MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 24 Aug 11

  • Libya Mission (1a)  PM:  We’re not there forever, folks.  “Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not sure how long Canada’s military needs to remain in Libya, but he said Tuesday that he doesn’t anticipate an “indefinite” mission in the North African country. “This is the beginning of the end of the (Moammar) Gadhafi regime,” Harper told reporters after launching a tour of Canada’s Arctic region. “I don’t say it is the end. I think we saw last night a couple of surprises. We anticipate it will be at least a few days for the process of a regime change to actually take place.” Harper said Canada is sitting down with its allies to determine pressing needs for the country in the days to come ….”
  • Libya Mission (1b)  PM:  We’re not there for too much longer, folks “Stephen Harper says the mounting success of rebel forces battling Moammar Gadhafi’s regime means Canada’s military mission to Libya could end in the near future – but the Prime Minister cautions the North African country will need international help for some time to come. “We anticipate it will be at least a few days for the process of regime change to actually take place so obviously our military will remain there through this period, respond there accordingly during this period and in the days to follow,” Mr. Harper told reporters who accompanied him to the Arctic. “Our anticipation is that the military mission will obviously not be indefinite, that it will terminate some time in the not-too-distant future. But we will first make sure the job is actually finished before that occurs.” ….”  More from the Toronto Star here.
  • Libya (1c)  Recycling an old script – where “Afghanistan”, read “Libya”.  “…. NATO has said any post-Gadhafi mission would not involve ground forces, would be secondary to an effort led by the U.N., and would only take place in response to an official request. Col. Roland Lavoie, military spokesman for Operation Unified Protector, says NATO must stay involved in Libya as long as Gadhafi is in power. “There’s nobody who could predict when exactly the Gadhafi forces will drop their weapons,” said Lavoie during a briefing in Brussels. “They will do so probably when there will be a political settlement to their conflicts.” Harper added Canada may need to play a post-Gadhafi role in Libya. “This country needs a whole range of assistance — all the way from monetary assistance to capacity building,” he said. “We stand ready to help any way we can. I don’t think, to be frank, it’s been decided yet who will do what, but the entire international community is prepared to help and see a peaceful transition here.” ….”
  • Libya Mission (2)  “Stephen Harper’s new brand of Canadian foreign policy – one that chooses sides over sidelines and replaces peacekeeper with “courageous warrior” – is poised to have its clearest illustration yet as Libyan rebels celebrate the beginning of the end of the Gadhafi regime. Support at the United Nations for military intervention, a quick decision to approve Canadian Forces bombing raids and the move to expel Libyan diplomats while the status of the North African nation remained uncertain gave observers a chance to see a very different Canada on display. “This is a significant shift in Canadian foreign policy,” said Queen’s University professor Christian Leuprecht, a fellow with the school’s Centre for International and Defence Policy. “In the past, our objectives really in foreign policy have been defined by international stability and open trade routes. And what we see in Libya, previous governments very likely would have sat out.” ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  Globe & Mail editorial: “…. By the skin of their teeth, Canada and the other Operation Unified Protector countries have managed to avoid a long war of attrition. All’s reasonably well that ends fairly well. But, next time, the implications of the responsibility to protect civilians should be thought through more carefully.”
  • A Canadian company is helping Libyan rebels, one micro UAV at a time (company news release also available here (PDF) if link doesn’t work).  “While NATO countries fly unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) high above Libya, none of these UAVs, or the vital intelligence they provide, was available to the Libyans fighting to free their country – they were fighting blind. So, they got one of their own. It can now be disclosed that the Libyan rebels have been using the Aeryon Scout Micro UAV to acquire intelligence on enemy positions and to coordinate their resistance efforts. Representatives from the Transitional National Council (TNC) were looking for an imagery solution to provide to the troops on the ground. They evaluated a series of micro UAVs and chose the Aeryon Scout – and they needed it delivered immediately to those fighting at the front. Large UAVs are often flown far away from the frontline – often overseas – making it difficult to get the imagery to troops in combat. With the Aeryon Scout, the operator has direct control over the UAV and is able to see imagery in real-time ….”  More from the Globe & Mail, Wired.com’s Danger Room blog and the Financial Post on this, as well as a link to a British media article on the hardware from May of this year (8th bullet).  (Hat tip to Mark Collins for sharing this one).
