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Michelle Lang, R.I.P.: Is This the Best the Calgary Herald Can Do?

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The Chief of Defence Staff, as well as some wounded members of the military and Foreign Affairs, visited the Calgary Herald newsroom this week to present the memorial for fallen journalist Michelle Lang.  A columnist did an online post:

“A touchstone from Afghanistan that touches our hearts”

Postmedia News Matt Fisher did a piece from (where I presume he’s posted these days) Cairo talking about his dealings with her.

“Fisher: Memorial to fallen Canadian journalist arrives in Canada”

The Canadian Press?  A story with bits of the online blog post.

“Military presents Calgary Herald with memorial plaque for Michelle Lang”

This is the best the Calgary Herald or Postmedia News could do for repatriation of a memorial of one of its own fallen?

Yes, I know there was mention during Remembrance Day coverage.

No, I don’t expect multiple pages online about the memorial coming to the newsroom.

Still, a columnist instead of a reporter giving the fullest coverage of this?  On the online blog page?

I hope the hard-copy editions of the Herald did better than this.

Written by milnewsca

29 November 11 at 21:50

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 4 Nov 11

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  • Janick Gilbert, R.I.P.  Funeral of rescue technician killed in rescue attempt set for tomorrow.
  • Libya Mission (1a)  CF members returning home from Libyan mission – welcome back!
  • Libya Mission (1b)  Canada’s Defence Minister set to welcome returning CF members at CFB Greenwood in Nova Scotia.
  • Libya Mission (1c)  Canada’s Associate Defence Minister set to welcome returning CF members at CFB Bagotville in Quebec.
  • Libya Mission (1d)  Canada’s Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence set to welcome returning CF members at CFB Trenton in Ontario.
  • Afghanistan (1)  How Canadian military engineers are training up Afghan military engineers (via the CF Info-Machine).
  • Afghanistan (2)  Former diplomat, political communicator reminds us of Canada’s legacy (while reminding us whose job it is now to keep it going) (PDF).  “In 2009-10, former political aide Renée Filiatrault volunteered for a tour of duty as a foreign service officer in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Here she provides a glimpse of the realities that Canada’s civilian and military team faced while fighting an insurgency on the ground. As Canada stood down its combat mission in Kandahar this summer, she says, despite some bitter lessons, it is a legacy of which Canada can be proud. Ultimately, she adds, “while we can set the conditions for success, winning is not up to us, but up to the government of Afghanistan, which all efforts are ultimately intended to support.”
  • Afghanistan (3)  An update on Captain Trevor Greene, who has been recovering from an axe to the head during a shura in Afghanistan in March 2006.
  • Taliban Propganada Watch:  What the Taliban Info-Machine has to say about the coward chap who killed 17 people, including one Canadian, in a homicide bombing attack in Kabul and tying the attack in to a coming Loya Jirga (both links to non-terrorist page).
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1)  More from The Canadian Press’s obtained (but not shared with the readers) stack o’ briefing notes.  “Canadian pilots are expected to receive training for the F-35 stealth jet at a U.S. Air Force base in Florida, a plan that raises questions about the future of the country’s existing advanced fighter training school. Internal Defence Department documents show that a fee-for-service plan involving an international training centre, already constructed at Eglin Air Force Base by manufacturer Lockheed Martin, has been the main option under consideration. Several air force briefings compiled last year and obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information laws show that not only is there “potential for NO pilot training in Canada,” but that “pooled” training with international partners is likely the most cost-effective plan ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  CDS:  more would sure be nice“Canada’s top soldier says the 65 stealth fighters the government is planning to buy are the minimum number the military needs – but he hinted the back-up if jets are destroyed is that more will be for sale later. General Walter Natynczyk, the Chief of Defence Staff, told members of the Commons defence committee Thursday that the 65 F-35 fighters the government is planning to buy “is the minimum operational essential for the needs of Canada.” ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (3)  CDS:  pilots want the F-35“Pilots with the Royal Canadian Air Force want to fly in F-35 stealth fighter jets when the current CF-18s are retired, according to the chief of defence staff. Walt Natynczyk, the military’s top boss, appeared before Parliament’s defence committee Thursday to talk about military preparedness but was peppered instead with questions about the controversial purchase of the multi-role fighter jets. “Let me tell you that when I go to Cold Lake and I go to Bagotville and I talk to those young men and women who get in the F-18 and I ask them ‘What aircraft so you want?’ they tell me that they want the F-35 because it is the only fifth-generation, capable fighter for that next phase,” Natynczyk told reporters after his committee appearance ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (4)  Yet AGAIN with the Questions in the House of Commons.
  • A reminder from the Chief of Defence Staff:  to a certain extent, anyway, you get what you pay for.  “The country’s top soldier says that the speed with which Canada contributed to the mission in Libya and post-earthquake relief in Haiti would not have been possible without a trained and well-equipped military. But Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk, whose department is struggling with pending budget cuts during the first real lull in combat operations since 2006, said such capabilities do not come cheap. “If you ask me how we’re doing in maintaining our readiness, I’d say we’re doing the best we can with all the resources we have,” Natynczyk told members of the Commons’ defence committee Thursday. “Readiness is a perishable commodity and it’s expensive.” ….”
  • This year’s Public Accounts are out, and at least one reporter noticed 42 “weapons and accessories” missing.  You can download the DND’s list o’ missing cash & property here (via Army.ca) and the entire government list o’ lost cash and stuff here (28 page small-print PDF).
  • Remembrance Day (1)  No “tanks”, no guns, no displays at Ottawa Catholic school for Remembrance Day“For the past 19 years, students at an Ottawa high school have hoisted 10-pound military rifles to feel what it may be like to lug one around in the muddy trenches. They’ve met veterans and heard their stories, learning how their families were affected and what it was like to fight so far from home. But this year — the year that was supposed to mark the 20th Remembrance Day Symposium at Notre Dame High School — they will get no such chance. The traditional school event, scheduled for Nov. 10, has been cancelled because of a school committee decision to ensure there were “no tanks or guns” at the event, its co-ordinator told participants in an email last Friday …. The event was cancelled because some students who hail from countries touched by war raised concerns about it last year, said Lauren Rocque, a spokeswoman for the Ottawa Catholic School Board. “There are many students in that school that come from war-torn countries and when they saw replica guns in the hallway, it did upset them.” Ms. Rocque was unable to say whether the students had complained to the principal directly. “The tanks on the front lawn, that upset them too, so the committee decided to take this different direction,” she added. Mr. Mac Culloch said he doesn’t remember any tanks — just a variety of other military vehicles ….”  More on this from QMI/Sun Media here, a good question from the Globe & Mail here and discussion over at Army.ca here.
  • Remembrance Day (2)  Editorial:  “In Toronto and Hamilton, human scum steal poppy boxes filled with donated money to help war vets and their families, leading up to Remembrance Day on Nov. 11. In London, a war vet coming in to man his poppy station at a local mall finds a cartoon describing Canadian soldiers as “hired killers”. In Ottawa, a high school cancels a two-decade old program in which vets share their war-time experiences with students and show them the equipment they used, because of a decision to ban “tanks and guns” from the school, even though no tanks have been displayed and the guns are inoperable. That this is happening in the year Canada ends its 10-year military mission in Afghanistan, in which 158 of our soldiers died, is a disgrace ….”
  • Remembrance Day (3)  Conservative MP reminds the House of Commons“Mr. Speaker, July 2011 marked the end of Canada’s combat mission in Afghanistan. While the combat mission has come to an end, the Canadian Forces continue to play an active role in training their Afghan counterparts. The past 10 years have brought about many changes for Afghanistan. Afghanistan has held three elections, government agencies have been improved, its economy has gained momentum, girls are going to school and the Afghan security forces have been provided with invaluable training and mentoring. One hundred and fifty-nine Canadian Forces members have made the ultimate sacrifice to help Afghans obtain a taste of the freedoms that we hold so dear, tragically, joined recently by Master Corporal Byron Greff, of Edmonton’s Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. In addition to Afghanistan, Canadian Forces are serving in 15 overseas missions, including Libya, Haiti, and Sudan. At home, they save lives during search and rescue missions, provide assistance when natural disasters strike, and protect our nation’s sovereignty on a daily basis. This Veterans’ Week, let us remember the service and sacrifice of our Canadian Forces members and their families. “To live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die”.
  • Remembrance Day (4)  Politicians set to kick off Veterans Week this morning.
  • More on the soon-to-be hunger-striking vet wanting action on the depleted uranium in his body, from Question Period in the House of Commons.
  • A Canadian indicted in the U.S. on charges he supplied al-Qaida with weapons in Pakistan will not be extradited to the United States after Canada’s Supreme Court said Thursday it wouldn’t hear the case. Abdullah Khadr had been held in Canada on a U.S. warrant after his December 2005 arrest before he was released in 2010. He was released after two provincial courts in Ontario suspended his extradition, ruling his rights were violated during his detention in Pakistan. Dennis Edney, his lawyer, said the top court’s decision not to hear the Canadian government’s appeal means the case is over. The government had argued it was wrong to prevent an “admitted” terrorist from facing trial in the U.S. ….”  More from The Canadian Press, CBC.ca, Agence France-Presse, Reuters and lots of others.
  • Ottawa is bungling rescue missions by not telling families in Canada whether their loved ones are alive or dead, a Canadian diplomat once held hostage overseas says. Robert Fowler says that Ottawa’s mission to free him is tarnished by the fact that his wife, Mary, was kept in emotional limbo for much of his 130-day ordeal. She got so frustrated by official silence in Ottawa that she went to the United Nations complex in Manhattan to demand answers. “Mary stormed down to the UN headquarters in New York, where she had arranged to meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,” reads Mr. Fowler’s new memoir. The world’s top diplomat told Ms. Fowler what the Canadian government had not. “‘We have good and explicit reason to believe they [the hostages] are alive and in good health.’” ….”
  • Don Cherry is getting an honourary degree from Royal Military College (and some profs are pissed).  “…. The college’s senate approved awarding the controversial hockey commentator with the honour at a recent closed-door meeting. But now at least one protesting member of the faculty is protesting the decision publicly. French professor Catherine Lord criticized the college’s decision to honour Cherry in a letter sent to local media. “On many occasions he publicly expressed his contempt for many groups of the Canadian population, notably for the French-speaking Canadians, for the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) community and for the immigrants,” Lord wrote. “RMC is increasingly representative of the diverse society in which we live. RMC is a strong and unifying place.” Lord questioned what kind of message granting the honorary doctorate would send to the rest of the country. “What message will RMC send, in celebrating Don Cherry, to the students coming from these groups? And what will the Canadian people remember from RMC, as a serious and prestigious institution?” ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 9 Sept 11

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MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 19 Aug 11

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  • Report leaked to QMI:  CF way too top heavy.  The Department of Defence and the Canadian Forces are top heavy with too many civilian bosses in Ottawa and need to shift resources to the front lines, according to a secret defence report. Between 2004 and 2010, civilian hires at DND and the CF outpaced hires in the regular forces three to one, and while the number of sailors fell, staff at DND/CF headquarters in Ottawa ballooned by 38%. But the government says those hires were necessary to backfill positions left vacant by Canada’s heavy involvement in Afghanistan, “so that military members could focus their efforts on operational matters,” wrote Jay Paxton, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, in an e-mail Thursday. The transformation report, authored by Gen. Andrew Leslie, was submitted in early July but has yet to be released publicly. QMI Agency obtained a copy from a military source ….”  No word on sharing the report with anyone who wants to read it themselves.
  • Report leaked to Globe & Mail:  CF way too top heavy.  National Defence must take an axe to its bloated headquarters by dismissing or reassigning thousands of workers if the military is to meet its future obligations, concludes a landmark report charged with transforming the Canadian Forces. This scathing assessment by Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, who commanded the Canadian army during the Afghanistan war, arrives at a pivotal moment for the military, as the army returns from its troubled mission in Kandahar, the navy and air force seek new ships and aircraft, and the Conservative government vows to eliminate the federal deficit in a gloomy economy. “If we are serious about the future – and we must be – the impact of reallocating thousands of people and billions of dollars from what they are doing now to what we want them to do …will require some dramatic changes,” Gen. Leslie writes in Report on Transformation 2011. A copy of the report has been obtained by The Globe and Mail ….”  No word on sharing the report with anyone who wants to read it themselves.
  • Libya Mission (1)  More on HMCS Vancouver replacing HMCS Charlottetown from the CF Info-Machine.
  • Libya Mission (2)  More on Canadian boss reorg in Italy (via CF Info-Machine)
  • Way Up North (1)  “Peter Mackay, Canada’s defence minister, who arrived in Resolute Bay in the early hours of Aug. 18, made the most of his day-long visit to observe Operation Nanook, the Canadian Forces’ military exercise, shoring up support from every direction for his department’s increased visibility in Nunavut and the North. Mackay even managed to cram in a dive from an iceberg lodged in the bay outside Resolute with divers who have been learning how to work around icebergs. That, said Mackay, who donned a dry suit and full divers gear, was “disorienting,” but “incredible” as light shone through the iceberg into the water ….”
  • Way Up North (2)  CF Info-Machine coverage of Operation Nanook“Operation Nanook is well underway with Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aircraft and personnel providing valuable airlift during this major national and international operation. A combined Naval Task Group set sail from St. John’s, N.L. on Aug. 5, towards Canada’s Eastern and High Arctic, where other personnel and equipment from the Canadian Army, RCAF, and Canadian Rangers converged for the month-long, annual Arctic sovereignty exercise. In addition to the Canadian Forces, simulated major air disaster and maritime emergency scenarios involve the Canadian Coast Guard, Transportation Safety Board, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Public Safety Canada as well as the Government of Nunavut, the community of Resolute Bay and our private sector partners. Op Nanook, named for the Inuit word for polar bear, is the centerpiece of three annual northern sovereignty operations conducted by the Canadian Forces and its partners who share interest in Canada’s North ….”  More on Op NANOOK at the Canada Command page here.
  • Way Up North (3)  “A senior Canadian Army officer – Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw – is to travel to Moscow and other northern European capitals this fall for discussions about the Arctic. This development mocks the ludicrous media hype suggesting that there is a bitter rivalry involving Canada, Russia, the United States and Denmark (Greenland) over their sometimes competing claims and interests in the Arctic. To be sure, there are differences of opinion about the top of the world. But the reality is there is actually far more co-operation than there is friction. “This is beyond search and rescue,” the chief of Canada Command told me in a recent interview upon his European travel plans. “We are going to be talking about military co-operation in the North.” Officials from Russia and other Arctic Council countries will “table top” an international search-andrescue exercise in the Yukon in October. At this moment, Canadian and Danish warships and U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers are working together in Arctic waters after some of the vessels paid a courtesy call on a Greenlandic port. U.S. Coast Guard divers are on an exercise with Canadians on Cornwallis Island ….”
  • Afghanistan (1)  Canada’s air contingent in Afghanistan basically shuts down, after a very busy few years – these stats from the CF on how busy the planes and crews were since December 2008:   More from QMI’s David Akin here, and ipolitics.ca here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  How Canadian air force folks are helping create an Afghan air force (via CF Info-Machine).  “Kabul International Airport covers a vast area on the north side of the city. The sprawling complex includes civilian and military air terminals, air cargo centres, and International Security Assistance Force facilities. One military unit located on the airport grounds represents the future of the Afghan Air Force. The Afghan Air Training School (or Pohantoon e Hawayee, which means Big Air School) is where new members of the Afghan Air Force learn the basics of flying and maintaining aircraft and running an air unit. They also participate in literacy training, which is incorporated into nearly every course conducted by the Afghan national security forces. Ten advisors from Canada’s Air Force serve at the training school as part of the Canadian Forces contribution to the NATO training mission in Afghanistan. The Canadian staff are part of 738 Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron (738 AEAS), a NATO unit assigned to advise the the (school’s) Afghan commander and his senior staff ….”
