UK-led force begins Baltic deployment

A UK-led maritime force has completed the first phase of Baltic deployment as part of Danex.

British Royal Marines and their Dutch counterparts waged a battle around the towns of Esbjerg and Varde in western Denmark, taking on Danish troops during the first phase of Baltic deployment. The focus of the first phase of the deployment – Danex, or Danish Exercise – was meshing the different amphibious, naval, ground and air forces together in the western Baltic and the eastern North Sea so they could work as one.

Royal Marines of 45 Commando and 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group, alongside Dutch, Danish and Norwegian allies, perfected helicopter raids, urban close quarters combat, the live firing of artillery and mortars, convoy and ambush tactics, and a dusk parachute drop. Each nation’s helicopters and landing craft were tested from a different ship, while the task group fired different weapon systems and practised defending itself from attack.

Brigadier Matt Jackson, in charge of 3 Commando Brigade, said: “We have a very close bond with our Danish, Norwegian and Dutch counterparts; forged over decades of military partnership and combat.”

“Phase one of Baltic Protector has been a great opportunity to reinforce that long-standing relationship.”

The Baltic Protector deployment is the first test of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force that is led by the Royal Navy and includes forces from eight other nations with shores on the North and Baltic Sea. It includes the UK’s fleet flagship HMS Albion, Type 23 frigate HMS Kent, and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships Argus and Lyme Bay.

With the first stage complete, the deployment now moves into the Baltic and participation in the annual American-led Baltops, a huge exercise running the length and breadth of the Baltic. Ships from the task group also met up with and trained alongside allies from NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 1 (SNMG1), demonstrating that the Joint Expeditionary Force can act alone – but also support other NATO or EU coalitions.

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