Libya Mission (1) Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is leaving open the possibility of continuing Canadian military involvement in Libya after the scheduled Sept. 27 end date. Canada’s participation in NATO’s air mission over Libya has been extended once, but the government hasn’t yet said whether it will propose another extension. The NDP, the official Opposition, is against another extension. Asked what happens after Sept. 27, Baird said he’s taking the situation one day at a time. “This is quickly coming to an end. It’s not over yet. Canada will obviously be there in theatre to support the Libyan people,” Baird told (CBC) …. “The end is in sight. We’re not there yet, but let’s take it one day at a time,” he said. Pressed again on whether the troops will return to Canada on Sept. 27, Baird reiterated “the job is not yet complete.” “I would think that once the people of Libya are safe, that’ll be something that we’ll consider,” he said ….” More on this here.
Libya Mission (2) “Canada is heading into high-level talks on Libya this week without formal offers of assistance for the country as it rebuilds after a bloody uprising. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief spokesman says the intent of the meeting in Paris is to determine what the rebels’ National Transitional Council needs. Dimitri Soudas says Canada can contribute in several ways but the international community first needs to co-ordinate assistance. “Before you just start putting things into force and implementing them, you actually have to make sure everyone is going the same direction,” he said in a briefing Tuesday. Mr. Soudas said Thursday’s meeting is also not a victory lap for NATO forces, even as military officials say their sustained campaign is seeing life slowly return to normal in many areas. “The definition of victory is always something that people try to establish,” he said. “Victory to a large extent is democracy in Libya.” ….” If the Government of Canada really means that bit in red, we may be there a while….
Libya Mission (3) Academic: Canada should have own eyes, ears on the ground, not just sharing intelligence from NATO partners. “…. When asked where Canada is getting its information, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, referenced the NATO-led mission in which Canadian fighter aircraft and a navy frigate have been participating since March. “Don’t forget this is a co-ordinated effort,” he said, “and information is shared internally.” Walter Dorn, a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., said he was surprised to hear that Canada doesn’t have anyone on the ground in Libya given the importance the government has attached to the mission, both militarily and politically. “It is critical to have Canadian eyes and ears on the ground in order to make informed decisions,” he said. “We have to evaluate those in charge, provide humanitarian assistance and help build the peace.” ….”
Libya Mission (4) “Canada is looking at how to “unfreeze” up to $2 billion in frozen Libyan assets for re-construction efforts in Libya, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman Dimitri Soudas. The assets were frozen in February following a United Nations sanctions resolution and now Ottawa, following the lead of the United States, is trying to determine whether the money can be released and channelled toward “humanitarian and other needs” to help establish a transition to a democratic government in Libya. Ottawa is “looking at options at how to proceed to unfreeze those assets and for them to be put towards that use,” said Soudas ….”
Libya Mission (5) And for all those calling for a U.N. mission in Libya, this, from the rebels. “Libya is rejecting the idea of deploying United Nations military personnel to help stabilize the country. A 10-page document written by the UN Secretary General’s special adviser on Libya that was leaked and published online recently calls for the deployment of 200 unarmed UN military observers and 190 UN police to help stabilize the country …. that could include monitoring or mentoring police officers. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chairman of the transitional council, said Tuesday he had met a day earlier with NATO officials in Qatar, where it was decided that no foreign soldiers would be needed in Libya. “We decided that we do not need any forces to maintain security, be it international, Muslim or other,” he said ….”
Way Up North (1) Lookit what the South Koreans are up to (hat tip to Mark Collins for sharing this one) “Commercial ships able to route through the Northwest Passage without ice breaker assistance are a step closer to becoming a reality. Korean shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), announced a few days ago that a model of their 190,000 dwt iron ore bulk carrier had finished its test program in the world’s largest – 90 meters long – ice test tank at Canada’s Institute for Ocean Technology (IOT). With an awareness that the traditional ice-breaker bow construction (where the mass of the ship’s bow structure bears down to break up pack ice) acts as a drag on efficient progress in open waters, international collaboration between IOT and Korean researchers from Pusan National University aimed at finding the optimal bow design for a ship operating in various ice conditions. Numerical computer analysis by the team culminated in manoeuvring and resistance performance tests of the model bulk carrier in the special ice-test tank ….”
