In October, the United States of America are sending a ground troops company into Estonia, the equipment of which includes tanks and infantry fighting machines.
US tanks and fighting vehicles coming to Estonia, in October
According to the newspaper Stars and Stripes, approximately 600 soldiers from the US Army’s 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division will deploy to Poland and the Baltic States, replacing about 600 paratroopers from the Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy.
The equipment of the troops due in Estonia includes M-1 Abrams tanks, infantry fighting machines and armoured personnel carriers. The unit’s home base is in Fort Hood, Texas, USA. According to the newspaper, they are coming to Europe for three months for a series of training exercises.
As confirmed by defence minister Sven Mikser at government press conference, yesterday, the autumn rotation will see the current light infantry company replaced by a unit featuring armament considerably heavier. «Indeed, the battalion sending a company this fall into each of the Baltics features both Abrams tanks, Bradley infantry fighting machines and Stryker armoured carriers,» said the minister.
According to Mr Mikser, the company coming to Estonia will probably be located in Tapa, which in his estimation makes good sense as Estonia’s own armoured manoeuvring capacity will also be developed at the Tapa Garrison. «Definitely, the US unit located there and joint trainings with our troops will grant us needed experience, allowing us to learn from our largest and key ally,» added the defence minister.
Even before the press conference, it was confirmed to Postimees by defence ministry press representative Peeter Kuimet that the information in the American newspaper is true and the equipment listed is on its way. «This is a unit different from the US paratroopers who we have at the moment. In October, a heavy unit is coming,» said Mr Kuimet.
According to Mr Kuimet, the amount of US soldiers coming to Estonia is still being decided, as is the number of tanks and battle machines they’ll be taking along. The location in Estonia is also open as yet.
The exact time of their stay in Estonia is not settled either. Mr Kuimet noted that pursuant to a decision taken in the spring, the USA is maintaining a company-sized rotated unit in Estonia at least till the end of the year.
At the end of April, 600 soldiers of the US Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade arrived in Poland and the Baltics. Of these, Estonia got a company of 150 men. In June, another company from the same unit arrived in Estonia, replacing those who came in April. Yesterday, the company’s third rotation was performed.
In April, the North Atlantic Council approved of an increase of NATO presence in Poland and the Baltics regarding air, navy and ground units. It was also agreed that NATO would review defence plans for Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, considering the altered security situation in Europe.