The United States' Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Kathryn L. Wheelbarger and Ministry of Defence Undersecretary for Defence Policy Kadi Silde signed a document at the Pentagon on Wednesday that will see the continuation of defense cooperation between the U.S. and Estonia through 2024.
Estonia has joined Latvia and Lithuania in the five-year defense cooperation agreement between the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and the Baltic states, according to a DOD press release.
"The foundation for strong allied relations between Estonia and the U.S. has been long-term and multifaceted cooperation, which we confirm once again with this new plan," Silde said according to a ministry press release.
According to officials, the agreement covers continued cooperation in areas including capability development and defense-related aid, training exercises, cyberdefense, the volunteer Estonian Defence League, training areas as well as host nation support.
The plan will also focus on the more systematic development of bilateral security cooperation and achieving the objectives outlined in Estonia's national defense development plan.
Estonia uses defense-related aid from the U.S. as an accelerator for defense investments to develop Estonia's independent defense capability as well as concluding possible joint procurements with the other Baltic states, according to the DOD.
At the core of the two countries' cyberdefense cooperation is training, information exchange, planning and capability development — with the goal of improving the country's capability to cope with opponents' cyberattack operations.
Broad-based national defense principles will be adhered to within the cooperation plan when it comes to dealing with security problems as well as cooperation with not just the Estonian Defence League and Estonian Defence Forces (EDF), but also the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA).
Cooperation in the aforementioned fields increases defense cooperation between Estonia and the U.S., improves Estonia's independent defense capability and contributes to strengthening NATO's deterrence and defense posture on NATO's eastern flank, officials said, adding that specific activities for implementing defense cooperation between Estonia and the U.S. will be agreed upon at future bilateral meetings.
Editor: Aili Vahtla