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NEWS | June 11, 2024

Liaison Officers Network at STRIKFORNATO: Exercise Control at work

By Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO

While led by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and the U.S. 6th Fleet, exercise Baltic Operations 2024 (BALTOPS24) is commanded-and-controlled by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), headquartered in Oeiras, Portugal. During the execution, STRIKFORNATO's headquarters hosts a substantial multinational coalition of liaison officers and augmentees from Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States.

Liaison Officers (LNOs) are key personnel who work to ensure good communication between various departments, divisions, and units within any large, complex operation with multiple assets in motion. In a high-stakes world of multi-domain operations such as BALTOPS24, effective communication between disparate groups is essential to the success of the operation. With NATO maneuvers growing ever more complex, every decision made by commanders ashore must be understood and coordinated seamlessly amongst the relevant parties, and integrated with actions taken at sea. Unity of effort and alignment of activities with different groups is the priority mission for all Liaison Officers. This network of staff officers stationed at STRIKFORNATO serves as the beating heart of that collaboration and unity.

“The convening power of the 53rd iteration of BALTOPS24 is such that it would be impossible for STRIKEFORNATO to deliver it in isolation,” said Rear Adm. Craig Wood, CBE, Deputy Commander at STRIKFORNATO. “We therefore rely on Allies and partners to provide superb staff officers to support us. The power of this network is that each officer unlocks the entirety of their national defense force’s operational, intelligence, and logistical capabilities in real time.”

With a focus on clarity and efficiency, LNOs act as the conduit through which directives, intelligence, and requests flow, bridging the gap between command levels, operational units, and supporting elements. They facilitate collaboration, streamline decision-making processes, and resolve inter-unit problems or misunderstandings swiftly and effectively.

In essence, LNOs are the pragmatic enablers of operational effectiveness, ensuring that the right information reaches the right people at the right time, ultimately contributing to the success of military missions through seamless coordination and integration.

Amidst the ebb and flow of naval maneuvers in the Baltic region, these officers ensure the communication avenues are clear and open, forging direct links between the ships at sea and the operations center at STRIKFORNATO’s headquarters. Their presence not only facilitates the swift transmission of vital information but also infuses the exercise with a sense of shared purpose and understanding.

By helping shape the complex web of international cooperation, liaison officers ensure that each nation's unique strengths work seamlessly within the collective operation of BALTOPS 24. Liaison Officers represent and exemplify the concept of interoperability between Allies and partners, weaving together the fabric of trust and solidarity that underpins the NATO alliance.

BALTOPS 24 is the premier maritime focused military exercise in the Baltic Region. The exercise, led by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, and executed by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, provides a unique training opportunity to strengthen combined response capabilities critical to preserving freedom of navigation and security in the Baltic Sea.

BALTOPS 24 is also part of the U.S. Department of Defense exercise series, Large Scale Global Exercise (LSGE). LSGE is an umbrella term that incorporates several exercises and military activities, which enable the U.S. Joint Force to train with Allies and partners and improve shared understanding, trust and interoperability on security challenges across the globe.

While the exercise is led by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet, it will be command-and-controlled by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO, headquartered in Oeiras, Portugal.

Details of BALTOPS activities and imagery are available at http://www.c6f.navy.mil. Media interested in covering the exercise should contact the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Public Affairs Office at mail to: cne_cna_c6fpao@us.navy.mil.