Foreign allied battlegroups will probably not take part in 2020's Spring Storm military exercise in May, Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Martin Herem on Wednesday. The scale of the exercise will also be reduced, the location changed and reservists will not participate, he confirmed.
The commander of the defense forces said this year's exercise will not be taking place at the planned locations in central Estonia, but foremost on the central training grounds of the defense forces, military spokespeople said on Wednesday.
"The aim is to achieve the training objectives despite the difficult situation, while reducing contact with civil society," Herem said. "I will decide on April 1, 2020, at the latest, what the activity at Spring Storm will look like more specifically. Also taking part in the exercise are fighters from the Scouts Battalion and the allied battle group. Although there are initially no entry bans in force for foreign soldiers as this constitutes enabling the guaranteeing of security, it is more than likely that allied troops will not be taking part in Spring Storm this year, except for the allied battle group stationed in Estonia," the defense chief added.
Reservists will also not be taking part in Spring Storm this year, except for those who have personally volunteered to take part. Preparation for Spring Storm will now be taking place primarily in the open air, in so-called forest camps, where inhabited locations are avoided.
This form of training is common in the current part of the training cycle. Training focuses mainly on company-level activities, and unit cooperation may continue in the field. "Commanders are required to minimize external contacts of the company," Herem said. "The main means of communication are telecommunications and indoor exercises have been canceled," the defense chief added.
Herem also issued an order according to which one active serviceman per every company stays at the barracks over the weekend to ensure the daily organization of life, deal with changes in catering, extraordinary leave permits and, if necessary, organize additional quarantines or the isolation of people. "I reiterate that conscripts will be allowed on leave in extraordinary circumstances, but they must be extremely careful while out so as to not fall ill," Herem said.
According to latest information, two coronavirus cases have been identified in the defense forces, 129 conscripts with signs of illness have been placed in quarantine and 375 conscripts without symptoms are in isolation. Active servicemen and employees suspected of having fallen ill have been directed to work remotely for two weeks.
Editor: Helen Wright