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May 14 2019

Estonian Defence League - The Kaitseliit - Strong in Defence

TALLINN, Estonia – Exercise Spring Storm, the largest annual exercise conducted by the Estonian armed forces and involving personnel and equipment from 15 NATO and partner nations, continues until May 17 in northeastern Estonia.

"This exercise has allowed us to test our training and procedures at unit level, and has reinforced operational skills and our professionalism where we have added significant value to our Defence Force capability,” said Major Taney Rutman, Estonian Defence League Headquarters. "Our National Conscription system in Estonia is vital and strongly supported by our population. This provides trained manpower and I am very proud of our achievements and our military integration in the Home Defence forces,” he said.

In times of crisis over 25,000 personnel can be made available as part of the Defence League and can support a wide range of activities from medical support to front line military effect.

During the exercise, Estonian Defence Forces have been coordinating air, land and naval forces, testing cooperation between various command levels and conducting readiness drills.  

With the illegal annexation of Crimea in Ukraine, the global security dynamic has changed and in Estonia, recruiting in Estonia’s voluntary Home Defence organisation significantly grew as a result.

The Estonian Defence League was formed in 1918 and is purely a voluntary and non-political organisation. Throughout the training year its readiness is regularly tested and large exercises provide opportunities for evaluation and progression. 

Its ability to rapidly deploy or react to civil emergency will be further tested this year with involvement in multi- national events within Estonia and interaction with civil authorities.

Story by SHAPE Public Affairs Office

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