The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), along with the volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit ), is engaging in a joint exercise with United States personnel over the weekend. The activity includes training flights in northern Estonian airspace on Saturday.
The US Special Operations Command and its regional allies are engaged in the exercise, which will include international landing and airborne supply rehearsals through the weekend, and help boost allied interoperability.
Interoperability and positive relations between states, while training to facilitate unconventional supply methods, are the main goals of the exercises, which also help NATO members strengthen their partnerships while improving their specific skills, BNS reports.
The airborne operations involve the ability to deliver troops and equipment for time-sensitive and hard-to-reach operations which would prove difficult to perform on the ground alone, and spell the rapid deployment of forces and equipment for securing strategic locations, until other forces can reinforce positions.
The flight paths this weekend will cover northern Estonia and the offshore islands, with flights taking place day and night.
The US Special Operations Command Europe main raison d'etre is to foster relations with allies and partners to combat hostile effects, build interoperability and respond rapidly to emerging threats across Europe, to help assure allies and partners that the U.S.' obligations are met both bilaterally and as a NATO ally.
The U.S. has provided more than US$240 million in security assistance to Estonia since 2015, and holds regular exercises and military cooperation projects with the EDF, the Defense League and NATO allies, to strengthen readiness and interoperability.
The regular exercises also help the U.S. assess its readiness and, where necessary, to fulfill its security responsibilities in the Baltic region.
NATO Baltic air policing duties are routinely held at Ämari air base on a rotational basis, with the role currently held by the Italian Air Force. NATO ground forces are concentrated at Tapa base, greatly expanded since the setting up of the Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup starting in 2017, and are headed up by a British Army unit – currently the Royal Tank Regiment's Dreadnaught Squadron – joined by personnel from Denmark, France and, in the recent past, Belgium as well as EDF personnel.
Editor: Andrew Whyte