June 1 (UPI) -- The BALTOPS 2020 Baltic Sea military exercise is set to kick off this week, and will occur exclusively at sea to reduce the threat of COVID-19 spread, the U.S. European Command said on Monday.
The annual event, this year involving 19 NATO and two partner countries, will be conducted between June 6 and 17.
The event, which EUCOM called a "visible demonstration of NATO's commitment to promote peace and security in the region by exercising the forces that can rapidly respond in a time of crisis" in a statement on Monday, has been conducted annually in the Baltic Sea since 1972.
The exercise will exclusively involve participating nations' air and maritime assets this year, with 29 marine units, 29 aircraft and about 3,000 military personnel expected.
Participating nations include France, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Lithuania, Spain, Estonia, Sweden, Turkey, Britain and the United States.
BALTOPS 2020 is hosted by Strike Force NATO, the principal naval service command of NATO's Allied Command Operations.
"Training focus areas include air defense,anti-submarine warfare, maritime interdiction, and mine countermeasures operations," NATO officials said in a statement on Monday.
"The exercise enhances flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations to strengthen combined response capabilities, as well as demonstrate international resolve to ensure stability in, and if necessary defend, the Baltic Sea region," NATO said.