MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 2 Jun 11

  • Libya Mission (1):  NATO extends its mission 90 days.  “NATO and partners have just decided to extend our mission for Libya for another 90 days. This decision sends a clear message to the Qadhafi regime: We are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya. We will sustain our efforts to fulfil the United Nations mandate. We will keep up the pressure to see it through. Our decision also sends a clear message to the people of Libya: NATO, our partners, the whole international community, stand with you. We stand united to make sure that you can shape your own future. And that day is getting closer.”
  • Libya Mission (2):  Canada’s envoy to NATO approves NATO extension.  “Ambassadors from NATO’s 28-member states, including Canada, have unanimously decided to extend the military campaign in Libya for an additional 90 days. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the alliance’s secretary-general made the announcement on Wednesday, saying it “sends a clear message to the Gadhafi regime: We are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya.” NATO took command of the international military campaign in Libya at the end of March, in the hopes of protecting Libyan civilians caught up in fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The alliance originally agreed to head the military campaign for 90 days, which would expire June 27 ….”
  • Libya Mission (3):  Canada going to extend mission?  “The federal government indicated Wednesday it will extend Canada’s mission in Libya, following a NATO decision to extend its bombing operations in the north African country. The fact the Conservatives support extending the mission may guarantee Canada stays in the war zone until September, the revised end date NATO set for its mission. A simple majority vote in the House of Commons or a cabinet decision can send troops to war, both of which the Tories can do without opposition support ….”  More from CBC.ca:  “…. Harper had announced Friday at the G8 summit in Deauville, France, that Parliament will be asked to agree to an extension after the new session opens Thursday. “The government is very committed to the mission and we can, I think, report to Parliament that it has both gone well so far and that its continuation is essential for the original reasons we embarked on it,” the prime minister told CBC Radio’s Susan Lunn ….”
  • Libya Mission (4):  Not sure yet (even though, with a majority government, we know how it would go) what Canada is doing on extending mission?  “NATO has extended its Libyan air war by three months, but Canada’s role in the prolonged mission remains unclear. In an email from Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s office, a spokesperson said the future of Canada’s role in the Libya mission rests on the shoulders of Parliament. “Prime Minister Harper has been clear that Parliament will decide whether to extend Canada’s contribution to the NATO mission beyond June 16,” the spokesperson said. Hours after NATO-led aircraft launched new raids on Tripoli, ambassadors of the military alliance decided to renew the mission for another 90 days, to late September ….”
  • Libya Mission (5):  “…. Critics urged the government to define Canada’s mandate in the mission going forward, suggesting that without clear guidelines, “mission creep” could end with Canada committed to another long-term mission similar to Afghanistan. “This is an instance where we’ll want to make sure the government is being clear,” said NDP critic Paul Dewar. Complicating issues is a UN Human Right Council report accusing both Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces and opposition forces of committing war crimes during the conflict. “That’s why we have to be clear on what we’re supporting,” Dewar said. The Libyan mission evolved from protecting civilians through the enforcement of a no-fly zone to strikes at ground targets and military advice to rebel forces, said former ambassador to Pakistan Louis Delvoie ….”
  • Libya Mission (6):  The Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs says it ain’t over until the guy with the funny clothes and hats is outta there“Canada’s military mission in Libya will last until the country’s violent leader is gone, says the parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs. Deepak Obhrai, who represents Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird when Baird isn’t available, said Wednesday that Canada’s mission won’t be done until Moammar Gadhafi is out of power. “The end of the mission is to bring peace, stability out there, and peace and stability can only be in the region if Mr. Gadhafi’s gone, due to his murderous actions,” Obhrai told Rosemary Barton on CBC’s Power & Politics. “The final outcome of this thing to bring peace and stability to the region is for Mr. Gadhafi to go because of his crimes against humanity.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (1):  CF Info Machine says new training mission good to go.
  • Afghanistan (2):  CF Info Machine highlights PM’s visit.
  • Afghanistan (3):  Hockey visitors for the troops.
  • Canadian Forces Cancer and Mortality Study (1):  The official word from the CF“…. In general, these results are encouraging and suggest that persons who served in the CF have lower mortality for most diseases and illnesses than civilians of the same age and sex. The results are consistent with findings from other studies examining mortality in populations with a history of military service ….”
  • Canadian Forces Cancer and Mortality Study (2):  More official word on suicides in the CF“…. The death of even one military member by suicide is one too many. The CF have an extensive suicide prevention program in place, which includes primary prevention programs, clinical intervention, non-clinical intervention, and mental health education. Great efforts are made to identify people at risk for mental health problems and to provide them with the assistance that they require ….”
  • CF Hercs headed to SK to help evacuate fire-threatened communities.  “The Harper government is dispatching military aircraft and helicopters to evacuate two northern Saskatchewan communities threatened by raging by forest fires. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Defence Minister Peter MacKay are deploying four CC-130 Hercules aircraft and four CH-146 Griffon helicopters to help residents of Wollaston Lake and Hatchet Lake First Nations communities “facing imminent danger” as a result of a major forest fire ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying (1)  When trade shows are outlawed, only outlaws will hold trade shows“A group of about 75 people from a coalition of peace organizations staged a sit-in at the gates of Lansdowne Park Wednesday to protest the opening of Canada’s largest military and security trade show. The protesters say they held the sit-in to make a point that Canada should get out of the arms trade. They plan to hold a peaceful demonstration outside the gates of Lansdowne Park each day of the event. The annual military trade show got underway Wednesday and is expected to attract between 8,000 and 10,000 people who want to look at the latest in hi-tech gear ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  As Canada’s troops prepare to come home from Afghanistan with their battered kit, the federal government is moving ahead with plans to buy the army a whole new fleet of armoured vehicles. One of the contenders for the Canadian Forces’ new tactical armoured patrol vehicles was on display at a defence industry trade show here Wednesday. Textron’s TAPV, a descendant of the U.S. army’s ASV M11-17, is a four-man mean-looking four-by-four machine that is built to withstand IED blasts and can reach speeds of 100 km/h. Company officials describe it as a workhorse. “It’s a very, very tested vehicle. We’ve been developing this vehicle for five years, and we’ve blown up a lot of them. That’s the only way you know it’s safe,” said Textron’s Neil Rutter, adding thousands of the older U.S. variant have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We know that this vehicle can equal it (the U.S. variant) and probably surpass it for reliability.” Textron is one of six companies short-listed to submit bids to the government in August. The feds are poised to buy 500 TAPVs, which will replace the fleet of soft-skinned Coyotes which have run out of room to be upgraded and are proving cramped for soldiers loaded up with gear in Afghanistan. The first vehicle could arrive in summer 2013 ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying (3)  A Halifax company has landed a contract that could be worth nearly $22 million over five years to help Canadian soldiers improve their aim. Armament Technology Inc. will provide the Defence Department with up to 4,500 sets of optical sighting and ranging equipment over the next year. The deal is expected to be worth $4.3 million this year, according to a federal contract award document made public Wednesday. The contract also includes the option of four one-year contract extensions for an additional 5,000 units annually, Armament president Andrew Webber said Wednesday. “It’s the standard sighting system for the standard Canadian service rifle,” he said in an interview from Ottawa, where he was attending a military trade show ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (4)  “The Conservative government wants lobbyists to butt out of Canada’s new shipbuilding industry. Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose managed to raise more than a few eyebrows at a large defence industry trade show in Ottawa on Wednesday with that pronouncement. She told a large gathering of defence industry insiders, military officials, business leaders — and lobbyists — that the government doesn’t want lobbyists to play a role in Canada’s new National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. “Companies involved in the NSPS implementation process have been asked not to engage lobbyists. It was our intention at the outset to ensure that the NSPS competition would be run through a process that is completely arms length of politics,” Ambrose told hundreds in her luncheon speech ….”  More on that here and here.
