Estonian Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) has sent a draft bill for approval, under which the size of the Estonian Defense Forces' (EDF) wartime structure would increase from 26,700 to 43,700 personnel.
"The aim of increasing the number of wartime personnel is to ensure that all of the capabilities of the Defense Forces, both existing and new, are sufficiently covered," said Pevkur via the ministry's press service.
"This will help us to plan, with surgical precision, how best to use the money entrusted to us by taxpayers for the purposes of national defense. As the activities of the Defense Forces are financed by the taxpayer, it is vital to know the number of personnel we need to take into account when conducting training and acquiring equipment," he said.
According to Estonia's current National Defense Development Plan, the wartime structure involves 26,700 personnel. Upon the draft bill's approval, this would increase to 43,700. The ministry explained, that the increase affects a number of important areas of the EDF.
First, an additional territorial defense, 10,500 personnel would be added, doubling the current number.
Second, 4,000 reserve fighters, needed to replenish existing units and restore their combat capabilities in order to defend Estonia, will be added to the wartime structure.
A third important change resulting from recent developments in Estonia's defense capabilities, is the addition of new posts related to indirect fire, anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems, for instance.
The EDF's wartime structure can only be implemented after mobilization has been declared.
Thus, the upper limit of the wartime structure also determines the size of the force, which the commander of the Estonian Defense Forces would have at their disposal in the event of a war, prior to receiving further orders from the government.
Editor: Michael Cole