Estonia to raise number of conscription call-ups to more than 4,000 by 2026
A total of 3,500 call-up selectees will be called up for conscription in the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) this year, a figure slated to increase to 3,800 next year and 4,000 in 2025. Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) has submitted a regulation for approval that would set new conscript totals for 2024 and 2026.
At least 3,800 call-up selectees are expected to be conscripted in Estonia in 2024, a total which may be exceeded by 5 percent. At least 4,000 selectees are slated to be called up for conscript service in 2026.
According to the regulation, in 2024, incoming conscripts are to be delegated as follows: 1,778 to the 1st Infantry Brigade, 778 to the 2nd Infantry Brigade, 283 to the Estonian Navy, 381 to Cyber Command, 300 to the Military Police, 295 to Support Command and 30 to the Special Operations Forces.
In 2026, incoming conscripts will be delegated as follows: 1,870 to the 1st Infantry Brigade, 820 to the 2nd Infantry Brigade, 249 to the Estonian Navy, 401 to Cyber Command, 316 to the Military Police, 312 to Support Command and 32 to the Special Operations Forces.
The Ministry of Defense confirmed to ERR that 3,800 call-up selectees are slated to be called up for conscription next year, and 4,000 in 2025. This represents an increase from the 3,500 in all to be called up for conscript service this year.
As more conscripts also means an increased need for space across units, Estonia intends to build more barracks as well.
"The increasing of conscript volumes has been taken into account in long-term infrastructure plans, and the necessary capacity will be completed in time," Ministry of Defense spokesperson Roland Muroff said. "The majority of barracks spots have already been built. One additional barracks is currently under construction at Ämari Air Base."
Each additional 500 conscripts will incur an additional €4 million in expenses a year, Muroff said. This extra cost has already been accounted for in the state budget strategy as well as the area of government's budget.
According to the ministry spokesperson, increasing the number of conscripts serves two purposes — preparing the necessary volume of reserve units for the development of Estonia's military capabilities as well as calling up at least half of young men of a single birth year for conscript service.
8- or 11-month service
According to the draft regulation, selectees will be called up for conscription three times a year: during the 5th, 29th and 42nd week of the year. Conscript service for those called up on the 5th and 29th weeks of the year is 11 months long; conscript service lasts 8 months for those called up on the 42nd week of the year.
The draft regulation also notes that direct costs related to the number of conscripts, including conscript benefits, meals and reimbursement of travel expenses, are estimated to total €26.9 million a year.
The number of call-up selectees called up for conscription is set by the minister of defense and is not subject to a decision by the Estonian government or the Riigikogu.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla