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Posts Tagged ‘Kandahar provincial reconstruction team

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 22 Mar 11

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  • No Fly Zone in Libya (1) Canada’s CF-188’s fly their first mission over Libya. More from the Toronto Star here, the Globe & Mail here, CTV.ca here, Postmedia News here and here, Dow Jones wire service here and Agence France-Presse here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (2a)The Harper government rallied opposition parties to “war” Monday, casting Canada’s military intervention in the Libyan crisis as a moral imperative.  A House of Commons debate took place within hours of the air force carrying out its first combat patrol to enforce the UN-mandated no-fly zone over the embattled north African country …. MacKay couldn’t say how long the no-fly mission would last, but said no one wants to have forces in harm’s way any longer than necessary.  The motion, which sources said was the subject of feverish back room drafting among the parties, passed unanimously late Monday night ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (2b)Here’s the motion Parliament passed“In standing in solidarity with those seeking freedom in Libya, the House welcomes United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973; that the House deplores the ongoing use of violence by the Libyan regime against the Libyan people; acknowledges the demonstrable need, regional support and clear legal basis for urgent action to protect the people of Libya; consequently, the government shall work with our allies, partners and the United Nations to promote and support all aspects of UNSC Resolution 1973, which includes the taking of all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in Libya and to enforce the no-fly zone, including the use of the Canadian Forces and military assets in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1973; that the House requests that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Standing Committee on National Defence remain seized of Canada’s activities under UNSC Resolution 1973; that should the government require an extension to the involvement of the Canadian Forces for more than three months from the passage of this motion, the government shall return to the House at its earliest opportunity to debate and seek the consent of the House for such an extension; and that the House offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of the Canadian Forces.” Want to read the debate?  Click here for Hansard’s transcript or here for a PDF of the debate transcript (49 pages).
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (3) – Canadian warship HMCS Charlottetown is patrolling the waters north of Libya, as UN-backed airstrikes continue. Cmdr. Craig Skjerpen said Charlottetown is with NATO ships, but not with the convoy enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya. “We’re able to see some of the strikes commence but we’re a little farther back, so we’re in a safe area,” he told CBC News on Monday morning. Charlottetown and its 240 crew members left their home port of Halifax on March 2. At the time, the mission was to evacuate Canadian citizens from Libya and provide humanitarian assistance. By the time the ship was in the area, the mission had changed. Skjerpen said it’s possible the ship will be called on to help enforce an embargo. For now, there is no specific task other than to patrol. “We’re looking at the vessels and the aircraft that are in the area and we’re learning the traffic patterns to see if there’s anything abnormal,” he said ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (4) – Terry Glavin comments on how even with the U.N. sanctioning the mission, the “usual suspects” are opposed: “…. there was little in the way of singing and dancing going on in certain sections of the Toronto Danforth, it is an understatement to say. “The UN Security Council resolution which authorizes ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians from attack is dangerously vague and opens the door to a much larger western military intervention in the country,” the so-called Canadian Peace Alliance complains. This is what one might expect from some of the most conservative, narrow-minded, privileged and autocrat-fancying counterrevolutionaries to come along since the early Mussolinists. But in the days and weeks to come, how many degrees of separation will this posture mark from that of the New Democratic Party? ….”
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (5) – The UN Security Council on Monday turned down a Libyan request for a special meeting to discuss Western air strikes on the country following the council’s imposition of a no-fly zone, diplomats said. The council decided instead simply to hold a briefing already planned for Thursday by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on how the resolution that set up the zone to protect civilians in Libya’s internal conflict is being implemented ….” More from the Globe & Mail here.
  • No Fly Zone in Libya (6) – Not EVERYONE in NATO wants the mission to become a NATO mission. “…. So far, the NATO alliance has been unable to reach an agreement on participation in the military implementation of the no-fly zone. Turkey is resisting the measure and is calling for a new review of other possible measures the alliance could take in Libya. Ankara has also called for an immediate Western cease-fire, with Turkish officials calling on NATO to give greater consideration in its discussions to the possibility of civilian deaths, a NATO diplomat told the news agency AFP under the condition of anonymity. Ankara has rejected any NATO intervention against Libya, including the implementation of a no-fly zone ….”
