Operation REASSURANCE (Europe)

Summary

  • In 2016, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) agreed to enhance its military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance to deter and defend against potential adversaries. As part of these efforts, NATO established three distinct deterrence and defence missions. Operation REASSURANCE is Canada’s contribution to these missions.
  • Canada’s participation in NATO’s deterrence and defence efforts in Europe contributes to European security, stability, and prosperity. Canada’s contributions also reinforce our commitment to the rules-based international order, demonstrate our transatlantic solidarity, and highlight our active leadership in the Alliance.

Background

  • In 2016, NATO agreed to enhance its military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance to deter and defend against potential adversaries. As part of this effort, NATO established three distinct missions in Europe: an enhanced Forward Presence, Standing Naval Forces, and a tailored Forward Presence.
  • NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence. This mission consists of four multinational combat-ready battle groups based in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. These battle groups are led by the United Kingdom (UK), Canada, Germany, and the United States (US) respectively – collectively known as framework nations for the enhanced Forward Presence. The presence of these battle groups makes clear that an attack on one Ally will be considered an attack on the whole Alliance, and represents the biggest reinforcement of NATO’s collective defence in a generation.
  • Canada leads the battle group in Latvia as a framework nation. Our key contributions include: a Task Force and a Battle Group headquarters, an infantry company in Light Armoured Vehicles, a combat support company (intelligence and communications), and a support company (transportation, supply and medical).
  • Enhanced forward presence forces are complemented by the necessary logistics and infrastructure to support pre-positioning and to facilitate rapid reinforcement.
  • The multinational enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia trains and exercises regularly. The exercises are multinational in nature and often integrate with the Latvian national defence forces and other Allied forces from outside the Battle Group, which enhances interoperability, and enables versatility in employment within the region.
  • The Canada-led battle group is comprised of approximately 1,400 troops, with eight other contributing nations: Spain (300 troops), Poland (200), Italy (160), Slovakia (152), Czech Republic (60), Slovenia (50), Albania (21) and Montenegro (10).
  • NATO’s Standing Naval Forces. This mission includes four multinational integrated Standing Maritime Groups: two destroyer/frigate groups and two mine countermeasures groups. These groups are continuously available to perform tasks ranging from participating in exercises to conducting NATO missions.
  • Standing Maritime Groups provide NATO with an immediate operational response capability both in peacetime and in crisis. They demonstrate the Alliance’s resolve and foster solidarity, as well as enhance the Alliance’s relations with partner nations through visits and exchanges.
  • Canada currently deploys a frigate to the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, which conducts routine patrols in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea. Command of the maritime group rotates between nations with Canada currently commanding.
  • NATO’s tailored Forward Presence.This mission refers to air policing activities in the southeastern region of the Alliance. It is a defensive mission that involves the 24/7 presence of fighter aircraft ready to react quickly to airspace violations.
  • To conduct the air policing mission, Allies forward deploy aircraft to bases in three regions: the Baltic States, Romania/Bulgaria, and Iceland. The mission assists Allies who do not possess sufficient means to provide air policing of their own territory.
  • Canada contributes up to six CF-18 fighter aircraft and 135 personnel on a four-month episodic basis to conduct air policing, surveillance, and training activities. The current Canadian deployment began in September 2019 and will conduct air policing tasks in the Black Sea region until the end of December 2019.  

Considerations

  • Canada’s leadership and contributions to NATO’s deterrence and defence missions demonstrates Canada’s commitment to be a value-added Ally as outlined in Canada’s defence policy, Strong Secure Engaged. It also reinforces Canadian messaging as a notable contributor to the Alliance.
  • As it relates to the enhanced Forward Presence, Canada has committed to leading the battle group in Latvia until 31 March 2023. As Minister of National Defence, you and your Latvian counterpart will regularly co-host meetings of Defence Ministers with troops in Latvia as part of the Canadian-led battle group. These meetings take place on the margins of the NATO Defence Ministerial Meetings.
  • Canada can contribute a vessel or command to either Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 or 2. Since July 2019, Canada has provided the Commander and staff for the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, a task which will end in December 2019. [REDACTED]
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