Word of a Canadian, said to be part of the anti-Ghaddafi underground, was questioned by CSIS while a…. guest of the former regime. “Canadian spies teamed up with the Gadhafi regime to question a Canadian jailed in Libya, a prominent human-rights group says. Canadian Security Intelligence Service officers travelled to Libya several times to interview the prisoner between 2002 and 2005, Human Rights Watch says. The New York-based group will circulate a statement on Wednesday revealing that it has obtained documents on this obscure case from an abandoned intelligence complex in Tripoli. Mustafa Krer, 56, immigrated to Canada from Libya in the 1990s. He was jailed as a terrorism suspect when he returned to his homeland almost a decade ago. Released only last year, he hopes to return to Canada in coming months ….” More here (Toronto Star) and here (usual Wikipedia caveats apply).
Way Up North “As global interest in Arctic exploration explodes, Canada is pushing to assert rights over a larger chunk of the polar region and lure companies to exploit the territory’s promising natural resources. The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has long engaged in saber-rattling with Russia—Canada’s biggest Arctic rival—over territorial claims in the region. Both sides have recently sent troops to the Arctic to back up their claims, with Canada winding down its largest, and northernmost, military exercise this month. During a trip late last month to Canada’s Far North, Mr. Harper criticized Russia in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, portraying its strategy in the region as aggressive and “a disappointment.” But he said Russia’s actions—including alleged incursions into Canada’s Arctic airspace, which Moscow denies—strengthen Ottawa’s commitment to the region. Those actions “remind us, as I say, that we have an obligation as a sovereign nation to have an ability on land, sea and air to be present and to assert that presence at all times,” Mr. Harper said ….”
Bad news about a war memorial in Montreal – this from a House of Commons statement on the issue: “…. our cenotaphs and monuments are powerful reminders of the sacrifices made by generations of Canadians. They are symbolic places where people can gather in memory of our fellow Canadians, our loved ones and family members, who served our country in the name of peace and the freedom we all enjoy today. Unfortunately, this morning, we learned that a war memorial in Girouard Park in Montreal had been vandalized. We have an obligation to preserve and respect memorials in tribute to the service and sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. I commend Sergeant Jones who notified the police about this vandalism and I hope the guilty parties will be held accountable for the seriousness of their mischief.”
An Aboriginal leader is calling for more help – including military – getting people out of northern Ontario communities threatened by forest fires, smoke.“Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy today called on the governments of Canada and Ontario to commit all available emergency resources to assist First Nation communities under immediate threat by forest fires raging across Northwestern Ontario. “I am calling on the Government of Canada to mobilize all available resources, including the Armed Forces, to ensure that enough aircraft are available to evacuate First Nations at a moment’s notice ….” How bad are the fires? Check the map here – more here and here.
Afghanistan (2) Yet ANOTHER “packing up” story.“It’s been 10 years since Canada first deployed troops in Afghanistan, and what was known grandly as Operation Enduring Freedom has now been reduced to dust. Dust from Kandahar province’s vast Red Desert, from the districts of Dand, Daman, Panjwaii and Arghandab, clings not only to the memories of Canadian troops, but also to every millimetre of equipment. The memories may be exported, but not the fine-grained sand that gets into everything. That stays here. A mountain of metal awaits Canada’s movers and one of their most difficult tasks is washing away a decade of desert dirt. The challenge, says Lt. Col. Virginia Tattersall, 45, of Ottawa, who is in charge of the packing and moving, is to ensure that “alien invasive species” can’t sneak into Canada ….”
Afghanistan (3) CDS: Well done, troops. “…. As the last combat troops prepare for their return home, Canada’s top soldier remains confident that the mission that began in early 2002, months after the 9/11 terror attacks in the United States, was accomplished. In an interview with Postmedia News Monday, Gen. Walt Natynczyk said the goal was to rid the restive southern region of al-Qaida and that’s exactly what troops did ….”
Afghanistan (4) One columnist’s take on what the return home should look like.“…. Just as in Korea, our new veterans will return home with the vague sense that the job was not done, that there was more they could still do. Despite leaving 900 of their brethren behind to train the Afghanis, there will be vets who know we have left too soon. There will be no marching bands or public ceremonies welcoming our Afghanistan vets back. Instead, there will be those who ask, “Just what was it you were doing over there?” Too bad – they deserve better.”
“As thousands of Canadian soldiers adjust to home life after the battlefields of Kandahar, what looked like a flood of aid for the wounded among them and veterans of other wars is turning out to be only a trickle. The Conservative government made a $2-billion promise last September to increase disability benefits, just as veterans’ outrage began to boil over how survivors of past and present conflicts were being treated. Support for the military is a key priority for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government. But the pledge was for the lifetime of the program, meaning the money is meant to last until the last veteran alive needs it. Now, details are emerging about how much money current vets will actually see in their pockets. A government analysis of regulatory impacts resulting from changes to the Veterans Charter says $129.9 million will be spent over 10 years for three elements of the new program ….”
