Month: May 2021

Zero homeless?
Editorial, Our Veterans

Zero homeless?

London, Ont., recently declared it has functionally eradicated veteran homelessness within its city limits.  “Functional zero veteran homelessness” is a status designated by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. It means the number of homeless veterans is less than, or equal to, the number of veterans the city has proven it can house in a month. The alliance’s Built for Zero Canada campaign has endorsed London as the first Canadian community to attain that distinction. “Safe and affordable housing is a right for everyone, especially brave women and men who have so selflessly served our country,” said Mayor Ed Holder.   Homelessness likely affects 3,000 to 5,000 of Canada’s nearly 650,000 veterans, according to a 2019 report to Parliament by the House of Commons Standing Co...
Killed holding a white flag
Military History, Military Milestones

Killed holding a white flag

After the Second World War, the United Nations voted to divide Palestine, in southern Lebanon, into Jewish and Arab sovereign states, setting the stage for the Arab-Israeli War. Israel was proclaimed on May 14, 1948, and Arab armies invaded on May 15 in a futile attempt to prevent establishment of the State of Israel. An Israeli university and hospital were located on Mount Scopus in northeast Jerusalem, in an Israeli enclave within territory administered by Jordan. The 2.5-kilometre road to Mount Scopus was regularly mined and targeted by snipers. Convoys to the hospital and university were routinely held up. In April 1948 one was attacked and 78 people, mostly doctors and nurses, were killed. An armistice established Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus demilitarized zone. But the conflict ...
More than 40 million people displaced in 2020
Defence Today, Front Lines

More than 40 million people displaced in 2020

War, violence and so-called natural disasters, many related to climate change, forced 40.5 million people to relocate within their own countries in 2020—the most in more than a decade, the world authority on such movements reported on May 20. By year’s end, 55 million people were living in internal displacement. At 30.7 million, disasters accounted for the most displacements, the bulk of them (30 million) weather-related, said the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, which has tracked and analyzed the forced relocations of populations since 1998. In assembling its annual report, the Geneva-based centre found that almost 10 million people had been internally displaced by armed conflict (7.5 million), violence (1 million) and other threats (1.2 million) in 2020. By year’s end, 55...
Bears, dragons and snakes
Eye On Defence

Bears, dragons and snakes

Canada must contribute more to deterring military adventurism The military world has changed rapidly over the past three decades.  Driven by the combined use of satellites, drones, computers, precision-guided munitions and other technologies, the change focused on the tactical side of war fighting. This was aptly described as a revolution in military affairs. The changes were seen on battlefields in numerous small and not-so-small wars around the globe—in Iraq and Afghanistan particularly. During that time, Canadian defence spending generally followed the pattern of other NATO members: as little as possible to keep Canada’s fighting forces fit for participation in these small wars.  General Rick Hillier, former chief of the defence staff, spoke of this period as switching from a foc...
Peace Enforcement
Military History

Peace Enforcement

On a thankless mission to protect citizens and keep warring factions apart, ingenuity and improvisation were the Canadian way Tasked by the United Nations in 1991 with rewriting the rules of engagement governing its evolving peacekeeping operations, then-major-general Lewis MacKenzie did what he could within the confines of Chapter 6 of the UN Charter. The chapter sets out onerous limitations on UN forces to bring about the peaceful resolution of disputes. They essentially prohibit peacekeepers from defending anyone but themselves. Chapter 7, on the other hand, authorizes the use of military force. A few months later, the much-travelled MacKenzie was commanding the UN’s first peacekeeping mission to the Balkans, the UN Protection Force. They were based in the city of Sarajevo, smack i...
Wounded Scot’s first-person account details fighting, capture at the Somme
Defence Today, Front Lines

Wounded Scot’s first-person account details fighting, capture at the Somme

Imagine you are a Scottish soldier and you’re handed a pair of wire cutters, then told to cross no man’s land and open the wire in front of the German trenches in the midst of one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War. Those were the orders given to Private James Arthur Heysham Johnstone of the 5th Battalion (Scottish Rifles)—known as the Cameronians—near Mametz Wood on the night of July 19-20, 1916. It was less than three weeks into the 141-day Somme offensive and the losses had already been staggering. Johnstone’s 19th Brigade, along with the 33rd Division of the British Expeditionary Force, was tasked to take a forested high ground occupied by the enemy about 3.5 kilometres behind Mametz Wood “at all costs.” The wood itself had been won by the 38th (Welsh) Division the w...

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