  • While Canadian eyes turn to the fighter planes scrambling over Libya, a Montreal conference will discuss how the country has turned a blind eye to a far deadlier conflict elsewhere in Africa. Canada has deep business interests in Congo, where millions have died in a war related to mining, and has resisted calls for more military involvement there. A panellist for Tuesday’s Concordia University event said Canada is intimately involved in the ongoing Congolese conflict. “Canada, unfortunately, has become a safe haven for multinationals who are exploiting different areas around the world,” said Kambale Musavuli of Friends of Congo in Washington, D.C. “Many of the mining companies in the Congo — who either work with the rebels directly (or) funded them — are actually trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.” ….”
  • Wounded warriors back in the fight in Afghanistan – well done! “Cpl. Maxime Emond-Pepin’s missing left eye and scarred face set him apart him from most of his peers, as does his ability to bounce back from devastating injuries. The 22-year-old from Longueuil, Que., refused to allow his battlefield scars to deter him from returning to the job he loves. His resolve was tested after a fellow soldier stepped on an improvised explosive device while the two were patrolling in Kandahar on Aug. 6, 2009. The soldier lost a leg and Emond-Pepin’s eye was damaged beyond repair. Gruelling rehabilitation sessions followed and he made a speedy recovery ….”
  • Afghan forces will take over security in seven areas in the country this summer, none of which are in Kandahar despite five years of fighting by Canadian troops in the southern province. President Hamid Karzai’s announcement today is a stark reminder that despite recent battlefield successes, much work remains before Kandahar’s security can be handed over to Afghan forces ….”
  • Some rule changes in Kandahar are being considered following a less-than-productive exchange at a vehicle accident. “The Afghan troops were manning a checkpoint near the Dand district centre in Deh-e-Bagh when a resupply convoy backed up and hit an Afghan army pickup truck, causing some damage. The Canadian convoy commander, whom the NATO assessment identifies only as a corporal, tried to give a compensation claims card to an Afghan army lieutenant. But the lieutenant refused to accept it, saying he wanted cash instead because he had been reprimanded by his supervisors in the past when he could not produce money for vehicle damage. “(There were) frustrations on both sides, because there’s a little bit of a language barrier,” said Lt.-Col. Webster Wright, a public affairs officer with RC-South ….”
  • A former Canadian civilian boss from the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team says “The stubborn Afghan theatre may very well be the incubator for new experiments in bottom-up stabilization of war-torn states.
  • New high tech for Canada’s navy, coast guard: “The Government of Canada has awarded a contract for an Interdepartmental Maritime Integrated Command, Control and Communications (IMIC3) system to Thales Canada. “This state of the art system will give navy and Coast Guard commanders the information they need as they work together to protect Canada’s coast line,” said Minister MacKay. “By equipping the Canadian Forces with the tools they need to do their jobs, our government is delivering on our commitment to protect Canada and Canadian interests.” The IMIC3 system will equip the navy and the Canadian Coast Guard with an advanced capability to gather and share data from coastal surveillance in near real time. Using sophisticated, integrated technologies, it will improve the secure exchange of positional information by providing operational commanders and other government departments — on shore and at sea — with the same satellite data at the same time. This will allow for more coordinated planning and execution of maritime operations in defence of Canada ….” More here.
  • Historian Jack Granatstein on the coming federal election:  don’t expect much defence talk. “…. What is almost certain is that it will be the only one as the politicians, the media, and the electorate focus in on domestic issues to the exclusion of everything else. Even the F-35 purchase will be framed in a “buy the aircraft or establish a national day care plan” terms. There will be no discussion of Afghanistan and the new training mission. There will be little talk of the Libyan operation unless a Canadian Air Force aircraft kills civilians. Nothing will be said about the Canada-US security talks unless the NDP feels that a burst of anti-Americanism might be helpful. And certainly no leader, no party, will say anything about Canadian national interests and how they might best be protected or advanced ….”\
  • F-35 Tug o’ War –The great majority of Canadians do not want the federal government to purchase new fighter jets, even though Prime Minister Stephen Harper is bound and determined to do just that. Nor is the Conservative lead on economic issues all that robust. These findings from a new Nanos poll for The Globe and Mail and CTV will put wind in the sails of opposition leaders during what appear to be the final days before a spring election campaign ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1) – Canada’s military engineering school is outsourcing “construction engineering technicians of the Canadian Forces (CF) on Operational level Drafting and Surveying”. (via Milnet.ca)
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2) – Test dummies for DRDC Valcartier (via Milnet.ca)

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 10 Feb 11

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  • When the troops leave Kandahar, the civvies go, too“When Canada’s combat troops leave Kandahar this summer, all Canadian government workers in the South will depart, too. The thinning out of the combat mission — which still numbers well more than 3,000 soldiers — is expected to begin sometime late this spring. The wind-down of the civilian mission, which began several months before combat troops arrived in the spring of 2006, has already begun. Only 60 Canadian civilians are now based in Kandahar, down from 75 last summer. Starting next month, more civilians will be catching flights for home. “When I was preparing to come here it was clear — this was the last rotation of civilians in the context of completing what the government set out to do,” said Canada’s top diplomat in the South, Tim Martin, who transferred leadership of the Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team to an American diplomat last month ….”
