Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Elrick News Highlights – 17 Jun 11

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  • Libya Mission (1a)  Canadian jets have taken part in strikes against the Libyan capital of Tripoli. A Canadian Forces spokesperson says that CF-18 warplanes were involved in targeted strike missions over four days last weekend. The spokesperson could not say if Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi was close to any of the bombings. The CF-18s were involved in day and night raids on Tripoli. NATO has recently stepped up their attacks on targets in the city, which included depots housing armoured vehicles last weekend. Canada has six jets taking part in the NATO-led bombardment ….”  More here, here,
  • Libya Mission (1b)  More than a quarter of the money spent so far on the Canadian mission in Libya has gone toward bombs and other ammunition, the military says. The Canadian Forces broke down the $26-million costs of the military mission up to the start of this month, days after the House of Commons approved an extension through to the end of September. It is estimated the deployment will have cost Canadians $60-million by that time. The highest single cost so far, $7.23-million, was for ammunition, including the laser-guided bombs being dropped over Libya by a fleet of six CF-18 fighter jets that have flown 418 sorties as of June 15 (though not all of those flights involved bombs being dropped). The military hasn’t said whether the weapons aboard the HMCS Charlottetown, its lone ship involved in the mission, have been fired. It is likely, though, since the frigate has come under attack on several occasions including rockets fired from the Libyan coast and machine gunfire from several small boats found approaching the harbour in Misrata ….”
  • Libya Mission (2)  The current key message out of the Prime Minister’s office about the Libyan mission so far? “HMCS Charlottetown and CF-18 pilots and crews are keeping up the pressure on Gadhafi by defending the Libyan people.”
  • Libya Mission (3)  One of the usual suspects is calling for Canada to stop the bombing.  “Tell Stephen Harper and other party leaders that you do not support the current bombings by Canadian fighter-bombers in Libya. Send your letter, right away. ”  I wonder if anyone edits the online letter to say something entirely different before clicking “Submit”?  Just askin’….
  • Libya Mission (4)  What Canada’s long-range patrol planes are up to over the Mediterranean (courtesy of the CF Info-Machine).
  • Libya Mission (5)  Rebel organization 101“The National Transitional Council of Libya has become the governance arm of those fighting the forces of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. This week, Canada joined a growing number of countries in recognizing the group’s legitimacy — but few Canadians know much about it. So here’s a crash course. Established on March 5 in Benghazi, according to the group’s official website, it’s comprised of 33 members representing the cities and towns liberated from Gadhafi’s rule since the uprisings began. The council also includes delegates representing women, youth, political prisoners, political affairs, economics, legal affairs and military affairs ….”
  • Still in Africa, here’s what Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has to say about the latest fracas in Sudan:  “….Canada is deeply concerned by the recent violence in South Kordofan and its impact on civilian populations. Canada condemns the aerial bombings and attacks against civilians that have displaced more than 60,000 people, according to the UN. Canada calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and urges all parties to ensure the utmost protection of civilians, including by providing full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to those in need. he issues at stake in South Kordofan must be resolved by consultation and negotiation, and not by violence ….”  More from mainstream media here and here.
  • Afghanistan (1)  “…. as Canada prepares to leave the war-weary country, families who have lost loved ones in a mission marked by little more than incremental successes are grappling with a cruel question: Did their son, daughter, father, wife or husband die in vain? ….”  More from families of the fallen here.
  • Meanwhile, a Private Members Bill has been introduced in the House of Commons calling for a national memorial wall in honour of all of Canada’s fallen in past wars and peacekeeping missions to be built in Ottawa.  More on the bill here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  Leopard tanks preparing for the long trip home.  “A potent symbol that Canada’s war in Afghanistan is almost over came roaring through the gates of Kandahar Airfield Thursday as the first echelon of battle tanks arrived for transport home. A line of Leopard 2A6M tanks, with accompanying armoured troop carriers and support trucks, streamed out of the desert leaving a plume of dust in the blinding morning sky. The lead vehicle, belonging to the Quebec-based 12e Régiment Blindé du Canada, sported a small Canadian flag from one of the antennas. It was followed further back by another tank where the regimental colours — light blue, red and yellow — were unfurled …. ” P.S. – It appears to be a unit camp flag, as opposed to the unit’s colours (called a guidon in this case), flying over the tank.
