More than 10 percent of those called-up to a recent snap military reservist exercise either did not open the email or did not receive it in the first place, the Estonian Defense Forces said on Monday.
Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) commander, Lt. Gen. Martin Herem, said of the call-up notifications for the "Okas" snap exercise held in late September: "There are people who didn't show up for the exercise, who didn't make contact, and we can see that they hadn't even opened the notification sent to them via the eesti.ee state portal environment."
This was not necessarily an honest mistake in every case.
"In fact, if a person knows which unit they belong to, then this gets reported in the media several times during the day, this should already heighten that person's interest. They should look at eesti.ee at or call the corresponding phone number. The issue here is that either not everyone is ready to participate and so pays no attention to it, and that we have to to do a better job regarding military service, regarding the Defense League, and among reservists," Herem said.
EDF reservist lists contain the names of former conscripts liable for subsequent service at exercises like Okas. This is distinct from the volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit), though there is plenty of interfacing between the two and with the regular EDF.
Of those called-up, turnout was around two-thirds, Herem added.
The proportion is similar to that experienced in neighboring Finland, Herem added, and an improvement on previous reservist call-ups, though more improvement is still needed, he said.
The final tally of those who absented themselves from Okas without reason will probably be somewhere in the region of 10-15 percent, Herem said, adding that misdemeanor proceedings will be initiated against these.
The short-notice call-up saw over 1,800 people turn-to from 2,861 summonsed.
Defense Resources Agency (KRA) advisor Siim Saavik said that it was more a case of people willfully ignoring the email – around 100 only of those emails sent out were bounced back due to an email address no longer being valid.
Even if a person never views the eesti.ee site and their in-box, they will get a notification to their regular email address as provided, and also by SMS text message, while the call-up will also be placed on the EDF service website (secure login needed to access).
Ultimately, there is no magic wand to be waved to reach all liable reservists, Lt Gen. Herem added, and outreach work is needed to help improve public attitudes towards national defense.
One possible solution is for officers to personally contact reservists, which works with some units, Herem said, but this worked better for non-snap exercises, for instance if 120 days' notice is given, he said.
Editor: Andrew Whyte