  • Remember these stats, from a few weeks ago, showing the number of Canadians killed and wounded in action in Afghanistan dropped for 2010 from the previous year?  Another story has popped up about the numbers“For many, any death involving members of our Armed Forces is a bitter pill to swallow. But when soldiers are involved in a combat mission, such as what’s currently ongoing in Afghanistan, casualties occur. It’s an unfortunate fact of life in a war zone. Although it’s small comfort to families and friends who have lost loved ones over the last year in central Asia, 2010 actually produced the least number of deaths since 2005. According to statistics released in January by the Department of National Defence, 2010 saw 16 of our soldiers die in Afghanistan – 14 were killed in action and two more lost their lives as a result of other circumstances. The drop in Canadian deaths can be attributed to three factors – the build-up of coalition troops in southern Afghanistan, a change in the Canadian area of operations, and an increased involvement by Afghan National Army personnel and police ….” If you’ve spotted a CBC.ca story on these stats, please share a link, because I haven’t seen one yet.
  • Canadian General talks about his work as 2 i/c for police training, NATO Training Mission Afghanistan. (Government of Canada story & video)
  • Taliban assassination via motorcycle. “Day and night, Taliban assassins on motorbikes hunt their victims, often taunting them over the telephone before gunning them down in the city’s streets. They are working their way through lists, meticulously killing off people fingered as collaborators with the Afghan government or its foreign backers. Unlike suicide bombers, who make headlines with periodic attacks that take themselves out along with their targets, most insurgent assassins escape as quickly, and anonymously, as they strike. They slip quietly back into Kandahar’s shadows, still in the hunt, sewing terror with murders that number in the hundreds each year. Each one sends a chilling message to anyone who doesn’t fall in line: You may be the next to go down. The execution could even come in broad daylight, close to home, in front of your children ….”
  • Human rights groups (finally) spending more time hounding Taliban for human rights abuses.
  • Nichola Goddard, 1960-2006, R.I.P.: Coast Guard to name ships after fallen in Afghanistan? Here’s the type of ship in question.
  • More grousing back and forth in the House of Commons over Canadian helicopter buying processes.
  • Convicted Canadian war criminal Omar Khadr will be seeking clemency in hopes of an early release from his prison cell in Guantanamo Bay and a quicker return to Canada, The Canadian Press has learned. An application which could seek remedies ranging from an outright acquittal to a commuting of his eight-year sentence is set to go before the head of the military commissions within a few weeks. Speaking from Memphis, Tenn., Khadr’s Pentagon-appointed lawyer Lt. Col. Jon Jackson confirmed that Khadr’s defence team was finalizing the application to the convening authority. “We haven’t made any final decision on what we’re going to request,” Jackson said Wednesday. “We’re (also) currently in the process of determining what specific areas of law we’re going to address.” The clemency application is expected to be submitted in about two weeks, and a decision could come shortly after ….” A bit more from QMI/Sun Media here.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Permanent U.S. bases in Afghanistan = continued occupation

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Feb 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 7 Feb 11

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  • Canada’s newest upgraded tanks arrive in Afghanistan to help in (what’s left of) the fight (via Army.ca).
