Thursday, 24 November 2011

Canada's Celebrates Success in Libya - Becomes Controversial

Canada had an elaborate ceremony, on Parliament Hill to honour the Canadian military for its role in freeing the people of Libya from its brutal and psychotic leadership.  On the outset that seems like the decent thing to do and there can be no argument that troops should be recognized for their contribution.  The ceremony became controversial with opposition Members of Parliament, since it was seen as overkill.  This was especially in view of the fact that Canada has lost 158 soldiers in Afghanistan, with several hundred wounded.  The Afghanistan mission has  not been officially been recognized with a ceremony, although Canada ceased its combat mission in July.  There has been no formal recognition for the contributions Canadian troops made in the Balkans, particularly in Bosnia and Croatia.

The ceremony also honoured Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, who was the Commander of the NATO mission.  General Bouchard was awarded he Meritorious Service Cross.

The Prime Minister, with Gouvernor General David Johnson, Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Chief of Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk in attendance, thanked the Canadian troops on the mission and hailed the mission a success.

“It is a day to pay tribute to the extraordinary men and women of our Armed Forces who played their part. And yes, it is a day to honour the great Canadian who led them. 

The prime minister said Gadhafi's harsh and violent response to the uprising was "an invitation to genocide" and that is why Canada joined its NATO allies to support the United Nations-backed response.
He said Canada will always defend what is right. "For we believe that in a world where people look for hope and cry out for freedom, those who talk the talk of human rights must from time to time be prepared to likewise walk the walk," said Harper.
A 21-gun salute and a flypast over Parliament Hill kicked off the morning's event before it began in the Senate chamber.
The flypast involved seven CF-18 fighter jets, a Sea King helicopter, an Airbus and a Globemaster aircraft, and was meant to pay tribute to the aviation support provided by the Canadian Forces in the Libyan mission.  CBC

While everyone recognizes the contributions made by Canadian troops in many theatres around the world, espcially in Afghanistan and and Bosnia, during the past two decades, it seems odd that there would be a "Mission Accomplished" moment for Libya.

Many would argue that Libya is far from a success.  Yes Gaddafi is dead, Saif al-Islam and the former Intelligence Chief are in custody and the National Transitional Council (NTC) is attempting to establish governance in a destroyed land.  Infrastructure needs to be rebuild and there are daily reports of revenge acts. The UN has pointed to human rights abuses by the Rebels on former Gadaffi loyalists.   Even the death of Gaddafi is being questioned.

The troops that did the heavy lifting in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan would like to see some recognition come their way, as would the troops involved in the fighting in the Medak Pocket in the former Yugoslavia, including those held up in the Sarajevo airport, while the Serbs put Sarajevo under siege.

It seems appropriate that the same courtesy of recognition would  be afforded them.  When the issue was addressed on CBC's Power and Politics, Parliamentary Secretary Chris Alexander, rightly said that the Canadian Forces went through a decade of darkness when a Liberal government was in power.  However, when asked about Bosnia he was dismissive and said it wasn't a combat mission.  Technically he was correct, but only technically.  Perhaps Mr. Alexander should read Carol Off's book "The Ghost of Medak Pocket" and then come back and tell his audience it wasn't combat. 

Major General Lewis MaKenzie's account in" Peacekeeper The Road to Sarajevo" gives you an idea what it was like in Bosnia during the time of the UN  mandate.  We won't talk about the Chain of Command problems with the UN Operation Centre in New York, but it wasn't pretty.  Yes Mr. Alexander it wasn't combat, but it sure smelled like it.

We could also talk about the Somalia Affair, where the whole Canadian Airborne Regiment was disgraced and then disbanded over a couple of bad apples.  That, however, was the Liberal Governments and the media's doing. 

The point of all this is that each and every Veteran deserved to b honoured.  The Canadian Forces did a superb job, dropping more than 600 bombs on Libyan targets and Canada had a big part of removing Gaddafi.  Lieutenant General commanded NATO and did the strategic planning for the mission and was the front man for criticism directed at NATO.  He did an outstanding job and deserves to be recognized.

While the military mission has ended, let there be no doubt that a lot of work remains to be done and the mission is a long way from being accomplished.  Canada needs to recognize all Veterans and not just on Red Friday as the Defence Minister suggests, but in a formal ceremony.  It is high time that those that sacrificed life and limb in Afghanistan be recognized.   Lest we Forget.

1 comment:

  1. I think this is disgraceful after all our Miltary has fought more battles before the Libya Mission and have never been given any recognition for their lost of lives , limbs, sight or hearing. What kind of government could be so cruel?