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UK’s Royal Tank Regiment takes over lead role of NATO battlegroup Estonia

During a formal Transfer of Authority parade in Tapa Camp yesterday (Thu, 16 September 2021), the British Army´s Royal Tank Regiment Battlegroup took over the lead role for the NATO enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia, ensuring a smooth transition from the outgoing 1 Mercian Battlegroup. It like its predecessor comes under the command of the 1st Estonian Brigade.

Around 800 soldiers from the 1 Mercian Battlegroup have now completed their six-month deployment in Estonia, having taken part in a wide range of challenging small and large-scale exercises such as Spring Storm and Furious Wolf.

“This was the first deployment of a Mercian-led Battlegroup to Estonia, and I can safely say that this has been a very valuable experience for the troops,” said Lieutenant Colonel Dean Canham, Commanding Officer of the 1 Mercian Battlegroup. “Maintaining our fighting capabilities, we became a fully integrated part of the 1st Estonian Brigade; we learned a lot from our Estonian colleagues and were also able to provide new experiences for them, especially when it comes to combined operations involving tanks and infantry. We wish the Royal Tank Regiment Battlegroup well for a successful tour.”

The Royal Tank Regiment Battlegroup constitutes the ninth UK rotation into Estonia since 2017, when the first troops arrived under the banner of NATO´s enhanced Forward Presence to the Baltic states and Poland. Currently, the NATO battlegroup in Tapa is made up of UK and French forces.

“The Royal Tank Regiment is honoured and thrilled by the opportunity to deploy to Estonia,” said Lieutenant Colonel Simon Worth, Commanding Officer of the Royal Tank Regiment Battlegroup. “We have trained hard to reach the standard required for this demanding deployment, including a challenging six-week deployment in Germany, and are now ready to begin our mission. We are aware of the solemn commitment that the UK has made to the Estonian people and to our NATO allies, and are determined to deliver this important role to the best of our ability. In particular we are really looking forward to working with our aligned French Squadron and to operate within the 1st Estonian Brigade – the mission will provide a great opportunity to learn from each other and to improve the way that we work together. On a personal note I am really looking forward to meeting the Estonian people and to learning more about this fascinating and beautiful country.“

The Royal Tank Regiment is the oldest tank regiment in the world, tracing its origins to units formed in 1916, when tanks were first used in battles during the First World War. The “Tank Corps” battalions were formed in 1917 and in 1923 they were officially given the name “Royal Tank Corps” by King George V. In 1939 the Corps was renamed the Royal Tank Regiment, becoming a wing of the newly created Royal Armoured Corps.

During the Second World War, Royal Tank Regiment units took part in numerous battles including El Alamein, the Italian Campaign and the D-Day landings in France. In recent decades, the regiment has been involved in various operations, including those in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. This year a squadron from the Royal Tank Regiment has been part of the outgoing 1 Mercian Battlegroup.

The Royal Tank Regiment is the only UK Army unit whose members wear black uniforms or “coveralls”. These uniforms were adopted when tanks were first-used and the black colour was chosen to hide the inevitable oil stains that would appear when the tanks were operated. The black beret, another part of the regiment´s uniform, was also adopted early on, as wearing a peaked cap was found unsuitable for use in tanks.

The NATO Battlegroup is following Estonian and UK government advice and regulations regarding limiting the spread of COVID-19. All such regulations were followed during the ceremony.

GALLERY

For further information please contact: Mr Bjorn Malmquist, Senior Media Adviser

Cell:: +372 5821 6404

E-mail: bjorn.malmquist@mil.ee

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