The structure of Estonia's armed forces has been the subject of long debates, but after the war in Georgia, few have doubted the need for conscription, said the defense minister, Urmas Reinsalu.
“After the 2008 war in Georgia, a consensus has been reached: Estonian Defense Forces are manned by professional and reserve soldiers, and conscription serves as the main base of manpower and as a source for enlisting new professionals,” said Reinsalu, speaking at a conference entitled “Inventing the National Defense, 1990 to 2004” that was held at the Estonian War Museum today.
“The question has been a practical one: does Estonia need actual, fully manned and equipped units, or can we gamble on a more dazzling but unmanned and unequipped structure,” Reinsalu said.
The minister said that the new 10-year development plan, which was confirmed at the end of 2012, will see the creation of two brigades with modern anti-tank weapons. The plan also calls for the advancement of mine warfare capabilities and strengthening territorial defenses.
Modern radar capacity will be provided and the Ämari airbase will be completed, said Reinsalu, adding that a small but capable special operations unit is also of priority.
The 2008 Russia-Georgia war was an armed conflict between Georgia on one side, and Russia and the separatist governments of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the other.
Estonia, a close ally of Georgia at the time, directed strong criticism at Russia for its aggression.
Debate on Conscription in Estonia Ended With the Georgia Conflict, Says Minister