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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Ignatieff

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 15 Apr 11

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  • Libya Ops – Long Beach-built Boeing C-17 Globemaster jets owned by the United States, Canada and Qatar are playing an increasing role in operations across war-scarred Libya, including the recent airlift of wounded rebel fighters. According to Press-Telegram, a newspaper from Long Beach, California, at least two Canadian C-17s are operating from Malta. A Qatari Air Force C-17 was used in early April to ferry 15 seriously injured fighters from outside the eastern harbour town of Brega, where revolutionaries have been clashing with fighters loyal to longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The C-17, which can be converted to a flying Intensive Care Unit capable of carrying up to 12 critically injured or sick passengers, has also been airlifting tonnes of military, medical and food supplies to bases supporting Operation Odyssey Dawn, the United Nations mission against the Libyan government’s repression. The Qatari rescue mission was first reported by the Greek Defence Ministry, which said the C-17 first landed on the island of Crete to drop off the most severely wounded and one man who died during the short flight ….”
  • About 40 Taliban insurgents who have been fighting and killing Canadian troops in Panjwaii laid down their weapons this week and agreed to rejoin mainstream Afghan society. “Some of them undoubtedly have blood on their hands,” said Australian Lt.-Col. Liam Hale, who oversees NATO’s “Reintegration Cell” in southern Afghanistan. Canada’s Task Force Kandahar (TFK) had been a leader in establishing reintegration as a priority, the combat engineer said. “It was TFK that developed a formal process to sit down with them,” he said. “It has worked really hard with the district governor, pushing the messages that are important.” Task Force Kandahar’s commander, Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, said that such defections from the Taliban’s cause represented a potential “tipping point” in the war in Kandahar. “They are switching sides,” Milner said. “How confident do those who remain (in the Taliban) feel when some are laying down their arms and reintegrating? What does it mean for what they can muster in May and June?” he asks, about when the fighting season usually begins ….”
  • The acting commander of Canadian troops in southern Afghanistan is decidedly upbeat as the clock ticks down on Canada’s five-year military effort in the region. Col. Richard Giguere does not seem to be bothered by the approach of the summer “fighting season” in which insurgent activity usually picks up. “There is a positive momentum going on right now in our area of operations,” Giguere said Thursday. Canadian commanders have often used glowing terms to describe the situation on the ground, even as their troops took casualties and military gains were quickly undone by an obdurate and wily insurgency. But Giguere points out that the situation has changed significantly in the past nine months or so. The most important change has been the significant shrinkage in Canada’s area of operations, combined with an influx of American forces ….”
  • Two judges overseeing the release of Afghan detainee documents as demanded by Parliament have decided the documents will remain secret for the rest of the election campaign, CBC News has learned. CBC News has obtained a letter sent by the judges to the leaders of the three federal parties on a committee looking into the release of the documents to inform them that the records cannot be released while Parliament is not sitting. The memorandum of understanding signed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the two opposition leaders agreed to the formation of a committee of MPs to determine how to release secret documents about Canadian prisoners in Afghanistan. The Liberals said Thursday that they are prepared to make whatever amendments are necessary to the original memorandum of understanding reached last year in order to have the documents released now ….”
  • Election 2011 – Michael Ignatieff has begun the second half of the federal election campaign with a partial retreat from some of his comments from Wednesday night’s debate. During the French-language leaders’ debate, the Liberal chief was adamant that he’d let the United Nations Security Council make the ultimate call on whether to send Canadian troops abroad. “The Canadian army must never be used outside the country without the authorization of the UN,” Ignatieff told his debate partners. While allies like France and Britain have vetoes on the Security Council, so do countries like China and Russia, which have shown much less willingness to support NATO or other interventions abroad. Asked whether he really wanted to give Beijing and Moscow that kind of power over Canadian policy, Ignatieff chuckled. “That’s a very funny construction to put on my words,” Ignatieff said. Then he dialed back his debate rhetoric and admitted there could be exceptions ….”
