Large-Scale NATO exercises begin in Lithuania

The large-scale military exercises named Gelezinis Vilkas 2019 (Iron Wolf 2019) started in Lithuania. About four thousand soldiers from 10 countries and more than a thousand units of equipment will participate in the exercises, and it will continue for two weeks, reports the command of the Lithuanian army.

“The purpose of the exercise, which involves units of Lithuanian Armed Forces, as well as personnel and equipment of NATO allies, is the integration of all these forces and means into a single combat system that is capable of planning and performing combat missions effectively,” the report said.

These are the most massive maneuvers for Lithuania this year. Soldiers from the USA, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Estonia participate in it, as well as the Lithuanian military. Some of them are part of the NATO forward-based composite battalion quartered in Lithuania.

The exercises will be held at the training range in Pabrade (Eastern part of Lithuania close to the Belarus border) and the Gailiunai training range (middle of the country). Military equipment from the places of permanent deployment will be transported to the location of exercises using civilian highways, and military police will accompany it. Several parts of the maneuvers will be held in coordination with the local authorities in the adjacent civilian areas.

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NATO navies test readiness in Baltic Sea

Spanish Navy multi-purpose amphibious assault ship Juan Carlos I (L61), prepares to moor at Naval Base Kiel-Tirpitzhafen, Germany in preparation of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2019, June 5, 2019. BALTOPS is the premier annual maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic region, marking the 47th year of one of the largest exercises in Northern Europe enhancing flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Abrey Liggins)

Around 8,600 U.S. and European troops from 18 nations are taking part in the annual BALTOPS naval exercise that starts on Sunday (9 June) in Germany’s Baltic Sea port of Kiel. The 47th BALTOPS exercise involves maritime, air and ground forces with about 50 ships and submarines and 40 aircraft and will run through 21 June. The training includes finding and destroying sea mines and submarines, the use of air defence and landing troops onshore as well as defence against attack from enemy navy vessels.

The Baltic Sea is of vital strategic importance for the Alliance and is bordered by six NATO countries”, said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu. “BALTOPS is now in its 47th year and is not directed against anyone – but clearly the security environment in the region has deteriorated after Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.” She added, ”BALTOPS tests how well our forces work together and shows that NATO can defend itself against any adversary.”

BALTOPS is the largest exercise series in the Baltic Sea. Participating troops come from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Russia used to participate in the exercise but has not been invited since its illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its continuing destabilizing of eastern Ukraine.

This year’s BALTOPS is run by the U.S. Navy’s 2nd Fleet command in Norfolk, Virginia and marks the command’s first major engagement in Europe. The 2nd Fleet command was re-established last year in response to Russia’s growing naval activity in the Atlantic. Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis will run BALTOPS from the U.S.S Mount Whitney command ship. BALTOPS will also be among the first major training opportunities for the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force, a 3,000 strong force drawn from several NATO and partner countries. 

As part of the exercise, naval infantry forces will conduct amphibious assaults in several locations within the Baltic Sea region. NATO’s Air Operations Centre in Uedem will direct all air operations. Aircraft will work with naval forces to provide air defence, surveillance and provide cover for amphibious operations. Upon conclusion of the exercise, most ships will sail to Kiel to participate in the Kielerwochen naval parade.

BALTOPS 2019 Begins In Germany

Maritime forces from 18 nations commenced the in-port operations for the 47th annual multinational exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) in the Baltic Sea, June 9-21.

BALTOPS is the premier annual maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic region and one of the largest exercises in northern Europe, enhancing flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations.

Vice Adm. Andrew Lewis, commander of the U.S. 2nd Fleet, will lead the exercise on behalf of Naval Forces Europe.

“No one nation can face today’s challenges alone, we are much stronger together,” Lewis said. “Our partner and NATO alliances must continue to strengthen our deterrence and defense efforts and adapt through improving readiness and responsiveness.”

The focus of the exercise is for ground, maritime and air forces to work together in exercising air defense, maritime interdiction, anti-subsurface warfare, mine countermeasures and amphibious operations, to strengthen the development of joint teams across all layers of the battlespace.

The exercise will include the participation of 50 surface ships, 36 aircraft, two submarines and 8,600 personnel in a joint operational environment.

“I think BALTOPS represents the habit we have made in operating in a coalition environment and in a multinational environment,” said U.K. Royal Navy Rear Adm. Andrew Burns OBE. “One of the advantages, particularly in the NATO framework, as we operate together more and more we standardize our procedures so we now have a generation of military folk who are used to operating together with standard procedures.”

Nations participating in BALTOPS 2019 include Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

BALTOPS is an opportunity to promote partnerships, presence, and professionalism through an unambiguous display of strength in the Baltic region.