Estonian Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur visited the Southern Territorial Defence District headquarters in preparation for training exercise Ussisõnad, which will involve nearly 10,000 reservists over the course of September and early October 2023.

The government aims to train the command structure of these territorial defence units.

As it stands, the Estonian Defence Force (EDF) has more than 4,000 personnel in permanent readiness with another 4,000 in supplementary reserve.

In addition, there are more than 40,000 reservists that have been trained by the armed forces. In total, the EDF includes about 230,000 persons enrolled in mobilisation registry, that is nearly 20% of the Baltic nation’s population.

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By GlobalData

“Ussisõnad [will be] the largest exercise for reservists in Estonian history,” Pevkur noted. “The government introduced an increase in the wartime structure, largely through the expansion of the territorial defence.

“It is now necessary to ensure that the territorial defence units are prepared to act to preserve freedom in Estonia, regardless of the threat. The training exercise for the command structure currently underway will create the best basis for the success of the exercise this autumn.”

Nato military support ahead of the exercise

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has made it important for Estonia – which shares a 338.6km border with the invader – to maintain a credible level of military readiness.

Estonia remains heavily reliant on the Nato military alliance since its induction in 2004. The armed forces operate alongside Nato allied troops, the number of which has grown within the country since the invasion of Ukraine began according to GlobalData intelligence.

Nato’s Enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup ensures a combat-ready presence in the country, with the UK Ministry of Defence committing further troops to the alliance’s eastern flank in time for the Estonian Division’s War Fighter programme in February 2024.

Moreover, as we have learnt in Ukraine, land supremacy goes hand in hand with aerial supremacy, which is why the US Air Force deployed B-52H Stratofortress strategic bombers to fly over Estonian airspace while escorted by British and Romanian fighter jets earlier this week.

The training exercise will ensure that all levels of Estonia’s fighting force can perform at the optimum level alongside allied support.