Estonia doubles soldiers in Afghanistan

  • 2009-06-12
  • TBT staff in cooperation with Estonian Parliament
TALLINN- On June 10, the Estonian Parliament adopteda resolution according to which the Estonian Defense Forces will send anadditional unit of up to 140 soldiers to Afghanistan to provide security for the elections in August.

The additional 140 men will double Estonia'scontribution to ISAF and Estoniawill thus become the largest per capita military contributor to Afghanistan.

The task of the infantry company will be to help Afghanistan's police and army in providing security for the presidential andprovincial council elections on 20 August. The unit will operate in Helmand Province in Southern Afghanistan and willbe stationed there from 1 July to 1 December.

At present, Estonia has one infantry company, a logistics support unit and staffofficers 's altogether 150 service members 's in Afghanistan. The majority of them, including the infantry company Estcoy-8, areoperating in the restive Helmand province under British command. They have participated in severaloperations against the Taliban and other insurgents as well as carried outjoint operations with ANA units. The additional company is planned to serveunder US Marines also in Helmand Province.

The Estonian Defense Forces have participated in the Afghanistan mission since 2003. The International Security Assistance Force(ISAF) in Afghanistan consists of the members of 42 countries. To provide security forthe elections, additional units will be sent to Afghanistan from more than 20 countries belonging to the International SecurityAssistance Force (ISAF).

Since 2006, Afghanistan has been one of Estonia'spriority partner countries for development co-operation. Estoniafocuses on supporting the health care sector in Helmand province and is alsothe lead nation. The health sector receives the lion's share of Estonia'sresources for civilian co-operation in Afghanistan. Estonia also continues to contribute to the education and governancesectors. Estonia has increased its contribution to the EU Police Mission to Afghanistan (EUPOL Afghanistan).