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Exercise Decisive Lancer joins military, civilian forces in crisis preparation

Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur (Reform) chatting to an officer taking part in Exercise Decisive Lancer 2023.
Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur (Reform) chatting to an officer taking part in Exercise Decisive Lancer 2023. Source: Ministry of Defense

An ongoing military exercise which also heavily involves civilian authorities and local government is a key way-stage in building up Estonia's conflict and crisis management capabilities, Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) says.

Nearly 350 people are taking part in the exercise, dubbed Decisive Lancer.

The minister said: "We have invested much in a territorial defense system which covers Estonia as a security 'blanket,' and following the six-week exercise Ussisõnad, which focused on thousands of reservists, it is important to continue with this aim."

"This time, exercise Exercise Decisive Lancer will sharpen EDF division leadership capabilities, plus land defense districts, so that in crisis and war situations alike our systems function and cooperation between participants in national defense will function smoothly," Pevkur went on.

"The division created last year also plays an important role here, which must bind everyone together in a war situation, "said Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur.

The minister made his remarks upon visiting Exercise Decisive Lancer  in process this week.

The territorial defense (Maakaitse) districts have been set up in response to and based on the experiences of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and marry regular EDF troops to their Defense League (Kaitseliit) counterparts more closely, as well as to local civilian authorities, providing a truly regional, light infantry-based defense force.

Beyond that, the EDF's two infantry brigades, North and South, are heavy infantry focused, while the EDF division referred to incorporates NATO allied units, including a British Army brigade.

"The exercise gives the division a good opportunity to practice its leadership role, linking the work of the land protection circles with others during the exercise," Minister Pevkur added.

Decisive Lancer 2023 is a staff exercise conducted by the EDF, running november 20-25, with the aim of preparing the command points pertaining to territorial defense districts in their performance of crisis and conflict tasks.

EDF and Defense League personnel have been taking part in the exercise, while the civilian Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and Rescue Board (Päästeamet) responsible for internal security. 

The exercise is also noteworthy in that local government is also taking part, for the first time, in providing coordination on evacuation of the civil populace, and the provision of shelters, in conjunction with the military and civilian forces.

Exercise Decisive Defender has taken place in previous years also.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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