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OSCE Arms Control representatives visit Spring Storm exercise

May 17 marks the end of the international arms control visit in Estonia, which runs from May 12 to 17. During this period, 39 observers from 22 countries, representing the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), will visit military units and equipment, and observe the Spring Storm exercise.

The international arms control team arrived in Estonia on May 12. On May 13, they visited the Headquarters of the Spring Storm exercise, where they received an overview of the participants, the scenario, and the command structure. They also visited NATO Battlegroup’s unit from the United Kingdom, subordinated to the Estonian Division, and received an overview of their battles during Spring Storm.

Many of the observers visiting Spring Storm this year also attended the exercise in 2023. “Last year, we practiced battlefield burials with reserve chaplains. This year, several observers confirmed plans to implement such chaplain services in their own countries’ exercises,” said Major Madis Morel, head of arms control.

On May 13, the team also met with the 2nd Infantry Brigade’s 2nd Kuperjanov Infantry Battalion’s reserve unit, reviewing their weapons, equipment, and vehicles. Additionally, they were introduced to the 25th Artillery Battalion and its K9 self-propelled howitzers, manned by conscripts.

“Visiting the K9 howitzers was particularly interesting to them. They inquired about the soldiers’ practical experiences and the training cycle,” said Major Madis Morel. “The 11-month training cycle, which prepares conscripts for combat missions, was considered impressive.”

On May 14, the arms control delegation visited the Estonian Navy’s Coastal Defence Squadron, which is practicing maritime surveillance with the Finnish and training targeting maritime objectives with the Polish missile unit during Spring Storm.

On May 15, they visited a naval radar station in Saaremaa and observed exercises involving Territorial Defence Units and allied units which arrived on the island by helicopters. On the same day, they also visited the Polish Naval Missile Unit participating in Spring Storm.

On Thursday, May 16, the arms control visit took place at the Estonian Disaster Relief Team’s field hospital in Paikuse area, where medical assistance to evacuees and wounded was practiced as part of the Spring Storm scenario.

“At the end of the program, an official report will be compiled during a meeting in Tallinn by the observers. This report will be confirmed by all the observers who participated in the observation program and will be officially presented to the Estonian Defence Forces, the OSCE, and NATO,” said Major Madis Morel.

The aim of arms control is to regulate the behaviour of states to stabilize the global and regional security environment, reduce the risk of accidental war, and address the potential humanitarian impacts of various types of weaponry.

The purpose of these visits is to ensure trust and security among OSCE member states. Under the Vienna Document, OSCE member states provide each other with overviews of their armaments and personnel and allow visits to military units and bases. They also notify each other of military exercises involving a certain number of combat equipment or soldiers. The OSCE comprises 57 countries from Europe, Central Asia, and North America.


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