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.
From March 28th to April 17th, 2019, HMCS Toronto was in the Black Sea as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) conducting a variety of maritime situational awareness patrols and interoperability exercises with other navies. They operated in accordance with the Montreux Convention and in full compliance with international maritime regulations.
HMCS Toronto has exited the Black Sea and re-entered the Mediterranean.
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.
The current frigate is HMCS Toronto, which is a Halifax-class frigate. It began its deployment on January 19, 2019. It has a crew of approximately 240 personnel of all ranks. This includes an Enhanced Naval Boarding Party and the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter air detachment.
HMCS Toronto is operating with Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2).
SNMG2 also includes:
- HNLMS Evertsen (The Netherlands)
- ROS Regele Ferdinand (Romania)
- ESPS Santa Maria (Spain)
- BGS Drazki (Bulgaria)
- TCG Yildirim (Turkey).
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:
- Czech Republic
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.
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)
- 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.
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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