Brunssum, The Netherlands, Friday, 05 June 2020
This coming Sunday, 07 June, the US-led 49th Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise, the premier maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region, will start in the Baltic Sea. Maritime and Air assets from NATO allies and partner nations are involved in the live training events that will last till 16 June. Training focus areas include air defense, anti-submarine warfare, maritime interdiction, and mine countermeasures operations. The exercise enhances flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations to strengthen combined response capabilities, as well as demonstrate international resolve to ensure stability in, and if necessary defend, the Baltic Sea region. BALTOPS 20 involves participation from 19 nations. The 17 participating NATO nations Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, UK and US plus the two partner nations Finland and Sweden will provide 29 maritime units, 29 aircraft, and some 3.000 personnel. NATO provides units organized in both the Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group One (SNMCMG1) To ensure the safety and health of participating military personnel in times of the Corona crisis, BALTOPS 20 will take place exclusively at sea. So, for this year, no amphibious warfare exercise element will take place. This precaution allows units to enhance multinational operational cooperation, while ensuring that crews remain healthy, and ready to provide continuous regional security. First conducted in 1972, BALTOPS is an annual exercise that is a visible demonstration of NATO's commitment to promote peace and security in the Baltic region by exercising the forces that can rapidly respond in a time of crisis.
Even in times of cautious relaxation of several Corona related restrictions in The Netherlands and the neighbouring countries, observing the hygiene rules put in place by the host nation remains paramount to help containing the further spread of the virus. So keep applying regular hand hygiene and keep 1.5 metres physical distance to other individuals not part of your household at any time. When using public transport in The Netherlands, all passengers aged 13 and older need to wear a non-medical face mask. The fine for not wearing such a mask in trains, buses etc. is 95 Euro!
Stay safe and enjoy the weekend!