  • The sacrifices made by members of the Canadian military and their families are being honoured with 26 bronze commemorative plaques that will be placed at intervals along the Highway of Heroes, which runs from Trenton, Ont., to Toronto. Announcement of the plaques took place Thursday in Toronto and was observed by at least 100 people, including Canadian soldiers, their families, parliamentarians and corporate sponsors. Each plaque is sponsored by a company, whose logo is visible below the image depicted on the plaque. Money raised through the sponsorship goes toward helping military families send children to summer camps, provide psychological counseling, retrofit homes and vehicles for soldiers returning with injuries or amputations and rehabilitate soldiers through athletics. Creation of the plaque program is a joint effort between the provincial Ministry of Transportation and True Patriot Love, a national foundation created by civilians with the aim of fostering better understanding between Canadians, the military and its endeavours ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War  Well, at least SOME of the U.S. Joint Strike Fighters are able to fly again.  “The F-35 Lightning II test fleet has been cleared for flight, the Pentagon announced Thursday. An Air Force safety investigation board is continuing its investigation of the failure of the AF-4’s Integrated Power Package on Aug. 2, which led to the grounding of the entire fleet of 20 aircraft. The AF-4 is the fourth conventional takeoff and landing variant produced by Lockheed Martin. A government and contractor engineering team determined that flight operations of the test aircraft could continue after reviewing data from ground and flight tests, and revised the test monitoring procedures that govern the IPP. Ground operations of the test fleet resumed Aug. 10 ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  Here’s a taste of what happened at the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue industry day“…. A full complement of the right ADM’s and DG’s from Industry, Public Works and DND turned out, and it was noteworthy that they stayed until the end of the day.  In a procurement with this kind of history, little things can mean a lot, so government representatives handed out all their slide decks and notes in advance …. industry has until September 16 to get back to the government with its feedback, with a major focus on where the fixed-wing purchase can and should sit on a spectrum from full government ownership and ISS all the way through to full ASD, provided it still delivers the same ‘world-class’ capability as today.  This does not appear to be the only interaction the Crown intends, as this briefing is being followed by individual one on one corporate briefings, with the promise of follow-up sessions once inputs have been received and digested ….”
  • What’s Canada (Not) Buying?  Canada reportedly pulling out of Global Hawk UAV project“…. Canada has become the second country to withdraw from the Northrop Grumman RQ-4 alliance ground surveillance (AGS) program, but the remaining NATO partners are “very close” to signing a contract, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. The decision means AGS will lose another source of funding that must be compensated for by the 13 NATO members still committed …. Denmark also decided to withdraw from the partnership acquiring a six-aircraft RQ-4 fleet in June 2010. Meanwhile, Northrop and NATO officials are likely to sign a contract to launch the development phase of the AGS programme within several days. The contract award may still have to be approved by each of the national partners before it becomes official ….”
  • Two Canadian Forces members were listed on the National Sex Offender Registry, as of this spring, the Chief of the Defence Staff, has confirmed. “As of 11 May 2011, two Canadian Forces members were known to be subject to a SOIRA (Sex Offender Information Registration Act) order,” Gen. Walter Natynczyk said in a letter to Defence Minister Peter MacKay that was tabled in Parliament this week. Gen. Natynczyk said he has the power to temporarily exempt CF members from certain sex offender registry obligations, but noted he has never done so. Although a top government official told Huffington Post Canada the two members are still serving, Capt. Scott Costen, a Department of National Defence spokesman cautioned that administrative reviews, which are are launched after court martials or civilian criminal proceedings call into question the suitability of a member’s continued service, may be underway to release individuals from their military positions ….”
  • Some Twitter updates from the boss of Canada’s Army.  1) Senior Canadian medic recognized by U.S.  “BGen Hilary Jaeger was awarded the US Meritorious Service Medal for her outstanding leadership and great contribution to ISAF mission.”  2)  Change of assignment for senior Canadian officer working with U.S. forces.  “Great visit III Corps and Fort Hood. Atkinson‘s were awesome ambassadors for Canada. Welcome Milner‘s” (more on the senior Canadian appointment switch-around from the Fort Hood base newspaper here)
  • PM on Syria  Time for the boss to go.  “…. The Assad regime has lost all legitimacy by killing its own people to stay in power. I join with President Obama and other members of the international community in calling on President Assad to vacate his position, relinquish power and step down immediately. The Syrian people have a right to decide for themselves the next steps for Syria’s future ….”  More from Postmedia News here and Agence France-Presse here.
  • Lew-Mac on NATO“…. (Historian Jack) Granatstein rightly points out that, “In diplomacy as in baseball, it’s three strikes and you’re out. Afghanistan was strike one; Libya was strike two. And strike three?” he asks. I suggest strike three already happened in 1999 during NATO’s 50th birthday celebrations when it was frantically searching for a role and an enemy now that the Cold War was over. It found an out of area mission bombing Serbia and Kosovo in support of the Kosovo Liberation Army, at the time a terrorist movement according to the CIA. Seventy-nine days of bombing later, Serbian infrastructure was devastated but her security forces were still defiant and little damaged. Diplomacy took over and NATO capitulated on the two poison pills in the Rambouillet Agreement that “justified” the bombing campaign in the first place, that is to say, NATO freedom of movement throughout Serbia and a referendum on Kosovo independence within three years. As a result of this Russian-led diplomacy Serbian forces pulled out of Kosovo. NATO’s military mission had failed which in my book makes it three strikes in 12 years ….”
  • MORE criminals (not just war criminals) on the CBSA “help us find these folks” web site – more from CTV.ca.
  • Meanwhile,Anyone defending foreign criminals remaining here are naively ignoring their potential threat or are driven by unknown motives, Canada’s public safety minister warned Thursday. Vic Toews said some Canadians “condemn our soldiers as war criminals,” but not foreigners evading deportation to face charges of crimes against humanity. On Sun News, he said such stances — including Amnesty International objecting to the government seeking public help to catch 30 suspected war criminals, plus the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) seeking killer Omar Khadr’s return — exhibit a “culture gap. “Don’t you people understand what is going on in the world … there are some bad people out there,” Toews told Ezra Levant, host of The Source ….”
  • Several Canadian cities will be receiving artifacts from Hangar 17 — a makeshift museum inside New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport that houses pieces from the 9/11 wreckage. Thousands of meticulously catalogued steel beams, crushed cars and fire trucks can be found inside the 80,000-square-foot hangar that’s rarely open to the public. Tom Doucette, executive director of The Military Museums in Calgary, said they will be receiving a 15-foot long piece of steel from one of the fallen World Trade Center towers that weighs just under 3,000 pounds ….”
  • Just as they did during active duty, the Olympus and Okanagan continue to slip silently along Canada’s waterways. These days, however, they’re not doing so unnoticed. After all, it’s difficult to miss the 1,250-tonne submarines that are taking a voyage from Halifax to Port Maitland – especially when they’re travelling above the water. Decommissioned by the Canadian Department of National Defense, the former submarines are being transported on floating drydocks towed by barges. At the end of the journey, they’ll meet their fate. The Oberon class submarines are scheduled to be scrapped by Port Colborne-based Marine Recycling Corp. at the company’s Port Maitland shipyard. Now it’s just a matter of getting them there ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 3 Jul 11

