Monday, August 8, 2011

2011 Bear Issues Forecasted

I'm sure most of you know this by now but it is time to be very 'bear aware'. Only now are bears moving into the valley bottoms. I saw several juvenile black bears this week end - the week previous I saw none. Their trek down from higher in the valleys to take advantage of the salmon runs delicacy probably started in the last two weeks and they're showing up in numbers now.

My observation is that this is delayed from years past. They normally arrive in the valley bottoms by mid to late July (not mid August). High proportion of juveniles are being noted. These are usually the most dangerous bears. Curious and brave enough to be a nuisance and a potentially serious threat to people; especially children.

Mother Nature - She often works like clock but this year the bears are late. The cool dry spring we've had here in NW British Columbia is likely responsible. The snow pack has taken longer to recede and the lush herbacious forage has kept bears in high elevations as a result.

If you're unfamiliar with bears give this a read. I put this together for the Rangers several years ago now but decided to post this on my blog last year. It's a guide - nothing more - nothing less, but something to think about. Good guide for folks unfamiliar with bear behaviour. Big influence by James Gary Shelton - a mentor of mine.

I'm not a pro by any sence of the imagination but since I started working in the bush 20 years ago I have come to have a deep respect for bears and the behaviours or parameters by which they generally seem to operate.

Their cycle is a bit out of wack this year. I hope this doesn't result in hungry bears invading town again because their timing was out on the salmon runs. Garbage discipline should be a priority in NW BC. I expect that the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource OPerations in partnership with the Ministry of Environment will be out issuing Wildlife Protection Orders to people not paying attention to detail.

For those of you living in close proximity to play grounds and schools - you need to keep your garbage stowed and secured from bears and clean up after your fruit trees. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

The True North Strong and Free?

1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Under this treaty, a country's territory can be expanded much further if you can prove the ridges and rock formations underneath the water are connected to your continental shelf.
Russia is attempting to prove that the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge are the extension of the Russian continental shelf, the country will receive the right to the additional 1.2 million square kilometers in the Arctic and to the development of huge oil and gas fields.

The Russian research vessel Akademik Fedorov left Arkhangelsk on July 27 2011 for a three-month expedition to the Arctic to ascertain the borders of Russia's continental shelf.
The Siberian Shelf, is the largest continental shelf on Earth. It stretches to 1500 kilometers (930 miles) offshore. It is relatively shallow, with average depth of 100 metres.

Russia claims that the Lomonosov Ridge and the Mendeleev Ridge are an extension of the Siberian Continental Shelf and thus suggest they have their own Territorial Waters and Exclusive Economic Zones which radiate outwards from it. The interpretation of deep seismic & reflection sounding provided Russia data on the characteristics of layering and thickness of the earth's crust which are characteristic of a continental-type crust (not a thin oceanic crust).

The USA argues that geological and physical evidence indicates that the Mendeleev Ridge System originated on oceanic crust by volcanism over a "hot spot."

A "hot spot" is a magma source rooted in the Earth's mantle that is persistent for at least a few tens of millions of years and intermittently produces volcanoes on the overlying earth's crust as it drifts across the hot spot during continental drift.

The Mendeleev hot spot built a volcanic ridge about 35 km thick on the newly formed oceanic crust. The Mendeleev Ridge System is therefore volcanic features of oceanic origin and not part of any State's continental shelf

How does this impact Canada?
The question of what comprises Canada's internal waters has been raised. Our neighbours see the Northwest Passage as an international strait that any ship should be free to transit.

If this is true then would all land north of the Northwest Passage would be lost to us? Canada has until 2013 to submit their scientific data to a UN commission to prove our territorial waters and that the Northwest Passage does not constitute an international strait.

(from Canada maintains that the waters separating most of the islands in Canada's Arctic are frozen over most of the year. Inuit hunt and spend large amounts of time working and even living on the ice — in effect turning it into an extension of the land. Canada also boasts one of the few year-round sites of human habitation close to the North Pole at Canadian Forces Station Alert, a military base at the northern tip of Ellesmere Island. Many have said that Canada's sovereignty case is weak and it might lose if tested.

The latest new comes from 

"The Russian military is putting together two brigades of specially trained Arctic troops to protect Russian interests, Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced on July 1st 2011. A brigade typically consists of 3,000 to 5,000 troops. "

The general staff is currently drafting plans to establish two such formations. Those plans should take into account deployment sites, armaments, number of servicemen and infrastructure," the defence minister said. The minister said the northern Russian cities of Murmansk or Arkhangelsk are being considered as the bases for the new Arctic warfare units.

