Artillery vehicle

Canadian Army extends stay of artillery unit in Latvia

The unit’s deployment, with 120 personnel, was to last only six weeks. But those deadlines have now changed.

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Canada will extend the stay of an artillery unit it is sending to Latvia as part of efforts to strengthen NATO following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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The unit’s deployment, with 120 personnel, was to last only six weeks. But those deadlines have now changed.

“The current planning is for this artillery battery to deploy for three months,” National Defense spokesman Dan Le Bouthillier said. “After that, the Canadian Armed Forces will consider deploying a group for a six-month rotation.

The soldiers sent to Latvia come from Valcartier, Quebec.

The Canadian Army deployed artillery units to Latvia in 2017. These were eventually replaced by units from NATO countries on regular rotations.

The artillery unit should be ready to move to Latvia by the end of March, according to the Canadian military.

“We understand the urgency of these contributions and we are working diligently for a safe and rapid deployment,” explained Le Bouthillier. “Artillery battery planning is underway. These 30 days are critical as preparations are underway to ensure members are operationally ready to deploy.

HMCS Halifax will also leave Canada to reinforce NATO forces in the Mediterranean and Black Seas, but this frigate will not leave until late March. He won’t be in the area until April, according to the Department of National Defence.

Twenty-five soldiers from an electronic warfare unit were also assigned to Latvia. Members of the 21st Electronic Warfare Regiment from Kingston, Ont., have already been deployed to Latvia as part of a biannual technical assistance visit, which began in early January 2022, Le Bouthillier said. They were to complete their mission at the end of March.

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But they will continue to stay in Latvia for the foreseeable future, Le Bouthillier said.

“The team is made up of specialists, including signal operators and signal intelligence specialists, who identify threats on the electronic spectrum,” he added. “Their objective is to gather intelligence, detect threats, protect our assets (equipment, vehicles, infrastructure) from attacks and use electronic weapons against enemy threats.”

In addition, an Aurora surveillance aircraft will be made available.

Le Bouthillier said there were no details on when the aircraft would be made available to NATO.

The Canadian Forces have also reserved two C-130J aircraft for NATO to transport equipment to Poland. It will also supply 100 anti-tank weapons and 2,000 cartridges to Ukraine as well as more protective vests for troops. No details on when the equipment will reach Ukraine have not been released for security reasons.

Canada had already provided Ukraine with lethal aid on February 19 and 22, just days before the Russian invasion. Defense Minister Anita Anand insisted that the equipment, which included .50 caliber sniper rifles, 60 millimeter mortars, grenade launchers, pistols, ammunition, machine guns and thermal imaging binoculars, had arrived in time to be used effectively. But some members of the Canadian Forces privately dispute that, noting that Ukrainian troops would not have had time to train on such equipment before the Russians launched their invasion.

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Additionally, Liberal ministers announced on Sunday that Canada would also provide $25 million in non-lethal aid. But this equipment, which includes helmets, gas masks and night vision goggles, will not come from the Canadian Forces equipment inventory. Instead, the Canadian government procurement system will purchase the equipment from various companies and vendors.

It is not known when these purchases will be made and when they could be delivered to Ukraine.

Global Affairs Canada would not comment on this initiative. But some within National Defense have expressed concerns about whether the federal government’s procurement system will succeed in acquiring the equipment in a timely manner.