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Canadian PM Justin Trudeau rebuffs calls for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s Resignation

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Justin Trudeau attended the Tamil Fest organized in Toronto. Wikimedia
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Ottawa, May 2, 2017: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has rebuffed resignation calls for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan over his “architect comments for a 2006 offensive against the Taliban, media reports said.

Trudeau and his embattled minister endured a withering question-period offensive on Monday as opposition MPs accused Sajjan of “stolen valour” for overstating his role in planning Operation Medusa in Afghanistan, The Toronto Star.

Opposition parties trained their sights squarely on Sajjan, who apologised again in the House of Commons.

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The Operation Medusa was one of the bloodiest and most pivotal battles of the Afghan war.

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose called it a “cardinal sin” in the military circles for stealing valours of others.

“How much more does the Prime Minister need to hear before he understands why our men and women in uniform have lost confidence in the Minister,” Ambrose said.

Trudeau, however, would not be moved from his talking points.

“The Minister made a mistake,” the Prime Minister said repeatedly. “He acknowledged his responsibility and apologised for it; that’s what Canadians expect when one makes a mistake,” The Toronto Sun reported.

Trudeau went on to insist that Sajjan had served his country with distinction in a number of capacities, including as a police officer and as a soldier. As a Minister, he added, “He has my full confidence.”

Sajjan, for his part, later rose and repeated his apology.

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What Sajjan didn’t do is explain his “mistake,” which Ambrose noted he’d made twice – once in 2015 and again two weeks ago during his India visit.

As such, his apology did little to assuage the opposition, with both the Conservatives and the Democratics calling on Trudeau to sack him.

“It’s not an error when you keep repeating the same lie,” New Democratic Party Leader Tom Mulcair said after question period.

In speech in New Delhi on April 18, Sajjan told the Indian think tank Observer Research Foundation that he had been the “architect” of Operation Medusa, which the Minister has since retracted.

“On my first deployment to Kandahar in 2006, I was kind of thrown in an unforeseen situation and became the architect of an operation… where we removed about 1,500 Taliban fighters,” Sajjan said in his speech.

Sajjan was a Major with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan during Operation Medusa, and received a special commendation.

Hundreds of Taliban fighters were killed or captured over a two-week period. Twelve Canadians were also killed in the fighting. (IANS)

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Britain Gets Its First Unmanned Minesweeping System, Announces Minister Guto Bebb

Easily transported by road, sea and air, the high-tech design means a small team could put the system to use within hours of it arriving in any theatre of activity, added Bebb.

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Easily transported by road, sea and air, the high-tech design means a small team could put the system to use within hours of it arriving in any theatre of activity, added Bebb.
Guto Bebb, Defence Minister (Britain), wikimedia commons

Britain’s Royal Navy has taken delivery of its first unmanned autonomous minesweeping system, Defence Minister Guto Bebb said on Saturday.

Bebb said the system, capable of safely clearing sea lanes of mines, could go on to be used in the future to defeat the threat of modern digital mines following a period of successful trials.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) said the system has been designed and manufactured by Atlas Elektronik in Dorset, England, under a $20.3 million contract.

“This autonomous minesweeper takes us a step closer to taking our crews out of danger and allowing us to safely clear sea lanes of explosives, whether that’s supporting trade in global waters and around the British coastline, or protecting our ships and shores,” Xinhua quoted Bebb as saying.

Britain's Royal Navy has taken delivery of its first unmanned autonomous minesweeping system, Defence Minister Guto Bebb said on Saturday.
Flag of Britain with Navy, wikimedia commons

Easily transported by road, sea and air, the high-tech design means a small team could put the system to use within hours of it arriving in any theatre of activity, added Bebb.

The sweeper system, which features a sense and avoid capability, could also work together with other similar autonomous systems for the common goal of making our waters safer, said the MOD.

The project, designed to be operated from a land or ship-based control station and can be deployed from a suitable ship or port, also aims to demonstrate the viability of an unmanned system that can safely and successfully clear mines.

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Brigadier Jim Morris from the Royal Marines who is senior responsible officer for the Mine Counter Measures and Hydrographic Capability (MHC) programme said: “The mine sweeping system is the Royal Navy’s first fully autonomous capability demonstrator and paves the way for the introduction of this technology across the full range of maritime capabilities.”

“This autonomous system will restore the Royal Navy’s sweep capability, enabling it to tackle modern digital mines that may not otherwise be discovered in challenging mine hunting conditions.” (IANS)