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May 22 2020

Week 21 - Northern Europe Operational Update

Brunssum, the Netherlands, Friday 22 May 2020

NATO forces continue their training, even in these unprecedented times we are living in.
Aims and goals are still the same: maintain high readiness.

Close Air Support and Air Integration Training has been practised in Lithuania.
The battlegroup’s German and Norwegian Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) – specialised soldiers able to guide aircraft to targets on the ground – concluded their air-to-ground support missions with British Eurofighter Typhoons and Spanish F-18s this week. A good example to take best use of resources available to better integrate allied forces on the ground and in the air.
The British and Spanish air force contingents currently operate from Šiauliai Air Base and usually help guarding the skies over the Baltic region as part of NATO’s Air Policing mission.
NATO’s battlegroup in Lithuania is composed of around 1,200 personnel from Germany, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Norway. The battlegroup is part of NATOs Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) at its eastern flank and the biggest reinforcement of the Alliance’s collective defence in a generation.

Our forces also continued their mission at sea. The Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) and the Baltic Naval Squadron have neutralized 32 sea mines (leftovers from the World Wars), during the two week exercise “Open Spirit 2020”, making the seas safer for all modern seafearers.
The destruction of these mines ensures that they no longer pose a threat to modern seafarers. In total an area of 25 square nautical miles was covered.
The exercise focused on Naval Mine Warfare, and its main objective was to remove historical ordnance from the seabed. The exercise gathered in total ten ships from five nations.

The Netherlands delivered another set of protective equipment and medical supplies from Bejing (China) to Podgorica (Montenegro). This was in support of Allied efforts against the COVID-19 global pandemic and following Montenegro’s request for assistance, through NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre. The Centre - NATO’s principal disaster response mechanism - operates on a 24/7 basis, coordinating requests from NATO Allies and partners, as well as other offers of assistance.

55 m3 of personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, goggles, protective clothes, test kits and ventilators) were delivered via Air Transport. This transport flight also included 5m3 of personal protective equipment for Bosnia and Herzegovina and 1m3 for Albania. Meanwhile The Netherlands had already transported 70m³ of personal protective equipment and medical supplies from Beijing to Podgorica in the second half of April, including masks, gloves, test kits, protective clothes, goggles, thermometers and face shields.

The Multinational aircraft tanker fleet is about to mark a milestone on its way to modernization.
The first two A-330 tanker aircraft purchased by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency are set to arrive in the Netherlands in June and the preparations already started. Under the multilateral multi-role tanker transporter programme, six NATO countries will jointly own and operate eight Airbus A-330s, sharing flying hours and costs. The new multinational tanker fleet will substantially enhance European air-to-air refueling capabilities, but also support tasks such as medical evacuation and the transport of people and cargo. The programme is managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency.

Story by JFC Brunssum Public Affairs Office

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