Military ramps up Arctic communications

The Canadian military's High Arctic exercise, Operation Nunalivut, is getting more tech-savvy. Rangers and the forces can now communicate in real-time via a chat program.

Can now chat with Canadian Rangers on location in real-time

Canadian Ranger Don Oyukuluk of Arctic Bay, Nunavut, makes contact with search and rescue technician Master Cpl. Jeff Connors of 14 Wing Greenwood, N.S., after he lands at Gascoyne Inlet, the site of a simulated medical rescue SAR training on April 21 during Operation Nunalivut 2012. (Cpl. Jax Kennedy/Canadian Forces Combat Camera )

The Canadian military’s High Arctic exercise, Operation Nunalivut, is getting more tech-savvy.

The forces have been training in the region near Resolute, Nunavut, for two weeks.

Lt.-Col. Glen MacNeil said they've made great progress in communications.

"This is the first time I've witnessed the technical commander of the forward element of the rangers group being able to do real-time chat not only to our headquarters here in Resolute Bay, but all the way back to Yellowknife," he said.

Before, the rangers were only able to connect with headquarters via radio and telephone. Now, they can communicate via a chat program.

"If the person in a deployed forward headquarter is talking to, let's say Yellowknife, then we can see what they’re saying in Resolute Bay. So we have an all-informed net. So if anything is going on or we need something to happen, we can immediately communicate over that mechanism. It's great in terms of situational awareness," he added.

The 150-person task force has members from the Royal Canadian Navy, army, air force and rangers. They traveled by snowmobile and by air to do search and rescue exercises, and they even dove into the freezing, remote Arctic waters.

MacNeil said operating in these conditions proves the Canadian military can operate just about anywhere.

Operation Nunalivut ends May 1.