Locals Oppose Plan for Heavy Artillery Range Near Võru
The military and the Defense Ministry say the country's shooting ranges and proving ranges need investments, and fast. But the neighbors of one range in southern Estonia are not thrilled about the Defense Ministry's plans.
On July 26, the conscripts from the 2nd platoon of the Kuperjanov Battalion's logistics company had their first experience firing automatic weapons, while their fellow draftees tackled demolition a couple hundred meters away, ETV reported.
That isn't the problem, say residents. But the same range is used by Combat School cadets and Defense Leaguers (members of Estonia's version of the National Guard). To accommodate the Defense Forces' heavier armaments needs, the government in 2008 decided to establish an artillery range at Nursipalu. That has residents upset.
"We're not against the current situation," said Milvi Alvela, who runs Rohtlate farm. "We're against heavy weaponry being brought here."
The conscripts at the Võru-based Kuperjanov elite battalion currently have to limit their training to things that go "bang." For "boom," meaning RPGs and armor piercing ordnance, they have to travel hundreds of kilometers north, taking up valuable time and money.
"The development of Nursipalu would allow [soldiers] to shoot from different weapons in future," said the Kuperjanov Battalion's commander Major Maidu Allikas.
It isn't just Nursipalu that needs investment, say military officials, but other bases as well. "It stems from the obligation to NATO to ensure elementary national defense capability," said the deputy head of the Ministry of Defense's infrastructure department Kaupo Kaasik.
The ministry says it does not intend to run roughshod over locals and their plans. It is planning to hold a demonstration event at Nursipalu on August 10 and it will commission additional noise impact studies.