Libya Mission (1) Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is leaving open the possibility of continuing Canadian military involvement in Libya after the scheduled Sept. 27 end date. Canada’s participation in NATO’s air mission over Libya has been extended once, but the government hasn’t yet said whether it will propose another extension. The NDP, the official Opposition, is against another extension. Asked what happens after Sept. 27, Baird said he’s taking the situation one day at a time. “This is quickly coming to an end. It’s not over yet. Canada will obviously be there in theatre to support the Libyan people,” Baird told (CBC) …. “The end is in sight. We’re not there yet, but let’s take it one day at a time,” he said. Pressed again on whether the troops will return to Canada on Sept. 27, Baird reiterated “the job is not yet complete.” “I would think that once the people of Libya are safe, that’ll be something that we’ll consider,” he said ….” More on this here.
Libya Mission (2) “Canada is heading into high-level talks on Libya this week without formal offers of assistance for the country as it rebuilds after a bloody uprising. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief spokesman says the intent of the meeting in Paris is to determine what the rebels’ National Transitional Council needs. Dimitri Soudas says Canada can contribute in several ways but the international community first needs to co-ordinate assistance. “Before you just start putting things into force and implementing them, you actually have to make sure everyone is going the same direction,” he said in a briefing Tuesday. Mr. Soudas said Thursday’s meeting is also not a victory lap for NATO forces, even as military officials say their sustained campaign is seeing life slowly return to normal in many areas. “The definition of victory is always something that people try to establish,” he said. “Victory to a large extent is democracy in Libya.” ….” If the Government of Canada really means that bit in red, we may be there a while….
Libya Mission (3) Academic: Canada should have own eyes, ears on the ground, not just sharing intelligence from NATO partners. “…. When asked where Canada is getting its information, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, referenced the NATO-led mission in which Canadian fighter aircraft and a navy frigate have been participating since March. “Don’t forget this is a co-ordinated effort,” he said, “and information is shared internally.” Walter Dorn, a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., said he was surprised to hear that Canada doesn’t have anyone on the ground in Libya given the importance the government has attached to the mission, both militarily and politically. “It is critical to have Canadian eyes and ears on the ground in order to make informed decisions,” he said. “We have to evaluate those in charge, provide humanitarian assistance and help build the peace.” ….”
Libya Mission (4) “Canada is looking at how to “unfreeze” up to $2 billion in frozen Libyan assets for re-construction efforts in Libya, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman Dimitri Soudas. The assets were frozen in February following a United Nations sanctions resolution and now Ottawa, following the lead of the United States, is trying to determine whether the money can be released and channelled toward “humanitarian and other needs” to help establish a transition to a democratic government in Libya. Ottawa is “looking at options at how to proceed to unfreeze those assets and for them to be put towards that use,” said Soudas ….”
Libya Mission (5) And for all those calling for a U.N. mission in Libya, this, from the rebels. “Libya is rejecting the idea of deploying United Nations military personnel to help stabilize the country. A 10-page document written by the UN Secretary General’s special adviser on Libya that was leaked and published online recently calls for the deployment of 200 unarmed UN military observers and 190 UN police to help stabilize the country …. that could include monitoring or mentoring police officers. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chairman of the transitional council, said Tuesday he had met a day earlier with NATO officials in Qatar, where it was decided that no foreign soldiers would be needed in Libya. “We decided that we do not need any forces to maintain security, be it international, Muslim or other,” he said ….”
Way Up North (1) Lookit what the South Koreans are up to (hat tip to Mark Collins for sharing this one) “Commercial ships able to route through the Northwest Passage without ice breaker assistance are a step closer to becoming a reality. Korean shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), announced a few days ago that a model of their 190,000 dwt iron ore bulk carrier had finished its test program in the world’s largest – 90 meters long – ice test tank at Canada’s Institute for Ocean Technology (IOT). With an awareness that the traditional ice-breaker bow construction (where the mass of the ship’s bow structure bears down to break up pack ice) acts as a drag on efficient progress in open waters, international collaboration between IOT and Korean researchers from Pusan National University aimed at finding the optimal bow design for a ship operating in various ice conditions. Numerical computer analysis by the team culminated in manoeuvring and resistance performance tests of the model bulk carrier in the special ice-test tank ….”
Way Up North (2) One academic’s view, post-Nanook 2011: “…. one could argue that the senior military leadership views the Arctic (especially in a post-Afghanistan milieu) as a means of further justifying its reason for being. Stated differently, it gives them a mission priority that has the firm backing of the Conservative government in Ottawa. This is critical because it allows the military to make the case to political masters that the defence budget should be insulated from any deep cuts in the rush to balance the books …. It would be better for the military to wrap itself in an Arctic mission (and to secure the requisite procurement) rather than have the Coast Guard squeeze out more money for sovereignty patrols, scientific investigation and a polar-class icebreaker. In short, the Canadian military is perfectly content to play around in the Arctic just as long as the money taps stay open and they can use their training there for other “hot spots” around the world. And if this is the case, you can look for the Canadian Forces to deepen its military footprint in the Arctic.”
