Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight

Posts Tagged ‘Walter Dorn News Highlights – 31 Aug 11

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  • Libya Mission (1)  Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is leaving open the possibility of continuing Canadian military involvement in Libya after the scheduled Sept. 27 end date. Canada’s participation in NATO’s air mission over Libya has been extended once, but the government hasn’t yet said whether it will propose another extension. The NDP, the official Opposition, is against another extension. Asked what happens after Sept. 27, Baird said he’s taking the situation one day at a time. “This is quickly coming to an end. It’s not over yet. Canada will obviously be there in theatre to support the Libyan people,” Baird told (CBC) …. “The end is in sight. We’re not there yet, but let’s take it one day at a time,” he said. Pressed again on whether the troops will return to Canada on Sept. 27, Baird reiterated “the job is not yet complete.” “I would think that once the people of Libya are safe, that’ll be something that we’ll consider,” he said ….”  More on this here.
  • Libya Mission (2)  “Canada is heading into high-level talks on Libya this week without formal offers of assistance for the country as it rebuilds after a bloody uprising. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s chief spokesman says the intent of the meeting in Paris is to determine what the rebels’ National Transitional Council needs. Dimitri Soudas says Canada can contribute in several ways but the international community first needs to co-ordinate assistance. “Before you just start putting things into force and implementing them, you actually have to make sure everyone is going the same direction,” he said in a briefing Tuesday. Mr. Soudas said Thursday’s meeting is also not a victory lap for NATO forces, even as military officials say their sustained campaign is seeing life slowly return to normal in many areas. “The definition of victory is always something that people try to establish,” he said. “Victory to a large extent is democracy in Libya.” ….”  If the Government of Canada really means that bit in red, we may be there a while….
  • Libya Mission (3)  Academic:  Canada should have own eyes, ears on the ground, not just sharing intelligence from NATO partners“…. When asked where Canada is getting its information, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, referenced the NATO-led mission in which Canadian fighter aircraft and a navy frigate have been participating since March. “Don’t forget this is a co-ordinated effort,” he said, “and information is shared internally.” Walter Dorn, a professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., said he was surprised to hear that Canada doesn’t have anyone on the ground in Libya given the importance the government has attached to the mission, both militarily and politically. “It is critical to have Canadian eyes and ears on the ground in order to make informed decisions,” he said. “We have to evaluate those in charge, provide humanitarian assistance and help build the peace.” ….”
  • Libya Mission (4)  “Canada is looking at how to “unfreeze” up to $2 billion in frozen Libyan assets for re-construction efforts in Libya, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s spokesman Dimitri Soudas. The assets were frozen in February following a United Nations sanctions resolution and now Ottawa, following the lead of the United States, is trying to determine whether the money can be released and channelled toward “humanitarian and other needs” to help establish a transition to a democratic government in Libya. Ottawa is “looking at options at how to proceed to unfreeze those assets and for them to be put towards that use,” said Soudas ….”
  • Libya Mission (5)  And for all those calling for a U.N. mission in Libya, this, from the rebels“Libya is rejecting the idea of deploying United Nations military personnel to help stabilize the country. A 10-page document written by the UN Secretary General’s special adviser on Libya that was leaked and published online recently calls for the deployment of 200 unarmed UN military observers and 190 UN police to help stabilize the country …. that could include monitoring or mentoring police officers. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, the chairman of the transitional council, said Tuesday he had met a day earlier with NATO officials in Qatar, where it was decided that no foreign soldiers would be needed in Libya. “We decided that we do not need any forces to maintain security, be it international, Muslim or other,” he said ….”
  • The CF’s Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) is getting a new boss tomorrow.
  • Way Up North (1)  Lookit what the South Koreans are up to (hat tip to Mark Collins for sharing this one)  Commercial ships able to route through the Northwest Passage without ice breaker assistance are a step closer to becoming a reality. Korean shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), announced a few days ago that a model of their 190,000 dwt iron ore bulk carrier had finished its test program in the world’s largest – 90 meters long – ice test tank at Canada’s Institute for Ocean Technology (IOT). With an awareness that the traditional ice-breaker bow construction (where the mass of the ship’s bow structure bears down to break up pack ice) acts as a drag on efficient progress in open waters, international collaboration between IOT and Korean researchers from Pusan National University aimed at finding the optimal bow design for a ship operating in various ice conditions. Numerical computer analysis by the team culminated in manoeuvring and resistance performance tests of the model bulk carrier in the special ice-test tank ….”
