Month: April 2016

On This Date: May 2016
On This Date

On This Date: May 2016

1 MAY 1961 No. 415 Maritime Patrol Squadron, RCAF is formed, based in Prince Edward Island. 2 MAY 1885 In the Battle of Cut Knife, Chief Poundmaker’s Cree warriors deal Canadian troops their last defeat of the Northwest Rebellion. 3 MAY 1917 Nearly 500 Germans are captured as Canadians attack at Fresnoy, east of Vimy Ridge. 4 MAY 1910 The Royal Canadian Navy is established. 5 MAY 1945 Canadian Gen. Charles Foulkes accepts the German surrender in the Netherlands. 6 MAY 2010 Lt.-Col. Maryse Carmichael becomes the first female commander of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds. 7 MAY 1944 A U-boat sinks HMCS Valleyfield in the Atlantic Ocean; 125 perish. 8 MAY 1915 The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry helps prevent a German break...
Face to Face: On Bismarck
Face to Face

Face to Face: On Bismarck

It was the duty of HMS Hood to engage the enemy, and there were three good reasons why she was committed to battle against Germany’s Bismarck in May 1941. The first is simply that the Admiral-class Hood was the fastest battleship in the British fleet. Most British battleships were too slow to catch Bismarck: even the new King George V-class ships were three to four knots slower. With a top speed of 31 knots and a displacement of 47,000 tonnes, Hood could shoulder her way through any sea state and had a one-knot advantage over her German rival. The second reason is that Hood’s shortcomings in armour were well understood and were not sufficient to keep her home. She had 12 inches of armoured plate along her main belt, just three inches less than the new KGVs. It did thin out toward the ...
Smoking dead scorpions and the Taliban spring offensive
Front Lines

Smoking dead scorpions and the Taliban spring offensive

In Afghanistan, a region of the world no-one really likes to talk about anymore, the Taliban has kicked off its traditional spring offensive with a huge attack in Kabul that killed more than 60 people. The blast and subsequent attack took place at an Afghan government building and was one of the deadliest single events in recent years. Not to be outdone by ISIS’s focus on media relations, the Taliban even named their offensive this year. “Operation Omari,” they said in a press release, will “employ all means at our disposal to bog the enemy down in a war of attrition that lowers the morale of the foreign invaders and their internal armed militias." Many of the Taliban traditionally spend the winter in Pakistan, in a Pashtun area that used to be called the Northwest Frontier Provin...
The U.S.’s secret Afghanistan casualty
Front Lines

The U.S.’s secret Afghanistan casualty

It was one of the longest-held secrets of the Afghan war–what exactly was Nathan Ross Chapman doing in Eastern Afghanistan in early 2002 when he became the very first American soldier to die by enemy fire in the war? Well, after 13 years the CIA has finally admitted that Chapman was working for them. While he was technically a member of the 1st Special Forces Group, Chapman had been detailed to work with a CIA team in the very early days of the Afghan war. Chapman’s story came to light after the CIA dedicated a star to him on their memorial wall last year. While the stars are frequently anonymous, The Washington Post was able to get the story behind the honour. Embed from Getty Images Chapman was assigned to Team Hotel for the invasion of Afghanistan. It was comprised of ...
Journalists go behind ISIL lines
Front Lines

Journalists go behind ISIL lines

File this under the department of things that happened once and will likely never happen again. A father-and-son team of German journalists managed to convince the Islamic State (or ISIS, or ISIL, or whatever you prefer) to take them on a tour of their capital city, Raqqa, and their biggest prize, Mosul. A book written about the experience–My Journey into the Heart of Terror: Ten Days in the Islamic State by Jürgen Todenhöfer–is due to be published later this month. Remember, these tour guides are the same people who tend to behead journalists, so the endeavour meant some very considerable risk. Todenhöfer’s actual guide for the trip was an obese German convert to Islam named Abu Qatadah and his driver was quite likely the Islamic State’s most notorious executioner, Jihadi John (wh...
General Jonathan Vance warns Canada to expect casualties (again)
Front Lines

General Jonathan Vance warns Canada to expect casualties (again)

In the early days of Canada’s war in Afghanistan, just as we were transitioning from Kabul to the badlands around Kandahar City, then-Chief of Defence Staff General Rick Hillier made a point of rather prominently spelling out for Canadians that the new mission was, in his famous phrase, against “detestable murderers and scumbags”—and that we would be taking casualties.  "This is a dangerous mission. There is an enemy. We have had casualties," Hillier told The Washington Post in early 2006, as the Kandahar mission was ramping up. "But what we want to achieve there is worthwhile. Things that are worth doing are sometimes dangerous." Now, our current CDS, General Jonathan Vance, has made very similar points about the newly expanded mission in Iraq. “This is a dangerous mission in a dang...
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