Operation REASSURANCE

From: National Defence

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has members serving on Operation REASSURANCE in Central and Eastern Europe. They are there as part of NATO assurance and deterrence measures. These measures aim to reinforce NATO’s collective defence. It also shows the strength of Allied solidarity.

During this operation, the CAF is conducting training, exercises, and some NATO-specific tasks.

The CAF support to NATO helps make Central and Eastern Europe more secure and stable. It also shows that the CAF is a professional force that is ready for any task.

Update: 

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Air Task Force – Romania (ATF-Romania) received their readiness certification from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) during a certification ceremony held at the Romanian Air Force Base Mihail Kogalniceanu on September 8, 2021.

This certification allows the Task Force to officially begin their enhanced Air Policing mission under Operation REASSURANCE in Romania.

How many people are deployed?

At any time, there can be up to 915 CAF members deployed on Operation REASSURANCE, making it Canada’s largest current international military operation. This includes:

  • approximately 240 sailors onboard a frigate, operating with NATO
  • 540 soldiers leading a NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia
  • 135 members of the Royal Canadian Air Force and approximately 5 CF-188 Hornet aircraft participating in NATO enhanced Air Policing

What are they doing?

Sea

Maritime Task Force

Since 2014, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have deployed a frigate on a persistent rotational basis to be employed for exercises and operational tasks in the NATO Maritime Command’s areas of responsibility.

From 20 to 30 May 2021, HMCS Halifax participated in NATO Exercise STEADFAST DEFENDER 21, a large-scale maritime exercise in the Eastern Atlantic off the coast of Portugal. 

January 18, 2021, Commodore Bradley Peats took command of the Standing NATO Maritime Group One. Canada will lead the mission until January 2022. 

January 1, 2021,  HMCS Halifax set sail for a 6-month deployment on Op REASSURANCE.

HMCS Halifax’s deployment is part of a range of military activities undertaken by the CAF to support NATO assurance and deterrence measures. These activities include the provision of military capabilities for training, exercises, demonstrations and assigned NATO tasks and demonstrate Canada’s commitment to promote security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe.

On April 29, 2020, six members of the Canadian Armed Forces were killed when a Royal Canadian Air Force CH-148 Cyclone helicopter crashed while conducting maritime surveillance operations. The helicopter was deployed with HMCS Fredericton under Operation REASSURANCE as part of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2). At the time of the accident, the Canadian ship was conducting collaborative training with Italian and Turkish ships.

For more information please visit the CAF response to the crash of Stalker 22 web page.

 

Land

Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia

In June 2017, the CAF deployed about 540 Canadian Army members to Latvia. They lead a NATO Battle Group, which forms the backbone of the Enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia, and provide support capabilities to this Allied force. The Enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia comprises personnel from over one third of all NATO nations, including:

  • Albania
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Montenegro
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain

This Battle Group and other specialist enablers work as part of the Latvian Land Forces Infantry Brigade. It is based at Camp Adazi, Latvia.

NATO has deployed four such Battle Groups to the Baltics and Poland. These Battle Groups demonstrate the strength of the NATO alliance, and aim to deter aggression, prevent conflict and protect stability in the region.

Air

Air Task Force

As part of Operation REASSURANCE, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has deployed an Air Task Force (ATF) to Constanta, Romania, with approximately 140 CAF personnel and 6 CF-188 Hornet to participate in the Block 57 of NATO enhanced Air Policing mission in Romania for four months from 1 September until 31 December, 2021. During this deployment, the CF-188 Hornet will augment the air policing capabilities of the Romanian Air Force.

This is the sixth time that the CAF deployed an ATF to Romania on Op REASSURANCE. The first time was in 2014 in Campia Turzii, and then in Constanta, Romania, in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

History and context of the operation

NATO agreed upon and began to enact a series of military measures on April 16, 2014. They are based on the principles of defence, deterrence and de-escalation meant to:

  • reinforce NATO’s collective defence
  • demonstrate the strength of allied solidarity

The CAF offered assets and members to NATO on April 17, 2014.

Canadian Armed Forces’ relationship with NATO

Canada is a strong supporter of NATO. It is committed to doing its part to help NATO allies and partner nations.

The CAF is a major contributor to NATO operations and exercises. It has been fully engaged since NATO was founded in 1949. The CAF is committed to unity, security, and stability on both sides of the Atlantic. In recent years, Canada has been an active participant in NATO-led missions in:

  • The Balkans (Operation KOBOLD)
  • Libya (Operation MOBILE)

Mission timeline

  • April 29, 2014 – the CAF sent its first CF-188 Hornet Air Task Force to Europe. Since then, the CAF had periodically sent air task forces to Central and Eastern Europe.
  • May 3, 2014 – the CAF sent a Land Task Force to Central and Eastern Europe, based in Poland.
  • May 13, 2014 – the CAF sent a Maritime Task Force of one frigate to Central and Eastern Europe.
  • June 19, 2017 – Canadian-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup Latvia was stood up during a ceremony at Camp Adazi, Latvia.
  • August 17, 2017 – The Land Task Force in Poland completed its final deployment.
  • July 10, 2018 – The Prime Minister of Canada announced the renewal of Canada’s contribution to NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence until March 2023. The CAF will also increase the number of members deployed to Latvia from 455 to 540.
  • June 28, 2021 – The Canadian Armed Forces opened the new multi-national headquarters building, adjacent to the Latvian National Armed Forces Joint Headquarters. This building currently houses Task Force Latvia Headquarters and will be poised in the future to house the leadership of the other allied nations that will contribute personnel to the NATO eFP Battle Group. 

Past Deployments

CAF members have continuously supported NATO assurance and deterrence measures since 2014.

  • To date, eight different ships have contributed to this operation over 14 deployments.
  • From May 2014 to August 2017, over 1000 soldiers deployed in eight rotations to Europe. Based at Drawsko Pomosrkie Training Area, Poland, they regularly took part in exercises with allies and partners.
  • The CAF has sent an air task force to three different countries: Romania (six times), Iceland, and Lithuania.
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