  • More paratroopers standing behind paratroopers.  “Members of the international brotherhood of paratroopers are defending the disbanded Canadian Airborne Regiment. “These guys have heroes dating from World War Two, it’s wrong to brand the whole unit for the crimes of a few,” retired Staff Sgt. Mike Stocker, a former U.S. Green Beret and president of the Special Forces Association of St. Louis, told QMI Agency. “They were super tight-knit, real tough and real professional. It’s unfair, it’s as if they have taken their swords, broken them and branded them all. As a paratrooper, I stand behind them.” ….”
  • VAC reminder:  you have until the end of this month to apply for Agent Orange payments.  “Veterans Affairs Canada would like to remind Canadians who may be eligible to receive Agent Orange ex gratia payments that they must submit their applications by June 30, 2011. In September 2007, the Government of Canada offered a one-time, tax-free, ex gratia payment of $20,000 related to the testing of unregistered U.S. military herbicides, including Agent Orange, at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Gagetown in New Brunswick during the summers of 1966 and 1967. In December 2010, the deadline for submitting an application was extended to June 30, 2011. Certain eligibility criteria were also modified. Applicants have until June 30, 2011, to get a relevant medical diagnosis, and no longer have to prove that they were expecting their medical diagnosis before February 6, 2006. The requirement for applicants to have been alive on February 6, 2006, has been removed. This allows more primary caregivers, including widows and widowers, to apply on behalf of a loved one who died before the ex gratia payment came into place. Veterans Affairs Canada encourages individuals to submit their completed application before June 30, 2011, with all necessary supporting information. For more information, visit the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site at veterans.gc.ca or call 1-866-522-2122.”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 15 Mar 11

  • Latest recommended no-go-zone for Canadians:  Bahrain “Ottawa has upgraded its travel warning for Bahrain, telling Canadians to avoid all travel to the island nation. Bahrain has faced a month of nonstop unrest which has killed seven people as the country’s majority Shiite Muslims call for the ouster of the long-standing Sunni monarchy. Canada’s department of foreign affairs is advising against all travel to Bahrain due to the “unpredictable security situation” in the country. Canadians already in Bahrain are advised to stay indoors, avoid all political gatherings and keep away from the particularly tumultuous capital Manama. The department is also advising all Canadians in the middle-eastern country to register with the consulate in Manama or the Canadian embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia ….” DFAIT’s latest Travel Report on Bahrain here.
  • Canada’s Foreign Minister on Libya (1) Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon took a cautious approach Monday as some of Canada’s allies demanded tough military action to halt the advances against rebels by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s forces.  Cannon said Canada will consider all options — from tougher sanctions to a no-fly zone targeting Libyan aircraft and air defences — to oust the dictator.  But he added that Canada is looking for greater detail on how a no-fly operation would work against the Libyan military, which continued to drive back rebel forces Monday with air power followed by artillery and ground forces. “We all agree that Gadhafi must leave, we all agree there has to be a stop and an end to the bloodshed and the violence that this individual is bringing upon his population,” Cannon told reporters prior to the start of a two-day meeting here of G8 foreign ministers. “But we have to be able to come together with an option that is viable.” ….”
  • Canada’s Foreign Minister on Libya (2) “Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said Monday that Canada will consider all options, from tougher sanctions to military intervention, to rid Libya of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Cannon, speaking before the launch of a two-day G8 foreign ministers meeting here, said he plans to meet with rebel leaders either Monday in Paris or in Egypt on Tuesday after the conclusion of the G8 gathering. He said the world is now seeing the same Gadhafi implicated in the Lockerbie terrorist bombing. “What we are witnessing is the Lockerbie Gadhafi,” he told reporters ….”
  • Blogger Mark Collins on Libya “…. Very many criticize the US, often severely, sometimes stridently, for what they judge an American obsession with military strength. Yet. Libya is close to Europe and far from the US (and Canada). It is Europe that fears a mass migrant influx and loss of oil (along with arms contracts with Libya). The EU in terms of population and GDP is quite equivalent to the US. Its members still have numerically very large armed forces, technically far more advanced than Col. Gadhafi’s. At the same time many in the EU (and in Canada) see themselves, socially and morally, even economically, as an alternative beacon to the “shining city on a hill”. But when something military may be required EU members (as a Union, as part of NATO, or in some coalition of their own) are unable, unprepared, and ill-equipped in fact to do much of anything on their own ….”
