Defense League members embark on Iraq mission

Estonian Defense League (Kaitseliit) crest.
Estonian Defense League (Kaitseliit) crest. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit) personnel are set to take up peace-keeping duties in Iraq, serving with NATO.

Commander of the Estonian platoon taking part in NATO Mission Iraq (NMI), Lt. Sven Luik, said: "The troops have adapted to the local climate and routine surprisingly well. The first few days were quite difficult because a lot of new information, especially on communication and planning tools, came up."

The Defense League complements the regular Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), and is solely made up of volunteers, and organized on a territorial basis.

"They had to become versed in everything in four days to quickly achieve combat readiness and be ready to perform tasks. By now, our personnel have acquired skills in the use of the new tools and the first tasks have been completed," Lt. Sven Luik added. 

The force protection unit, ESTGUARD-4, has achieved combat readiness, Lt. Sven Luik said, and taking part in an international mission of its kind will bring invaluable experience to the Defense League personnel taking part, and the force as a whole, for instance in patrolling and convoy duties

The unit will be in Iraq till the end of this year, and personnel are drawn from all over the country, particularly the Defense League's western district.

ESTGUARD-4 forms part of NATO Mission Iraq (NMI), a non-combat training and advisory mission created in October 2018 which involves 500 defense personnel, including instructors, advisers and support staff from NATO and partner states.

The task of the force protection unit is to ensure the security of people serving in the mission, escorting them to objects as well as ensuring the security of objects.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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