With a daily reporting that Estonia is looking to acquire 100 million euros of infantry fighting vehicles and self-propelled howitzers from the Netherlands, military adviser Leo Kunnas says the current step should instead be to invest in battle tanks, something the country currently lacks.
If a panzer division came roaring over the border, Kunnas said, all that expensive mechanized infantry would be caught dead in the water, so to speak. Kunnas told Vikerraadio that the question comes down to whether infantrymen can conduct mechanized warfare over open terrain. He says despite direct fire support, the vehicles stop short of what is needed.
"Without tanks, it isn't possible to establish that mechanized combat capability in the first place. Tanks are where we should start. We can start at the same time, buying tanks as well as infantry combat equipment, but not by buying only mechanized infantry equipment. Without tanks, those machines are just vehicles, like a truck or armoured carrier. Soldiers will still have to move around and those vehicles can't rove over open terrain to do mechanized battle."
"That's my criticism regarding the current [ten-year] national defense development plan: with these procurements we won't be gaining any new capability," he said. "If we have little money, there's just no point in going the route of buying mech infantry before tanks."
Kunnas, a retired colonel who has been a dissenting voice on defense decisions in the past, has also recently spoken out against the Central African Republic mission, saying it will produce net postive result for Estonia.
Postimees reported that alongside meetings with defense ministers in Brussels last week, Estonian Defense Minister had a private meeting with Dutch counterpart Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert regarding a possible purchase of CV90 vehicles, and Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled howitzers.