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  • Troops headed to Manitoba to help with floods – again.  “The Government of Canada is sending approximately 200 Canadian Forces personnel to the town of Souris, Manitoba today to assist provincial and municipal authorities in reinforcing flood control measures along the Souris River …. Canada Command’s Joint Task Force West, headquartered in Edmonton, will be coordinating the Canadian Forces assistance effort and work closely with regional authorities to contain and control the flooding. As the Souris river is expected to crest in the next few days, the soldiers from 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2 PPCLI) and 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (1 RCHA), CFB Shilo, will place sandbags to reinforce the dikes over the affected area ….”  More here, here and here.
  • Afghanistan (1)  CDS tells troops to help their colleagues“Canada’s top commander attempted to bind fresh and old wounds on Saturday when he bid farewell to combat troops in Kandahar. Gen. Walt Natynczyk, in his final address before the formal end of operations, urged returning soldiers to watch their “battle buddies” and take care of each other as they begin the long journey back to regular life at home. His remarks had a poignant ring for the soldiers of the 1st Battalion Royal 22e Regiment, as two of the four deaths in the last combat tour were suspected suicides. Military police are still investigating the cases of Bombardier Karl Manning and Cpl. Francis Roy — both who were found dead of non-battle related injuries over the last month, just before the end of their seven month tours ….”
  • Christopher Reid, 1971-2006, R.I.P.A mother of an Edmonton-based soldier killed in a deadly blast from a roadside bomb in Afghanistan says she is proud of Canada’s mission as troops are preparing to come home. “All of what the soldiers fought for is to make things better in Afghanistan,” said Angela Reid, 64, who lost her son, 34-year-old Cpl. Christopher Johnathan Reid to a roadside bomb in Aug. 3, 2006. “The soldiers have made some headway when they went over there. Afghanistan was in dire straights before they arrived.” ….”
  • Nathan Hornburg, 1983-2007, R.I.P.  “When triumph and tragedy bleed together, it’s a little bittersweet. That’s how some family members of soldiers’ who’ve served and died in Afghanistan view this month’s end to Canada’s combat mission in that country. Then there is the lingering question — was it all worth it? “Something that keeps coming up for me, when I think about all of the heartache and about my own son, is just the waste (of human life) with all of this craziness, starting way back with the attacks on the World Trade Centre,” said Michael Hornburg, father of Calgarian Cpl. Nathan Hornburg, who died in combat trying to rescue a disabled tank Sept. 24, 2007. “Hopefully it will be (worth it) for Afghanistan, but certainly not for me personally … nothing would have been worth it for me (if I could) still have him here with me.” ….”
  • Afghanistan (2)  Rex Murphy shares his thoughts“…. It may be unpalatable to admit it, but we are starting to end our presence in Afghanistan with neither victory, the only real end of wars even in our enlightened day, nor the fulfillment of those broader and noble pledges toward rebuilding that sad country we made early on.”
  • Afghanistan (3)  More on the “packing up to leave” theme.  “A mammoth operation is underway in Kandahar — not to boost security in the area but to tear down the facilities that have housed much of Canada’s military presence in Afghanistan. Work crews are readying a huge amount of equipment to be shipped home thousands of kilometres away. It’s a formidable task, and part of a transition that will see U.S. forces take over security responsibilities in Kandahar province as Canadian combat troops pull out of the war-torn country. Everything from dust filters to armoured vehicles need to be cleaned, fumigated, bar-coded and categorized before they’re packed up ….”
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Daikondi.
  • From Afghanistan to the Arctic“While Canada’s combat mission in Kandahar is in its last days, a new training mission has started in Kabul, Canadian fighter aircraft are making daily bombing runs against Libya, and now the armed forces is preparing to send more than 1,000 troops on a huge exercise in the High Arctic next month. “It will be the largest operation that has taken place in recent history,” Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Saturday, moments after bidding an emotional farewell to combat troops now leaving Kandahar. “All of this is very much about enlarging the footprint and the permanent and seasonal presence we have in the North. It is something that we as a government intend to keep investing in.” Exercise Nanook is to play out in several phases on and near Baffin Island and Ellesmere Island throughout August. It will involve CF-18 fighter jets as well as surveillance and transport aircraft, a warship, infantry companies from Quebec and Alberta and 5 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group — Inuit reservists who have broad experience surviving in the extremely austere environment of the Far North ….”  A Russian media take on this here, and more on Canada’s military in the Arctic here.
  • New bosses for the Canadian Forces Joint Signal Regiment, 17 Wing Winnipeg, 429 Transport Squadron, 22 Wing North Bay, 722 Air Control Squadron, 51 Aerospace Control and Warning (Operational Training) Squadron and Land Force Central Area Training Centre Meaford.
  • CF-Royals Link  As Master Cpl. Jody Mitic stood chatting with Prince William, his young daughter seemed unfazed to be in the presence of royalty. Perhaps that’s because to her family, Mitic wasn’t necessarily talking to a future monarch, but to someone more like himself. He’s been through all the same training. Just because they’re royals doesn’t mean they don’t have to do the basic training,” said Mitic. “In our opinion, it’s a brotherhood.” Both William and his younger brother Harry are military men. William is a search-and-rescue pilot and Harry has served a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He also did some of his training in Alberta. William’s wife Kate also has a connection to the Canadian military; her grandfather trained military pilots in Alberta. The royal couple have made a specific effort to meet veterans over the course of their Canadian tour ….”
  • Royal Kate gets it“The Duchess of Cambridge fears that Prince William will have an accident on a risky helicopter rescue mission …. She opened her heart about her concerns to a military wife on the couple’s royal tour of Canada. Kate said: ‘I always worry, but my job is to support my husband. You should always support your husband.’ She revealed her worries after laying wreaths with William on the tomb of the unknown soldier at Ottawa’s war memorial …. after paying respects to Canada’s war dead, the 29-year-old Duchess spoke to former army private Celine Drapeau. Celine, 52, told her she worried for the safety of her husband, a military policeman, who was away for long periods. ‘You always fear for them not knowing if something is going to happen and it can be very hard.’ Celine said later that she thought it was ‘very brave’ of Kate to reveal her true feelings and it was a ‘great comfort’ to know she understood the fears of service families ….”  More here.
  • New, purpler prose attacking Canada’s plans for “foreign bases,” courtesy of the Canadian Peace Congress.  “The Canadian Peace Congress condemns and calls for an immediate halt to the Canadian government’s negotiations for military basing rights as part of the Operational Support Hubs Network, and abrogating and renouncing rights already negotiated with Germany and Jamaica. As Defence Minister Peter MacKay has already admitted, Canada’s “military tempo” is at the highest levels since the Korean War. Instead of opening the way for more bombings and destruction with basing rights spread throughout the world, Canada should reverse its military aggression, which is only in the interests of an imperialist minority and against the interests of the peace-loving majority. The basing agreements allow the Canadian military to enter other countries at any time, violating the sovereignty of the host country, in order to rain death and destruction on a third country ….”
  • In an out-of-the-way spot in an old Dutch cemetery, there’s a place that is forever New Brunswick. Anyone visiting the Gorinchem cemetery from this province could pick it out immediately: a small New Brunswick flag is there, and, at the base of the white headstone, a painted rock from McLaren’s Beach in Saint John. Buried in the grave is the body of Harold Magnusson, a 22-year-old from Saint John who was killed in 1944 in the operation immortalized in book and film as A Bridge Too Far. But the mystery of his burial in a civilian cemetery far from the horrors of Arnhem has created a bridge of a different sort for a Dutch woman who has used the story to reach across time and distance to Canadians. “It was as if someone tapped me on the shoulder when I walked into that cemetery and said ‘Solve this puzzle,’ ” Alice van Bekkum said in an interview during a recent visit to New Brunswick. “I became gripped by the story and it has led to wonderful new friendships … I got involved with Magnusson, and I fell in love with Canada ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 27 Jun 11

