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Jun 7 2021

Estonia's Spring Storm culminates with tactical live-fire shooting drills

SZCZECIN, Poland - Estonia's Spring Storm (Kevadtorm) large-scale military training exercise, including 5,000 Estonian and 2,000 Allied forces, concluded with a week of live-fire shooting drills by various branches of arms. In addition to Estonian active duty personnel, the exercise saw the participation of reservists and conscripts.

During the Spring Storm's live-fire portion held at the central training area of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) and near Rutja on the country's north in the first week of June, almost all types of Estonian and Allied weapons were fired.

The primary aim of the exercise was to train the operational structure of EDF to perform their wartime tasks, while the exercise also offered participating units an opportunity to achieve the objectives of their specialist training. "I have seen how Spring Storm's participants have put their best effort into the performance of their tasks, right up to the very last minute of the exercise," said MG Indrek Sirel, Deputy Commander EDF,

I am very grateful to all of them for that. It can only be added that Spring Storm 2021 was a good prelude to next year's Siil exercise, MG Sirel concluded.

COL Vahur Karus, Commander 1st Infantry Brigade, described Spring Storm as a notable success in all its parts despite certain challenges and coronavirus-related restrictions. Speaking of the live-fire portion of the exercise, COL Karus said that the battlefield on which the troops fought their battles this year had been very complex. As pointed out by the commander, the way all battalions assigned to the brigade performed their duties made it an honour for officers and non-commissioned officers who trained and commanded them.

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An Estonian infantry soldier during the final phases of Spring Storm / Photo by Junior Sergeant Mark-Erik Tölpt 
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Estonian soldiers performing live-fire drills during Spring Storm / Photo by Junior Sergeant Mark-Erik Tölpt 

COL Tarmo Metsa, Commander 2nd Infantry Brigade, assessed that the brigade's participation in the exercise was fruitful. The formation's 22nd Infantry Battalion and 25th Artillery Battalion, which were trained as part of conscript service, took a graduation exam and accomplished the necessary objectives. In addition, he was particularly satisfied with the effective cooperation with Polish, French, US and UK units throughout Spring Storm and considered it an added value for the brigade.

The exercise culminated with tactical live-fire shooting drills organized by the 1st Infantry Brigade. Future reservists of the 22nd the 12th Infantry Battalions had to plan and execute combat missions while on the defensive, conducting ambushes and counter-attacks. Alongside the Estonian brigades' the exercise involved UK and US helicopters, a Latvian mortar platoon, Polish forces, the British-led eFP Battle Group and, as fire control personnel, the Estonian Defence League (Kaitseliit) and reservists.

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Kalev Infantry Bn soldiers rehearsing an anti-airborne operation  / Photo by PTE Kaimar Tauri Tamm  
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A 22d Infantry Bn soldier aboard a US Apache helicotpter headed to Nurmsi airfiled / Photo by PTE Jarkko Martin Pukki 
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British 30 Armoured Engineer Sqn's sappers from the eFP Battle Group Estonia during Spring Storm / Photo by Junior Sergeant Mark-Erik Tölpt 

The Browning M2 heavy machine gun, the ZU-23-2 23 mm anti-aircraft gun, the Mistral and HVM anti-aircraft missile systems and Hellfire missiles fired from AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were used to destroy both flying and sea-based targets. Together with Allies, the Estonian Air Defence Battalion and the Scouts Battalion's anti-aircraft missile unit participated in the live-fire shooting exercise in Rutja. The Estonian Navy supported the shooting exercises by launching waterborne targets from a warship into the target area.

During the first week of Spring Storm which started on May 17, anti-airborne combat techniques and tactics were rehearsed by the Kalev Infantry Battalion, wheres members of the 22nd Infantry Battalion and the 17th Combat Engineer Battalion were responsible for preparing defensive positions. The phase of battle operations, which kicked off on May 24, saw all involved troops fighting against larger bridage-size formations in a wider battle environment. Along with Allies providing close air support, units from the two Estonian brigades played their own adversaries in order to check the level of training of their conscripts and active duty personnel. Conscripts of the 22nd Infantry Battalion had the opportunity to fly in US helicopters to Nurmsi airfield, where they carried out an assault on the positions of the military police's conscripts.

Spring Storm also reached Hiiumaa, the country's second largest island, where the Estonian naval formations practiced coastal defence in cooperation with the Polish Allies, who deployed their naval missile unit with three launchers in support of the exercise.

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The Polish Navy deployed a naval missile unit in support of Spring Storm / Photo by Ardi Hallismaa 
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An Estonian Navy's service member near Hiiumaa island, Photo by  Ardi Hallismaa

Story by Multinational Corps Northeast Public Affairs Office, courtesy of ERR.ee

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