Op REASSURANCE is currently the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) largest overseas mission, through which the CAF contributes to NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe, and is part of the biggest reinforcement of Alliance collective defence in a generation.
Under Op REASSURANCE, the CAF currently has deployed a Maritime Task Force, which contributes ships to the Standing NATO Maritime Groups; an Air Task Force, providing logistical support out of Prestwick; and a Land Task Force, including enhanced Forward Presence Latvia, for which Canada is the Framework nation.
In July 2023, the Latvian Minister of Defence and the Canadian Minister of National Defence signed a Roadmap for scaling the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battle Group to a Brigade.
In January 2023, Canada deployed the Forward Command Element to Latvia to prepare for integration of a Canadian-led Brigade Headquarters into Multinational Division – North and the future arrival of Brigade capabilities and troops. Canada will bolster its presence in Latvia by deploying a Canadian Army Tank Squadron of 15 Leopard 2 battle tanks and personnel by the end of 2023. The eFP Battle Group Latvia will transition from the Latvian Mechanized Infantry Brigade to a Canada-led enhanced Forward Presence Brigade, reporting directly to the Multinational Division Headquarters – North. Canada will complete the full implementation of persistently deployed Brigade capabilities to Latvia by 2026, at which point the Brigade will have up to 2 200 CAF members as part of the enhanced Forward Presence and supporting elements in Latvia.
How many people are deployed?
Approximately 1,100 Canadian Armed Forces Members are deployed in support of Operation REASSURANCE, making it Canada’s largest current international military operation.
What are they doing?
Maritime Task Force
Since 2014, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have deployed a warship on a persistent rotational basis to be employed for exercises and operational tasks in the NATO Maritime Command’s areas of responsibility.
On 3 July 2023, HMCS Shawinigan and Summerside deployed as part of Operation REASSURANCE to join Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1.
Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia
The CAF has approximately 800 CAF members in Latvia under Operation REASSURANCE, which includes the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battle Group, Task Force Latvia (TFL), as well as personnel at NATO’s Multinational Division-North (MND-N) Headquarters.
Based out of Camp Adazi, the eFP Latvia is one of eight multinational battle groups in Eastern and Central Europe that are part of the largest reinforcement of NATO collective defence in a generation.
The CAF-led Battle Group includes artillery, mechanized infantry, combat support, combat service support, and electronic warfare components that conduct joint training to respond to an attack and demonstrate a unified front against adversaries. This Battle Group and other specialist enablers are fully integrated into the Latvian Land Forces Mechanized Infantry Brigade. This powerful, combat capable force provides a strong deterrent presence in Latvia against any adversary and is prepared to defend if necessary.
Canada, as the Framework Nation for the eFP Battle Group Latvia, is responsible for supporting Canadian and NATO military objectives at the operational level through TFL; coordinating with Latvian military authorities; and improving the integration of Canadian personnel and assets with NATO Allies in Latvia and the wider eFP region. These efforts are further supported by NATO’s MND-N Headquarters, to which the CAF contributes a general officer as well as staff officers. MND-N supports the defence planning of Baltic nations, the coordination of regional military activities within the eFP forces region, and other high-level activities.
The eFP in Latvia comprises personnel from over one third of all NATO nations, including:
- Czech Republic
- North Macedonia
Air Task Force - Prestwick
On September 15, 2022, Air Task Force Prestwick (ATF-P) was created to expand the tactical airlift detachment that previously supported Operation REASSURANCE.
ATF-P is the main transport hub via which the CAF sustains various operations across the world, including NATO assurance and deterrence measures. In addition to its missions in support of Ukraine, ATF-P supports CAF deployments in Central and Eastern Europe (Op REASSURANCE), the Middle East (Op IMPACT), and Africa (Op PRESENCE), and supports observation flights under the Open Skies Treaty.
To ensure capacity and operational flexibility, ATF-P operates three CC-130J Hercules aircrafts and employs support personnel responsible for maintenance, cargo movements and administration. ATF-P is made up of approximately 60 Canadian Armed Forces members with further augmentation based on operational tempo.
History and context of the operation
NATO agreed upon and began to enact a series of military measures on April 16, 2014 based on the principles of defence, deterrence and de-escalation meant to reinforce NATO’s collective defence and demonstrate the strength of allied solidarity.
The CAF offered assets and members to NATO on April 17, 2014.
- June 29 2022 - Canada signed a joint declaration with Latvia to augment NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence in Latvia.
Going forward, Canada will:
- continue to lead NATO forces as the Framework Nation in Latvia;
- work with Latvia and NATO Allies to generate and stage forces in order to surge to a combat capable brigade;
- establish and lead elements of a forward brigade command and control; and
- be prepared to provide critical capabilities to operations, such as ammunition and explosives, air defense systems, and anti-tank weapons systems.
- March 8, 2022 – Canada announced the multi-year renewal of Operation REASSURANCE. This announcement was a year ahead of schedule and responded to the changing security situation in Eastern Europe.
- February 22, 2022 – Canada announced that a battery of M777 artillery guns with forward observers, and an electronic warfare troop, consisting of approximately 155 soldiers, would be added to the Latvian Battle Group.
- 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 to house the leadership of the other allied nations that will contribute personnel to the NATO eFP Battle Group.
- July 10, 2018 – Canada announced the renewal of Canada’s contribution to NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence until March 2023, which included increasing the number of members deployed to Latvia from 455 to 540.
- August 17, 2017 – The Land Task Force in Poland completed its final deployment.
- June 19, 2017 – Canadian-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup Latvia was stood up.
- May 13, 2014 – the CAF sent a Maritime Task Force of one frigate to Central and Eastern Europe. ceremony at Camp Adazi, Latvia.
- May 3, 2014 – the CAF sent a Land Task Force to Central and Eastern Europe, based in Poland.
- 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.
CAF members have continuously supported NATO assurance and deterrence measures since 2014.
- To date, 11 different ships have contributed to this operation over 18 deployments.
- From April 16 to July 31, 2022, the CAF assisted the Polish Territorial Defence Force with managing the flow of refugees fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. CAF elements also took part in interoperability training with their Polish counterparts.
- From May 2014 to August 2017, over 1,000 soldiers deployed in eight rotations to Europe as part of Land Task Force - Poland. Based at Drawsko Pomosrkie Training Area, they regularly took part in exercises with allies and partners.
- The CAF has sent an air task force to three different countries: Romania (in 2014 and from 2017-21), Iceland (2017), and Lithuania (2014).
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