Military exercises brought allies and partners together to deepen strategic co-operation.
By Paul Ciocoiu for Southeast European Times in Bucharest – 01/08/14
A Lithuanian soldier takes part in a field training exercise during the first phase of Saber Strike 2014 at the Rukla military base in Lithuania on June 14th. Saber Strike, a NATO exercise that will span multiple locations in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, involves approximately 4,700 personnel from 10 countries. [AFP]
Large maritime and ground drills hosted this summer by Baltic countries were considered successes in strengthening military interoperability and promoting mutual understanding, confidence, and co-operation among forces and participating nations.
The exercises crowned a series of other drills conducted by allies in Eastern Europe.
BALTOPS 2014, now in its 42nd year and hosted by United States European Command, included troops from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States and NATO.
Approximately 30 ships and 52 aircraft comprised the international force in this annual invitational joint and combined exercise to enhance multinational maritime capabilities and interoperability, and support the larger Baltic region Theatre Security Co-operation (TSC) strategy.
Commanders stressed the benefits of the joint drills.
"BALTOPS is an evolving exercise. Over the years, I have seen it grow in size and complexity to provide realistic training in a dynamic environment. Our continued presence, as an international force, is a clear demonstration of our commitment to regional stability and to each other," US Rear Admiral Richard Snyder, BALTOPS 2014 commander, told SETimes.
The training agenda provided participants with numerous opportunities to operate together and to develop productive relationships across several areas of expertise to include air, surface, subsurface and mine warfare. The exercise enabled participants to advance information sharing, which is crucial to maintaining regional stability and maritime security in the region, as well as to enhance the capability to conduct multinational missions. Specific training objectives varied throughout multiple training scenarios.
The other drill, Saber Strike, a US Army Europe-led security co-operation exercise, focused on the three Baltic States and involved about 4,500 personnel from 10 countries, spanning several locations in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The exercise trained participants on command, control and interoperability with regional partners in a variety of missions.
"This year's exercise training agenda was built to ensure that as allies and partners, we are prepared to respond where it matters, when it matters," US Vice Admiral Phil Davidson, commander of the US 6th Fleet, told SETimes.
"The experience continues to build teamwork and improves our ability to operate together in a multinational environment in case we would need to respond to any real-world situations," said Commander Brian Diebold, commanding officer of the USS Oscar Austin.
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