A large-scale United States-led military exercise taking place this week will see rehearsals of a scenario where allied forces need to be rapidly transferred to Estonia, in conjunction with the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) and other allied nations.
Dubbed Swift Response 23, personnel from the Czech Republic, the U.K., Latvia and Poland will join their Estonian and U.S. allies, with one of the focal points being a close to 600-strong para jump over Nurmsi airfield in Järva County.
A total of around 1,500 personnel from all nations are taking part.
Col. Viktor Kanitski, commanding the EDF component of Swift Response 23, said: "Several airborne operations will take place during the course of the exercise, with the aim of rehearsing rapid transfer of allies and of the immediate commencement of assigned tasks."
"For the EDF, it is vital we keep rehearsing support activities pertaining to the host nation – comprehensively ensuring and securing allied reception and coordinating and organization various operations on land and in the air," Col. Kanitski continued, via an EDF press release.
Not only the EDF but also the volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit) are involved, via the land defense (Maakaitse) rationale which sees both organizations working even more closely together. The Northeast, Northern and Western districts are involved in Swift Response 23.
The exercise also means more allied aircraft, including helicopters and larger transport planes, will be flying in Estonian airspace than is normally the case, through to Sunday, May 14 when the active phase of the exercise ends.
Swift Response 23 runs May 7-20 inclusive, with simultaneous activities taking place in Spain and Greece as part of the larger scale U.S. Exercise Defender 23.
The United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA) is involved, while the exercise is related also to Anakonda 23, taking part in Poland at the same time.
This is not the first time the Nurmsi airfield will be the drop zone for an airborne exercise of this scale. In May 2021, the U.S. 82 Airborne Division, together with the British Army's Parachute Regiment, carried out a night jump.
Editor: Andrew Whyte