On Monday, Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) personnel, in conjunction with the United States Army and the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup, practiced firing a M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) at their central polygon training area in Harju County.
Commander of the EDF Maj. Gen. Martin Herem said: "It is important for Estonia that NATO member states contribute to the region's security with their presence and participating in trainings."
He added that joint training, such as "Rail Gunner Rush", held on September 4-7 and which the MLRS firing constituted a part of, allow for great cooperation and learning opportunities for units involved.
Herem said: "It is also important for allies to develop their combat and deployment capabilities. Thus, the United States indirect fire unit organized combat firings from their MLRS system at the EDF central polygon area to achieve goals and to strengthen the cooperation of both parties. There are also fire control and target practice exercises integrated."
Minister of Defense Jüri Luik (Isamaa) said: "Bringing top U.S. technological weapons systems to Estonia and training with allied forces sends a clear message that the commitment of the U.S. for security in the Baltic states is unwavering. Russia's criticism toward the training shows that our neighbor to the East is carefully monitoring these exercises, which is why I do not doubt they also received this message."
Devin Pratt, 2nd Lieutenant and ammunitions officer with the 1-6 FAB of the 41st Field Artillery Brigade of U.S. Army Europe, said: "Training with the Estonians during 'Rail Gunner Rush' will further enhance our forces and relationship by allowing us to exercise our systems and processes to move over by land, air or sea."
Troops, equipment and vehicles of the 41st FAB arrived in Estonia three weeks ago and for the purpose - roads, railways and flight were all used for travel.
"Rail Gunner Rush" took place on September 4-7 and is one of the largest military exercises planned in Estonia for 2020. Allied troops from NATO battle groups in Estonia and Latvia participated, altogether 200 military personnel from the U.S., United Kingdom, Estonia, Denmark, Montenegro, Spain and the Czech Republic, took part in the exercise.
The home base of the 41st FAB is located in Grafenwöhr, Germany, and is the only artillery brigade to support U.S. Army Europe with strategic and tactical fire support.
A planned press day at the central polygon training area to present the MLRS was canceled Monday after a U.S. soldier was reportedly diagnosed with the coronavirus. The military exercise still went ahead, without the press, and with stricter social distancing, personal protective equipment and hygiene requirements in place.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste