Estonian infantry platoon ESTPLA-30, which began serving at a military base in Gao, Mali in April, conducted its final patrol in the city on Tuesday and is prepared to hand over its tasks to ESTPLA-32, the infantry unit to replace it.
The troops of ESTPLA-30 were joined on the patrol by commanders of ESTPLA-32, which arrived at the Gao base late last week.
“The experience obtained during the patrol today was above all beneficial to the commanders of the new platoon,” said 2nd Lt. Aigar Piirisild, commander of the ESTPLA-30 infantry platoon. “They will soon take over the responsibility and start establishing security in the area of operation.”
During their four-month mission, troops of ESTPLA-30 conducted 18 patrols, manned the base’s observation posts on 43 occasions and rapid readiness unit on 42 occasions.
The outgoing platoon is to arrive in Estonia in mid-August.
Operation Barkhane is a French-led anti-insurgent mission in Africa’s Sahel region. The operation’s objective is to support the governments of the Sahel region countries of Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad in their fight against Islamic terrorists, as well as prevent illegal migration and human trafficking. The UK is also supporting the operation with transport helicopters, and Spain with an air force component.
In addition to patrols, Estonians serving on the French Army-led Operation Barkhane are tasked with ensuring the security of the base as well as fulfilling rapid response tasks.