Members of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) serving in Mali received French mission medals at a ceremonial line-up at the Gao military base in Mali along with thanks for their contribution to the anti-insurgent mission Operation Barkhane.
"Your contribution has been significant for three reasons - your mood and attitudes, work efficiency and presence here with us. And to express our gratitude, I am pleased and honored to pin to your chest the Overseas Medal with the Sahel clasp, the ribbon on which symbolizes the bond we established in four months between the blue-white-red flag and the blue-black-white flag," Col. Thomas Noizet, commander of the 1st desert tactical group Roc Noir, was quoted by Estonian military spokespeople as saying. He emphasized that the presence of Estonians alongside the French in Mali symbolizes the joining of forces.
"Considering that improvisation was sometimes needed when performing the tasks, plans had to be changed at short notice and increased readiness had to be maintained whenever necessary during the mission, the unit did well in the tasks assigned to them. I believe that they will continue their service as coolheadedly in Estonia," Maj. Rauno Viitmann, elder of the Estonian contingent, said, thanking all members of the Estonian contingent.
The Overseas Medal is a mission medal awarded to soldiers who have served overseas since 1962.
The Estonian contingent that received the mission medals consists of some 50 members of the Estonian defense forces and its main task in the anti-insurgent operation is to ensure the security of the base and its immediate surroundings.
Estonian troops have been serving in four-month rotations at a French base near the city of Gao since 2018. The current Estonian contingent started its rotation in April.
Operation Barkhane is a French-led anti-insurgent mission in the Sahel region. The objective of Barkhane is to support the governments of the Sahel region countries Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad in their fight against Islamic terrorists. It is aimed at creating stability in the region and controlling problems affecting Europe, such as terrorism and illegal immigration.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste