IN THE NEWS

IN THE NEWS

Sep 01, 2021

Since regaining control of Afghanistan, the Taliban have sought to portray a more moderate image than when they last were in power, insisting that they will grant universal amnesty. However, there is mounting evidence that the reality is grim, that Taliban fighters are reported to be searching for and murdering former opponents.

Aug 31, 2021

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau confirmed today that an estimated 1,250 Canadian citizens, permanent residents and families remain in Afghanistan. “The main thing that we needed to figure out was how many . . . were able to get out on some of our allies’ flights,” he said.

Aug 31, 2021

The Taliban pledged anew today to bring peace and security to Afghanistan but it’s wait-and-see for ordinary Afghans, notably the many who worked with allied forces during the 20-year war. “Afghanistan is finally free,” a senior Taliban official said, urging people to return to work and reiterating a promise of amnesty. “Everything is peaceful. Everything is safe.”

Aug 31, 2021

L3Harris Technologies reports that its Airborne Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare System, a Bombardier Global 600/6500 business jet, has flown for the first time only six months after the green aircraft was delivered. L3Harris says the U.S. Army technology demonstrator can fly above 40,000 feet for up to 14 hours.

Aug 31, 2021

A Royal Air Force plan to retire its Lockheed Martin C-130 transports remains on track after its new Embraer A400s proved their worth in the Afghanistan evacuation. “It flies much higher and much faster and carries a greater payload,” says Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston. “As every month goes by, my confidence in that decision increases.”

Aug 31, 2021

Naval task groups from Australia, Britain, India, Japan and the U.S. are deploying in the Indo-Pacific region for a series of exercises this fall.

Aug 31, 2021

The Pentagon says it can't yet dispute claims that a drone strike on a suspected suicide bomber near Kabul airport on the weekend killed a number of civilians, including 10 members of one family. The U.S. says it had targeted a vehicle carrying at least one person associated with ISIS but and that “significant secondary explosions” may have been responsible for the civilian casualties.

Aug 30, 2021

The last U.S. military transport flew out of Afghanistan today, marking the end of a two-decade war which began with the ouster of the Taliban only to see them eventually return to retake the country.

Aug 30, 2021

The day after Canada shut down its Afghanistan evacuation mission, Ukrainian troops, coordinated by their government and The Globe and Mail, managed to get Afghan translators and their families out of Kabul airport. Canada has asked Ukraine whether it is willing to transport other Canada-bound refugees to Kyiv for processing.

Aug 30, 2021

Despite the deaths of thousands of its members since the Taliban was ousted from Afghanistan two decades ago, its territorial control and military strength has clearly rebounded with the U.S. estimating that the group had as many as 100,000 fighters by mid-2021. This evidently has been made possible by its in-country financial activities as well as sundry foreign sources, to the point where the BBC says it could amount to the equivalent of nearly $2 billion a year.

Aug 30, 2021

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau has conceded that criticism of Canada’s Afghanistan evacuation effort is “fair enough.” However, he said Aug. 29, “nobody anticipated the speed with which the Taliban would take over the country, including probably the Taliban themselves, and how quickly the Afghan National Army would either surrender or flee.”

Aug 30, 2021

The U.S. has announced that together with Canada and 96 other countries, it has struck a deal with the Taliban which enables them to continue evacuating their citizens and allies from Afghanistan. “We are all committed to ensuring that our citizens, nationals and residents, employees, Afghans who have worked with us and those who are at risk can continue to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan,” it said in an Aug. 29 statement. “We will continue issuing travel documentation to designated Afghans, and we have the clear expectation of and commitment from the Taliban that they can travel to our respective countries.”

Aug 30, 2021

The International Atomic Energy Agency says North Korea appears to have restarted a reactor believed to have been used to produce plutonium. “Since early July 2021, there have been indications, including the discharge of cooling water, consistent with the operation,” the agency says. David Albright, president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security estimates the country could build at least four weapons a year.

Aug 30, 2021

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has told his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, that the international community should engage with the Taliban to “positively guide them as they take power in Afghanistan. “While respecting the sovereignty of Afghanistan, the U.S. should take concrete action to help Afghanistan fight terrorism and stop violence, rather than playing double standards or fighting terrorism selectively,” he said after his phone call with Blinken.