  • More border security information is now out there, this time in the form of a new joint Canada-U.S. risk & threat assessment“The Honourable Vic Toews, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, today announced the release of the United States–Canada Joint Border Threat and Risk Assessment. The report helps enhance our understanding of common threats and risks in the areas of national security, criminal enterprises, migration, agriculture and health at our shared border. “The Government of Canada is committed to a safe, secure and efficient border. This is vital to Canada’s economy and to the safety and security of all Canadians,” said Minister Toews. “Canada and the U.S. are working closely to ensure that our shared border remains open to the legitimate movement of people and goods, and closed to those who would do either country harm.” “The United States and Canada have a long history of productive collaboration,” said U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano. “The Joint Border Threat and Risk Assessment reflects our ongoing commitment to enhancing security along our shared border while facilitating legitimate travel and trade that is critical to the economies of both countries.” ….” The full report is here.
  • Most young Canadians know little or nothing about most of the wars and peacekeeping missions their countrymen have served in, according to a survey done one year ago for Veterans Affairs Canada. While a bare majority of the 13-to-17-year-olds surveyed claimed to know at least a moderate amount about the Second World War, their knowledge fell off rapidly beyond that. More than two-thirds said they knew very little or nothing at all about the First World War, and nearly as many were equally unaware of Canadian peacekeeping efforts since 1960. Their ignorance peaked with the Korean War, about which 82 per cent said they knew nothing or very little. Even for the best-known conflict, the Second World War, 37 per cent of the youth said they knew very little and nine per cent knew nothing at all. The 514 youth were surveyed last March by Phoenix Strategic Perspectives as part of a $47,600 project for Veterans Affairs designed to assess Canadians’ awareness, engagement and satisfaction with Remembrance Day programming ….”
  • Maybe the bit in red at the end will help young people learn history better…. “The Conservative government is planning a $100-million national celebration to mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812 next year. It is understood that the current plans for the commemoration include re-enactments of famous battles, the repair of monuments and plaques, a new visitor centre at Fort York in Toronto, a documentary, a national essay-writing competition and a dedicated website. Dean Del Mastro, the parliamentary secretary for Canadian Heritage, confirmed the government is keen to make the bicentennial a major event …. many of the events will celebrate 200 years of peaceful co-existence with a former adversary. “These were events that forged our future and made us able to continue as a separate nation,” said Sandra Shaul, project manager for the City of Toronto’s bicentennial commemorations. One of the challenges identified by some event organizers is how to interest recent immigrants to Canada. Ms. Shaul said one proposal is to tell the story of 1812 using puppets accompanied by south-east Asian music ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Mar 11

  • If anyone can make a case for how Canada’s treating its wounded warriors, it’s a wounded warriorA major who lost both his legs in Afghanistan says the Harper government’s financial treatment of injured war veterans is an “abject betrayal” of a new generation of soldiers.  Maj. Mark Campbell, who stepped on a bomb in June 2008 near a Canadian base west of Kandahar city, says the New Veteran’s Charter established in 2006 robs wounded soldiers of about 40 per cent of their income …. “This New Veteran’s Charter is a grotesque travesty. It is an abject betrayal by the government of Canada to our new generation of disabled and wounded veterans,” said Campbell …. “What kind of deal is that? The people of Canada should be outraged.”  Campbell believes the new lump-sum payments and income replacement pale in comparison to the practice after the Second World War of granting lifetime pensions …. “Why are we saying people who sacrificed limbs in the service of their country should be subjected to a 25 per cent reduction in their families’ means of living? It’s ridiculous,” he said ….” More from Postmedia News here and CBC.ca here.
  • Veterans Affairs bureaucrats who rifled through the personal files of a department critic were handed written reprimands and three-day suspensions — penalties the victim calls a “slap on the wrist.” An internal investigation found 54 veterans bureaucrats improperly snooped through Sean Bruyea’s personal files, including medical and psychiatric reports. Some of them used the information to smear the outspoken critic.  “These employees have been disciplined and department officials consider this matter has been successfully addressed and closed,” said a Feb. 25 letter to Bruyea, obtained by The Canadian Press.  The two-month internal investigation determined that 614 employees handled his file over a number of years, but many had no need to do so.  Some of his personal information was included in briefing notes to former veterans affairs minister Greg Thompson in 2006 as the Conservative government prepared to implement the New Veterans Charter, which substantially overhauled benefits for former soldiers ….”
  • Interesting research from a university in Alberta: “Video games often get a bad rap, but their ability to desensitise players to violence could help soldiers sleep better. According to an online survey of 98 military personnel, regularly playing games that involve war and combat – like Call of Duty – decreased the level of harm and aggression experienced when they dreamed about war. Soldiers who didn’t play video games reported having more violent dreams combined with a sense of helplessness, says Jayne Gackenbach of Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada ….” More on that here.  Also, here’s a paper from the same researcher on the subject from last summer.
  • More Canadians (and others) GTFO Libya.  This from the PM’s chief spokesperson’s Twitter feed:  “Another Canadian Armed Forces plane has left Tripoli with 10 Canadians, UK, Australians, Romanian and other evacuees.”
  • A National Post editorial calls for NATO to do SOMETHING about Libya“Pressure is growing for Western nations to intervene militarily in Libya’s emerging civil war …. there are good reasons to be wary about such a campaign. But Muammar Gaddafi’s apparent willingness to exterminate large numbers of his citizens in recent days has served to marginalize such concerns: Whatever the risks that attend military intervention, we must not permit a North African Srebrenica …. The heavy lifting associated with the no-fly mission should be performed by Italy, France, Germany and Spain — which, collectively, import 90% of Libya’s oil exports. Britain, too, has a well-established trade relationship with Libya. It is in these countries’ interests to remove Col. Gaddafi as quickly as possible and stabilize the country around a new government. There are roles for Canada, the United States and other Western nations, too. Even as the Canadian air force seeks to acquire a controversial new multi-purpose fighter jet, our old CF-18s are more than a match for anything the Libyans have to throw up against them.  In the best case scenario, NATO will not have to fire a single shot or scramble a single aircraft — because Libyans will end Gaddafi’s cruel tyranny all by themselves. But failing that, we cannot stand by and permit a Libyan genocide to unfold.”
