UK planning to hold landing exercise on Estonian coast next summer

  • 2018-12-10
  • LETA/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The UK is planning to hold an amphibious landing exercise on the coast of Estonia next summer, combining for the first time the actions of the Navy, the Air Force ad the Army in this region, the news portal of public broadcaster ERR reported Friday evening. 

The UK, lead nation of the NATO multinational battalion battle group in Estonia, is also planning to rehearse cooperation between  different services of the armed forces more broadly and increase the share of heavy armor in the next rotation of its troop contingent, ERR said. 

The exercise will mark the first deployment of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) to Estonia. The British Navy has been staging similar exercises in different places and in collaboration with different nations already for years. In Estonia it will be about a test of skills and a demonstration in the summer, the ERR newscast "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

The British defense attache, Cmdr. Gary Brooks, said that the exercise will take place around July. 

The chief of the NATO contingent in Estonia, Col. Giles Harris, said that his unit will take part in the exercise as well.

"We represent the in-place force, we're just a very small part of what will come behind us. The JEF exercise next year is an opportunity for us to test and demonstrate the coalition forces behind what you have here now," Harris said.

Next year there will be British armored units in Estonia with 20 tanks, instead of the ten tanks in the composition of the rotation that is in Estonia at present. There will also be more active rehearsing of cooperation with the Navy and the Air Force.

The UK will bring Wildcat reconnaissance helicopters and Apache attack helicopters to Estonia for the Spring Storm large-scale exercise in spring. 

ERR asked the chief of the NATO contingent if that will add stress to their day-to-day work, as there will be exercises which have not been done in Estonia earlier. 

"Well we'll see. But stress is a good thing whilst we are doing these exercises. So we hope it's going to be challenging, unless we're not going to learn anything," the chief of the NATO troop contingent in Estonia said. 

The British defense attache, who is serving a third shift in Estonia, has seen cooperation taking place, ERR said. A correspondent asked the attache if joint action with Estonia perhaps was a way for the Brits to show how cooperation will continue amid the impact of Brexit. 

"Brexit is not something I have to think about a lot in the official way. Because defense for the UK has always been based around NATO. So all of our activity is either bilateral or multilateral between the UK and the countries we are dealing with, or through NATO, and almost all of our activity in Estonia at the moment is through NATO. I don't  see Brexit changing that in any way whatsoever," Brooks said.

The UK will also deploy its fighter jets and Air Force personnel to Estonia next year to serve a rotation on the NATO Baltic air policing mission at the Amari air base from April to August.