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Posts Tagged ‘Task Force Kandahar

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 29 Jun 11

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  • Francis Roy, R.I.P.  Arriving home later today.
  • Afghanistan (1)  How one woman is supporting the troops, one letter at a time.
  • Afghanistan (2)  “…. Over the past few months, on many mornings just like this, Maj. Frederic Pruneau has scanned the landscape, so lush in the nourished floodplain of the Arghandab River, and wondered: “Where are you?’’ It’s not his own place in the sweep of Afghanistan that puzzles Pruneau. He knows where he stands and why, in a few days, he’ll be leaving as his parachute troops — Alpha Company of 3 Van Doos, attached to the 1st Van Doos for this mission — depart the area of operations, depart the country, Task Force Kandahar fading to black. Rather, it’s the enigmatic no-see-em insurgency that has Pruneau taking the lay of the land, sizing up the significance of an opponent that has largely gone AWOL in this, the second half of the Para tour. The traditional spring and summer terrorism surge in Panjwaii has not materialized, insurgency dialed down to a whimper hereabouts. Though hereabouts is, quite frankly, small — a mere 35 square kilometres, south of the river, less than half of the Panjwaii area formerly under Canadian jurisdiction, before this and neighbouring districts devolved to the incoming Americans ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  One soldier’s story, via Globalnews.ca.
  • Afghanistan (4)  If this country ever sorts itself out, Canadians will be remembered for their role. But perhaps bureaucracy will have played a small part as well. On Monday, the Canadian Battle Group commander attended his final regional security meeting – a gathering known as a shura. It was Canada that pushed for the weekly round tables of the major international and Afghan players who are trying to defeat the insurgency. Checks and balances maintain order in developed countries like Canada, so why shouldn’t they be used in Afghanistan? ….”
  • Afghanistan (5)  As Canadian combat forces leave Kandahar this summer, Canada’s man in Kabul has also been saying his goodbyes in the capital. Bill Crosbie’s two-year term as Ottawa’s envoy to Afghanistan ends shortly. In a farewell interview with Postmedia News at Canada’s new embassy complex in Kabul, Crosbie said that the capital, Kandahar, and the country in general are more secure than when he arrived in 2009. He was immensely proud of what Canadian diplomats, other public servants and soldiers have achieved so far in Afghanistan in security and with signature projects such as the Dahla Dam, which brings water to farmers in Kandahar. But the Newfoundlander, who is a cousin of former Mulroney minister John Crosbie, fretted about the country’s future because Afghan leaders are not yet seized with the importance of developing national institutions and the rule of law ….”
  • Afghanistan (6)  More on the troops packing up (video, via the CF Info-Machine)
  • Afghanistan (7)  Each story about alleged abuse of Afghan detainees received almost the same response from the government: Officials scrutinized every fact of every story to determine what was needed to be done in response to the media coverage. The facts were laid out in spreadsheets with the claim, its veracity and government response listed. The coverage spurred an official response and that response in turn spurred more coverage. The tidbits of the role the media played in the Afghan detainee affair are buried within the more than 4,200 pages of documents released last week. They are also evidence of changes in international reporting that have forced governments to react quicker to stories available immediately to worldwide audiences ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  More assassinations, airfield shellings alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan & Zabul.
  • Private Alexander Johnston, 1885-1918, R.I.P.:  The Department of National Defence (DND) has identified the remains of a First World War soldier found in Raillencourt Saint-Olle, France, in 2008, as those of Private Alexander Johnston of Hamilton, Ontario …. In July 2008, human remains were discovered in Raillencourt Saint-Olle, France. Found with the remains were two collar badges of the 78th Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers). The Directorate of History and Heritage was notified of the discovery in February 2009, and the remains were identified through mitochondrial DNA testing, as those of Private Johnston, on March 31, 2011 ….”  A bit more from The Canadian Press here.
  • What’s Canada Buying (1)  More EOD robots, apparently“The Canadian Army is planning on adding two new UGVs (Unmanned Ground Vehicles) to its family of EOD devices in an effort to continue the re-establishment of its EOD ROV capability. After ‘giving up’ on UGVs in 1995, the army has been moving towards re-developing its UGV capability, James Hewitt, director of combat support equipment management for the Canadian Forces, told the Military Robotics conference in London on 28 June. Working under a $(CAD)700 million equipment budget over eight years, the army plans to purchase two new UGVs to add to the four systems currently in service. ‘We’re building an inventory. That re-establishment is what’s really costing us,’ Hewitt told the conference. ‘You’ve got to spend a long time preparing for the introduction of the equipment. Basic UGV platforms do not change much, what does change are sensor packages, tools and accessories.’ The tender for the first – for a dismounted operations UGV system – is expected to be released by the end of 2011, and the requirements will include: a 5kg weight; the system to be throwable; the ability to fit into a soldier’s backpack; good camera outfit; and the ability to fire a recoilless disruptor. The second tender for a chemical, biological, reconnaissance, and nuclear (CBRN) reconnaissance UGV is expected at the end of 2012 and will call for a 75-100kg platform, which will therefore require a two or three man operation ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Sewer, water hook-up for proposed Chinook site in Petawawa, and research help figuring out bad guy’s psychology (via Army.ca).
  • Energy and water shortages combined with climate change could provoke wars within the next 15 years, warns an analysis by the Department of National Defence. “Global reserves of crude oil could become problematic by 2025,” wrote Maj. John Sheahan in a draft version of the report, Army 2040: First Look. He wrote that barring the discovery of significant new reserves and adequate adoption of alternative fuel sources, critical energy shortages could before 2025. “There can be little doubt that unrestricted access to reliable energy supplies is a global strategic issue, one for which, recently, numerous nations have been willing to fight, and have indeed done so,” said the report, released to Postmedia News through an Access to Information request. “Thus the trend that envisions depletion of fossil fuels such as crude oil in coming decades may also contribute to international tensions if not violent conflict.” ….”
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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 15 Apr 11

