Two-dozen EDF members likely to join UK-led defense framework

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Vessels from some of the eight JEF member states on exercise this year. Source: U.K. Ministry of Defense/social media

Up to twenty-four Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) personnel are set to join a British-led, eight-nation-strong, multi-faceted expeditionary force for 2022, the Estonian defense ministry says.

The EDF personnel would take part in the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), a high-readiness, multi-national capability spearheaded by the U.K. and its armed forces which has been active in the Baltic Sea region in recent years.

The EDF's input would come via an anti improvised explosive devices (IED) team, a strategic communication team, a five-strong team of medics, a forward air controller, a sea mine countermeasures (MCM) diver unit with the remainder making up a national support element, BNS reports.

The defense ministry has put out its draft proposal for approval; the deployment needs to pass a Riigikogu vote and, if it does, would see the commitment last through to the end of 2022.

The JEF can invite partner countries to take part in specific missions, which they can choose to do, or not as the case may be.

The JEF has conducted large-scale exercises in the Baltic in the past, most recently earlier this year, as well as a large-scale exercise in the southern Baltic in 2019.

The JEF provides a high-readiness intervention capability involving over 10,000 personnel across a range of activities, from combat operations to humanitarian assistance and defense engagement.

The JEF Comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding (CMoU) was signed on Jun 28 2018 by the U.K. and the eight partner nations, namely NATO members Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Norway, together with non-NATO members Finland and Sweden.

The NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup based since its formation in early 2017 at Tapa, east of Tallinn, is U.K.-led, while Britain's Royal Air Force has also held the NATO Baltic Air Policing role in the past, most recently in summer 2019.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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