Members of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command conduct pre-mission training for Exercise Steadfast Defender 24 in Petawawa, Ontario, on January 16, 2024 – Supplied Photo
The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is set to participate in the largest NATO exercise in decades that will serve to rehearse NATO’s Deterrence and Defence plans to counter threats to the Euro-Atlantic area.
Approximately 1,000 CAF sailors, soldiers, aviators, and special forces members, will demonstrate NATO’s ability to conduct sustained, multi-domain defensive operations over a period of several months, simulating an Article 5 attack by an adversary with similar capabilities.
The exercise will run from the end of January until the end of May 2024, and is divided into two main parts. The first part will be largely maritime based and will focus on defence of the North Atlantic and Arctic waters, while the second part will test NATO’s ability to rapidly deploy reinforcements across all domains in defence of Central and Eastern Europe.
“The deployment of CAF personnel and assets alongside NATO and Allied forces in Alliance territory serves as a powerful and unmistakable message of deterrence to potential adversaries and reassurance to Allies,” said General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff. “This collective display of strength and readiness reinforces our commitment to safeguarding the security and stability of the region, sending a clear signal that any threat to our shared values and interests will be met with a unified and resolute response.”
CAF assets that will be participating include Canadian patrol frigate HMCS Charlottetown with an embarked CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, and the Canadian-led enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia, including for the first time, a Canadian Leopard 2 Main Battle Tank squadron.
The exercise will also serve as an important milestone for the Canadian Army’s future Forward Land Forces Multinational Brigade Latvia, as the second part of the exercise will see the future command team integrate with their higher NATO command in the planning and execution of defensive combat operations.
NATO is a cornerstone of Canada’s Defence Policy, and Canada has been contributing to NATO’s enhanced defence and deterrence measures in Europe since the invasion of Crimea in 2014. This exercise will provide a valuable opportunity to strengthen the CAF’s ability to project, integrate, and sustain operations within the NATO command and control structure.