- Afghanistan (1) Major warlord assassinated in Kandahar = Afghan-Canadian governor getting cold feet?
- Afghanistan (2) Remembering the repatriated. “A new fundraising campaign seeks to raise $1.5 million for the construction of a memorial in Trenton, Ont., to honour the Canadians who died serving in Afghanistan over the past decade. The planned Afghanistan Repatriation Memorial will be located near CFB Trenton, the air base where the remains of Canada’s fallen have begun their repatriation journeys after they were flown home from Kandahar. The project is being funded through public donations and the goal is to unveil the memorial next spring …. Canadians who wish to make a donation to the memorial can do so through http://www.afghanistanmemorial.ca/, or by calling 613-392-0370.”
- Libya Mission (1): Not so many media briefings coming in the future?
- Libya Mission (2): I guess this letter writer thinks you can stop dictators from torturing and killing their own people by throwing flowers, right? “…. We have been told it had to be done for humanitarian and compassionate reasons.–And so, after a hundred days of bombing I wonder, are the humanitarian bombs used to eradicate Gaddafi, and the compassionate bombs used to help the rebels, depending on how you find out which groups are civilians or rebels?–It is all quite confusing! ….”
- No more airport lounge privileges for YOU in Winnipeg, CF member. “When the new Winnipeg airport terminal opens this fall, members of the military will be left high and dry when it comes to complimentary access to a pre-boarding lounge. In the current terminal at Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, members of the military and their families awaiting flights are granted free access to the Palliser Travel Lounge, which is located past the central security checkpoint. …. “At this point there’s no plan to have a lounge with the same format,” said Winnipeg Airports Authority spokeswoman Christine Alongi. “Certainly if there was a party that wanted to approach us and create that sort of business opportunity, there’s definitely an interest.” ….”
- Columnist: PM’s latest messaging not militaristic, just distracting. “…. Defence and foreign affairs analysts reject the notion that Mr. Harper is laying the groundwork for a new “Harper Doctrine” or that the government is engaging in a “new militarism.” Instead, they argue that the Prime Minister is participating in traditional politicking. He is trying to buttress his poll numbers going into the traditional summer doldrums, they say, by throwing some read meat to the Conservative base. And he is attempting to broadcast pro-military messages to distract the public from looming budget deficit cutbacks and a pullout from Afghanistan, both of which are threatening to actually reduce Canada’s military presence at home and on the world stage ….”
- Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the Arctic, and who needs to be involved there (and who doesn’t): “…. There is no single issue in the area that would require any military presence of the non-regional actors, be it countries or organizations. The Arctic Five, Russia, the US, Canada, Norway and Denmark are perfectly capable of maintaining the necessary level of security, the freedom of shipping and safety of the shipping and we are open to other countries who want to cooperate but on the basis of the rules of the game established by the Arctic countries ….”
- Research paper: Canadian Rangers need lighter bolt-action rifle firing 7.62mm NATO cartridge (101 page PDF) – abstract and executive summary available here (via Army.ca).
- The next anti-terrorism frontier for Canada? “Canada is set to play a leading role in a new anti-terror organization to be launched by President Barack Obama in New York this fall — the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the city. The Global Counter-terrorism Forum is the U.S. President’s initiative to create diplomatic alternatives to military interventions such as Iraq and Afghanistan and strengthen the international consensus in the fight against terror. As part of the new effort, to be unveiled formally in late September, Canada will co-chair a working group seeking to prevent terrorism in the mid-African Sahel region, one of a number of such groups in the organization. The aim is to share information and improve co-operation in the prevention and prosecution of terrorism ….”
- Cpl. Yannick Scherrer, Royal 22e Régiment, R.I.P. He’s home. More here and here.
- “A 25-year-old Toronto man has been arrested on terrorism charges after allegedly planning to travel to Somalia to join an al-Qaida-linked group suspected of recruiting young Canadians to its militant cause. “There was nothing in the investigation that would suggest a direct threat to Canadians within Canada,” RCMP Inspector Keith Finn said at a news conference Wednesday. “However, the issue of radicalization and people from Canada travelling overseas and receiving that kind of further indoctrination and training remains a concern for the RCMP and our partners as far as national security is concerned.” Mohamed Hersi was arrested at Pearson Airport on Tuesday after a joint investigation between the RCMP and Toronto police that began last October, officials said Wednesday. Police allege Hersi planned to travel to Somalia via London and Cairo to join al-Shabaab, a group Canada has labelled as a terrorist organization. He was charged with attempting to participate in terrorist activity and providing counsel to a person to participate in terrorist activity ….” RCMP news release here – more from the Globe & Mail here and Postmedia News here.
- Libya Ops (1) – Paul McCleary, reporter for Defense Technology International, has these short and sweet updates from yesterday’s briefing on Canada’s work over/around Libya: “Canadian MG Tom Lawson says Canada now has 2 Aurora intel-gathering aircraft operating over Libya, CF-18s flying daily strike misisons” “Careful with the phrasing — Canadian MG Lawson said Canada ups military personnel to 515 in Med theater, calls it: “sustaining the mission” “
- Libya Ops (2) – NATO now has control of the whole tamale.
