The mountain infantry unit training in Estonia consists of tough, highly trained and battle-hardened service members. In this Baltic country, they had to endure days of bivouacing without support, attacking a dug-in enemy, finding ways of destroying modern battle tanks and hiding from the adversary's heat-seeking drones and other electronic warfare capabilities. At the same time, it was a test of the mountain infantry soldiers' ability to move in quickly for the purpose of Estonia's integrated defence against any aggression, if needed.
"Perhaps the biggest challenge was conducting attacks against tanks," says Lieutenant Colonel Jean Philippe who commanded the unit assigned to NATO eFP Battlegroup Estonia. "It is difficult to set up an ambush against tanks in the flat terrain, which also makes it more difficult for us to hide. That is where support from artillery and intelligence comes in, and we had it!" he says.
Working as a team with 155mm artillery guns and HIMARS multiple rocket launchers was an excellent example of multinational cooperation within NATO.
The lack of mountains in Estonia did not faze the mountain commandos. Despite the name and their proven ability to manouver expertly in their home region of the French Alps, they have tested their mettle in recent years in conflicts in Afghanistan and Mali.
Currently in Estonia, soldiers with the 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade trained in a great many locations across the world, incl. Greenland, Norway and French Guyana / Photo by the French Army