Defence Policy – Conservative Party
– December 2005
Stephen Harper announces the new defence policy
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
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. These HiCap 40 pistols might be ideal Arctic
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
 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