Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘Tripoli News Highlights – 4 Sept 11

leave a comment »

  • Libya Mission (1)  Ooopsie….  “Government House Leader Peter Van Loan “misspoke” Saturday when he told a radio program the Conservative government wants to extend Canada’s military role in Libya beyond its scheduled end date. The Conservative MP for York-Simcoe was asked about comments made by Prime Minister Stephen Harper this week, which indicated that Canada would stick with the NATO-led mission until the end. “Yes, it will be our intention to extend the mission for a little bit, at least, and we’ll have to do that by going to Parliament,” Van Loan said on CBC Radio’s The House. “That’s what we have done for the previous motions where we have gained all-party support for the mission, and I think, I’d be optimistic that there’d be good support for that.” an Loan’s director of communications, Fraser Malcolm, later clarified that the MP had “misspoke,” saying that the decision to seek an extension is in the hands of Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Defence Minister Peter MacKay, to then be put to Parliament for approval ….”
  • Libya Mission (2)  HMCS Charlottetown crew members share their memories of the mission now that they’re home. “At night, crew aboard HMCS Charlottetown could see and feel the explosive blasts as troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi fired at Libyan citizens within the city of Misrata. “On the flight deck you could feel the vibration from bombs exploding. It would go right through your body,” Ordinary Seaman Ashton Metcalf said Friday, after officers and crew of the warship enjoyed a rousing and emotional welcome home at the Halifax navy dockyard after their six-month deployment ….”
  • Libya Mission (3)  One African’s perspective on Canada’s role:  “…. Whether seen as a victory for NATO or the triumph of democracy, Canada has been part of Libya’s success story. This event will go down in history as Ottawa’s contribution to the fight against tyranny in Africa.”
  • Afghanistan  Canadian General says things have to change with training Afghan troops.  “…. At one point this summer, the pace of desertions climbed to an annualized rate of 35 percent, though it has since declined. NATO’s training command has developed an extensive plan to attempt to lower attrition further, saying an acceptable goal would be 1.4 percent per month — or about 17 percent a year. July’s attrition rate was 2.2 percent. “If we’re in the same situation in 3.5 years” — when Afghans are scheduled to be in charge of their security — “then we have a problem,” said Canadian Maj. Gen. D. Michael Day, a deputy commander in NATO’s training mission in Kabul.”
  • A former member of the Guatemalan military who holds both Canadian and American passports and who is accused of war crimes in Guatemala will be extradited to the United States, a Canadian court ruled Friday. Alberta’s Chief Justice in Neil Wittmann ruled that Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes, 53, should be sent to the US for trial on charges of false statements made in government application forms to become a naturalized American citizen ….”  A bit more here.
  • Mid-Canada Line cleanup on Hudson Bay under way.  Crews and local residents in the northern Ontario First Nations community of Peawanuck are teaming up to begin the long-awaited cleanup at a Cold War-era military base. Site 500 is the largest of 16 mid-Canada radar sites scattered across northern Ontario. The base was home to several hundred people who worked at the site when it operated in the 1950s and 1960s. Now the site is home to a small camp of contractors starting the long-awaited project of cleaning up the mess left behind — a junkyard filled with abandoned vehicles, thousands of leaky fuel barrels and barracks with asbestos in the walls….”  A bit of the backstory here.
  • When street names were contemplated for a new housing development in the west England town of Pershore, councillors initially decided to honour several varieties of plums — the main fruit grown in the area, and the focus of an annual harvest festival. But planning officials have squashed that plan in favour of a street-name tribute to about a dozen of the war dead buried in the adjacent Pershore Cemetery — most of them Canadian servicemen killed in accidents at a nearby airfield during the Second World War. Dismissing the proposal to celebrate the Purple Pershore, Pershore Yellow and other plum varieties as “boring and banal,” elected planning chief Judy Pearce has ruled that fallen Canadian airmen such as RCAF Sgt. Ernie Desjardins of Climax, Sask. — who died in the botched landing of a Wellington bomber near the town in 1942 — are more deserving of recognition than the tender fruit farmed in the region ….”
Advertisements News Highlights – 26 Aug 11

leave a comment »

  • Libya Mission  “NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity” says Canada punching above its weight in Libya“Canadian fighter jets were in the air again this week, striking at the Gaddafi regime’s tanks and artillery, part of this country’s surprisingly substantial contribution to the five-month-long NATO bombing campaign in Libya. As one of three nations carrying out the bulk of the sometimes-controversial air war, Canada with its aging CF-18 fighters has made a contribution clearly disproportionate to the compact size of its air force, say alliance and academic sources. While Britain and France have about three times as many fighter-bombers in the operation as this country and are usually credited with most of the fighting, Canada has been close behind in its role, said a NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity ….”
  • “New” Libyan diplomat recognized by Canada.  “Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird (Thursday) issued the following statement: I am pleased to welcome Abubaker Karmos, appointee of the National Transitional Council (NTC) of Libya, as chargé d’affaires ad interim at the Embassy of Libya in Canada. Mr. Karmos’ accreditation by Canada was completed this morning and he has already assumed his functions ….”  In case the name sounds familiar, here’s why:  “Former Libyan diplomat Abubaker Karmos, who defected from the Libyan Embassy in Ottawa in February, has been confirmed as the Libyan National Transitional Council’s representative in Ottawa, Foreign Minister John Baird announced Thursday ….”
  • A Canadian national has reportedly been killed fighting with the anti-regime rebels in Libya“A Canadian man died on the frontlines of the Libyan conflict this week while fighting with the rebels trying to oust Moammar Gadhafi from power. A friend has revealed that Nader Benrewin was shot dead by a sniper as he took part in a raid on Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, which Libyan rebels stormed on Tuesday. Benrewin, 24, was born in Edmonton, but worked in Ottawa for the past three years, Haitham Alabadleh told The Canadian Press. The Ottawa man made the decision to go back to Libya where his family was living and he pledged to fight with the rebels ….”  More from and Postmedia News.
  • A Canadian “independent journalist” is now free again.  “Dozens of journalists, including a Canadian, who were stranded in a hotel in downtown Tripoli by the fighting were released Wednesday. Journalists had been holed up inside the Rixos hotel under the watch of armed men loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi. Among those released from the hotel was Mahdi Nazemroaya, a 29-year-old freelance journalist from the Ottawa area. His friend, Briton Amos, said Wednesday that Nazemroaya left the hotel with the other journalists and was “out of danger.” The Centre for Research on Globalization, for which Nazemroaya works as a correspondent, said in a statement Wednesday that he was safe aboard a chartered boat from the International Organization for Migration. It said Nazemroaya was set to return to Canada ….”  Funny, the statement issued by the Centre doesn’t mention the bit I highlighted above in red.  I guess that kinda wrecks the “NATO as bad guy” story line, right?
  • Interesting prediction.  “…. events in Libya suggest we may be moving (toward) something very different, perhaps a war that is above and beyond the people. That’s as close as we want to get to raging conflicts. Among the officers I talk with, the strategic thinkers are straining to better understand these scenarios, and what they will mean for Canadian and other forces. No one knows the future, but critical spending decisions have to be made. The current mood strongly suggests that should we again become involved in foreign actions, we will want to rely more on airpower and naval supremacy, while the armies stay home. (Diplomats may also discover their talents are again in high demand.) ….”
  • Gwynne Dyer on what (may) happen next in Libya“…. Britain and France, in particular, have committed a great deal of political capital to the success of the Libyan revolution. They carried out more than half of the air strikes in support of the rebels, while other European democracies and Canada, all NATO members, did the rest. (The United States only contributed surveillance capabilities and occasional Predator drone strikes after the first few weeks.) These European allies need to justify their intervention to their own people, so they will do everything in their power to make sure that there are no massacres, that Gadhafi and his close allies, when caught, are handed over to the International Criminal Court for trial (much better for the stability of the country than trying him in Libya), and that the process of building a democratic government in Libya goes as smoothly as possible. They have a great deal of leverage over the rebel forces at the moment, and they will use it to keep the revolution on the tracks. Despite all the obstacles to a smooth transition that Libya faces, the outcome here could be surprisingly positive.”  One hopes.