  • Way Up North (2)  One academic’s view, post-Nanook 2011“…. one could argue that the senior military leadership views the Arctic (especially in a post-Afghanistan milieu) as a means of further justifying its reason for being. Stated differently, it gives them a mission priority that has the firm backing of the Conservative government in Ottawa. This is critical because it allows the military to make the case to political masters that the defence budget should be insulated from any deep cuts in the rush to balance the books …. It would be better for the military to wrap itself in an Arctic mission (and to secure the requisite procurement) rather than have the Coast Guard squeeze out more money for sovereignty patrols, scientific investigation and a polar-class icebreaker. In short, the Canadian military is perfectly content to play around in the Arctic just as long as the money taps stay open and they can use their training there for other “hot spots” around the world. And if this is the case, you can look for the Canadian Forces to deepen its military footprint in the Arctic.”
  • NATO’s mission boss in Kosovo:  we’re not ready to cut back troops just yet because of violence here.  Canada has five troops there with Operation KOBOLD – stay safe, folks.
  • Afghanistan (1)  Federal Court of Canada to Amir Attaran seeking pictures of detainees:  no photos for YOU! (via
  • Afghanistan (2a)  Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing shuts down (via CEFCOM Info-Machine  news release, 18 Aug 11)
  • Afghanistan (2b)  Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing shuts down (via CEFCOM Info-Machine feature story, 30 Aug 11)
  • Afghanistan (3)  QMI/Sun Media editorial“If there was a truly down moment during Jack Layton’s funeral on Saturday, it was Stephen Lewis praising Layton for wanting to negotiate with the Taliban. And, worst of all, this venture into the absurd got a generous and lasting applause. Can you imagine anyone but the elite left giving a generous and lasting applause to something so offensive and so wrong-headed? Yet, they lapped up the Orange Crush like it was cultist Kool-Aid. How sad is that knowing those same Taliban that Lewis and Layton think would give credence to a negotiated end to their terror have taken the lives of more than 150 of our Canadian soldiers, plus a diplomat, plus a Canadian journalist? And that’s not counting the hell and death they have brought down on the Afghan people. But everybody Rise Up! Rise Up! ….”
  • Afghanistan (4)  I screwed up, missing this film from the CF Info-Machine:  “…. You don’t have to wait for a telling, warts-and-all documentary made about one Canadian military experience in Kandahar. Desert Lions: Canadian Forces Mentors in Kandahar is a great piece of reporting and surprise, it’s a Canadian army production. A reservist with the Calgary Highlanders regiment and a former CBC television reporter, Mike Vernon spent several weeks in 2010 shooting footage and collecting stories in the volatile Panjwaii district of Kandahar. This was a hairy time for the Canadian Forces, especially in Nakhonay, the small, Taliban-infested village where Mr. Vernon found himself encamped with nine members of an Operational Mentor Liason Team (OMLT), reservists like himself, assigned to a complex and dangerous mission: To hold Nakhonay while helping “enable” a company of Afghan soldiers, some of them good, some of them awful. All of the men struggled with cultural barriers and stupid military politics, inside a deadly combat environment where the enemy was always present but seldom seen. Scary ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Vendors aiming to sell the CF a quiet electric snowmobile have a bit more time to send in their bids (via
  • What’s Canada Buying (2)  Wanted:  someone to build a cold storage building in Petawawa.
  • Royalizing the CF  Survey says…. “According to (Harris Decima) Senior Vice-President Doug Anderson “By and large, Canadians agree with reverting to the traditional names for Canada’s Navy and Air Force and only one in ten are strongly opposed to the change. As might have been predicted based on historical evidence, Quebec residents find the lowest level of agreement on this point, but even there, opinion is fairly evenly split.” ….”  More from The Canadian Press here.
  • Ministers responsible for Veterans Affairs and senior officials from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Germany, Denmark, France and the Netherlands today completed two days of meetings to discuss support for Veterans. Ministers emphasized the need for collaborative research, policy development and programs for Veterans. The meetings were hosted in Ottawa by the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs …. The following statement was released by the Summit participants at the conclusion of the meetings: Honouring and providing services to Veterans is a shared goal around the world. All of our governments have programs in place to meet the needs of those transitioning from military to civilian life. Research is playing a growing part in allowing us to better understand the transition experience. By agreeing to collaborate more closely on common research projects, we will be able to develop improved ways of supporting Veterans throughout their lives ….”
  • Border Security:  Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird releases two reports on consultation results with Canadians – one here, the other here.  Media coverage:  folks seem to worry about privacy, information sharing/civil liberties (more on that here) and sovereignty (more on that here), while business wants a more open border.
  • Vancouver PD to public:  recognize any of these rioters?  Vancouver police have already received more than 50 tips after launching a website Tuesday aimed at identifying participants in the June 15 Stanley Cup riot. So far, police have posted photos of 40 suspected rioters, and scores more are expected to be added to the site over the coming weeks. Police Chief Jim Chu said Tuesday that the riot investigation was proceeding carefully to ensure suspects could be charged with participating in a riot, rather than lesser crimes such as looting or mischief. “We’re not pulling our punches. We’re going for the most serious charges we can give,” said Chu. The first 40 suspects posted to the Riot 2011 website were randomly selected from a group of some 200 unidentified people police are investigating ….” News Highlights – 11 Jan 11

