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.

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?


Maritime Task Force

Since 2014, the CAF has deployed a Maritime Task Force of one frigate on Operation REASSURANCE.

On June 15, 2019, Commodore Josée Kurtz officially assumed command of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) during a change of command ceremony held in Souda Bay on the Greek island of Crete.

The current frigate is HMCS Halifax, which is a Halifax-class frigate. It began its deployment on July 7 2019. It has a crew of approximately 225 personnel of all ranks. This includes a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter air detachment and NTOG.

On 26 July, 2019, HMCS Halifax has arrived in Rota, Spain, where it has replaced HMCS Toronto, as the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 flagship.

SNMG2 also includes:

  • FGS Hamburg (German Navy)
  • ALS Oriku (Albanian Navy)
  • HS Adrias (Hellenic Navy)
  • HS Aittitos (Hellenic Navy)
  • HS Kasos (Hellenic Navy)
  • ESPS Patiñno (Spanish Navy)
  • TCG Tuzla (Turkish Navy)

Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia

In June 2017, the CAF deployed about 540 Canadian Army members to Latvia. They are leading a NATO battlegroup comprising military members from several nations, including:

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

This battlegroup works as part of the Latvian Land Forces Infantry Brigade. It is based at Camp Adazi, Latvia.

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


Air Task Force

Every year, the CAF sends approximately 135 members and five CF-188 Hornets to  participate in NATO enhanced Air Policing from September to December.

This is a peacetime collective defence mission to safeguard the integrity of NATO airspace.

On June 29,  2019, the Government of Canada announced that the Canadian Armed Forces will be deploying an Air Task Force to Romania. This fall, up to 135 members of the Royal Canadian Air Force and 5 CF-18 Hornet aircraft were deployed.

They’ll be conducting assurance and deterrence measures as part of NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission.


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.

Past Deployments

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

  • To date, seven different ships have contributed to this operation; three of them have deployed twice.
  • 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 (four times), Iceland, and Lithuania.
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