The Estonian government has opted to extend military conscription service terms to 11 months for most branches of services. Until now, only certain specialty areas of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) required 11-month terms from their conscripts. Eight months was the standard duration in most other cases.
The coalition government made the decision at its regular Thursday cabinet meeting, announcing that:
"Arising from the need to develop a new defensive capability in Estonia, it is also necessary to expand and modernize training given to conscripts, while the current definition of the duration of military service by profession no longer corresponds to the training plans of the present."
The bill abandons the list of specific professions, the training of which requires 11 months of military service, and instead establishes a general principle of 11 months of training for professions that require extensive military training or practice.
The government order putting in place the change abandons a list of specific areas which require 11, as opposed to eight, months of training, establishing as a general rule the 11-month term.
"As a consequence of this, units' combat readiness and conscripts' training levels will improve, while the reserve of specially trained persons will rise," the government added.
After completing their term, conscripts remain on EDF reserve lists and are liable for regular service, for instance during the large-scale "Okas" snap exercise, though the basis on which reservists in many cases will attend is also changing to a more territorially-based system, in conjunction with the volunteer Defense Force (Kaitseliit).
Exemptions to conscription apply to university students, those in certain professions, and for those with health issues, for instance, while some areas of the EDF, such as the air force (Õhuvägi) and special forces do not take on conscripts.
Another change the government is making will see those who acquire a specialty which requires extensive military training or rehearsals being assigned to a wartime post with a unit on permanent readiness, to allow for additional, in-depth training and to bolster permanent readiness capabilities.
The volume of conscripts called up per annum, set at 4,000, usually in two batches in spring and autumn, remains intact.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov