- Report leaked to QMI: CF way too top heavy. “The Department of Defence and the Canadian Forces are top heavy with too many civilian bosses in Ottawa and need to shift resources to the front lines, according to a secret defence report. Between 2004 and 2010, civilian hires at DND and the CF outpaced hires in the regular forces three to one, and while the number of sailors fell, staff at DND/CF headquarters in Ottawa ballooned by 38%. But the government says those hires were necessary to backfill positions left vacant by Canada’s heavy involvement in Afghanistan, “so that military members could focus their efforts on operational matters,” wrote Jay Paxton, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, in an e-mail Thursday. The transformation report, authored by Gen. Andrew Leslie, was submitted in early July but has yet to be released publicly. QMI Agency obtained a copy from a military source ….” No word on sharing the report with anyone who wants to read it themselves.
- Report leaked to Globe & Mail: CF way too top heavy. “National Defence must take an axe to its bloated headquarters by dismissing or reassigning thousands of workers if the military is to meet its future obligations, concludes a landmark report charged with transforming the Canadian Forces. This scathing assessment by Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, who commanded the Canadian army during the Afghanistan war, arrives at a pivotal moment for the military, as the army returns from its troubled mission in Kandahar, the navy and air force seek new ships and aircraft, and the Conservative government vows to eliminate the federal deficit in a gloomy economy. “If we are serious about the future – and we must be – the impact of reallocating thousands of people and billions of dollars from what they are doing now to what we want them to do …will require some dramatic changes,” Gen. Leslie writes in Report on Transformation 2011. A copy of the report has been obtained by The Globe and Mail ….” No word on sharing the report with anyone who wants to read it themselves.
- Libya Mission (1) More on HMCS Vancouver replacing HMCS Charlottetown from the CF Info-Machine.
- Libya Mission (2) More on Canadian boss reorg in Italy (via CF Info-Machine)
- Way Up North (1) “Peter Mackay, Canada’s defence minister, who arrived in Resolute Bay in the early hours of Aug. 18, made the most of his day-long visit to observe Operation Nanook, the Canadian Forces’ military exercise, shoring up support from every direction for his department’s increased visibility in Nunavut and the North. Mackay even managed to cram in a dive from an iceberg lodged in the bay outside Resolute with divers who have been learning how to work around icebergs. That, said Mackay, who donned a dry suit and full divers gear, was “disorienting,” but “incredible” as light shone through the iceberg into the water ….”
- Way Up North (2) CF Info-Machine coverage of Operation Nanook: “Operation Nanook is well underway with Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aircraft and personnel providing valuable airlift during this major national and international operation. A combined Naval Task Group set sail from St. John’s, N.L. on Aug. 5, towards Canada’s Eastern and High Arctic, where other personnel and equipment from the Canadian Army, RCAF, and Canadian Rangers converged for the month-long, annual Arctic sovereignty exercise. In addition to the Canadian Forces, simulated major air disaster and maritime emergency scenarios involve the Canadian Coast Guard, Transportation Safety Board, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Public Safety Canada as well as the Government of Nunavut, the community of Resolute Bay and our private sector partners. Op Nanook, named for the Inuit word for polar bear, is the centerpiece of three annual northern sovereignty operations conducted by the Canadian Forces and its partners who share interest in Canada’s North ….” More on Op NANOOK at the Canada Command page here.
- Way Up North (3) “A senior Canadian Army officer – Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw – is to travel to Moscow and other northern European capitals this fall for discussions about the Arctic. This development mocks the ludicrous media hype suggesting that there is a bitter rivalry involving Canada, Russia, the United States and Denmark (Greenland) over their sometimes competing claims and interests in the Arctic. To be sure, there are differences of opinion about the top of the world. But the reality is there is actually far more co-operation than there is friction. “This is beyond search and rescue,” the chief of Canada Command told me in a recent interview upon his European travel plans. “We are going to be talking about military co-operation in the North.” Officials from Russia and other Arctic Council countries will “table top” an international search-andrescue exercise in the Yukon in October. At this moment, Canadian and Danish warships and U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers are working together in Arctic waters after some of the vessels paid a courtesy call on a Greenlandic port. U.S. Coast Guard divers are on an exercise with Canadians on Cornwallis Island ….”
- Afghanistan (1) Canada’s air contingent in Afghanistan basically shuts down, after a very busy few years – these stats from the CF on how busy the planes and crews were since December 2008: More from QMI’s David Akin here, and ipolitics.ca here.
- Afghanistan (2) How Canadian air force folks are helping create an Afghan air force (via CF Info-Machine). “Kabul International Airport covers a vast area on the north side of the city. The sprawling complex includes civilian and military air terminals, air cargo centres, and International Security Assistance Force facilities. One military unit located on the airport grounds represents the future of the Afghan Air Force. The Afghan Air Training School (or Pohantoon e Hawayee, which means Big Air School) is where new members of the Afghan Air Force learn the basics of flying and maintaining aircraft and running an air unit. They also participate in literacy training, which is incorporated into nearly every course conducted by the Afghan national security forces. Ten advisors from Canada’s Air Force serve at the training school as part of the Canadian Forces contribution to the NATO training mission in Afghanistan. The Canadian staff are part of 738 Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron (738 AEAS), a NATO unit assigned to advise the the (school’s) Afghan commander and his senior staff ….”
- “The sacrifices made by members of the Canadian military and their families are being honoured with 26 bronze commemorative plaques that will be placed at intervals along the Highway of Heroes, which runs from Trenton, Ont., to Toronto. Announcement of the plaques took place Thursday in Toronto and was observed by at least 100 people, including Canadian soldiers, their families, parliamentarians and corporate sponsors. Each plaque is sponsored by a company, whose logo is visible below the image depicted on the plaque. Money raised through the sponsorship goes toward helping military families send children to summer camps, provide psychological counseling, retrofit homes and vehicles for soldiers returning with injuries or amputations and rehabilitate soldiers through athletics. Creation of the plaque program is a joint effort between the provincial Ministry of Transportation and True Patriot Love, a national foundation created by civilians with the aim of fostering better understanding between Canadians, the military and its endeavours ….”
