ESTPLA-25, the next contingent of Estonian peacekeepers to serve on the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeeping mission arrived in their area of deployment in South Lebanon during the early hours of Wednesday morning.
“I am sure that our soldiers have received good pre-mission training, and the good equipment and weapons provided by the Finns give us a feeling of confidence that the next six months will be successful,” Maj. Kristjan Leimann, head of the Estonian contingent, said in a press release. “The routine duties are not difficult, and the only challenge is getting used to the Mediterranean climate, which is a bit too hot for Estonians.”
The new Estonian contingent’s staff officers, non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and commanders have been present in the area since May 15. Following a brief training cycle, ESTPLA-25 will start performing its service duties on the control line between Israel and Lebanon. Service duties, which consist of the conduct of patrol, observation, manning of checkpoints and performance of other peacekeeping-related functions, will be performed in conjunction with the armed forces of Finland, Ireland and Lebanon.
ESTPLA-24, which had served on the mission in Lebanon since November 2017, returned to Tallinn on Wednesday morning.
UNIFIL, to which Estonia has been contributing troops on a rotational basis since spring 2015, was first established in 1978. The Estonian contingent, which serves as part of the multinational Finnish-Irish battalion (FINIRISHBATT), consists of approximately 40 personnel and is rotated out every six months.
Since 1997, Estonia has also participated in the UN observer mission UNTSO in Lebanon, the objective of which is to monitor compliance with international treaties by Israel and its four neighboring countries — Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Estonia contributes to UNTSO with military observers and the head of the observation group.