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Defense League's Exercise Orkaan 17 involves over 1,300 personnel

Defense League personnel engaged in Exercise Orkaan 17, December 1-3, 2023.
Defense League personnel engaged in Exercise Orkaan 17, December 1-3, 2023. Source: ERR

The large-scale Defense League (Kaitseliit) Exercise Orkaan ("Hurricane") has been taking place over the weekend, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera," (AK) reported Saturday.

This year's exercise focuses on the force protection of key infrastructure sites in Western and Southern Estonia, and involves over 1,300 personnel.

The exercise, dubbed Orkaan 17, started Friday and ends today, Sunday.

Orkaan 17 concentrates on the protection of important infrastructure and involves the Western Territorial Defense District, NATO allies and Defense League personnel from the Southern district.

The exercises take part in Pärnu and Lääne counties, and on the islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa in the West, and also in Viljandi County in the South.

Territorial districts have been set up with the Defense League and Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) reservists in mind and, drawing on lessons learned from the war in Ukraine, revolve around a light infantry defensive force.

Over 1,300 personnel are taking part in Orkaan 17, with Latvian troops joining British and French NATO allies from the Tapa-based battlegroup.

The latter make up the enemy contingent along with the Defense League personnel from Viljandi County, colloquially known as Mulgimaa, a culturally distinct region which also includes a part of northwestern Valga County.

Lt Col. Raigo Paimla, commander of the Pärnu Defense District (Malev) told AK that on Saaremaa, the emphasis was: "on countering a sea landing, at Haapsalu X Kiltsi airfield we practice countering an airborne landing, protecting critical infrastructure in Pärnu and neutralizing possible hybrid threats.

Map of the zones of Western Estonia where Orkaan 17 is taking place this weekend. Source: ERR

"Meanwhile, at Ikla, we are working together with the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) to rehearse resolving border incidents," Lt Col. Paimla went on.

In Pärnu, the exercise focused on Fighting in a Built-up Area (FIBUA) actions against a district heating boiler house, in line with Orkaan 17's main focus on the protection of key infrastructure.

Warrant Officer (Lipnik) Andres Lilleste of the Pärnu district said his unit were "on the transit road, we are dealing with ensuring transit. We make sure that the infrastructure remains for the city to function. We are talking about energy, about heat, and the safety of the urban environment."

"Since Pärnu is not directly next to the eastern neighbor, it is likely that in our district, [an attack] would rather involve smaller opposing units," adding that enemy personnel in this case may even travel in private vehicles and not wear identifying uniforms."

Orkaan 17 concludes Sunday.

Drones were also deployed in some of the FIBUA exercises.

The full AK segment is available below.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte,Merili Nael

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Vahur Lauri.

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