Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘Nanook 2011 News Highlights – 31 Aug 11

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  • Libya Mission (1)  Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is leaving open the possibility of continuing Canadian military involvement in Libya after the scheduled Sept. 27 end date. Canada’s participation in NATO’s air mission over Libya has been extended once, but the government hasn’t yet said whether it will propose another extension. The NDP, the official Opposition, is against another extension. Asked what happens after Sept. 27, Baird said he’s taking the situation one day at a time. “This is quickly coming to an end. It’s not over yet. Canada will obviously be there in theatre to support the Libyan people,” Baird told (CBC) …. “The end is in sight. We’re not there yet, but let’s take it one day at a time,” he said. Pressed again on whether the troops will return to Canada on Sept. 27, Baird reiterated “the job is not yet complete.” “I would think that once the people of Libya are safe, that’ll be something that we’ll consider,” he said ….”  More on this here.
  • Libya Mission (2)  “Canada is heading into high-level talks on Libya this week without formal offers of assistance for the country as it rebuilds after a bloody uprising. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief spokesman says the intent of the meeting in Paris is to determine what the rebels’ National Transitional Council needs. Dimitri Soudas says Canada can contribute in several ways but the international community first needs to co-ordinate assistance. “Before you just start putting things into force and implementing them, you actually have to make sure everyone is going the same direction,” he said in a briefing Tuesday. Mr. Soudas said Thursday’s meeting is also not a victory lap for NATO forces, even as military officials say their sustained campaign is seeing life slowly return to normal in many areas. “The definition of victory is always something that people try to establish,” he said. “Victory to a large extent is democracy in Libya.” ….”  If the Government of Canada really means that bit in red, we may be there a while….
  • Libya Mission (3)  Academic:  Canada should have own eyes, ears on the ground, not just sharing intelligence from NATO partners“…. When asked where Canada is getting its information, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, referenced the NATO-led mission in which Canadian fighter aircraft and a navy frigate have been participating since March. “Don’t forget this is a co-ordinated effort,” he said, “and information is shared internally.” Walter Dorn, a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., said he was surprised to hear that Canada doesn’t have anyone on the ground in Libya given the importance the government has attached to the mission, both militarily and politically. “It is critical to have Canadian eyes and ears on the ground in order to make informed decisions,” he said. “We have to evaluate those in charge, provide humanitarian assistance and help build the peace.” ….”
  • Libya Mission (4)  “Canada is looking at how to “unfreeze” up to $2 billion in frozen Libyan assets for re-construction efforts in Libya, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman Dimitri Soudas. The assets were frozen in February following a United Nations sanctions resolution and now Ottawa, following the lead of the United States, is trying to determine whether the money can be released and channelled toward “humanitarian and other needs” to help establish a transition to a democratic government in Libya. Ottawa is “looking at options at how to proceed to unfreeze those assets and for them to be put towards that use,” said Soudas ….”
  • Libya Mission (5)  And for all those calling for a U.N. mission in Libya, this, from the rebels“Libya is rejecting the idea of deploying United Nations military personnel to help stabilize the country. A 10-page document written by the UN Secretary General’s special adviser on Libya that was leaked and published online recently calls for the deployment of 200 unarmed UN military observers and 190 UN police to help stabilize the country …. that could include monitoring or mentoring police officers. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chairman of the transitional council, said Tuesday he had met a day earlier with NATO officials in Qatar, where it was decided that no foreign soldiers would be needed in Libya. “We decided that we do not need any forces to maintain security, be it international, Muslim or other,” he said ….”
  • The CF’s Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) is getting a new boss tomorrow.
  • Way Up North (1)  Lookit what the South Koreans are up to (hat tip to Mark Collins for sharing this one)  Commercial ships able to route through the Northwest Passage without ice breaker assistance are a step closer to becoming a reality. Korean shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), announced a few days ago that a model of their 190,000 dwt iron ore bulk carrier had finished its test program in the world’s largest – 90 meters long – ice test tank at Canada’s Institute for Ocean Technology (IOT). With an awareness that the traditional ice-breaker bow construction (where the mass of the ship’s bow structure bears down to break up pack ice) acts as a drag on efficient progress in open waters, international collaboration between IOT and Korean researchers from Pusan National University aimed at finding the optimal bow design for a ship operating in various ice conditions. Numerical computer analysis by the team culminated in manoeuvring and resistance performance tests of the model bulk carrier in the special ice-test tank ….”
