Vanguard Magazine

Vanguard December 2022/January 2023

Preserving capacity, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff, Keys to Canadian SAR

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Page 37 of 39

38 DECEMBER 2022/JANUARY 2023 THE LAST WORD de¬ployments of the Army, support search and rescue on land, and support their com- munity during a disaster such as the ava- lanche in Kangiqsualujjuaq or during the COVID lockdown. The concept proposed in the discussion paper was brilliant. It was to use the Cana- dian Rang¬ers as first responders in their maritime role. In the conduct of their sea- sonal maritime patrols, the Rangers, who are mostly Inuit in the High Arctic, would report any unusual or suspicious activ¬ities such as illegal fishing, ships in maritime pro- tected areas, an environmental spill, or un- usual presence in one of the national parks. Their report would be provided to the rel- evant author¬ities to take appropriate ac- tion. Depending on the circumstances, the Rangers could take immedi¬ate action to minimize impacts. They could be the first responder to an environmental issue while the Canadian Coast Guard would ramp up its response. They would naturally be ready to execute a search and rescue operation. One of the important contributions they would provide is to maintain communi- cation and continuous information on a given situation on site while the appropri- ate fed¬eral agency would be deploying the required resources. Informa¬tion on the nature of an envi¬ronmental spill or the detailed information on the number and type of casualties would provide valuable information to tailor the federal response appropriately. In the words of Senator Pat- terson, "… Inuit are specifically suited to a maritime capability because of their in- timate knowledge of and mastery of the Arctic ma¬rine environment—land fast ice included." The security situation in the Arctic is changing rapidly mainly because of the im- pact of global warming, which is making access to the Canadian Arctic archipel¬ago much easier and for increas¬ingly long periods of time. We have already seen a significant increase in maritime activity including tourist vessels, cruise ships and vessels transporting criminal elements. The situation with Ukraine only magnifies the need to have complete domain awareness in our Arctic. China, which claims to be a "near-arctic state," has long-term Arc- tic ambi¬tions and has been increasing its presence in the Arctic. Its grow¬ing ag- gressiveness and the threat of its fishing fleet to our Western Arctic exclusive eco- nomic zone only adds to the need to know what takes place in our Arctic at all times. The Canadian Forces did not increase the maritime role of the Canadian Rang- er Program in the Arctic following the recom¬mendation of the December 2009 report of the Senate Committee on Fisher- ies and Oceans, the 2010 discussion paper on enhancing the role of the Rangers, nor the sovereignty and security in Can¬ada's Arctic interim report of the Senate Com- mittee on National Security and Defence. The Ca¬nadian Coast Guard, to its merit, has been partially filling the void by de- ploying Auxiliary Canadi-an Coast Guard detachments in several Arctic communities to improve maritime search and rescue. As is the case in the Arctic, some of the detachments are staffed in part by people who are also members of the local Ranger Patrol. We find the same people in the leadership of their communi¬ty, participat- ing in their hunters and trappers organiza- tion and volunteering in the community's search and rescue organization. In the Arctic, the challenges of lack of infrastruc- ture and the cost of doing business require a whole-of-government approach where federal departments share information and resources. In those communities that have an Auxiliary Canadian Coast Guard boat, the Canadian Rangers could use the same vessel to conduct their patrols, a cost-ef- fective use of a federal asset. "We can easily bring people from South- ern Canada to in¬crease our security in the Arctic, but why not employ the people of the Arctic: they are there, they know the land and waters, and they have vested interests," said Sen. Dallaire in February 2010. Hopefully, because of the auditor gen- eral's report, the Canadian Forces will reconsid¬er the recommendation of that 2010 discussion paper to give the Cana- dian Rangers a maritime mission. This would provide an additional layer of infor- mation to improve and maintain domain awareness especially if one of the surveil- lance systems in place becomes unservice- able or is not replaced in time. Reprinted with permission, The Hill Times, December 2022 Colonel (Retired) Pierre Leblanc is a former Commander of the Canadian Forces in the Arctic Canadian Armed Forces members and Canadian Rangers return from their presence locations, during Operation NANOOK-NUNAKPUT 22 in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut on August 26, 2022. Photo: Bdr Julia Currie, Joint Task Force North

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