Gallery: NATO battlegroup troops practice warfare on Estonian terrain
This past weekend, allied troops that recently arrived in Estonia to serve in NATO Battlegroup Estonia under the 1st Infantry Brigade of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) began practicing combat on Estonian terrain during the ongoing Bold Dragon exercise.
"The allied battlegroup consists of well-trained independent units, and completing tasks during the exercise will integrate these units into the iron fist of the 1st Infantry Brigade," EDF Maj. Dmitri Kondratenko, the officer responsible for the exercise, said according to a Headquarters of the EDF press release.
Kondratenko noted that the first few days of the exercise alone have already confirmed that troops serving in the battlegroup are capable of adapting their conventional tactics in accordance with the terrain.
As part of their own Põhjakonn exercise, members of the Northeastern Territorial Defense District of the volunteer Estonian Defense League (Kaitseliit, KL) joined troops from the EDF's Scouts Battalion over the weekend to fulfill the role of the battlegroup's enemy.
"The Territorial Defense District took its role very seriously, and pre-battle preparations, activities in the course of contact and the light infantry's distinctive wit and cleverness helped us carry out the company-level exercise at a very good level," Kondratenko said.
"This was an extremely good exercise for us," said Lt. Col. Jaanus Ainsalu, chief of the KL's Northeastern Territorial Defense District. "We got what we needed and were looking for — a lot of coordination, a challenging maneuver, and the chance to practice countering heavy equipment."
Ainsalu added that members of the KL set up various challenges on semi-enclosed terrain for the allied battlegroup to contend with.
Lt. Col. Ru Streatfeild, commanding officer of NATO Battlegroup Estonia, noted that the Bold Dragon exercise is providing troops to recently begin serving in the battlegroup their first opportunity to practice various maneuvers on local terrain.
"In the days to come, each subunit of the battlegroup — from the U.K., Denmark as well as France — will show what they are capable of, with the goal of integrating into the 1st Infantry Battalion as an efficient military unit."
Over the weekend, participants in the exercise practiced both assault and defensive battle at the company level. Bold Dragon is to culminate in a battalion-level tactical exercise on Wednesday and Thursday in which troops from the Viru Infantry Battalion will fulfill the part of the enemy with support from other EDF units and conscripts.
In all, more than 2,000 members of the EDF are participating in the exercise, which is slated to conclude on Thursday.
Also participating in Bold Dragon are conscripts of the EDF's Support and Signal Company, cadets from the Estonian National Defense College, Belgian F-16s providing air support, British Eurofighter jets and Wildcat helicopters as well as aircraft of the Estonian Air Force.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla