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Canada to send 1,000 troops for largest NATO exercise in 36 years



The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are set to participate in the largest NATO exercise in decades later this month.

Steadfast Defender 2024 will run from late January to late May and involve more than 90,000 personnel, including 1,000 Canadian troops.

The drills will simulate a hypothetical scenario where Article 5 is triggered. Article 5 is the section in the NATO treaty that can be invoked when one NATO ally is the victim of an armed attack, requiring all other alliance members to provide military assistance.

The exercise is set to take place in several countries in Europe and involve more than 50 naval ships, 150 tanks, 500 infantry fighting vehicles and 400 armoured personnel carriers, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Canadian military assets expected to participate in this exercise include the patrol frigate HMCS Charlottetown, which will depart from Halifax for Europe later this month, as well as the Canadian-led NATO battlegroup in Latvia and the Leopard 2 tank squadron. Canadian troops are set to be deployed to Latvia, Estonia and Norway.

In the second part of this exercise, Canada will deploy more than 100 military vehicles to Latvia, as well as CH-146 Griffon helicopters and CH-147 Chinooks.

While NATO and Canadian officials didn’t mention Russia by name, these exercises are set to take place in the backdrop of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The last time NATO held an exercise as large as Steadfast Defender 2024 was back in 1988, when the Cold War was still ongoing.

“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,” Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre said in a press release on Wednesday.

“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.”

Meanwhile, Russia condemned the plans and said the scale of these exercises “marks the final and irrevocable return of NATO to the Cold War schemes.”

Although Sweden is not yet a member of NATO, the Scandinavian country will also take part in the drills. On Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ratified Sweden’s application for NATO membership, clearing a major huddle in joining the alliance.

With files from Reuters

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