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UK government minister thanks Tapa-based British Army troops for their service

Dr. Andrew Murrison, the UK's Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defense People, Veterans and Service Families, visiting Tapa Base, December 7, 2023.
Dr. Andrew Murrison, the UK's Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defense People, Veterans and Service Families, visiting Tapa Base, December 7, 2023. Source: UK Ministry of Defense.

A British government minister has expressed gratitude to United Kingdom forces currently based at Tapa, East of Tallinn.

The United Kingdom is a key ally of Estonia's, while its current d commitment to Estonia, which has increased substantially over the past two years, now represents that country's largest military land deployment worldwide.

Andrew Murrison MP (pictured), the UK's Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defense People, Veterans and Service Families, said: "I want to thank our armed forces, stationed in Estonia, who are on the front line in reinforcing the NATO alliance."

"Their hard work and commitment is critical to protecting peace and reinforcing our commitment to Estonia," the minister went on.

"Our service personnel, and their families, make huge sacrifices especially when stationed away from home to defend our nation. I am committed to continue driving forward improvements to the support we provide them, ensuring they have the best possible experience," he added, via a UK Ministry of Defense press release.

Dr Murrison made his remarks while on an official visit to Tapa base Thursday, in which he reaffirmed the valued friendship and close defense ties between the UK and Estonia, and met with Defense Minister Hanno Pekvur (Reform).

The minister, a former Royal Navy medical officer, reviewed improvements to camp facilities including the introduction of a Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) welfare facility, improved catering facilities and fare and other developments.

An official visit to Tapa from a British senior cabinet minister shortly ahead of Christmas has taken place most years since the NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup, which is British-led, was established, in 2017. Past visitors at this time of year include then-prime minister Boris Johnson in December 2019, and current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, this time last year.

1st Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers form the current core of the eFP and are joined by elements from the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers, and staff officers and other personnel based at Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) headquarters in Tallinn.

A heavy infantry, as in the case of 1st Fusiliers, or armored regiment, usually forms the core of the eFP, which is augmented by French troops and, in the recent past, Belgian and Danish personnel also.

 A UK-based armored brigade on high readiness is being integrated into the Tallinn-based EDF divisional command structure, alongside both of the EDF's infantry brigades, which are both heavy infantry units and cover North and South Estonia.

In October 2023, Britain's Defense Secretary, Grant Shapps, signed a new Defense Cooperation Arrangement along with Minister Pevkur, which sets out the blueprint for the ongoing defensive relationship over the next decade.

This year alone, the UK has conducted multiple other deployments to and in Estonia, including over 2,300 personnel in support of the annual Estonian exercise Spring Storm, in May, an additional battlegroup, company from the elite Royal Marines, Chinook Apache and Wildcat Helicopters.

At sea, the Royal Navy's HMS Mersey an offshore patrol vessel, HMS Albion a landing-platform docking ship and HMS Diamond, a Type-45 destroyer have already visited Estonia, while Type-23 frigate the HMS Richmond is moored in Tallinn harbor as of today, Friday.

In the air, the UK led NATO's Enhanced Air Policing (Op AZOTIZE) at Ämari Air Base, utilizing six Typhoon from RAF Lossiemouth, who kept busy intercepting 50 Russian Aircraft over the four months (February to June) they were here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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