A United States infantry company arrived at Taara base in Võru this week as part of a deployment to train and serve with the 2nd Infantry Brigade of the Estonian Defence Forces.
This deployment, within the framework of bilateral defence cooperation, is part of the commitment made by the US president, Joe Biden, at the NATO Madrid summit to enhance the presence of rotational US forces in the Baltic region and to strengthen the deterrence and defence posture on NATO’s eastern flank.
“The US infantry unit will also include a battalion command element that will allow us to integrate our allies on a brigade level and gain an additional manoeuvre unit. This will help us train by using additional allies’ capabilities and increasing the brigade’s combat power,” Colonel Mati Tikerpuu, the commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade of the Estonian Defence Forces, said in a statement.
The US infantry company will be stationed in Võru during its deployment and will participate in joint exercises with the Estonian Defence Forces to enhance interoperability and to demonstrate the flexibility of combat credible forces to respond to threats.
The unit is part of the 1st Infantry Division, a combined arms division of the United States Army and the oldest continuously serving division in the US Regular Army. The division has seen continuous service since its organisation in 1917 during the First World War. It was officially nicknamed “The Big Red One” (abbreviated “BRO”) after its shoulder patch and is also nicknamed “The Fighting First”. The unit has been stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, and in Germany, and has seen combat in the First World War, the Second World War, the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
A HIMARS platoon to follow
“Our US soldiers are excited to be in Estonia and we look forward to working shoulder-to-shoulder, alongside our allies. This is an opportunity to learn from one another, deepen our interoperability, and form stronger bonds,” Colonel Richard J. Ikena, the 1st Infantry Division artillery commander, noted.
The United States will also deploy a HIMARS platoon to Estonia, along with the corresponding control equipment and systems, and will cooperate with the Estonian Defence Forces to establish a divisional structure within the framework of NATO.
Estonia will also join the renowned US Warfighter programme, comprising a series of exercises culminating in a capstone training event that will give certification to the participating corps and division formations.
Apart from the deployment of US troops, a NATO battle group (enhanced Forward Presence) led by the United Kingdom currently serves in Estonia, in which French and Danish units and Icelandic experts also participate. Additionally, there is a German Air Force unit in Estonia as part of the Baltic Air Policing Mission.