Altogether more than 10,000 uniformed personnel from Estonia, allied and partner countries are to take part in this year's Spring Storm military exercise, military spokespeople said on Thursday. For the first time ever, the focus of the large-scale exercise will be on Central Estonia.
This year's Spring Storm will take place from April 21 through May 22, with activities conducted primarily in Central and Northern Estonia.
For the first time ever, the focus of the exercise will be on Central Estonia's Rapla County and Türi, Põhja-Pärnumaa, Põhja-Sakala and Viljandi Municipalities. Western Estonia and the western islands will be involved as well. The active portion of the exercise will take place in the aforementioned areas from may 8-15. Spring Storm will then culminate in a live-fire shooting exercise at the Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) Central Training Ground from May 16-22.
During the annual exercise, the EDF will rehearse the staff procedures and command capability of various levels' headquarters, as well as joint action by the EDF and the volunteer Estonian Defense League (Kaitseliit) in cooperation with allied and partner units in the performance of crisis and wartime tasks.
The exercise will also test the synchronization of the EDF's operational plans, cooperation between levels of command as well as units' readiness for the performance of operational tasks.
Estonian troops will be joined by defense personnel from 14 countries in this year's exercise. NATO Battlegroup units from the United Kingdom and Denmark will have nearly 1,000 troops at the exercise, and Canadian and Italian units from NATO Battlegroup Latvia as well as Spanish and Slovenian officers, altogether more than 800 additional personnel, are likewise slated to take part.
The United States will deploy some 1,500 personnel from various units of the Maryland National Guard (MDNG) and the Wisconsin National Guard alongside units of the U.S. Marines. Of air assets, the MDNG is to deploy A-10 attack aircraft, known as Warthogs, and the Wisconsin National Guard a KC-135 refueling aircraft.
Poland is to bring a coastal defense missile unit to the exercise, Romania is to deploy a unit of marines, and Finland a combat engineer platoon made up of conscripts, along with umpires. Staff officers and observers are to be sent to Estonia by Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia and Ukraine.
In total, some 3,000 military personnel from foreign countries are to take part in the exercise, bringing their own equipment along as well.
While approximately the same number of foreign units has participated in Spring Storm in the past, the number of foreign participants this year is among the highest of all time.
For the duration of the exercise, there will be more movement of military convoys than usual all over Estonia, as well as more activity than usual by air and marine assets.
Spring Storm is an annual combat exercise of the EDF held each spring. The first Spring Storm exercise was held in Lääne-Viru County in 2003. Last year, the exercise took place in Lääne-Viru, Ida-Viru, Harju and Jõgeva Counties from April 29 through May 17.
Editor: Aili Vahtla