Minister of Defence Tsahkna: In Four Years, We Will Significantly Increase Our Real Defence Capability
(Source: Estonia Ministry of Defence; issued Feb 27, 2017)
Estonia has acquired 44 CV90 tracked combat vehicles from the Netherlands, which will all have entered service by 2019, while the first self-propelled howitzers being acquired should arrive in 2021. (Estonia MoD photo)
The Development Plan for the Period 2018-2021 for the Area of Government of the Ministry of Defence will bring the Defence Forces armoured manoeuvring capability, a cyber defence command and new small-arms, improve the command of air and sea operations and see the development of training grounds.

Today, Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna signed the Development Plan for the Area of Government of the Ministry of Defence, which breaks down the development objectives for military national defence for the coming years and the means for achieving those goals.

According to Minister of Defence Tsahkna, over a period of four years we will be significantly raising our actual independent defence capability, in order to be ready to react immediately if the need to do so should arise. “In the 2017 budget EUR 40 million has been set aside for the purchasing of ammunition, and during the period 2018-2021 we will be investing another EUR 166.5 million in ammunition, with the objective of raising the combat capability of the Defence Forces,” said Minister of Defence Tsahkna.

Tsahkna added that an important step is the starting up of an additional defence investments programme beginning next year. “Over a period of three years EUR 60 million will be directed from the programme towards the supplementing of large-calibre ammunition stockpiles,” said Minister of Defence Tsahkna.

The armoured manoeuvring capability creation programme is one of the biggest capability development projects within the freshly developed four-year development plan. By 2019, the Scouts Battalion will have 44 CV90 fighting vehicles at its disposal, with support armoured vehicles operating alongside in 2020. In 2021, the first self-propelled howitzers being acquired should arrive in Estonia.

In accordance with the Development Plan, a plan is currently in place to replace the small-arms of the Scouts Battalion, with the entire 1st Infantry Brigade having adopted the use of the new small-arms by 2021. The Development Plan for the Area of Government of the Ministry of Defence foresees the acquisition of flak jackets and body armour for the entire wartime structure of the Defence Forces, as well as the creation of night vision capability.

In order to develop the command capability of the Defence Forces and military cyber defence in accordance with the Development Plan for the Area of Government of the Ministry of Defence, plans are in place to establish a cyber defence command on the basis of the Signals and Headquarters Battalion, in which the competencies of all authorities within the area of government will be consolidated. The Development Plan also includes the development of an air operations command and investments in raising the level of awareness regarding the state of the sea.

To ensure the growth of Estonia's military capability and the presence of Allies the Development Plan calls for investments in training grounds. In addition to the Defence Force’s central training area, there are plans, within the framework of the Development Plan for the Area of Government of the Ministry of Defence, for the construction of training areas at Klooga and Nursipalu.

In 2017, three barracks, a canteen, as well as various structures for the maintenance of equipment and storage of supplies will be completed at Tapa. According to the Development Plan, investments will continue to be made in Defence Forces infrastructure and firing ranges, the military police will receive a new building, and additional ammunition warehouses will be built.

In order to maintain and develop the necessary human resources for national defence, the Development Plan for the Area of Government of the Ministry of Defence foresees means for increasing the number of active servicemen and women and preserving the competitiveness of their salaries, as well as increasing support for reservists by approximately one quarter. To allow for the more effective implementation of members of the Defence League district in national defence, there is a plan in place to create five additional territorial defence companies.

Minister of Defence Tsahkna stated that he considers the more extensive implementation of women in national defence to be very important, since women in uniform provide the Defence Forces with force majeure. “National defence is the responsibility of the entire nation, all women and men are equally welcome in the Defence Forces. Conscript service is a portal for entry to the Defence Forces and provides brave women with a unique opportunity to fulfil themselves in national defence,” said Tshakna.

In the estimation of the minister, greater attention is being paid to raising the will for national defence among young people, and a patriotic education programme for young people will be started.
In addition to the development of military defence, the present Development Plan foresees means for promoting education and development activity, as well as doubling support to Estonia's developing defence industry sector.

The Development Plan for the Period 2018-2021 for the Area of Government of the Ministry of Defence was prepared in accordance with the long-term National Development Plan for Defence for the period 2017-2026, NATO force capability objectives, and the military advice of the Commander of the Defence Forces.

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