In Afghanistan, Minister of Defence Urmas Reinsalu thanked Estonian troops serving in Camp Bastion in Helmand province for their exemplary and “difficult” service in NATO’s most important foreign operation.“You are fighting for Estonia’s foreign and security policy interests in Afghanistan, fulfilling our international obligations,” said Reinsalu. “Thanks to your contribution to our relations with allies, our international ties, credibility and visibility are greater than ever before. Everyone knows how good Estonian soldiers are in battle.”
The defence minister stressed that the next 12 months in Afghanistan would be extremely important as the Afghanistan security forces that took over the security responsibilities last week must prove that they are able to manage the task. Reinsalu also told Estonian Defence Forces personnel about the situation in Afghanistan after the security responsibilities are handed over to the local army and police.
The defence minister also devoted lengthier coverage to the Estonian national defence and veterans policy. The soldiers had many questions regarding the average 17-percent salary raise that entered into force in April as well as on equipment and weapons.
The commander of the contingent, Lt. Col. Arno Kruusmann and Estcoy-16 commander Maj. Meelis Loik briefed Reinsalu on the situation in the Defence Forces’ current operating district.
The minister and the company also belatedly marked the Midsummer holiday, as on 23 June Estonian infantrymen were on a drill. St. John’s Day was celebrated with traditional tug of war, other strength competitions and mixed grill.
Earlier on his Afghanistan visit, Reinsalu met the Afghan Defence Minister Bismellah Khan Mohammad, diplomats residing in Kabul and NATO military and civilian representatives. He also visited the Estonian Defence Forces special operations group, whose service in Afghanistan he called outstanding and critical for developing the relevant capabilities in the Estonian Defence Forces.
Photo gallery of the defence minister’s visit to Afghanistan.
Adviser to the minister