Aug 30, 2021

The U.S. used missiles from a drone to kill two Islamic State members in the group’s eastern stronghold in Afghanistan. The weekend attack came as the U.S. said there were indications that that the militants were planning another strike against Kabul airport. “They were ISIS-K planners and facilitators.” A Pentagon official confirmed. “We have the ability and the means to carry over the horizon counterterrorism capabilities and we’re going to defend ourselves.’’

Aug 27, 2021

The U.S. Defense Department said today that a single suicide bomber, not two as originally reported, was responsible for the deaths of 13 service personnel and dozens of civilians at Kabul airport Aug. 27. The bomber detonated a vest “right at or around” one of three gates where crowds of Afghans had been waiting to be evacuated. Army MGen Hank Taylor, the Joint Staff’s deputy director for regional operations, said “it’s not any surprise that in the confusion of very dynamic events like this can cause information sometimes to be misreported or garbled.”

Aug 27, 2021

Having ordered five Boeing P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft in 2017, the Royal Norwegian Air Force will begin deploying them in the Arctic next year after successful testing earlier this month. A variant of the popular 737 civilian platform, they will replace six Lockheed Martin P-3C/N Orions and two Dassault Falcons.

Aug 27, 2021

Canada secured 500 seats for Afghan evacuees on a U.S. flight out of Kabul Aug. 26, bringing its total to more than 3,700 but leaving an undermined number of applicants behind. Confirming the latest development, Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino said today that Canada is “working with other regional partners to establish air bridges beyond the Aug. 31 timeline within which the coalition will withdraw and by, yes, looking at other ways to get them to third countries.”

Aug 27, 2021

Despite concern about the possibility of more attacks at Kabul airport, evacuation flights from Afghanistan resumed with new urgency today. Against a backdrop of departing aircraft, dozens of Taliban with heavy weapons patrolled the area just outside the airport.

Aug 27, 2021

President Joe Biden has vowed to make the Islamist terrorists behind the Aug. 27 twin suicide bombings at Kabul airport, an attack that killed 13 U.S. military personnel and dozens of civilians. As of today, the death toll is understood to have topped 100 with more expected. “We will not forget,” Biden said. “We will hunt you down and make you pay.” and “I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command.”

Aug 27, 2021

The terrorist group behind the suicide bombings outside Kabul airport, the Islamic State-Khorasan, is an offshoot of the IS terrorist group which has murdered foreign journalists and brutalize Kurds in Iraq and Syria. “This attack will look bad to the West, but it makes the Taliban look as if they are not in control of their own environment,” says Raffaello Pantucci, senior fellow at the Singapore-based International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research.

Aug 27, 2021

Khalil Ur-Rahman Haqqani, the self-proclaimed chief of security for the Taliban in Kabul, was designated a terrorist by the U.S. 10 years ago and is still subject to a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture. His assurances that “we can provide safety to the Afghan people” are being called into question and Taliban leaders have conceded that their forces blundered by releasing prisoners, including IS commanders and others who now are regrouping.

Aug 27, 2021

A European Union-U.S. plan to facilitate cross-border deployments of military hardware within Europe has ground to a halt as talks continue about non-EU participants, including Canada, Norway and the U.S.

Aug 27, 2021

Subject to further supplier negotiation and congressional ratification, the U.S. State Department has approved a $258-million sale of precision-guided weapons to South Korea. The U.S. currently controls their use but that authority is due to be transferred.

Aug 26, 2021

Twelve U.S. military personnel are among the dozens of casualties of today’s twin suicide bombings outside Kabul airport where thousands of Afghans are still seeking evacuation before next Tuesday’s U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

Aug 26, 2021

Authorities at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, home to key U.S. nuclear weapons programs, are fed up with unmanned aircraft systems’ incursions into its restricted airspace in recent months. “We can detect and track a UAS and if it poses a threat, we have the ability to disrupt control of the system, seize or exercise control, confiscate or use reasonable force to disable, damage or destroy the UAS,” said the facility’s director of security.

Aug 26, 2021

The Chinese foreign ministry says it has established an “open and effective communication and consultation with the Afghan Taliban” following a meeting in Kabul. Without going into detail, a ministry official said it would be an “important platform and channel for both sides to discuss important matters of all kinds” and China would keep its Kabul embassy open.

