News Highlights – 8 Nov 11

  • Royal Military College Academic:  Iran strikes might be the CF’s next shooting stint“Canada may get pulled into military strikes against Iran if it comes to a showdown between western powers and the rogue state. And things could get messy considering a new report from the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog that’s expected to indicate Tehran is on the brink of being able to develop a nuclear warheads, said Houchang Hassan-Yari, an expert in military and strategic issues at the Royal Military College of Canada. “If it gets to a military campaign, I think Canada will participate with the Americans and their allies,” the international relations professor said. “If sanctions are the next avenue, Canada will participate in that.” ….”
  • What a surprise:  the military appears to be planning and weighing how to deal with evacuating Canadians in trouble overseas“Plucking Canadians out of the world’s hot spots is a growing area of concern and study for military planners, who until a few years ago didn’t have their own tools or the resources to carry out such missions.  Internal Defence Department documents obtained by The Canadian Press show that in the aftermath of the Libyan crisis, the Canadian military is examining not only its war-fighting skills, but its newly enhanced ability to quickly organize evacuation and rescue missions.  Planners have been quietly taking stock of the world’s flash points and considering how to get military forces into those troubled regions, while at the same time smoothly getting civilians out of harm’s way …. internally at the Defence Department there has been angst about future evacuations, especially in light of expected budget cuts, suggest the documents obtained under Access to Information.  Among the most worrisome trouble spots is South Korea, where frequent and increasingly violent outbursts from the hermit kingdom in the North have military planners concerned and looking for guidance.  “With over 20,000 Canadian citizens resident in the (Republic of South Korea), in the event of a full-scale crisis (censored) the evacuation efforts required could significantly exceed those of the Lebanon evacuation,” said a Nov. 30, 2010 briefing note prepared for Defence Minister Peter MacKay ….”  I’ve asked if CP plans to share the obtained documents online for anyone interested to read – no word back yet.
  • Canada is taking part in U.S. Northern Command Exercise Operation Vigilant Shield ’12.  The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, as well as the Canadian military, have begun an extensive annual field training exercise for the U.S. Northern Command. “Operation Vigilant Shield 12” is the biggest multi-spectrum, high-level exercise for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. Northern Command is a Unified Combatant Command of the United States military, formed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001 to protect the United States homeland and support local, state, and federal authorities. Operation Vigilant Shield 12, or VS 12, is a joint exercise supported by the Joint Coalition Warfare Center and conducted as a command post exercise with a supporting field training exercise in Key West, FL. The exercise is also linked to a Canada Command exercise called “Determined Dragon,” and runs concurrently with the Arizona’s “Vigilant Guard” exercise. It runs Nov. 1-10 ….”  More from the Pentagon Info-Machine here.
  • Scumbags, continued.  A recently restored First World War memorial that stands outside an east end high school has been vandalized. Neighbours of Malvern Collegiate, near Victoria Park Avenue and Kingston Road, awoke Sunday morning to find the granite statue wrapped in blue duct tape. With the help of about $44,000 in donations and grants, the statue had been restored and rededicated days before, just in time for Remembrance Day ….”
  • Remembrance Day (1)  Veterans’ Ombudsman on Veteran’s Week.
  • Remembrance Day (2)  Unambiguously Ambidextrous on Remembrance Day and Canada’s newest vets“…. There is a new generation of soldiers returning from war, something that has not been seen in Canada in about 50 years, or two generations. That’s not to trivialize Rwanda or Bosnia, but our country hasn’t had to deal with the reality of war dead in a half century and we have not handled their sacrifices very well. In fact, it would be fair to say we have broken faith with the dead, choosing not to carry on their torch and honour their sacrifices by seeing through the mission to success. It was a political decision made to pacify the pacifists created by two generations of peace. Today’s young people know nothing of war, and so their only reaction to it is revulsion ….”
  • An audit into Veterans Affairs Canada and how it handles privacy issues will be released in early 2012, Canada’s privacy commissioner said Monday. The news came as a third veteran went public with complaints into the number of times civil servants accessed his file, and how his file was handled at the agency. Sylvain Chartrand, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Bosnia, says his file was accessed more than 4,000 times between 2003 and 2010. HIs complaint is similar to one by Sean Bruyea, another veteran who advocates for veterans’ rights, and whose private medical information was shared with both Liberal and Conservative ministers of veterans affairs. A statement by a spokeswoman for Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart says an audit into how Veterans Affairs handles private information is coming soon ….”
  • A military veteran on a hunger strike collapsed momentarily during the third day of his protest against the federal government Monday. (Pascal) Lacoste is trying to convince the government to recognize that he and other soldiers were poisoned while serving overseas. The 38-year-old former soldier was leaving a camper lent to him by a friend and heading back to his SUV when he fell to the ground. An ambulance was called as his mother rushed to hold him, clutching him to her chest. Lacoste eventually recovered after taking gasps of air from an oxygen mask. But the exhausted-looking man refused to go to hospital. He decided to continue his hunger strike instead ….”
  • All of a sudden, Canada’s Liberal Party is keen on helping veterans – more in an online petition here and an e-mail soliciting signatures to said petition here (PDF).
  • Libya Mission  How intelligence from HMCS Vancouver helped in the battle for Sirte (via the CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan  Author/blogger Terry Glavin reminds us that it’s Pakistan, the puppetmaster, that should be talked to, not the puppets.
  • CF testing new helmets (via Army News)
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Technical help in improving how explosives are detected via electronic beams (more details in excerpt from bid documents – PDF – here), and VICTORIA-class sub periscope simulators.
  • CF looking for more military artists.  The Canadian Forces Artists Program allows Canadian artists the opportunity to record Canada’s soldiers in Canada and around the world. It follows the long-standing tradition of Canadian war artists and is designed to portray today’s Canadian military experience through art while providing artists with a taste of military life. These artists, all volunteers, are helping usher in a new era of Canadian military art …. A new competition is currently being held for the selection of a new group of Canadian artists who wish to participate in the program. Selected artists will be able to participate in a military-related exercise for a period of approximately seven to ten days. This opportunity is designed to springboard their creativity, create works of art depicting military life and to provide memorable military experiences. There is no payment for artists, who in turn are not required to provide works to the program. However, artists may be asked to lend some works for promotional art tours or other uses. Deadline for applications is November 30, 2011 ….”
  • Canada and Foreign Intelligence (1)  “As the Harper government prepares to re-introduce the anti-terrorism measures that were allowed to lapse because of opposition concerns about privacy and Charter rights, there are whispers Conservative plans to expand the role of Canada’s spy service to operate overseas are being dusted off. Currently, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is largely concerned with domestic intelligence and is able to conduct covert operations overseas only if there is a direct threat to Canada. In their 2006 election platform, the Tories promised to overturn this arrangement and set up a separate foreign intelligence service. Once elected, they were persuaded by the bureaucracy that it would be quicker and cheaper to allow CSIS to take on the role ….”
  • Canada and Foreign Intelligence (2)  Why blogger/info curator Mark Collins is underwhelmed with the above-mentioned idea.
  • Unlike how media treat reporters being kidnapped, right?  “Former Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler, whose kidnapping by al-Qaida made international headlines, says media “blackouts” of such events can prevent ransom demands from escalating to the point where they cannot be met. Fowler, then a United Nations special envoy in Niger, was abducted Dec. 14, 2008 on a highway outside the country’s capital, Niamey. He spent the next 130 days in the Sahara Desert with his captors, members of a shadowy jihadist group known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Fowler told the Ottawa Citizen’s editorial board Monday that his web-savvy captors viewed media coverage of his kidnapping on laptop computers and Nokia cellphones. From it, he said, they came to believe he was on a “secret mission” in Niger, a suggestion reported in the Globe and Mail. “Was it harmful to me? Yes, likely,” he said. “The idea that you can write things here that won’t impact there is just — in this globalized world — crazy.” ….” 
  • A Canadian man has been indicted in Seattle for allegedly conspiring to support the Sri Lankan terrorist group the Tamil Tigers nearly six years ago. The single-count indictment against Ramanan Mylvaganam, 34, is the result of a jurisdictional dispute between federal prosecutors in New York City’s Brooklyn borough and Mylvaganam’s attorneys. Mylvaganam is a former Bellevue resident. Brooklyn prosecutors in 2006 had indicted Mylvaganam along with nine others in connection with an alleged plot to pay to import surface-to-air missiles and other military equipment to the Tamil Tigers. The charges also alleged the group was attempting to bribe U.S. officials to have the Tamil Tigers removed from the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. Mylvaganam’s attorneys had argued that federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York had no jurisdiction over Mylvaganam’s alleged crimes because he was living at the time in Bellevue, according to court papers ….”
Advertisement News Highlights – 4 Nov 10

