At the break of dawn Saturday, dozens of Canadian Armed Forces soldiers patiently waited to board a flight to a part of the world not far from war.
“Along with nine other nations, we’ll be forming a battle group and that battle group will integrate with the Latvian brigade,” Infantry company commanding officer Maj. John Miller said.
These 140 soldiers based out of CFB Edmonton are being deployed to the country of Latvia, which neighours Russia and is not far from Ukraine.
The mission is part of Operation Reassurance, an initiative launched in 2014 that’s aimed at promoting security and stability in central and eastern Europe.
‘We have seen that Russia is a rambunctious country, that it is opportunistic and it is ready to use military force for achieving its political goals,” Latvian Ambassador to Canada Kaspars Ozoliņš said.
The concern for Latvia and its NATO allies is now greater than ever, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The soldiers will be abroad for six months, training and working on other aspects of the mission.
“Their main focus is getting these troops to be ready to fight together,” Bourque said.
“We are part of the Latvian army at that point, so if anyone does attack Latvia we’re fighting with the Latvian army,” Miller said.
That’s a security measure Latvia’s ambassador to Canada said he hopes is never enacted.
“We don’t know what may happen in the future, as well it is very important that this us a long-term effort, that there is a NATO presence and that we deter any kind of aggression,” Ozoliņš said.
‘We are keeping our commitment to the Latvian people to be there and to be that credible force in Latvia,” Bourque said.