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  • Francis Roy, R.I.P.  Latest CF dead identified (CF statement here, another statement by Minister of National Defence here) – more here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
  • While I disagree with Rosie DiManno’s assessment that any in the CF committing suicide could be seen as “a traitor to his own kind and, at least in some quarters, viewed differently as a casualty of war”, this part disturbs me a bit:  “…. Master Corporal Roy’s colleagues and friends have been offered counseling by Padre Grahame Thompson, Task Force Kandahar senior chaplain and a major. Asked if any had availed themselves of his solacing, Thompson said last night: “To be truthful, none, not yet.” ” One hopes that people who need any kind of help will avail themselves of it.
  • Afghanistan (1):  The Canadian Press offers up this round-up of “the good, the bad and the ugly” of the mission.
  • Afghanistan (2):  Remember MP and former DefMin John McCallum suggesting Canadian troops may have committed war crimes in Afghanistan?  At least one columnist demands an apology now.
  • Taliban Propaganda Watch:  At least 25 alleged killed, +7 “tanks” claimed destroyed in recent Taliban statements.
  • Open source information bibliography on Taliban anti-air claims and capabilities updated here.
  • Point, on how DND treats its war wounded, from the Winnipeg Free Press“Canadian military doctrine emphasizes flexibility and the ability to adapt to new circumstances, but when it comes to integrating wounded soldiers into the regular force, the generals and admirals at the National Defence Headquarters seem trapped in the past ….”
  • Counterpoint, on how DND treats its war wounded, from Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff (highlights mine):  “…. We will ensure our men and women in uniform who have sacrificed so much receive the very best medical treatment and support possible. Furthermore, I have directed that no service person who has been wounded in Afghanistan be released, unless they have personally initiated the release process themselves. I can also assure you the Canadian Forces provide all wounded-in-action personnel the necessary time and support needed to recover from their wounds. We will also assist them in seeking additional opportunities to transition with confidence to the next phase of their lives ….”
  • Libya Mission (1)  Winnipeg Free Press editorial:  “…. That there has been a civilian death toll resulting from the NATO involvement in Libya is not in dispute. Col. Gadhafi’s claim, however, has exacerbated anxieties that already existed within the NATO alliance that the United Nations authorized a no-fly zone over Libya to protect that country’s citizens from the atrocities committed by its megalomaniacal leader. Faltering members of the alliance are using this as justification for their apparently imminent withdrawal. Even some Canadians, who have a huge military investment in the Libyan operation, are now expressing doubts. Ending the operation, however, is not a useful option. It would simply mean that civilians who died have died in vain, as Col. Gadhafi resumes his dictatorship and exacts his revenge upon the rebels. Civilian casualties in Libya are martyrs, not victims. It is a Canadian responsibility to stay the course and to ensure that they were not martyred for no purpose.”
  • Libya Mission (2)  Funny how a lot of media focus on how firm the PM is with his caucus, but only a few outlets note Jack Layton weilding the no-longer-socialist whip across the floor, in this case regarding the recent Libyan mission extension vote.
  • What’s Canada Buying:  Big Honkin’ Ship Edition  “…. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his ministers say on every occasion that the yards will be selected through a merit-based, transparent competition, and that officials will make the decisions on the basis of the proposals, not politics. They show every sign of meaning what they say, but the request for an extension ratchets up the pressure. One shipyard will get about $25 billion of the work, another will receive an $8-billion share, and the third will get table scraps. Three provinces have a lot riding on this, and there can be only two winners. Whichever premier loses will be more or less forced to complain bitterly and allege impropriety. It’s hard to keep the politics out of politics.”
  • Remember this idiot, taking a whizz on a war memorial in Ottawa a few years ago?  Measures are in place to keep this from happening again.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 26 Jun 11