- F-35 Tug o’ War Well, at least SOME of the U.S. Joint Strike Fighters are able to fly again. “The F-35 Lightning II test fleet has been cleared for flight, the Pentagon announced Thursday. An Air Force safety investigation board is continuing its investigation of the failure of the AF-4’s Integrated Power Package on Aug. 2, which led to the grounding of the entire fleet of 20 aircraft. The AF-4 is the fourth conventional takeoff and landing variant produced by Lockheed Martin. A government and contractor engineering team determined that flight operations of the test aircraft could continue after reviewing data from ground and flight tests, and revised the test monitoring procedures that govern the IPP. Ground operations of the test fleet resumed Aug. 10 ….”
- What’s Canada Buying? Here’s a taste of what happened at the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue industry day: “…. A full complement of the right ADM’s and DG’s from Industry, Public Works and DND turned out, and it was noteworthy that they stayed until the end of the day. In a procurement with this kind of history, little things can mean a lot, so government representatives handed out all their slide decks and notes in advance …. industry has until September 16 to get back to the government with its feedback, with a major focus on where the fixed-wing purchase can and should sit on a spectrum from full government ownership and ISS all the way through to full ASD, provided it still delivers the same ‘world-class’ capability as today. This does not appear to be the only interaction the Crown intends, as this briefing is being followed by individual one on one corporate briefings, with the promise of follow-up sessions once inputs have been received and digested ….”
- What’s Canada (Not) Buying? Canada reportedly pulling out of Global Hawk UAV project. “…. Canada has become the second country to withdraw from the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 alliance ground surveillance (AGS) program, but the remaining NATO partners are “very close” to signing a contract, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. The decision means AGS will lose another source of funding that must be compensated for by the 13 NATO members still committed …. Denmark also decided to withdraw from the partnership acquiring a six-aircraft RQ-4 fleet in June 2010. Meanwhile, Northrop and NATO officials are likely to sign a contract to launch the development phase of the AGS programme within several days. The contract award may still have to be approved by each of the national partners before it becomes official ….”
- “Two Canadian Forces members were listed on the National Sex Offender Registry, as of this spring, the Chief of the Defence Staff, has confirmed. “As of 11 May 2011, two Canadian Forces members were known to be subject to a SOIRA (Sex Offender Information Registration Act) order,” Gen. Walter Natynczyk said in a letter to Defence Minister Peter MacKay that was tabled in Parliament this week. Gen. Natynczyk said he has the power to temporarily exempt CF members from certain sex offender registry obligations, but noted he has never done so. Although a top government official told Huffington Post Canada the two members are still serving, Capt. Scott Costen, a Department of National Defence spokesman cautioned that administrative reviews, which are are launched after court martials or civilian criminal proceedings call into question the suitability of a member’s continued service, may be underway to release individuals from their military positions ….”
- Some Twitter updates from the boss of Canada’s Army. 1) Senior Canadian medic recognized by U.S. “BGen Hilary Jaeger was awarded the US Meritorious Service Medal for her outstanding leadership and great contribution to ISAF mission.” 2) Change of assignment for senior Canadian officer working with U.S. forces. “Great visit III Corps and Fort Hood. Atkinson‘s were awesome ambassadors for Canada. Welcome Milner‘s” (more on the senior Canadian appointment switch-around from the Fort Hood base newspaper here)
- PM on Syria Time for the boss to go. “…. The Assad regime has lost all legitimacy by killing its own people to stay in power. I join with President Obama and other members of the international community in calling on President Assad to vacate his position, relinquish power and step down immediately. The Syrian people have a right to decide for themselves the next steps for Syria’s future ….” More from Postmedia News here and Agence France-Presse here.
- Lew-Mac on NATO: “…. (Historian Jack) Granatstein rightly points out that, “In diplomacy as in baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out. Afghanistan was strike one; Libya was strike two. And strike three?” he asks. I suggest strike three already happened in 1999 during NATO’s 50th birthday celebrations when it was frantically searching for a role and an enemy now that the Cold War was over. It found an out of area mission bombing Serbia and Kosovo in support of the Kosovo Liberation Army, at the time a terrorist movement according to the CIA. Seventy-nine days of bombing later, Serbian infrastructure was devastated but her security forces were still defiant and little damaged. Diplomacy took over and NATO capitulated on the two poison pills in the Rambouillet Agreement that “justified” the bombing campaign in the first place, that is to say, NATO freedom of movement throughout Serbia and a referendum on Kosovo independence within three years. As a result of this Russian-led diplomacy Serbian forces pulled out of Kosovo. NATO’s military mission had failed which in my book makes it three strikes in 12 years ….”
- MORE criminals (not just war criminals) on the CBSA “help us find these folks” web site – more from CTV.ca.
- Meanwhile, “Anyone defending foreign criminals remaining here are naively ignoring their potential threat or are driven by unknown motives, Canada’s public safety minister warned Thursday. Vic Toews said some Canadians “condemn our soldiers as war criminals,” but not foreigners evading deportation to face charges of crimes against humanity. On Sun News, he said such stances — including Amnesty International objecting to the government seeking public help to catch 30 suspected war criminals, plus the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) seeking killer Omar Khadr’s return — exhibit a “culture gap. “Don’t you people understand what is going on in the world … there are some bad people out there,” Toews told Ezra Levant, host of The Source ….”
