KIEL, Germany (WDHN) — A Dothan native is representing the Circle City and the United States in the Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise alongside other members of the United States Navy.
BALTOPS 2019 is a multinational exercise that allows naval forces from 18 countries to train alongside one another.
According to the Navy Office of Community Outreach, this training will “improve training value for participants, enhance flexibility and interoperability, and demonstrate resolve among allied and partner forces in defending the Baltic Sea region.”
Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Allis, originally from Dothan and now serving as a boatswain on the USS Fort McHenry, will be joining U.S. naval forces in the operations. He said he looked forward to participating in BALTOPS, mentioning that this is actually his first deployment.
“I think it’s good to rekindle our friendships and see how other navies operate,” Allis said.
This year’s BALTOPS is being planned by the U.S. 2nd Fleet, which was reestablished in the summer of 2018 after merging with the U.S. Fleet Forces back in 2011.
With its return “as a response to the changing security environment,” the 2nd Fleet will lead the operations for U.S. Naval Forces Europe with its commander, Vice Adm. Andrew “Woody” Lewis, as its head. This is the first time the fleet has operated in the region.
“As you all are aware, U.S. 2nd Fleet will be leading the exercise, but make no mistake, it will be founded on NATO and partner principles,” Lewis said. “Through BALTOPS 2019 and exercises like it, we strengthen our relationships and improve overall coordination and interoperability between allies and partners during both peace and times of conflict.”
The 2nd Fleet will be joined by naval forces from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Finland and Sweden.
BALTOPS will start at Kiel, Germany, with at-sea training taking place around the Baltic Sea.
After training near locations in Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden, the majority of the naval forces will return to Kiel for the Kielerwochen Festival, once described by Time Magazine as the world’s largest sailing festival.
For Allis, joining the Navy in such an operation means that he is able to help make the Navy the best it can be.
“Serving in the Navy means giving back to my country and being held to a higher standard amongst my peers,” Allis said.
BALTOPS is scheduled for June 08 to June 21, according to the Navy Office of Community Engagement. Read their full report on Allis here.