|04-10-2006, 06:00 PM||#1|
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Port Moody
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Keep it up
RESOLUTE BAY, Nunavut (Reuters) -- Canadian forces on Sunday wrapped up a two-week exercise designed to assert sovereignty over the Arctic at a time when climate change is fueling international interest in the desolate, mineral-rich region.
Five patrol groups started off at separate points in the west and central Arctic and traveled a total of 2,800 miles (4,500 kilometers) by snowmobile over snow and jagged sea ice through a region that is almost totally uninhabited.
Most members were part-time rangers recruited from the Inuit, the aboriginal people of the Arctic. The patrols met up on Sunday near the hamlet of Resolute Bay, 2,100 miles (3,360 kilometers) northwest of Ottawa and 555 miles (890 kilometers) north of the Arctic Circle.
"You have helped maintain Canadian sovereignty over the Arctic. This was an unprecedented operation," Canadian army Lt. Col. Drew Artus told the cheering rangers, some of whom had frost-covered faces.
Domestic critics accuse Ottawa of all but ignoring the Arctic, which is experiencing rapid changes from development and climate change. Three diamond mines are now operating in the Arctic, and some experts predict the region could be home to significant oil and gas deposits.
The new Conservative government is promising a more muscular presence in the Arctic to deter intruders.
'This land is ours'
"I think the operation was a complete success. We've demonstrated the ability to move around the truly remote places of the Arctic," said Artus, acting commander of Canada's forces in the north.
"This land is ours," he said.
Although the patrol groups totaled only around 50 people on snowmobiles pulling wooden sleds, it was the largest tour of its kind in the Canadian Arctic for 60 years.
Canada is embroiled in territorial disputes with the United States over the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic -- the site of deposits of natural gas -- as well as with Denmark over which country owns Hans Island off the coast of Greenland.
Ottawa is also sparring with Russia as to how far its control stretches up to the North Pole. The result could be worth billions of dollars in oil and gas revenue.
The rapid pace of climate change means the usually ice-clogged Northwest Passage -- a shortcut through the Arctic between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans -- could be free of ice in summer by the end of the century.
Canada claims ownership of the waters in the passage and says it does not want to see foreign ships using it at will, believing this could increase the chances of a disaster in an environmentally fragile region. The United States and others reject the claim.
Canadian officials said another important reason to carry out the exercise was to discover exactly what was there. Haphazard record keeping means there are runways and buildings in the Arctic which the government knows nothing about.
These could be invaluable in case of a major airliner crash, something military officials say is likely. Some 400 civilian aircraft pass over the Arctic every week.
Copyright 2006 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
|04-10-2006, 07:48 PM||#2|
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 820Rep Power: 2033
I think I'll snowmobile over the north pole to russia, then through to india and snowboard on kashmir.
I'll probably die in the process.
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