A joint NATO military exercise is underway in the Baltic Sea. The annual ‘Baltic Operations’ exercise – dubbed BALTOPS and now in its 49th year – began on June 6 and will last until June 16.
Hosted by the US Navy’s 6th Fleet, the exercise is NATO’s largest in the Baltic Sea and includes drills in air defence, mine sweeping and countermeasure operations, anti-submarine warfare, and intercepting vessels at sea.
The exercises will not feature any ground troops for the first time because of the risk of coronavirus (they usually include troops of Marines taking place in parachute and ground training as well as amphibious landings).
The operation will be commanded remotely from NATO’s new Joint Operations Centre located in Lisbon, Portugal.
On 1 June Naval News reported that:
The exercise enhances flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations to strengthen combined response capabilities, as well as demonstrate international resolve to ensure stability in, and if necessary defend, the Baltic Sea region.
BALTOPS 2020 involves participation from 19 nations. The 17 NATO and 2 partner nations will provide 29 maritime units, 29 aircraft, and 3,000 personnel.
The participating nations are: Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the U.K., and the U.S. LINK
It has been broken down into two phases, the first of which will train the militaries of different countries to work together, and the second of which will test their ability to respond to threats in a coordinated way.
The Defense News portal reported that:
The global pandemic has taken a toll on the size and scope of the exercise, but the fact that it is still taking place at all is an attempt to project strength even now, according to Julian Pawlak and Sebastian Bruns, two naval analysts at the University of Kiel. That is especially the case for Germany, which is eager to “send a message” by bringing its equipment. LINK
The 2019 exercises included the participation of 50 surface ships, 36 aircraft, two submarines and 8,600 personnel.
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