  • Some U.S. defence work for an East Coast company.A rare ray of hope shone on the Miramichi economy Thursday as DEW Engineering and Development ULC announced an $8.7 million contract for its New Brunswick facility. The aerospace and defence company will create 35 new short-term jobs and maintain the 160 workers it currently employs. DEW was awarded the contract by General Dynamics Lands Systems Canada to manufacture bomb-resistant armour for front-line military vehicles used in Afghanistan by the United States Marine Corps. Tim Dear, president and CEO of DEW, said the armour manufactured in Miramichi – a lightweight ceramic composite technology – offers the same ballistic protection as the traditional steel armour at half the weight. “As the Stryker vehicles get older and need to be refurbished, we replace the heavy steel with our ceramic composite armour to get those vehicles back to the mobility they had when they were first made,” he said ….”
  • New Brunswick is consulting Reservists about education. The provincial government is adding military reservists to its list of public consultations. Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Martine Coulombe announced Thursday she will review ways to further enhance employment and education leave protection for Canadian Forces reservists in New Brunswick. “We are consulting with key stakeholders, including military reservists, to ensure that we are meeting their current and future needs,” Coulombe said. “The consultation process is designed to seek ideas on how to provide further clarity to existing rules, to support the Armed Forces’ ability to plan deployments, and to incorporate best practices implemented in other Canadian jurisdictions.” ….”
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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 11 Apr 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 5 Apr 11

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  • Election Promises (1) A Liberal government would restore full university status to the Royal Military College in St-Jean, Que., the party said Monday. If elected May 2, the Liberals would immediately invest $25 million to pay for infrastructure to boost the campus from what is now a CEGEP-level facility, to university status ….”
  • Election Promises (2)Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff pledged Monday to deliver a two-year $120 million plan to help Canadian military veterans return to school and find work. Ignatieff, backed by local candidates and a couple of veterans, said the plan would be increasingly important in the near future with thousands of Canadian soldiers returning from the mission in Afghanistan. “We get a lot of veterans coming home and end up on the street,” Ignatieff said. “One of the things I want to do is make sure those brave, young Canadians get the education that allow them to get the great jobs of the future.” ….” Liberal Party statement here, a critique of the pledge here.
  • Election Promises (3)  Blogger Mark Collins quickly sums up the Liberal’s defence platform (hint:  there’s a reason he can do it quickly).
  • Libya Ops  Columnist says it’s time for Canada to GTFO Libya. “…. this has now become a matter of power and prestige for the U.S. It is no longer about enforcing a UN resolution. It has, instead, become a showdown between America and Gadhafi. Canada was quick to deploy fighter jets and to take overall command of the NATO-led, UN-sanctioned no-fly zone. However, now that this situation has quickly morphed into yet another American intervention in yet another oil-rich Middle Eastern quagmire of tribal warfare, it is time for us to cut bait.”
  • Meanwhile, in AfghanistanThe Arghandab River is barely a trickle as Claude Desilets scrambles down the bank to inspect recent repairs on the Dahla Dam water network — arguably the most important infrastructure project in southern Afghanistan. Of particular interest are recently installed gates at the diversion weir, a vital control point for the entire irrigation system Canada is spending $50 million to refurbish. While the river lapping at the gates is currently more reminiscent of a lazy creek, Desilets knows big changes are coming. “In a week, all of this will be under water,” he said. The project field manager notes the traditional agricultural season in Kandahar province is set to begin, at which point the Dahla Dam reservoir 17 kilometres to the north will begin unleashing its contents into the Arghandab ….”
  • More on how the Government of Canada wants one of the probes into how Afghan detainees were treated to exclude non-military sources here (Toronto Star).
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  The company says things are looking good for the new jet. “Lockheed Martin Corp said on Monday it made considerable progress on testing three variants of the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the first quarter, conducting 57 more test flights than planned. Lockheed said the short takeoff version of the new radar-evading fighter, put on probation by Defense Secretary Robert Gates for ongoing technical issues, logged 61 vertical landings in the first three months of 2011, six times more than the 10 landings done in all of 2010. The F-35 test program remained ahead of plan, despite a dual generator failure on March 9 that grounded the entire U.S. fleet of 10 F-35 fighter planes for 4 to 15 days during the quarter, the company said. “The vector is moving in the right direction,” said Lockheed’s F-35 program manager Larry Lawson ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) As an American, I am extremely reluctant to presume to offer Canada advice on how to proceed with the purchase of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. However, the airplane is the culmination of such malevolent trends in my own country that I believe all allies and neighbours should be warned about going down the same path ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Anyone interested in providing professional services for designing/building new honkin’ ships for the CF gets a bit more time to submit a bid (via Army.ca).
