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NATO eFP Estonia celebrates five-year anniversary

12. May 2022 - 16:22
NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) has today marked its fifth anniversary of operating in Estonia.
NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) has today marked its fifth anniversary of operating in Estonia.

NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) has today marked its fifth anniversary of operating in Estonia.

The anniversary was marked with a Battlegroup parade in Tapa involving almost 1,500 British, French and Danish personnel. Following the parade, a Brigade open day was held to celebrate the role of eFP amongst the local community, with local families and schoolchildren in attendance.

“The presence of the NATO Battlegroup in Estonia and in the Baltic region is an inalienable part of a strong deterrence and defence posture, and it has sent a strong message of NATO unity within and beyond our societies. We are very grateful for the contributions from the UK, France, Denmark, Belgium and Iceland – the cooperation over these past five years has been very good and we have learned a lot from each other,” said Minister of Defence of Estonia, Kalle Laanet.

“Celebrating eFP five-year anniversary here today is symbolic of Allied unity and our collective capability to react to changes in the security environment swiftly and efficiently. We hope that this excellent cooperation and the Allied presence at NATO’s eastern flank will celebrate many more anniversaries like this one in the future,” Mr. Laanet added.

Since the first permanent deployment of the eFP Battlegroup to Estonia in 2017, almost 14,000 Allied troops from the UK, France, Denmark and Belgium have been operating and training alongside their Estonian counterparts from the 1st Infantry Brigade, based in Tapa.

During the last five years, the multinational eFP Estonia Battlegroup has taken part in numerous Exercises demonstrating its ability to operate as one cohesive fighting force alongside its Estonian counterparts, which includes the annual Ex WINTER CAMP and Ex SPRING STORM, as well as Ex HEDGEHOG which takes place every four years.

Since its inception, the eFP Estonia Battlegroup has also maintained close ties with the eFP Battlegroups in Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, taking part in training serials on a regular basis. These exercises are designed to practice, test and continually enhance the fighting capabilities of its forces.

‘’Over the last five years, the enhanced Forward Presence has symbolised our commitment to supporting regional security and in turn, we have learned a huge amount by working alongside our Estonian colleagues and friends.

“I am extremely proud of all that we have achieved during this time and I thank all soldiers, past and present, from across every nation and their families, for the vital role they have played in our mission here,” Commander of enhanced Forward Presence Estonia, Col Dai Bevan said.

Led by the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh, the Battlegroup comprises a Squadron of  Challenger 2 tanks, two companies of Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicles, a Danish company of Piranha V Mechanised Infantry Vehicles and a French Light Role Company with heavy support weapons. These assets are supported by engineering, artillery, medical and logistic units.

As part of increased readiness and commitment in Eastern Europe, the previous UK battlegroup units, led by the Royal Tank Regiment, have remained in Estonia since their handover in March.

For the first time since its inception in 2017, the eFP Battlegroup now consists of forces from the UK, France and Denmark, working alongside their Estonian counterparts. Traditionally, each year France and Denmark rotate their presence as part of the Battlegroup.