Collective defence is of critical importance to Estonia’s security and we must also make our own contribution to the functioning thereof. Collective defence means not only receiving security based assistance, but also Estonia contributing as a provider of security. Estonian troops have been participating in international operations since 1995, when they took part in the in UN peacekeeping mission to Croatia. Our troops received their first combat experience in Iraq, in 2003.
Participation in international military operations is also essential to the development of the Defence Forces. Participation in operations allows one to test and thereby systematically develop interoperability (including with Allies in an international environment), know-how and compatibility between different capabilities.
The largest numerical contribution by the Defence Forces was in Afghanistan, as part of the NATO-led operation ISAF in Southern Afghanistan, until 2014. In 2018 and 2019, the UN peacekeeping mission UNIFIL, in Lebanon; the NATO-led training and advisory mission Resolute Support, in Afghanistan; and the French-led counter-insurgency operation Barkhane were the active military operations to which the Defence Forces contributed the most troops.
Number of Active Servicemembers Serving in International Operations
* The average number of servicemen participating in international operations annually. The increase in the number of active personnel participating in international operations in 2019 is due to the change in the rotation length of several international operations from 6 months to 4 months.