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The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« on: February 28, 2011, 11:27:06 »
The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011              
 
News only - commentary elsewhere, please.
Thanks for helping this "news only" thread system work!
REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM

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My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

A young boy asks his father "Dad, where did I get my intelligence from?"

Dad replies "You must have gotten it from your mother, I still have mine."

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2011, 13:46:12 »
Articles found February 3, 2011
 
Lansdowne students help build and furnish school in Afghanistan
By KATIE LAMB FOR THE RECORDER AND TIMES
 Article Link
   
LANSDOWNE -- The distance between Lansdowne and Afghanistan may measure thousands of kilometers, but students at Thousand Islands Elementary School are connecting the two.

Inspired after reading Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, a novel about boys growing in Afghanistan amid turmoil, Grade 8 students at the school wanted to find a way to better the lives of children in the war-torn country.

When the students learned that many children don't have a safe school to go to and are forced sit on the ground outside all day for their lessons, they knew that's the cause they wanted to support.

Under the guidance of teacher Rich Tamblyn, the students discovered Rotary International's Afghan School, a campaign to build and furnish schools within the Afghan province Nangarhr. Afghan School has partnered with the Canadian International Development Agency, which has promised to match all donations dollar for dollar.

The cost of building and furnishing a school is $10,000, so the students need to raise $5,000 to meet their goal. The school's students have named their cause Change the World Challenge.

To date, the Change the World Challenge has raised $1,800 through events such as a Christmas cookie and decorations sale, a teachers' breakfast, and donations from people in the community. Two weeks ago, they also received a $500 grant from the Brockville and Area Community Foundation as seed money from the Pay It Forward program.
More on link
 
Taliban down but not out in Afghanistan's Kandahar
IAN SIMPSON
 Article Link

Foreign and Afghan forces have pushed back the Taliban insurgency in the key Kandahar province battleground but cementing those gains over the coming months will be the next challenge.

President Hamid Karzai and his United States-led foreign backers are in a race against time to prevent the militants from regaining strength, in addition to pulling Kandahar residents away from the Taliban to the side of the Kabul administration, military officials and analysts said.

US President Barack Obama, who will announce the results of a two-month review of his military strategy in Afghanistan on Thursday, said on a recent visit to Afghanistan that "important progress" was being made, and his Defence Secretary Robert Gates said last week Washington believes its strategy is working.

Foreign military officers operating in Kandahar also support that view, with the commander of Canadian forces there saying the number of Taliban fighters in villages they patrol has plummeted from about three years ago.

But making those gains hold in areas like Kandahar will be crucial if perceived successes are to be taken seriously, and they can only really be judged by the middle of next year.
More on link
REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

A young boy asks his father "Dad, where did I get my intelligence from?"

Dad replies "You must have gotten it from your mother, I still have mine."

Offline GAP

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2011, 13:01:28 »

Articles found February 5, 2011
 
Tender winners could be revealed March 7
By Ernst Kuglin Trentonian
 Article Link

Winning tenders for the construction of the Afghan Memorial Wall and redevelopment of Bain Park will be released to the public March 7.

The memorial, which will recognize the supreme sacrifice made by Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, will be located on the waterfront at Bain Park adjacent to CFB Trenton — less than one kilometre from Repatriation Row and the Highway of Heroes.

When completed, the memorial will contain the names of every Canadian soldier killed in the war-torn county.

Quinte West public works director Chris Angelo said the request for proposals (RFPs) issued by the city last year were unique due to the type of project.

The city is embarking on a nation-wide fundraising campaign.

Firms were asked to submit proposals that reflected donations and work completed in "kind.''

"Because this will be a fundraised project we had to develop an entire new RFP process. As far as we know it may be the first of its kind in Ontario and maybe Canada,'' said Angelo. "This project is certainly unique. Part of the tendering process is determining what items can be donated to the project.''
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The Kin Family has Contributed More than $1-billion to Canadian Communities Since its Founding in 1920
 Article Link
Kinsmen and Kinettes across Canada have contributed more than $1 billion to Canadian communities since its founding in 1920.

Kin Canada is the Association of Kinsmen, Kinette and Kin clubs.

It is an all Canadian service organization made up of dynamic community volunteers, from coast to coast.

Working together, members enhance the quality of life in their communities by promoting service, fellowship, positive values and national pride.

To date, Kin members have raised more than $37 million to help fight cystic fibrosis, the dreaded childhood disease.

And most recently, within days of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Kin Canada put out a call for donations to help with relief efforts.
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REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

A young boy asks his father "Dad, where did I get my intelligence from?"

Dad replies "You must have gotten it from your mother, I still have mine."

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2011, 09:29:34 »
Articles found February 8, 2011
 
American squadron to help Canadian forces combat insurgents in Afghanistan
The Canadian Press Feb 28, 2011
 Article Link

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - An American squadron will head to Kandahar next month to help Canadian troops battling insurgents in the Dand and Panjwaii districts.
    A 700-member Stryker squadron will take command of Dand in mid-March from the 1-71 Cavalry, which has fought alongside Canadian and Afghan troops since May.
    Two companies of soldiers will go to Dand and a third will be deployed to Panjwaii.
    Canadians Brigadier-General Dean Milner says the additional support will be a great help in an area that's been a staging point for rebels attacks in Kandahar city.
    Canada's combat mission in Afghanistan is due to wind down in July.
end
 
Kandahar leader 'a bit afraid' of losing progress as military mission winds down
 Article Link
By: Tara Brautigam, The Canadian Press Posted: 03/3/2011

DEH-E-BAGH, Afghanistan - Canada's post-military legacy in southern Afghanistan may well rest on the slender shoulders of Haji Hamdullah Nazak.

The 32-year-old governs the district of Dand, a relative model of stability compared to the violence and intimidation that permeates other regions of Kandahar province.

But as the Canadian military gradually shifts its focus away from patrols and towards packing boxes for a training mission said to be "Kabul-centric," Nazak frets over the possibility of lost progress.

"I'm a little bit afraid of that," Nazak says through a translator. "If they stopped helping us, assisting us in this major purpose, we will face some challenges, problems."

Nazak — described by Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner as "a brilliant guy" — has served as Dand's governor for four years, a veritable lifetime in the cutthroat world of Afghan politics.

Within Canada's area of operations over the last nine months, one district governor has been shuffled out and another was killed in a car bombing.

Nazak himself has survived at least eight assassination attempts. Outside his office stand several armed men. He travels in armoured vehicles and changes his daily schedule sometimes on the fly to keep his enemies off-balance.
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Heavy rains help Afghan farmers, frustrate troops
  Article Link
Road-building project now a quagmire, but hopes are high for a good crop year
 By KEITH GEREIN, Postmedia News March 8, 2011
 
A flurry of storm activity over the past few weeks is muddying the progress of a key road Canadian troops are building through a volatile district west of Kandahar City.

"We were ahead of schedule because some parts of the project went very fast, but that changed when the bad weather came in," said Capt. Jean-François Huot, deputy commander of the engineer squadron serving with the Canadian battle group in Afghanistan. "I don't think it's right to say we're now behind schedule, but work has not progressed much in the last couple of weeks."

Normally known for being hot, dry and dusty, Kandahar province has recently been hit with a spate of wet weather that locals have not seen in years. Rain fell nearly every day last week, including a pair of thunderstorms as ferocious as a midsummer tempest on the Alberta prairies. More precipitation is expected in the days ahead.

Such forecasts are bad news for the Canadians, who are in a race to extend the road deep into the western tip of the Panjwaii district. The thoroughfare, when completed, will provide rural residents easy access to buy and sell goods in Kandahar City, but for the moment, the wet conditions have turned parts of the project into an impassable bog.
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Force Protection expanding into Canada
By Allyson Bird Tuesday, March 8, 2011
 Article Link

Ladson-based armored vehicle maker Force Protection Inc. continues its global expansion, most recently with a nudge to the north in the formation of a subsidiary in Canada.

The new company, Force Protection Survivability Solutions Canada Inc., is being set up as the parent pushes for a contract with the Canadian Ministry of Defense for its Tactical Armored Vehicle Patrol.
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A nurse’s journey from sand to snow
 Article Link
 
By Megan Cole - The Free Press
Published: March 07, 2011 2:00 PM

A Fernie nurse has seen the trauma of the Afghanistan war, but says that there are many similarities between being a nurse in the Elk Valley and serving as a nurse in Afghanistan.

“I don’t think there is much difference to be honest,” said Jo Ann Hnatiuk, clinical practice educator at the Elk Valley Hospital and reservist with the Canadian military. “You need to be resilient for both places.” She said. “In Fernie and Afghanistan, we don’t have the back up of a big city centre, and you have to be creative and adaptive for both places.”

Hnatiuk grew up in Saskatoon, moving to Calgary in the late ‘90s. She began working casually at the Elk Valley Hospital in 2003.

She said that one obvious difference between Afghanistan and Fernie is the significance of the devastation.

Hnatiuk did her first tour as a reservist nurse in October 2005.
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Major Ryan Stich
Global Regina: Monday, March 7, 2011
 Article Link

Major Ryan Stich

Snowbird #8

Toronto, Ontario

Call sign: Scrape

“When the time came we would run in, drop bombs, run out, get gas again and then fly an hour back up the Adriatic.”

