MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 Feb 11

  • For the latest on China’s alleged cyber attack on Canadian government systems (including Defence Research and Development Canada), check news streams on the story here (Google News), here (NewsNow) or here (Yahoo News).
  • Canada’s Defence Minister’s set to announce “support (for) the ill and injured Canadian Forces (CF) personnel, former CF personnel, their families and the families of the deceased” at CFB Trenton today. QMI/Sun Media’s estimation of what’s coming“The Conservative government is set to announce millions in new funding to ensure returning soldiers who need medical or employment help have a less frustrating experience, QMI Agency has learned. Defence Minister Peter MacKay will announce Friday in Trenton, Ont., $6.9 million in infrastructure costs over three years and $4 million a year to operate five new one-stop shops for soldiers, veterans and their families. “When you are ill or injured, you just have to go to one roof and everything is there for you,” a senior government source said. “It’s to improve the quality of care for those people who serve our country and defend our interests.” The new centres will be in Canadian Forces Bases in Comox, B.C., Cold Lake, Alta., Borden, Ont., Trenton, Ont., and Bagotville, Que ….”
  • Snagging drugs all part of a day’s work for Canadians working next to Afghan security forces. “A frail Afghan man is brought before Capt. Patrick Chartrand, begging for the return of five bags full of drugs that weigh about twice as much as him.  “All the people are growing opium,” the man, who appears to be in his 60s, says in Pashto.  “I am a poor man. What can I do?”  A group of Afghan National Army officers mentored by Canadians seized 108 kilograms of what’s believed to be opium earlier this week. Military officials will test it later for verification.  It is the largest drug haul in an eastern swath of Panjwaii district since the Royal 22e Regiment’s Bravo Company arrived in the area in early December.  “I was pretty surprised about this,” said Chartrand, 32. “I was not expecting that in my day when I woke up.” ….”
  • Next chopper pilots & crews headed downrange prepare in the U.S. “Exercise Desert Gander launched off station Feb. 1, 2011, marking the final step of predeployment training for approximately 220 members of Canadian military forces. During the exercise, 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron based with the Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, Alberta, practiced air-to-ground firing exercises, dust ball training and convoy operations at the ranges surrounding Yuma. “Dust ball training helps door gunners and pilots learn to deal with dust clouds that form when landing,” said Cpl. Ted McGirr, 408 Squadron flight engineer and right door gunner. “Another aspect to consider is the heat. When it is very hot the air is thin and it makes it difficult to lift off. By conducting these exercises we gain much needed experience.” The squadron has held their winter training here for the last three years, due to its ideal training environment and optimum facilities. “The terrain here is very similar to Afghanistan,” said Capt. Bob Hackett, executive officer and adjutant. “The heat and dust, something you don’t find in Canada, help our guys prepare for what we are going to see in our deployment.” ….”
  • Ronald Megeney, 1982-2007, R.I.P. A date has been set for a new court martial for a Nova Scotia reservist who successfully appealed his conviction in the fatal shooting of a fellow soldier in Afghanistan in 2007. The Defence Department says the new trial of Matthew Wilcox will begin on April 26 in Halifax before a military judge alone. Wilcox, who was a corporal, will face the same charges of manslaughter, criminal negligence causing death and negligent performance of a military duty. Wilcox, from Glace Bay, N.S., won an appeal of his earlier conviction at the Court Martial Appeal Court after his lawyers complained that the makeup of the military jury was unfair at his trial in Sydney, N.S ….” A bit more in the Canadian Forces news release here.
  • Column:  What else COULD Canada really do or say about Egypt? “…. So what should the Canadian position in all this be? The Harper government had it exactly right during the demonstrations: stability was important and an orderly transition was critical. That still remains the correct position, despite what the Jeffrey Simpsons and Jim Traverses might write in their columns. The reality is that Canada has never had much influence in the Middle East, and such as it has today should be directed toward promoting stability ….”
  • A bit of American gauge-fixing work for SOME Canadian company“$573,950 Federal Contract Awarded to Canadian Commercial WASHINGTON, Feb. 16 — Canadian Commercial Corp., Ottawa, Canada, won a $573,950.40 federal contract from the U.S. Naval Supply Systems Command, Philadelphia, for repair of digital indicators.”
  • More union worries about the (alleged) Canada-U.K. joint ship talks. “Shipyard workers say they don’t trust federal government assurances that new naval warships and coast guard cutters will be built in Canada. Jamie Vaslet, of the CAW Marine Workers Federation, told a news conference on Parliament Hill that the Harper government has broken its word before, namely over the elimination of a 25 per cent tariff on ships built outside the country. “They hung us out to dry once (and) I don’t believe they’ll answer any questions because there is a hidden agenda,” Vaslet said Thursday. “If they don’t then they shouldn’t have a problem answering the questions that are asked.” He said the idea that Canada is talking to Britain about participation in the Global Combat Ship Program — the Royal Navy’s plan to replace its frigate fleet — “scares the hell” out of him and his members …”
  • Military “Hesco” barriers to the rescue against flooding in Manitoba. “A portable barrier that’s been used to foil terrorist attacks has been recruited for use in Manitoba’s spring flood fight. The province and the city bought nine kilometres of the Hesco bastion from the United States to top up the province’s primary diking system. The large wire cages can be unfolded and quickly filled with dirt or mud.  Randy Hull, the City of Winnipeg’s emergency preparedness co-ordinator, says the mesh cages won’t replace sandbag dikes but there should be fewer clay dikes needed along places like North and South Drive in the Fort Garry neighbourhood. “It’s about rapid deployment, and it’s about logistics,” said Hull ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda WatchIt’s not the Taliban killing most of the kids, and it’s not the Taliban’s web page telling all the lies, honest!