Afghanistan (3) QMI/Sun Media editorial: “If there was a truly down moment during Jack Layton’s funeral on Saturday, it was Stephen Lewis praising Layton for wanting to negotiate with the Taliban. And, worst of all, this venture into the absurd got a generous and lasting applause. Can you imagine anyone but the elite left giving a generous and lasting applause to something so offensive and so wrong-headed? Yet, they lapped up the Orange Crush like it was cultist Kool-Aid. How sad is that knowing those same Taliban that Lewis and Layton think would give credence to a negotiated end to their terror have taken the lives of more than 150 of our Canadian soldiers, plus a diplomat, plus a Canadian journalist? And that’s not counting the hell and death they have brought down on the Afghan people. But everybody Rise Up! Rise Up! ….”
Afghanistan (4) I screwed up, missing this film from the CF Info-Machine: “…. You don’t have to wait for a telling, warts-and-all documentary made about one Canadian military experience in Kandahar. Desert Lions: Canadian Forces Mentors in Kandahar is a great piece of reporting and surprise, it’s a Canadian army production. A reservist with the Calgary Highlanders regiment and a former CBC television reporter, Mike Vernon spent several weeks in 2010 shooting footage and collecting stories in the volatile Panjwaii district of Kandahar. This was a hairy time for the Canadian Forces, especially in Nakhonay, the small, Taliban-infested village where Mr. Vernon found himself encamped with nine members of an Operational Mentor Liason Team (OMLT), reservists like himself, assigned to a complex and dangerous mission: To hold Nakhonay while helping “enable” a company of Afghan soldiers, some of them good, some of them awful. All of the men struggled with cultural barriers and stupid military politics, inside a deadly combat environment where the enemy was always present but seldom seen. Scary ….”
Royalizing the CF Survey says….“According to (Harris Decima) Senior Vice-President Doug Anderson “By and large, Canadians agree with reverting to the traditional names for Canada’s Navy and Air Force and only one in ten are strongly opposed to the change. As might have been predicted based on historical evidence, Quebec residents find the lowest level of agreement on this point, but even there, opinion is fairly evenly split.” ….” More from The Canadian Press here.
“Ministers responsible for Veterans Affairs and senior officials from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Germany, Denmark, France and the Netherlands today completed two days of meetings to discuss support for Veterans. Ministers emphasized the need for collaborative research, policy development and programs for Veterans. The meetings were hosted in Ottawa by the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs …. The following statement was released by the Summit participants at the conclusion of the meetings: Honouring and providing services to Veterans is a shared goal around the world. All of our governments have programs in place to meet the needs of those transitioning from military to civilian life. Research is playing a growing part in allowing us to better understand the transition experience. By agreeing to collaborate more closely on common research projects, we will be able to develop improved ways of supporting Veterans throughout their lives ….”
Libya Mission “NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity” says Canada punching above its weight in Libya. “Canadian fighter jets were in the air again this week, striking at the Gaddafi regime’s tanks and artillery, part of this country’s surprisingly substantial contribution to the five-month-long NATO bombing campaign in Libya. As one of three nations carrying out the bulk of the sometimes-controversial air war, Canada with its aging CF-18 fighters has made a contribution clearly disproportionate to the compact size of its air force, say alliance and academic sources. While Britain and France have about three times as many fighter-bombers in the operation as this country and are usually credited with most of the fighting, Canada has been close behind in its role, said a NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity ….”
“New” Libyan diplomat recognized by Canada.“Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird (Thursday) issued the following statement: I am pleased to welcome Abubaker Karmos, appointee of the National Transitional Council (NTC) of Libya, as chargé d’affaires ad interim at the Embassy of Libya in Canada. Mr. Karmos’ accreditation by Canada was completed this morning and he has already assumed his functions ….” In case the name sounds familiar, here’s why: “Former Libyan diplomat Abubaker Karmos, who defected from the Libyan Embassy in Ottawa in February, has been confirmed as the Libyan National Transitional Council’s representative in Ottawa, Foreign Minister John Baird announced Thursday ….”
A Canadian national has reportedly been killed fighting with the anti-regime rebels in Libya. “A Canadian man died on the frontlines of the Libyan conflict this week while fighting with the rebels trying to oust Moammar Gadhafi from power. A friend has revealed that Nader Benrewin was shot dead by a sniper as he took part in a raid on Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, which Libyan rebels stormed on Tuesday. Benrewin, 24, was born in Edmonton, but worked in Ottawa for the past three years, Haitham Alabadleh told The Canadian Press. The Ottawa man made the decision to go back to Libya where his family was living and he pledged to fight with the rebels ….” More from CBC.ca and Postmedia News.