Way Up North (2) One academic’s view, post-Nanook 2011: “…. one could argue that the senior military leadership views the Arctic (especially in a post-Afghanistan milieu) as a means of further justifying its reason for being. Stated differently, it gives them a mission priority that has the firm backing of the Conservative government in Ottawa. This is critical because it allows the military to make the case to political masters that the defence budget should be insulated from any deep cuts in the rush to balance the books …. It would be better for the military to wrap itself in an Arctic mission (and to secure the requisite procurement) rather than have the Coast Guard squeeze out more money for sovereignty patrols, scientific investigation and a polar-class icebreaker. In short, the Canadian military is perfectly content to play around in the Arctic just as long as the money taps stay open and they can use their training there for other “hot spots” around the world. And if this is the case, you can look for the Canadian Forces to deepen its military footprint in the Arctic.”
Afghanistan (3) QMI/Sun Media editorial: “If there was a truly down moment during Jack Layton’s funeral on Saturday, it was Stephen Lewis praising Layton for wanting to negotiate with the Taliban. And, worst of all, this venture into the absurd got a generous and lasting applause. Can you imagine anyone but the elite left giving a generous and lasting applause to something so offensive and so wrong-headed? Yet, they lapped up the Orange Crush like it was cultist Kool-Aid. How sad is that knowing those same Taliban that Lewis and Layton think would give credence to a negotiated end to their terror have taken the lives of more than 150 of our Canadian soldiers, plus a diplomat, plus a Canadian journalist? And that’s not counting the hell and death they have brought down on the Afghan people. But everybody Rise Up! Rise Up! ….”
Afghanistan (4) I screwed up, missing this film from the CF Info-Machine: “…. You don’t have to wait for a telling, warts-and-all documentary made about one Canadian military experience in Kandahar. Desert Lions: Canadian Forces Mentors in Kandahar is a great piece of reporting and surprise, it’s a Canadian army production. A reservist with the Calgary Highlanders regiment and a former CBC television reporter, Mike Vernon spent several weeks in 2010 shooting footage and collecting stories in the volatile Panjwaii district of Kandahar. This was a hairy time for the Canadian Forces, especially in Nakhonay, the small, Taliban-infested village where Mr. Vernon found himself encamped with nine members of an Operational Mentor Liason Team (OMLT), reservists like himself, assigned to a complex and dangerous mission: To hold Nakhonay while helping “enable” a company of Afghan soldiers, some of them good, some of them awful. All of the men struggled with cultural barriers and stupid military politics, inside a deadly combat environment where the enemy was always present but seldom seen. Scary ….”
Royalizing the CF Survey says….“According to (Harris Decima) Senior Vice-President Doug Anderson “By and large, Canadians agree with reverting to the traditional names for Canada’s Navy and Air Force and only one in ten are strongly opposed to the change. As might have been predicted based on historical evidence, Quebec residents find the lowest level of agreement on this point, but even there, opinion is fairly evenly split.” ….” More from The Canadian Press here.
“Ministers responsible for Veterans Affairs and senior officials from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Germany, Denmark, France and the Netherlands today completed two days of meetings to discuss support for Veterans. Ministers emphasized the need for collaborative research, policy development and programs for Veterans. The meetings were hosted in Ottawa by the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs …. The following statement was released by the Summit participants at the conclusion of the meetings: Honouring and providing services to Veterans is a shared goal around the world. All of our governments have programs in place to meet the needs of those transitioning from military to civilian life. Research is playing a growing part in allowing us to better understand the transition experience. By agreeing to collaborate more closely on common research projects, we will be able to develop improved ways of supporting Veterans throughout their lives ….”
Libya Mission (1a) PM: We’re not there forever, folks.“Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not sure how long Canada’s military needs to remain in Libya, but he said Tuesday that he doesn’t anticipate an “indefinite” mission in the North African country. “This is the beginning of the end of the (Moammar) Gadhafi regime,” Harper told reporters after launching a tour of Canada’s Arctic region. “I don’t say it is the end. I think we saw last night a couple of surprises. We anticipate it will be at least a few days for the process of a regime change to actually take place.” Harper said Canada is sitting down with its allies to determine pressing needs for the country in the days to come ….”
