The Estonian Ministry of Defence submitted for approval draft resolutions of the parliament (Riigikogu) which propose that next year, on average, over 200 members of the Estonian Defence Forces will participate in international military operations.
According to the International Military Co-operation Act, the deployment of the Defence Forces in an international military operation is decided by the Riigikogu. The approval of the draft resolutions entered in the approval procedure today will require a majority in the parliament.
The largest foreign mission for the Estonian Defence Forces will continue to be participation in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, where, according to the draft resolution, 160-165 members of the Defence Forces will be serving on an on-going basis next year. Currently, Estonia is participating in the Afghanistan operation with an infantry company, logistical support element, fire support team, a counter-IED team and staff officers and NCO’s in Southern Afghanistan, and with a military police close protection team in Kabul.
According to the draft resolution, next year, Estonia would continue to participate in the EU counter-piracy operation Atalanta off the coast of Somalia with a Vessel Protection Detachment of up to 15 members. The main task of the detachment is to protect cargo vessels sailing near the Somali coast, especially the vessels of the World Food Programme, against pirate attacks.
According to the draft resolution, Estonia would also continue to participate in the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), with up to three staff officers and NCO’s.
According to the draft resolutions, in Iraq, the Defence Forces would continue to participate in the NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) with up to three staff officers. The principal task of NTM-I is to monitor and advise Iraqi training institutions; the staff officers there are not directly involved in field operations.
In the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in the Middle East, Estonia would continue participation in 2012 with up to three members of the Defence Forces. The task of UNTSO military observers is to monitor the following of truce agreements in the Middle East and to prevent the escalation of conflicts, as well as to assist other UN missions in the region.
In addition, a draft mandate was submitted for approval which proposes the participation of up to two Air Force staff officers in the headquarters of the NATO Libya air operation located in Naples. The goal of operation “Unified Protector”, carried out under the mandate of the UN Security Council, is to protect civilians against Gaddafi’s regime and to ensure a no-fly zone and arms embargo.
In addition to the usual mandates, a draft resolution of the Riigikogu was also submitted for approval today regarding the participation of the Estonian Defence Forces in the NATO Response Force in the first half of 2012 with up to 55 members of the Defence Forces. Estonia would contribute to the NRF with one navy mine hunter and, if necessary, also a team of up to 10 divers.
Starting next year, the staff officers of the Estonian Defence Forces will no longer participate in the European Union-led operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as the security situation in the region has normalised.
The National Defence Development Plan for 2009-2018 foresees the contribution of Estonia's capabilities and units in foreign missions carried out by NATO, by the European Union and/or in case of a coalition of the willing. Its contribution to foreign operations helps Estonia to reach security policy goals and is also a significant catalyst for the Defence Forces and the Defence League.
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