Operation Tractable

In October 2019, the Army will mobilise across Europe by road, rail, sea and air to complete a routine fleet rotation of vehicles deployed as part of Operation Cabrit – the UK’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in Estonia as part of NATO.

Soldiers from the Queen’s Royal Hussars (QRH) are due to take over from the King’s Royal Hussars (KRH). The Army currently has Challenger II main battle tanks in Estonia, alongside armoured vehicles and artillery which require rotating. 

The complicated movement of soldiers, vehicles and equipment across Europe is known as TRACTABLE. It will demonstrate our enduring commitment to collective defence and will reinforce our capacity to work with our NATO allies, bolstering our presence in the Baltic states.

TRACTABLE builds on recent UK deployments that have strengthened the ability to work seamlessly with our partners and by doing so helped to reinforce the common values we defend together shoulder to shoulder. The British Army often deploys along with other international organisations, combined formations, coalitions and partnerships in Europe. 

Our presence in Estonia, alongside our troop contribution to the US-led Battlegroup in Poland, is providing stability and reassurance across the region.

The Army’s fundamental purpose is to protect the nation and deployments such as this, ensures we are always ready and able to do so. The Army is always ready to meet every challenge and can deploy rapidly, worldwide and working with our NATO partners, help bolster European and UK stability and security.

Operation Tractable, the large-scale, Europe-wide NATO exercise running from late October to early November, has brought hundreds of NATO personnel to Estonia, including paras from the 16th Air Assault Brigade, who took part in the largest ever military parachute drop in Estonia on Friday.

Two British Army representatives, Corporal Natalya Platonova and Trooper Luke Jarman have been travelling round some of the countries on the Tractable itinerary and recording a video diary as they go along, ending with Estonia, where they were able to sample a traditional Estonian smoke sauna, at Otepää in the south of the country.

Courtesy of ex-pat Adam Rang, originally from the U.K., and his Estonian partner Anni, the pair learned about the differences between smoke saunas and other types of sauna they may have experienced in the past, the use of leil (steam) and vihad (sometimes translated as “whisk”, but essentially a bunch of birch or other leaves used to lightly beat the skin while in the sauna), and the importance of cooling off – which in this case involved plunging into a nearby lake.

Cpl Platonova is nearing the end of her rotation in Estonia, where she worked in the civil-military cooperation side of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup, whereas Tpr Jarman is at the opposite end of the spectrum, arriving with his unit, the incoming Queen’s Royal Hussars, an armored regiment forming the new core of the Battlegroup.

Based at Tapa, east of Tallinn, the battlegroup also has a sauna of its own, Cpl Platonova, who ERR News caught up with earlier in the year, was able to confirm to her colleague.

The full story, with pictures and a video, is here, and you can follow Cpl Platonova and Tpr Jarman’s travels, as well as anything else battlegroup related, on the social media page here.

This post is also available in: English Русский (Russian)

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