  • Way Up North (1)  A simulated major air crash was only hours away when word came to soldiers, coast guard personnel and RCMP that they were faced with the real thing in remote Resolute. Saturday’s deadly crash of a chartered Boeing 737 barely a kilometre from the High Arctic hamlet’s windswept airport came smack in the middle of the largest Arctic military exercise ever conducted by the Canadian Forces. The final phase of Operation Nanook was to designed to simulate a mid-air collision between a small bush plane and cargo plane, the “signature piece” of the three-week exercise, according to a government official. The Canadian Forces had even positioned the wreckage of a long-ago crash on a plateau above the village of 250 people. Officers were sitting down to lunch in the mess on Saturday when someone burst in to report a jetliner was down. Lieutenant-commander Albert Wong, the senior public affairs officer for Op Nanook, said he sat for a brief moment in stunned disbelief. “Someone said, ‘No duff’ — which is military code for, this is real,” Wong told reporters who arrived Tuesday with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “All of us started running to our posts.” ….”  More from the Globe & Mail here.
  • Way Up North (2)  Deployment of full emergency resources across Canada’s North is impossible, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday after meeting with rescue workers who responded to a fatal plane crash last weekend. “Part of the drill here is how quickly things can be moved up and deployed from the south as well,” said Harper, who is on his sixth annual summer tour of the region. “We have to be realistic. There is no possible way in the vastness of the Canadian Arctic we could ever have all of the resources necessary close by. It’s just impossible.” ….”  More on this from the Toronto Star here.
  • Way Up North (3)  “…. If sovereignty is about responsibility, that means Canada as a whole has a duty to understand the needs of the North, to make sure a child born there has access to education, health care and basic, appropriate infrastructure. In a less tangible, cultural sense, sovereignty means that the North belongs to all Canadians, and with ownership comes pride and engagement.”
  • Way Up North (4)  One academic’s view: “…. the Canadian military is perfectly content to play around in the Arctic just as long as the money taps stay open and they can utilize their training there for other “hot spots” around the world. And if this is the case, you can look for the CF. to deepen its military footprint in the Arctic going forward.”
  • Canada’s defence minister Peter MacKay met with his British counterpart Liam Fox in England this week this from the UK MoD’s Info-Machine“Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox welcomed the Canadian Defence Minister, the Honourable Peter MacKay, to London yesterday with a ceremonial guard formed by members of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. Defence Reform, Libya, Afghanistan and NATO were among the main topics discussed and both Defence Ministers agreed on the importance of the enduring bilateral relationship between their two countries ….”  Nothing yet on the DND/CF web page on the meeting.
  • A former Aussie officer makes the case for the Australian PM to stop attending every funeral of a fallen soldier, looking at how Canada does things“…. The full glare of the parliamentary press gallery will blaze as military colleagues say final goodbyes. Because, by convention, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott will take no other media appearances that day, the military funeral will become the only vision TV networks have of our political leaders. By virtue of the politicians’ attendance, a private funeral will become a nationally televised political event. For the next two weeks, when Australians think about the war in Afghanistan they will think of the only military event important enough to unite political and Defence leaders — the death of another young soldier. AusAID’s development progress won’t be in their minds, nor will the pressure on the Taliban being applied by our special forces. If form is any guide, media networks will run polls on our involvement in Afghanistan right at the time when coverage is dominated by terrible news. Australians, when asked what our Afghan strategy should be, will make an emotional decision framed by a military funeral ….”
  • Those wild, wacky funsters over at the International Committee of the Fourth International on Canada’s NDP has helped fuel “imperialist war” from Yugoslavia to Haiti, and from Kandahar to LibyaNot the first time the NDP’s been accused of supporting the troops too much for the far left wing’s fancy.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 2 Feb 11

