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Military exercise starts in Resolute this week

Jeanne Gagnon
Northern News Services
Published Monday, August 1, 2011

The Canadian Forces' annual summer Arctic training exercise will begin near Resolute this week, and is scheduled to include a simulated, major air disaster.

Joint Task Force North will set up its headquarters in Resolute for the duration of the operation, which will include more than 1,100 personnel from the navy, army, air and special forces along with about 100 personnel from other countries. Divers, Canadian Rangers, Hercules aircrafts and coast guard ships as well as a number of federal departments are expected to participate and/or support the operation.

Operation Nanook 2011 will run from Aug. 4 to 26 and will also include maritime emergency exercises as well as sovereignty and presence patrols.

Canadian Forces in the air, on land and at sea will conduct a sovereignty patrol from Aug. 4 to 20 on Cornwallis Island, and in Davis Strait, Baffin Bay and Lancaster Sound, stated Joint Task Force North spokeswoman Jennifer Wright. The United States and Denmark will also participate.

The simulated air disaster exercise will be held around Resolute, and a simulated maritime emergency exercise will take place in the Strathcona Sound area north of Baffin Island, involving the Canadian Coast Guard and the navy.

Wright said those simulations are Canadian-only emergency exercises, so the U.S. and Denmark will not participate as they will leave before the start.

"Op Nanook 11 marks a precedent as it will be the northernmost (major air disaster) exercise ever conducted by Canada," stated Wright via email. "Responding to an air disaster in the High Arctic requires significant co-ordination of a whole-of-government effort of which the Canadian Forces is only a part."

Other firsts will include the deployment of an unmanned aerial vehicle to support operations, stated Wright, and an evaluation of the use of aerostats - a type of surveillance balloon - in an Arctic environment by the Canadian Forces Air Warfare Centre.

Port visits are planned for Iqaluit, Grise Fiord, Pond Inlet and Nuuk, Greenland, and maybe Resolute, stated Wright. She added that throughout the operation, the naval task group will also conduct fisheries patrols, mapping operations and maritime surveillance in Davis Strait, Baffin Bay and the Lancaster Sound areas.

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