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NATO Allies Train Hard in the Trenches in Estonia

[© NATO Multimedia]

Last October NATO Allies Estonia and France trained in the demanding art of moving and fighting through trench networks.

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A well-dug trench can be your greatest friend – or your worst enemy. That is why two NATO Allies Estonia and France trained in the demanding art of moving and fighting through trench networks.

French Army paratroopers and members of the Estonian Defence League put their close-quarters combat skills to the test during a multi-day exercise aimed at introducing themselves to the rigours of trench warfare. In the cold, wet mud, the soldiers spent hours learning how to quickly clear corners, root defenders out of entrenched bunkers and make fighting positions safe for follow-on forces.

While trenches might conjure visions of the First World War, they are increasingly common in Russia’s war against Ukraine. Trenches offer advantages for defenders, and significant hazards for attacking forces. For Allied forces to deter aggression – and, if necessary, defend Allied territory – they must be fully prepared to effectively defend or neutralise trench networks.

The training serial in this recently released NATO Multimedia video, filmed at Rutja in mid-October 2023, was run by soldiers from the French Army’s 1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment (1er Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes), which arrived in Estonia in early September to train Estonian reservists in military operations in built-up areas.

Trench Clearing in Estonia [© NATO Multimedia]
  • Soundbites (in French) – Lieutenant Gauthier 1st Parachute Chasseurs Regiment:-

“Having trench warfare capabilities is crucial for NATO as we see trench warfare resurfacing in modern conflicts.

“It’s a type of combat that we need to familiarise ourselves with, a type of combat we’ll be able to use as NATO troops, but also one we will likely face in the coming years. Therefore, it’s essential to stay updated and to do so by cooperating with different NATO troops.

“Trench warfare witnessed a decline in its usage over the past few decades, reminiscent of its prevalence during the First World War. Similarly, it shares parallels with the renewed significance of artillery in contemporary conflicts. When you’re defending, and you need to fortify your positions, the swiftest and most effective approach is still to establish trenches.”

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Music: Mental Process by Mark Anderson, Robert Edward Bradley

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