English newshttp://www.mil.ee/www.mil.ee recent newsenSat, 25 Feb 2017 22:20:27 +0200Sat, 25 Feb 2017 22:20:27 +0200Commander of Defence Forces: Protection is afforded to those who want and can protect themselveshttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9620/commander-of-defence-forces:-protection-is-afforded-to-those-who-want-and-can-protect-themselves<p><span>The address of the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, General Riho Terras, to the parade in honour of the 99th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia on February 24, 2017 in Tallinn.</span></p> <p class="basicparagraph"><i><span>Honourable President of the Republic!</span></i><span></span></p> <p></p> <p class="basicparagraph"><i><span>Honourable President of the Riigikogu!</span></i><span></span></p> <p></p> <p class="basicparagraph"><i><span>Mister Prime Minister!</span></i><span></span></p> <p></p> <p class="basicparagraph"><i><span>Your Excellencies! Members of the Defence Forces and the Defence League!</span></i><span></span></p> <p></p> <p class="basicparagraph"><i><span>Dear compatriots!</span></i><span></span></p><p class="BasicParagraph">99 years ago, Estonia created itself a new future. Proclamation of the republic was a clear demonstration that our own statehood is the best way to preserve our people, our language and culture.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Europe was caught in the whirlwind of the First World War, which erased empires from the map and created an opportunity for the birth of nation states.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">A small nation only has a slight chance to establish its own state. An unlikely chance. Such moments need to occur in favourable times and environments. On top of that, people themselves have take charge on the right day and the right hour.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Our people were ready for that day. Estonia had its educated intellectuals and nationally-minded leaders. Estonia had the individuals who hoped, believed, and willed. Who went into battle and won Estonia’s independent statehood.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Indeed, the wider significance of the War of Independence in our history is the recognition that even a small nation has its place under the sun and the right to make its own decisions as a state. The War of Independence gave us courage and confidence to claim that this here is the Estonian state.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Today, on the 99th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, at the foot of the War of Independence Victory Column, it is appropriate to remember those for whom Estonia remained forever young. Who gave their lives without knowing, what will happen, but hoping that our people and our state will persist.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">The days of the War of Independence proved to us that we can only be strong as long as we have friends and allies beside us. We remember from history, how important the military support from the British navy was to turn the tide of the battle in our favour. In addition to the Brits, volunteers from many other countries had come to fight for Estonia’s independence.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Similarly, we are strong today, because Estonia is a member of the world’s mightiest military alliance. No country has managed to call into question the effectiveness of NATO’s deterrence. This power was created to protect our members from any kind of military threat. This power is present in Estonia. Estonia is a part of this power.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Deployment of allied forces on the territory of NATO members is normal and customary practice. Like in Estonia, the US troops are present in military bases of more than half of NATO member states. These troops are involved in training and defence cooperation. The goal is to improve the efficiency of communication between allies and to ensure better protection of NATO.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">In the spring of this year, the town of Tapa will welcome more than a thousand new inhabitants whose daily work and service is associated with NATO’s increased presence in the eastern part of the alliance. The United Kingdom is the lead nation of this battle group, with French and Danish servicemen also serving side by side with our British friends.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">For Estonian Defence Forces, it is almost like a reunion with our brothers in arms. We served with the Brits in the difficult conditions of Afghanistan. Together with the French, we were the first to respond to the outburst of religious violence in the Central African Republic. The Danes served with us, shoulder to shoulder, in Bosnia and Kosovo.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Our wish is to make our allies feel welcome in Estonia. For this, the Estonian state has made the necessary preparations. We have built new barracks and extended our training grounds. But the most important is for Estonian people to accept our allies. This is the best way to move together closer to the ultimate objective of Estonia’s presence in NATO and NATO’s presence in Estonia.  This objective is ensuring better protection for us.