United States Army equipment arrived at the Estonian Defense Forces base in Tapa over the weekend, including Striker armored personnel carriers, as NATO members ramp up their materiel deployment in Eastern Europe.
Approximately 600 soldiers from the Fort Hood, Texas-based 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, will rotate to the Baltic states and Poland in October to train for interoperability with NATO military units as part of "Operation Atlantic Resolve."
Three Strikers arrived in the first group. Tapa will function as the host base all the allied military forces and armored fighting vehicles, while Ämari acts as the hub for air-related activities, such as the Baltic Air Patrol and the current interoperability training with the American 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. The 173rd has been deployed in Estonia and other Baltic states since April.
According to ETV, the Defense Forces say that the concern is that the infrastructure to handle the new equipment is in place, although billeting the new arrivals is an obstacle, so housing will need to be upgraded. The current American military personnel are living in portable container housing.
"Over the last 12 years the army has been living in typical containers like this, because of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq," said US company commander Jesse Rubio.
"This is only temporary living conditions, and I understand that the Estonian army only has a limited amount of barrack space. So it's no issue for us. It's very comfortable where we are now."
Captain Rubio said that he is satisfied with the technical support of the Estonian Defense Forces, and said analysis of how the military campus will have to develop to properly host by local and allied forces is ongoing.
"This analysis is now at an advanced stage, with regard to defense development as a whole, and the plans are currently being finalized, said Estonian 1st Infantry Brigade commander Lieutenant Colonel Aron Kalmus. "Admittedly, this infrastructure requires certain specific alterations and additions, with the heavy machinery and armored vehicles, and it requires additional infrastructure in terms of development."
Captain Rubio said that for soldiers based in the state of Texas, training in Estonia is anything but boring, but "a very good adventure."
"We have a lot of brand-new soldiers," he said. "They are very excited to work with the Estonian army. A lot of them have only been in the army for six to eight months. So it's a big adventure for them to leave the United States, come to Europe, and training further with the Estonian army."