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 17 Feb 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 27 Nov 10

  • A Canadian military briefing note for the Minister has come to light saying If war breaks out on the Korean peninsula, Canada could become embroiled due to a half-century-old United Nations military alliance …. The note by the Defence Department’s policy branch, which was obtained by The Canadian Press, says the UN alliance could be used to generate an international fighting force if war erupts …. Because Canada was one of the combatants in the Korean War, it became part of an organization known as the United Nations Command — or UNC — following the 1953 armistice that ended three years of war between North and South Korea ….” No word from the CF or politicians, but at least one political scientist says it’s not bloody likely” “It’s a technical legal question, rather than a political question, not an automatic reprise of 1950-53,” said Paul Evans, the director of the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia. “The technical legal side is that Canada is a part of the commission. But it does not commit Canada or the UN — we’re not locked into any role in the event that hostilities resume.” “
  • An officer, while on leave in Canada from a deployment to Afghanistan, died of natural causes.  He was awarded the Sacrifice Medal.  His name was added to the Book of Remembrance. His family was presented with the Memorial Cross.  Now, Captain Francis (Frank) Cecil Paul is on the official list of those fallen“Following a review of the Canadian Forces’ casualty policy, the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walt Natynczyk, today announced his decision to add the name of Captain Francis (Frank) Cecil Paul to the official list of Canadian Forces (CF) casualties sustained in support of the mission in Afghanistan. Capt Paul died in Canada last February while on leave from Kandahar.  “Although his death came suddenly while on leave from his deployment in Afghanistan, he was still on duty and considered part of the mission, and therefore his death is no less important than any other CF member who served and died while in Afghanistan,” said Gen Natynczyk. “It is important that his name be added to the list of fallen.”  …. Capt Paul’s photo has been placed on the CF’s Fallen Canadians web site and a minute of silence will be observed throughout Department of National Defence and CF facilities in the National Capital Region on Monday, November 29 ….”
  • If quoted correctly, the outgoing boss of Canada’s mentor-trainers in Afghanistan sounds optimistic“The outgoing commander of Canada’s mentoring team in Kandahar says the Taliban have been routed and won’t present a significant threat in the future.  Col. Ian Creighton, who was in charge of the operational mentor liaison team _ or OMLT _ says the lull in violence across southern Afghanistan over the last few weeks has nothing to do with onset of colder weather, as in previous years.  “This is not just a winter thing where some guys have gone back to Pakistan. They have been defeated on the battlefield,” he said Friday shortly after handing command to his replacement, Col. Hercule Gosselin …. Still, Creighton wasn’t reluctant to use an unambiguous word not often spoken here: “Victory” ….” I really, really hope he’s right – such certainty can always return to haunt one.
  • If you’re an Afghan working for Canada on contract in the “sandbox”, and you’ve been on contact for almost 3 years, it appears you’re about to lose your job. This from Postmedia News:  “The lives of Canadian soldiers could be put at greater risk because of Treasury Board regulations that prevent Task Force Kandahar from continuing to employ its best cultural advisers.  About half a dozen of Canada’s top advisers, who are ethnic Afghans with Canadian citizenship, have been told that they cannot be rehired when their current contracts expire. They are being let go because of government rules that state that if they work for more than three years for any federal department they must be offered permanent employment in the public service ….”
  • A reminder to journalists who want to talk about how “hard” they are for their embedded work in Afghanistan compared to politicians who had it softer:  the politician may have had it softer, but keep in mind men and women stayed there and get shot at after you left too. There’s ALWAYS someone harder than you.  Not being hard myself, I’m guessing those that really are don’t complain much, especially in public.
  • No, this hasn’t gone away. The inquiry by the Military Police Complaints Commission into whether military police failed to investigate if commanders illegally ordered the transfer of detainees to a known risk of torture in Afghanistan will hear the final witnesses next week. The hearings are based on complaints that were filed by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and Amnesty International Canada in 2007 and 2008. Since the filing of the complaints, startling information about the conditions prisoners faced and the Canadian Forces’ failure to investigate the legality of the transfers has been made public ….”
  • Blog Watch: More kudos for Liberal Bob Rae for his nuanced and intelligent debate on the Afghanistan mission. More on that here, too.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.  Also, a writer-analyst living in Kandahar has spotted a statement made by a former Taliban envoy to Pakistan saying Osama Bin Laden lied to the Taliban when asked directly if he was responsible for 9/11.  A way for the Afghan Taliban to distance themselves from OBL and become less nasty looking?  Time will tell, but an interesting thing to say out loud, nonetheless.
  • Agent Orange compensation for those exposed while spraying at CF bases?  One dollar out of every three earmarked for compensation is going back to general revenue“The Harper government has returned more than $33 million set aside to compensate veterans exposed to the defoliant Agent Orange to government coffers after many veterans failed to meet its strict qualifications for payments.  Liberal Senator Percy Downe said the veterans didn’t qualify because compensation was narrowly limited to those affected by the chemical spraying at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown between 1966 and 1967.  As a result, about one-third of the $96 million earmarked by the government for compensation was never paid out and has been returned to the Consolidated Revenue Fund ….”
  • Column:  Killer-rapist Russell Williams kit burning as “excorcism”
  • Canada’s (No Longer Nameless) Navy Mascot Update:  First was the tender process for the costume/character (with caveats in the Statement of Work like “His personality will be that of an average young boy of no particular age. He will be clean living, fun loving, bashful around girls, polite, brave and clever. He will not be a clown, nor silly or dumb.”)  Then, the contest to find the mascot, a Labrador poochie, a name.  Now, at long last, the Navy mascot has a name.  Welcome to the CF family, SONAR!
  • Watching the Grey Cup? Watch for these guys flying by.