- Scott Vernelli, 1980-2009 & John Faught, 1965-2010, R.I.P. Remembering the fallen in Sault Ste. Marie. “Mandy Dickson is putting a face to the name of every Canadian killed during Operation Enduring Freedom. Dickson, a former Sault Ste. Marie resident, has created her own “wall of heroes” tribute at her Mr. Sub outlet in Angus, Ont. “It’s important to me . . . It puts a face to every name,” said Dickson, in regards to the 154 three-inch-by-five-inch photos of Canada’s war dead in Afghanistan. “My husband Master Cpl. Scott Dickson and I know a lot of people on the wall . . . This is our salute to their ultimate sacrifice.” Among the miliitary dead they knew were Sgt. John Faught, 44, of the Sault, a cousin of Master Cpl. Dickson’s, and Master Cpl. Scott Vernelli, 28, also of the Sault, who the Dicksons got to know while stationed at CFB Petawawa ….”
- “A mostly Canadian-led seven day sweep across Panjwaii district that involved thousands of Canadian, American and Afghan troops ended Sunday, having found a trove of Taliban weaponry and homemade explosives as well as large quantities of drugs often used to fund the insurgency. The weapons and improvised explosive device caches discovered during Operation Hamaghe Shay II were expected to make it much harder for insurgents to plant homemade bombs during the summer fighting season in Kandahar. Attacks by the Taliban are expected to increase when the annual poppy harvest ends in a few weeks. “The caches were mostly in the fields, not in the compounds,” said Maj. Martin Larose, operations officer for the Royal 22nd Regiment battle group. “Because we also found a lot of stuff in compounds in January and February, they may have changed their tactics.” ….”
- Is anybody out there watching anymore? “Where have all the embeds gone? At any one time in 2006, when the Canadian military formally launched its embed program in Kandahar, and throughout 2007 and 2008, between 10 and 15 journalists were always embedded in Kandahar to chronicle Canada’s first major combat mission in half a century. However, for the first time since the formal embed program was established in Kandahar just over five years ago, only two reporters are embedded with the troops today — yours truly from Postmedia News and a journalist from The Canadian Press …. You would think that this would be the ideal time for journalists to assess Canada’s military and diplomatic triumphs and failures in Kandahar and to provide insights into the Harper government’s controversial new training mission, which is soon to begin in northern Afghanistan. But Canadian editors obviously have different priorities. For them — although certainly not for the soldiers and their kin or Canadian taxpayers, Afghanistan is yesterday’s war ….”
- “Afghanistan: Should the Canadian mission continue to 2014?” CBC online survey says (so far), no.
- “Canada’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, now a Conservative candidate, says Canadian soldiers never knowingly handed detainees over to a high risk of torture though he admitted the Afghan system was rife with abuse. Chris Alexander, a former United Nations deputy envoy in Kabul who’s running in the riding of Ajax-Pickering, says the controversy over the treatment of Afghan detainees transferred to Afghan custody is overblown. Until now, Alexander has resisted public comment about allegations by fellow Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin that Canadian government officials turned a blind eye to reports about the clear risk of torture facing prisoners transferred by Canadian soldiers. But in a wide-ranging interview with the Star, Alexander flatly disagreed with Colvin’s interpretation. “I don’t think that happened at all. “I don’t think any Canadian ever handed over a detainee knowing there was a high risk (of torture) because anyone handed over by Canada — as the record shows — was going to be tracked through the system, was going to be monitored more than other detainees would. As a UN official, I was much more worried about people who were being detained by the Afghans or other countries that weren’t as careful as we were.” ….”
- Here’s the report I mentioned yesterday, saying a training mission in Afghanistan would be dangerous for Canadian troops (PDF). Here’s some of what someone who’s been there, done that in Afghanistan has to say: “…. this was a rather shoddy paper, even by CCPA standards. What was remarkable about it to me was that the writers did no real research of any kind, with all their citations pointing to news articles or other similar papers. They didn’t interview a single soldier or former soldier, or anyone with any first-hand knowledge of Afghan military training in Canada or outside. (The bibliography is also bereft of any references to Afghan sources of any kind, for that matter.) I doubt I’d have said anything if they had called, but I really don’t think we’re all that hard to find. So there’s no real reason to take anything they have to say seriously ….” More from CTV.ca here and CBC.ca here.
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Assassinations and attacks claimed in Kandahar, Uruzgan, and Taliban (responsible for 3/4 of civilian casualties) worries about civilian casualties.
- Libya Ops (1) – Canada backfills fighters to ensure Iceland has air cover now that CF-18’s are in Libya. “Three fighter jets landed at Iceland’s Keflavik airport and NATO military base yesterday evening and three more are expected later today. The air cover for Iceland had to be swiftly re-arranged because the Canadian Forces Air Command decided to send the team originally earmarked for Iceland on a mission to Libya. Canada has just taken over responsibility for Icelandic airspace under the NATO arrangement which sees allied nations take turns to patrol the air above Iceland. Air forces often also take the opportunity to use Iceland for exercises, as the NATO member country has the relevant equipment and ground crews despite not having a military of its own. Before the three F-18 fighters arrived yesterday, Canada had already sent personnel, tools and equipment to Iceland. Later today one more F-18 will arrive, along with a P-3 aircraft used for aerial re-fuelling. Some 150 personnel accompany the planes and will be staying at the Keflavik base over the coming weeks. As well as patrolling, the Canadians also plan to conduct exercises and landing practice at Keflavik, Akureyri and Egilsstadir ….”
- Libya Ops (2) – Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister: Off the campaign trail, over to discuss Libya. “After taking heat for skipping a major international conference on Libya to stay on the hustings, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon will globetrot this week to two major meetings aimed at finding a way around the impasse in the country. With nations around the world looking for a way past what appears to be military stalemate and a divide over whether Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi must depart before a ceasefire can be struck, Mr. Cannon is leaving the campaign trail this time – but first asked for a blessing from opposition parties ….”
- Election 2011 – Blogger Mark Collins on the Conservative and Liberal platforms on defence.
- Remember James Loney, the Canadian peace activist kidnapped with some others in Iraq, then rescued in 2006? He has a new book out about his experiences. “An angry soldier told a Canadian hostage in Iraq that many people risked their lives to rescue him from terrorist kidnappers, according to a new book. Captivity by Christian activist James Loney reveals how a team of Mounties, soldiers and diplomats teamed up for a joint British-Canadian operation that apparently relied heavily on the mass surveillance of cellphone signals to pinpoint the hostages and their captors ….” My own humble open source analysis of what was said in public about the rescue here (Scribd.com). Amazon.com only has the Kindle version out for now here.
- Added #100 to my list of Fave War Flicks here.
MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 10 Apr 11
- “It is a question that gives Maj. Robert Tesselaar pause. How much have Afghan forces “honestly” planned the latest operation to be conducted in Kandahar’s Panjwaii district? “Not as much as I would’ve liked as the lead planner,” Tesselaar said. “But a fair bit.” With that concise answer, Tesselaar cuts through the generic, sanitized claims of battlefield success and underscores the challenge that will remain once Canadian troops pull out of the war-torn province this summer. The Afghan National Security Forces have indeed improved their skills and boosted their ranks under the guidance of the Canadian military. They have also recently taken on a greater role in planning operations in an effort to flush the Taliban out of strongholds and reassure locals that communities are becoming safer. But the ability of Afghan forces to maintain security independently is an open question, despite Canada’s five-year stay in Kandahar ….”
- “Some chaplains in the Canadian military say they are losing the very programs meant to help them cope with the suicides, marital breakdowns and combat-related stress they face in their work. Monthly reports prepared for the Chaplain General highlight concerns over funding cuts that are affecting some chaplaincy training courses, retreats and meetings that address the strain of tending to Canadian Forces personnel. One branch of the chaplaincy in Halifax reported concerns about the loss of these programs at a time when staff are heavily affected by the ongoing combat mission in Afghanistan, post-traumatic stress disorder among soldiers and increasing workloads. “This is particularly disheartening given that many of these programs were put in place to ensure chaplaincy resilience after so many chaplains were lost to PTSD,” states a report from last July that was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act ….”
- Election 2011 – “NDP leader Jack Layton unveiled a defence plan Friday that would take the government’s bid for stealth fighter jets back to “square one” so defence priorities could return to peacekeeping and improving Canada’s navy. If elected, Layton said he would abandon the government’s plan to buy 65 stealth fighter jets — which experts say could cost up to $29 billion over three decades — so that Canada’s naval forces are served first ….”
- “This year’s anniversary of the battle at Vimy Ridge is the end of an era, with no surviving First World War veterans in Canada. But 2011 also marks the beginning of a new era, with the first youth-led candlelight ceremony on the eve of the battle’s 94th anniversary. Gov. Gen. David Johnston said this event proved those soldiers who risked their lives for Canada will never be forgotten. “This is the largest youth contingent ever to observe Vimy Ridge Day in Canada. It is an honour to share this moment with you,” Johnston told a group of about 450 youth in attendance at the National War Memorial Friday evening ….” More from the Governor General’s office here.
- CBS News in the U.S. picks up the story of Russell Williams – video version here.
MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Apr 11
- Cpl. Yannick Scherrer, Royal 22e Régiment, R.I.P. “Family and friends packed a chapel at CFB Valcartier on Friday to bid farewell to Cpl. Yannick Scherrer, remembering Canada’s most recent combat casualty as a natural leader who embraced life to the fullest. Scherrer died on March 27 when he was killed by an improvised explosive device near the village of Nakhonay, southwest of Kandahar city. Capt. Monique Roumy, the chaplain who conducted the service, said Scherrer had taken on a career that is not always easy. “Our people in uniform are sometimes misunderstood, stereotyped and judged for what they are and what they represent,” she said. “Despite the looks and the unflattering remarks they get, a soldier marches straight and does what he or she must do because it is not just a job — it’s a vocation.” ….”
- Meanwhile, back in Afghanistan, “A dreary makeshift military outpost at the extreme western edge of the Horn of Panjwaii is literally the end of the road for a mammoth, 18-kilometre long, $10-million Canadian-led construction project. When the last three kilometres are completed later this month, the road — which NATO forces call Route Hyena and Canadian Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner calls “a dagger through the heart of the Taliban” — should benefit generations of hardscrabble farmers in what is arguably the poorest corner of one of the poorest countries on earth. Until a few months ago the Taliban freely roamed the Horn, protected from ground attack by hundreds of improvised explosive devices. As elsewhere, they terrified the local population, threatening to kill them if they did not co-operate ….”
- Remember the possible deal for Canada to buy torpedo conversion kits from the U.S. (5th item)? Here’s the latest version from The Canadian Press: “Canada’s navy is waiting to hear back from the U.S. regarding the purchase of $125 million worth of torpedo refit kits so it can properly arm its four Victoria-class submarines. At the moment, none of the British-built diesel boats is capable of firing the navy’s current stock of MK 48 torpedoes. Any sale of American made military equipment to a foreign government must be approved by Congress. “The Canadian government submitted a letter of request for these things,” said Paul Ebner of the Defence Security Co-operation Agency, the office in Washington that oversees the clearance of such sales. “We’ve notified Congress and if there’s no objections over the 30-day review period we put together a letter of acceptance.” In a release issued March 23, the agency backs the sale on national security grounds, saying it will improve the security of a NATO ally that “continues to be a key democratic partner of the United States in ensuring peace and stability.” ….”
- CBC’s angle on the torpedo conversion (without an identified, or even described, source): they’ll need more converting to be used in Canada’s subs. “Canada’s navy plans to spend about $120 million to upgrade 36 torpedoes, but they still won’t work in its four submarines without further refits, CBC News has learned. The navy has MK-48 American torpedoes in stock, but the four British-built submarines aren’t capable of firing them. Even after the weapons are converted, Canada would still have to spend millions more to refit the submarines to fire them. Defence Minister Peter MacKay confirmed the plans on Friday but said no decision had been made about the procurement. “Of course I know about it,” MacKay said during a campaign stop with Conservative MP Gerald Keddy in Bridgewater, N.S. “There’s absolutely no decision taken at this point. The Department of National Defence is continuously looking at different procurements whether it be munitions, whether it be new equipment.” ….”
- Election 2011 (x) – “All the federal party leaders were criticized Friday by Ret. Gen. Rick Hillier, perhaps Canada’s best known soldier, for avoiding a serious debate during their election campaigns about Canada’s role in the Libyan conflict. In an interview on the CBC radio show The Current, Hillier, the outspoken former Chief of Defence Staff, routinely said he was “puzzled” over the relative silence from the campaign buses as Canadian involvement in Libya enters its third week. “What is puzzling to me, personally, is that we’ve had really no discussion in our country whatsoever about this,” Hillier said. “It hasn’t come up during the election campaign whatsoever. And again, here we are at war. We’ve been doing this in Afghanistan — we’ve had immense discussion — huge amounts of discussion, on the mission in Afghanistan, including parliamentary debates. “Here in Canada, right now, it’s actually silent on what is happening in Libya.” ….”
- Election 2011 (1) – Greens on defence: “…. the Canadian military should stay in Afghanistan, but only under a United Nations peacekeeping mission. Canada would assist Afghanistan’s domestic affairs, including poverty, economic development, amplifying the nation’s government and public institutions and help develop the military and police force ….”
