Military passes through as part of exercise

Hay River’s roads were occupied by some less common vehicles on the weekend, as a Canadian military convoy rolled through town as part of a trek to the Arctic.

The exercise, titled Arctic Ram, has hundreds of military vehicles and personnel making the three day journey from CFB Edmonton to Yellowknife in three separate groups.

According to a release from the Canadian military, those three groups were further separated into smaller packets of approximately 10 vehicles “for reasons of safety and to help alleviate highway congestion.”

Exercise Arctic Ram is the first training exercise of it’s kind for the 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group and is designed to familiarize soldiers with the harsh winter environment in the Northwest Territories and develop an understanding of the requirements for Arctic operations as well as testing all equipment in harsh conditions.

According to Army Public Affairs Officer Fraser Logan, this exercise is the first of it’s kind on this large a scale within the generation.

“We’ve moved away from a combat role in Afghanistan so defensive Canada is very important to us,” he said, adding that the military needs to keep current regarding the issues pertinent to the country.

Logan said that the term “winter warfare” is being used to describe the exercise, as all personnel will be staying in Arctic tents heated by stoves for the duration of the exercise.

“No one is being put up in a hotel,” he said.

Approximately 90 soldiers and 50 vehicles travelled through the area between Jan. 20 and 22.

The next group is scheduled to start rolling through between today and Jan. 27, with nearly 230 soldiers and 80 vehicles stopping in Hay River to overnight on their second day of travel.

The last group, of 60 soldiers and 25 vehicles is expected to move through between Feb. 9 and 11.

Fuel trucks are moving with the convoy and vehicles will not be refuelling at local pumps.

Logan said that the light armoured vehicles moving through town are the same ones that were used overseas, and the purpose of the exercise is to see how well they work in Arctic conditions.

“We are putting them in the Arctic to see how they do,” he said.

Other exercises include a live firing range to be set up outside of Yellowknife and weather permitting, a parachute jump which Logan said has not been conducted in a long time.

The exercise will be based in Yellowknife from Feb. 14 to 26, but specific activities will take place in the communities of Gameti, Behchoko and Whati.