Canada takes command of naval task force
Commodore Bob Davidson took over command of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 in June during a ceremony held aboard the French Navy replenishment ship and flagship Marne.

Davidson, whose flagship is the destroyer HMCS Iroquois, replaces Rear Admiral Jean-Louis Kerignard of France as part of a standard four-month rotational tour of duty.

“Leading CTF 150 allows Canada to bring influence and a Canadian perspective into the global maritime environment,” Davidson said in a statement. “The mission requires that we build relationships with coalition members and regional nations – relationships that are based on mutual understanding, cooperation and trust.”

Part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the task force is a multinational coalition fleet conducting maritime security operations in and around the Persian Gulf, the northern Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Oman, the Gulf of Aden, and parts of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. It consists of 10 to 15 warships from a range of nations, including Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the U.S. and Canada, which is deployed under Operation Altair.

The Canadian contingent includes HMCS Iroquois, the multi-purpose frigate HMCS Calgary and the replenishment ship HMCS Protecteur. During the previous four months, the CTF fleet conducted several major terrorism-related drug interdictions and recovered the French yacht Le Ponnant from pirates.

Afghanistan: the new Switzerland?
Afghanistan may no longer pose the same sort of threat to the international community that it did less than a decade ago, but the war-ravaged country requires a compact with its regional neighbours to stand on its own, says Ambassador Karl Inderfurth.

History suggests Afghanistan’s predatory neighbours have often been the instigators of its many conflicts – prompting fierce resistance in return – and, with almost all now engaged there today, a regional compact addressing political, economic and security concerns is needed to ensure its long-term stability.

A professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, Inderfurth served as US assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs from 1997 to 2001. In a presentation to the Centre for International Policy Studies in Ottawa in late May, he suggested Switzerland as a possible model for Afghanistan’s future status.

The Taliban, he noted, are a special type of threat capable of turning the south into a “no development zone,” though they may never win a single fight. “Afghanistan and Pakistan are inextricably linked,” he said, and without Pakistan, there is no solution to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Likewise, Iran, which has supplied arms to the Taliban, and India must also be part of any solution.

Inderfurth, who served as U.S. Representative for Special Political Affairs to the United Nations, said the UN should convene an multilateral conference, perhaps under the auspices of newly appointed UN envoy for Afghanistan, Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide, that would include the neighbours and other major powers.

The compact would aim to finalize Afghanistan’s borders with Pakistan – the Durand Line of 1893 remains in dispute – recognize the country as a permanently neutral state, and remove barriers to trade to establish a wider, regional commercial network. Such an arrangement could also provide the basis for withdrawal of NATO and coalition forces.

“We still have time to get Afghanistan right,” Inderfurth said, referring to U.S. abandonment of the country after the Soviets withdrew. But without the will of the international community, “we will fail again and we will pay a high price.”

Campaign struck to aid ailing veterans
Canada’s veterans ombudsman has launched a national campaign to identify former service personnel suffering because of lack of access to appropriate services.

Colonel (ret) Pat Stogran announced the “Leave Nobody Behind” campaign at a Legion branch in Charlottetown in June, calling on military and RCMP veterans and their families to help identify those “suffering in silence” who have not sought, or been unable to find, assistance for health or other problems.

“We don’t leave our wounded on the battlefield, so injured veterans should not be left to care for themselves,” he said in a statement. More information is available at

Rouleau named vice chief
Rear-Admiral Denis Rouleau was named Vice Chief of Defence Staff in June, and promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral.

Rouleau, who most recently served as Chief of Programme at National Defence Headquarters, replaces General Walt Natynczyk, now the CDS. The VCDS directs and coordinates activity to deliver departmental policy and strategic objectives, and reports to both the CDS and the deputy minister.

A graduate of the Royal Military College, he has served as executive officer of HMCS Skeena, commander of HMCS Athabaskan, and commander of the Fifth Maritime Operational Group. More recently, he served as deputy fleet commander in Halifax and commander of the Multi-National Standing NATO Maritime Group 1.

Ottawa initiates steps against Zimbabwe
With much of the western world clamouring for action against the government of Robert Mugabe, Ottawa announced “initial” measures to restrict its relationship following what it called the “illegitimate and illegal actions” of the Zimbabwean government in the June 27 election.

David Emerson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said Canada would impose travel restrictions for work and study on senior Zimbabwean government, military and police officials. It also confirmed a long-standing policy against exporting military goods to Zimbabwe, and will refuse to allow any aircraft registered in Zimbabwe to land in, or to fly over, Canada. The government also encouraged companies to voluntarily divest from the country.

“The Government of Zimbabwe’s systematic use of violence and intimidation represents a grave violation of human rights and democratic principles,” Emerson said in a statement. “The citizens of Zimbabwe have been denied the opportunity to shape their future through free and fair elections, and they remain in constant danger of intimidation, injury and loss of life. Canada does not consider the result of the June 27 election to be, by any reasonable standard of democracy, a credible outcome.”

Ottawa said it would work with its G8 partners, among others, to “ensure a concerted international approach to dealing with the flagrant abuse of the democratic process in Zimbabwe.” The G8, following its meeting in Japan in July, warned of financial measures. Much of the international effort to date, however, has been widely panned.

Seeking dam builders
With $50 million set aside over the next three years, the federal government is seeking bids from Canadian-based companies to lead repairs on the Dahla Dam in Kandahar province.

Located on the Arghandab River, the dam is the second largest in Afghanistan and is considered the most vital piece of agriculture infrastructure in the province.

After years of civil war and neglect, its capacity to control the flow of water to surrounding districts has decreased significantly, effecting crop production and irrigation capacity.

“Kandahar was once famous for its agricultural production and a reliable supply of water for irrigation is essential to restoring a stable economy in this region,” said Ismail Khan, Afghanistan’s Minister of Energy and Water.

The request for proposals calls for repairs to the dam, including replacing generators and repairing water valves to improve the control of water flow; fixing gates to control the flow of water from the Arghandab River into the canal system; repairs to the canals; and support for agricultural development to help improve local water resource management and training on new crop production techniques.

The project is expected to create up to 10,000 seasonal jobs for local Afghans and provide farmers with 10,000 hectares of irrigated land. The dam is one of three Canadian signature projects announced earlier this year. More information is available at