A major joint-level strategic exercise is underway that will allow the Canadian Forces to demonstrate new surveillance technologies and test its capacity to respond to emergency situations in Canada’s sparsely populated far North.
With a satellite on a Polar Epsilon surveillance mission passing overhead every 90 minutes and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) soaring out of sight, these high-tech platforms will silently provide reconnaissance support to the Commander Canadian Forces Northern Area (CFNA) and to members of Golf Company, 2 RCR, the Pangnirtung Ranger Patrol, HMCS Montreal, and 427 and 440 Squadrons on Exercise Narwhal.
For the most part, Ex Narwhal is taking place on Nunavut’s Baffin Island. Activities focus on the 1,200-person Hamlet of Pangnirtung, the surrounding Cumberland Peninsula and offshore at sea from August 18–24. In addition to the activities in and around Pangnirtung, the overall exercise runs August 12–31 in locations as diverse as Iqualuit and Yellowknife.
Ex Narwhal is being coordinated from Canadian Forces Northern Area Headquarters (CFNA HQ) in Yellowknife. Exercise participants include the Canadian Forces Experimentation Centre; the Canadian Space Agency; the Territorial Government of Nunavut along with the Canadian Coast Guard, represented by the CCGS Henry Larson; the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada.
The exercise has numerous objectives. It will assist in developing procedures for interdepartmental cooperation in the event of a crisis in the North. It will enforce Canadian sovereignty and interest claims. It will challenge senior military and civilian staff to support the Nunavut Territorial Government’s response to a crisis in a combined operations setting.
In addition, it will exercise CF capabilities for strategic joint command and control of operations. Land forces will maneuver over rugged terrain with naval and air forces providing joint support. The naval force will operate in the Pangnirtung and Kingnait Fiords and the Cumberland Sound area. Air operations will support the placement of troops for covert patrolling, with the UAV also providing counter-electronic surveillance.
The Joint Task Force Support Element (JTFSE) is providing second-line support to exercise participants. JTFSE reports directly to the Commander Joint Task Force (JTF). JTFSE’s headquarters is located in Iqualuit, with a detachment in Pangnirtung.
HMCS Montreal; the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Canadian Regiment; and 427 and 440 Squadrons are providing first-line supply and maintenance requirements.
In addition to exercising the CF response to an emergency situation in our Arctic, community relations will play an important role in Ex Narwhal. On August 29, Pangnirtung will host ‘Canadian Forces and Exercise Narwhal Day’ by holding a traditional Inuit feast. In addition to Inuit foods, Inuit sports and crafts will be on display. Seventeen community elders will attend, along with CF personnel who will engage in field sports and demonstrate naval, military and aviation skills.
Ex NARWHAL: Testing the CF’s Ability to Respond to Emergencies in the Far North