That was a typical day for Major Ryan Stich in the late 90’s when Canada was part of a NATO-led coalition flying bombing missions over Bosnia and Kosovo.

One of just two current Snowbird pilots who have seen combat in a theatre overseas, Stich remembers the days well.

“Having had the opportunity to travel and see the conflict in which other people live around the world, you have a much greater appreciation for what we have here, and a greater realization of what it costs to have that,” he said of his experience.

More recently Stich has completed three tours in Afghanistan serving in a support role for Canadian troops.

“I was working in an ops centre in a fairly safe location while there are guys out on the ground. It becomes emotionally more distressing because you know that your inability to do what you need to do may cost someone else their life,” he said. “And that becomes intensely more emotional.”

Both experiences have changed the rookie Snowbird’s outlook on the military and its purpose. Stich isn’t shy about admitting that when he first joined the military he didn’t have goals any more noble than just flying fast airplanes.

“Somewhere along the way I started to adopt some of the institution’s ideals, about defending democracy and protecting Canada and Canadian interests,” he said.
More on link
 
REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

A young boy asks his father "Dad, where did I get my intelligence from?"

Dad replies "You must have gotten it from your mother, I still have mine."

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2011, 09:45:20 »
Gates Says U.S. Is in Position to Start Afghan Pullout
NY Times, March 7
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/world/asia/08gates.html?_r=1

Quote
KABUL, Afghanistan — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Monday that the United States was “well positioned” to begin withdrawing some American troops from Afghanistan in July, but he said that a substantial force would remain and that the United States was starting talks with the Afghans about keeping a security presence in the country beyond 2014.

At a joint news conference in the Afghan capital with President Hamid Karzai, Mr. Gates said that no decisions had been made about the number of troops to go home. His remarks were tempered with enough caveats, however, to suggest that the July drawdown promised by President Obama could be minor.

“As I have said time and again, we are not leaving Afghanistan this summer,” Mr. Gates said.

Currently about 100,000 American troops are in the country.

Mr. Gates also used the news conference to offer an extended apology to Mr. Karzai for the killings by mistake last week of nine Afghan boys. Mr. Karzai accepted the apology.

On Sunday, Mr. Karzai had rejected an apology for the killings from Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Afghanistan...

Mr. Gates, who was on an unannounced two-day trip to Afghanistan, spoke more positively than he had in recent months about what he cited as progress in the nearly decade-old war.

“The gains we are seeing across the country are significant,” he said, citing improvements in security in Helmand and Kandahar Provinces in the south, as well as some progress on Afghanistan’s eastern border with Pakistan...

Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell, the top American commander in eastern Afghanistan, told reporters traveling with Mr. Gates that violence in his region on the border with Pakistan was up from a year ago and that it had also increased in the last 30 days.

“I think the enemy is trying to get an early start on what they call their spring campaign,” General Campbell said.

In recent weeks American forces have withdrawn from remote parts of the Pech Valley, which is part of General Campbell’s command, to concentrate more forces in the border area.

General Campbell refused to call the thinning of forces in the valley, once deemed vital to American interests, a retreat, although the fighting there had dragged on for years with no clear result. “When somebody says you’ve abandoned the Pech, that’s absolutely false,” he said.

Despite the rise in violence in the east, the general said the attacks by insurgents were less effective than a year ago. His office produced statistics stating that American and coalition forces had killed 2,448 insurgents in his region between June 2010 and February 2011 and had captured 2,870 in the same time period [emphasis added]...
 

U.S.: Raids have taken out 900 Taliban leaders
USA Today, March 7
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/afghanistan/2011-03-08-taliban08_ST_N.htm

Quote
U.S.-led military forces have captured or killed more than 900 Taliban leaders in the past 10 months, making it harder for the insurgency to maintain its offensive capabilities, according to the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

"We are getting indications that the (insurgency) is struggling to find replacements for leaders," said Maj. Sunset Belinsky of the International Security Assistance Force, which oversees coalition military operations in Afghanistan.

"In several cases, insurgents have actually refused to take over the leadership positions, have had difficulty finding technical experts, such as IED (improvised explosive devices) facilitators, gun runners and bomb trainers," she said.

The decapitation of leadership comes amid stepped-up raids by U.S. special operations units in Afghanistan. The raids have netted insurgent leaders, weapons and drugs used to finance actions against coalition forces, NATO says...

Some experts said it remains to be seen how much damage the raids have done to the Taliban's fighting ability.

Michael O'Hanlon, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution, said the strength of insurgent offensives in the spring and summer will indicate how successful the raids have been.

"The bottom line is that this figure is probably encouraging but hardly conclusive, especially since the effectiveness of insurgents on the battlefield still seems unaffected at a national level," he said...

Gates: US starts to frame long-term security deal with Afghanistan, rules out permanent bases
C(A)P, March 7
http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5iShkBihOff_e5DGiu1i3dSrL4XvQ?docId=6165252

Quote
KABUL — The United States is beginning to decide what its responsibilities will be in Afghanistan after U.S. combat troops leave, Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Monday, but he ruled out permanent military bases in the strategically important country.

President Hamid Karzai wants U.S. military support even as he heavily criticizes the current U.S.-led military campaign for being too quick on the trigger. Nine Afghan boys died in an accidental air strike last week, reopening a raw issue.

Gates said the U.S. is interested in keeping a military presence in this former al-Qaida haven beyond the planned end of combat in three years. At a news conference with Karzai, Gates said a team of U.S. officials would arrive here next week to begin negotiations over a new compact for U.S.-Afghan security relations after 2014, when all international combat forces are supposed to be gone. U.S. forces have been in Afghanistan since 2001, and President Barack Obama has repeatedly said the war is not open-ended...

Gates' promise to draft a post-2014 "strategic partnership" with this poor, unstable nation is meant to reassure the mercurial Karzai, who fear that he and the country's fragile civilian government might be overthrown without U.S. military backing. It is not clear how far-reaching or binding the document would be...

Karzai and Gates both mentioned that their discussions included the topic of negotiating a strategic partnership, which in Karzai's eyes is a way to parlay the enormous U.S. investment in blood and treasury since 2001 into the foundations of long-term stability.

"The specifics remain to be negotiated," Gates said. "But I would say that if the Afghan people and the Afghan government are interested in an ongoing security relationship," with some level of U.S. military presence, "The United States I think is open to the possibility of having some presence here in terms of training and assistance," possibly using Afghan bases.

"We have no interest in permanent bases" for the U.S., he said. "But if the Afghans want us here, we are certainly prepared" to stay...

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2011, 09:08:38 »
ARTICLES FOUND MARCH 10

Australian troops to stay in Afghanistan
Prime minister reassures Congress of support

Washington Times, March 9
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/mar/9/australian-vows-support-for-afghanistan-coalition/

Quote
Australia’s prime minister told a joint session of Congress on Wednesday that Australian troops in Afghanistan would remain with the U.S.-led coalition for years to come, knocking down recent reports that the country was contemplating an early exit from the war-torn country.

“I want you to know what I’ve told Australia's Parliament in Canberra, what I told Gen. [David H.] Petraeus in Kabul, what I told President Obama in the Oval Office this week: Australia will stand firm with our ally, the United States,” said Julia Gillard, Australia’s 27th prime minister and the fourth to address Congress.

Australia is far and away the largest non-NATO contributor to the coalition in Afghanistan, with some 1,550 troops on the ground — a 40 percent increase since 2009, when the U.S. began rallying allies to supplement its own troop surge.

Though Australian special forces are active throughout Afghanistan, the country’s contingent is based in Uruzgan province, where the coalition absorbed its greatest loss: the withdrawal of nearly 2,000 Dutch troops in August...

Mark
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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2011, 11:42:09 »
 
Articles found February 10, 2011
 
Hockey Night in Kandahar
  Article Link
By Keith Gerein Wed, Mar 9 2011 COMMENTS(0) Assignment Afghanistan

After a slow period last week, activity in Kandahar has picked up considerably over the last few days.

There were events to mark International Women's Day (a particularly noteworthy occasion in Afghanistan where the rights and protection of women continues to be abysmal), and a new United Nations report on civilian deaths in Afghanistan in 2010. Such deaths increased by 11 per cent overall in Kandahar province last year, mainy due to major upswing in targeted assassinations by insurgents. The report praised coaliton forces, including Canadians, for avoiding large-scale casualties during clearing operations last fall, but was critical of how much property was damaged by soldiers.

Overall there were 2,777 civilian deaths last year, a record for the 10-year Afghan campaign. Insurgents were reponsible for three-quarters of these killings. Afghan and NATO forces actually declined their contribution to the civilian death toll last year, although the problem has flared up again in recent weeks due to a couple of incidents involving U.S. forces that has drawn the ire of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
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Life-saving helicopter pilot is a true Canadian hero
Article Link
By Steven Gallagher, Special to QMI Agency  March 9, 2011

The news coming out of Afghanistan is often grim.

Headlines lamenting the latest Canadian casualties have been far too common in recent years.

