By Corporal Natasha Tersigni, 38 Canadian Brigade Group Public Affairs
Winnipeg, Manitoba – Regardless of the military trade they choose, everyone who joins the Canadian Army (CA) is a soldier first.
Trading her trombone for a snowmobile, Corporal Samantha Rohringer, a musician with the Regimental Band of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, learned this lesson firsthand when she was deployed to the Arctic in March for Operation NUNALIVUT 2018.
When Cpl Rohringer joined the Winnipeg Army Reserve band in March 2012, she found the challenge, adventure and employment that she was looking for as a university music student.
After completing her basic training in Winnipeg and musician qualifications at Canadian Forces Base Borden, CplRohringer participated in different opportunities that her unit was able to offer her, including performing with the Band of the Ceremonial Guard in Ottawa, participating in the 2016 Fortissimo performance on Parliament Hill, travelling to London, England to perform with the Honourable Artillery Company Band, and starting the 2295 Royal Winnipeg Rifles Cadet Corps Band.
With a solid foundation in her musician trade, Cpl Rohringer started exploring initiatives and activities with which she could get involved in other aspects of the Reserve, including working as a clerk in her unit’s orderly room, participating in infantry exercises and preparing for the Primary Leadership Qualification course.
“Universality of service as a soldier means I must be willing to serve however I am ordered to serve. I joined the military as a musician but consider myself a soldier first,” explained Cpl Rohringer. “It is common to never be tasked with anything more than our primary duties as reservists, which is what makes it such an attractive part-time job for many members. However, I have been ready and thinking about a wider scope of experiences since day one.”
Additional opportunities arose for Cpl Rohringer in the fall of 2017 when she went on the Winter Warfare Basic course and was asked if she would like to take part in work-up training for Operation NUNALIVUT 2018. This annual sovereignty operation has been conducted in Canada’s North since 2007 and provides the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) the opportunity to assert Canada’s sovereignty over its northernmost regions. It also demonstrates the CAF’s ability to operate in the harsh winter environment in remote areas of the High Arctic and enhances its ability to respond to any situation in the Canadian North.
After several exercises and courses that she took in preparation, Cpl Rohringer was deployed with 350 CAFmembers to Resolute Bay and Intrepid Bay in March 2018 for Op NUNALIVUT.
While deployed as a member of 38 Canadian Brigade’s (38 CBG) Arctic Response Company Group (ARCG), Cpl Rohringer worked alongside fellow ARCGsoldiers and members of 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI). For the two-week deployment in the Arctic, Cpl Rohringer and the rest of 3 Platoon took part in patrols and a familiarity shoot with the Lee Enfield rifle and the Remington 870 shotgun. They also built a basic airstrip, learned winter survival lessons from the Canadian Rangers and went on an ice-fishing excursion.
“Op NUNALIVUT was surreal. The environment north of 60 isn't something I could have ever imagined without experiencing it,” said Cpl Rohringer, who added this was the first operation she has participated in.
“I learned a lot about staying warm, building snow shelters, Inuk lifestyles, and working with snowmobiles and other technology in Arctic conditions. I enjoyed working with the Rangers, building a team with my section and driving snow machines in the new terrain that Cornwallis Island had to offer most of all.”
As for a musician working in a combat arms role, Cpl Rohringer explained that with the right training, she was able to fit into the platoon and work alongside fellow soldiers in support of a successful operation.
“I have been in the CAF for six years, and though most of my training has not been field-related like other trades, I have had sufficient experiences to prepare myself,” said Cpl Rohringer.
“Many of my coworkers from other units in 38 CBG that made up the ARCG had no idea that I was a musician, and nearly all of the 2PPCLI members assumed I was infantry until they were informed of my trade. Any soldier can be either proficient or lacking in their position; their experience and knowledge matter more than their assigned unit or trade.”