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Jun 15 2021

STRIKFORNATO Commands 50th Baltic Operations Exercise From Portugal

This year marks the 50th iteration of the Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise. Naval Striking Forces and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) led operation headquartered in Oeiras, Portugal aims to demonstrate the interoperability of NATO allies and partners and to assure NATO's commitment to the security and stability of the Baltic Sea region.

The team at STRIKFORNATO maintains overall Command and Control of the exercise supported by elements of the U.S. Sixth Fleet in Naples. From Sixth Fleet's command ship, USS Mount Whitney (LCC-20), the crew hosts the command teams from the Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) Two and 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Our focus is to maximize opportunities and ensure that all participants achieve their tactical training requirements

As the lead planning organization, STRIKFORNATO has been responsible for both planning and executing all aspects of the exercise on behalf of Vice Adm. Gene Black, Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet and Commander STRIKFORNATO.

With approximately 200 people from 17 different nations, STRIKFORNATO is executing this year's exercise from STRIKFORNATO HQ, through the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) supported by multi-national service members.

By executing command and control from the STRIKFORNATO JOC, the teams are strengthening the ability to remain fully operational and mission ready.

The Oeiras-based team supports Rear Admiral Morley, STRIKFORNATO's Deputy Commander, in executing his function as the Senior Officer Directing the Exercise.

"Our focus is to maximize opportunities and ensure that all participants achieve their tactical training requirements, while focusing on the safety of all personnel involved during the exercise," said Commander Stian Schnelle, lead exercise planner.

Exercise Control, or EXCON runs a complex scenario that will provide extensive training for all forces involved across the full range of varied missions. The two phases of the exercise are referred to as the Combat Enhancement Training and the Force Integration phases (CET-FIT).

The STRIKFORNATO team is comprised of syndicate leads, or subject matter experts within their specific area of expertise.

BALTIC SEA (June 9, 2021) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) and BALTOPS 50 participating nations' ships conduct a live-fire gunnery exercise, June 9, 2021. The 50th BALTOPS represents a continuous, steady commitment to reinforcing interoperability in the Alliance and providing collective maritime security in the Baltic Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Andrea Rumple)

"BALTOPS is the premier maritime exercise in the Baltic Sea region and one of the largest exercises in northern Europe," said Schnelle. "I have to say that we are privileged to have an experienced planning team here at STRIKFORNATO, as well as extremely valuable support from all the multinational augments through execution. This collaboration has led to the successful delivery of the exercise, allowing participants achieve their training objectives whilst operating in a challenging environment."

An annual exercise that has run for 49 years, BALTOPS brings multiple nations together to reinforce NATO's commitment to regional security. The collaborative work of NATO's Allies and Partners reduces the chance of conflict in the Baltic Sea region while enhancing multi-national partnership.

STRIKFORNATO will begin planning for BALTOPS 2022 shortly after the completion of this year's evolution.

Story by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO - Chief Mass Communication Specialist Heidi Cheek

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