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Canada set to participate in NATO Exercise Steadfast Defender 2024

Department of National Defence Press Release | January 25, 2024

Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 43 seconds.

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.

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. 

 “Canada’s participation in Exercise Steadfast Defender sends a strong message about our ability to operate with NATO Allies and our continued contribution to the defence of Europe. Canada remains unwavering in its commitments to defend our shared values and interests, and to be a reliable partner in peace and security,” said Bill Blair, Canada’s minister of national defense.

“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. 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,” said Gen Wayne Eyre, chief of the defense staff.

“The next few months will see our sailors, soldiers, and aviators engage in rigorous training and operational activities in diverse and challenging environments. This period will not only test their skills and capabilities but also provide an opportunity to forge strong and valuable partnerships with our NATO allies and partners, further enhancing our collective readiness and interoperability,’ said vice-admiral Bob Auchterlonie, commander of Canadian Joint Operations Command.

Quick Facts

  • In development for over three years, Steadfast Defender 24 will see over 90,000 military personnel, as well as more than 50 naval assets, over 80 aircraft, and over 1,100 combat vehicles, exercised across multiple domains (maritime, land, air space, and cyber) through a series of integrated plans, overseen by an enhanced command structure. 
  • Canadian Army personnel will participate to exercise Crystal Arrow in Latvia in March, as well as exercise Spring Storm in Estonia in May. Additionally, Canadian Special Operation Forces Command members will participate in exercise Nordic Response in Norway in March. These exercises fall under the wider umbrella of Steadfast Defender 24 and are opportunities for soldiers to closely work with our NATO allies.
  • In Summer 2024, Canada will also deploy four CH-146 Griffon helicopters to Latvia and periodically deploy CH-147 Chinooks as well, starting in the Fall of 2025. 
  • Op Reassurance is Canada’s contribution to NATO deterrence and defence measures in Central and Eastern Europe and is Canada’s largest overseas mission with approximately 1,000 personnel deployed. The mission is set to grow to up to 2,200 persistently deployed by 2026. 
  • This press release was prepared and distributed by Canada’s Department of National Defence.

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