This year's large-scale Spring Storm (Kevadtorm) military exercise is aimed at recreating as near to reality a scenario as possible, the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) says, and will also involve substantial numbers of participants from various NATO countries.
Capt. Aivo Vahemets, EDF press officer, told regional daily Sakala that while Spring Storm – necessarily a smaller affair again this year due to pandemic considerations – always aims to bring realistic conditions, this year it is particlarly the case. Most of the activity will be hosted at the EDF's Central Polygon training area, and around 2,000 personnel from Denmark, France, Italy, Latvia, Poland, the U.K. and the U.S. are to join the 5,000 Estonians taking part, BNS reports.
This compares with around 10,000 personnel in pre-pandemic times, while maneuvers took place over a wider area.
"The main activities will concentrate on the central training area of the defense forces, but will partially take place also in public space," Capt. Vahemets said of the exercise, which runs May 17 to June 5.
The EDF's flagship 1st and 2nd infantry brigades are to see training at battalion and company level, with the most intensive part of the exercise, including live-fire shooting exercises, running through the final week of Spring Storm.
"The Spring Storm exercise was and still is one of the most important events of the training cycle of the EDF, by which the conscripts who finish their service take their graduation exam, so to speak, and move on to the reserve. Nothing has changed in that this year either," Capt. Vahemets went on.
While training in Viljandi County, home of the Sakala newspaper, was hoped for, COVID-19 realities have meant this cannot go ahead, he added, and also means that the number of EDF reservists (around 300) taking part will also be lower than in some other years.
Coronavirus rapid testing and health declaration forms will also be employed during the exercise, in order to minimize viral risk, which will also focus on the synchronization of operation plans, cooperation between levels of command and the preparedness of units in executing battle tasks.
Editor: Andrew Whyte