Estonian Defence Forces » History  

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History

The period of national military units - 1917-1918

1917

Estonian armoured vehicles.

19 April - To create Estonian national military units, the Bureau of Estonian Military Personnel headed by Arnold Jürgens was established in Tallinn.
22 April - The mobilisation department of the Russian General Staff issued an order to concentrate Estonian military personnel in their homeland.
20 May - The Russian Minister of War gave his official permission to form the First Estonian Regiment. The regiment comprised 32 officers and 3372 soldiers.
23 May - Colonel Aleksander Tõnisson was appointed the commander of the First Estonian Regiment.
24-26 May - The formation of the First Estonian Regiment was transferred to Rakvere where the unit achieved its maximum numbers - 118 officers and 10 151 soldiers. Throughout its existence 216 officers and 11 538 soldiers served in the regiment. The regiment was the base for the creation of national military units and officers and NCOs from it were commandeered to start new units.
1-5 July - In Tallinn the First Congress of Estonian Military Personnel was held, representing 50 000 Estonian members of the military, the Supreme Committee of Estonian Military Personnel headed by Ensign Päts was elected as the highest representative body.
16-18 October - The First Estonian Regiment was sent to counter the German landing at the island of Muhu. Because of the anarchy in the Russian army, the operation was a catastrophe. On the islands the Germans imprisoned 1000 Russian officers and 20 000 soldiers, including 16 Estonian officers and 1582 soldiers. Of Estonians 20 officers and 150 soldiers were killed.
21 November - Second Lieutenant Juhan Järver started the formation of the Second Estonian Regiment at Paide.
6 December - Commissioned by the Supreme Committee, Lieutenant Colonel Jaan Soots started the formation of the Estonian Division and issued the first day's order as the acting commander of the division. On 5 January 1918 command of the division was assumed by Lieutenant Colonel Johan Laidoner who had been appointed commander of the division by the Supreme Committee, Soots started to serve as the chief of staff. In the division an infantry brigade commanded by Colonel Tõnisson was created, Lieutenant Colonel Rudolf Reiman was superintendent of stores, Lieutenant Colonel Kiiker was in charge of transport and Dr Hans Leesment served as the doctor.
6 December - The official anniversary of the Staff of Estonian Armies (the Staff of the Defence Forces). The Fourth Estonian Regiment was formed in Rakvere on the order of the Commander of the Estonian Division. Nearly 100 officers and 3000 soldiers served in the regiment.
15 December- The Estonian Engineer Company was formed in Tallinn, comprising combat engineer and signal units with 30 officers and 400 soldiers.

1918

7 January - Formation of the Estonian Cavalry Regiment. The cavalry regiment included 500 men.
16 January - Formation of the Estonian Artillery Brigade. The brigade grew to five batteries with 28 guns. It included 50 officers and 1500 soldiers.
20-26 January - The Second Congress of Estonian Military Personnel was held in Tallinn, representing 80 000 Estonian military. The congress adopted a resolution demanding that the independence of Estonia as a state be immediately proclaimed.
20-24 February - The units of the Estonian Division assumed control everywhere in Estonia.
24 February - The Rescue Committee proclaimed Estonia independent. The Estonian Division became the Estonian Army. The division included 750 officers and 35 000 soldiers, together with men not belonging to the division 1000 officers and 50 000 soldiers stood in arms in Estonia. The Rescue Committee set up the Provisional Government of Estonia and Colonel Andres Larka was appointed its first Minister of War.
28 February - The first day's order to the Army of the Republic of Estonia was issued. Colonel Larka became the Commander of the Army, Captain Nikolai Reek was appointed Chief of Staff. Most of the unit commanders retained their posts, Captain Karl Tiitso became the new commander of the Artillery Brigade, Captain Kann started to command the Third Regiment and Lieutenant Colonel Rosenberg assumed command of the Cavalry Regiment.
4 March - To organise Estonian navy personnel, the Navy Battalion under the leadership of Second Lieutenant August Schönberg was created.
25 March - The first promotion in the Estonian Army took place. Andres Larka, Ernst Põdder and Aleksander Tõnisson became Major Generals.
15 May - Due to the pressure of the German authorities, the Estonian Army was dissolved. The creation of the Defence League was started by officers underground.

The War of Independence - 1918-1920

1918

Estonian soldiers in the War of Independence

11 November - In connection with the capitulation of Germany the Provisional Government of Estonia resumed work. In this government the Minister of War was Major General Larka. The first military power at the disposal of the government was the Defence League commanded by the Minister of War. The league started its legal activities under the leadership of Major General Põdder, from 14 April the Defence League was headed by Eduard Alwer and from 30 October until the end of the war by Colonel Juhan Unt. As of 23 December 1918 the Commander of the Defence League became subordinated to the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces. By the start of the War of Independence on 28 November 1918 the Defence League comprised 14 500 men, on the day of the armistice on 3 January 1920 the organisation included 119 000 men, of whom 46 000 had received military training.
11 November - Official anniversary of the Defence League.
12 November - Decision of the Provisional Government to create a regular army.
16 November - The Provisional Government declared voluntary mobilisation of soldiers and compulsory mobilisation of officers. Servicemen of the national military units were to report to units with respective numbers.

