Reinforcing Baltic Defense


05/24/2014: In light of the crisis in Ukraine, NATO is boosting its presence in Alliance member state waters in Eastern Europe.

NATOChannel is on board HNoMS Valkyrien, the current flagship of one of NATO’s four naval fleets, the Standing NATO Mine Counter-Measures Group ONE (SNMCMG1), made up of five ships. During their deployment, the ships – from Belgium, Estonia, the Netherlands and Norway – will carry out manoeuvres to reinforce their capacity to work together and guarantee the security of Baltic waters.

Footage contains an interview with Lt Sgt Gert Soomsalu, as well as vox pops recorded in the military port of Świnoujście, in Poland.

Four Allied nations deploy five ships to reinforce Baltic waters in response to maneuvers by Russian troops in the areas bordering Allied countries. A naval operation is prepared to react efficiently in potential moments of crisis.

We will publish several articles as well based on interviews held in Copenhagen, Denmark with regard to the Nordics and reinforcing Baltic defense in the next few days.

Credit: NATOCHANNEL: 5/22/14

With regard to Denmark and Baltic security, the Danes, although a small country, have made Baltic defense a key element in their defense policy.

According to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Denmark has had a comprehensive defense and security cooperation with the three Baltic countries since their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and the Soviet troops’ final exit from the Baltic territory in 1994.

Initially the objective was to support the Baltic countries in building national structures and institutions in order to ensure their ability to self-defense and policing.

Later the objective was to ally Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into NATO. In the military field, it was initially Partnership for Peace (PfP) cooperation, that formed the framework, but later the so-called Membership Action Plans were launched, in which the conditions for NATO membership were described in detail. This development was closely followed, and in 2004 the three Baltic States joined NATO.

Denmark actively contributed to this success with massive support in the form of material donations as well as education, training and counseling.

It was – and it still is – in Danish interest that the three Baltic States had such a close defence and security cooperation as possible, which is why in particular such projects were supported.

The first joint Baltic project was the Baltic Battalion BALTBAT, a Baltic country military unit of approx. 500 men trained for deployment in peacekeeping operations. The project was started in 1994-95 and was supported by a large number of NATO countries led by Denmark.

The Joint Baltic Fleet Unit (BALTRON) was the next common Baltic project that followed – this time under German leadership and with the support of virtually the same circuit as BALTBAT. The idea was that the Baltic countries should fulfill tasks as mine sweeping and rescue service in the Baltic Sea. Denmark had a significant part in this project with material donations as well as education and training.

This was followed by BALTNET initiative of a common Baltic air monitoring system for civil and military use. The idea grew out of the fact that Americans had started a “Regional Air Space Initiative”, which offered to help the Central and Eastern European countries to build a system where one could ensure better air traffic control (both civilian and military) and thereby improve road safety.

In the autumn of 1995 Norway accepted the leadership of this project, which was built on the model of BALTBAT and BALTRON.
Besides involvement in concept development, Denmark has also contributed with mainly radio equipment and training. 

The last in the series of joint Baltic projects is Baltic Defence College (BALTDEFCOL) – a joint Baltic military educational institution for academic programmes, located in Estonia’s second largest city, Tartu.

The project was launched in the summer 1998 under Swedish management, but with extensive Danish support.  The first school principal was Danish.
BALTDEFCOL had – and still has – special Danish attention, because this institution is a prerequisite for continued development of competent officers and officer corps.

Along with the Baltic countries’ accession to NATO and the EU and Denmark’s changing focus in security policy the cooperation has quite naturally changed character and is in most areas “normalized”.

There are still very close links between the Baltic countries and Denmark, but the defence and security policy cooperation is completed on a higher level in NATO and Nordic-Baltic auspices.

The bilateral cooperation today includes support for the establishment of a country military unit of the size of a brigade (about 5,000 men) in each of the three Baltic countries, which BALTDEFCOL constantly supports.

Finally Denmark continuously supports the three Baltic countries with education and training assisted by a Danish defence attaché, which from its location at the embassy in Vilnius is accredited to all three countries.