Ilmar Tamm named next commander of Estonian Defense League

Maj. Gen. Ilmar Tamm.
Maj. Gen. Ilmar Tamm. Source: Headquarters of the EDF/

Maj. Gen. Ilmar Tamm has been named the next commander of the Estonian Defense League (Kaitseliit). The volunteer Defense League's current commander, Maj. Gen. Riho Ühtegi, will be joining the reserves on December 15.

Tamm's nomination as the new commander of the Defense League was announced by Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) and Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Gen. Martin Herem at a festive gathering marking the 105th anniversary of the Defense League on Saturday.

Under the Estonian Defense League Act, the Defense League is managed by the commander of the Defense League, who is directly subordinated to the commander of the EDF. The commander of the Defense League is appointed to and released from this post by the Estonian government on the joint proposal of the defense minister and the commander of the EDF after having heard the opinion of the Council of Elders.

Pevkur and Herem will be presenting Tamm's candidacy to the Defense League's Council of Elders on November 24.

Ilmar Tamm being promoted to brigadier general by President Kersti Kaljulaid on June 18, 2020. Source:

In a live appearance on ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera," Tamm said that Estonia's Defense League must learn from the experiences of the war in Ukraine.

"Unfortunately, whether I like it or not, we have Ukraine beside us as an example, and we need to adapt the lessons learned from that war and how we should apply them to ourselves," the future Defense League commander said.

Asked about his own specific, measurable objectives as Defense League chief, Tamm suggested that this could be measured in their ability to get Defense League members out to their duties at least five days a year, so that they could do these real things and thus develop a sense of ownership and responsibility.

"So that there'd be no fear of needing to have an active duty servicemember or professional at their side," he explained. "That they'd have the courage to do these things themselves, and know how to do these things."

Tamm also stressed the Defense League's learning capacity and the need to provide volunteers with opportunities for activity that is in the interests of national defense.

He told "Aktuaalne kaamera" that the territorial defense established under his predecessor Riho Ühtegi must continue to be developed.

"Over the next four years, every district must continue to act," Tamm stressed. "What's crucial for me is that those very same reservists who took part in the Ussisõnad exercise for the first time – they need to be given more responsibility and training so that they themselves would be capable of taking charge in a crisis."

Maj. Gen. Ilmar Tamm is currently serving as deputy commander of the EDF. He has previously served as chief of general staff of the Estonian Defense League from 2013-2018, as well as served in Afghanistan, among several other key posts and service.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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