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Estonian prime minister visits soldiers
Brig. Gen. Douglas Crissman (left), deputy commanding general, 3rd ID, talks with Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rivas (middle) in the 3rd ID Headquarters. - photo by SSgt. Richard Wrigley/3rd ID Public Affairs

Editor's note: This article has been revised to reflect the following correction. The 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team will deploy for three months to Estonia, whose coastline is on the Baltic Sea. Because of incorrect information received, an article on page 3A Sunday incorrectly stated the length of the unit's deployment and placed Estonia in the wrong region of Europe.

The prime minister of Estonia visited Fort Stewart and the Dogface Soldiers of 3rd Infantry Division Thursday.

He was taken on an aerial tour and attended a meet-and-greet with 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team soldiers.

Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas’ followed deployments of 3rd ID soldiers to his country.

“It has been my great honor to visit the 3rd Infantry Division, or as I learned today, the Rock of the Marne,” Rõivas said. “I wanted to personally come to Fort Stewart and thank Brig. Gen. (Douglas) Crissman and his servicemen and women for making Estonia a safer place. I value their service very highly, and one of the aims of my visit was to listen very carefully for what I could do to make the troops feel even more like home in my country.”

Crissman, 3rd ID’s deputy commanding general for support, greeted and escorted the Estonian delegation on behalf of 3rd ID commander Maj. Gen. Jim Rainey.

For more than a year, the 1st ABCT “Raiders” has served as the Regionally Allocated Force for the U.S. European Command. 

This means that some Raider soldiers are now preparing to embark on their third three-month deployment to Estonia as a part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

OAR is intended to serve as a reminder of the United State’s commitment to the security of NATO and to peace and stability throughout Eastern Europe. 

“The experience, lessons learned and relationships built during these rotations are critical to enable our forces to operate alongside our Estonian allies as part of a combined force,” Col. Phil Brooks, commander, 1st ABCT, said. 

Rõivas’ aerial tour was of the ranges at Fort Stewart. He also met with 3rd ID leadership, and toured the base’s Virtual Training Complex and the Warriors Walk.

The prime minister said he was especially interested in Fort Stewart’s training facilities because the Estonian government is discussing upgrading its training infrastructure. Having a more extensive training capability in Estonia could prove a valuable asset to not just Estonians but the 3rd ID as well.

In Estonia, the Raiders have focused on interoperability while living and training with their Estonian allies. It has also provided the opportunity for the brigade to demonstrate to allies and potential aggressors, the firepower the brigade brings, as they were the first unit to fire the M1A2 Abrams Tank and the M109A6 Paladin in Estonia. 

“Estonia has been a proven ally to the United States and to NATO,” Brooks said. “We remain committed to the success and security of the (Baltic) and look forward to building off the relationships developed over the last year and strengthening our partnership.”

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