NATO sends thousands of troops to Estonia for war games

A British soldier scans the landscape during war game exercises in southern Estonia. NATO's Steadfast Javelin 1 is being held at a time of unrest in Ukraine, which has unsettled allies in the Baltics and in eastern Europe.


By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 19, 2014

SUTTGART, Germany — As part of an effort to shore up defenses on its eastern flank, NATO is conducting large-scale war games in Estonia involving some 6,000 troops from nine alliance nations.

Steadfast Javelin 1, which commenced on Friday and will continue through the week, is based on a fictitious scenario in which Allied forces repel an attack on Estonia, according to NATO.

Participating units include infantry and reconnaissance forces, engineers, fighter jets as well as anti-aircraft teams and a cybersecurity team. The exercise comes during widespread unrest in Ukraine and renewed concerns over a more militarily assertive Russia, which the West has accused of fomenting tensions in the region.

“It is my great privilege to assume command of the forces participating in Exercise Steadfast Javelin 1 today,” General Hans-Lothar Domröse, commander of Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, said in a news release. “There is no doubt the Alliance is strong and NATO’s resolve to assure its members of the ongoing utility of the Washington Treaty remains central to our actions.”

Troops in the exercise come from Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Britain and the United States. Germany was not listed as a participating nation. Some critics in eastern Europe have expressed frustration with Germany and accused NATO’s second-largest nation of not doing enough to reassure allies in the East.

Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea, NATO has reinforced its presence in eastern Europe. In April, the alliance announced a package of extra military measures, including expanded air patrols over the Baltics, deployment of ground forces for training events in the East and increased patrols by war ships in the region.


British and Estonian soldiers discuss battle plans during Steadfast Javelin 1 in southern Estonia. The exercise, which is being held to test military capabilities of NATO members, includes troops from nine nations. The exercise ends on Friday, May 23. Andrew Davis/U.S. Air Force

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