US, Estonia to boost NATO presence in the Baltics
The US will send additional rotational forces to Estonia to support NATO’s presence in the Baltic region, the Estonian Ministry of Defence confirmed.
Announced by US President Joe Biden at the Madrid Summit, the upcoming deployment will add to a series of ongoing rotations across the Baltic States to enhance operability between the US, Estonia, and allied partners.
“This decision marks a significant enhancement of the US rotational military presence in Estonia and the Baltic States, demonstrating US’ long-standing commitment to the security of our region and greatly enhancing NATO’s posture,” Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said.
Integrating ‘Sophisticated’ Weapon
Alongside the deployment of an infantry company, the US is expected to send associated command and control capabilities.
The government will also send a platoon to assist Estonia in operating High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
Upon arrival, the US warfighters will train with the Estonian Defense Forces to upskill with “the most modern and sophisticated long-range fires system” to lend “significant firepower and strategic effects” to Europe’s eastern flank.
“Estonia continues to take significant steps to develop its independent self-defense capabilities. We expect to receive our own HIMARS systems by 2025, so being able to learn the ropes early with the US troops will make the adoption even smoother and win us critical time,” Pevkur added.
Furthermore, the US and Estonian Defense Forces will establish a divisional structure to support NATO’s framework.
The countries will then undertake a series of exercises as part of the US Warfighter program leading to final certification.
“The Estonian division will receive rigorous training to further develop its readiness and interoperability with our closest Allies in order to defend Estonia and the Alliance,” Pevkur said.
HIMARS in the Baltics
Earlier this month, Estonia signed a $200 million agreement to procure six HIMARS rocket systems from the US.
In November, Baltic neighbor Lithuania agreed to purchase eight US-made HIMARS for $495 million.