  • The Winnipeg Free Press is even more specific about a no-fly zone. “As Libyan rebels, until recently rolling towards Tripoli, now reel under a fierce counter-attack by the military forces of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the world wonders what to do. It can sit back and do nothing other than shout encouragement to the revolutionaries from the sidelines, which is mostly what it is has done up until now — some nations have given humanitarian aid to the insurgents, a few have sent military aid and moral support to Col. Gadhafi …. The …. choice, and one that paradoxically has the strongest support and the strongest opposition, is to declare a “no-fly zone” over Libya. The arguments in favour of this are most persuasively that it would be an unmistakable statement of international support for the revolution that Col. Gadhafi could not ignore. It would ground the Libyan air force that has in recent days been a devastating psychological as well as tactical weapon in the government counter-attack. And it can be implemented without UN consent or the even the united approval of NATO. In short, it is doable and effective …. such a declaration still seems the best and most effective way of aiding the revolution. There is a real chance for democracy in Libya, and thousands of Libyans have died in its pursuit. If the West does nothing, then Carney’s prophecy will be self-fulfilling: If we don’t at least stay apace of events, we will be so far behind them that the next diplomatic mission to Tripoli may well be to pay respects to a rejuvenated Col. Gadhafi.”
  • One of the standard MSM stories out of Afghanistan:  the hockey stars drop by.  Postmedia News’ version here and the Canadian Press’ version here.
  • An interesting variation on the “sports for the troops” theme:  a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) match is set for Afghanistan today. More on the match here.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Attacks claimed in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Fixing up radar at CFB Trenton: “Sensis Corporation’s modernization program for the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) Terminal Radar and Control System (TRACS) Area Surveillance Radar (ASR-3) has been formally accepted and is now commissioned and in use by the DND. The fully redundant ASR-3 radar modernization solution features a high performance signal/data processor and solid state L-band transmitter replacement along with six level National Weather Service (NWS) weather data processing capability embedded in the software. The modernization solution will extend the service life of 8 Wing/Canadian Forces Base Trenton’s radar by a minimum of 15 years while reducing life cycle, maintenance and operating costs ….”
  • (Belated) bye, bye Arcturus.The Aurora community marked the end of an era on Dec. 15, 2010, when the last of the CP-140A Arcturus aircraft, a variant of the CP-140 Aurora, performed its final operational mission for the Canadian Forces. Its 4,600 horsepower engines fired up one last time before it took off from 14 Greenwood, N.S., for a 16.1 hour mission – pushing the outer limit of endurance and setting a record for the longest flight in a CP-140A Arcturus. The crew of nine, composed mainly of members of 404 Long Range Patrol and Training Squadron, flew along the boundary of the eastern Canadian airspace to test the communications coverage of NORAD’s installations. The Arcturus departed Greenwood on a flight plan that took it north to a point near Frobisher Bay, Nunavut, and then south to a point near Yarmouth, N.S ….”
  • In spite of how much Ottawa is pushing the F-35 fighter, a recent speech by Canada’s Defence Minister points to a different threat. “…. after Mr. MacKay had finished laying out what appeared to be the critical importance of cutting-edge air power in Canadian sovereignty, the minister said Canada was actually most vulnerable to maritime threats. “Not to sound too foreboding, [but] at the risk of being too honest, I think our greatest vulnerability, in my estimation, is waterborne,” he said. With the longest coastline in the world, “beware the water.” Mr. MacKay’s office says his comment about the overriding “vulnerability” of the maritime environment was a reference to the government’s plan to spend $35-billion—even more money than the projected costs of the F-35—on several new vessels for its navy. And his spokesperson Josh Zanin expanded on why Canada’s greatest vulnerability is maritime by noting that waterborne security not only involves military threats, but “directly affects the availability—and the cost—of essential goods, especially food and fuel, all over the world” by affecting international shipping, of which 95 per cent is done over water. Other defence experts agreed with this view ….”
  • The federal government is spending more on the military today than at any point since the end of the Second World War, according to a new study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives that argues Canada isn’t getting enough bang for its buck. This country is expected to spend more than $23 billion on the military in 2010-11, about 2% more than it did the previous year and about 26% more than it did the year the Berlin Wall came down. That said, Canada’s status as an international player has been undermined by its failure to win a seat on the UN Security Council. Author Bill Robinson argues that Canada has no real military power or influence despite being the world’s 13th biggest military spender and NATO’s sixth biggest spender, so ought shift to consider a drastic shift in priorities. “That kind of money would allow us to operate in a much more significant manner in other ways in the world, most notably through things like development assistance,” he said Tuesday ….” As of this post, no word of the study at the CCPA site yet.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 5 Mar 11

  • In Libya, the Brits & Germans may have done it, and the Dutch tried it, but Canadians aren’t planning on doing it “The Canadian military has no plans to conduct extraction raids into Libya and citizens who want out of the chaotic North African nation should make their way to embarkation points, the commander of the mission said Friday …. “There are no current plans to extract Canadians,” Lt.-Col. Tony DeJacolyn told The Canadian Press in an interview from Malta.  “The current concept of operations is to move Canadian entitled persons and instruct them to move to points of exit, whether it be by sea or air.” ….”
  • Of course, this story focuses on the KEY element of the Libyan evacuation effort in the lead paragraph“Instead of rations, tents and makeshift showers, the command post for Canada’s military-assisted evacuation from Libya offers fruity drinks, poolside umbrellas and spa packages. Lt.-Col. Anthony DeJacolyn, the commander of that effort, has yet to indulge. Instead, the Pickering native and his team are pulling 21-hour days at Malta’s five-star Excelsior Hotel in an attempt to get to safety the Canadians remaining in Libya. Efforts in the early days of the crisis had mixed results. Charter planes were turned back midflight. Others that could land at the airport in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, were forced to return empty because no evacuees were ready to get on board ….” Have they run out of news angles so soon?
  • More whining (this time from the International Committee of the Fourth International) about Canada in Libya“…. Like the other imperialist powers, the Canadian government is depicting its plans to intervene militarily in Libya as born of altruism—of abhorrence at the repressive actions of Colonel Gaddafi’s regime, fear for the lives of ordinary Libyans as the country descends into civil war, and concern for the spread of democracy in North Africa and the Middle East. This is poppycock. If Canada’s government is plotting with the US and the European Union to intervene in Libya, it is because the popular upsurge that has toppled Mubarak in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia, hobbled Gaddafi, and challenged governments throughout North Africa and the Middle East is threatening vital imperialist economic and geo-strategic interests ….” Riiiiiiiiiiight.
