USTKA, Poland -- The U.S. Marine Corps, along with various partner nations, participated in Exercise BALTOPS 2015 in the Baltic region from June 7-15. British Royal Commandos, Finnish Costal Jaegers, Swedish and U.S. Marines demonstrated ship-to-shore assault capabilities to deliver forces where needed, when needed to respond to crises.
“Amphibious operations are key; it’s a natural doorway into various coastal regions or countries and, therefore, very important to practice,” said Swedish Gunnery Sgt. Sebastian Argenti, Swedish Amphibious Battalion. “It’s in many ways a lot more complex to coordinate naval and land forces.”
BALTOPS is a U.S.-led, multinational maritime exercise in its 43rd iteration. The 17 participating Allies and partner nations create a template for multinational responses to a range of real-world situations by combining air-defense, anti-subsurface warfare, and amphibious operations into a three-week training evolution.
“It’s extremely interesting to work with Marines and Naval forces from different countries; we have a chance to learn from them and their experiences,” said Argenti. “We get a chance to compare ways of working, methods and draw conclusions from that, so it’s helpful to us.”
An amphibious brotherhood of Marines allows for coordination and familiarity as they demonstrate their expeditionary nature on Polish and Swedish beachheads throughout the exercise.
“Similarities as Marines means that we have similar views in how to solve issues that arise; our mindsets are similar from the start, which means we don’t have to adapt to each other as much as different nations,” said Argenti.
The amphibious assault drills build robust partnerships that improve NATO and partner nations’ capacity to conduct a full spectrum of military operations.
“Skills can atrophy; practicing any skill set will make you better at it. By doing these joint exercises with other countries, we can learn about different terrain and different methods of performing the same task,” said U.S. Marine Capt. Jeffrey Erb, the company commander of Company C, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment.
The relationship, operational proficiency, and improved capabilities built during the exercise allows the U.S., European Allies, and partners to operate throughout the region and enhances a more flexible and responsive force to defend the Baltics if needed.
“The other Marine Corps provide different equipment and different tactics; by working with them, we can learn from the way they accomplish the mission,” said Erb. “They are more familiar with this region than we are and should operations arise in an area like this one of this area itself, the lessons we take from this will be invaluable.”
BALTOPS includes approximately 5,600 ground, maritime and air forces from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, United States and the United Kingdom.