Defence Planning

NATO’s presence in the Baltic states

In recent weeks, Estonia has seen an active discussion about NATO’s presence in the Baltic states. What type of presence do the Baltic states require? Is the current level enough, or should it increase? Should the deployed units be permanent or rotating? Do we need fully equipped units or are prepositioned stocks enough? Should the forces be deployed at significant or symbolic levels? Why should NATO continue to honour the 1997 Founding Act between NATO and Russia, if Russia itself no longer honours that agreement?

Read more

Two Birds, One Stone

In early June, the Estonian government moved to launch negotiations with the US for the purchase of third-generation Javelin anti-tank missile systems. What might seem like merely a deal to replace somewhat obsolete equipment made back in the Cold War is actually quite significant for several reasons.

Read more

Deploying Estonian forces in Africa – why is it necessary?

A leading article published in Eesti Päevaleht on 17 January 2014 laid out many arguments against a possible Estonian military mission in the Central African Republic. As in the case of all international operations, public debate on the topic is extremely positive and necessary. Estonia’s security policy decisions should not be made behind closed doors without meaningful discussions. The Eesti Päevaleht leader raises the question of why Estonia should send its Defence Forces troops to Africa. Does Estonian security have any tie-in with the unrest in central Africa? It’s an intriguing question, and at first glance it does appear to have an easy “no” answer.

Read more

Steadfast Jazz 2013: Back to Basics

Since 2004, when Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined NATO, the question of whether or not these three small countries – squeezed into a relatively narrow piece of land between the Baltic Sea and Russia – are defensible, has hung in the air.

Read more

Who Defends Estonia’s Eastern Border?

Mikk Salu wrote about Estonia’s and Latvia’s defence capabilities in Postimees on November 6. The article presents to the public issues that have been discussed behind closed doors for several years, namely Latvia’s and Lithuania’s limited willingness and readiness to contribute to NATO’s collective defence efforts. Behind the scenes, the Estonians, together with NATO’s more influential member states and high-ranking officials, have drawn attention to this fact for years already.

Read more

No country for uniformed men?

Over a month ago, Estonia‘s government passed a decree approving the composition of the research policy commission – a body which will draft the country‘s new Research and Development and Innovation Strategy (the strategy currently in force, nicely entitled “Knowledge-based Estonia”, is valid for the period of 2007-2013). Seemingly, nothing unusual and worth much attention – just a routine step in the periodic decision-making cycle of crafting national policy. The commission‘s list of membership features undoubtedly very competent public policy experts, scientists, representatives of non-governmental organisations, ministries – all led by a politician who is an accomplished scientist himself, the minister of education and research Jaak Aaviksoo.

Read more

Choosing what’s right for your country in defence: futility of hasty comparisons

In the run-up to the national elections, Estonia’s political parties are on a look-out for new items for their agendas. Commendably, defence policy is not overlooked in the political debate. Equally commendably, parties are assuming positions congruent with their political ideologies: the liberals are advocating gradual transition to all-volunteer force format (often wrongly termed as “professional force”), while the conservatives are defending the “two-tier” format (or mix of full-time volunteers and conscripts) currently in place. Whatever the practical outcome of this debate, the Estonian society will benefit if this sensitive issue will have been discussed thoroughly and intelligently. The last thing you want to do is to imitate what others (Sweden, Germany, Lithuania etc.) do without understanding your own aims, needs and assumptions – this would be simply a counter-productive “strategic parroting”.

Read more

Armed Forces as a Learning Organisation

Confronted with formidable challenges of counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States military realised that their old ways of conducting warfare were irrelevant and that they had to relearn the forgotten tricks of “small wars” anew. In this quest, the U.S. military leadership became fascinated with a rather old managerial concept of learning organisation: the counterinsurgency manual of 2006 explicitly refers to the imperative for the U.S. military to turn itself into a smart learning organisation as a precondition for long-term success in current and future military campaigns.

Read more