The Ottawa Citizen’s David Pugliese says the Canadian Forces has targeted four Reserve units to “form the backbone of a new Arctic force to be created over the next five years”. Guess how many are from northern regions?
According to Pugliese’s 22 May 09 article, the following units have been earmarked for Arctic service:
1 Royal New Brunswick Regiment (based in Fredericton, NB)
Voltigeurs de Quebec (based in Quebec City, QC)
Grey and Simcoe Foresters (based in Barrie, ON)
Royal Winnipeg Rifles (based in Winnipeg, MB)
In the case of the Foresters, they’ve recently checked out what Ontario’s far north is like during Exercise Polar Warrior 2009.
Pugliese’s article doesn’t outline any rationale for why these units were chosen (assuming, of course, this is the final draft pick of players). At a glance, they appear to be close to major Regular Force support bases (Gagetown, Valcartier, Borden – also home of the 3rd Canadian Rangers Patrol Group – and Winnipeg/Shilo, respectively).
In Ontario, I note a range of Reserve units “closer to the action” appear to have been ignored for a potential northern tasking. Some examples:
The Lake Superior Scottish Regiment (an infantry unit based in Thunder Bay; access to an international airport; based in an area with First Nations, including some with Canadian Ranger patrols)
(FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m an alumnus of the LSSR.)
2nd Battalion, Irish Regiment of Canada (an infantry unit based in Sudbury, already a service hub for First Nations in Ontario’s far north with a significant First Nation population)
The Algonquin Regiment (an infantry unit based in North Bay, with a presence in Timmins, two other significant service centres for Ontario’s north)
All three of these units have access to major airports and are based in cities that are significantly populated with First Nation people and serve as service hubs to Ontario’s far north.
I’m not as conversant with other provinces, but I’m going to go on a limb and opine that there may be other Reserve units in similar circumstances elsewhere.
If this is indeed the case, the question becomes: should Canada have an Arctic Force that’s a fly-in fire brigade, or an Arctic Force that’s an augmentation of an already-existing presence?
What do you think?