Defense ministry Permanent Secretary Kristjan Prikk presented the ministry's Cross of Merit, Second Class, awarded to Maj. Gen. Linda L. Singh, of the Maryland Army National Guard Thursday.
Maj. Gen. Singh received the award in recognition of her major contribution to the development of defense cooperation between Estonia and the U.S., according to a ministry press release.
"Over the last four years, Maj. Gen. Singh has contributed a great deal of time and energy to strengthening the partnership between Estonia and the State of Maryland, finding new cooperation opportunities through the Maryland Army National Guard's State Partnership Program,'Prikk said of the honor.
Prikk also noted that Maryland national guard units have helped together with to ensure the presence of the US military in Estonia at key moments, together with the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) and the Defence League (Kaitseliit), and have carried out several first-of-their-kind training exercises, including landing an A-10 ground attack aircraft on Estonian highways and cyber exercise Baltic Jungle.
"The State of Maryland and its National Guard are one of our most important cooperation partners when it comes to cyber cooperation between Estonia and the United States," Prikk continued.
The state partnership program dates back to 1993, and its original goal was utilising the civil-military structure of the state-based National Guard within the U.S., to form actual and everyday cooperation programmes and relationships at sub-national level with the partner countries of U.S. states, to facilitate stable growth.
Four years ago, Estonia and the U.S. began an exchange programme between reservists, to get acquainted with each other's skills and experience, including in in aviation and weapons safety, medicine, cyber defence and instructor training.
The Defence League has participated in reservist exchanges and cooperation has taken place in the fields of medicine and security technology, infantry training, information administration, the chaplaincy service and the Defence League School.
The outcome is a regular exchange program, which strongly features the Maryland Army National Guard.
The U.S. Army National Guard (ARNG), in conjunction with the Air National Guard, is a militia force and a federal military reserve force of the United States. As a reserve force it is roughly analogous to Estonia's Defence League.
Editor: Andrew Whyte