New division to help coordinate allied cooperation
The formation of a division headquarters in Estonia in January follows decisions from the NATO Madrid summit and is aimed at helping coordinate allied cooperation when defending Estonia.
"The division will serve two main purposes in the defense of Estonia – it will tie together territorial defense districts, brigades and other units' combat operations and serve as a link to allies and their military capabilities," Maj. Gen. Veiko-Vello Palm, deputy commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), told ERR.
The need for a division arises from the military logic of the NATO chain of command. Military activity in the region, to which Estonia belongs, is governed by a corps that requires a command element, or a division, Palm explained. The general said that complementing the EDF structure and creating the new structural unit of division as part of the formation of the division headquarters is based on decisions from the NATO Madrid summit.
He explained that a division is a tactical level unit the aim of which is to defend against an offensive and eliminate the enemy, restore control over territory seized and move battle operations outside allied territory. The division is a wartime unit and a constantly operational structural unit.
The main task of the division is to plan and execute military operations in its area of responsibility using own and temporarily assigned units, including foreign units. Its area of operations covers all of Estonia. Inside NATO structure, the division in Estonia will report to a corps.
The general said that the division will have Estonian and allied units. "According to current plans, the division will have the 1st Infantry Brigade, 2nd Infantry Brigade, Logistics Battalion and the Headquarters and Signal Battalion from Estonia.
The remaining EDF units will continue to answer to the EDF commander as it is the best way to organize their tasks.
Allied participation still unclear
Even though it has been said in the past that the third brigade will be supplied by allies, Palm did not say which allied units could become part of the division.
"It was decided at the NATO Madrid summit to considerably strengthen the alliance's deterrence and defense posture. The prime ministers of Estonia and the United Kingdom agreed in March that the U.K. would ramp up its military presence in Estonia and cooperate in creating the division structure. Estonia's number one military goal is to create a division the headquarters of which would command Estonian and permanently stationed allied units, as well as rapid deployment units sent to the area. This is our main focus in mutual and multilateral relations and NATO. Which units sporting which capabilities will become clear at a later time," Palm said.
The process of creating the division has been launched, with negotiations underway in terms of allied contribution. The latter could entail staff, additional maneuver units and battle support, for example, in the form of anti-aircraft of artillery capacity," he explained.
The division headquarters will have a staff of around 100, with the EDF attempting to reorganize work in a way to create as few problems as possible. Plans suggest the division headquarters will be based in Tallinn and use Estonian and English as its operational languages.
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Editor: Mait Ots, Marcus Turovski