Personnel from the Royal Tank Regiment (RTR) based in Wiltshire have returned home following an extended tour of eastern Europe.
The unit from Tidworth have been in Estonia as the main Battlegroup (BG) on Operation Cabrit
As his personnel neared the end of their deployment. Lieutenant Colonel Simon Worth, Commanding Officer RTR BG said:
"It has been an enormous privilege to train in Estonia, we have had an incredible experience exercising in all weathers and navigating new terrains, training alongside the Estonian Defence Forces with our colleagues from Denmark and France.”
Operation Cabrit is the name of the UK operational deployment to Estonia where British troops are leading a multinational battlegroup as part of the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP).
UK Armed Forces have a leading role in NATO’s eFP in the Baltic States, in order to enhance Euro-Atlantic security, reassure our Allies and deter our adversaries.
The eFP in the Baltic States is a deployment of robust, multinational, combat-ready forces to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, on a persistent, rotational basis.
About 900 British personnel rotate on a continuous basis alongside Danish, French, and host nation Estonian forces.
We depart Estonia proud of our contribution and convinced of the vital importance of this mission. Lieutenant Colonel Simon Worth
Commanding Officer RTR BG
The deployment of almost nine months is amongst the longest undertaken by British troops since the conflict in Afghanistan.
Captain Mike Lowein, RTR BG OP’s Officer:
We arrived in September 2021 so experienced the whole of the eastern European winter which is something that we aren’t used to in the UK. We were working in temperatures around -18c with deep snow everywhere, so something unique to us all."
Captain Lowein says the vast array of exercises the BG were part of proved invaluable:
“We’ve been in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and all over Estonia working with a huge number of other NATO partners. Everyone brings something different to the table. We learnt from them and they learnt from us. It was really good to interact with them all”
The RTR BG which included a French Company for most of its tour, leaves Estonia following completion of nine months on the Eastern Flank supporting the NATO enhanced Forward Presence. They were extended in February 2022 when the British Prime Minister announced that they would double their presence in Estonia by deploying a second Battlegroup.
Lieutenant Andrew Buffham, Dreadnaught Squadron RTR BG says it was important that during the deployment that they reached out and supported the local Estonian community too:
“During the winter we built an Ice-rink and set-up soup kitchens for the locals. It was important that we were not just here on exercise with their military but that we also got out and engaged with their communities too.”
Although an unexpected extended deployment, Andrew reflects on the benefits this extra time away gave them:
“We were working closely with each other for such a long period of time which meant we were able to learn and fine-tune our role really well. Also, working in that multi-national environment has given us so much experience which will stand us in good stead for the future.”
Lieutenant Colonel Simon Worth, Commanding Officer RTR BG adds:
“Although my soldiers are looking forward to some well-deserved rest, we depart Estonia proud of our contribution and convinced of the vital importance of this mission.”