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Estonian Division takes part in Austere Challenge 24 (AC24), a staff exercise led by US European Command beginning today

AC24 command post exercise (CPX) is a joint and combined series of operations, in response to an ongoing theater crisis, intended to strengthen the strategic partnerships between the U.S., NATO, Allies, and key partners.

The primary training audience of the exercise are the headquarters of the US European Command and several US European branch HQs. A number of US Commands are linked and secondary training audiences, including the NATO SHAPE representation and units of allied and partner countries are involved.

AC24 will serve as Warfighter Command Post Exercise (WFX24-3CPX) for the US V Corps. The Estonian Division, the US 1st and 3rd Infantry Divisions, and the UK 3rd Division operate within the framework of the US Fifth Corps.

Warfighter is a programme of the United States Army through which is designed to develop military units such as corps and divisions. Estonia is the third foreign country that can participate in the training program (next to Great Britain and France).

“It is very important for the Estonian Division that the whole process of bringing of allied units here improves, and Estonia becomes a plug-and-play environment for the Allied Forces, meaning the military forces and military capabilities of the Allies can be easily and quickly integrated under the command of the Division and its HQ. The Division must be able to plug- in these units quickly in order to achieve the command and control capability in order to implement the actions that are needed to protect Estonia,” said the Commander of the ESTDIV Major General Veiko-Vello Palm.

AC24 and Warfighter are command post exercises. The elements of the headquarters are located in different countries, as well as the elements of the ESTDIV HQ are located in different places in Estonia. Relocation of Command Posts has been planned.

ESTDIV headquarters began preparations and completion of the final module of the US Army Warfighter Exercise on 19 February, Warfighter CPX 24-3/ Austere Challenge 24 will continue until March 14.

In addition to the division headquarters, the headquarters and signal battalion, 1st and 2nd infantry brigades, logistics battalion, artillery battalion, reconnaissance battalion, military police, Cyber command and several headquarters of Territorial Defense Regions are involved in the exercise. ESTDIV HQ is reinforced by a number of French, British and US officers participating in HQ activities. In addition, to ensure the integration and coherence of the exercises with the US forces in Estonia, there is a SFA 4th Brigade and a Digital Liaison Unit (DLD) detachment.

The Estonian Division has developed in a very short time- period, i.e. one year, from created HQ to one of the units being evaluated during the current CPX. ESTDIV was created in December 2022; its HQ started operating in January 2023. The Warfighter Programme and cooperation with the US Army has considerably contributed to this fast development. It is the first time that our units have had the opportunity to learn how to plan and act within a real corps framework following a realistic scenario alongside other real units. 

The ESTDIV HQ began participating in the US Army Warfighter Training and Evaluation Program from summer of 2023. Completing the training programme provides the necessary experience in planning and implementing operations, and at the same time confirms that the ESTDIV can effectively lead both Estonian and Allied units in order to deter adversaries, assure and to demonstrate the capability, capacity and interoperability with our partners and Allies.

Estonian Division’s operational area covers the entire territory of Estonia. Estonian Division has been transferred to the NATO chain of command and subordinated to Multinational Corps Northeast. Estonian Division fulfills two main purposes in the military defence of Estonia: it unites the battles of the territorial defence forces, brigades and units from other commands and acts as a link between the Allies and their military capabilities.

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