• Saturday, 30 july 2016
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Latvian, Estonian national guards drill for 'little green men'

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August 29 saw a battle to retake a Latvian town occupied by mysterious 'little green men' of uncertain origin. 

Luckily the ensuing gunfire was only part of an annual exercise, 'Wenden 2015' involving national guardsmen (Zemessardze) from Latvia and Estonia, reported LTV.

According to the officers running the exercise in the town of Aloja (following its first incarnation last year in Cesis, formerly known as Wenden) the relevance of the exercise is obvious given recent events in Ukraine.

In the Aloja scenario, separatists had occupied the city council, booby-trapped the building and set up illegal checkpoints at roads leading into the city - it was the mission of the national guard to retake the occupied territory, at the same time familiarising themselves with treating comrades wounded along the way.

Also involved were members of the Estonian national guard or 'Kaitsellit ' from just across the border in Parnu, flagging up the willingness of the Baltic states to cooperate on mutual defense - something with a long historical precedent as Estonian troops played a crucial role in helping Latvia originally win its independence.  

Local forces still have a lot to learn, particularly about urban warfare, admitted commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Rolands Molniks.

"There are certainly a lot of room for improvement both tactically and in implementation as it was a very complex situation. the number of casualties would have been high," Molniks said.

"I like these exercises because events change very rapidly. Here, we need to carry out the objective in accordance with international law, while acting in an environment with many civilians," says Estonian officer Krists Kivimae.

Similar exercises involving their Latvian colleagues are planned for the future in Estonia while the Wenden exercise now looks like an annual fixture.

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