Defence Minister Anita Anand meets with NATO Allies and announces deployment of Canadian Army Tank Squadron to Latvia
June 16, 2023 – Brussels, Belgium – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
Today, the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence concluded a successful visit to Brussels, Belgium. During her visit, she participated in the thirteenth meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group and a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Defence Ministers. During the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers, Minister Anand and her Allied counterparts discussed the upcoming NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, and NATO’s ongoing work to promote Euro-Atlantic security.
Minister Anand announced that Canada intends to deploy a Canadian Army Tank Squadron of 15 Leopard 2 tanks to Latvia, along with supporting personnel and equipment. This deployment as part of Operation REASSURANCE is set to take place over the coming months, with the full arrival of the tanks, initial supporting personnel, and equipment expected by Fall 2023. The full complement of approximately 130 personnel should be in place by spring 2024.
This Canadian Army Tank Squadron will join the Canada-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battle Group in Latvia – a multinational, ten-nation battle group that Canada has led as the Framework Nation since 2017. The deployment of the Canadian Army Tank Squadron will significantly boost the Battle Group’s military capabilities. This announcement demonstrates Canada’s commitment to implementing the Canada-Latvia Joint Declaration of June 2022, through which Canada pledged to work with Latvia and NATO Allies to generate and stage forces in order to surge the eFP Battle Group Latvia to a combat capable brigade.
During the NATO Defence Ministers’ Meeting, Allies discussed their ongoing support to Ukraine, with an emphasis on setting the conditions for the country’s long-term military success and a strengthened relationship with NATO, while also ensuring sufficient defence production. Ministers reaffirmed NATO’s solidarity and unity in response to Russia’s illegal and unjustifiable war, and providing timely and effective aid to Ukraine, in partnership with industry.
The Minister also met with:
- Norway’s Minister of Defence, Bjørn Arild Gram. Both ministers signed the Enhancement of Bilateral Defence Co-Operation Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Canada and Norway, which aims to enhance defence cooperation between the two countries in several areas, such as strategic surveillance and situational awareness in the Arctic; the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda; climate and security; training and education; space activities; cyber security; and defence science and technology.
- Latvia’s Minister of Defence, Ināra Mūrniece, in a follow-up to their May meeting in Ottawa, Minister Anand reinforced Canada’s commitment to implementing the Joint Declaration to augment Canada’s leadership of the battle group in Latvia.
- Representatives from Allied nations contributing to the eFP Battle Group Latvia. Representatives discussed steps to reinforce the Battle Group in line with NATO’s reinforced deterence and defence posture.
- Representatives from Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, and the United Kingdom. The representatives reinforced eFP participating nations’ commitment to the defence of NATO’s Eastern Flank and advanced the alignment of the Framework Nations’ approaches to implementing their commitments.
- Sweden’s Minister of Defence Affairs, Pål Jonson. Minister Anand reiterated Canada’s support for Sweden’s accession to NATO without delay.
- Italy’s Minister of Defence, Guido Crosetto. The Ministers discussed areas of bilateral collaboration, including the eFP Battle Group Latvia.
- North Macedonia’s Minister of National Defence, Slavjanka Petrovska. The Ministers discussed contributions to the eFP Battle Group Latvia and the situation in the Western Balkans.
- Finland’s Defence Minister, Antti Kaikkonen. The Ministers discussed Finland’s recent accession to NATO and how Canada and Finland can continue to work together to bolster Euro-Atlantic security.
During this important moment for Euro-Atlantic security, Canada continues to work closely with NATO Allies and international partners to provide and coordinate comprehensive military assistance for Ukraine, and to help build a more resilient NATO Alliance.
“Canada’s support for Ukraine is unwavering, and our commitment to the NATO Alliance is ironclad. Canada’s additional military aid to Ukraine will help the Armed Forces of Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s illegal and unjustifiable invasion. In addition, the deployment of a Canadian Army Tank Squadron to Latvia demonstrates Canada’s continued commitment to Latvia’s security, and the collective defence of NATO. As a founding member of NATO, Canada will continue to step up with concrete contributions to protect our Allies.”
The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence
NATO is a cornerstone of Canada’s international security policy. Canada believes in and steadfastly supports NATO’s principle of collective defence and is providing direct support to NATO missions and operations.
Current Canadian contributions to NATO include:
- leading the multinational NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia;
- providing consistent and episodic support to NATO maritime forces through the deployment of Surface and Sub-surface vessels.
- continuing to support training and capacity building efforts in the Middle East under Operation IMPACT, including through NATO Mission Iraq; and
- continuing to provide Canadian Armed Forces personnel support to the NATO-led international peace support operation in Kosovo through Operation KOBOLD.
As part of the Canadian Army Tank Squadron, in addition to the 15 Leopard 2 tanks, over 35 vehicles will be deployed to Latvia including two Armoured Recovery Vehicles, and a variety of maintenance, fuel, supply, and transport vehicles will provide direct support to the Tank Squadron. Leopard 2-specific tools and test equipment will also be deployed to ensure that a robust maintenance capability is established in Latvia for the fleet.
At full strength, approximately 130 personnel will be deployed as part of the Canadian Army Tank Squadron. This will include approximately 120 personnel to operate the squadron and an additional 10 personnel will be added to the existing sustainment and maintenance structure in Task Force Latvia.
Since the beginning of 2022, Canada has committed over $8 billion in aid to Ukraine, including over $1.5 billion in military assistance. This includes 288 AIM-7 missiles, 10,000 rounds of 105mm artillery ammunition, eight Leopard 2A4 main battle tanks and one armoured recovery vehicle, a National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) with associated munitions, 39 armoured combat support vehicles, anti-tank weapons, small arms, M777 howitzers and associated ammunition, high-resolution drone cameras, winter clothing, and more. Canada will join the Leopard 2 Maintenance and Service Centre in Poland and will contribute to multinational efforts to train pilots, and maintain and support Ukraine’s F-16s, leveraging Canadian expertise in these areas.
Budget 2022 includes over $8 billion in new funding over five years to better equip the Canadian Armed Forces and to strengthen Canada’s contributions to our core alliances and partnerships such as NATO and NORAD.
Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the Minister of National Defence
Department of National Defence
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