Dr. Nikolas Gardner arrived at RMC in July 2011 to become the first Class of 1965 Chair in Leadership at RMC. After completing his Ph.D. in History at the University of Calgary in 2000, Dr. Gardner’s academic career had taken him to the UK, where he taught at the University of Salford in Manchester from 2002-2006, and to the United States, where he taught in the Department of Strategy at the USAF Air War College in Montgomery Alabama from 2006-2011. A return to Canada not only offered him an opportunity to contribute to RMC, but also to expose his children to exotic Canadian pursuits like ice skating, tobogganing and last winter in particular, shoveling snow. Since arriving at RMC Dr. Gardner has been busy with two major research projects, the first of which will culminate with the publication of his book The Siege of Kut-al-Amara: At War in Mesopotamia, 1915-1916, by Indiana University Press in September. The book sheds new light on an aspect of the First World War that has been largely overlooked by historians, but had consequences that continue to reverberate throughout the Middle East today. As a historian of the First World War, Dr. Gardner has also been increasingly preoccupied with the centenary of the conflict, speaking at a variety of conferences and appearing on television programs such as TVO’s The Agenda, and PBS’s Citizen Soldier. Along with Dr. Doug Delaney, he is also organizing an international conference entitled “Turning Point Year: The British Empire at War in 1917”. To be held at RMC on 6-7 November 1917, the conference is funded by the SSHRC and the Class of 1965 Chair in Leadership.
Dr. Gardner’s next major research project examines the role of British companies and contractors in the Middle East, as Britain retreated from its imperial outposts in the region in the 1960s and 1970s. This project has considerable contemporary resonance, given the use of private contractors to fill the void left by the departure of uniformed western military personnel from countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years. In addition to conducting research and publishing, Dr. Gardner teaches a diverse range of courses on the world wars, classical warfare and strategy, the role of mercenaries in military history. He has been invited to lecture at a variety of professional military education institutions, including the Canadian Forces College, the USAF Air War College, and the National Defense College of the United Arab Emirates. Dr. Gardner also plays a key role in the administration of graduate studies at RMC, serving as Co-Chair of the War Studies Graduate Program since July 2013.