The UK presence in Estonia is likely to double in 2024 as the Baltic country hosts Exercise Spring Storm 2024, up from the near-1,000 military personnel currently based there as part of the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) structure.

The figures came to light in a recent UK parliamentary written response, outlining the current and near-term forecast for UK military personnel presence in Estonia. A baseline deployment of around 1,000 troops is planned to be deployed in 2024 and 2025, allowing for slight fluctuations depending on units rotating through the country.

In addition to UK’s eFP deployment, from February to July 2023 the UK has also deployed a Typhoon squadron and 100 personnel from 140 Expeditionary Air Wing (some 200 personnel in total), in support of NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission.

This year more than 1,500 UK troops deployed for the 2023 iteration of Spring Storm in Estonia to demonstrate the reinforcement of the UK-led Nato eFP battlegroup to brigade-sized strength, according to the UK Government. In total, 14,000 personnel from 11 Nato countries participated in the exercise, intended to demonstrate interoperability in multi-domain training scenarios.

UK unit contribution for this year’s exericse included elements from the British Army’s 7th Light Mechanised Brigade Combat Team HQ and Light Dragoons Battlegroup, and the Queen’s Royal Hussars, providing Challenger 2 main battle tanks, Warrior infantry fighting vehicles, and M270 guided multiple launch rocket systems.  

Baltics seen as vital to Nato security

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Estonia is seen as a lynchpin of the UK and Nato’s presence in the region, with the Baltic countries all sharing a land border with Russia. Renewed emphasis has been placed on ensuring a strong Allied presence in the region, in light of Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The Nato summit is being held in Vilnius, Lithuania, from 11-12 July this year, and will include newly joined member Finland after the country’s accession in 2022. Sweden is also seeking to join Nato, however its application has been held up by reservations from Nato-members Turkey and Hungary, each led by a strongman ruler with close ties to Moscow.