Renewed: 24.11.2013, 00:51

20 November 2013 15:02

Estonian ISAF contingent arrives home

Estonian ISAF contingent arrives home Estonian ISAF contingent arrives home

After nearly seven months deployment to Afghanistan, the 15th contingent serving in ISAF operation arrived today at Ämari Airbase, Estonia just before noon.

The members of Estcoy-16, National Support Element-15 and staff officers were welcomed by the Minister of Defence of Estonia, Urmas Reinsalu; the Commander of the Defence Forces, Major General Riho Terras; the United Kingdom Ambassador to Estonia, Christopher B. Holtby as well as friends and relatives.

The service members returning from the NATO-led operation received recognition for participating in the international military operation from the Minister of Defence, Urmas Reinsalu at the reception ceremony given at Ämari Airbase.

Reinsalu thanked the service members for their excellent service and for the support from friends and relatives. “Every service member can peaceably concentrate on their military assignments when they know that everything is fine back at home. You can be proud of your husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers,” he added.

Among the award recipients six Estcoy-16 members were recognized by the Commander of the Defence Forces and were decorated with the Estonian Defence Forces Meritorious Service Order with “Swords” for individual bravery as well as four members receiving the Defence Forces Commendation Service Cross for outstanding duty.

“The experiences gained in Afghanistan will become a valuable asset in 2016 when the Baltic states will contribute to NATO Response Force with a joint contingent, largely based on Estonia’s Scouts Battalion,” Commander of the Defence Forces, Major General Riho Terras said.

At the reception ceremony, the returning Defence Forces personnel donated 3000 Euros to the Carolin Illenzeer Foundation which they raised by organizing goodwill shooting competitions in Afghanistan.

Estcoy-16 stationed at Camp Bastion served under the Helmand Command as a manoeuvre company carrying out infantry operations with an aim to fragment the insurgents, limit their movement - and manoeuvrability and search for hidden caches.

The infantrymen served in Helmand province for 200 days, took part in 18 operations and had 184 combat contacts with the insurgents. 767 dwellings were searched and 60 hidden caches found which contained mostly IED producing material, ammunition of various calibers, weapons and narcotics.

The last Estonian contingent in Afghanistan, Estcoy-17 scheduled to return home late spring 2014, took over the responsibility on Sunday. After the forces draw down process completes, Estonia will continue to contribute to NATO Resolute Support mission with support elements and staff officers.

Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces, 717 1900, mil[at], Juhkentali 58, EE15007, Tallinn, Estonia.

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