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Thread: Afghanistan: Canadians in Action

  1. #61
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Local exit by Canadians

    Came across this concise explanation of the Canadian-Afghan role around Kandahar, with open source mapping overlay: http://www.snappingturtle.net/flit/a...11.html#006414

    Note the article revolves around leaving a strongpoint - due to resupply problems, nothing by road and no helicopters.

    davidbfpo

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    The Canadian helicopter shortage is a direct result of the former socialist government that gave away the Chinooks and dissolved the tactical helicopter transport unit just to make points with it's core voters. Now the force struggles to rebuild tactical helicopter assets. The 214's flying where a political decision. by the above mentioned government (Liberals under Chretien), because the plant is in Quebec, he is from Quebec....well, you get the idea.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-29-2009 at 02:41 PM. Reason: Spelling: the to The x2; desolved to dissolved; now to Now; dec to decision; insert the; Quebece to Quebec x2

  3. #63
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    Default A few catch-up tidbits....

    ...to make up for my delinquency:

    1) Canada's latest fallen - two military engineers:
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/can...1aUfeePNoMTinQ
    - were killed by a (second) IED while securing the area following another (first) IED blast

    2) How Canadian special forces are helping fight the IED fight:
    http://www.thestar.com/printArticle/665009
    http://toyoufromfailinghands.blogspo...in-afstan.html
    http://milnewsca.wordpress.com/2009/...uicide-bomber/

    3) Commentary on how Canadian public support for the mission could have been higher now if more politicians communicated more about the "why":
    http://www.canada.com/news/History+b...370/story.html
    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/674568

    4) From davidbfpo's spotted blogger, BruceR (a former OMLT trainer/mentor with the Canadian Forces), some interesting insights re: why growing and deploying the ANA isn't working as planned:
    http://www.snappingturtle.net/flit/a...02.html#006459
    http://www.snappingturtle.net/flit/a...31.html#006485
    http://www.snappingturtle.net/flit/a...31.html#006486

    5) Canadian and US Officers' Paper on UAVs Over K'har: "The key to successful employment of the UAV is the relationships formed between UAV pilots and the ground personnel directing the aerial surveillance and strikes performed by the aircraft, articulation of priorities, and building and sharing a detailed intelligence picture."

    6) My assessment (humble crystal balling, really) of the wording of the Parliamentary Motion regarding the future of Canada's mission in AFG (motion wording mentions being out of KANDAHAR by end of 2011, not out of AFGHANISTAN):
    http://milnewsca.wordpress.com/2009/...r-or-afg-2011/

  4. #64
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    Default Officer Faces Court Martial

    The latest, from this Canadian Forces news release:
    Captain Robert Semrau will face a General Court Martial in relation to the shooting death of a wounded insurgent that occurred in Afghanistan in October 2008.

    Capt. Semrau was arrested on December 31, 2008, by the National Investigation Service and charged with Second Degree Murder while deployed in Afghanistan as Commander of an Operational Mentor Liaison Team. Capt. Semrau was released under conditions on January 7, 2009, by the Military Judge presiding over the custody review hearing at CFB Petawawa.

    Following referral to the Canadian Forces Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP), Captain (Navy) Holly MacDougall, the original charge of Second Degree Murder, and three additional charges were brought forward or “preferred” to Court Martial.

    The charges facing Capt. Semrau are:

    * Second Degree Murder - contrary to Section 130 of the National Defence Act, pursuant to Section 235(1) of the Criminal Code;

    * Attempt to Commit Murder (alternative to the Charge of Second Degree Murder) - contrary to Section 130 of the National Defence Act, pursuant to Section 239(1)(a.1) of the Criminal Code;

    * Behaving in a Disgraceful Manner – contrary to Section 93 of the National Defence Act; and

    * Negligently Performing a Military Duty - contrary to Section 124 of the National Defence Act.

    The charges have been forwarded to the Court Martial Administrator who will convene a General Court Martial at the first available date and at a location to be determined.

    A General Court Martial is composed of a military judge and a panel of five members. The accused is represented by a defence counsel designated by the Director of Defence Counsel Service.

