Tapa preparing for arrival of British-led battalion next year (4)
In April 2017 an allied battle group led by the United Kindom will arrive in Estonia. Its commander, Lt. Col. Mark Wilson, said at a press conference held in Tapa on Tuesday that its mission was different, as there was no clear everyday threat here in Estonia.
Wilson said that the battle group was moved here to increase security and strengthen Estonia as well as NATO. The arrival of the troops and their equipment will begin early next year, and take place synchronized with military exercises.
His troops had much to learn and to get used to the Estonian territory, Wilson said, pointing out that the British army typically exercised in Canada, where there was plenty of open space, and few trees.
The first stage of the group’s arrival would be to integrate the brigade in Tapa with French units that were also due to arrive. The second stage would then be to arrange exercises and train as a single united brigade.
Wilson described their mission in Estonia as different from other missions abroad, as there was no clear everyday military threat here.
Lt. Col. Veiko-Vello Palm of the Estonian Defence Forces also participated in the press conference. Palm said that though not all of the base for the newly arriving forces would be ready in time, this wouldn’t be a problem.
In the short term, the military units didn’t need barracks and could do with the equipment at their disposal, Palm said. The issue was rather the long-term arrangement of all the necessary facilities to maintain the troops and their equipment.
Things had improved in Tapa, Palm pointed out. There were more shops now, and the base employed plenty of locals, along with also buying services from local businesses. “The economic influence in my opinion has been very positive,” Palm said.
The UK will be supplying the battalion with 800 soldiers, Warrior armored infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), Challenger 2 main battle tanks as well as tactical drones. France will send an additional 300 military personnel to the battle group, which will replace Danish soldiers after a yet-undisclosed amount of time.