TALLINN - Estonian defense personnel and civilian experts rehearsed tackling hybrid threats at Joint Protector, a command post exercise of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), last week.
Participants in the exercise held in Sweden included over 600 defense personnel and civilian experts from the Baltic and Nordic states, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, according to the headquarters of the Estonian defense forces.
According to the scenario of the exercise, participants had to fend off hybrid attacks against the energy infrastructure and information space as well as attacks containing economic elements. They also needed to resolve situations regarding illegal immigration and conventional military threats.
"Hybrid attacks are now a reality organized systematically by hostile states, as the migratory pressure on the borders of Lithuania, Latvia and Poland originating from Belarus shows," said Maj. Gen. Veiko-Vello Palm, deputy commander of the Estonian defense forces, who visited the exercise.
"The hybrid attacks, which occurred during the same period as Russia's large-scale Zapad exercise showed that we need to be prepared to face very different simultaneous threats relating to the military, internal security and influence activities," he added.
Palm highlighted that the exercise provided an opportunity for NATO allies to rehearse together with Finland and Sweden, which are important partners and guarantors of security in the Nordic and Baltic region.
"Cooperation with our close neighbors in the framework of the Joint Expeditionary Force improves the security of the entire Nordic and Baltic region and enhances the defense of Estonia," Palm said.
In addition to military personnel, participants in the exercise also included civilian experts from a variety of fields and ministries as well as specialists from the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats in Helsinki.
"The exercise demonstrated the Joint Expeditionary Force's strength in operating in a coordinated manner and jointly planning responses to regional security threats. The JEF is important for Estonia, because it strengthens Estonia's deterrence and defense," retired Maj. Gen. Valeri Saar, Estonian representative at the exercise headquarters, said.
The Joint Expeditionary Force is a coalition initiated in 2014 and led by Britain, which also includes Estonia, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and, as of April this year, Iceland. The coalition's focus areas are the Baltic Sea region, the Far North and the North Atlantic. Upon activation of the Joint Expeditionary Force, Britain will provide the necessary command and force elements, which the member states will complement with their capabilities.
In March, the coalition operation Expone took place in the Baltic Sea, where British submarines practiced supporting the Baltic states in the Baltic Sea. In 2019, the large joint expeditionary exercise Baltic Protector took place in Estonia, where support for Estonia by sea was practiced.