  • Another way Canada’s helping in Afghanistan:  building secure quarters to protect Afghan public servants “Two weeks ago, Kandahar deputy governor Abdul Latif Ashna inspected a Canadian project to provide secure homes for 15 Afghan government officials and their families. Exactly one week later the Afghan lead on the Committee to Secure Civil Servants was dead when the car he was riding in was blown up by a suspected suicide bomber on a motorcycle. “Ashna’s death was very poignant,” said Philip Lupul, a Canadian diplomat who worked closely with Mr. Ashna on the housing project, which is to be completed by the end of next month. “He had pointed out some changes that he thought should be made to the houses and we had accepted them. “One of the tragedies of this is that he would certainly have been a candidate for one of these homes. We lost a good friend who was part of this project.” …. “
  • Canada spent more than $41 million on hired guns in Afghanistan over four years, much of it going to security companies slammed by the U.S. Senate for having warlords on the payroll. Both the Defence and Foreign Affairs departments have employed 11 security contractors in Kabul and Kandahar since 2006, but have kept quiet about the details. Now documents tabled in Parliament at the request of the New Democrats provide the first comprehensive picture of the use of private contractors, which have been accused of adding to the chaos in Afghanistan. The records show Foreign Affairs paid nearly $8 million to ArmorGroup Securities Ltd., recently cited in a U.S. Senate investigation (link to news release – 105 page, 23 MB PDF report downloadable here) as relying on Afghan warlords who in 2007 were engaged in “murder, kidnapping, bribery and anti-Coalition activities.” The company, which has since been taken over by G4S Risk Management, provided security around the Canadian embassy in Kabul and guarded diplomats. Tundra SCA stands on guard for the Defence Department outside Canadian military forward operating bases and has collected more than $5.3 million ….” A bit more on one of the bad boys turned good boys here.
  • A school that’s a hallmark of Canada’s struggle against Afghan insurgents is on the brink of getting rid of some teachers and classes as Ottawa ponders whether to toss a lifeline. The Afghan-Canadian Community Centre, where thousands of girls and women have braved Taliban threats to get an education, needs more than $500,000 by month’s end to avoid severe cutbacks, said Ryan Aldred, who heads a charity that supports the school.  Thousands of women, girls and men have learned skills such as how to use computers, start a business or speak English at the centre …. The Canadian International Development Agency has contributed $313,773 to keep the school open, but when Aldred applied for more money in late 2009, CIDA eventually turned him down.  “Although approved in principle, the grant was declined in May 2010 due to a ‘lack of resources to support new initiatives’ and ‘the priority currently placed on initiatives that directly support the attainment of (CIDA’s) benchmarks,’ ” Aldred said ….”
  • Meanwhile, a wounded warrior says in the reality that is Afghanistan, sometimes a good warlord can help keep a grip on things“The Canadian Forces have always been pragmatic in who it uses to help the CF in places like Kandahar. White western forces are at a disadvantage in a place where it is incredibly difficult to know who is on first. That’s why warlords and those on the ground are the way to ensure peace. Their troubled past will not make these people go away and in fact Col Toorjan is well known as the protector of the Provincial Reconstruction Team ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Claims of civilian casualties in Kandahar.
  • F-35 Watch With all the buzz around Ottawa about a potential spring election, there remains a drought of hot-button political issues over which the coming campaign will be contested. One exception to this, of course, is the Conservative government’s controversial commitment to purchase the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Although no contract has been signed, the Harper Tories remain adamant that they will proceed with the purchase of 65 of the sophisticated aircraft, which, at an initial procurement cost of $9 billion and an estimated $7 billion in future maintenance expenses, makes this the largest military project expenditure in Canada’s history ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? Translation cards (~$47,000 worth) that soldiers can point at when they don’t know the language of the locals (via Army.ca).
  • Canada’s lead weapons treaty negotiator has been removed from his post after American negotiators complained he was “too tough and aggressive” on behalf of Canada in disarmament talks. The Ottawa Citizen has learned that veteran Foreign Affairs arms treaty expert Earl Turcotte has also run afoul of his bosses after apparently objecting to key elements in long-awaited legislation that will see Canada ratify the international Convention on Cluster Munitions. Turcotte, widely respected and often publicly praised at international negotiations for his negotiating skills, has emailed colleagues across the world telling them he will soon resign from Foreign Affairs to independently advocate for the cluster treaty he helped to craft in Dublin in May 2008 ….”