    The DMP considers two main issues when deciding whether to prosecute a charge at court martial:

    * Is the evidence sufficient to justify the continuation of charges as laid or the preferral of other charges?

    * If the evidence is sufficient, does the public interest require a prosecution to be pursued?

    DMP continually reassesses these issues as new information about the case becomes available and has the discretion to bring forward, or “prefer,” the charge or any other charge based on facts disclosed by evidence in addition to, or in substitution for, the charge.

  5. #65
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    Default Some of the latest

    1) One wounded warrior returns to the fight, while another moves on into the civilian world to continue advocating for the wounded.

    2) Canadian counter-IED team sets up web page here to get information to and from soldiers.

    3) Canada's latest quarterly report on the mission in Afghanistan is out (and my haiku summary of the initial coverage).

    4) Newest Canadian Ambassador to AFG and Representative of Canada in Kandahar (ROCK) settling into new posts.

    5) Canada is making it a bit easier for Afghans who have helped Canadians in Kandahar move to Canada (but only until 2011).

    6) Given all the range of statements made by Canadian politicians, my own humble triangulation (aka Wild Ass Guess) of what Canada's mission in AFG could look like post-2011.

  6. #66
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    Default More of the latest

    * Still confusion over Canada's post-2011 role in Afghanistan - Prime Minister says no more military mission post-2011, while his spokesperson says Canadian troops will train (but not mentor) Afghan security forces. Some say the messaging ambiguity is because there may be a tug of war over how "military" Canada's post-2011 presence should be. Others say minority government politicians are reluctant to be clear with an election always potentially one confidence vote away: "Vagueness means votes–or so their demented thinking goes."

    * Canada's Task Force Afghanistan boss joins the troops on patrol.

    * Canada's Battle Group commander: "Canadian troops are getting dramatically better intelligence from villagers now than they were before the summer, and they're getting more of it."

    * The Canadian Forces is looking for Voice Response Translators to help troops communicate with Afghans when an interpreter's not about.

    * September's "Taliban Lies of the Month about Canadian Casualties".

  7. #67
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    Default Translation on the move

    * The Canadian Forces is looking for Voice Response Translators to help troops communicate with Afghans when an interpreter's not about.


    I understand the requirement for such a capability, however this 'solution' appears very short-sighted indeed and will not provide the sort of direct translation support that may be required, and will likely result in additional training etc for the deployed troops with little utility.

    I would propose something far simpler and better which would meet all the current and several other potential requirements/applications. I propose that a call center be setup in Kandahar with native and english speakers, similar to the call centers that exist in India to respond to North Americans. Such a centre could act as an on-demand, real-time translation service supported through local cellular telephone capabilities, and supplemented by Army or satellite radio links where required. Soldiers could communicate directly with anyone they require regardless of language or sex. Such services could be further supplemented with laptop communications for web broadcast of specific messages and information - such as medical advice, notices , psyop, IO and CIMIC related materials etc tailored to the audience.

    In addition, such a system would protect the translators as well, since they would not be revealing their identities to other Afghans. Local Afghans could staff some of these positions, and the centre could respond to a multitude of users and services such as 411 or 911 types of services.

    Something to consider, that is low tech but provides high bandwidth communication.

    Regards,

    David

  8. #68
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Language support

    David,

    I posted this elsewhere a while ago:

    The UK police and others make extensive use of 'Language Line' for telphone translation; I've only used it for prisoners in custody, when upon arrival their rights etc need to be explained (seperate arrangements for interviews). Their website is: http://www.languageline.co.uk/ (they are originally a USA based company).

    davidbfpo

  9. #69
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default They're still in business here.

    LINK.

    Though US DoD is not listed, I know they use it on occasion. Classification can be a problem for many uses.

  10. #70
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    Default The call centre might work for some applications...

    ...especially considering cell phone coverage in the country (it MUST be good if the Taliban wants it shut off at night, right?).

    Some of the phrases the Statement of Work calls for the machine to translate appear to deal with prisoner and patient handling situations, as well as training groups, so the call centre may not be an across-the-board solution.

    Thanks Ken & David for the other links.

  11. #71
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    Default Cellphones?

