The Danish contingent of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup have completed two six-month rotations at Tapa base. Danish personnel are now scheduled to return to Estonia in 2022.
At a farewell ceremony at Tapa base, east of Tallinn, Friday morning, commander of the contingent, Lt Col. Thomas Fogh, thanked his Estonian and U.K. colleagues.
Lt Col. Fogh said via a NATO press release that: "Our cooperation with the British-lead Battlegroup and the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) 1st Brigade has been exemplary."
The British Army's 5th Battalion, the Rifles (5 Rifles), an armored infantry battalion, forms the core of the battlegroup at present, and Lt Col. Fogh also handed over responsibilities which had been handled by Danish personnel to 5 Rifles commanding officer, Lt Col. Jim Hadfield.
Lt Col. Fogh said: "Together, we have conducted intensive training and taken part in various military exercises, We have exchanged knowledge and experience, and having had the opportunity to train here in Estonia has been invaluable. Additionally, it has been an honor to be an integrated part of the NATO´s defense of Estonia and the Baltic States, and, personally, I am glad that our soldiers have had the opportunity to get to know the people of Estonia, with whom the Danes share a long history."
Around 200 Danish soldiers and officers have been stationed in Tapa across both rotations. Several Danish staff officers are to remain in Estonia, partly to prepare for the return of Danish forces in March 2022, pending final approval by the Danish Parliament.
Long-standing relationship between Denmark and Estonia
Cooperation between Danish and Estonian militaries goes back decades. Danish troops fought alongside Estonians during the 1918-1920 War of Independence and in recent years, troops from both countries have served together in various NATO missions, including in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to legend, Denmark's flag, the Dannebrog, first appeared after floating down from the sky at the 1219 Battle of Lindanise, where Danish and German crusaders fought an Estonian army. Lindanise, or Lyndanisse, was an earlier name for Tallinn - itself deriving from a word meaning a Danish fort.
"We have a long history of cooperation with the Estonian military, and that will continue," Lt. Col Fogh. Said, adding that Danish personnel will be taking part in the annual Spring Storm EDF exercise this year, as well as EDF personnel making the return trip to Denmark to take part in a major exercise there.
"We will be sending Danish infantry troops to Estonia this spring, to participate in the annual Spring Storm exercise, and Estonian soldiers will also go to Denmark to take part in Brave Lion, the largest annual field training exercise held in Denmark."
Danish personnel had been presented mission medals by Estonia's Minister of Defense, Jüri Luik (Isamaa), just before Christmas.
In addition to the Danes, French and Belgian soldiers have also made up the NATO eFP Battlegroup at various times since it was formed in 2017.
The equivalent eFP battlegroups in Latvia and Lithuania are Canadian- and German-led respectively, while the U.S. heads up the battlegroup in Poland. The groups' formation followed a decision made at the 2016 Warsaw Summit, which took place following the 2014 annexation of the Crimea region by the Russian Federation, and the ongoing insurgency war in eastern Ukraine which started that year. Tapa base has seen major expansion and development since that time.
Editor: Andrew Whyte