Afghanistan — Brits and Estonians establish new Combined Force in northern Nad ‘Ali

The Com­mand­ing Offi­cer of 2nd Bat­tal­ion The Duke of Lancaster’s Reg­i­ment has spo­ken of his immense pride in the role his men have tak­en in estab­lish­ing a new Com­bined Force in north­ern Nad ‘Ali, cen­tral Hel­mand, with inter­na­tion­al part­ners.

The Lions of England (left) and the Lions of Estonia are serving alongside each other as part of Combined Force Nad 'Ali (North)
The Lions of Eng­land (left) and the Lions of Esto­nia are serv­ing along­side each oth­er as part of Com­bined Force Nad ‘Ali (North)
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The ‘Lions of Eng­land’, 2nd Bat­tal­ion The Duke of Lancaster’s Reg­i­ment (2 LANCS), deployed to Afghanistan on 8 July 2010 from their base in Episkopi in Cyprus, with a mis­sion to estab­lish a new Com­bined Force in north­ern Nad ‘Ali, cen­tral Helmand. 

Now well into that mis­sion, the Com­mand­ing Offi­cer, Lieu­tenant Colonel Rob­bie Boyd, has spo­ken of his immense pride in how his offi­cers and sol­diers have deployed and tak­en on the dif­fi­cult tasks in north­ern Nad ‘Ali and in Nahr‑e Saraj. 

Com­bined Force Nad ‘Ali (North) formed up on 5 August 2010 and, in addi­tion to the attached arms of artillery, engi­neers, mil­i­tary police, logis­tics and Afghan part­ners, the Force con­sists of a Rifle Com­pa­ny Group from 2 LANCS, one from their sis­ter bat­tal­ion 1 LANCS, and an Eston­ian Rifle Com­pa­ny serv­ing side by side in cen­tral Helmand. 

The Eston­ian Rifle Com­pa­ny Group 10, com­mand­ed by Major Meel­is Jõe­maa, was very quick­ly nick­named the ‘Lions of Esto­nia’ by the Duke of Lancaster’s Reg­i­ment for their tenac­i­ty and professionalism. 

The Com­bined Force (CF) totals near­ly 700 ISAF sol­diers and around 300 mem­bers of the Afghan Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Forces. 

Lt Col Boyd said: 

“This is a tru­ly multi­na­tion­al Com­bined Force with Lions of Eng­land and Lions of Esto­nia serv­ing togeth­er in the con­test­ed areas of north­ern Nad ‘Ali.”

Sup­port for bet­ter gov­er­nance and pres­sure on the insur­gents in Nad ‘Ali have both sig­nif­i­cant­ly increased since estab­lish­ing the CF in the area. 

There has been more gov­er­nance out­reach by the Dis­trict Gov­er­nor since 5 August 2010 than has occurred since Op MOSHTARAK began in Feb­ru­ary 2010. 

This has been made pos­si­ble because of the courage and pro­fes­sion­al­ism of a pride of ‘Inter­na­tion­al Lions’. 

Many good friend­ships have been forged between the British con­tin­gent and the Estonians: 

“The Esto­ni­ans are want­i­ng for noth­ing; they are well-equipped and well-sup­port­ed by my head­quar­ters staff. Engi­neer rebuilds of their bases will sig­nif­i­cant­ly improve their liv­ing con­di­tions, which will increase fur­ther their already high morale,” Lt Col Boyd said. 

The Eston­ian nation­al sym­bol is very sim­i­lar to England’s in that it depicts three lions on a shield. 

The Duke of Lancaster’s Reg­i­ment is unique in that it is the only reg­i­ment per­mit­ted to wear the ‘Lion of Eng­land’ in battle. 