Libya Mission (1b) PM: We’re not there for too much longer, folks. “Stephen Harper says the mounting success of rebel forces battling Moammar Gadhafi’s regime means Canada’s military mission to Libya could end in the near future – but the Prime Minister cautions the North African country will need international help for some time to come. “We anticipate it will be at least a few days for the process of regime change to actually take place so obviously our military will remain there through this period, respond there accordingly during this period and in the days to follow,” Mr. Harper told reporters who accompanied him to the Arctic. “Our anticipation is that the military mission will obviously not be indefinite, that it will terminate some time in the not-too-distant future. But we will first make sure the job is actually finished before that occurs.” ….” More from the Toronto Star here.
Libya (1c) Recycling an old script – where “Afghanistan”, read “Libya”. “…. NATO has said any post-Gadhafi mission would not involve ground forces, would be secondary to an effort led by the U.N., and would only take place in response to an official request. Col. Roland Lavoie, military spokesman for Operation Unified Protector, says NATO must stay involved in Libya as long as Gadhafi is in power. “There’s nobody who could predict when exactly the Gadhafi forces will drop their weapons,” said Lavoie during a briefing in Brussels. “They will do so probably when there will be a political settlement to their conflicts.” Harper added Canada may need to play a post-Gadhafi role in Libya. “This country needs a whole range of assistance — all the way from monetary assistance to capacity building,” he said. “We stand ready to help any way we can. I don’t think, to be frank, it’s been decided yet who will do what, but the entire international community is prepared to help and see a peaceful transition here.” ….”
Libya Mission (2) “Stephen Harper’s new brand of Canadian foreign policy – one that chooses sides over sidelines and replaces peacekeeper with “courageous warrior” – is poised to have its clearest illustration yet as Libyan rebels celebrate the beginning of the end of the Gadhafi regime. Support at the United Nations for military intervention, a quick decision to approve Canadian Forces bombing raids and the move to expel Libyan diplomats while the status of the North African nation remained uncertain gave observers a chance to see a very different Canada on display. “This is a significant shift in Canadian foreign policy,” said Queen’s University professor Christian Leuprecht, a fellow with the school’s Centre for International and Defence Policy. “In the past, our objectives really in foreign policy have been defined by international stability and open trade routes. And what we see in Libya, previous governments very likely would have sat out.” ….”
Libya Mission (3) Globe & Mail editorial: “…. By the skin of their teeth, Canada and the other Operation Unified Protector countries have managed to avoid a long war of attrition. All’s reasonably well that ends fairly well. But, next time, the implications of the responsibility to protect civilians should be thought through more carefully.”
A Canadian company is helping Libyan rebels, one micro UAV at a time (company news release also available here (PDF) if link doesn’t work).“While NATO countries fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) high above Libya, none of these UAVs, or the vital intelligence they provide, was available to the Libyans fighting to free their country – they were fighting blind. So, they got one of their own. It can now be disclosed that the Libyan rebels have been using the Aeryon Scout Micro UAV to acquire intelligence on enemy positions and to coordinate their resistance efforts. Representatives from the Transitional National Council (TNC) were looking for an imagery solution to provide to the troops on the ground. They evaluated a series of micro UAVs and chose the Aeryon Scout – and they needed it delivered immediately to those fighting at the front. Large UAVs are often flown far away from the frontline – often overseas – making it difficult to get the imagery to troops in combat. With the Aeryon Scout, the operator has direct control over the UAV and is able to see imagery in real-time ….” More from the Globe & Mail, Wired.com’s Danger Room blog and the Financial Post on this, as well as a link to a British media article on the hardware from May of this year (8th bullet).(Hat tip to Mark Collins for sharing this one).
Way Up North (1) “A simulated major air crash was only hours away when word came to soldiers, coast guard personnel and RCMP that they were faced with the real thing in remote Resolute. Saturday’s deadly crash of a chartered Boeing 737 barely a kilometre from the High Arctic hamlet’s windswept airport came smack in the middle of the largest Arctic military exercise ever conducted by the Canadian Forces. The final phase of Operation Nanook was to designed to simulate a mid-air collision between a small bush plane and cargo plane, the “signature piece” of the three-week exercise, according to a government official. The Canadian Forces had even positioned the wreckage of a long-ago crash on a plateau above the village of 250 people. Officers were sitting down to lunch in the mess on Saturday when someone burst in to report a jetliner was down. Lieutenant-commander Albert Wong, the senior public affairs officer for Op Nanook, said he sat for a brief moment in stunned disbelief. “Someone said, ‘No duff’ — which is military code for, this is real,” Wong told reporters who arrived Tuesday with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “All of us started running to our posts.” ….” More from the Globe & Mail here.