  • Members of Canada’s civilian intelligence service are apparently being asked to be more discrete with the swag they can buy in their kit shop“Canadian spies are being warned not to wear their loyalty on their sleeve — or their wrist or lapel.  The hush-hush reminder to employees of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service advises keeping polo shirts, watches and pins emblazoned with the distinctive CSIS crest away from curious eyes.  The items are sold in a secret shop tucked away on the lower level of CSIS headquarters in Ottawa, and made available to employees posted elsewhere through the agency’s online memorabilia catalogue.  The souvenirs — which also include hoodies, key chains, mugs, pens and plaques — offer members of the intelligence service “a tangible sense of belonging to the organization,” says an internal CSIS article obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.  But in keeping with CSIS policy, it seems the stylish spy must be careful to keep the merchandise undercover.  “Although the clothing does not display the Service’s acronym, it does feature the emblem,” says the October 2010 publication, parts of which remain classified …. “The policy essentially states that employees should exercise discretion in disclosing employment outside the work environment. Furthermore, employees working in (deleted from document) must be particularly vigilant in concealing their employer or any association with CSIS.” ….”
  • Egypt Watch:  My guess is that someone with a rank in his title will be boss in Egypt before end of week. “…. Since it would be the army that finally tells Mubarak to leave, the military would dominate the interim regime. They would not want to put yet another general out front, so they might decide that ElBaradei is the right candidate for interim leader, precisely because he has no independent power base ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 13 Jan 11

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  • Canadian Forces’ statistics show 2010 saw fewer deaths, injuries among Canadian troops in Afghanistan than the previous year. More from the Toronto Star here, and some interesting discussion on why those numbers have dropped at Army.ca here.
  • On a related note, it’s WELL worth the 16 minutes or so you should spend listening to Postmedia News’ Matthew Fisher talk to TVO host Steve Paikin about how things are going in Afghanistan (good for NATO), why you’re not hearing exactly how it’s going in the mainstream media, and why casualty numbers are dropping.
  • Canada has handed the keys (as well as command) of Kandahar’s Provincial Reconstruction Team (KPRT) to the United States.
  • “He says” on reported collateral damage caused by a recent offensive/rebuilding effort“A major coalition military operation in a volatile southern Afghan province has caused about 100 million dollars worth of damage to property, a government delegation said Tuesday. President Hamid Karzai dispatched the delegation, led by one of his advisers, to assess damage caused by Operation Omaid, which started in April and aims to root out the Taliban in Kandahar, a traditional heartland areas. The delegation then reported to the Western-backed leader, charging that the damage caused by the military offensive was worth over 100 million dollars, in part due to damage to crops, Karzai’s office said in a statement. International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman Brigadier-General Josef Blotz said he could not comment as he had not yet seen the statement. “As a result of military operation ‘Omaid’, significant property damage has been caused to the people in Arghandab, Zahri and Panjwayi districts in Kandahar province,” the delegation’s statement said ….”
  • “She says” on reported collateral damage caused by a recent offensive/rebuilding effort“By building a road, Canadian troops may have burned some bridges.  The commander of all NATO forces in southern Afghanistan says a major Canadian construction project is partly to blame for a recent slew of property-damage claims.  The road Canadian troops are carving through the horn of Panjwaii is part of a much larger military effort in Kandahar province. This week, a delegation of Afghan government officials claimed the offensive has come at an astronomical cost: upwards of $100 million in damaged fruit crops, livestock and property …. The Canadian road cuts through farmers’ fields in a dusty corner of southwestern Kandahar that has long be a hotbed of the Taliban insurgency.  Property owners who have found their land bisected by the thoroughfare have sought compensation, said Maj.-Gen. James Terry, who is in charge of the NATO contingent known as Regional Command South.  “Some of the claims come from that, in terms of compensation back to the people because of putting that road in,” he said at a news conference in Kandahar city on Thursday.  Terry, of the U.S. army’s 10th Mountain Division, pointed out that local elders asked for the road at a meeting, or shura. It will eventually link rural parts of the province and enable commerce ….” More on the road work in question here and here.
  • More on the work to close Canada’s Camp Mirage in the UAE (via the CF).
  • Remember that committee of politicians looking over all those Afghan detainee documents? Is there light at the end of the tunnel for them (or is it the light of an oncoming train coming)?
