Speech by Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist at the NATO Summit 2016 in Warsaw 8-9 July.
The Interoperability Platform was established at the Wales Summit with the aim of enhancing our joint ability to tackle security challenges. I will focus my main points on why exercises are of key importance, not only from an interoperability platform, but also from the perspective of building security.
Only a few weeks ago, the Swedish-Finnish Amphibious Task Unit together with partners from the US Marine Corps, the Royal Marines and Marines from Germany conducted an amphibious landing on the Swedish island of Utö. The aim was to clear the area of a terrorist group's stronghold and basecamp. The coordinated attack was successful and managed to break the will of the opponents. A strong and robust presence on the island was established.
This scenario is taken from the BALTOPS exercise. It is an example of how exercises can provide relevant training opportunities and enhance interoperability in international crisis management operations. It can also prepare us to deal with a regional crisis. At the same time, these exercises are valuable in increasing the operational capability for our national defence.
We are in the middle of an intensive exercise period in the Baltic Sea region, where Sweden, NATO and other international partners signal that we take joint responsibility for the security in our neighbourhood. Common exercises send a clear signal of security and solidarity.
Swedish Army units also participated in the ANAKONDA exercise. Both ANAKONDA and Baltops are good examples of partner nations and NATO allies training together. But I would also like to underline the need for specialized exercises such as antisubmarine warfare exercises. These specialized exercises are another cornerstone in upholding unique capabilities that also enhance our situational awareness in the Baltic Sea region.
While both large-scale and specialized exercises are of value, I would also like to highlight the importance of having frequency in joint exercises. For example, within the exercise concept Cross Border Training, we fly together with our Nordic neighbors almost every week. The aim is to on a regular basis raise readiness and respond to threats in the region.
These joint efforts of our frequent interaction between our Air Forces all have a stabilizing effect both in the High North as well as in the Baltic Sea region. Our joint, repetitive presence is a clear security policy signal. We are also boosting our operational capabilities by increasing our understanding of how we can support each other in an effective way.
A regional crisis in the Baltic Sea area would be a common concern for all countries in the region, including Sweden. Therefore, we must facilitate the possibility of partner participation in NATO operations in a regional context, to better build resilience together. Early involvement in exercise planning and access to advanced and complex NATO exercises continue to be some of Sweden's main priorities. The Host Nation Support agreement that Sweden signed with NATO also came in to effect a few days ago. This will further facilitate exercises together.
Finally, as a practical way of contributing to the exercise agenda, Sweden would hereby like to announce that we offer to open up the exercise VIKING 18 to both more extensive participation by NATO, and our IP-partners.