Following a four-month tour in Mali, members of the Estonian Defence Forces' (EDF) infantry unit ESTPLA-26 and its support element returned to Estonia on Friday evening.
Maj. Kristjan Karist, head of the Estonian contingent to serve in Mali, said that the troops of ESTPLA-26 left a good impression on their allies and behaved professionally on the mission.
"As commander of the C Infantry Company, I am glad that we could showcase our skills here," Karist was quoted by EDF spokespeople as saying. "I am even more proud of my men as we maintained the EDF's professional image in the area."
ESTPLA-26 entered service on the anti-insurgent Operation Barkhane in August, when the unit began conducting force protection tasks at Gao Military Base under the command of the 2nd Foreign Parachute Regiment of the French Foreign Legion. During its four-month rotation, ESTPLA-26 contributed 18 patrols in the city of Gao, manned base entrances and control posts on 29 occasions, and were prepared for rapid response on 23 occasions.
During its service, the unit had the opportunity to cooperate with both members of the Foreign Legion as well as the Franco-German Brigade that arrived in Mali in October.
ESTPLA-26 handed over responsibility to the incoming ESTPLA-28 in Mali in November already. ESTPLA-28 likewise consists of soldiers of the C Infantry Company of the EDF's Scouts Battalion.
Operation Barkhane is a French-led anti-insurgent mission in Africa's Sahel region. The operation's objective is to support the governments of the Sahel region countries of Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad in their fight against Islamic terrorists, as well as prevent illegal migration and human trafficking. The UK is also supporting the operation with transport helicopters, and Spain with an air force component.
Editor: Aili Vahtla