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.

Attention: Update

Members of the NATO eFP BG Latvia are participating in Exercise SUMMER SHIELD from June 2 to 13, 2018 in Camp Ādaži. This exercise is led by the Latvian National Armed Forces. It focuses on integrating combat support and combat capabilities into battalion and brigade-level defense operations. The exercise involves a wide range of capabilities, including artillery, anti-aircraft defense, intelligence, weapons of mass destruction training, engineering tasks, and anti-tank capabilities.

Further, elements of the Battlegroup are also participating in Exercise SABER STRIKE from June 3 to 15, 2018. This exercise is led by the Unites States Army Europe. It is held in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. It includes approximately 18 000 soldiers from 19 different countries, and is designed to enhance readiness and cooperation between NATO Allies and regional partners.

The Task Force


Maritime Task Force

Since 2014, the CAF has deployed a Maritime Task Force of one frigate on Operation REASSURANCE. The current frigate is HMCS St. John’s.

HMCS St. John’s began its deployment on January 18, 2018, when it joined Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1). SNMG1 is a naval force made up of ships from various allied countries that work together for a common purpose. HMCS St. John’s joined SNMG1 on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, the North Atlantic Ocean, and the Baltic Sea.

From February 12 to 23, 2018, HMCS St. John’s participated in Task Group Exercise 2018. The exercise took place in the internal waters of Norway, the Norwegian Sea, and the North Sea. During the Norwegian-led exercise, ships from eight NATO nations trained together in an electronic warfare environment. The exercise also included antisubmarine warfare activities, and was used to train and evaluate prospective submarine commanders.

From April 23 to May 3, 2018, HMCS St. John’s participated in Exercise JOINT WARRIOR 18 along with other members of Standing NATO Maritime Group 1. The exercise took place in the vicinity of the Northwest Coast of Scotland and included NATO allies and partners. It was the largest military exercise in Europe and involved personnel and assets from air, land, and sea components.

On May 6, 2018, HMCS St. John’s joined Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2). It is supporting NATO activities, including Operation SEA GUARDIAN, in the Eastern Mediterranean. Operation SEA GUARDIAN aims to maintain a secure and safe maritime environment. It also supports three core NATO tasks: collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security.

This is HMCS St. John’s second deployment under Operation REASSURANCE. It demonstrates Canada’s ongoing commitment to international security and cooperation. This commitment is part of NATO’s assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe.

HMCS St. John’s is a Halifax-class frigate. It has a crew of approximately 240 personnel of all ranks. This includes an Enhanced Naval Boarding Party and a CH-124 Sea King helicopter air detachment.


Enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Latvia

In June 2017, the CAF deployed about 450 Canadian Army members to Latvia. There they are leading a NATO battlegroup comprising military members from several nations, including:

  • Albania
  • Canada
  • Italy
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain

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

The current group of Canadian Army members is primarily from the 2nd Battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Gagetown, New Brunswick. Canada’s contribution includes headquarters staff, an infantry company with light armoured vehicles, military police, and logistical and communications support. 

Some of the CAF members deployed as part of the enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia took part in Exercise CLAYMORE SOARING from April 4 to 6, 2018. This air mobility exercise is took place at Camp Ādaži, Latvia. Soldiers from Canada, Italy, and Spain—all Battle Group members—took part during different parts of the three-week exercise. The US Army assisted the Battle Group by providing three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and air crew. This exercise aimed to foster interoperability and strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defence posture.

Throughout the month of May, eFP BG Latvia continued to conduct a broad range of training, and participated in numerous community and outreach events.

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

Periodically, the CAF sends a CF-188 Hornet Air Task Force to Europe to help keep NATO air space safe.

At present there is no Air Task Force on Operation REASSURANCE.

Mission Context

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;  and
  • demonstrate the strength of allied solidarity.

The CAF offered assets and members to NATO on April 17, 2014.

Canada and 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 65 years ago. 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); and
  • 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.

Past Deployments


Maritime Task Force

Task Force Charlottetown

HMCS Charlottetown joined SNMG1 on August 8, 2017. It sailed in the Baltic Sea, Northern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It participated in two major exercises: Exercise NORTHERN COAST 17 in the Baltic Sea and Exercise BRILLIANT MARINER 17 in the Mediterranean Sea.

HMCS Charlottetown also supported NATO’s Operation SEA GUARDIAN from September to December 2017. It contributed to supporting a safe and secure environment for civilian vessels operating in the Mediterranean Sea. The goal of Operation SEA GUARDIAN is to facilitate economic activities within the region. The ship hailed 82 vessels in support of the NATO operation.

HMCS St. John’s replaced HMCS Charlottetown on January 18, 2018.

Task Force St. John's

On January 11, 2017, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) St. John’s joined Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2). SNMG2 is a naval force made up of ships from various allied countries that work together for a common purpose.

HMCS St. John’s sailed in the Black Sea from January 31 to February 20, 2017. It worked and trained with ships from several allied and partner nations and took part in one exercise.

On February 20, 2017, HMCS St. John’s went back to its regular SNMG2 duties. It took part in three exercises with ally and partner nations.

HMCS St. John’s was replaced by HMCS Charlottetown in early August 2017.

Task Force Charlottetown

On June 29, 2016, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Charlottetown joined Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2).  Charlottetown replaced HMCS Fredericton.

From July 18 to August 5, 2016 HMCS Charlottetown took part in operations in the Black Sea. While there, the ship conducted operations aimed at keeping aware of the maritime situation. It also took part in training exercises with NATO allies and partner states. HMCS Charlottetown also conducted a port visit. This was done to form better diplomatic and defence relations with partner nations.

In August 2016, HMCS Charlottetown returned to its regular SNMG2 duties in the Mediterranean Sea. While there, it took part in training exercises to enhance skills and interoperability.

On September 8, 2016, HMCS Charlottetown conducted a cooperative boarding on the Togolese flag merchant vessel Byblos. This was done during a patrol in the Mediterranean Sea. The boarding confirmed the ship’s naval boarding party abilities and how well it works with SNMG2.

HMCS Charlottetown was replaced by HMCS St. John’s on January 11, 2017.

Task Force Fredericton

HMCS Fredericton joined SNMG2 in the Mediterranean Sea on January 8, 2016. While there, the ship took part in SNMG2 patrols to help make the region more stable. This included patrolling the Aegean Sea from February 12, 2016 to March 31, 2016.  Fredericton watched and tracked migrant crossings in the Aegean during this operation. It was done in cooperation with authorities.

HMCS Fredericton led SNMG2 Task Unit 02 from April 1 to 21, 2016, while it was in the Black Sea. During this time, HMCS Fredericton ran operations with allies:

  • Romanian frigate ROS Regina Maria
  • other allied ships from Bulgaria and Turkey

HMCS Fredericton rejoined SNMG2 in the Mediterranean Sea in early May.  The ship was replaced by HMCS Charlottetown on June 29, 2016.

Task Force Winnipeg

HMCS Winnipeg joined SNMG2 in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean on July 7, 2015.  The ship took part in patrols to help prevent terrorism and related activities while in SNMG2. These took place in the Mediterranean Sea with ships from other nations. HMCS Winnipeg left SNMG2 and joined SNMG1 in late August 2015. This was to go to the Defense & Security Equipment International exhibition.  The exhibition took place in London, United Kingdom, in mid-September 2015.

While deployed, HMCS Winnipeg took part in training exercises with NATO forces, including:

  • Exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE 15
  • Exercise JOINT WARRIOR
  • Exercise NORTHERN COAST 2015

HMCS Winnipeg was the first HMC Ship to sail with an Enhanced Naval Boarding Party (ENBP) on an operational mission.  The ship was replaced by HMCS Fredericton on January 8, 2016.

Task Force Fredericton

On January 6, 2015, HMCS Fredericton was transferred to NATO’s operational control. It arrived in the Mediterranean Sea shortly after that.  The ship was then assigned to SNMG2 with ships from five other nations. While it was with SNMG2, HMCS Fredericton conducted operations in the Mediterranean Sea. The purpose was to help detect, deter and protect against terrorist activity.

Throughout the deployment, HMCS Fredericton took part in a variety of training exercises with NATO and non-NATO forces. These included exercises in the Black Sea:

  • Exercise JOINT WARRIOR
  • Exercise BALTOPS

The Black Sea exercises:

  • helped develop awareness of the situation on the sea
  • improved how partners and allies work together
  • improved skills such as tactics for warfare against submarines

HMCS Fredericton also went on a number of port visits. The purpose was to help improve diplomatic and defence relations with strategic partners in the region. The ship was replaced by HMCS Winnipeg on July 7, 2015.

Task Force Toronto

On August 3, 2014, HMCS Toronto arrived in its area of operations. The ship took part in Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR under SNMG2 in the Mediterranean Sea. HMCS Toronto was tasked with locating, tracking, reporting, and boarding specific vessels. These were ships that were suspected of being involved with and supporting terrorist activities.

HMCS Toronto also took part in joint NATO training exercises, including:

  • Exercise MAVI BALINA
  • A historic deployment to the Black Sea for Exercise SEA BREEZE

These joint NATO training exercises provided important opportunities to:

  • strengthen military-to-military relationships
  • strengthen diplomatic relationships
  • encourage the sharing of security principles
  • encourage the professionalization of defence practices

Task Force Regina

HMCS Regina took up duties in the Arabian Sea region on February 15, 2014. This was as part of Operation ARTEMIS. Regina served with the Combined Task Force 150. It ran counter-terrorism and maritime security operations until April 30, 2014. At that time, it was re-tasked to support NATO assurance measures in Europe.

