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Estonian Defence League storm into action

Colonel Toomas Vali,  the Estonian Defence League's Tallinn District Commander at one of Tallinn's reception centres speaks with SHAPE Public Affairs Officer,  Squadron Leader Mark Finneran. Exercise Siil (Hedgehog),  May 4,  2018 is currently underway in the Baltic country. - NATO photo by SSgt Dan Bardsley GBRA OR7
TALLINN, Estonia – The Estonian Defence League, which performs a wide range of home defence and security duties, has been mobilised to take part in Exercise Siil 18 currently underway in the Baltic nation.

The Defence League, which is as old as Estonia itself, has called in large proportions of reservists and personnel through numerous reception centres throughout the country. Once processed, Defence League personnel then deploy to their active duty locations around the country.

"I am very impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication of thousands of Defence League fighters in reporting for duty for Exercise SIIL 18," said Lieutenant Colonel Toomas Vali Tallinn, District Commander, Estonian Defence League. "From all walks of life, from their arrival through to their exercise deployment I see a significant transformation into people who become highly valuable first responders in any given security situation. I am very proud of my organisation and the huge value they are adding to these activities and the exercise."

Estonian Defence League personnel can begin duties from the age of 18 onwards. "It is a great honour for me and my colleagues to be part of the Estonian Defence League. I see it as an important duty as a citizen," said Corporal Astrid Arutamm Estonian Defence League. "Being part of such a big exercise as Exercise SIIL is important for our defence, and the League is all about the security of my nation," she added.

Exercise SIIL18 is the first of its kind in Estonia where not only combat capability in defensive operations is tested along with multi-national participants, but also that the 'security blanket' concept is exercised. Full mobilisation includes all Defence League personnel but also involves the police and border guard authorities who are fully integrated into the security and emergency scenario.

Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office

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