- “Several Canadian cities will be receiving artifacts from Hangar 17 — a makeshift museum inside New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport that houses pieces from the 9/11 wreckage. Thousands of meticulously catalogued steel beams, crushed cars and fire trucks can be found inside the 80,000-square-foot hangar that’s rarely open to the public. Tom Doucette, executive director of The Military Museums in Calgary, said they will be receiving a 15-foot long piece of steel from one of the fallen World Trade Center towers that weighs just under 3,000 pounds ….”
- “Just as they did during active duty, the Olympus and Okanagan continue to slip silently along Canada’s waterways. These days, however, they’re not doing so unnoticed. After all, it’s difficult to miss the 1,250-tonne submarines that are taking a voyage from Halifax to Port Maitland – especially when they’re travelling above the water. Decommissioned by the Canadian Department of National Defense, the former submarines are being transported on floating drydocks towed by barges. At the end of the journey, they’ll meet their fate. The Oberon class submarines are scheduled to be scrapped by Port Colborne-based Marine Recycling Corp. at the company’s Port Maitland shipyard. Now it’s just a matter of getting them there ….”
- Way Up North More from the Kingston Whig-Standard on Operation Nanook: “At midnight, the sun skirts the northern horizon but it does not set. On a barren hill overlooking the Canadian Forces’ camp, Peter Oolateeta turns into the setting sun. Polar bears often wander into the area looking for food, and routine patrols of the camp perimeter are designed to discourage them from getting any closer. Armed with a Second World War-vintage No. 4 Lee Enfield .303 bolt-action rifle, Oolateeta is looking for signs of the area’s top predator. Oolateeta, from Pond Inlet on Baffin Island, is a member of the Canadian Rangers, a largely Inuit army reserve force that serves as Canada’s military presence in the North ….”
- Lew-Mac on Syria: “Don’t expect NATO to launch a campaign against the Syrian government, as it has against the Libyan government, at least according to one of Canada’s most senior military veterans. Retired Major General Lewis Mackenzie says military intervention in Syria would be a much more difficult mission politically. “They share a border with Turkey in particular. It would generate problems with displaced people. Syria gets support from Saudi Arabia which maybe shouldn’t be an ally of ours, but is certainly an ally to the United States,” he explains ….” Meanwhile, a bit of the latest from Syria here.
- Afghanistan (1) One of the U.S. Navy SEALS killed in the recent Chinook downing in Afghanistan was born in Quebec – American home-town obit here.
- Afghanistan (2) Another Royal Canadian Legion welcomes Afghan vets home. “It was the colour that struck him first. Face pressed against the window, Master Cpl. Charles Lavers soaked in the reds and yellows and greens of Quebec’s hardwood forests as his plane landed in November 2010. After serving seven months in Afghanistan, the then 23-year- old was returning home a war veteran. “The smell of the air when I got back to Nova Scotia was the next thing to hit me,” said Lavers. “I’d lived everyday with a 9-millimetre (pistol) on my leg and a C-7 (rifle) in hand, so it was kind of strange not carrying a gun . . . a good strange.” On Saturday, his was one of eight, relatively young faces at the Afghan veterans’ appreciation day held by the Royal Canadian Legion in Truro ….”
- Afghanistan (3) Whazzup for a Canadian helicopter company in Afghanistan as countries talk about winding down, getting out? “Canadian Helicopters Group is more than two years into its mission supporting the U.S. military in Afghanistan but is already thinking ahead to the next stage after hostilities end. “We are striving to be involved on a post-war basis to assist with reconstruction efforts,” president and CEO Don Wall said Friday in a conference call. The Montreal-based helicopter transportation company has been active in the country since early 2009. Options on current contracts could extend its military presence until the end of 2016 ….”
- Canadian company gets a good chunk of U.S. military business. “RTS Cos. Inc., Saint Clements, Canada, won a $523,179.37 federal contract from the Defense Commissary Agency’s Contracting Business Unit/Equipment and Maintenance Division, Fort Lee, Va., for specialty shopping carts with toy body designs.” Could this be the item being built and sold by the southwestern Ontario company?
- “When Quinte’s volunteer rescuers save their next life, they’ll do it in the name of Bruce Sutcliffe. Dignitaries christened the new Quinte Search and Rescue (QSAR) boat the Bruce A. Sutcliffe on Friday, a special tribute to the commanding officer of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment who was killed in action in Sicily in 1943. The ceremony was held at Belleville’s Stu Meeks Rescue Dock near the foot of Church Street on the west side of Meyers Pier. “We’re very, very proud. It’s a great tribute,” said Sutcliffe’s daughter, Pat Hariton of Cobourg. “It is going to serve as a memorial for a very special son of the Quinte region,” Prince Edward-Hastings MPP Leona Dombrowsky told the crowd of several dozen people ….”
- Canada’s PM on the 50th anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall: “Fifty years ago, the world saw Germany divided in two, with Berlin severed by the construction of the Berlin Wall, with the West retaining its rights and freedoms and the East succumbing to Communist oppression. The Berlin Wall became symbolic of division in the 20th Century – an imposing cement slab that became an integral part of the Iron Curtain between Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc. It also became a symbol of tyranny and evil as many innocent people fleeing communism were gunned down in their attempt to find freedom on the other side of the Wall in West Berlin. During the Cold War, many apologists for the Communist regime tried to convince the world that their ideology was superior. Fortunately, talented and courageous artists, writers and ordinary citizens were able to expose that what went on behind the Wall ran counter to all the ideals the West had fought for and the truth began to trickle out ….”