More than 150 Canadian soldiers have been killed and countless more injured since the mission began in 2002.

Aug. 5, 2010, could have been another tragic day in the war-torn country, if not for the actions of former Niagara Falls resident Capt. Will Fielding.

The pilot was transporting troops in a CH- 147 Chinook when the aircraft was struck by enemy gunfire.

Fire broke out in the helicopter and Fielding's years of training and instincts kicked in.

Amid the mayhem, Fielding scouted locations to land the Chinook in the volatile area of Kandahar's Panjwaii District.

After a hard landing, Fielding and his copilot waited until everyone on board exited the aircraft. But the drama was far from over: They faced fire from insurgents on the ground before help arrived.

All 21 on board were saved and a tragedy averted.

In a time when the "hero" label is frequently bestowed upon those not deserving, Fielding's actions are truly heroic.

And it is because of his courage under fire that he was recently recognized as an Air Force Hero at the Dawn Patrol Breakfast in Ottawa.

It is difficult to imagine what it must have been like inside that aircraft after it was struck. The fear. The intensity.

It is even more unfathomable to imagine having the composure to bring the aircraft down safely under extreme conditions.

Capt. Fielding's courage is indicative of the mettle, bravery and fortitude demonstrated by our Canadian Forces throughout history -- in combat zones and peacekeeping missions.
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Canada extends funding for Kandahar learning centre
  Article Link
 By Keith Gerein, Postmedia News March 9, 2011

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — A popular learning centre in Kandahar City has received new financial backing from the Canadian government, temporarily ending fears that the facility might have to close.

Though less than half of what facility directors requested, the $250,000 grant from the Canadian International Development Agency will allow classes to continue at the Afghan-Canadian Community Center.

An announcement of the funding was made this week at a ceremony to mark International Women's Day. The centre, though catering to both male and female students, is an especially important educational outlet for Kandahari women and girls who often risk their lives to go to school, centre director Ehsanullah Ehsan said.

"We are proud to celebrate . . . the female students of ACCC who are contributing to the development and prosperity of Afghanistan and Kandahar," Ehsan told a crowd of 240 women collecting graduation certificates for completing English language, computer and management courses. "Let me congratulate you for the achievement you have made and for the bravery you have shown against challenges. You have power and authority in life that can only be achieved by education."

Since opening in 2007, more than 1,500 students have received instruction at the 23-room facility or through the centre's online courses.
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REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

A young boy asks his father "Dad, where did I get my intelligence from?"

Dad replies "You must have gotten it from your mother, I still have mine."

Offline GAP

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2011, 13:15:55 »
Hamid Karzai’s cousin allegedly shot dead by troops; NATO investigating
KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN— The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, Mar. 10, 2011
Article Link
 
NATO is investigating after a cousin of Afghan President Hamid Karzai was allegedly shot to death by troops during a night-time raid in a Kandahar district under Canadian command.

Regional Command South, which oversees NATO operations in southern Afghanistan, launched an investigation Thursday after Yar Muhammad Karzai, 63, was fatally shot in Dand, a district south of Kandahar City.

Ahmed Wali Karzai, the head of Kandahar provincial council and the president's brother, said the shooting should not have happened.

“He was shot by mistake,” he told The Canadian Press. “I am very tense and angry about this news.”

NATO said it initially believed that the man shot dead was the father of a Taliban leader, and that security forces shot him when a soldier saw “an armed individual with an AK-47” in a compound where it conducted an operation.

“The security force assessed the male as an immediate threat to the security force, and engaged him,” NATO said in a statement.

“Coalition forces are aware of conflicting reports about the identities of those involved, and have initiated an inquiry to determine the facts.”
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REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

A young boy asks his father "Dad, where did I get my intelligence from?"

Dad replies "You must have gotten it from your mother, I still have mine."

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2011, 14:54:26 »
ARTICLES FOUND MARCH 12

Canada looks to employ local militias in Kandahar
CP, March 12
http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Canada/20110312/canada-considers-employing-militias-110312/

Quote
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The Canadian military is warming to the controversial idea of arming local villagers in the Kandahar district of Panjwaii, a tactic credited with stemming violence during the Iraq war but criticized over concerns of insurgent infiltration.

The Afghan Local Police program, launched by President Hamid Karzai last August, is an initiative where village-level fighting forces are given guns and undergo a training course to provide security to their communities.

It's a gamble that NATO military commanders hope encourages locals to fight back against the Taliban, much like some Iraqi villagers did when they rose up against al-Qaida during the Sunni Awakening.

Canada's top soldier in Afghanistan said the ALP could soon be set up in the Horn of Panjwaii, the western belt of the district traditionally used as a springboard for insurgent attacks in the provincial capital of Kandahar city.

"We're trying to invigorate it out in the Horn," Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner said in a recent interview...

Canada has spent much effort on recruiting and training Afghan National Police officers as part of its counterinsurgency strategy in Panjwaii, a district southwest of Kandahar city known as the birthplace of the Taliban.

But it is uncertain whether it will be able to fulfil its goal on that front before the combat mission wraps up in July. The military says there are about 500 registered ANP out of 700 positions allocated for the district.

The concept of the ALP leaves some Afghan officials uneasy, fearful it could undermine confidence in Kabul's authority, particularly in remote regions of the country. There are also fears that the ALP lacks oversight, making it susceptible to infiltration from criminal and insurgent elements, and conjures up memories of the warlord-led militias who ravaged Afghanistan during the 1990s.

In a report released this week, the United Nations highlighted its concerns after observing the ALP in the provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan, Uruzgan and Daykundi...

The UN said communities in the provinces of Herat and Paktika had a more positive view of the ALP.

Villagers undergo a three-week training session by special-forces soldiers and are issued rifles such as AK-47s but are not allowed to carry them outside their area of responsibility. They earn about 60 to 70 per cent of ANP wages and report to their local district police chief.

Under the program, 15,700 ALP positions have been allocated to 61 districts, but that can expand to 30,000 recruits in 100 districts.

Lt.-Col. Doug Claggett, chief of staff for the Canadian military in Kandahar, stressed that because the ALP is overseen by the Afghan government, it cannot be viewed as a militia-like force...

'Get the job done right' before leaving Afghanistan: Gates
AFP, March 12
http://www.globalnews.ca/world/story.html?id=4427748

Quote
NATO allies agreed Friday to new rules under which they can withdraw their troops from Afghanistan as U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates slammed "too much talk about leaving."

Alliance Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced the deal looking ahead to a 2014 deadline to pass control to Afghan security forces after Gates warned that early withdrawal would jeopardize the war effort just as the Taliban has lost the upper hand.

"Frankly, there is too much talk about leaving and not enough talk about getting the job done right. Too much discussion of exit and not enough discussion about the fight. Too much concern about when and how many troops might redeploy, and not enough about what needs to be done before they leave," he said.

"Ministers discussed and agreed principles by which we will (manage) transition," Rasmussen said after talks among the 28 NATO countries and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) partners, not all of whom contribute soldiers.

He said that while the gradual "thinning out" of ISAF forces in particular provinces would accelerate, "redeployment and reinvestment ... remains a NATO responsibility."..

"The final decision will be made by President Karzai," Rasmussen said of the formal announcement due on March 21, the first day of the Afghan New Year.

"I have seen a lot of speculation in the media but we fully respect the procedure laid out," Rasmussen added of areas that could include three cities -Lashkar Gah, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif -and two provinces, Bamiyan and Panshir, plus the capital region of Kabul minus Surobi.

According to a NATO European military official, this year's withdrawal plans by Canada and the Netherlands gave "a very poor signal" [emphasis added] and Germany has already made known it is likely to follow next year...

"America is willing to shoulder the lion's share of the burden but we cannot do it alone," Gates said in his speech.

He acknowledged that the more than 40 countries in the coalition fighting the Taliban had suffered higher casualties in 2010 than in any other year since the war began in 2001. "These are the tragic costs of success but we bear them because it is in our shared security interests to do so."

Mark
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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2011, 15:14:29 »
Articles found February 12, 2011
 
Proposed Army transport fleet would put troops' lives 'at risk'
Mark Hawthorne March 12, 2011
Article Link

AUSTRALIAN troops could be forced to enter war zones in trucks not capable of withstanding roadside bombs, as part of a deal to supply the army with troop transporters for the next 30 years.

Sources close to the Department of Defence have told The Saturday Age that a new fleet of heavy vehicles will be built ''down to a cost'' and provide a ''level 2'' blast rating that is deemed insufficient for use in Afghanistan by both the German and Canadian military.

Of the 23 Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan, 11 have been the victims of ''improvised explosive devices'', the military term given to the deadly roadside bombs that are the No. 1 killer of troops in the country.
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Another, Sergeant Andrew Russell, was killed when his vehicle struck an anti-tank mine.

Such is the danger posed by IEDs that US soldiers have dubbed the country's Stryker armoured vehicle the ''kevlar coffin'', a reflection of its inability to protect passengers.
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Winning Hearts While Flattening Vineyards Is Rather Tricky
 Article Link

PANJWAI, Afghanistan — No one disputes that the campaign by NATO and Afghan forces that wrested this southern district from Taliban control last fall caused tremendous damage. The evidence is all around. In one place a whole village was destroyed.