  • Afghanistan (3)  Figuring out what to sell as surplus as Canada takes down its presence in Kandahar.  “An army marches on its stomach, as Napoleon once observed. But the modern-day military needs more than just food. It needs everything from welding torches and duct tape to gun grease, computers, leaf blowers, inner tubes, generators, eye wash, sunscreen, fax machines, cellphones, video games and spare windshields. Those items make up just a fraction of the non-combat materiel that the Canadian military has accumulated during its years in Afghanistan. Now that it is pulling out and heading home next month, it is selling a sprawl of surplus stuff that is too expensive or insignificant to ship home. “It’s like bringing back a small city,” said, Lieutenant-Colonel Guy Doiron commanding officer of the Mission Disposal Unit, part of the transition task force that will remain at the Kandahar Air Field, packing up, until the end of the year ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  A bit of detail about how one reporter covered the troops and Afghanistan. “…. I should also say that the reporting environment during my embed was open and accessible, and compared favourably to official circles in Ottawa. I slept in the same shipping containers or tents as soldiers in forward operating bases and talked to whomever I wanted about pretty much anything. International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan did send me a lengthy list of media rules. I admit I skimmed over these, but most made sense from a security perspective. (Don’t use flash cameras when on night patrols, for example; there are also restrictions on photographing or filming equipment.) I think it’s accurate to say that military personnel were more concerned with these rules at the Kandahar Airfield than at forward operating bases. There is nothing I wanted to include in my articles but could not. It was important to me, however, to leave the embed to spend more time with Afghans, and I did so — traveling first to Kabul and then elsewhere in Afghanistan. Once I got on a civilian flight from Kandahar to Kabul, my embed was over and ISAF and the Canadian Forces no longer had any responsibility for me. Maclean’s paid for everything from this point on ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War:  According to Mark Collins, when’ll Canada get those F-35s into action?  May 2020 is it?
  • The Canadian navy plans to spend about $1 million building a permanent nuclear decontamination centre this year at Canadian Forces Base Shearwater, CBC News has learned. The 250-square-metre concrete block and steel-sided building will house various decontamination equipment needed every time a nuclear-powered vessel visits Halifax and ties up at CFB Shearwater. CFB Halifax commander Capt. Brian Santarpia told CBC News that U.S. nuclear-powered submarines call on Halifax between five and six times each year. “We’re building a decontamination shelter here to do the work we have been doing for a long time, to be ready in case there’s an accident on a visiting nuclear vessel,” he said …”
  • Canadian company donates boots to troops preparing to march in Europe. “The feet of more than a dozen Canadian soldiers are receiving some tender loving care. Oromocto’s CPGEAR donated what’s known as Original S.W.A.T. boots to 15 soldiers. They will be worn in the annual 160-kilometre Nijmegen March, set for next month in the Netherlands. “It’s a hell of a hard march. I am hoping they’re going to help out,” CPGEAR president Mark Wheeler said. “They seem to be extremely popular with the soldiers.” The lightweight footwear was made available to CPGEAR from the Original Shoe Co. Ltd. of Georgetown, Ont., the exclusive Canadian distributor for S.W.A.T. boots. Cpl. Shawn Staszewski, a member of the local Nijmegen March team from Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, said the boots will be a huge help during the march, primarily because of the comfort difference ….”
  • A little bit out of the government regarding a law suit being brought by a soldier who lost both legs in Afghanistan and wants to stay in the military. “…. The military hasn’t filed a statement of defence yet, and neither the Defence Department nor Defence Minister Peter MacKay will comment on the case because it’s before the courts. However, the department does say soldiers who can’t serve in the regular force or reserves will be given a longer time to make the transition to civilian life, including health care and re-training for up to three years. (Ryan) Elrick says that’s not good enough. “I would like to create a situation where soldiers in the future don’t have to go through this,” he said. “Since 2006, it’s been a hellish experience.” “
  • Helping vets find a job.  “As any job-seeker knows, getting that one interview at a company is half the battle after firing the opening volleys of query letters, resumés and references. The hurdles are even greater for retiring members of the military. They may be searching while serving overseas. Even if they’re back home, they’ve been out of their networks for months, if not years. That’s where says it hopes to shine. It’s a small effort so far – just three volunteers, funding everything out of their own pockets – but so far, they have 30 companies listed on its website. Employers are guaranteed at least one qualified veteran an interview per job posting, providing an opportunity for each side to meet ….”
