US combat aviation special forces team on working in Estonia

US Airborne troops on a jump, in an undated photo (picture is illustrative).
US Airborne troops on a jump, in an undated photo (picture is illustrative). Source: ERR

The clandestine world of special forces operations in Estonia saw some light shed on its work via a recent article on daily Postimees' English-language portal, which focused on the US Air Force Combat Aviation Advisory Team, who recently made their first-ever visit to Estonia, tasked with polishing cooperation between air forces and special forces on the ground.

The U.S. Air Force Combat Aviation Advisory Team, nicknamed the "Brown Berets", is part of the 6th Special Operations Squadron and, while the name of the commanding officer recently in Estonia cannot be published, the individual told Postimees that: "When we come somewhere, we use the partner nation's aircraft and not our own equipment – we have local solutions to local problems."

To that stated end, the personnel rehearsed with Polish PZL M28 Skytruck transport aircraft, locally referred to as simply M28, Postimees reports – an aircraft obtained by Estonia in 2019 via a US program of handing over surplus military equipment to allies and at a time when much media and public attention was on the large-scale reservist Exercise Siil ("Hedgehog") last month.

The Brown Berets said the M28s, which can carry personnel or cargo and are very flexible in terms of the variety of landing spots they can make a safe landing on, while the Brown Berets' spokesperson said: "The Estonian version is actually better than the ones we use back in the U.S.," highlighting its multi-purpose nature.

The commander also praised the professional attitude of the unit's Estonian colleagues, particularly in relation to their strong equipment maintenance ethic, solution-oriented approach and their can-do attitude.

The full Postimees English piece, by journalist Evelyn Kaldoja, is here.

The U.S. operates several special forces units; the U.S. Navy SEALs and Delta Force are among the most frequently referenced of them, while the major known U.K. units are the Special Air Service (SAS), a British Army regiment, and its Royal Marines' counterpart, the Special Boat Service (SBS), plus the more recently-formed Special Forces Support Group. Estonia's own special forces unit is called Erioperatsioonide väejuhatus (ESTSOF).

A YouTube reaction video to the special forces selection process in neighboring Latvia is here.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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