MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Jul 11

  • Afghanistan (1a)  Yet MORE “Canada’s Done with Combat Mission” stories from United Press International, PBS, The Canadian Press (more here) and QMI/Sun Media (including a “letter home to the folks” format story/op-ed).
  • Afghanistan (1b)  Even a Taliban spokesperson’s saying so long to Canada’s troops, with a hint they read the papers, too.  “…. The people of Canada have to ask their government and military chiefs what are the objectives and achievements that they have obtained during the past decade, apart from the innumerous losses in life and equipments. If they have no answer, then why they allow them to continue their illegitimate intervention in Afghanistan under another title in the name of military training. We are sure, the new mission of Canada under the name of military training will bring in only losses and bitter outcome like the precedent of their war mission which has had self-same consequences.”  More here.
  • Afghanistan (1c)  ANA General thanks Canada for the work (via CF’s Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (2)  NOW the Canadian Government Info-Machine cranks out the “lookit what a great job we did” stories on the PM’s latest visit, Canada’s work on polio vaccinations, work on an irrigation system, a May visit to a cultural centre, recognition of another cultural centre being helped by Canadians, a May graduation parade of Afghan officers and Canada’s help with nutrition programs.  Funny how a majority government makes one less reluctant to speak about what’s right.
  • Afghanistan (2a)  Continued legacy tea leaf reading:  “….the equation is not only what did Canada do for Afghanistan but what did Afghanistan do for Canada? Off the top it laid to rest, forever, the dewy-eyed concept of peacekeeping. A blue beret military had its place, an honourable one, in history. But that era has passed, unlikely ever to return. From the ashes of tacit demobilization, a robust Canadian Forces arose, Phoenix-like — a military fit to stand on guard for righteous wars in distant lands. Something that was lost has been found.” Best line from this column: “….Spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousaf Ahmadi put out a statement via email Friday, applauding Canada’s formal end-of-combat this past week, claiming the withdrawal from Kandahar had been “compelled’’ by the mujahedeen resistance …. “In addition to the life loss, the heavy economic burden of the war dawned on the people and members of the Parliament of Canada to press the ruling regime in Canada to withdraw their forces,’’ Yousaf Ahmadi says …. “The people of Canada have to ask their government and military chiefs what are the objectives and achievements that they have obtained during the past decade, apart from the innumerous losses in life and equipments. If they have no answer, then why they allow them to continue their illegitimate intervention in Afghanistan under another title in the name of military training?’’ There are some Canadian newspaper columnists who should sue Yousaf for plagiarism ….”
  • Afghanistan (2b)  Toronto Star editorial board’s take on the legacy and lessons learned:  “As Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan morphs into a training mission, many may well wonder Was it worth it? A generation of troops has been battle-hardened in Kandahar’s dusty villages and farmlands. We’ve invested $20 billion in our longest conflict, committed $2 billion in aid, lost 157 courageous men and women, and taken hundreds of casualties. Despite these costs, the answer is Yes, it was worth it ….”
  • Afghanistan (2c)  Another editorial“…. Despite our departure the work continues, including by a contingent of Canadians tasked with training Afghans to take charge of their own security. Elsewhere in the world we can only guess where the next trouble spot will be. We might not make a big deal come next July 5, but Canadians can take pride in the work done by our military personnel over the last decade and feel confident that whatever comes next, they’ll continue to make a difference on the world stage.”
  • Afghanistan (3)  Some still want to go back.
  • Afghainstan (4a)  A bit of what comes next“Now that Canada’s combat role in Afghanistan has ended, the lessons learned in battle will carry on in the fighting here, says a senior Canadian military leader. The deputy commander of the Canadian Contingent Training Mission, which will help mentor Afghan military leaders and instructors in Kabul until March 2014, says our forces have learned a great deal during the conflict. “Nothing tests soldiers and leaders as much as combat does, and our men and women have seen plenty of that in southern Afghanistan,” says Col. Peter Dawe, adding our soldiers worked extensively with Afghan army leaders while serving with mentoring and liaison teams ….”
  • Afghanistan (4b)  More on what’s next“In a ceremonial transfer of command authority held at Camp Blackhorse on the eastern edge of Kabul, Colonel Rory Radford of the Canadian Forces assumed command of the Consolidated Fielding Centre (CFC) on 3 July 2011. Supported by the NATO Training Mission–Afghanistan (NTM-A), the CFC is a one-of-a-kind facility that prepares formed units of the Afghan National Army for integration into a corps. Each corps of the Afghan National Army is assigned to a province of Afghanistan. The outgoing commandant, Col Casey Griffith, is an officer of the U.S. Army ….”
  • Afghanistan (5)  Labatt donates beer to the troops still downrange.
  • Afghanistan (6)  Canada apparently still working on getting that Canadian student reportedly kidnapped by Taliban earlier this year outta there.  “A Scarborough woman whose son is being held in Afghanistan by kidnappers is “sick with worry” and “can’t get a straight answer” from the federal government on how they will get her son home, local Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis says …. Media reports have said Rutherford’s kidnappers sent demands to Canada’s government, but Karygiannis, his mother’s MP in Scarborough-Agincourt, said she has not been told what the demands are and his own inquiries about the case have gone unanswered.  Karygiannis confirmed Rutherford’s mother does not want to speak to reporters, but in a release this week the Liberal MP quotes the woman as saying the federal government told her “due to privacy issues, they cannot discuss the case.”  A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs Canada, which advises Canadians against all travel to Afghanistan, confirmed Rutherford, “after travelling to the country as a tourist,” is missing there.  “Canadian officials are working with Afghan authorities to assist the family in securing the safe release of their loved one,” Priya Sinha added on Wednesday. “We ask that the media respect the privacy of the family.” “  Taliban’s initial reports of the kidnapping here and here, with the Taliban video available here, and the statement accompanying the release of the video here (all links to non-terrorist sites).
  • Afghanistan (7)  Afghan-Canadians to rally at Queen’s Park today calling for Pakistan’s military intelligence service to butt out of Afghanistan’s business.
  • Anthony Joseph Boneca, 1985-2006, R.I.P.  Five years ago today.
  • Jordan Anderson, 1981-2007, R.I.P.  When Corporal Jordan Anderson prepared to go to war he made sure his wife knew what to expect should the worst happen. “He told me that the case that he comes home in is called a transfer case and that there is dry ice in it. It’s not the casket. I would have to choose a casket for him,” said Amanda Anderson. Cpl. Anderson told his wife details she didn’t want to hear, following her from room to room when she refused to listen. “He told me, ‘If I am shot you might be able to see my body depending on where I was shot, but if it is an IED, don’t even expect to see me.’ ” In this, Cpl. Anderson, who died when a massive IED killed him and six others, was wrong. “Maybe two days before the funeral they said that I could see him. He looked almost like himself. He just had a small scratch on one cheek,” she said. Cpl. Anderson even told his wife how the news would be broken to her ….”
  • Libya Mission:  One African dude’s opinion.  “…. Canada`s recognition of and support for the (Bengazi-based Transitional National Council ) TNC adds to similar moves by almost every western country, a very useful diplomatic weapon in the general campaign to remove Gadhafi. It was against this background that the spokesman for the TNC, Jalal el-Galal, thanked Canada for its support. The TNC spokesman also drew attention to the need to translate ‘recognition’ into ‘practical help’ to help meet the financial obligations to the people without which hunger and frustration could breed discontent that could play to Gadhafi’s favour. This was an open call for Ottawa to dig its hands deep into its pockets.”
  • Columnist sees Canada become HUGELY militaristic weeks after the election.  “…. For a country that has long prided itself on a reputation as a peacemaker, it’s a remarkable turn. Hawks of the western world? Who would have thunk it? It’s a play to our baser instincts, instincts that are more primitive than progressive. The Conservatives’s lock-‘em-up law-and-order policy is one example of this. The glorification of the military is another ….”  Yeah, that’s us:  Argentina-During-The-Dirty-War-North >>insert eyeroll here<<
  • Shame.  The first national study on homeless veterans has uncovered a group of former soldiers living in shelters and on the streets, struggling with alcoholism, mental illness and a sense of being lost in the country they served. Often middle-aged and retired from the service for decades, they did not get the glory of veterans returning from the World Wars or the support new veterans get, concludes the study by two University of Western Ontario researchers. “There is this gap, a group of people who came out of the service and spiralled into alcoholism and homelessness,” said Susan Ray, assistant professor of nursing at UWO. Ray and fellow researcher Cheryl Forchuk, associate director of nursing research at UWO, make several recommendations and suggestions based on one basic principle. That principle is: “Canadian society needs to make a social covenant to care for the homeless veteran population.” The federal government has not maintained this covenant, they concluded ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Several Nova Scotia companies will likely be interested in millions of dollars of work going up for grabs on the Canadian military’s new Chinook helicopters. Boeing issued requests for information this week looking for companies that want to do maintenance training and support work on the choppers, slated for delivery in 2013. “That’s definitely something that we are pursuing,” said Carl Daniels, vice-president and general manager of Dartmouth’s Atlantis Systems Eduplus. It’s hard to determine right now what the work could be worth, Daniels said. “What exactly Boeing is sub-contracting out is still to be determined. So we don’t have a full set of requirements in the spectrum,” he said. “It could be two years worth of work or it could be 20 years worth of work.” …. ”  Boeing did something similar in Canada about 18 months ago.
