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Home : News
NEWS | March 15, 2023

Vermont Guard Soldier Thrives in Canadian Arctic Exercise

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

RESOLUTE, Nunavut - U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Shane Yuknis first came to Resolute in 2019 while participating in Guerrier Nordique.

This is his second visit to the northernmost location for the Canadian-hosted exercise. National Guard Soldiers from Connecticut, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont and the National Guard Bureau join Active-Duty Soldiers from the 11th Airborne Division and the Canadian Armed Forces for Guerrier Nordique 2023 in Resolute, Nunavut, Canada, from March 4-20.

Yuknis has been a 19D Cavalry Scout with B Troop, 1st Squadron 172nd Cavalry (MTN), Vermont Army National Guard, for 16 years and loves the training Guerrier Nordique provides.

"Going to the Arctic is an opportunity every Soldier should take advantage of during their time in the Guard," said Yuknis. "Vermont has a bunch of spots for the training. I'd definitely recommend checking it out. It's not for everyone, but it's an awesome experience."

Yuknis's experience is a considerable advantage for Soldiers training in the Arctic. The first priority is basic survival skills, which become much more challenging in temperatures that hover around 20 below zero on an average winter day.

"Having the experience makes a big difference. All of the tasks around camp are second nature now. This allows me to help out other Soldiers that are less experienced and make a positive impact for the larger group. I hope more people get the opportunity to come to Guerrier Nordique to learn cold weather skills in the Arctic," said Yuknis.

Duties around the camp include setting up winter tents, preparing food, melting ice, boiling water and building ice walls to create a bivouac site survivable in the Arctic.

Every Soldier has preferences for their sleep and camp set-up. The key is to be insulated from the cold as much as possible and always stay dry.

Soldiers at Guerrier Nordique also need to be functional riflemen. There were several training simulations to facilitate combat exercises.

Guerrier Nordique included live-fire training on the range with .50 caliber and C-6 general-purpose machine-gun support from the Canadians, tent jumps, raids on objectives, and over-the-snow mobility by SUS-V and snowmobile.

"The only way to learn how to truly survive in the Arctic is to live in it. You can take classes, which are helpful, but nothing is close to actually being here," said Yuknis.