    I am told by another SWC member that cellphone use would not be appropriate, OPSEC aside, there is poor coverage etc. Not sure culturally how Pashtuns would regard speaking via a handset to a strang, remote voice. Any Afghan veterans know?

    Technical, cultural and more aspects to consider.

    davidbfpo

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    Agreed that there are other aspects to consider and in fact I would expand the concept one step further to consideration of an Avatar based solution which would present a real-lifelike caricature on the phone/PDA to actually interact with the local Afghan. Such Avatars can be tailored right down to the specific tribe and sex and incorporate facial body language and mannerisms to reinforce the interaction.

    Cell phones work in the majority of the populated areas and can be augmented to interface with radio or satcom where necessary. As one already mentioned, cellphones were being used so effectively that insurgents began attacking towers. Lastly, there will always be those that decry the operational classification issues but these are mostly invalid arguments. Most classifications are way too restrictive and severely limit the implementation of solutions. Protective solutions exist to safeguard the communication as well and the benefits could far outweigh any classification concerns.

    David

  13. #73
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Not sure culturally how Pashtuns would regard speaking via a handset to a strange, remote voice.
    I know how Canadians would respond if foreigners with guns made us speak via a handset to a strange, remote voice. It is hard to believe that Afghan reactions would be any more positive.

    As an emergency measure it might have some utility, but if it becomes a technological alternative to employing the appropriate number of well-trained interpreters it seems highly problematic.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    Canada complicit in torture of innocent Afghans, diplomat says

    Ottawa — From Thursday's Globe and Mail
    Published on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009 10:08PM EST

    In a damning indictment of how Canada handled prisoners early in its southern Afghan mission, a government whistleblower says all captives that Canadian soldiers transferred to local authorities ended up being tortured – even though many were likely innocent.

    The revelation to MPs by Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin, who served 17 months in Afghanistan, is the first ever testimony by a government official that says the country's military handed over detainees to certain torture.

    The Harper government has never admitted it knew this was happening.

    In his remarks to a Parliamentary committee on the Afghanistan mission, Mr. Colvin also described a startling pattern of indifference and obstruction to his attempts to warn higher ups of what was happening in 2006 and 2007.

    He said Canada's “complicity in torture” ultimately thwarted its military aims in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar.

    “Instead of winning hearts and minds, we caused Kandaharis to fear the foreigners. Canada's detainee practices alienated us from the population and strengthened the insurgency.”
    On a personal note, I know Richard quite well, and have worked with him in other capacities. He's an outstanding diplomat.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    Default Conservatives shoot the messenger over torture allegations

    Conservatives shoot the messenger over torture allegations

    Don Martin
    National Post
    Posted: November 19, 2009


    OTTAWA — In an organized smackdown rarely seen in Ottawa, the government turned inward on Thursday to attack a new enemy in its Afghanistan conflict — senior Washington embassy intelligence officer Richard Colvin.

    After 15 years of steadily rising through the foreign service ranks, Mr. Colvin now stands accused of being a Taliban stooge, someone so easily duped by torture complaints that he shredded his diplomatic reputation by passing along their accusations.

    Mr. Colvin became fodder for such accusations the minute he told MPs that a full year of warnings about detainee torture had been ignored at the highest levels of the military and public service.

    He even hinted at tentative, but unproven, connections to the government itself. That made his testimony very, very dangerous — and that’s why the Conservatives have launched a campaign to discredit Mr. Colvin.

    But it faces a big problem. Every action by this government to date has only enhanced the diplomat’s credibility.

    Mr. Colvin was promoted to the Washington job under a Conservative reign after 16 years of unblemished duty in hotspots like Sri Lanka, Russia, the Palestinian territories and Afghanistan. While serving in Kandahar, he was told his insights were too sensitive to be put in writing, he says. His emails have been declared off limits on national security grounds. And he’s been told to shut up on this file or risk being charged under the Canada Evidence Act.

    Those actions all speak to the significance and sensitivity of his input, not the ramblings of a rogue diplomat spreading stories from his imagination.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    Default Canada shortens kill chain in Afghanistan

    I found this extremely interesting that trhe new (old) Canadian commander in Afghanistan is allowing troops latitude to do stuff like shoot bad guys:

    In a war where the enemy hides in villages, and fights mainly with homemade bombs hidden in cooking pots, water jugs, farmer’s fields and trees, it’s not often Canadian soldiers get to fight back.

