Three-week Spring Storm exercise ends
Spring Storm, the large-scale military exercise of the Estonian Defence Forces that lasted almost three weeks, ended with a troop lineup at Ridali airfield not far from the southeastern regional capital Võru on Thursday.
Speaking at the ceremony, commander of the Estonian Defence Forces Lt. Gen. Riho Terras said that the conscripts of the 2nd Infantry Brigade evaluated in the field drill had demonstrated professionalism and determination. "They demonstrated that they are a unit that one can rely on in the event of war. Soldiers who, on the terrain of South Estonia to which they now have become familiar, are a serious adversary to whatever enemy," the defense chief said according to military spokespeople in Tallinn.
Altogether more than 6,000 uniformed personnel, including more than 1,000 members of foreign forces, took part in the exercise.
The commander of the Estonian Defence Forces thanked the allied soldiers who took part in the exercise and said that Estonia needed more training exercises to find shortcomings and bottlenecks related to the involvement of allied troops, and to solve them. "I thank all the soldiers and officers from 12 countries who fought, took rest and made efforts together with us in the forests and fields of South Estonia in the name of the best training that we can offer," Terras said.
The chief of defense also offered his words of gratitude to municipality leaders and residents for their hospitality and understanding.
In the battles of Spring Storm 2016 pioneers, artillery personnel, air defense personnel, reconnaissance personnel, anti-tank personnel and a Canadian sniper team fought alongside the 2nd Infantry Brigade, the evaluation of which was the key purpose of the exercise.
The 1st Infantry Brigade took on the role of enemy, with company-sized units of the other Baltic States, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands integrated for the purpose of the exercise, along with a platoon-sized reconnaissance unit from Poland and a Lithuanian infantry company made up of conscripts. Staff officers from Finland, Belgium and Ukraine participated also.
The airborne assets involved in the exercise included American F-15C fighter jets, Polish Su-22 ground attack aircraft, British Eurofighter Typhoons and Portuguese F-16s, supported by Estonian R-44 helicopters and L-39 training jets.
New additional allied units will arrive in Estonia soon, as on May 27 another exercise, the U.S.-led Saber Strike, will start here. As part of that exercise, allied troops and their equipment will travel 2,200 km from Germany to Estonia.