As we look back at the first half of 2014, I am struck by how recent events have demonstrated that we cannot take security for granted. These events highlight why collective defense matters, and why partnerships matter.
I am also reminded that we have to devote sufficient effort to develop the right capabilities and conduct the right training in order to achieve the right effects.
Over the past few days, the harbor in Karlskrona, Sweden became a much busier place. With the arrival of dozens of naval ships, including the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), Exercise BALTOPS 2014 has begun.
Now in its 42nd year, BALTOPS is a long-standing opportunity for regional allies to come together, to improve our collective interoperability and strengthen our relationships.
BALTOPS 2014 includes 30 ships and 52 aircraft from 14 different nations and NATO. This is an incredibly robust capability.
This year’s exercise training agenda is built to ensure that as allies and partners, we are prepared to respond where it matters, when it matters.
We have scenarios that emphasize air, surface, subsurface and mine warfare. In addition, our sister services will be providing combat aircraft, as well as air-refueling support, greatly increasing the complexity of the exercise for all participants.
It is dynamic…It is challenging…But most importantly, it is designed and developed to encourage military professionals to work side-by-side, to gain the familiarity that comes from operating and training together. These men and women will build mutual understanding and confidence, and develop productive relationships today, to provide the foundation for closer operations tomorrow.
I believe this is important for our nation, but it is even more apparent this year that it is important to our allies and partners as well.
We share a common interest in maintaining a Europe that is safe, secure and prosperous. I look forward to another great year working together and I am more certain than ever that our future security depends on challenging, dynamic and robust exercises just like BALTOPS.