Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, who visited the Tapa Army Base, met with Lieutenant General Martin Herem, Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, Major General Indrek Sirel, Deputy Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, and Colonel Vahur Karus, Commander of the 1st Infantry Brigade, who gave an overview of the Spring Storm military exercise and the tasks and operations of the units. In addition, Kallas met with Lieutenant Colonel Dean Canham, Commander of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP), who spoke about the Allies’ actions to strengthen deterrence in Estonia. The Prime Minister also met with conscripts and got acquainted with the armament of the Defence Forces and the accommodation and training conditions of allied units.
“The Defence Forces must always be prepared for the unexpected. Our Defence Forces and Defence League have been able to maintain this readiness despite difficult times, while continuing to provide military training and maintain cooperation with allies and exemplary service in Mali, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the world,” said Kallas. She noted that the Defence Forces and the Defence League are ready to support society in peacetime with their unique skills and resources. For example, they have made a significant contribution to resolving the coronavirus crisis over the past year in terms of people, resources, and supplies.
The prime minister emphasised that no compromises can be made on security and in order to ensure balanced and sustainable development of national defence, Estonia will continue to invest at least two per cent of the GDP in defence expenses.
According to Kallas, Estonia maintains strong allied relations and the spread of the virus has not weakened NATO’s defence attitude or the activities of the battle group in Estonia. “Our enemies would immediately notice any cracks in our readiness. Therefore, the presence of allied forces and the accompanying exercises are the best means of both peacetime deterrence and crisis response. We are grateful to our allies for this close cooperation,” noted Kallas.
Speaking about defence co-operation, the prime minister pointed out the United Kingdom, which is the leading country of the battle group located in Estonia and which contributes about 800 troops. From March, France is again contributing to the battle group with almost 300 troops. Denmark and Belgium have previously contributed to the battle group, and there is one Icelandic representative in the eFP.
Kallas expressed satisfaction that the Defence Forces have taken strict measures to limit the spread of the virus, and vaccination has ensured that the Defence Forces can fulfil their main goal – to maintain and develop Estonia’s defence capabilities.
Photos from the visit to the army base and the exercise Spring Storm: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmVSm9yT