  • Remember how the CF’s top cop would be getting more control over some parts of the military police apparatus (fourth item)?  Here’s the CF’s new fact sheet on what the new organization looks like.
  • I’m.  NOT.  Making.  This.  Up. A second military court martial is being convened against a Canadian Forces seaman accused of disgraceful conduct after a prank involving a glass of milk and a sailor’s penis. The unusual case happened aboard the HMCS Nanaimo when the coastal defence vessel was visiting Seattle in 2009. A leading seaman in the ship’s mess poured the last of the chocolate milk; mess protocol dictates he refill it. Master Seamen W.L. Boyle told him to refill it and the sailor of a slightly lesser rank said he would do it after lunch. An argument ensued and the junior sailor left, presumably to get fresh milk. While he was gone, MS Boyle took the glass of milk, unzipped his overalls and, according to one witness, inserted his penis into the drink, swirled it around and returned the glass to the table. The sailor was warned by a shipmate not to drink it. MS Boyle was charged with disgraceful conduct and conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline, under the National Defence Act, which he was found not guilty of almost a year later. The military appealed, however, and won a retrial on the disgraceful conduct count ….” The Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada decision is here.
  • A bit of a reminder from a Sun Media columnist. “Canadians are not capable of terrorism. We are the mild mannered and polite people of the Great White North who apologize to furniture when we bump into it. Surely we are not a nation capable of producing people who are willing to kill innocents in the name of an ideology. Reality, however, tells another story. There is a long, disturbing list of Canadians who have been arrested on terror charges both at home and abroad. Many have been convicted, Canadians with darkness in their hearts and violence on their minds: Members of the Toronto 18, Mohammad Momin Khawaja, Mohammed Jabarah among them. Since August 2010 alone, five Canadians have been arrested on terrorism charges. Yet Canadians continue to delude themselves into believing that terrorism doesn’t exist here, that every arrest is an aberration and that Canada is somehow an island in a world of instability ….”
  • Speaking of which….The Toronto family of a young woman who has sparked an international panic over her sudden travels to Somalia says that she has called home to tell them that she is not affiliated with terrorists. “Based on direct contact with her, they are assured she is safe with family in Somalia and that she is not with al-Shabab,” a source who spoke to the woman’s close relatives on Monday told The Globe and Mail. He asked that neither he nor the family members be named ….”
  • A Spanish judge has issued an international arrest warrant seeking the extradition from Canada of a former Guatemalan soldier suspected of involvement in a brutal 1982 massacre during Guatemala’s civil war, a court official said Monday. Judge Santiago Pedraz ordered the arrest of 53-year-old Jorge Sosa Orantes for his alleged role in the massacre in the village of Dos Erres in 1982 in which more than 100 people died, the court official said. Sosa faces charges of crimes against humanity, according to the court official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with policy. The more-than-three-decade civil war in Guatemala claimed at least 200,000 lives before it ended in 1996. The U.S.-backed army was responsible for most of the deaths, according to the findings of a truth commission set up to investigate the bloodshed Sosa has been in custody in Alberta since January on U.S. charges of lying about his role in Guatemala’s war when he applied for American citizenship in 2008. He lived for many years in Southern California, working as a martial arts instructor ….”
  • How some troops in the Dominican Republic seem to be supplementing their wagesA dozen soldiers in the Dominican Republic have been arrested in an alleged plot to ship cocaine to Canada in a child’s suitcase.  Prosecutor Elvis Garcia says the 12 soldiers include a lieutenant colonel. Eight work with the national anti-drug agency at the airport in Puerto Plata and four with the airport security agency. Two civilians have also been arrested.  The arrests stem from the discovery last month 33 kilograms of cocaine in the suitcase of a Canadian child at the airport. The girl was traveling with her parents to Toronto ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 30 Mar 11

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  • Cpl. Yannick Scherrer, Royal 22e Régiment, R.I.P. Arriving back in Canada this afternoon – more here.