    Oscar Company was savouring some payback, a sweet taste they’ve been enjoying more often in recent days.

    Since Brigadier-General Jon Vance returned to take command in early June, the kill chain has been cut shorter, and Canadian troops on the battlefields of eastern Panjwai district say it’s getting easier to take the fight to the insurgents.

    Major Steve Brown, commander of Oscar Company, in the 1st Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment battle group, called Vance “a no-nonsense kind of guy” whose personality has helped reshape battlefield operations.

    The increased intensity of armed engagements with insurgents also forced change, Brown added.

    “Part of that is shortening that kill chain,” said Brown, 37, of Mansfield, Ontario. “I don’t want to say that we are reducing the safeties with respect collateral damage. We’re certainly not doing that. You can’t compromise on stuff like that.

    “You’ve got to protect the population. But it’s becoming easier and easier to discern enemy tactics, techniques and procedures with the ‘pattern of life’ of the locals.”
    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/a...-to-shoot?bn=1


    This could go in a few places so mods, feel free to move it.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-16-2010 at 04:29 PM. Reason: Moved to this thread and PM to author

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    Default This matter has taken some time...

    Quote Originally Posted by milnews.ca View Post
    Deliberations begin in Semrau court martial

    What is the man's defence? A mercy killing of someone who was "98%" dead already?

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    Quote Originally Posted by 40below View Post
    I found this extremely interesting that trhe new (old) Canadian commander in Afghanistan is allowing troops latitude to do stuff like shoot bad guys:



    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/a...-to-shoot?bn=1


    This could go in a few places so mods, feel free to move it.
    This is an interesting comment. Can anyone elaborate?

    “You’ve got to protect the population. But it’s becoming easier and easier to discern enemy tactics, techniques and procedures with the ‘pattern of life’ of the locals.”

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    Team Canada at Free Range International are my absolute favourite COINdanistas and they got a great article in today's Star. It's going to be totally ignored by the powers that be - I posted it on my FB and within two minutes I had infantry soldiers posting about how aghast they were that anyone would roll around Khar without 14 tons of armour.
    Some great stuff here, but this is my favourite quote:

    “They are the best crew in the country,” the blogger, Tim Lynch, an American contractor who does work similar to Team Canada in safer Nangahar Province, wrote in an email to the Star. “They have balls the size of grapefruit.”
    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/a...ng-with-ghosts

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Deliberations begin in Semrau court martial

    What is the man's defence? A mercy killing of someone who was "98%" dead already?
    A little bit of catching up: he was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of dishonourable conduct - this from the Canadian Forces:
    In summary, the military panel reached the following verdict:

    Not guilty: Charge of Second-degree murder, contrary to Section 130 of the National Defence Act, pursuant to Section 235(1) of the Criminal Code;

    Not guilty: Charge of Attempting to commit murder with a firearm (alternative to the Charge of Second Degree Murder) - contrary to Section 130 of the National Defence Act, pursuant to Section 239(1)(a.1) of the Criminal Code;

    Guilty: Charge of Behaving in a disgraceful manner – contrary to Section 93 of the National Defence Act; and

    Not guilty: Charge of Negligent performance of a military duty - contrary to Section 124 of the National Defence Act.

    The sentence will be determined at a later date.
    Reader's Digest of defence, from the Toronto Star:
    Shaky recall, sloppy investigators and conflicting accounts of what happened on an Afghan battlefield almost two years ago mean an army captain should not be convicted of killing a wounded, unarmed Taliban fighter, the officer’s defence team argued Wednesday ....
    So far in the sentencing hearing, the then-TF Commander (saying his view represents that of the chain of command) is calling for Semrau to be kicked out, while a subordinate says he was a good officer. On the plus side, from one of the media accounts:
    .... His commanding officer, Lt.-Col. Kevin Cameron of the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ont., said he would have no reservations about accepting Semrau back into his unit ....
    Max punishment under S.93 NDA: "imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to less punishment".

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