In 2016, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) agreed to enhance its military presence in the eastern part of the alliance. As part of this effort, NATO established three distinct missions in Europe: an enhanced Forward Presence, Standing Naval Forces, and a tailored Forward Presence.

NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence

The Forward Presence mission consists of four multinational combat-ready battle groups based in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. These battle groups are led by the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and the United States, respectively -- collectively known as framework nations for the enhanced Forward Presence. The presence of these battle groups makes clear that an attack on one member will be considered an attack on the whole alliance, and represents the biggest reinforcement of NATO's collective defence in a generation.

Canada's participation as a framework nation leading the battle group in Latvia includes: a Task Force and a Battle Group headquarters, an infantry company in Light Armoured Vehicles, a combat support company (intelligence and communications), and a support company (transportation, supply and medical).

Enhanced forward presence forces are complemented by logistics and infrastructure to support pre-positioning and to facilitate rapid reinforcement.

The multinational enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia trains and exercises regularly. The exercises are multinational in nature and often integrate with the Latvian national defence forces and other allied forces from outside the Battle Group, which enhances interoperability, and enables versatility in employment within the region.

The Canada-led battle group is comprised of approximately 1,400 troops, with eight other contributing nations: Spain (300 troops), Poland (200), Italy (160), Slovakia (152), Czech Republic (60), Slovenia (50), Albania (21) and Montenegro (10).

Canada has committed to leading the battle group in Latvia until March 31, 2023. Canada's Minister of National Defence and his Latvian counterpart regularly co-host meetings of Defence Ministers with troops in Latvia as part of the Canadian-led battle group. These meetings take place on the margins of the NATO Defence Ministerial meetings.

NATO's Standing Naval Forces

This mission includes four multinational integrated Standing Maritime Groups: two destroyer/frigate groups and two mine countermeasures groups. These groups are continuously available to perform tasks ranging from participating in exercises to conducting NATO missions.

Standing Maritime Groups provide NATO with an immediate operational response capability.

Canada currently deploys a frigate to the Standing NATO Maritime Group, which conducts routine patrols in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea. Command of the Maritime Group rotates between nations, with Canada currently commanding. HMCS Fredericton is a unit of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two.

NATO's Tailored Forward Presence

This mission refers to air policing activities in the southeastern region of the alliance. It involves the 24/7 presence of fighter aircraft ready to react quickly.

To conduct the air policing mission, allies forward deploy aircraft to bases in three regions: the Baltic States, Romania/Bulgaria, and Iceland.

Canada contributes up to six CF-18 fighter aircraft and 135 personnel on a four-month episodic basis to conduct air policing, surveillance, and training activities.

(Government of Canada, NATO)

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 17 - May 16, 2020

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