Month: May 2016

Chemistry experiments
Military History

Chemistry experiments

Soldiers were used in the testing of chemical and biological weapons in the Second World War   When Lucien Chasse, a quarry driller from Quebec with a Grade 4 education and little English, signed up for the Canadian Army on Nov. 10, 1943, he had no idea what awaited him. The personnel-selection officer rated his learning ability as “below the army average” and his attitude as “unsuitable for training as a sapper.” He was sent directly to the Chemical Warfare Laboratories (CWL) in Ottawa to become a human subject for mustard gas testing.    It was wartime and Canada was playing its part in researching and developing weapons of chemical and biological warfare. Although Canada was one of the original 38 signatories to the 1925 Geneva Protocol which outlawed the use of these weapo...
ISIS and the Nazis have more in common than you think
Front Lines

ISIS and the Nazis have more in common than you think

In the aftermath of the First World War and its horrific trench warfare, the German military developed a new doctrine of smashing enemy defensive lines with columns of armour and then racing into their rear areas to create chaos. In the beginning at least, this strategy worked pretty well. It was called blitzkrieg and, during the early days of the Second World War, it helped the Germans take huge amounts of territory faster than anyone imagined possible. (As it turned out, taking territory with fast-moving armour was one thing, but holding onto it was a much more difficult tactical problem). Now in Iraq and Syria, ISIS has revived the spirit of blitzkrieg to create a new kind of jihadi fighter for this new war. It makes sense given that much of the battleground in Iraq and Syr...
The new world of  UN peacekeeping
Eye On Defence

The new world of UN peacekeeping

In late February, the Washington Post published an extensive story on “peacekeeper babies” in the Central African Republic. These are the children of sexual assaults perpetrated on local women by troops serving with the United Nations. These assaults are being investigated by the UN, which has uncovered other cases of malfeasance in other UN missions. The perpetrators have been described by one UN official from Gabon as “trash.” And although they most certainly do not represent the majority of peacekeepers spread around the world today, their existence should raise a note of caution to our government, which insists that Canada should re-enter the world of UN peacekeeping it largely left in the 1990s. Among a certain set of Canadian political leaders, defence commentators and peace-...
Game of Thrones star pays tribute to Invictus athletes
Front Lines

Game of Thrones star pays tribute to Invictus athletes

As all eyes turn toward the 2017 Invictus Games, which will be held in Toronto with The Royal Canadian Legion as one of the sponsors, the results and stories from the 2016 games are pouring in. Game of Thrones star Charles Dance, who played Tywin Lannister on the show, was involved in an effort by ESPN to recap the games and pay tribute to the athletes. View the video here. Dance’s narration touched on the main themes of the games. “Unconquered by the consequences of marching into harm’s way, we can still seize the day,” he said. “Side by side with our fellow soldiers whose burdens we feel and grief we share for the fallen we loved and remember. We are all more mind than matter, more substance than form, and life will never leave us with no course through the storm. “We do thi...
The tell-tale brain
Health

The tell-tale brain

Scanners that show how the brain’s chemistry changes from moment to moment—and from thought to thought—promise new views into the inner workings of the traumatized mind   Retired Master Corporal Don Leonardo of Airdrie, Alta., a third-generation soldier, has battled PTSD since serving with the United Nations protection force in Yugoslavia in 1994, a mission not so much about keeping the peace, but enforcing it at gunpoint. “There were a hundred incidents,” he says, that contributed to his deteriorating state of mind and growing list of symptoms, including night terrors and a hair-trigger temper. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 2000. Leonardo has lived varying degrees of a nightmare ever since. When he would recall his experiences for his psychiatrist...
How Canadian special ops are linked to a Second World War debacle
Front Lines

How Canadian special ops are linked to a Second World War debacle

  It was the only time North American soil was occupied by the enemy during the Second World War, and something had to be done. The place in question is Kiska, a desolate, eight-kilometre-wide piece of rock that sits on the border between the North Pacific and the Bering Sea, a part of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.   The Japanese had invaded the island just over a year before, and now it was time to get them off. The First Special Service Force (FSSF) was a combined American and Canadian unit commonly known as the Devil’s Brigade; and also a unit from which the modern Canadian SOF draw their heritage. It was their job to lead the way onto the island and trade the first blows in what was expected to be a very costly fight.     One small problem: the Jap...

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