The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (DAA) signed into law by US President Donald Trump this week increases deterrence provided by the US in Europe, spokespeople for Estonia's Ministry of Defence said.
"The US 2019 National Defense Authorization Act envisages several activities for the US Department of Defense, the State Department and the United States European Command (EUCOM), the common denominator of which is increasing the deterrence and defence posture of the US and NATO," Ministry of Defence spokesperson Roland Murof told BNS.
That the next annual US defence budget of $716 billion includes an initiative within the framework of the $6.3 billion European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) to transition the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission to an air defence mission, and $15.7 million in an investment to establish a special operations forces training facility and operations facility in Estonia, speaks of a more permanent presence of US forces in the Baltic countries and Poland and improving awareness of developments in the Baltic Sea.
"The transition from Baltic air policing to air defence is an important topic for Estonia," Murof said. "Air defence is more multi-layered in nature, consisting of a well-functioning early warning system, monitoring capability and air defence weapons systems, as well as qualified personnel also capable of conducting anti-aircraft operations which current air policing does not enable."
Murof added, however, that transitioning to air defence will require the unanimity of the NATO member states.
"Transitioning from air policing to air defence requires a joint decision of all allies, and currently we can speak of Congress' wish to explore the possibilities, but we cannot offer a precise timeframe for this," he noted.
Commenting on the plan to establish a training facility and a special operations forces operations facility in Estonia, Murof said that details of this plan were not public information.
"Estonian-US defence cooperation, including between members of the special operations forces of Estonia and the US, is very intense," said the ministry spokesperson. "Our special operations personnel have served together in Afghanistan and Ukraine, and this cooperation will continue in Estonia as well. The planned infrastructure projects support expanding conditions and opportunities for training at a faster pace than to date."
He added, however, that details regarding activities related to special operations forces were not public information.
Editor: Aili Vahtla