Hedgehogs are small creatures, but attacking them would be a prickly and difficult task for a predator. Such is the thinking behind NATO’s newly launched Operation Hedgehog, the largest military exercise in the history of the Estonian Defence Forces.
Hedgehog consists of three phases: during phase I between 4th and 8th May, the formation and training of the units is practiced; in the second phase, from 9th to12th May, the 1st Infantry Brigade tactical exercise and battle exercise will take place and during phase III (13th-15th May), completion of the exercise and primary care of equipment will take place.
Estonia’s allies will also participate in the exercise, including an infantry company from the UK and U.S. units who are already in Estonia. Belgium and Germany will also be represented by air defence systems; in addition to Polish pilots, who will be present at Amari airbase. Dutch forces will also participate. Latvia and Lithuania will also represented, but this time will not have separate units.
All in all, over 13,000 Estonian and allied reservists, defence league members, conscripts and active military members will participate.
The chief of Estonian Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Riho Terras, said that planning the exercise has taken several years. “The last, the most important effort is ahead of us now, during which we will learn how prepared we really are in managing real situations,” said Terras. “The Defence Forces are trusted and we have to justify this trust. It depends on each soldier, NCO and participant. Let us be worthy of the major exercise, because each spine counts!”