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NATO Special Operations Forces Secure the Baltic

10 June 2024

From Lt. j.g. Martin Carey

VILNIUS, Lithuania - NATO Special Operations Forces (SOF) from six Allied nations recently completed Exercise Flaming Sword 24 in Lithuania, showcasing the Alliance's commitment to warfighting cooperation, collaboration, and interoperability in the Baltic region.

The primary purpose of the exercise was to train and test the readiness of NATO SOF units to conduct operations in response to increased aggression against its Allies.

Flaming Sword, a vital training event hosted by Lithuania, involved SOF units from Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, and the United States. This exercise underscores the readiness and capability of NATO Allied SOF to deploy rapidly anytime and anywhere, to promote peace and security through joint efforts. For the first time in recent history, a German submarine in support of the German Special Operation Forces conducted missions in the Baltic Sea and ashore. Danish Frogmen from the Danish Maritime Special Operations Force also conducted operations in Baltic Sea region.

"Whenever we have the opportunity for U.S. Special Operations Forces to train alongside our NATO Allies, it reinforces our ability to rapidly deploy combat-credible forces in all domains – land, sea, air, and space – with equipment critical to effectively operate in any region,” said Major Gen. Steven Edwards, Commander, Special Operations Command Europe. “Our ability to work seamlessly alongside our Allied partners strengthens our collective defense and enhances regional security."

Lithuania's SOF Commander Col. Darius Milašius also highlighted the significance of this exercise, stating, “As NATO, we have an opportunity to use various types of platforms in the air, at the sea and on land, making us unpredictable to the enemy. Surprise and speed; these are the main principles which we use conducting special operations”.

Exercises like this foster interoperability among Allied forces, refining tactics and procedures for seamless warfighting cooperation during operations. Events included U.S. East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare Operators (SEALs) conducting maritime operations, close quarters combat, weapons training, and helicopter fast-roping iterations with their Allied SOF partners. This face-to-face training fosters a strong and strategic SOF warfighting foundation among NATO Allies.

“The weeks leading up to this exercise allowed my team to integrate with our partner forces from these countries. Having the chance to meet in person, build our operations plans together, and execute scenarios in tandem is invaluable,” said the senior Naval Special Warfare Operator on site. “These relationships are critical to ensure we are postured to quickly support SOCUER’s efforts with flexibility and agility.”

Exercise Flaming Sword 24 reaffirms NATO's commitment to solidarity, transparency, and regional stability. By enhancing interoperability and readiness among Allied SOF, the exercise serves as a model for future collaborative efforts ensuring a robust defense posture in the Baltic and Arctic regions.

Naval Special Warfare Group TWO produces, supports, and deploys the world’s premier maritime special operations forces to conduct full-spectrum operations and integrated deterrence in support of U.S. national objectives.


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