North Atlantic Treaty Organization

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO): CAF partner in defence, security and peace

Soldiers from various countries speak.

Lieutenant-General Manfred Hofmann (second from left), Commander of Multinational Corps Northeast, and Lieutenant-Colonel Wade Rutland (third from left), Commander of the enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup in Latvia, speak with Albanian and Slovenian troops at the training area of Camp Adazi, Latvia on August 2, 2017, during Operation REASSURANCE. Photo: MCpl Gerald Cormier, enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Latvia

One of the roles of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is to contribute to international peace and security. The CAF does so by joining with allies and mission partners against perceived common threats. CAF allies include other nations with similar goals and values, as well as allied organizations that cross over international borders. NATO is one such group.

Canada is a founding member of NATO, which was formed in 1949 following World War II. It is an alliance of 29 countries from Europe and North America, which are considered member states. NATO’s purpose is to help stop conflict between countries and guard the freedom and security of its members, by military or other means. If one of the member states is attacked, the treaty has a pact that requires others to come to its aid.

NATO is also linked with a network of more than 40 other partner countries. This group extends across the Euro-Atlantic area, the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf regions and other parts of the globe. Military members from supporting countries are sent on NATO missions in areas of conflict in other parts the globe.

When NATO was founded in 1949, one of its main roles was to deter military aggression. This was its main task through most of the last half of the 20th century. NATO military forces did not participate in a single engagement for the alliance during the entire period of the Cold War.

When the Cold War ended, new threats emerged. NATO then changed from its former role to become a crisis-response organization. There has been an increase in the number and types of NATO operations and missions since the early 1990s.

The CAF role in the NATO alliance

The CAF contributes to international peace and security by protecting Canada’s interests in other countries. It works with NATO as an ally to help restore peace and security in parts of the globe where there is conflict. NATO allies will also help defend Canada if needed.

As a NATO ally, Canada may volunteer CAF resources for a NATO-led operation or mission when it is asked. CAF members serve on NATO missions as part of Canada’s contribution to the alliance. This is done through a formal process within the military construct.

The Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) is in charge of most CAF operations. These include operations and missions that fall under the NATO alliance. CJOC provides military leadership and also forms and sends out the task forces that are needed. A task force is made up of all the CAF members and assets for a specific mission. It may be a ground, air or naval operation or one that involves elements of each. The mission is planned so that a CAF task force carries out very specific tasks where it is sent to operate.

The CAF sends members and leaders of all ranks on NATO alliance operations and missions. There is a clear set of rules and guidelines to enable CAF members while they are serving on a NATO mission in another country.

CAF operations in other countries

The CAF’s contributions to NATO form part of a larger NATO operation. In these, the CAF operates alongside its NATO allies and other nations with similar goals and values.

A CAF mission within a NATO operation or mission in another country may also be part of a larger Canadian government effort. These are called whole-of-government initiatives. They are long-term programs to help other countries or regions. These programs may take several forms such as help with development, governance and aid to civilians. The CAF is usually there to help restore peace and contribute to the security and stability of the country.

Sometimes a NATO operation may take place in the same country or region as a United Nations (UN) operation. One may follow the other or they may be linked together. The CAF may support both organizations in helping bring peace, security and stability to the country.


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