By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Heidi Cheek
This first of a total of two phases of the BALTOPS 50 exercise aims to improve collaborative multi-national combat readiness and enhance the cooperative technical efficiency of participating nations.
"These units are coming together with different experience levels and our goal is to get everyone on a common level, rehearsing standard NATO procedures instead of their own separate national procedures," said German Navy Cmdr. Patrik Dittrich, CET-FIT Director. "This force integration of different countries who speak multiple different languages enables us to work together efficiently and keeps us ready for any potential need."
The CET-FIT training consists of a series of scheduled, pre-planned events designed to allow participating nations to hone technical skills. The training focus areas include anti-surface warfare, flight deck operations, and air defense, and mine countermeasures. BALTOPS 50 aims to emphasize the importance of MCM in order to keep the sea lines of communication open and preserve freedom of navigation. The exercise has incorporated the capabilities of the Mine Countermeasure Squadron 3, whose duties are to search for and neutralize mines and other explosive ordnance, ensuring safe and lawful maritime operations.
"To get to our end goal, we start with basic serials to ensure communications and data exchange are established, and then we go into more technical serials and more advanced training," said Dittrich.
The CET-FIT training provides an opportunity to enhance multi-national cohesion and allow for optimum tactical operating capabilities among allied and partnered nations. For example, if a helicopter needs to refuel on the flight deck of another country's ship, the CET-FIT training provides the opportunity to practice this task so participating forces are able to seamlessly execute similar missions in the future. STRIKFORNATO maintains a broad training and exercise program, beginning with the scheduled technical exercises, then progressing onto a tactical exercise phase.
"The tactical phase of BALTOPS 50 allows for greater freedom for units to respond to challenges with the goal of working as one large fighting force instead of working independently as individual units," said Dittrich. "Ultimately our goal is to reinforce maritime security in the Baltic Sea region as one cohesive team."
BALTOPS 50 marks the 50th iteration of this annual multi-national exercise and will conclude June 18th.
The 16 NATO Allies and 2 partner nations will provide approximately 40 maritime units, 60 aircraft, and 4,000 personnel. The participating nations are: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the U.K., and the U.S.