President Dalia Grybauskaitė is watching a maritime-focused military exercise BALTOPS 18 on Monday, June 4. It is the annual U.S.-led exercise of NATO and partner countries in the Baltic Sea.
The multinational exercise BALTOPS 18 is held in parallel with Thunder Storm 2018, the largest national exercise in the history of restored military of Lithuania, with participation of 9000 soldiers and other officials of national authorities. Simultaneously, the national exercise of Special Operations Forces Flaming Sword, U.S. exercise Saber Strike, and NATO exercise Steadfast Cobalt are organized.
The exercise of that type and scale that involves national defense training with all national capabilities and with the help of the Allies is conducted after a 20-year pause. Each exercise will have its objective, will be headed from a different Command but will share the main goal – to ensure security of Lithuania and the region.
The maritime-focused military exercise BALTOPS 18 aims at strengthening collective defense of the Baltic Sea Region, the Alliance’s readiness to act jointly with Sweden and Finland in the event of crisis, testing combat readiness of navy and air force support capabilities as well as demonstrating the contribution of the U.S. and NATO to regional security.
The exercise is headed by Commander of U.S. 6th Fleet Vice Admiral Lisa Franchetti who is also the Commander of Naval Striking and Support Forces of NATO.
This year’s BALTOPS 18 has exceptionally large scale. It will cover almost the entire Baltic Sea Region – the military operations will be performed in the sea and in the air space of Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Sweden and Finland. For the first time in history, 37 navy ships moored in the Port of Klaipėda at the same time. The exercise involves some 50 ships, 60 aircrafts and 5000 soldiers from 22 states.
BALTOPS has been held since 1971. Lithuania has been participating for already 25 years.