Estonia meets the national defence objectives, as established with the Acts and strategic documents, by participating actively in international security politics and co-operation, developing initial independent defence capabilities.
The third long-term national defence development plan has now been adopted. While the first one, the Military Defence Development Plan 2009-2018, focused above all on developing national military defence in the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defence, and the second one, the National Defence Development Plan 2013-2022 proceeds from the principle of broad-based national defence, the third one, the National Defence Development Plan 2017-2026 continues on the same direction as the previous one but with bigger ambition. It mandates that all agencies and government offices with national defence functions are to make a contribution to developing the national defence.
Estonia’s defence planning process consists of three main stages, where the long-term strategic outlook (10 years), medium-term view (4 years) and short-term view (1 year) are enmeshed.
- The long-term strategic outlook, which has now been developed, allows resource-intensive procurements of equipment and investments into infrastructure to be evaluated based on the national defence development priorities and availability of the necessary resources for developing capability (personnel, supplies, infrastructure). The goal of the medium-term objective is to detail the development plan’s activities in terms of four-year cycles. The short-term view in turn specifies the concrete annual activities to be undertaken for developing the country’s defensive capability.
- In the international perspective, Estonia has harmonized domestic and NATO defence planning. The national defence strategy, which deals with the state’s military strategy for preventing and combating external military threats and sets out a description of the general defensive solution, determines military national defence priorities, strategic functions and measures for fulfilling them, risk scenarios and the level of national ambition and military national defence, also proceeds from NATO’s defence policy guideline documents at the same level.
- From the standpoint of the national defence development plan, the most important consideration is the connection with the NATO defence planning process, whereunder the planning goals agreed with NATO are linked to preparation of the National Defence Development Plan both in terms of timeframe and content – that is, both place goals measurable in one reference system in the same timeframe. The outcome of these activities is reflected in detail and a resource-covered fashion in the four-year Military Defence Development Plan.
- In addition to NATO planning goals, Estonia also takes into consideration the defence planning taking place in the European Union. Yet European Union does not have a classic defence planning process; rather, the value of the process lies above all in analysis and the resulting search for cooperative opportunities and joint projects, as well as in research and development cooperation.
- The joint planning objectives and consultations among NATO, European Union and partners ensure a situation where the defence forces of various countries are capable of cooperation. In the broader sense, it means interoperable equipment, similar training methods, joint cooperation projects and exercises. Above all, it is important for foreign missions that forces be integrated. Harmonized defence planning and regular consultations with partners also allow more cost-effective solutions to be found through joint projects between EU or NATO members, and these contribute significantly to development of the necessary military capabilities.