OSCE observers deem military exercise 'Siil' open and transparent (2)
Estonia's largest-ever mobilization exercise Siil/Steadfast Javelin that kicked off last Monday was inspected by OSCE observers from 17 different countries. The observers found its organization transparent and exemplary.
Siil is the first military exercise in Estonia to be monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The country has never before held a exercise large enough to call for the presence of the foreign observers. OSCE rules foresee that when holding a large-scale exercise with more than 13,000 participants, countries have to sent invitations of observers to all fellow member states.
Lt. Col. Thomas Möller from Sweden said that in the six years he has taken part in OSCE mission, he has never before been in a situation in which he has no further questions after just three briefings. Col. Sergey Tcherbakov from Russia added that "the exercise is transparent and in agreement with the Vienna convention."
OSCE delegation included a total of 27 observers from the US, Austria, Georgia, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Romania, Germany, Finland, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Belarus and Russia.
The delegation visited several training locations over the weekend, being most interested in the cooperation between Estonian units and over 600 Allied troops from Belgium, Germany, Latvia, Poland, the Netherlands, the UK and the US.
Finnish Defense Attaché in Estonia Lieutenant Commander Jussi Voutilainen said that Estonia's security stands on two pillars: its own defensive will and cooperation with NATO. In his opinion, the greatest success of the ongoing exercise lie in the quick and effective formation of units.
"Since we have a very similar mobilization system in Finland, it is very interesting to look at the similarities and see how you can achieve the same good results here," he added.
The mobilization phase of the exercise concluded on Friday, May 8. The units are now undergoing tactical training and operational activities. According to Estonian Defense Forces, the overall turn-up was 90 percent, while in some units over 110 percent of reservists showed up, since the organizers sent out more notifications to secure that units are properly manned for the exercise tactical phase.
OSCE delegation will depart today. The exercise runs until May 15.
Siil/Steadfast Javelin is the biggest exercise in the Baltic Sea region this year and focuses on training the Estonian infantry brigade in ground operations, but will also involve air operations.
The exercise has been in the making for three years, while building the reserve-based system has taken Estonia over 20 years. The objective of the exercise is to test the full staging of the permanent readiness troops and additional staging of rapid response reserve units. The exercise also trains receiving of mobilized personnel. In addition, the 1st Infantry Brigade will exercise its operational capabilities as well as tactical and operational command.
The equipment used during the exercise includes APCs, artillery units, air defense systems, combat engineering and transport and support vehicles. The US M1A2 Abrams tanks, Polish attack aircraft SU-22, four United Kingdom Eurofighter Typhoons, currently participating in the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission as well as additional Hawks and US attack aircraft A-10.