  • Way Up North (2)  One academic’s view, post-Nanook 2011“…. one could argue that the senior military leadership views the Arctic (especially in a post-Afghanistan milieu) as a means of further justifying its reason for being. Stated differently, it gives them a mission priority that has the firm backing of the Conservative government in Ottawa. This is critical because it allows the military to make the case to political masters that the defence budget should be insulated from any deep cuts in the rush to balance the books …. It would be better for the military to wrap itself in an Arctic mission (and to secure the requisite procurement) rather than have the Coast Guard squeeze out more money for sovereignty patrols, scientific investigation and a polar-class icebreaker. In short, the Canadian military is perfectly content to play around in the Arctic just as long as the money taps stay open and they can use their training there for other “hot spots” around the world. And if this is the case, you can look for the Canadian Forces to deepen its military footprint in the Arctic.”
  • NATO’s mission boss in Kosovo:  we’re not ready to cut back troops just yet because of violence here.  Canada has five troops there with Operation KOBOLD – stay safe, folks.
  • Afghanistan (1)  Federal Court of Canada to Amir Attaran seeking pictures of detainees:  no photos for YOU! (via
  • Afghanistan (2a)  Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing shuts down (via CEFCOM Info-Machine  news release, 18 Aug 11)
  • Afghanistan (2b)  Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing shuts down (via CEFCOM Info-Machine feature story, 30 Aug 11)
  • Afghanistan (3)  QMI/Sun Media editorial“If there was a truly down moment during Jack Layton’s funeral on Saturday, it was Stephen Lewis praising Layton for wanting to negotiate with the Taliban. And, worst of all, this venture into the absurd got a generous and lasting applause. Can you imagine anyone but the elite left giving a generous and lasting applause to something so offensive and so wrong-headed? Yet, they lapped up the Orange Crush like it was cultist Kool-Aid. How sad is that knowing those same Taliban that Lewis and Layton think would give credence to a negotiated end to their terror have taken the lives of more than 150 of our Canadian soldiers, plus a diplomat, plus a Canadian journalist? And that’s not counting the hell and death they have brought down on the Afghan people. But everybody Rise Up! Rise Up! ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  I screwed up, missing this film from the CF Info-Machine:  “…. You don’t have to wait for a telling, warts-and-all documentary made about one Canadian military experience in Kandahar. Desert Lions: Canadian Forces Mentors in Kandahar is a great piece of reporting and surprise, it’s a Canadian army production. A reservist with the Calgary Highlanders regiment and a former CBC television reporter, Mike Vernon spent several weeks in 2010 shooting footage and collecting stories in the volatile Panjwaii district of Kandahar. This was a hairy time for the Canadian Forces, especially in Nakhonay, the small, Taliban-infested village where Mr. Vernon found himself encamped with nine members of an Operational Mentor Liason Team (OMLT), reservists like himself, assigned to a complex and dangerous mission: To hold Nakhonay while helping “enable” a company of Afghan soldiers, some of them good, some of them awful. All of the men struggled with cultural barriers and stupid military politics, inside a deadly combat environment where the enemy was always present but seldom seen. Scary ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Vendors aiming to sell the CF a quiet electric snowmobile have a bit more time to send in their bids (via
  • What’s Canada Buying (2)  Wanted:  someone to build a cold storage building in Petawawa.
  • Royalizing the CF  Survey says…. “According to (Harris Decima) Senior Vice-President Doug Anderson “By and large, Canadians agree with reverting to the traditional names for Canada’s Navy and Air Force and only one in ten are strongly opposed to the change. As might have been predicted based on historical evidence, Quebec residents find the lowest level of agreement on this point, but even there, opinion is fairly evenly split.” ….”  More from The Canadian Press here.
  • Ministers responsible for Veterans Affairs and senior officials from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Germany, Denmark, France and the Netherlands today completed two days of meetings to discuss support for Veterans. Ministers emphasized the need for collaborative research, policy development and programs for Veterans. The meetings were hosted in Ottawa by the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs …. The following statement was released by the Summit participants at the conclusion of the meetings: Honouring and providing services to Veterans is a shared goal around the world. All of our governments have programs in place to meet the needs of those transitioning from military to civilian life. Research is playing a growing part in allowing us to better understand the transition experience. By agreeing to collaborate more closely on common research projects, we will be able to develop improved ways of supporting Veterans throughout their lives ….”
  • Border Security:  Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird releases two reports on consultation results with Canadians – one here, the other here.  Media coverage:  folks seem to worry about privacy, information sharing/civil liberties (more on that here) and sovereignty (more on that here), while business wants a more open border.
  • Vancouver PD to public:  recognize any of these rioters?  Vancouver police have already received more than 50 tips after launching a website Tuesday aimed at identifying participants in the June 15 Stanley Cup riot. So far, police have posted photos of 40 suspected rioters, and scores more are expected to be added to the site over the coming weeks. Police Chief Jim Chu said Tuesday that the riot investigation was proceeding carefully to ensure suspects could be charged with participating in a riot, rather than lesser crimes such as looting or mischief. “We’re not pulling our punches. We’re going for the most serious charges we can give,” said Chu. The first 40 suspects posted to the Riot 2011 website were randomly selected from a group of some 200 unidentified people police are investigating ….” News Highlights – 6 Aug 11

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  • OP Nanook 2011 (1)  Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay:  Let the exercise begin! 