  • A monument commemorating the men and women of Canada’s Air Force, past and present, was unveiled in the United Kingdom at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire (Friday).  The monument is the first in the U.K. raised specifically to honour the Royal Canadian Air Force, especially its service during the Second World War, and Canada’s modern Air Force. It was dedicated “In honour of those who serve past and present in Canadian and Commonwealth Air Elements” …. Members of the Royal Air Force and Canada’s Air Force, serving in both the U.K. and in Canada, led this historic project from concept to unveiling after Flight Lieutenant Alfie Hall, from 609 West Riding Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, visited the National Memorial Arboretum ….”
  • Wanted:  New boss for the RCMP – must live in or near Ottawa.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 19 Feb 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 4 Jan 11

  • In spite of all the poking around Russia seems to do in Canadian airspace (recent examples here, here and here), all seems to have gone well in a joint Canadian-American-Russian air interception exercise. “A first-of-its-kind hijacking exercise involving the U.S., Canadian and Russian militaries went so well that a similar drill is planned for 2011, an American officer said. Jet fighters from Russia and the North American Aerospace Defence Command pursued a small passenger jet playing the role of a hijacked jetliner across the Pacific and back during the August exercise. The aim: To practice handing off responsibility for a hijacked jet between Russia and NORAD, a joint U.S.-Canadian command that for decades devoted its efforts to tracking Soviet forces. Officers reviewed the exercise in November at NORAD headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. The verdict: It “was pretty much carried on flawlessly,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Lee Haefner, who was the lead planner. NORAD and Russian officers will meet in Russia in February to begin planning a second exercise, Haefner said ….” More on last year’s Exercise VIGILANT EAGLE here, here and here.  A reminder:  Canada bowed out of the exercise in 2008 because of Russia’s “visit” to neighbouring Georgia.
  • Some interesting discussion at Army.ca here on what wounded warrior Paul Franklin suggests about Canada doing more in southern Sudan. Meanwhile, the Globe & Mail shares some of the factors to be considered if Canada wants to do more.
  • Only 32 veterans were interviewed in a University of Western Ontario study, so it may not be statistically robust, but some of the findings remain disturbing. “Dozens of largely middle-aged veterans in Southwestern Ontario are battling homelessness after years of valiantly fighting to stay off the streets, a first-of-its-kind study in Canada finds. Nationwide, the number of homeless vets may number in the hundreds or thousands. And despite improvements in care over the past decade, a London, Ont., researcher leading the study warns new veterans may face the same challenges. “Veterans Affairs is getting better, but many could still slip through the cracks,” said Susan Ray, an assistant nursing professor at the University of Western Ontario (UWO). “A lot of the veterans I spoke to said, ‘I don’t know if anything can help me, but maybe it could help somebody now’.” Her more immediate concern is the group of vets, average age 52, who find themselves homeless several years after leaving the military structure. “Everything is looked after for you. It is a big family with the commander who is the big father,” Ray said. “They found it difficult to make the transition to civilian life. They found it difficult to have freedom and make choices.” ….” Other research conducted by the same investigator:  “The Experience of Contemporary Peacekeepers Healing from Trauma,” “Contemporary Treatments for Psychological Trauma From the Perspective of Peacekeepers,” and “The Impact of PTSD on Veterans’ Family Relationships: An Interpretative Phenomenological Inquiry.”
