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Canadian troops brush up northern fighting skills

A paratrooper hits the ground a few seconds after Charlie Company of the 3rd Battalion of Princess Patricia's Light Infantry (PPCLI) jump out of the side door of a C-130 Hercules during Exercise ARCTIC RAM.

Cpl. Philippe Archambault/Courtesy Department of National Defence/Cpl. Philippe Archambault/Courtesy Department of National Defence

After a decade of working and fighting in the hot deserts of Afghanistan, Canadian troops are getting reacquainted with our frigid North in the largest Army-led exercise ever undertaken in the Canadian Arctic.

Troops largely from 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade, based at CFB Edmonton, have been in the Northwest Territories since Tuesday participating in ARCTIC RAM. The exercise, which ends Feb. 26, is another signal the federal government is ramping up efforts to assert sovereignty in the resource-rich Arctic.

While the exercise is led by the Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, it also includes the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force.

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Soldiers will be practising vehicle manoeuvres, patrolling with Canadian Rangers, firing weapons on temporarily erected ranges, parachuting, testing equipment and learning survival skills.

Nearly all of the soldiers are staying in tents designed for the harsh Arctic. Camp stoves are the only heat source.

ARCTIC RAM BY THE NUMBERS

$17.5-million: Budget for the exercise

1,500: Number of troops involved

65: Number of fighting vehicles, such as light-armoured vehicles, that will be used. As well, the exercise will require 300 support vehicles and 150 snowmobiles

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