Reservists and Regulars Build Komatiks for Ex NORTHERN BISON

24 02 2011

Source: Army News

Soldiers from the Arctic Response Company Group (ARCG) spent the first week of December building komatiks (wooden sleighs) in preparation for Exercise NORTHERN BISON 2011 from February 15–28.

MCpl Calin Ritchie drills pilot holes into the plastic runner as Sergeant Tim Fletcher, 2 PPCLI, holds the runner in place.

The Canadian Forces (CF) will be contributing to a top government priority—protecting the territorial integrity of the Arctic—and the komatiks will play a crucial role in ensuring that the soldiers can successfully move, shoot, communicate and sustain themselves in austere northern conditions.

“We will be packing a komatik with the UMS [unit medical station] and another komatik will be like a snow ambulance,” said Master Corporal Calin Ritchie, a medical technician with 17 Field Ambulance.

The komatiks will be pulled by snowmobiles throughout the exercise that will see both Regular and Reserve force soldiers work together with 1 and 4 Canadian Ranger Patrol Groups as they conduct a 300-km trek from Churchill, Manitoba to Arviat, Nunavut.

Komatik construction

MCpl Trevor Champagne, 2 PPCLI, uses a propane torch to help bend the plastic so it properly moulds to the runner.

The komatiks were constructed using 2 x 10 and 2 x 6 lengths of wood lashed together, nylon or plastic strips for runners, galvanized nails, screws, rope and glue. “Well, the first thing you have to do is build the runners,” said Sergeant Alex Brown, of the ARCG.

“You take 2 x 10s and laminate them together. Then you cut them down to size, attach the plastic runners, drill holes in them to attach the [2 x 6] cross members.” The cross members were lashed to the top of the runners using black polyester weave rope with the core removed.

“The hammering hurts after a while,” said MCpl Ritchie, who was setting the nails deeper after they had been driven through the plastic into the runner. “Especially when you hit yourself a couple of times.”

Sgt Alex Brown, Arctic Response Company Group, lashes cross members onto the komatik.

“Everything has been going really well,” said Sgt Brown. “We’ve gotten a lot of work done in the past couple of days and, by the end of weekend, we should have everything completed.”

The goal was to complete 29 komatiks during the week. In addition, the troops from 38 Canadian Brigade Group (38 CBG) and 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2 PPCLI) built boxes to carry UMS supplies and other items. Both will be essential to Ex NORTHERN BISON 2011.

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