The SPRING STORM / KEVADTORM 23 field training exercise, which took place in Estonia from May 15th to 26th, has drawn to a close.
Press Release, Tallinn, 26 May 2023: The SPRING STORM 23 exercise, which took place from May 15th to 26th, has come to an end. Nearly 14,000 participants, including conscripts, reservists, active-duty soldiers, Defence League members, and Allied forces from eleven countries, took part in the exercise.
“SPRING STORM went exceptionally well, and each subsequent exercise surpasses the previous one. The most popular participant this year was the weather. It has been excellent; no one can recall a SPRING STORM like this,” said Major General Veiko-Vello Palm, the Commander of the Estonian Division. “All of the tactical objectives we set were successfully achieved according to plans.”
According to Major General Palm, the integration of allied forces into Estonian Defence Forces is impressive, and it is important to continue the integration at all levels. “We can host allies from any country in Estonia. Some are closer to us than others, but every ally, even those more exotic to us, like the Italians, is a great addition,” added Major General Palm
During the 18th SPRING STORM, the synchronisation of Defence Forces’ battle plans, cooperation between command levels, and units’ readiness to fulfil combat tasks were assessed. Additionally, the exercise served as a readiness examination for war-time units prepared during conscription service and refreshed the knowledge and skills of reservists.
Three infantry battalions were evaluated during the SPRING STORM exercise this time. One of them was a Territorial Defence Battalion composed mainly of Defence League members. “Their main challenge was to work together. It is not easy to bring together personnel serving in different territorial units and living in different locations. They coped well, and such a battalion can be trusted,” said Major General Veiko-Vello Palm.
According to the Division Commander, Estonia’s defence capabilities are strengthening annually, and the most significant qualitative leap has occurred in terms of soldiers’ combat readiness. The fighters stand out with their aggression, initiative, and resourcefulness. “The work done by our sergeants and junior officers with the conscripts is impressive. They communicate clearly, have strategic vision, and plans, and they are willing to engage in warfare,” Major General Palm stated.
The SPRING STORM military exercise is an example of the entire Estonian society, government institutions, and local governments’ contribution to national defence. The exercise predominantly took place outside military training areas on state and private lands. As part of the exercise, the utilisation of resources from private companies was practised.
Hundreds of units of equipment were involved in the exercise, including armoured vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, tanks, self-propelled artillery, multiple rocket launchers, aircraft, helicopters, and naval vessels. Various simulation tools were used, including blank cartridges, practice grenades, and signal flares.
In the airspace, various aircraft could be seen and heard mainly over Ämari, Tallinn, and the counties of Läänemaa and Ida-Virumaa, as well as other parts of Estonian skies. The exercise involved fighter jets such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, attack aircraft SU-22, helicopters Wildcat and Apache, as well as Estonian Air Force planes and helicopters.
The SPRING STORM 2023 exercise featured land, air, and naval units, including the Estonian Division Headquarters, the 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigades, the Support Command, the Cyber Command, the Air Force, the Navy, allied units from the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group, and allied units deployed to Estonia for the exercise, as well as other units of the Defence Forces and the Defence League.
[images © Bob Morrison]
Editor’s Footnote: After a somewhat intensive May which saw us covering consecutive exercises in the Mediterranean and Baltic regions, plus your humble scribe slipping a defence expo in Madrid in between, Carl and I are back in our bases (in North Rhine-Westphalia and Devon respectively) and normal service should now resume. Watch out for more on KEVADTORM 2023, including Carl’s exclusive images from the artillery live-fire phase, in the not too distant future.