Ontario-based Canadian Rangers joined forces with Quebec Canadian Rangers this February when the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (3CRPG) embarked on its first Far North large-scale training exercise in several years, after the pandemic limited training opportunities.
Exercise Mobile Ranger 2023 took place from 21 to 28 February in three locations, instructing in various winter fieldcraft skills, including:
- map and compass navigation;
- winter survival skills;
- building improvised shelters;
- ice fishing;
- ice rescue techniques;
- field first aid;
- operating the Ranger C-19 service rifle in a cold environment;
- remote wilderness airstrip construction;
- navigation in austere field conditions;
- and mobility through overland, air charter, and winter road systems.
“This is a unique exercise. It’s about getting back to business after the pandemic and making a presence in the north, and showing that we can do our job in the places we operate,” said 3CRPG Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel (LCol) Shane McArthur.
One training area more than 500 km north of Thunder Bay in the First Nation community of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) hosted about 30 members of Ontario’s 31, 32 and 32 Canadian Brigade Groups, composed of mostly reservists, who were taught basic winter survival techniques by the Canadian Rangers.
Ontario’s Canadian Rangers are predominantly First Nation who are skilled and accustomed to working outdoors in remote areas. They are a sub-component of the Canadian Armed Forces reserve force, primarily serving in remote and coastal First Nations communities in Canada.
After receiving winter bushcraft and survival instruction from the Canadian Rangers, the army reservists were expected to build a shelter and live on the land for 24 hours to verify their training and knowledge.
“We give them a bin of basic supplies and they are expected to work together, build improvised shelters and occupy them for 24 hours,” said Bravo Company Officer Commanding Major Charlie Ohlke.
Members of the 4th Canadian Division command team, including Brigadier-General J.J. Major and Sergeant-Major, Chief Warrant Officer Jeramie G. Leamon, put boots on the ground for a site visit during the training.
“Rangers have told us they want to train more with the army and we are doing this with Mobile Ranger 2023. This is for the Rangers,” said LCol McArthur.
In Northeast Ontario, the Canadian Rangers worked with members from Quebec’s 2nd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (2CRPG) at the mouth of the Harricana River, located at the southern end of James Bay, where they constructed a bush airstrip.
“Such airstrips would be built for casualty evacuation or fuel resupply,” said Alpha Company Officer Commanding Major John McNeil, who oversaw the airstrip construction.
Four soldiers from the 4th Canadian Division were specifically selected to work with the Canadian Rangers during the airstrip construction in recognition of their outstanding service and work ethic.
Finally, Canadian Rangers rotated through training stands with the Canadian Ranger Patrol located in the First Nation community of Nibinamik where they were instructed in advanced leadership and advanced winter fieldcraft skills.
3CRPG offers a youth program, similar to cadets, known as the Junior Canadian Rangers (JCR), and its members also received winter survival and bushcraft training in the Moosonee area as part of Exercise Mobile Ranger 2023.
Created in 1947 following the Second World War, the Canadian Rangers were established to protect against emerging threats in the north from the Soviet Union.
Today, Canadian Rangers conduct surveillance in Canada’s remote areas, sovereignty patrols, search-and-rescue, disaster relief, and training of other armed forces personnel with survival skills.
Last year, Ontario Rangers participated in 21 ground search and rescue missions, rescuing 31 people, including two stranded truckers on an ice road, an injured Attawapiskat First Nation snowmobiler, and two young hunters whose all-terrain vehicles broke down, leaving them stranded about 100 kilometres away from their communities.
3CRPG is headquartered at CFB Borden, near Barrie, Ont.
By: Canadian Ranger Master Corporal Chris Vernon