In terms of military commitments, Canada originally stationed troops in Germany and Norway. During the 1950s Canada was one of the largest military spenders in the alliance and one of the few not receiving direct aid from the United States. The costs of maintaining forces in Europe combined with those defending its own vast territory and participation in the Korean War caused strain on the Canadian budget during the 1950s. Despite this Canada was not part of the inner sanctum of large countries that charted NATO policy. Canadian leaders grew disillusioned with the NATO alliance, and began to reduce Canada's commitment. In 1969 then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau withdrew half of Canada's forces in Europe, even as many leftist intellectuals and peace activists called for a complete withdrawal from NATO. With the success of the Canadian participation in the Suez Crisis, in Cyprus and on other UN peacekeeping missions, perception in Canada was that the forces had shifted from conventional warfighting to peacekeeping missions. Nevertheless, the bulk of Canada's military was focussed on the less-glamorous NATO mission in Germany, where there remained a brigade group and the bulk of an air division. In all, there were over 5,000 soldiers at any given time deployed in Germany until 1993, when the remaining Canadian troops were withdrawn from Europe by the government of Brian Mulroney following the end of the Cold War.
Given the small size of Canada's military, the importance of Canada's contribution to NATO has primarily been political rather than military. However, during the 1999 Kosovo War Canadian CF-18 jets were actively involved in bombing Yugoslavia. Canadian troops were part of the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, ISAF. In March 2011, the Canadian Forces participated in NATO-led missions in Libya, Angola.