KIEL, Germany - Today, forces participating in the 45th iteration of Exercise BALTIC OPERATIONS (BALTOPS) 2017 arrive in Kiel, after a successful completion of the exercise.
BALTOPS is an annual maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region. During two weeks 4000 personnel, more than 50 ships and submarines and 55 aircraft from 14 Nations took part in intensive and complex training, aimed to enhance flexibility and interoperability among the participants.
In order to improve the training value, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), who has delivered BALTOPS since 2015, has this year incorporated national feedback and made the exercise more valuable by focusing on a stronger emphasis on command and control, increased integration of joint forces and a longer and more challenging "free-play” portion of the exercise.
Polish Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon refuels from US Airf Force KC-135R Stratotanker, 100th Air Refueling Wing over Latvia
"In order to improve our joint interoperability, we included more exercise air activity from the NATO Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC), in Uedem, Germany. This interaction has increased the level of complexity, and improved the quality of the training for exercise participants”, says Rear Admiral Paddy McAlpine, Deputy Commander STRIKFORNATO. Throughout the exercise, ships and aircraft have demonstrated the ability to deliver sea control and power projection at, and from the sea.
"We have pushed every unit to train at the highest end of warfare, especially focusing on mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, air defence, and amphibious warfare. We know that in a real-world crisis, the air, ground, and maritime forces from many nations would work together toward a common goal, and that’s what we practice during BALTOPS. We are truly stronger together.” Vice Admiral Cristopher Grady, Commander STRIKFORNATO.
Upon arrival of the ships to Kiel, Germany, the exercise comes now to an end. Planners and participants will now gather to discuss this year’s lessons learned and start planning next year’s exercise.
BALTOPS, one of the largest exercises in Northern Europe, is an opportunity to offer high end training for Allies and Partner Nations from across the region in order to reassure and demonstrate NATO’s long term commitment to security in the Baltic Region.
US Marines assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Convoy, conduct a simulated amphibious assault in Ventspils, Latvia, during exercise BALTOPS 2017