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Monday, June 12, 2017

CAF Lands in Latvia as part of NATO Mission

CTV News Online
With a report from CTV News’ Mercedes Stephenson

Canadian soldiers have landed in Latvia as part of Operation Reassurance -- a multinational NATO mission aimed not at starting a conflict, but at discouraging Russian aggression in the region.

Nearly 100 Edmonton-based troops arrived in the Latvian capital of Riga on Saturday, eager to get to work after their long flight.

“We’ve been training a long time,” one Canadian soldier told CTV News. “We want to be here and Latvia wants us here and so we are happy to be here.”

In total, Canada is deploying 450 troops to lead a battlegroup comprised of soldiers from five other NATO countries: Italy, Spain, Poland, Slovenia and Albania. Those countries will contribute 1,200-1,500 soldiers to the battlegroup in an effort to send a powerful message of deterrence to Russia.

“The enhanced forward presence is going to provide the defence of Latvia, the Baltics, and all of NATO,” battlegroup commander Lieutenant-Colonel Wade Rutland told reporters on Saturday in Latvia.

It’s a different kind of mission for the Canadian Forces, with an unusual definition of success.

“It’s a bit of a funny mission success criteria, that if nothing happens, we'll all go home happy,” Rutland added.

The troops will be stationed at Camp Adazi, a Latvian military base just outside of Riga.

Canada’s Lieutenant-Colonel Hugo Delisle was given the monumental task of getting the base ready for the Canadian troops, essentially transforming a muddy field into a fully-functioning camp so soldiers could hit the ground running.

“When they arrive, they can walk in and start working the next day,” Delisle said.

The camp, which is completely independent and self-sustaining, includes specialized trucks to transport water and fuel, tents where soldiers will sleep, bathroom trailers to shower in and custom prefab offices to work in. Everything was shipped in hundreds of seacans across the Atlantic from Canada.

In the coming days, the rest of the battlegroup will join up with the Canadians.