Way Up North (2) “Deployment of full emergency resources across Canada’s North is impossible, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday after meeting with rescue workers who responded to a fatal plane crash last weekend. “Part of the drill here is how quickly things can be moved up and deployed from the south as well,” said Harper, who is on his sixth annual summer tour of the region. “We have to be realistic. There is no possible way in the vastness of the Canadian Arctic we could ever have all of the resources necessary close by. It’s just impossible.” ….” More on this from the Toronto Star here.
Way Up North (4) One academic’s view: “…. the Canadian military is perfectly content to play around in the Arctic just as long as the money taps stay open and they can utilize their training there for other “hot spots” around the world. And if this is the case, you can look for the CF. to deepen its military footprint in the Arctic going forward.”
Canada’s defence minister Peter MacKay met with his British counterpart Liam Fox in England this week – this from the UK MoD’s Info-Machine: “Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox welcomed the Canadian Defence Minister, the Honourable Peter MacKay, to London yesterday with a ceremonial guard formed by members of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. Defence Reform, Libya, Afghanistan and NATO were among the main topics discussed and both Defence Ministers agreed on the importance of the enduring bilateral relationship between their two countries ….” Nothing yet on the DND/CF web page on the meeting.
A former Aussie officer makes the case for the Australian PM to stop attending every funeral of a fallen soldier, looking at how Canada does things. “…. The full glare of the parliamentary press gallery will blaze as military colleagues say final goodbyes. Because, by convention, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott will take no other media appearances that day, the military funeral will become the only vision TV networks have of our political leaders. By virtue of the politicians’ attendance, a private funeral will become a nationally televised political event. For the next two weeks, when Australians think about the war in Afghanistan they will think of the only military event important enough to unite political and Defence leaders — the death of another young soldier. AusAID’s development progress won’t be in their minds, nor will the pressure on the Taliban being applied by our special forces. If form is any guide, media networks will run polls on our involvement in Afghanistan right at the time when coverage is dominated by terrible news. Australians, when asked what our Afghan strategy should be, will make an emotional decision framed by a military funeral ….”
R.I.P. Jack Layton. I didn’t agree with many of his policies, but you have to admire his commitment and passion – awfully big shoes to fill.
Libya Mission (1) “Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada will remain a part of NATO’s military mission in Libya for now, even as Moammar Gadhafi’s regime appears to be crumbling. “Today, Canada welcomes the news that the Gadhafi regime is at the beginning of its end,” Harper told reporters on Monday. Reports from Tripoli suggest most of Gadhafi’s security forces fled or surrendered when rebel forces took control of most of the capital Sunday night. But rebels are still fighting pockets of fierce resistance from regime loyalists firing mortars and anti-aircraft guns. The rebels say they will only declare victory when Gadhafi, whose whereabouts are not known, is captured. NATO has vowed to keep up its air campaign until all pro-Gadhafi forces surrender or return to their barracks. More than 600 Canadian troops are taking part in the military campaign led by Canadian Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard. “For now our military forces will remain in place and we’ll consult our allies on the next steps,” Harper said, adding that Canadians have every reason to be proud of their participation. “I’d like to thank the brave men and women of the Canadian armed forces for their impressive contribution to the allied effort.” ….” More from Postmedia News here, and in PM’s statement here.
Libya Mission (2) Don’t know where this guy’s getting his numbers, but here’s some alleged stats via Twitter.“Total Cdn sorties Op Unified Protector as of 0530Z 22 August 2011 CF-188 HORNET 721 CC-150 POLARIS 187 CC-130 HERCULES 128 CP-140 AURORA 129”
Libya Mission (4) Notwithstanding the Centre for Research on Globalization’s concerns about the mainstream media’s objectivity, check here (Google News) and here (European Commission news aggregator) for more of the latest out of Libya.