Armoured trains in the War of Independence

21 November - The Provisional Government decided to create a force of the size of one division, comprising 6 infantry regiments and the necessary central institutions.
21 November - The Air Half-Company was established at the Engineer Battalion. By the end of the War of Independence on 22 February 1919 the force that had become independent as the Air Force had 40 aircraft (28 in active service) and a personnel of 476.
22 November - The first day's order to the Estonian Army was issued by the Minister of War.
24 November - With Day's Order no. 2 the high command was appointed.
28 November - The Soviet Russia attacked the Republic of Estonia, the War of Independence started.
29 November - The Provisional Government declared general compulsory mobilisation.
7 December - Legal institutions of the army were established.
20 December - Official anniversary of the Estonian Navy. The first Estonian man-of-war gunboat "Lembit" became ready for active service.
24 December- The Commander-in-Chief formed the Second Division under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Viktor Puskar.

1919

23 February - Institutions of military command were joined into the Staff of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armies under the command of Colonel Soots.
3 April - The Military School of the Republic was founded.

1920

Colonel Karl Parts, General Ernst Põdder, Colonel Nikolai Reek

3 January - End of the War of Independence. The Estonian army lost 5000 men as killed, 14 000 men were wounded. Nevertheless it was the strongest army on the east coast of the Baltic Sea after the Polish force. Its arsenal included 143 000 rifles, 2000 machine guns and 300 artillery guns, the ammunition stocks amounted to 130 million cartridges and 300 000 shells.
2 February - The Tartu Peace was concluded.
7 February - Demobilisation started.
27 March- The position of Commander-in-Chief was abolished.

Years 1920-1928

12 September 1921 - The General Staff Courses were established.
29 August 1923 - All military training institutions were joined into the Joint Military Training Institutions which encompassed the Military Academy, the Military School with the Post-Graduate Class for training reserve officers, the Military Technical School and the School of Non-Commissioned Officers, on the basis of which the Battle School was subsequently founded.
15 March 1924 - The Engineering Battalion was split into the Signal Battalion and the Pioneer Battalion.

Years 1928-1939

1 October 1928 - The two-year army service period was replaced by one-year service. The structure of the army used until 1940 was established.
4 October 1930 - The air defence force was reorganised. The Air Defence Staff was created with 3 single air defence battalions subordinated to it: the Flying School, the Flying Base and the Air Defence Artillery Staff.
12 March 1934 - The Commander-in-Chief of the Armies was appointed.
1 April 1934 - The territorial principle of army organisation was adopted.

1940

The Soviet occupation started.

Restoration of the Defence Forces

3 September 1991 - The Supreme Council of the Republic of Estonia decided to form defence forces.
4 October 1991 - The government declared mobilisation to the Defence Forces of men born in 1965-1973.
31 October 1991 - The General Staff of the Defence Forces was re-established.
29 June 1992 - Training of professional staff for the Estonian Defence Forces was started in Finland.
27 July 1992 - Ants Laaneots is appointed Chief of the General Staff of the Defence Forces.
4 May 1993 - The Parliament appointed Retired Colonel of the US Army Aleksander Einseln Commander of the Defence Forces.
13 April 1994 - Staffs of the Air Force and the Navy were re-established.
23 January 1996 - The Parliament appointed Colonel Johannes Kert Commander of the Defence Forces.
1 October 1999 - Lieutenant Colonel Aarne Ermus became Acting Chief of the General Staff of the Defence Forces.
6 January 2000 - Lieutenant Colonel Aarne Ermus became Chief of the General Staff of the Defence Forces.
20 June 2000 - The Army Staff was established.
21 September 2000 - The Parliament confirmed the appointment of Rear Admiral Tarmo Kõuts as Commander of the Defence Forces.

This is how the units were born

General Staff of the Defence Forces - Government order of 31 October 1991
Officer Courses - directive of the Chief of the General Staff of the Defence Forces of 9 December 1991
Kalev Single Infantry Battalion - Government regulation of 18 March 1992
Kuperjanov Single Infantry Battalion - Government regulation of 18 March 1992
Viru Single Infantry Battalion - Government regulation of 22 May 1992
Single Radiotechnical Air Defence Battalion - Government regulation of 22 May 1992
Battle School of the Defence Forces - directive of the Chief of the General Staff of the Defence Forces of 14 December 1992
Single Guard Battalion - Government regulation of 22 January 1993
Orchestra of the Defence Forces - directive of the Chief of the General Staff of the Defence Forces of 29 January 1993
Tartu Single Infantry Company - directive of the Chief of the General Staff of the Defence Forces of 6 July 1993
Pärnu Single Infantry Company - directive of the Chief of the General Staff of the Defence Forces of 6 July 1993
Põhja Single Infantry Company - directive of the Chief of the General Staff of the Defence Forces of 29 July 1993
Single Signal Battalion - Government regulation of 29 October 1993
Logistic Company - directive of the Chief of the General Staff of the Defence Forces of 29 June 1994
Estonian Single Peacekeeping Company - Government regulation of 8 July 1994
Defence Forces Training Centre - Government order of 19 September 1995
Navy Staff - Government order of 29 April 1997
Air Force Staff - Government order of 29 April 1997
Naval Base - Government order of 29 April 1997
Airbase - Government order of 29 April 1997
Reconnaissance Battalion - Government order of 13 March 1998
Defence Forces Central Depot - Government order of 13 March 1998
Artillery Group - Government order of 13 March 1998
Mine Countermeasures Division - Government order of 13 March 1998
Estonian National Defence College - Government regulation of 17 March 1998
Army Staff - Government order of 20 June 2000
Defence Forces Health Centre - Government order of 19 December 2000
Defence Forces Logistic Centre - Government order of 19 December 2000
Scouts Battalion (ESTBAT) - Government order of 29 March 2001

Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces, 717 1900, mil[at]mil.ee, Juhkentali 58, EE15007, Tallinn, Estonia.

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