Estonia’s Spring Storm Culminates Military Training Exercise with Tactical Live-fire Shooting Drills

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.

Estonia's Spring Storm Culminates Military Training Exercise with Tactical Live-fire Shooting Drills
Kalev Infantry Bn soldiers rehearsing an anti-airborne operation (Photo by PTE Kaimar Tauri Tamm)

Spring Storm as a notable success in all its parts despite certain challenges and coronavirus-related restrictions. 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.

British 30 Armoured Engineer Sqn’s sappers from the eFP Battle Group Estonia during Spring Storm / Photo by Junior Sergeant Mark-Erik Tölpt

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.

The Polish Navy deployed a naval missile unit in support of Spring Storm / Photo by Ardi Hallismaa

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. The Estonian Navy supported the shooting exercises by launching waterborne targets from a warship into the target area. 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.

An Estonian Navy’s service member near Hiiumaa island, Photo by Ardi Hallismaa