MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Jan 11

  • PM:  There’s ALWAYS something around the corner needing Canadian military might“Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he has no immediate action planned for Canada’s military once its combat mission in Afghanistan ends, but he expects the nation’s soldiers will be needed sooner rather than later. “There always ends up being a need,” Harper said during an interview with The Standard Friday in Thorold. “Something will come up in the next few years that demands — and I don’t mean disaster relief — that demands the sustained involvement of Canadian forces in a significant mission.” ….”
  • Advice for the Liberals on how to play the “we wouldn’t buy the F-35” card“…. This is the biggest military procurement in Canadian history. The Tories have made a political decision to make the purchase with a sole-source contract, so it does seem like a sensible issue for an election debate. It is unlikely, though, to be a reasoned debate, because it’s hard to get down to a real consideration of the main issues: the purchasing process, and whether we want to pay more money for stealth capability. The Tories seem to want to avoid a debate on those terms, likely because they remember — Grrrr! — how Chretien jammed them in 1993, and they are afraid Canadians will again agree with the Liberals. I think they are right to be afraid of that, and so they have been working hard to drum up industry support for the F-35s ….”
  • Still MORE whining about Don Cherry supporting the troops! “…. Many hockey fans across Canada have been disturbed by a larger trend—the strategy of the Harper Conservatives to turn athletes and the Canadian Armed Forces into props for their war-making agenda. It’s difficult these days to find a major sports event which does not incorporate reference to “our brave troops in Kandahar”. For me, the most gut-wrenching was at the Oct. 31 Saskatchewan Roughriders vs. B.C. Lions game at Empire Stadium in Vancouver. The psychological aim of this strategy is to sow divisions among Canadians, particularly among the solid majority who want an early return home for the troops in Afghanistan. “Real” hockey fans and “real” Canadians, we are urged to believe, all “support the troops” and therefore back the alleged aims of the military mission. Anyone who questions this reasoning is immediately under suspicion. Such individuals are somehow not considered true fans or “patriotic” Canadians ….”
  • Threats against Canada’s Coptic Christians (1) “Liberals want Ottawa to cough up cash for Coptic churches”
  • Threats against Canada’s Coptic Christians (2) – “…. “It’s not really practical to do such a thing, honestly,” said Sherif Mansour, the Ottawa-based spokesman for the Canadian Coptic Association. “I would like to see more effort on monitoring the groups that we know are the source of troubles . . . That’s much, much, much better to empower the law enforcement agencies instead of wasting money on cameras,” said Mansour, who added that his name was on a list of some 100 Canadian Copts published on an Islamic website in December along with addresses and photos, which security experts feared could be used by the radical Muslims to inflict harm ….”
  • Threats against Canada’s Coptic Christians (3) – What Muslims in Egypt are doing to show solidarity with the Copts: “…. Egypt’s Ahramonline reported that droves of Muslims had turned up at Coptic churches to act as “human shields.” It quoted Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon credited with first floating the “human shield” idea, as saying, “We either live together, or we die together.” “This is not about us and them,” Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly, told Ahramonline. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.” ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: All sorts of Americans and “puppets” claimed killed across Kandahar, Zabul.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 21 Dec 10

  • Corporal Steve Martin, R22eR, R.I.P. He’s expected to arrive at CFB Trenton this afternoon.  A bit more here.
