TALLINN - The Independence Day parade marking the 99th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Estonia on Feb. 24 will for the first time offer an opportunity to see a U.S. Abrams tank.
Participating units will line up in Tallinn's central Vabaduse (Freedom) Square at 11:20 a.m. on Feb. 24. The parade, directed by the commander of the defense forces, Lt. Gen. Riho Terras, will be received by President Kersti Kaljulaid.
Participating in this year's parade will be more than 1,000 personnel and 100 units of equipment, a total of 41 flags, five companies, four batteries, 22 platoons and three orchestras. In addition to the orchestras of the Estonian defense forces and the Police and Border Guard Board, a band of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe will take part in the parade.
Represented will be all branches of the defense forces, the National Defense College, the Tartu-based Baltic Defense College, the Guard Battalion, the Headquarters Support and Signal Battalion, the 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigade and the support command, as well as the Rapla unit anti-tank group, Harju unit mortar group and academic unit of the volunteer corps Kaitseliit (Defense League). Cadets of the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences are to participate as well.
The Scouts Battalion will for the first time be participating with their infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) CV9035 and the Viru Infantry Battalion will debut their armored personnel carriers Sisu XA-188. The reconnaissance company of the 1st Infantry Brigade will make its first appearance at the parade as well.
A platoon-sized unit of the U.S. contingent currently stationed in Estonia will also participate in the parade together with a U.S. Abrams tank and a Bradley IFV. The UK will send a platoon-sized unit as well, and Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Denmark, and France will be represented by color guard detachments.
Weather permitting, Estonian and allied aircraft will perform flyovers.
After the parade, the public will be able to examine the equipment of the Estonian and allied forces.