Troop deployment to Latvia:
Canada will contribute around 450 troops as well as light armoured vehicles and other equipment to a multinational force in the former Soviet republic of Latvia. Defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance says the Canadian contingent will form the “nucleus” of what will eventually be a 1,000-strong battle group that will act as a deterrent against Russian aggression in the region.
Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States are making similar contributions in Lithuania, Estonia and Poland, respectively. NATO officials insist the force is purely defensive, though Russia has condemned it as an encroachment. The mission has been described as “open-ended,” meaning there is no time frame for when it will end.
Air Policing Mission:
Canada will deploy up to six CF-18 fighter jets to Europe where they will patrol allied airspace against foreign threats. Canadian CF-18s were previously deployed to Lithuania in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea and started supporting separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.
Officials said they have not determined exactly when the fighters will be deployed or where, though they did say NATO has air policing missions not just in Eastern Europe, but also Iceland and other parts of Europe.
Officials say the total number of personnel attached to such a deployment is about 75 to 100. The commitment comes at the same time the Liberal government has warned about a shortage of CF-18s to meet Canada’s obligations to NATO and NORAD.
Canadian frigates have been continually attached to a NATO fleet operating in the Mediterranean and Black seas since April 2014, shortly after Russia annexed Ukraine.
The most recent sent to the region was HMCS Charlottetown, which replaced HMCS Fredericton last month. The government says Canadian frigates will continue in that role for the foreseeable future, though it could move the ship around to other areas such as the Baltic Sea. Canada’s frigates include a complement of about 225 personnel.