The Riigikogu has sent a draft to a coordination round which would extend the presence of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) in Iraq as part of the international military operation Inherent Resolve. According to the draft, five members of the forces would go to Iraq.
The draft allows contributing to the operation with up to 10 members.
Estonia started participating in Operation Inherent Resolve in 2016, when a six-member training team joined the Danish contingent, tasked with the military training of Iraqi security forces in Al-Anbar province. Additionally, a senior officer from Estonia served in Baghdad in a multinational strategic team providing consultation for Iraq's ministries and security forces.
Related to the COVID-19 pandemic and domestic tensions, at Iraq's request, training activities for Operation Inherent Resolve have been temporarily limited in some cases, with Estonia's operations suspended since spring 2020. Estonia's training team arrived back in Estonia at the end of March, and the staff officer in April. In addition, due to changes in the structure of Operation Inherent Resolve and the contribution of partner countries, especially Denmark, Estonia is also adjusting its participation in Iraq.
Estonia is planning to contribute to the operation in 2021 with a staff officer and a four-member training team.
Due to the training needs in Iraq and the possible need to adjust the focus of the operation, the limited number of EDF members provided in the draft will allow Estonia to contribute to the operation additionally and flexibly, if necessary. The EDF personnel will not take part in military operations on Syrian territory.
In the Ministry of Defense's 2021 budget, €444,700 was earmarked for the EDF operational expenses in Operation Inherent Resolve.
Editor: Roberta Vaino