Defence Policy,
Foreign Policy,
& Canada-US




Defence Policy  –  Conservative Party  –  December 2005

Stephen Harper announces the new defence policy
put forward by the Conservative Party of Canada – Pt 6

Dianne DeMille & Stephen Priestley  –  this article has been expanded from
'briefing  notes'  prepared  by  CASR  for  the  CBC  on  22  December  2005

Permanent Presence: Recruiting, Training, & Equipping Rangers in the Arctic

According to their website, the Conservative Party plan to revitalize " the Canadian Rangers  by recruiting up to 500 additional Rangers increasing their level of training, activity, and equipment"  Good idea , although that "up to"  bit is a concern.  Many Rangers units have waiting lists of willing recruits. So why limit expansion to under 500?  Focusing on units already intimately familiar with local terrain and conditions has obvious advantages – so does improving training and updating gear.  Even if recruiting is capped at 500, this is still an excellent idea.

As published, the Conservative Party plan gives no details of their intended improvements to Ranger training or equipment. We have a few suggestions. Replacements for the existing CF GPS receiver  (the US DAGR)  have already been tested in the Arctic. Make sure that Rangers north of 60 are early on the list for new GPS (remember: a traditional compass is often useless in the High Arctic). The same applies to any new radio issued to Regular infantry. Other than a distinctive red uniform, radio, and  GPS receivers,  Rangers are issued with a bolt-action rifle.

The ancient Lee-Enfield rifle used by Rangers is well-suited to Arctic conditions – the rugged bolt action is less prone to jam in frigid weather than an automatic rifle. These old rifles are virtually indestructable but there's room for improvement. The Lee-Enfield fires non-standard ammunition. A new bolt-action rifle is needed either chambered for DND-supplied 7.62mm NATO or locally-available .30" ammunition.

Global warming  is having a  traumatic effect on Arctic wildlife. As top carnivore,  the polar bear  has  always been a danger to humans in the North. That threat is heightened as the hunting opportunities for bears diminish.  Rangers are trained on Browning pistols but  these old automatics are past their prime.  There is also serious concerns that the standard CF 9mm pistol round will  not be adequate when a Ranger meets a hungry polar bear.

To protect members of  its Sirius Patrols in Greenland, Denmark  has adopted a 10mm  Glock automatic pistol. This larger calibre round has proven effective against charging polar bears. There is a similar North American round, the .40", which Para- Ordnance of  Toronto uses in a pistol very much like the CF's familiar Browning.[8] These HiCap 40 pistols might be ideal Arctic weapons.

The Conservative Party  is to be commended for making  recruiting and equipping of  the Canadian Rangers an election issue. There is room to expand on the theme. Perhaps it is time to recruit full-time Rangers to assert Canadian sovereignty in the High Arctic rather than trying to fly in resurrected Airborne troops from Trenton?
[8] Thanks to Nathan Chan for drawing our attention to the distinctions between 10mm Auto and .40" S&W ammunition  –  the latter  has a slightly shorter casing.
Dianne  DeMille  is  the  editor  of  the  Canadian  American  Strategic  Review.
Stephen Priestley is the creator of  DND 101 - A Visual Guide to CF Equipment .

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