- Election 2011 (2) – NDP promises ships over jets: “Jack Layton says the NDP would prioritize investment in naval ships over new fighter jets as part of a broader plan to refocus Canada’s defence policy. “Instead of focusing on F-35 fighter jets, I’ll get the job done when it comes to building joint support ships for our naval forces,” he said Friday from Esquimalt, B.C. The NDP would also commit to developing a white paper to chart the future course of defence needs within 12 months of taking office, Layton said, noting that Canada hasn’t issued a white paper on defence since 1994 ….” More from Postmedia News here.
- F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – “Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he has it in writing that Canada will be exempted from the staggering development cost increases associated with the F-35 stealth fighter. He lamented Friday that the ultra-high-tech jets and their enormous price tag had become a political football in the race toward the May 2 election. “You have to understand that in terms of the F-35 costs, we’ve been very detailed with those to the Canadian public,” Harper said after releasing the Conservative platform in Mississauga, Ont. “A lot of the developmental costs you’re reading in the United States, the contract we’ve signed shelters us from any increase in those kinds of costs. We’re very confident of our cost estimates and we have built in some latitude, some contingency in any case. So we are very confident we are within those measures.” …. “
- F-35 Tug o’ War (2) – “…. (Critics) claim Canada should wait, that the F-35s are the last of a dying breed – warplanes with pilots – and that it makes sense to hold out a decade or two for the dawn of unmanned, remote-controlled bombers and fighters. But the risks of opting out include no longer being considered a first-rank ally and missing out on cutting edge technology. The inner circle of U.S.-led weapons systems is also an exclusive and perhaps too valuable a club to spurn – even if the F-35 is the last of its kind ….”
- Ah, those wacky funster Khadr kids…. “Ontario’s highest court on Friday reserved its decision on whether it should extradite Abdullah Khadr to the U.S. to face a terrorism-related charge. The three-justice panel at the Ontario Court of Appeal heard arguments from the federal government that a Superior court justice erred by cancelling the extradition and releasing Khadr last August. The main basis of their argument was that the judge had no jurisdiction and did not properly balance the benefits of Khadr’s release with the seriousness of the charge he faces. Khadr’s lawyers, Nathan Whitling and Dennis Edney, countered the judge didn’t need to be taken into consideration because of the “egregious abuse” Khadr was subjected to in Pakistan at the behest of U.S. Authorities ….”
- “Among the 492 Tamil migrants who arrived in Canada aboard the MV Sun Sea last August were 12 crew members who played an “integral” role in helping to execute the large and sophisticated smuggling operation, the Immigration and Refugee Board was told Thursday. The allegation was made at an admissibility hearing for one of the crew members, a man who cooked on the ship and manned the diesel engine room and received free passage from a key smuggling agent in return for that work, the board was told. The Canada Border Services Agency is seeking to have the man — whose brother, who was also on the ship, is alleged to be a key organizer of the operation — deported on the grounds that he engaged in a transnational crime, namely people-smuggling ….”
- Ooopsie (continued) …. “To his neighbours, Aaron Lacey is a bit of a loner, a quiet guy who likes to keep to himself. But to Niagara police, the self-taught artist from Beamsville is allegedly deceitful and aggressive in his pursuit of information from a senior Canadian Forces official. Lacey, 38, was arrested March 30 and charged with five counts of impersonating a military officer and criminally harassing the senior military official. He was also booked on 10 counts of breach of recognizance relating to charges from last August, including attempted fraud, forgery and an additional count of impersonation. Cumulatively, he faces 29 charges. His bail hearing got under way Monday and will continue Friday in a St. Catharines courtroom ….”
MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 4 Apr 11
- Libya Ops – “The Canadian pilots steered their CF-18 Hornet fighter-bombers over the Libyan target with every intention of destroying it with their 225-kilogram smart bombs. But they saw something they didn’t like and hesitated: Mission aborted. “We passed,” said the pilots’ commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Sylvain Ménard – call sign “Gogo” – referring to a mission flown shortly after the CF-18s from Bagotville, Que., arrived in Sicily on March. 19. “The target we were investigating was really close to some buildings. We didn’t know if they were military or civilian, so we did not drop on the target.” ….”
- A bit of a reminder re: the seriousness of war, from “George Jonas’ 10 commandments of war.” “…. 1. Don’t go to war for any purpose but the defence of your country’s vital interests, and only if they cannot be secured any other way …. 8. If hostilities become unavoidable, please let your soldiers fight ….”
- “Unfinished plates of lamb and rice are still being cleared away as the governor of Panjwaii, Haji Fazluddin Agha, receives a post-lunch briefing on security threats in his district. An official with Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security stands on the shura room’s ornate red carpet to deliver his report, telling Agha his agency has identified a pair of insurgents who have been appointed to the new Taliban shadow government in Panjwaii. The official says evidence was recently discovered proving both men are responsible for killing Canadian troops and laying “thousands” of roadside bombs. It also seems both men had been previously captured by coalition forces and then released, though the reasons for this are unclear. Agha takes in the information and a discussion ensues among the dozen or so Canadian and Afghan military commanders in the room. The idea is raised of re-arresting the men or killing them. But a consensus ultimately forms around another course of action, which is verbalized by Lt.-Col. Michel-Henri St-Louis, the commander of the Canadian battle group. Instead of taking punitive measures, give the insurgents a chance to change their ways, St-Louis says. “I think the district governor has a great opportunity to convince some of the fighters to live in peace, and maybe these two can be the start,” he tells Agha. “If these two individuals came here with their village elders, admitted to some of the choices they’ve made and vowed a future of peace, I think you could have the start of something very positive.” ….”
- “The Conservative government quietly went to Federal Court last week hoping to impose limits on what a military watchdog can say in its final report into torture allegations involving Afghan prisoners. The Military Police Complaints Commission is currently reviewing evidence and writing its report after hearings into allegations that army cops turned a blind eye to suspected abuse in Afghan jails …. The Harper government …. (has) challenged the definition of what military cops could have known. Justice Department lawyers also accused the commission of stepping “out of its narrow jurisdiction” and investigating Ottawa’s policy of handing over prisoners to Afghan authorities — something it was strictly forbidden from doing. The government wants to exclude the testimony of diplomats and civilians who did not work for the Defence Department. Its lawyers also want any documents belonging to those officials, including reports that warned of torture or documented the abuse, excluded from the commissions findings ….”
