A four-member delegation of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu is on a one-week working visit in Afghanistan starting from 29 January. The first part of the visit was spent in South-Afghanistan where the delegation looked at the work and service conditions of the members of the Estonian Defence Forces. In order to get an overview of the situation and new developments in the hottest region of the Afghanistan crisis, the delegation met the international security assistance force ISAF leaders of various levels.
In Kandahar, the delegation met Major General Nick Carter, Commander of Regional Command South, and Brigadier General Davis, Chief of Staff. The delegation saw the improvised explosive devices investigation centre. At present, explosions of such explosives constitute the majority of the causes of tragic deaths. At a meeting with the Estonian officers working at the staff there, it was recognised that such service in a multinational environment has a great value and is a serious contribution to the professional growth of the officers of the Estonian Defence Forces.
In Lashkar Gah, Brigadier General James Cowan, the Commander of Task Force Helmand, who is also the superior of the Estonian Defence Forces contingent, gave an overview of the situation and the plans for the nearest future. In the same base, there was a meeting with the leaders of the regional reconstruction team who organises the civil reconstruction of Helmand Province (Provincial Reconstruction Team), and Anu Raisma, an Estonian expert who works in that team and organises the reconstruction of the health care system of Helmand.
In Camp Bastion, the location of the main base of the members of the Estonian Defence Forces, an overview of the work and service environment of the members of the Estonian Defence Forces was received.
The National Defence Committee delegation appreciated the members of the Estonian Defence Forces serving in Helmand Province in South-Afghanistan for their extremely important contribution to ensuring security in Afghanistan and globally.
“Although Estonia and the other allies have had to report of painful human losses and bow their heads in mourning on several occasions, we are aware that leaving Afghanistan is not a solution. The security of this nation actually depends on our activity and, at the same time, we do not wish the dangers arising from here reach our doorstep in Europe. Besides, the brotherhood in arms tied in the war hotbed and the experience of military cooperation with allies is extremely important for ensuring our own national defence,” said Chairman of the National Defence Committee Mati Raidma.
In Raidma’s words, a practical outcome of the visit is several pages of observations and ideas of what should be and might be improved to increase the security and effectiveness of the work and service of the Estonian men and women in the hotbed of crisis in Afghanistan.
The aim of the visit is to learn about the activities of the members of the Estonian Defence Forces in South Afghanistan and to get an overview of the development of the Afghanistan security forces, including the Afghanistan army and police, and of the activities of ISAF and international civil missions in Afghanistan.
The Riigikogu delegation includes Chairman of the National Defence Committee Mati Raidma, Deputy Chairman Toivo Tootsen and members of the Committee Tarmo Kõuts and Tõnu Juul.