KEVADTORM (SPRING STORM) 21, the largest annual exercise of the Estonian Defence Forces, is now underway in Northern and Central Estonia, reports Bob Morrison.
Yesterday at rail and bus stations across Estonia, Reservists kissed loved ones farewell and headed to their bases to join Regulars and Conscript plus Allied troops for the 2021 KEVADTORM deployment; indeed I even witnessed this annual occurrence myself while passing Tallinn’s Balti Jaam transport hub.
Over the next three weeks around 7,000 personnel from the Estonian Defence Forces and from Denmark, France, Italy, Latvia, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States will participate in multinational manoeuvres to train in inter-operability. For a comparatively small nation like Estonia, the part Reservists play is of the most critical importance to the activities of the Defence Forces but COVID-19 considerations are this year limiting their numbers to around just 300 who will perform the most necessary roles.
On account of pandemic control restrictions this year KEVADTORM, which we covered in 2017 and 2019, will not involve anything like as much free play on public land and will mostly be concentrated on the Central Polygon (Training Area) near Tapa but we hope to still be able to provide readers some unique first-hand coverage in due course. In the meantime these images, taken earlier today before the recent run of fine weather broke by Nooremseersant (Junior Sergeant) Mark-Erik Tölpt, showing Estonian troops loading up prior to leaving one of their bases should help set the scene.
Of course although KEVADTORM 21 only officially starts today, many EDF personnel have already been hard at work organising support to ensure the exercise runs smoothly. On Saturday I travelled a couple of hours south of the capital to a Support Command base (sorry, no photos here I’m afraid) to discuss a specific aspect of exercise logistics and witnessed a forward command post had already been set up and was fully operational.
Finally, a Danish contingent has rapidly deployed into Estonia for KEVADTORM 21 – their armoured vehicles arrived by sea at the end of last week and their COVID-tested crews flew in yesterday. We plan to cover this next.
[Unless noted, images © Estonian Defence Forces: n-srs M-E Tölpt]