  • Libya Ops (1) – Canadian General says all good to go in transfer of ops to NATO command.
  • Libya Ops (2) – American General on who’s in charge of what in Libya, the short version (“#NATO is now in charge of ALL military operations in #Libya: Humanitarian, Arms Embargo, No-Fly Zone, and Protection of Civilians.”) and the longer version.
  • Libya Ops (3) – Enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya required four sorties by NATO aircraft in the past 24 hours, the Pentagon said Tuesday. As of 1000 GMT (6am EDT Tuesday), NATO carried out four flights to police the no-fly zone against the Libyan regime, along with four other sorties in support of the mission, according to information released by the Pentagon. The figures followed comments from US and allied commanders that the regime’s air defenses have been knocked out in earlier coalition raids, with Moamer Kadhafi’s aircraft effectively shut down under a no-fly zone now firmly in place. The four no-fly zone sorties were flown by Canada and Spain, using F-18 fighter jets, said a US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity ….”
  • Libya Ops (4) – Guess which Foreign Affairs Minister wasn’t at a big meeting on Libya this week?
  • Libya Ops (5) – TorStar columnist“The life and death issue that no major party leader wants to talk about in this election campaign is war. Canada is involved in two now. But to listen to the leaders you’d never know. Our latest war is being waged against Libya. Like the endless adventure in Afghanistan, this one, too, slipped by beneath the radar of public consciousness. Yes, there was a debate of sorts in Parliament. But it was short and perfunctory. The Conservative government and all three opposition parties agreed that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is a bad dude, that the United Nations was right to authorize attacks against his country and that Canadian fighter jets should join in with gusto. Then they got back to the real business of Canadian politics: slagging one another over which party is the most dishonest ….”
  • One man’s “gag order” is another man’s “be very careful what you say during an election campaign.”The federal government has restricted media interviews of officials in Afghanistan because of the election campaign, a move that one critic says hampers the public’s understanding of Canada’s mission in the war-torn country. The restrictions became known after The Canadian Press requested an interview this week with Tim Martin, Canada’s top diplomat in Kandahar. The request was for a story about a transfer of command ceremony that took place Tuesday at Camp Nathan Smith on the outskirts of Kandahar city. Such events happen from time to time and Tuesday’s ceremony was expected to mark a major milestone as Canada was set to hand over command of the Provincial Reconstruction Team’s training centre to Afghanistan’s Ministry of the Interior and NATO forces …. A spokesman for the Canadian International Development Agency rejected the interview request, saying Martin would not be granting interviews in the duration of the five-week election campaign. Adam Sweet said an order was in effect restricting federal officials from talking to the media aimed at preventing them from making public comments that could influence, or appear to influence, the outcome of the election. “We act with as much restraint as possible, confining ourselves to public business and this rule applies to our communications activities as well,” Sweet said. Nina Chiarelli, the acting director of communications for the prime minister, denied there was an order in place that prevented federal officials from speaking with reporters. But she said communications with the media are restricted during an election ….”
  • Former OMLT’eer Bruce Ralston sounds off on his blog about the recent Rolling Stones article on American soldiers accused of assassinating innocent Afghans“…. Like the vast majority of soldiers in the theatre, these sick little f__ks had as little contact as possible throughout their tour with local nationals, who were about as real to them as sprites in a video game. This was a predictable consequence of all the distance we have put in this military context between Us and Them, the “Them” in this case being the people we were sent to protect. Our whole approach to force protection, with all of its interacting with the host nation only across razor wire or through gunsights, is a concomitant cause of these atrocities ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff promised Monday to re-examine a deal to buy the next-generation F-35 stealth fighter plane, but military experts say it would be pointless for a Liberal government to hold a “fly-off” competition to replace Canada’s deteriorating CF-18 fighter-bombers given that there is no alternative that would suit the Canadian Forces’ needs. “We are going to replace the CF-18 -we care about the sovereignty of Canada. But we’ve got time to get this right. [The Conservatives] tried to hustle the country into a purchase without a competitive process” ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) –  New fighter jets Canada plans to buy will be more than $100 million each — at least $25 million more per plane than government estimates — according to a top U.S. budget watchdog. Conservative government officials have said 65 new joint strike fighters being built to replace Canada’s F-18 jets will cost about $75 million each, about $9 billion with training and an additional $200-$300 million a year in maintenance. But Mike Sullivan, director of acquisition management at the US General Accountability Office, said he doesn’t know where that estimate comes from. “That’s not a number that I am familiar with at all,” he said in an interview Tuesday with CBC’s Power & Politics with Evan Solomon, cautioning he hasn’t seen the methodology behind the numbers. Sullivan said the estimated cost of the F-35A model that Canada is buying is “in the low 100 millions.” “Probably somewhere between $110-115 million,” he said. A prominent Conservative admitted to CBC that the cost of the F-35 fight jets might not be as the government has promised. Earlier on Power & Politics, Conservative MP Laurie Hawn said Canada is buying the planes at the peak of their production, making them cheaper than the $133 million the U.S. estimates their jets will cost. Hawn also said the $133 million estimate is an average of three models being built, of which the Canadian jet is the cheapest ….”
