Minister of Defence Tsahkna approved the National Defence Development Plan for 2017-2026 within the area of government of the Ministry of Defence, which must increase Estonia’s defensive military capabilities, raise the combat capability of the Land Forces – the main arm of the Defence Forces – and bring the Defence Forces to the next level of development.
“In regards to raising the readiness and combat capability of the Defence Forces, we must move forward at an accelerated pace, even faster than initially planned by the previous government,” said Minister of Defence Tsahkna. “Estonia does not have the luxury of waiting until 2026. To do so, we have created an investment program that will direct an additional EUR 60 million to national defence over the next three years and will raise defence expenditures to two and half per cent of GDP.“
The new development plan will focus particular attention towards raising readiness, since there has been a change in the security situation in comparison with 2012. The plan calls for raising rapid response capability, increasing the number of personnel in the Defence Forces and those serving as part of conscript service, growing the role of the Defence League in territorial defence, acquiring new armaments and equipment, and creating a cyber-defence command.
The bases for the preparation of the new plan has been the threat assessment, NATO’s collective defence plans and clear requirements for the increased presence of Allies, the mapping of the actual state of Estonia’s national military defence, and the valid National Defence Development Plan for 2013-2022.
The rapid reaction structure – comprised of active servicemen and reservists trained during conscript service and by the Defence League – must grow from 21,000 to 25,000 servicemen.
Estonia will develop two complete infantry brigades, which will cover the primary operational directions. According to Minister of Defence Tsahkna, the arming and supplying of the entire rapid reaction structure and the increasing of combat supplies and the acquisition of ordnance is of key importance. Conscription must increase from the current level of 3200 conscripts to 4000, and in doing so serve as an even greater foundation in society.
Establishing a cyber-defence command will create the capability for carrying out military cyber operations, including the capability for cyber-attacks and consolidate the communication and IT field in the Ministry of Defence.
The acquisition of mobile artillery will further develop armoured manoeuvring capability and raise the firepower of the Land Forces. The Scouts Battalion is transitioning to CV9035 combat vehicles. The Land Forces and Defence League are adopting the modern third generation Javelin anti-tank missile system, and in addition long range anti-tank systems will be making their way into the armaments of the Defence Forces.
The 10 year development plan within the area of government of the Ministry of Defence will become a military part of the National Defence Development Plan for 2017-2026, and must be approved by the Government of the Republic.