HMCS Regina was replaced by HMCS Toronto on August 3, 2014.


Land Task Force in Poland

From May 2014 to August 2017, over 1000 Land Task Force members deployed in eight rotations to Europe. Based at Drawsko Pomosrkie Training Area, Poland, they regularly took part exercises with allies and partners. Working together, they developed their:

  • leadership skills
  • profession-of-arms skills
  • ability to work better with allies and partners


From February to August 2017, about 200 Canadian Army soldiers took part in 5 exercises.  The soldiers were mainly from 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. This CAF unit is based at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, Alberta. These exercises were:

  • Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT VI (Germany from March 7 to 30, 2017)
  • Exercise PLATINUM EAGLE 17-2 (Romania from April 24 to May 4, 2017)
  • Exercise SPRING STORM (Estonia from May 9 to 24, 2017)
  • Exercise SABRE STRIKE (Poland from June 4 to 15, 2017)
  • Exercise SABER GUARDIAN (Hungary and Bulgaria from July 13 to 24, 2017)

From August 2016 to February 2017, LTF soldiers took part in four exercises. The soldiers were mainly from 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. This CAF unit is based in Edmonton, Alberta. The exercises were:

  • Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT V (Poland from September 26 to October 15, 2016)
  • Exercise SCORPION FURY 16.2 (Cincu, Romania from October 24 to November 3, 2016)
  • Exercise IRON SWORD (Lithuania from November 20, 2016 to December 2, 2016)
  • Exercise BISON DRAWSKO (Poland from January 19 to February 9, 2017)

From February to August 2016, LTF soldiers took part in six exercises. The soldiers were mainly from 1st Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment and 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group. These CAF units are based in Valcartier, Quebec. The exercises were:

  • Exercise SABER GUARDIAN (Cincu, Romania from July 27 to August 7, 2016)
  • Exercise ANAKONDA (Poland from  June 6 to 17, 2016)
  • Exercise HUNTER (Pabrade, Lithuania from May 9 to 19, 2016)
  • Exercise SPRING STORM (Voru, Estonia from May 7 to 19, 2016)
  • Exercise SUMMER SHIELD (Adazi, Latvia from April 17 to 29, 2016)
  • Exercise SCORPION FURY (Cincu, Romania from April 7 to 20, 2016)

Between July 2015 and February-April 2016, LTF soldiers took part in six exercises. They were mainly from 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (5CMBG).  5CMBG is part of the 2nd Canadian Division. The exercises were:

  • Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT IV (Hohenfels, Germany from January 10 to 5 February, 2016)
  • Exercise IRON SWORD (Nemencine, Lithuania from November 9 to 20, 2015)
  • JOINTEX 15 (October 21 to November 6, 2015)
  • Exercise DRAGON (Poland from October 13 to 23, 2015)
  • Exercise SILVER ARROW (Kadaga, Latvia from September 15 to 30, 2015)
  • Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT II (Hohenfels, Germany from August 4 to 24, 2015)

Between January and July 2015, soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment (3 RCR) were sent to Eastern and Central Europe. They took part in NATO exercises. These included:

  • Exercise LANCER STRIKE (Poland from June 15 to 29, 2015)
  • Exercise SARMIS (Cincu, Romania from May 15 to June 6, 2015)
  • Exercise MOUNTAIN WARRIOR (Trzclaniec, Poland from April 1 to 30, 2015)
  • Exercise SUMMER SHIELD (Riga, Latvia from March 22 to 31, 2015)
  • Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT (Hohenfels, Germany from January 16 to 28, 2015)

Between May and December 2014, soldiers from the Canadian Army were sent to Eastern and Central Europe. They took part in a variety of training exercises. These included:

  • Winter warfare training in Lithuania from December 8 to 12, 2014
  • Exercise FALCON (Nowa Deba, Poland from November 21 to 26, 2014)
  • Exercise IRON SWORD (Vilnius, Lithuania from October 13 to 15, and November 2 to 14, 2014)
  • Exercise COMBINED RESOLVE III (Hohenfels, Germany from September 16 to November 12, 2014)
  • Exercise ANAKONDA (Poland from September 24 to October 3, 2014)
  • Exercise STEADFAST JAVELIN II  (Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland from September 2 to 8, 2014)
  • Exercise GNIEZNO (Poland from July 2 to 6, 2014)
  • Exercise PEGASUS KORSARZ (Drawsko-Pomorski, Poland from June 23-27, 2014)
  • Exercise SABRE STRIKE (Adazi, Latvia from June 9 to 20, 2014)
  • Exercise ORZEL ALERT (Poland from May 5 to 9, 2014)

Air Task Force

Air Task Force Romania, 2017

From September to December 2017, about 135 CAF members and four CF-188 Hornets took part in Block 45 of NATO enhanced air policing in Romania. 

