Several items today:
- Five Afghan soldiers and three Canadians killed by roadside bomb today. The Canadians say the blast occurred in the Panjwai district outside Kandahar, while a Taliban spokesperson says it was carried out in Helmand Province. There were at least three other bombings targeting Afghan police (in Khost), private foreign security firms (in Zabul), and a civilian in Ghazni Province. Meanwhile, Afghan villagers are outraged after "the Americans" raided a home in Kandahar city, blasting their way in with a grenade and killing a 20-year old named Zadan ""If they kill one of ours... ten will stand up against them," said his brother.
- We also learn from the CP that the Canadian Forces engaged in a four-hour battle with the Taliban in the Zhari District of Kandahar Province, which ended with 15 Taliban killed when, " Eventually three kinds of aircraft were called in for support." "Support" is the sanitized military term used to denote "bombing," or "strafing." The CP further reports that the Afghan National Army (ANA) "led the operation with tank support from the Canadians and air support from two fixed-wing aircraft, an F15 and an A10, as well as an attack helicopter." According to the latest Air Power Summary for June 18th, there were 59 of these "close air support missions" in Afghanistan. The F-15s "dropped guided bomb unit-38s, 39s, and GBU-12s on multiple Taliban firing positions," while the A10s "provided shows of force."
- Elsewhere, General Dynamics in London, Ontario is awarded a $20 million contract by the U.S. Army for "Mine Protected Vehicles" that "have proven to be highly effective against mines, improvised explosive devices and ballistic threats encountered by U.S. and allied forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan."
- Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier and "the entire command of the mission" were in Afghanistan last weekend, where they conducted "secretive meetings" in order "to devise a strategy for the months ahead." Reporters knew about the top level meetings at Kandahar Airfiled (calling into question how "secretive" they really were) but were instructed by military officials not to report on them until after the meetings had concluded.
- A furor over the 'support the troops' movement's bid to keep yellow ribbons on fire trucks and ambulances in Toronto is grabbing top headlines across the country. Front page articles in the Globe & Mail and National Post, featured by the CBC, while the Toronto Star has sought reader feedback on the question. This debate is emerging only days after the CP leaked "that military officials are planning a major public relations blitz to shore up public support." City councilors vote today on a resolution that could lock in the measure, which many feel make the city "appear supportive of the controversial war in Afghanistan."
- Canadians having to cope with a deluge of war propaganda are not alone. A couple of articles by Tom Hyland in Australia's The Age earlier this month indicate that the AUSCANNZUKUS alliance is unified in relegating the 'war for the public mind' to the foremost levels of importance. The most recent, "Army aims for hearts, minds on home front," describes a report by Australian army Major Michael Harris:
See Hyland's earlier, "Theatre of War." It provides more and context about Australia's brand of PR war, which, as one Aussie professor concludes, "verges on propaganda."
While the Australian Defence Force insists it sticks to a non-political ethos, the report shows army public relations tactics risk straying into political territory.
It reveals how the ADF used press releases and pictures from al-Muthanna province as "strategic shaping tools" in the battle for public support — in Iraq and Australia.
While winning hearts and minds of Iraqis is a standard counter-insurgency tactic, the report shows the army also takes account of the "Australian domestic political backdrop".