Wemindji, Québec — More than 1 500 soldiers travelled to Nord-du-Québec, Quebec’s largest administrative region, for Exercise GUERRIER NORDIQUE, designed to train soldiers to operate under austere, subarctic conditions. The exercise took place from February 24 to March 12.
Ex GUERRIER NORDIQUE simulated an international environmental summit. The soldiers’ mission was to ensure security and conduct search and rescue operations. The main training sites were in the Cree communities of Wemindji and Chisasibi.
The participants included Reserve Force members from Quebec, members of the Regular Force, 40 to 60 Canadian Rangers from the James Bay region, 30 to 40 members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, some 50 US soldiers as well as members of the armed forces of France and Poland.
Participation of three separate elements
The soldiers came from three separate elements: the Territorial Battalion Group (TBG), the Arctic Response Company Group (ARCG), and the Domestic Task Force (Dom TF).
The TBG and the ARCG are units made up primarily of Reservists from the regions of Montréal and the city of Québec respectively. These multidisciplinary teams are responsible for supporting domestic operations in the urban and/or winter environment, and for territorial defence in the event of a crisis. The Dom TF is made up of Regular Force members based in Valcartier.
Long nights and icy winds tested the soldiers during their stay near James Bay. They learned a variety of survival skills, such as the best ways to conserve body heat.
Canadian Rangers as guides and mentors
The soldiers of 34 TBG received training in survival skills from the 2nd Canadian Rangers Patrol Group. The Canadian Rangers acted as guides and mentors to the soldiers and shared with them their experience of the North.
“The Rangers are a huge help to us,” said 34 TBG Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Roy. “They go with us on all of our operations and are essential to the good conduct of operations.”
The soldiers of 34 TBG also participated in search and rescue operations and provided reinforcements to the Dom TF, consisting of three infantry companies from the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment.
Companies A, B and C of 34 TBG constructed defensive positions and set up targets in the vicinity at which they practised firing.
Another objective of Ex GUERRIER NORDIQUE was to foster good relations between the communities and local civilian agencies.
The Quebec Reservists serving with the ARCG also had the opportunity to go on a long snowmobile trip between the communities of Chisasibi and Wemindji.
“The ARCG’s mission is to be ready for an intervention in the North, at any latitude and under the most extreme conditions,” explained ARCG commander Major Jonathan Chouinard.
After their outing, ARCG members received extra rations courtesy of the last air drop by a Canadian Forces C 130 E/H Hercules.
Article by MCpl Jean-Nicolas Minville, Army News, Montréal
Photos by MCpl France Morin