Large-scale military drills unfolding in Estonia

About 13,000 conscript troops, reservists and members of the Kaitseliit voluntary paramilitary organization will be involved in the Hedgehog-2015 military exercise beginning in Estonia on Monday, the Estonian Defense Forces' press service informed Interfax.

About 13,000 conscript troops, reservists and members of the Kaitseliit voluntary paramilitary organization will be involved in the Hedgehog-2015 military exercise beginning in Estonia on Monday, the Estonian Defense Forces' press service informed Interfax.

The most large-scale drill in Estonia's history will proceed nationwide and end in the country's northern and northeastern regions near the border with Russia.

The main accent will be placed on the training of reservists who will account for more than half of the personnel involved in the drill.

The maneuvers aim to form an additional permanent-readiness, rapid-deployment contingent. The First Infantry Brigade will practice fighting, and tactical and strategic control skills.

Estonia's NATO allies, first of all U.S. and Britain, will be broadly represented.

The U.S. has sent in M1A2 Abrams tank crews, and about 150 paratroopers of the 173rd airborne division, and Britain up to 120 soldiers of Second Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, and two Hawk crews, dispatched to Estonia specially to join the drill, besides the crews of four Eurofighter jets patrolling the Baltic countries' air space. Belgium and Germany will contribute air defense units who have arrived complete with air defense systems.

Polish, Dutch, Latvian and Lithuanian soldiers will take part in the Hedgehog maneuvers, too.

The Hedgehog war games, or Siil in Estonian, has the motto "every quill counts." The Estonian Defense Forces are patronizing an injured hedgehog, named Konnet, at the Tallinn zoo, and they have initiated a fund-raising campaign to support the hedgehog and the zoo.

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