Eight members of the Navy’s JAG community – as well as U.S. Marine Corps judge advocates and a civilian attorney – provided critical legal support to the Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2019 exercise June 9-21 in the Baltic Sea region.
BALTOPS is an annual joint, multinational maritime-focused exercise planned and executed by U.S. 2nd Fleet, as ordered by U.S. Naval Forces Europe. During the exercise, the legal team addressed complex issues ranging from NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Rules of Engagement and operational law, to diplomatic clearance and much more. The Navy JAG community team members hailed from virtually every corner of the organization.
They included Lt. Cmdr. Janelle Beal, NATO Combined Air Operations Center; Lt. Cmdr. Kathy Beard, Amphibious Squadron FOUR; Lt. Cmdr. Ari Craig, Region Legal Service Office (RLSO) Naval District Washington (NDW); Reservist Lt. Cmdr. James Andrews; Lt. Cmdr. Garrett Snow, U.S. Second Fleet; Lt. Cmdr. Katie Worstell, Carrier Strike Group TWO; Lt. Nora Lopopolo, Expeditionary Strike Group TWO; and Lt. Ty Christian, RLSO Europe, Africa, Southwest Asia (EURAFSWA).
"The Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet-led coalition spent countless hours of planning prior to BALTOPS 2019 necessary to conduct amphibious landings, ship-ship boarding, and effectively handle real-world events, including proximate interactions with Russian Armed Forces," said Christian. "Coordinating as a NATO legal team and facilitating the cooperation of these allied nations made this exercise a truly enriching experience."
This year’s exercise included more than 50 surface ships as well as submarines, fixed- and rotor-wing aircraft, and thousands of Marines from across NATO and partner nations. Its purpose is to improve training for participants, enhance flexibility and interoperability, and demonstrate resolve among allied and partner forces in defending the Baltic Sea region. First established in 1972 – and now in its 47th year – BALTOPS continues to be an excellent opportunity for NATO and regional partners to strengthen interoperability through a series of combined tactical maneuvers and scenarios.
"It was enlightening to hear flag and general officers for various nations discuss overarching policy decisions involved in the development of rules of engagement and the supporting legal authority necessary for action," added Christian. "This time aboard the USS Mount Whitney has greatly contributed to my personal and professional development."