The question now is whether NATO troops can win over local people as they compensate them for damage and build new roads, which they hope will bring greater security and prosperity but which are tearing up still more property. Every day Canadian troops deploy tanks and bulldozers during construction. Fruit trees have been felled, vines uprooted, and fields and barns flattened.

Addressing the complaints is critical to wooing people away from the Taliban for the long term. But as so often in Afghanistan, coalition forces have tripped up on the complexities of Afghan society, angering people by making decisions without consultation and meddling in one of the most intractable issues in Afghanistan: land ownership.

In the neighboring district of Zhare, American troops who cleared the area of Taliban fighters found that the compensation payments went smoothly at first. Troops filled out a form on the spot. The farmer took it to headquarters, where he was compensated relatively quickly, assuaging local anger.
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Canadian Commandos honoured in secret Ottawa ceremony
 Article Link
The Canadian Press Friday Mar. 11, 2011

OTTAWA — Canada's governor general honoured a handful of new heroes on Friday.

Unfortunately, we can't tell you how many, what their names might be -- or what they did.

Governor General David Johnson handed out three Stars of Military Valour and two Medals of Military Valour, the second and third highest decorations for bravery to members of the ultra-secret special forces.

In addition, one Meritorious Service Cross, three Meritorious Service Medals and one Mention in Dispatches were also presented at a closed-door ceremony at Rideau Hall.

A release from the vice regal's office said for security and operational reasons, the recipients' names and citations were not released.

It's unclear whether the decorations involve operations in Afghanistan, where roughly 200 members of the special forces have been fighting the Taliban in successive rotations since 2001.

Unlike the Americans, who publicize the exploits of their commandos, Canada keeps secret all aspects of special forces operations.
end
 
Chris Alexander’s new battlefield
Margaret Wente Friday, Mar. 11, 2011
 Article Link

Six years of slogging in the trenches of Afghanistan would be enough to turn most people into hardened cynics. Not Chris Alexander. Canada's former ambassador to Afghanistan is an unabashed idealist – committed to nation-building, still hopeful for that ravaged country, and convinced of Canada's unique ability to help spread democracy in the world.

Now if only he can persuade cynical Canadian voters to elect him. The Harper government has recruited him to run in the high-profile Ajax-Pickering riding, just east of Toronto. It has been Liberal since 1993, and the Conservatives now consider it a crucial battleground for the hearts and minds of area code 905. His opponent, Mark Holland, is a tough and scrappy hometown boy. The Conservatives have been bombarding the riding with visiting cabinet ministers, and even Liberals think the race will be a toss-up.

Mr. Alexander would be a dream candidate for any party. He's young (42), photogenic, smart and likeable, and he has a fabulous résumé. As a foreign service prodigy, he was named Canada's first ambassador to Afghanistan at the tender age of 34,
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NATO Ministers Approve Six Afghan Regions for Handover to Afghans
 Article Link

During a NATO Defence Ministers meeting today, NATO has approved six Afghan regions for handover to Afghan government forces. The regions include two in which there hasn't been much insurgent activity.

The NATO plan, if approved by the Karzai government, will start handing over the cities of Herat in the west and Mazar-i-Sharif in the north. This will be the first part of the transition phase.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press reported last week that both areas are safer than Kabul City and Canadian troops had eyed the areas for training the Afghan National Army, when Canada ends its combat mission in July of next year. Surobi District is also on the transition list.

Bamiyan and Panshir Provinces are also on the list. Both areas have seen little or no fighting.

Lashkar Gah, the Capital of Hellmand Province has seen some of the bloodiest fighting last year. Nonetheless it rounds up the handover regions. Mentoring by both British and Canadian Forces have mentored the Afghan National Army in that Province in the past. The Operational Mentor Liaison Teams have been succesful in encouraging ANA officers to plan and execute operations on their own.

The transition plan is of importance to NATO's exit strategy. NATO is aiming at handing over control of all security to Afghan government forces by 2014. While the United States has pledge to back up Afghan forces as has been the case in Iraq, most other NATO nations are expected to leave Afghanistan by then.
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Afghan school, on verge of closing, gets Canadian lifeline
 Article Link
By Paul Watson Star Columnist

VANCOUVER—A Canadian-backed Kandahar school has survived to fight another year against Taliban efforts to chase girls and women out of the classroom.

The Afghan-Canadian Community Centre, where several thousand Afghan students have braved insurgent threats to get an education, was on the verge of laying off teachers and cutting classes as its Canadian government funding ran out last month.

But Ottawa agreed this week to send another $250,000 to keep the school open for the next year while the main charity supporting it tries to find ways to end its constant financial struggle to survive.
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« Last Edit: March 12, 2011, 16:41:46 by GAP »
REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

A young boy asks his father "Dad, where did I get my intelligence from?"

Dad replies "You must have gotten it from your mother, I still have mine."

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2011, 12:57:20 »
ARTICLES FOUND MARCH 13

Afghan Leader Questions U.S. Military Operations
NY Times, March 12
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/world/asia/13afghan.html?ref=world

Quote
KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai on Saturday appeared to call for NATO and the United States to cease military operations in Afghanistan, but then issued a clarification saying that he was referring only to specific operations that had caused civilian casualties.

In an emotional speech on Saturday in the eastern city of Asadabad, in Kunar Province, the Afghan president told relatives and neighbors of civilian victims that he sympathized with their plight. “With great honor and with great respect, and humbly rather than with arrogance, I request that NATO and America should stop these operations on our soil,” he said. “This war is not on our soil. If this war is against terror, then this war is not here, terror is not here.”

Mr. Karzai’s remarks were made at a memorial service for the victims, in the presence of local officials as well as the second highest ranking American general in Afghanistan, David M. Rodriguez. “Our demand is that this war should be stopped,” Mr. Karzai said. “This is the voice of Afghanistan.”

Whether his remarks were premeditated, taken out of context or just an emotional overstatement, his speech was another symptom of a deteriorating relationship between the Afghan president and the United States military command.

American officials were angered by Mr. Karzai’s remarks, said one official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the dispute with the Afghan president. Officially, NATO refrained from any direct response. But a spokesman, who said he could speak only on the condition of anonymity because of orders from superior officers, said the NATO force in Afghanistan “shares President Karzai’s concern about civilian casualties, and we will continue working to reduce civilian casualties to an absolute minimum.”

A few hours after the speech, Mr. Karzai’s spokesman, Waheed Omer, said the president’s remarks had been in the context of two recent cases of civilian casualties in Kunar Province, one of which NATO conceded had killed nine children in error. In the other case, Afghan officials maintained that 65 civilians had been killed, but NATO officials still insist the victims were insurgents, although an investigation is under way.

The president had meant that such operations leading to civilian deaths should be stopped, Mr. Omer said. “Civilian casualties have been a great source of concern to the president and people of Afghanistan and a big reason behind the current disagreements between our government and the international forces,” Mr. Omer said in a statement, which he described as a “clarification” of the speech...

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2011, 13:40:42 »
Articles found February 13, 2011
 
Air Force captain makes Afghanistan air operations safer
Written by Holly Bridges Airforce Articles   Saturday, 12 March 2011
 Article Link

In the Air Force, anything that improves flight safety has the potential to save lives and safeguard millions of dollars of equipment.

Captain Steve Mullins was well aware of that during a visit to Afghanistan in 2008. The former Army officer, now Air Reserve intelligence officer, who works at the CF Aerospace Warfare Centre (CFAWC) in Ottawa, mounted, led and conducted a technical assistance visit that is now paying huge dividends for the Canadian Air Force and other air forces.

Through his work as the optic/infrared section chief at CFAWC, Capt Mullins investigated reports that some of the missile warning systems on board CC-130 Hercules aircraft and CH-146 Griffon helicopters were giving aircrew false readings. His findings have now resulted in an overhaul of defensive measures on board the CC-130 Hercules and other fleets.

“Everybody knew there were some deficiencies,” Capt Mullins says, “but Afghanistan really exasperated them to the point where they had to be dealt with, and the understanding wasn’t fully out there as to why it was happening. Once we had a chance to analyze it over there, it was clear that the problem was pretty substantial.”

Although the retrofits are classified, according to his superiors, Capt Mullins “is credited with having enhanced the margin of safety of Canadian and international aircrews participating in contested airspace.” These words of praise appeared in a citation given to Capt Mullins after he received the 2010 Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute Trans Canada (McKee) Trophy. The award is given for “outstanding achievement in the field of aerospace operations.”

“I was surprised and humbled,” Capt Mullins says, adding that the retrofits were a team effort among staff at Defence Research and Development Canada Valcartier, 1 Wing, and the Directorate of Scientific and Technical Intelligence.
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Canada looks to employ local militias in Kandahar
 Article Link
Tara Brautigam, The Canadian Press Saturday Mar. 12, 2011 1:24 PM ET

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The Canadian military is warming to the controversial idea of arming local villagers in the Kandahar district of Panjwaii, a tactic credited with stemming violence during the Iraq war but criticized over concerns of insurgent infiltration.