  • Column: It ain’t just guns that make Canada able to be Big(ger) Man on the World Campus. “…. I cannot remember a time when our once vaunted diplomatic corps, once one of the world’s best, has appeared more timid and more underappreciated by cabinet, not to mention under-strength and demoralized. Any real attempt to promote Canada as a purposeful new force in the world will require a full-scale rebuilding of Foreign Affairs to get it back to the point where its views are listened to and its skills are deployed to the fullest. A handful of CF-18 fighters and a frigate won’t suffice. That’s why taking the measure of Harper’s new foreign policy, if that’s what it is, will have to await a better sense of the new foreign affairs minister, John Baird. Harper’s appointment of the dynamic, rough and tumble Baird to a position occupied of late by more tranquil figures of little clout seems heavy with meaning. But what meaning exactly? Is Baird set to stand up loudly to revive Canadian diplomacy; or to bully it even further into the ground?”
  • Abousfian Abdelrazik would have a better chance of getting off the United Nations’ no-fly list if he were an avowed Taliban supporter, or even a Taliban leader, said a group of well-wishers in Montreal Wednesday as they announced their departure to New York to press the UN into removing Abdelrazik’s name from the terror blacklist — and giving him his life back. The UN sanctions committee is meeting Thursday to consider de-listing up to 18 members and supporters of the Taliban in Afghanistan at the request of the Afghan government, with support from the U.K and U.S. governments ….”
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  • Double amputee goes to court to try to stay in the Canadian Forces.  “A (Winnipeg-area) soldier who lost both legs in Afghanistan has launched a constitutional court challenge against a Canadian military policy that forces permanently injured members out of service because they aren’t combat-ready. Cpl. Ryan Elrick lost both legs after his armoured vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in June 2006. Despite his injury, Elrick wanted to remain in the military, and was therefore re-trained to become an intelligence officer. He got top secret security clearance, performed duties normally reserved for people two ranks above him, and was praised in his formal evaluations for his “outstanding leadership,” “excellent military bearing,” and “adherence to high Canadian Forces ethics and values.” Then, in July 2010, a review of Elrick’s file deemed him unfit for service because the loss of his legs put him in violation of a section of the National Defence Act that states all Canadian Forces personnel must be eligible for all duties at all times ….”  More from Postmedia News on this here, and interesting discussion (with both “he should stay” and “he should go” positions) here at  If you’re interested in the official documents behind universality of service, here’s the Defence and Administrative Order and Directive, and here’s a recent, more plain-language fact sheet (with a copy of the fact sheet here if the link doesn’t work).
  • Whazzup with hunger striker Fabien Melanson seeking an apology from Veterans Affairs in PEI?  This from the Minister in the House of Commons yesterday“…. our government has apologized for what happened years ago. My two predecessors have presented apologies and I also feel sorry for what happened under the previous government. However, corrective measures were taken. I have instructed my officials and they are closely monitoring the situation so we take care of the health of this veteran and of all veterans.”
  • Libya Mission (1)  Debate on mission extension to begin today (Hansard).
  • Libya Mission (2)  And the horse trading for support of the motion begins through the media. “The official NDP Opposition is showing signs of cold feet towards Canada’s military engagement in Libya to stop a dictator from massacring innocent civilians. On the eve of the party’s national convention in Vancouver on Friday, where pacifists in the party want an outright pull-out of Libya, Afghanistan and NATO, New Democrats signalled Monday reservations about a 15-week extension of air strikes. The NDP originally agreed to Canada’s three-month NATO commitment to protect civilians from attacks by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi, but now appear to be having second thoughts about supporting a government motion in Parliament on Wednesday to extend the mission. The party’s foreign affairs critic rhymed off a list of amendments outside the Commons the NDP wants for its support – money earmarked for humanitarian and diplomacy to end the conflict, among other things – concessions Prime Minister Stephen Harper can reject with a majority government. He also has the support of the Liberals ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  Even the Green Party gets to speak up on this one.
  • Libya Mission (4)  Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird assures the House of Commons the mission isn’t creeping.  “Our work in Libya is in accordance with the UN resolution. Our military mission has not changed. The resolution on this policy, which we will debate tomorrow, will aim to extend the mission by three and a half months …. the UN sanctioned mission in Libya to protect the vulnerable civilians is not a partisan one.”
  • Libya Mission (5)  Op-ed says we have to extend the mission. “When Canada enters a military conflict elsewhere in the world, we must be prepared to finish what we start. It serves no one — not civilians who we try to protect, and not Canada’s international reputation as a dependable ally — to drop out of a mission that has yet to come to a conclusion. Parliament is expected to vote this week on whether to extend the mission in Libya. There should be a vigorous debate, but the answer must be yes — and no doubt it will be, since the Conservatives have a majority and Canada has already voted with NATO to extend the mission until September. We can hardly turn around now and refuse to take part in the extended mission ….”
