“Collectively we’re stronger” had been the closing phrases from Lieutenant Colonel Kaido Tiitus, Commander of the Estonian Defence League’s Southern Command. He was addressing a extremely symbolic navy ceremony held with troops from throughout Europe and past, as they stood assembled both facet of the small river that varieties the border between Estonia and Latvia. The dimensions and complexity of Hedgehog was mightily spectacular with the British Military offering a considerably heavy presence among the many 10 taking part nations; not least because of the 64 tonne Challenger 2 primary battle tanks and 25 tonne Warrior armoured preventing autos despatched to assist the Estonian 2nd Infantry Brigade within the south of the nation. The ceremony marked the profitable completion of the mobilisation of Estonia’s Reserve Forces and the start line for the newest in a collection of multi-national NATO workout routines based mostly in and across the Baltics. Codenamed Train Hedgehog, or Train Siil in Estonian, it was the most important navy train ever to have taken place within the historical past of the nation.

Hedgehog is an annual train designed to check the safety of NATO’s japanese flank, known as the ‘B three P’ – the three Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) and Poland. The Deterrence issue in direction of any aggressive neighbouring state who could covet the considered rolling throughout the border was one other main consideration within the planning of Hedgehog. Estonia shares a border with Russia and there’s a palpable heightened degree of concern following the occasions of the 24 February in Ukraine. For the previous 9 months that presence has been round 700 troops of the Royal Tank Regiment (RTR) battlegroup and for Train Hedgehog they had been joined by an extra battlegroup centred on the armoured infantry of the Royal Welsh that means the British Military contributed some 1500 troops to Hedgehog. Hedgehog has had two important results, the primary is it sends a really clear message in regards to the UK, Estonia and NATO’s dedication to our safety and that British Military are prepared to do no matter is required to defend one another. The second is, it allows British Military to extend preparedness for something that is available in thr future.


Troopers from the Royal Welsh-led Battlegroup and troopers from the Royal Tank Regiment Battlegroup started force-on-force coaching alongside counterparts from the Eesti Kaitsevagi 1st Brigade and 2nd Brigade. (Picture by British Military )

Train Hedgehog came about to the south of the nation within the Valga and Voru areas alongside its border with Latvia the place the first navy unit is the 2nd Infantry Brigade into which the RTR Battlegroup was built-in. Estonia’s navy, its Defence Pressure is made up of a contingent of standard officers, conscripts and a lot of reservists who might be referred to as on to mobilise ought to the nation be threatened. This 12 months greater than 15,000 individuals are collaborating and a 3rd is worldwide, so it is extremely vital by way of self-defence and inside the collective defence. One of many distinctive factors to the train, from a soldier’s perspective, was that it was carried out totally in public rural and semi built-up areas mimicking exactly the kind of terrain they might anticipate to must combat via if ever the menace materialised.

As one in every of NATO’s smaller states, Estonia depends closely on its navy reservists of the Estonian Defence League (EDL). The Reservist soldier could have served 11 months full-time as a conscript; this provides them their primary coaching which prepares them to take up service within the EDL. Very similar to their British Military’s Reservist counterparts, the reserve troopers within the EDL are drawn from all walks of civilian life. Estonia has requested NATO for command facilities able to overseeing greater than 10,000 troops and the bloc’s navy operations within the Baltics to counter Russia amid the continuing warfare in Ukraine. Estonian safety is assured by the membership within the North Atlantic Treaty Group (NATO) and the European Union, in addition to shut cooperation with allies and different worldwide companions.