  • Remember the several hearings into how Canada is said to have treated Afghan detainees?  Here’s an update on one of them“Whether the Military Police Complaints Commission makes findings that sizzle or fizzle, the panel will claim an important place in the Afghan detainees affair. The quasi-judicial commission is the only forum to conduct a methodical examination of any element of the detainees issue amid repeated rejections by the federal government of opposition calls for a full-scale independent public inquiry. After a year of public hearings end early February with final arguments by lawyers, the commission says its “top priority” will be writing a report on whether Canada’s military police should have investigated military officers’ orders to transfer suspected Taliban captives to Afghan authorities despite a risk of torture ….” Here’s a chronology to help you keep track of the different proceedings.
  • Troops in Winnipeg are getting ready to train in Canada’s far North. “Soldiers from the Arctic Response Company Group (ARCG) spent the first week of December building komatiks (wooden sleighs) in preparation for Exercise NORTHERN BISON 2011 from February 15–28. The Canadian Forces (CF) will be contributing to a top government priority—protecting the territorial integrity of the Arctic—and the komatiks will play a crucial role in ensuring that the soldiers can successfully move, shoot, communicate and sustain themselves in austere northern conditions. “We will be packing a komatik with the UMS [unit medical station] and another komatik will be like a snow ambulance,” said Master Corporal Calin Ritchie, a medical technician with 17 Field Ambulance. The komatiks will be pulled by snowmobiles throughout the exercise that will see both Regular and Reserve force soldiers work together with 1 and 4 Canadian Ranger Patrol Groups as they conduct a 300-km trek from Churchill, Manitoba to Arviat, Nunavut ….”
  • Remember those Coptic Christians named in jihadi forums not so long ago? Well, ever since a group of such Christians were suicide bombed in Egypt, Copts here in Canada have hired private security guards and want a wee bit more protection during their Orthodox Christmas season.
  • This, reportedly from a briefing note obtained by QMIThe RCMP wanted to stay involved with a controversial peace conference even as the minister in charge of the national police force ordered them out. Newly released documents also show that next time, the Mounties plan to stand their ground. A briefing note prepared for deputy commissioner Bob Paulson, the man in charge of federal and international policing, recommends that the Mounties not back out of future events deemed too hot to handle by the government. “It is recommended that in the future, the Minister of Public Safety supports the RCMP’s position with respect to National Security Community Outreach,” reads the memo. The conference in question was slated for the end of October at the Government Conference Centre, a federal building across the street from Parliament Hill. Among the participants were several Iranian academics tied to the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinehjad and Dr. Davood Ameri of the Islamic World Peace Forum ….” Since QMI doesn’t share said document with the world anyplace I looked, does the note say “we’ll disobey the Minister next time” or “we’ll give him the same advice next time”?
  • The Toronto Star is doing a bit of catch-up, finally talking to members of a militia in Quebec where some members consider the Canadian Forces their “adversary”“There’s no sign, per se, but there is a shirt in the window silkscreened with the image of militant Quebec separatist Pierre Falardeau and the words: “Now it’s your turn to be scared.” Inside, past a rack of nationalist books, including one called Quebec Bashing, which can be found alongside one on Mao Zedong, there is a wall of white, winter balaclavas and camouflage gas masks, another wall of boots and, to the right, a counter behind which hang realistic-looking paintball rifles. They hope to soon have a permit to sell real guns. This is the new recruitment centre for the Milice Patriotique Québécoise, a shadowy separatist militia that, after nearly a decade of existence, is only now coming into the light. The centre opened its doors at the end of November in a working class neighbourhood of east Montreal. The founder and leader, “Major” Serge Provost, is not out to make friends with this venture. Indeed, even other separatists are uncomfortable with him, mindful of Quebec’s painful history with the murderous Front de libération du Québec. But Provost says his group operates in a defensive mode only, “to protect the people of Quebec.” “The only entity able to protect Quebecers now is the Canadian army,” says Provost, 42. “So, the only ones who can help us are our adversaries.” ….” A bit more on this group from a previous MILNEWS.ca summary here.
  • To space, and beyond! “Canada has the technological capacity to build its own rocket to launch small satellites, officials and documents have revealed, highlighting a top priority for future research at the Defence Department as well as something that’s being studied at the Canadian Space Agency. Canada relies on other countries, such as the United States, India and Russia, to launch its spacecraft into orbit, but both the Defence Department and the space agency are looking at the option of constructing a Canadian-made launcher. The Defence Department’s science organization, Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC), is examining what would be needed for a small rocket as well as looking at different potential mission scenarios ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.