Friday, June 08, 2012

Maritime Forces Train in Air Defense during BALTOPS 2012

By Lt. Cmdr. Candice Tresch, Expeditionary Strike Group 2 Public Affairs USS NORMANDY, At Sea (NNS) -- Maritime forces participating in Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2012, one of the largest multinational maritime exercise in the Baltic region, opened its third day at sea by training to respond to airborne adversary attacks, June 5.

The crew of USS Normandy (CG 60) and the embarked Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2 staff; in cooperation with 11 other partnering nations; trained to spot, prepare for, and defend against various airborne attacks to include low sly flyers dispersing toxic chemicals as part of the BALTOPS 2012 exercise.

"Today was the first big day of air battle," said German navy 1st Lt. Oliuer Salmen, air safety officer embarked aboard USS Normandy. "There were twenty-two aircraft sorties that contributed to the exercise by flying against ships, providing support through reconnaissance, and independently observing for the CET/FIT portion of the exercise."

The Combat Enhancement Training (CET) and Force Integration Training (FIT) phase of BALTOPS is the scripted portion of the exercise which allows participating nations and units to build a common operating picture and understanding of each others' tactics in order to strengthen interoperability for the follow-on unscripted phase of the exercise, where simulated opposition forces are identified and combated.

"To prepare for this event, we ran two, three air and subsurface attack scenarios a day during our translant to the Baltic," said Lt. j.g. Michael Foster, the ship's training officer. "During a segment of the event, an inbound PC-9 dropped red dye water and the crew donned gas masks and flash gear in accordance with our pre-planned responses."

"We learned a lot from each other throughout the air defense exercises; there is always something to be learned when navies come together," said Lt. Cmdr. Brandon Murray, ESG-2's BALTOPS operations officer/lead planner. "Everyone brings different perspectives on how to attack the same problem. That extends our knowledge base and makes us a stronger, more capable force."

During air defense events, USS Normandy and the U.S. Air Force alternated serving as Airspace Safety to ensure a safe and realistic training evolution. The embarked ESG-2 Commander, Rear Adm. Ann C. Phillips, is the exercise Combined Forces Maritime component commander.

Air defense is one set of skills which will be honed during BALTOPS 2012. Other events include towing, subsurface exercises and visit boarding search and seizure operations.