Allied NATO forces have kicked off live-fire training in Estonia, as part of the annual exercise, the Spring Storm.
Led by Estonia, the Spring Storm tests the integration between NATO troops and the Estonian Defence Forces, strengthening their ability in times of a crisis. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s exercise is scaled down, with around 3,200 troops participating, compared with 9,000 last year, NATO said in a statement.
“To avoid contact with the civilian population, training is being held exclusively on the grounds of the EDF’s central training area and reserve troops will not take part. The exercise involves active EDF personnel, conscripts undergoing training and around 1,000 troops assigned to the NATO multinational battlegroup in Tapa, Estonia,” NATO said. The battlegroup is led by the United Kingdom and includes forces from Denmark.
Testing the readiness during the pandemic
NATO said that, this year, the Spring Storm offered the opportunity to demonstrate the alliance’s capabilities under the difficult conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Spring Storm shows how NATO forces can continue to test their readiness, while taking necessary measures protect their health and those of others. Our forces remain ready, vigilant and prepared to respond to any threat,” Oana Lungescu, NATO’s spokesperson, said.
In the morning of 5 May, an Estonian conscript from the second battalion of the Kuperjanov infantry brigade was severly injured by the shockwave of an anti-tank grenade. The soldier was given first aid at the accident site and taken to the North Estonia Medical Centre. His life is not in danger.
The Spring Storm exercise started on 25 April and lasts until 8 May. From 1-8 May, a live-fire exercise is taking place at a firing range, where the cooperation of infantry and battle support units will be trained.
Cover: A British Challenger 2 main battle tank during the Spring Storm 2020 exercise in Estonia. Images courtesy of the Estonian Defence Forces.