- Cpl. Yannick Scherrer, Royal 22e Régiment, R.I.P. “Family and friends packed a chapel at CFB Valcartier on Friday to bid farewell to Cpl. Yannick Scherrer, remembering Canada’s most recent combat casualty as a natural leader who embraced life to the fullest. Scherrer died on March 27 when he was killed by an improvised explosive device near the village of Nakhonay, southwest of Kandahar city. Capt. Monique Roumy, the chaplain who conducted the service, said Scherrer had taken on a career that is not always easy. “Our people in uniform are sometimes misunderstood, stereotyped and judged for what they are and what they represent,” she said. “Despite the looks and the unflattering remarks they get, a soldier marches straight and does what he or she must do because it is not just a job — it’s a vocation.” ….”
- 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 (x) – “All the federal party leaders were criticized Friday by Ret. Gen. Rick Hillier, perhaps Canada’s best known soldier, for avoiding a serious debate during their election campaigns about Canada’s role in the Libyan conflict. In an interview on the CBC radio show The Current, Hillier, the outspoken former Chief of Defence Staff, routinely said he was “puzzled” over the relative silence from the campaign buses as Canadian involvement in Libya enters its third week. “What is puzzling to me, personally, is that we’ve had really no discussion in our country whatsoever about this,” Hillier said. “It hasn’t come up during the election campaign whatsoever. And again, here we are at war. We’ve been doing this in Afghanistan — we’ve had immense discussion — huge amounts of discussion, on the mission in Afghanistan, including parliamentary debates. “Here in Canada, right now, it’s actually silent on what is happening in Libya.” ….”
- 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.
- F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – “Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he has it in writing that Canada will be exempted from the staggering development cost increases associated with the F-35 stealth fighter. He lamented Friday that the ultra-high-tech jets and their enormous price tag had become a political football in the race toward the May 2 election. “You have to understand that in terms of the F-35 costs, we’ve been very detailed with those to the Canadian public,” Harper said after releasing the Conservative platform in Mississauga, Ont. “A lot of the developmental costs you’re reading in the United States, the contract we’ve signed shelters us from any increase in those kinds of costs. We’re very confident of our cost estimates and we have built in some latitude, some contingency in any case. So we are very confident we are within those measures.” …. “
- F-35 Tug o’ War (2) – “…. (Critics) claim Canada should wait, that the F-35s are the last of a dying breed – warplanes with pilots – and that it makes sense to hold out a decade or two for the dawn of unmanned, remote-controlled bombers and fighters. But the risks of opting out include no longer being considered a first-rank ally and missing out on cutting edge technology. The inner circle of U.S.-led weapons systems is also an exclusive and perhaps too valuable a club to spurn – even if the F-35 is the last of its kind ….”
- 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 ….”
- “Among the 492 Tamil migrants who arrived in Canada aboard the MV Sun Sea last August were 12 crew members who played an “integral” role in helping to execute the large and sophisticated smuggling operation, the Immigration and Refugee Board was told Thursday. The allegation was made at an admissibility hearing for one of the crew members, a man who cooked on the ship and manned the diesel engine room and received free passage from a key smuggling agent in return for that work, the board was told. The Canada Border Services Agency is seeking to have the man — whose brother, who was also on the ship, is alleged to be a key organizer of the operation — deported on the grounds that he engaged in a transnational crime, namely people-smuggling ….”
- 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 ….”
- No Fly Zone in Libya (1) – A Canadian General is taking the lead on NATO’s no fly mission. “A Canadian general was thrust Friday into the command role of NATO’s mission in Libya, taking responsibility for enforcing the no-fly zone and arms embargo as the United States continued to hand over control of the week-old campaign against Moammar Gadhafi. Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard will lead NATO forces in a mission Defence Minister Peter MacKay acknowledged Friday was “yet to be fully defined” by leaders of the international coalition tasked with protecting Libyans from forces loyal to Gadhafi. At a press briefing on Canada’s operations in Libya Friday, MacKay said the appointment of Bouchard to this key role is a testament to the respect Canada’s military enjoys around the world ….” The General’s official bio is here. More from Canadian Press here, Postmedia News here and the Globe & Mail here.
- No Fly Zone in Libya (2) – For once, ceasefire.ca mentions a good point. “…. The Alliance has not yet formally agreed to run the civilian-protection element of the mission, which is attempting to prevent attacks on Libyan civilians by conducting airstrikes on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. NATO spokespersons stated on Friday that “NATO is actively considering whether to take on a broader role under the UN Security Council Resolution. Without prejudging the deliberations, we would expect a decision to take over all operations in the next few days.” ….”
- No Fly Zone in Libya (3) – More on the CP-140 Aurora’s headed downrange.
- No Fly Zone in Libya (4) – Retired General Lew-Mac raises a good point. “…. Absent well-defined political leadership for the implementation of UN Resolution 1973, we now have a number of coalition military actions that arguably go beyond the letter and the intent of the resolution and seem to be more in support of regime change than protecting civilian population centres. If that is the case, the Security Council should meet and sanction the current military actions in Libya in support of Resolution 1973 and clearly state the removal of Colonel Gadhafi as the mission’s objective. In the meantime, a ground invasion force led and dominated by Arab countries should be organized to deal with the inevitable, near-term stalemate.”
- No Fly Zone in Libya (5) – The Globe & Mail’s Margaret Wente also raises a good point. “Why is Canada at war in Libya? You won’t get the answer from our elected leaders. They’re too busy fighting an election to explain it to us. You can’t count on the opposition parties to raise awkward questions, either. They have better things to do at a crucial time like this. Besides, it’s just a little war. It will be over soon, unless it isn’t. If all goes well, perhaps Canadians won’t notice that our political class has committed us to an open-ended military action in North Africa without a clue about what the mission is, who’s in charge, or how deep the quagmire might get ….”
