Earlier this week, members of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) were given French mission medals for their contribution to the French-led Operation Barkhane, an anti-insurgent operation in the Sahel region of Africa.
"The Estonian contingent has done very good work during the mission, and demonstrated extreme commitment to the tasks assigned to them," Maj. Rauno Vahimets, commander of the Estonian contingent in Mali, said according to a press release. "Our time here has proven that we have great cooperation with the French, and I'm positive that the camaraderie forged here will continue to endure."
Since 1962, France has been bestowing the Medaille d'Outre-Mer, or Overseas Medal, to military personnel who have served on overseas missions. The medals received by EDF personnel at this week's ceremonial lineup included the designation Sahel, denoting the region where they served alongside the French.
The newly decorated, nearly 50-strong Estonian contingent consists of the BKN-11 ESTPLA infantry platoon supported by a national support element, whose rotation at Gao began in December and will run through Midsummer.
This is also the final rotation of troops Estonia is contributing to Operation Barkhane.
The French-led Operation Barkhane is aimed at supporting five African countries in the Sahel region — Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad — in their fight against armed terrorist groups.
Contributing countries also included Sweden and the Czech Republic, with additional support provided by the U.K., Canada, the U.S. and Denmark as well.
Operation Barkhane began on August 1, 2014.
Editor: Aili Vahtla