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Commander of Allied battle group awarded Cross of Merit by the Ministry of Defence
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence presented retiring Lieutenant Colonel Mark Wilson, Commander of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence battalion battle group, with the Third Class Cross of Merit of the Ministry of Defence for his notable contribution to preparations for, and implementation of, the expanded Allied presence.
Permanent Secretary Jonatan Vseviov thanked Lt. Col. Wilson for his dedication and good work in integrating the NATO battle group, stating that as Commander of the battle group he established a good foundation for the continued operation of the NATO battle group. According to Vseviov, being first is both an honour and a great challenge, since everything must be built from the ground up.
Lt. Col. Wilson thanked Estonia for its warm welcome and cited good cooperation with Estonia, including with Colonel Veiko-Vello Palm, Commander of the 1st Infantry Brigade.
Under the command of Lt. Col. Wilson, the NATO combat group participated successfully in Estonia’s large-scale training exercise Spring Storm and the U.S. led training exercise Saber Strike.
Lt. Col. Wilson is the Commander of 5th Rifles of the UK Army, having commanded the NATO battalion battle group that arrived in Estonia this spring, with the United Kingdom serving as the framework nation. In addition, France is participating in the combined unit in 2017 and Denmark in 2018.
At the Warsaw Summit in 2016, NATO allies decided to increase the Alliance’s presence in the Baltic States and Poland.
The Cross of Merit of the Ministry of Defence was established on 24 February 1998, the 80th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, and is meant to be awarded to individuals in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the national defence of the Republic of Estonia, and in the construction and securing of national defence. The Cross of Merit comes in three classes.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence Jonatan Vseviov, who is continuing with his visit to the United States, met at the Pentagon with Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood, and U.S. Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark T. Esper.
The Russian Federation has deployed the Iskander missile systems to Kaliningrad several times in recent years, always redeploying them after military exercises. The movement of the Iskander systems is thus not surprising, although these steps could lead to the permanent deployment of the systems in Kaliningrad.