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Written by milnewsca

26 June 11 at 7:45

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 21 Jun 11

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  • Libya Mission (1)  Flying low, slow and vulnerable, a pair of lumbering Canadian spy planes operate just off the Libyan coast at the edge of shoulder-fired missile range, eavesdropping on pro-Gadhafi forces and feeding critical targeting information. The Auroras, Cold-War-era submarine hunters newly kitted out with sophisticated sensors, are playing a little-known and relatively risky role as part of Canada’s biggest involvement in a military conflict in decades. The range of Canada’s war-fighting assets – fighter-bombers, surveillance aircraft, tankers and a warship – represents the broadest array of commitment to a relatively small conflict in many years. Compared with previous conflicts, including the 1991 Persian Gulf war and the 1999 Kosovo air war, Canada has a bigger role and a far bigger command presence ….”
  • Libya Mission (2)  Civvy cas = less Canadian support?  “The deaths of Libyan civilians in NATO air strikes are raising fears that international political support for the mission could weaken, and that Canadians could become reluctant to back it even though there are no soldiers on the ground …. In Canada, the opposition New Democrats warned that civilian casualties will have an impact on support.  “Yes, it does have an impact on how it’s perceived, if there is civilian casualties, absolutely,” said NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar. “That’s why there has to be caution, oversight. That’s why I think there needs to be strengthening in the oversight and in the communications between the UN, the Arab League, and NATO.” ….  “When you’re conducting a bombing campaign, it’s inevitable that you are going to kill civilians,” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, the only MP who voted against extending the Canadian mission in Libya …. Josh Zanin, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, said “the goal of the mission is, and will continue to be, the protection of civilians and to stop the Gadhafi regime’s attacks on civilians.  “In pursuing this goal, NATO makes every reasonable effort to ensure the safety of civilians.” …. “
  • Afghanistan (1)  Welcome home!  About 60 soldiers received a warm homecoming when they arrived in Quebec City Monday from their final tour of duty in Afghanistan. The soldiers were all members of the Royal 22nd Regiment based at CFB Valcartier near the provincial capital and they were the first group to be sent home as Canada winds down its combat role against the Taliban. About 1,900 troops are expected to return to Valcartier by the end of July. They comprise the majority of the approximately 2,700 soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan ….”  More from Postmedia News here.
  • Afghanistan (2)  It’s not JUST the troops preparing to return home.  “As he sat amid the blackened, bombed-out ruins of a bazaar in western Panjwaii, Joffre Leblanc could sense something was different. At the time, it was pure instinct. But there was something about the unfamiliar faces who showed up for a shura, or meeting, following a grinding NATO sweep through Kandahar province last fall that told him change was indeed in the air. “You do have moments here when things certainly become a lot clearer,” said Leblanc, 26, who grew up in Halifax. As a district stabilization officer, one of a handful of gutsy civilians working along side the military, Leblanc’s job was to fortify an all-but-non-existent bond between Kabul and villagers in far-flung areas who knew little of their government, and cared even less ….”
  • Afghanistan (3)  Petawawa-area MP recognizes contribution of troops in the House of Commons.
  • Afghanistan (4)  Remember the swack of Afghan detainee documents a team of MPs was looking at to figure out which should be released?The coveted and long-awaited Afghan detainee documents — the first tranche of 25,000 or so anyway — are set to be released Wednesday, QMI Agency has learned. There are only four days this week when the House of Commons is sitting before MPs vamoose for the summer until Sept. 19, and the documents have been ready for release since the election. Two sources close to the file confirmed to QMI Agency Sunday the documents will be released Wednesday, but it’s still not known what will be revealed. Liberal MP Stephane Dion, who is his party’s representative on the committee reviewing the documents, said the government had not informed him of a timeline for the release of documents. And, as Dion and the others signed an oath of secrecy in order to read the documents, he would not say what Canadians might learn when they see the documents. “I have not even told my leader, Mr. (Bob) Rae,” Dion said Sunday in Vancouver where he was his party’s official observer at the NDP convention ….”
  • Afghanistan (5)  Good question.  “There may be some excitement in foreign capitals over Sunday’s confirmation by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates that preliminary peace talks with the Taliban have begun. From Ottawa to London, Paris, Berlin, Canberra and Washington, everyone in the West wants to be done with this war. Some countries, such as Canada, are already heading for the exits. Others, such as France and Germany, purposely avoided all the heavy lifting, and now, with the Taliban on the ropes militarily in much of Afghanistan, are eager to claim a peace dividend. The U.S., which provides two-thirds of troops and about 90 per cent of the combat power, is days away from announcing an accelerated exit strategy that many in Congress insist is justified because Osama bin Laden has been killed. One group that does not share this enthusiasm for peace talks is the majority of Afghans. Although long weary of war and keen for peace, they have heard about secret talks with the Taliban many times before, only to find there was nothing to them. The Norwegians, the Turks, the Saudis and others have been trying to foster such discussions for a while with no tangible results. Why, they wonder, will this time be any different? ….”  More on talkin’ to the Taliban at the 3Ds Blog here.
  • Afghanistan (6)  Speaking of talking to the Taliban, a Foreign Affairs Minister’s spokesperson says we’re not “involved in negotiations” with the Taliban. “Canada is not talking to the Taliban, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Monday after U.S. reports confirmed the Americans were chatting with the terrorist group. “Canada is not involved in negotiations with the Taliban,” Chris Day said in an e-mail. Day was responding to queries after U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates confirmed on the weekend that State Department officials have been in direct talks with Taliban members in recent weeks ….”
  • Bigger, better things coming for the Chief of Defence Staff?  Canada’s top soldier is in the running to become NATO’s most senior military officer, according to sources within the alliance. Walter Natynczyk, Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff, is said to be keen to become the alliance’s Chairman of the Military Committee, when the post becomes vacant this September. General Natynczyk would need the Prime Minister’s blessing to run for the job of becoming principal military adviser to NATO’s Secretary General, since Canada has to pick up the multi-million-dollar tab to pay his salary, staff and security. A government spokesman said it is “premature” to comment on the General’s prospective candidacy. It is understood the Conservative government is concerned about another high profile loss of face, if the General’s candidacy becomes official and he loses. Canada lost its bid for a seat on the United Nations Security Council, while Defence Minister Peter MacKay was beaten to the job of NATO Secretary General by Denmark’s Anders Fogh Rasmussen ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Mark Collins with “F-35: Why Can Denmark Have a Fighter Competition and We Can’t?”
  • What’s Canada Buying (2)  Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose, responding to an NDP question in the House about why Canada isn’t collecting any penalties linked to the delay of delivery of new helicopters to replace Canada’s Sea Kings“…. when we sign a contract with a military supplier, we expect its obligations under the contract to be met. The first interim maritime helicopter has arrived at 12 Wing Shearwater to support training of Canadian Forces air crew and technicians for the maritime helicopter project. It is important to know that Sikorsky has confirmed that it will deliver the 28 fully compliant maritime helicopters on schedule starting in June of this year.”
  • What’s Canada Buying (3)  Wanted:  Someone to train firefighters at CFB Petawawa.
  • Remember the Canadian Forces Cancer and Mortality Study Some new coverage:  “Despite the obvious risks faced by military personnel, new data shows Canadian soldiers have a significantly lower death rate than the general population. Statistics Canada’s Canadian Forces Cancer and Mortality Study, which looked at health information for soldiers over a period spanning more than three decades, shows those who enlisted in the Canadian Forces between the start of 1972 and the end of 2006 had a 35% lower chance of dying of any cause within those years in Canada than the average person in this country. “Canadian Forces personnel, in order to get in, have to pass a certain medical standard and a certain physical standard, so we’re generally a healthy population to start with,” said Col. Colin MacKay, who co-chaired the study’s advisory committee and also served as director of Force Health Protection. “It’s hard to say whether that full 35% reduction in risk for mortality for all causes is attributable to the healthy worker effect. There may still be some effect from the culture within the Canadian Forces, where we try to promote health and physical fitness.” ….”
  • Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery and a safe trip home.  Several members of Maine’s largest Army Guard unit, the 133rd Engineer Battalion, were injured when a bus carrying them through a training center in Gagetown, New Brunswick, crashed Monday morning. “A bus rolled over and 16 soldiers were sent to the hospital, treated for minor injuries and released,” Capt. Shanon Cotta of the Maine National Guard said Monday afternoon. The Maine National Guard soldiers are training at the Canadian Forces Base-Gagetown located near the village of Gagetown. Soldiers from the 251st Engineer Company — based in the town of Norway and dubbed the sappers — are leading the training. Sappers are engineers who specialize in gaining access to buildings, towns and other strategic locations and destroying them, Cotta said. In Canada, “they’re conducting urban breaching operations” as part of their training, he said ….”

