Exercise Hunt territorial defense rehearsal finishes off near Keila

Exercise Hunt in progress, Sunday, April 16, 2023.
Exercise Hunt in progress, Sunday, April 16, 2023. Source: ERR

A military exercise near Tallinn Sunday involved a combined effort from Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) and Defense League (Kaitseliit) personnel, and totaled 1,470 participants, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported.

The exercise came in preparation of the annual large-scale Spring Storm event, while the combination of EDF reservists and Defense League personnel form a territorial defensive light infantry force, augmenting the two regular EDF heavy infantry brigades.

The exercise, dubbed Hunt ("Wolf"), finished on Sunday with a scenario centered on the area around the bridge in the village of Hüüru, Saue Rural Municipality, around 15km southwest of central Tallinn.

The bridge is of strategic significance in that it carries the Tallinn-Paldiski highway.

This meant Exercise Hunt did not take place on a training area far from built up areas, but close to civilian habitation, AK reported, and the activity could be seen from the kitchen window of from the car - personnel crossed the highway (see cover image) while blank firing attachments were used on rifles.

Patrols even surrounded people's homes, but local residents appeared wholly unfazed by the experience.

Exercise Hunt involved the northern territorial defense district, while the 411 territorial defense district battalion, rehearsed delaying an enemy which was moving toward Tallinn from the direction of Keila, to the southwest. One side played the role of the defenders, the other, of the attackers.

Exercise Hunt was being held for the 10th time, and also added extra training time ahead of a planned event south of Estonia's border.

Lt. Col. Mikk Pukk, commander of the northern district, told AK that: "Last year, Tallinn Defense District won the toughest long-distance competition in Latvia, while this year we have to return, as the Latvians want a shot at winning the trophy back."

Latvian and Lithuanian personnel were also involved in the exercise, as were members of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), and the Rescue Board (Päästeamet).

British army personnel were also involved in arbitrating in the event, and NATO allied personnel took part in Exercise Hunt as a whole.

Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) was also present, and told AK that in the bigger picture, cooperation with Finland, now a full NATO member, is intensifying, not least in enabling the security of the Baltic Sea as a logistics route, in so doing reducing dependence on the Suwalki gap, the Poland-Lithuania border, a few dozen kilometers in length, running between the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, and the border with Belarus. Closure of the gap would cut-off the land route to "continental" Europe as such.

Pevkur welcomed the addition of Finland's air force and its Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning IIs, as well as its maritime capabilities, referencing anti-ship missiles, and sea mines.

The original AK slot (in Estonian) is here.

Exercise Spring Storm usually runs late-May to early-June.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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