The members of ATF-Romania were mainly from 2 Air Expeditionary Wing, Bagotville, and 4 Wing, Cold Lake, and were supported by personnel from several other Wings and Bases across Canada.

NATO has been conducting enhanced Air Policing as an assurance and deterrence measure since 2014. These measures show the collective resolve of Allies and the defensive nature of NATO. They also help deter the threat of aggression against NATO Allies.

Iceland mission, 2017

From May 18 to June 16, 2017, Air Task Force-Iceland contributed to the NATO – Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to meet Iceland's Peacetime Preparedness Needs mission. Under this mission, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CF-18 Hornets patrolled Iceland’s airspace.

Air Task Force-Iceland provided a continuous air surveillance and interception capability. The aircraft could be launched immediately to meet and identify unknown airborne objects within or approaching Iceland’s airspace.

Air Task Force-Iceland included a Royal Canadian Air Force fighter detachment from 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec, and personnel support from 2 Wing Bagotville, Quebec. Further, it included aerospace controllers and aerospace control operators from 22 Wing North Bay, Ontario. Their role was to analyze information from various sources to develop a common picture of what was happening in Iceland’s airspace at any one time. They also served as air intercept controllers, communicating with pilots and directing them where to be and how to get there.

Central and Eastern Europe mission, 2014-2015

From April 29, 2014 to January 5, 2015, the CAF sent an Air Task Force to Central and Eastern Europe.  It was made up of:

  • CAF members
  • CF-188 Hornet fighter aircraft
  • equipment to support the operation

The purpose was to maintain a Canadian presence in the region. The overall mission was in support of NATO allies and partner nations.

NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, 2014

From September to December 2014, the ATF took part in the NATO Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission.  It was based in Siauliai, Lithuania.  ATF Lithuania included:

  • about 135 CAF members
  • four CF-188 Hornet fighter jets
  • equipment to support the operation

Canada’s part in the BAP mission ended in December 2014. At that time, Canada handed over its responsibility to Poland. Portugal handed over its responsibility to Italy at the same time.  Although this was a formal handover, Canada’s ATF continued to actively support BAP operations until January 5, 2015. This ensured that the operations continued smoothly and NATO allies and security partners were supported in the period of transition.   

The ATF worked with NATO allies while taking part in the BAP. It sent up aircraft in response to any intrusions of Baltic air space.  NATO’s Air Policing mission is purely defensive. It is a routine mission and not in response to any specific threat. It is a fundamental part of how NATO provides security to its members.

Air Task Force Romania, 2014

From May to August 2014, the ATF trained with NATO allies in Câmpia Turzii, Romania. The focus was on working smoothly with other countries.  ATF members trained with allies in the areas of:

  • air defence
  • air superiority
  • aerospace testing and evaluation
  • tactical support

The ATF included six CF-188 Hornet fighter aircraft and about 200 CAF members.

Video of Land Task Force in Poland


From May 2014 to August 2017, the Operation REASSURANCE Land Task Force trained with allies and partners, contributing to NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe.

Major Van Eijk, Operation REASSURANCE Task Force Commander, Rotation 7

[Major Jesse Van Eijk:] NATO is fundamentally a large team. Military operations are very complex, and any team needs to actually be able to practice together to get good at what they do. We’ve got nations from all around Europe. They all bring their own strengths. They bring their own limitations. It’s only by going to the field together, actually practicing together, seeing how we operate, and integrating that, that we’re going to be able to be effective on operations in the future and provide security in the region.

For example, our first exercise, Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT in Germany, happened approximately 7 days after we arrived in theatre. We put the entire company group, approximately 160 Canadian soldiers, into Germany for a large multinational exercise. Infantry soldiers were on the ground training with Latvians, training with Americans, learning how their skills stack up and developing themselves as soldiers.

But also, our support trades, our support soldiers were managing a very complicated international deployment, moving personnel and equipment and vehicles across multiple nations in Europe. And then once in the field, they were also providing what we call combat service support: the ammunition, the rations, the fuel, all the bits and pieces that the company needs to operate in the field. They provided that not just for the Canadians, but also for our Latvian allies.

Master Warrant Officer Doyle, Operation REASSURANCE Sergeant Major, Rotation 7

[Master Warrant Officer Robert Doyle:] The biggest advantage of working with other nations is that you can work and see how they solve their problems and you can look at their standard operating procedures (SOPs) and see how you can or can’t adapt those SOPs into your own.

It’s been a good chance for the troops to work together and to practice their basic soldier skills: to shoot, move, and communicate.

For three years, the Land Task Force contributed to security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe.

Bravo Zulu

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