The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) capability, backed by its people, point towards attacking Estonia being likely a painful act for any would-be aggressor, says the EDF's commander, Maj. Gen. Martin Herem.
"If you assess pain on a scale – whether it is painful for an aggressor to come into contact with the EDF – then I would say that this would be very painful," Maj. Gen. Herem told ERR radio show "Vikerhommik" Thursday morning.
The EDF commander said the strongest evidence of this was the success of training exercises the country's military personnel have been involved in, both regular and reserve.
"When you consider that, without a government decision, reservists can muster across Estonia within two days, forming 800-man units and move more than 100 kilometers with genuine combat equipment, then this is certainly a very good level," he said.
Maj. Gen. Herem conceded that a will to protect should not be equated to defensive capability, but at the same time, he noted a higher willingness to engage in reservist activity here – as much as 60 percent of the citizenry – than in other countries.
"Most people come as volunteers. I don't see this anywhere else in Europe, or America," he noted.
The commander also said that maintenance of the current ability was needed, with several major exercises to that end to take place this year.
"[Large scale exercise planned for the summer] Defender 2020 is important, but so are our own exercises – e.g. Spring Storm, and I am telling our reservists that one or two training rounds are coming."
This capability would not have been the case barely a decade ago, he continued.
"We deal with things better and more skillfully than, for example, was the case eight years ago. The risk was not less then, but then gain we were still not ready for that. Now it is, and we are!" he said.
As to the question whether these exercises would antagonize any neighboring states, Maj. Gen. Herem said that they were not aimed at any country, but simply to protect Estonia and here allies, meaning that should not step on anyone's toes.
"We are not rehearsing for the occupation of any state, island or peninsula, or making alterations to the order of any part of the state, as our eastern neighbor does. We are practicing the defense of our state. And if this gets on anyone's nerves, it means we are probably doing the right thing. If [another power] really doesn't like it, it points towards them wanting to orchestrate something," he went on.
In regards to U.S. troops taking part Defender 2020, which will brinag around 20,000 personnel to Europe, Maj. Gen. Herem said that: "Americans are a pretty good means of cranking up nerves, yes."
The NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup based at Tapa, east of Tallinn, is British led and contains French and Danish contingents, as well as Belgians and others in the past, but also falls under the overall command of the EDF's 1st Brigade.
Editor: Andrew Whyte