Defence Today

Afghanistan veteran recounts brutal battle
Defence Today, Front Lines

Afghanistan veteran recounts brutal battle

The last thing Corporal Sean Teal said to Warrant Officer Rick Nolan was: “Do you want a Life Saver?” Before Nolan could reply, a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) fired by a Taliban fighter struck the windshield of their G-Wagon and killed him. Teal, driving in the seat right next to him, was concussed but functional. “All of a sudden, wham, there was this huge flash and I was smashed back in my seat,” Teal recalled in an interview with Legion Magazine. “Everything just went black. All you could smell was burning plastic and burning hair and it was like there was no air. “I went to hit the pedals and there was nothing. It was like the vehicle just shut off. Then there was this barrage of machine-gun fire coming in.” They call it “the mad minute,” those first moments of an ambush ...
The sinking of U-94
Defence Today, Front Lines

The sinking of U-94

The sinking of U-94 by an American aircraft and HMCS Oakville off Cuba on the night of Aug. 27-28, 1942, brought to a dramatic end the submarine’s relatively long and eventful service in the Kriegsmarine. Commissioned in August 1940, U-94 had sunk 26 Allied ships in two years, totalling 141,852 gross register tons, under the successive command of two Knight’s Cross recipients, Kapitänleutnant Herbert Kuppisch and Oberleutnant zur See Otto Ites. But a year before the tide of battle shifted in the U-boat war, the interrogations of U-94’s 26 survivors told other stories—of joyful encounters with porpoises the crew at first mistook for torpedoes; gifts of music and money from German corporations; and near-fatal sabotage engineered by Polish slaves during a refit.   The 29-sh...
New evidence of a very old war
Defence Today, Front Lines

New evidence of a very old war

New evidence uncovered long after a prehistoric cemetery was discovered in Sudan suggest that its inhabitants weren’t killed in what was believed to be one of humankind’s earliest known battles but may instead have died over the course of protracted warfare. Furthermore, the study by paleoanthropologist Isabelle Crevecoeur of the University of Bordeaux, France, and her team of anthropologists, geochemists and prehistorians suggests the ongoing series of raids, ambushes and other violence was likely attributable to an issue all too familiar to 21st-century society: climate change. The cemetery at Jebel Sahaba was first excavated in the 1960s, but the new study, published May 27 in the journal Scientific Reports, says scientists at the time missed evidence that some of the 61 skeletons...
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...
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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