- What’s Canada Buying? (1) “The (U.S.) Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress March 17 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Canada of 36 MK-48 Mod 7 Advanced Technology (AT) Torpedo Conversion Kits and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $125 million. The Government of Canada has requested the sale of 36 MK-48 Mod 7 Advanced Technology (AT) Torpedo Conversion Kits, containers, spare and repair parts, weapon system support & integration, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and technical, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical support These kits will upgrade their existing MK-48 torpedoes from Mod 4 to Mod 7 ….” (PDF)
- What’s Canada Buying? (2) “…. The Department of National Defence intends to award a contract …. Aircraft Accident Investigator training …. to Cranfield University. The contract will be for the provision of a six-week Aircraft Accident Investigator course for one participant in 2011. The contract will also include one option period, for the provision of a six-week Aircraft Accident Investigator course for up to three participants in 2012, to be exercised at the discretion of the Crown. The contract, including the option period, has a total all-inclusive estimated value of £50,000 (~$77,700 Cdn) ….” More on where the training is expected to be conducted here.
- Hope the air conditioning’s working. “The nearly 500 Canadians currently in the Ivory Coast should stay indoors to keep away from the political violence engulfing the West African nation following a disputed election, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs. The statement followed a week of heightened fighting between supporters of president-elect Alassane Ouattara and those of Laurent Gbagbo — who has refused to step down since last November’s election — that’s brought the conflict’s death toll to at least 1,300, according to the Red Cross ….” More on what’s going on there here (from Canada’s Foreign Affairs department), here (Google News) and here (EMM NewsBrief).
- Oopsie…. “A military base commander who served with the UN has lost a bid to return to head CFB Borden after being stripped of his power for inappropriate behaviour. Capt. John Frederick Schmidt was removed from the top position in July 2008 following an incident in which he was drinking alcohol and inappropriately touched two junior female officers, according to court documents. Schmidt, a 30-year veteran, went to a federal court, seeking a review of his removal due to “procedural unfairness.” He wanted the decision set aside and for a new probe to be launched. Judge Robert Barnes recently tossed out the request, ruling that Schmidt admitted the incident to his commanding officer and did not answer questions about it when interviewed at another time ….” Full text of Federal Court of Canada decision here.
MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 28 Mar 11
- Cpl. Yannick Scherrer, Royal 22e Régiment, R.I.P. A Canadian soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated during a dismounted partnered patrol in the Panjwa’i district of Kandahar Province at approximately 12 p.m. (noon) Kandahar time on Sunday, March 27, 2011. More from the Canadian Press here, Postmedia News here and the Globe & Mail here. Statements from the Governor General here, the PM here and Minister of Defence here. An Army.ca condolences thread can be read and posted to here.
- No Fly Zone in Libya (1) – NATO’s taking on the WHOLE Libyan job now. More from Al Jazeera English here, BBC here, Reuters here and AFP here.
- No Fly Zone in Libya (2) – Here’s what the first wave o’ cruise missiles looked like to some on the HMCS Charlottetown. “A small crowd is gathered on the port bridge wing of HMCS Charlottetown. Slowly heading west, the ship is following a shimmering path of light laid on the water by the full moon, now low on the horizon. The clear sky is full of stars from horizon to horizon, a sight rarely seen ashore. Warships ride the waves, visible only as dim shapes punctuated by the red and green dots of their navigation lights. Abruptly, a large plume of flame rises from the sea some distance to the south. After a few seconds of climbing, the bright glow vanishes as the cruise missile jettisons its booster and begins flying its programmed course. The first Tomahawk is on its way ….”
- No Fly Zone in LIbya (3) – So far, so good, according to the U.S. Secretary of State and Defense Secretary. “U.S. and coalition forces have accomplished the no-fly zone aspect of the United Nations mission in Libya, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said during a television interview …. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and discussed what coalition nations have achieved as actions in Libya enter a second week. U.S. and coalition partners have suppressed Moammar Gadhafi’s air defenses in Libya and have not seen his planes in the air since the no-fly zone was put in place March 19, Gates said …. “
- No Fly Zone in Libya (4) – Some good questions from the Toronto Star: “…. Is a stalemate that lets Gadhafi hang on in a partitioned Libya a viable option? Should the world follow France and recognize the Benghazi-based rebel leadership? If not now, when? Finally, how will NATO react if Libyans who live in Tripoli or other areas under his control also rise up? At the end of the day it isn’t likely to matter much whether these essentially political questions are answered by the regular NATO club, or by the nominally wider “coalition of the willing” that includes such Arab states as Qatar and the Emirates. What’s important is that things be clarified, sooner rather than later ….”
- One CF wife’s story. “You don’t know what it’s like until you get in. It’s such a tight-knit community. Usually military families are friends with other military families. It was different at first to realize that you no longer control where you live, but it’s a lifestyle I would never give up. I love the closeness. I love that there is always someone there for you. Everyone watches everyone’s back.”
- A swack of senior Canadian officers are in line for big international jobs. “Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, who was chosen on Friday to navigate NATO’s immensely complex air war against Moammar Gadhafi’s Libyan regime, is not the only Canadian flag officer getting an immensely challenging international command. It is expected that a Canadian army general will soon be named to a big UN peacekeeping posting in the Middle East. These two developments follow by a few weeks the announcement that Maj.-Gen. Mike Day is to take over responsibility for training the Afghan army for NATO. Day joins Maj.-Gen. Stu Beare, who is to continue running Afghan police training for the alliance until he takes up a senior appointment in Ottawa this fall that will draw heavily on his overseas experience ….”
- Good point. “In any other country, a spy chief revealing concerns that members of government are believed to be under “at least the general influence” of foreign powers would have been a wakeup call. In Canada, it resulted in calls for the senior spy’s head …. Richard Fadden wasn’t trying to fearmonger, he was raising a legitimate red flag about a threat to our national security. Hey, politicians, wake up! You may be doing another country’s bidding. He was also sending a very public message to the offending countries in question. Yes, there is more than one. Add Russia, Iran and several African, Latin American and western European countries to that list. Instead of waking up, opposition politicians decided to try to shut him up for doing his job — identifying a threat and challenging it head on …. For all the calls the opposition makes demanding more transparency in Canada’s security apparatuses, when they finally got it, they didn’t like it very much. But that’s the thing about the truth, sometimes it hurts.”
- F-35 Tug o’ War: Ceasefire.ca wants the Joint Strike Fighter to be an election issue.
- Remember the Canadian in the U.S. Special Forces named last month to receive a Silver Star for bravery in Afghanistan (second last item)? He’s received it.
Yannick Scherrer, Royal 22e Régiment, R.I.P.
This from a CF news release:
“One Canadian soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated during a dismounted partnered patrol in the Panjwa’i district of Kandahar Province at approximately 12 p.m. (noon) Kandahar time on Sunday, March 27, 2011. Killed in action was Corporal Yannick Scherrer, from 1er Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment, based at CFB Valcartier, Quebec serving with 1er Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group. We are all thinking of the family and friends of our Canadian fallen comrade during this sad time. We will not forget Cpl Scherrer’s sacrifice as we continue to bring security and hope to the people of Kandahar Province ….”
Condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the fallen. We mourn with you.
MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 20 Mar 11
- No Fly Zone Libya (1) – They call it Operation Odyssey Dawn. First in: 100+ Tomahawk missiles, French ground attack planes. Who’s running the show? U.S. Africa Command for now – here’s AFRICOM’s boss’ initial word on the job..
- No Fly Zone Libya (2) – Who’s who in the OP Odyssey Dawn zoo (including HMCS Charlottetown in the Med, and 6 x CF-18’s), courtesy of Reuters and the Associated Press.
- No Fly Zone Libya (3) – PM Harper’s latest statement: “…. Canadian aircraft and HMCS Charlottetown have joined an international force assembling in the region. Faced with the threat of military action, the regime proclaimed a ceasefire. But the ceasefire was a lie, an obvious lie from the beginning. The facts on the ground are changing in the opposite direction. Canada has said, and leaders have agreed, that we must act urgently. “We must help the Libyan people, help them now, or the threat to them and to the stability of the whole region will only increase. “We must also ensure humanitarian needs are met, and that the humanitarian appeal is fully subscribed. “Finally, we should all acknowledge that ultimately, only the Libyan people can or should decide their future. “But we all have a mutual interest in their peaceful transition to a better future.”
- More from the PM: “Canada needs to move quickly but tread carefully as it engages in “acts of war” against a defiant Col. Moammar Gadhafi and his brutal regime, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “We should not kid ourselves. Whenever you engage in military action, essentially acts of war, these are difficult situations,” Harper told reporters in Paris on Saturday following an emergency summit on the crisis in Libya, during which international partners, led by France, agreed to turn the screws on the dangerous despot. “We need to monitor this very closely and be very careful what we do every step of the way,” Harper said ….”
- Commentary on Canadian-built LAVs being used by Saudi Arabia to help, uh, sort things out in Bahrain: “…. It does regrettably tend to put Canada’s support for “Responsibility to Protect” policies in the Middle East these days in something of a different light. And yes, at around 2:30 in the video you see the distinctive boat hulls of LAVs, most with the 90mm main gun armament that is unique to the Saudi variant. Made in Canada? Yes, most likely …. This is not, however, an issue that any party courting the Ontario auto union vote is likely ever to bring up to the public, so this shouldn’t be an issue, at least until one of the Saudi drivers runs over a news crew or something.”
- More parents of the fallen visit Afghanistan seeking some closure. “The families of 10 Canadians killed in Afghanistan paid tribute Sunday to their loved ones in what could be the last ceremony of its kind before combat operations end in the war-torn country. A next-of-kin memorial service was held at Kandahar Airfield’s Canadian compound. The parents, spouses and siblings of those killed placed wreaths at the foot of the monument dedicated to Canadians who have died as part of the Afghan mission. The father of Capt. Nichola Goddard, who was the first Canadian woman to be killed in action while serving in a combat role, said he felt compelled to visit Kandahar. “For me, it was quite peaceful, more than I anticipated,” Tim Goddard said ….”
- What the troops are up to in Afghanistan: “A glance at a map of the Panjwai District tells you where the river is, because that’s where the people are. Villages speckle the landscape around the Arghandab River and its dozens of tributaries, which provide the irrigation water that makes agriculture possible. In winter, when the area receives almost its entire annual rainfall, streams swell with run-off from the mountains and the soil becomes saturated. Unless drainage is provided, many houses are damaged. When the District Governor received a petition from residents of Bazaar-e-Panjwa’i for help with recurring flood damage, he asked ISAF Regional Command (South) for engineering support to execute a drainage control project. Panjwai District is in the Task Force Kandahar (TFK) area of responsibility, so the project came to the TFK Engineer Regiment — specifically, the Engineer Construction Squadron (ECS), the regiment’s project management team ….”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks, logistics convoy ambushes and assassinations claimed in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
- “The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, today announced plans to construct a new Integrated Personnel Support Center at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Halifax. Located at Windsor Park, the new facility will provide a 662 m2 facility that will equip the unit with the space they require to administer the full spectrum of services they can offer …. The new facility, valued at approximately $4.2 million, will accommodate the 27 members of the Integrated Personnel Support Centre at CFB Halifax. The new facility also addresses current accessibility issues and will meet the Universal Design and Barrier Free Access Guidelines, making it more conducive to providing the services required for ill or injured personnel ….” More from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald here.
- “(U.S.) Army officials are preparing to conduct what they say is a rare training event involving the U.S. military, the CIA, Canadian officers and other government agencies. The Joint Intermediate Staff Planning Exercise will be held March 21-25 at Fort Leavenworth’s Lewis and Clark Center, home of the Army Command and General Staff College. The weeklong event is designed to encourage participants to confront the challenges and uncertainties of joint, interagency and multinational operations ….”
MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 8 Mar 11
- A quick Afghan media snippet on the Canadian reportedly held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. “Taliban militants on Monday said they had offered to free a Canadian citizen held hostage for two months in return for the release of several of their captured comrades…”
- “Canada says it would consider direct diplomatic contact with anti-Gadhafi forces in Libya, but unlike its ally Britain, it hasn’t moved in that direction yet. “This is a continuous moving target so, this is the first I hear of this,” Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Monday. “There’s always a great deal of validity in being able to speak to these people.” Opposition MPs urged the Harper government to talk directly to Libyan rebels fighting Moammar Gadhafi. Liberal MP Bob Rae presented the option as one of the more “active and inventive” ways Canada could help speed Gadhafi’s overthrow. The National Libyan Council has now positioned itself as the political branch of the anti-Gadhafi forces ….” Let’s see if any OTHER “councils” or “committees” pop out of the woodwork before deciding who to talk to, shall we? More from CBC.ca here and QMI/Sun Media here.
- Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae says Canada (and others) have to do more about Libya. “There are many other plans of action the government should be taking against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi right now according to Liberal critic Bob Rae. Rae said he would like to see Canada prepare itself to take part in a no fly zone and place further sanctions on individuals and countries that help the regime by doing things such as buying Libyan oil. “It is no longer a matter of it’s important to try to do this. I think it’s absolutely necessary for Canada to do this. We simply have to engage on the governance issues. We have to engage on the human rights issues and we have to engage successfully in making sure Colonel Gaddafi is history,” said Rae. ….”
- Meanwhile, what’s NATO considering? “NATO has decided to boost surveillance flights over Libya as the alliance debates the utility of imposing a “no-fly zone” over the country. U.S. ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, said allies agreed on Monday to increase AWACS flights from 10 to 24 hours a day, an expansion that is part of contingency planning for possible military intervention in Libya beyond humanitarian efforts. The decision came as the alliance’s governing board met to discuss what unique capabilities NATO could bring to Libya. Daalder said other ideas being considered are redeploying NATO vessels in the Mediterranean Sea, along with nearby air assets, to deal with humanitarian aid as well as establishing a command and control structure to co-ordinate relief efforts ….”