  • Poochies helping Canada’s wounded warriors.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Lockheed Martin Canada gets big (+$22M) gig building battle simulators for Gagetown, Valcartier, Petawawa and Wainwright.
  • A bit of plaid military history being made. “An elite unit of Second World War commandos with a reputation for daring and stealth that earned it the nickname The Black Devils are being honoured with the creation of an original Scottish tartan. A new tartan design will be officially filed with the Scottish national tartan registry for the First Special Service Force, a Canadian-American unit created in 1942 and disbanded after barely a year of intense warfare. The creation of the tartan is being spearheaded by the Helena, Montana-based Shining Thistle Pipe Band and the First Special Service Force Association, which represents the remaining members of the unit and their descendants. The force trained at Fort William Henry Harrison in Helena before heading into combat. “We want to not only recognize and honour them, but to hear their stories before they are lost,” said Bill Woon, the executive director of the association and the son of a Canadian member of the commando unit ….” FYI, today’s Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) perpetuates the Canadian element of the First Special Service Force.
  • More class acts from a classy guy (and an… interesting interpretation of the military environment from an unidentified source). Police found child porn on serial sex criminal Russell Williams’ computer but laid no charges in exchange for him pleading guilty to murder and sexual assault, a new book says. The former commander of Canada’s largest military airfield wouldn’t admit to downloading pictures of teenaged girls in sexual positions, Globe and Mail reporter Timothy Appleby writes in “A New Kind of Monster.” A source quoted in the book said Williams couldn’t face the stigma attached to child pornography, though he was willing to plead guilty to murder, rape and a series of bizarre sexually motivated break-ins. “This is a guy who structured his life around how he saw others act, and that’s how his morality base came about,” said the source, who was involved in the case. “In the military, you can kill people, it’s accepted … it’s within the realm of human behaviour. And in war, rape is within that realm as well. The one thing that isn’t, and stands outside that, is (sexual abuse of) children.” ….” Note to book author Tim Appleby and whoever his source is:  if the source is quoted correctly, and if the source really thinks this, s/he’s wrong.  Rape is NEVER acceptable in any context in the CF, and killing is ONLY to be carried out when following accepted rules of engagement (usually as a measure of last resort).  If this reflects what the source thinks, that source is sadly mistaken.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 22 Jan 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 11 Jan 11

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  • Canada appears to be paying out more compensation for damage caused by fighting in Afghanistan “…. Between April 1, 2009, and March 31, 2010, the military issued 272 ex-gratia payments—more than five per week. The cash settlements ranged from as low as $185 to as high as $21,420, for a grand total of $661,045. That is triple the amount handed out during the previous year (102 payments totalling $205,828) and a fourfold increase from the year before that (57 payments; $152,683) ….” While this seems to be good news for a group monitoring civilian casualties, they haven’t always been so happy about NATO’s compensation policies in general (and have said next to nothing about the Taliban’s) – more on that here, here and here.
  • The military will ground Canada’s spy plane program after the Afghan combat mission ends this summer.  The commander of the prop-driven CU-170 Herons, which operate out of Kandahar Airfield, said the Canadian Forces will disband his squadron once troops pull out of Kandahar.  Maj. Dave Bolton, the new and final commander of Task Force Erebus, said his team will then go on to other jobs within the military.  “There’s a lot of very young people that were involved with this program,” he said in an interview.  “There’s probably going to be a hiatus of somewhere between two and five years. But those people will still be in the military, and those people will have this experience, and they’ll be able to move forward with the yardstick when the time comes.” ….”