The Afghan Local Police program, launched by President Hamid Karzai last August, is an initiative where village-level fighting forces are given guns and undergo a training course to provide security to their communities.

It's a gamble that NATO military commanders hope encourages locals to fight back against the Taliban, much like some Iraqi villagers did when they rose up against al-Qaida during the Sunni Awakening.

Canada's top soldier in Afghanistan said the ALP could soon be set up in the Horn of Panjwaii, the western belt of the district traditionally used as a springboard for insurgent attacks in the provincial capital of Kandahar city.

"We're trying to invigorate it out in the Horn," Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner said in a recent interview.

"The capabilities are there in the Horn to start establishing it and connecting it with the people."
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Deployment benefits shouldn't be limited to the military
By Mercedes Stephenson, QMI Agency
Last Updated: March 13, 2011 3:00am
 Article Link

We expect police officers to be there when we make the call, but what if the phone company isn't there for cops when they're in need?

Const. Mark Horton, of the Ottawa Police Service, found himself in just that situation — all the way in Afghanistan, no less.

If you think it's frustrating being on hold with Rogers, Bell or Telus for hours at home, try managing it from an outpost in Kandahar.

When Horton deployed to Afghanistan as a trainer for the Afghan National Police, he was told he qualified for a special program for deployed troops through his cellphone provider, Rogers Wireless. The military suspension program is a great policy Rogers created to allow deployed military to keep their cellphone numbers while they're overseas without paying for a phone they can't use.

A nasty surprise greeted Horton on his next cellphone bill — a full charge. Rogers had apparently reversed their position. Police trainers are not covered by the military suspension program because they lack military ID.

Talk about applying the letter of the law, not the spirit. Horton faces many of the same dangers as a military trainer working with the Afghan National Army. What he is doing is no less important to building the Afghan National Security Forces or the future stability of Afghanistan, not to mention our exit strategy.

The Afghan National Police is the weakest part of Afghanistan's indigenous security forces. More than 80% of the force was illiterate just a year ago and the vast majority were never trained at all. Horton and his fellow police officers are trying to instill professionalism, ethics, fundamental policing skills and leadership into Afghan troops to build the country from the bottom up. In fact, Horton's job bears a close resemblance to the role our troops will soon take on in Afghanistan.

What is fascinating about Canadian police officers volunteering to train the Afghan police is that they are truly going above and beyond the call of duty. Police officers are called to serve and protect their own communities. They are not expected to travel abroad — that's the military's job. Yet here we have a group of brave cops, trying to do the right thing for Canada and for Afghanistan, getting the short end of the stick.

When Horton got the bad news, he asked Rogers to at least activate his cell so he could insert an Afghan SIM card and use it in Afghanistan, but the company refused.

Thankfully this story has a happy ending.
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REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

A young boy asks his father "Dad, where did I get my intelligence from?"

Dad replies "You must have gotten it from your mother, I still have mine."

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2011, 10:04:57 »
Daily brief: Afghan suicide attack kills 37
Foreign Policy "AfPak Channel", March 14
http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/03/14/daily_brief_afghan_suicide_attack_kills_37

Mark
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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2011, 10:21:16 »
Articles found February 14, 2011
 
U.S. military says Karzai's cousin died in justified raid
 Article Link

The Canadian Press

Date: Sunday Mar. 13, 2011 2:38 PM ET

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The shooting death of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's cousin was a tragic accident, but the overnight raid during which it occurred was justifiable because it netted a Taliban leader responsible for car bombs in Kandahar city, an American military commander said Sunday.

Hours after he took command of the Kandahar district of Dand -- a region within Canada's area of operations -- Lt.-Col. Douglas Sims said the military regrets last week's fatal shooting of Yar Muhammad Karzai.

"Naturally, any loss of life is tragic and this loss certainly was no less tragic," Sims told The Canadian Press.

"While we are certainly regretful for the loss of life, I think that the Afghan government here clearly understands that this was a legitimate action. There was a pretty bad character that was involved in this."

The 63-year-old was killed in the village of Karz during an operation Wednesday night by NATO troops in Dand, a relatively stable district south of Kandahar city.

During the raid, troops detained five people including a Taliban leader responsible for distributing vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices -- more commonly known as car bombs -- to insurgents throughout the city. The four others were later released.

Sims said capturing a leader like that is a major step towards improving security in the area, adding that he is confident local government officials recognize that.

"Although the accident occurred, I think they recognized that in the end, security was enhanced," Sims said.

But Karzai's younger brother, who lives in Toronto and is a sociology professor for Laurentian University, dismissed Sims's statement and called on the Canadian military to conduct its own investigation into the raid.

"Given the resources invested in this war, it is not absurd to expect that a Canadian commander could easily track down who requested and authorized this raid and why," Anas Karzai said in an email.

"What appears to be missing is the will."

NATO said troops initially believed Karzai was the father of the detained Taliban leader. Security forces shot him when a soldier saw "an armed individual pointing an AK-47 with a flashlight" through a window in a compound where the operation took place, said Regional Command South, which oversees NATO operations in southern Afghanistan.

"The security force member assessed the male as an immediate threat to the security force, and engaged him with precision small arms and killed him," they said in a statement Sunday after concluding its investigation into Karzai's death.

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Legless soldier finishes charity run
By JENNY YUEN, Toronto Sun March 13, 2011
 Article Link

Jamie MacIntyre has run five-kilometre races in the past — but Sunday marked the first time he did it using a carbon fibre leg.

The sergeant with the First Royal Canadian Regiment Battle Group lost his left leg in Afghanistan in June when an improvised explosive device went off.

He went for treatment at St. John’s Rehab where he learned to walk using a prosthetic leg.

Joined by his friend, Master Cpl. Jody Mitic — who also ran on carbon fibre legs — the pair finished the 12th annual Achilles St. Patrick’s Day 5K Run/Walk on Bremner Blvd.

“It was a lot of fun. A little bit chilly at the beginning, but we got into a good stride,” said MacIntyre, 34, of Collingwood.

He crossed the finish line at the 44-minute mark with his two-year-old son, Ronin, in his arms.

“Fighting through the crowd at the beginning was probably the hardest part,” added MacIntyre. “We had a good pace and I didn’t fall apart at the end.”

Prior to sustaining his war injury, MacIntyre took part in the annual race in 2009, showing support for Mitic.

Mitic, 34, lost both his legs to a land mine blast in 2007 in Kandahar.

“It’s really great to have someone like that give me a hand when I’m out here,” MacIntyre said. “The distance isn’t a great distance I would think, originally, but now with having to learn how to run with my prosthetic leg is what I have to overcome.”
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REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

A young boy asks his father "Dad, where did I get my intelligence from?"

Dad replies "You must have gotten it from your mother, I still have mine."

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2011, 13:48:16 »
Articles found March 15, 2011
 
Everyday life hides threat of violence in Afghanistan
 Article Link
By JEAN-FRANCOIS RACINE, QMI Agency  March 14, 2011

PANJWAI DISTRICT, Afghanistan — A new water pump, an important symbol of progress in this isolated village, is the latest casualty of insurgents who routinely stoke terror in war-torn Afghanistan.

The Taliban torched the government-financed infrastructure project but have so far kept their hands off a school under construction a few feet away.

Canadian soldiers are charged with keeping the peace in this hotspot. Their patrols, including one recently observed by QMI Agency, are never routine.

On this day, soldiers work in scorching heat under cloudless skies. They scrutinize the tiniest stretch of road for signs of explosives. The work is tedious.

Even the sight of a small child ratcheted up the tension during an early-morning excursion, despite the fact the area had been secured on a previous patrol.

Soldiers say insurgents have previously used children as suicide bombers.

With insurgents all too willing to use civilians to do their dirty work, the Canadians must be ready to fire at the first sign of danger. Innocents are sometimes killed as a result.

The eerie absence of local townsfolk in the area puts patrollers on edge. They search the area for three hours and find no sign of explosives. They deactivated a bomb on the same road two weeks earlier.

A few nervous-looking children say the road is clear this time around. No one is sure whether to believe them.

Warrant Officer Gaetan Emond says aside from the threat of bombs, the weapons caches are a constant reminder of the threat of violence in the picturesque Afghan countryside.
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REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

A young boy asks his father "Dad, where did I get my intelligence from?"

Dad replies "You must have gotten it from your mother, I still have mine."

Offline GAP

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2011, 10:36:46 »
Articles found March 16, 2011
 
Keeping The Peace In Afghanistan
 Article Link
Mar 16, 2011 By Paul McLeary Washington

This fall marks the 10th anniversary of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. Despite more than $50 billion in reconstruction funds that have poured into the country—$29 billion of which have gone to Afghan security forces, with an additional $11 billion slated to be spent this year—even the most optimistic assessments are that little progress has been made in rule of law, governance and security.

Now that Washington and Kabul have tagged 2014 as the year that the Afghan National Security Forces will begin taking the lead for the country’s security, the push is on to train and field as many members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) as possible. While NATO trainers have made huge strides in professionalizing the force and growing their ranks while speeding up training schedules, constant combat and staggering attrition call into question how much can really be expected of these forces in a few short years. Chief among the worries is the sorry state of the ANP, whose training and welfare was, until 2009, almost an afterthought.
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Al-Qaida luring Canadian Muslims
 Article Link
By JASON HALSTEAD, QMI Agency  March 16, 2011

WINNIPEG - While members of the Winnipeg's Islamic community were stunned to learn two former University of Manitoba students are wanted on terror charges, a long-time local scholar of terrorism said it's no surprise Canadian Muslims are being recruited by al-Qaida.

