Mark Collins – NATO in Latvia: 450 Canadian Army Troops, HQ, Six CF-18s (sometimes)

Further to this post,

Canadian Army Battalion for NATO in Latvia

the government has now committed to about half the field strength of the NATO tripwire force in that country; the exact composition is still to be announced (how many infantry companies, three in a battalion? there will be some armour). The troops are not to arrive until early 2017. Plus we are providing the force’s headquarters and, a real surprise, “up to six CF-18” fighters though not all the time, location not specified (official release). An RCN frigate will continue to be part of a NATO standing force. Quite a commitment. What of the Army will now be available for, say, UN peacekeeping, given the existing pretty substantial effort in the Middle East vs ISIS? Not too much one would think:

Canadian-led battle group will deploy to Latvia, part of NATO move to deter Russia
New NATO brigade raises the stakes for interfering in the Baltic states, Canada’s top general says

Canada will send a battle group of soldiers to Latvia by early 2017 as part of a NATO plan to counter fears of Russian aggression in eastern Europe, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed Friday [July 8].

The roughly 450 Canadians will form the nucleus of a robust multi-national combat battalion, part of a brigade to provide credible deterrence against further Russian expansionism in the region.

That number could fluctuate depending upon negotiations with other allies who are expected to help fill out the ranks for an open-ended mission, which Canada’s chief of defence staff says raises the stakes for any nation thinking of interfering in the Baltics.

Summit most important since Cold War: former NATO commander
Canada set to sign defence co-operation agreement with Ukraine
NATO chief sees Canada’s troop commitment as ‘open-ended’

“What deterrence looks like is that it raises the threshold of risk (for Russia). It may be slight, but it is definitely there,” said Gen. Jonathan Vance.

“You can use the term ‘tripwire’ as a descriptors, but what it really does is raise that calculus of risk. Do you take any steps against a NATO nation given that the alliance has decided to put in very credible combat forces?”

In addition, the Liberal government renewed a commitment to provide [up to] six CF-18 fighter jets for air policing duties over the Baltic states, a mission the air force last conducted in 2014.

The deployment of a navy frigate as part of NATO’s standing task force — something that was first ordered by the former Conservative government — will continue as well…

The Liberal government’s contribution to Latvia’s defence is being described in military circles as a “framework battalion,” meaning Canada will provide the backbone of one of four combat formations. Three other nations — the U.S., Britain and Germany — will create their own battalions.

In addition to an infantry company, Canada will be expected to deliver headquarters oversight, leadership and other essential support units that allow the battalion to function and fight. Other NATO countries will contribute smaller contingents to each battalion.

It will be a long-term deployment. Every six to nine months, a fresh batch of Canadian troops will be rotated through the battalion until NATO decides to dissolve the brigade [emphasis added]…


Allies are expected to begin announcing contributions at a conference next week, while officials indicated the first Canadian troops could begin arriving in Latvia early next year. Vance couldn’t say how long they would stay…

In addition to the troops, Canada will deploy up to six CF-18s to Europe on an occasional basis to help patrol allied airspace…

The combined efforts will bring the number of Canadian military personnel in Eastern Europe at any given time up to a maximum of 800, which the government says is Canada’s largest sustained military deployment to the continent in over a decade [so it would seem the Army’s 220 trainers in Poland will remain–see “Land Task Force” here]…

Very relevant:

US, New Government and Canadian Forces: UN Peacekeeping (Colombia, Africa)? NATO in E. Europe? Both?

NATO Defence Spending: Canada 5th Last as GDP Percentage

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


7 thoughts on “Mark Collins – NATO in Latvia: 450 Canadian Army Troops, HQ, Six CF-18s (sometimes)”

  1. Will those CF trainers stay in Ukraine? At (further links at original):

    ‘“Poroshenko stands for extension of Canadian military instructors’ stay in Ukraine”

    “Trudeau won’t say if Canada to keep sending troops to Ukraine to train military” – “Trudeau says Canada ‘steadfast’ but unclear if 200 trainers will stay in Ukraine” – “Trudeau’s Ukraine Visit: PM Won’t Say If Canada Will Keep Sending Military Trainers”

    RUS media: “Act of Reassurance: Canadian PM in Kiev as ‘Reminder of Ottawa’s Support’ “…’

    Mark Collins

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