  • Following this Canadian Press piece on the IED blast that killed reporter Michelle Lang, Columnist Lysiane Gagnon had this to say: “…. The Canadian government uses embedded journalists to highlight the “human” side of the Afghan war, as well as the undisputed courage of our soldiers. It also deploys civilians to assist the soldiers in humanitarian missions (for instance, Ms. Saeed was to assist Sgt. Taylor as he reached out to the locals). But what happened on Dec. 30, 2009, on a road south of Kandahar, should open up questions about these policies.” Via Twitter, Toronto Star political reporter Joanna Smith raises an interesting question, indeed:  “Is she not arguing that civilians, especially women, should stay out of #Afghanistan entirely?” That’s how I read it, too.
  • A meeting between Canada’s PM and America’s Prez regarding shared perimeter security apparently isn’t ready to happen just yet. “A highly touted meeting between Stephen Harper and Barack Obama on a perimeter security pact has been pushed back as Canada and the United States wrestle with the difficulties of the complex arrangement. Insiders say the signing summit is now expected no earlier than February — and possibly as late as spring. Improving information sharing — a prospect that raises privacy concerns in Canada — is seen as the key to the effort to secure a joint North American outer boundary, the insiders say ….” While Liberals say Canada shouldn’t put all its trade eggs in one basket in expecting some concessions from the U.S., I’m more worried that we won’t get ANY concessions (or none worth the tradeoff of sharing more of my information with the Americans, anyway).
  • According to Postmedia News, Canada and its Mounties are expected to catch some heat for cutting the number of armed air marshals to be deployed on commercial planes. “…. Documents obtained by Postmedia News through the Access to Information Act reveal internal memos describing how the cuts will occur, how the Mounties are briefing Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, and how the police and cabinet ministers are receiving some dire warnings about the consequences of the cutbacks.  The Mounties’ briefing note to Toews explains that the air marshals program is seen as a “world leader” of its type and that it has been successful through a “combination of operation, intelligence and analysis activities.”  “International partners were made aware of the funding reduction to the Canadian Air Carrier Protective Program,” Toews was advised. “The RCMP anticipates a negative response from American and international partners.” ….” It sure would be nice to see the documents themselves, though.
  • Latest in a multi-part series of papers from Canada’s military research arm:   “The Justifications for War and Peace in World Religions Part III: Comparison of Scriptures from Seven World Religions” (PDF)  Part 1 (“Extracts, Summaries and Comparisons of Scriptures in the Abrahamic Religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism)”) here and Part 2 (“Extracts, Summaries and Comparisons of Scriptures in Indic Religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism)”) here (all links PDF).
  • Um, I think someone is fighting a bit of a rear guard action here. “…. Abandoning (don’t ask don’t tell) reeks of a political decision more than a military one. While general officers may feel forced to accede to political decisions, rank-and-file soldiers are likely to be uncomfortable with the new policy. There is a 60-day period of grace to ensure the military will adjust to the new policy with no harmful effects. The die is cast, but disagreements remain. Already the marines and elite combat units and Special Forces reject the new policy, with close to 60% believing the policy will adversely affect fighting qualities. Advocates — or at least defenders — of gays openly serving in the military point to ancient Sparta where military service was revered. Sparta remains to this day as a symbol of military defiance, courage, loyalty and stoicism. Remember Thermopylae. In Sparta, boys were taken from their mothers at age seven and began an initiation that would make them soldiers. Each youth had a trained soldier as a “mentor,” and this relationship could have sexual overtones or straight friendship. The mentor’s job was to ensure the soldierly development of his ward ….” Notwithstanding the fact that homosexuality was widespread even among the Spartans (since they reflected Greek society), this next bit urks me: “…. Among NATO countries, some 20 of 26 members allow gays to serve in the military with no apparent ill-effects — though this is somewhat uncertain, given NATO’s reluctance to share in the fighting in Afghanistan ….” Maybe I’m the only one seeing some link between accepting homosexuals in the ranks and poor fighting spirit, but since Canada is one such NATO country, does he mean we’ve been “reluctant to share in the fighting”?  Here’s more than 150 pieces of evidence that this is most certainly NOT the case.