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 18 Mar 11

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  • No-Fly Zone Libya (1) – The U.N. Security Council straps on a pair. “The Security Council (has) effectively authorized the use of force in Libya to protect civilians from attack …. ” Here’s a link to the official resolution (PDF).
  • No-Fly Zone Libya (2) – More on Canada’s F-18′s headed into the fight, from unnamed sources. “A source told the Ottawa Citizen Thursday night that six CF-18s originally tasked for a NATO patrol off Iceland have now been ordered to take part in the Libyan mission ….” (Postmedia News) More, from unnamed sources: “Canada is poised to send in fighter jets to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, defence sources told The Canadian Press.  Six CF-18 fighter-bombers are being readied at Canadian Forces Base Bagotville, Que. and are expected to deploy overseas once the Harper government gives the official green light ….” (Canadian Press)  Yet more from unnamed sources“The six CF-18 fighter jets Canada is sending to help enforce the new United Nations no-fly zone over Libya could leave as early as Friday to join an assembling international force, and will be based out of Southern Europe, possibly Italy. Ottawa will also send between 120 and 200 military personnel to support the planes …..” One more version from unnamed sources: “Canada is expected to announce that it will deploy six CF-18 fighter jets to help enforce the UN’s just-approved no-fly zone over Libya, CBC News has learned. The jets would take at least 24 hours to arrive at their destination, which has yet to be determined, but defence sources told CBC that Malta and Italy were possibilities. Between 100 and 200 support personnel would be involved, the sources said, adding the announcement was imminent ….” (CBC.ca).  Here’s some background information on the CF-188 Hornet, and on 425 Squadron based in Bagotville.
  • No-Fly Zone Libya (3) – Q & A on what one wire service says it could look like.
  • No-Fly Zone Libya (4) – How quickly?  Could be pretty damned quick. Even if Libya HAS closed its airspace.
  • Advice to Libyan insurgents, from Canada’s man at the US Army/USMC Counterinsurgency Center: “….  You have lost round one. Disperse and hide your weapons and ammo- you will need them in the future.  Get organized – figure out who’s in charge and who has the plan.  Get some external support – a lot of countries have a beef with Kadhafi. Exploit that.  Get some training- learn to move, shoot and communicate.  Get disciplined – we all want to be Che but you need some Sgt Rocks too. Dig in.  Come back to fight another day, but this time try the indirect approach – the guerrilla approach.  Don’t go conventional until you are ready – insurgencies lose because they move too fast.  Read your Mao and Michael Collins – learn the lessons from someone else’s past ….”
  • Canada’s Defence Minister on Afghanistan (1) – I’m back!
  • Canada’s Defence Minister on Afghanistan (2) – A few more details about Canada’s “Kabul-centred” mission later this year. “In addition to lessons on marksmanship and bomb detection, Canadian soldiers will be teaching Afghan forces to read, write and practice medicine when the country’s new training mission begins later this year.  Exactly when and where that instruction will occur remains undecided, but Defence Minister Peter MacKay promised quick answers during a visit to Kandahar Airfield on Thursday.  The airbase was the final stop on a four-day Afghanistan tour for the minister and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk, during which they scouted places where the troop trainers could be stationed.  “The determination has yet to be made as to the exact numbers and configuration and location but I’ll tell you I’m able to go back now with a much more informed view and make a recommendation to the cabinet and the prime minister for a final decision,” MacKay said.  “There is some urgency. We clearly recognize that the sooner we can get on with having trainers in place, the more this will increase our ability to give the Afghans capacity.” ….” More from the Canadian Press here.
  • In a surprisingly glowing assessment of the district where Canadian troops are concentrated, the new governor of Panjwaii, in southern Afghanistan, has declared the area “100-per-cent secure” from insurgents. “We have peace and stability in Panjwaii,” Haji Fazluddin Agha said Tuesday, referring to the region southwest of Kandahar City. “I can say Panjwaii is now 100-per-cent secure. We have government presence and influence all over the district, we can travel anywhere in the district, people are supporting us and we have created a level of good understanding with Canadian Forces.” ….”
  • QMI reporter learns about “no fraternization” rule (even within married couples) in Afghanistan.
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – The Defence Department has joined the Harper government in questioning the credibility of the parliamentary budget officer’s report on the costs of stealth jet fighter program.  A top military official said Thursday the cost of buying 65 high-tech fighters would be about $15 billion over 20 years, including maintenance costs.  That differs from the recent report of PBO Kevin Page that pegged the entire cost to taxpayers at $22.6 billion over 20 years.  Page has been a thorn in the side of the Conservative government. His fighter jet assessment was criticized by Laurie Hawn, the junior defence minister, who called it speculative and illogical.  Dan Ross, a Defence Department assistant deputy, said Thursday the military has requested a meeting with Page’s office to discuss his figures.  Ross told a briefing at Defence Department headquarters in Ottawa that the PBO made a “mathematical error” in calculating the unit cost of the planes, and that its maintenance numbers were off too. His briefing was augmented by an array of slides, and documentation that was distributed to journalists ….”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2) – You want the our cost figures?  Here you go, then. The federal government has finally made public a detailed cost estimate for its controversial F-35 fighter jet purchase in the wake of a committee hearing examining whether the Conservatives may be in contempt of Parliament for failing to disclose the material. The document dump follows a similar one a day earlier in which the government tabled a cost breakdown for its package of anti-crime bills. Some 55 F-35-related documents were apparently tabled before the Parliamentary Procedure and House Affairs Committee Thursday, however, those inside the committee room were not immediately aware of it. Shortly after, Dan Ross, the defence department’s assistant deputy minister of materiel, met with reporters to explain the cost breakdown, its methodology and to offer a few more details about why government figures differ from those released last week by Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page ….”
  • London, Ontario is getting “…. a new facility to house the Integrated Personnel Support Centre (IPSC) and 2 Area Support Group Signal Squadron Detachment London (2 ASG Sig Sqn Det). This facility at Area Support Unit (ASU) London will address the current lack of infrastructure needed to house the two units …. This project, valued at approximately $1.3 million, includes the construction of a new 871 m2 facility that will address current accessibility issues and be more conducive to providing the services required for ill or injured Canadian Forces personnel. The project also entails the demolition of the facility that currently houses 2 ASG Sig Sqn Det London ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying?  “Spaceborne Ocean Intelligence Network (SOIN) Operations and Research” (via Milnet.ca)
  • Ooopsie (1) – Military police are investigating a Canadian Forces reservist from Winnipeg who is alleged to have been planning to attend a white-pride demonstration this weekend in Calgary. Capt. Karina Holder says the military can take action even if the reservist doesn’t actually attend the event, providing investigators find evidence. “Having that attitude alone is completely incompatible with the military culture,” Holder said Thursday from Ottawa. “It runs contrary to effective military service. You have to have that basic respect for your fellow human beings, otherwise you cannot function in this organization.” She said they received a complaint from a member of the public but can’t confirm that it was that complaint which prompted the investigation ….”
  • Oopsie (2) – Someone Postmedia News thinks is quoted denying the claim. “A Winnipeg teenage military reservist under investigation by the Canadian Forces says allegations of racist activity levied against him aren’t true.  The 17-year-old also said while he’d considered attending the white pride march in Calgary Saturday to watch — not participate — he cancelled the plans weeks ago.  The teenager says while he is proud of his German-Ukrainian heritage, he does not believe in white supremacy.  “I do not believe the white race is the master race. I do not believe any races are inferior. I don’t want any harm to happen to anyone,” he said.  The teenager said he upholds all military values. “I don’t care if you’re homosexual, Asian, Muslim — we’re all there for the same reason, and that’s the defence of Canada.” …. The teenager said he’s since taken down postings on his Facebook page, including quotes from Hitler and Mussolini.  He said he put them up because he sees them as “powerful,” in the sense of being willing to stand up and fight for beliefs.  “I don’t want to give the wrong impression,” he said. “Just because an evil person did and said many evil things, does not mean everything he said was wrong.”  He said he’d previously posted on a white supremacist forum, but doesn’t belong to any such groups and has since “matured” in his beliefs ….”
  • Northwestern Ontario Canadian Rangers help train southern Ontario Reservists on how to fight in the winter in northeastern Ontario “Sixteen Canadian Rangers from Constance Lake were an important part of a major military exercise to improve the ability of southern soldiers to operate in the North in the winter.  The Rangers taught a range of winter survival skills to 115 soldiers from 32 Canadian Brigade Group, including members of the Grey and Simcoe Foresters. That group is part of the Canadian Forces Arctic Response Company Group, which is charged with responding to emergencies in the North.  “They’ve taught everything from ice water rescue right down to ice fishing, food preparation, fire starting, improvised shelter building, snaring, and helping the soldiers stay out overnight in shelters the soldiers put together themselves,” said Master Warrant Officer Robert Patterson, Canadian Ranger sergeant major with 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group.  Rangers also accompanied the soldiers when they went into the bush in two groups for the tactical phase of the week-long exercise. “They went out to ensure the movement of the soldiers was safe,” Master Warrant Officer Patterson said. “They’ve done a fantastic job. This is the first time the Constance Lake patrol has ever hosted an exercise of this magnitiude and they’ve done an outstanding job under the leadership of their patrol leader, Sgt. Albert Sutherland ….” More from the local paper here.

