Estonia's defence policy aims to guarantee the preservation of the independence and sovereignty of the state, the integrity of its land area, territorial waters and airspace and its constitutional order. Its main goals remain the development and maintenance of a credible capability to defend the nation's vital interests and development of the EDF in a way that ensures their interoperability with the armed forces of NATO and EU member states and their capability to participate in the full range of Alliance missions.
The average size of the Estonian Regular Armed Forces in peacetime is about 3800 (Land Forces 3300, Navy 300, Air Force 200) persons, of whom about 1500 are conscripts. Voluntary Defence League has also about 13 000 members. The planned size of the operational (wartime) structure is 16 000 personnel.
In peacetime the main tasks of EDF are to monitor and maintain control over airspace, to maintain combat readiness, to train conscripts and develop reserve units, to participate in NATO and UN-led international missions and to provide assistance to civilian authorities in case of national emergency.
In crises the main tasks of EDF are to increase readiness levels of units as required, to prepare for transition to wartime structure and to begin partial or total mobilisation as ordered, to integrate units from other ministries and to prepare for assistance from and reception of friendly forces.
In wartime the main tasks of EDF are to defend the territorial integrity of the state, to facilitate the arrival and deployment of forces from other countries and co-operate with them, to maintain control over national airspace and facilitate the air defence of strategic assets in co-operation with forces from other countries.
The national defence of Estonia is conducted on the principles of civilian control inherently bound with the democratic organisation of the state. Democratically elected and appointed executive institutions make decisions on the use of the Defence Forces and determine the respective objectives, allocate the necessary resources and monitor the attainment of the objectives.
The implementation of the principles of civilian control is guaranteed by defence-related rights, obligations and responsibilities legislatively laid upon the Parliament, the President of the Republic and the Government of the Republic.
The highest leader of the national defence is the President of the Republic advised in national defence matters by the National Defence Council comprising of the Chairman of the Parliament, the Prime Minister, the Chief of the Defence Forces (the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces in wartime), the Defence Minister, the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Chairman of the Parliamentary National Defence Committee.
Executive power in the leadership of the national defence is executed by the Government of the Republic.
Starting from 5th of December 2011 the Chief of the Defence is
In peacetime the Estonian Defence Forces and the national defence organisations are led by the Commander of the Defence Forces, in wartime by the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces.
The Chief of the Defence Forces and the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces are appointed and released from office by the Parliament on the proposal of the President of the Republic.
Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces is the working body of the Chief of the Defence Forces. The General Staff is a joint staff engaged with operational leadership, training and development of the Defence Forces. Operational leadership is implemented by the Operational Staff, which plans and controls operations and ensures defence readiness and mobilisation.
The departments for training and development are responsible for long-term and mid-term planning, resource planning, organisation and control of the planning of training and implementation of national defence activities. The General Staff of the Defence Forces is headed by the Chief of the Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces.
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