NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Latvia welcomes new Commander

Soldiers stand in a semi-circle while military officials sign papers at a table on a stage
Riga, Latvia. January 15, 2018 – (left to right) Lieutenant-Colonel Wade Rutland, outgoing Commander NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Latvia; Colonel Josh Major, Commander Task Force Latvia; Colonel Ilmars Lejinš, Commander Latvian Mechanized Infantry Brigade; and Lieutenant-Colonel Sean French, incoming Commander NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Latvia, sign the scrolls at the Battlegroup’s change of command ceremony at the Ādaži Cultural Center near Riga, Latvia. (Photo: Sergeant Bernie Kuhn, Task Force Latvia)

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By: NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Latvia Public Affairs

Soldiers from eight different nations participated in a ceremony January 15, 2018, at the Ādaži Cultural Center near Riga, Latvia. The ceremony marked the change of command of the Canadian-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup (eFP BG) Latvia.

During the ceremony, command of the NATO eFP BG was transferred from outgoing Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Wade Rutland to incoming Commander Lieutenant-Colonel Sean French. The ceremony was reviewed by Major-General William Seymour, Chief of Staff (Operations), Canadian Joint Operations Command.  The Latvian Minister of Defence, Raimonds Bergmanis, and the Latvian National Armed Forces Deputy Chief of Staff for Support, Brigādes Ģenerālis Imants Ziediņš, also attended the ceremony.

“I am proud of this Battlegroup and all that has been achieved in Latvia during the past seven months,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Rutland. “The tremendous efforts of all contributing nations and our Latvian partners have laid the foundation for the success of future rotations and continuing peace and security in the region.”

“I would like to thank the soldiers of this Battlegroup for their dedication, and the Latvian National Armed Forces for their professionalism, hospitality and patience as we integrated into the Latvian Mechanized Infantry Brigade during this first rotation,” he added.

This event also highlights the end of the first rotation of NATO eFP BG troops deployed to Latvia. Along with the other three eFP BGs in Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland, these BGs are a demonstration of NATO solidarity, determination, and ability to defend the Alliance against possible aggression. As part of the Alliance posture, these measures are defensive in nature, proportionate, consistent with our international commitments, and demonstrate our respect for the rules-based European security architecture.

“I am honoured to take command of NATO’s multinational enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup Latvia today,” said Lieutenant-Colonel French. “This is a tremendous opportunity as the Allies of the Battlegroup continue to work and train together with the Latvian National Armed Forces, demonstrating our collective commitment and resolve.”

The majority of the 450 Canadian soldiers replacing the currently deployed rotation in Latvia are from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Gagetown, New Brunswick.

Canada assumed the leadership role as one of four Framework Nations in June 2017, commanding a robust multinational rotational NATO battlegroup in Latvia. It is integrated with the Latvian Mechanized Infantry Brigade. The other three Framework Nations are the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States. They lead battlegroups in Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland, respectively.

Slovakia and the Czech Republic will be contributing soldiers to the eFP BG in Latvia later in 2018, contributing further to its diversity, with eight different nations: Canada, Albania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Poland, Italy, and Spain.

Since 2014, Canada has actively participated alongside its NATO Allies in measures to maintain security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe. These measures include partnering, training, exercises, and other operational tasks.

Canada enjoys excellent relations with Latvia. Canada was the first G7 country to recognize the restoration of Latvia’s independence in 1991, and one of the first countries to ratify Latvia’s accession to NATO in 2004.

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  • Soldiers stand in a semi-circle while military officials sign papers at a table on a stage
  • A group of soldiers salute
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