According to an 11 October press release, the Estonian Ministry of Defence announced that it will build on its existing defence ties with the UK by allocating a British brigade to Estonia that will also participate in a military exercise due to take place in 2025.
On the sidelines of the latest Nato defence ministers’ meeting the UK Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, and the Estonian Defence Minister, Hanno Pevkur, signed a long-term agreement that will integrate their forces according to Nato regional plans.
Britain’s presence in the EDF structure
“Already now, the British forces have been integrated into the Estonian Defence Forces [EDF] within the eFP [Enhanced Forward Presence] battlegroup, which is part of the EDF 1st infantry brigade (present in Estonia since 2017),” a spokesperson from the Estonian Ministry of Defence told Army Technology.
About 900 British personnel rotate on a continuous basis alongside Danish, French, and host nation Estonian forces.
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Meanwhile the EDF is tasked with uniting the battles of the territorial defence forces, brigades and units from other commands and acts as a link between the allies and their military capabilities.
“In Vilnius, the decision was taken that the UK will embed British staff officers to the Estonian Division HQ and also support the development of the Estonian Division.
“In essence, we are working towards greater integration to ensure high readiness and interoperability of forces,” added the spokesperson.
At the meeting, the Estonian Minister of Defence emphasised that although they are not proposing the permanent presence of the allocated brigade in Estonia, it does highlight the importance of joint planning and integration of the British forces into Estonian defence.
Regular exercises and the deployment plan for the British allocated brigade support that objective.
Sending a ‘brigade-level’ force to integrate in the EDF
While the new agreement represents the UK’s intent to deepen its military ties with Estonia into the near future, this is not the first time that the UK has deployed a brigade-level force to the EDF’s multi-national 1st brigade.
In fact, as part of the annual exercise Spring Storm that takes place in Estonia, the UK deployed a force that nearly constituted a full brigade but had a brigade-style command structure.
This growing commitment goes back to the UK Government’s expressed intent to offer Estonia a brigade force at Nato’s 2022 Madrid summit.