Government seeking mandate to boost contribution to US-led Iraq operation
The Estonian government on Tuesday greenlit a proposal by Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) to seek a Riigikogu mandate for increasing Estonia's military contribution to the U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) in Iraq to up to 110 troops through the end of the year.
"Ironclad allied relations are the cornerstone of Estonia's security policy," Pevkur said according to a press release. "By increasing its contribution to the U.S.-led OIR, Estonia will strengthen the foundations of its own security by strengthening its alliances with the U.S., the U.K. and France alike."
He noted that by participating in OIR, the international military intervention against the Islamic State group (IS) which involves campaigns in both Iraq and Syria, Estonia will also be contributing directly to Iraq's security, stability in the Middle East as well as the fight against terrorism.
"Participating in the operation will also contribute to the Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) overall development," the defense minister continued. "The EDF will have the chance to put their knowledge and skills to the test as they hone their interoperability with allies and partners."'
The government is proposing that Estonia begins contributing to the operation with a unit up to reduced infantry company in size that would fulfill base defense and rapid response unit duties.
Joining the unit would be a national support element, staff officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) at the operation's U.K.-led battalion-level headquarters in Erbil and division-level headquarters in Baghdad.
Estonia is likewise prepared to contribute an additional special operations unit to the mission.
The Estonian government is seeking to expand its Riigikogu mandate to participate in OIR with up to 110 members of the EDF through the end of 2023.
The Riigikogu's current mandate is for contributing up to five EDF members to the operation.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla