Ranger Patrol

Canadian Ranger Master Corporal Adam Glover

Canadian Ranger Master Corporal Adam Glover, of Gillam Patrol in Manitoba, pulls back on the bolt of his Lee Enfield .303 rifle during marksmanship training at Heals Range in Victoria, BC. Photo by Capt Chris Poulton, Public Affairs

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

They are the eyes and ears of remote Canada and a vital part of the Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) domestic operations, but most people still don’t know they exist.

With that in mind, the newly appointed commanding officer of the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (4 CRPG), Lt.-Col Russ Meades, says one of his key focuses will be educating both military personnel and the public about the approximately 5,000 part-time Canadian Rangers across our country who provide patrols for national-security and public-safety missions in difficult to access, sparsely settled regions as members of the Canadian Army Reserve.

Lt.-Col Meades is now the man in charge of the 1,000 Canadian Rangers in the four western provinces and their immense area of 2.71-million square kilometers of rugged terrain and coastline in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba with 43 locations between the Pacific Coast and the Ontario border.

“Part of my personal quest during my tenure will be to dispel some of the myths and standardize and build on our message of who we are and what we are about so we can garner greater public understanding,” said Lt.-Col Meades. “To command 4 CRPG is a great honour and a privilege and also a massive undertaking and responsibility, but above and beyond that it’s a wonderful opportunity.”

After the Change of Command Ceremony held at Camp Albert Head on June 26, Lt.-Col Meades was quick to point out that his predecessor, outgoing commanding officer Lt.-Col Tim Byers, did “stellar work” in overseeing the transition of the unit after control of the Canadian Rangers was transferred from the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff to the Canadian Army nine years ago. With the transformation complete, the 4 CRPG ranks have swelled from 600 in 2007 to its present-day level of approximately 1,000 Rangers, plus over 800 Junior Canadian Rangers, all overseen by 65 full-time staff.

He notes how 4 CRPG, a unit of the 3rd Canadian Division which is headquartered in Edmonton, has become a go-to organization for both Joint Task Force West and Joint Task Force Pacific.

“The Canadian Rangers have gone from being a pre-2007 military backwater, a program with very limited funding and resources, to a robust organization that is a very capable and a reliable resource for Division and Joint Task Force commanders,” said Lt.-Col Meades.

As the native of Berkshire, England, speaks from his office at 4 CRPG Headquarters in Colwood’s Belmont Park, he is not shy to admit his passion for both his adopted country and the Canadian Rangers. Lt.-Col Meades joined the British Army in 1981 and made his way to Canada, being assigned to teach climbing courses to British Army units in Jasper in the late 1980s. He eventually joined the Canadian Army Reserve (The Calgary Highlanders) in January 1991 as a Warrant Officer and was Regimental Sergeant Major of that unit before being commissioned in 2000 and eventually transferring to 4 CRPG as the Operations Officer in 2007. His teaching continues to this day, educating Canadians about the importance of the Canadian Rangers, enhancing public awareness, opinion, and support for this unique Canadian Army entity.

Lt.-Col Meades noted another key focus will be to firmly entrench 4 CRPG customs and traditions through what he describes as other layers of “institutional robustness” such as acknowledging the unit’s history and culture, including perpetuating the Pacific Coast Militia Rangers (PCMR) of World War II.

With 2017 seeing both the 75th anniversary of the PCMR and 70th Anniversary of the Canadian Rangers, Lt.-Col Meades understands the strategic potential in leveraging these important milestones as springboards into future successes.

“I’m not suggesting that my ideas are the be-all and end-all, but I just want to put them on the table and effect positive change internally, and if that contributes to change at a national level, it will give me a great deal of satisfaction.”

The 5000 men and women of the five Canadian Ranger Patrol Groups represent extreme diversity across Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon, and of course 4 CRPG in the west. They come from over 200 communities and between them represent 26 dialects and languages, many of them Aboriginal.

The Canadian Rangers frequently work in concert with other branches of the federal government including the Canadian Coast Guard and RCMP, as well as provincial entities such as the Manitoba Fire Commission and the various provincial fish and wildlife organizations. Typical Canadian Ranger tasks include conducting and supporting sovereignty operations north of the 60th parallel, conducting search and rescue operations, providing humanitarian support for natural and man-made disasters, patrolling, reporting suspicious or unusual activities, collecting data of military significance, conducting training operations, and providing assistance to federal, provincial, territorial and municipal authorities.

The Canadian Rangers’ remote community-based patrols, which are all around a platoon size, are expected to maintain an intimate knowledge of the land within a radius of 150 kilometres from their communities. That’s because one of their biggest challenges is being able to deploy quickly and traverse the rugged territory in which they operate.

“If there is a major air disaster for instance, our Rangers need to know how to get there and have that knowledge of their area so they can access, respond and report,” said Lt.-Col Meades.

He adds that the Canadian Rangers are vastly different than other military units. Canadian Rangers cannot be deployed outside of Canada for operations, albeit 4 CRPG’s Rangers have close ties with the Australian Defence Force’s Northwest Mobile Force and train with them regularly.

“That’s why 80 percent of our training is mobility training. It’s about getting the Rangers where they need to go quickly and the remainder of it is what the rest of the army would recognize as soldier skills,” said Lt.-Col Meades.

Although the Rangers are equipped with rifles and are trained to use them, they will never be asked to engage a human enemy and their firearms are used for self-preservation and predator control. They are financially compensated with part-time wages along with daily rates paid for the use of their personal vehicles which can include everything from planes and helicopters to ATVs, SUV’s, horses, boats and sled-dog teams. The unique nature of the Canadian Rangers and their inherent diversity are their main strengths, said Lt.-Col Meades.

“They are not soldiers; they don’t think like soldiers and we shouldn’t expect them to,” said Lt.-Col Meades. “They are in the military, but are a unique and different breed and if we fail to recognize that we do them and us a disservice. They might work quite differently than the rest of the Army, but they are the eyes and ears of the Divisional and Joint Task Force commanders in Canada’s remote regions and are the only force than can perform this vital role.”

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  1. Gary Carnegie says:

    The Canadian Rangers are dedicated and a great asset to the CAF. We need these men and women who are experts in Arctic survival and we rely on them greatly to teach us. I was on exercises with them we slog in the Arctic they treat it as a walk in the park. I would not go anywhere without our Rangers.

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