Commander of the Estonian defense forces Maj. Gen. Martin Herem affirmed at a meeting of the commanders of the defense forces of NATO and European Union member states via video bridge that Estonia is ready to fully resume its contribution to missions.
"Estonia is ready to fully resume its contribution to missions as soon as the situation regarding COVID-19 allows. Despite the current crisis, we must ensure military readiness, both domestically and internationally," Herem said on Friday.
The defense chief added that, regardless of the emergency situation, the defense forces have continued to make their usual contributions to operations in Mali, Afghanistan and the Middle East, and are ready to re-engage in Iraqi missions.
The future of NATO operations, the strengthening of deterrence and defense, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were discussed at a meeting of NATO chiefs of defense on Thursday. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also attended the meeting.
Stoltenberg emphasized that the security situation has not changed as a result of the virus, the threats and challenges for the alliance are unchanged. That is why we need to persistently invest in the defense forces and military readiness.
The commanders of the defense forces expressed support for the concept of a euroatlantic deterrence and defense attitude and for NATO's concept of future warfare.
"These concepts are an important step forward in NATO's military thinking and in the comprehensive and practical strengthening of deterrence and defense," Herem said.
NATO will continue to contribute to security through various measures, such as the allied presence on the eastern flank, air security and operations. The commitment to stability in Afghanistan was reaffirmed and further ways to contribute to the fight against terrorism were discussed.
To address the crisis, NATO has set up a separate COVID-19 task force under the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) to coordinate the use of armed forces and crisis stocks, as well as the logistics of medical aid. Mutual assistance and solidarity between member states are also important.
The meeting of the commanders of the defense forces of EU member states on Wednesday focused on COVID-19, the contribution of the defense forces to the resolution of the current crisis and the impact of the pandemic on the security situation and the military activities of the EU.
It was agreed that the health crisis must not turn into a security crisis, so it is important to maintain military readiness, not to sacrifice defense budgets in the emerging recession and to continue with EU operations and missions.
Active disinformation campaigns and cyber attacks show that opponents are taking every opportunity to weaken the EU and its member states and to undermine unity. Therefore, it is also important to strengthen the resilience of societies.
The NATO Military Committee is the alliance's highest military authority responsible for advising the alliance on military matters. At the highest level, meetings are held at the level of the commanders of the defense forces of the member states, but the member states are represented in the committee's day-to-day work by their military representatives.
The Military Committee of the European Union is the highest military governing body in the European Union, comprising the commanders of the defense forces of all member states. The committee directs all military activities within the EU framework, in particular the planning and conduct of military missions and operations under the Common Security and Defense Policy and the development of military capabilities.
Editor: Helen Wright