The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have deployed a number of personnel in Central and Eastern Europe as part of NATO assurance measures.

The Task Force

NATO Baltic Air Policing mission

The Air Task Force (ATF) is participating in the NATO Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission from September to December 2014 and is based in Siauliai, Lithuania.

One of NATO’s roles in peacetime is to preserve the integrity of NATO European airspace and to safeguard NATO nations from air attacks. Preserving the integrity of NATO airspace is a collective task. For member nations not having the full range of air defence assets in their own militaries (Albania, Luxembourg, Iceland, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia), agreements exist to ensure a single standard of security within NATO’s area of responsibility.

While participating in the BAP, the ATF works with NATO allies and responds to any intrusions of Baltic air space. NATO announced its plans to increase the number of fighters patrolling over the Baltics as part of the BAP, and accepted Canada’s offer to participate in this augmentation. The countries providing forces as part of BAP are Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal.

While the fighters were unarmed during their training mission in Romania, they have been armed for their participation in the BAP mission. NATO’s Air Policing mission is purely defensive. It is not in response to any specific threat, but rather it is a routine and a fundamental component of how NATO provides security to its members. 

The ATF includes:

  • approximately 135 personnel;
  • four CF-188 Hornet fighter jets from 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron;
  • a command and control element, which provides tactical-level command support;
  • a mission support element, which provides logistical support including lodging, food services, supply, transportation and construction, electrical and mechanical engineering;
  • an operational support element, which provides operational support to air assets, including force protection, intelligence, aerospace management and maintenance coordination; and
  • an air movements detachment that coordinates the movement of personnel and material in and out of the deployed location.

The CF-188 is Canada's frontline multi-role fighter, and its pilots are trained to perform air defence, air superiority, training, and tactical support missions. CF-188 pilots are trained to engage both aerial and ground targets.

Air Task Force Romania

Air Task Force (ATF) Romania conducted interoperability training with NATO allies in Câmpia Turzii, Romania from May to August 2014. Personnel trained with allies in the areas of air defence, air superiority, aerospace testing and evaluation, and tactical support. The ATF included six CF-188 Hornet fighter aircraft and about 200 personnel.

Maritime Task Force

Task Force Toronto

The Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Toronto is currently participating in Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR under Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) in the Mediterranean Sea. HMCS Toronto is tasked with locating, tracking, reporting and boarding vessels that are suspected of involvement in or support of terrorist activities in the Mediterranean Sea.

HMCS Toronto operated in the Black Sea between 6 and 25 September 2014 with vessels from several partner nations, such as Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States. HMCS Toronto led Task Unit 02 (TU.02) of SNMG2. As part of TU.02, both HMCS Toronto and the Spanish frigate Almirante Juan de Borbón operated in concert with the Romanian frigate Regele Ferdinand, the American destroyer USS Ross and naval vessels from Bulgaria, Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine.

While in the Black Sea, the ship took part in several exercises that focused on interoperability and maritime situational awareness, including:

  • Exercise SEA BREEZE from 8 to 10 September;
  • an interoperability exercise with Romanian and Bulgarian ships from 13 to 18 September; and
  • an interoperability exercise with the Spanish frigate Almirante Juan de Borbón and Turkish allies from 22 to 24 September.

HMCS Toronto departed from Halifax, Nova Scotia on 24 July 2014 and arrived in its area of operations in the Mediterranean Sea on 3 August 2014. HMCS Toronto has a crew of about 250 personnel that includes a CH-124 Sea King helicopter air detachment.

Task Force Regina

HMCS Regina left her home port of Esquimalt, British Columbia on 6 January 2014 and assumed duties in the Arabian Sea region on 15 February 2014 as part of Operation ARTEMIS. She served with the Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) and conducted counter-terrorism and maritime security operations until 30 April 2014, when she was committed to support NATO assurance measures in Europe. She was replaced by HMCS Toronto on 3 August 2014.

Land Task Force

Soldiers from the Canadian Army are currently deployed to Eastern and Central Europe to take part in a variety of training exercises between May and December 2014. The exercises are designed to develop and enhance interoperability, readiness, joint operations capabilities and multinational responses to potential crises.

Winter warfare training (8 – 12 December 2014)

Members from Oscar Company, 3rd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment are participating in winter warfare training with US 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment in Lithuania.

