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All Change For NATO Battle Group Estonia

Library image of a British Army WARRIOR IFV deployed in Estonia on NATO eFP duties [© Bob Morrison]

The UK Ministry of Defence yesterday issued the following Press Release announcing the successful Relief In Place of 5 RIFLES by 1 R WELSH in Estonia as part of the ongoing NATO eFP mission:-

“British soldiers from 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh have deployed to Estonia, renewing the UK’s commitment to our NATO allies in Europe and providing reassurance in the face of any potential aggression. Taking over from 5th Battalion The Rifles, which has been in the country since March, 800 soldiers from the Royal Welsh battlegroup arrived this week.

“Following an official ceremony earlier today [30th], The Royal Welsh will now lead the multinational enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup, supported by elements from the King’s Royal Hussars, the Royal Engineers and the Royal Artillery as well as soldiers from France and Denmark. The battlegroup will be part of the 1st Estonian Infantry Brigade.

Badge of 1st Estonian Infantry Brigade under which BG EST serves [© Bob Morrison]

“The arrival of the Royal Welsh coincides with the second in a series of visits from four RAF Typhoons to Estonia, ready to train and work with UK personnel on the ground as well as our NATO allies.

“Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: ‘Nobody should be in any doubt of our unwavering commitment to the security of Europe through NATO in the face of Russian belligerence. In the face of intensifying threats, the UK has stepped up across Europe, with soldiers, tanks and Typhoons deployed from Estonia to Romania. Our enhanced Forward Presence is a strategic tripwire that we will maintain on an enduring footing.’

“Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Owain Luke added: ‘Having completed a demanding period of training in the UK and Canada earlier this year, we are delighted to have finally arrived in Estonia. We now look forward to training and operating with the 1st Estonian Infantry Brigade and our French and Danish allies as part of NATO’s wider defensive posture across the Baltic states and Poland.’

“The UK’s battlegroup forms part of the wider NATO enhanced Forward Presence, with multinational forces deployed across the Baltic States and Poland, led by the US, Canada and Germany. The UK has a further 150 soldiers based in Poland, part of the US led battlegroup and RAF Typhoons have recently completed a four month deployment to Romania, patrolling the Black Sea skies.”

Footnote: Although it was stated yesterday by MoD that news images would be made available to accompany the Press Release, as of 15:45 today none have yet materialised so the image above is a library picture of one of the Warrior IFV fleet in Estonia being used by 5 RIFLES earlier this year.

The French contingent deployed under UK command in Estonia is on a four-month roulement and has already changed personnel with a contingent from 2nd Foreign Legion Infantry Regiment (2e REI) taking over from 9e BIMa. The image below, taken on Sunday, is of the troop of Leclerc tanks supporting 2e REI who are currently deployed in Latvia on Adazi Training Area on a routine training task.

French eFP Leclerc crews dress their tanks prior to an exercise in Latvia this week [© Bob Morrison]

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