Colonel Andrew Jackson, the Deputy Commander of Task Force Helmand, welcomed a new Estonian Company to Camp Bastion this week.
The Estonian contingent in Afghanistan consists of an infantry company with armoured personnel carriers, a national support element, a close protection team in Kabul, and staff officers.
Colonel Jackson was present this week when a transfer of authority ceremony was held at Camp Bastion which saw the 11th rotation of Estonians in Afghanistan take over responsibility from the previous rotation. He said:
We greatly value the contribution that the soldiers from Estonia make. They are terrific soldiers, they have really got the area at Patrol Base Wahid under control. And they provided magnificent support to both 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment and now to 42 Commando Royal Marines as part of 3 Commando Brigade.
“We wish those who are leaving a very safe trip home and we welcome those who just arrived and look forward to tackling many challenges with them over the months to come. It will be a difficult road, we will find lots of challenges, but I am sure that together, in the spirit of coalition operations, we are able to overcome all those challenges.”
During its six-month tour ESTCOY-11 expanded the secure zone in their area of responsibility to ensure the safety of local residents.
Additional tasks included developing and training the Afghan National Security Forces, supporting reconstruction efforts and keeping the area clear of IEDs.
During its deployment ESTCOY-11 had 73 different fire contacts, found and disposed of 25 IEDs, and also found dozens of caches containing various weapons, ammunition, communications equipment and resources to manufacture IEDs.
ESTCOY-11 participated in one brigade operation and in a number of battle group operations. In addition to this they supported the operations of three other battle groups and carried out several company-level operations.
They also saw noticeable development of Afghan National Army units and a growth in their professionalism. In addition, local police forces made a major step forward in the way that they were finally able to plan and manage joint patrols with ESTCOY-11.
Lieutenant Colonel Viktor Kalnitski, ESTCOY-11 Commander, said:
We became a really good team during the months we served together. Our main task - to maintain stability in the area of responsibility - was achieved, and I thank you for this!
All members of the contingent performed their duties perfectly and your dedication created good preconditions for the success of the operation and ensuring the overall service.
ESTCOY-12, led by Major Martin Kukk, have now taken over responsibility in Patrol Base Wahid, supported by the Estonian logistics personnel serving in Camp Bastion. The 11th rotation of Estonians in Afghanistan is led overall by Lieutenant Colonel Anto Kergand.