  • The PM is apparently eyeing a special parliamentary committee to vet top-secret intelligence. “Prime Minister Stephen Harper is considering creating a multi-partisan parliamentary committee to vet the top-secret intelligence gathered by Canada’s national security agencies. Several of Canada’s close allies — including Britain and the United States — have established committees of lawmakers to keep tabs on the operations of their spy agencies. When asked Friday whether he would consider creating a parliamentary intelligence committee, Harper noted that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP leader Jack Layton have been sworn in as members of the Queen’s Privy Council, a process that allows them to receive sensitive national security intelligence under an oath of secrecy. But the prime minister said the government is looking at ways to broaden Parliament’s involvement. “I know that has been under consideration for some time. I don’t think we’ve yet landed on a particular model that we think would be ideal,” Harper told reporters at a news conference in Welland, Ont ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Almost 20 claimed killed in alleged attacks in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
  • Canada’s Veterans Affairs Minister hits the road to let veterans know what’s coming to them – more on the road trip from QMI here.
  • More on how it’s not necessarily the bureaucrats’ fault that some things happen the way they do at Veterans’ Affairs Canada. “…. Take the Sean Bruyea affair as an example: high level VAC officials briefed Ministers on Bruyea’s personal medical and financial information. Bruyea, involved in protesting the New Veterans’ Charter, found his benefits cut and claims stalled. There were even attempts by Veterans’ Affairs to have Sean commit himself to a mental hospital. All this came to light last fall. What did the government do? Apologise, settle Bruyea’s court case, and require all Veterans’ Affairs staff to undergo privacy training. The message? VAC staff messed up and we’ll make sure they know better. Implied course of events: the frontline staff was upset by Bruyea’s lobbying and tried to take him down …. Here’s an alternative scenario: Bruyea ruffles feathers in the upper echelon of Veteran’s Affairs – the Ministers and Deputy Ministers. Orders are sent down: pull Bruyea’s files. Files are reviewed, annotated, and included in briefing notes (all of which has been confirmed). Decisions are taken to “take the gloves off” with Bruyea, after which Sean’s descent into the nightmare begins. Who can make such a decision or issue such an order? Not the people answering the phones ….”
  • QMI Ottawa bureau boss David Akin manages to see the forest in the midst of the trees. “…. Simply put: Our Canadian Forces needs billions and billions of dollars worth of new gear — not just new fighter planes — but no one has any clear plans to pay for what they need, particularly in a time of global fiscal restraint.  Alternately, one party or the other could stand up and, as Conservatives have done in Britain and Democrats did in the U.S., start announcing big-time cuts to military acquisitions and other programs.  Instead, we’ve been watching Conservatives and Liberals argue bitterly about the merits of purchasing the F-35 fighter plane, though both largely agree we will need some kind of new fighter plane to replace our fleet of excellent-but-aging CF-18s.  Whatever plane we choose is going to cost us billions. How will we pay?  And is that most urgent need? Is that the top spending priority? ….”
  • Potential base closures are always publicly contentious because of how much money such facilities pump into neighbouring economies.  As part of a strategic review of the military overall, a Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) paper ranks Canada’s military bases according to their “operational impact, infrastructure condition and efficiency, and economic impact”.  The list, the paper’s executive summary and a link to the paper itself are all here (as well as always interesting discussion) at Army.ca.
  • It’s still messy in Ivory Coast, where one guy says he won the election for president, and the other says he’s still president.  Here’s how one academic says Canada could help“….First, it should mobilize like-minded states to impose travel bans and freeze assets of Mr. Gbagbo’s family and close associates. Second, it should lead efforts to move Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the Nov. 28 presidential runoff who is under siege in a hotel in Abidjan, to Yamoussoukro, the capital, where he seems to have the backing of the local political establishment …. Third, Canada should work with other governments to press the African Union to give Mr. Gbagbo a deadline to step down or face comprehensive economic sanctions …. And fourth, Canada should help Mr. Ouattara to form his government by encouraging financial institutions such as the West African Monetary Union, the African Development Bank and the World Bank to deal with him ….”
  • Remember the young guy masked as an old guy who flew to Canada from Hong Kong last October?  Well, he may have been one of nine Chinese smuggled here, according to Hong Kong authorities.  The good news:  some arrests have been made in Hong Kong – a bit more from Hong Kong media here, here and here.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 17 Nov 10

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