Due to the increased security and stability in Iraq, the Republic of Estonia has transitioned its forces from Coalition operations to the NATO training mission in Iraq. Multi-National Corps â€“ Iraq held an end of mission ceremony for the forces of Estonia in the Coalition at the Joint Visitor Bureau on Camp Victory Feb. 7.
â€œThe nation of Estonia began its mission in Iraq in June 2003,â€ said Marine Maj. Gen. Paul Lefebvre, deputy commanding general, MNC-I. â€œSince that time, they have rotated forces ten times in direct support of Coalition operations.â€
Estonia performed many security operations to help provide the people of Iraq a safe and secure environment.
â€œSince 2003, they have been involved in 350 operations and 2,300 patrols,â€ Lefebvre said. â€œThis diligence resulted in the discovery of several hundred caches and the confiscation of over 1,000 small arms and rocket propelled grenades, more than three tons of pure explosives and thousands of rounds of ammunition.â€
The efforts made by the Estonian contingents helped bring peace and democracy to the region of Iraq under their supervision.
â€œWe recognize and honor what you gave Iraq,â€ said Abdul Qader Mohammad Jassim, Minister of Defense, Republic of Iraq. â€œWhat you gave is security. Last elections there were 300 attacks with 150 of those being effective. This election, there were only 11 and of those only two were effective. We will always remember the sacrifices the Estonians made for us.â€
Estonia voiced its continued commitment to the Coalition with a visit from the Estonian Minister of Defense, Jaak Aaviksoo.
â€œInternational support is of fundamental importance,â€ Aaviksoo said. â€œWhat is equally important is that we continue to cooperate despite that our mission with Multi-National Force is over.â€
Estonia will continue maintaining officers in the NATO training mission in Iraq.
Estonia also has forces in southern Afghanistan.