  • Way Up North  How it’s not all competition and conflict in the Arctic “…. Together, the CCGS Louis S. St. Laurent and USCGC Healy will map the Alpha Ridge, a 2,000 kilometre-long range of underwater mountains running from the northwest flank of Canada’s Ellesmere Island toward Russia’s (Wrangel) Island. The Alpha Ridge parallels the more famous Lomonosov Ridge, which lies between it and the geographic North Pole. The Healy is equipped with an advanced multi-beam sonar system that provides detailed information about the shape of the ocean floor. The Louis S. St. Laurent carries a sophisticated seismic array that measures the character and thickness of seabed sediments. However, vibrations from icebreaking can affect the accuracy of these instruments. And so the two ships take turns clearing a path for each other, with the resulting sonar and seismic data being shared between the U.S. and Canada. It’s a partnership born of necessity. Neither country has two icebreakers capable of the task, and both require a complete scientific picture of the seabed in order to determine their rights over offshore oil and gas ….”
  • Senator:  Now’s the time to grasp the nettle and close bases to save money“…. Stephen Harper should take advantage of a moment in Canada’s political history that isn’t likely to come along again for some time: a majority government, with at least four more years in power guaranteed. If the Prime Minister moved quickly, he could put a plan in place that would rationalize Canada’s military infrastructure without paying an enormous price at the ballot box. Harper doesn’t even have to finger the infrastructure that should go – in fact, he shouldn’t. He should instruct his military leaders to do an assessment of what infrastructure is still needed, and what can be eliminated in the interests of efficiency and effectiveness. Once that report was in – and it would be a controversial one no matter what bases and installations were selected for closure – the government should enact it, on the military’s advice. The Prime Minister should make it clear to all Canadians that this is an arm’s-length operation – no interference from the Cabinet or other members of Parliament ….”
  • Report leaked to Postmedia News  Editorial“…. past attempts to bring needed change had failed because of internal resistance. People in the forces feared the loss of status, power and resources, or increased accountability. That’s not surprising. Any large organization likely faces the same challenge in making changes to increase effectiveness. Many people have a strong vested interest in the status quo and the ability to find no end of ways to delay and impede change …. The expertise of managers in the Canadian Forces, or anywhere else, should be respected. But Leslie, who is leaving the military for a private sector job next month, comes from those ranks. What’s needed is leadership at the very top. In this case, it must come from MacKay and Harper. Our troops – and taxpayers – deserve no less.”
  • Afghanistan  What one Canadian says we could be doing.  “…. if we in Canada can find some of the enthusiasm Afghans have for the possibilities education can breathe into the country, we can push for education to be at the fore of rebuilding there. Canada has invested precious human lives and billions of dollars in Afghanistan. What greater legacy could we leave than to advocate for, and invest generously in, a robust public education system that could finally put Afghanistan on the path to peace?”
  • Ronald Kevin Megeney, 1982-2007, R.I.P.:  A Canadian soldier says he handled two weapons immediately after a fellow soldier was fatally shot at a military base in Afghanistan in 2007 and noticed that one of the pistols was loaded. Master Cpl. Andrew Noseworthy told the court martial Thursday of former reservist Matthew Wilcox that he was on the opposite side of a partition in a tent watching a movie on a laptop with another soldier when he heard a shot at the Kandahar Airfield. He said he ran around to the other side of the tent where he saw Cpl. Kevin Megeney lying next to his bed and Wilcox kneeling beside him. “I can’t recall what he (Wilcox) was doing,” Noseworthy said ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Finally, all of the U.S. Joint Strike Fighters can fly again. News Highlights – 22 Aug 11

leave a comment »

  • Libya Mission (1)  PM’s take on the latest in Libya (via PMO’s Twitter feed):   Prime Minister Stephen Harper is receiving regular updates on the situation in Libya and continues to monitor the situation closelyCda is hopeful that the end is near for the Qadhafi regime & that authority will soon transition to the Ntnl Transitional Council of LibyaWe are hopeful that the end is near for the Qadhafi regime & authority will soon transition to the National Transitional Council of Libya.”  More from Postmedia News here.
  • Libya Mission (2)  For the latest on what appears to be rebels fighting at Gadhafi’s doorstep, check here (Google News) and here (European Commission’s EMM Explorer).
