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The NATO command Baltic Approaches was created on 8 January 1962, with headquarters in Karup, Denmark. It was created at Germany's urging, in order to end the previous separation of the German naval forces between the NATO commands Northern Europe and Central Europe. After the changes in the international security situation in 1990, the command was restructured in 1993 and deactivated in 2002.
BALTAP was led by a Danish officer with the rank of a Lieutenant General or a Vice Admiral, who had the designation Commander Allied Forces Baltic Approaches (COMBALTAP). His deputy was a German officer of the same rank. From 1962 to 1993, COMBALTAP was under the NATO command Allied Forces Northern Europe (AFNORTH) in Kolsås outside Oslo in Norway. After a change in the NATO structure, it was placed under Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT) on 1 October 1993. For the operational command of the air and sea forces, a partial assignment of these forces to Allied Forces Northwestern Europe (AFNORTHWEST) with its component commands AIRNORTHWEST and NAVNORTHWEST was made.
In case of war, COMBALTAP would have had to lead the NATO forces assigned to it. According to plans, all Danish forces with the exception of some units in the outer regions were to be placed under COMBALTAP. Germany had provided for its land and air forces stationed in the BALTAP area, and its entire naval and naval air forces, to be subordinated to COMBALTAP. In addition, external reinforcements from the United States and Britain (UK Mobile Force, primarily 1st Infantry Brigade) were planned.
1962 to 1993
The structure that was brought into being with the creation of BALTAP remained with few changes from 1962 to 1994. During this time, BALTAP comprised 4 subordinate commands:
Commander, Allied Land Forces Schleswig-Holstein and Jutland (COMLANDJUT) in Rendsburg
Commander, Allied Land Forces in Zealand (COMLANDZEALAND) in Ringsted
Commander, Allied Air Forces Baltic Approaches (COMAIRBALTAP) in Karup
Commander, Allied Naval Forces Baltic Approaches (COMNAVBALTAP) in Karup
Commander, Allied Land Forces Schleswig-Holstein and Jutland
Structure of Allied Land Forces Schleswig-Holstein and Jutland in 1989 (click to enlarge) (need update 12-09-2017)
LANDJUT and its Germans units and Corps units in 1989
LANDJUT was tasked with defending the Jutland peninsula. Holding Jutland was crucial for the mission of NAVBALTAP to keep the Danish Straits blocked and thus prevent the Soviet Baltic Fleet from breaking out into the North Sea. In case the Jutland peninsula would fall into Soviet hands, the LANDZEALAND units defending the Danish Isles would have been dangerously flanked. Therefore, LANDJUT was to be reinforced at the earliest with British and American troops to ensure that advancing Soviet forces would be prevented from crossing the Kiel Canal and Eider river.
British and American formations earmarked to reinforce LANDJUT included the British 1st Infantry Brigade and the American 9th Infantry Division. British infantry battalions and armoured regiments rotated every two years or so; thus locations are shown, but no unit identities.
The island of Bornholm was in wartime independent, due to the long distance from Zealand and agreements after World War II said that no foreign units could reinforce Bornholm.
Therefore, Bornholm had only the Battlegroup and homeguard units of the 7th Territorial Region.
Bornholms Værn's Battle Group
Staff and Signal Company
1st Battalion, Bornholms Værn (infantry) (4x TOW on Land Rover)
2nd Battalion, Bornholms Værn (infantry) (reserve) (4x TOW on Land Rover)
3rd Battalion, Bornholms Værn (infantry) (reserve) (12 x 106 mm RR on Jeep M38)
Light Tank Squadron,"Bornholm Dragoons" (10x M41 DK-1)
Allied Air Forces Baltic Approaches (AIRBALTAP) was a NATO military formation under Allied Forces Baltic Approaches tasked with providing air support in the BALTAP area of operations. AIRBALTAP commanded all flying units based within its sector and all reinforcements flying into its sector, as well as ground-based radar systems and stations, air defence units and the airfields in its sector. The commander of AIRBALTAP was the commander in chief of the Royal Danish Air Force. AIRBALTAP was formed in 1962 with its area of responsibility covering Germany north of the river Elbe and Denmark with the surrounding seas; however air defence for the German state of Schleswig-Holstein was the responsibility of Second Allied Tactical Air Force
The peacetime headquarters of AIRBALTAP were at Karup in Denmark. AIRBALTAP commanded the Royal Danish Air Force and flying units of the German Luftwaffe and Marine, as well as extensive air defence and radar installations manned by German and Danish personnel.
If needed AIRBALTAP would have been reinforced with units from the US Third (UK based), Eighth (reconnaissance and bombing), Ninth (immediate reinforcements) and Twelfth Air Force (follow on reinforcements), and with Royal Air Force units. At the start of hostilities AIRBALTAP would have had immediately almost 300 combat planes at its disposal. The following units would have come under AIRBALTAP in wartime in 1989:
AIRBALTAP was disbanded in 1993.
War Time Structure c.1989
Structure of Air Forces Baltic Approaches in 1989 (click to enlarge)
Air Defence Squadron 3, Nordholz, with 6x Roland systems
Commander, Allied Naval Forces Baltic Approaches
Allied Naval Forces Baltic Approaches (NAVBALTAP) was located until 1976 in Kiel-Holtenau, and thereafter at Karup. Its commander was a Danish or German vice admiral and had the following deputy commanders:
Flag Officer Denmark (FOD) in Aarhus, simultaneously the national commander of the Danish fleet. Task Force designation 420.
Flag Officer Germany (FOG) in Glücksburg, simultaneously the national commander of the German fleet. Task Force designation 500.
