Yesterday, Minister of Defence Kalle Laanet awarded the Cross of Merit of the Ministry of Defence, Second Class, to Colonel Paul Clayton, Commander of the NATO Commander of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia. Colonel Clayton, whose tenure will soon be coming to an end, was praised for NATO’s deterrence and defence posture and for the outstanding development of defence co-operation between Estonia and the United Kingdom.
“During Colonel Clayton’s tenure, the NATO Battlegroup achieved outstanding co-operation between Estonian, French and Danish units. These are significant developments for which I would like to thank Colonel Clayton from the bottom of my heart,” said Minister of Defence Kalle Laanet.
“It has been a great honour to serve here in Estonia for the last tfwo years. We have made great progress during that time and seen improved integration with the Estonian Defence Forces – the NATO Battlegroup is now very much part of the 1st Infantry Brigade and capable of fighting alongside them,” said Colonel Clayton.
In addition to the integration of the NATO Battlegroup into the 1st Infantry Battalion, the development of co-operation with the Defence League and other Allied units, as well as with NATO Battlegroups in the Baltic States and Poland, took place during Colonel Clayton’s period of service. The wider involvement of the United Kingdom in military crisis management planning in the Baltic region has also been important.
According to Clayton, the time spent in Estonia has offered him many good experiences. “I have some very pleasurable memories of cycling around Estonia and taking part in the Tartu Ski Marathon, to name a few things, and lots of other good memories to return to the UK with,” added Colonel Clayton.
For the first time during Colonel Clayton’s tenure a cycling tour, called NATO Velo, was organized, which took place in August of last year, during which Colonel Clayton himself, along with representatives of the Allies and the Estonian Defence Forces, passed through a large part of Estonia.
Colonel Paul Clayton’s tenure in Estonia ends on 21 May, when he will be handing over his position to Colonel David Bevan.
Several representatives from Allied countries, who have made a significant contribution to Estonia’s security through their activities, have previously been awarded the Cross of Merit of the Ministry of Defence, Second Class. The Cross of Merit, Second Class is awarded for long-term successful activities for the benefit of the national defence of the Republic of Estonia.
The Cross of Merit of the Ministry of Defence was established on 24 February 1998, the 80th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, and is meant to be awarded to individuals in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the national defence of the Republic of Estonia, and in the construction and securing of national defence. The Cross of Merit consists of three classes.
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