  • Suuuuuuure the Taliban tries to prevent civilian casualties…. “A respected villager, his three brothers and his young son were walking home from early-morning prayers at their mosque when the man spotted something suspicious on the dusty road outside his family’s mud-walled compound. Crouching down to investigate, there was an eruption of dirt and shrapnel — the man, 38, was blown apart, the four others seriously wounded. The dull, concussive boom of the explosion shook awake the occupants of a nearby Canadian combat outpost camp, located in the Panjwaii district southwest of Kandahar City …. Was it a message to the village, a traditional Taliban safe haven, but in an area where the Van Doos and the Afghan security forces have announced their intentions to now stay? Or was it in response to a visit the previous day by Afghan and Canadian generals to a neighbouring village where the message was one of coming operations to chase out the insurgents? “It could have been for intimidation, but it was probably targeted at us, not the local population,” said Warrant Officer Claude Belisle of 5th platoon B Company, based at COP Imam Sahib …”
  • The latest (and a warning) on the change o’ mission for Canada in Afghanistan: “2011 will be a year of massive transition for Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, as troops close out the mission as combat warriors in Kandahar to open a new chapter as trainers in Kabul.  After years of gruelling, costly and deadly warfare, the military will pull combat soldiers from the field. But the mission will continue — with up to 950 soldiers based around the Afghan capital – in a training and development capacity.  Conservative Sen. Pamela Wallin, chair of the Senate defence committee that urged the government to maintain a role in Afghanistan post-2011, said the impact would have been “quite profound” had Canada completely withdrawn.  “It would have been a loss for the world,” she told QMI Agency. “It would have been a loss for NATO, it would have been a loss for the Afghans and I think it would have been a loss for Canadians if we hadn’t agreed to stay to finish what we set out to do.” …. despite the move from Kandahar to the relatively safer region of Kabul, Wallin warned the entire country remains a war zone and Canada could still suffer casualties ….”
  • Speaking of training Afghan security forces, there still appears to be pretty big gaps to be filled. “NATO is not meeting its target for assembling specialized trainers to build up Afghanistan’s army and police forces, the key that would open the way to a withdrawal of coalition troops beginning next year. An internal progress report from the training mission headquarters here warned that it “does not have the required number of trainers, which threatens our ability to sustain momentum through the summer of 2011 to develop and professionalize the Afghan national security force.” The Dec. 12 report, obtained by The Globe and Mail, said NATO member countries have so far pledged to fill just half of the 819 “critical” trainer slots that need to be filled if Afghanistan is to begin to assume responsibility next year for its own security. Some nations that have made offers, including Canada, have yet to confirm their pledges or decide what kinds of skills and capabilities their trainers would bring. “It’s a huge jigsaw puzzle,” said a senior NATO officer in Kabul. “Some countries can confirm their pledges right away. Others say they need time to resolve political and budgetary issues.” ….”
  • More on what Canada should be doing to protect women’s rights in Afghanistan, from Senator Mobina Jaffer, the Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights“…. If Canada is going to help create a more stable and secure Afghanistan then it will need to ensure that women are part of the equation. In addition they will also have to adapt their training so that it is gender sensitive. If this is not done then Afghanistan, a country that has experienced over 23 years of war, will never see peace.”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Taliban claims to blow up 2 Canadian “tanks” – no mainstream media confirmation.
  • “If you read only one letter over the holiday season, let this Canadian trooper’s heartfelt words be it”
  • Some work for armoured fighting vehicle builders in London, Ontario. “…. GM GDLS Defense Group, LLC, JV, Sterling Heights, Mich., was awarded on Dec. 16 a $9,614,102 firm-fixed-price/cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This award will provide for 350 Stryker retrofit video display electronic terminal A-kits. Work will be performed in Shelby Township, Mich., and London, Canada, with an estimated completion date of July 31, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. The U.S. Army TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-07-D-M112) ….”
  • The Globe & Mail‘s Geoffrey York (AGAIN) flogging his favourite question:  why isn’t Canada helping the Congo? “It has become a grim Christmas ritual: hundreds of innocent civilians massacred in remote corners of Africa by the Lord’s Resistance Army, one of the world’s cruellest and bloodiest guerrilla forces.  Now, fearing a Christmas attack for the third consecutive year, the United Nations is mobilizing 900 peacekeepers to protect villages in Congo, and the United States has promised its own action against the LRA.  But activists are calling for a much stronger response to prevent another wave of gruesome attacks by LRA fighters, who routinely kidnap, rape, torture and mutilate their victims. More than 1,000 adults and children were killed by the LRA in the days around Christmas in 2008 and 2009, while hundreds more were kidnapped and conscripted into the rebel army …. Canadian Senator Roméo Dallaire, a former lieutenant-general who commanded the UN force in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, warned that there is an “imminent threat” of further massacres by the LRA this month. He joined a group of former high-ranking diplomats and UN officials in calling for a stronger strategy against the rebel army.  “How many lives must be lost and destroyed before the international community agrees to take the threat seriously and act?” Mr. Dallaire said.” Since Mr. York didn’t mention it, the CF already HAS a presence in Democratic Republic of Congo.  This isn’t the first time he’s asked for this – more here on his last call in August October (thanks Mark at Unambiguously Ambidextrous for the bit in red) for Canada to do more there.  Also, more on Canada’s national interests (or lack thereof?) in Congo at Army.ca here.