  • OP Nanook 2011 (2)  Who’s providing the base camp facilities?
  • Afghanistan (1)  Condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the fallen.  Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday 31 U.S. soldiers and 7 Afghan troops had been killed in a helicopter crash overnight, one of the worst incidents of its kind in the 10-year-old war in Afghanistan. The statement from the presidential palace said the helicopter had crashed in central Maidan Wardak province, just to the west of the capital, Kabul. The Taliban claimed to have shot down the troop-carrying helicopter ….”  More from ISAF, the AFG president’s office, the Taliban (with a PDF of the statement downloadable here) and other mainstream media here and here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  The “Afghanistan CSI” storyline.  “When U.S. troops came to the village of Armul in eastern Afghanistan in June, 2007, there wasn’t much left of three insurgents who had been blown up by their own bomb – torn clothes, body parts, a damaged AK-47, bits of metal and blue plastic. But among the remains was a severed hand. The soldiers took it back to their base and, using the sensor of a special biometric camera called the HIIDE, scanned the fingertips and retrieved two prints. Even in death, the insurgent wouldn’t escape the gigantic biometric net that the U.S. military had cast over the country. Canada has ended its combat mission and left Kandahar. Other nations are scaling down their presence. A decade of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq is closing in uncertain, ambiguous fashion. But the two major conflicts of the new century have altered military tactics, making them the first forensic wars. The introduction of scientific methods has reshaped counterinsurgency tactics, mixing police and military work, creating a seamless bridge between evidence collected on the battlefield and courtroom prosecutions years from now ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  One Ottawa-area Legion welcoming troops home.  “(Carleton Place) residents can show their appreciation to the men and women of the armed forces, who are coming home from Afghanistan after Canada’s longest armed conflict. Iain Davidson, the past president of the Carleton Place Royal Canadian Legion Branch 192, is hoping residents from the town and beyond will be on hand to welcome the troops home for Afghanistan Veterans Appreciation Day on Sunday, Aug. 14, just as they did for Victory in Europe – VE Day – in 1945 and to celebrate the end of the First World War in 1918, “The town turned out to welcome the troops home and that’s why we’re encouraging the churches in town, to ring their bells at 1 p.m.,” said Davidson ….”
  • Libya Mission (1)  “The Canadian heading NATO military operations against Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi refuses to accept that the battle between the regime and rebel forces is at a “stalemate.” “I disagree with the term stalemate,” Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard told Postmedia News on a busy day Friday as NATO dealt with conflicting reports about the possible death of Gadhafi’s son and fended off criticism from Italy on the handling of fleeing migrants. Numerous allied officials and analysts, including top U.S. military officer Mike Mullen, have used the word to describe the state of the conflict since allied air and naval firepower came to the assistance of the rebels in March. But Bouchard said the West still views western military offensives through the prism of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, which included ground troops and bombardment of national infrastructure and which led to the quick collapse Saddam Hussein’s regime ….”
  • Libya Mission (2)  Canada’s navy may be small in comparison with other nations’ maritime forces, but the work of HMCS Charlottetown off the coast of Libya is an indication of the value of our navy to Canada and to international stabilization operations. Unlike Canada’s CF-188 fighter aircraft operating from two Italian air bases in Sicily, HMCS Charlottetown is not easily accessible to news media, and her operations and contributions are largely unseen by the Canadian public — and regrettably, out of sight means out of mind ….”
  • This SUCKS (but there may be more to this than meets the eye).  “A Veterans Affairs Canada policy that denies veterans funding for long-term care if they choose private care is both ludicrous and heartless. Marie Goodfellow of Red Deer, who is 102, has had her federal government long-term care funding cut off because she moved from Bethany CollegeSide, a facility run by a not-for-profit society, and into a private nursing home run by Home Nursing Service Inc. Her care now costs $3,400 a month, or $40,800 a year. In the past, Veterans Affairs covered half that cost. Not anymore. Goodfellow, who served as a nurse during the Second World War, and two other veterans in Home Nursing Service’s care in Red Deer, have lost their federal benefits simply because they chose a private caregiver. In a growing atmosphere of public responsibility being off-loaded to private providers, through P3s and other means, it is astonishing that one arm of the federal government works at cross-purposes to the mandate of a Conservative government that espouses free enterprise at every turn. The irony is painful: Conservative leaders want the business community to provide a broader range of services to the public, but an arm of the government is preventing that from happening and punishing Canadians who make those choices ….”
