Estonia kicks off largest-ever joint military drills Siil-2015 0505153

Defence & Security News - Estonia
Estonia kicks off largest-ever joint military drills Siil-2015
Two sets of military exercises kicked off in Europe on Monday, May 4, involving thousands of servicemen from a variety of NATO nations and their allies, amid a wave of similar action across the area. Estonia is holding its largest-ever military drills. Named Siil-2015 (Hedgehog), the maneuvers involve about 13,000 personnel. The number includes about 7,000 reservists, along with members of the volunteer Estonian Defense League.
Estonia kick off largest ever joint military drills Siil 2015 640 001
Siil-2015, scheduled to last until May 15, also involves forces from the US, the UK, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Belgium, Poland and the Netherlands. American troops, who are staying in Estonia as part of the massive training operation Atlantic Resolve, will bring four Abrams main battle tanks to the exercise. British, Belgian and German air defense units, as well as several NATO warplanes, will also take part.

The U.S. has sent in M1A2 Abrams tank crews, and about 150 paratroopers of the 173rd Airborne Division, and Britain up to 120 soldiers of 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, and two Hawk crews, dispatched to Estonia specially to join the drill, besides the crews of four Eurofighter jets patrolling the Baltic countries' air space.

The Lithuanian Army is also holding its own maneuvers as part of the largest national drills called Zaibo Kirtis (Lightning Strike). The training involves over 3,000 troops. It is focused on joint action by the army and civilian authorities against so-called hybrid threats combining both military and non-military methods of fighting, according to Army Commander Major-General Jonas Vytautas Zukas.

In a statement cited by TASS, the major-general said: "The exercises will simulate situations when the Interior Ministry’s forces and resources are insufficient to neutralize various extreme situations unrelated to the direct repulsion of an imaginary enemy’s attack and the army should be involved."

Lightning Strike will also be testing the country's mobilization system and cyber security works, according to the Defense Ministry's press release.