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph"> </p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Dear compatriots!</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Collective defence and independent defence capability are two equally important pillars of Estonia’s national defence. Estonian state has been consistent in its choices, with the development of the Defence Forces remaining in the public focus for many years. We cannot afford to look idly to the horizon, hands at our sides, waiting for help from the West. Protection is afforded to those who want and can protect themselves.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">The development of our national defence in the coming years will require involvement of a larger number of conscripts in bolstering our reserve forces. We have tested the preparedness and skills of our reservists in large exercises and flash meetings. We have seen a real and considerable desire and willingness of Estonian people to defend our country.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">In order for Estonian Defence Forces to train more conscripts, we need to be prepared for a closer dialogue with entire Estonian society. Estonian Defence Forces would like to see that our young people are healthy and active. That they perceive the conscript service as an opportunity to gain knowledge and skills. Our reserve forces are based on such knowledge and skills. They help to keep our independent defence capability continually up to date.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">However, if we want to be able to protect Estonia in the future, we need to increase our numbers. Today, survival and growth of Estonian people is a crucial challenge. For the members of the Defence Forces, this issue has a very practical dimension – with whom and who are we protecting?</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">I am very glad that we have many families where participation in conscript service, reserve meetings or exercises of the Defence League is a natural choice. There are large families that have raised quite a few defenders of the country.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Today, standing here on the Freedom Square, I would like to thank and mention the family of Kirschenbergs from Southern Estonia as a positive example. Four of the five sons in this family began their service in the Kuperjanov Battalion. The fifth son, the youngest, has said that he would like to start his conscript service in the Kuperjanov Battalion in the next year. This is a clear sign that serving Estonia is a matter of honour in this family.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph"> </p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Dear people of Estonia!</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">A few hours ago, a video bridge connected us to our servicemen who serve their country far from home. Our troops have taken part in missions in different corners of the world for more than 20 years. They have made Estonia greater. They have given us the opportunity to speak and decide as an equal among our friends and allies. Our soldiers have built a bridge of trust, which has brought allies to Estonia.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">Our willingness to be present in places, where vulnerable groups are in need of protection or where peace needs to be kept with arms, is a confirmation that Estonia sees itself as a part of a community. A community firmly based on European principles and values.</p> <p class="BasicParagraph">In an unpredictable and changeable world, we need to remember that the independence and freedom of our people has never been and will never be a given. The Estonian state was established to protect our people and our freedom.</p> <p>Long live the Republic of Estonia!</p>news_9620Fri, 24 Feb 2017 12:36:00 +0200Estonia’s Most Influential 2016: Riho Terrashttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9542/estonia%E2%80%99s-most-influential-2016:-riho-terras<p class="Body">Article appeared in Eesti Päevaleht; December 8, 2016</p> <p class="Body">By <em>Otti Eylandt</em></p> <p class="Body">In the annual ranking of Estonia´s most influential people, Estonian daily newspaper Eesti Päevaleht selected LTG Riho Terras as the second most influential Servant of the State in 2016 in Estonia.</p><h2 class="Body">Riho Terras: Declaration of Independence was to all peoples of Estonia and we should return to that point</h2> <ul><li>Terras can say with relief that Estonia’s defence capacity has never been stronger than it is now.</li> <li>The evil committed by communism and occupation has remained in the collective memory of Estonians and is impossible to underestimate.</li> <li>“If I am interviewed on a weekly basis, it can create tension and a sense that perhaps something is wrong.”</li> </ul><p class="Body">As the most influential man of Estonia´s defence and security, the Commander of Estonian Defence Forces Riho Terras admits that we should let go of the evil created by occupation and do our best to make everyone who lives in Estonia feel that they are the people of Estonia.</p> <p class="Body">When asked how he sees his own role in serving the state, the high-ranking lieutenant general is not prone to praising himself or to groundless bragging. “I have served the state since 1991 and have tried to do my best in every position I have held,” is the short and honest answer of the commander.</p> <p class="Body">At the same time, Terras admits, people have lately started to disparage the state excessively – as if the state and its officials were the cause of all evil. “State officials are continuously being unfairly scolded. I believe that most state officials work daily to make the state function better. Be it good or bad but this is our state and we should take better care of it,” Terras admits.</p> <p class="Body">In a time when we talk about changed security environment and Estonia contributes more money than ever to its national defence, Terras can say with relief that Estonia’s defence capacity has never been stronger than it is now. “Never before have we had so many strong allies as we have now. Estonia’s history has proved that it is hard to protect this country without allies but with allies it has been possible.”</p> <p class="Body">The present time has generated a lot of predictions of a possible war. A whole regiment’s worth of foreign journalists have flocked to the Friendship Bridge in Narva to ask locals if this could be the launching pad of World War III.</p> <p class="Body">Before going and demanding an explanation from those international journalists, we should have that dialogue among ourselves, Terras believes. “I think we should do all we can to ensure that the people who live in Estonia, including Russian-speakers, would be our people and that they would also identify as the people of Estonia. Not necessarily as Estonians but certainly as the people of Estonia. So that they would work for this country and love it while maintaining their ethnicity, beliefs and religious specificities,” he says. But this requires more dialogue and clarification, he adds.</p> <p class="Body"> </p> <p class="Body"><b>You can’t make friends by force</b></p> <p class="Body">For their part, the Estonian Defence Forces have made a few initiatives. One example was taking the parade to Narva. “Now we made a local boy from Narva the instructor of Alutaguse Defence League based in Narva. His aim is to show the locals that the Defence League is a part of society, a part of the town of Narva and its people,” Terras says. “Dialogue is important, you can’t make friends by force.”</p> <p class="Body">But how to achieve this when Estonia’s narrative is largely based on ethnicity? Terras does not see it quite that way. “The roots of Estonian statehood lie in the first days of our independence, in our War of Independence, where this kind of antagonism didn’t exist. I remember transcribing Estonia’s Declaration of Independence by hand as a child and it said, “Declaration to all peoples of Estonia“. We should return to that starting point and not define ourselves only by language and culture, which are dear to us, but also by the fact that many different ethnicities have always co-existed in Estonia,“ Terras says.</p> <p class="Body">National embitterment is inevitably fuelled by the burden of our history. The evil committed by communism and occupation has remained in the collective memory of Estonians and is impossible to underestimate. Terras finds that we should renounce this evil. “Those wounds are starting to heal and tearing them open again is not a wise thing to do. It is important to assure to ourselves that everything is better without conflict,” says Kohtla-Järve-born Terras. Born and raised in Ida-Virumaa, he knows local circumstances well.</p> <p class="Body">There is one difficult question that many Estonians may come across in the Defence Forces: How to explain to Russian-speaking young men who is the enemy? To explain this Terras recalls the film “December Heat” [a film by Artur Talvik] where the same discussion was held between a Russian-speaking Estonian soldier and an Estonian-speaking officer. “Enemy is the one who tries to undermine our democratic establishment. This trait is not based on ethnicity but on actual attempts to undermine the independent decisions of our state,” he admits.</p> <p class="Body">In the last couple of years when the presence of allies in Estonia has increased and more attention has been paid to drills and protection of society, elderly people who still remember the war have started to worry.</p> <p class="Body">The Commander of the Defence Forces marks that his concern is for the opposite: there are increasingly fewer people who still remember the war, especially among decision-makers. “One of the grounds from which extremist movements are surfacing in Europe is the fact that people have forgotten the horrors of the Second World War,” he admits. “They play with nationalist ideas, set against one another and this can cause conflicts.”</p> <p class="Body">Terras understands that the Defence Forces need to explain to the public what and how much they are doing. “We are not preparing for war but for keeping the peace. We must realise that Russia is watching for every opportunity and, if they feel that we and our allies are not prepared to defend this country, then they will use this opportunity.”</p> <p class="Body"><b> </b></p> <p class="Body"><b>What´s positive?</b></p> <p class="Body">“Estonia is seen in the world as an innovative small country. Our image in the world is better than we might think,” Terras says. “I happened to attend a lecture by a foreign ambassador who didn’t know that I was in the audience. He praised Estonia in superlatives and compared us to his huge homeland. We don’t acknowledge how good we are in certain things. Take the IT field or our tax collecting system, for example.”