In Parting Address, Reinsalu Sounds Call to Accelerate Defensive Upgrades (1)
Outgoing Minister of Defense Urmas Reinsalu delivered a political address in Parliament today that was part State of the Defenses speech, half call to faster action.
The main message was that security has now unquestionably become priority number one for Estonia and that Parliament and the Cabinet had to redouble efforts to increase military coordination and capability.
"If the war in Georgia was an unpleasant wakeup call for most of the Western world, the developments in Ukraine are nothing if not a fire alarm. Or a geopolitical earthquake," he said.
The mantra of "2 percent defense spending" - a level maintained by the Ansip government and pledged by heir apparent Taavi Rõivas - was not enough, he said.
"The question is not in 2 percent as some number. The question is that we need to accelerate development of independent military capability. We need two brigades to have real defensive capability. We will get one brigade up to readiness in a year's time. With the current funding level, the complete arming and outfitting of the second one is envisioned after 2018. But we need to make an effort to achieve that readiness level earlier, along with outfitting the first brigade with comprehensive armored maneuvering capability."
Reinsalu is regarded as one of the more hawkish members of the Cabinet and has taken flak for his persistent emphasis on vigilance and preparedness. In the speech, he allowed himself an "I told you so" moment.
"In preparing this speech, I remembered how there were ironic comments about the idea I voiced in the US, when I noted that we yearn for the American tanks that were pulled out of Europe and that we need an American military presence. It brought a smile to my lips, because a few weeks ago the US brought 30 tanks back to Europe. The debates that currently are going on attest to much more than one tank battalion. European security is back in the cards for the US."