An Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) platoon has arrived home after a five-month stint in the West African nation of Mali, where it formed part of a French-led counter-terrorism operation in the Sahel region.
The unit, ESTPLA-34 and its support components, arrived home in Estonia Wednesday morning.
ESTPLA-34 joined Operation Barkhane in November 2019, taking part in a total of 26 patrols during that time, as well as manning the military base's guard posts on 36 occasions, joining a rapid response team 47 times and carrying out four security tasks.
The unit replaced and will be replaced by other Estonian platoons, and was based in the city of Gao in eastern Mali.
"The Estonian troops performed their duties in cooperation with the allies with dedication, and everyone's willingness to contribute and act professionally was commendable," said platoon commander Maj. Allar Eesmaa, according to BNS.
"Let them continue to develop themselves in Estonia with the same fire in the belly," he went on.
Estonian high school sends school supplies, toys
ESTPLA-34 also delivered school supplies and toys sent by Viimsi High School, near Tallinn, to the Wayehena Elementary School in Gao.
On 10 occasions, the infantry platoon got to use THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), developed by Estonian firm Milrem Robotics.
THeMIS is tasked with logistics and supply, including the transport of water, food and various equipment elements.
Serving alongside the platoon was a national support element consisting of a commander, communications, transport and weaponry technicians, a nurse and a quartermaster, whose tasks included ensuring the functioning of the unit's equipment and medical aid to enable the unit to focus on tactical tasks.
An Estonian press officer was also embedded with the unit, BNS reports.
Operation Barkhane is a French-led anti-insurgency mission in the Sahel region, which aims to support the governments of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and Niger, as well as Mali, in their fight against radical Islamist armed groups. It is also employed as a counter to illegal migration and human trafficking. In addition to Estonia, the operation is supported by the U.K. via transport helicopters, and Denmark, with an air force component.
Editor: Andrew Whyte