"It's shocking," said Shahina Siddiqui, president of Islamic Social Services Association of Canada, which is headquartered in Winnipeg.

Siddiqui was at Tuesday's RCMP announcement of the charges against ex-Winnipeggers Ferid Ahmed Imam, 30, and Maiwand Yar, 27, that relate to a plot to bomb subways in New York City.

"There's a lot of questions and there's fear and anxiety of how the community will be treated because there's always a few people who would take this opportunity to target or malign Muslims," she said.

"Like all Canadians, our major concern is the security of the country and there is absolutely no tolerance for anything that would jeopardize it."

Siddiqui said she was acquainted with the family of one of the men charged, but wouldn't say which.
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U.S. general: Progress in jeopardy
Mar 16, 2011
Article Link

Fighting Taliban in Afghanistan

Gains in Afghanistan may be in jeopardy if Congress doesn't provide enough civilian aid, said Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan.

"The momentum achieved by the Taliban in Afghanistan since 2005 has been arrested in much of the country and reversed in a number of important areas," Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. "However, while the security progress achieved over the past year is significant, it is also fragile and reversible."

The number of weapons and explosives caches reported by Afghans has increased fourfold in recent months, indicating growing support from the populace, he said.

"There is, I think, the growing recognition that you cannot allow poisonous snakes to have a nest in your backyard, even if they bite the neighbor's kids," Petraeus said.
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Last Afghanistan project no cakewalk
  Article Link
Canada's final steps in rebuilding jail; Guards from Kandahar's Sarpoza Prison are learning how to quell an inmate uprising
 By KEITH GEREIN, Postmedia News March 16, 2011

Afghan officers hurry to get into their protective gear as a riot starts to rage out of control at a government compound in Kandahar City.

Within minutes, the squad advances to the scene to find an unruly mob brandishing crowbars. The police lines are immediately pelted by rocks, water bottles and whatever else the rioters can find.

A command is given and the unit charges the assailants, backing them into a confined space. Staying in a tight formation, the officers fend off kicks and jabs with their shields, then use batons to swat the attackers' arms and legs. There's a yelp, and soon one of the rioters drops to the ground in surrender.

That's when a booming voice comes in from the side, freezing everyone in a fighting pose.

"OK guys, that's enough," says Dan Jack, a Canadian correctional officer from the Vancouver area. "That was much better. But we still have some things to work on, so let's do it again."

As Jack's comment reveals, the "riot" in this case is only a practice simulation. The government compound in question is a secure training centre at NATO's Camp Nathan Smith. And the roles of rioters and officers are in fact played by guards from Kandahar's Sarpoza Prison who are learning how to humanely quell an inmate uprising.
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Non-lethal force key to training Afghan prison riot squad
  Article Link
 By Keith Gerein, Postmedia News March 15, 2011

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Afghan officers hurry to get into their protective gear as a riot starts to rage out of control at a government compound in Kandahar city.

Within minutes, the squad advances to the scene to find an unruly mob brandishing crowbars. The police lines are immediately pelted by rocks, water bottles and whatever else the rioters can find.

A command is given and the unit charges the assailants, backing them into a confined space. Staying in a tight formation, the officers fend off kicks and jabs with their shields, then use batons to swat the attackers' arms and legs. There's a yelp, and soon one of the rioters drops to the ground in surrender.

That's when a booming voice comes in from the side, freezing everyone in a fighting pose.
More on link
 
REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

A young boy asks his father "Dad, where did I get my intelligence from?"

Dad replies "You must have gotten it from your mother, I still have mine."

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2011, 10:35:46 »
Articles found March 17, 2011
 
 Panjwaii '100 per cent secure,' governor says
  Article Link
Canadians say Taliban threats still remain but agree improvements are dramatic
 By KEITH GEREIN, Postmedia News March 17, 2011

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.

Though NATO commanders have yet to match Agha's level of optimism, the governor's statement is nonetheless a major declaration for a district that has long been known as a hub of the Taliban movement.

Many Canadian soldiers have been killed in Panjwaii over the five years the country has had responsibility for the area.

Brig.-Gen Dean Milner, Canada's top soldier in Kandahar, cautioned that threats still remain in Panjwaii, but agreed the security situation has improved dramatically.

However, Milner noted the security gains could be tested in upcoming weeks when the traditional fighting season begins in Afghanistan.

Agha made his pronouncement during a news conference to summarize his first six weeks in the district governor's office.

Besides better security, he said 3,000 local jobs had been created, six schools have reopened and government authorities are preparing to refurbish health clinics that had previously closed
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Canada prepares to pack everything for Kandahar pullout
 Article Link

Wed Mar. 16 2011 04:20:25

The Canadian Press

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The biggest challenge for the man planning Canada's move out of Kandahar is not loading hundreds of vehicles or packing thousands of weapons away.

It's the clock.

"Time is going to be the big thing," Lt.-Col. Steve Moritsugu said in an interview.

"We could put more people, we could put more effort, we could put more hours ... but we're done that day. That's the one constant."

Since July, Moritsugu has led a liaison and planning team of up to 10 members responsible for ensuring all Canadian-issued property -- everything from pencils to planes -- is out of Kandahar by Dec. 31.

It is a massive undertaking.

More than 1,000 sea containers must be emptied. Close to 1,000 vehicles must be maintained and cleaned -- easier said than done in an environment where dust is everywhere. And thousands of rounds of ammunition must be properly stored or disposed of before the big move.

"The amount of stuff is really the equivalent of a small town and we're not just tossing it and running away," said Moritsugu as his team could be heard upstairs moving furniture.

Not everything will be brought back to Canada. Some equipment will be set aside for Canada's training mission in Afghanistan, the details of which aren't yet clear.

Other equipment considered not worthwhile bringing back -- old chairs and tents, for instance -- could be sold, given away or trashed.
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Afghanistan: The 'Great Game' of Deceit
Khalil Nouri Salem-News.com
Article Link
 Mar-16-2011 Salem-News.com
Special thanks to Veterans Today

The list goes on and on for all the failures that Afghanistan has endured...

(SEATTLE) - The Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, at the beginning of the 20th century aptly described Afghanistan as “a piece on the chessboard on which is being played out the game for domination of the world.” At that time, the Great Game was being played between Czarist Russia and Imperialist Britain.

At the end of the 20th century, however, the contestants were the USSR, and the USA. But now, a small few have amplified their presence even without a nation to call their own, seeking a lion’s share of the game.

Unequivocally, the latter chose the dangerous weapon of religious fundamentalism to perpetrate their gripping dominance over those with advanced weaponry but unpopular ideologies; ultimately producing an explosive state of affairs spiraling into one of the most turbulent events of the century.

At one time the Pashtuns, under their political spiritual leader Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and the very first Afghan President Mohammad Daud Khan, were secular and non-violent; but now the majority has become the most radical Islamist due to the ill-conceived and hazardous path chosen by the players of this intensely contested game. So far, ten years into this latest episode of competition, there is neither a win nor a loss in sight. As a result, the players’ course of actions is creating an atmosphere of distrust, deceit and ultimately future apologetic solicitations due to erroneous acts committed by them. With that in mind, peace to this decades old war is implausible unless there is a viable solution by the Afghans themselves to end this undreamed of quagmire.
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Pakistan anger over release of CIA killer Raymond Davis
  Article Link
 17 March 2011 Last updated at 04:53 ET

Lawyers and some political parties in Pakistan have demonstrated against the release of CIA contractor Raymond Davis after he was acquitted of murder.

Small protests were held in Karachi and Lahore, following anger on the streets there and in Islamabad a day earlier.

Protesters say the families of the dead men were coerced into accepting more than $2m in so-called "blood money" in return for pardoning Mr Davis.

His arrest had threatened to derail US relations with Pakistan, a key ally.

Meanwhile a senior Pakistani official has told the BBC that the "blood money" was paid to the families in Saudi Arabia, as part of a deal brokered by the Saudi government.

The whereabouts of Mr Davis are unclear. Some reports say he is now in Afghanistan although there is no independent confirmation.
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US drone strike 'kills 20' in Pakistani tribal region
 Article Link
 17 March 2011 Last updated at 08:03 ET

t least 20 people have died in a US drone strike in the Pakistani region of North Waziristan, local officials say.

Most of the victims were believed to be civilians attending a tribal meeting near the regional capital, Miranshah.

Earlier reports said many militants were among the dead. The area is an al-Qaeda and Taliban stronghold and US drones regularly target the region.

The latest deaths come amid rising anti-US anger in Pakistan after a CIA agent was acquitted of murder.
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REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

A young boy asks his father "Dad, where did I get my intelligence from?"

Dad replies "You must have gotten it from your mother, I still have mine."