  • Libya Mission (6)  Senator’s opinion: “…. There are all kinds of domestic and international uses for a strong military, the main one being defence of our sovereign territory. But, from time to time, we also need to send our troops abroad. It is, after all, far safer to tackle threats to Canadian and world security on distant battlefields than wait for them to arrive on our doorstep. But some missions don’t make nearly as much sense as others. In my eyes, Afghanistan stopped making sense not long after we got there. And if Canada’s bombing mission in Libya makes sense, it is time for the Prime Minister to explain why. If he can’t, we should pack up and come home ….”
  • Afghanistan (1) Canada’s efforts have left the insurgency in southern Afghanistan “on its knees,” says the commander of the Afghan troops who have been fighting alongside Canadian soldiers. Last month at Kandahar Airfield, Brig.-Gen. Ahmed Habibi gave Prime Minister Stephen Harper an upbeat private briefing on the state of the war in southern Afghanistan. He is expected to give a similar talk when he travels to Kingston, Ont., next month to address Canadian officers studying at the war college there. “I want to share our successes and explain how we got them, and I want to learn from their experiences,” Habibi said of his upcoming trip during an interview at an Afghan army battalion headquarters, at an austere forward base in Panjwaii that was teeming with Canadian, U.S. and Afghan troops. “It is a matter of fact that the Canadians sacrificed a lot here. I remember there were 400 or 500 Taliban in the area when the Canadians came to Kandahar in 2006. They are the ones who stood with us and fought not only in Panjwaii but across the province. The enemy is on its knees here now. The truth of it is that it is because of the hard work of the Canadians.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Want a chance to discuss the war online?  “…. As the Canadian pullout begins in earnest, it is time to ask ourselves – how do we measure success in Afghanistan? wants you to be a part of a national conversation, a debate not fueled by political retort, but by honest and frank discussion on Canada’s largest military and humanitarian effort since the Korean War. Please join us for our live blog Tuesday, June 14 from 5:30 to 9:30 PM ET: “10 YEARS OF WAR IN AFGHANISTAN: WHAT HAS CANADA ACHIEVED AND AT WHAT COST?” ….”
  • CSIS Annual Report (report message from the boss):  Cyberattacks waged via the Internet are the fastest growing form of espionage, Canada’s spy agency says. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service also warns that the energy, financial and telecommunications sectors are becoming increasingly vulnerable to attack. In its annual public report, CSIS says it investigated threats against critical systems last year by foreign countries, terrorists and hackers. Internet-based tools and techniques offer a secure and low-risk means of conducting espionage, the spy service says. “Increasingly, cyber-related tools and techniques have been added to the methods utilized by hostile actors to attack public- and private-sector systems,” says the report tabled Monday in Parliament ….”
  • Speaker of the House of Commons:  No need for emergency debate on closure of marine rescue Sub-Centres in Quebec City and Saint John’s (but there may be other chances to debate this later in the session).
  • Article:  we shouldn’t be so complacent about the potential of an attack on the North American continent.  “…. modern North American statecraft – and the strategic psychology of North America’s statesmen and stateswomen – has not to date (more precisely, during the last century-plus) been disciplined by any serious prospect of proper warfare being visited on the continent. Indeed, on paper and in the abstract, plans for enemy attack – conventional and asymmetric – on North America evidently exist, and institutions like NORAD (North American Aerospace Defence Command), NORTHCOM in the US and CANCOM in Canada certainly attest to the likely form of continental response to such attacks. But these plans are not felt, and these institutions – while certainly not merely pro forma – are little tried and tested in the context of the extraordinary circumstances and pressures that come with strategic conflict at one’s borders, or on one’s soil. Moreover, this absence of ‘feeling’ and dearth of ‘testedness’ are unlikely to change in the near future in virtue of a simple truth: North America’s strategic leaders do not, at this time of writing, think about – or indeed even conceive of – conflict at home because they do not and cannot believe it to be part of the realm of reasonable ‘strategic futures.’ ….”  More on this here.
  • The Pearson Peacekeeping Centre says it will close its Nova Scotia operation by year’s end due to a lack of government funding. The centre says the closure will affect 12 administrative staff in Cornwallis. A statement on the centre’s website says it will continue to operate from Ottawa. The centre began operations in Cornwallis 17 years ago and has trained thousands of military and police personnel, along with civilians ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Tactical ponchos, Moo-moo, quantity:  60 for CANSOFCOM – more here.