From 2003-2014, Estonia participated in Afghanistan under the NATO mission, International Security Assistance Force; this selection of pictures tells a little story of the Estonian soldiers in Afghanistan.*
The Estonian Defence Forces were 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, which normally consisted of about 150 professional soldiers, comprised of an infantry company (ESTCOY), national logistics assistance element, military police close protection unit and staff officers. Nine Estonian soldiers lost their lives in Afghanistan and 102 were injured, 25 of them seriously.
The contingent was regularly rotated, but as the Western allies, operating under the NATO umbrella, were about to withdraw from Afghanistan completely, the last Estonian contingent, ESTCOY-17, came back home in May 2014. However, a small number of Estonian military personnel remained in the country until June 2021.
After the Western allies withdrew from Afghanistan, security responsibility was handed over to local security forces, but the Islamist movement, the Taliban, recaptured the whole Afghanistan swiftly by 15 August 2021.
This selection of pictures tells a little story of Estonia’s international soldiers in Afghanistan from 2003-2014.
* This article was originally published on 13 April 2014, lightly edited on 16 August 2021.
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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