Day: June 30, 2016

Kennedy and Khrushchev
Heroes And Villains

Kennedy and Khrushchev

For 13 days in October 1962, the world stood on the precipice of nuclear Armageddon as President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev squared off during the Cuban missile crisis   On Jan. 20, 1961, newly inaugurated President John F. Kennedy inherited an ill-conceived plan to overthrow Fidel Castro’s Cuban regime through an invasion by exiles, backed by the Central Intelligence Agency. Launched on April 17, the Bay of Pigs fiasco scuttled any hope for diplomatic rapprochement between the two countries. With Cuba just 145 kilometres from Florida, Kennedy’s administration considered Castro’s government a threat. On Oct. 16, this seemed proved when a U-2 spy plane photographed Soviet-built sites deploying between 16 and 32 nuclear missiles. Kennedy’s advisers p...
Crazy weapons of the Cold War
Military History

Crazy weapons of the Cold War

  The Cold War was an epic standoff between two superpowers, a conflict held not just at the limits of military technology, but at the limits of science itself. It was a race to build the deadliest weapons possible in the hope they’d be too deadly to ever use.   The Big Stick. The Dead Hand. Tsar Bomba, Star Wars, the Arrow and the Blackbird. These are the names of some of the deadliest, wildest, strangest and most amazing weapons ever designed and built by mankind. For the 40 years of the Cold War, the superpowers were frozen into inaction by an unusual deterrent—neither side could launch an all-out nuclear war on the other because it would result in their own destruction. The little piece of logic that kept that Cold War from blowing up was called mutually assured...
When the brain goes boom
Health

When the brain goes boom

The epic struggle to understand and treat the damaged brain takes place both at the frontiers of science and in the pharmaceutical Stone Age   In April 19, 2006, Aaron Bedard’s brain changed forever. That day the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry combat engineer and five comrades were in a vehicle that drove over and detonated an anti-tank mine in Afghanistan. “My head was about six feet away from the point of detonation. My neck was rocked violently forward. I got a severe whiplash.” At first Bedard thought he was lucky. The others suffered serious back injuries and ruptured ear drums and were medevaced back to Kandahar. But Bedard’s injury was invisible. “It was a typical ‘suck it up, soldier’ thing. I looked at myself and I don’t have a scratch on me and if I had...
Canada’s special operations come out of the shadows. Again. Kind of.
Front Lines

Canada’s special operations come out of the shadows. Again. Kind of.

The Toronto Star has a series of articles out on the secretive Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM) that will certainly interest many readers. Since its inception in 2006, CANSOFCOM has periodically made attempts to raise its profile with Canadians. This is clearly a good idea during a defence review, such as the one happening now. It’s probably important that everyone knows what your capabilities are–and that they’re important–lest your budget get slashed. So what did we learn from this recent round of publicity? Not much. CANSOFCOM has four main units: Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2) are the top-of-the-line counter-terrorist force (think U.S. Navy Seals or maybe even Delta Force); the Canadian Special Operations Regiment (CSOR) sometimes work alongside JTF2 and somet...
Face to face: Should the Canadian Armed Forces purchase armed drones?
Face to Face

Face to face: Should the Canadian Armed Forces purchase armed drones?

Canada is shopping for a new fleet of technologically advanced drones, also known as remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance has called for these drones to have an armed capability. He is right. For Canada to buy these aircraft without the ability to carry missiles makes as much sense as it does to order our new fighter jets without guns, missiles or the capacity to carry bombs. The first RPVs were used by the Luftwaffe in the Second World War to attack Allied warships. Radio guided from a German bomber, they destroyed a number of Allied ships. HMCS Athabaskan, a Canadian destroyer, was seriously damaged by one in August 1943. Since the 1980s they have become ubiquitous with all the world’s advanced militarie...
Pride & Prejudice at the Front
Military History

Pride & Prejudice at the Front

After considerable lobbying by blacks and by white supporters, Canada fielded one black battalion, but they had to fight with shovels, not rifles   “I have been fortunate to have secured a very fine class of recruits, and I did not think it fair to these men that they should have to mingle with Negroes.” Lieutenant-Colonel George Fowler, commanding the 104th Battalion, wrote these words in an attempt to have 20 new “coloured” soldiers removed from his unit. Despite official Canadian government policy to the contrary—which clearly stated black volunteers could be accepted—many blacks suffered rejection at recruiting stations. Amazingly, about 1,500 blacks did manage to enrol in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). After two years of tireless lobbying by black leaders, ...

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