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Estonian Contingent in BiH

by Capt. Gjon Vorfi

First published in SFOR Informer #16, August 6, 1997

Doboj - The Estonian contingent, 40 soldiers in all, is part of the Baltic Platoon Detachment which is attached to the "A" Infantry Companyin Doboj. They arrived in Bosnia and Hercegovina (BiH) in April 1997 to serve for six months.

They trained to assume mechanised infantry duties in Viborg, Denmark, with the Prince Life Regiment of the Danish Army. Most of soldiers came from different regiments and battalions, but everybody had been a professional soldier for several years. They are selected from among many volunteers and are subjected to testing on languages, professional military capabilities and medically condition.

photo T.JPG (8234 bytes)"We trained in different kinds of Danish tactics, such as how to command mechanised units, rules of warfare and other subjects," said 3Lt. Jurij Tonisma, the Estonian Platoon Commander. "At first it was a little bit difficult for us . We’re different nations, with different mentalities and methods of work. But those differences didn’t last long. Denmark is a NATO member, my country is not. But if you cannot speak English you must learn. Most of us speak English fluently."

The unit trained for two months on individual skills and on all types of weapons and munitions used in a Danish mechanised infantry platoon. Training was provided from an individual to platoon level. As part of the training programme, all soldiers conducted live fire exercises, from individual to section size. They also received medical orderly, riot control, rescue and fire fighting training as well as all the necessary basic training. The unit was further trained in escorting convoys, working with tanks, normal guard-duty tasks, as well as planning and carrying out patrols.

"The most important task of our unit here, is guard-duty and patrolling," said Pvt. Rooland Hajro, who serves on the main gate of the camp. For him this mission is very important . "This is a perfect way to begin my career as a military officer in the Estonian Army. I hope to become officer when I go back to Estonia. The time we have to be here is not very long for me, but I know it’s long for my girl friend…" he added.

[Estonian soldier]