Estonia's annual large-scale military exercise Spring Storm begins (2)
The Estonian Defence Forces' largest annual, 18-day exercise Spring Storm kicks off today, which will involve approximately 6,000 troops from a total of ten allied countries this year.
The objective of the three-week exercise, known as Kevadtorm in Estonian, is to work on the integration of conscript and reserve units and assess the conscripts’ level of training before their official assignment to the country’s reserve forces.
Today and tomorrow units will be on the move toward exercise training grounds in South and Southeast Estonia; on May 4, units will begin advanced and cooperation training. The exercise’s final phase, which consists of tactical exercises, is scheduled to begin on May 13, and final parade will take place on May 19 at Ridali Airfield, just north of the Southeast Estonian city of Võru.
Spring Storm, which is annually one of the biggest military exercises in Estonia, counts as the final exam for Estonian conscripts summoned in July and October of the previous year while also providing practical experience in managing military units for commanders and staff.
According to Commander-in-Chief of the Estonian Defence Forces Lt. Gen. Riho Terras, this exercise — on Estonian soil — is also the best opportunity for Estonian forces to practice cooperation with allied troops.
Troops from a total of nine additional NATO countries will be taking part in this year’s exercise as well , who will join Estonian troops in fulfilling the role of enemy to units being assessed at Spring Storm.
Participating allied troops will include the Baltic battalion of NATO’s rapid response force NRF-16, which is comprised of a company each from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as a Dutch mechanized infantry company with CV90 armored combat vehicles; an additional company of Lithuanian conscripts, which will be under the command of the Estonian 1st Infantry Brigade’s Kalev Infantry Battalion; company-sized units from the US, the UK, and Germany; a team of specialists from Canada; Finnish staff officers; and Forward Air Controllers (FACs) from Germany and Poland.
Spring Storm 2016 will span Tartu, Põlva, Võru and Valga Counties in South and Southeast Estonia, primarily affecting Luunja, Mäksa, Võnnu, Ülenurme, Kambja, Haaslava, Meeksi, Vastse-Kuuste, Ahja, Mooste, Räpina, Veriora, Orava, Kanepi, Valgjärgve, Kõlleste, Laheda, Mikitamäe, Lasva, Rõuge, Sõmerpalu, Puka, and Õru Parishes.
A total of approximately 6,000 soldiers and personnel will be taking part in the exercise, which is scheduled to be the year’s biggest in Estonia.