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Estonian officers serving in Iraq awarded NATO medals

23.01.2009

TALLINN, Jan 23, BNS - Estonian officers serving at the NATO training mission in Iraq were handed over NATO crisis regulation medals at a festive ceremony at the mission headquarters on Thursday.

Handing over the medals to Col. German Kesa and Cmdr. Ingrid Muhling, Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, commander of the NATO training mission and of the development headquarters of the international Iraqi security forces, said that the importance of NATO in building up the Iraqi security forces was increasing and that Iraqi officials highly valued the NATO training mission.

Kolonel Kesa serves as deputy chief of staff of the NATO training mission with logistic, communications, personnel and financial operations under his supervision.

Besides, Gen. Babaker Zebari, commander of the joint staff of Iraqi armed forces, recognized Cmdr. Muhling with a letter of thanks.

Col. Kesa said that the past six months had been of critical importance both for the mission and for the Iraqi security forces. "We have been parties in handing over responsibility to Iraqi authorities. The role of both the NATO training mission in Iraq and the role of countries is changing; and we must establish in cooperation with Iraqi security forces in what spheres Iraqi power structures need our assistance most," he said.

Estonian officers have been taking part in the NATO training mission in Iraq since 2005. Maj. Jaak Tammisto is now serving as head of the administration of the mission, and Maj. Ulo Isberg is starting his service as public relations chief.

The NATO training mission is the only NATO operation in Iraq. The aim of the 200-strong mission is to develop and support an independent and sustainbale Iraqi army, above all military educational institutions and command centres as well as those subordinated to the Interior Ministry.

In addition to training and consultancy the mission also coordinates support in terms of resources and accoutrement necessary for the training of the Iraqi security forces.

Tallinn newsroom, +372 610 8810, sise@bns.ee

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