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As far as military exercises go, Canada’s annual Northern Exercise is modest in size: some 180 soldiers, mostly of them reserves from Ontario, others members of the Canadian Rangers volunteer force, will deploy to the Resolute Bay area of Nunavut, from today until March 28.
By way of comparison, Joint Viking, a Norwegian-led exercise held earlier this month, for example, involved 8,000 soldiers and marines from three countries.
Yet what the manoeuvre lacks in size, it makes up for in ambition. Norex, according to the mission brief, will test the “mobility, sustainability and survivability” of units while operating in the harshest environment Canada has to offer.
“Such training opportunities enhance the military’s ability to defend Canada’s northern border and ensures the capacity to respond wherever and whenever the government of Canada requires soldiers during domestic operations,” Brigadier-General SM Cadden said in a statement about the exercise.
Survivability, it should be noted, refers, in military parlance, to the ability to remain functional after engaging the enemy. With no adversary on the horizon, and with the Canadian forces still rebuilding their winter-warfare capacity after an extended period of neglect (see video below), it appears that enemy will be truly elemental.