British Col. Giles R. Harris, commander of the NATO contingent that is to arrive in Estonia this spring, started his service in Estonia on Monday.
Harris will be tasked with leading the work of the NATO battalion to be stationed in Tapa as well as the staff officers and logistics elements to be stationed in Tallinn for the next two years, military spokespeople in Tallinn said.
On Monday, Harris met with Chief of the Estonian Defence Forces Lt. Gen. Riho Terras.
"I am glad to say that the next and very important milestone has been reached in the arrival of the NATO battalion," Terras said. He noted that despite the fact that Monday was Harris' first day of work in Estonia, the latter was already well acquainted with the local situation. "The arrival of the NATO contingent has been thoroughly prepared for a long time," noted the Estonian defense chief. "It is a sign that their coming to Estonia is being taken seriously. We still have some joint challenges but will certainly soon find solutions for them."
Harris has served in the British Armed Forces since 1996 and has also worked on NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan.
The first units of the British-led multinational NATO battalion to be stationed in Estonia will arrive in the country in March. The allied battle group will be stationed at Tapa and will act in conjunction with Estonia's 1st Infantry Brigade.
The UK will be contributing 800 personnel with Warrior infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), Challenger 2 tanks and reconnaissance drones stationed in Estonia as part of the battalion. A French contingent will join the UK troops during the first half of the year, to be replaced later by Danish troops.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla