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By Capt. Mikel Arcovitch
VTNG JFHQ PAO
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Shane Yuknis first came to Resolute in 2019 while participating in Guerrier Nordique.
2023 marks his second visit to the northern most location for the Canadian hosted exercise. Active duty Soldiers form the 11th Airborne Division and National Guard Soldiers from Connecticut, New Hampshire, Utah, National Guard Bureau and Vermont join the Canadian Armed Forces for Guerrier Nordique 2023 in Resolute, Nanuvut, Canada from March 4-March 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 visiting 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 winter tent set-up, stove preparation, melting ice, boiling water, ice wall build-up, and food preparation among other activities to build a bivouac site survivable in the Arctic. Every Soldier has their own set of preferences for their sleep and camp set-up, most including sleeping system, an inflatable pad, and poncho. The key is to be insulated from the cold as much as possible, and always stay dry.
While working hard at staying warm and dry, soldiers at Guerrier Nordique need to be a functional rifleman as well, staying warm and dry is simply not enough. To facilitate combat exercises, there were several training simulations.
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.