The Economist second-guesses Canada’s decision to ditch UAE and move to Kuwait as a staging base.“…. Switching operations to Kuwait will cost the Canadian government hundreds of millions of dollars in moving expenses and rent payments. A souring of relations could also hurt Canada’s business dealings with its biggest trading partner in the Middle East. And Canadian travellers will be stuck paying higher fares: a round-trip from Toronto to Dubai last week cost C$1,000 more on Air Canada than on Air Emirates. The Canadian government seems to have realised belatedly that it had little to gain from squabbling with the UAE: John Baird, who became its minister of foreign affairs following a national election on May 2nd, met the Emirati ambassador at last on July 5th. Had his predecessor done so earlier, Canadian soldiers might still be based in Dubai today.”
A Globe & Mail columnist’s critique of the PM’s Arctic approach.“Next month, as he has every summer since becoming Prime Minister, Stephen Harper will travel to the Arctic, trumpeting his Conservative government’s resolve to assert Canadian sovereignty in the Far North against all comers. Little of what he says will accord with reality. But it will all make for splendid political theatre, which is the whole point. This federal government employs a two-track policy in the Arctic: noisy confrontation and quiet co-operation. The latter track is the real policy, but it doesn’t profit the Prime Minister to acknowledge it much ….”
More calls for an apology for disbanding the Canadian Airborne Regiment.“…. For a regiment with an impeccable record of service, it was an inglorious end – and entirely unwarranted, say the Canadian Airborne Forces Association (CAFA) and the Airborne Regiment Association of Canada (ARAC). They’ve mounted a campaign to restore the airborne regiment’s honour. In their view, the unprecedented decision to disband the airborne regiment “was a pernicious act without fairness and justice taken by a government prior to ascertaining the facts … Redressing the perception of the Canadian Airborne Regiment being in disgrace at the time of disbandment must be corrected.” “It was a great travesty of justice,” says Brighton resident Ian Douglas who commanded the regiment from 1975 to 1977. He worked on the original position paper, ‘Righting a Wrong,’ that’s at the heart of the two airborne associations’ demand for an apology and a “serious review” of Canada’s armed forces. They say there’s a strong argument to be made for “reconstituting” the regiment ….”
“This time it’s not just the killer colonel and his wife being sued but the OPP and the Canadian Armed Forces, too. The Toronto Sun has learned surviving victim Laurie Massicotte is pitted against defendants David Russell Williams, Mary Elizabeth Harriman, the Attorney General of Canada on behalf of the Department of National Defence and her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario. The defendants were served with the notice of claim on July 13 and, in that, document Massicotte and her Belleville lawyer J. David M. Ross outline a number of accusations against them all. Massicotte will be making the claim that there was a “breach of duty of care by not warning her that a previous sexual assault had taken place on the same street where she lives only days before.” It also cites a “breach of duty of care by not warning her of previous break and enters that had taken place on the same street” since Sept. 9, 2007 where “items of female clothing were taken.” And “the police first described her assault by saying she was a copycat” which made her feel “betrayed” and with “fear and a sense of guilt” to go with suffering from “post traumatic stress and anxiety disorders.” ….”
Troops headed to Manitoba to help with floods – again.“The Government of Canada is sending approximately 200 Canadian Forces personnel to the town of Souris, Manitoba today to assist provincial and municipal authorities in reinforcing flood control measures along the Souris River …. Canada Command’s Joint Task Force West, headquartered in Edmonton, will be coordinating the Canadian Forces assistance effort and work closely with regional authorities to contain and control the flooding. As the Souris river is expected to crest in the next few days, the soldiers from 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2 PPCLI) and 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (1 RCHA), CFB Shilo, will place sandbags to reinforce the dikes over the affected area ….” More here, here and here.
Afghanistan (1) CDS tells troops to help their colleagues. “Canada’s top commander attempted to bind fresh and old wounds on Saturday when he bid farewell to combat troops in Kandahar. Gen. Walt Natynczyk, in his final address before the formal end of operations, urged returning soldiers to watch their “battle buddies” and take care of each other as they begin the long journey back to regular life at home. His remarks had a poignant ring for the soldiers of the 1st Battalion Royal 22e Regiment, as two of the four deaths in the last combat tour were suspected suicides. Military police are still investigating the cases of Bombardier Karl Manning and Cpl. Francis Roy — both who were found dead of non-battle related injuries over the last month, just before the end of their seven month tours ….”
Nathan Hornburg, 1983-2007, R.I.P. “When triumph and tragedy bleed together, it’s a little bittersweet. That’s how some family members of soldiers’ who’ve served and died in Afghanistan view this month’s end to Canada’s combat mission in that country. Then there is the lingering question — was it all worth it? “Something that keeps coming up for me, when I think about all of the heartache and about my own son, is just the waste (of human life) with all of this craziness, starting way back with the attacks on the World Trade Centre,” said Michael Hornburg, father of Calgarian Cpl. Nathan Hornburg, who died in combat trying to rescue a disabled tank Sept. 24, 2007. “Hopefully it will be (worth it) for Afghanistan, but certainly not for me personally … nothing would have been worth it for me (if I could) still have him here with me.” ….”
Afghanistan (2) Rex Murphy shares his thoughts. “…. It may be unpalatable to admit it, but we are starting to end our presence in Afghanistan with neither victory, the only real end of wars even in our enlightened day, nor the fulfillment of those broader and noble pledges toward rebuilding that sad country we made early on.”
Afghanistan (3) More on the “packing up to leave” theme.“A mammoth operation is underway in Kandahar — not to boost security in the area but to tear down the facilities that have housed much of Canada’s military presence in Afghanistan. Work crews are readying a huge amount of equipment to be shipped home thousands of kilometres away. It’s a formidable task, and part of a transition that will see U.S. forces take over security responsibilities in Kandahar province as Canadian combat troops pull out of the war-torn country. Everything from dust filters to armoured vehicles need to be cleaned, fumigated, bar-coded and categorized before they’re packed up ….”
From Afghanistan to the Arctic. “While Canada’s combat mission in Kandahar is in its last days, a new training mission has started in Kabul, Canadian fighter aircraft are making daily bombing runs against Libya, and now the armed forces is preparing to send more than 1,000 troops on a huge exercise in the High Arctic next month. “It will be the largest operation that has taken place in recent history,” Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Saturday, moments after bidding an emotional farewell to combat troops now leaving Kandahar. “All of this is very much about enlarging the footprint and the permanent and seasonal presence we have in the North. It is something that we as a government intend to keep investing in.” Exercise Nanook is to play out in several phases on and near Baffin Island and Ellesmere Island throughout August. It will involve CF-18 fighter jets as well as surveillance and transport aircraft, a warship, infantry companies from Quebec and Alberta and 5 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group — Inuit reservists who have broad experience surviving in the extremely austere environment of the Far North ….” A Russian media take on this here, and more on Canada’s military in the Arctic here.
CF-Royals Link “As Master Cpl. Jody Mitic stood chatting with Prince William, his young daughter seemed unfazed to be in the presence of royalty. Perhaps that’s because to her family, Mitic wasn’t necessarily talking to a future monarch, but to someone more like himself. He’s been through all the same training. Just because they’re royals doesn’t mean they don’t have to do the basic training,” said Mitic. “In our opinion, it’s a brotherhood.” Both William and his younger brother Harry are military men. William is a search-and-rescue pilot and Harry has served a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He also did some of his training in Alberta. William’s wife Kate also has a connection to the Canadian military; her grandfather trained military pilots in Alberta. The royal couple have made a specific effort to meet veterans over the course of their Canadian tour ….”
Royal Kate gets it. “The Duchess of Cambridge fears that Prince William will have an accident on a risky helicopter rescue mission …. She opened her heart about her concerns to a military wife on the couple’s royal tour of Canada. Kate said: ‘I always worry, but my job is to support my husband. You should always support your husband.’ She revealed her worries after laying wreaths with William on the tomb of the unknown soldier at Ottawa’s war memorial …. after paying respects to Canada’s war dead, the 29-year-old Duchess spoke to former army private Celine Drapeau. Celine, 52, told her she worried for the safety of her husband, a military policeman, who was away for long periods. ‘You always fear for them not knowing if something is going to happen and it can be very hard.’ Celine said later that she thought it was ‘very brave’ of Kate to reveal her true feelings and it was a ‘great comfort’ to know she understood the fears of service families ….” More here.
New, purpler prose attacking Canada’s plans for “foreign bases,” courtesy of the Canadian Peace Congress. “The Canadian Peace Congress condemns and calls for an immediate halt to the Canadian government’s negotiations for military basing rights as part of the Operational Support Hubs Network, and abrogating and renouncing rights already negotiated with Germany and Jamaica. As Defence Minister Peter MacKay has already admitted, Canada’s “military tempo” is at the highest levels since the Korean War. Instead of opening the way for more bombings and destruction with basing rights spread throughout the world, Canada should reverse its military aggression, which is only in the interests of an imperialist minority and against the interests of the peace-loving majority. The basing agreements allow the Canadian military to enter other countries at any time, violating the sovereignty of the host country, in order to rain death and destruction on a third country ….”
“In an out-of-the-way spot in an old Dutch cemetery, there’s a place that is forever New Brunswick. Anyone visiting the Gorinchem cemetery from this province could pick it out immediately: a small New Brunswick flag is there, and, at the base of the white headstone, a painted rock from McLaren’s Beach in Saint John. Buried in the grave is the body of Harold Magnusson, a 22-year-old from Saint John who was killed in 1944 in the operation immortalized in book and film as A Bridge Too Far. But the mystery of his burial in a civilian cemetery far from the horrors of Arnhem has created a bridge of a different sort for a Dutch woman who has used the story to reach across time and distance to Canadians. “It was as if someone tapped me on the shoulder when I walked into that cemetery and said ‘Solve this puzzle,’ ” Alice van Bekkum said in an interview during a recent visit to New Brunswick. “I became gripped by the story and it has led to wonderful new friendships … I got involved with Magnusson, and I fell in love with Canada ….”
“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 ….”
“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.
