The Belgian unit who had been serving in NATO Battlegroup Estonia formally handed its powers over to the French Army unit to replace them in a ceremony at Tapa Army Base on Thursday.
Miniser of Defence Jüri Luik thanked the Belgian troops for their flawless service, and welcomed the French on their second rotation in Estonia.
NATO allies have shown great dedication in defending Estonia, the minister highlighted, and this friendship has been hardened on the battlefield as well; Estonian troops have served alongside French troops in conflict regions in Kosovo, Central Africa as well as Mali, in the last of which Estonian and French units are currently serving together in Operation Barkhane.
“As Alexandre Dumas once so aptly put it, ‘All for one and one for all!'” Luik quoted, stressing the steadfastness of these allied relations.
The new French contingent consists of nearly 300 soldiers from the 2nd Armoured Brigade of the French Army and the French Foreign Legion, who will serve at Tapa through the end of the year. France first deployed its troops to Estonia in 2017; it was among the first units to serve in NATO Battlegroup Estonia.
A French Air Force unit likewise fulfilled NATO Baltic Air Policing duties out of Ämari Air Base from April through September of last year.
The outgoing Belgian unit served in Estonia from January through May. The core of the unit was based on the Chasseurs Ardennais battalion of the Belgian Armed Forces, and consisted of 300 Belgian troops and some 100 pieces of battle equipment.