound that some observers now credit him and his British colleagues for helping hasten the end of the Second World War. After the war, Mr. Tutte moved to Canada and had a distinguished academic career at the University of Waterloo ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Canadian Major General Michael Day talks to Army News about the Afghan training mission (video of phone interview here), saying he sees some progress:  “…. Two years ago, the army was shrinking, literally we were losing more people than we were gaining. Today, not only are we growing by four to five thousand every single month, but we now have selection process that vets those individuals that are not suited. So we are in great shape on that ….”
  • Afghanistan (2a)  7 Jul 11:  CF Info-Machine tells us Canadian takes over command of Consolidated Fielding Centre in Afghanistan.  ~6 Sept 11:  Foreign Affairs Info-Machine sends RSS feed notice that it’s decided to share this “news” on Canada’s main web page about Afghanistan.
  • Afghanistan (2b)  What the dental surgeon used to do in Afghanistan (via CF Info-Machine) – he’s been back for a couple of weeks now.
  • Afghanistan (3a)  A Macleans columnist reminds us to be wary about negotiating with the Taliban, even if that’s how things look to be unfolding. “…. In the event the Taliban do re-establish themselves in Kabul, those Afghans who go to the mountains will likely include those Afghans who most share our values and most desire our friendship. Then what will we do?”\
  • Afghanistan (3b)  Terry Glavin reminds us to be wary, too“…. The Taliban have made it quite plain, by word and deed, that they have no intention of negotiating anything except the general outlines of the civilized world’s capitulation to them and the forward-planning terms of NATO’s surrender of the Afghan people to their custody ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch  English-language propaganda sites back online – for now.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Wanted:  four-wheel light utility vehicles for 1 Canadian Division (more details in part of bid document here), and checking if CF is using the best test to see if patients receiving transfusions need more or not.
  • New Brunswick is looking for feedback on its ideas for job protection for Reservists.  “Finding the right balance can sometimes be a tricky and nerve-testing procedure. But efforts to do just that are exactly what’s happening these days within the part-time military community as officials juggle ideas in an effort to find ways to make the lives of reservist soldiers in this province a little more secure. In April, residents were asked to participate in a provincial government consultation process and provide their views on how to offer better leave protection to reservists working in civilian jobs or pursuing post-secondary studie …. Ideas were collected by the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour and placed in a preliminary report called What We Heard: Responses to the Review of Canadian Forces Reservist Employment and Education Leave Protection in New Brunswick. (PDF) …. If you have ideas on how you would like to see reservists protected in this province, now is the time to step forward. Contact the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour.”  Contact info:, fax (506) 453-3618 or snail mail at Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, Review of Reservists Employment and Education Leave Protections, P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, NB, E3B 5H1.
  • Canada has has new deal for annual defence think tank get together.  “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, announced …. that Canada is hosting the third annual Halifax International Security Forum from November 18th to 20th in Halifax, Nova Scotia. With Foreign Affairs as the media partner, this year’s Halifax International Security Forum features over three hundred politicians, academics, policy makers, and journalists from forty countries around the world. Following the 10th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks and Canada’s recent transition to a non-combat training role in Afghanistan, this year’s forum is especially poignant, focusing on key sensitive and emerging global issues …. As the only event of its kind in North America, the Halifax International Security Forum fosters discussions covering a wide range of topics, including the future of the transatlantic alliance, security initiatives in the Middle East, revolutions, responsibility to protect and making better use of resources to deliver on key security and defence commitments. The Halifax International Security Forum is even stronger with Foreign Affairs, the conference’s media partner. Minister MacKay took the opportunity to announce a three year funding partnership for the Halifax International Security Forum from both the Department of National Defence and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency ….”
  • Remember the list o’ war criminals Canada was looking for your help in hunting downGuess where one of the guys on the original list is?  “An accused Serbian war criminal says his life has been ruined by an Ottawa-led manhunt, even though he left Canada for his homeland six years ago. Dimitrije Karic, also known as Dimitrije Mita, 51, of the Serbian municipality of Kovin, said he came to Canada in 2003 and filed a failed refugee claim. He complied with an order to leave Canada in 2005. “Is anyone, who was wearing a uniform in war in former Yugoslavia, a war criminal for you?” he said in an Aug. 30 e-mail to QMI Agency. “If it is so, there are several hundred thousand war criminals throughout Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia.” He lived and worked at two companies in Medicine Hat, Alta., during his time in Canada, documents show ….”
  • Remember Gilad Schalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hamas in June 2006?  His folks are telling reporters Canada should get Hamas to let him go.  What’s Canada saying so far?  “…. Chris Day, director of communications for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, told the Tribune in an email, “Hamas is a listed terrorist organization. The government of Canada has no contact with Hamas.” Canadian aid is supplied to the people of Gaza through “established aid channels and with established organizations” and not via Hamas. Should Hamas and Fatah form a unity government, Day said, “Canada cannot support a government that includes Hamas.” In May, Canada was a signatory to the G8 Declaration of Renewed Commitment for Freedom and Democracy, which stated in part, “We demand the unconditional release of the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit [sic] without delay.” When asked what concrete action Canada can or will take in regard to Gilad Schalit, Day said, “Minister Baird has been very clear in calling – as G8 leaders did at Deauville – for Gilad Shalit’s [sic] release…. We will continue to press this case at every opportunity.” ….”  But not directly to the folks holding him, given the bits in green.
  • The re-incarnated NHL’s Winnipeg Jets (have) unveiled their new uniforms …. The Jets, who returned to Winnipeg with the sale of the Atlanta Thrashers to Manitoba’s True North Sports and Entertainment in May, held a news conference to unveil the team’s new uniforms at Royal Canadian Air Force base 17 Wing. The jerseys consist mostly of two shades of blue: Polar Night Blue, found on many of today’s RCAF aircraft, and Aviator Blue, which is similar to historical colours used by the RCAF ….” News Highlights – 27 Aug 11

