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US infantry unit arrives in Estonia

U.S. infantry troops in Võru.
U.S. infantry troops in Võru. Source: Estonian Defense Forces

A United States infantry company arrived at Taara base in Võru this week as part of a deployment to train and serve with the Second Infantry Brigade of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF).

According to an EDF press release, the deployment, within the framework of bilateral defense cooperation, is part of the commitment made by U.S. President Joe Biden at July's NATO Madrid Summit to enhance the presence of rotational U.S. forces in the Baltic region and strengthen the deterrence and defense posture on NATO's eastern flank.

"The U.S. Infantry Unit will also include a battalion command element that will allow us to integrate our allies on a brigade level and gain an additional maneuver unit," said Colonel Mati Tikerpuu, commander of the Second Infantry Brigade of the Estonian Defense Forces.

"This will help us to train by using our allies' additional capabilities and increasing the brigade's combat power," Tikerpuu said.

The U.S. infantry company will be stationed in Võru during its deployment and will participate in joint exercises with the EDF. The aim of the deployment is to enhance interoperability and demonstrate the flexibility of combat credible forces to respond to threats

"Our U.S. Soldiers are excited to be in Estonia and we look forward to working shoulder-to-shoulder, alongside our allies. This is an opportunity to learn from one another, deepen our interoperability, and form stronger bonds," said First Infantry Division Artillery Commander Colonel Richard J. Ikena.

"Our unit is ready for this amazing opportunity. Working with our Estonian counterparts increases readiness, and the relationships built will increase interoperability," added Bravo Company Commander Captain Arnaud Vaganay.

According to the EDF press statement, the United States is also set to deploy a HIMARS platoon to Estonia, along with the corresponding control equipment and systems. The U.S. will cooperate with the Estonian Defense Forces to establish a divisional structure within the framework of NATO.

Estonia will also join the U.S. Warfighter program, which comprises series of exercises culminating in a capstone training event.

In addition to the deployment of U.S. troops, a NATO battle group (Enhanced Forward Presence) led by the United Kingdom and in which French and Danish units and Icelandic experts also participate, is currently serving in Estonia. A German Air Force unit is also in Estonia as part of the Baltic Air Policing Mission.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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