Estonia can count on U.S. military support, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey reaffirmed on Tuesday.
«You can count on us,» the highest ranking U.S. military officer told reporters, adding that his successor will definitely forward the same message. He also affirmed that the United States takes ensuring all allies' security very seriously.
There isn't a better symbol of commitment than the presence of U.S. troops, both men and women, on Estonian soil, the U.S. general said. He described the training conditions in the Tapa military compound where U.S. soldiers are stationed as excellent.
Dempsey acknowledged the contribution and sacrifices made by Estonian military serving side by side with Americans on several missions.
The general said that further Estonian-U.S. military cooperation was one of the central themes of his visit.
In the focus of Dempsey's meetings in Estonia were regional security and ensuring security, commander of the defense forces Lt. Gen. Riho Terras said.
He observed that Estonia and the United States have a similar understanding of the threat represented by an aggressive Russia on the eastern flank of NATO.
«We are grateful for the U.S. contribution to ensuring security in this region,» the chief of defense said. He added that NATO needs to «keep both eyes open» and monitor the situation in both the east and the south.
Dempsey said this was his last visit in his current position.
At the general's meeting with President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on Tuesday, bilateral defense-related cooperation of which the rotation of U.S. units in the Baltic states and Poland and joint trainings in this region are a part was discussed.
The two also spoke about the security environment in general, which remains turbulent, and the situation in Syria, one of the reasons for the flood of migrants that has hit Europe, the president's office said.
Before leaving Estonia on Tuesday, Dempsey visited the Tapa military base and met with U.S. troops currently stationed there.