African Combat Mission Safer than Afghanistan, Says Retired General ({{commentsTotal}})

Ants Laaneots
Ants Laaneots Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Former Commander in Chief of the Defense Forces Ants Laaneots, who spent two years Ethiopia as a military adviser during a civil war there in the 1980s, has said that the conflict in Central Africa is less dangerous compared with in Afghanistan.

Speaking on ETV on Thursday, Laaneots said that the conflict in Afghanistan, where nine Estonian soldiers have lost their lives, has been fought against professional Taliban soldiers, while fighting in the Central African Republic appears to be more sporadic and disorganized.

Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu said that malaria and other diseases pose a greater threat than armed conflict for Estonian troops in Africa.

Reinsalu said that the aim of the mission is to stave off a humanitarian catastrophe, citing Mali as a positive example where European forces acted quickly to stabilize the nation.

Mati Raidma, the chair of the Parliament's National Defense Committee, said that a quick deployment means that circumstances will not have enough time to escalate and a longer mission will not be needed.

He added that the military mission, which will include up to 55 Estonian soldiers for four months, is Estonia's obligation.