  • A new study shows that a majority of Canadians think the Canadian Forces are important, but would like to see the military return to a more traditional peacekeeping role instead of a combat one. An Ipsos-Reid study, published in June 2011 for the Department of National Defence and titled: Views of the Canadian Forces 2011 Tracking Study, surveyed 1,651 Canadians across the country between March 21 and 24 on their knowledge and opinions about Canada’s military and its missions, primarily in Afghanistan and Libya. When asked to describe the mission in Afghanistan, such words as “deadly,” “expensive,” “underfunded” and “endless” were used. “There was a also a sense of “enough is enough,” the study authors wrote. “In general, many participants seemed to feel that they were under-informed about the Canadian Forces’ role in Afghanistan, and that they did not know why the Canadian Forces was still there,” the study said ….”
  • Way Up North (x)  Prime Minister Stephen Harper has sent a signal to Beijing that Ottawa will not relinquish its sovereignty over the portions of the Arctic lying within its territory. Countries around the world are looking northward as the sea passage across the top of Canada becomes increasingly navigable and exploration for new energy and mineral sources suggests the Arctic could contain a wealth of untapped natural resources. One of those countries is China, which has begun to take a hard look at the potential that lies under what was once a frozen ocean, especially the commercial and shipping possibilities, and has asked for special observer status in the Arctic Council. On Friday, a reporter with the official Chinese news service who is accompanying the Prime Minister on his annual summer tour, asked him to clarify his position. “It seems like there are some local media reports that the Arctic region belongs to the Arctic countries and it’s not the business of the rest of the world,” the Chinese reporter said. “What is your comment on this opinion and what role do you think the rest of the world can play in the Arctic region affairs?” Mr. Harper responded by saying that vast areas of land and significant territorial waters within the Arctic are under the sovereignty of various countries, including Canada. “The government of Canada, working with our partners and the people in this region, intend to assert our sovereignty in these regions,” said the Prime Minister ….”
  • Way Up North (x)’s Danger Room blog on the CF’s tender call for quiet snowmobiles“The Canadian government wants a stealth snowmobile. Just, apparently, because. It’s not as if Canada has any alpine enemies to sneak up on with shadowy, frigid cavalry. But that’s not going to stop the Canadian Department of National Defence from spending a half million dollars on a prototype ….”
  • The body of a former Ottawa resident was found this week among over 150 others in a Tripoli warehouse, members of Canada’s Libyan community report. Abdulhamid Darrat, who first came to Ottawa in the early 1980s, ran a successful Internet company in Libya called Baitaslxams. He was taken by government officers along with five co-workers and shoved into the back of a van, while at work in May. His daughter, Khadija, 16, said the last time she saw her father was at 3 a.m. on May 19 before he headed into the office for the day. Khadija said Libyan officials led the family to believe that Darrat was taken out of Tripoli in order to do some sort of Internet work for the government. She said relatives with contacts in the Gadhafi regime told them Darrat was well looked after and doing well ….”
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper will be at the table when world leaders decide the future of Libya. A conference dubbed “Friends of Libya” is set for Sept. 1, in Paris, France. French President Nicolas Sarkozy invited all NATO member countries, including Canada, and added China, Russia, India and Brazil to the invite list. Sarkozy said he called the conference “to help a free Libya, tomorrow’s Libya, and to really show that we are going forward and passing from military collaboration to civil collaboration to resolve the situation.” ….”
  • How’d the Libyan rebels get that expensive Canadian-built micro-UAV“…. Start-up Aeryon is mainly focused on the consumer uses of drones, such as replacing satellite mapping with drone mapping. Their drones are dual-purpose products — intended for commercial use, but also usable for military operations as demonstrated below. Canadian law only prohibits them from selling drones to North Korea or Iran. “Because it’s a dual-purpose product, rather than just intended for military use, we face fewer restrictions when sending them to other countries,” says (Aeryon CEO David) Kroetsch ….”
