BALTOPS 2024 is underway. Attention-getting numbers of participating NATO nations, units and personnel are generating headlines in many media outlets, so let’s briefly review these figures. 

First the participating nations: Belgium; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Italy; Latvia; Lithuania; the Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Spain; Sweden; Türkiye; the UK; and the US. Below the national level more than 50 ships, more than 85 aircraft, and approximately 9,000 personnel are supporting this year’s BALTOPS. A US Navy press release noted in part, “With four Amphibious Task Groups and Multinational Task Units taking part, this is set to be the largest assembled coalition of amphibious forces in the Baltic Sea, as well as the largest assembled coalition of Mine Countermeasure forces in NATO.”

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BALTOPS 2024 is being led by US Naval Forces Europe-Africa and US Sixth Fleet (NAVEUR-NAVAF/SIXTHFLT). The exercise is being command-and-controlled by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO. STRIKFORNATO’s headquarters is hosting a substantial multinational coalition of liaison officers from each participating nation, fostering collaboration and leveraging unique national strengths within the exercise control hub.

Training Mission Sets

There are emerging story lines beyond the high-profile numbers of nations, forces, staffs, units and individuals in the exercise. BALTOPS 2024 is providing opportunities to enhance staff, unit and individual training readiness in particular, for emerging technologies finding their way into naval forces’ orders of battle and equipment lists. As this article was posted, training events were scheduled for amphibious maneuvers, air and naval gunnery, anti-submarine warfare, air defense, mine clearance, explosive ordnance disposal, and unmanned underwater and surface vehicle drills, along with medical response scenarios. 

In one case, this is another opportunity to bolster nations’ mine warfare skills that arguably atrophied while the US and other nations focused funding and other resources on land warfare during the several decades’-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it’s noteworthy to see exercise events focused on developing UUV and USV competencies in a multi-national training construct. Lessons learned from the naval campaign of the Ukraine-Russian war have apparently resonated well with BALTOPS planners.   

MS&T will follow and comment on training readiness issues generated during BAPTOPS 2024.  

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