A memorial to fallen Estonian combatants was taken down in a ceremony at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan today, ahead of being relocated to the homeland.
Commander in Chief Maj. Gen. Riho Terras is currently in Afghanistan accompanied by a delegation that includes US Ambassador to Estonia Jeffrey D. Levine.
"In the same way that the fallen are not left behind on the battlefield, the memory of the fallen will not be left behind either," Terras said in a statement.
The memorial has inscribed on it the names of the nine Estonians killed in NATO's Afghanistan operation. The monument was set up in 2010, with the Estonian president in attendance. It will be reopened near the 1st Infantry Brigade in Paldiski in April 2014, the same month that Estonian troops pull out of Afghanistan.
Terras is meeting with leading military officials in Helmand province to discuss plans for troop withdrawals.
In November, Estcoy-17, the last Estonian infantry unit to serve in the Afghanistan mission, will be deployed. After forces withdraw, some staff, support units and a special ops unit will remain in the country. It was announced last week that Estonian officials intend to take part in post-pullout building efforts with a personnel of about 20.
"The International Security Assistance Forces have done a lot in Afghanistan and Helmand province, but in the end everything depends on whether the state of Afghanistan is willing and capable of succeeding," Terras said.