Soldier in the spotlight

Capt. Russell Craig
First published in
SFOR Informer#131, January 31, 2002

Estonian Master Sergeant Siim Saliste serves with his national contingent under the Nordpol Battle Group. Despite being only 27 years old he is the platoon sergeant for two Platoons, D Squadron of the Scout Battalion, a job that brings many responsibilities.
"The main operational task for Delta Platoon Sergeants is the responsibility for weapon sites. We do inspections and keep an eye on them," says Salsite.
His other tasks include overseeing patrols, dealing with equipment and solving everyday problems. He explains that it is not unusual for younger people to hold such positions within his army as the force was only re-established in 1992.
"People get promoted very quickly because someone needs to be an officer and someone needs to be an NCO," says Saliste.
Although he is in a leadership position, he was initially keen to avoid conscription. Once conscripted, he discovered that army life was for him and signed on full time.
"I realised that in the army you can do everything: you can do sports, you can sit in an office, you can learn, you can travel, you can meet a lot of people," says Saliste.
Since joining he has worked with other nations' forces, including the British Royal Marines in the UK, and the Italian army, when he served in Kosovo (1999-2000).
For him, the downside of working with other nations is eating unpalatable food, however, the positive points far outweigh this negative one.
"If, for example, I meet Danish, British or French people, they all have totally different things and you can pick something from these and surprise the soldiers with them," said Saliste.
His soldiers are never far from his mind and he admits, much of his free time is taken up with their queries.
He has a month left in theatre and on returning to Estonia where he would like to either carry on in his role as platoon sergeant or to move to the training branch.

Related links:
Nations of SFOR: Estonia

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