Newly arrived British unit ready to train with Estonian forces

New British soldiers in Võru.
New British soldiers in Võru. Source: ERR

More than 100 British soldiers have already arrived in Estonia after NATO's decision to reinforce the Baltic States at the end of June. Joint exercises are already in the pipeline.

An additional 150 soldiers have been sent to join the 2nd Infantry Brigade (2. jalaväebrigaad) in Võru County.

Brigade commander Colonel Mati Tikerpuu said their quick arrival is an "excellent positive example" of how NATO allies can work together if they face an emergency situation.

"It came unexpectedly, but at the same time, in terms of timing, it is very good, because we ourselves are at a low period in training at the moment, and therefore we have a place to put them and they can practice," Tikerpuu told Monday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".

Joint training will begin by the end of the year.

"Joint exercises will start when our units also reach the so-called subunit course, so to speak. Right now, this is the moment where we are just starting a new training period, the soldiers here are in their third week. But, right now, the Allied unit is ahead of us in their training, so we have to reach the level of subdivision course and then we will start doing exercises with them," Tikerpuu explained.

The group in Estonia as part of the U.K.-led rotating Enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup, which is usually based in Tapa.

Lieutenant Colonel William Wells, unit commander of the 2 RIFLES Light Infantry Battalion, said smaller exercises will take place first.

"This week the predominant focus is on the validation exercise for the subunit group who will be put through it. When we enter next week are going to be entering lower level training, both just among the British and also alongside the Estonians. And concurrent to that, we are going to start our integration in earnest with the Estonian brigade," he said.

He said 120 British soldiers will stay in Estonia.

"In September we are going to be sending a force to Latvia for a few weeks and similarly in October, another force will go to Lithuania. It is just really a demonstration of the agile taskforce's ability to project, throughout the region supporting Estonia and Estonia's close neighbors."


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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

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