  • One old warhorse’s glass-is-half-empty view of Libya: “…. is Libya a “victory”? We don’t know much about the rebel leadership and the National Transitional Council (NTC) that Canada, for one, is pledged to support. What we do know is that the rebels have gotten rid of one of their military leaders – former Interior Minister Abdul Younis — who was assassinated by his own fighters in Benghazi for reason unknown. That’s an uncomfortable omen for the future. Also known is that with total victory, tribal and ideological factionalisms surface, and scores beg to be settled ….”
  • Exercise PANAMAX 2011 in, around Panama is winding down.
  • Afghanistan (1)  Four Chinook helicopters flown by the Canadian military in the deserts of southern Afghanistan soon will be headed to another desert — in Arizona. Unable to sell the aging aircraft, the federal government has decided to ship the Chinooks to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, a U.S. air force installation known as “The Boneyard.” The helicopters will be stored at the open-air facility outside Tucson until the government can find a buyer, said Tracy Poirier, a spokeswoman for the Defence Department. The department, however, declined to provide a cost estimate for the storage, saying it is prohibited from revealing the details of contracts made with a foreign governments. “This was the most economical option available to us,” Poirier said. “This facility is the biggest of its kind in North America and very specialized at storing and reinstating old aircraft.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Last Canadian Air Wing boss back home.
  • Afghanistan (3)  Canadian reporter discovers it’s damned expensive bringing stuff to fight a war 1/2 way around the world“Summer in (southern) Afghanistan is a blast furnace. Temperatures rise over 50C. Air conditioning is what allows the frenzied pace of NATO’s war during the fighting season. The price is astronomical. The Americans have calculated that in the past two years they have spent $20 billion on AC. If you add the rest of NATO, that figure is probably well over $24 billion. That means that coalition forces spend more to keep themselves cool each year than Afghanistan’s gross national product. Every drop of fuel, drinking water as well as every morsel of food consumed on NATO bases is imported into this landlocked country – most of it trucked in through Pakistan. The cost is enormous ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  Chatting up surrendered Taliban.
  • Ronald Kevin Megeney, 1982-2007, R.I.P.:  The trial of former Nova Scotia reservist Matthew Wilcox, charged in the shooting death of his friend and comrade in Afghanistan in 2007, has been adjourned until Sept. 12. Wilcox has pleaded not guilty to charges of criminal negligence causing death and negligent performance of a military duty in the death of Cpl. Kevin Megeney, a fellow reservist from Nova Scotia ….”  More here.
  • Some U.S. Army LAV work for a Canadian companyGeneral Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, a business unit of General Dynamics Corporation (NYSE:GD), received a contract worth $49.2 million from the U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command. Per the contract, General Dynamics will provide training and field service support for Light Armored Vehicles (“LAV”) that was previously supplied under a Foreign Military Sale (“FMS”) contract. Support activities under this contract include the provision of field support teams to conduct operator and maintenance training, technical support and fleet status monitoring. The five-year contract was awarded through the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Crown Agency of the Canadian Government and is expected to be completed by July 2016 ….”
  • Postmedia News offers up a series of terrorism profiles of different countries, including Canada.
  • This from the Veterans Affairs Info-MachineOn behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of National Revenue, announced today up to $5,000 in funding for the official opening of the Air Force Heritage Park in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. “Our government is proud to support great community projects like this one,” said Minister Blaney. “We commend all those involved with the creation of the Air Force Heritage Park for doing their part to recognize the men and women who have served our country, past and present.” ….” News Highlights – 20 Nov 10

