Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut March 03, 2014 - 7:55 am

Canadian Forces reservists launch exercise out of Iqaluit

Quebec group works with Rangers and U.S. National Guard on four scenarios

PETER VARGA
Capt. Gratien Gaudreault, left, operations officer for Canadian Forces exercise Guerrier Nordique in Iqaluit, works with communications officers Sgt. Patrick Lévesque and Cpl. Jérémie Choquette, Feb. 28.
Capt. Gratien Gaudreault, left, operations officer for Canadian Forces exercise Guerrier Nordique in Iqaluit, works with communications officers Sgt. Patrick Lévesque and Cpl. Jérémie Choquette, Feb. 28. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)

Canadian Forces’ exercise “Guerrier Nordique” went into motion March 3, when 165 reserve soldiers left Iqaluit for air, snowmobile, ski and foot patrols around the city.

Quebec City-based reservists of the 35 Brigade Group brought Guerrier Nordique (Northern warrior) to Nunavut this year for the first time in its five-year history.

Past exercises all took place in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of northern Quebec.

“We try to work north of the 60th parallel,” said Captain Gratien Gaudreault, operations officer for the Arctic response group.

“To work in an Arctic environment like this is more of a task of survival,” he said, adding that it also serves as a test of transport and communications equipment and capabilities.

Included in this year’s exercise are the Iqaluit-based 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, and 15 members of United States Army National Guard.

Gaudreault said this will be the third time National Guard members have joined Guerrier Nordique, in an effort to share and “coordinate” knowledge of the Arctic.

The Rangers’ role in the exercise is indispensable, he said. “They know everything about the land, and we take on more knowledge from them about survival on the Arctic lands.” he said.

Troops will carry out four different “scenarios” around Iqaluit until March 9. A set of three will take place southeast of Iqaluit, along Frobisher Bay, conducted by three different platoons of about 30 soldiers.

The first involves transport of a platoon by twin otter plane to Pichit Island, some 30 kilometres from the city.

A second platoon will travel by ski to Sale Island, about 20 km away, and a third will march from Apex to an area just east of Tarr Inlet.

Another patrol will head southwest to Kimmirut on a six-hour journey by snowmobile, Gaudreault said. Soldiers will conduct reconnaissance work in the community.

The exercise’s major purpose is the practice of Arctic survival techniques, Gaudreault said, and to advance the unit’s capability to work in an environment without roads and limited infrastructure.

“We’ve started our training further south, and we’re aiming to advance it as far as we can in the Arctic,” he said.

Past Guerrier Nordique exercises took place as far south as Wemindji on the shore of James Bay, and as far north as Salluit, on the Hudson Strait.

“This group has to be ready to operate in the North of Canada, in an Arctic environment,” the captain said.

The 35 Canadian Group is an army reserve formation of 2nd Canadian Division, made up of about 2,700 reservists and 63 regular forces from 12 units throughout Quebec.

The group does most of its work in French, “but we can and we have to speak English because we’re working with the U.S. National Guard,” Gaudreault said. Another goal of the exercise is to establish good relations with communities involved, he added.

Soldiers will not use live rounds or explosives in Guerrier Nordique, the department of National Defence stated in a Feb. 28 news release.

The department also advised Iqaluit residents that “20 snowmobiles will be circulating” in and out of the city for the duration of the exercise.

Canadian Forces’ next exercise in Nunavut, Sabre Glacé, will be staged from Resolute Bay March 20 to April 1.

About 115 regular soldiers from the Quebec City-based 2nd Canadian Division will conduct the exercise.

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