Commander German North Sea Subarea (COMGERNORSEA) in Wilhelmshaven-Sengwarden, simultaneously the German national Commander Naval Forces North Sea (Befehlshaber der Seestreitkräfte der Nordsee (BSN)).
Danish naval bases and coastal fortresses under NAVBALTAP in 1989
Danish mobile Harpoon anti-ship missile launcher
The Flag Officer Denmark (FOD) commanded the entire Danish home fleet. As the fleet's main tasks were to prevent Warsaw Pact naval forces from passing through the Danish straits and to prevent amphibious landings on the Danish coast. To fulfill its mission the Danish navy fielded a large number of minelayers and fast attack crafts. The first would have been used to mine all sealanes and potential landings beaches, while the latter would have harassed the enemy fleet with continuous hit and run attacks. Additionally the Danish navy fielded RGM-84 Harpoonanti-ship missiles mounted on Scania trucks as mobile coastal artillery.
The torpedo boats had a mobile base (MOBA) with approximately 40 trucks. MOBA LOG supplied fuel, ordnance, freshwater and provided repair facilities outside the naval bases. MOBA OPS had mobile radars for tactical surveillance and target acquisition.
At the beginning of 1989 the Danish navy consisted of the following ships.
Fregateskadren FGE (Danish Frigate Squadron) 2nd Squadron from April 1992
The Flag Officer Germany (FOG) was the commanding vice admiral of the West-German Navy's Fleet Command. In peacetime he commanded all German naval units in the North and Baltic Sea. In case of war the command of German units in the North Sea would pass to the Commander German North Sea Subarea. Fleet Command was based during peacetime in Glücksburg, but would have moved to an underground command center in Glücksburg-Meierwik in case of war.
The German naval forces in the Baltic Sea had the task to prevent Warsaw Pact naval forces from passing through the Danish straits and to prevent amphibious landings on the German coast. To fulfill its mission the German navy fielded like the Danish navy a large number of minelayers and fast attack crafts. All German submarines were based in the Baltic Sea and tasked with mining enemy harbors and sinking enemy supply ships far from German waters. The main bases in the Baltic Sea were Naval Base Kiel, Naval Base Kiel-Holtenau, Naval Base Flensburg, Naval Base Flensburg-Mürwik, Naval Base Olpenitz, Neustadt Naval Base and Naval Base Eckernförde.
At the beginning of 1989 the Flag Officer Germany would have commanded the following ships. The peacetime administrative flotilla commands in Wilhelmshaven and Cuxhaven would have been removed from the chain of command in times of war.
While German naval forces in Baltic Sea were tasked with preventing Warsaw Pact naval forces from passing through the Danish straits, the North Sea fleet was to patrol the German Bight and protect allied reinforcements and shipping heading for German ports. To GERNORSEA's East Allied Command Channel's BENECHAN command was tasked with patrolling the Western half of the Southern North Sea, while to North Allied Forces Northern Europe's SONOR command was patrolling the Southern Norwegian coast. Unlike in the Baltic Sea most vessels of GERNORSEA were destroyers and frigates. The main bases in the North Sea were Naval Base Wilhelmshaven and Naval Base Cuxhaven.
At the beginning of 1989 the Commander German North Sea Subarea would have commanded the following ships in wartime:
A1410 Walther Von Ledebur, mine diver support vessel
Supply Flotilla in Cuxhaven
2nd Supply Squadron in Wilhelmshaven, in wartime two additional two fuel transport ships and nine hospital ships would be activated from the Navy's reserve.
A1413 Freiburg, 701E-class supply ship
A1414 Glücksburg, 701C-class supply ship
A1416 Nienburg, 701A-class supply ship
A1426 Tegernsee, 703-class fuel transport ship
A1427 Westensee, 703-class fuel transport ship
A1429 Eifel, 766-class fuel transport ship
A1436 Odenwald, 760-class ammunition transport ship
A1443 Rhön, 704A-class fuel transport ship
A1451 Wangerooge, 722C-class ocean going tug
A1457 Helgoland, 720A-class salvage tug
Y848 Wotan, maintenance ship
1993 to 2002
On 1 October 1993, a restructuring took effect, which took into account the changed military situation in the Baltic Sea. Whilst the two land forces commands remained in place, the two headquarters of the naval and air forces were deactivated. The Interim Combined Air Operations Centre 1 (ICAOC 1) in Karup took the place of COMAIRBALTAP. The two national naval commanders were placed directly under COMBALTAP as Admiral Danish Fleet (AdmDanFleet) and Commander German Fleet (COMGERFLEET).
^Brian Wanstall; Luftverteidigung im Ostseeraum - Dänemark bewacht die Meerengen; in: Interavia 12-1982, S. 1297ff
^Gen. Lyng: "If the 9th Infantry Division is reduced or disbanded we will need other reinforcements," said Gen Lyng. "The Soviets would be able to concentrate a substantial number of divisions against the 6th Panzergrenadier Division and the Jutland Division and we would have no division behind them. The UKMF is very good but it only has 14 tanks, it is only a brigade and we need a division." 1990 Complete Edition of Jane's Defence Weekly page 850.
Peter Monte, Die Rolle der Marine der Bundesrepublik Deutschland in der Verteidigungsplanung für Mittel- und Nordeuropa von den 50er Jahren bis zur Wende 1989/90; in: Werner Rahn (Hrsg.), Deutsche Marinen im Wandel, S. 565 ff.. München 2005. ISBN3-486-57674-7
Norbert Rath; Headquarter Allied Forces Baltic Approaches (HQ BALTAP); in Marineforum 4-1997, S. 3ff.
Thomas-Durell Young, Command in NATO After the Cold War: Alliance, National and Multinational Considerations