Canada has been a member of NATO since it was founded in 1949. NATO is an essential contributor to international peace and security. It is the cornerstone of Canadian security and defence policy, the foundation for strong collective defence; and important transatlantic link that binds together North American and European security. Canada’s priority for NATO is to ensure that the Alliance remains modern, flexible, and agile to address effectively the threats of today and those in the future.
Canada’s increased support for NATO
This week, Canada has announced an increase in its support for NATO and its allies. The increased support includes:
Support for the NATO mission in Iraq
As announced this week, Canada will assume command of the NATO training and capacity building mission in Iraq. Canada will deploy a major-general, up to 250 Canadian Armed Forces personnel to provide support to the NATO training mission, and up to four Griffon helicopters in support of the mission.
Extension of Operation REASSURANCE
This week, the Prime Minister also announced that Canada will renew its contribution to NATO through Operation REASSURANCE for another four years, from April 2019 to March 2023. Canada will increase the number of Canadian Armed Forces members deployed to the Operation from 455 to 540. Canada’s contribution will continue to include air surveillance, policing, training, and maritime forces.
Support for NATO’s Airborne Warning and Control System program
Canada will contribute up to 25 personnel within the next five years to NATO’s Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) program. The AWACS are one of the few military assets that is actually owned and operated by NATO. They conduct a wide range of missions such as air policing, support to counter-terrorism, evacuation operations, embargo, initial entry, and crisis response. Beginning in April 2018, Canada also began contributing between $17 million and $20 million per year to this program.
Membership and contribution to the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats
Canada became a member of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats in June 2018. The Centre was established by Finland in April 2017 and is supported by many NATO Allies. Hybrid threats involve a combination of conventional and unconventional, regular and irregular means of combat, and can often include cyber warfare. Based in Helsinki, the Centre works to increase national resilience against hybrid threats, with a particular focus on strategic situational awareness and analysis. Canada’s engagement in the Centre will help Canada improve its understanding of hybrid threats and how to counter them.
Support for the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence
Canada will be joining the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, established in Tallinn, Estonia in 2018. The Centre helps develop expertise in the areas of technology, strategy, operations, and law. Canada made a previous one-time grant of $1 million in 2014-2015 to the Centre which was used to support the construction of a “live-fire” cyber range that has since been used in multinational exercises.
Support for NATO Reform
Since 2010, the Alliance has been undertaking major modernization reforms to ensure the organization remains agile and flexible in an evolving security environment.
At the 2018 NATO Summit, Allies agreed to an adapted NATO Command Structure, which will place a greater emphasis on cyber defence, improve logistical support and enhance the overall readiness of NATO’s forces.
The new NATO Command Structure will establish a third Joint Force Command (JFC) in Norfolk, Virginia, to bolster NATO’s capacity in the Atlantic. This new Joint Force Command (JFC) will be have an Atlantic focus and added to the two existing JFCs in Naples, Italy and Brunssum, the Netherlands.
Canada supports the timely implementation of the adapted NATO Command Structure and welcomes, in particular, the JFC in Norfolk. Canada intends to fill its share of the positions within the adapted structure.
These contributions will complement Canada’s existing support to NATO, including financial support to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and for the implementation of Women, Peace and Security agenda.