BALTOPS 2013 kick-off
The largest annual multi-national maritime exercise in the Baltic Sea started today, in Ronne, Denmark, and Ventspils, Latvia. Exercise BALTOPS is now in its 41st year.
Ten countries gather for BALTOPS 2013 kick-off
VENTSPILS, Latvia – The largest annual multi-national maritime exercise in the Baltic Sea started today, in Ronne, Denmark, and Ventspils, Latvia. Exercise BALTOPS, now in its 41st year, will be held June 7 to 22. Its goal is to improve maritime security in the Baltic Sea through increased interoperability and cooperation among regional allies.
During this exercise, sailors from ten nations will work side-by-side with personnel from partner nations, both on land and at sea, becoming familiar with military operating procedures and practices of participating nations. Sailors from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the United States, will participate in exercise scenarios that involve mine countermeasures, submarine and surface operations, and maritime interception.
“Through BALTOPS, we unite the skills, experiences, and forces across our nations to plan and execute a robust, challenging, and realistic training environment,” said Rear Adm. Ann Phillips, Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 2 (ESG 2), who leads this year’s exercise. “This forum provides a valuable opportunity to develop strong, productive relationships to enhance regional maritime safety and security.”
The exercise has grown in size and complexity over the last four decades. As skills are mastered, new and more complicated events are designed into the exercise.
“This is the second consecutive year my staff and I have had the pleasure of participating in BALTOPS,” Rear Adm. Phillips said. “The year-long planning process and effort to execute a world-class exercise is no easy task.”
Lt. Cmdr. Jeremy Ewing, ESG 2 exercise planner, explained that while the exercise took a lot of planning effort, the results will be increased maritime interoperability among the participating nations.
“BALTOPS 2013 presents a superb opportunity to learn about, and operate with our coalition partners,” Lt. Cmdr. Ewing said. “I look forward to conducting a rigorous underway schedule with our coalition partners as we transition from planning to execution of BALTOPS 2013.”
Vice Adm. Frank C. Pandolfe, Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, shared that same desire for increased interoperability with exercise participants at a pre-sail conference in Ventspils prior to the start of the exercise.
“As in past years, our sailors and Marines look forward to working side-by-side with their colleagues, on land, in the air, and at sea, becoming familiar with each other’s military operating procedures and practices,” Vice Adm. Pandolfe said. “That partnership, that collaboration, leads to increased understanding and interoperability … and all that leads to enhanced security.”
Multi-national exercises also present an opportunity to build relationships with Allies and partners across the region.
“I have taken great pleasure in establishing new relationships, rekindling old ones and continuing to refine how our Navy’s enhance and improve interoperability,” Ewing said.
Even for Sailors returning to the Baltic region, BALTOPS presents new opportunities.
“I’ve done BALTOPS a couple of times before, and have worked with helo crews from Germany, Finland, and a few other countries,” explained Operations Specialist Second Class Brooke Morris, an air direction controller aboard the amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20). “BALTOPS is a great learning experience for anyone on this ship. It presents a unique environment for the Mount Whitney. Since there are a number of new Sailors on board, it will be their first opportunity to work with partner nations.”
One first-time BALTOPS participant, Fire Controlman Second Class Christopher Light, a weapons system technician aboard Mount Whitney, looks forward to the new experience.
“This will be the first time I’ve participated in BALTOPS,” Petty Officer Light said. “I am greatly looking forward to BALTOPS, as it is excellent training. BALTOPS presents a unique and valuable experience for Mount Whitney to interact in real-world training with other Allies and partners.”
The opportunity to conduct real-world training that helps nations create cooperative solutions becomes increasingly important in today’s security environment.
“As the security environment changes, multi-national cooperation, such as that practiced in BALTOPS, will become increasingly important in the future,” Vice Adm. Pandolfe said. “Our continued commitment to partnerships, to regional alliances, and more importantly, to friendships, will allow us to achieve a more secure future … together.”