With the departure of the vessels of the maneuver group from the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda, the BALTOPS exercise began on 7 June. BALTOPS 2024 in the Baltic Sea. The United States- led maritime exercises, the United States European Command and the United States Naval Forces Europe and Africa invite NATO partners. The German Navy is taking over the 53rd edition of BALTOPS a leading role.

This year, the exercise will take place from June 7 to 20 in the central Baltic Sea between Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, but also partly in the western Baltic Sea off the coast of Germany. 20 nations are involved, with naval forces, including Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, and the USA. Of the approximately 9,000 soldiers involved, around half are marines.

The entire maneuver group is made up of two large task forces with a total of more than 50 ships and boats. The majority of these are grouped together in Task Force 369. This large surface combat group with six subordinate task groups is being led for the first time by personnel from the German Maritime Forces (DEU MARFOR) command staff. German Maritime Forces) of the German Navy. Task Force 162, on the other hand, comprises the amphibious ships and is under American command.

“I am proud that Germany is participating in BALTOPS has been given an important leadership position by the USA,” says Rear Admiral Stephan Haisch. He is Commander of DEU MARFOR German Maritime Forces and Task Force 369 at BALTOPS Baltic Operations2024. “Together with my multinational staff in Rostock, I will – in my role as Commander Task Force – coordinate and lead more than 30 of the ships and boats taking part in the exercise. As the German Navy, we are responsible for the hot spot of the sea routes in the Baltic Sea and the maritime critical infrastructure of all Baltic Sea states.”

For all NATO partners in the region, free sea routes are vital for survival. Finland and the three Baltic states are completely dependent on these maritime routes – especially in the event of a crisis. The German Navy is the largest naval force of all the Baltic states and therefore bears a special responsibility.

Planning and implementation of BALTOPS Operations are the responsibility of the NATO Naval Command STRIKFORNATO. This headquarters has the role of exercise control, a kind of management and referee function. DEU MARFOR German Maritime Forces as the staff of the Commander of Task Force 369, i.e., Rear Admiral Haisch, is part of the exercising troops themselves. The official aim of the large Baltic Sea exercise is to strengthen the integration of the allied nations in joint military operations – against the background of NATO’s strategic planning for deterrence and defense in the Euro-Atlantic area. “This year we will train new skills and celebrate Sweden’s place as the 32nd nation in the NATO alliance,” says the United States- American Vice Admiral Thomas Ishee, the commander of STRIKFORNATO. “In doing so, we are sending a clear message of deterrence and bringing peace and security to a billion people on both sides of the Atlantic.”

BALTOPS offers the vessels participating in BALTOPS 2024 the opportunity to operate as part of a large force in a multidimensional environment. The exercise therefore provides for demanding training, particularly in air defense, surface combat, anti-submarine warfare, mine countermeasures and amphibious operations. BALTOPS 2024 will also provide a test bed for NATO’s command structure and defense plans at the tactical and operational levels.

This year BALTOPS again a special amphibious focus. During the maneuver, up to 5,000 marines from nine nations as well as six large landing ships or helicopter carriers and their crews will train. The German Navy is involved with the coastal operations company of the Marine Battalion, again in close cooperation with the Royal Netherlands Navy, on board the dock landing ship “Johan de Witt.”

In addition, German corvettes, minehunters, and supply ships as well as a submarine and a maritime patrol aircraft are taking part in BALTOPS 2024. It is important to the German Navy that, in parallel with important global projects such as its global Indo-Pacific Deployment 2024, it continues to make a significant contribution to national and alliance defense by protecting NATO’s northern and eastern flanks.