</p> <p class="Body">“We could take advantage of that and make it profitable for Estonian people – this is the step that we are still missing. Of course I am delighted that our country is held in very high regard both by the EU and by NATO. Keeping it that way is hard and we must make an effort for this sake.”</p>news_9542Thu, 08 Dec 2016 12:21:00 +0200Largest NATO cyber defence exercise concludes in Estoniahttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9515/largest-nato-cyber-defence-exercise-concludes-in-estonia<p>Today largest NATO multinational cyber defence exercise, “Cyber Coalition 2016” concluded at the Alliance’s Cyber Range in Tartu, Estonia and at locations in participating nations.</p><p>The three-day training event tested the NATO’s ability to defend its networks from the various challenges that exist when operating in the contested cyber domain.</p> <p>“This is the only NATO cyber defence exercise which specifically engages national agencies, military and civilian authorities in response to cyber incidents,” Exercise Director Commander, U.S. Navy Rob Hoar said. “This year the NATO Cyber Range was used to simulate national SCADA systems that have been compromised. The nations must work together to identify the threat and mitigate its impact before it impacts their national systems. We also focused on non-traditional mobile devices that may be prone to compromise, like smart watches and televisions.”</p> <p>The exercise involved over 700 technical, legal, government and cyber experts operating from dozens of locations from across the Alliance and partner nations. The aim of the exercise is to test the rapid sharing of information about cyber incidents. The drill also tests the ability of the participating nations to coordinate a defence against a series of targeted cyber incidents involving a NATO mission network. “There is no one member of NATO that is as strong on its own as we are all together. The exercise allows nations to practice their procedures and observe best practices from other NATO members and select Partner Nations in order to improve their own capabilities,” Commander Hoar added.</p> <p>This is the fourth time Estonia hosts the exercise. The aim is to drill procedures and rapid coordination between national experts in their ability to handle a series of scenarios that increase in complexity during the exercise. Using a controlled virtual environment all participants are presented with storylines which involve specific technical challenges such as smart watches and TVs or the hacking of specific networks.</p> <p>Representatives from seven Partner Nations and European Union either participated or observed, including Austria, Georgia Ireland, Japan, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland. This year Algeria took part for the first time. Cyber defence staff from the European Union and representatives from academia and industry were also invited.</p> <p>At this year´s Warsaw NATO Summit, Allies recognized cyberspace as a domain of operations in which Alliance must defend itself as effectively as it does in the air, on land, and at sea. In the previous summit Allies also agreed that cyber-attacks can reach a threshold that threatens national and Euro-Atlantic prosperity, security, and stability. Their impact could be as harmful to modern societies as a conventional attack.</p> <p>“Cyber Coalition 2016” was the ninth such annual exercise.</p>news_9515Fri, 02 Dec 2016 15:18:00 +0200Chancellor Merkel meets Estonian and German troopshttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9367/chancellor-merkel-meets-estonian-and-german-troops<p>German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who arrived in Estonia for a two-day visit, today met with Commander of Estonian Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Riho Terras, as well as Estonian and German troops at Headquarters Support and Signal Battalion in Tallinn.</p><p><span>Currently around 200 German troops from Gebirgsjägerbatallion 231 of Gebirgsjägerbrigade 23 of Bundeswehr serve in Estonia. German officers also serve at NATO Force Integration Unit and NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn.</span></p> <p></p> <p><span>This year German forces participated in exercises Kevadtorm and Saber Strike in Estonia and took part in a motorized march Dragoon Ride through Europe. Next week, Luftwaffe´s Eurofighter Typhoon fighters are scheduled to take over NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission in Ämari for the third time.</span></p> <p></p> <p><span>In total, German fighter jets have participated in mission on eight occasions. Germany has contributed considerably in the development of Estonian Navy. Several Estonian officers and non-commissioned officers have been trained there. Estonian and German troops have served together in the Horn of Africa and currently participate in an UN-led mission in Mali.</span></p> <p></p> <p><span>Today Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas and is scheduled to meet President Toomas Hendrik Ilves tomorrow. Merkel will also deliver a speech on the development of digital society and the future of Europe in Tallinn.