Also last week, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced plans to build a $33-billion year-round port on the Yamal Peninsula, in the Russian Arctic.

The process of deterents and jockeying for position has started. This brings another definition to the 'Cold War'. I submit to you that this is the greatest direct threat to Canadian sovereingty that we have ever seen since the war of 1812. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Canadian Rangers and the new rifle

In response to this report from the Ottawa Citizen:
Canadian Rangers to carry Winchesters after 60 years of bearing Enfield rifles
Amended to add: This article has been removed by the Ottawa Citizen. The article mentioned that the Federal procurement system had decided on a Winchester rifle for the Canadian Rangers.

It is my understanding that Defence Research and Development Canada did not submit the 'Human Factors Requirements Validation' report until the fall of 2010. I seriously doubt there has even been a request for proposals advertized yet. So, in short, I'd dissregard the Winchester reference. The officer was likely talking about the Winchester 94's the PCMR were issued during WW2 (or that the new calibre will be .308 Winchester) and the reporter got it wrong as the media often does.

Having been an active participant of one of the design requirements consultation meetings and reading the report there really isn't a stock sporting rifle out there that will meet the needs without some modification.

I'm hoping for a purpose built milspec rifle that contain a few modern sporting features NOT a sporting rifle adapted for milspec requirements.

Having said that, the only commercial action I could see being cost effective and possibly adopted would be the Remington Model 700 as it would meet most of the design criteria (with the exception of the 2-stage trigger and the ten round detachable magazine). Oops there I go hypothesyzing again
After numerous conversations with various people it has dawned on me that most folks don't entirely understand what Rangers are. That's OK - I get this a lot, and I'm only happy to talk about this stuff (obviously).

To boil things down... Basically Rangers are there for Domestic Operations in suport of the Military and for JTF Commander's situational awareness. Eyes and ears in remote and rural Canada my friends If you go the the CF Ranger National Website and read the Mission and Tasks statements of the Canadian Ranger you might get a better feel for what they do.

Sure, a Ranger could conceivably be attached to an infantry section to scout out and locate some evil nasty undesireables on Canadian soil. Could that section come under fire? I suppose so... But do Rangers need a platform specialized for combat purposes? Nope, the guys and gals in CADPAT (aka the 'Green Wieners' - a little Ranger slang for you) are there for that. When in uniform we literally glow in the dark. When not in uniform we're your average Joe - This is our camoflage - and there are a lot of us now. An extensive intelligence network.

When on FTX or deployments we're mainly 'overt' not 'covert' - in other words, in most situations we want to be seen and highly visible. The red sweaters can be a bit of a pain - especially on the 'Wet' coast where the cotton turns into a large sponge. They're not very field expedient by any stretch of the imagination but there is no sence complaining about it, you're issued what you're issued and you soldier on to the best of your ability. We have no 'Number One' uniform. The red sweater is it.

Rangers aren't combat soldiers but they're not civilians either - it can be confusing (even for us sometimes). You could call Rangers a Military hybrid if you will (for lack of better verbage).

Rangers salute officers, obey the chain of command, utilize NATO orders format, are bound by military law, they can be court martialled and judged by military tribunal. Rangers are members of the Canadian Armed Forces, carry CF identification and are the only branch of the CF that I know of that takes their CF issue weapon and ammunition home with them for storage (with maybe a few exceptions). With all of this in mind, again, we're not combat soldiers although many of us have extensive backgrounds as former combat soldiers, sailors and airforce personel. In other words most of us know when it's time to duck.

No need to guess what the new weapon platform will be, or even what it should be. When it's time they will let us know. Until then, keep your enfields clean and your ammo dry.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Do you need to wear a tac vest to shoot service rifle?

Do you really need to wear a tactical vest to have any chance in service rifle shooting?  The quick answer is probably no... BUT it really depends onthe course of fire you're shooting.

I comes down to ergonomics. A chap running an AR-15 can carry more mags than a chap running a VZ-58 (858). Where are you going to place the mags? High on your chest or down low? Are you left or right handed? Do you need to be able to access pistol mags too? What makes the most sence?

Being able to access your mags in quick fashion can be done on the cheap. CP Gear will sell you a tac vest for $250+ however a simple belt order with mag pouches might run you $50 after taxes and shipping.

Have a look at this chap and see what he's doing. Seems to work well enough for him in a Close Quarters Course of fire!