One year in, NATO’s Canada-led eFP Battle Group Latvia is better, faster, and stronger

A Canadian and a Latvian soldier
A section commander from India Company, enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia, discusses plans for their release in place with his ally from the Latvian Land Forces, during Exercise SABER STRIKE 2018, near Skrunda, Latvia on June 11, 2018. (Photo: Cpl Jean-Roch Chabot, eFP BG LATVIA Public Affairs)

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By Captain Matt Zalot, Task Force Latvia Public Affairs Officer, Operation REASSURANCE

It’s been just over a year since NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia (eFP BG LVA) was established on June 19, 2017. During that time, the Battle Group, with over 1100 soldiers from eight different nations, has significantly improved its ability to efficiently work together.

Based at Camp Ādaži, Latvia, the Canadian-led NATO Battle Group is fully integrated with the Latvian Land Forces Mechanized Brigade. It continues to refine its skills through training, exercises, and outreach in the Baltics.

Originally comprising troops from Canada as the framework nation, as well as troops from Albania, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Spain as the sending nations, the Battle Group recently welcomed Czech and Slovakian contingents. The Czech mortar platoon arrived in mid-June and brought 120 mm mortars that increased the Battle Group’s indirect-fire capabilities. Slovakia has been involved in the Battle Group since November 2017 with two staff officers at the Battle Group Headquarters; the main body of the Slovakian contingent, a mechanized infantry company, arrived in Latvia in early July.

Recent training highlights include Exercise CLAYMORE FORGED, a combined-arms training event that took place in March; Exercise CLAYMORE SOARING, an air mobility training opportunity featuring American aviation in the Meza Mackevici training area in Southeast Latvia that took place in March and April; Exercise CLAYMORE KNOCKING, urban operations training that took place in Skrunda in April; and Exercise SABER STRIKE, an international exercise involving around 18 000 troops which spanned the Baltics and Poland in June.

The lessons learned come with opportunities to share both tactics and culture within the diverse makeup of the eFP BG LVA. In addition to military tasks, the Battle Group has taken its commitment to the people of Latvia to heart. It has conducted a variety of outreach tasks across the country to build understanding and a sense of community between the Battle Group and the civilian population. Projects included vehicle and equipment displays, volunteer work, and donations to local organizations. Because of this, the soldiers of the eFP BG LVA become active participants in their adopted communities.

“For over a year now, Canada has been leading the Battle Group in Latvia and we’ve been learning and training every day. Our original six nations will soon be on their third rotation, and they’ve taken lessons learned home with them as well,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Sean French, the Battle Group’s Commanding Officer. “We’re fully integrated with the Latvian Land Forces Mechanized Infantry Brigade and we’re getting stronger, faster, and better integrated with every rotation. It’s a privilege to lead this multinational Battle Group in Latvia.”

Image gallery

  • Canadian soldiers run on paved ground with their guns pointed upwards.
  • Canadian and Latvian soldiers line up to fire their weapons.
  • A Canadian soldier aims a weapon while a Spanish soldier watches.
  • A group of Canadian soldiers look at a map with a Polish soldier.
  • A Canadian soldier camouflages themselves in a forest.
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