Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I got to get inside an APC!

Last week I had the chance to visit the Headquarters of the Estonian Scouts Battalion and try out what it’s like to be inside one of their Armored Personnel Carrier– that’s APC in military! It was my first time ever on an army base – and there were a lot of military terms and ideas that were thrown around that were new to me, but all I could do was listen because no matter how much I didn’t understand, it was all so interesting!

I was part of a team visiting from the U.S. Embassy which included Ambassador Jeff Levine and APAO Alison Davis. The Scouts Battalion is the only all professional infantry battalion in the Estonian Defense Forces. It has a history dating back to 1918 and the Estonian War of Independence. The majority of its troops have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, and it was re-established, after re-independence, in 2001.

Ambassador Levine with Major Andrus Merilo, Commander of the Scouts Battalion, and Captain Mart Sirel, Chief of Staff of the Scouts Battalion
After a briefing with the Commander of the Scouts Battalion, we got to see the soldier’s barracks. I don’t know what I was expecting when I saw them, but I thought that they would perhaps be bigger or that there would be less people in a room! But I suppose soldiers don’t have a lot of personal effects with them, and few items to carry help a unit to be all the more mobile.

And finally, the best part of the whole trip was the APCs! I doubt if I wasn’t interning with the U.S. Embassy I’d be able to jump in the back of one. But I am an intern with the Embassy, and I did get to jump in the back of the APC with APAO Alison Davis and Ambassador Levine. Amazing! Not as roomy as you might think (by the way). I also don’t know how soldiers, loaded down with tons of gear, can literally hop in like it’s no big deal. Lots and lots of practice I guess!

Ambassador Levine and APAO Alison Davis in an APC cabin 
Visiting the Scouts Battalion was a truly incredible experience! I hope to have many more of these moments during my time with the U.S. Embassy. Over and out.

Blog post by PAS Intern Ayesha Hamza
Photos by PAS Cultural Assistant Tiiu Vitsut

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