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  • Libya Ops – Long Beach-built Boeing C-17 Globemaster jets owned by the United States, Canada and Qatar are playing an increasing role in operations across war-scarred Libya, including the recent airlift of wounded rebel fighters. According to Press-Telegram, a newspaper from Long Beach, California, at least two Canadian C-17s are operating from Malta. A Qatari Air Force C-17 was used in early April to ferry 15 seriously injured fighters from outside the eastern harbour town of Brega, where revolutionaries have been clashing with fighters loyal to longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The C-17, which can be converted to a flying Intensive Care Unit capable of carrying up to 12 critically injured or sick passengers, has also been airlifting tonnes of military, medical and food supplies to bases supporting Operation Odyssey Dawn, the United Nations mission against the Libyan government’s repression. The Qatari rescue mission was first reported by the Greek Defence Ministry, which said the C-17 first landed on the island of Crete to drop off the most severely wounded and one man who died during the short flight ….”
  • About 40 Taliban insurgents who have been fighting and killing Canadian troops in Panjwaii laid down their weapons this week and agreed to rejoin mainstream Afghan society. “Some of them undoubtedly have blood on their hands,” said Australian Lt.-Col. Liam Hale, who oversees NATO’s “Reintegration Cell” in southern Afghanistan. Canada’s Task Force Kandahar (TFK) had been a leader in establishing reintegration as a priority, the combat engineer said. “It was TFK that developed a formal process to sit down with them,” he said. “It has worked really hard with the district governor, pushing the messages that are important.” Task Force Kandahar’s commander, Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner, said that such defections from the Taliban’s cause represented a potential “tipping point” in the war in Kandahar. “They are switching sides,” Milner said. “How confident do those who remain (in the Taliban) feel when some are laying down their arms and reintegrating? What does it mean for what they can muster in May and June?” he asks, about when the fighting season usually begins ….”
  • The acting commander of Canadian troops in southern Afghanistan is decidedly upbeat as the clock ticks down on Canada’s five-year military effort in the region. Col. Richard Giguere does not seem to be bothered by the approach of the summer “fighting season” in which insurgent activity usually picks up. “There is a positive momentum going on right now in our area of operations,” Giguere said Thursday. Canadian commanders have often used glowing terms to describe the situation on the ground, even as their troops took casualties and military gains were quickly undone by an obdurate and wily insurgency. But Giguere points out that the situation has changed significantly in the past nine months or so. The most important change has been the significant shrinkage in Canada’s area of operations, combined with an influx of American forces ….”
  • Two judges overseeing the release of Afghan detainee documents as demanded by Parliament have decided the documents will remain secret for the rest of the election campaign, CBC News has learned. CBC News has obtained a letter sent by the judges to the leaders of the three federal parties on a committee looking into the release of the documents to inform them that the records cannot be released while Parliament is not sitting. The memorandum of understanding signed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the two opposition leaders agreed to the formation of a committee of MPs to determine how to release secret documents about Canadian prisoners in Afghanistan. The Liberals said Thursday that they are prepared to make whatever amendments are necessary to the original memorandum of understanding reached last year in order to have the documents released now ….”
  • Election 2011 – Michael Ignatieff has begun the second half of the federal election campaign with a partial retreat from some of his comments from Wednesday night’s debate. During the French-language leaders’ debate, the Liberal chief was adamant that he’d let the United Nations Security Council make the ultimate call on whether to send Canadian troops abroad. “The Canadian army must never be used outside the country without the authorization of the UN,” Ignatieff told his debate partners. While allies like France and Britain have vetoes on the Security Council, so do countries like China and Russia, which have shown much less willingness to support NATO or other interventions abroad. Asked whether he really wanted to give Beijing and Moscow that kind of power over Canadian policy, Ignatieff chuckled. “That’s a very funny construction to put on my words,” Ignatieff said. Then he dialed back his debate rhetoric and admitted there could be exceptions ….”
  • Some U.S. defence work for an East Coast company.A rare ray of hope shone on the Miramichi economy Thursday as DEW Engineering and Development ULC announced an $8.7 million contract for its New Brunswick facility. The aerospace and defence company will create 35 new short-term jobs and maintain the 160 workers it currently employs. DEW was awarded the contract by General Dynamics Lands Systems Canada to manufacture bomb-resistant armour for front-line military vehicles used in Afghanistan by the United States Marine Corps. Tim Dear, president and CEO of DEW, said the armour manufactured in Miramichi – a lightweight ceramic composite technology – offers the same ballistic protection as the traditional steel armour at half the weight. “As the Stryker vehicles get older and need to be refurbished, we replace the heavy steel with our ceramic composite armour to get those vehicles back to the mobility they had when they were first made,” he said ….”
  • New Brunswick is consulting Reservists about education. The provincial government is adding military reservists to its list of public consultations. Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Martine Coulombe announced Thursday she will review ways to further enhance employment and education leave protection for Canadian Forces reservists in New Brunswick. “We are consulting with key stakeholders, including military reservists, to ensure that we are meeting their current and future needs,” Coulombe said. “The consultation process is designed to seek ideas on how to provide further clarity to existing rules, to support the Armed Forces’ ability to plan deployments, and to incorporate best practices implemented in other Canadian jurisdictions.” ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 7 Apr 11