  • 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. News Highlights – 2 Nov 10

  • Canada’s Governor General is handing out awards this morning to a number of people today to honour them for displaying “gallantry and devotion to duty in combat” and bringing “honour to the Canadian Forces and to Canada.”  Congrats to all!
  • After getting kicked out of Dubai over an airline landing rights fight, Postmedia News reports the last (Canadian) military flight outta the UAE following “a modest military ceremony.
  • The Royal Canadian Legion has announced that the mother of RSM Robert Girouard (killed in Afghanistan in 2006), Mabel Girouard, is this year’s Silver Cross Mother – more on that here from
  • According to the Canadian Press, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon reportedly told the House of Commons during Question Period that Omar Khadr will be coming back to Canada eventually. Here’s the diplomatic note (PDF, courtesy of, which says:  “…. The Government of Canada …. wishes to convey that, as requested by the United States, the Government of Canada is inclined to favourably consider Mr. Khadr’s application to be transferred to Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence….” Here’s what Hansard, the official transcript of the House of Commons, says Cannon said:  “….the Government of Canada did not participate in the negotiations concerning the sentence. In fact, when asked, the tribunal’s chief prosecutor, Navy Captain John Murphy, said that Canada was not part of the agreement and that the agreement was between the Government of the United States and Khadr’s defence team.  Mr. Speaker, the Government of the United States agreed to send Omar Khadr back to Canada, and we will implement the agreement between Mr. Khadr and the Government of the United States.” Smart ass commentary:  Is “inclined to favourably consider” the same as “yup, we WILL take him”?  Just sayin’…
  • Meanwhile , according to an Ipsos-Reid poll carried out for Postmedia News and Global National, “While one half (49%) of Canadians believe that Khadr should serve ‘none’ of his time in Canada, the other half (51%) of Canadians believe he should be able to serve ‘all’ (25%) or at least ‘some’ (26%) of his sentence in Canada ….”  More on that from Postmedia News here.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: At least nine claimed killed in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul and Meme o’ the moment – “cowardly”
  • Speaking of the Taliban (or, more specifically, speaking about speaking to the Taliban), a spokesperson with the Afghan President’s Office denies recent reports that President Hamid Karzai has been holding “secret” talks with folks from the “al-Qaida linked Haqqani network”.

Have a great day!

Remembrance Day: Only one in five say they’ll attend?

Am I the only person who thinks this isn’t great news? From Ipsos Reid:

Two in ten (20%) Canadians – which could represent almost 4.8 million adults – say they will attend an official Remembrance Day service on November 11th this year. Projected attendance at ceremonies rises to 26% among those who have a family member who served in the past, and 35% among those who currently have a family member in the Canadian Forces.

Attendance is up from 2008 when 16% of Canadians – which could represent up to 4 million adults – say they attended an official Remembrance Day service on November 11th last year. This proportion rises to 22% among those who had a family member serve in a past war or conflict, and to 31% among those who have a family member currently serving in the Canadian Forces.

Survey Says…. Whatever You Want It To!

The concept of “who pays the piper calls the tune” can’t possibly be seen more clearly than in the latest two surveys of Canadians on how they fell about the mission in Afghanistan.

Ipsos Reid poll for the National Post (.pdf):

“Support for Mission in Afghanistan Holds Steady (48%) But Come 2011 Majority (52%) Says It’s Time for Canada to Pull Out”

versus EKOS poll for the CBC (.pdf):

“Decisive Opposition to Canada’s Afghanistan Mission”

Care to guess the editorial positions of the respective media outlets mentioned?