Exercise FALCON (21 – 26 November 2014)

Exercise FALCON was an airmobile exercise with Polish soldiers of the 7th Battalion, 25th Air Cavalry Brigade which took place in Nowa Deba, Poland.

Exercise IRON SWORD (13 – 15 October and 2 – 14 November)

Ex IRON SWORD was a multinational exercise in Vilnius, Lithuania where approximately 10 CAF members trained and assessed multinational battalions. Participating nations included Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia as well as the United States, Germany, Czech Republic and Hungary. 

Exercise COMBINED RESOLVE III (16 September – 12 November 2014)

Ex COMBINED RESOLVE III was a U.S. Army Europe-led multinational exercise at the Joint Multinational Training Command's Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr Training Areas in Germany. Approximately 100 CAF members participated along with the United States and 19 European countries.

Exercise ANAKONDA (24 September – 3 October 2014)

Ex ANAKONDA was a Polish Armed Forces-led joint exercise that involved nearly 12,500 personnel, including 750 soldiers from NATO allied countries (Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Great Britain, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands and the United States). It took place throughout Poland’s training areas.

Exercise STEADFAST JAVELIN II (2-8 September 2014)

Ex STEADFAST JAVELIN II was a multinational exercise that took place in five European nations: Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. About 100 CAF members participated in Latvia. More than 1,000 military members from the three Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) as well as Bulgaria, Canada, Italy, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States participated.

Exercise GNIEZNO (2-6 July 2014)

Ex GNIEZNO was a Canadian-led exercise, partnered with Polish troops, aimed at conducting a parachute insertion followed by a reserve demolition guard at secured bridge sites.

Exercise PEGASUS KORSARZ (23-27 June 2014)

Ex PEGASUS KORSARZ was a Canadian-led initiative conducted in the Drawsko-Pomorski training area of Poland. It focused on close-quarters battle training in urban settings and was designed to improve skills such as room entries and clearances.

Exercise SABRE STRIKE (9-20 June 2014)

Exercise SABRE STRIKE is a longstanding American-led training exercise that focuses on command and control and interoperability. The exercise included about 2,000 participants from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Canada, Finland, the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Poland and the United States. Approximately 120 Canadian soldiers participated.

Exercise ORZEL ALERT (5-9 May 2014)

Exercise ORZEL ALERT took place in Western Poland. 45 Canadian soldiers participated in training for airborne operations and infantry skills alongside Polish and American allies.

Operational planning

From June to October 2014, about 20 CAF operational planning staff were deployed to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) staff in Casteau, Belgium. These CAF members reinforced SHAPE staffing and operational planning functions, and monitored events in the region.

Mission Context

  • 16 April 2014, NATO agreed and began to implement a series of military measures to reinforce NATO’s collective defence to demonstrate the strength of allied solidarity in response to Russian aggression and provocation against Ukraine. These measures are based on the principles of defence, deterrence and de-escalation.
  • 17 April 2014, Canadian Armed Forces assets were offered to NATO as part of allied assurance measures.
  • 29 April 2014, the CAF deployed an Air Task Force comprised of six CF-188 Hornets from 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron, based at 3 Wing Bagotville.
  • 30 April 2014, HMCS Regina was committed to support NATO assurance measures.
  • 3 May 2014, the CAF deployed a platoon-sized force to Eastern and Cental Europe.
  • 13 May 2014, HMCS Regina entered the Mediterranean Sea to conduct patrols in support of NATO assurance measures.

Canada and NATO

Canada is a strong supporter of NATO and is committed to doing its part to support partner nations. The Canadian Armed Forces are committed to promoting global security and maintaining transatlantic partnerships by providing modern, deployable capabilities and highly trained personnel to allied efforts.

“NATO has truly been the cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic defence and has shaped the architecture of international security. It’s been the model of mutual cooperation and it stands as the finest example of what can be achieved when nations work together and prioritize interoperable, deployable and flexible forces.”

General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff

The CAF have been a major contributor to NATO operations and exercises since its founding 65 years ago and is committed to transatlantic unity, security, and stability. Canada continues to provide modern, deployable capabilities to allied missions and highly trained personnel to its command structure. In recent years, Canada has been an active participant in NATO-led missions in Afghanistan, the Balkans (Operation KOBOLD), and Libya (Operation MOBILE).

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