Category Archives: Military

Aerial laser maps reveal WWI Battle of the Somme secrets

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An aerial survey using aircraft mounted lasers has revealed previously undiscovered evidence that might potentially help to dispute accusations of a lack of determination by Welsh soldiers during the first Battle of the Somme in the Great War of 1914-1918. Aerial mapping company Bluesky flew an area of northern France called Mametz Wood, capturing accurate 3D measurements of the terrain and ground cover.

In the years since 1916, there has been uncertainty as to why Mametz Wood proved so hard for the Welsh Soldiers to clear; there were even accusations of a ‘distinct lack of push’. As part of a BBC TV documentary which explored the history of Welsh soldiers on the Somme through the eyes of rugby player Gareth Thomas, the evidence revealed by the data was used to evaluate the topography of landscape and help the archaeological team focus their efforts on the ground.

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Using specialist software, the Bluesky LiDAR data was stripped of tree cover and other features to reveal the bare earth surface. The resulting ‘moonlike’ image clearly showed two crater-like features with rectangular sides, so, not shell holes, which were not on any other map. To the east of these anomalies was another, more subtle feature, also not depicted on war time maps or in reconnaissance information.

“The data allowed the experts to read the landscape from the air, seeing through the trees and vegetation,” commented the programme’s producer, Louise Bray of Bearhug TV. “This revealed a number of clues in a never before seen landscape. It was hoped that these discoveries might give a better understanding of the difficulties faced by the soldiers on the ground.”

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Clips from the programme ‘Wales at the Somme: Gareth Thomas and the Battle of Mametz Wood’ is available to view for a limited time only on the BBC iPlayer.

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Professor Ruth Blakeley: Chilcot report & Rendition

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The Chilcot report was published on 6th July by ex-civil servant Sir John Chilcot with the report looked into the origins, conduct and aftermath of the Iraq war – all 2.6 million words of it!!

In this programme Jason McCrossan speaks to Professor Ruth Blakeley from the University of Kent whose had a bit more time to digest the findings and we’ll get her reaction to some people’s call for Blair to be tried for war crimes.

Jason also discusses a project Professor Blakeley is running in conjunction with Westminster University called The Rendition Project – which looks at the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation (RDI) programme.

Desert Lion Extinguished

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It’s not every day that one celebrates the death of another human being, well, not in the UK anyway.  However, news from the US was released this week confirming the death of the notorious ‘desert lion’ Abu Wahib.  He was a senior ISIL leader known for his brutality who had stood out in a land where brutality and acts of evil are commonplace.

Abu Wahib, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s military emir for Iraq’s Anbar province,  was targeted by a US led coalition  Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said on Monday.

The spokesman said Wahib is a former member of al-Qaida in Iraq and has been seen in ISIL execution videos.

That strike also killed three other ISIL jihadists, Cook said.

“Abu Wahib’s death is another blow to ISIL’s leadership that will further degrade its ability to operate, especially in Anbar province,” he said.

I find it striking that in certain parts of the world where people seem at their most ‘godly’ – the acts that they do to each other – the slaughter, maiming, beheading and torture…all appear utter godless. If that is what God truly wants – they can keep their belief and their god to themselves.

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Leadership ‘Hit Hard’

ISIL leadership has been hit hard by coalition efforts, Cook said. “This is another example of that,” he added. “It is dangerous to be an ISIL leader in Iraq and Syria these days, and for good reason we want to apply pressure [on] ISIL on as many fronts as possible. Taking out leadership targets is one way to do that.”

Cook noted Anbar province is a critically important area in the fight against ISIL, and the death of Wahib will harm ISIL’s ability to conduct operations in the region.

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook
Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook

The spokesman noted that taking out leadership is part of what he called “a multipronged effort” to apply pressure on as many fronts to ISIL as possible, “and for ISIL leaders to be very worried about their next step.”

I started this story saying how we don’t celebrate death here, and it’s true. Yet, watching some of the videos of men standing beside other men who are either dead or about to be killed (by them) I just can’t imagine the hatred and anger which drives this desire to glorify and celebrate the killing or death of another human.