EDF chief: NATO defense plan approval will ensure a more rapid response

EDF commander Maj. Gen. Martin Herem.
EDF commander Maj. Gen. Martin Herem. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The approval of regional defense plans made at the NATO summit in Vilnius on Tuesday is satisfactory and will enable the alliance to respond in a more rapid and coordinated way to any threats, in addition to providing clarity on how and indeed who will be carrying out this response.

Appearing on ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Tuesday, Maj. Gen. Herem said: "Yes, I am satisfied. At the political level, what the military put forward, i.e. the specific volume, direction and rapidity of troops in cases of signs of a threat emerging, has been agreed on."

As to why Estonia does not permit an allied brigade to be permanently based in Estonia, as is done in Latvia and Lithuania, Herem said: "Our solutions are different. Some countries are ready to invest hundreds of millions into infrastructure to maintain an allied force on their territory, other countries are prepared to deploy thousands of their soldiers, together with their families, in a foreign country."

"In our case, we've decided that we're going to do things differently. We're going to invest more of those funds into military capabilities, and rehearse for that brigade arriving here."

"Today, I would venture to say that this brigade is clearly outlined. Outside this brigade, an entire battle group of British and French battalions are in Estonia at all times, on a rotational basis. As of today, thousands of Britons, hundreds of British Army officers, and NCOs, are familiar with Estonia, they know how to operate in Estonia, and they would deploy here in the case of threat signs; in days, if need be, if we deem it needed."

Herem was referring to the NATO battlegroup based at Tapa, which has been in place since early 2017, and whose focal point is a battalion-sized or equivalent British Army unit, usually of heavy infantry or armor.

In any case, the formal approval of these plans, first proposed at the Madrid Summit a little over a year ago, makes the response more concrete, Herem went on, including in terms of exactly which specific brigades can be expected, named commanders, and so on.

In terms of deadlines, Estonia has already fulfilled some tasks here, while this is likely to snowball in the wake of the decisions made.

Herem put a two-to-three-year timescale on developing these capabilities and bringing to bear the resources set aside, and land and sea, and in terms of air defense.

"As of today, there is the firm conviction in all 31, now 32 member states [including Sweden], that we have to start deploying troops based on threat signs, not when these threats have already materialized," he added.

Current Russian actions need not be the result of NATO's activities, Herem said, but rather due to Russia's own internal issues.

It was NATO that made its decisions in response to Russian aggression and threats, not vice versa, he added.

Maj. Gen. Herem made his remarks before Wednesday's announcement of greater Estonia-U.K. military cooperation within an EDF divisional structure.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'

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