Some of Norway’s top military command paid a visit to the Hub last week as part of a Northern trip to learn about the Canadian Ranger program.
“What you do here is important,” said Lt. Gen. Morten Haga Lunde, Commander Norwegian Joint HQ, to the assembled Rangers on June 25. “It’s important for me to see it, coming from Norway … it’s good to see the spirit here, there’s lots of enthusiasm and lots of professionalism.”
Lunde noted that Norway has a similar force tasked with patrolling the border between his country and Russia, but that the military there is looking to expand the program.
“In the future, the military will probably have less money and we’ll need to partner up as much as we can,” he said.
Local Ranger Master Corporal Rob Wilkins agreed that the program offers a lot of bang for the government’s buck.
While presenting the gear typically carried by a Ranger to the Norwegians, he explained that there are only a few standard issue items.
“A lot of it is dependent on the discretion of the patrol,” he said. “I guess the logic is that we know what we need to survive in our own region and on our land.”
Wilkins also added that people the group actively recruits – as well as the ones inclined to join – tend to be already comfortable being out on the land.
Norway is one of Canada’s Arctic partners and while Arctic sovereignty varies greatly between countries and regions. Hay River was chosen as an appropriate day-trip to show the visitors how a Ranger patrol works on the ground.
“I will bring what I have seen here today back home,” said Lunde. “And think about how to interact more, and how we can get together and exchange strategies and training.”
After eating a hearty feast from the fire and attending a brief shooting demonstration on the range, Lunde told the group his reasons for being in Hay River and the North were not purely strategic.
“This trip is also about reconnecting Canada and Norway,” he said. “I’ve spoken to a lot of immigrants and people whose families are from Norway, Estonia and Russia, and there is a shared past there. I’m glad to make the trip.”