Women, classmate groups increasingly interested in military service

Conscripts at Mustamäe in 2019.
Conscripts at Mustamäe in 2019. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

More than 40 women are among the 2,000 young people starting their military service this summer. Another recent trend has seen more young people want to enter the Defense Forces with their school classmates.

Conscripts can join the Defense Forces in January, July and October. Last year, 38 girls started their military service over the year. This year 40 have joined in the summer - the highest number of women in a single intake - following six in January, the Ministry of Defence told ERR News on Tuesday.

New recruits Marelle, from Hiiu county, and Hedili, from Saare county, met each other in the early morning where they were taken to the navy academy, ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported on Tuesday. 

Marelle told AK she wants to go on to active service later. She added: "I will still decide if I want to go to the Scout Battalion (Scoutspataljon) or do something else." 

Hedili commented: "Women can certainly compete with men and offer competition. Not that the military itself is a competition - but there will be some moments when you need to realize that if you are mentally and physically stronger than men." 

Kristo Pals, the national defense teacher in Tabasalu Joint High School, said that leadership is the main factor that brings women to the military service. 

Pals explained: "Sometimes, I feel ashamed to be a man when I organize the national defense camps at school. Girls are the ones who take over the leader's position and encourage others. I believe the leadership courses are what motivate women to take part in the service as in the future they want to continue to learn how to become division or group commander." 

This year 16 men from Tabasalu Joint High School are his students who will join the service. Last year, the number of students who took part from the school influenced students to take part this year. 

The boys of Tabasalu said that it was the teacher who motivated them and showed them the opportunities the Defense Forces (Kaitsevägi) could offer. 

Risto, one of the new recruits from Tabasalu, said: "I think we all know it is our constitutional obligation to do military service and it is always better to take your friends with you. Our duty is to protect our country." 

Risto will spend his time with his classmates in Tapa's artillery battalion. He added Tapa is in a good location and the presence of the NATO allies (NATO Battlegroup) makes everything more interesting. 

Marlen Piskunov, director general of the Office for Defense Resources Agency, said the students requested to be in classes before taking part in the military service.

She added: "With the cooperation of the Defense Forces, we will find the best location for them to go. Usually, the students say which division or force group they want to be in." 

While last summer, young people from four schools entered the military service, this year, 17 classes across Estonia will take part. 


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Editor: Katriin Eikin Sein, Helen Wright

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