Estonian defense chief: Conscription should be extended to 12 months
Military conscription in Estonia should be extended to 'at least' 12 months' in duration in light of the changed security situation, Commander Estonian of the Defense Forces (EDF) Lieutenant General Martin Herem says.
Speaking at a national defense conference Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Herem said: "There is no way of avoiding extending military service," adding that at some point the period may even need prolonging to 18 months, more than double the current term for some conscripts.
At present, there are two categories of conscript, eight-month and 11-month terms.
The eight-month period covers most rank and file soldiers and begins in October, while conscripts who are training to be NCOs, military drivers, or in signals, communications or IT, or for the military police, undergo 11-month periods.
The 11 month period begins in January or July.
Exemptions from conscription include those who attend university, or who have health issues, while conscript service is halted in the event of disciplinary proceedings or voluntary, authorized departure, with a view to being completed at a later date.
Unauthorized absence will result in a penalty, while it is a criminal offense if it lasts more than three days, or if the conscript left base with a service weapon.
Upon completing service, conscripts are liable for reservist training and call-up, such as the snap "Okas" exercise called last week.
The EDF is complemented by the volunteer Defense League (Kaiteseliit) organization.
Latvia recently expended its conscription scope in terms of those liable.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte