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Mar 3 2022

UK doubles its presence in NATO eFP Battlegroup Estonia

SZCZECIN, Poland – 2000 kilometers through 5 Allied countries. On 25 February, a convoy of British troops and armoured vehicles of the Royal Welsh Battlegroup arrived in Estonia as part of the UK's contribution to strengthen NATO's enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in the Baltic Sea region.

The UK is doubling the number of personnel and equipment in Estonia. On 17 February, the Royal Welsh Battlegroup, including armoured vehicles and service members from the Royal Engineers, Royal Tank Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps and Royal Artillery, left Sennelager in Germany and bases in the UK, and embarked on Operation IRON SURGE. Part of Operation Iron Surge was a convoy of Warrior infantry fighting vehicles and Challenger 2 main battle tanks. They were moved by Heavy Equipment Transporters from 19 Tank Transporter Squadron, Royal Logistics Corps.

Over the next few days, over 900 British personnel are expected in Estonia. Upon completion of this deployment, the Royal Welsh will assume command of Tapa-based battlegroup.

A convoy carrying the British Army's heavy armoured equipment enters Estonia / Photo by Ralf Ellervee 
Soldier with 19 Tank Transporter Squadron, Royal Logistics Corps were responsible for transporting infantry fighting vehicles and main battle tanks though five Allied countries / Photo by Ralf Ellervee 
Heavy Equipment Transports from 19 Tank Transporter Squadron, Royal Logistics Corps / Photo by Ralf Ellervee 
A British Challenger 2 main battle tank embarked on a Heavy Equipment Transporter / Photo by Ralf Ellervee 

On 1 March, while visiting Estonia alongside NATO Secretary General, Chairman NATO Military Committee and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, LTG Jürgen-Joachim von Sandrart, Commander Multinational Corps Northeast (MNC NE), met with the multinational soldiers stationed in Tapa. Attached to the MNC NE chain of command, the eFP Battlegroups are NATO's land-domain first responders, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their host nations' troops in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. 2022 marks the fifth anniversary of their deployment to the Baltic Sea region.

These multinational battalions were created following the decision of the 2016 NATO Warsaw Summit as one of the deterrence measures to protect NATO's eastern border after the Russian annexation of Crimea. In reaction to the recent military build-up of the Russian forces, which resulted in the unprovoked armed attack against Ukraine, NATO Allies stepped up troop deployments, including within the eFP framework. On 1 March in Tapa, Mr. Stoltenberg emphasized:

Over the last weeks, in response to Russia's attack on Ukraine, we have increased our defensive presence. In the air, on land, and at sea. Our commitment to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty is iron-clad. We will protect and defend every inch of NATO territory. Credible deterrence prevents conflict and preserves peace.
LTG von Sandrart with British troops is Tapa / Photo by Kristīne Meistere
The UK-led eFP Battlegroup is integrated into the Estonian 1st Infantry Bde. / Photo by Kristīne Meistere
French soldiers with the 5th Dragoon Rgt., 7th Armoured Bde. form part of the UK-led Battlegroup / Photo by Kristīne Meistere

Story by Multinational Corps Northeast Public Affairs Office

Op IRON SURGE | Photo gallery

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