Libya Ops (1) – An overview of how much Canada is helping out in/around Libya: “… Looking at the numbers reveals the extent to which Canada is committed. The country’s 15 aircraft—seven CF-18 fighter jets, two Polaris refueling tankers, two Aurora maritime surveillance planes, two Hercules transport aircraft, one Globemaster airlift plane, as well as one Sea King helicopter, according to CF public affairs official Maj. Andre E. Salloum—makes Canada the largest air force from any mid-sized contributing nation. As well, there are now 531 Canadian military personnel working on the Libya file—250 aboard the Canadian warship HMCS Charlottetown deployed in the region, 246 at a variety of airbases, 23 more at NATO’s headquarters in Naples, Italy, and a further 12 around the world, said Maj. Salloum. Add to this Special Forces like JTF2 who are widely reported to be in Libya (although this is neither confirmed nor denied by officials) and the fact that Canadian Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard is now running NATO’s entire Libya operation ….”
Libya Ops (2) – Good question from historian Jack Granatstein. “While nothing is certain yet, it seems increasingly likely that the Gadhafi regime will survive in Libya, at least in the west of the country and possibly with much of the nation’s oil wealth. Survival will be a victory for Gadhafi, a triumph over the Americans and NATO, and that will give Gadhafi himself great credibility with the community of dictators. All will be emboldened by his resistance. But what will his survival mean for the West? ….”
Election Promises – More critique of the Liberals’ defence platform here and here (Postmedia News).
Still more on how the Government of Canada wants one of the probes into how Afghan detainees were treated to exclude non-military sources here (Postmedia News).
“Col. Dave Cochrane is leaving his post as commander of Canada’s largest air base, but defence ministry officials have refused to comment on his move until after the federal election. Cochrane is the base commander appointed in the days following the conviction of Russell Williams on two counts of murder, sex assaults and a litany of fetish break-ins. His primary role in early days of his command was to lift the spirits of base personnel whose morale was in the dumps following Williams’ crimes. A request by QMI Agency to interview Cochrane regarding his departure to take on “professional development and advanced training” in Australia was denied by the Department of National Defence (DND). Suggesting a phone interview with the air base’s commanding officer “could affect the outcome” of the federal election, a public affairs officer at DND’s media liaison office in Ottawa said Tuesday the Canadian Forces’ communication department will not allow an interview with the colonel ….” More here.
Libya Ops (2) – American General on who’s in charge of what in Libya, the short version (“#NATO is now in charge of ALL military operations in #Libya: Humanitarian, Arms Embargo, No-Fly Zone, and Protection of Civilians.”) and the longer version.
Libya Ops (3) – “Enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya required four sorties by NATO aircraft in the past 24 hours, the Pentagon said Tuesday. As of 1000 GMT (6am EDT Tuesday), NATO carried out four flights to police the no-fly zone against the Libyan regime, along with four other sorties in support of the mission, according to information released by the Pentagon. The figures followed comments from US and allied commanders that the regime’s air defenses have been knocked out in earlier coalition raids, with Moamer Kadhafi’s aircraft effectively shut down under a no-fly zone now firmly in place. The four no-fly zone sorties were flown by Canada and Spain, using F-18 fighter jets, said a US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity ….”
Libya Ops (5) – TorStar columnist: “The life and death issue that no major party leader wants to talk about in this election campaign is war. Canada is involved in two now. But to listen to the leaders you’d never know. Our latest war is being waged against Libya. Like the endless adventure in Afghanistan, this one, too, slipped by beneath the radar of public consciousness. Yes, there was a debate of sorts in Parliament. But it was short and perfunctory. The Conservative government and all three opposition parties agreed that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is a bad dude, that the United Nations was right to authorize attacks against his country and that Canadian fighter jets should join in with gusto. Then they got back to the real business of Canadian politics: slagging one another over which party is the most dishonest ….”
One man’s “gag order” is another man’s “be very careful what you say during an election campaign.” “The federal government has restricted media interviews of officials in Afghanistan because of the election campaign, a move that one critic says hampers the public’s understanding of Canada’s mission in the war-torn country. The restrictions became known after The Canadian Press requested an interview this week with Tim Martin, Canada’s top diplomat in Kandahar. The request was for a story about a transfer of command ceremony that took place Tuesday at Camp Nathan Smith on the outskirts of Kandahar city. Such events happen from time to time and Tuesday’s ceremony was expected to mark a major milestone as Canada was set to hand over command of the Provincial Reconstruction Team’s training centre to Afghanistan’s Ministry of the Interior and NATO forces …. A spokesman for the Canadian International Development Agency rejected the interview request, saying Martin would not be granting interviews in the duration of the five-week election campaign. Adam Sweet said an order was in effect restricting federal officials from talking to the media aimed at preventing them from making public comments that could influence, or appear to influence, the outcome of the election. “We act with as much restraint as possible, confining ourselves to public business and this rule applies to our communications activities as well,” Sweet said. Nina Chiarelli, the acting director of communications for the prime minister, denied there was an order in place that prevented federal officials from speaking with reporters. But she said communications with the media are restricted during an election ….”