A Canadian “independent journalist” is now free again. “Dozens of journalists, including a Canadian, who were stranded in a hotel in downtown Tripoli by the fighting were released Wednesday. Journalists had been holed up inside the Rixos hotel under the watch of armed men loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi. Among those released from the hotel was Mahdi Nazemroaya, a 29-year-old freelance journalist from the Ottawa area. His friend, Briton Amos, said Wednesday that Nazemroaya left the hotel with the other journalists and was “out of danger.” The Centre for Research on Globalization, for which Nazemroaya works as a correspondent, said in a statement Wednesday that he was safe aboard a chartered boat from the International Organization for Migration. It said Nazemroaya was set to return to Canada ….” Funny, the statement issued by the Centre doesn’t mention the bit I highlighted above in red. I guess that kinda wrecks the “NATO as bad guy” story line, right?
Gwynne Dyer on what (may) happen next in Libya. “…. Britain and France, in particular, have committed a great deal of political capital to the success of the Libyan revolution. They carried out more than half of the air strikes in support of the rebels, while other European democracies and Canada, all NATO members, did the rest. (The United States only contributed surveillance capabilities and occasional Predator drone strikes after the first few weeks.) These European allies need to justify their intervention to their own people, so they will do everything in their power to make sure that there are no massacres, that Gadhafi and his close allies, when caught, are handed over to the International Criminal Court for trial (much better for the stability of the country than trying him in Libya), and that the process of building a democratic government in Libya goes as smoothly as possible. They have a great deal of leverage over the rebel forces at the moment, and they will use it to keep the revolution on the tracks. Despite all the obstacles to a smooth transition that Libya faces, the outcome here could be surprisingly positive.” One hopes.
Way Up North How it’s not all competition and conflict in the Arctic. “…. Together, the CCGS Louis S. St. Laurent and USCGC Healy will map the Alpha Ridge, a 2,000 kilometre-long range of underwater mountains running from the northwest flank of Canada’s Ellesmere Island toward Russia’s (Wrangel) Island. The Alpha Ridge parallels the more famous Lomonosov Ridge, which lies between it and the geographic North Pole. The Healy is equipped with an advanced multi-beam sonar system that provides detailed information about the shape of the ocean floor. The Louis S. St. Laurent carries a sophisticated seismic array that measures the character and thickness of seabed sediments. However, vibrations from icebreaking can affect the accuracy of these instruments. And so the two ships take turns clearing a path for each other, with the resulting sonar and seismic data being shared between the U.S. and Canada. It’s a partnership born of necessity. Neither country has two icebreakers capable of the task, and both require a complete scientific picture of the seabed in order to determine their rights over offshore oil and gas ….”
Senator: Now’s the time to grasp the nettle and close bases to save money. “…. Stephen Harper should take advantage of a moment in Canada’s political history that isn’t likely to come along again for some time: a majority government, with at least four more years in power guaranteed. If the Prime Minister moved quickly, he could put a plan in place that would rationalize Canada’s military infrastructure without paying an enormous price at the ballot box. Harper doesn’t even have to finger the infrastructure that should go – in fact, he shouldn’t. He should instruct his military leaders to do an assessment of what infrastructure is still needed, and what can be eliminated in the interests of efficiency and effectiveness. Once that report was in – and it would be a controversial one no matter what bases and installations were selected for closure – the government should enact it, on the military’s advice. The Prime Minister should make it clear to all Canadians that this is an arm’s-length operation – no interference from the Cabinet or other members of Parliament ….”
Report leaked to Postmedia News Editorial: “…. past attempts to bring needed change had failed because of internal resistance. People in the forces feared the loss of status, power and resources, or increased accountability. That’s not surprising. Any large organization likely faces the same challenge in making changes to increase effectiveness. Many people have a strong vested interest in the status quo and the ability to find no end of ways to delay and impede change …. The expertise of managers in the Canadian Forces, or anywhere else, should be respected. But Leslie, who is leaving the military for a private sector job next month, comes from those ranks. What’s needed is leadership at the very top. In this case, it must come from MacKay and Harper. Our troops – and taxpayers – deserve no less.”
Afghanistan What one Canadian says we could be doing. “…. if we in Canada can find some of the enthusiasm Afghans have for the possibilities education can breathe into the country, we can push for education to be at the fore of rebuilding there. Canada has invested precious human lives and billions of dollars in Afghanistan. What greater legacy could we leave than to advocate for, and invest generously in, a robust public education system that could finally put Afghanistan on the path to peace?”