- No Fly Zone in Libya (6) – QMI’s Larry Cornies raises yet another intriguing question. “Canada’s military firepower is modest; its presence in the Mediterranean more symbolic than essential. Is there an opportunity here for Canada to lead on the diplomatic front to negotiate a post-Gadhafi solution with the same zeal it once displayed in advocating R2P?”
- In case you haven’t heard yet, we’re going into a federal election next month.
- Rash o’ Pre-Election Announcements (1) – Meanwhile, the PM announces non-military help for Libya as well. “…. Through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Government is immediately providing nearly $3 million to support the efforts of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to address the repatriation of people displaced into neighbouring countries. This is in addition to the $5 million in humanitarian assistance that the Government announced on March 2, 2011 for the people of Libya. Today’s announcement raises Canada’s total humanitarian assistance to the crisis in Libya to almost $8 million ….”
- Rash o’ Pre-Election Announcements (2) – This one from Defence Minister Peter MacKay: “…. A new career transition support policy for severely ill and injured Canadian Forces (CF) personnel will come into effect on May 1, 2011. Under this policy, severely ill and injured personnel with complex career transition needs, and who can no longer serve in the Regular Force or Primary Reserve, will be provided a longer transition period before returning to civilian life. For each of these individuals, the CF will develop a tailored and flexible plan that features comprehensive health care, career transition assistance, and the social support of the military community over a period of up to three years. The Minister also announced a change to the CF promotion policy whereby any qualified CF member who has been severely injured in Afghanistan with a battlefield injury will also be eligible for promotion if they continue serving with the CF ….”
- Rash o’ Pre-Election Announcements (3) – One more from the Defence Minister: “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, in conjunction with The Ottawa Hospital and The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, today helped unveil the Rehabilitation Virtual Reality Laboratory, housing the CAREN system, at The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre …. This initiative is another example of CF’s excellent partnership with The Ottawa Hospital that ensures ill and injured CF personnel receive excellent care when they need it the most …. The installation of this system was made possible through the funding efforts of the community, which raised $500,000 for the laboratory at the General Campus of The Ottawa Hospital, and the CF, which contributed $1.5 million to the CAREN system. The Ottawa Hospital Foundation is proud to play a role in making this state-of-the-art tool a reality at the Hospital, said Foundation President and CEO Susan Doyle ….”
- F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – More on the price/cost wrangling.
- F-35 Tug o’ War (2) – Blogger Mark Collins asks how the Liberals are going to deal with future fighter buys if they get back at the helm.
- F-35 Tug o’ War (1) Parliament’s Budget Office (PBO): Our estimates (based on production price per pound of plane and a longer service timeline – 30 years vs. the CF’s 20 years) show the F-35 will cost more than the Canadian government is saying now. (1.1 MB PDF, 65 pg). The executive summary is downloadable here via Army.ca.
- F-35 Tug o’ War (2) Both the Liberals and the NDP started poking the government almost immediately during Question Period in the House of Commons on this one yesterday.
- F-35 Tug o’ War (3) MSM are full of stories on this one as well – this from the Canadian Press, this from the Toronto Star, this from the National Post/Postmedia News, this from CTV.ca, and this from Reuters.
- Mideast Unpleasantness (1) “Canada is defending the effectiveness of sanctions against Libya, despite their apparent failure after Moammar Gadhafi’s troops managed to drive rebel forces out of a key oil port. Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Thursday that he thinks sanctions against Libya are working, but more are needed. He said all options for Libya remain on the table as he and fellow G8 foreign ministers prepare to meet in France early next week for talks on the crisis. “I think the sanctions regime is working. Obviously it has its merits and its objectives. There needs to be more, I believe. That is why we’re still examining the options.” Cannon rejected a suggestion that sanctions are failing because Gadhafi is still holding power and reclaiming rebel-held territory ….”
- Mideast Unpleasantness (2) Retired General Lew Mackenzie with a reminder that a no-fly zone could morph into more than JUST a no-fly zone in Libya. “…. once you decide to militarily intervene in another country’s civil conflict, you have to be prepared to escalate even if it’s the wrong thing to do, because quitting your commitment when the initial plan fails is just not on …. Col. Gadhafi doesn’t need his air force to prevail, so its grounding or destruction would merely shift the fighting to the backs of his army. Libya is a big country, with 2,000 kilometres of coastline, so the major fighting would take place along the main coastal road. The opposition forces would be no match for even poorly organized army units if Col. Gadhafi decides to get serious. Watching this unfold from 20,000 feet, the countries enforcing any no-fly zone would be unable to ignore the carnage below them. Backed into a corner, their political leaders would be forced to escalate and authorize attacks against the Libyan army – thereby becoming, in effect, the opposition’s air force. By so doing, they would assume a much larger role in Libya’s future, including reconstruction of the damage they inflicted ….”
- Mideast Unpleasantness (3) Speaker of the House of Commons: Not unpleasant enough for an emergency debate right now.
- A little more information on Canada coming through with more funding a school project in Kandahar. “…. the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, announced $250,000 in additional funding for the Afghan Canadian Community Centre (ACCC). This funding will allow the ACCC to continue providing successful literacy courses and training in Kandahar city …. The ACCC is a private training centre in Kandahar City that provides professional education in such subjects as business management, information technology, English and health care. This additional support will enable the Centre to continue delivering valuable training, establish a resource centre, and implement a self-sustainability plan.“ Translation of that last bit of government-speak in red: some of the money the school is getting is to be used to come up with a plan to be able to run without any more outside funding (or at least from us).
- A friend of Colin Rutherford, the Canadian reportedly being held hostage by the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, sees world for what it is. “…. We as students need to recognize that terrorism does not only happen to other people. Terrorists exist to cause fear, and through that fear they gain power. Colin was not afraid to go into a place that has been torn by war to try to help people who are different from himself, and to help them on their terms instead of his. It may not have been the brightest thing to do, but it was brave and motivated by a good heart. He may not come home alive or, if alive, not whole and sound. I pray every day for him. I hope I will get to see him again and hug him and tell him that I am proud of him for wanting to bring something positive into a bastion of terror ….”
