VILNIUS - The 50th Baltic Operations (BALTOPS 50) exercise – the premier maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region that kicked off on June 6 – will this year incorporate defensive cyber warfare tactics for the first time ever.
“Yesterday we began the 50th iteration of BALTOPS, an exercise that sets the foundation of interoperability across the alliance. Eighteen nations with more than 40 ships, 60 aircraft, and 4,000 personnel will operate together in the Baltic Sea,” Vice Admiral Gene Black, Commander of U.S. Sixth Fleet and Commander of NATO’s Naval Striking and Support Forces, said during a remote news conference in Brussels.
In addition to 16 NATO countries, the participating nations include Finland and Sweden.
According to Black, “we will exercise the full range of maritime missions”.
Between June 6-18, air and maritime assets from 18 NATO allies and partner nations will participate in live training events that include air defense, anti-submarine warfare, amphibious operations, maritime interdiction, and mine countermeasure operations.
BALTOPS 50 will consist of two at-sea training phases: the combat enhancement training (CET) and force integration training (FIT) portion and the final tactical phase of the exercise (TACEX).
“For the first time we’ll be playing defensive cyberwarfare tactics, techniques, and procedures into the scenario,” said Rear Admiral James Morley, Royal Navy, and Deputy Commander of NATO’s Naval Striking and Support Forces.
Despite recent growth in tensions between Russia, Belarus and the Western allies, Russia was not expected to take any exceptional action during the exercise, Black said adding that BALTOPS was a regular exercise that was planned in advance hence “there will be Russian activity in response, as there always is, and is probably appropriate”.
BALTOPS, held in the Baltic region since in 1972, is a joint, maritime-focused exercise that brings together NATO Allies and partners in order to increase interoperability and enhance flexibility among the participants.