Aug 26, 2021

More than 500 persons were evacuated from Kabul Aug. 25 by four Russian military aircraft, a political shift from a few days earlier when its ambassador to Afghanistan had lauded the Taliban’s conduct. In addition to Russians, the evacuation also involved citizens of Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.

Aug 26, 2021

A trio of Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bombers have been flown from Missouri to Icelanden route to an international training exercise across Europe and Africa. “Regularly cooperating bomber activities with allies and partners helps us better address challenges in today’s complex global security environment,” says Gen Jeffrey Harrigian, the commander of USAF Europe and Africa.

Aug 26, 2021

Faced with an increasingly complex and potentially dangerous buildup of Afghans seeking evacuation from Kabul airport earlier this week, as well as the Taliban’s murder of some of their colleagues, 12 NATO-trained pilots and an aircrew chief commandeered a militarized single-engine Cessna Caravan for their own escape to neighbouring Tajikistan.

Aug 26, 2021

The U.S. Navy’s controversial Littoral Combat Ships, designed for coastal operations, are seen either as a symbol of misguided military procurement or a key asset in the disputed South China Sea. Vice-President Kamala Harris’ presence on one of the corvette-size ships earlier this week highlighted “the long-standing U.S. Indo-Pacific history and said its continued presence helps to guarantee peace and security, freedom of trade and commerce, freedom of navigation . . . and the rules-based international order.”

Aug 26, 2021

Russian officials say that at least 13 people are dead and more than a dozen others injured after two suicide bombings at Kabul airport today. The killings come a day after U.S. agencies had warned of unspecified “security threats.”

Aug 26, 2021

The acting Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen Wayne Ayre, confirmed today that Canada’s Afghanistan evacuation mission has ended after the rescue of more than 3,700 people from Taliban-controlled Kabul. Other government officials said that two-thirds of evacuation applications representing 8,000 people had been processed but that “at this time no further evacuation flights are planned.”

Aug 26, 2021

Iran and its Gulf state enemies have been invited to a meeting in Baghdad by the government of Iraq, which hopes to ease tensions which have brought them close to open conflict in recent years. Iraqi officials say the meeting also would discuss the war in Yemen, Lebanon’s collapse and a regional water supply crisis.

Aug 25, 2021

Several hundred new Colt Canada C6A1 FLEX general purpose machine guns have been returned to the company for repairs after the Army found defects. They are part of two procurements totalling $129 million.

Aug 25, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Aug. 25 that Canada would remain in Afghanistan beyond the Aug. 31 withdrawal of U.S. troops in a bid to evacuate more Canadians and Afghans “if it’s at all possible” because of the security situation. The Taliban have refused to agree to an extension of next Tuesday’s deadline.

Aug 25, 2021

Despite entreaties during a virtual G7 summit hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnston Aug. 24, President Joe Biden would not back down from his commitment to have all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by next Tuesday. It means that Canada and other allies continue frantic efforts to evacuate their own citizens and Afghan supporters before the Taliban shut down Kabul airport.

Aug 24, 2021

U.S. military personnel not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 risk administrative or legal action if they do not get their shots. “A timeline for vaccination completion will be provided in the coming days,” a Pentagon spokesman confirmed Aug. 23. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had said earlier that he wanted emergency presidential approval but that has been overtaken by Food and Drug Administration approval of the Pfizer vaccine.

Aug 24, 2021

China was accused by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris today of using coercion and intimidation to support its territorial claims in the South China Sea. During a seven-day trip to Singapore and Vietnam, she said the U.S. vision for the region is built on human rights and a rules-based international order and offered to host a 2023 meeting of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

Aug 24, 2021

Norway, which has a 196-kilometre border with Russia, has updated a security agreement to strengthen protocols for avoiding high-risk air and sea encounters in the far North where both countries have stepped up their military activities. The update also applies to “prohibited actions” by private and commercial operators.

Aug 24, 2021

At a virtual G7 summit today, the U.S. is expected to be pressed by its allies to extend its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan beyond Aug. 31. The country's ballooning refugee crisis and the collapse of its government has sparked widespread criticism of the ongoing evacuation process.

