June 20, 2019

NATO gears up for BALTOPS 2019

By Guido Lanfranchi.

A few months after the execution of exercise Trident Juncture, NATO is preparing for the annual exercise Baltic Operations, also known as BALTOPS. For the first time, this exercise will feature the presence of the U.S. 2nd Fleet, under the command of Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis.

The organization phase of exercise Baltic Operations 2019 is nearing its completion, with the Final Planning Conference scheduled in these days in Vilnius, Lithuania. The execution of BALTOPS is not anything new, as the exercise is coming this year to its 47th iteration. However, for the first time the 2019 edition of the exercise will feature the presence of the U.S. 2nd Fleet, under the command of Vice Admiral Andrew Lewis. The 2nd Fleet has been deployed to Europe since summer 2018 – Admiral Lewis explained – on account of the changing security environment, with a focus on operations in the Atlantic and in the Arctic. 

While the 2nd Fleet is new in the European theatre, it will operate in coordination with a “practiced team of professionals” – Admiral Lewis noted, praising the cooperation between NATO allies in the organization of BALTOPS 2019. In the occasion of NATO’s 70th anniversary, remembering the importance of such cooperation is all the more salient – Admiral Lewis reminded, focusing in particular on the Baltic states’ contribution to the strength of the Alliance.

These words of praise were widely echoed by U.K. Rear Admiral Andy Burns, Admiral Lewis’ Deputy for BALTOPS 2019, who warmly welcomed the deployment of the U.S. 2nd Fleet in Europe. Read Admiral Burns underlined how his role as Deputy is a sign of the tight partnership between the U.K. and the U.S., as well as of the commitment of both nations to the security of the Baltic states.

He also provided a brief description of the BALTOPS exercise, which will include the deployment of air, maritime and ground forces from 18 nations, with the aim of improving flexibility and interoperability among different forces.

In a context of changing security scenarios and emerging threats, NATO remains committed to the security of all allied countries, and the security of the Baltic states remain a priority for the Alliance.

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