If the USA deployed ~40,600 ground forces to combat, would you consider that a significant national contribution to an operation? A sign of national seriousness?
As I've mentioned a couple of times, one of our new nations who deserves a nod of the hat a lot more than it gets is Estonia. She contributed forces to Iraq and have been fighting relatively caveat free in AFG even longer. If you adjust for population size, that is her national contribution.
A great people the few I have had a chance to work with. There are though, some cultural habits that may require a little adjustment for your average American. Via the folks over at LimePhotographic;
Culturally closer to Scandinavia than Russia, they are a friendly bunch and have a mental toughness that is obvious. Most of its soldiers are physical giants.On average, mentally sharp and physically tough. A lot of their senior personnel, MAJ on up, were in the Red Army. Interesting stories from those guys. They like Russians even less that most; if you study their national history the reasons are clear.
As we all sat around in the evening waiting for their two chefs to rustle up a fine meal, we began to talk about the welfare facilities these guys had and the subject of saunas were raised. It turns out that they have a mobile sauna on the Patrol base ‘Wahid’………….. No really an actual sauna.
Suspiciously we enquired more to discover that in Estonian military law, every soldier must sauna at least once a week, so that although this was not possible on ‘Brekna’, an ops sauna on ‘Wahid’ was a sight to behold.
“And so it came to pass that on the last night, hosted by the Estonians, the Combat Camera Team were all sat (naked) in a fully functioning Sauna on the front line of the Helmand campaign”.
So, look for the wee black-white-blue flag around the sauna and introduce yourself.
As a cultural side-note, their capital Tallinn is a must visit if you have a chance - and on a weird note, as one of the last European nations to convert to Christianity, they still retain some rather neat pagan traditions about such things as burials.