Daily: NATO eFP could be example for whole British Army

Tapa base parade ground.
Tapa base parade ground. Source: mil.ee

The NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup based at Tapa is a microcosm of how the British Army could be in general, outgoing United Kingdom Defense Attaché Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Hing has heard several times, from officers on eFP rotation. Hing was speaking to daily Postimees.

Hing noted in the interview given to Postimees (link in Estonian) that the U.K.-led eFP, which has since its inception in 2017 centered on a roughly battalion-sized British Army unit, has seen many people who have passed through on two or three rotations, and who have remarked on how the facilities, training and activities have grown in scope each time they were at Tapa.

"Several unit commanders have told me that this is what the British Army should be like all the time," Hing added of the battlegroup, saying that the training was well-funded with plenty of resources at its disposal, including ammunition, and had forged a good working relationship both with units of other NATO nations serving in the eFP (primarily from Denmark and France) and with the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) 1st Infantry Brigade.

As to the battlegroup's raison d'etre, at least from the British perspective its aim is to come fully-prepared in order to send a deterrent message, while integrating with the EDF and Estonia's national defense plans, he said.

Estonians, Danes and Britons have served shoulder-to-shoulder in Helmand province in Afghanistan, which makes the armed forces of the three nationalities, together with their common and shared military and general histories, ideal partners, Hing added, while the smaller number of nationalities involved makes the integration process smoother.

The rest of the wide-ranging interview included more on the practical aspects of the eFP to date, minor, past incidents involving some soldiers off-base, its future – as well as that of the British Army more broadly – and Lt. Col. Hing's next role as regional head of the Gurkha Welfare Trust, in Nepal Itself, where he's heading directly from Estonia.

The original Postimees interview (in Estonian) is here.

The Estonian eFP is one of four established in the wake of the 2016 Warsaw Summit, which itself followed the 2014 annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and the ongoing insurgency war in eastern Ukraine that started in the same year. The eFP in Latvia is Canadian-led and also boasts the largest number of participating NATO nations (close to a dozen). Lithuania's eFP is German-led; Poland's is U.S.-led.

The eFPs are a discrete entity from the NATO Baltic Air Policing missions which, i n the Baltic States, fly out of Ämari (Estonia) and Šiauliai (Lithuania).

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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