Sunday, June 24, 2007

Estonia Mourns

Today's news brings this sad story:
Estonia went into mourning on Sunday for two of its soldiers killed in Afghanistan - the first time the Baltic state has lost troops in the country.

Twenty-four-year-old Sergeant Kalle Torn and 33-year-old Corporal Jako Karuks, both mine-clearance specialists, were killed in the southern province of Helmand on Saturday, the Estonian Defense Ministry announced.
Estonia has about 200 troops deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq; they are a member of the "coalition of the willing", and have been ever since the NATO administration of Afghanistan and the Iraq war began. Some people I've mentioned this too have laughed at the small size of Estonia's contingent -- but that reaction misses something important. Estonia is a tiny little country with only about 1.5 million citizens -- about 1/200th the size of the U.S. In proportional terms, their contingent is about the same as 40,000 U.S. troops -- a sizable contribution, and one which I am most grateful for.

With these two casualties in Afghanistan, Estonia now has a total of four casualties between the two conflicts -- proportionally, this is like 800 U.S. casualties. Not only is their contribution substantial -- so is the price they have paid.

Thank you, Estonia, for your participation in these unhappy, but necessary, efforts to combat the evil of radical Islamic fundamentalism.
And thank you for standing by your ally -- the United States -- in its time of need...

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