Today, at the Tapa Military base the Reception, Staging and Onward Movement (RSOM) area was opened, along with a road suitable for heavy machinery. The new infrastructure creates a base for Allied units to participate in short-term exercises or relocations, and enhances both Estonia’s independent and NATO’s defence capabilities by creating the conditions necessary for rapid, timely and effective deployment.
According to Minister of Defence Jüri Luik, the new infrastructure plays a key role in NATO’s collective defence on Estonian soil. ‘The better the conditions we create for Allied forces, and additional forces arriving during exercises or in crisis situations, the more effective the preparation of NATO collective defence within Estonia’s territory will become’, noted Luik.
He added that it was especially gratifying to acknowledge that the RSOM area meeting NATO requirements was completed first in Estonia. ‘Infrastructure for the reception and movement of Allied forces – the road and rail network – has reached an excellent level. However, the completion of infrastructure does not mean that we have reached the end of the journey. It must find active use in Allied training exercises, which will strengthen NATO's deterrence and security,' stated Luik.
‘Thus far we have had to house rotating Allied units on temporary premises, which has also led to additional costs and difficulties in meeting all requirements in a timely and expeditious manner. There is no longer a need to rent temporary premises for the Allies’, said Mart Salusaar, Head of the Construction Bureau in the Estonian Centre for Defence Investment.
NATO RSOM, or Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, is the assembly area of the Tapa military base, which consists of a storage area for equipment and means of transport, accommodation, repair and catering halls, camping areas, a fuel and hazardous waste management area, and the expansion of the medical centre, including a helipad.
The whole project was carried out in cooperation between NATO and Estonia. The total cost of the project is EUR 20 million, which was financed through the NATO Security Investment Programme (NSIP).
‘Estonia was lucky to be among the first to successfully implement the investment, thereby strengthening its position of deterrence and defence on the eastern edge of the Alliance’, said Salusaar. ‘Our construction partner, Nordecon, also played a very important role in such a high-quality end result, having been able to meet the construction requirements we set at such a professional level’, he added.
The opening of the RSOM area is a follow-up to the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales, where the decision was made to create the NATO Rapid Reaction Force and to invest in the construction of the infrastructure necessary to receive Allies in NATO's Eastern European member states in order to prevent possible aggression in Central and Eastern Europe in light of a changed security environment.
In addition, the joint NATO-Estonia project includes a road suitable for heavy machinery connecting Estonia’s largest military base with the largest training field being used by the Defence Forces, with the aim being to connect the two objects of importance to the Defence Forces in order to facilitate the movement of (heavy) equipment from the base to the training area and back.
‘The special road designed for heavy machinery will reduce the load on local public roads, the Defence Forces’ own transport costs will be reduced, and it will also be possible to drive directly from the base to the Defence Forces' central training area on tracked vehicles, which is a significant change in terms of capability development’, said Salusaar. ‘The old route was twice as long, with the costs and impacts on local traffic being higher’, he added.
Nordecon AS built both the assembly area and the heavy machinery road inside the base. In addition, AS Tariston and GRK Infra AS have contributed to the construction of the heavy machinery road.
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