Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) was in Tapa Monday afternoon, visiting British and Danish personnel serving in the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battle group there. The prime minister expressed his thanks for the units' contribution to Estonia's security, particularly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
"For Estonia, the presence of allies in the Baltic region is extremely important," Ratas said.
"This year has been exceptional also for the allies stationed here. We are happy that the pandemic was not allowed to have a significant impact on readiness and training plans," he added.
Ratas later tweeted that he was: "Happy to greet the BritishArmy and Danish fighters of the NATO Battle Group today in Tapa. We are very thankful to Allies for the commitment to eFP and NATO security. Impressed by the skills shown at the new Close Quarter Battle Range."
Happy to greet the @BritishArmy and #Danish fighters of the #NATO Battle Group today in Tapa. We are very thankful to Allies for the commitment to eFP and NATO security. Impressed by the skills shown at the new Close Quarter Battle Range. @MoD_Estonia #eFP #WeAreNATO pic.twitter.com/qx1ih1gFI7— Jüri Ratas (@ratasjuri) August 10, 2020
Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) commander Maj. Gen. Martin Herem said that NATO personnel like the training conditions Tapa, about 80 km east of Tallinn, and Estonia, offer.
"They have been able to receive their training in different conditions. Estonian conditions and the environment here are different for them in a positive sense, and they are satisfied with that," Maj. Gen. Herem said.
The prime minister, who presented the U.K. and Danish personnel with commemorative coins as a token of gratitude on behalf of the country, said that further improvements to the Tapa base, which has seen plenty of development since the arrival of the eFP in 2017, were in the offing.
First battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (First Fusiliers) makes up the kernel of the current eFP with about 800 troops, equipped with both Warrior tracked armored infantry vehicles and Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks. First Fusiliers are due to remain at Tapa to late September. They are augmented by around 200 Danes, who are due to remain at Tapa to year end. Previous U.K. regiments to have taken on the eFP role include the Queen's Royal Hussars, the King's Royal Hussars, and 1st Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment.
French and Belgian soldiers have also been rotated in and out of Tapa in the past three years.
One example of the logistical problems during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, albeit not at Tapa, saw French Air Force personnel having to make the journey across Europe to the NATO air policing base at Ämari by rail, a procedure which included having to change locomotives due to differing track gauges in different countries.
Editor: Andrew Whyte