  • A Nova Scotia man who helps veterans living on the street called on the federal government to fund emergency services for former military personnel, accusing Ottawa of failing the growing number of homeless vets. Jim Lowther urged the Conservatives on Friday to support a transition facility for veterans in Halifax, where he says he has come across at least 10 homeless former members since starting his group in February. Lowther, who retired from the military in 2005, said he knows of only one shelter in the country devoted to former Canadian Forces personnel and it’s run by volunteers. “Canadians need to know how dire the situation is and that it’s only going to get worse,” he said following a press conference. “We’re in desperate need.” NDP MP Peter Stoffer echoed the call for help from the Department of Veterans Affairs, claiming it has done little to help homeless vets since Col. Pat Stogran, a former veterans ombudsman, identified homelessness among veterans as a serious concern in 2008 ….”  More from here.
  • Associate Minister of National Defence Julian Fantino back from Italy.
  • Peering into the fog of war: Journalists in the Second World War battled poor equipment, censors and the realities of modern warfare ….” News Highlights – 5 Aug 11

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  • Nanook 2011  Canada is deploying unmanned surveillance aircraft to the High Arctic for the first time, as part of the largest military exercise ever in the Far North. Catapult-launched Boeing ScanEagle unarmed drones similar to those used by the Canadian army for surveillance in Afghanistan are to assist in a major air disaster scenario in an extremely remote area near Resolute, which is about 3,000 kilometres north of Ottawa. They will also assist in a major maritime disaster exercise being overseen by the Canadian Coast Guard in waters between Canada and Greenland. “It’s precedent setting. There will be small UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) in the High Arctic,” Defence Minister Peter MacKay said in an interview. “They are a harbinger of things to come” ….”
  • Afghanistan  NATO trainers will continue to mentor and train Afghan army and police for years past the pullout deadline of 2014, said Col. Peter Dawe, deputy commander of the Canadian contribution to the NATO training mission. Dawe told Postmedia News that as many as half of NATO’s total training contingent will remain after 2014 to continue their job of helping Afghans build a professional security force that by 2012 will number 352,000 strong, including 157,000 police. NATO’s goal is to withdraw gradually all combat troops by March 2014. There are 132,000 coalition forces in Afghanistan. Building and sustaining Afghan security forces beyond 2014, however, requires continued NATO commitment in Afghanistan, Dawe said in an interview. “You can’t view 2014 as an absolute deadline,” he said. He added however that “it is unequivocal” that Canada’s 950 trainers and support staff, whose main job is to train Afghan trainers, will be gone by 2014. “NATO will continue to be engaged for the long haul,” he added ….”
  • Canada and the United States oppose military intervention in Somalia despite evidence the Islamic militant group al-Shabab is blocking famine relief in parts of the drought-ravaged nation that are under its control. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emerged from their first bilateral meeting on Thursday united in their approach to ending the humanitarian disaster in Somalia and responding to the Syrian regime’s violent crackdown on protesters. “At this time, we are not contemplating military action” in Somalia, Mr. Baird said. “Obviously, both countries have experience from that.” He was referring to the participation of Canadian and U.S. troops in the 1992-93 United Nations-sanctioned effort to clear the way for food and medical aid after the Somali government’s collapse ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  “…. The Department of National Defence (DND) has a requirement for the supply of 24 Chemical Identification System (Chem-IS) kits; Spare Parts and Consumables up to a maximum cost specified in the RFP; Initial Cadre Training (ICT); Repair and Overhaul services for a perod of three (3) years; 24/7 Reachback services for three (3) years; and clearance decontamination. The Chem-IS will be manufactured in accordance with DND’s Statement of Work (SOW). The goods are to be delivered to Canadian Forces Base Montreal, Quebec. Delivery is to commence no later than 9 months after contract award and be completed within 18 months after contract award ….”
  • Convicted war criminal Omar Khadr stunned his longtime Canadian lawyers …. by giving them the boot just months before he is due to be repatriated to Canada from Guantanamo Bay. For years, Dennis Edney and Nate Whitling championed Khadr’s cause, fighting protracted and successful legal battles on his behalf in Canada. His decision to fire them took both men by surprise. “I have no idea what pressures are being placed on Omar Khadr in Guantanamo to make that decision,” Edney told The Canadian Press. “I presume he made the decision with full information and Nate and I wish him all the best.” ….”  More here.
  • Canada has the lowest risk of terrorism among major western economies, says a new global security report. The 2011 Terrorism Risk Index, by the respected British risk analysis company Maplecroft, ranks Canada 86th out of 197 countries. The United Kingdom placed 38th, the highest among major western nations, which Maplecroft attributes to deteriorating security conditions in Northern Ireland, with 25 reported terrorist attacks last year, none fatal. Greece had the worst showing of any western nation, placing 27th with a “high risk” classification. No major western economies, however, fell within the “high” or “extreme risk” risk bracket — the U.S. (ranked 61), Germany (62), France (45) and U.K. all remain in the “medium risk” category. China, meanwhile, ranked 39th ….”  More here and here.