TAPA, Estonia — Guard members from the Maryland Army National Guard participated in Spring Storm 23, May 13-27 in Tapa, Estonia. 22 Soldiers assigned to the 291st Digital Liaison Detachment supported the Estonian exercise at the Tapa Air-to-Ground Range.
Spring Storm is the largest annual military exercise of the Estonian Defence Force, during which military operations planning and implementation are practiced, and cooperation between Estonian and allied units is enhanced. For the first time, the exercise was led by the EDF division just established last year.
“Compared to previous Spring Storm exercises, we are not focusing so much on what is happening directly on the battlefield, but rather the division is focusing on how to defeat the enemy in depth," said Estonian Major General Veiko-Vello Palm, the EDF division commander. "The goal is to inflict losses on the enemy that weaken them before close combat and prevent them from winning the battle. Although we established the new division at the beginning of the year, the management of Spring Storm and tactical activities are already under their guidance.”
That new EDF division, which managed the exercise and tactical activities, needed artillery expertise that the 291st Digital Liaison Detachment was able to provide.
“Standing up a new division really demonstrates a shift in prior doctrine that the Estonian military was working under and really demonstrates their ability to partner with NATO in a more robust and aggressive fashion to defend their territory,” said Maryland Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Adam Mosey, a fire support non-commissioned officer in the 291st Digital Liaison Detachment. “The Maryland Army National Guard has a 30-year history with the Estonian military and really getting to ‘left-seat right-seat' we often call it with our Estonian counterparts really helps the US military but also helps the Estonian military in being truly interoperable and looking at greater lethality.”
The Maryland Army National Guard also sent a contingent of joint fire support specialists to integrate with NATO forces and demonstrate the capabilities of division artillery.
“This is my first time going out of the country,” said Maryland Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Josh Lynch, a joint fire support specialist with the 1st Detachment, 107th Field Artillery. “When we get to work with other NATO forces, we get an idea of how to work with each other, how we operate. We are more alike than I initially thought and it has been an awesome experience working out here.”
This year marks 30 years of partnership between Estonia and Maryland though the National Guard's State Partnership Program and Soldiers from the Maryland Army National Guard are looking forward to many more.
“They’re open, hospitable, and very welcoming.” said Maryland Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Michael Winter, an active Guard Reserve Soldier from the 107th Field Artillery Battalion. "They're just great people."