Mikser: Estonia better protected than ever before (6)
Defense Minister Sven Mikser said, looking back at the defense developments within last year, that the expansion of Estonia’s national defenses has passed a number of milestones that increase the country’s security.
“Despite the changed security situation in Europe and the Baltic Sea region over the last year, Estonia is better protected against military threats than it has ever been,” Mikser said.
According to Mikser, the largest Defense Forces training exercise in history – Siil 2015, with over 13,000 participants – showed that Estonia’s commitment to a reserve army, based on conscription, was a wise choice when it comes to ensuring primary protection from military threats.
The government also decided that the expenses on hosting allied troops in the country will be additional to the 2 percent of the GDP already allocated to national defense. Estonia is planning to invest about 40 million euros from the government’s reserve fund to develop the infrastructure need for hosting allied troops.
In June, the Tallinn-based NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) was launched, aimed at preparing and supporting hosting of NATO rapid response units and their activities in Estonia.
Starting in 2014, the US Army units have been constantly rotated to Estonia, to carry out training. This spring, the US Army also brought battle tanks into Estonia for the first time.
A Dutch army armour unit has been to Estonia for training and the German army has also pledged to send units for training.
Allied fighter aircraft, part of the Baltic Air Policing Mission, rotate in and out of Ämari Air Base, which is becoming a regional air force training center.