The first part of the newly arrived French contingent’s battle equipment arrived in Tapa via rail on Wednesday afternoon. The French contingent replaced outgoing Belgian troops serving in NATO Battle Group Estonia.
Maj. Marc Antoine, commander of the French logistics and support element, said that it took a couple of weeks for their equipment to arrive in Estonia via rail, during which time their equipment as well as containers of supplies were reloaded onto various platforms.
“We are here to train together with our friends and colleagues from Estonia, the UK and Belgium in order to develop our unit’s skills and strengthen Estonia’s security,” Maj. Antoine said.
He added that the previous French units to serve in NATO Battle Group Estonia, from March through December of 2017, were left with nothing but positive memories and useful experiences from their time in Estonia.
The equipent to arrive in Tapa belongs to various French units and consists of some 80 units, including five Leclerc tanks, 16 VBCI infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), various tactical vehicles and trucks.
The newly arrived French contingent will remain in Estonia through the end of the year, when it will be replaced in turn by a Danish contingent.
A 300-strong contingent of French Army troops to serve in NATO Battle Group Estonia is to arrive in Tapa next week.
The French contingent will arrive at Tapa Army Base next Tuesday, where it will serve through the end of August, the French Embassy in Tallinn said.
The arriving contingent, which will serve in the UK-led battle group under the alliance’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) posture, will consist of troops from the 2nd Armoured Brigade and the Foreign Legion of the French Army.
“We are very pleased that we can work together with our allies and improve our interoperability,” contingent member Maj. Marc Antoine said.
The French troops will be armed with four Leclerc tanks and some 20 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), including 13 VBCI vehicles, which will be transported to Estonia by rail.
The previous French contingent served in Battle Group Estonia from March to December 2017. A French Air Force contingent also performed NATO Baltic Air Policing duties out of Ämari Air Base from April to September 2018.