</span></p>news_9367Wed, 24 Aug 2016 19:08:00 +0300Estonian Defence Forces training team heads to Iraqhttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9353/estonian-defence-forces-training-team-heads-to-iraq<p>Thursday, a six-member training team of Estonian Defence Forces headed to Iraq to train soldiers of the Iraqi security forces over the next half year.</p><p>“We mainly focus on training infantry tactics and arms training in Iraq,” the commander of the training team, Captain Rainer Samarokov said. According to Samarokov, the Estonians are teaching the soldiers of the Iraqi security forces how to operate on a squad, platoon and company level. “We have defined the training objectives together with our allies from the United States and Denmark, with whom our co-operation will be the closest in the coalition.”</p> <p>The Estonian training team will be located in Anbar Province of Iraq and operate as part of the Danish training contingent.</p> <p>Operation Inherent Resolve aims to defeat Daesh and increase regional stability. The <i>Riigikogu</i> decided Estonia’s participation in the operation on 15 June 2016, giving a mandate to send up to 10 servicemen to Iraq. Currently Estonian training team of six and one staff officer serve in Iraq as part of operation Inherent Resolve.</p>news_9353Mon, 01 Aug 2016 11:08:00 +0300Defence Forces commemorate WWII fallenhttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9327/defence-forces-commemorate-wwii-fallen<p>Saturday, July 30 chaplains of Estonian Defence Forces laid wreaths at the Sinimäe Memorial and Red Army Soldiers´ monument in east Estonia to pay respects for all those fallen and injured in Sinimäe battle during the Second World War.</p><p>“With those wreaths we pay our respects to all soldiers fallen in Sinimäe and for those who lost the most precious that a human can have – their life,” Chaplain Captain Ott Aro said. “We also remember those who lost their home, family and future and were forced to travel the world,” he added.</p> <p>The battle of Sinimäe took place between the Soviet Red Army and German Wehrmacht from July 25 to August 12 1944. It is considered to be the fiercest military confrontation ever on Estonian soil. It is estimated that over 2 500 Estonian citizens, including civilians living in the area, lost their lives in the battle. The exact numbers of the fallen are not known.</p>news_9327Fri, 29 Jul 2016 15:26:00 +0300Estonian UN peacekeepers in Lebanon assume duties near Blue Linehttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9316/estonian-un-peacekeepers-in-lebanon-assume-duties-near-blue-line<p>Estonian platoon Estpla-21 to Finnish-Irish Battalion serving in United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) today assumed duties at UN Position 6-50 near the Blue Line, separating Lebanon and Israel.</p><p>&bdquo;The following two months will mean more responsibility for our platoon since, despite the decreasing number of patrols, we now need to guard the camp, man the command post and provide a quick response squad using only our own unit to man the duties,&ldquo; platoon commander Second Lieutenant Valdo H&auml;lvin said.</p> <p>Almost 20 years ago UN peacekeeping missions to Croatia (1995) and Lebanon (1996) were the first operations abroad for Estonian Defence Forces after the country restored its independence.</p> <p>Estonian platoon is part of Finnish-Irish Battalion A-Company serving in Sector West of UNIFIL Area of Responsibility. With two decades Estonia has contributed to several UN missions and currently has forces in Mali, as well as military observers contributing to United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO) Observers Group in Lebanon.</p> <p>As of end of May this year Estpla-21 has been conducting patrols; patrolled with Lebanese Armed Forces as well as carried out other peacekeeping duties from their main UN Position 2-45 in At Tiri, Southern Lebanon.</p> <p>Together with staff officers Estonia has approx. 40 troops in Lebanon. From total over 500 force Finland contributes to Finnish-led battalion with around 300 troops and Ireland around 200 troops. Rotating forces in Blue Line UN Positions 6-50 and 6-52 is part of battalion&acute;s routine.</p>news_9316Thu, 21 Jul 2016 18:24:00 +0300Commander of Polish Infantry Company: we are welcomed friendshttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9290/commander-of-polish-infantry-company:-we-are-welcomed-friends<p>On June 30, 2016, a Polish infantry company arrived in Estonia to train with members of the Estonian Defence Forces and other allied troops that have been deployed here.</p><p>Around 150 soldiers of the 5th Infantry Company of the 7th Mechanised Infantry Battalion of the 17th Mechanised Infantry Brigade of the Polish Armed Forces will be conducting training and joint exercises in each of the Baltic states over the course of a month. The Polish unit arrived in Estonia from Latvia, where they participated in the Saber Strike exercise and different cooperative training exercises with members of the U.S. and Latvian Armed Forces. On the first day of August, the company will be rotating to Lithuania to conduct cooperative exercises with units of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. In Estonia, the Polish company will be stationed in J&otilde;hvi with the Viru Infantry Battalion.