  • Libya Mission (3)  What are some opponents of Canada’s & NATO’s work in Libya saying“…. while NATO partners like Canada and the United States can safely shirk some of their duties on this one — owing to the strategically convenient location of the Atlantic Ocean between them and the problem in North Africa — the financially strapped European members of NATO’s southern flank are about to experience all over again the reality of Gen. Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn Rule: “If you break it you own it!” First of course, there is the matter of preventing an embarrassing massacre in tribally divided Libya. NATO has decreed that the transition must be peaceful, so — whatever actually happens on the ground in Tripoli over the next few days — that is presumably what we will be told before the cell-phone videos start leaking out. Longer term — and more significantly — is the reality that someone is going to have to maintain order in the North African country, and it seems highly likely that the rag-tag and disorganized rebels backed by NATO and slavishly praised by Canada’s foreign minister, John Baird of Benghazi, are not up to the job ….”
  • Way Up North (1)  PM’s (and company) headed for another tour o’ the North“Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that he will travel to Canada’s North for the sixth consecutive year. The Prime Minister will tour the North from August 23 to 26, 2011 …. The Prime Minister will visit Resolute Bay on Tuesday, where he will meet with community members and first responders involved in rescue and recovery efforts for First Air Flight 6560 ….  Following Resolute, the Prime Minister will stop in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon, where he will meet with Premiers, visit initiatives that are benefiting Northerners, and make several announcements that will further contribute to the economic and social development of Canada’s North. The Prime Minister will be accompanied by: Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor) and Minister of Health; John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development; and Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources.”  More from the Globe & Mail here and here.
  • Way Up North (2a)  Minister of National Defence’s statement on First Air crash near Resolute Bay.
  • Way Up North (2b)  Three survivors of a plane crash in Canada’s Arctic region were recovering from their injuries Sunday as investigators sifted through the wreckage to determine what caused the Boeing 737-200 jet to slam into a hill in foggy weather, killing 12 people. First Air charter flight 6560 crashed Saturday afternoon as it was approaching the airport near the tiny hamlet of Resolute Bay in the Arctic territory of Nunavut. Local residents and soldiers from a nearby military exercise rushed to the scene in a effort to rescue survivors from the wreckage. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Angelique Dignard said two of the survivors _ a seven-year-old girl and a 48-year-old man _ were transported to a hospital in Ottawa from a medical facility in the Nunavut territorial capital of Iqaluit. A 23-year-old woman remains in a hospital in Iqaluit. Dignard said all three are in stable condition, but she would not comment on the nature of their injuries ….”  More here.
  • Way Up North (3)  To the naked eye, Canada’s North is largely remote and untouched, but what is buried beneath the earth and ice could turn it into an economic powerhouse. As the Arctic warms, a wealth of oil, natural gas, minerals, and potential shipping opportunities could be unveiled. “There’s really tremendous resources that are completely untapped in the North,” said Conference Board of Canada economist Jacqueline Palladini. As new prospects open up, concerns have also been sparked about the need to reaffirm Canada’s sovereignty. Stephen Harper will trek north of 60 on Monday – an annual trip the prime minister makes to assert Canadian presence in the area ….”
  • Report Leaked to the Globe & Mail (Propose) Cut(s) and run?  “A major report that advocates streamlining the Canadian military by chopping headquarters staff sits in limbo, awaiting a champion to drive its recommendations home. But with its author, Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, leaving the military next month, that report’s future is very much in doubt. On Aug. 3, Lt.-Gen. Leslie submitted his resignation to Gen. Walter Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff. “My military duty is complete,” wrote the former head of the army. He and his wife are currently on vacation in the Aegean. “On our return I have been invited to join a great Canadian corporation in the private sector,” Lt.-Gen. Leslie said in his letter. He could not be reached for comment ….”
  • Cuts to the CF (1):  One commentator’s hope regarding the recent “Royalizing” of Canada’s military branches.  “…. Let’s hope this time the retro-nostalgia of the Conservatives is genuine and not a distraction before the budget axe falls on long-promised expenditures.”
  • Cuts to the CF (2):  A Canadian historian is concerned about a possible cut – the CF’s Security and Defence Forum (SDF).  “…. The SDF program has had its funding guaranteed for 2011-12, but DND has said the program will be cut to $500,000 on the way to future extinction. Most of the university SDF programs – except for a few that have developed private support – will disappear or, at a minimum, shrink into insignificance. And the money saved will be swallowed by the paper-clip budget at DND headquarters, producing yet another triumph for the bean-counters at Fort Fumble on the Rideau.”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Someone to spruce up DND’s security plan, manual.