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  • Libya Ops – Canada has boosted the number of personnel involved in the NATO-led mission in Libya by nearly 200, the military said Wednesday. There are now 570 Canadian army and navy personnel taking part in international efforts to crack down on Libyan despot Moammar Gaddafi. That’s compared to the 380 personnel originally posted when Canada joined the mission in March. Brig.-Gen Richard Blanchette made the comments during a media briefing on the mission. He also said Canadian CF-18 fighter jets had been on 14 flights since last week, targeting a number of ammunitions depots and military bunkers in Libya ….” More in the CF Backgrounder on the operation here.
  • Is Canada’s Navy considering centralizing its HQ in Halifax? Not according to British Columbia’s Premier. More here.
  • Hesco barriers to the rescue against flooding in Manitoba. “A new technology is being used for the first time in Manitoba’s flood fight. Crews put up a Hesco Bastion along River Road in the Rural Municipality of St. Andrews, just north of Winnipeg, on Wednesday. The one-metre-square wire cages can be unfolded and quickly filled with dirt or mud. They can also be linked for a long row that can be set up far quicker than it takes to sling sandbags. The dike along River Road, more than 300 metres long, will provide protection to several homes and can be built in a day ….”
  • Lt. Vanessa Harmon wraps a scarf around her head and atop her tan battle fatigues when attending shura meetings with Afghan elders and government officials, but not because she is required to. “It makes things easier,” is the Canadian officer’s brief explanation. Head scarves have recently become a controversial subject in the U.S. military, after a request last month by Central Command that its female soldiers in Afghanistan wear hijabs, or head coverings, in order to encourage better relations with the local population by demonstrating cultural sensitivity. Many critics in the U.S. have interpreted the CENTCOM request as being tantamount to an order. Such encouragement would appear to contradict the spirit of a law passed by Congress in 2002 banning the wearing of Muslim head garb by U.S. soldiers stationed in Saudi Arabia. There is no such expectation in the Canadian military, according to Brig.- Gen. Dean Milner, who commands Task Force Kandahar. “We haven’t changed our standards. Our women are soldiers,” Milner said. The few Canadian female soldiers who wear head coverings in Afghanistan have been allowed to do so, but as a matter of choice, not because of an order or a request ….”
  • Election 2011 – It’s amazing that we’re fighting two wars during an election campaign and nobody is talking about them as issues. People might just be tired of Afghanistan. Our troops have been fighting for nine years. We’re stepping back, sort of, this year. Still, it’s not clear how many Canadians will stay in the conflict, or whether anything lasting has been accomplished. Those should be campaign issues. Libya is brand new. Canada signed on to a military mission there March 19, just before the election campaign started. That should be a big decision. As citizens, we bear responsibility for government actions. And going to war should bring the greatest responsibility ….”
  • Former CF Ombudsman goes political. “The first commander of Canadian forces in Afghanistan says the country’s current democratic system is not working and needs an overhaul of the kind now taking place in the Arab world. Retired colonel Pat Stogran is urging young Canadians to get involved in the political process and engineer change from the ground up. “Canadians are sick of our democracy,” said Stogran, who launched a strident campaign protesting government treatment of former soldiers after his contract as veterans ombudsman wasn’t renewed. “Canadians call for change at every one of the elections. Yet Canadians keep doing the same old thing. “They keep voting for one side or the other, knowing full well that after all the promises are made and the votes are cast, whoever gets in there is going to get into crisis management and go from one flavour to the next to stay in power.” Stogran said the country needs parties with long-term vision, “grassroots movements like we saw in Cairo and Tunisia and Libya.” He has signed on with the fledgling Progressive Canadian party as an adviser on veterans affairs ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 3 Apr 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 28 Feb 11

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  • Canada’s Foreign Affairs department confirms it’s working on the “safe release” of a Canadian, Colin MacKenzie, in AfghanistanThe 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 WatchMore 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 ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 17 Feb 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 Dec 10

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  • 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 ….”