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Experts: Next EDF chief will likely come from active service

Martin Herem and Hanno Pevkur
Martin Herem and Hanno Pevkur Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The new head of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) is likely to come from active service, although there are also experienced high-ranking officers among reservists, experts say. Communication skills and experience in NATO staff work are also important.

Gen. Martin Herem announced his resignation on Tuesday (January 16), and his replacement will be named by February 24.

"Aktuaalne kaamera" looked at the potential candidates on Wednesday and asked two experts for their views.

Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) said division commander Veiko-Vello Palm, and Vahur Karus, head of the Defense Academy, were likely replacements but also listed several others as strong candidates.

Maj. Gen. Veiko-Vello Palm. Source: Ministry of Defense

The most important prerequisites are personal qualities and cooperation experience with allies.

"The fact that somebody has been a staff officer somewhere at some stage of their development, for example at corps or division level, is very good. But if we are talking about the Chief of the Defence Forces, their circle of contacts is at the strategic level, at the level of the NATO Military Committee, and experience there is extremely important," reserve Estonian Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Neeme Väli told Wednesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".

The new commander is more than likely to be someone currently in active service.

Vahur Karus. Source: ERR

Gen. Riho Terras, former EDF commander (2011-2018), said: "I do not see any chance of someone from the reservists coming in and being able to get up to speed like that. So it is normal, and it is the practice everywhere in the world that generals come from active service."

Estonian MPs said the new EDF commander needs to have good communication skills.

Herem will step down from his role, 18 months early, at the end of June.

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Editor: Mari Peegel, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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