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SNMG2 and SNMCMG1 Units Participate in Baltic Operations

BALTIC SEA – Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 ships have begun their participation in the multinational integrated exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS 15).

Under the command of Rear Admiral Brad Williamson (USA Navy), SNMG2 is currently comprised of the flagship USS VICKSBURG (USA), HMCS FREDERICTON (CAN), and TCG GOKSU (TUR).

SNMCMG1 led by Commander Peter Bergen Henegouwen (NLD Navy) is composed of the flagship FGS DONAU (DEU), FGS AUERBACH (DEU), HMS QUORN (GBR), ORP MEWA (POL), HNLMS WILLEMSTAD (NLD), HNOMS RAUMA (NOR), FS ERIDAN (FRA) and LNS SKALVIS (LIT).

BALTOPS is a joint, multinational maritime-focused exercise designed to enhance flexibility and interoperability, as well as demonstrate resolve among Allied and partner forces to defend the Baltic region. BALTOPS is a U.S. sponsored exercise and is being executed by Commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) this year. BALTOPS has been held since 1971 and will take place in Poland, Sweden, Germany, and throughout the Baltic Sea.

"BALTOPS is an exercise that the U.S. participates in every year,” said Lt. James Hostetler. "But this will be the first time for many of our Sailors to participate in this exercise in such close alignment with our partner nations. Not only will we be working together with other nations in the exercise, we will be doing it as a singular maritime group.”

The purpose of BALTOPS is to strengthen interoperability among Allied units through a series of tactical maneuvers and scenarios. Ground, maritime and air forces from participating nations will work to complete training in a number of warfare areas: air defense, maritime interdiction, anti-subsurface warfare, mine countermeasures, and amphibious operations.

"This exercise is a great opportunity for us to continue to strengthen interoperability between units and the maritime skills that we execute year-round,” said Williamson. "It is also the last exercise for which I will be the SNMG2 Commander. I’m incredibly proud of what our task force has accomplished in the last year, and I know we will continue to perform with the professionalism and precision that has marked our previous performance as we participate in BALTOPS.”

"Under US lead, Allied nations and its partners have generated and deployed a joint multinational force of 49 ships, more than 60 aircraft, submarine and landing forces in the Baltic to exercise, improving  flexibility and interoperability at same time demonstrating resolve among Allied,” said Commander Henegouwen. "NATO with SNMG2 and SNMCMG1 are part of this collective effort and striving to maintain the high levels of readiness.”

NATO is also increasing the number of exercises it organizes. Military exercises provide important opportunities to improve the ability of Allies and partners to work together and are a valuable demonstration of NATO's readiness to respond to potential threats. These exercises take place on land, at sea and in the air with scenarios based on collective defence and crisis management.

Participating nations this year include Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Nations have provided more than 5,600 ground, maritime, and air forces to include 49 ships, 61 aircraft, one submarine, and a combined landing force of 700 Swedish, Finnish, and U.S. troops.

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