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: 

As of April 9, 2022, HMCS Halifax is now on-station and has joined Standing NATO Maritime Group 1.

The approximately 120 CAF personnel deploying to Poland have arrived and begun assisting with efforts to support and care for Ukrainians fleeing violence.

Minister Anand announces the immediate deployment of Canadian Armed Forces Personnel to Poland in response to the Ukrainian Refugee Crisis

How many people are deployed?

Approximately 1,455 Canadian Armed Forces Members are deployed in support of Operation REASSURANCE, making it Canada’s largest current international military operation. This includes:

  • approximately 500 sailors onboard two frigates, operating with NATO
  • 695 soldiers leading a NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia
  • 140 members of the Royal Canadian Air Force and approximately 5 CF-188 Hornet aircraft participating in NATO enhanced Air Policing, and one CP-140 Aurora long range patrol aircraft
  • 120 soldiers in Poland to assist with efforts to support and care for Ukrainians fleeing violence

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.

  • On January 19, 2022, HMCS Montreal departed Halifax for Europe to join with Standing NATO Maritime Group 2.
  • As of February 5, 2022, HMCS Montreal is now on-station and has joined Standing NATO Maritime Group 2.
  • On March 19, 2022, HMCS Halifax departed Halifax for Europe to join with Standing NATO Maritime Group 1.
  • As of April 9, 2022, HMCS Halifax is now on-station and has joined Standing NATO Maritime Group 1.

HMCS Montreal and Halifax’s deployments are 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.

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.

On February 22, it was announced that a battery of M777 artillery guns with forward observers, and an electronic warfare troop, consisting of approximately 155 soldiers, would also be attached to the Battle Group. 

Air

Air Task Force

As part of Operation REASSURANCE, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) 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 three months on 1 September to 1 December, 2021. During this deployment, the CF-188 Hornet augmented the air policing capabilities of the Romanian Air Force.

This marked 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.

On February 22, it was announced that a CP-140 Aurora long range patrol aircraft, previously assigned to operations in and around Iceland, was re-tasked under NATO command and control, and is currently operating in the Euro-Atlantic Area. 

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 15 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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