The Estonian Defence Forces in Afghanistan – in pictures

The Estonian Defence Forces have been active in Afghanistan since 2003, serving along the British forces in the restless Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. The first contingent to serve in Afghanistan was the mine clearance group. The Estonian contingent (ESTCON), which normally consists of about 150 soldiers, or about 3% of Estonia’s total active military force, comprises of an infantry company (ESTCOY), national logistics assistance element (NSE), military police close protection unit (CPT) and staff officers. The contingent has been regularly rotated, but as the Western allies, operating under the NATO umbrella, are about to withdraw from Afghanistan completely, the last Estonian contingent, ESTCOY-17, is due back home in May. Security responsibility in Afghanistan will then be handed over to local security forces.This selection of pictures tells a little story of Estonia’s international soldiers in Afghanistan.

Estcoy 16 in 2013 Photo by Captain Arvo Jõesalu

ESTCOY-16 soldiers and a Royal Air Force’s Chinook in 2013. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Captain Arvo Jõesalu Estcoy 16 2013

RAF Chinook taking off, after dropping ESTCOY-16 soldiers in 2013. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Photo by captain Arvo Jõesalu

Estonian soldiers at Camp Bastion. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Photo by lieautenaint Kristel Maasikmets

Ready for operations. Photo by Kristel Maasikmets.

2011 I

Finding a common ground with the locals, in 2011.

2011

Estonian female soldier and the local kids in 2011.

2011 IV

Estonian soldiers patrolling in 2011.

Estcoy 16 in 2013 Photo by Captain Arvo Jõesalu 16

ESTCOY-16 soldier on patrol in 2013. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Estcoy 16 in 2013 Photo by Captain Arvo Jõesalu 15

ESTCOY-16 sniper in 2013. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Photographer - Sgt Steve Blake RLC 2011

Estonian solider in 2011. Photo by Sgt Steve Blake RLC (British Army).

Estcoy 16 in 2013 Photo by Captain Arvo Jõesalu 14

A moment to breath and reflect. ESTCOY-16 soldiers in 2013. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Estcoy 16 training in 2013 Photo by Captain Arvo Jõesalu

ESTCOY-16 training in 2013. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Photo by Arvo Jõesalu VI Estcoy 9 2010

ESTCOY-9 soldiers in 2010. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Photo by lieutenant Kristel Maasikmets

Photo by lieutenant Kristel Maasikmets.

Photo by Arvo Jõesalu 20 Estcoy 16 2013 I

ESTCOY-16 patrol in 2013. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

MRAP tower on a market day 2012 photo by lieutenant Arvo Jõesalu

An Estonian soldier keeps a watchful eye on the local market from a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle in 2012. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Photo by lieutenant Arvo Jõesalu I

Estonian MRAP vehicle patrolling a local market in 2012. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Photo by Arvo Jõesalu 20 Estcoy 16 2013

ESTCOY-16 soldiers in 2013. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Estonian soldiers in Afghanistan

Having some chill-out time.

Photo by major Hannes Võrno I

Celebrating Christmas. Photo by Hannes Võrno.

Christmas celebration II

Christmas Day dinner in 2012.

Christmas celebration

Traditional Christmas dinner.

Christmas Day dinner 2012

Christmas Day dinner in 2012.

Rock dance group - photo by captain Arvo Jõesalu II

Dance group “Rock” from Estonia entertaining the soldiers in 2013. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Photo by captain Arvo Jõesalu V

A girl from a visiting Estonian dance group checking out an American helicopter. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Rock dance group - photo by captain Arvo Jõesalu III

A girl from a visiting Estonian dance group learning new tricks along the way. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Photo by captain Arvo Jõesalu IX jpg

Playing draughts with locally sourced game pieces. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Estonian sauna in Helmand

Estonians cannot live without a sauna! This one, at Camp Bastion, was specially converted for Estonian soldiers, from an old sea container.

Photo by Arvo Jõesalu

How far is home? Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

A local dog wearing a blue-black-and-white collar. Domesticated by British soldiers 2011

A local dog, domesticated by British soldiers, wearing a blue, black, and white collar – the tricolour of Estonia.

Estonian soldiers getting acquinted with a Cobra helicopter operated by the US Marines

Estonian soldiers getting acquainted with a Cobra helicopter, operated by the US marines.

Photo by captain Arvo Jõesalu X

Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Photo by captain Arvo Jõesalu XI

Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Photo by captain Arvo Jõesalu XII

Mingling with the locals. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Photo by Arvo Jõesalu VI

Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Photo by lieutenant Kristel Maasikmets V 2012

Communication with the locals is crucial. Photo by Kristel Maasikmets, 2012.

Photo by lieutenant Kristel Maasikmets VIII 2012

Photo by Kristel Maasikmets, 2012.

Photo by Arvo Jõesalu II

Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Photo by major Hannes Võrno

Reading letters from home. Photo by Hannes Võrno.

Remembering the fallen comrades on Victory Day 23 June 2013 by Arvo Jõesalu

Remembering the fallen on Estonian Victory Day, in 23 June 2013. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

Remembering the fallen comrades

Remembering the fallen. Nine Estonian soldiers lost their lives in Afghanistan.

Photo by lieutenant Kristel Maasikmets II 2012

ESTCOY-14 soldiers in 2012. Photo by Kristel Maasikmets.

Arvo Jõesalu

Embarking on a Chinook at sunset. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

I

All photos courtesy of The Estonian Defence Forces, except where otherwise stated.

Cover photo: ESTCOY-16 soldiers departing from a RAF Chinook in 2013. Photo by Arvo Jõesalu.

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About the author: Estonian World

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