Aug 24, 2021

Aug. 23 saw the commencement of a renewed modernization of the Russian navy, including proposed construction of more nuclear and conventional submarines and other vessels. “We will continue to boost the potential of the Russian Navy, develop its bases and infrastructure, arm it with state-of-the-art weapons,” President Vladimir Putin said. “A strong and sovereign Russia needs a powerful and well-balanced navy.”

Aug 24, 2021

The largest overseas U.S. American military community is accommodating nearly 7,000 Afghan evacuees in an increasingly crowded tent city. Ramstein personnel and thousands of volunteers are building shelters and securing provisions to provide 30,000 meals daily as the German base nearly doubled capacity over the weekend.

Aug 23, 2021

A declassified intelligence report says far-right extremists are “actively recruiting” past and present members of the Canadian military and police. Six of 17 situations reviewed in several countries involved Canadians cases in which “xenophobic and anti-government/anti-authority violent extremist groups openly recruit current and former military and law enforcement personnel.”

Aug 23, 2021

After Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan was a political reality which must be accommodated, his ambassador in Kabul, Dmitry Zhirnov, who met with a Taliban representative within 48 hours of the capital being overrun, said he had seen no signs of violence or reprisals. Meanwhile, UN envoy Vassily Nebenzia spoke of national reconciliation and an end to “many years of bloodshed.”

Aug 23, 2021

As of Aug. 22, the Canadian military had evacuated more than 1,100 people out of Afghanistan this month and 40 families evacuated before the Taliban push into Kabul have completed their COVID-19 quarantine periods here. “We have seen 12 flights out,” said Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendecino. “That is remarkable work on the part of our armed forces.”

Aug 23, 2021

As western forces continued to work today on evacuating their remaining diplomatic and other personnel as well as Afghan supporters, Afghan guards exchanged fire with unidentified gunmen at Kabul airport. It’s reported that a sniper outside the airport had fired at Afghan guards and that U.S. and German troops were involved in the response but NATO officials say the situation was soon under control.

Aug 23, 2021

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says Canadian special forces in Afghanistan have been given the “flexibility” to help get Canadians, Afghan interpreters and support staff to Kabul airport for evacuation. The U.S. has refused to deploy troops outside the airport but British and French special forces have carried out rescues in Kabul.

Aug 20, 2021

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino has broached the possibility of Canada taking Afghan refugees on behalf of its allies if asked to do so. “We should keep the door open to all possibilities,” he said today. ““If there were Afghans who had assisted coalition partners during the mission that also met the criteria for our humanitarian resettlement program, I think we should be prepared to consider such an arrangement.”

Aug 20, 2021

The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has called for the Director of National Intelligence to assess the GPS’s vulnerability to hostile interests. A law enacted in 2018 was not acted on by the previous administration and now it’s President Joe Biden’s opportunity to act – but the challenge isn’t without its difficulties.

Aug 20, 2021

A British university researcher says the US military’s transportation and operational network gives it one of the largest “carbon bootprints” in the world, outranking many medium-sized countries. “Its fuel usage alone would make it the 47th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, sitting between Peru and Portugal,” says Benjamin Neimark, a senior lecturer at Lancaster University’s environmental centre.

Aug 20, 2021

Organizers of the annual Halifax International Security Forum say the federal government has not acted on a unanimous House of Commons motion of financial support. Scheduled for late November, the forum is seen as a highly productive platform for discussing pressing global issues.

Aug 20, 2021

The mission to evacuate U.S. citizens, third-country nationals and vulnerable Afghans as the Taliban tighten their grip is ramping up. U.S. officials say that while they could handle up to 9,000 evacuees daily, the average has been around 2,000, the flow evidently blocked at Taliban checkpoints.

Aug 20, 2021

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it could be “almost impossible” to evacuate most Afghans who worked with Canada's military mission because the Taliban is blocking the effort. It’s reported that at least 1,500 Afghan interpreters with up to 5,000 dependents are on a waiting list for Canadian visas.

Aug 20, 2021

The Taliban’s behaviour since taking control of most of Afghanistan belies its earlier messaging that there would be “no revenge” against military members and others who worked with the NATO alliance. The Islamist militants have been doing door-to-door searches and a Norwegian analyst who advises the UN says “there are a high number of individuals that are currently being targeted by the Taliban and the threat is crystal clear.”

