(Adds remarks by PM, minister of defense)TALLINN, Dec 06, BNS - The government on Thursday decided to increase the size of Estonia's contribution to the international mission in Afghanistan by sending a platoon-sized unit of up to 40 soldiers to that country in addition to the present Estonian input of up to six military personnel.The government decided at its Cabinet sitting to support the proposal of Defense Minister Juri Luik to seek a mandate from the Riigikogu to increase the Estonian military contribution in Afghanistan, spokespeople for the government said.The Ministry of Defense is about to come up with a draft resolution to that effect shortly.According to the proposal, the additional Estonian personnel would be part of a British unit tasked with providing troop protection to the allied soldiers training the Afghan security forces in the Kabul area.The increase in the Estonian contribution would come as a response to the need for additional manpower at the NATO mission Resolute Support and the cooperation proposals made to Estonia by several allies."Making a contribution to international missions means making a contribution also to our own security. Every Quill Counts -- this holds true not only for our domestic exercises, but also for international missions with our allies, where the input of each professional, men and women, is invaluable," Prime Minister Juri Ratas said, referring to the motto of the Estonian Siil (Hedgehog) exercise, "Operation Hedgehog -- Every Quill Counts."The minister of defense, Juri Luik, said it has become evident that alongside stepped-up presence of allies in Estonia, where British soldiers make up the majority of the force, we need additional opportunities for cooperation with the UK in common military operations."Considering that at the previous NATO defense ministers' meeting the need to fully man the Resolute Support mission was emphasized by consensus, we view this opportunity to increase our input to that operation for a short term together with the UK as very important in defense policy terms," Luik said.A draft resolution has passed the first reading in the Estonian parliament that would extend until Dec. 31, 2018 the mandate for up to six Estonian military personnel to participate in the Resolute Support NATO follow-up mission in Afghanistan. The number of personnel deployed to the mission area may increase to 12 for a period of up to one month during the rotation of troops. According the explanatory letter accompanying the draft resolution, Estonia will continue to have a four-strong explosive ordnance disposal team in the North Afghanistan region where the framework country is Germany, as well as to have one staff officer in Afghanistan.Tallinn newsroom, +372 610 8814, firstname.lastname@example.orgBaltic News Service
Published: 07.12.2017 12:38
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