Former OMLT’eer Bruce Ralston sounds off on his blog about the recent Rolling Stones article on American soldiers accused of assassinating innocent Afghans: “…. Like the vast majority of soldiers in the theatre, these sick little f__ks had as little contact as possible throughout their tour with local nationals, who were about as real to them as sprites in a video game. This was a predictable consequence of all the distance we have put in this military context between Us and Them, the “Them” in this case being the people we were sent to protect. Our whole approach to force protection, with all of its interacting with the host nation only across razor wire or through gunsights, is a concomitant cause of these atrocities ….”
F-35 Tug o’ War (2) – “New fighter jets Canada plans to buy will be more than $100 million each — at least $25 million more per plane than government estimates — according to a top U.S. budget watchdog. Conservative government officials have said 65 new joint strike fighters being built to replace Canada’s F-18 jets will cost about $75 million each, about $9 billion with training and an additional $200-$300 million a year in maintenance. But Mike Sullivan, director of acquisition management at the US General Accountability Office, said he doesn’t know where that estimate comes from. “That’s not a number that I am familiar with at all,” he said in an interview Tuesday with CBC’s Power & Politics with Evan Solomon, cautioning he hasn’t seen the methodology behind the numbers. Sullivan said the estimated cost of the F-35A model that Canada is buying is “in the low 100 millions.” “Probably somewhere between $110-115 million,” he said. A prominent Conservative admitted to CBC that the cost of the F-35 fight jets might not be as the government has promised. Earlier on Power & Politics, Conservative MP Laurie Hawn said Canada is buying the planes at the peak of their production, making them cheaper than the $133 million the U.S. estimates their jets will cost. Hawn also said the $133 million estimate is an average of three models being built, of which the Canadian jet is the cheapest ….”
A bit of plaid military history being made.“An elite unit of Second World War commandos with a reputation for daring and stealth that earned it the nickname The Black Devils are being honoured with the creation of an original Scottish tartan. A new tartan design will be officially filed with the Scottish national tartan registry for the First Special Service Force, a Canadian-American unit created in 1942 and disbanded after barely a year of intense warfare. The creation of the tartan is being spearheaded by the Helena, Montana-based Shining Thistle Pipe Band and the First Special Service Force Association, which represents the remaining members of the unit and their descendants. The force trained at Fort William Henry Harrison in Helena before heading into combat. “We want to not only recognize and honour them, but to hear their stories before they are lost,” said Bill Woon, the executive director of the association and the son of a Canadian member of the commando unit ….” FYI, today’s Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) perpetuates the Canadian element of the First Special Service Force.
More class acts from a classy guy (and an… interesting interpretation of the military environment from an unidentified source). “Police found child porn on serial sex criminal Russell Williams’ computer but laid no charges in exchange for him pleading guilty to murder and sexual assault, a new book says. The former commander of Canada’s largest military airfield wouldn’t admit to downloading pictures of teenaged girls in sexual positions, Globe and Mail reporter Timothy Appleby writes in “A New Kind of Monster.” A source quoted in the book said Williams couldn’t face the stigma attached to child pornography, though he was willing to plead guilty to murder, rape and a series of bizarre sexually motivated break-ins. “This is a guy who structured his life around how he saw others act, and that’s how his morality base came about,” said the source, who was involved in the case. “In the military, you can kill people, it’s accepted … it’s within the realm of human behaviour. And in war, rape is within that realm as well. The one thing that isn’t, and stands outside that, is (sexual abuse of) children.” ….”Note to book author Tim Appleby and whoever his source is: if the source is quoted correctly, and if the source really thinks this, s/he’s wrong. Rape is NEVER acceptable in any context in the CF, and killing is ONLY to be carried out when following accepted rules of engagement (usually as a measure of last resort). If this reflects what the source thinks, that source is sadly mistaken.
The push continues in southern Afghanistan.“Hundreds of Canadian, American and Afghan troops pushed deep into Taliban country this week as part of an operation to rout the insurgents from an area in Kandahar they use to stage their attacks. The coalition said its forces faced little resistance from the enemy fighters during the three-day mission, called Operation Khenkakak after a village in the area, southwest of Kandahar city. No one fired on the Canadians and no one found any improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, said Maj. Luc Aubin, a senior operations officer with Canada’s mentoring team. He added the Americans did encounter some of the makeshift bombs ….”
More on how Canadian engineers have been helping in the push in the south.“…. Operation HAMKARI is part of an overall effort to bolster residents’ confidence in the effectiveness of their government while discouraging them from supporting the insurgency. To this end, a series of construction projects linked to security were identified in partnership with local communities. Canada’s share of the construction work done under this government of Afghanistan initiative was performed by the 3rd Specialist Engineering Team, composed of personnel from 1st Engineering Support Unit in Moncton, N.B. Engineers have played a very important role in Op HAMKARI, and many coalition engineering units have actively participated in the initiative from the beginning ….”
No political guarantees for the PM with the coming Canadian training-only mission in Afghanistan?“The political ground beneath the Harper government’s feet is set to shift in 2011 when Canada’s military boots on the ground end their combat mission in Kandahar mid year. Switching to a non-combat training mission in Kabul may make the political terrain relatively safer for Canada’s minority Conservative government. But like any IED-wary military convoy that lumbers into the Kandahar outback, the potential for explosive political surprises always lurks beneath the surface ….”