Aug 19, 2021

Chinese ships, fighters and anti-submarine aircraft conducted assault drills near Taiwanese waters this week, an exercise it said was critical to Chinese sovereignty after the U.S. and Taiwan conducted exercises. Chinese state media said the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was an “ill omen” for Taiwan, which has said it is prepared to respond appropriately to China’s tactics.

Aug 19, 2021

Hindustan Aeronautics has signed a $716-million contract with GE Aviation for 99 engines and support services for India’s domestically developed Tejas light combat aircraft. Delivery is expected to be completed by 2029 for the 83 fighters ordered earlier this year by the Indian Air Force.

Aug 19, 2021

Northrop Grumman has dropped out of a U.S. Army project to build a laser weapon system for short-range air defence. The force’s head of directed energy projects explained in a statement that the company had been unable to meet contract criteria.

Aug 19, 2021

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin have confirmed that their governments will cooperate on modernizing NORAD. They said in a joint statement that the upgrade will include new sensing and command and control capabilities to protect the continent from new ballistic missile threats.

Aug 19, 2021

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has promised that two of the RCAF’s five CC-177 Boeing Globemaster III transports are set to resume “flying regularly” into Kabul as part of the international effort to evacuate civilians and citizens. Details are vague but he said “flights to and from Hamid Karzai International Airport will resume shortly.”

Aug 19, 2021

U.S. troops could remain in Afghanistan past the end of this month to evacuate all Americans who wish to leave. He said in a televised interview that the Taliban are “cooperating, letting American citizens get out” but there are still difficulties in evacuating Afghans “who helped us when we were in there.”

Aug 19, 2021

The court-martial of USAF Gen William Cooley on a charge of sexual assault is the first time in the service’s history that an officer of that rank has been prosecuted for such conduct. The former head of USAF research is alleged to have groped a civilian employee in 2018, which he has denied.

Aug 18, 2021

The U.S. Transportation Security Agency today said it would continue to require employees and passengers on airlines and other public transport to continue wearing masks against CVOVID-19 for at least five more months. The current order was scheduled to expire Sept. 13. The Federal Aviation Administration reported Aug. 17 that of 3,889 incidents with unruly airline passengers so far this year, 74 per cent involve mask refusals.

Aug 18, 2021

Army Bombardier Chelsea Cogswell was convicted today by a court martial in New Brunswick of giving cannabis-laced cupcakes to troops on a live-fire training exercise three years ago. Convicted on eight counts of administering a noxious substance and one count of behaving in a disgraceful manner, she faces up to five years imprisonment when she is sentenced Nov. 16.

Aug 18, 2021

MGen Dany Fortin, who coordinated the federal COVID-19 logistics until he was dismissed in May in response to alleged sexual misconduct 32 years ago, was charged today with one count but neither he nor his counsel were provided with information on the nature of any evidence against him. “I've been forced to read much about me in the media with no ability or outlet to defend my name,” Fortin said.

Aug 18, 2021

Efforts to evacuate Canadian expatriates and Afghan support staff are being hampered by Taliban checkpoints in Kabul as well as what are described as unreasonable requests for exit documents. Some 800 former translators and others who worked for Canada, as well as an unknown number of Canadians, are said to be in hiding, uncertain how they can get to the airport.

Aug 18, 2021

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Aug. 17 that a failure of Afghan leadership in combination with alliance training efforts, were responsible for the collapse of the country’s military defences against the Taliban. “What we have seen in the last few weeks was a military and political collapse at a speed which had not been anticipated,” he said after a meeting of NATO ambassadors.

Aug 18, 2021

Quebec prosecutors confirmed late Aug. 17 that MGen Dany Fortin has been charged with one count of sexual assault dating from early 1988. Fortin, who had overseen the federal COVID-19 logistics effort until the allegation became public in May, denies any wrongdoing.

Aug 17, 2021

Virginia-based General Dynamics Mission Systems, which has a Canadian subsidiary, has opened a new unmanned underwater vehicle manufacturing facility in Massachusetts. GDMS is working its way through five naval systems which include, among other things, pairs of UUVs, launch and recovery equipment, and command-and-control gear.

Aug 17, 2021

Built and trained at cost of $83 billion to the U.S. over two decades, Afghan security forces collapsed quickly in front of the Taliban offensive. The result was that the resurgents grabbed not only political control but also hurriedly-abandoned U.S. Aircraft, vehicles, weapons and ammunition.

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