In early November, the 1st Battalion Royal Welsh took over as the lead unit of NATO’s multinational Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battlegroup in Estonia. It took over from the 5 Battalion The Rifles, which deployed 800 troops to Estonia in March.
The battlegroup forms part of the 1st Estonian Infantry Brigade.
On 8 November, the UK’s senior officer in Estonia, Colonel Giles Harris, explained in detail to Jane’s how the NATO deployment, the first in the Baltic region, is developing. Based in Tallinn, Col Harris commands the NATO eFP multinational battlegroup under Operation 'Cabrit', located at Tapa, eastern Estonia, and is also commander of British forces in the country. He reports to the UK Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) in Northwood, London.
The United Kingdom is to increase the number of its Challenger 2 main battle tanks (MBTs) to 10, which exceeds the previous combined total together with French Leclerc MBTs.
The French contingent is to withdraw in early December, to be replaced by a Danish armoured infantry company. Danish and Estonian forces both use the CV9035 tracked infantry fighting vehicle, which will provide commonality.
As far as future organisation is concerned, although a NATO multinational division is anticipated for eastern Poland, a NATO regional headquarters is not anticipated in the Baltic states, because each battlegroup is independent and there are no regional divisions.
More widely, the feeling is that establishing a headquarters in one Baltic state would probably confer disproportionate economic benefits in the country selected and could induce the effect of divide and rule to NATO’s detriment.
The colonel explained that the “construct of a sine wave” is used to determine the level of force and equipment required in response and in anticipation of expected activity nationally and regionally.