VENTSPILS, Latvia (June 6, 2017) Marines assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Convoy, conduct a simulated amphibious assault during exercise BALTOPS 2017. BALTOPS is an annual U.S.-led, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO-executed, multinational maritime exercise in the Baltic Sea region designed to enhance flexibility and interoperability among its participants. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist America A. Henry/Released)
MCMDIV 31 completes NATO BALTOPS Exercise

SAN DIEGO -- San Diego-based Mine Countermeasures Division (MCMDIV) 31, the tactical staff attached to Commander, Mine Countermeasures Squadron 3, recently participated in NATO exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2017 in the Baltic Sea.

As the globally-deployable Mine Countermeasures Commander staff, MCMDIV 31 effectively integrated mine countermeasures (MCM) into sea control exercises during BALTOPS by leading a Task Group. The task group was comprised of units from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 8; Naval Oceanographic Mine Warfare Command; a Belgian Very Shallow Water EOD Platoon; and the Belgian minehunting ship BNS NARCIS (M923).

“BALTOPS demonstrated our ability to conduct mine countermeasures in the Baltic Sea in support of Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet and our NATO allies,” said Cmdr. John Laney, deputy commodore for MCMDIV 31.

“Not only were we able to conduct our specific job of removing mines and reducing risk to maritime operations, both military and civil, we were able to work with our NATO allies to share best practices and strengthen our relationships,” Laney explained.

During BALTOPS, MCMDIV 31 worked alongside the staffs of Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1; Commander, Strike Force NATO; Commander, Naval Surface and Mine Warfare Development Center; Commander, Task Force 68; and Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet.

At the conclusion of the exercise, Cmdr. Don McNeil, commodore of MCMDIV 31, commented on the importance of exercises like BALTOPS to showcase the MCM capabilities of MCMDIV 31 and to practice their mission requirement of integrating into larger multi-national operations.

“MCM is a team sport and our NATO teammates are experts in this challenging warfare area,” said McNeil. “Our multinational task unit effectively reduced the mine threat to ensure passage for ourselves and our allies.”

MCMDIV 31 is headquartered in San Diego, and participates in exercises around the world to work with allies and partners, in support of fleet commander contingency requirements, and to train and prepare to respond to threats from sea mines.

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