Pictures: Mass military exercise Siil (Hedgehog) in Estonia

About 15,000 conscripts, reservists and active-duty servicemen of the Estonian Defence Forces, and members of the Estonian Defence League and allies from ten countries tested combat readiness at the mass military exercise Siil (Hedgehog) in late May and early June in Estonia.

According to the Siil scenario, the theoretical enemy – which could only be the Russian Federation in today’s world – made it to the 2nd Infantry Brigade’s area in Valga County around the River Väike-Emajõgi, the Estonian Defence Forces said. The brigade, the fighters from the Southern land defence district together with allies, all attached to the NATO Northern Division, started the planned operation, created the conditions for a counterattack and driving the enemy out of the country.

“It may sound like a cliché that practicing is a criteria for truth, but this year’s Siil proved it to us,” Colonel Tarmo Metsa, the chief of the 2nd Infantry Brigade, said in a statement.

“The years of work preparing our units is now reflected on the ground,” he added. “For a reservist, it’s important to sense that their contribution to cooperation can be seen in a battleground, that the gained success will put sense into the effort and values their contributions to the reserve force.”

The first live-fire exercises of multiple launch rocket systems

For the first time in Estonian history, NATO allies conducted live-fire exercises of multiple launch rocket systems at two different locations in the country.

The M270 multiple launch rocket system was fired by 19th Battery of the 26th Royal Artillery Regiment of the British Army. The exercise was carried out at the Estonian Defence Force’s Central Training Area in Harjumaa, Estonia.

The two rocket systems fired together short-range trainer rockets, all of which struck their intended targets.

In Saaremaa, the Estonian Navy was tasked with taking the entire Kura Kurk (Irbe Straights) and the port of Mõntu in Saaremaa in order to ensure the laying of minefields by transmitting information to their units and to detect the movement of opponents.

The largest military exercise in Estonia

In order to carry out this task, a radar station was set up with another in reserve to have the widest possible area under observation. The radar will provide the Navy with sufficient observation of both the Kura Kurk and the area around the port of Mõntu.

“We can see over 40 kilometers away with what is happening in this area all the way to Latvia, even the smallest fishing boats can be identified,” said Janno-Joosep Naaber, the head of the monitoring group. “In addition, there is also a camera with a very high zoom at the top of the radar, which has thermal performance.

Siil is the largest military exercise in Estonia and it takes place every three or four years instead of the annual exercise, Kevadtorm (Spring Storm). The drill tests combat readiness of the Estonian Defence Forces and the ability to respond to different threat scenarios in an international framework. Siil 2022 started on 16 May and ended on 3 June.

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