RAVLUNDA, Sweden –
The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) Integrated Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Tactics team provided their expertise in support of Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS), June 5-14, 2022.
BALTOPS is the premier maritime-focused annual exercise which takes place in the Baltic Region. Impacts to the mission and dynamic maritime domain navigation remain the core tenant of BALTOPS training. The exercise provides a unique training opportunity to strengthen our collective partnerships and capabilities to preserve the freedom of navigation and security in the Baltic Sea.
Participating nations included Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Maritime forces that play a role in BALTOPS 22 include fourteen NATO allies, two NATO partner nations, over 45 ships, more than 75 aircraft, and approximately 7,000 personnel.
For BALTOPS 22, CAPT Sam Brasfield, commander, Sixth Fleet MCM Detachment, Mine Warfare Task Group (CTG 68.3), was the lead MCM Tasking Authority, designated as CTG 162.60. CTG 162.60 led four task units and was the largest by number of units and the most diverse task group in BALTOPS 22.
“BALTOPS 22 provided a great opportunity for us to come together with allies and partners to integrate a truly combined CTG staff, operate alongside other partners across the task units, learn from each other, and get better together,” stated Brasfield. “We came together in a challenging environment to clear over 280 square kilometers of sea lanes and maneuver boxes for two separate amphibious landings.”
To prepare for BALTOPS 22, CTG 68.3, requested subject matter experts to assist in the development of their BALTOPS 22 Operational Directive. NSWC PCD personnel, Sarah Bride and Andy Stubblefield, from the A42 Tactics Branch Integrated MCM Tactics team, provided that expertise.
“An operational directive provides the general execution of MCM operations by subordinate tasking authorities…including operating areas and their priorities, threat estimates, ordered effort, and required reports,” said Stubblefield.
The Integrated MCM Tactics team also provided the combined CTG staff with support during the execution of BALTOPS 22, on-site in Ravlunda, Sweden.
“Our support to various staffs during exercises and other events provided the Fleet with a continuity of MCM expertise,” said Bride. “It also provided us the ability to bring the experience back to NSWC PCD as feedback to the systems, which hopefully will help make those systems better.”
Involvement in BALTOPS 22 gives NSWC PCD the opportunity to be recognized internationally as the technical leader in MCM tactics.