Estonian government establishes Defense Forces division under NATO

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Members of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) during the Independence Day parade in Tallinn's Freedom Square. February 24, 2022.
Members of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) during the Independence Day parade in Tallinn's Freedom Square. February 24, 2022. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Estonian government on Thursday amended the statutes of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) to establish a divisional structure in Estonia under the framework of NATO as agreed at the alliance's Madrid summit in June.

"This is a historic decision that on one hand demonstrates the development of our defense forces, but also our integration with NATO," Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) said according to a press release. "The establishment of the division will significantly increase our defense and resistance capabilities."

The amendment to the statutes will grant Estonia's minister of defense the authority to appoint the commander of the division; the appointment will be on condition of a proposal by the commander of the EDF.

To be assigned to the new division are the EDF's 1st Infantry Brigade, 2nd Infantry Brigade, Logistics Battalion and Headquarters Support and Signal Battalion, as well as an allied brigade which, under previous agreement, will be a brigade assigned by the U.K. to Estonian defense.

The division will be a wartime unit and regular structural unit whose primary function is to plan and conduct military operations within its area of responsibility with units in its composition and those temporarily in its subordination.

The division's area of operation will cover the entire territory of Estonia.

If necessary, this division may be assigned to the NATO chain of command by order of the chief of the EDF.

U.S. to contribute to division establishment

Earlier on Thursday, the Ministry of Defense announced that the EDF and the United States will work together on establishing a divisional structure in Estonia under the framework of NATO, and that Estonia will be joining the renowned U.S. Warfighter program, which comprises a series of exercises culminating in a capstone training event that will provide certification to participating corps and division formations.

This cooperation was announced in conjunction with the news that the U.S. will be deploying an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and platoon, an infantry company as well as associated command and control equipment and systems to Estonia in the coming weeks.

In addition to the recent U.S. deployments, Estonia is also currently hosting the U.K.-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup Estonia, which consists of British, French and Danish units and Icelandic experts, as well as the Baltic Air Policing mission currently being conducted out of Ämari Air Base by the German Air Force.

The current posture and rotations reflect ongoing allied efforts to increase their defensive capabilities and interoperability to ensure that every inch of NATO territory can be defended without delay, the Estonian ministry said. These efforts have been redoubled in response to Europe's deteriorating security environment and in particular to Russia's unprovoked aggression and brutal war against Ukraine.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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