A special ceremony was held at Camp Ādaži, Latvia today to mark the standup of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battlegroup in Latvia.
More than 1,000 soldiers from seven NATO nations participated in this ceremony.
NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, and Raimonds Vejonis the President of the Republic of Latvia, attended the ceremony with Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan, and General Jonathan Vance, the Chief of the Defence Staff representing Canada.
“Today’s ceremony marks the implementation of one of Canada’s key NATO commitments. Leading NATO efforts to deter and defeat potential aggression is a core mission in Canada’s new Defence Policy: Strong, Secure, Engaged. As the leader of an enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup, Canada is committed to ensuring a peaceful and stable Europe. We stand united with our NATO Allies and the people of Latvia,” said Harjit Sajjan, Minister of Defence.
Commanded by LCol. Wade Rutland, the battlegroup is comprised of soldiers from Albania, Canada, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Spain.
“Today is an important day for NATO, Latvia and this battlegroup. We are sending a clear message that Canada stands firmly with our Allies, and that we will do what it takes to preserve peace in the Baltics. I am tremendously impressed by the capability and professionalism of the soldiers from all the nations on parade today, and look forward to working with our Latvian counterparts,” stated LCol. Wade Rutland, Commander, eFP battlegroup Latvia.
The battlegroup will work alongside the Latvian Land Forces Infantry Brigade.
The battlegroups are defensive in nature and are said to be proportionate to the changed security environment, and are fully in line with NATO’s international commitments. They aim to prevent conflict and preserve regional stability.
Because of continuing international instability, NATO Allies decided at the July 2016 Warsaw Summit to further strengthen the Alliance’s position in order to deter aggression against its members. Hence, the establishment of the eFP in Central and Eastern Europe.
Similar eFP battlegroups have also been established in Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland, and are led respectively by the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States. These battlegroups are a response to the Russian government’s decision to use military force against its neighbours and its military buildup in the region.
For members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), this deployment is part of Operation REASSURANCE. The CAF is contributing up to 450 troops to the battlegroup including headquarters staff, an infantry company with Light Armoured Vehicles, military police, and logistical and communications support.
The majority of Canadian soldiers deployed to Latvia are from 3rd Canadian Division, based in Edmonton, Alberta.
“I am confident the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces in Latvia will demonstrate the type of operational excellence for which we are well-known. Our expertise, training, and professionalism put us in a strong position to lead the multinational battlegroup in support of NATO’s reassurance measures in Central and Eastern Europe,” said Gen. Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff.
Regimental Sergeant Major, Chief Warrant Officer Mike Forest (left) and Commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Wade Rutland (middle) from NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup in Latvia, speak with newly arrived Canadian battlegroup soldiers at the Riga International Airport on June 10, 2017 during Operation REASSURANCE.
Photo: MCpl True-dee McCarthy, Canadian Forces Combat Camera