British Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Sir Stuart Peach met with Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces Gen. Riho Terras and visited British soldiers serving in Tapa on Friday.
Peach thanked Estonians for their support and hospitality, adding that it is still important to pay attention to NATO's deterrence and defense stance, which "the alliance's battle groups are representing on the alliance's eastern flank."
Terras and Peach discussed the annual large-scale Russian-Belarusian military exercise Zapad, which is scheduled to take place in September, as well as the increase in activity accompanying it.
"We have to increase the visibility of the alliance in our region with our allies and, in addition to the presence of land forces, pay attention to activity in the air and on sea," Terras said, adding that his British counterpart was impressed with not only Estonia's efforts to develop independent defense capability, but also the readiness of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) and society's support of national defense.
The British-led, 1,200-strong NATO battle group deployed to Estonia this spring has British and French tanks and infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) as well as British self-propelled artillery among its equipment. The French troops are serving in the group for eight months, after which they will be replaced by Danish troops.
The 300-strong French contingent is armed with Leclerc tanks, VBCI IFVs and VAB armored vehicles. The British contingent, which consists of 800 personnel, is armed with Challenger 2 tanks, Warrior IFVs and AS-90 self-propelled artillery.
Leaders of NATO member states decided at the Warsaw Summit last July to deploy NATO troops to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as part of its enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) forward deployed defense and deterrence posture due to the changed security environment. The contingent stationed in Estonia is led by the U.K., with additional troops contributed by France and Denmark.
Editor: Aili Vahtla