Daily: British soldier issues already discussed at higher levels

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Recent rotation handover ceremony at Tapa base, home of the U.K.-led NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup. Source: Oliver Turp

Regional daily Virumaa Teataja says that a recent incident involving British soldiers based in Tapa, Lääne-Viru County, is, according to its sources, not an isolated one and that other cases of behavior that some local residents say they find unacceptable have also been reported, while the issue has already been discussed at higher levels.

The director of a local high school told the daily (link in Estonian) that British soldiers had been seen smoking on the premises of the school's sports stadium, while fights between soldiers and rowdy, drunk behavior has also been reported.

A brawl which broke out last Saturday evening saw military police get the situation under control, in the authorities' words, which involved pinning one man to the floor, dragging a young woman along the ground and appearing to raise a baton at a second woman.

According to Virumaa Teataja, the issue had already been discussed at higher levels, while Lt. Col. Dean Canham, commander of 1st Battalion, the Mercian Regiment, the unit currently making up the core of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP), told the daily that all and any complaints were taken very seriously, while those under his command were expected to adhere to strictly established codes of conduct which, if breached, would lead to disciplinary action.

The town's mayor, Riho Tell (Reform) told Virumaa Teataja that he, too, was aware of the allegations and was in regular contact with the British battalion's command, while a manger of a local cafe and pizza restaurant frequented by off-duty British soldiers from the nearby NATO base said that the vast majority of British personnel visiting the cafe behaved well and had not been a problem, rejecting reports that Saturday's incident - over which no charges have been pressed as of the time of writing - had begun on the cafe's premises.

The Virumaa Teataja piece (link in Estonian) is here.

A NATO spokesperson told ERR News Tuesday that: 'We can confirm there has been an incident involving U.K. service persons in Tapa. It is being investigated and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.''

British soldiers are taking part in the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) large-scale Exercise Spring Storm, which kicked off Monday and lasts three weeks.

The NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup was established in early 2017 and since that time, Tapa base has seen extensive redevelopment and expansion. While a British Army regiment, usually a heavy infantry battalion, forms the core of the eFP, it is organizationally a part of the EDF's 1st Infantry Brigade, while Danish, French and Belgian personnel have contributed to its numbers, as well as British personnel from other regiments.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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