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[Interview] Estonia forms cyber defense league and will participate in operation in Mali (Reinsalu)

(BRUSSELS2) The Estonian Minister of Defense, Urmas Reinsalu, did not just describe the threats with Russia for B2 (Read: Russia still poses a threat to Estonia), he also described the reforms and preparations of the Estonian army.

The Estonian Army: military service and reserve forces

« For Estonia, having military service is the most profitable path. (…) Financially, “such a small country still needs to be ready to respond to conventional attacks and we cannot financially afford to have a professional standing army.” The Estonian army is 4000 strong in peacetime (300 for the air force, the same for the navy, the rest in the land army).

«The defense forces are extremely popular in Estonia. We trust them. People are ready to defend their country. Historically, we have been occupied longer than free.» Next year, these forces will also recruit women for military service. For the moment they only have access to the professional army.

« One of our priorities – explains the Minister – is to form a military rapid reaction capability, but what is also important to us is to have a strong army of reservists.” That is to say the Defense League of the country (Kaitseliit), which is a paramilitary force associated with the government and of approximately 22.000 volunteer men (counting its parallel organizations – otherwise it counts stricto sensu more or less 13.000 volunteers) ready to answer the call of the Nation.

A Cyberdefense league

«We also formed a Cyber ​​Defense League, on the same structure as the Defense League.” Made up of volunteers from the banking sector, energy companies, etc., it has around a hundred people. These prepare the different scenarios, formalizing the 2007 response, which was built on an ad hoc basis. The goal is to link private infrastructure with government organization.

Budget: 2% of GDP

In 2012, 2% of GDP was dedicated to defense. This budget is expected to increase in 2013. Estonia wants to buy new weapons systems, improve its policy for veterans and implement salary reform for soldiers. As for new equipment, “our priority now is to gain full control of our aerial surveillance.» Next year, priority will be placed on portable weapons and uniforms but also for reserves of mines and ammunition.

Indian Ocean and Mali: two areas of intervention for the Estonian army

The Estonian Defense Minister believes that Estonian participation in certain operations is important. The presence of VPD on board the operation Eunavfor Atalanta, who are "It is the symbol of our cooperation with France. "

As for the situation at Mali, he thinks " that the situation in Mali is very serious. We fully support using CSDP tools to resolve the situation and preparations for a European mission are underway.» We have not gone beyond formal discussions. “But we are studying the situation very seriously.” Estonia is seriously considering sending instructors and “personnel”.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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