Also known as the completely unpronounceable in the human tongue Slædepatruljen Sirius, the Sirius Dog Sled Patrol is an elite Danish naval unit that is responsible for long-range patrolling and enforcing of Danish sovereignty in the Arctic wilderness of northern and eastern Greenland. Patrols generally consist of a pair of sleds and can last upwards of four months. Because of the latter, human participants face tremendous physical and psychological demands.
The dogs do too but they probably don’t have to fill out as many questionaries to get the job as humans do.
The unit came about in 1933 after an international court of the League of Nations ruled that if the Danes wanted to claim Erik the Red’s Land in eastern Greenland as their own, they had to assert sovereignty there. The Danes did, first in the form of two police outposts, then with the North-East Greenland Sledge Patrol in 1941. As World War II was in full swing, the patrol mainly served to keep Germans from using the area to broadcast weather conditions to its fleet of U-boats.
Today the Serius patrols in two periods. The autumn period begins when the ice becomes thick enough to travel upon, usually in November, and lasts until late-December or early-January when storms and the threat of constant darkness make travel, even by dog sled, all but impossible. The second period begins after the storms end in late-January and go until June.
Candidates for the patrol must have completed their compulsory service in the Danish Defense. Seven men are selected (no woman has ever applied) to start roughly six months of training. The training includes but is not limited to five weeks of survival training, and courses in shooting, demolition, engine and mechanics, reconnaissance, firefighter, radio and communications, and first aid.
Candidates also take a sewing course.
Well, la di da!
A final group of 12 patrolmen is chosen then sent to Greenland for 26 consecutive months of duty. Patrolmen carry Gevær M/53, which is an M1917 bolt-action rifle chambered in .30-06, loaded with both 168-grain armor-piercing M2 military rifle round and civilian hollow-points. The first is used for protection against polar bears while the latter is used on charging muskox. Patrolmen also carry a 10mm Glock 20. Patrolmen used to carry 9mm Glocks but they were found to be too light for close contact with enraged polar bears.
Charging musk ox, enraged polar bears, unforgiving ice storms, 24 hours of darkness at a time, and 26 months tours with no vacation…thus is the life of a patrolman working in the world’s only military dog sled patrol.
Would you volunteer?