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Discussion about the CF’s proposed “silent Ski Doo” at here. News Highlights – 2 Mar 11

with one comment

  • CF to Libya (1)  HMCS Charlottetown on its way (Prime Minister’s statement in the House of Commons, CF statement (1), CF statement (2),, Postmedia News, Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Canadian Press, (1), (2), Agence France-Presse)
  • CF to Libya (2)  JTF 2 headed downrange? (Twitter from Le Devoir-iste Alec Castonguay, Agence France-Presse)
  • CF to Libya (3)  CF military plane turned back from Tripoli because there was nowhere to land, park (CP via Globe & Mail, Times of Malta)
  • Canada Grabs Libya by the Assets  Canada freezing Libyan assets (~$2 billion)“The Canadian government has frozen more than $2 billion in Libyan assets so far, and continues to target holdings of embattled ruler Moammar Gadhafi and his family, CBC News has learned.  The move to freeze the assets came after Canada learned the Libyan regime was planning to withdraw the funds from as-yet-unidentified Canadian banks ….” More from FINTRAC, Canada’s agency for tracking suspicious money movements, here, and from Reuters.
  • The Commentariat on Libya (1)  Bad news for Libya could be good news for Canada? “…. Canada is likely to be one of the few western beneficiaries of the uncertainty that is sweeping the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.  The reason is, of course, oil. For decades to come the tarsands are going to be Canada’s trump card every time there is volatility in international energy markets …. The events of the past two months, and dramas still unfolding in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and oil-rich countries such as Libya, Oman and a few of the Gulf sheikdoms, make it more and more obvious that there is going to be a keen demand for Canada’s so-called “dirty oil” for years to come.  Viewed through this prism, if the U.S. does not want the kind of oil that Canada has to offer, China and India, with huge economic ambitions to fuel, almost certainly will ….”
  • The Commentariat on Libya (2)  Help out, by all means, but be careful about too much military “help”. “…. For Western powers to involve themselves more deeply in Libya would be   counterproductive. It would suggest to pro-democracy elements in the Middle East that, if their opposition becomes violent, they will get help from the West. It would put non-Libyan lives at risk in a situation that is extremely difficult to assess from outside – without any clear benefit to Libyans themselves. Indeed, military intervention might eventually provoke an anti-Western reaction that could end up discrediting the democrats that the West rightly wishes to encourage and help.  By seizing assets abroad and imposing diplomatic sanctions, the West should indeed tighten the vise on Col. Gadhafi. But it should not use its military forces to depose him, in what is ultimately a matter that must be decided by Libyans.”
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • More on Canada’s upcoming mission in Afghanistan (highlights mine): “The government’s plan to keep 1,000 Canadian troops near Kabul after their mission in Kandahar ends this year is looking increasingly unlikely after comments from the military’s second-in-command last week. “There will be no Canadian Forces units located in Kandahar province after 2011,” Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson, the vice-chief of the defence staff, told the Conference of Defence Associations in Ottawa on Feb. 25. “Rather, our training mission will be Kabul-centric, meaning that the main effort will be centered in and about the city of Kabul. “That said, a small number of CF personnel may be assigned to other areas of Afghanistan where the risks to our personnel is assessed to be no greater than that found in Kabul.” ….” Hmm, wonder where that might be?  And how safe, really, is Kabul these days?
  • One Canadian Corrections staffer’s story from working in Kandahar.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Taliban claims to have RPG’ed a transport plane in Helmand.
  • Ooopsie“A Tutor jet, the plane assigned to the military’s aerobatic flying team known as the Snowbirds, was damaged during a landing at 15 Wing Moose Jaw Tuesday afternoon around 3 p.m. CT. Its two crew walked away from the plane and were to be evaluated by medical staff ….”
  • Accused terrorist Hassan Diab failed Tuesday in a last and crucial attempt to get handwriting evidence being used against him disallowed. The handwriting analysis by French forensic expert Anne Bisotti has been called the “smoking gun” by prosecutors, meaning that it is key to the French case. Paris authorities say Diab was a key player in a terrorist bombing outside a synagogue in October 1980 and that handwriting comparisons prove his involvement. A former University of Ottawa professor, Diab says he is innocent and the victim of mistaken identity ….”