Way Up North (1) “Prime Minister Stephen Harper leaves this morning on his annual Arctic tour. It’s his sixth consecutive summer visit to the Far North as the government aims to exert greater territorial control over the region. The melting Arctic ice is seen as an opportunity for increasing international ship travel, mineral and gas exploration and scientific research ….”
Way Up North (2) Blogger/info curator Mark Collins on what sovereignty means, exactly. “…. the word “sovereignty” refers to whether or not Canada has a legal right to our northern lands. We do and no country disputes it. How well the area is governed, how its people fare, what military or physical presence the government has there, are completely unrelated issues–which this government and other interested parties do their best to associate, misleadingly, with sovereignty ….”
While I disagree with Rosie DiManno’s assessment that any in the CF committing suicide could be seen as “a traitor to his own kind and, at least in some quarters, viewed differently as a casualty of war”, this part disturbs me a bit: “…. Master Corporal Roy’s colleagues and friends have been offered counseling by Padre Grahame Thompson, Task Force Kandahar senior chaplain and a major. Asked if any had availed themselves of his solacing, Thompson said last night: “To be truthful, none, not yet.” ” One hopes that people who need any kind of help will avail themselves of it.
Afghanistan (1): The Canadian Press offers up this round-up of “the good, the bad and the ugly” of the mission.
Open source information bibliography on Taliban anti-air claims and capabilities updated here.
Point, on how DND treats its war wounded, from the Winnipeg Free Press: “Canadian military doctrine emphasizes flexibility and the ability to adapt to new circumstances, but when it comes to integrating wounded soldiers into the regular force, the generals and admirals at the National Defence Headquarters seem trapped in the past ….”
Counterpoint, on how DND treats its war wounded, from Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff (highlights mine): “…. We will ensure our men and women in uniform who have sacrificed so much receive the very best medical treatment and support possible. Furthermore, I have directed that no service person who has been wounded in Afghanistan be released, unless they have personally initiated the release process themselves. I can also assure you the Canadian Forces provide all wounded-in-action personnel the necessary time and support needed to recover from their wounds. We will also assist them in seeking additional opportunities to transition with confidence to the next phase of their lives ….”
Libya Mission (1) Winnipeg Free Press editorial:“…. That there has been a civilian death toll resulting from the NATO involvement in Libya is not in dispute. Col. Gadhafi’s claim, however, has exacerbated anxieties that already existed within the NATO alliance that the United Nations authorized a no-fly zone over Libya to protect that country’s citizens from the atrocities committed by its megalomaniacal leader. Faltering members of the alliance are using this as justification for their apparently imminent withdrawal. Even some Canadians, who have a huge military investment in the Libyan operation, are now expressing doubts. Ending the operation, however, is not a useful option. It would simply mean that civilians who died have died in vain, as Col. Gadhafi resumes his dictatorship and exacts his revenge upon the rebels. Civilian casualties in Libya are martyrs, not victims. It is a Canadian responsibility to stay the course and to ensure that they were not martyred for no purpose.”
What’s Canada Buying: Big Honkin’ Ship Edition“…. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his ministers say on every occasion that the yards will be selected through a merit-based, transparent competition, and that officials will make the decisions on the basis of the proposals, not politics. They show every sign of meaning what they say, but the request for an extension ratchets up the pressure. One shipyard will get about $25 billion of the work, another will receive an $8-billion share, and the third will get table scraps. Three provinces have a lot riding on this, and there can be only two winners. Whichever premier loses will be more or less forced to complain bitterly and allege impropriety. It’s hard to keep the politics out of politics.”
Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan, “A dreary makeshift military outpost at the extreme western edge of the Horn of Panjwaii is literally the end of the road for a mammoth, 18-kilometre long, $10-million Canadian-led construction project. When the last three kilometres are completed later this month, the road — which NATO forces call Route Hyena and Canadian Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner calls “a dagger through the heart of the Taliban” — should benefit generations of hardscrabble farmers in what is arguably the poorest corner of one of the poorest countries on earth. Until a few months ago the Taliban freely roamed the Horn, protected from ground attack by hundreds of improvised explosive devices. As elsewhere, they terrified the local population, threatening to kill them if they did not co-operate ….”
