Estonia and six other states are to create a new joint expeditionary force of at least 10,000 personnel to improve NATO’s rapid deployment ability. The new expeditionary force will be led by the United Kingdom.
In order to start preparations for creation of the new expeditionary force, the Estonian Defence Minister, Sven Mikser, will sign a memorandum of understanding at next week’s NATO summit in Wales. Apart from Estonia and the UK, the other participants are Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and the Netherlands.
“In the changed security situation, it is important to improve the NATO rapid deployment ability and the creation of joint expeditionary force is a concrete step towards this goal,” Mikser said in a statement issued by the Estonian Ministry of Defence.
“It is also a good chance for Estonia to continue our military cooperation with the United Kingdom and other allies, because we have strong ties from our collaboration serving along the British forces in the restless Helmand province in southern Afghanistan,” he added.
The rapid deployment force will incorporate air and naval units as well as ground troops and will be led by British commanders. It will be able to respond swiftly to protect the member states, but also react and help out during humanitarian crises, and natural disasters.
According to Mikser, the negotiations to create the new force started before the Ukraine crisis, but Russia’s aggression in east Ukraine has accelerated and increased the need for it.
“In a tense security situation where we are today, the main task for the joint expeditionary force will have to be the strengthening of the collective defence principle and extended deterrence,” Mikser said.
He added that it is too early to disclose at how many Estonian troops will take part of the expeditionary force, but it will be clarified in autumn.
Cover photo: Estonian and British soldiers have a good experience from serving side by side in the restless Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. In this photo, Sergeant Wayne Shorthouse, 3 PARA Liaison Officer to the Estonian Company in Afghanistan receives the Estonian Army Silver Cross of Merit from EST COY OC Major Ranno Raudsik in 2011. Courtesy of the UK Armed Forces in Afghanistan.