BALTIC SEA (NNS) -- Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) TWO Rear Adm. Brad Skillman and staff finished strong at the conclusion of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2019.
Unique for this exercise is Skillman’s command of a 21-ship multinational Amphibious Task Force Forward Deployed, assisted by staff operating in the newly modernized Maritime Operations Center (MOC) at ESG-2 headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia.
“We recently did the first renovation of ESG-2 headquarters in 29 years for the purpose of being able to operate Forward Deployed and stay fully operationally connected to the headquarters,” said Skillman. “As ESG-2 continues to maintain a presence in support of our partners to safeguard waterways and provide the ability to react to emerging crises, having the capability of communication to and from a remote location to the headquarters allows us to maintain a competitive edge to deter and defeat our adversaries or respond when a crisis occurs.”
The MOC is designed to allow ESG-2 to more easily and effectively control and command assigned forces by monitoring, assessing, planning and directing missions.
“Making preparations for the MOC has been a rewarding planning effort,” said Lt. Christopher Galarza, ESG-2 MOC Planner. “Now, having the opportunity to man the space and support BALTOPS with the Forward Deployed staff has been a great step toward further operationalizing the staff as a whole. As the Navy shifts focus to the high-end fight and peer competition, this represents a significant development of our capabilities as a command to support operational missions.”
ESG-2 provides oversight and management of 23 commands and amphibious ships; totaling more than 11,000 Sailors and Marines with the capacity to embark an additional 14,000 Marines.
The commands of ESG-2 are responsible for the conduct of all amphibious and expeditionary actions from the East Coast of the United States to the Mediterranean Sea. The mobile, scalable, and self-sustaining nature of the expeditionary strike group allows a precision amphibious strike capability.
The command is embarked aboard the Blue Ridge-class command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), U.S. 6th Fleet’s flagship for the duration of BALTOPS.
During BALTOPS ESG-2 executed the NATO Amphibious Leaders Expeditionary Symposium (NALES) construct, which focused on placing multiple amphibious groups under a senior Command Amphibious Task Force (CATF) and Command Landing Force (CLF) to maximize flexibility within the amphibious force.
BALTOPS is an annual joint, multinational maritime-focused exercise with 18 countries represented and over 8,000 participants. It is designed to strengthen partner relationships, enhance flexibility and interoperability, and demonstrate resolve among allied and partner forces in defending the Baltic Sea region. The exercise will involve maritime, ground, and air forces to strengthen combined response capabilities necessary to ensure regional stability.