Estonian Defence League to have four territorial defense districts

An Estonian Defence League training exercise.
An Estonian Defence League training exercise. Source: Karri Kaas/Kaitseliit

The Riigikogu on Wednesday passed with 77 votes a bill of amendments to the Estonian Defence League Act and the Income Tax Act which included the proposal of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu to fom four territorial defense districts beginning in 2019.

According to a Riigikogu press release, during the second reading of the bill, several amendments were incorporated on the motion of the National Defence Committee, most of which concerned the establishment of a new interim management level of the Defence League — the territorial defense districts.

According to the committee's proposal, four territorial defense districts that coordinate and support the activities of regional districts (malevad). District commanders, who are currently directly subordinated to the Commander of the Estonian Defence League, will be subordinated to territorial defense district commanders who are active servicemembers. 

The primary functions of the territorial defense districts to be formed include organizing the planning and preparation of, and providing the supplies for the training of the Defence League units. The districts will continue to deal with the members, and military training and preparation on up to a company level.

The Act on Amendments to the Estonian Defence League Act and the Income Tax Act (593 SE), initiated by the Government of the Republic, will introduce amendments that concern, among other things, making it easier to become a member, the keeping of records on the members of the Estonia Defence League, the medical examination, the extension of the social guarantees of the youth leaders, and the provision of first aid in the Estonian Defence League.

Boys and girls who join the youth organizations of the Estonian Defence League will be exempt from medical examinations. Individuals who have a valid weapons permit, or who have passed a medical examination as active servicepeopl, police officers, prison service officers or assistant police officers, and who therefore have the right to carry a military weapon or firearm, will also not have to undergo a repeated medical examination when joining the Defence League.

Records on the members of the Defence League will be kept in a database which will be interfaced with X-Road and obtain data from the national registers. This will improve the quality of the data collected. Under the current law, records on the members are kept in the database of an agency established by the Commander of the Estonian Defence League; the data exchange with national registers is limited and conducted via single requests. The act will also provide for the obligation of a member of the Estonian Defence League to inform the organization of any deterioration in their state of health, when it may no longer comply with the prescribed requirements.

Additional social guarantees will also be provided. A member of the Estonian Defence League who is injured upon the performance of a duty in the composition of the Defence League while involved in the resolution of a rescue event or emergency, in the police activities, or in the obstruction of an attack against a national defence object or of illegal crossing of the state border will also have the right to reimbursement of the costs of medical treatment. Under current law, the costs of medical treatment are covered only for active members of the Estonian Defence League who are injured during military training.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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