Monday, July 13, 2009

Canadian special forces ops in Afstan (and CSIS)

The veil lifted a bit; I trust Sen. Kenny isn't the only source for this story:
Elite forces target bomb makers

OTTAWA – Canada's elite special forces soldiers have been launching raids on enemy compounds to directly target insurgents making roadside bombs, the main killer of coalition troops in Afghanistan, the Toronto Star has learned.

Using intelligence gathered by Canadian spies on the ground in the troubled country, soldiers with Joint Task Force 2 and the special forces regiment are actively involved in going after the networks that produce the improvised explosive devices.

"It's a very high value target for them," said Senator Colin Kenny, chair of the Senate defence committee.

While it's been known that members of the special forces group have been operating in Afghanistan, the government has maintained a strict silence about their specific operations. But their website boasts that they work abroad "to destroy, disorganize and disrupt the networks of violent organizations."

Kenny said the group is spending "80 per cent" of its time trying to counter the manufacture of IEDs, an effort that has ramped up this year as coalition soldiers face a record number of bomb attacks [lots more here on counter-IED efforts generally].

"The whole (Canadian Forces) is conscious of where their casualties are coming from and they've turned to a major effort to address it," Kenny said in an interview.

The elite troops have been working with agents from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, who are also in the country, to help identify the locations where the bombs are made – and then launch operations to wipe them out.

[There's not much officially public on CSIS' foreign operations; but there's this from the CBC's Brian Stewart, April 2009:


The number of CSIS agents now in this one danger zone in and around Afghanistan is secret but my sources say it is not less than 20 and their work in targeting Taliban field leaders and collecting tribal intelligence is increasingly valued by our generals [emphasis added].

The CSIS contribution is an untold part of the war...]

When a bomb-making operation is found, "they can send it up in a puff of smoke," Kenny said...
See also this article at p. 23 of the Conference of Defence Associations' On Track magazine, Summer 2009, by Col. Bernd Horn:
And this post:
Much improved Canadian intelligence in Afstan, and IEDs


Blogger said...

Good catch, Mark - here's another "tile" to add to the (possible) CAN SF counter-explosive-stuff work in AFG "mosaic", from Afghan media sources:
"....Quqnoos’ correspondent Mohammad Masumi saw the suicide attacker; described him a squint teenage, dressed in dark gray clothing. According to the suicide attacker, he was trained by Pakistani Taliban in Quetta, a north-western city of Pakistan.

"I was told by a Pakistani Talib to and kill Kandahar provincial council chief and head of the provincial reconciliation committee and their assassination is allowed," the bomber told Quqnoos’s reporter.

Canadian Special Forces – a part of around 2,200 Canadian troops stationed in Kandahar – defused the suicide vest and reportedly have taken the suicide attacker along for interrogation...."

A bit more (and a CAVEAT) here.

No matter what, well done folks!

12:40 p.m., July 13, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

. . and another piece of the Afghan story with some excellent pictures.

4:08 p.m., July 13, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

What's CSIS' mandate for overseas operations? Are they just allowed to assist in military operations?

It was my understanding that they weren't permitted to work outside Canada's borders, and that there was a sort of "reassignment" of CSIS officers who were working for the military in Afghanistan.

4:19 p.m., July 13, 2009  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Brian: In fact the CSIS Act places no territorial limitations on the Service's activities as long as they aimed at "threats to the security of Canada" (e.g. collecting so-called "security intelligence"):

'2. In this Act

"threats to the security of Canada" means

(a) espionage or sabotage that is against Canada or is detrimental to the interests of Canada or activities directed toward or in support of such espionage or sabotage,

(b) foreign influenced activities within or relating to Canada that are detrimental to the interests of Canada and are clandestine or deceptive or involve a threat to any person,

(c) activities within or relating to Canada directed toward or in support of the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property for the purpose of achieving a political, religious or ideological objective within Canada or a foreign state...'

The Taliban can certainly be caught somewhere in those definitions--then the operative para, which makes no geographical limitations:

'12. The Service shall collect, by investigation or otherwise, to the extent that it is strictly necessary, and analyse and retain information and intelligence respecting activities that may on reasonable grounds be suspected of constituting threats to the security of Canada and, in relation thereto, shall report to and advise the Government of Canada.'

On the other hand CSIS is restricted to collecting so-called "foreign intelligence" within Canada:

"16. (1) Subject to this section, the Service may, in relation to the defence of Canada or the conduct of the international affairs of Canada, assist the Minister of National Defence or the Minister of Foreign Affairs, within Canada, in the collection of information or intelligence relating to the capabilities, intentions or activities of

(a) any foreign state or group of foreign states; or

(b) any person other than

(i) a Canadian citizen,

(ii) a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act..."


4:44 p.m., July 13, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Huh, interesting. Thanks Mark.

To my untrained eye, it seems kinda vague. The difference between "foreign intelligence" and "security intelligence" can be manipulated as necessary, one would think. Strategic ambiguity, perhaps...

5:08 p.m., July 13, 2009  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Brian: In fact Section 12, when read closely, is as you say vague in that no territorial restrictions are imposed.

Section 16, on the other hand, makes a clear restriction to "within Canada".

When the Act became law in 1984 the intent was to restrict CSIS' foreign intelligence activities--which means for example trying to find out what the intentions of the Russian, Chineses, etc. governments are, or their military capabilities are--to CSIS actions within Canada. By such means as bugging embassies here or recruiting their members as agents. The point was that CSIS should not also become a foreign espionage agency such as the CIA or MI6, but rather be a domestic service such as the FBI or MI5 (which had minor, domestic, foreign intelligence roles).

At the time it was not thought that Section 12 threats would need any significant foreign actions to counter, hence the lack of territorial restrictions.

Times change. And I think the current interpretation of the mandate is quite correct and does not in any way go against the Act.

Moreover CSIS is still not spying on the Kremlin, the Forbidden City, or the Elysée Palace from anything I've seen. That would be real "foreign intelligence" within the meaning of the Act.


7:20 p.m., July 13, 2009  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

Brian: To be explicit, these "threats to the security of Canada",

'(c) activities within or relating to Canada directed toward or in support of the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property for the purpose of achieving a political, religious or ideological objective within Canada or a foreign state...'

clearly allow CSIS to operate in Afstan (and environs).


8:15 p.m., July 13, 2009  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 07/14/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

10:03 a.m., July 14, 2009  

Post a Comment

<< Home