Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Urban warfare: "There is no home front. The conflict is not 'over there'."

The real security challenge of the 21st century is centred on terror cells. Today’s front line stretches from the streets of Kabul, to the rail lines in Madrid, to cities across Canada.

Our adversary could be operating in the mountains of Afghanistan, in the cities of Europe, or within our own borders.

There is no home front. The conflict is not ‘over there’. Our approach to Canada’s security and defence must reflect this reality. Merely modernizing Canada’s armed forces on old models will not suffice. We are now in the process of conducting a comprehensive international policy review for the first time in a decade. This review will help us clearly define our interests and articulate our values in the area of foreign and defence policy, aid and trade.
-Prime Minister Paul Martin, addressing troops at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, 2003.

Over the course of the past year and a half, my government issued our country’s first National Security Policy, launched the Canada Corps with its work in Ukraine, led the International Mission for Iraqi Elections, commanded the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and the multinational force in Haiti

The image that captures today’s operational environment for the Canadian Forces is a “three-block-war.” Increasingly, there is overlap in the tasks our personnel are asked to carry out at any one time. Our military could be engaged in combat against well-armed militia in one city block, stabilization operations in the next block, and humanitarian relief and reconstruction two blocks over. Transition from one type of task to the other can happen in the blink of an eye. This ability of the Canadian Forces to wage three-block wars has been amply demonstrated in diverse theatres from Bosnia to Afghanistan. The Government’s reinvestments in the Canadian Forces will ensure that they continue to enjoy a well-earned reputation for versatility in these complex environments
-"Canada's International Policy Statement: A Role of Pride and Influence in the World. Overview", 2005.

It has already been mentioned here that Canadian air force personnel were training with the Israeli Air Force in Cold Lake during 'Operation Maple Flag':

While Major-General Walter Natyncyzk - who just returned from a year with American troops in Iraq - has been tapped to carry out reforms in the Canadian forces modeled after the United States Northern Command, with the regional army, navy and air force units answering to one Canada Command.

The crux behind the reforms is the capacity to face asymmetrical challenges - what the army calls the ability to wage "three-block war" in an urban setting. "Three-block war" is terminology lifted straight from the US Marine Corps' bloody invasion of Fallujah in April 2004. Air power is the backbone of this type of warfare, and no nation on earth uses airpower to enforce occupation more effectively than Israel.
-Jon Elmer, "Good Night Battle of Britain, Good Morning Gaza", 2005.

And here that Canadian ground forces are planning for simulated urban combat in Winnipeg this coming April in 'Exercise Charging Bison':

MORE than 500 army troops, backed by helicopters, armoured vehicles and artillery, will turn downtown Winnipeg into an armed camp as part of a military exercise to train soldiers for the modern battlefield.

Exercise Charging Bison will unfold for seven days and nights beginning April 30 next year in what is believed to be the largest urban warfare training exercise of its kind ever held in Canada.

There won't be live ammunition, but there will be laser weapons and a variety of blanks and 'simunition' -- or simulated munitions -- that make noise and smoke or discharge harmless projectiles.

The drill is designed to simulate the kind of complex conditions soldiers would encounter in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq, where conventional warfare is conducted simultaneously with humanitarian relief operations and nation-building, said Col. Kelly Woiden, commander of 38 Brigade.

Urban battlefields are sometimes known as "three-block wars" because troops could help people on one block, fight insurgents on another, and guard convoys on another, Woiden explained.

"We're going to create a realistic environment of the situation that individual soldiers can face today," he said. "You could be doing humanitarian relief one moment and then fighting a war the next. It is the most complicated terrain for a soldier."
-Winnipeg Free Press, "Army to Occupy Downtown: Spring exercise to turn city into 'battleground'"

These dry-runs are a rehearsal for future missions of 'humanitarian' relief, modelled on such humanitarian military missions as the occupation of Falluja or Gaza. Right now, in Haiti, where Canada has helped engineer a coup and bloody occupation, the government speaks of a mission " to meet the immediate needs of the people of Haiti, including ensuring that humanitarian assistance gets to those most in need; basic health and education needs are met; public order is restored; and human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected." These dry-runs may also be well suited for the occupation and pacification of a Canadian city should the need arise. After all, there is no 'home front' or 'over there'.


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