- Remember the “MMA Visits Afghanistan to Fight for the Troops?” story earlier this week (eighth bullet here)? Here’s the U.S. military information machine’s story on the event.
- Ooopsie…. “At a time of unprecedented tension between the west and Hamid Karzai over the killing of civilians, Nato has accidentally shot dead one of the Afghan president’s own family members during a botched night raid. Officials in the southern province of Kandahar said Haji Yar Mohammad Karzai, a second cousin of the president, was killed during an operation by US special forces in Karz, the ancestral Karzai home on the outskirts of Kandahar city. In what appears to have been a major intelligence failure, the 63-year-old tribal elder was mistaken for the father of a Taliban commander …. Mahmoud Karzai, one of the president’s brothers, said he “smelled a very deep conspiracy” over the killing of Haji Yar Mohammad and said he feared Nato had been fed false information by someone from within the Karzai family ….” Here’s ISAF’s first statement on the incident, with a follow-up update here. More on the touchiness of the situation from the Canadian Press here.
- Canadian shipyard workers pipe in on Canada’s plans to look at foreign designs for new big honkin’ ships for the Navy. “Canada should not adapt foreign designs to replace its 40-year-old supply ships, says the man who represents over 1,000 workers at Halifax Shipyard. The navy is looking for consultants to assess the risks and cost of altering current German and Spanish military supply-ship designs to Canadian needs. They are also being told to be ready to assist federal officials with detailed drawings. “No matter what way you slice the pie, its Canadian tax dollars leaving Canada to go to another country to help them out in an economic crisis when we’re in our own,” Jamie Vaslet of the CAW/Marine Workers Federation, said Thursday. “Made in Canada is not a bad name, so designed in Canada is not a bad name, either. We designed and built some of, if not the best, world-class frigates.” ….”
- Meanwhile, Mark Collins wonders how sloooooooooooooooooooow one can go to build new ships needed by Canada’s Navy.
- Remember the shipload o’ Tamils dropped on the west coast by the MV Sun Sea last summer? One of the passengers admitted to being a bad guy, and has been ordered deported (eventually). “A passenger on the MV Sun Sea ship has admitted to being a member of the Tamil Tigers and ordered out of Canada, but don’t expect the unnamed man to be booted out anytime soon. The man, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, initially denied being associated with the Tiger terrorist group but later admitted to officials with the Canadian Border Services Agency that he had been a member …. “We are pleased that these hearings are moving ahead,” said Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, the man in charge of the CBSA …. Toews has stated several times that the ship has terrorist links but this case is the first to come with a deportation order. “That ship, that voyage was co-ordinated by the Tamil Tigers,” Toews told QMI Agency on Wednesday. “Our commitment has been to ensure that individuals who are associated with terrorist organizations do not find refuge in this country.” ….”
- CF to Libya (1a): Canada’s Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) now has a page with information on Operation MOBILE, Canada’s mission to Libya: “The Canadian Forces launched Operation MOBILE on 25 February 2011 to assist the departure of Canadians and other foreign nationals from Libya. Op MOBILE is part of a whole-of-government effort led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) ….” The CF’s Combat Camera folks have pages with photos and video from OP Mobile, too.
- CF to Libya (1b): CEFCOM’s first feature story about the evacuation mission so far.
- CF to Libya (2a): So, what’s the job of the HMCS Charlottetown, exactly? “…. Cmdr. Craig Skjerpen, addressing his crew before departure, said they were heading into an “emerging humanitarian crisis” in North Africa, along with the navies of the United States, Britain and other Western nations. The country is in revolt over the 41-year reign of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Skjerpen told reporters little is yet known about the Charlottetown’s actual role once it arrives off Libya, which will come following a week-long Atlantic crossing. He doesn’t know yet whether the ship will join an existing NATO fleet or a U.S. naval task force, both now in the Mediterranean. Skjerpen also said he has no orders to begin enforcing United Nations trade sanctions against Libya. Nor does the frigate have stocks of humanitarian aid on board. “It’s a very dynamic situation over there right now, so we’ll have to adapt to whatever happens.” ….” More from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald here.
- CF to Libya (2b): Well, here’s what SOME in Canada’s Libyan community want. “Edmonton’s Libyan community is calling for the removal of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, and has asked the Canadian government to take an active role in supporting the Libyan people. Zachariah Mansour, a second-year science student at the University if Alberta, was among 60 protesters calling for these measures at a recent rally at Churchill Square. “Basically we want to see a similar response to what happened in Haiti during the earthquake and in Sri Lanka during the tsunami; we want humanitarian aid not military intervention,” he says ….” (Note to Edmonton Libyan community: a lot of the help sent to Haiti got there BECAUSE of the military.)
- CF to Libya (3): Toronto think-tanker John Thompson’s take: “….Warships off the Libyan coast can be used to potentially interdict shipments to that country, provided that some sort of agreement between various nations decides to exclude — for example — shipping from Iran or North Korea, and can manage to do so under international law. If the war continues, warships might be used to escort shipments of humanitarian supplies. More interventionist roles, such as declaring that Libyan aircraft all remain grounded, or sending special forces to secure stocks of chemical weapons (which Libya has, and used in Chad in the 1980s) or to destroy Libya’s inventory of Scud Missiles to keep the conflict contained to Libya alone. However, such interventions might cause lasting resentment that will outlive the current situation and could easily be used as for propaganda purposes by any faction.”