  • Meanwhile, remember the Canadian Peace Congress’ position on Canadian military forces headed to Libya, calling for less militarism and more “solidarity”? A good response from Patrick Ross over at the Propagandist“…. Muammar al-Gadhafi doesn’t pay attention to Canadian protest rallies. I know: crazy, right? But somehow he just doesn’t care about what I hope will be thousands of Canadians – conservative and progressive alike — coming out to show their support for Libyans fighting for freedom in their own country.  At times like this, solidarity can be a pretty great thing. But solidarity won’t stop a Libyan Mirage fighter jet from strafing a peaceful protest rally. But a Canadian CF-18 shooting it out of the sky sure as hell will.  So it’s really this simple: either the so-called “peace movement” needs to be prepared to accept some kind of foreign intervention in Libya – whether it ends with a no-fly zone, or merely begins there – or they will have to accept what Muammar al-Gadhafi has been doing to his people ….” Well, Canadian Peace Alliance, which is it?
  • A Toronto cop shares his story from Kandahar through Canada’s web page on Afghanistan.
  • Toronto Terrorist Gets Life Sentence Shareef Abdelhaleem, the final member of the Toronto 18 to be sentenced for his crimes, has been handed a life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 years. Abdelhaleem, 35, was sentenced Friday just before noon for his role in a homegrown terror plot to detonate bombs at the Toronto offices of CSIS, the Toronto Stock Exchange and an Ontario military base. He was found guilty last year of participating in a terrorist group and intending to cause an explosion. Ahead of his sentence, Shareef delivered a 23-minute rambling speech, in which he claimed he never intended to harm anyone. He also said that Canadians have been silent on the blatant injustice of his case…. ” More MSM coverage here.
  • Alleged Edmonton Terrorist Back in Court An Edmonton accused terrorist facing extradition to the U.S. is trying to block seized evidence from being sent south until the validity of the search warrant is examined. In a Court of Queen’s Bench hearing Thursday into the case of Iraqi-born Sayfildin Tahir-Sharif, defence lawyer Nate Whitling said an inquiry is necessary to make sure there were no Charter rights violations when police raided the 38-year-old’s north-side apartment on Jan. 19. “There has been an attempt to evade this inquiry,” said Whitling, suggesting authorities were attempting an “end run” by passing along evidence seized in the search to U.S. officials before ensuring the warrant was proper. “What we are saying is this was, in substance, a search and seizure and they should have followed the proper procedures,” said Whitling. Federal prosecutor Stacey Dej denied anything improper had taken place stemming from dual investigations by the American and Canadian authorities and said the RCMP had “acted responsibly” in its handling of the raid ….” More MSM coverage here.
  • Alleged Ottawa Terrorist Still in Court There is more than enough circumstantial evidence against former University of Ottawa professor Hassan Diab to justify his extradition to France, a federal Crown lawyer argued on Friday. Urging Justice Robert Maranger to ignore “emotional pleas” from Diab’s lawyer, prosecutor Jeffrey Johnston said the relatively “low standard” of evidence required by Canadian extradition law has been amply met during the protracted two-year proceedings against Diab. The Lebanese-born Canadian is wanted for murder and attempted murder by Paris police for his alleged role in the bombing of a synagogue in the French capital in October 1980. Diab, 57, says he is an innocent victim of mistaken identity ….”
  • The results of a sweeping federal review of veteran health services are being kept secret and former soldiers are losing out on benefits as a result, stakeholders say. “There’s something amiss,” said Liberal Sen. Percy Downe, who has been pressuring the government on the issue. “What we have is a cone of silence.” Since 2005, the Tories have been touting the Veterans Health Services Review as one of the most extensive ever undertaken by Veterans Affairs. It was meant to identify gaps in access to health programs plaguing this country’s vets – everything from spousal and burial benefits to the evolving needs of newer veterans.  In 2008, then minister Greg Thompson told a Senate committee the review was nearly complete. “It is going to provide us with a way forward in terms of how we provide services to our veterans,” he said. But when Downe pushed the feds for information from the report in 2010, he was told the recommendations were “protected information.” ….”
  • A hearty “well done” to Royal Canadian Regiment Colonel of the Regiment Walter Matheson Holmes for his work with those members of the regimental family needing help.  This, from a statement announcing his Meritorious Service Decoration (Military Division)“Since June 2006, Colonel of the Regiment Holmes has been providing leadership and has been dedicated to The Royal Canadian Regiment. He championed the development of the Regimental Veterans’ Care Cell, as well as the sourcing of private funds to support both wounded soldiers and the post-secondary education of the children of fallen soldiers. These initiatives have enhanced the quality of life for both serving and retired members of the regiment. His service has brought great credit to The Royal Canadian Regiment and to the Canadian Forces.”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 25 Feb 11

  • Whaddya do when you want to help Canadians GTFO Libya, but the insurance company won’t cover the charter plane you’ve hired go in? Send in the big honkin’ military plane instead! “Canada will send a military cargo plane to evacuate its citizens from Libya, where conditions are becoming more dangerous, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon told reporters on Thursday. The announcement came hours after plans to send a chartered civilian airliner on Thursday to the Libyan capital Tripoli fell through over insurance concerns. Cannon said nearly 200 Canadians had been, or were about to be, evacuated from Libya on planes and ships arranged by other nations. Cannon, speaking to reporters in the Canadian embassy in Rome, said a C-17 military transport plane with 156 seats was on its way to Italy from Germany and would fly to Tripoli as soon as Libyan authorities have permission. He also said a charter plane from Amman would arrive in Tripoli in the early hours of Friday. So far, 213 Canadians have expressed a desire to leave Libya ….” About the bit in red, if this is correct, I really hope a politician is not going to take up a seat in any of the planes flying out of Libya.  To be fair, I’ve also found this for his being there:  “…. Cannon is in Italy to discuss the situation in Libya and the region with his Italian counterpart….” More from CBC.ca here.
  • Other ways outta Libya: “…. Canada’s governor general …. has agreed to keep his aircraft on standby for possible use; he is due to be in Kuwait on Friday. Italy has also offered to welcome any Canadians trapped in Benghazi aboard its navy ships that have authorization to approach Libyan shores, he said. It’s not clear if and when the Italian vessels might arrive ….”