Remember the possible deal for Canada to buy torpedo conversion kits from the U.S. (5th item)? Here’s the latest version from The Canadian Press: “Canada’s navy is waiting to hear back from the U.S. regarding the purchase of $125 million worth of torpedo refit kits so it can properly arm its four Victoria-class submarines. At the moment, none of the British-built diesel boats is capable of firing the navy’s current stock of MK 48 torpedoes. Any sale of American made military equipment to a foreign government must be approved by Congress. “The Canadian government submitted a letter of request for these things,” said Paul Ebner of the Defence Security Co-operation Agency, the office in Washington that oversees the clearance of such sales. “We’ve notified Congress and if there’s no objections over the 30-day review period we put together a letter of acceptance.” In a release issued March 23, the agency backs the sale on national security grounds, saying it will improve the security of a NATO ally that “continues to be a key democratic partner of the United States in ensuring peace and stability.” ….”
CBC’s angle on the torpedo conversion (without an identified, or even described, source): they’ll need more converting to be used in Canada’s subs.“Canada’s navy plans to spend about $120 million to upgrade 36 torpedoes, but they still won’t work in its four submarines without further refits, CBC News has learned. The navy has MK-48 American torpedoes in stock, but the four British-built submarines aren’t capable of firing them. Even after the weapons are converted, Canada would still have to spend millions more to refit the submarines to fire them. Defence Minister Peter MacKay confirmed the plans on Friday but said no decision had been made about the procurement. “Of course I know about it,” MacKay said during a campaign stop with Conservative MP Gerald Keddy in Bridgewater, N.S. “There’s absolutely no decision taken at this point. The Department of National Defence is continuously looking at different procurements whether it be munitions, whether it be new equipment.” ….”
Election 2011 (1) – Greens on defence:“…. the Canadian military should stay in Afghanistan, but only under a United Nations peacekeeping mission. Canada would assist Afghanistan’s domestic affairs, including poverty, economic development, amplifying the nation’s government and public institutions and help develop the military and police force ….”
Election 2011 (2) – NDP promises ships over jets:“Jack Layton says the NDP would prioritize investment in naval ships over new fighter jets as part of a broader plan to refocus Canada’s defence policy. “Instead of focusing on F-35 fighter jets, I’ll get the job done when it comes to building joint support ships for our naval forces,” he said Friday from Esquimalt, B.C. The NDP would also commit to developing a white paper to chart the future course of defence needs within 12 months of taking office, Layton said, noting that Canada hasn’t issued a white paper on defence since 1994 ….” More from Postmedia News here.
Ah, those wacky funster Khadr kids…. “Ontario’s highest court on Friday reserved its decision on whether it should extradite Abdullah Khadr to the U.S. to face a terrorism-related charge. The three-justice panel at the Ontario Court of Appeal heard arguments from the federal government that a Superior court justice erred by cancelling the extradition and releasing Khadr last August. The main basis of their argument was that the judge had no jurisdiction and did not properly balance the benefits of Khadr’s release with the seriousness of the charge he faces. Khadr’s lawyers, Nathan Whitling and Dennis Edney, countered the judge didn’t need to be taken into consideration because of the “egregious abuse” Khadr was subjected to in Pakistan at the behest of U.S. Authorities ….”
Ooopsie (continued) …. “To his neighbours, Aaron Lacey is a bit of a loner, a quiet guy who likes to keep to himself. But to Niagara police, the self-taught artist from Beamsville is allegedly deceitful and aggressive in his pursuit of information from a senior Canadian Forces official. Lacey, 38, was arrested March 30 and charged with five counts of impersonating a military officer and criminally harassing the senior military official. He was also booked on 10 counts of breach of recognizance relating to charges from last August, including attempted fraud, forgery and an additional count of impersonation. Cumulatively, he faces 29 charges. His bail hearing got under way Monday and will continue Friday in a St. Catharines courtroom ….”
“New Democrat leader Jack Layton was joined today by former Veterans Ombudsman Pat Stogran at a large rally in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Layton outlined his plan for restoring pensions and benefits for retired and disabled RCMP and Canadian Forces members, improving the lives of over 100 000 veterans, and slammed Harper’s broken promises to Canada’s veterans. “Under Stephen Harper, Veteran’s Affairs has adopted an insurance company style culture of denial,” said Layton. “They should be acting as advocates for Canadian Forces veterans and former RCMP officers.” ….” More from Postmedia News here, the Toronto Star here, and CBC.ca here. Since it’s not likely he’ll be Prime Minister anytime soon, we’ll see how Jack Layton votes in the next Parliament on such matters.
