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Former defense forces chief Gen. Aleksander Einseln dies at 85

Gen. Aleksander Einseln.
Gen. Aleksander Einseln. Source: (

Gen. Aleksander Einseln, the first chief of the Estonian Defence Forces following the restoration of Estonia's independence in 1991, died during the early hours of Thursday.

"I send condolences on behalf of the Estonian Defence Forces to the loved ones of Gen. Aleksander Einseln," said Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces Gen. Riho Terras according to a military press release. "His contributions to the building up of the restored EDF are difficult to overrate. With his style of leadership he brought a Western attitude and thinking to the EDF. He began sending our officers and non-commissioned officers to study in the educational institutions of the free world. This all prepared us for joining NATO.

"Gen. Einseln understood very well the need for Estonian soldiers to participate in foreign missions and guided them toward doing so, and that has given us so much back in our relationships with NATO allies as well as other partners," Terras continued.

Einseln was born on Oct. 25, 1931 in Tallinn. He and his mother fled Estonia in 1944, initially to Germany before arriving in the U.S. in 1949. From 1951-1985, he served in the U.S. Army, where he also fought in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

In 1993, on the request of President Lennart Meri, Einseln returned to Estonia to serve as Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces from May 1993 through December 1995.

Einseln was one of just four officers of the Estonian Defence Forces to date to be promoted to the rank of general, along with Gens. Johan Laidoner (1884-1953), Ants Laaneots (1948-) and Riho Terras (1967-).

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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