Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has paid tribute to the professionalism and bravery of UK Armed Forces in an unprecedented year of global instability.
Addressing military personnel in Tapa, Estonia, he told British troops their service and dedication would not go unnoticed this Christmas, and their selfless commitment was instrumental to keeping the UK and our allies safe.
Around 6000 marines, soldiers, sailors, and aviators will be deployed across the world this Christmas, serving on 33 military operations in 28 countries. They will be supported by dedicated merchant sailors from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and civilian staff.
More than 1000 of those Armed Forces will be on Op Cabrit across Estonia and Poland, including the King’s Royal Hussars, from Catterick Garrison in the Prime Minister’s constituency in North Yorkshire.
The Prime Minister thanked those troops personally today, and, alongside Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, served Christmas lunch to NATO forces. He also shared mince pies with UK military personnel after dinner, hearing first-hand about their experience as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence across the Baltics.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
This year, we have seen a full-scale war return to our continent, and I am immensely proud of the selfless dedication and bravery of our Armed Forces who responded to that threat to keep the UK and our allies safe.
As thousands of our military personnel prepare to spend Christmas on deployment, I know that this year of all years we will not take their sacrifice, or the sacrifice of their loved ones, for granted.
Christmas, after all, is a time for peace, and as alongside our allies, we’ll continue to support our Ukrainian and European friends in pursuit of a return of that peace.
This year, partly in response to the invasion of Ukraine, more than 12000 UK military personnel have been deployed across Europe, from Cyprus in the Mediterranean to Norway within the Arctic Circle, across land, sea and air.
In Estonia, the UK temporarily doubled its footprint in response to rising tensions, underlining our commitment to NATO and wider European security. We have since bolstered the lethality of the deployment with multiple rocket launch systems and short range air defence, allowing force numbers to be reduced and redeployed in other areas of the world.
The UK’s contribution to European security has not just been on land in 2022, with the Royal Navy deploying on nine different operations across Europe, involving 31 ships and submarines, six Naval Air Squadrons and 1750 Royal Marines.
And the UK played a leading role in protecting European skies, with around 1900 UK military flights patrolling, gathering intelligence and providing essential transport and resilience across the region this year.
From January 2023, UK Apache and Chinook helicopters will deploy to Estonia. This additional surge capability into Estonia will include an aviation task force of three CH47 helicopters, followed by a deployment of four AH64 and two Wildcat Helicopters.
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