Operation NANOOK: The beginning of a summer challenge

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Article / August 2, 2013

By: Erin Abercrombie

Trying to keep cool this summer? It’s easy - if you are a member of the Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force, Canadian Army and Canadian Rangers headed for the largest major sovereignty operation in the Arctic that is.

From August 2 to 23, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel will once again participate in Operation NANOOK, one of the most-well-known of all the Arctic operations conducted annually by the Canadian Armed Forces in Canada’s North.

Operation NANOOK serves to enhance the Canadian Armed Forces’ capability to operate in the challenging Arctic environment and to demonstrate its continued commitment and ability to support its northern and federal mission partners’ efforts to respond to safety and security situations.

This year, Op NANOOK is comprised of four scenarios taking place in the Western Arctic, the High Arctic, the Central Arctic the Eastern Arctic. Each location will challenge the Canadian Armed Forces with a notional scenario designed to test and improve their abilities when faced with the unique challenges of the North.

In the first scenario, Canadian Armed Forces members will be called in to help with a notional forest fire that is threatening the City of Whitehorse, Yukon. Deployed in the air and on land, CAF members will provide support to territorial and municipal partners in the context of Disaster Relief Operations.

In the Arctic, responding to emergencies requires a coordinated team approach”, said Commander of Joint Task Force (North), Brigadier-General Greg Loos.  “The knowledge and experience gained during Operation NANOOK 2013, with our northern partners during the safety and security training events, will enhance the Canadian Armed Forces interoperability with other government departments and agencies in order to build our collective capacity to respond to emergencies in the Arctic.

As in previous iterations of Op NANOOK, Canadian Armed Forces personnel will also contribute their time and labour to conduct community projects during the scenario in Whitehorse. The aim of these community projects is to give back to the community to thank residents for their support during the operation.

In the second scenario, the Canadian Armed Forces will assist Environment Canada on Cornwallis Island with an illegal falcon egg poaching scenario. The suspected poaching activity will fall within the law enforcement mandate of Environment Canada.

On and around Resolution Island, the Canadian Armed Forces will assist RCMP with simulated suspicious activity. The scenario will also involve a transfer at sea between the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Finally, the Canadian Rangers will be active on King William Island, patrolling in the area and reporting activity in the Northwest Passage. Being an invaluable addition to Operation NANOOK, the Rangers are highly skilled reservists who act as guides and mentors to Regular Force members in addition to performing predator control duties. They are a major contributor to the operational effectiveness of the military in the North.

Operation NANOOK is complemented by other annual sovereignty operations such as Operation NUNALIVUT in the High Arctic in April, Operation NUNAKPUT in the Western Arctic in July, and Operation QIMMIQ which spans the entire Arctic year-round.

The success of these northern operations further enhances the collaboration between the Canadian Armed Forces and other government departments and agencies. It also provides an opportunity to develop and strengthen relationships with local authorities and indigenous populations and leverage the unique expertise of the Canadian Rangers.

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