- More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief: Libya), here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
- Canada’s Defence Minister, answering questions in the House of Commons, says “Kabul-centric” means “in/around Kabul” when it comes to Canada’s future training mission in Afghanistan. “What we have said is that the combat mission will come to an end this year, that we will transition into a training mission, which will be Kabul-centric, meaning in the Kabul region; and that there will be work done to continue the important efforts by the Canadian Forces to impart the skill set needed by the Afghan security forces to do what we do.” A bit more detail from another question: “The combat mission will come to an end. The Canadian Forces will then transition into a training mission in a Kabul-centric, behind the wire configuration. That is the position of the Government of Canada. “
- “A major Canadian road project in southern Afghanistan has been hampered by an element the military has no control over, one rarely associated with the arid region of Kandahar: rain. Heavy downpours over the past couple of weeks have slowed construction of a 22-kilometre road in the Panjwaii district, a volatile area where the Canadian battle group is conducting one last push to win over locals before combat operations end in July. “I would say that up until the last few weeks, it was going pretty well,” said Capt. Jean-Francois Huot of the 5 Combat Engineer Regiment. “The first rain didn’t affect much, but then with the accumulation and the speed at which it evaporates we’ve seen, well, look how slow it is.” The deluge has clogged irrigation canals and left sandy plains a muddy mess. Last week, a crew from the Kandahar Air Wing had to be dispatched to rescue two Afghan men whose truck became stranded because of flash flooding. The Royal 22e Regiment had hoped to have the road finished by mid-April. Military officials say once completed, the road will link rural villages together, boost commerce and trade and improve the freedom of movement for Afghans ….”
- Remember this paper on using biometrics to measure bad guy intent? The DRDC publications page is working much better today, so here’s a link to the report, “Biometrics of Intent: From Psychophysiology to Behaviour.” (405 KB, 27 page PDF).
- What’s Canada Buying? “The Department of National Defence Canada has a requirement for the provision of Large Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device Disrupter Systems for Canadian Forces’ training and operations ….” (via Milnet.ca)
- F-35 Tug o’ War “As part of the Harper government’s efforts to promote the F-35 stealth fighter, a top Conservative MP is criticizing a respected retired public servant who has advised government on defence purchases. Edmonton MP Laurie Hawn, who’s the parliamentary secretary to Defence Minister Peter MacKay, has been sending out e-mails promoting the F-35 purchase and attacking critics of the deal, including former Defence Department assistant deputy minister Alan Williams. The e-mail, which has circulated among retired and serving Canadian Forces members as well as journalists, also attacks a retired Australian air force officer who has raised questions about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and an Australian aviation analyst who has done the same ….” Here’s some of what Williams had to say about the deal he signed in February 2002 (more in a recent letter to the editor here).
- Sikorsky on the CH-148 Cyclone choppers: They’re coming, honest, really soon! “Sikorsky is ‘weeks rather than months’ away from finally delivering the first interim aircraft for the CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter programme for the Canadian Forces (CF), according to CEO Jeff Pino. A long-running dispute regarding the purchase of the maritime helicopters was seemingly settled when 28 Cyclones were ordered under a $1.8 billion contract to replace the primary Canadian shipboard helicopter, the CH-124 Sea King. Following delays due to issues surrounding the mission system integration aboard the aircraft, in June 2010 Sikorsky announced that as a provisional measure the CF would receive six interim CH-148 Cyclones in November. However, delivery of these aircraft was also delayed due to undisclosed issues Sikorsky claimed was beyond its control. Speaking to reporters at a ‘state of Sikorsky’ presentation at Heli-Expo in Orlando, Pino said delivery of interim aircraft was now ‘imminent’ and highlighted progress on the programme that included 750 flight hours completed, ongoing sea trials in Canada and the finalising of the aircraft’s certification ….”
- The rehab of Omar Khadr continues apace in Guantanamo. “Providing Omar Khadr with a formal education should help allay fears expressed by many Canadians that he will return to Canada an angry and perhaps dangerous young man with a grudge against society, says his Canadian lawyer. To prepare the 24-year-old for his return to Canada, Khadr’s defence team enlisted a Canadian university professor to design a home schooling program, says lawyer Dennis Edney. Pentagon lawyers travel to the U.S. naval prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, every other week to do the teaching. “We provide them with the material and then they go to Guantanamo and sit with Omar and they take him through the subject matter,” Edney explains. The curriculum includes math, history, astronomy and is heavy on English grammar. If Khadr passes a high school equivalency exam, he intends to apply for admission to a college or university as a mature student …..”
- “It was a thundering display of Canada’s Northern resolve with jet fighters, a frigate and even a submarine, but a recently released poll suggests such exercises in military prowess play to the public’s mistaken belief the Arctic is under threat. When Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Defence Minister Peter MacKay posed for a photo-op on the deck of HMCS Toronto 18 months ago in Frobisher Bay, internal polling told them a majority of Canadians believed the North was in peril — a view not shared by defence officials. “Three in five Canadians (60 per cent) living north of 60 degrees, and one-half of Canadians (52 per cent) in the south, believe there is a threat to Canada’s Arctic sovereignty or to the security of its northern border,” says a 2009 Environics survey. The poll was commissioned by the Defence Department and released under the Access to Information Act after long delays. But a Defence Department briefing note that same year assured the minister there was no real threat. “There is no longer a conventional military threat in the Arctic,” says the Aug. 11, 2009, briefing note, also obtained by The Canadian Press under the access law. “The resumption of Russian military exercises in the region is more symbolic of Moscow wanting to be taken seriously as a world power than a return to the armed standoff of the Cold War.” ….”
- “A Utah artist who paints oil portraits of fallen soldiers to pay respect to their lives and sacrifice says her gift is open to families from Victoria, B.C. to Jamestown, New York. “Their lives (Canadians) and their willingness is every bit as precious as an American soldier as they are fighting for the same thing — trying to suppress tyranny and oppression,” said Kaziah Hancock, 62, in a phone interview from, Manti Utah ….” More on the painting program here.
- G20 protest participant admits to throwing a burning paper into a police car, then says he’s a scapegoat when he pleads guilty to destroying the car? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight….
MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 7 Mar 11
- So now, some media are reading “Kabul-centric” when it comes to talking about Canada’s upcoming training mission in Afghanistan to mean “base in Kabul, but not necessarily ALL in Kabul.” “The federal cabinet is being asked to decide quickly on the specifics of the Canadian military training mission in Afghanistan as other countries jockey for prime classroom instruction posts, say NATO and Canadian defence sources. National Defence will present its recommendations to the Conservative government in the very near future and will ask to deploy “a small number” of troops at regional training centres in addition to stationing soldiers at classrooms in the Afghan capital. “We’ll need to start laying down our markers by April in order to get the slots we want,” said one defence source. The locations under consideration include the western city of Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif in the north and Jalalabad, near the border with Pakistan …. a certain obfuscation crept into the message in January. Officials and ministers started telegraphing that deployment would be “Kabul-centric” — meaning it’ll be based in the capital but not exclusively in Kabul. In fact, each of the regional training centres under consideration is ranked safer than Kabul, according to the military’s threat assessment. The Afghan capital has been rocked by a string of attacks this winter, including a suicide bombing last month that killed two people at the entrance to a hotel ….”
- “Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan were hospitalized for traumatic brain injury between 2006 and 2009 at almost three times the rate of Americans fighting there in earlier years before the war escalated, according to a National Defence study obtained by The Globe and Mail. The military attributed the “significantly higher” hospitalization rate to “the risky nature of our Kandahar operation” in a report acquired under Access to Information …. The total number of Canadian soldiers diagnosed with TBI was only 83; seventeen of those were classified with a “more serious forms of brain injury.” Still, the study found the hospitalization numbers taken from the trauma registry database at Kandahar were “significantly higher than the expected rate,” amounting to a hospitalization rate of 71 per 10,000 deployed person-years of all Canadians serving in Afghanistan for the three years ending in 2009. That compares with a rate of only 25 per 10,000 for U.S. troops in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2007 – before the increased fighting in recent years and last year’s surge of American troops in heavy combat regions ….” Again, MSM writes a story on a report, without sharing the report.
- Some of the latest (a few weeks after the fact) from the CF’s media machine on what’s up in Afghanistan: “Operation HAMAGHE SHAY (“Same Team”) took place in Panjwa’i District from 16 February to 18 February 2011. Led and largely planned by the officers of Kandak 6, 1st Brigade 205 (Hero) Corps Afghan National Army (Kandak 6/1/205 ANA), its primary objective was to clear the village of Nakhonay and the surrounding countryside of insurgents and their stockpiles of weapons, bomb-making materials and illegal drugs ….”
- “Nearly 100 Canadians are still trapped in strife-torn Libya as fighting intensifies and rebel forces battle their way towards the capital city of Tripoli. Foreign Affairs confirmed Sunday they were in contact with about 90 Canadians and looking for ways to get them home safely. On Saturday, Canada managed to pluck nine Canadians, along with U.S., U.K. And Ukrainian citizens, from Libya using a C130 Hercules military aircraft to take them to nearby Malta. Some 330 Canadians have been evacuated from the North African nation so far ….”
- Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff: Setting up a no-fly zone over Libya = “major military offensive” “….”I don’t think you can understate the severity of a no fly zone scenario,” (Gen. Walter) Natynczyk told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday, describing the process involved as a major military operation. “Before you can fly and ensure the security of a region you have to dismantle the air defences on the ground. That includes the runways and the aircraft on the ground, and the command and control facilities on the ground. That is a major military operation; it is an offensive operation.” ….”
- Academic: Setting up a no-fly zone over Libya = “a significant escalation in the West’s involvement in a conflict” “Canada and its allies have an obligation to step in and take military action in conflict-stricken Libya, including the enforcement of a no-fly zone, if rumours of mass killings of civilians prove to be true, a Canadian international affairs expert says. Roland Paris, an expert in international security at the University of Ottawa, acknowledged that establishing a no-fly zone in Libya — a hot-button issue on political talk shows both in the U.S. and Canada on Sunday — would be a tricky sell in the Arab world, but adds that information trickling out might make a significant military intervention necessary …. Paris said a no fly-zone, which would include disabling runways and destroying Libyan anti-aircraft installations, would be a significant escalation in the West’s involvement …. But if reports of human rights abuses and fighter jets being used to quell the rebellion — all currently being investigated by the International Criminal Court — prove to be true, intervention needs to be strongly considered, Paris said ….”
- Hello, hello, hello, what’s this about Russian news agency Pravda spotting a Canadian accent being spoken by Libyan anti-government forces as proof that NATO’s goin’ in with imperialist guns blazing? “After NATO’s acts of terrorism in recent years, after the blatant disregard for human rights and human life when depleted uranium rendered swathes of Yugoslavia uninhabitable and destroyed the futures of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, would it surprise anyone to learn that Libya is a NATO campaign? What NATO is capable of, we have already seen in Yugoslavia, what the West is capable of, we saw in Georgia. We have seen the blatant barefaced lies, we have seen indiscriminate acts of murder, war crimes and crimes against humanity, all glossed over by the controlled media. So would it surprise anyone that NATO is indeed operating in Libya? …. Interesting it was that the eastern and western borders were secured (Tunisia and Egypt) over which equipment and men poured, interesting it is that already two teams of NATO special forces have been captured inside Libya (Dutch Navy Force and British SAS), interesting was SKY News’ interview with a “front-line rebel” speaking in a broad Canadian accent ….”
- About those NATO special forces captured inside Libya…. “A British diplomatic team, including six soldiers believed to be SAS, have been freed two days after being detained in eastern Libya. The men are understood to have left Benghazi bound for Malta on board the Royal Navy frigate HMS Cumberland. It is thought the special forces soldiers were with a diplomat who was making contact with opposition leaders ….”
- More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief: Libya), here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
- The next “You Should Be Outta There” hot spot, according to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Ministry: Yemen. “Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against all travel to Yemen. The level of risk to foreigners is very high. Canadians in Yemen should review their circumstances to determine if their continued presence is warranted and seriously consider departing Yemen by commercial means while these are still available ….” More from MSM on the advisory here and here, and the latest news from Yemen here (Google News), here (EMM News Explorer) and here (NewsNow).
- ‘The Conservative government is slamming the door shut on a British proposal that the two countries work together in building new warships. “Canada will not be pursuing collaboration with the United Kingdom on our new surface combatant fleet,” Jay Paxton, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, said Sunday. Paxton was reacting to comments made by London’s top diplomat in Ottawa, who told The Canadian Press that Canada and Britain could make better use of scarce public dollars by collaborating on new warships. British High Commissioner Andrew Pocock said that with the economic crisis exerting pressure on defence spending everywhere, it makes sense for Ottawa and London to be discussing ways to co-operate on replacing aging frigates in their respective navies. “We live in a much more financially constrained world. Every government faces a challenge in making its defence and other spending go as far as possible,” Pocock said in an interview ….”
- Who’s allowed to bid on the Standard Military Pattern (SMP) Vehicle part of the CF’s Medium Support Vehicle System Project (MSVS)? Check here.