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.
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.
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.” ….”
One can hope. “Hope for the best. Expect the worst. So goes the philosophy of the man leading Canada’s battle group into one of southern Afghanistan’s most treacherous areas, with the spring fighting season just around the corner. A winter of raiding Taliban redoubts for hidden weapons has Lt.-Col. Michel-Henri St-Louis feeling optimistic that the insurgents won’t be able to muster the fierce attacks of years past. “We are hoping,” said St-Louis, who is in charge of the 1st Battalion, Royal 22e Regiment combat team, based at CFB Valcartier. “The intent is to have the spike in violence either diminished, lulled or taken away. That will obviously make things better.” “I cannot stand here and say for sure in January that there will be no spike in violence, because the insurgent has a vote, and we will see how he reacts.” ….”
“Canada’s controversial national security-certificate system faces a new constitutional challenge from Mohamed Harkat — one month after a court declared the Ottawa man a danger to the country. Lawyers for Harkat, who is accused of links to terrorists, want the Federal Court of Appeal to determine whether the security certificate being used to deport him is consistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is one of several questions they’re asking Judge Simon Noel, who heard the original case, to approve for examination. Harkat, a former gas attendant and pizza delivery man, was arrested more than eight years ago under a security certificate on suspicion of being an al-Qaida sleeper agent. He denies any involvement in terrorism. Harkat, 42, says he’s merely a refugee who fled strife-torn Algeria and worked with an aid agency in Pakistan before coming to Canada. He argues he will be tortured if returned to his homeland. In his December ruling, Noel called Harkat a security threat who maintained ties to Osama bin Laden’s terror network, including Ahmed Said Khadr — the late father of Toronto’s Omar Khadr, who has spent years in a U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba ….”
“The Canadian Navy is proud to welcome Commodore David Craig as the new Commander Naval Reserve. The change of command ceremony took place on Saturday, January 15, 2011, at the Pointe-à-Carcy naval complex in Québec City with outgoing commander, Commodore Jennifer Bennett, the first female to command a Navy Formation. “It was an exciting and interesting time to have been Commander Naval Reserve,” said Commodore Bennett. “I have felt tremendously privileged and honoured to have been the formation commander and am extremely proud of all of our accomplishments, including support to the Vancouver Olympics and the tremendous number of events to commemorate the Naval Centennial.” ….”
Another question to mainstream media: why is the accused in this story is identified as a retired member of the military? I note the occupations of the complainants haven’t been included – what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander if journalistic balance is to be achieved, right? Or am I being too sensitive and “reading” some sort of “hint” about the accused being a former serviceman? Any insights via comments below greatly appreciated.
Tough love, CF style, in Afghanistan.“Months of sometimes tough and bloody fighting by Canadian, U.S. and Afghan forces over the summer and fall weren’t enough to pacify a village that remains a refuge for insurgents in southern Afghanistan. That’s when the Canadians, with plenty of cash for “icebreaker” projects designed to get young men more interested in jobs than war, decided to just bypass Nakhonay and fund a flood of development projects for its closest neighbours. Canada’s soldiers have taken on a newer, tough-love approach as two deadlines loom — their summer pullout from Kandahar, and, preceding that, the traditional spring start of another insurgent fighting season ….”
“Previously secret documents released in the Mohamed Harkat terrorism case reveal that the judge wrestled in closed court with how to gauge the credibility of spy agency informants. Harkat, 42, has been declared a security threat and faces deportation to his native Algeria, where he says he will be tortured or killed. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) relied on at least two “human sources” in building its case against Harkat, a former Ottawa pizza delivery man. One of the sources failed a lie-detector test in 2002, a fact that was not disclosed in court until May 2009. Judge Simon Noel ultimately decided that the source’s information could only be relied upon if corroborated. Another CSIS source was deemed sincere and reliable after Noel reviewed his file. Noel relied on the source’s information in concluding last month that Harkat was a member of the Osama bin Laden terrorist network. He said Harkat remains a threat to national security ….” More from the Federal Court of Canada here, here and here (all PDFs).