BALTOPS, the 12-day, 18-nation naval military drill, led by the US Navy’s 2nd Fleet concluded on June 21st in Kiel, Germany.
The 47th annual Baltic Operations [BALTOPS] involved NATO allies 8,600 personnel in training “enhancing flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations,” a Navy statement said.
Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as NATO partner nations Finland and Sweden, participated in the exercise.
“It is imperative that allies and partners unite to confront today’s challenges,” said Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis of Naval Forces Europe, who commanded the exercises. “Our combined efforts during BALTOPS demonstrates our commitment to regional peace and prosperity. Our presence and professionalism in the region during this exercise will prepare us for future operational commitments and evolving strategic challenges. We are stronger together.”
The combined forces completed 389 serials, a planning term for a coordinated military exercise, compared to 98 serials scheduled at the 2018 event. For the first time, a Joint Expeditionary Force led by the United Kingdom demonstrated its capabilities as an adaptable, high-readiness force.
According to NATO Spokeswoman Oana Lungescu the exercise was of significant importance, since “The Baltic Sea is of essential strategic importance to the Alliance. The operations are not directed against any single country.”
Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, the commander of U.S. 2nd Fleet and commander of the 47th iteration of the annual exercise, told USNI News, that he didn’t want this year’s event to be an exercise for the sake of exercising; he wanted every detail focused on operationally relevant warfighting skills.
“47 years, started off being a live-fire (exercise), very much in the Cold War era with the Soviet Union,” he said of the exercise’s history. “And then it went for a number of years where the Russians were invited, uninvited, invited again, and then disinvited indefinitely in 2014 post-Ukraine. And it’s been edging back toward, I wouldn’t call it toward a cold war reenactment, but edging back to a real operationalized exercise in which we’re trying to gain some operational capability and do some things differently, do some new things.”
UK’s Royal Marines, taking part in the exercise, were shown scrawling a swastika on the naked chest of a comrade in some sort of humiliating initiation ceremony. The Military police launched an investigation into the “sickening behavior.”
The scandal also led top brass to consider banning Royal Marines units from taking part in similar exercises overseas, with troops told that anyone found sharing the mobile phone footage will face disciplinary action.
In a message to troops, a senior officer wrote: ‘The Commandant General Royal Marines has directed that anyone with the recent video from Ex BP [Exercise Baltic Protector] is to delete it immediately. Anyone found forwarding it, particularly to public forums, will face disciplinary action. It includes booze, s*** and swastikas.
‘If it reaches social media, we can kiss goodbye to any additional responsibilities as well as runs ashore [Navy slang for social privileges]. Talk of it may kill FCF dead.’
FCF stands for the Future Commando Force, developed to spearhead future amphibious operations. Mostly, to possibly counter Russia.
It should be reminded that the last people who were obsessed with swastikas actually lost in a war against the Soviet Union and by proxy – Russia.
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