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Estonian riot training

By Maj. Marie Richter
First published in
SFOR Informer#122, September 19, 2001

On Aug. 30, Estonian soldiers practised riot control procedures under the instruction of the Estonian Military Police. Not only did they have to learn the procedures and work as a team, but they also had to learn to work effectively with other nations of SFOR.

Doboj - The day began with a brief on riot control procedures from the Estonian Military Police (MP), which was mainly a refresher course as many of the soldiers had served in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) before or were experienced soldiers. The most important part of this brief was teaching the soldiers the words of command in English, as this is the language that would be used during an SFOR multinational operation. Estonian MP Sgt. 1st Class Kommussaar spoke of the importance of the training: "I want the soldiers to be able to react to the orders in English so they are able to work with other nationalities in any situation. This ensures efficiency and good co-operation between all forces."
A solid wall
The soldiers prepared themselves with flak jackets, riot shields, helmets and leg protectors. Although these slightly hindered their movement and sight, they were a necessity when training for situations where bricks or petrol bombs could be thrown directly at them. They then formed up in a line, tightly packed to ensure a "solid wall" of troops. The MPs pushed them and tried to break their continuity but to no avail.
Once in line the order to "advance" was given by platoon commander, 3rd Lt. Orgse, who walked behind them under the protection of two soldiers. "I have to act as the eyes and ears for the soldiers as they are behind the shields and are unable to see the whole situation. I assess the situation around us so that I can give the orders to react according to the changes. During operations I would also liaise with other nations' commanders so that we work effectively as one force," he said.
The training continued with left and right flanking movements, retreating drills and manoeuvring around obstacles and vehicles. This must all be well rehearsed so that they move without compromising their protection. They then moved on to extracting a casualty under protective cover should one of them be injured. The two soldiers on both sides of the casualty used their shields in one hand to protect themselves and the casualty and then dragged the casualty to the rear away from danger for treatment. The soldiers at the front had to "mend the wall" and close in quickly before any other thrown object or rioter penetrated the break in the line.
Sgt. Hillar Pliatt observed the training, "The soldiers have to concentrate fully and be aware of the unexpected. They move forward with controlled aggression using minimal force to achieve their objective. It takes a lot of courage to walk into a riot situation so training and preparation is important."
Dannevirke-home for 6 months
Dannevirke Camp in Doboj is home to the Baltic Squadron, part of the Nordic-Polish (NORDPOL) Battle Group. The Baltic states, made up of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, have sent troops since 1995 in rotation for six months to support the SFOR mission.
Three weeks ago the Estonians arrived in BiH to relieve the Lithuanians for six months. This time it was the turn of the Scout Battalion, part of the Peace Operation Centre of Estonia, who sent three companies. Since their arrival they have been familiarising themselves with their Area of Responsibility (AoR). They have also been conducting patrols and attended training in mine awareness. In Estonia the military are used to back up the police in civil disturbances so riot control procedures are taught to all the soldiers. Here in BiH they will be extending their training for a similar role but working within a multinational environment with other SFOR forces.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Estonia
Training and Exercises