MILNEWS.ca News Highlights – 7 Mar 11

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  • So now, some media are reading “Kabul-centric” when it comes to talking about Canada’s upcoming training mission in Afghanistan to mean “base in Kabul, but not necessarily ALL in Kabul.” “The federal cabinet is being asked to decide quickly on the specifics of the Canadian military training mission in Afghanistan as other countries jockey for prime classroom instruction posts, say NATO and Canadian defence sources.  National Defence will present its recommendations to the Conservative government in the very near future and will ask to deploy “a small number” of troops at regional training centres in addition to stationing soldiers at classrooms in the Afghan capital.  “We’ll need to start laying down our markers by April in order to get the slots we want,” said one defence source.  The locations under consideration include the western city of Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif in the north and Jalalabad, near the border with Pakistan …. a certain obfuscation crept into the message in January. Officials and ministers started telegraphing that deployment would be “Kabul-centric” — meaning it’ll be based in the capital but not exclusively in Kabul.  In fact, each of the regional training centres under consideration is ranked safer than Kabul, according to the military’s threat assessment. The Afghan capital has been rocked by a string of attacks this winter, including a suicide bombing last month that killed two people at the entrance to a hotel ….”
  • Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan were hospitalized for traumatic brain injury between 2006 and 2009 at almost three times the rate of Americans fighting there in earlier years before the war escalated, according to a National Defence study obtained by The Globe and Mail. The military attributed the “significantly higher” hospitalization rate to “the risky nature of our Kandahar operation” in a report acquired under Access to Information …. The total number of Canadian soldiers diagnosed with TBI was only 83; seventeen of those were classified with a “more serious forms of brain injury.” Still, the study found the hospitalization numbers taken from the trauma registry database at Kandahar were “significantly higher than the expected rate,” amounting to a hospitalization rate of 71 per 10,000 deployed person-years of all Canadians serving in Afghanistan for the three years ending in 2009. That compares with a rate of only 25 per 10,000 for U.S. troops in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2007 – before the increased fighting in recent years and last year’s surge of American troops in heavy combat regions ….” Again, MSM writes a story on a report, without sharing the report.
  • Some of the latest (a few weeks after the fact) from the CF’s media machine on what’s up in Afghanistan: “Operation HAMAGHE SHAY (“Same Team”) took place in Panjwa’i District from 16 February to 18 February 2011. Led and largely planned by the officers of Kandak 6, 1st Brigade 205 (Hero) Corps Afghan National Army (Kandak 6/1/205 ANA), its primary objective was to clear the village of Nakhonay and the surrounding countryside of insurgents and their stockpiles of weapons, bomb-making materials and illegal drugs ….”
  • Nearly 100 Canadians are still trapped in strife-torn Libya as fighting intensifies and rebel forces battle their way towards the capital city of Tripoli. Foreign Affairs confirmed Sunday they were in contact with about 90 Canadians and looking for ways to get them home safely. On Saturday, Canada managed to pluck nine Canadians, along with U.S., U.K. And Ukrainian citizens, from Libya using a C130 Hercules military aircraft to take them to nearby Malta. Some 330 Canadians have been evacuated from the North African nation so far ….”
  • Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff:  Setting up a no-fly zone over Libya = “major military offensive” “….”I don’t think you can understate the severity of a no fly zone scenario,” (Gen. Walter) Natynczyk told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday, describing the process involved as a major military operation.  “Before you can fly and ensure the security of a region you have to dismantle the air defences on the ground. That includes the runways and the aircraft on the ground, and the command and control facilities on the ground. That is a major military operation; it is an offensive operation.” ….”
  • Academic:  Setting up a no-fly zone over Libya = “a significant escalation in the West’s involvement in a conflict” “Canada and its allies have an obligation to step in and take military action in conflict-stricken Libya, including the enforcement of a no-fly zone, if rumours of mass killings of civilians prove to be true, a Canadian international affairs expert says.  Roland Paris, an expert in international security at the University of Ottawa, acknowledged that establishing a no-fly zone in Libya — a hot-button issue on political talk shows both in the U.S. and Canada on Sunday — would be a tricky sell in the Arab world, but adds that information trickling out might make a significant military intervention necessary …. Paris said a no fly-zone, which would include disabling runways and destroying Libyan anti-aircraft installations, would be a significant escalation in the West’s involvement …. But if reports of human rights abuses and fighter jets being used to quell the rebellion — all currently being investigated by the International Criminal Court — prove to be true, intervention needs to be strongly considered, Paris said ….”
  • Hello, hello, hello, what’s this about Russian news agency Pravda spotting a Canadian accent being spoken by Libyan anti-government forces as proof that NATO’s goin’ in with imperialist guns blazing? “After NATO’s acts of terrorism in recent years, after the blatant disregard for human rights and human life when depleted uranium rendered swathes of Yugoslavia uninhabitable and destroyed the futures of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, would it surprise anyone to learn that Libya is a NATO campaign?  What NATO is capable of, we have already seen in Yugoslavia, what the West is capable of, we saw in Georgia. We have seen the blatant barefaced lies, we have seen indiscriminate acts of murder, war crimes and crimes against humanity, all glossed over by the controlled media. So would it surprise anyone that NATO is indeed operating in Libya? ….  Interesting it was that the eastern and western borders were secured (Tunisia and Egypt) over which equipment and men poured, interesting it is that already two teams of NATO special forces have been captured inside Libya (Dutch Navy Force and British SAS), interesting was SKY News’ interview with a “front-line rebel” speaking in a broad Canadian accent ….”
  • About those NATO special forces captured inside Libya…. A British diplomatic team, including six soldiers believed to be SAS, have been freed two days after being detained in eastern Libya. The men are understood to have left Benghazi bound for Malta on board the Royal Navy frigate HMS Cumberland. It is thought the special forces soldiers were with a diplomat who was making contact with opposition leaders ….”
  • 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 next “You Should Be Outta There” hot spot, according to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Ministry:  Yemen. “Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against all travel to Yemen. The level of risk to foreigners is very high. Canadians in Yemen should review their circumstances to determine if their continued presence is warranted and seriously consider departing Yemen by commercial means while these are still available ….” More from MSM on the advisory here and here, and the latest news from Yemen here (Google News), here (EMM News Explorer) and here (NewsNow).
  • The Conservative government is slamming the door shut on a British proposal that the two countries work together in building new warships.  “Canada will not be pursuing collaboration with the United Kingdom on our new surface combatant fleet,” Jay Paxton, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay, said Sunday.  Paxton was reacting to comments made by London’s top diplomat in Ottawa, who told The Canadian Press that Canada and Britain could make better use of scarce public dollars by collaborating on new warships.  British High Commissioner Andrew Pocock said that with the economic crisis exerting pressure on defence spending everywhere, it makes sense for Ottawa and London to be discussing ways to co-operate on replacing aging frigates in their respective navies.  “We live in a much more financially constrained world. Every government faces a challenge in making its defence and other spending go as far as possible,” Pocock said in an interview ….”
  • Who’s allowed to bid on the Standard Military Pattern (SMP) Vehicle part of the CF’s Medium Support Vehicle System Project (MSVS)?  Check here.
  • Canadian defence researchers are investigating how brain signals might distinguish hostile intent from everyday emotions such as anger and fear. Though there is still much to learn, the goal is to push biometric science beyond identification techniques to a new frontier where covert security technology would secretly scan peoples’ minds to determine whether they harbour malicious intent. “This ability can be used by members of the military and the security forces to isolate adversaries prior to commission of actions,” according to a research paper posted on the federal government’s Defence Research and Development Canada website ….” Since I can’t find a link through which Postmedia News is sharing the paper, you can Google the title of the paper, “Biometrics of Intent: From Psychophysiology to Behaviour”.  As of this posting, though, the Defence Research and Development Canada publications page doesn’t seem to be working.  Until it gets working, here’s a summary of the paper:  “In the current defence and security environment, covert detection of adversarial intent is becoming increasingly important. However, valid and reliable detection of adversarial intent is contingent on the ability to discriminate this intentional mental state from related stress-induced negative emotional states. A preliminary theoretical framework is proposed that extends current knowledge about the psychophysiology of emotion toward achieving this aim. This framework takes as its starting point two assumptions: First, biomarkers in the autonomic and central nervous systems can be combined to predict specific emotional states. Second, the establishment of a normative psychophysiological and behavioural databank for specific emotional states can be used to measure the extent to which individuals deviate from established norms. Building on our understanding of the psychophysiological underpinnings of emotional states, this framework can be applied to isolate the physiology of intentional states.”
  • On a related note, the CF’s also done research on reading hostile intent by reading faces.
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