Warm welcome greets troops

Members of OP Reassurance return home
Canadian Armed Forces personnel from 4 Wing Cold Lake arrive home from Operation Reassurance, Air Task Force-Romania deployment in the early morning of January 13, 2020. Photo: Aviator Avery Philpott, 4 Wing Imaging

Cliff Kenyon

It’s a warm welcome to troops from 4 Wing Cold Lake who returned home from Romania early Monday morning.

Despite the cold snap that met them as their plane arrived home about 1:30 a.m. in Cold Lake, they were met by Wing leaders extending a warm welcome and congratulations for a successful mission.

About 100 Canadian Armed Forces members from Cold Lake took part in Operation Reassurance in Romania, part of the air policing mission in Europe.

The Command Team, Colonel Dave Moar and Wing Chief Warrant Officer Rémi Nault, as well as leadership teams of returning members were there to greet them before reuniting with their families and friends.

Cold Lake members were away on a four-month mission in Romania. Canadian Air Task Force (ATF) – Romania is Canada’s contribution to NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe.

Minister of National Defence Harjit Singh Sajjan had thanked participants last week for their efforts.

“Thank you to all who served for your contribution. Your work shows our friends and allies that Canada will always stand shoulder to shoulder with them,” he said as the mission drew to a close.

“Canada’s contribution to Air Task Force-Romania shows our ongoing support to NATO, one of our most important multilateral relationships,” he added.

Since 2014, Operation Reassurance has been key to demonstrating Canada’s commitment to our NATO allies. As part of NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission, the operation reinforces NATO’s collective defence, demonstrating the Alliance’s combined strength and solidarity to any potential airspace aggressor.

Lieutenant-General Michael Rouleau, Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command, said: “Over the past four months, Canadian Armed Forces personnel, as part of Air Task Force-Romania, again demonstrated the highest levels of professionalism and skill NATO has come to expect from Canada. Congratulations of a job well done.”

ATF-Romania was composed of approximately 135 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel and five CF-188 Hornets from 4 Wing Cold Lake. The members of ATF-Romania were mainly from 401 Tactical Fighter Squadron, supported by personnel from all over Canada, primarily from 2 Air Expeditionary Wing, 3 Wing Bagotville, and 19 Wing Comox.

In addition to the enhanced Air Policing mission, the ATF conducted regular training with their Romanian counterparts, including flight operations, emergency response, flight safety, aircraft maintenance, command and control, and military policing. ATF-Romania also participated in several multinational joint exercises such as Exercise Silver Arrow in Latvia, Exercise Blue Bridge 19 and Exercise Ramstein Dust.

“It has been a tremendous honour for the members of Air Task Force-Romania 2019 to work alongside our Romanian and regional NATO Allies,” Commander Air Task Force-Romania Lieutenant-Colonel Forrest Rock said. “Whether fulfilling our NATO enhanced Air Policing mandate or participating in the multitude of multinational joint training opportunities with our Romanian MiG-21 and F-16 counterparts, the Romanian, French, and US Navy, the Bulgarian Air Force, or Task Force Latvia, our efforts have clearly demonstrated Canada’s reliability and commitment to NATO collective defence from both a deterrence and assurance perspective.”

“The members of this Task Force have once again demonstrated the value and capabilities of our Canadian Armed Forces,” he said, “and further solidified Canada’s reputation as a reliable defence partner.”

This is Canada’s fourth ATF deployment to Romania on Operation Reassurance. The ATF first deployed from April to August 2014 to the Romanian Air Force 71st Air Base in Campia Turzii, followed by deployments to Constanta in both 2017 and 2018 from September to December.

NATO’s enhanced Air Policing is a peacetime collective defence mission, which safeguards the integrity of the Alliance’s airspace. It is part of NATO assurance and deterrence measures introduced in 2014 after Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea.

Members of OP Reassurance return home
Colonel Dave Moar, 4 Wing Commander greets members returning home from Operation Reassurance, Air Task Force-Romania at 4 Wing Cold Lake Medley terminal January 13, 2020. Photo: Aviator Avery Philpott, 4 Wing Imaging
Members of OP Reassurance return home
Lieutenant Colonel Forrest Rock, Commander Air Task Force-Romania, is reunited with his family at the 4 Wing Cold Lake Military Family Resource Center Society January 13, 2020. Photo: Aviator Avery Philpott, 4 Wing Imaging
Members of OP Reassurance return home
Firefighter, Corporal Jared Morran and wife Kari-Lynn Morran share a hug at the 4 Wing Cold Lake Military Family Resource Centre Society after his return from deployment January 13, 2020. Photo: Leading Seaman Justin Spinello, AETE