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2011, 14:55:51 »
ARTICLES FOUND MARCH 22

Daily brief: Afghan security transition to start in 7 areas (further internal links)
Foreign Policy, "AfPak Channel", March 22
http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/03/22/daily_brief_afghan_security_transition_to_start_in_7_areas

Quote
Afghan president Hamid Karzai announced earlier today that seven areas of Afghanistan -- the provincial capitals of Herat, Helmand, Laghman, and Balkh, in addition to all of the provinces of Bamiyan, Panjshir, and Kabul except for Surobi district -- will be in the first phase of transition to Afghan security control, scheduled to begin in July (Pajhwok, NYT, AP, Reuters, LAT). The locations "are either relatively free of insurgent activity or have a heavy presence of U.S. and NATO troops that can intervene anytime Afghan security forces become overwhelmed," according to the LA Times, and Reuters adds that the "first phase of the transition is more symbolism than substance."

The AP describes the Taliban's campaign of assassinating Afghan officials who work with the coalition as "deeply demoralizing," as U.S. officials, casting the assassinations as signs of a desperate force, predict that the "hit teams" will continue to operate (AP). At least 140 government officials were killed last year.   

U.S. Army Spc. Jeremy Morlock, pictured in an image published recently by Der Spiegel holding up the head of an Afghan civilian in whose murder he is accused of being involved, has agreed to plead guilty to three counts of murder, one count of conspiracy, and one count of illegal drug use in the hopes of earning a reduced sentence (WSJ). Morlock's court martial is due to start tomorrow (Seattle Times). U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have been calling Afghan officials to try and limit the damage from the photographs, as U.S. forces fear backlash from the Afghan government and public (NYT, Times, FT, Spiegel)...

Mark
Ottawa
Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #18 on: March 22, 2011, 14:57:05 »
Articles found March 22, 2011
 
Better training sought in light of Kandahar 'friendly fire'
 Article Link

The Canadian Press

Date: Monday Mar. 21, 2011 11:25 AM ET

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A NATO probe into a Canadian convoy shooting in Kandahar is calling for improved training for coalition and Afghan forces on the compensation process as well as greater involvement of interpreters so that similar incidents don't happen again.

Regional Command South, which oversees NATO operations in southern Afghanistan, launched an assessment after a small group of Afghan National Army soldiers shot at three Canadian vehicles southwest of Kandahar city on Boxing Day.

The assessment of the incident is restricted, but a RC-South spokesman discussed its findings and recommendations with The Canadian Press.

The Afghan troops were manning a checkpoint near the Dand district centre in Deh-e-Bagh when a resupply convoy backed up and hit an Afghan army pickup truck, causing some damage.

The Canadian convoy commander, whom the NATO assessment identifies only as a corporal, tried to give a compensation claims card to an Afghan army lieutenant. But the lieutenant refused to accept it, saying he wanted cash instead because he had been reprimanded by his supervisors in the past when he could not produce money for vehicle damage.
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Canada's top soldier in Afghanistan sees signs of life in former 'ghost town'
 Article Link
By: Tara Brautigam, The Canadian Press Posted: 03/19/2011

BELANDAY, Afghanistan - In a narrow sandswept alley, an Afghan elder bluntly tells Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner why he recently returned to this hardscrabble village after years of Taliban intimidation forced him out.

"I was fed up," the man tells Canada's top soldier in Afghanistan.

It's a frustration Milner is pleased to hear.

Two years ago, the Kandahar village of Belanday was a known Taliban base. Its mud-brick houses were improvised explosive device factories and its wheat and grape fields gave insurgents the perfect cover before launching ambushes on unsuspecting NATO troops.

The Noorzai enclave was largely sympathetic to the Taliban. But many in the Pashto tribe eventually fled because of rising violence — so much so that one Canadian platoon commander called it "a ghost town."

In July 2009, soldiers with the Quebec-based Royal 22e Regiment arrived in the village, which sits about 10 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city and borders the Dand and Panjwaii districts.

They found a unit of 40 Afghan National Police officers under virtual siege in a burnt-out compound. The Canadians took up residence with them, but they too became the target of mortar attacks.

The injuries and deaths mounted, with the most recent fatality occurring less than a year ago, when a roadside bomb blast killed Pte. Tyler William Todd of Bright, Ont., in April 2010 during what was supposed to be a routine patrol.
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Afghan, Canadian gunners train together
 Article Link
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Kandahar, Afghanistan

 On February 13, for the first time in the mission’s history, X Battery from 1st Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment Battle Group and Kandak 4 Battery from 1 Brigade 205 Corps of the National Afghan Army conducted a training exercise together.

Joint Task Force (JTF) Afghanistan accordingly entered a new phase in the long, but steady process of developing Canada’s Afghan partners. 

The two Canadian units deployed in the west and east of Panjwayi District, while the Afghan battery deployed in the west. They worked together to conduct two regimental fire missions, which involved concentrating high explosive shells on the same target.

It was a rainy morning when the two artillery observation teams, one Canadian and one Afghan, deployed together to Sperwan Ghar observation post. Despite the poor weather conditions, they successfully concentrated the fire of the three artillery units, which attested to the improved capabilities of the JTF and the Afghan brigade. Thus the gunners from Panjwayi District had the opportunity to put into practice their knowledge of fire missions involving multiple units.
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Medical training will be part of Afghan mission
 Article Link
By The Canadian Press Fri, Mar 18 - 4:54 AM

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Canada’s defence minister has wrapped up a tour of Afghanistan, visiting the sites where the military could be stationed for its future training mission in the war-torn country.

Peter MacKay visited several locations in Afghanistan this week, including Mazar-e-Sharif, which he named as one possible place where military trainers could be once Canadian combat operations wind down this summer.

MacKay said there will be a medical component to the training mission and efforts to strengthen the Afghan National Security Forces will continue.

"As to the type of work we’ll be doing, clearly the focus is on building capacity of the Afghan security forces, both army and police," MacKay said Thursday at Kandahar Airfield.

"But in addition to that, we saw a medical facility, so there’s an element of medical training that will occur as part of our contribution."

He declined to give an exact figure on the number of military and civilian personnel that would be needed, but said a final decision on such details would soon come.
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REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

A young boy asks his father "Dad, where did I get my intelligence from?"

Dad replies "You must have gotten it from your mother, I still have mine."

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2011, 11:42:35 »
Articles found March 24, 2011
 
Afghan security handover excludes Canadian Forces' area
  Article Link
 By Keith Gerein, Postmedia News March 22, 2011

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — The area of southern Afghanistan where Canadian forces are clustered has been left off a list of regions where Afghan troops will begin taking over command authority from NATO forces.

President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday outlined the initial phase of his transfer-of-power strategy by naming the first seven areas where Afghan forces will assume primary responsibility for security.

Those shifts of command are expected to begin in July, with NATO troops moving to a "support" role. Other regions are to follow in stages, with Afghan forces scheduled to assume complete control of the country by 2014.

"The Afghan nation doesn't want the defence of this country to be in the hands of others anymore," Karzai told media Tuesday, as Afghans marked the start of their new year.

The list unveiled Tuesday features four cites and three provinces, but does not include any part of Kandahar province, where Canadians have been concentrated for the past five years.
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Stop Afghan school attacks, Hamid Karzai tells Taliban
 Article Link
 23 March 2011 Last updated at 10:39 ET

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has urged the Taliban to stop attacking schools.

Mr Karzai said that if the Taliban wanted foreigners to leave Afghanistan, they should let children be educated.

"Burning schools is a cowardly act," he told the nation. The militants have targeted many schools - more than 400 others are shut for fear of attacks.

About eight million children are expected to go to school this year, a third of them girls. Female education was banned under the Taliban.
'Serve the nation'

"Don't destroy the future of this poor suffering nation that finally has some opportunities," Mr Karzai said in a televised address to mark the first day of school after the Afghan New Year holiday.

"The school is a public place where the sons and daughters of this land learn, in order to serve the nation. If you want foreign troops to leave this country, than let Afghan sons and daughters be educated."

Mr Karzai also criticised the standard of education in many private schools, saying some were more interested in making money than in providing good teaching.

School enrolment has risen sharply since the Taliban were driven from power in 2001, but estimates still suggest fewer than a third of Afghans are literate.
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Killed soldier's dad claims discrimination
 Article Link
By Kelly Pedro, QMI Agency Last Updated: March 23, 2011

LONDON, Ont. - The father of a Southwestern Ontario soldier killed in Afghanistan says Veterans Affairs Canada discriminated against his son because he was single.

In a complaint filed to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Lincoln Dinning says his son, Cpl. Matthew Dinning, 23, of Wingham, Ont., was treated differently because he wasn't married when killed by a roadside bomb near Kandahar in April 2006.

His family was denied a $250,000 death benefit given to married soldiers.

Lincoln Dinning said his complaint is not about the money, but about the principle that all fallen Canadian soldiers be treated equally.

The hearing Wednesday heard from Adam Naismith, whose father, Capt. Kevin Naismith, was killed in May 2003 when he was ejected from his CF-18 during exercises near Cold Lake, Alta.

Prompted from questions by Veterans Affairs Canada lawyer Korinda McLaine, Naismith said his father's death was the "single most traumatic thing that's happened."

