On Wednesday, the Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) Scout Battalion's reduced infantry company ESTCOY-18 left Ämari Air Base for Iraq, where they will serve as part of the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve.
The EDF unit deployed to Iraq will be responsible for base protection, rapid response and providing security for key personnel.
"If the unit performs well, it will of course create a reputation for Estonians and the Estonian unit. A lot depends on that company, which is first to go to the mission area," said Col. Ranno Raudsik, commander of the EDF's Scout Battalion.
The main part of the unit deployed to Iraq is the Scout Battalion's reduced infantry company Estcoy-18. The contingent serving in Iraq also includes the National Support Element as a rear element and staff officers and NCOs.
The EDF contingent arrived in Iraq on Wednesday and will be deployed to the Erbil region in the north of the country, where they are to be stationed with the International Liaison Force at Erbil air base.
The Estonian unit will take over responsibility from the Dutch company, which has been performing the same tasks up to now. The Erbil base is located adjacent to the city's international airport and hosts more than 4,000 allied troops.
Estonia decided to join the US-led military coalition in Iraq in the framework of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) in 2016. Before now, however, the mandate only allowed the deployment of up to five EDF members to the Joint Task Force headquarters
Estonia previously participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) from 2003 to 2009 and in NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) from 2005 to 2011, and from 2018 until today.
Estonian Defense Force members have participated in a range of foreign operations for almost 20 years.
Editor: Michael Cole