Estonia to procure €132 million in equipment for the Defence League

Estonia is planning to procure €132 million in equipment for the country’s Defence League for territorial defence over the next four years, including individual combatant load-carrying systems, night vision and thermal equipment.

According to the Estonian defence minister, Hanno Pevkur, there are multiple steps to be taken to increase the capability of the Defence League, including the training, equipping and manning of territorial defence, which will increase to 20,000 fighters.

“Building the capabilities of the Defence League and increasing military territorial defence is one of the most important lessons learned from the war in Ukraine,” he said. “One of the most important tasks of the Defence League is to prepare territorial defence units for wartime.”

The Land Forces will be doubled from 9,500 combatants to 20,000 by the start of 2024, which means they will need to be equipped, armed and trained. The government decided to increase territorial defence in the spring of 2022, following the Russian attack on Ukraine, allocating an additional €30 million to the Defence League.

A female member of the Estonian Defence League, a voluntary national defence organisation. Photo by the Estonian Defence League.

The equipment to arrive in the first half of 2023

A total of €132 million is planned for the procurement of equipment for territorial defence as a whole over the next four years. This includes, for example, individual combatant load-carrying systems, night vision and thermal equipment. Means of transport and ammunition are also being acquired.

Tenders for equipping additional territorial defence units are being carried out by the Centre for Defence Investment, and the arrival of the equipment is planned for the first half of 2023.

The additional territorial defence personnel will receive intensive training in 2023, which will be based on the principle of flexibility and will involve active servicemen from both the Defence League and the Defence Forces. Both unit administration and rank-and-file will be trained.

Members of the Estonian Defence League at an exercise in 2022. Photo by the Estonian Defence League.

The state budget allocation to increase to €50 million

The state budget allocation to the Defence League will increase to €50 million. In 2021, the amount of the allocation was €38.6 million, in 2022 €48.5 million.

The Estonian Defence League is the unified paramilitary armed forces of the country. The Defence League is a paramilitary defence organisation whose aim is to guarantee the preservation of the independence and sovereignty of the state, the integrity of its land area and its constitutional order.

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