The Estonian government at Thursday's Cabinet meeting decided to support the proposal of Minister of Defence Jüri Luik to apply for a mandate from the Riigikogu to increase Estonia's military contribution to the NATO peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan.
Estonia wishes to increase its contribution due to the increased needs connected to staffing NATO's Resolute Support mission and the cooperation proposals submitted to Estonia by several allies, according to a government press release.
Such an increase in contribution requires a mandate from the Riigikogu, however, so the Ministry of Defence will in the near future submit a bill to the government to send a unit of up to one infantry platoon in size to Afghanistan. The mandate will be asked to send up to 40 members of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) to Afghanistan for one year.
"Estonia's contributions to missions abroad are also contributions to our own security," Ratas said on Thursday. "Every smallest detail counts — this is true not only in our domestic training, but also in international missions with our allies, where the contribution of each professional man and woman is invaluable."
According to Luik's proposal, the members of the EDF would join a British unit tasked with ensuring force protection in the Kabul region to allied soldiers providing training for Afghanistan's security authorities.
"We can see that in addition to the increased presence of our allies in Estonia, most of whom are soldiers from the U.K., we need additional opportunities for cooperation with the U.K. in shared military operations," said Luik. "In the last meeting of NATO defense ministers, the complete staffing of Resolute Support was consensually emphasized. Therefore, we consider it very important in terms of security policy to increase our contribution to cooperation with the British forces for a short time during this operation."
Most NATO members have announced plans to increase their contributions in Afghanistan.
The extension of the current participation of Estonia in Resolute Support has passed the first reading in the Riigikogu. Within this, there are plans for 2018 to continue contributing in Northern Afghanistan, where Germany is the framework nation, with a four-member mine clearance team as well as one staff officer.
In accordance with the National Defence Act, the Minister of Defence decides on the participation of the EDF in operations abroad, doing so based on a mandate from the Riigikogu.
Editor: Aili Vahtla