  • Oopsie…. “The Canadian Forces have handed out tens of millions of taxpayers’ dollars in benefits over the past five years without the government’s approval. But it was bureaucratic bungling, not malfeasance, that caused the costly oversight.  While Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson, the vice-chief of defence staff, said Tuesday the payments were made in good faith, “we didn’t do our homework … we didn’t make sure that we actually had the authority to do some of these things.”  At issue for CF brass is that the Treasury Board oversees the military’s benefits and compensation regime, and has a specific list of what is allowed.  But as the Canadian Forces expanded and changed in recent years, bureaucrats at National Defence didn’t keep up with the rules.  Many of the unauthorized benefits, paid out to between 3,000 and 7,000 members and their families, were reimbursements for certain domestic expenses and others related to non-Afghanistan deployments.  For example, reimbursing a member who had paid to store their car while he or she was sent out of the country, or paying to cut the grass while they were away on the job.  But they also include the costs for repatriation ceremonies of fallen soldiers and, even though Donaldson said the unauthorized payments would stop Wednesday, the ramp ceremonies will continue with private funds, “to continue supporting the families of the fallen to make sure that we’re doing the right thing by our people.”  He added the Forces will also keep paying for family members to visit wounded or sick CF members, some of which were also unauthorized ….” More here.  To be fair, some of this appears to be doing the right thing (helping family see wounded members, or achieve closure by visiting where their loved ones died), but not following ALL the steps.
  • Wanna buy a slightly used Canadian Chinook helicopter? “The National Defence department has put “For Sale” signs on the air force’s Chinook helicopters in Afghanistan — two years after taxpayers shelled out $282 million to buy them. The department recently sounded out allies in the war-torn country to see whether any are interested in the heavy battlefield transports, bought second-hand from the U.S. Army …. So far there have been no takers for the five CH-147D choppers, which were rushed into Afghanistan after the Manley commission made it a condition of Ottawa continuing the war until 2011 ….”
  • Longer way home from Afghanistan = bigger bill to come home“It will probably cost Canada an extra $90 million to sustain and then wind up its mission in Kandahar by the end of the year because its military aircraft are still banned from the United Arab Emirates, according to calculations by Postmedia News.  Several senior officers have confirmed that the previously cited $300 million — which was widely reported in the media and attacked by the opposition in November — was far too high as the cost of leaving the U.A.E. base.  But the military and the Harper government have not provided a breakdown of the additional costs that will be incurred because the military has had to shift its air hub for Kandahar from Camp Mirage in Dubai to a U.S. airbase at Spangdahlem, Germany ….”
  • The NDP’s still trying to get Canada to pull ALL troops out of Afghanistan“I have a petition signed by dozens of Canadians calling upon the Government of Canada to end Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan.  In May 2008, Parliament passed a resolution to withdraw the Canadian Forces by July 2011. The Prime Minister, with the agreement of the Liberal Party, broke his oft-repeated promise to honour the parliamentary motion and therefore refuses to put it to a parliamentary vote in the House …. Therefore, the petitioners call upon the Prime Minister to honour the will of Parliament and bring the troops home now.” Note to NDP:  the motion was passed in MARCH 2008, and only says Canada’ll be out of KANDAHAR, not Afghanistan.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Zabul and claims of a UAV being shot down over Nimroz.
  • Parliamentarians were told Tuesday that Canada’s ability to search the Atlantic is severely inadequate for emergency calls that happen to come at night. While military search and rescue crews can usually respond to an emergency within an hour, that depends on a call coming during daylight. At night, two hours is considered permissible. Paul Clay, president of Seacom International, a St. John’s company that specializes in emergency response plans in the offshore oil industry, told the parliamentary defence committee that Canada is falling short. “The intention of search and rescue times is to save life and the attention of those resources is to save life,” Clay said. “Canada’s two-hour response is the longest in the world, as far as I know. It is grossly in my opinion, where it shouldn’t be. We should lower those times.” ….” More on this here.
  • No Arctic mapping camp THIS year. “The Canadian government is abandoning plans for a remote scientific camp on the Arctic Ocean ice this year, citing dangerously thin ice conditions. Over the past five years, scientists have set up ice camps in remote areas of the Arctic Ocean as they gather extensive mapping data that could help Canada claim a greater area of the seabed under the Law of the Sea convention … This year, 25 Canadian scientists were to conduct their mapping work from an ice camp about 400 kilometres offshore. Last year, a similar camp housed 12 researchers on an ice floe on the Arctic Ocean, about 250 kilometres offshore from Borden Island in the High Arctic. But that ice floe started breaking up, said Jacob Verhoef, director of Canada’s mapping program with the Natural Resources Department ….”
  • Canada and the U.K. may be talking about building a big navy ship together. “Britain is in talks with Canada about a possible joint program to develop a frigate for their respective navies, according to U.K. Defence Minister Gerald Howarth.  Responding to questions from parliamentarians Jan. 31, Howarth said the British government is in “close discussion with the Canadians” on a possible collaborative program to develop the Global Combat Ship, destined to replace Type 23 frigates in Royal Navy service by the start of the next decade.  The minister said Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Turkey have expressed interest in the warship program, to be called the Type 26 in Royal Navy service, when Defence Secretary Liam Fox recently visited the various countries ….”
  • More testing for Canada’s Sea King replacement. “The new CH-148 Cyclone, which arrived at Shearwater January 6, will be undergoing further testing on board HMCS Montréal. The tests will last several weeks, under the direction of Sikorsky International Operations Inc., prime contractor on the Maritime Helicopter Project. The CH-148 Cyclone will provide anti-submarine surveillance, and will have enhanced search and rescue and tactical transport capabilities. Tests of the operational limits of a ship-borne helicopter will make a notable contribution to the Project, which seeks to replace the existing Sea King fleet that has been in service since the 1960s …. “
  • What’s Canada Buying? New Trenton hangar build, Electric UAVs and Air Force Outerwear (via Army.ca)
  • Canada’s PM on Egypt:  “Following President Mubarak’s announcement …. that he will not seek re-election, Canada reiterates its support for the Egyptian people as they transition to new leadership and a promising future.  Canada supports universal values – including freedom, democracy and justice – and the right to the freedom of assembly, speech and information. As Egypt moves towards new leadership, we encourage all parties to work together to ensure an orderly transition toward a free and vibrant society in which all Egyptians are able to enjoy these rights and freedoms – not a transition that leads to violence, instability and extremism …. We urge all parties in Egypt to renounce violence and allow peaceful and meaningful dialogue between the people and government to address political, economic and social concerns. This dialogue should lead to free and fair elections and a government that supports universal values.”
  • Meanwhile, Canada’s cranking up the diplomatic machine to get more help quicker to Canadians needing a hand in Egypt. “The frustrating wait has ended for many Canadians who were trying to get the federal government to tell them how to escape the turmoil that has enveloped Egypt.  The Foreign Affairs Department’s decision to ramp up service at its operations centre in Ottawa, to deploy more staff to Europe and Cairo and to add several new telephone lines eased the backlog of people who could not get through to consular officials to ask for help.  “There are bumps in the road that obviously you wish you hadn’t encountered but I think there’s been an outstanding level of service and responsiveness to the situation,” Diane Ablonczy, the Minister of State for Consular Affairs, said Tuesday.  In the end, a large number of Canadians passed on the opportunity to leave the country, opting instead to wait out the unrest that shows some signs of abating ….”
  • NDP MP wants 5 May to be designated as “Maple Leaf and Tulip Day” to honour Canada’s links to the Netherlands during World War 2 (via milnet.ca).  Note:  private members bills like these rarely pass.
  • Jamaica’s trainee military pilots have a nicer place to live, thanks to help from Canada.

Taliban Jack Ahead of His Time

Some scribes claim Jack “Taliban Jack” Layton was ahead of his time several years ago when he said we should talk to the Taliban.

I can’t put it better than the others already have (h/t to Mark at The Torch):

My humble contribution to the debate?  A possible T-shirt graphic:

Then again, let’s also not forget how some think he’s STILL too supportive of the troops.

Glavin on Messaging, the NDP and Talking to the Taliban

1)  I LOVE Terry Glavin’s (of the Chronicles & Dissent blog) clear, concise messaging on what should be said to Afghanistan (emphasis mine):

“We have no cause to doubt the resolve of the Afghan people. It’s our own resolve that’s the problem, and while peace in Afghanistan may require more soldiers and firepower, not less, all the troops in the world will do no greater service to the Afghan people and their cause than plain words, spoken in plain language: We will not betray you. We will not abandon you. We will not surrender. We will not retreat.

Any Canadian politician who is not capable of speaking these words clearly and plainly should do the country and the world a favour and just shut the hell up.”

Terry’s finessed this messaging a bit in a column this week in the National Post, and it STILL bears sharing:

“The language we speak is at least as important to the Afghan cause as bread or roses, or guns or butter. More than all else, what the Afghan people need to hear from us is plain words spoken in clear language:We will not betray you. We will not abandon you. We will not surrender. We will not retreat.

Until Canada’s politicians can find it in themselves to speak that kind of language, perhaps they should do us all a favour and just keep their mouths shut.”

2)  Terry also tells it like it is responding to an NDP e-mail about setting up a process to start talking to the bad guys in Afghanistan,  via a National Post blog post:

“Neither the Haqqani Taliban, nor the Islamic Emirate (Mullah Omar’s Taliban), nor Hezb-e-Islami (Gulbaddin Kekmatyar’s forces) want to talk peace with you. They want to kill you.”

What more needs to be said?