January 29, 2013

The Cabinet approved the National Defence development plan for the period 2013-2022 in a move that will increase the military capability and firepower of the Estonian Defence Forces.

Minister of Defence Urmas Reinsalu said the new development plan is realistic and will ensure that Estonia has, independently, initial self-defence capability. “The basis for Estonia’s capability to defend itself remains the large reserve forces, which is formed of the men and women who have completed compulsory military service,” said Reinsalu.

The commander in chief of the Defence Forces, Brigadier General Riho Terras, said the new development plan will increase the actual capability of the Defence Forces and will reduce bureaucracy. “Our aim is Defence Forces with a faster reaction time and greater firepower,” said Terras.

The new development plan will increase the Defence Forces’ rapid response structure to 21,000 people; they will be the first in line to be issued weapons and equipment and their reaction time will also be a primary consideration.

In the army, two fully manned, armed and equipped infantry brigades will be developed, each with rapid response capability. The 1st infantry brigade will be equipped with combat vehicles, armoured transport vehicles and self-propelled artillery.

Also under the new development plan, the anti-tank defence capability of the entire Defence Forces will be developed and, with regard to weapons, third-generation anti-tank missile batteries will be introduced.

The Defence League will assume the central role in territorial defence. The numbers of the Defence League personnel will grow from the current 22,250 to 30,000 over the ten years.

The command structure of the Defence Forces will become more efficient under the new development plan, with the Army staff merged with the Defence Forces general staff and the one staff each in the Air Force and Navy.

By the end of 2014, all conscripts will be provided with fully modern living conditions, for which purpose new barracks will be built in Tapa, Jõhvi, Võru and Ämari. A central Defence Forces artillery range, regional exercise fields and Defence League firing ranges will be developed.

The number of active-duty personnel in the Defence Forces will increase over ten years from the current 3,100 to 3,600. The pre-recession wage level will be reinstated in the Defence Forces in the course of 2013.