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Home : News
NEWS | Feb. 27, 2023

Vermont Army Guard Leads Training Exercise in Arctic Circle

By Capt. Mikel Arcovitch, Joint Force Headquarters - Vermont National Guard Public Affairs

COLCHESTER, Vt. – The Vermont Army National Guard will participate in the winter training exercise Guerrier Nordique in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada, March 4-20.

The Vermont Soldiers will work with the 109th and 105th Airlift Wings from the New York Air National Guard, other National Guard and active-duty Soldiers from multiple states, and the Canadian Army.

In the past, Guerre Nordique, an important Canadian Armed Force Nordic exercise, operated as a training exercise for emergency response and domestic operations in extreme weather in Northern Canada. For the first time, this year’s Guerrier Nordique training will focus on combat capability and lethality in temperatures that stay well below zero the entire training period. Vermont first took part in the training in 2012.

“This year we are executing tactical tasks in one of the harshest environments on Earth,” said U.S. Army Maj. Matthew Hefner, the lead U.S. officer for the exercise. “To do this, we are working closely with the New York Air Guard, Royal Canadian Air Force, and our ground assets to make this happen. 

“This is my sixth year contributing to the exercise and is by far the most robust exercise we’ve been a part of, “Hefner said. “The training isn’t just combat effectiveness — it’s learning to survive in the Arctic.”

Soldiers split up into eight-person tent teams for the exercise. The teams include Soldiers from the Vermont, Utah, New Hampshire and Connecticut National Guard, the National Guard Bureau based in Arlington, Virginia, the 11th Airborne Division, and the 34th and 35th Canadian Brigade Group in Quebec province. The New York Air National Guard’s 109th and 105th Airlift Wings provide strategic and tactical airlift capacity.

Average temperatures in Resolute hover around -30° F, with temperatures frequently at -50° F with the wind chill.

“The Arctic is a critical strategic space, and it is amazing how far we have come operating in this challenging environment,” said Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, adjutant general, Vermont National Guard. “Working with our Canadian and New York Air National Guard counterparts is seamless, and all the credit to them for helping us develop our skills in Arctic survival and operations. I very much look forward to the lessons learned from this training experience.”

U.S. Soldiers will train March 4-5 at the Ethan Allen Firing Range in Jericho, preparing to depart to Canadian Forces Base Valcartier in Quebec. From there, a C-17 from the 105th Airlift Wing will transport all personnel and equipment to Resolute.