Following the controversy over a recent decision by the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) leadership to include three generals in the reserve, ERR has investigated what the total number of generals, on active duty and in reserve, there are at present.
The numbers cover the ranks of (in descending order): General (Estonian: Kindral, NATO code OF-9), Lieutenant General (Kindralleitnant, OF-8), Major General (Kindralmajor, OF-7) and Brigadier General (Brigaadikindral, OF-6), for the army and Air Force; while ranks of Admiral, Vice Admiral and Rear Admiral are accounted for in the Navy, the current highest-ranking officer is a Commodore.
ERR found that the number of officers of the above ranks in reserve or who are retired exceeds the number in active service.
Based on the EDF's own composition tables provided by its general staff, and the needs of the Estonian state, there are 11 generals in EDF services, 12 generals who have left the EDF full-time and are in reserve or who are retired, plus two border guard generals.
Currently serving in the EDF are: Commander of the EDF Lt Gen. Martin Herem, second-in-command Maj. Gen. Veiko-Vello Palm, Chief of the General Saff Brig. Gen. Enno Mõts, along with commander of the Navy (Merevägi) Cdre Jüri Saska and commander of the Air Force (Õhvägi), Brig. Gen. Rauno Sirk.
The Navy and the Air Force are part of the EDF rather than being standalone services.
The commander of the volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit) is Brig. Gen. Riho Ühtegi, Brig. Gen. Vahur Karus leads the Estonian National Defense College (Kaitseväe Akadeemia) in Tartu, and the commander of the Baltic Defense College (Balti Kaitsekolledž), also based in Tartu, is Brig. Gen.Ilmar Tamm.
Three more serving EDF generals are serving abroad: Maj. Gen. Meelis Kiili works as Estonia's military representative at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe - NATO (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium, Maj. Gen. Indrek Sirel is Estonia's military representative at NATO and the EU in Brussels, while Brig. Gen. Artur Tiganik is the deputy chief of staff at Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, in the Netherlands.
Fourteen generals in reserve or retired
According to the EDF General Staff, 12 EDF generals plus the two serving with the border guard (which is organizationally a part of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) - ed.) are either reservists or are retired.
The reservists are (ranks range from Brig. Gen. to Gen.): Isamaa MEP Riho Terras, former Tapa municipality council chair Urmas Roosimägi, EKRE MP Alar Laneman, former Estonian Military Representative to NATO and EU Neeme Väli, former naval commander Igor Schvede, former EDF commander Peeter Hoppe, Tarmo Kõuts, also a former EDF commander, Reform Party MP Ants Laaneots, former Air Force commander Teo Krüüner, former Military Representative of Estonia to NATO and the EU an former Air Force commander Valeri Saar, former Military Representative of Estonia to NATO and former defense attache Vello Loemaa and former Air Force chief Jaak Tarien.
Harri Hein and Roland Peets retired with the rank of general, and had served with the border guard, now, as noted, part of the civilian PPA.
According to the Military Service Act, any army personnel holding the rank of Colonel (or its naval equivalent, Captain) or above can remain in contract service until the age of 60, after which they are considered retired.
Additionally, three men who became generals following the restoration of Estonian independence in August 1991 have since passed away: Aleksander Einseln, Johannes Kert and Märt Tiru.
Professional generals receive an average pension of €2,800 per month
Twelve military personnel with the rank of brigadier general or higher, including reservists, receive a pension from the state, with the average figure coming to €2,795, according to data provided by the Social Insurance Board (SKA).
However, pension amounts vary widely, depending on the position from which a high-ranking officer entered the reserve.
Katrin Välling, SKA service manager, told ERR that people with the rank of general do not receive a pension on the basis of a separate law, and those currently receiving pensions are granted a pension on the basis of the Military Service Act.
An individual with the general's rank who has not ever served as commander of the EDF or as Chief of the General Staff has their pension granted on the same basis as others who have been on active service - generally 20 years of active service and to have reached at least 50 years of age.
According to the Military Service Act, §206 (1): "A person whose tenure of active service is at least 20 years, shall have the right to receive a military pension when he attains 50 years of age in the amount equaling 50 per cent of the average on the salary scale of the post forming the basis for calculation of the amount of the pension."
§ 207 of the same act has it that:
1) The Commander of the Defense Forces and the Deputy Commander of the Defense Forces shall have the right to receive military pension upon the release from the post regardless of the tenure of active service and the age and the length of service in the post of the Commander of the Defense Forces or the Deputy Commander of the Defense Forces..
(2) The amount of military pension of the Commander of the Defense Forces is 75 per cent of the basic salary valid during his release from service.
(3) The amount of military pension of the Deputy Commander of the Defense Forces is 75 per cent of the average of the post on the salary scale valid during his release from service.
"In order to receive a pension, an individual must be released from active duty, and also cannot work for the PPA while receiving a pension. There is no restriction on working in other positions," Välling said.
Editor: Andrew Whyte