Edmonton soldiers deploy to lead NATO battlegroup in Latvia

Article / June 19, 2017

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By 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Public Affairs

Edmonton, Alberta – Throughout early and mid-June 2017, 450 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members deployed to Latvia on a renewed Operation REASSURANCE, the Canadian Armed Forces’ support to NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe.

Canada has assumed a leadership role as one of four Framework Nations and will establish and lead a robust multinational rotational NATO “enhanced Forward Presence” (eFP) battlegroup in Latvia. Three other eFP Battlegroups have been established in Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland, and are led respectively by the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States.

While deploying soldiers came from units across the CAF, the majority of troops are from the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. Canadians will form a mechanized infantry battalion, the battlegroup headquarters, and other support elements, and will be serving alongside NATO allies from Albania, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, and Spain. The Czech Republic and Slovakia will contribute troops to the eFP in Latvia in 2018.

In preparation for the mission, Canadian soldiers completed an intense schedule of individual and collective training to hone their general and mission-specific skills, including weapons training, mental readiness, and language and cultural awareness.

“The deploying members of 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG) are ready to take on the important role of leading the enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup in Latvia,” said Colonel William Fletcher, Commander of 1 CMBG. “Our soldiers are well-trained, highly- capable, and ready to partner with our Allies in deterring Russian aggression.”

The multinational battlegroup is stationed at the Adazi military base, near the capital city of Riga, and is present in Latvia at the request of the host nation. In fact, the eFP battlegroup will train as an integrated part of the Latvian Land Forces Infantry Brigade.

“This deployment sends an important message: we are united,” said Latvia’s ambassador to Canada Karlis Eihenbaums to the first main flight of Canadian soldiers before they departed Edmonton International Airport. “Latvia is about to become your home away from home. On behalf of the people of Latvia, you are most welcome.”

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