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Estonia: Expansion of training ranges suggested in ICDS report would take years

TALLINN - According to the Estonian Ministry of Defense, the expansion of training ranges suggested to the Baltic states by a report of the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) so as to receive additional NATO forces is time-consuming and expensive, public broadcaster ERR reports.

It appears from an analysis compiled by ICDS researchers Kalev Stoicescu and Pauli Jarvenpaa that host countries should make greater efforts to develop their practice grounds and shooting ranges, both for the needs of the battle groups already stationed as well as their additions, ERR said.

"It should be noted that the increased presence largely depends on the existence of practice grounds. They [additional allied units] cannot come here only to be kept in barracks," Stoicescu said.

Andres Sang, deputy head of the strategic communication department of the Ministry of Defense, told ERR that the establishment and development of new training areas is a very long process lasting for years that requires both the precise mapping of training needs as well as the strategic assessment of environmental impact and years of cooperation between the state, local governments and communities.

The ICDS report noted that the battalion-sized battle groups positioned in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland in the framework of NATO's enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) are fulfilling their deterrence task in the current security situation. However, should Russia's behavior change and tensions arise, it may be necessary to strengthen the allied units in these countries.

Stoicescu and Jarvenpaa interviewed some 60 defense experts of allied nations from Estonia to Brussels early this winter to obtain a picture of the workings of the battalions and set forth recommendations for strengthening defense.

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