“The Supreme Court of Canada knocked down a legal roadblock on Thursday and paved the way for a class-action lawsuit over military veterans’ pensions. Military mechanic Dennis Manuge filed the suit on behalf of about 6,500 injured veterans and it was certified by the Federal Court. But that certification was later rejected by the Federal Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court reinstated the original decision in one of six related rulings on a technical legal issue that has real-life implications for how lawsuits are allowed to move through the courts …. Manuge, of Porters Lake, N.S., was injured in 2002 at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa. The government later decided to take back $10,000 of his disability pension after he left the military ….” Text of the SCOC decision here, and more from mainstream media here, here and here.
Some Canadian sub “refits” are taking longer than planned.“There’s been yet another delay in the completion date for the refit of Canadian navy submarine HMCS Victoria, one of four subs bought from Britain 12 years ago. The ship has been in dry dock at CFB Esquimalt, near Victoria, for more than three years and was supposed to return to service late last year, but that was extended to late 2010, and now to the middle of next year. The defence department blames the delays on a lack of parts and technical knowledge, but those problems have apparently been solved. The department says the lessons learned from the Victoria refit are being applied to the three other submarines, one of which, HMCS Chicoutimi, suffered a fire in 2004 that killed one sailor during the sub’s maiden voyage in the North Atlantic ….”
Remember the whole “CF apologizing for including the Mohawk Warrior Society in a draft of a counterinsurgency manual” thing? The National Post‘s editorial board doesn’t like the idea.“…. Our military may find value in building better relations with First Nations communities and people, but this apology — to be delivered early next year — will simply reinforce aboriginal leaders’ tendency to wallow in the politics of victimhood. It is politically correct wallpaper covering over the reality of continued aboriginal militancy.”
Guess which former military officer/multiple murderer-rapist has been named “Newsmaker of the Year” for 2010 by newsrooms across Canada? “…. Some may recoil at the thought of Williams as 2010’s top newsmaker, but it’s an “act of news judgment,” not an award, said April Lindgren, a veteran reporter who now teaches journalism at Toronto’s Ryerson University. “People have to understand, he wasn’t selected Newsmaker of the Year because he’s a great guy,” Lindgren said. “He was selected Newsmaker of the Year because of the magnitude of his evil, and because of the news his deeds generated.” In the long history of The Canadian Press year-end survey, criminals rarely draw many votes from those who produce the country’s newspapers, newscasts and news websites. Despite their notoriety, killers like Clifford Olson, Paul Bernardo and Robert Pickton were never selected …. While there was little argument about the journalistic importance of the story, some voters admitted they couldn’t bring themselves to cast a ballot for Williams. “I just couldn’t vote for Russell Williams — it would be like when Time (magazine) declared Hitler ‘Man of The Year,'” said Murray Wood, news director of radio stations CJME in Regina and CKOM in Saskatoon ….”
Why did the town of Newcastle, Ontario remove a poppy from a street sign for a street named for a veteran? Because he’s an AMERICAN military vet (even if he’s living in Calgary now)? How’d they remove the poppy on the sign? Covering it up with tape. Goofy enough for you? More on the fracas here and here.
Ah, the holidays. “Canadian Forces Combat Camera now have Holiday video messages available for download from personnel deployed in Afghanistan. The messages feature personnel from Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, British Columbia, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Northwest Territories. Generic messages from personnel where no hometown is mentioned are also available ….”
Note to serving CF sailors: Please don’t write to your Senator in Ottawa asking for Canada’s navy to be called the “Royal Canadian Navy” or “Canadian Navy”. “The head of Canada’s navy warned all naval personnel to keep their personal opinions to themselves after a junior officer was caught e-mailing a senator about Maritime Command’s proposed name change. Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden sent sailors and naval officers a stern memo Wednesday after the chain of command was informed that the junior naval officer was also using his department of national defence e-mail account to encourage colleagues with similar opinions to e-mail the senator. “It is neither appropriate nor helpful for any individual member of the command to respond to solicitation for your opinion,” McFadden wrote. “As a private individual, you can have any opinion you wish; as members of the service you neither advocate for a personal view nor encourage your compatriots to do so.” Liberal Sen. Joseph Day has been encouraging serving naval personnel to e-mail him their preference for changing the naval force’s name from Maritime Command to the Royal Canadian Navy, as he prefers, or, as another Liberal senator suggests, to Canadian Navy ….”
Note to former CF sailors: Please keep your cakeholes shut about any navy name changes, too. “Canada’s navy has told former sailors to shut up about changing the naval forces’ name back to Royal Canadian Navy, a senior officer testified Monday. “The navy has sort of said to the Naval Officers’ Association of Canada: Do not push it. We have bigger fish to fry and we do not want to get everybody upset about something that we can live without,” retired Cmdr. Chris Thain, president of the Winnipeg branch of the Naval Officers Association of Canada, told a Senate committee ….”