- Libya Ops (3a) – “…. With the exception of Afghanistan, the operation is already larger than every other combined. Fighter jets are being sent with all of their ground crews to Italy to attack targets in Libya, while refuelling and reconnaissance aircraft are also being sent to help with logistics and enforce a UN-mandated arms embargo. But too many questions are left unanswered by our quick deployment. There is currently no defined mission, no end date, no goal to strive for. Are our planes there to prevent Moammar Gadhafi from killing his own people? Or are we deploying forces in order to help rebel forces fighting out of the eastern half of the country? And who will be leading this mission during the month while the government is out of session and the federal campaign is running? …. Someone in Ottawa needs to come out and say how long our troops will be engaged in Libya and address the question regarding the overall extent of the mission. If the UN is unable or unwilling to give a timeline for the mission, our political leadership should give us a solid timeframe and end goal. Our troops deserve that much.”
- Libya Ops (3b) – “In Libya, a new doctrine of international order is being tested by coalition forces and rebel fighters. It’s the trial of a Canadian-born concept – responsibility to protect – but none of our campaigning political leaders have seen fit to talk much about what it means when it’s put to the test ….”
- “For Kandahar to win its war on drugs, it must succeed here. “That’s the biggest enemy we have,” Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa tells a group of Maiwand elders, some of whom chortle after hearing his plan to eradicate poppy fields from the province. “I need your co-operation, please.” The Afghan-Canadian governor’s appeal comes a month after he announced a crackdown this spring on the production of opium throughout Kandahar. It is a lofty goal in a province where cultivation of the illicit but lucrative plant has grown fivefold in the last seven years. But it is particularly ambitious in Maiwand, the largest poppy producing district in Kandahar and third largest in Afghanistan ….” More here.
- “Domestic violence on Canadian military bases has climbed steadily in recent years, coinciding with the return of soldiers from Afghanistan who carry physical and psychological battle wounds home. The problem exists in military communities across the country, but is acute at Ontario’s Canadian Forces Base Petawawa where a spike in cases was noted after troops returned from Operation Athena in Afghanistan in 2007. Military police documented the trend in a 2008 report that was not released, but that CBC News has obtained through Access to Information …. “We found, unfortunately, some methodological flaws in the way some of that military police data was collected and analyzed,” said Col. Jean-Robert Bernier, Deputy Surgeon General with the Canadian Forces ….”
- “The Canadian Forces is planning its first test of a disaster response team that would speed to the site of an airplane crash, environmental incident or shipping accident in the North. The Rapid Reaction Force North is to make its first deployment next week as part of annual Arctic training manoeuvres, said Lt.-Col. Gino Chretien, who will be commanding Operation Nunalivut from Resolute, Nunavut. “It’s a project to try and get troops up as fast as possible if an incident happens up here in the North,” said Lt,-Col. Chretien …. The deployment will be part of Operation Nunalivut, which will involve aircraft from Comox, B.C., and Greenwood, N.S., in addition to regular army staff from Yellowknife and Ranger patrols. The Forces will conduct land and air patrols April 6 to April 22 between Resolute and the Isachsen Peninsula on the northern tip of Ellef Ringnes Island.”
- F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – “Stephen Harper is standing by Ottawa’s rock-bottom estimates for buying fighter jets, even in the face of U.S. forecasts suggesting the aircraft will cost as much as 25 per cent more. The Conservatives agreed to the controversial purchase of 65 fighter planes during the last government at a cost that could top $15-billion to $22-billion over two decades ….”
- F-35 Tug o’ War (2) – “At least one Ottawa diplomat is privately worried about further price jumps in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, adding another voice to the chorus of governments already expressing concern. The diplomat was responding to a slew of recent news highlighting the price uncertainty around the F-35. Several countries have delayed their purchases until later in the decade, while two national budget watchdog groups have recently concluded that the original cost estimates are far too low. On condition of anonymity, the diplomat said his country is definitely worried about the situation as a result of recent developments ….”
- “The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre have partnered with the Ottawa Police Service, in collaboration with the Canadian Chiefs of Police Association (CACP), to host Canada’s first national conference on human trafficking. Titled “Moving Forward Together – An Integrated Response to Human Trafficking”, this conference is bringing together law enforcement, prosecutors, victim services and non-governmental organization representatives from across the country as well as provincial and federal partner agencies ….”
- An article complaining about how much Canada’s helping Israel, even when it’s helping training Palestinian security forces. More on the training op here and here.
- “The Afghan-Canadian governor of Kandahar has ordered a crackdown on the cultivation of opium after the United Nations urged him to stop the unabated growth of poppy production in his province. Tooryalai Wesa met Sunday with his district governors and chiefs of police, ordering them to do what they can to eradicate poppy farms amid mounting concerns that more farmers will turn to the illicit but lucrative crop this year. “Poppy cultivation is prohibited in Islam and illegal in the constitution. Therefore, we are supposed to ban this cultivation,” Wesa said during the meeting at his palace in Kandahar city, according to a statement from his office. “Although poppy cultivation has been reduced in a few districts of Kandahar, it is not enough. We are supposed to bring it to zero and pave the way to award logistical support for the farmers.” ….”
- “Afghanistan’s military has taken an important step forward by orchestrating a massive military operation through the towns and fields of the Panjwaii district, Canadian commanders say. Operation Hamaghe Shay, which means “same team” in Pashto, involved close to 3,000 troops including about 1,300 Canadians primarily serving in a support role. Largely planned by Afghan commanders, the goal was to scour huge swaths of territory across southwestern Afghanistan for hidden caches of weapons left behind by insurgents. Though the Canadian military declined to provide specific numbers, several stockpiles of guns, ammunition, rocket-propelled grenades, rockets and components for making improvised explosive devices were seized over the four-day campaign. But beyond those basic objectives, Hamaghe Shay was also viewed as a key test of the Afghans’ planning and logistics skills, an area that has been pinpointed as a significant weakness in the force ….”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan
- Who keeps Canada’s Northern Warning System going? “As Mitzi Wall says goodbye to two of her staff at Cambridge Bay’s North Warning System radar site, tears well up in her eyes as she prepares for her bittersweet departure on Feb. 20. In three days she’ll leave for Goose Bay, Labrador, her home. When her break finishes in mid-March, she’ll head out to a new posting: the NWS radar site at Hall Beach. For the past three years, Wall, as site manager, has spent shifts lasting six weeks or longer on site. She spent Christmas of 2009 there, making personalized stockings for her co-workers and filling them with toys and treats. On the morning of St. Valentine’s Day this year, everyone arose to find chocolates outside their door. “It’s a life that’s hard to get out of,” Wall says of the eight years she’s spent rotating among radar sites, including three years at Cambridge Bay ….”
DISCLAIMER/WARNING: I’m sharing this Taliban video for information purposes to give people a sense of what such propaganda is like. If you think you’ll be upset or angry about some of the content, don’t look or don’t download it.
The Tailban’s Inf0-Machine has produced a new video, allegedly showing the suicide homicide bombers getting ready to execute the April 2009 attack against Kandahar government buildings.
General sequence of the video (times approximate):
00:00 – Introduction
00:56 – Computer generated recreation of attack (check out the sequence on YouTube at a non-terrorist page here – note the computer graphic shows a large military-style truck, while the rest of the video shows a Toyota SUV allegedly involved in the attack)
1:32 – Assorted video of terrorist attacks on ISAF forces
2:15 – Visual bashing of various Afghan and western leaders
6:24 – Shots of (what look like) Canadian troops in (according to the Arabic commentary) Panjwai and/or Zhari, on patrol or searching compounds
7:53 – Stock news video of Kandahar governor Tooryalai Wesa with TF Afghanistan commander BGEN Jonathan Vance walking around and speaking to reporters
8:29 – Attackers “pre-martyrdom suicide pre-homicide video” clips, probably saying how happy they are to go
12:43 – Assorted shots of Toyota SUV full of explosives (with background blurred out to avoid giving away where the vehicle was loaded up)
14:08 – Taliban rule book video
14:56 – Various video of alleged Taliban dead and Taliban meeting, wandering the countryside
16:51 – Bad guys get into SUV and head to town
18:25 – Video of streets of Kandahar, with videographer in passenger seat of SUV
20:05 – Videographer gets out, and sends van on its way into attack
20:34 – Computer graphic of attack on building (see above)
20:49 – Shaky video of (what appears to be) attack, taken from far away, with gunfire heard in background
23:19 – News conference footage with flames underneath (I guess the bad guys consider this guy a bad guy)
26:09 – Governor Wesa walking around with General Vance and Canadian troops, apparently looking over the attack site
28:05 – Map graphic of Afghanistan & Kandahar, with homicide bomber face shots
29:26 – Guardian newspaper graphic, with flames underneath
32-51 – Closing video montage of photos of the fallen, showing coffins and the injured being treated in the field – includes imagery from Canada, Germany, the UK, Australia, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Denmark.
I leave it to smarter men and women than I to analyze how this fits into the broader messaging program of the Taliban, but I’ll share some highlights that stood out for me.
The video shows a greyish silver Toyota SUV packed with containers full of explosive – and I mean PACKED, as in “every bit of space except the driver’s leg room” packed. Some screen captures below:
Spookiest scenes for me: bad guys waving goodbye to the videographer before driving into the building…
… and the one terrorist looking mighty pleased to be meeting his maker as he climbs into the SUV:
A glimpse at the enemy NATO is fighting in Afghanistan…