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Jul 6 2021

Legal Advisors in support of BALTOPS 50

A team of eleven legal advisors (LEGADs) from five countries, led by U.S. Navy Cmdr. Louis Butler, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) Chief LEGAD, provided legal advice and counsel throughout BALTOPS 50 from our headquarters, in Oeiras, Portugal, the Portuguese Armed Forces Base Reduto Gomes Freire, and the command ships participating in the exercise.

In the increasingly complex military operational environment, the LEGAD role is of vital importance to successful military operations, advising commanders regarding multifarious and sensitive legal questions, both real-world and notional, of maritime law, environmental law, international law and the application of rules of engagement.

NATO and Partner Nations continue to exercise their rights under international law for the safe and unrestricted navigation and overflight of international waters

During the planning and execution of BALTOPS 50, 4,000 participants from the sixteen NATO and two Partner Nations flexed their understanding and readiness regarding the legal framework supporting multinational military operations at sea pursuant to the exercise's global purpose of providing training for participants, enhance flexibility and interoperability, and demonstrate resolve among Allied and Partner Forces in defending the Baltic Sea Region.

The BALTOPS 50 LEGAD team included participants from Germany (Col. Boris Wentzek), Canada (Lt. Cmdr. Melanie Tran), Latvia (Lt. Cmdr. Maris Boksbergs), Portugal (Civ Rodrigo Marques), and the United States (Maj. Robert Monroe, USMC, Maj. Blake Peltz, USMC, Capt. Brady Baxter, USMC, Lt. Nora Lopopolo, USN, Lt. Michael Killius, USN, and Lt. Scott McDonald, USN).

"This 50th iteration of BALTOPS is a historic milestone for the NATO Alliance and the Baltic Sea Region", said Cmdr. Butler. "As we planned and executed BALTOPS 50, we tailored the training scenario and exercise objectives to highlight the importance of International Rule of Law to maintaining global peace and security. Through high-end training exercises, like BALTOPS, and real-world operations, NATO and Partner Nations continue to exercise their rights under international law for the safe and unrestricted navigation and overflight of international waters.", he added.

BALTOPS is an annual U.S. European Command scheduled, U.S. Naval Forces Europe conducted, U.S. Sixth Fleet executed and a STRIKFORNATO delivered exercise conducted in the Baltic Sea. BALTOPS 50 took place June 06-18, 2021, and the participating nations included Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S.


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LEGADs from the U.S., Germany, Latvia and Portugal provided legal advice to the STRIKFORNATO Commander and staff executing BALTOPS 50 from the STRIKFORNATO HQ and RGF Bunker in Lisbon, Portugal. From left to right: (front row) LT Michael Killius (U.S. Navy), CDR Louis Butler (U.S. Navy), Maj. Blake Peltz (U.S. Marine Corps), Mr. Rodrigo Marques (Portuguese Civ), (back row) Maj. Robert Monroe (U.S. Marine Corps), Col. Boris Wentzek (German Army), LCDR Maris Boksbergs (Latvian Coast Guard), LT Scott McDonald (U.S. Navy). Legal advisors participating from afloat commands and not pictured here included: LCDR Melanie Tran (Canadian Navy), Capt. Brady Baxter (U.S. Marine Corps) and LT Nora Lopopolo (U.S. Navy).



While embarked on HMCS Halifax (FFH 330), Maj. Melanie Tran (Canadian Navy) discussed the legal implications of countries attempting to regulate or prohibit foreign military activities in their EEZ with Cdr Rochon, Captain of HMCS Halifax, and Commodore Peats, Commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group 1.

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Story by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO

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