KENORA – Standing in for the High Arctic this week is Lake of the Woods as the training ground for 70 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members participating in Exercise FIRST RUN. This gateway exercise serves to train soldiers with 38 Canadian Brigade Group’s Arctic Response Company Group (ARCG) before deploying to Nunavut for Operation NUNALIVUT this March.
Army reservists from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Northwestern Ontario along with regular force members from 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2 PPCLI) and volunteers with Lake of the Woods Search and Rescue are participating in the winter training taking place from January 17-26, 2018.
“Exercise FIRST RUN prepares our soldiers and gives them some of the basic skills they require when they go north of 60. Kenora and Lake of the Woods was chosen because it has fairly complex terrain and varied terrain. Unlike a lot of the areas we have deployed to in the past, which was open and a tundra landscape, Kenora has many more obstacles such as islands as well as challenging elevations. This terrain also helps us to prepare for our 2019 operations that are being planned to take place in the Yukon,” explained the exercise’s Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel David Fraser who added the bulk of the training on the Lake of the Woods took place January 19 – 21.
“Some of the skills that were covered over the weekend are winter navigation, taking part in ground search and rescue scenarios, basic winter survival training, and patrols both on foot and on snowmobiles. These are the skills the soldiers will be needing when they go to the Arctic.”
For Sergeant Brendon Gogo, an engineer with 38 Combat Engineer Regiment in Winnipeg, Exercise FIRST RUN is not his first ARCG exercise, but it is the first time he has been to Kenora for workup training.
“I have been on several ARCG exercises and Kenora is great because it offers a different level of challenge that members of the ARCG have not had to contend with before,” said Sgt Gogo.
“This exercise has been a great opportunity to give the newer soldiers who are part of the company some actual hands-on experience in this type of environment conducting this type of training. Having been in the Arctic, these are skills you want to have before contending with the extreme weather and environments up north.”
Operation NUNALIVUT is a sovereignty operation conducted annually since 2007 in Canada’s North. It provides an opportunity for the CAF to assert Canada’s sovereignty over its northernmost regions; demonstrate the ability to operate in the harsh winter environment in remote areas of the High Arctic and enhance its capability to respond to any situation in Canada’s North. Forty reservists from Exercise FIRST RUN will be augmenting 2 PPCLI during this year’s Operation NUNALIVUT.