Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Some people just make one retch (see final paragraph):
Garth Turner accuses Canadian military of pursuing the destruction of Afghan villages
Thank you, Steve Janke.

Update: And thank you Babbling for your comment. Read it everyone to see ignorance exposed.

Upperdate: A letter sent to Mr Turner (copied to me and posted with permission):
Garth Turner

You imply that the Canadian Artillery's sole purpose is blowing up villages in Afghanistan. "These are contradictory times," said Turner at the conclusion of the meeting. "We don't have funding for youth centres but we do have $150,000 for every shell bought for the sole purpose of destroying a village in Afghanistan. We could buy each Afghan a condominium with that money," he added.

I read into that implication that Canadian soldiers, as far as you are concerned, target the civillians who inhabit those villages randomly and do nothing to assist the Afghan people.

I served as an Infantryman for 12 years and find your statement offensive. You are a politician of convenience and could not keep company with the men and women of our Armed Forces because you lack what they have an excess of - courage, dignity and pride in this country.

For an M.P. who is an Associate Member of the National Defence, Foreign Affairs and International Development and Veterans Affairs Committees your comments show a woeful disrespect to the work being done by our soldiers.

The honour of our country is being enhanced by our soldiers and Canadians like them who go where they are needed, to do a job that must be done. Your attempt to cheapen what they do shows me a sound-bite politician who gets his news and views form the television.

Thank God for the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces because if we had to rely on people like you this country would amount to nothing.


Alan Griffin
There's another similar message here, with Mr Turner's response.

Babbler's Update: For the record, Turner's responded...

The words you refer to were taken out of context from a newspaper report and interpreted and embellished by a political opponent.

He also states:

Actually, my words were a little different, and the village part was suspect, but the reporter was close enough in his coverage that I didn’t bother correcting him. The shells in question, as I described to the group, are GPS-guided munitions which our forces are using to destroy Taliban positions. They do cost $150,000 each, compared with about $2,000 for a conventional round. I’m told that for the additional cost, the accuracy of strikes is improved by about two dozen meters from a range of up to 20 kilometres. I used this ammunition as an example of what our group had spent two hours discussing – the priorities governments face when allocating limited resources. Maybe it was a bad example. Maybe it was a good one. But I used it. And would again.

I could nitpick the range, but I won't...OK, I have to: it's almost 25kms with unguided unassisted shells, over 30kms with MACS, and close to 40kms with Excalibur/MACS. The gunners in the audience could probably do better than that, but it's a close enough ballparking - or airbursting?

Anyhow, if Garth was looking to make a point about allocation of resources, I could see what he was trying to get at. The fact that he'd use this particular example again isn't a sign of good judgment, though. The Excalibur shells save lives - Afghan and Canadian - and may well be the most cost-effective solution in the situations in which they're employed. Remember, you don't use an Excalibur for an airburst over unprotected insurgent trenches (like, say, a series of irrigation ditches in a pot-field in Panjwayi) at 20kms range. You just don't need the added degree of accuracy for that shot. But when you do need it, it's good to have the right tool in your toolbox.

Put another way, if you think $150K per shell is expensive, try figuring out the cost of CAS for our troops, or the price of repairing half the houses in a village instead of taking out just the one with a high-precision shot. Even worse, try figuring out the cost of an Afghan family's life, or the life of a Canadian soldier who was relying on pinpoint indirect fire. This isn't an argument Garth wants to get into, believe me.

If he was misquoted, he should come out and say so. But I don't know how to "context" the offence out of this line: "We don’t have funding for youth centres but we do have $150,000 for every shell bought for the sole purpose of destroying a village in Afghanistan." [Babbler's emphasis]

Unless he didn't actually say those words, he needs to apologize for them. And if he didn't say them, he should be demanding an apology from the paper that said he did.

Uppestate: More from John Turley-Ewart at his National Post blog.

Uppesterdate: Steve Janke does further research, discovers that Mr Turner got the sex of the reporter wrong, and raises an interesting question.

Uppestestdate: More from Mr Janke: Garthman now says the CF are trying to "blow up" only "Taliban" villages. Very accurate guns with expensive shells are hardly needed for that purpose, Mr Turner--in any case a purpose the CF do not have. Re-retch.

Tape update: Garthman's own words; you be the judge:
As you know we live in a time that is complex and is contradictory. You know our country is at war. Our country is spending $150,000 on every artillery shell that we’re shooting in Afghanistan. Those artillery shells have GPS. They’ve got computers in the tips of them. And those computers fulfill no function but to guide that shell from our Canadian Army howitzers into villages to kill people. I mean that’s a reality.
To my mind the reality is that using such accurate shells is intended to avoid killing villagers in general--something on might infer from the quote--but rather only the bad guys. And I am sure the shells are fired at targets other than those in villages. Moreover, hardly "every artillery shell" we fire in Afstan is an Excalibur. Some reality, Garthman.


Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

That's even more clueless than Janke realizes.

The shells Turner is referring to are the Excalibur 155mm precision munitions discussed all over the place around here - use the search function at the top of the blog if you want to read up.

The reason we've bought them is so that we can take an indirect fire system (the M777) that's normally accurate to within 50m at close to 40km range, and make it accurate to within 10m at the same range.

Why would we want to do that, you ask? So that we can take out the bad guys in the village without destroying the rest of it, or killing any of the civilians caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In other words, those shells were bought specifically so that we don't destroy a village in Afghanistan.

If $150K is outrageous, as he suggests, it's time to ask Garth how much a villager's life in Afghanistan is worth to him.

4:30 p.m., May 13, 2008  
Blogger can't_believe_it said...

Garth (the turncoat)Turner says (and aligns with) what ever is convenient. As such, whatever he says is irrelevant to any debate because his position will change with the polls. In his defence, he did admit that he could have been wrong due to incorrect information being provided to him by the "expert" on his staff. No doubt a highschool kid who reads NDP leaflets for "intelligence". C'mon you guys, Turner is an idiot and if you don't realize that then you need to learn to put up with hos babble.

7:26 p.m., May 15, 2008  
Blogger can't_believe_it said...

speling error "his babble"..no excuse, FAT FINGERS".

7:27 p.m., May 15, 2008  

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