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U.S. Marines joined forces with NATO allies and partner nations during Baltic Operations 16, building international relationships and strengthening security in the Baltic Sea region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ashley Lawson/Released)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Ashley Lawson

U.S. Marines, Navy control Baltic Sea during war exercise

27 Jun 2016 | Lance Cpl. Ashley Lawson II Marine Expeditionary Force

UTÖ ISLAND, Sweden— Several NATO allies and partner nations, including more than 200 U.S. Marines, defeated an enemy force and took control of the Baltic Sea during an exercise here, June 10-13, 2016.

The three-day training event was part of Exercise BaltOps 16 enabling U.S. Marines to work with foreign militaries and operate in simulated battlefield, simultaneously building the foundation for potential future operations.

“BALTOPS 16 is significant in building the NATO alliance because it gives us an opportunity to meet our NATO counterparts face-to-face and work with them in a realistic scenario,” said Henry Baylis, a student in British Royal Marine initial officer training.

BALTOPS is crucial for improving relationships, increasing interoperability and working cohesively while training with other militaries.

“When Marines come together collectively with foreign nations, we can adapt and overcome any challenge or threat that’s been presented before us,” said Cpl. Stephen Mills, a squad leader with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.

“It has an overarching theme which is to let our NATO allies know that we’re there for them,” said 2nd Lt. Woodward Skudin, a platoon commander with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
The realistic combat scenarios helped each nation sharpen their combined skillsets as well as identify their weaker points and work to improve them.

“It also shows other nations that we’re stronger than we ever were, and we’re going to continue to fight to be better,” said Mills.

BALTOPS is an annual training exercise which brings together 17 NATO allies and partner nations to improve combat and crisis response readiness, build and sustain relationships and enhance stability in the Baltic Sea region.

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