Note from CF: We never told former sailors to keep their cakeholes shut about any navy name changes.“…. Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden, chief of the maritime staff, has not provided any direction to the Naval Officers Association Canada (NOAC) regarding the proposed named change for Maritime Command,” said Jennifer Eckersley, a spokeswoman with the Department of National Defence. But senators heard conflicting testimony Monday that suggested the navy had told NOAC not to campaign for the royal designation. “The navy has sort of said to the Naval Officers’ Association of Canada: Do not push it. We have bigger fish to fry and we do not want to get everybody upset about something that we can live without,” retired Comdr. Chris Thain, the association’s Winnipeg branch president, testified. “The message that was passed down to us sitting around the table at national meetings was: Please don’t (push for the designation). We are trying to support what the navy wants,” Thain told QMI Agency Tuesday. “They didn’t want to cause a controversy.” …. Canadian Forces spokesman Capt. Dave Scanlon said the navy had passed “no such direction” to the NAOC, which is outside its chain of command. “The navy is not empowered to pass to such direction down, nor would it try to,” he said, adding that at present, the navy’s focus “is on building ships.” ….” Looooong running debate on adding “Royal” back to the navy and air force’s official name at Army.ca here.
The Bloc’s motion to condemn the coming training mission in Afghanistan? Crash & burn, thanks to the Liberals voting with the Tories against it – more on the vote here and here. It didn’t take long for Jack Layton to come out swinging, via e-mail: “…. Before Michael Ignatieff became leader, the Liberal Party voted to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan in 2011. Michael Ignatieff has turned his back on that commitment. Before Michael Ignatieff became leader, Liberals from Lester Pearson to Jean Chrétien were known for taking brave stands to ensure Canada remained a voice for peace in the world. But Michael Ignatieff is taking the Liberal Party in a different direction. It’s time for leadership you can count on to do the right thing. Leadership that understands the Canadian way. Leadership that will actually stand up to Stephen Harper and get results for you ….” Funny he didn’t mention the Liberal PM who was at the wheel when the troops moved to Kandahar. Anyway, here’s who voted which way (209-81, via Hansard).
More questions in the House of Commons on how kids were handled as detainees in Afghanistan, this one from Liberal Foreign Affairs Critic Bob Rae, this one from NDP leader Jack Layton and this one from the Bloc’s Jean Dorion.
Message to the troops: “Afghan mission ending, but work must go on”: “Canada’s top general for overseas deployments took pains during his latest visit to the Afghan mission to assure soldiers at the start of the last combat tour in dangerous Kandahar province that their work will go on. “It’s a question I asked myself,” said Lt.-Gen. Marc Lessard, who leads the Canadian Expeditionary Forces Command. “We’re not just leaving . . . we’re handing over,” he told reporters at Kandahar Airfield on Tuesday. He said an American replacement brigade has been identified, but cannot yet be named, to fill the void when the Canadian battle group leaves Kandahar next summer after four years. Canada’s Afghan involvement after next July will be “Kabul-centric,” Lessard added ….”
More from General Lessard, from the Canadian Press: “…. Canada’s overseas commander, Lt.-Gen. Marc Lessard, said the military’s focus between now and May will be to help deliver long-promised development projects and governance to unstable districts of the province, in particular areas where Canadian troops are operating. It is a window of calm through which a lot of bricks, mortar and good intentions will have to be stuffed. A period of relative calm has settled across southern Afghanistan after the bloodiest year since the Taliban were ousted in 2001. Since the beginning of the year, 669 coalition troops have been killed, including 15 Canadians. Lessard set down the May deadline because it marks the end of the poppy harvest and the start of an annual spike in violence known as “the Fighting Season.” Between now and then it’s “important to deliver,” said Lessard ….”
And who’ll do what where in the upcoming training mission? Stay tuned: “The contours, staffing and timing of the Canadian training mission in Afghanistan have not been settled and probably won’t be until early next year, the commander of Canadian forces overseas said. Lieutenant-General Marc Lessard, head of the central military command, or CEFCOM, said a fact-finding team was in the country last week and is expected to propose various options before Christmas. The seven-member team is to analyze what training skills are required, what rank of officers will be needed and the timetable for the deployment of trainers …. “The emphasis is to be on Kabul but not solely Kabul,” Gen. Lessard said, meeting with reporters after the latest of his frequent visits to Afghanistan ….”
Meanwhile, the message back at home: “Canada’s contribution will continue when combat ends” (from a column submitted by an MP in a local paper): “Canada’s remarkable service in Afghanistan has made true gains for women, children and for all citizens of that troubled land, although the strides forward have sometimes come at a painful cost. The 152 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to Canada and in defence of human rights have improved Afghans’ prospects for a brighter future, while serving to protect the national security of Canada. Our soldiers’ leadership as part of this UN-mandated, NATO-led mission has made Canadians proud. It is important to build on our troops’ hard-won achievements to ensure they result in a lasting legacy for the people they fought to defend. Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan will end in 2011, as planned. But our responsibility to preserve the progress we’ve made after a decade of service still remains …. When our current combat mission ends, Canada will deploy up to 950 military trainers and support staff at facilities centered in Kabul, and in a strictly non-combat role. This new training role will continue until March 2014. Canadian skill and expertise will be tapped to properly train Afghan security forces – in classrooms and inside bases – to enable them to provide security for their own people …. Our ongoing involvement in a non-combat role to equip Afghanistan for the challenges still ahead will continue to build on the foundation laid at great cost by our soldiers.”