  • More from Postmedia News on Canada’s next ROTO of troops headed to Afghanistan from Valcartier, Quebec:  “At first they were smiling, holding hands or hugging each other. But as the roll call neared, tears started to flow, turning into uncontrollable sobbing. Families and friends bade farewell at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier Wednesday to 145 Quebec-based soldiers deployed to Afghanistan as part of the last combat rotation before the Canadian mission ends next summer ….” (More from the R22eR web page – en français – here.)
  • Building on the “Do We Arm the Tribes/Militias?” debate, this, via the Canadian PressThe Canadian military says it would rather boost the number of police officers in Kandahar than use militias to protect locals. Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner says that while the Afghan Local Police initiative is still a possibility, recruiting more police officers is a better option.  The ALP is a controversial program launched this summer to provide weapons and training to villagers in the hopes they will defend themselves against insurgents. Milner, who heads the Canadian mission in Kandahar, says he will be deploying fresh resources to help increase the numbers and broaden the training of Afghan National Police officers …”
  • CBC columnist/commentator Brian Stewart alleges Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s arm could be getting twisted soon (at an upcoming NATO meeting in Lisbon) in the hope that Canada will keep at least some troops in Afghanistan to train Afghan security forces: “…. the rumour is that NATO will badger Harper for as many as 400 trainers, to be based in Kabul and other areas away from direct combat. That number would still leave Canada with a significant role in the nearly decade-long conflict. But, politically, that kind of request would seem a safe political sell for the PM, as many Liberals, as well as many in Harper’s own caucus, are open to the idea of maintaining non-combat trainers after next summer. Harper, however, has not indicated in any way that he’ll consider changing his mind ….” My guess:  PM’ll still say “no”, with unnamed sources telling media, “where was NATO when Canada was fighting it out in Kandahar four years ago, asking for other NATO countries to help in the fight?”  More of my venting on this here, here and here.
  • Blog Watch: Lookit what Mark Collins over at Unambiguously Ambidextrous has managed to dig upI’ll bet you didn’t know about this American military contract for helicopter services to a Canadian company (will our major media notice?) ….” Good question.  Even more at here and the U.S. Federal Business Opportunities page announcing the award here.
  • According to QMI Media, “Canada’s outgoing veterans ombudsman says he has “no confidence” that the $2 billion dollars the Conservatives recently announced in new benefits will find its way into the pockets of injured vets. Pat Stogran told senators Wednesday that too many conditions are tied to the Tories’ proposals and numerous policies are not retro-active, so injured soldiers returning from Afghanistan won’t benefit.  “I’m concerned it is too piecemeal,” he said of the policy changes. Stogran pleaded with senators to massively reform the way the federal government treats former soldiers.  He said he has “no confidence” staff are briefing the minister in an (unbiased) way.  He told the Veterans Affairs subcommittee he is recommending 11 ways the government can “break the culture of denial and often poor treatment of our veterans and their families that is firmly entrenched in Veterans Affairs Canada and the Veterans Review and Appeals Board.” ….”
  • Guess who Canadians surveyed by Abacus Data found scarier:  Child soldier-terrorist Omar Khadr or disgraced former military multi-killer-rapist Russell Williams? QMI Media tells you here.
  • Remember Beverly Giesbrecht, a.k.a.Khadija Abdul Qahaar, the B.C. woman who was kidnapped in November 2008 while visiting Pakistan to share the Taliban’s story with the world via her web page (which no longer seems to be working – here’s a taste of the site via, and the domain name should be coming up for sale early next year as it expires then)?  This, from the Indian ExpressA woman journalist from Canada, who was abducted by militants in November 2008, has died following prolonged illness in the custody of the Taliban somewhere in northwest Pakistan or Afghanistan, sources said on Tuesday …. Khadija Abdul Qahar, 55, who was known as Beverly Giesbrecht before she converted to Islam, was abducted along with her translator Salman Khan and cook-cum-driver Zar Muhammad while travelling to Miranshah in the restive North Waziristan tribal region …. Salman Khan and Zar Muhammad were released after eight months of captivity due to efforts made by the head of a religious party.  Khan disclosed after his release that Qahar was suffering from hepatitis and was mentally prepared for death.  She was not very optimistic about her release, he had then said.”  (More from Postmedia News here, QMI/Sun Media here, the Georgia Straight here, with a bit of a timeline/commentary on the story at here).
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Taliban Claim Responsiblity for Allegedly Killing 5 “Intelligence Officer” in KandaharMeme o’ the moment – “minion”
  • In Ontario, Conservative Member of the Legislature for Nepean-Carleton, Lisa MacLeod, is introducing a Private Member’s Bill today making Remembrance Day a statutory holiday across Ontario. According to QMI, Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec are the only provinces where it isn’t recognized as such.  Private Member’s Bills have a very, very small “pass through to Royal Assent” rate (more on this here – PDF from the Legislative Library of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario), but it might just get public debate going.

