Progress on the integration of a British Army armored brigade within an Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) divisional structure has been strong, the latter's commanders say.
EDF divisional chief of staff Colonel Mait Müürisepp said that: "We are dealing with a brigade formation that, in the event of a military threat, is merged with our division and comes to our aid, in defense of Estonia."
The brigade's assets will primarily be based in the U.K. or at least not in Estonia, during peacetime, but are able to integrate at very short notice.
Col. Müürisepp made his remarks as the commander of the British Army's 12th Armoured Brigade Combat Team Brig. Gen. Henry Searby was on an official visit to Estonia this week.
"The purpose of the visit was to become acquainted with divisional staff members, and to get a first-hand picture of our division, as well as the idiosyncrasies of Estonia's terrain," Col. Müürisepp went on.
Based at Bulford Camp on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, Southern England, the 12th Armored Brigade is itself a part of the UK's 3rd Division, and has the capability to deploy personnel and materiel and fight independently, anywhere in the world.
Units of the brigade also serve in the pre-existing NATO battle group based at Tapa.
Commander of that battlegroup, Brig. Giles Harris, noted that Britain had pledged at the Madrid and Vilnius NATO summits in summer 2022 and 2023 respectively to maintain a brigade at full readiness, in order to reinforce Estonia's defensive posture; this week's visit is a step forward along that path, he said.
"The visit from the 12th Armored Brigade commander and staff members represents a new chapter in the U.K's continued commitment to deter and defend on NATO's Eastern Flank, together with Estonia, and other allies," Brig. Harris said.
The division's commander, Maj. Gen. Veiko-Vello Palm, and Undersecretary for Defense Policy at the Ministry of Defense Tuuli Duneton, were also in attendance at the tour, and met with Brig. Gen. Searby.
The Tapa-based battlegroup, which became a reality in early 2017, is composed of British and French personnel, while troops from Denmark and Belgium have in the past also contributed.
The Commander of 12th Armoured Brigade Combat Team visited senior officers of the 1st Estonian Division to discuss how they'll deploy in the event of defensive warfighting operations on NATO's Northern Flank #WeAreNATO@12ArmdBCT @Kaitsevagi @hqmncne @vonSandrart@DefenceOps pic.twitter.com/mD5HXuV2XL— NATO Battlegroup Estonia (@Natobgest) October 7, 2023
1st Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, an armored infantry battalion, recently arrived to make up the core of the British Army component of the battlegroup.
Editor: Andrew Whyte