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Category: Competitions (page 1 of 3)

Estonia – training a nation of insurgents

The little Baltic country of Estonia has a long history of being subjegated under the rule of its larger neighbors – at various times being ruled by Sweden, Germany and Russia.  After 22 years of independence, Estonia was invaded and annexed by Stalin in 1939, then ‘liberated’ (occupied) by the German Nazi forces in 1941, and finally re-occupied and annexed by the Soviet Union in 1944.  Estonia remained under the boot of the Soviet Union until declaring their independence from the USSR in August 1991, and finally being granted independence from the USSR in September 1991.

map-of-estoniaMap of Estonia and neighboring countries, courtesy of Mapsof.net

Since regaining independence, Estonia has pursued a foreign policy of close co-operation with Western Europe and the US – Estonia has been a member of NATO since March 2004, and a member of the European Union since May 2004.  The aim of the Estonian National Defence Policy is to guarantee the preservation of the independence and sovereignty of the state and its constitutional order. Strategic goals include enhancing interoperability with other NATO and EU member forces – and to this end, Estonia has been punching above its weight in participation of overseas NATO missions.

xa-180est_in_afghanistanMembers of the Estonian Defence Forces use armored personnel carriers to patrol Tor Ghar, Afghanistan, Sept, 22, 2008.  U.S.Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Freddy G. Cantu

Along with orienting itself more to the West, Estonia’s relations with Russia have deteriorated.  Now with the recent resurgence of Russian extra-territorial aggression and expansion, the Estonians are understandably nervous about the possibility of history repeating itself – again.

But what if the unthinkable were to happen?  What if the Russians did invade again?  What would little Estonia be able to do to resist?  Well, they have a plan for that and it involves training a nation of guerilla fighters….

01estonia0-web1-superjumbo Members of the Estonian Defense League set off for a patrol competition near the town of Turi in central Estonia. The events, held nearly every weekend, are called war games, but they are not intended to be fun. Photo: James Hill, The New York Times.

“Since the Ukraine war, Estonia has stepped up training for members of the Estonian Defense League, teaching them how to become insurgents, right down to the making of improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.s, the weapons that plagued the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another response to tensions with Russia is the expansion of a program encouraging Estonians to keep firearms in their homes.”

Read all about it here:  Spooked By Russia Tiny Estonia Trains A Nation Of Insurgents – New York Times

Leapfest 2016 – International Airborne Competition

As its National Airborne Day, it seems fitting to post our wrap-up of this year’s Leapfest today – hard to believe it was already a week ago that the skies over southern Rhode Island were full of parachutes…

National Airborne Day on Aug. 16 honors the occassion of the first official parachute jump of the US Army, conducted on this date in 1940, by the volunteer Soldiers of the Parachute Test Platoon.  Other nations had already established Airborne Forces even before the US of course, including Italy, Germany, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and even France.  The Canadian Army established its first airborne unit in July 1942.

tumblr_mtvd5tILoU1s57vgxo4_r2_1280Red Army paratroops ‘jump’ from the wing of a Tupolev bomber in an exercise during the 1930’s.

Military parachuting has come a long way since those early experimental drops, and many lessons were also learned the hard way from the combat parachute drops during the Second World War.  Today’s Paratroops jump from turbo-prop and jet-powered aircraft as well as helicopters using either a static-line to automatically deploy their parachute, or by freefalling and then manually pulling a so-called ‘rip cord’ to deploy their ‘chute – and modern parachutes also come with non-steerable and steerable round canopies for normal operations, or highly-manueverable ‘ram-air’ square canopies for special operations.

t-11-parachute-001Current-day US Army Paratroopers jump from a C-130 using the new, cruciform-shape canopied T-11 non-steerable parachute.  The T-11 system has replaced the T-10 parachute that was in use for over 50 years.

Leapfest is the largest, longest standing, international static-line parachute competition. It is hosted each year by the 56th Troop Command of the Rhode Island Army National Guard to promote training and esprit de corps within the international airborne community.

DSCN2499The team from the Czech Republic walk off the Drop Zone after a jump.

Leapfest is both an individual and team event – each jumper must complete 2 jumps to be qualified for the individual award, and each team must complete 8 jumps in total to be qualified for the team award.  Each team consists of 5 participants: 4 jumpers and 1 alternate jumper.

DSCN2562The combined teams from the Italian Army, Navy, Air Force and Carabinieri pose for a group photo.

Jumpers exit from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter at an altitude of 1500 feet (457 meters) using an MC-6 static line deployed, steerable, parabolic parachute and aim to land as close as possible to a marked, designated ‘X-marks-the-spot’ on the Drop Zone.

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Leapfest 2016 is coming!

The Leapfest International Static Line Parachute Competition 2016 is now less than a week away!  Watch out of our event coverage to start this coming Saturday.

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BORDER WAR photo contest

Our friends at Airsoft & Military News Blog are running a photo contest for this year’s ‘Border War’ MilSim event.  They’ve got some great sponsors lined up to provide some great prizes…

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Click here to get all the details.

EDELWEISS RAID 2015: the final results

Last week we brought you a story about this year’s EDELWEISS RAID.  Now that the event is finished we can bring you the final results.

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