Enticed by the action and higher salaries offered by private security contractors, dozens of professional Navy officers are quitting the national force, leaving at least one ship unmanned.
"One of the main reasons that people leave is money," said a Navy officer, who wished to remain anonymous, to ETV. "Maybe also the monotony of it. For example, people from the Scouts Batallion, who go on missions, come back and again begin learning how to pull a weapon apart and put it back together - that's not suitable for them."
The officer spent six years in the Defense Forces and was sent on two missions. Last month, he began looking for a job in the private industry, reported ETV.
Another 34 have recenty left, many attracted by the US security company AdvanFort, forcing the Navy to cancel some its planned operations. NATO operations have also been affected, as those require specialists with thorough training.
During the economic recession, salaries in the Defense Forces were cut by 15 to 18 percent, and social benefits also decreased. A non-commissioned officer only earns 600 euros per month - many international security companies would gladly pay more. Especially since many of the former Defense Forces officers are looking for battlefield adventures abroad.
The number of personnel in the Defense Forces has not decreased in the last years, but the staff turnover among the professional army has been high. "Certainly, the beginning of this year and especially the situation specific to the navy is troubling, and we don't consider it normal," said Col. Aivar Salekeshin.
On its waitlist, Estonian security company ESCGS currently has 135 job seekers, over half of whom have a background with the Defense Forces. In the last six months, the security firm has sent dozens of Estonian ship protection crews to work on the Indian Ocean. "In March and February, there were 10 missions going on at the same time. A lot of men are needed there. It seems that April will also be busy, so the market is growing rapidly," said ESCGS owner Jaanus Rahumägi.