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  • Canada appears to be paying out more compensation for damage caused by fighting in Afghanistan “…. Between April 1, 2009, and March 31, 2010, the military issued 272 ex-gratia payments—more than five per week. The cash settlements ranged from as low as $185 to as high as $21,420, for a grand total of $661,045. That is triple the amount handed out during the previous year (102 payments totalling $205,828) and a fourfold increase from the year before that (57 payments; $152,683) ….” While this seems to be good news for a group monitoring civilian casualties, they haven’t always been so happy about NATO’s compensation policies in general (and have said next to nothing about the Taliban’s) – more on that here, here and here.
  • The military will ground Canada’s spy plane program after the Afghan combat mission ends this summer.  The commander of the prop-driven CU-170 Herons, which operate out of Kandahar Airfield, said the Canadian Forces will disband his squadron once troops pull out of Kandahar.  Maj. Dave Bolton, the new and final commander of Task Force Erebus, said his team will then go on to other jobs within the military.  “There’s a lot of very young people that were involved with this program,” he said in an interview.  “There’s probably going to be a hiatus of somewhere between two and five years. But those people will still be in the military, and those people will have this experience, and they’ll be able to move forward with the yardstick when the time comes.” ….”
  • Following this Canadian Press piece on the IED blast that killed reporter Michelle Lang, Columnist Lysiane Gagnon had this to say: “…. The Canadian government uses embedded journalists to highlight the “human” side of the Afghan war, as well as the undisputed courage of our soldiers. It also deploys civilians to assist the soldiers in humanitarian missions (for instance, Ms. Saeed was to assist Sgt. Taylor as he reached out to the locals). But what happened on Dec. 30, 2009, on a road south of Kandahar, should open up questions about these policies.” Via Twitter, Toronto Star political reporter Joanna Smith raises an interesting question, indeed:  “Is she not arguing that civilians, especially women, should stay out of #Afghanistan entirely?” That’s how I read it, too.
  • A meeting between Canada’s PM and America’s Prez regarding shared perimeter security apparently isn’t ready to happen just yet. “A highly touted meeting between Stephen Harper and Barack Obama on a perimeter security pact has been pushed back as Canada and the United States wrestle with the difficulties of the complex arrangement. Insiders say the signing summit is now expected no earlier than February — and possibly as late as spring. Improving information sharing — a prospect that raises privacy concerns in Canada — is seen as the key to the effort to secure a joint North American outer boundary, the insiders say ….” While Liberals say Canada shouldn’t put all its trade eggs in one basket in expecting some concessions from the U.S., I’m more worried that we won’t get ANY concessions (or none worth the tradeoff of sharing more of my information with the Americans, anyway).
  • According to Postmedia News, Canada and its Mounties are expected to catch some heat for cutting the number of armed air marshals to be deployed on commercial planes. “…. Documents obtained by Postmedia News through the Access to Information Act reveal internal memos describing how the cuts will occur, how the Mounties are briefing Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, and how the police and cabinet ministers are receiving some dire warnings about the consequences of the cutbacks.  The Mounties’ briefing note to Toews explains that the air marshals program is seen as a “world leader” of its type and that it has been successful through a “combination of operation, intelligence and analysis activities.”  “International partners were made aware of the funding reduction to the Canadian Air Carrier Protective Program,” Toews was advised. “The RCMP anticipates a negative response from American and international partners.” ….” It sure would be nice to see the documents themselves, though.
  • Latest in a multi-part series of papers from Canada’s military research arm:   “The Justifications for War and Peace in World Religions Part III: Comparison of Scriptures from Seven World Religions” (PDF)  Part 1 (“Extracts, Summaries and Comparisons of Scriptures in the Abrahamic Religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism)”) here and Part 2 (“Extracts, Summaries and Comparisons of Scriptures in Indic Religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism)”) here (all links PDF).
  • Um, I think someone is fighting a bit of a rear guard action here. “…. Abandoning (don’t ask don’t tell) reeks of a political decision more than a military one. While general officers may feel forced to accede to political decisions, rank-and-file soldiers are likely to be uncomfortable with the new policy. There is a 60-day period of grace to ensure the military will adjust to the new policy with no harmful effects. The die is cast, but disagreements remain. Already the marines and elite combat units and Special Forces reject the new policy, with close to 60% believing the policy will adversely affect fighting qualities. Advocates — or at least defenders — of gays openly serving in the military point to ancient Sparta where military service was revered. Sparta remains to this day as a symbol of military defiance, courage, loyalty and stoicism. Remember Thermopylae. In Sparta, boys were taken from their mothers at age seven and began an initiation that would make them soldiers. Each youth had a trained soldier as a “mentor,” and this relationship could have sexual overtones or straight friendship. The mentor’s job was to ensure the soldierly development of his ward ….” Notwithstanding the fact that homosexuality was widespread even among the Spartans (since they reflected Greek society), this next bit urks me: “…. Among NATO countries, some 20 of 26 members allow gays to serve in the military with no apparent ill-effects — though this is somewhat uncertain, given NATO’s reluctance to share in the fighting in Afghanistan ….” Maybe I’m the only one seeing some link between accepting homosexuals in the ranks and poor fighting spirit, but since Canada is one such NATO country, does he mean we’ve been “reluctant to share in the fighting”?  Here’s more than 150 pieces of evidence that this is most certainly NOT the case.
  • This columnist has some advice for Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on promising to scrap the F-35 if the Liberals get power in a future election“…. Some think all major government contracts should go to tender. They should remember the Winnipeg embarrassment. Brian Mulroney’s government wanted to put some money into a Quebec aviation company. They thought they’d be tricky and put a contract out for tender. But a Winnipeg company, Bristol, came in with the winning bid. Oops. The government looked sleazy as it tried to extricate itself from the situation. And a lot of people in western Canada have never forgotten the buffoonish incident. That brings us to this rule: Never send out for tender any projects unless you are willing to accept the winning bid. That’s what we told ministers when I worked in the government’s procurement department, then known as Supply and Services. It is a message Ignatieff has apparently not received because he’s busily relying on Mulroney ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda WatchBad guys claim 22 killed in Spin Boldak suicide bombing attack, while others say 3 – who you gonna believe?

