Allied forces landed on the coast of Lithuania for the first time

On June 11 for the first time in the his­to­ry of Lithua­nia the allies con­duct­ed a land­ing oper­a­tion on the Lithuan­ian sea­coast as part of the multi­na­tion­al Exer­cise BALTOPS 2012 which includ­ed air and naval assets and mil­i­tary per­son­nel of sev­en NATO mem­bers – Lithua­nia, Esto­nia, U.S.A., Latvia, Poland, the Nether­lands and Ger­many.

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“This large-scale multi­na­tion­al Exer­cise once again demon­strates that peo­ple of Lithua­nia are not on their own and NATO mem­ber­ship is assum­ing a full-fledged char­ac­ter,” said Min­is­ter of Nation­al Defence Rasa Juknevičienė. “It is cru­cial that Lithuan­ian troops in col­lab­o­ra­tion with oth­er allies and part­ners can improve inter­op­er­abil­i­ty and mutu­al under­stand­ing via train­ing for cri­sis sit­u­a­tions fea­si­ble in the Baltic Region.”

The main tasks of the oper­a­tion – sea land­ing maneu­ver – in BALTOPS 2012 was ful­filled in col­lab­o­ra­tion among the Ground Com­bat Ele­ment and the Air Com­bat Ele­ment of the U.S. Marine Air-Ground Task Force and units of the Lithuan­ian Armed Forces. The allied capa­bil­i­ties, assets and per­son­nel, were brought to the Baltic shore by Lithuania’s strate­gic part­ner Poland’s “Lublin” class war­ships.

“As Chief of Defence of Lithua­nia and Com­man­der of the Exer­cise in Lithua­nia I am very hap­py to have the Lithuan­ian mil­i­tary com­pre­hen­sive­ly involved in BALTOPS 2012 – from com­ple­tion of joint oper­a­tions to ren­der­ing Host Nation Sup­port,” high­light­ed Chief of Defence of Lithua­nia Lt Gen Arvy­das Pocius. “I antic­i­pate that all the Lithuan­ian mil­i­tary from OFs to ORs who were involved in the plan­ning and com­ple­tion of the Exer­cise have drawn invalu­able expe­ri­ence while Lithuan­ian peo­ple will feel proud to see that Lithua­nia is a full-fledged mem­ber of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty respon­si­ble secu­ri­ty in the region.”

Such dis­tin­guished guests as Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of Lithua­nia HE Dalia Gry­bauskaitė, Min­is­ter of Nation­al Defence R. Juknevičienė, mem­bers of the Par­lia­ment, Chief of Defence of Lithua­nia Lt Gen A. Pocius, high-rank­ing UK offi­cer who has held a posi­tion of author­i­ty in Oper­a­tion Uni­fied Pro­tec­tor in Libya, Deputy Com­man­der Naval Strik­ing and Sup­port Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO), Rear Admi­ral Russ Hard­ing, Rear Admi­ral Ann Claire Phillips, Com­man­der of the Expe­di­tionary Strike Group Two, Adju­tant Gen­er­al of the Penn­syl­va­nia Nation­al Guard Maj Gen Wes­ley Craig, for­eign ambas­sadors in Lithua­nia, high-rank­ing Lithuan­ian and for­eign offi­cers, and oth­er guests.

Accord­ing to the sce­nario of the land­ing oper­a­tion in Nemirse­ta (Palan­gos Dis­tr.) per­son­nel of the Com­bat Divers Ser­vice of the Lithuan­ian Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Forces and the Explo­sive Ord­nance Dis­pos­al Div­ing Unit of the Lithuan­ian Navy sur­veyed sub­li­toral zone and recon­noitred seafloor of the Baltic Sea togeth­er with the per­son­nel of the Div­ing and Explo­sive Ord­nance Dis­pos­al Group of the Roy­al Nether­lands Navy. Recon­nais­sance Unit of the Motorised Infantry Brigade “Iron Wolf” rope-land­ed from two Mi‑8 heli­copters of the Lithuan­ian Air Force to ensure secu­ri­ty in the Baltic coast­line.

Approx­i­mate­ly 100 US marines and troops of the Lithuan­ian Grand Duke Algir­das Mech­a­nised Infantry Bat­tal­ion land­ed from Pol­ish “Lublin” class land­ing ships by swim­ming tracked amphib­ians and deployed in the con­cen­tra­tion area.

U.S. B‑52 strate­gic bomber air­craft flew over the oper­a­tion area in the air­space of Lithua­nia for the first time in the his­to­ry of our coun­try.

USS Nor­mandy” war­ship sail­ing in the Lithuan­ian ter­ri­to­r­i­al waters from the begin­ning of the oper­a­tion was in charge of com­mand­ing the BALTOPS 2012 naval con­tin­gent includ­ing the Pol­ish “Lublin” class ships as well as five ships of the Baltic mine clear­ance squadron BALTRON.

In the end of the oper­a­tion secu­ri­ty from the air was ensured by two PA-200 “Tor­na­do” fight­er-jets of the Pol­ish Air Force in addi­tion to the Tac­ti­cal Air Assault Unit of the Lithuan­ian Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Forces that pro­vid­ed air sup­port through­out the oper­a­tion.

BALTOPS 2012 locat­ed in the ter­ri­to­r­i­al waters of Ger­many, Poland, Lithua­nia, and Esto­nia of the Baltic Sea involves the total of 27 war­ships, 30 air­crafts, and com­po­nents of ground forces.

Multi­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion in case of a cri­sis in the region is enhanced and secu­ri­ty in the Baltic Sea region fos­tered in BALTOPS 2012. Dur­ing the Exer­cise mil­i­tary forces will con­duct joint mar­itime oper­a­tions from manoeu­vring and patrolling to joint oper­a­tions with oth­er forces — air and land.

USA first organ­ised the naval exer­cise BALTOPS in 1972. Since 1993 the series has been held under the Part­ner­ship for Peace pro­gram. Over four decades BALTOPS grew both in num­ber of par­tic­i­pat­ing forces and in mag­ni­tude becom­ing one of the largest train­ing events in the Baltic Region. Lithua­nia has been send­ing naval assets to take part in BALTOPS since 1994.

Min­istry of Nation­al Defense Repub­lic of Lithua­nia