  • Here’s more on how the military does this sort of thing if the effort is cranked up further.
  • At least one observer with Canadian military experience is saying something more needs to be done about Egypt.
  • A Liberal and a Tory senator lay out how Canada can help in Libya. “…. Support from the international community, and Canada especially, should be offered for building Libyan civil society and the national institutions neglected and denied during Gadhafi’s four-decade, one-man rule.  Although the Security Council has expressed “grave concern” and called on Libya “to meet its responsibility to protect its population,” its issuance of a press statement is insufficient to communicate the gravity of the situation that Libyans face -namely, the threat of mass atrocities. Time is literally of the essence …. But strong words must be paired with strong action. Canada and the international community must stand by the people of Libya who, like so many others throughout the Arab world, seek the basic human rights that should be enjoyed by all who desire them. Whereas the protests elsewhere have led to relatively peaceful transitions or to dialogues for reform, Libya’s rulers have chosen repression and slaughter …. We have seen the cost of inaction, delay and obfuscation on innocent populations elsewhere. The Responsibility to Protect is about the world engaging when a civilian population is under attack -either from its own government or because its government lacks the means or will to protect it. Libya is one of the clearest examples yet of just such a circumstance.  Canada has an opportunity to help build a coalition at the UN for rapid engagement. This needs to be a matter of hours and days, not weeks and months.”
  • More news on the latest in Libya here (Google News), here (EMM News Brief:  Libya),  here (NewsNow), here (BBC) and here (Al Jazeera English).
  • The leader of Canada’s last battle group in Afghanistan says his goal to establish a presence in every town and village in Kandahar’s Panjwaii district may not be attainable. Lt.-Col. Michel-Henri St-Louis said last month that it was his aim to be present in every Panjwaii community before Canada’s military mission ends in July. But St-Louis says that may have been overly optimistic. Still, he says the Canadian military and Afghan National Security Forces have eroded the insurgency’s freedom of movement in the violent district in recent weeks ….”
  • Taking a trick out of the Taliban’s play book to reassure Afghans. “The letter opens with a greeting seemingly ripped from a fairy tale: “Brothers and sisters, sleep soundly.” Beginning this week, Afghans in Kandahar province will wake up to those warm words posted on their front doors. The Canadian military is borrowing a Taliban tactic to counter the insurgency’s message, coming up with night letters of its own to be distributed in select communities in the Panjwaii district, where most of Canada’s battle group is based. The letter, written in Pashto, is an attempt to reassure locals that the Afghan National Security Forces are patrolling their villages at night. It also encourages them to report suspected insurgent activity, such as the planting of improvised explosive devices or stashing of weapons, and provides phone numbers where people can offer tips while maintaining their anonymity ….” More on the Taliban’s use of night letters here and here.
  • Poochie story o’ the week: “The Canadian Army has been employing sniffer dogs to detect mines and improvised explosive devices (IED) not only along routes, but also in buildings and vehicles. “We work with canine teams nearly every day, and the dogs form an integral part of our teams and sections,” explained Sergeant Alexandre Murgia, commander of a combat-engineer section of the 1st Battalion Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group (1 R22eR BG) ….”
  • 23 Feb 11: The head of Canada’s public service gives a Twitter atta boy to civil servants working in Afghanistan. 11 Jan 11: The date of the speech by the head of Canada’s public service in Afghanistan, giving them an atta boy about working in Afghanistan. The good news: good to see government using social media. The bad news: a bit more immediacy (something less than 6 weeks) would keep this sort of thing more timely.
  • Oopsie…. “The cost to refit one of Canada’s trouble-plagued submarines is skyrocketing, according to documents obtained under an access to information request by CBC News. In the year 2010 alone, the Canadian navy spent $45 million on repairs to HMCS Windsor. It had budgeted to spend just $17 million, the documents show. It appears that every system on the British-built submarine has major problems, according to the documents, including bad welds in the hull, broken torpedo tubes, a faulty rudder and tiles on the side of the sub that continually fall off ….” Broken record:  any links to the access to information documents obtained?  Nope (again).
  • Tracking down the identity of REALLY “old” soldiers. “The Honourable Laurie Hawn, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, announced today that Department of National Defence has identified the remains of a First World War soldier found in Avion, France, in 2003, as those of Private Thomas Lawless of Calgary, Alberta …. In October 2003, two sets of human remains were found at a construction site south of Avion, France, in the vicinity of Vimy Ridge. Over a period of six years, the Casualty Identification section of the Directorate of History and Heritage, sought the identity of the soldiers …. The first soldier was identified, in February 2007, as Private Herbert Peterson of Berry Creek, Alberta. Through continued genetic testing using inherited genetic material through the maternal line (mitochondrial DNA), osteology, facial reconstruction, military history and finally, stable isotopes – the second soldier was identified as Private Thomas Lawless on January 10, 2011. Veterans Affairs Canada has made contact with the members of Private Lawless’ family and will provide on-going support to the family as arrangements are made and carried out for the final interment ….” More on how this sort of thing is done.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch Attacks alleged in Kandahar, and the Taliban like what the Washington Post has to say.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 20 Feb 11

  • Word of a big push in southern Afghanistan, with Canadians doing some of the pushing. “A large-scale military sweep in southern Afghanistan involving Canadian troops has yielded the seizure of massive weapons caches hidden in fields around a tactically crucial region in Kandahar province. The goal of the recently concluded five-day operation, planned and led by the Afghan National Army with support from Canada’s Royal 22nd Regiment, a battle group nicknamed the Van Doos, and an American company was to find weapons and capture Taliban militants just arriving in the region. In doing so, the coalition of 2,200 soldiers hopes to take some steam out of an upcoming spring fighting season. The mission is aimed at reducing fighting during the eventual handover of the Panjwaii district to U.S. forces this summer ….”
  • More on the lastest push “Canada’s top soldier marches through a narrow lane known among some troops as Ambush Alley, hoping to build trust in an Afghan village that has proven difficult to win over in recent years. Against the backdrop of a crumbled clay wall — the result of an improvised explosive device last week — Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner offers a sobering assessment of the public mood in Nakhonay. “I think they are sitting on the fence right now and they’re waiting to see who is more capable, who is winning,” Milner says. “They’ve been intimidated for so long. Right now is that waiting period to understand what the situation is going to be like during fighting season.” Milner joined his troops during Operation Hamaghe Shay, a four-day mission that yielded weapons and IEDs on a daily and nightly basis throughout the Panjwaii district. It culminated Saturday with a two-hour shura in the nearby village of Haji Baba, where Panjwaii’s new governor railed against the Taliban — to the point where he said he would “take a gun and shoot them myself” if they brought harm to the locals ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan.
