Estonia’s conscript army isn’t supposed to be a deterrent. It’s meant to prepare regular citizens for a potential war with Russia, where they’d be work with NATO forces and fight as insurgents against vastly superior firepower. They’re looking at how Vietnam went for the Viet Cong and thinking, “OK, how do we prep for that ahead of time?”
“Whatever unit or position you will be assigned to in the future, the first three months are the same infantry training for everyone. Most important stuff is discipline and knowing how to survive – how to find your way from point A to B without a map and/or a compass, how to keep out of sight, putting on full camouflage of twigs and earth the first thing when going on any sort of a mission. [That] was a big surprise to the members of U.S. Army stationed here, because they don’t need to concentrate on that. For them, it’s a Special Forces thing. All that sort of stuff. First aid is also very important during that time.”
Estonia hosts “war games” every single weekend. These are an occasional requirement for the 25,400 volunteers of the Estonian Defense League, which is basically a militarized Rotary Club. Attending one means going through 24 hours of competition to “find the medical herbs,” “assemble the machine-gun,” and “lie in wait for the convoy of enemy soldiers.” It’s like larruping Metal Gear Solid, only with the horrifying specter of imminent war looming over your every action.