Now that his kit has been incinerated, there is at least one call to have all of murderer-rapist Russell Williams’ photos burned, too: “If I were in charge of QMI Agency, and therefore newsroom boss of its 36 major dailies and 200-plus community newspapers, I would send out an edict that no picture of convicted killer-rapist Russell Williams will ever again be published in our pages with him wearing a military uniform. But I have no such clout. Perhaps the power of suggestion will win the day. It would be the right thing for the largest newspaper chain in Canada to do, and for it to then publicly state why this corporate decision was made ….”
Remembering the fallen, one tree at a time: “The first tree planted in the Afghanistan Memorial Forest at CFB Petawawa has been dedicated to the memory of Sapper Sean Greenfield, who was killed in Afghanistan on January 31, 2009. “Spr Greenfield’s tree will be the first of many planted here,” said base commander Lieutenant-Colonel Keith Rudderham. The Memorial Forest is in the Memorial Park on the eastern edge of the base. Its purpose is to provide a lasting link for the families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan for generations to come ….”
Looking for Wikileaks’ diplomatic cables? Sorry, but just like the Afghanistan and Iraq leaks, every piece of paper is an individual snapshot of what one report writer had to say about a specific meeting. Do we know if all the cables are there to show a full picture? If they were, would mainstream media go for the meat (digging and waiting for some context) or the sizzle (what tidbits can we mine NOW)? Nothing to see here, friend – feel free to move on to other news.
Well, we know ONE place diplomatic paperwork apparently didn’t find its way to:“Canadian reports about torture in Afghan prisons could have been helpful — if they had been passed on — the military’s former head of investigations said Monday. Retired lieutenant-colonel William Garrick was the commanding officer of the Canadian Forces National Investigative Service when detainees transferred to Afghan authorities told foreign affairs department officials they had been tortured. But Garrick told the Military Police Complaints Commission he didn’t see any of those allegations. When asked about reports that detail several prisoners’ allegations they were kicked, beaten with electrical cables and given electric shocks, Garrick said he wasn’t aware of the reports. He also said he didn’t know about site reports foreign affairs officials filed after visiting prisons and interviewing detainees ….”
Some questions about from how Canada handled juvenile detainees in Afghanistan:“The Canadian Forces have for years arrested children suspected of working with the Taliban and handed them over to an Afghan security unit accused of torture …. Allegations that militants captured by Canada were transferred to Afghan forces and later tortured were hotly debated in Parliament last fall. A document obtained by the CBC’s investigative unit shows that Canadian soldiers captured children as well in the fight against the Taliban, and that many of them were transferred to the custody of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, or NDS. The document, obtained under an Access to Information request and marked “secret,” shows that Defence Minister Peter MacKay was briefed on the topic of juvenile detainees in Afghanistan March 30. The “Canadian eyes only” note informs MacKay of how many children suspected of “participating in the insurgency” have been arrested by Canadian Forces and how many of them have been transferred into Afghan custody in the previous four years ….” Kudos, by the way, to CBC.ca for sharing the briefing note in question here. The “Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre” in Afghanistan where the kids were sent popped up in Canada’s backgrounder on detainees recently: here’s the original backgrounder, and here’s the latest version. When did it change? Apparently, about the time CBC got the briefing note. More from CBC.ca here, the Globe & Mail here, Postmedia News here, QMI/Sun Media here and United Press International here.
Worries about how much (more than planned?) proposed new F-35 jet fighters will cost:“Canada’s new stealth fighter aircraft will require extensive maintenance, as well as very expensive changes to improve security at the military bases they operate from, according to Defence Department documents obtained by the Citizen. Critics of the Conservative government’s proposal to buy the high-tech Joint Strike Fighters have been warning that the purchase will come with hidden costs that could drive up the price tag far beyond the current estimate of $16 billion. The 2006 DND report, which looked at next generation fighter planes as well as the stealth Joint Strike Fighter, highlighted issues that could play a factor in any aircraft purchase ….” Unlike CBC.ca, though, the Ottawa Citizen doesn’t appear to be sharing the briefing note with its readers.
On a more pleasant note, five new pilots rotate into positions with Canada’s Snowbirds: “Five Canadian Forces pilots were officially introduced as the latest members of 431 (Air Demonstration) Squadron, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, Wednesday, November 24 at 15 Wing, Moose Jaw, Sask., after a rigorous selection process and months of preparation. The newest squadron members are Snowbird 3, Captain Padruig MacIntosh, of Windsor, Ont.; Snowbird 5, Captain Brett Parker, of Edmonton, Alta.; Snowbird 6, Captain Denis Bandet, of Regina, Sask.; Snowbird 8, Major Ryan Stich, of Toronto, Ont.; and Advance and Safety Pilot – Snowbird 11, Captain Robert Chagnon, of Laval, Que. ….”