  • Now Ron Cundell wants the Canadian Military’s other boot to drop. The Angus resident praised Friday’s announcement that Borden will house one of five new integrated personnel support centres to care for injured or ill Canadian Forces members, and their families. Cundell, who was medically released from the forces after serving from 1981-2000, says the Department of National Defence (DND) is doing its part -but that’s only half of the solution. ” Veterans Affairs (Canada) needs to change their culture of deniability,” he said. “What happens when the claim is denied? Where will they (veterans) go for help? How will they go for help? “I was left alone, fed to the wolves. That is why I am here today. It’s sad how much I know about this system.” ….”
  • Troops from across Western Canada are headed to the Arctic for a big training exercise.  Click here if you want to follow them on an online map.
  • Speaking of the North, an NDP MP is calling for the Arctic to be declared a nuclear weapons free zone, via Private Members Bill C-629. One question, though:  unless Canada builds up its military to the extent that it can challenge ALL comers to Canada’s Arctic (and we know the NDP’s not big on building anything other than “peacekeeping” forces), how do you stop, say, folks from just passing on through?

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Feb 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 20 Jan 11

  • A Canadian was arrested in Edmonton to face charges of helping kill Americans in Iraq.  Here’s the U.S. government’s news release, here’s the complaint (PDF, courtesy of the Journal of National Security Law & Policy blog), as well as mainstream media coverage here and here.
  • As I’ve said before, let’s hope…. “It’s a crucial question with no clear answer: will the Taliban return in strength to Kandahar when the traditional fighting season resumes after the annual opium harvest ends this spring? It’s a question of immense interest to Canada’s battle group, which will continue to patrol one of the three districts in Kandahar, where the insurgency has always been strongest, until its combat mission ends this July. With no firm evidence yet one way or the other, but armed with knowledge of the Taliban’s usual fighting calendar and their long history of resilience, Canada’s Task Force Kandahar — now led by a battle group in Panjwaii built around a Royal 22nd Regiment battalion — has had to prepare as if the enemy will be back again in April ….”
  • Just as Canada’s at least thinking about packing its bags in Kandahar to leave, it needs to find another staging base to move a not-insubstantial amount of hardware through“The Canadian military is casting about for another staging base for Afghanistan to replace makeshift arrangements in Cyprus – where the Forces relocated after Canada was kicked out of the United Arab Emirates late last year. A move is not certain, but the Canadian Forces are searching for another, possibly closer, location from which to move troops and supplies in and out of Kandahar …. Canada is using two civilian airports in southern Cyprus – Paphos and Larnaca – to shuttle soldiers and other personnel in and out of Afghanistan. In Cyprus, the Canadians are housed in hotels. The operation is a pay-as-you-go contract, and cargo is shipped separately into Afghanistan via Germany. The Forces are eyeing other locations that could offer more benefits, including lower costs, the ability to handle more volume or offer more flexibility. Defence sources wouldn’t identify possible alternatives, but it’s believed options could include another Gulf nation or one of the countries north of Afghanistan that diplomats refer to as “the Stans.” ….”
  • In case you had to ask, here’s why you don’t deploy a Type 1 diabetic to Afghanistan.
  • Remember this just-released chronology of Canada’s military activities in Afghanistan?  It seems, um, less than robustly fact checked. Luckily, Army.ca participants are happy to provide corrections!  Let’s see how long this link to the report (PDF) keeps working, shall we?
  • Another military research paper (PDF):  how many pilots do you need (statistically speaking) to keep CF-188 Hornet missions going at various tempos?
  • Remember the Veterans Affairs Minister’s traveling road show I told you about last week, where he’s travelling across Canada to tell vets what a good job the department’s doing? Since the Minister can only be in one place at a time, the Minister’s Parliamentary Secretary – Greg Kerr – is on the road too, starting in Newfoundland“On behalf of the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture), Greg Kerr, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, today met with Veterans, Canadian Forces members and other stakeholders in Newfoundland and Labrador to explain recent improvements at Veterans Affairs Canada to better serve Veterans and their families …. Mr. Kerr’s day-long trip included a visit to the Caribou Memorial Veterans Pavillion, a meet-and-greet luncheon with Veterans at The Royal Canadian Legion Branch #56 in Pleasantville, and tours of the Integrated Personnel Support Centre and Military Family Resource Centre at Canadian Forces Station St. John’s ….” A bit more from the hometown media team here.
  • The latest protest aimed at keeping American deserters in Canada from facing the music in the U.S. was in Winnipeg“Provencher MP Vic Toews’s constituency office will serve as the backdrop for a social justice rally in Steinbach this afternoon. The demonstrators, part of a nationwide action organized by the Keep Resisters in Canada Campaign, are urging Ottawa to discontinue the practice of deporting United States war resisters. The group wants the federal government to stop punishing American soldiers who come to Canada in protest of the U.S. military’s actions. Protesters say that would help restore “Canada’s tarnished international image.” ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 16 Jan 11

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 13 Jan 11

  • Canadian Forces’ statistics show 2010 saw fewer deaths, injuries among Canadian troops in Afghanistan than the previous year. More from the Toronto Star here, and some interesting discussion on why those numbers have dropped at Army.ca here.
  • On a related note, it’s WELL worth the 16 minutes or so you should spend listening to Postmedia News’ Matthew Fisher talk to TVO host Steve Paikin about how things are going in Afghanistan (good for NATO), why you’re not hearing exactly how it’s going in the mainstream media, and why casualty numbers are dropping.
  • Canada has handed the keys (as well as command) of Kandahar’s Provincial Reconstruction Team (KPRT) to the United States.