</p> <p>&ldquo;Our objective in the Baltic states is for us and the allies to study each other&rsquo;s tactics, as well as to get to know the terrain of the Baltics. We want to become friends,&rdquo; said Capt. Krzysztof Ilnicki, Commander of the 5th Infantry Company, and added that although the troops will be spending most of their time on the exercise grounds, they will also try to find time to get acquainted with the hosting Ida-Viru County, as well as the local residents.</p> <p>Their column of Rosomak armoured personnel carriers and lorries crossed the Latvian-Estonian border in Ikla at mid-day on 30 June 2016, and was escorted by the Estonian Military Police on the Ikla-P&auml;rnu-T&uuml;ri-M&auml;o-Tapa-Rakvere-J&otilde;hvi route.</p>news_9290Fri, 01 Jul 2016 14:42:00 +0300Preparations under way for Saber Strike final battleshttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9270/preparations-under-way-for-saber-strike-final-battles<p>Preparations are under way at the Estonian Defence Forces Central Training Area, close to Tapa for the climax of Sabre Strike exercise. Members of the Estonian and Allied forces conducted training Friday which involved passing on control of areas as well as moving through positions.</p><p>„This is a very difficult manoeuvre that requires very good coordination and steadfast commanding,“ Commander of the 1. Infantry Brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Veiko-Vello Palm said. „We gained good experience working with another brigade sized unit and I can say all went smoothly. The exercise Sabre Knight with the Danish Division as well as Sabre Strike with the Americans demonstrates that we conduct our exercises in a similar manner and this is another reason why co-operation with our allies has been so successful," he added.</p> <p>The Scouts Battalion and the attached U.S. infantry company moved through the U.S. Army 2. Cavalry Regiment’s positions and took over control of the area. Further activities of the Scouts Battalion and Allied Forces involved control of various objectives as well as elimination of the opposing forces from their areas.</p> <p>In coming days, the participating forces are preparing for the exercise’s culmination where the joint services will be conducting a live fire exercise. The United States has brought jet fighters, attack helicopters, the rocket system HIMARS as well as M777 155mm artillery pieces.</p> <p>Over 10,000 troops from 13 NATO Allied and partner nations are participating in the exercise Sabre Strike. The forces are positioned in all three Baltic nations with the activities in Estonia taking place at the Defence Forces Central Training Area, the Tapa military base and Ämari Air Force Base.</p>news_9270Sat, 18 Jun 2016 15:36:00 +0300NATO Force Integration Unit reaches its full capacityhttp://www.mil.ee/en/news/9264/nato-force-integration-unit-reaches-its-full-capacity<p>Commander of Estonian Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Riho Terras announced on the June 13 at the opening ceremony of the NATO Force Integration Unit building in Tallinn that the NATO Force Integration Unit, created a year ago, is now ready to operate at full capacity.</p><p>“Today’s opening ceremony of the building and the announcement of NFIU’s full operational readiness are a clear indication of what we have accomplished since the 2014 NATO Wales Summit,” said Commander of NATO’s Multinational Corps Northeast, Lieutenant General Manfred Hofmann, at the opening ceremony, after receiving confirmation from Lieutenant General Terras that the NFIU is ready to operate at full capacity. According to Hofmann, the swift launch of the NFIU is a clear message of NATO’s unity and willingness to defend itself. “Today’s ceremony shows NATO’s unwavering commitment to the defence of both Estonia and the whole north-eastern part of Europe.”</p> <p>As a result of an evaluation process that was carried out over the last three weeks, the Force Integration Unit was evaluated to be capable of performing its core tasks, which include the accommodation of reconnaissance and liaison teams of NATO’s high readiness forces and the support of the planning process thereof. In order to reach full capacity, the NFIU required its own working premises. Therefore, construction of the building of the NATO Force Integration Unit on the premises of the Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces was started at the end of last year.</p> <p>Previously, the Estonian and allied military personnel serving at the NATO Force Integration Unit were temporarily located in the rooms of the Headquarters of the Defence Forces.</p> <p>The creation of the Force Integration Units, which are now operational in six countries (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria), was decided at the 2014 Wales Summit. The first members of the Estonian Defence Forces started serving at the NFIU on June 15 last year. Estonian personnel make up half of the 40 positions, and representatives of the armed forces of the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, France, Canada, Norway, Denmark, and Germany fill the remaining posts.</p> <p>The Force Integration Units in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland, which have the status of NATO headquarters, operate under the watch of Multinational Corps Northeast located in Szczecin, Poland, and the Force Integration Units in Romania and Bulgaria are under the operational control of the Joint Force Command, which is located in Naples.</p>news_9264Wed, 15 Jun 2016 21:34:00 +0300