Around 8,600 U.S. and European troops from 18 nations are taking part in the annual BALTOPS naval exercise that starts on Sunday (9 June) in Germany’s Baltic Sea port of Kiel.
BALTOPS is the premier annual maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic region and one of the largest exercises in northern Europe, enhancing flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations.
Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander of the U.S. 2nd Fleet, will lead the exercise on behalf of Naval Forces Europe.
“No one nation can face today’s challenges alone, we are much stronger together,” Lewis said. “Our partner and NATO alliances must continue to strengthen our deterrence and defense efforts and adapt through improving readiness and responsiveness.”
The focus of the exercise is for ground, maritime and air forces to work together in exercising air defense, maritime interdiction, anti-subsurface warfare, mine countermeasures and amphibious operations, to strengthen the development of joint teams across all layers of the battlespace.
The exercise will include the participation of 50 surface ships, 36 aircraft, two submarines and 8,600 personnel in a joint operational environment.
“I think BALTOPS represents the habit we have made in operating in a coalition environment and in a multinational environment,” said U.K. Royal Navy Rear Adm. Andrew Burns OBE. “One of the advantages, particularly in the NATO framework, as we operate together more and more we standardize our procedures so we now have a generation of military folk who are used to operating together with standard procedures.”
Nations participating in BALTOPS 2019 include Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.
BALTOPS is an opportunity to promote partnerships, presence, and professionalism through an unambiguous display of strength in the Baltic region.