Now, British and Eston­ian sol­diers all bear the lion and Lt Col Boyd proud­ly sports both the Lion of Eng­land and of Esto­nia, a patch giv­en to him by the Eston­ian Nation­al Com­po­nent Com­man­der, Lieu­tenant Colonel Riho Ühtegi: 

“It’s no won­der my own sol­diers call me the Lion King, I have a pride on my arm let alone in the field!” he joked. 

Lieu­tenant Pritt Brikker, the Eston­ian Liai­son Offi­cer at Patrol Base Shahzad, said: 

“The tremen­dous sup­port and trust which has built up in such a short time between these two units is proof of a strong and effec­tive rela­tion­ship; a rela­tion­ship with the aim of achiev­ing great suc­cess in improv­ing the secu­ri­ty of the Afghan people. 

“I would be lying if I did not say that it is a true priv­i­lege and hon­our to work side by side with the Lions of Eng­land, a tru­ly pro­fes­sion­al and deter­mined force of fine offi­cers and sol­diers — our broth­ers and sis­ters on the battlefield.” 

Lt Col Boyd also commented: 

“I have always had immense pride in my own offi­cers and sol­diers, who have now deployed five times to Afghanistan as the The­atre Reserve Bat­tal­ion from our Cyprus base since we took on the role in August last year. 

“To be giv­en the hon­our of com­mand­ing Com­pa­ny 10 from Esto­nia, allies with­in NATO and pro­fes­sion­al and ded­i­cat­ed sol­diers, as well as my own, is a great priv­i­lege and one nei­ther my bat­tal­ion staff nor I will forget. 

“The Esto­ni­ans are immense sol­diers — fit, pro­fes­sion­al and coura­geous. The peo­ple of Esto­nia should be very proud of Major Jõemaa’s sol­diers; they are rep­re­sent­ing their coun­try and peo­ple with the high­est pro­fes­sion­al stan­dards. They are true ‘Lions of Estonia’.” 

He went on to say: 

“It has been a chal­leng­ing month for Com­bined Force Nad ‘Ali (North) that has result­ed in the death of Sergeant Harvis Sik­ka from Estonia. 

“There are prob­a­bly too many peo­ple in a Com­bined Force for the Com­mand­ing Offi­cer to remem­ber by name, but I cer­tain­ly remem­ber Sergeant Sikka. 

“I met him and recall a qui­et and relaxed armoured per­son­nel car­ri­er dri­ver who, serv­ing along­side his friends, was total­ly ded­i­cat­ed to the mis­sion he had been giv­en. He was a good sol­dier, proud of what he was doing for his coun­try and what he was doing for Afghanistan.” 

2 LANCS have also suf­fered fatal­i­ties dur­ing their 12-month oper­a­tional marathon as the The­atre Reserve Bat­tal­ion: Kings­man Jason Dunn-Bridge­man, Cor­po­ral Simon Horn­by, Kings­man Sean Daw­son and, most recent­ly, Cap­tain Andrew Grif­fiths and Kings­man Dar­ren Deady. 

Despite these loss­es, the Com­mand­ing Offi­cer point­ed out that in the past twelve months progress made in the region has been impressive. 

Roads, schools and gov­er­nance out­reach have seen sig­nif­i­cant improvement: 

“ ‘Because of the achieve­ments of the Afghan, British and Eston­ian Com­bined Force, the ordi­nary peo­ple of cen­tral Hel­mand and their chil­dren will even­tu­al­ly be exposed to the sort of oppor­tu­ni­ties to bet­ter them­selves that we in Eng­land and Esto­nia take for grant­ed,” Lt Col Boyd said. 

He concluded: 

“This cam­paign will be suc­cess­ful because of its multi­na­tion­al nature. With so many nations stand­ing firm­ly togeth­er against a com­mon ene­my I have lit­tle doubt that good gov­er­nance will even­tu­al­ly tri­umph over tyran­ny and intim­i­da­tion. The Lions of Eng­land and Esto­nia are bring­ing secu­ri­ty to areas of Nad ‘Ali where before there was none.” 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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