Estonia in Focus: UK Troops Join NATO's Major Military Exercise, Spring Storm

Estonia in Focus: UK Troops Join NATO's Major Military Exercise, Spring Storm
Photo by the Estonian Defence League.

In a display of unity and interoperability, the tranquil landscapes of Estonia have become the stage for one of NATO's major military exercises, Exercise Spring Storm.

More than 1,500 UK troops have been deployed, joining forces with thousands of personnel from 11 NATO Alliance countries. This assembly of international forces marks a significant expansion of the UK's deployment to Estonia, reflecting the country's ongoing commitment to NATO and the security of its allies.

Exercise Spring Storm is a significant annual military operation led by the UK and French forces, within the NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup. This year, it boasts a participation of over 14,000 personnel, making it the largest assembly of its kind. The exercise represents a physical embodiment of the commitment of NATO members to protect the Alliance's borders and maintain stability within the region.

The exercise takes place across the diverse terrains of Estonia, pushing the troops and their equipment to the limits. Participating units will engage in a wide range of battlefield scenarios, from trench assaults and reconnaissance missions to light infantry tactics and armoured vehicle manoeuvres. The operation includes more than 140 platforms, such as Mastiff, Jackal, and Coyote, highlighting the advanced capabilities of the Light Dragoon Battlegroup.

The UK's Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, emphasised the significance of Exercise Spring Storm. He highlighted the collective commitment of NATO nations and the vital importance of interoperability in the face of potential threats. In the current context, with the Russian army's illegal invasion of Ukraine destabilizing the region, the UK and its NATO allies stand firm in their support of Ukraine, defending shared values and freedoms.

In addition to the land-based operations, Exercise Spring Storm incorporates crucial air and maritime training exercises. The Royal Air Force (RAF) will conduct reconnaissance and air-land integration exercises, while the Royal Marines Commandos will test the UK's maritime strike capability with a rigorous beach assault exercise.

Contributing to this expansive operation are various units from the British Army, including the 7th Light Mechanised Brigade Combat Team (7LMBCT), the Light Dragoons Battlegroup (LD BG), and the Queen’s Royal Hussars (QRH). This ensemble will bring to the field a spectrum of military assets, from Challenger 2 tanks, Warrior and CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and CAESAR self-propelled howitzers to British GMLRS and US HIMARS artillery pieces. The air-support contingent will include four Wildcat and five Apache helicopters, and three RAF Typhoon fighter jets.

Commanding Officer of the Queen’s Royal Hussars, Lt Col Steve Wilson, expressed his anticipation for the exercise, emphasising the importance of the opportunity to train in the terrain they might need to defend. He also highlighted the broad range of capabilities the UK and French troops bring to the field, from Main Battle Tanks (MBT), anti-tank, and artillery to snipers, mortars, engineers, and tactical air controllers.

Exercise Spring Storm underscores the strength of the NATO alliance and the resolve of its members to stand together in the face of adversity. The ongoing commitment of the UK and other NATO countries to safeguard their shared borders, demonstrated through exercises like Spring Storm, continues to be a beacon of stability in an unpredictable world.