Operation Tractable, the large-scale, Europe-wide NATO exercise running from late October to early November, has brought hundreds of NATO personnel to Estonia, including paras from the 16th Air Assault Brigade, who took part in the largest ever military parachute drop in Estonia on Friday.
Two British Army representatives, Corporal Natalya Platonova and Trooper Luke Jarman have been travelling round some of the countries on the Tractable itinerary and recording a video diary as they go along, ending with Estonia, where they were able to sample a traditional Estonian smoke sauna, at Otepää in the south of the country.
Courtesy of ex-pat Adam Rang, originally from the U.K., and his Estonian partner Anni, the pair learned about the differences between smoke saunas and other types of sauna they may have experienced in the past, the use of leil (steam) and vihad (sometimes translated as "whisk", but essentially a bunch of birch or other leaves used to lightly beat the skin while in the sauna), and the importance of cooling off – which in this case involved plunging into a nearby lake.
Cpl Platonova is nearing the end of her rotation in Estonia, where she worked in the civil-military cooperation side of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup, whereas Tpr Jarman is at the opposite end of the spectrum, arriving with his unit, the incoming Queen's Royal Hussars, an armored regiment forming the new core of the Battlegroup.
Based at Tapa, east of Tallinn, the battlegroup also has a sauna of its own, Cpl Platonova, who ERR News caught up with earlier in the year, was able to confirm to her colleague.
Editor: Andrew Whyte