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VILNIUS, June 5 (Itar-Tass) — The ground phase of the international naval manoeuvres BALTOPS (Baltic Operations) 2012 was launched on Tuesday at the Kairiai and Nemirseta ranges in Lithuania’s maritime zone involving more than 700 troops from Lithuania, the Netherlands, the United States and representatives of the NATO headquarters. “The manoeuvres that have multifaceted tasks will help military units drill interoperability and contribute to the effective cooperation of the countries in the event of crisis situations in the Baltic region,” Commander of the Lithuanian Army Lieutenant- General Arvydas Pocius said.
The purpose of BALTOPS is to train gunnery, replenishment at sea, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), radar tracking and interception, mine countermeasures, seamanship, search and rescue, maritime interdiction operations and scenarios dealing with potential real world crises and maritime security.
During the ground phase of the manoeuvres the Lithuanian vehicle-borne infantry units of the Iron Wolf brigade, the Duke Algirdas battalion and the US Marines will conduct ground deployment operations, accelerated marches, crossing of various obstacles, fighting in a built-up area, live firing exercises. The key stage of the BALTOPS 2012 manoeuvres’ ground phase will be amphibious landing that is scheduled for June 11.
The manoeuvres were launched on June 4 in the territorial waters of Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Estonia. They involve ships and troops of 12 countries, including Russia. The manoeuvres will last until June 16. The BALTOPS international naval exercises are conducted since 1997. Lithuania for the first time hosts their ground phase.