Give Peace(keeping) a Chance in Afghanistan?

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Just spotted this from Royal Military College Associate Professor Walter Dorn, via David Pugliese’s Defence Watch blog here (note:  this was written before Obama’s speech & plan) – highlighting mine:

….(An) option worth considering is the establishment of a UN peacekeeping force to operate, initially at least, with the other missions.

There is already a small UN “good-offices” mission, called the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), mandated to support democratization and reconciliation in Afghanistan. But a true peacekeeping mission—call it UNAMA II—would require a much larger military and police component, numbering in the tens of thousands. It would have to be deployed with the consent of the belligerent parties, including the Afghan government, NATO, the US, and the main insurgent groups. That all the parties would accept such a deployment cannot be taken for granted, but it cannot be dismissed either. As the fighting continues with no end in sight, the prospects for a UN peacekeeping force are likely to increase.

The initial goal of a UNAMA II mission would be to bring a modicum of peace to Afghanistan. Reducing and then ending the conflict will probably require making compromises with some unsavoury Taliban leaders, which would pose difficult ethical challenges. But continuing a war that kills thousands of people a year with little or no hope of victory poses even greater ethical problems.

Ideally, the UN mission would include a large number of troops from Muslim nations to help establish local legitimacy and to avoid the perception of being part of a Western occupying force. It would need to be impartial and clearly distinct from the US/NATO missions in the country. The force would adopt a defensive posture, using its limited combat power only when necessary, as a last resort. It would therefore be implicated in many fewer civilian fatalities and would likely be more popular with the local population….

In addition to the comments already posted, I have these bits to add.

1)  Is it just me, or before you have a peacekeeping force, EVERYONE has to agree to stop fighting each other?

2)  So far, public statements from the Taliban indicate they’re going to keep fighting as long as foreign troops are in Afghanistan (check here, here and here).  As long as the proposed U.N. force consists of foreign troops, sounds like no-go from the Taliban’s point of view.

3)  Other recent Taliban statements suggest they are underwhelmed with the United Nations as a body (try here, here and here), so I’m not convinced they’d buy such a force unless it was heavily weighed in their favour.

4)  If thinks it’s a good idea, I’m not so convinced.

Based on the first three points, anyhow, we’d have to see a pretty big change on the side of those killing voters, preventing girls from going to school and cutting heads off before there’s even a remote chance of old fashioned peacekeeping to work in Afghanistan.