Early next month, NATO kicks off the 51st iteration of its annual Baltic Operations exercise, which this year runs June 5-17 in the Baltic Sea, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said.
"[The exercise] provides a unique training opportunity that strengthens combined response capability and is critical to preserving the freedom of navigation and security in the Baltic Sea region," Kirby said during a briefing today. "Participating nations will exercise a myriad of capabilities that demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces, including amphibious operations, gunnery, anti-submarine, air defense exercises, as well as mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal and diving and salvage operations."
A total of 14 NATO nations, including Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States will participate, Kirby said. Additionally, NATO partner nations Finland and Sweden will also participate this year — both nations have recently applied to join NATO.
In total, Kirby said, about 45 maritime units, 75 aircraft and around 7,000 military personnel will participate in the exercise.
At the same time Sweden hosts this year's BALTOPS 22 exercise, Kirby said, it also recognizes the 500th anniversary of its own navy.
"We're grateful for their ability to lead and to host this year," Kirby said. "It's a big exercise, lots to get done, and I know they're looking forward to it."
As in previous iterations of BALTOPS, maritime and air forces will work together to exercise medical evacuation, joint personnel recovery, air defense, maritime interdiction operations, anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures and amphibious operations, to strengthen the cohesion and capabilities of NATO allies and partners. This year's BALTOPS exercise is led by U.S. Sixth Fleet and will be executed by Striking Forces NATO.