More details have been reported by a daily regarding this fall's Steadfast Jazz exercise, the first time that NATO member states play out a specific Article Five scenario in which they rescue members from a simulated foreign invasion.
According to Eesti Päevaleht, in the scenario the Baltic states have been invaded and the NATO Response Force - a special quick deployment cross-branch element - intervenes. In five days, 5,000 men will "put out the fire" in the operating area, supported by thousands of troops. The daily characterized the operation as troops "running through the Polish forests with Estonian maps" - Estonia will contribute 300 personnel but host only the behind-the-scenes staff operations, while the "action" takes place in the Lithuanian and Polish countryside.
"The last exercise with this type of focus took place on Cape Verde in 2006, when the new NATO response strategy was still being tested," said Roland Murof, Defense Forces spokesman.
Taking place a few months after the joint Russian-Belarusian Zapad 2013 exercise, observers have sought a parallel. "Officially it's not [related]," said Kaarel Kaas, a researcher with the Center for Defense Studies. "But unofficially, Russia's aggressive behavior in recent years has undoubtedly impacted the local security picture and it is a clear reason that such an exercise is being held in such a place with such a scenario."
Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu played down a direct link to Zapad, and emphasized deterrence effect. He also noted policy differences - NATO, unlike Russia, never names a specific adversary in its exercises, he said. He added: "The exercise is undoubtedly tied to real circumstances in our region and this area."