Col. Tarmo Metsa, head of the field training phase of the Kevadtorm (Spring Storm) military exercise of the Estonian defense forces, said that, in addition to the Americans, they were also unable to involve the reserves of the defense forces due to the crisis caused by the spread of coronavirus.
The field training phase of Spring Storm is over, while live life exercises will be carried out during the final week of the exercise. This year's Spring Storm is taking place only across the central training grounds of the defense forces and participants make up approximately a third of the forces in attendance in previous years.
There are no foreign participants, except for the NATO battle group consisting of British and Danish soldiers already stationed in Estonia. In reality, thousands of reservists should also be involved every year, however, they stayed at home this year, organizers of the exercise said.
The first brigade, including the Scouts Battalion and allies, trained the conscripts of Kuperjanov Battalion and Viru Battalion. All in all, 3,000 soldiers instead of the usual 10,000 are taking part in the exercise this year.
Col. Tarmo Metsa said that international cooperation has been severely affected by the emergency situation. The Estonia-based portion of the United States' Defender exercise in Europe was cancelled. Reserves also remained at home.
"One small disadvantage is that we were not able to include our reserve and the several thousands of them in various units -- this should be done every year. And today, it can be said that only volunteers were involved and could be counted on one hand. And these were mostly medics," Metsa told "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Thursday.
NATO battle group company commander Maj. Christopher Jose said that it is very useful to learn how to operate in this environment from the Estonians, because there are not that many large forests in the United Kingdom. "It was useful to learn some of the skills that Estonians have acquired over time," he added.
Live fire exercises by unit will start at the central training grounds on the weekend. After May 8, preparations for going into reserve will begin.
Editor: Anders Nõmm