Estonian Defense Force units set to be boosted by reservists
Reservists, who up to now have not been designated wartime posts, will this year be merged with Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) ground units. Those who volunteer before the end of November will be able to choose the region and unit in which they prefer to serve.
The addition of reservists means the number of soldiers in Estonia's land protection units will more than double to 20,000 over the coming years.
According to Lieutenant General Martin Herem, commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), those reservists who do not have a wartime post, but completed their military service after 1996 and meet the current health requirements, will be included in land defense units.
Any such eligible reservists can visit the website kaitsevaeteenistus.ee, where they will be able to choose their preferred region and unit, up until the end of November.
Herem explained, that from the start of December onward, the EDF will start assigning reservists to regions and units, in a process which is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
The first training exercises for the additional reserve units of the EDF will take place in August and September next year. Drills for section and unit commanders are set to last 10 days, with five-day exercises for reactionary forces.
Herem said the new units will initially be light infantry. Commander of the Estonian Defense League (EDL), Brigadier General Riho Ühtegi, added that training for reservists groups will indeed start with the basics, such as light infantry (training), however, it will intensify after that, with more complex elements added.
"Next year's exercise will largely be refresher training, while (reservists) also get to know their future home unit and tasks," Ühtegi said.
According to Ühtegi, adding reservists to existing EDL units is necessary in order to ensure there are sufficient numbers of soldiers to cover all of Estonia. Ühtegi added, that the plan is to establish a 20,000-strong EDL ground defense not only for the next year, but for several years to come.
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Editor: Michael Cole