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Statement on U.S. Rotational Presence in Estonia

8. December 2022 - 13:00
HIMARS. Photo: Valmar Voolaid
HIMARS. Photo: Valmar Voolaid

In the coming weeks, the United States will deploy additional rotational forces to Estonia in   order to strengthen NATO’s forward defenses and increase the security of its Allies.

The deployment follows President Biden’s announcement at the Madrid Summit and is part of a longer series of rotations constituting a persistent, heel-to-toe U.S. presence in the Baltic States. It affirms the shared values and interests and exemplifies the excellent defense and security relations between Estonia and the United States. “This decision marks a significant enhancement of the U.S. rotational military presence in Estonia and the Baltic States, demonstrating U.S.’ long-standing commitment to the security of our region and greatly enhancing NATO’s posture,” said Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur.

The deployment consists of an infantry company and a HIMARS platoon, as well as associated command and control equipment and systems.

The units are here to train and increase interoperability with the Estonian Defense Forces, and to defend, if needed. “Estonia continues to take significant steps to develop its independent self-defense capabilities. We expect to receive our own HIMARS systems by 2025, so being able to learn the ropes early with the U.S. troops will make the adoption even smoother and win us critical time,” Minister Pevkur added. The HIMARS is regarded as the most modern and sophisticated long-range fires system in the world today, which will provide significant firepower and strategic effects to Estonia’s defensive posture.

The Estonian Defense Forces will also work with the United States on establishing a divisional structure in Estonia under the framework of NATO. Estonia will join the renowned U.S. Warfighter program comprising a series of exercises culminating in a capstone training event that will give certification to the participating corps and division formations. “The Estonian division will receive rigorous training to further develop its readiness and interoperability with our closest Allies in order to defend Estonia and the Alliance,” said Minister Pevkur.

The posture and rotations reflect ongoing efforts by Allies to increase their defensive capabilities and interoperability to ensure that every inch of NATO territory is defended without delay. The efforts have been redoubled in response to Europe’s deteriorating security environment and in particular to Russia’s unprovoked aggression and brutal war against Ukraine.

In addition to the recent U.S. deployments, Estonia currently hosts the UK-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup, consisting of British, French, Danish units, and Icelandic specialists, and the enhanced Baltic Air Policing operation, currently conducted in Estonia by the German Air Force.