- CF to Libya (4): More “learning” of JTF-2 headed downrange. “…. the dispatch of Canada’s frigate HMCS Charlottetown, which sails Wednesday from Halifax with 240 Canadian Forces personnel aboard, represents a commitment of weeks or months of military presence. Its first job is to set up command-and-control for evacuation efforts if they’re still needed. Then it is likely to assist in aid operations to Libyans, and could finally end up as part of tougher international military “sanctions” against the regime, such as enforcing a blockade, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said. Canadian special forces troops are now based in Malta, The Globe and Mail has learned, and are believed to be playing an active role in assisting evacuation missions to rescue Canadians and citizens from other countries ….”
- CF to Libya (5a): Retired General Lew MacKenzie, in his own words, on Canada sending fighters to help in any no-fly zone that’ll be imposed on Libya: “…. The immediate need for imposing a no-fly zone over Libya will only be achieved outside of the Security Council’s decision-making by a coalition of the willing. Some nation will have to assume a leadership role and as French President Nicolas Sarkozy was the first to recommend the idea, France would be an obvious choice. Canada should participate.”
- CF to Libya (5b): Retired General Lew MacKenzie, quoted & paraphrased, on Canada sending fighters to help in any no-fly zone that’ll be imposed on Libya: “…. Retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie said deploying CF-18s would be “logistically possible,” but “extremely difficult and somewhat time-consuming.” He foresees a more humanitarian role for Canada’s troops, although even that could be difficult since Canada doesn’t have a lot of assets already in the area ….”
- Canada isn’t sending JUST military help to Libya. “…. “Canada is acting swiftly to help meet the humanitarian needs of the people of Libya which are a result of recent violence in that country,” said Prime Minister Harper. “We are taking action to provide immediate humanitarian support to areas that need it most.” …. Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), will help to address urgent medical requirements, basic humanitarian needs, and the repatriation of people displaced into Tunisia and Egypt. Canada’s help will include improving access to food, water, sanitation, shelter and emergency medical care. The initial contribution being announced today will support humanitarian efforts through the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of the Red Cross and the International Organization for Migration ….” More on that from the Canadian Press, CBC.ca, Postmedia News, and QMI Media.
- It didn’t take long for the usual suspects to come out against ANY kind of help for Libya involving people whose titles include ranks. “The Canadian Peace Alliance is opposed to any military intervention in Libya or in the region as a whole …. Western military deployment to Libya is a bit like asking the arsonist to put out their own fire. Far from being a shining light in a humanitarian crisis, western intervention is designed to maintain the status quo and will, in fact make matters worse for the people there …. The best way to help the people of Libya is to show our solidarity with their struggle. There are demonstrations planned this weekend. The people united will never be defeated!” I’m sorry, but WTF does “showing our solidarity with their struggle” mean, exactly? Ship over some freeze-dried, vacuum-sealed solidarity to drop on the masses? If you’re going to whine, how about some concrete solutions? Even the Libyan community in Edmonton was clear about what they want.
- More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief: Libya), here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
- “Ottawa’s patience has run its course as the federal government is set to impose penalties of up to $8-million against Sikorsky for the latest delays in the delivery of a new fleet of maritime helicopters. The aircraft manufacturer is facing a financial hit after failing to meet a schedule that already has been pushed back from the original 2008 deadline. The amount of the penalty is largely symbolic, representing up to 0.15 per cent of the $5.7-billion contract, but the move highlights Ottawa’s decision to take a tougher stand against the U.S.-based company ….”
- F-35 Tug o’ War: Ceasefire.ca has posted a web page allowing you to send a letter to prominent politicians to oppose purchase of the F-35 here. One wonders how many people “personalize” the letter to make it say something COMPLETELY different than what’s already there before sending it? Just sayin’….
- Wanna buy an old Snowbird? “A rare chance to acquire an iconic piece of Canadian aviation history is up for grabs when a Snowbirds Tutor Jet is auctioned in Toronto next month. The Canadian Forces’ Snowbirds team, which claims Moose Jaw as its home, has entertained millions of air show spectators as international ambassadors for Canada for more than 40 years …. Now one of these rare aircraft will be offered at public auction for the first time at the annual Classic Car Auction of Toronto from April 8 to 10 held at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont., next to Pearson International Airport. It is one of only four known CT-114s under private ownership …. Originally powered by the J85 jet engine, which has since been removed after being retired from service, the aircraft is expected to become a candidate for restoration or historical museum display.”
- Know those pirates stealing boats and killing people around Somalia? Now, ship owners here in Canada are starting to get more worried, too. “The hijackings and kidnappings orchestrated by Somali pirates in waters halfway around the globe are rippling back to shores of this country, Canadian shipping companies say, and they’ve joined an international campaign urging world governments to do more to combat the problem. Several international shipping associations and sailors’ unions have launched the Save Our Seafarers campaign, warning the “growing Somali piracy crisis” is threatening global trade and endangering those working on ships plying the waters off Africa’s east coast. The campaign’s supporters include the Chamber of Shipping of B.C. and Fairmont Shipping (Canada) Ltd., which say Canadian companies have had to turn down business and make costly changes to shipping routes to avoid the precarious waters patrolled by pirates. “This problem has been recurring and has been escalating to a degree that we don’t feel this is something the industry can resolve,” Samuel Tang, a Fairmont Shipping vice-president, said in an interview ….”
- Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery from any injuries the pilot may have sustained: “The Rescue Co-Ordination Centre at CFB Trenton, Ont., says a Canadian fighter jet has crashed overnight. The CF-18 went down in Cold Lake, Alta., around 1:30 this morning. The pilot safely ejected and was located by searchers. The jet was returning from a mission when it crashed. It was not immediately clear why it went down ….”
- “Approximately 37 members of A Squadron, Lord Stracona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) and 6 members of the 35 Armoured Engineer Troop, 1 Combat Engineer Regiment will return from Afghanistan back home to Edmonton Thursday morning at 12:30 a.m. ….” Welcome home!
