Live ammunition and explosives are on the agenda for an upcoming army training operation in the Tlicho region next month.
From February 14 to 26, 1,500 military personnel will travel to remote areas in the Tlicho outside Behchoko to participate in a $17.5 million exercise code-named “Arctic Ram.”
Along with explosives testing, soldiers will also engage in parachute drops, ski and snowshoe exercises and winter survival techniques. The operation will bring light armored vehicles (LAVs) into the Northwest Territories, the first time in decades those Canadian army vehicles have operated in the North. The LAVs will continue north for approximately 300 kilometres on ice roads to the communities of Gameti and Wha Ti.
Upon hearing about the military training exercise, the small communities nearby were concerned about their food and fuel supplies being depleted, but the army immediately made it very clear that they would be supplying their own food and fuel for the duration of the exercise.
The army has yet to confirm what sort of clean- up will follow the exercise and particularly what they would do to guarantee that no unexploded ordinance will be left behind once Arctic Ram wraps up.
This isn’t the first time the Canadian Army has used the region for training. In 2010, exercise Sovereign Grizzly brought recruits to nearby Yellowknife for similar Arctic exercises. During Sovereign Grizzly, soldiers used weapons-effect simulators, wearing receptors on their helmets and upper chests in order to pick up laser pulses fired along with blank rounds from special devices on their weapons. Exercise Arctic Ram will use live ammunition and explosives.
The main objective of these exercises is to see how the desert-tested vehicles and army equipment perform under extreme Arctic conditions.
The Canadian Forces wish to alert the public that for the duration of the Arctic Ram exercise – throughout mid to late February – there will be high volumes of military traffic on the road between Behchoko and Yellowknife, and on the winter roads from Behchoko to Gameti.