U.S. Marines from Golf Company embarked aboard the British Royal Navy’s amphibious assault ship HMS Albion (L14) as part of exercise Baltic Operations 2023 (BALTOPS 23) in Tallinn, Estonia, on June 1 to work alongside Royal Marines throughout the two-week exercise.
During their first week aboard HMS Albion, the U.S. Marines began a series of familiarization classes and drills under the guidance of X-Ray Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines.
“We’re working closely with the 45 Commando Royal Marines – they’re piloting the boats and teaching us their amphibious landing tactics,” said 1st Lt. Jacob Fretto, platoon commander with Golf Company. “The whole purpose of why we are here is for interoperability with allies. One of the best things about BALTOPS is we get to work with so many different countries and people and learn about how they conduct military operations.”
Entering the combat enhancement and force integration training phases of BALTOPS 23, Golf Company and X-Ray Company conducted amphibious landing drills near Ventspils, Latvia, June 5-8. The Marines utilized inflatable raiding crafts, landing craft vehicle/personnel, and landing craft utility to transport the Marines to shore, where they worked together to execute an amphibious raid.
“It’s been a good opportunity to work with 2/6 Golf Company. It’s been really insightful how the U.S. Marine Corps is developing for the future, and it’s been a really great opportunity to work out how we can develop higher level interoperability and exchangeability between X-Ray Company and Golf Company,” said Maj. Lee Stewart, officer in charge of X-Ray Company, 45 Commando. “I’m really looking forward to working alongside Golf Company, looking at how we can work at the team level together, and see how our communications and tactics can support each other.”
BALTOPS 23 culminates with the final tactical phase of the exercise where forces shift into a “free play” portion, and commanders are given more freedom to run their tactical programs, designed to replicate realistic military dilemmas and operations. This is an opportunity for Golf Company and X-Ray Company, alongside NATO Allies and Partners, to demonstrate their overall coordination and interoperability as a joint force.
The Golf Company Marines, attached to 2d Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force and deployed from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, are operating under the tactical control of Task Force 61/2, U.S. Sixth Fleet, and U.S. Naval Forces Europe. Task Force 61/2 is deployed in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., allied and partner interests.
U.S. Sixth Fleet (SIXTHFLT) and STRIKFORNATO-led BALTOPS 23 is the premier annual maritime-focused exercise uniting 19 NATO Allies and one NATO to provide complex training designed to strengthen the combined response capability critical to preserving the freedom of navigation and security in the Baltic Sea. U.S. European Command and U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) have promoted the traditional U.S.-led or bi-lateral exercises as opportunities for NATO to improve interoperability as a collective force, using NATO command and control systems as a foundation for the exercise design.
For over 80 years, NAVEUR-NAVAF forged strategic relationships with our Allies and Partners, leveraging a foundation of shared values to preserve security and stability.
Headquartered in Naples, Italy, NAVEUR-NAVAF operates U.S. naval forces in the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) areas of responsibility. SIXTHFLT is permanently assigned to NAVEUR-NAVAF and employs maritime forces through the full spectrum of joint and naval operations.
STRIKFORNATO, headquartered at Oeiras, Portugal, is a rapidly deployable and scalable headquarters, under the operational command of SACEUR, capable of planning and executing full spectrum joint maritime operations including maritime ballistic missile defense, primarily through integration of U.S. and other nation’s carrier and amphibious forces into NATO operations to provide assurance, deterrence, and collective defense for the Alliance.