Have a great day! Highlights – 1 Oct 10

Main website’s on the fritz, so I’m sharing some Canadian military news tidbits that catch my eye here – enjoy!

Taliban Disses Time Magazine Cover

Remember this?

It took a bit, but the Taliban doesn’t like the cover, either:

“Time  magazine has recently published a picture of an Afghan women Aisha, and described her horrifying story which is connected to the Taliban under the title ‘Afghan women and the return of the Taliban’.  Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan rejects this fabrication by the Americans, who are publishing these lies to divert attention of the people from their clear and disgraceful defeat …. This picture published by Times magazine and the barbaric story wrongly attached to Islamic Emirate is not only false but publishing these images are against the morals and ethics of professional journalism. A lot of journalists worldwide have condemned this act of Times magazine and called it a crime against journalism ….”

IF the Taliban is honest about this part:

As far as the story of Aisha is concerned, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has condemned this barbaric, inhumane and unislamic act and declare that this case has never been forwarded to any court or persons of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.  Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan uses Shariate law to solve any internal or human right issues. Shariat law promotes peace and justice to the society, not hatered and cruelty.

I sure wouldn’t want to be the in-laws who cut off this young woman’s ears and nose.

In sacred Islamic law, cutting of human ears and noses whether the human is alive or dead is illegal and prohibited. In many hadith from Muhammad PBUH**, cutting of noses, ears and lips of a dead unbeliever is prohibited so how can Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan carry this act out especially when the person to whom it is done is alive and Muslim. Under shariate law if someone carries out this heinous act, the same thing will be done to the criminal that carried out this act.

I await a Voice of Jihad missive on their fate.

Also, it seems translators for ISAF forces may not be the ONLY ones who have to worry now:

We also call on Afghani media to stop spreading the lies of Islam hating western media by becoming their translators. Journalism is an important duty so stop wrongly using it.

I await journalism organizations to bash the Taliban on this threat.

Bottom line:  We see the Taliban is using a timely and newsworthy issue to make it look like the western media are lying, especially when there are bad things being done in the name of cultural conservatism, something the Taliban would love to see more of (statements like this notwithstanding).

The full statement is available here from the Taliban’s English web site, or a screen capture of the full statement is also here at a non-terrorist site.

** – Praise Be Unto Him

Update (1): According to a statement on the Taliban’s web site (last item on page), it’s all lies (but the article doesn’t offer proof, just SAYS there’s proof).

Who’s the Bad Guy in AFG Again?

Some out there are not pleased with this cover photo on Time Magazine of an 18-year-old girl who’s had her nose and ears cut off by the Taliban for running away from abusive in-laws.

I couldn’t have put it better than these guys, so I’ll just say:  what they said.

“But To Some People, We’re The Bad Guys In Afghanistan” (Adrian McNair, Unambiguously Ambidextrous)

“One Picture Is Worth 90,000 “Secret Documents” Published By WikiLeaks” (Terry Glavin, Chronicles & Dissent)

“Four Reasons Why the Time Cover is Necessary” (Brian Platt, The Canada-Afghanistan Blog)

“The Plight of Afghan Women: A Disturbing Picture” (Richard Stengel, Managing Editor, Time Magazine)

Here, here!

Update (1): Another reason for me to like the cover photo for the powerful message it sends:  the Taliban doesn’t like it.

Update (2): According to a statement on the Taliban’s web site (last item on page), it’s all lies (but the article doesn’t offer proof, just SAYS there’s proof).