  • This columnist has some advice for Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on promising to scrap the F-35 if the Liberals get power in a future election“…. Some think all major government contracts should go to tender. They should remember the Winnipeg embarrassment. Brian Mulroney’s government wanted to put some money into a Quebec aviation company. They thought they’d be tricky and put a contract out for tender. But a Winnipeg company, Bristol, came in with the winning bid. Oops. The government looked sleazy as it tried to extricate itself from the situation. And a lot of people in western Canada have never forgotten the buffoonish incident. That brings us to this rule: Never send out for tender any projects unless you are willing to accept the winning bid. That’s what we told ministers when I worked in the government’s procurement department, then known as Supply and Services. It is a message Ignatieff has apparently not received because he’s busily relying on Mulroney ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda WatchBad guys claim 22 killed in Spin Boldak suicide bombing attack, while others say 3 – who you gonna believe?

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Jan 11

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  • PM:  There’s ALWAYS something around the corner needing Canadian military might“Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he has no immediate action planned for Canada’s military once its combat mission in Afghanistan ends, but he expects the nation’s soldiers will be needed sooner rather than later. “There always ends up being a need,” Harper said during an interview with The Standard Friday in Thorold. “Something will come up in the next few years that demands — and I don’t mean disaster relief — that demands the sustained involvement of Canadian forces in a significant mission.” ….”
  • Advice for the Liberals on how to play the “we wouldn’t buy the F-35” card“…. This is the biggest military procurement in Canadian history. The Tories have made a political decision to make the purchase with a sole-source contract, so it does seem like a sensible issue for an election debate. It is unlikely, though, to be a reasoned debate, because it’s hard to get down to a real consideration of the main issues: the purchasing process, and whether we want to pay more money for stealth capability. The Tories seem to want to avoid a debate on those terms, likely because they remember — Grrrr! — how Chretien jammed them in 1993, and they are afraid Canadians will again agree with the Liberals. I think they are right to be afraid of that, and so they have been working hard to drum up industry support for the F-35s ….”
  • Still MORE whining about Don Cherry supporting the troops! “…. Many hockey fans across Canada have been disturbed by a larger trend—the strategy of the Harper Conservatives to turn athletes and the Canadian Armed Forces into props for their war-making agenda. It’s difficult these days to find a major sports event which does not incorporate reference to “our brave troops in Kandahar”. For me, the most gut-wrenching was at the Oct. 31 Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. B.C. Lions game at Empire Stadium in Vancouver. The psychological aim of this strategy is to sow divisions among Canadians, particularly among the solid majority who want an early return home for the troops in Afghanistan. “Real” hockey fans and “real” Canadians, we are urged to believe, all “support the troops” and therefore back the alleged aims of the military mission. Anyone who questions this reasoning is immediately under suspicion. Such individuals are somehow not considered true fans or “patriotic” Canadians ….”
  • Threats against Canada’s Coptic Christians (1) “Liberals want Ottawa to cough up cash for Coptic churches”
  • Threats against Canada’s Coptic Christians (2) – “…. “It’s not really practical to do such a thing, honestly,” said Sherif Mansour, the Ottawa-based spokesman for the Canadian Coptic Association. “I would like to see more effort on monitoring the groups that we know are the source of troubles . . . That’s much, much, much better to empower the law enforcement agencies instead of wasting money on cameras,” said Mansour, who added that his name was on a list of some 100 Canadian Copts published on an Islamic website in December along with addresses and photos, which security experts feared could be used by the radical Muslims to inflict harm ….”
  • Threats against Canada’s Coptic Christians (3) – What Muslims in Egypt are doing to show solidarity with the Copts: “…. Egypt’s Ahramonline reported that droves of Muslims had turned up at Coptic churches to act as “human shields.” It quoted Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon credited with first floating the “human shield” idea, as saying, “We either live together, or we die together.” “This is not about us and them,” Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly, told Ahramonline. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.” ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: All sorts of Americans and “puppets” claimed killed across Kandahar, Zabul.