Under the command of Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO and with the support and participation of commands from SHAPE, JFC Brunssum, Germany, Poland, the NATO Communications and Information Agency, and many others, BALTOPS 2015 delivered a challenging training program for participating units and staffs. The planning was nearly a year-long effort, with conferences taking place in Naples, Italy, Norfolk, Virginia, Lisbon, Portugal, Vilnius, Lithuania, and Tallinn, Estonia – with the final pre-sail taking place in Gdynia, Poland. The exercise featured participants from over twenty NATO and partner nations and a Joint Force comprised over 49 Ships, one submarine, a host of support and assault craft, 62 Fixed Wing and Rotary Wing Aircraft, over 700 Marines and US Airborne Rangers, and an additional 5,000 supporting personnel afloat and ashore. It was a truly impressive demonstration of collective interoperability and readiness.
This year’s BALTOPS was designed with a focus on high-end warfighting training across the entire spectrum of maritime operations, to include Anti-Submarine Warfare, Air Defense, Naval Gunfire Support, Mine Warfare, Maritime Interdiction Operations, and most significantly, Amphibious/Expeditionary Warfare. I was certain that if we designed an exercise that raised the bar for participating units and challenged them to communicate effectively and integrate as a task force to execute complex, combined expeditionary operations, then nations would commit their forces in numbers. BALTOPS 2015 results confirmed my expectation many times over.
Tactically and operationally, the commanding and supporting staffs and their respective forces demonstrated that over a dozen navies can come together with complementary capabilities and in a short time become an interoperable task force. Our nations continue to be committed to training towards a common standard using the identical tactics, techniques and procedures, and that is a fundamental reason for the success of the Alliance as a whole. Moreover, the current strategic climate in the Baltic Region demands visible demonstration of our resolve to maintain security in the region, which in no small way also impacted the desire among NATO ally and partner nations to stand up and be counted among this year’s contributors.
Execution would not have gone as smoothly as it had without dedicated support, both afloat and ashore, from key headquarters throughout the Alliance and Partner nations, to include SHAPE, Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, the Polish Maritime Operations Center in Gdynia, the German Maritime Operations Center in Glücksburg, the range facilities in Ravlunda, Sweden and Ustka, Poland, and the NATO Combined Air Operations Center in Uedem, Germany. I’m extremely grateful to all the participants for making this year’s exercise a success, and equally to the Alliance and partner nations and headquarters that hosted our planning conferences and provided Liaison officers and staff augmentees.
Vice Admiral James Foggo