  • The Canadian Press has been trolling jihadi online forums for some intriguing stories, the latest being one of Coptic Christians being named on these forums (maybe as possible targets?). “More than 100 Canadian-Arab Christians are listed on an al-Qaeda affiliated website, apparently targeted because of their alleged role in attempting to convert Muslims. Some of those named say concerned Canadian intelligence officials have contacted them. The Shumukh-al-Islam website, often considered to be al-Qaeda’s mouthpiece, listed pictures, addresses and cellphone numbers of Coptic Christians, predominantly Egyptian-Canadians, who have been vocal about their opposition to Islam. Three pages of the fundamentalist, Arabic-language website titled “Complete information on Coptics” sets to “identify and name all of the Coptics throughout the world who hope to defame Islam,” The website calls the Coptic Christians living abroad “dogs in diaspora,” a derogatory reference in Arabic. In a forum on the website, one member named Son of a Sharp Sword, says “We are going to return back to Islam and all of the Mujahedeen [holy warriors] will cut off their heads.” ….”
  • A bit of a review of recent media speculation on Rick Hillier as Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, from the Ottawa Citizen.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 Dec 10

  • Remember the Toronto 18 terrorists? Some of the cases have wrapped up appeals at the Ontario Court of Appeal, and guess what?  MORE TIME FOR YOU (and you with the life sentence, keep it)! More in news releases here and here – more from mainstream media here, here, here and here.
  • Also, remember this guy, getting on the plane in Hong Kong looking like an old man and getting off the plane in Vancouver looking like a young Chinese man? It seems participants on jihadi online forums are talking about his stunt“The young Chinese asylum seeker who boarded a plane for Canada disguised as an elderly white man has drawn the attention of visitors to an extremist Islamist website, who have praised the elaborate plan as a potential tactic. Shumukh al-Islam, an al-Qaida affiliated website meaning Islamic Honour, has an ongoing Arabic-language discussion on the young man’s entry into Canada that cites the details of his arrival here. A forum on the site praised the idea as a tool for so-called “holy warriors.” “This is a great idea that can benefit the mujahedeen,” one member, with the name Attique of the North, wrote shortly after the discussion began on Shumukh al-Islam last Tuesday. “Truly this will benefit the mujahedeen,” another anonymous person wrote ….”
  • Remember the mayor of Kandahar City being underwhelmed about how Western (including Canadian) aid money was being spent? Lots of interesting discussion of that story here at Army.ca – well worth a look.
  • Some CF-generated copy of what the troops are up to in Afghanistan (1)“In June 2009, in anticipation of the up-coming Afghan presidential election, Task Force Kandahar (TFK) was tasked to converge on Salavat, a village near Nakhoney in Panjwa’i District, to disrupt a key insurgent staging area. The two-day operation, called CONSTRICTOR, involved the entire 2nd Battalion Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group and close to 200 Afghan soldiers and police. By its end, Salavat had yielded up close to 80 kg of explosives, emplaced IEDs and shell casings, plus night letters, pieces of uniform clothing, and some weapons old enough to be museum pieces — all typical signs of insurgent presence ….”
  • Some CF-generated copy of what the troops are up to in Afghanistan (2)“By the end of 2010, the Civil-Military Co-operation (CIMIC) Company in Task Force Kandahar is expected to reach a major milestone: the completion of more than 500 development and reconstruction projects that will make an immediate positive impact on local Afghans. “Five hundred completed projects is unprecedented, and a great accomplishment for TFK CIMIC personnel. To be able to accomplish so much in such a short time and within this environment, is something I did not think was possible, but through the hard work of our personnel and our partners, we did it,” said Major William Carrie Riddell, the officer commanding TFK CIMIC Company on Roto 9 ….”