Canadian Rangers train Australian counterparts

Article / February 17, 2020 / Project number: 19-0316

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By Lieutenant Natasha Tersigni, 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group Public Affairs Officer

Victoria, British Columbia — Ten members of the Australian Army Reserve’s North-West Mobile Force (NORFORCE) traded their sunhats for toques and traveled to British Columbia for Exercise NORTHERN LIGHTS 2019 (Ex NL19) hosted by the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (4CRPG).

NORFORCE and 4 CRPG have been collaborating since the first Ex NL in 2011. While they operate in vastly different climates, both are wilderness living experts that contribute national-security and public-safety in remote and isolated areas of their respective countries.

“This ongoing exchange has proven immensely successful with many best practices learned on both sides, as well as valuable cultural exchanges, including in terms of Aboriginal culture,” explained Lieutenant Colonel Russ Meades, Commanding Officer of 4 CRPG. “This exchange not only strengthens our respective units but bolsters the ties between Canada and Australia, two quite similar allied Pacific Rim countries.”

From November 10 to 22, 2019, the NORFORCE members took part in a variety of training activities delivered by Canadian Rangers throughout Victoria, Terrace, and Smithers, British Columbia. These included:

  • Operating the Canadian Rangers’ C19 service rifle and learning about predators that may be encountered in Northern British Columbia;
  • avalanche safety and equipment used while patrolling the backcountry;
  • helicopter operations in winter conditions;
  • overnight operations in the backcountry;
  • mountain snowmobiling.

“It is just incredible the number of similarities we have with the Canadian Rangers,” said Major James Oliver, the Officer in Charge of NORFORCE’s Arnhem Squadron. “The distance in remote areas that our governments require us to patrol, the areas where we recruit these soldiers from, the amount of information that we rely on from soldiers in remote communities - that is just the tip of the iceberg.”

While the tasks are similar to what is expected of NORFORCE members, the Canadian climate presented a challenge.

“We perform similar tasks to the Canadian Rangers but in the cold weather environment, it adds that extra layer of resilience for our soldiers,” said Maj Oliver. “We make the troops uncomfortable, which is not hard to do with the climate here in Canada right now. All of these soldiers have never even seen their breath before, so this is pushing them out of their comfort zone.”

For Private Joel Daniels of NORFORCE’s Arnhem Squadron, Ex NL19 was the first time that he had traveled to Canada and it was a training opportunity he will not soon forget.

“It was a great experience. I was told to be prepared for the cold weather, but I was not expecting it to be this cold. I was really happy that we were given some of the winter gear that is used in Canada,” he said.

“The training that I enjoyed the most was snowmobiling. We operate all-terrain vehicles in Australia but the snowmobile is so different.”

As Ex NL19 wrapped-up, the focus shifted to Exercise SOUTHERN CROSS 2020, which will bring members of 4 CRPG to Australia.

“Next year, in August 2020, we will be reciprocating the training exchange and we will be teaching the Canadian Rangers that come over to Australia on how to operate and live in a hot climate,” said Maj Oliver.

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