- “Canadian defence researchers are investigating how brain signals might distinguish hostile intent from everyday emotions such as anger and fear. Though there is still much to learn, the goal is to push biometric science beyond identification techniques to a new frontier where covert security technology would secretly scan peoples’ minds to determine whether they harbour malicious intent. “This ability can be used by members of the military and the security forces to isolate adversaries prior to commission of actions,” according to a research paper posted on the federal government’s Defence Research and Development Canada website ….” Since I can’t find a link through which Postmedia News is sharing the paper, you can Google the title of the paper, “Biometrics of Intent: From Psychophysiology to Behaviour”. As of this posting, though, the Defence Research and Development Canada publications page doesn’t seem to be working. Until it gets working, here’s a summary of the paper: “In the current defence and security environment, covert detection of adversarial intent is becoming increasingly important. However, valid and reliable detection of adversarial intent is contingent on the ability to discriminate this intentional mental state from related stress-induced negative emotional states. A preliminary theoretical framework is proposed that extends current knowledge about the psychophysiology of emotion toward achieving this aim. This framework takes as its starting point two assumptions: First, biomarkers in the autonomic and central nervous systems can be combined to predict specific emotional states. Second, the establishment of a normative psychophysiological and behavioural databank for specific emotional states can be used to measure the extent to which individuals deviate from established norms. Building on our understanding of the psychophysiological underpinnings of emotional states, this framework can be applied to isolate the physiology of intentional states.”
- On a related note, the CF’s also done research on reading hostile intent by reading faces.
MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 28 Feb 11
- Canada’s Foreign Affairs department confirms it’s working on the “safe release” of a Canadian, Colin MacKenzie, in Afghanistan. The Taliban has issued a statement claiming a captured “Canadian national” is a spy, saying they’ll be releasing a video shortly. A bit more from the Canadian Press here, CBC.ca here, CTV.ca here, Agence France-Presse here and the BBC here.
- A couple of more versions of the Taliban’s “we have a Canadian spy” statement, in Arabic and Pashto (with a Google translation of the Arabic version) here.
- It appears, according to media accounts here and here, that the missing man, 1) has been missing for 3 months (with RCMP involvement since November), and 2) wanted to learn Pashto. In case one needs reminding, here’s DFAIT’s recommendations about touristing in Afghanistan: ” …. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against all travel to Afghanistan. Canadians undertaking travel despite this warning take serious risks. Canadians already in Afghanistan should leave. The security situation remains extremely volatile and unpredictable ….”
- “A U.S. squadron will head to Kandahar’s Dand district next month in a move that will enable the Canadian military to start “saturating” the western neck of Panjwaii before the conclusion of combat operations, Canada’s top soldier in Afghanistan says. The 1st squadron of the 2nd Stryker Regiment will leave the Uruzgan province and take command of the Dand battle space in mid-March from the 1-71 Cavalry of 10th Mountain Division. The 500-member cavalry has been under the command of Task Force Kandahar, stationed alongside Canadian and Afghan forces in the relatively calm district since May. The 700-member Stryker squadron will fall under Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner’s command until the Canadian military mission ends in July. Two companies of soldiers will go to Dand and a third will be deployed to Panjwaii ….”
- A snapshot of Canadian mentoring work with Afghan troops: “A hint of irritation is evident in Capt. Eric Bouchard’s voice as he tries to figure out where his counterpart in the Afghan National Army is going. Canadian and Afghan forces have barely begun a two-day mission to search villages and fields in the central Panjwaii district, and already there’s confusion between the two groups. It seems the Afghan platoon commander paired with Bouchard has neglected to bring a proper map, and he’s leading his troops off the planned route. Bouchard’s first instinct is to tell him to get back on track, but he restrains himself. After all, this operation has been organized by the Afghans and Bouchard’s job is to mentor their soldiers, not lecture them. Showing respect is paramount. “Tell him the first objective is over that way,” Bouchard instructs his interpreter. “But … but, ask him where he wants to go.” Such interactions are common for Canadians serving in the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team, also known as the OMLT or “omelette,” which provides on-the-job training for Afghan soldiers in the field ….”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: More attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan.
- Wounded warrior preparing for run on artificial leg: “When army Sergeant Jamie MacIntyre joined Toronto’s annual run in support of St. John’s Rehab Hospital two years ago, he had a special reason for taking part: Among those getting a new lease on life from the widely acclaimed facility was his friend Master Corporal Jody Mitic, who’d lost both legs in 2007 in Afghanistan after stepping on a land mine. This year, Sgt. MacIntyre has a still better incentive for participating: Last June, two months into his second tour of Afghanistan, he too trod on a roadside bomb and his left foot was blown off. So when he does the Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K Run/Walk on March 13, together with his wife and some military colleagues, this time he’ll be running with an artificial leg …”
- Operation GTFO Libya More details are coming to light about why Canadian planes had to leave empty from Libya last week. “…. MacKay said Sunday the two aircraft had arrived in the middle of the night and officials were having difficulty both identifying Canadians who were waiting at the airport and determining if they were allowed to leave the country. The planes had been given a limited amount of time to remain at the airport, so aircraft from other countries could land. “There was very little co-operation being extended to Canadians by officials at the airport,” MacKay told CTV’s Question Period in an interview from Halifax. “And so they were then told they had to leave because there were specific time slots that were being given to countries at that time.” ….”
- “Two more Canadian military planes are being dispatched to the eastern Mediterranean to help with the evacuation of Canadians in Libya. Defence Minister Peter MacKay tells CTV News’ Question Period the pair of Hercules transport aircraft were deployed and could be used to land in austere areas of Libya outside of the capital Tripoli. An estimated 100 Canadians are still trapped in the country, many of them believed to be oil workers. The British military, including members of its special forces, used a Hercules to fly under the Libyan radar and rescue 150 Britons and foreign nationals in a desert area. A spokesman for the prime minister said Stephen Harper was spending the day in briefings on the evolving situation in Libya ….” More on that from Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister here.
- Here’s what the PM had to say about what happens next with Libya: “…. Canada earlier today implemented the following binding sanctions contained in the Resolution:
- An arms embargo requiring all states to prevent the sale or supply of arms into Libya, or the export of arms from Libya;
- The inspection of cargo going into Libya;
- A travel ban on Muammar Qadhafi and 15 individuals closely associated with him; and
- An asset freeze against Muammar Qadhafi and members of his family….” More from the Canadian Press here.
- More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief: Libya), here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
- F-35 Tug o’ War “The fighter plane at the centre of one of Ottawa’s hottest political debates has taken its first test flight over the skies of Texas. The hour-long flight of the first production model of the Lockheed Martin F-35 II Lightning stealth fighter went off without a hitch, said test pilot Bill Gigliotti. “The aircraft was rock-solid from takeoff to landing, and successfully completed all the tests we put it through during the flight,” Gigliotti said. The flight was an important developmental milestone for the aircraft that Canada plans to begin using in 2016 to replace its aging CF-18 fleet ….”
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