Monday, May 08, 2017

The New Kids On The Playground

"We are educating our leadership to look for certain things and to try to avoid those situations where a provocation could happen."
"[Because] a bright light will be shining on us all the time, we are going to set the conditions through policy. If you go for a pizza there will be a fire team, you will not be alone."
Chief Warrant Officer Michael Forest

"Will it happen that there will be a Canadian with two heads and four eyes rampaging around Riga? Of course, there will be 'news' like that."
"How do you combat things like that? The first thing is to talk to each other and have common sense. Ask yourself if that is reliable. What the military will do, the Latvians and the Canadian Forces, will be to have a very straightforward two-way conversation with the press and Latvian citizens."
"The short answer is that we can expect many things [from Russia's propaganda machine]."

Col. Ilmars Lejins, Latvian infantry brigade commander

"I would tell them [Canadian military] to act sensibly. You are not in a war zone. No one is going to blow you up. But there is a Russian modus operandi with the girls, the alcohol, etc."
"Just watch out. If you do something stupid you will end up on Russian television. It is not a pleasant experience."
Sanita Jemberga, Baltic Centre for Investigative Journalism

"There will be no 48-hour weekend passes."
"We looked for everyone we could find who is an A hockey player."
"We already have a game lined up for the combat-support unit."
Commander Lt.-Col.Wade Rutland, 1 Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry
Matthew Fisher/Postmedia
Matthew Fisher/Postmedia    The likelihood of a Russian smear campaign is so great that Lt.-Col. Wade Rutland (left) and Sergeant-Major Michael Forest do not think that their troops will be allowed to be out on their own in Latvia
 
Two new words for the Canadian military to absorb: "Kompromat", and "Dezinformatsiya". A lesson in linguistics and in Realpolitik. It's a sometimes successful game evidently. Not quite like hockey, perhaps more resembling psychological warfare, creating a trust breach between allies. Where a furtive legend goes the rounds and, repeated often enough, however outrageously absurd, it will be accepted, believed, and a rift will occur of suspicion and blame between international units pledged to one another's zone of comfort.

In the interests of protecting against dastardly campaigns geared to spreading slanderous assaults to discredit one group in the opinion of the other with the goal of disrupting reliance and trust, it seems the elite commanders of the Canadian military tasked to be dispatched on a NATO mission to Latvia are prepared to view Canadian enlisted men as schoolyard yahoos, discrediting their adult sensibilities for juvenile sensitivities to the allure of Jezebels on a mission to entrap and discredit.

The 450 Canadian troops scheduled to appear in Latvia in the NATO mission to ensure that Moscow does not proceed with suspected plans to invade its neighbours and take possession of sovereign land on which sit ethnic Russians as citizens of the sovereign neighbours whom the Kremlin asserts are suffering the indignity of discrimination relating to their Russian heritage. A stealth, but naked effort to refresh the old associations of the Soviet bloc of nations.

The fear that Russian agents will go into overdrive to create a rift between Canadians and Latvians has led the Canadian military brass to regard their own as immature and naive, susceptible to female blandishments and to the ingestion of planted disinformation in the interests of creating an atmosphere of dysfunctional chaos. The Canadian mission is seen to be in potential peril through anticipated attacks with "kompromat" and "dezinformatsiya" -- compromising situations and the feed of disinformation.

What a sad and sorry lot, those Canadians. Clearly, they need diversions. And what better to divert these pathetic little soldiers of Canadian stock than to remind them of their childhood, what fun it was to play hockey on their neighbourhood streets, summer and winter alike. So why not in Latvia? So hockey is in, and the freedom to move about as mature adults is most definitely out. When the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, 1 Battalion does deploy to Latvia in August they will be permitted off base on "supervised cultural days" only.

Planned excursions include visits to museums, theatres, parks and restaurants. Just as children are offered cultural and social enrichment experiences to introduce them to civil behaviour in public and to expand their minds through exposure to events and venues of value, so too these enlisted men and women in the Canadian forces are to be spoon-fed these interdiction-allied forays, under close watch and supervision. And these are the men and women in the military who are expected to act and react in full possession of their faculties in a prospective theatre of war?

Scheduled hockey games -- somewhat in theory akin to play-dates that mothers of young children schedule to keep their young ones busy and entertained. Four rinks are evidently available close to the base that the Canadians are to share with the Latvian army and a smaller group of soldiers from Albania, Italy, Spain, Slovenia and Poland. Evidently German troops in Lithuania have experienced being the target of Russian propagandists through "hybrid warfare".

Shortly after their arrival in Lithuania where the Germans had been delegated to present themselves in this NATO mission, emails charging that German troops had raped an underage Lithuanian girl were forwarded on to a leading Lithuanian politician, reported in the local media, to kind of get the slander-and-ostracism ball rolling. When police investigated they reached the conclusion it was a false claim.

Then the German commander appeared on a blog charged with being a Russian spy "not loyal to NATO or to Lithuania, but is a strong supporter of Russian policy", went the legend accompanying a photo-shopped photograph of Lt.Col.Christoph Huber. "We are taking it very seriously", said the Canadian commander, the focus will be on keeping Canadian soldiers "on the straight path". Entirely too bad that this situation could not simply be a matter of discussion with the expectation that the soldiers are sufficiently mature to govern themselves accordingly.

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