"At first you just believe that they're gone because they're gone so much that you just believe they're coming home. But then you realize they're not coming home," said Naismith, who said he was in denial for weeks after his father's death.

"You know, but you don't really want to believe it."

Now a fine arts student in university, Naismith said he's supported financially through several sources including scholarships, Veterans Affairs and his father's pension.

He still struggles with his father's death, the slightest thing triggering an overwhelming emotional reaction, he told the hearing.
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Canadian Helicopters to pursue more overseas work
 Article Link
LuAnn LaSalle

Canadian Helicopters Group Inc. expects to build on its experience in Afghanistan and bid on other overseas opportunities with the U.S. military as the company continues to diversify its revenue stream.

Chief executive Don Wall said Wednesday that the company has “provided quotes” on work opportunities in countries in the Afghanistan region, but not in Libya where coalition forces have launched air strikes in an attempt to oust leader Moammar Gadhafi.

“Given the feedback that Canadian Helicopters has received on Afghanistan, we believe we will be invited to bid on any overseas opportunities that may arise with the U.S. military,” Mr. Wall said during a conference call a day after the company posted a fourth-quarter profit of $4.4-million.
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REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

A young boy asks his father "Dad, where did I get my intelligence from?"

Dad replies "You must have gotten it from your mother, I still have mine."

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #20 on: March 30, 2011, 10:20:28 »
Articles found March 30, 2011
 
Afghan-Canadian governor declares war on the poppy
 Article Link
The Canadian Press
Date: Sunday Mar. 27, 2011 12:47 PM ET

HUTAL, Afghanistan — For Kandahar to win its war on drugs, it must succeed here.

"That's the biggest enemy we have," Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa tells a group of Maiwand elders, some of whom chortle after hearing his plan to eradicate poppy fields from the province.

"I need your co-operation, please."

The Afghan-Canadian governor's appeal comes a month after he announced a crackdown this spring on the production of opium throughout Kandahar.

It is a lofty goal in a province where cultivation of the illicit but lucrative plant has grown fivefold in the last seven years. But it is particularly ambitious in Maiwand, the largest poppy producing district in Kandahar and third largest in Afghanistan.

According to the United Nations, 25,835 hectares of land in Kandahar were used to grow poppies last year -- roughly half the geographic size of Montreal. Of that, 9,966 hectares were in Maiwand.

Often referred to as the "wild west" of Kandahar, Maiwand is considered a strategically vital battleground in the Afghan mission.
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Afghanistan: Coalition prepares for Afghan spring offensive amid attacks

A day after three suicide bombers killed 24 construction workers, coalition forces announced preparations for a spring offensive to counter a Taliban-led insurgency.
 Article Link

A day after three suicide bombers rammed an explosives-laden truck into a construction depot in eastern Afghanistan, killing 24 workers and wounding 59 others, coalition forces announced preparations for a spring offensive to counter a Taliban-led insurgency.

Spring and summer are traditionally known as fighting seasons in Afghanistan, when militants and joint forces of the Afghan Army and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), now numbering over 140,000, move to consolidate their positions.

"We are expecting spring offensive by insurgents and the time for that might also depends on poppy harvest in April and May from southern to northern part of Afghanistan," an ISAF spokesman, Brigadier-General Josef Blotz, told reporters in a weekly press briefing on Monday.

"We try to change the environment, when the insurgents try to strike back in spring, they will face a different situation this year," he said, Xinhua reported. "Our mutual, multi-pronged offensive strategy continues to hit hard at the enemy — particularly as the insurgents are getting ready for the spring fighting season," he added.

Blotz said the joint forces had launched an operation in Helmand that would also cover parts of neighboring Kandahar province.
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 AFGHANISTAN: Military drawdown could hit aid flows
 Article Link

KABUL, 29 March 2011 (IRIN) - The planned drawdown of US-NATO troops in Afghanistan later this year could adversely affect the flow of foreign aid to a country where the achievements since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 are still fragile, aid workers warn.

“We saw a drop in humanitarian assistance in Iraq and Kosovo after the international military forces withdrew,” Louise Hancock, a spokeswoman of Oxfam International in Afghanistan, told IRIN. “Afghanistan needs long-term support for development if it is going to become a stable and prosperous country. That requires a long-term commitment of aid.”

The Afghan army and police will begin replacing their foreign allies in July, in accordance with a transition process due to end in 2014. Most of the 140,000-plus US-NATO forces currently fighting Taliban insurgents are expected to leave the country over the next three years.

“We currently see the last spending frenzy in Afghanistan and then things will start slowing down,” said Sussane Schneidl, with NGO Tribal Liaison Office in Kabul.
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British spent $2M to compensate Afghan victims
Payments in 951 cases for civilian death, injury, damage caused by military action
CBC News Posted: Mar 29, 2011
 Article Link

Britain's Ministry of Defence doled out $2.03 million in "goodwill payments" to compensate hundreds of Afghan civilians for deaths, injuries and damage, newly published data reveals.

The figures, obtained under freedom of information rules, were reported by the Guardian on Tuesday. In posting the full list of 1,460 claims, the newspaper described it as "a catalogue of suffering" for civilians caught in the battle for Helmand province.

Monetary packages for Afghan civilians or their families covered 951 cases of death, injury or property damage that were believed to have resulted due to erroneous action by British forces. Another 409 claims were dismissed.

Among the settled cases, the smallest payout was $845 to a family whose daughter was killed in a fire following a rocket attack in the Nad-e-Ali district of the southern Helmand province. The highest sum was $7,791 for each victim killed in air strikes involving Hellfire missiles, with the money given to the victims' families.
Canadian ex-gratia payments totalled $243,000 from 2005-08

The average compensation package amounted to $3,116; the median payment was slightly more than $1,558.
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Mayer Brown retained to advise on development of mining industry in Afghanistan
Wednesday, 30 Mar 2011
 Article Link

Leading global law firm Mayer Brown has been appointed by the government of Afghanistan to a group of international advisors charged with expediting international investment in Afghanistan’s mineral sector. The group, sponsored by the US Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, also includes technical advisors SRK Consulting and Canadian firm Heenan Blaikie.
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REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

A young boy asks his father "Dad, where did I get my intelligence from?"

Dad replies "You must have gotten it from your mother, I still have mine."

Offline GAP

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Re: The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread March 2011
« Reply #21 on: March 31, 2011, 12:46:23 »
Articles found March 31, 2011
 
Taliban's nod to girls' education a small, sad step forward
'Positive' developments in Afghanistan ring hollow
By Brian Stewart, CBC News Posted: Mar 30,
 Article Link
 
I always found Afghanistan to be one of those nations so blighted by history and tribalism that even relatively positive news can leave one feeling strangely sad.

For, when you deal with human rights there, you're often trying to ensure gains that, in other parts of the world, might have been impressive around the 17th century. Even after a decade of UN-mandated intervention and development aid, true rights for millions of women and children remain largely a mirage.

Afghanistan has been knocked out of the news in recent weeks by so many other international stories that its latest "positive" developments have not been noticed.

However, over the past week, the Taliban insurgency has actually declared it is now acceptable for girls to go to school and study after all. See what I mean about good news that can leave you feeling a little down?
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`The bread basket of Afghanistan': Canada pours money, effort into irrigation project
 By Keith Gerein, Postmedia News March 30, 2011
 Article Link

ARGHANDAB DISTRICT, Afghanistan - The Arghandab River is barely a trickle as Claude Desilets scrambles down the bank to inspect recent repairs on the Dahla Dam water network - arguably the most important infrastructure project in southern Afghanistan.

Of particular interest are recently installed gates at the diversion weir, a vital control point for the entire irrigation system Canada is spending $50 million to refurbish.

While the river lapping at the gates is currently more reminiscent of a lazy creek, Desilets knows big changes are coming.

``In a week, all of this will be under water,'' he said.

The project field manager notes the traditional agricultural season in Kandahar province is set to begin, at which point the Dahla Dam reservoir 17 kilometres to the north will begin unleashing its contents into the Arghandab.

When the water reaches the diversion weir, the gates will be opened, directing a portion of the flow into a massive web of primary and secondary canals capable of reaching 80 per cent of Kandahar province's population.
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Canadian police chiefs in Afghanistan ahead of training mission
 By Keith Gerein, Postmedia News March 31, 2011
 Article Link
 
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — A group of Canadian police chiefs has just wrapped up a short visit to Afghanistan to help prepare for Canada's upcoming training mission.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said he came to visit some of his officers already in the country, and to learn more about what will be required of police trainers when Canada's combat responsibilities wind down in a few months.

Blair currently has nine officers in Afghanistan, but said he would be open to the possibility of sending more if required.

"At any given time we have approximately 10 officers on the mission here and right now that's the right number," he told reporters at Kandahar Airfield. "I have to tell you I have no shortage of volunteers. If the RCMP came to us and said we need more from you, I think we can increase our contribution."

"We've got great people who want to come but I think we need to look closely at the mission and figure out what skill sets are required to make the greatest contribution."
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REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

A young boy asks his father "Dad, where did I get my intelligence from?"

Dad replies "You must have gotten it from your mother, I still have mine."