BALTOPS ‘13 moves into Wargame Phase

Maritime and aviation forces participating in Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2013 have moved into the wargame phase of the multi-national, training event.

BALTOPS ‘13 moves into Wargame Phase

By Lt.j.g. Loren M. Terry
Expeditionary Strike Group Two, Public Affairs

ABOARD USS MOUNT WHITNEY – Maritime and aviation forces participating in Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2013, the 41st rendition of the annual exercise, have moved into the wargame phase of the multi-national, training event.

Preceded by a serial phase, which included exercises in surface gunnery, undersea warfare, air defense, mine countermeasures, and seamanship, the war game phase incorporates the training and cooperative efforts honed during the serials, into an asymmetric threat environment.

“Ships are divided into two competing surface action groups and tasked with completing their specific force objectives,” said Capt. Craig Clapperton, commanding officer, USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20). “Mount Whitney served as the command and control platform, enabling ESG-2 to oversee both forces, guarantee the safety of all operations, issue orders, validate procedures, enforce rules of engagement, and ensure each group was accurately assessing their enemies’ intentions and responding with an appropriate level of force.”

Taking place in the Baltic Sea, a region bustling with merchant and fishing traffic, maintaining a safe navigational environment during the wargame phase can be challenging.

“Operating in the confined waters of the Baltic … there is a lot to think about in the planning and executing of the exercises in order to keep working safely … communications are the single most important issue to solve,” explained Danish Cmdr. Peter Henegouwen, commanding officer of the Dutch/Danish Mine Counter Measure [MCM] ship task unit. “Working together means finding out about each other’s capabilities and limitations; this cannot be done from an office.”

Truly a collaborative effort, BALTOPS requires skill sets from across the Navy.

“The human interaction that happens [during BALTOPS] is integral to the success of the exercise,” said Cmdr. Rick Beasley, a future operations planner and Naval Reservist from 6th Fleet Detachment 513, Maritime Partnership Program, Great Lakes, Ill. “We get a chance to see how other navies tackle issues, how they overcome obstacles.”

As exercise director on behalf of Commander, 6th Fleet, Rear Adm. Ann Phillips, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, is participating in BALTOPS for the second year in a row.

“The wargame phase of BALTOPS is the most dynamic,” said Phillips. “It allows participants to respond to a thinking adversary to better evaluate and validate tactics and procedures, while addressing the real-world challenges of being underway in a multi-dimensional battle space.”

Comprised of multi-national forces from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, the United States and NATO, the exercise hosts more than 40 surface units and aircraft.

Scheduled by Commander, U.S. European Command, the two-week exercise began in Denmark and Latvia with a harbor and pre-sail phase and will conclude in Germany, allowing participants to take part in the annual Kiel Week maritime celebration.

Source: DVIDS.

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