Estonia can be proud of its reserve army and conscription model

Kersti Kaljulaid at the Annual Baltic Confernce of Defence.
Kersti Kaljulaid at the Annual Baltic Confernce of Defence.

Estonia can be truly proud of the reserve army and conscription model of its defense forces, which ensure us a large, combat-ready and quickly assembling war-time army, President Kersti Kaljulaid said at the Annual Baltic Conference on Defence (ABCD) on Wednesday (September 30).

"As the supreme commander of national defense, I can really sleep quite peacefully at night because I know that when the time should come, then my order of mobilization will be fulfilled in a matter of hours. And that this order will send into combat not poorly trained and poorly armed cannon fodder, but combat-ready, fully manned, well-trained citizens whom the Estonian state has given the best chances of first survival and then success," the head of state said.

"Our well-functioning reserve army model could be in the security and defense community a similar trademark as our digital-ID, Skype or e-residency are in the digital community," Kaljulaid added.

According to the president, the Estonian reserve army allows combining quality with quantity in the infantry. "In the context of NATO Article 5 operation, it is not infantry units that we first need from our allies. But rather we need our allies to pitch in with capabilities and units that will always remain too expensive for us to develop ourselves," Kaljulaid said.

In her speech, the head of state also brought up the positive societal impact of conscription and reserve service. "It is probably why we have a relatively stable political and societal consensus on spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense. And even more importantly -- conscription and the Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps have given the society tens of thousands of men and women who know how to defend Estonia. This is the thing that makes us strong and confident. And it is very difficult to attack and defeat a nation who is confident," Kaljulaid said.

The 14th Annual Baltic Conference on Defense (ABCD) organized by the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) focuses on the defense of Baltic countries, lessons learned from the pandemic and the role of reserve forces.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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