NATO colonel: 10,000 allied troops understand Estonia's defense plans

The fifth anniversary parade on May 12, 2022.
The fifth anniversary parade on May 12, 2022. Source: Ministry of Defense.

Over the last five years, approximately 10,000 allied NATO troops have rotated in and out of Estonia and now have an understanding of the defense plans and conditions here, the UK's Colonel Dai Bevan has said.

At the NATO summit earlier this week, the UK pledged to increase its number of allied troops in Estonia to a brigade-sized unit, somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 troops.

These troops will not all be stationed in Estonia but will need to get here quickly if needed.

Colonel Dai Bevan, who leads Estonia's Enhanced Foward Presence (eFP) battlegroup, said since the units started operating in Estonia in 2017, thousands of troops have an understanding of the country's position which makes it easier to work together.

"The eFP has been in Estonia for about five years now and we celebrated our anniversary in April. That means about 10,000 allied soldiers have served in Tapa, probably about 8,000 of those have been British, but the important thing is that you now have that many thousand allied soldiers who know the Estonian ground, who know their peers within the Estonian Defense Forces, and have a very good understanding of the ground and national defense plans which makes it easier for us when we do reinforce within this region in terms of integration and interoperability," Bevan told Friday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".

NATO's Eastern Flank (June 2022). Source: NATO

Estonia's eFP battle group is made up of UK, Danish, French and Icelandic personnel and is led by the British. Units rotate twice a year.

The UK has approximately 1,600 personnel on-site at the moment after it doubled its numbers in a show of solidarity in Feburary after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

This was carried out by bringing forward the deployment of the next unit and extending the mission of forces already serving in Estonia. At that time, it was not known how long this double-deployment would last.

Bevan did not have an exact answer when asked by AK.

"We plan to have changes every six months, but again we will look at what the security situation is on the ground and it may mean we extend battle groups as we did with the Royal Tank Regiment or we bring them [forward quicker] so that we just don't have a change over at a difficult time," he said.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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