ESTPLA-36, an Estonian infantry platoon that arrived in Mali for deployment at the beginning of April, performed its last patrol in the capital city of Gao on Sunday and is ready to hand over responsibility to the next platoon.
Lt. Tõnis Tael, commander of ESTPLA-36, said that just as has been the case with all the patrols performed, the tasks and goals set for the last patrol were fulfilled.
"The platoon has demonstrated professionalism, which is well mirrored in locals' positive attitude towards Estonian units and feedback from the French," Tael said according to military spokespeople in Tallinn.
ESTPLA-36 has been deployed to the French base situated not far from the Niger River since mid-April. During that period they have performed 25 combined patrols in Gao and its immediate surroundings. In addition, the unit took part in one 48-hour operation.
The final portion of the deployment of the unit in Mali will be taken up by maintenance of equipment, vehicles and weapons, while responsibility will be handed over to a new Estonian contingent in mid-August.
In addition to the infantry platoon, the Estonian contingent in Mali is made up of staff officers and a logistical support element, which is tasked with seeing to the logistics of the whole contingent, ensuring the combat readiness of vehicles, communications equipment and weapons, as well as medical support.
Estonia has been participating in Operation Barkhane with troops deployed in the French base near the town of Gao for four-month rotations since 2018.
Operation Barkhane is a French-led anti-insurgent mission in the Sahel region. The objective of Barkhane is to support the governments of the Sahel region countries Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad in their fight against Islamic terrorists, prevent illegal migration and human trafficking.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste