This autumn's volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit) Exercise Hurricane (Orkaan) will be the largest to date, to make up for the more limited Spring Storm exercise this year, whose numbers were restricted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the regular Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) focuses mainly on Spring Storm (Kevadtorm) and other exercises in the first half of the year, for the Defense League, as well as conscripts, summer and autumn is more important.
Spring Storm could not accommodate the planned 3,300 personnel due to coronavirus considerations, with only regular soldiers taking part, at the EDF central polygon in Harju County.
However, the hole will be plugged by Exercise Hurricane, in November, which will be the largest of its kind to date.
"So far, the number of participants has been between 800-1200, but this year's will see a little under 2000 taking part," said the Defense League's western district commander, Lt. Col. Rasmus Lippur, adding that more tasks will be undertaken than usually.
Additionally, Spring Storm provided sufficient cooperation with civilian authorities such as the police and the Rescue Board (Päästeamet), meaning this is not needed in autumn's exercise, Lt. Col. Lippur said.
The main scenario will be hostile forces reaching western Estonia, with particular emphasis on Estonia's islands; if weather permits, personnel will be flown to Saaremaa as part of the exercise, the commander added.
EDF training remains as normal through the rest of this year and into 2021, though over 5,000 reservists are likely to be called up to take part – nearly 500 more than this year.
Exercise Hedgehog (Siil) is the next major EDF exercise, planned for 2022.
Editor: Andrew Whyte