- Who’s Happy About the New Afghanistan Mission (Continued)? Some retired Canadian Generals seem pleased, with one reminding Canadians in general, and a Liberal senator in particular, that training behind the wire =/= mentoring Afghan troops in battle.
- Who’s Unhappy About the New Afghanistan Mission (Continued)? The N.D.P. (troops staying + aid being cut) and some members of the Liberal caucus (according to the Canadian Press, “about a half dozen MPs spoke out (during a caucus meeting) against the decision and the top-down manner in which it was reached”).
- NATO, meanwhile, raises the spectre that it ain’t necessarily all going to be over in Afghanistan by 2014 – more from Reuters, Agence France-Press and the Associated Press.
- Tune into CPAC this weekend for a documentary on the Afghanistan media don’t see while they’re embedded with Canadian military forces – more on that here.
- The Government tabled a bill in the House of Commons yesterday to “complement the series of measures that the Government of Canada is putting in place putting in place to increase the financial support for our Veterans under the New Veterans Charter” (Hansard transcript here). Comments so far: nice to see, but way more continues to be needed. More from Postmedia News here, the Toronto Star here and the Globe & Mail here.
- Who’s answering questions on Afghanistan in the House of Commons these days? As of yesterday, according to Hansard, the PM and Development Minister Bev Oda for the first question, and the Defence Minister and Oda on the second.
- Talkin’ to the Taliban: A Canadian disarmament campaigner says if you can’t beat ’em, you might as well reconile with ’em: “…. Afghanistan is now in the kind of “hurting stalemate” that should be conducive to negotiations. The Afghan government and its partners in the International Security Assistance Force can’t defeat the Taliban, and the Taliban can’t defeat the government and its security backers. It’s a stalemate that hurts both sides politically and economically, and that calls out for a political solution ….”
- How Canada’s fallen help save lives. This, from the Kingston Whig-Standard‘s coverage of a military medical conference under way in Kingston: “When Capt. Nichola Goddard was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan in 2006, battlefield medical care couldn’t save her due to her massive injuries and blood loss. But within minutes of the attack, the fallen soldier was saving future lives. Goddard, a forward observation officer who graduated from Royal Military College, was standing in the turret of her LAV when the rockets hit and a huge piece of shrapnel sliced through her neck. When she was rushed to the Role 3 hospital at Kandahar Air Field, military investigators grabbed her body armour, protective glasses, helmet and other equipment and charted her injuries, a drill at which they have become well versed with the sheer number of wounded that are medevaced there from the battlefields. Goddard was pronounced dead and flown home with honours. An autopsy in Toronto confirmed the cause of death as massive injuries due to the slicing shrapnel. Within weeks, troops were being issued body armour with high protective collars to prevent such future deaths, collars they still wear today in the never-ending adaptation armies go through in war ….” More on this, and what researchers can learned from wrecked vehicles, here.
- Remember this little road trip Nicaraguan troops took into Costa Rica earlier this month because Google Maps placed the border in the wrong spot? A Costa Rican media outlet says Canada denies offering to send troops to help sort things out in the Central American jungle. The original allegation came out last week in another Costa Rican newspaper (Spanish article here, Google English translation here, and both versions at Scribd.com here), where Costa Rica’s Foreign Affairs Minister René Castro Salazar was quoted saying Canada’s Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Peter Kent offered “personal y recursos” (Google translates that into “staff and resources”) ranging from “geógrafos hasta personal militar” (“geographers to military personnel”) during a meeting before an Organization of American States meeting on the issue.
- Canada’s “in the green” (or low risk) when it comes to the potential for a terrorist attack, according to a British corporate risk assessment company’s recent study – more on that here.
- So, what’s with all the video games the CF wants to buy and ship to a Montreal military warehouse? Even a CF spokesperson speaking to the Canadian Press admits “It’s a strange one”.
As the “Bribe the Tribes” story picks up a bit of momentum, in addition to denials, we see a bit of re-direction:
Defence Minister Peter MacKay, speaking in St. John’s, described the allegations as likely little more than “Taliban propaganda.”
Retired Canadian major-general Lewis MacKenzie suggested the notion of bribes to the Taliban “smells of a really intelligent piece of propaganda.”
True, we have a British media outlet “confirming” the story with a Taliban “commander”, but let’s look at where the information came from in the original stories that got the ball rolling, shall we?
The clandestine payments, whose existence was hidden from the incoming French forces, were disclosed by Western military officials. (The Times, 15 Oct 09)
One Western military source told of payments made by Canadian soldiers stationed in the violent southern province of Kandahar, while another officer spoke of similar practices by the German army in northern Kunduz. “I can tell you that lots of countries under the NATO umbrella operating out in rural parts of Afghanistan do pay the militants for not attacking them,” the senior Afghan official said. (Agence France-Presse, 16 Oct 09)
Since Canada, Italy and Germany were named by these sources in various venues, I’m guessing the Western officials were not from any of these countries.
I don’t know who told the reporter the initial information that started the research, but it’s interesting to see that it’s mainly allies who are confirming this.
I wonder what agenda these allied “sources” have?
Or should I say “alleged” allies?
All that said, this certainly does give the Taliban an interesting messaging point: look at all the money your pour into defeating us, and we still get money!
A variation of this meme (specifically, some development project money ends up in Taliban hands through protection payments to let the projects be built, convincing enough folks to cause the US government’s international aid agency to look into it), but I haven’t seen any exploitation of this theme by the Taliban themselves.
Then again, maybe they’re happy to sit back, and watch the NATO allies pick away at each other with claims, counterclaims and denials.
Someone more cynical than myself might say we may just be doing the Taliban’s work for them on this one.