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Galleries: Estonian, allied cadets get weeklong taste of winter warfare

Sunday marked the end of the Estonian Military Academy's (KVA) seven-day winter warfare course held in Southeastern Estonia, which was attended by nearly 60 KVA and foreign cadets and students from several allied countries, from Poland to Portugal. As always, the course also involved a dunk in an ice hole.

"In Estonia, winter lasts approximately six months, so we must be prepared to defend our country even in cold and wet conditions," KVA winter warfare course instructor Capt. Reigo Kullamaa said according to a press release.

"During the winter warfare course, we teach skills that future officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) can pass on to their soldiers, enabling their units to fulfill their tasks."

Taking place at the Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) Nursipalu and Tsiatsungõlmaa training areas, the winter warfare course was attended by cadets from the first and partially second year of the Estonian Army's basic course, first-year cadets from the Estonian Air Force basic course, infantry specialization students from the 49th Senior NCO Basic Course as well as 17 students from allied military schools in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Austria, Portugal, Croatia, Romania and Greece.

"The weather here is naturally different from Portugal's, but it's exciting to learn adaptation and survival in a new environment," said João, a cadet from the Portuguese Military Academy. "I went into an ice hole for the first time in my life. I've wanted to try it for a long time, and it was a very enjoyable experience."

During the course, participants learned the basics of operating in winter conditions as well as about the effects of cold on the body and how to mitigate them. Particular emphasis was placed on leadership responsibility, the peculiarities of winter nutrition as well as fluid intake and proper clothing, and students also learned how to effectively use and maintain winter equipment.

The seven-day camp furthermore included both daytime and nighttime target practice, combat practice in populated areas as well as practice conducting platoon-level attacks.

Traditionally, the course also included an ice hole drill, in which participants jumped into icy water in a controlled environment, simulating falling in, and had to climb out of the ice hole using the means available to them.

Two officers from Poland and Greece took part in the course as observers, aiming to gain a better understanding of and learn from the KVA's teaching methods and experiences.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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