Permanent Secretary of the Estonian Ministry of Defense, Kusti Salm, yesterday presented medals to the troops of the UK-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup in Tapa, which will complete its deployment in Estonia later this month.
"The British and French contingents together with the 1st Infantry Brigade of Estonia’s Defence Forces make up a combat ready multinational force that gives assurance to the people of Estonia and deters a potential aggressor,” Kusti Salm, Permanent Secretary said in his speech.
The NATO Battlegroup in Tapa is currently led by the 1 Mercian Battlegroup, the eighth from the British Army to be stationed in Tapa. The current French contingent in Tapa comes from the French Army´s 501 Tank Regiment. During the last six months, both these units have integrated into and trained with the 1st Estonian Brigade, based in Tapa.
"It´s been an honour to serve alongside our comrades in the Estonian 1st Brigade here in Tapa and be part of the Estonian defence plan," Lieutenant Colonel Dean Canham, Commanding Officer of the 1 Mercian Battlegroup said. "Despite challenges such as COVID-19, we have been able to maintain our readiness and capabilities to deter and defend; we have profited from the excellent training opportunities that are available to us here, and our integration into the 1st Brigade has been a very valuable experience for every soldier in the Battlegroup. We are now in the process of ensuring a seamless transition to the next Battlegroup."
On September 19, the 1 Mercian Battlegroup will officially hand over its mission to the incoming battlegroup led by the Royal Tank Regiment (RTR). Just as the Mercians before, the RTR Battlegroup has been training in Germany in recent months, preparing for its six-month deployment to Estonia. Later in September, the French 501 Tank regiment will hand over its mission to the French Army´s 1 Chasseurs Regiment.
The RTR Battlegroup´s equipment, including Challenger 2 tanks and armoured vehicles, is scheduled to arrive by sea to Estonia on September 9. On that day, the public can expect military convoys on key routes to and from Paldiski harbor and Tapa.
NATO battlegroups in the Baltics are led by the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and the United States. NATO´s enhanced Forward Presence was established in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in 2017.
The eFP is following Estonian and UK government advice and regulations regarding limiting the spread of COVID-19.