Canadian army struggles with Arctic gear shortage
Internal documents reveal the Canadian army lacks the gear it needs to carry out its summer Arctic operations.
The Canadian military is struggling to find enough cold weather gear to carry out its annual summer Arctic exercise, the Canadian Press reports.
Briefing documents obtained by the Canadian Press under access-to-information law said military units lacked adequate tents, cooking stoves, trailers, storage containers, lanterns, and heaters.
The documents called the equipment lists “inadequate or incomplete” and said more equipment is needed immediately to ensure the “mobility, survivability and credibility” of the summer operation. Without the necessary trailers, the documents said, the patrol ranges would be limited.
The “critical equipment shortfalls” led the head of the army to approve a request from some units to buy more Arctic gear themselves.
Since becoming Canadian prime minister in 2006, Stephen Harper has frequently declared Arctic sovereignty a top priority for the Conservative government, even boldly stating “we use it or we lose it.”
The Canadian federal government has announced plans for projects in the name of Arctic sovereignty and security including surveillance satellites, which are intended to be deployed in 2015, and a military training camp in the far north.
But a 2010 cable posted on WikiLeaks last year cast doubt on Prime Minister Harper’s dedication to the Arctic. The cable, signed by U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson, suggested the emphasis on the Arctic was more about getting votes than a real priority, the Canadian Press reported.
The Department of National Defence has faced significant budget cuts in recent years. Canada’s 2012 budget cut funding to the department by $1.1 billion over the next three years.