  • “He says” on reported collateral damage caused by a recent offensive/rebuilding effort“A major coalition military operation in a volatile southern Afghan province has caused about 100 million dollars worth of damage to property, a government delegation said Tuesday. President Hamid Karzai dispatched the delegation, led by one of his advisers, to assess damage caused by Operation Omaid, which started in April and aims to root out the Taliban in Kandahar, a traditional heartland areas. The delegation then reported to the Western-backed leader, charging that the damage caused by the military offensive was worth over 100 million dollars, in part due to damage to crops, Karzai’s office said in a statement. International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman Brigadier-General Josef Blotz said he could not comment as he had not yet seen the statement. “As a result of military operation ‘Omaid’, significant property damage has been caused to the people in Arghandab, Zahri and Panjwayi districts in Kandahar province,” the delegation’s statement said ….”
  • “She says” on reported collateral damage caused by a recent offensive/rebuilding effort“By building a road, Canadian troops may have burned some bridges.  The commander of all NATO forces in southern Afghanistan says a major Canadian construction project is partly to blame for a recent slew of property-damage claims.  The road Canadian troops are carving through the horn of Panjwaii is part of a much larger military effort in Kandahar province. This week, a delegation of Afghan government officials claimed the offensive has come at an astronomical cost: upwards of $100 million in damaged fruit crops, livestock and property …. The Canadian road cuts through farmers’ fields in a dusty corner of southwestern Kandahar that has long be a hotbed of the Taliban insurgency.  Property owners who have found their land bisected by the thoroughfare have sought compensation, said Maj.-Gen. James Terry, who is in charge of the NATO contingent known as Regional Command South.  “Some of the claims come from that, in terms of compensation back to the people because of putting that road in,” he said at a news conference in Kandahar city on Thursday.  Terry, of the U.S. army’s 10th Mountain Division, pointed out that local elders asked for the road at a meeting, or shura. It will eventually link rural parts of the province and enable commerce ….” More on the road work in question here and here.
  • More on the work to close Canada’s Camp Mirage in the UAE (via the CF).
  • Remember that committee of politicians looking over all those Afghan detainee documents? Is there light at the end of the tunnel for them (or is it the light of an oncoming train coming)?
  • The PM is apparently eyeing a special parliamentary committee to vet top-secret intelligence. “Prime Minister Stephen Harper is considering creating a multi-partisan parliamentary committee to vet the top-secret intelligence gathered by Canada’s national security agencies. Several of Canada’s close allies — including Britain and the United States — have established committees of lawmakers to keep tabs on the operations of their spy agencies. When asked Friday whether he would consider creating a parliamentary intelligence committee, Harper noted that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and NDP leader Jack Layton have been sworn in as members of the Queen’s Privy Council, a process that allows them to receive sensitive national security intelligence under an oath of secrecy. But the prime minister said the government is looking at ways to broaden Parliament’s involvement. “I know that has been under consideration for some time. I don’t think we’ve yet landed on a particular model that we think would be ideal,” Harper told reporters at a news conference in Welland, Ont ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch: Almost 20 claimed killed in alleged attacks in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
  • Canada’s Veterans Affairs Minister hits the road to let veterans know what’s coming to them – more on the road trip from QMI here.
  • More on how it’s not necessarily the bureaucrats’ fault that some things happen the way they do at Veterans’ Affairs Canada. “…. Take the Sean Bruyea affair as an example: high level VAC officials briefed Ministers on Bruyea’s personal medical and financial information. Bruyea, involved in protesting the New Veterans’ Charter, found his benefits cut and claims stalled. There were even attempts by Veterans’ Affairs to have Sean commit himself to a mental hospital. All this came to light last fall. What did the government do? Apologise, settle Bruyea’s court case, and require all Veterans’ Affairs staff to undergo privacy training. The message? VAC staff messed up and we’ll make sure they know better. Implied course of events: the frontline staff was upset by Bruyea’s lobbying and tried to take him down …. Here’s an alternative scenario: Bruyea ruffles feathers in the upper echelon of Veteran’s Affairs – the Ministers and Deputy Ministers. Orders are sent down: pull Bruyea’s files. Files are reviewed, annotated, and included in briefing notes (all of which has been confirmed). Decisions are taken to “take the gloves off” with Bruyea, after which Sean’s descent into the nightmare begins. Who can make such a decision or issue such an order? Not the people answering the phones ….”
  • QMI Ottawa bureau boss David Akin manages to see the forest in the midst of the trees. “…. Simply put: Our Canadian Forces needs billions and billions of dollars worth of new gear — not just new fighter planes — but no one has any clear plans to pay for what they need, particularly in a time of global fiscal restraint.  Alternately, one party or the other could stand up and, as Conservatives have done in Britain and Democrats did in the U.S., start announcing big-time cuts to military acquisitions and other programs.  Instead, we’ve been watching Conservatives and Liberals argue bitterly about the merits of purchasing the F-35 fighter plane, though both largely agree we will need some kind of new fighter plane to replace our fleet of excellent-but-aging CF-18s.  Whatever plane we choose is going to cost us billions. How will we pay?  And is that most urgent need? Is that the top spending priority? ….”
  • Potential base closures are always publicly contentious because of how much money such facilities pump into neighbouring economies.  As part of a strategic review of the military overall, a Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) paper ranks Canada’s military bases according to their “operational impact, infrastructure condition and efficiency, and economic impact”.  The list, the paper’s executive summary and a link to the paper itself are all here (as well as always interesting discussion) at Army.ca.
  • It’s still messy in Ivory Coast, where one guy says he won the election for president, and the other says he’s still president.  Here’s how one academic says Canada could help“….First, it should mobilize like-minded states to impose travel bans and freeze assets of Mr. Gbagbo’s family and close associates. Second, it should lead efforts to move Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the Nov. 28 presidential runoff who is under siege in a hotel in Abidjan, to Yamoussoukro, the capital, where he seems to have the backing of the local political establishment …. Third, Canada should work with other governments to press the African Union to give Mr. Gbagbo a deadline to step down or face comprehensive economic sanctions …. And fourth, Canada should help Mr. Ouattara to form his government by encouraging financial institutions such as the West African Monetary Union, the African Development Bank and the World Bank to deal with him ….”
  • Remember the young guy masked as an old guy who flew to Canada from Hong Kong last October?  Well, he may have been one of nine Chinese smuggled here, according to Hong Kong authorities.  The good news:  some arrests have been made in Hong Kong – a bit more from Hong Kong media here, here and here.