A new Reception, Staging and Onward Movement (RSOM) area was opened at Tapa base, along with a road suitable for heavy machinery. The new infrastructure creates a base for NATO units to participate in short-term exercises or relocations and enhances both Estonia's independence and the alliance's defense capabilities, by creating the conditions necessary for rapid, timely, and effective deployment, the defense ministry says.
Minister of Defense Jüri Luik (Isamaa) said that the new infrastructure plays a key role in NATO's collective defense on Estonian soil. "The better the conditions we create for allied forces, and additional forces arriving during exercises or in crisis situations, the more effective the preparation of NATO collective defense within Estonia's territory will become," Luik noted.
He added that it was especially gratifying to acknowledge that the RSOM area meeting NATO requirements was completed first in Estonia. "Infrastructure for the reception and movement of Allied forces - the road and rail network - has reached an excellent level. However, the completion of infrastructure does not mean that we have reached the end of the journey. It must find active use in Allied training exercises, which will strengthen NATO's deterrence and security, "stated Luik.
"Thus far we have had to house rotating Allied units on temporary premises, which has also led to additional costs and difficulties in meeting all requirements in a timely and expeditious continent. There is no longer a need to rent temporary premises for the Allies", received Mart Salusaar, Head of the Construction Bureau at the Estonian Center for Defense Investment.
The NATO RSOM, or Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, is the assembly area of the Tapa military base, which consists of a storage area for equipment and means of transport, accommodation, repair and catering halls, camping areas, fuel and hazardous waste management area , and the expansion of the medical center, including a helipad.
The whole project was carried out in cooperation between NATO and Estonia. The total cost of the project is € 20 million, which was financed through the NATO Security Investment Program (NSIP).
"Estonia was lucky to be among the first to successfully implement the investment, thereby strengthening its position of deterrence and defense on the eastern edge of the Alliance," said Salusaar. "Our construction partner, Nordecon, also played a very important role in such a high-quality end result, having been able to meet the construction requirements we set at such a professional level," he added.
The opening of the RSOM area is a follow-up to the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales, where the decision was made to create the NATO Rapid Reaction Force and to invest in the construction of the infrastructure necessary to receive Allies in NATO's Eastern European member states in order to prevent possible aggression in Central and Eastern Europe in light of a changing security environment.
In addition, the joint NATO-Estonia project includes a road suitable for heavy machinery connecting Estonia's largest military base with the largest training field being used by the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), with the aim being to connect the two objects of importance to the Defense Forces in order to facilitate the movement of (heavy) equipment from the base to the training area and back.
"The special road designed for heavy machinery will reduce the load on local public roads, the EDF's own transport costs will be reduced, and it will also be possible to drive directly from the base to the EDF's central training area on tracked vehicles, which is a significant change in terms of capability development ," said Salusaar. "The old route was twice as long, with the costs and impacts on local traffic being higher," he added.
Nordecon AS built both the assembly area and the heavy machinery road inside the base. In addition, AS Tariston and GRK Infra AS have contributed to the construction of the heavy machinery road.
The NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup is U.K.-led, with French, Belgian and Danish troops making up most of the remaining contingent, on a rotational basis.
Editor: Katriin Eikin Sein