Estonian officers: New defense plan hammered out at Vilnius is 'effective'

Allied Troops at Tapa Military Base.
Allied Troops at Tapa Military Base. Source: Oliver Turp

While, unlike Latvia and Lithuania, there will be no permanently stationed allied brigade deployed to Estonia, two MPs and veteran high-ranking military officers are nonetheless of the opinion that the Estonian defense plan approved by NATO in Vilnius this week is effective, and strengthens the country's security.

Another distinction between Estonia's plans and those of the other two Baltic states is that a planned division, one up from a brigade in the hierarchy of military formations and to include a planned British Army brigade, will not be part of the NATO Multinational Division North.

Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform), told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) Wednesday that: "We are of the opinion that it makes more sense for us to constantly practice how the allies come to us."

"If we bring a very significant number of allies to Estonia, then we immediately need more training areas. Second, we would need to erect a significant amount of additional living space. With a permanent brigade families would also need to be hosted, entailing a kindergarten, a school, in other words everything that would accompany the arrival of 8,000 to 10,000 people to Estonia," the minister went on.

Maj. Gen. Kiili of the Estonian Defense League (Kaitseliit), also a Reform Party MP, told AK that: "Due to the fact that, unlike the Multinational Division North, which NATO accredited as having met its standards, we have a domestic, national division, which means that we can draw up an international composition based on bilateral agreements."  

Meelis Kiili. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

One such bilateral agreement would be that just concluded between Minister Pevkur and his British counterpart, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.

This brigade would operate on a rotational basis, a practice already well familiar to both countries via the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup set up in early 2017, as well as an Agile Task Force battlegroup deployed to Estonia for several months last year.

Latvia and Denmark constitute the two framework nations as part of the NATO northern division.

Pevkur argues that Estonia has significantly increased the wartime composition of its defense forces, adding that it is preferable to make investments here.

Maj. Gen. Kiili said the new plan is set upon a completely new basis, one reminiscent of the Cold War era. 

At the same time, he said believes that Latvia and Lithuania are in a more favorable situation inasmuch as they will have a permanently stationed brigade.

Alar Laneman. Source: ERR

Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Alar Laneman, a reservist with the Estonian Defense Forces and a Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) MP, said that Estonia's defense is based on effective advanced warning, adding that recent events indicated that the presence of an allied brigade

Laneman said: "The Wagner Group's operation in Russia showed that that country is still capable of covertly preparing major operations, while it was a strategic surprise that no one had received any advance warning about - and our national defense is built on advance warning. And the second reason is the much-talked about ammunition, equipment, armaments and actually ready the lack of existing forces in NATO."


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera', reporter Mart Linnart.

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