Mihkelson: Allied troops will reach battalion strength in 2017
Chairman of the Riigikogu’s National Defence Committee, Marko Mihkelson (IRL), said on Wednesday that a NATO battalion should arrive in Estonia in the first half of 2017.
Taking into account the experiences made following the Wales summit of 2014, NATO’s members were increasingly quicker to let their political promises be followed by action, Mihkelson said. “I don’t doubt that battalion strength will be reached in the next year,” he added.
Detailed decisions would follow at the upcoming summit in Warsaw on Jul. 8-9, where the alliance’s member states in charge of the Baltic and Polish battalions would specify their contribution. After the summit, detailed timelines would then be prepared, Mihkelson said.
In terms of getting the necessary infrastructure in place for the arrival of the allied troops, more investments in the Tapa military complex were necessary, Mihkelson stated.
In addition to the NATO battalions, different countries have agreed to send military units to the Baltic States, for instance Germany, Denmark, and the Visegrad Countries. According to Mihkelson, a company-strength unit of the German Bundeswehr will arrive as early as next month.
These troups would be rotating in and out of the country and come here for training, Mihkelson said, adding that it would be in Estonia’s interest if such units not only came once or twice a year, but in a distributed fashion, so that personnel would be present throughout the whole year. This would also make it easier for the Estonian Defence Forces to host them.