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NEWS | Sept. 21, 2023

Maryland Guard Teaches Ambush Tactics to Estonian Partners

By 1st Sgt. Thaddeus Harrington, 29th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

RUTJA, Estonia - Soldiers from the Maryland Army National Guard’s 175th Infantry Regiment shared their expertise in ambush tactics with members of the Estonian Defence League in Estonia. 

The training was conducted in rotations Sept. 16-18, with each squad of eight to 10 soldiers learning how to set up, react to and plan ambushes.

After training with the Maryland Soldiers, the Estonian Defence League members continued to other field exercises with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partners from the United Kingdom and France.

“The 18 of us are training about 750 a day over three days on section ambush,” said U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Mathew Hawkland, D Company, 1-175 Infantry Regiment, first sergeant. “We have … as long as we want, as long as it takes, to get the Estonians trained up to the point where they want to be.”

Ambush tactics are critical for soldiers to surprise and defeat an enemy force. The Estonian Defence League is akin to a volunteer reserve force under the Estonian Ministry of Defence to enhance readiness to defend the independence of Estonia. The training is part of a larger effort to strengthen ties of the MDNG’s partnership with Estonia and between NATO allies to improve their ability to operate together.

Maryland and Estonia are partners under the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau State Partnership Program.

“I have been on, I believe, 12 State Partnership Program missions so far — all of them have been to Estonia,” said Hawkland. “It almost seems like the forces get more organized, they’re planning better and they’re more in sync with us. There’s less issues between how we would plan and how they used to plan. It’s almost like they’re just part of another unit, an adjacent unit that we would see in the U.S. Army.”

The 175th Infantry Regiment is one of the oldest regiments in the U.S. Army, tracing its roots to America’s colonial days and fighting to help ensure U.S. independence.

The fight for independence is one the Estonians have experienced. Some throughout the nation are observing Resistance Fighting Day Sept. 22. This day in 1944 was the end of the Nazi occupation and the start of the resistance to the Soviet occupation. Estonia regained its independence in 1991, was admitted to NATO in 2004 and became Maryland’s partner nation in 1993.