Thirty Canadian Rangers won praise for their ability to pass on many of their winter survival skills to regular troops during a training exercise in Moose Factory.
“The Rangers provided us with a skill set that we would not normally receive through our regular military training,” said Maj. David Fearon, officer commanding the Duke of Edinburgh’s Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa.
“It was bitterly cold and we saw the Rangers driving (their snowmobiles) around with open faces and bare hands while we had to be bundled up. We were impressed by their ability to live in the open and cope with the cold.”
Temperatures dropped as low as -35 C and wind gusts reached as high as 48 kilometres an hour during the exercise, providing daunting wind chills for the regular troops.
“The Rangers taught us simple things that we would never have thought of,” Fearon said, “such as carrying some spruce boughs to put on the ground when you stop moving to provide insulation. Very simple but very good advice. Also to keep your feet moving when it’s cold.
“They were able to teach the guys how to live in the environment, especially with regard to things like shelters, dealing with cold weather injuries and learning how to survive up there.”
The Rangers came from Moose Factory, Fort Albany and Kashechewan. They taught more than 100 soldiers a range of cold weather skills over several days, including fire starting, ice rescue, wood cutting, ice fishing, snowmobile maintenance, cooking and setting snares.
“Each Ranger worked at a training stand teaching soldiers,” said Master Warrant Officer Robert Patterson, Canadian Ranger sergeant major for 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group. “There was great local interest in what they were doing, with lots of people watching and asking questions about it all.”
Many of the Rangers, he said, have become proficient in being able to pass on their traditional skills to regular troops.
“The Rangers didn’t use to think they brought that much of value to soldiers’ training,” he said. “They have quickly found out that they are very valuable to the Canadian Forces, in the sense that if soldiers are going out on the land they need these skills to stay alive, especially in these harsh, northern conditions.”
Sgt. Peter Moon is the public affairs ranger for 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at Canadian Forces Base Borden. See www.canadianrangers.ca.
Extreme cold weather is part of life every winter on the James Bay coast. The cold was normal for my parents who were both born on the land during a time...