The Government received an overview today of the report on the fulfilment of objectives associated with persons liable to the national defence obligation, conscripts, active servicemen and reservists during the previous year.
According to Minister of Defence Jüri Luik, the changes made to conscript service over the past few years have justified themselves.
‘The extensive renovation programme involving the outdoor training infrastructure of the Defence Forces, which began in 2012, is nearing an end, improvements have been made to catering conditions, child support for conscripts was raised last year, and a significant emphasis was placed on improving the availability of psychological counselling and social counselling in training centres,' stated Luik.
He added that more extensive Estonian language training for conscripts speaking another language is taking place, the Defence Forces has made changes in training, and the dropout rate due to health reasons has decreased by nearly one half.
While the dropout rate for conscript service was 18 per cent in 2017, it dropped to below 10 per cent last year.
In comparison with the start of the year, the number of active servicemen had increased by 135 at the end of 2018, reaching 3422. ‘The growth in the number of active servicemen at the pace set forth in the National Defence Development Plan shows that servicemen feel that they are valued and their motivation regarding national defence is high,' stated Luik.
According to Luik, work will continue in order to meet the goal set in the National Defence Development Plan 2017–20206, i.e. incrementally increasing the number of call-up selectees for conscript service to 4000, taking into consideration the infrastructure possibilities of the Defence Forces and the increase in the number of instructors.
Last year, two short notice training exercises, under the name of Okas (Quill), intended for reserve units, took place in Estonia.
‘Estonia’s short notice training exercises are unique within NATO countries and they are accompanied by significant challenges; however, the organisation of these training exercises is the only way in which a realistic overview of the readiness of the reserve army to mobilise in a crisis situation can be ensured,' said Minister of Defence Luik.
According to Luik, Estonia serves as a leader when it comes to organising readiness exercises for reserve forces in the Baltics as well as the whole of Europe. ‘Many thanks to all reservists who have contributed to these training exercises; it is very important that short notice training exercises be continued on a routine basis, in order to ensure the credibility of military defence,’ he noted.
Last year we raised the salaries of active servicemen along with the participation fee paid to reservists attending the training exercise. We raised the amount by one quarter.
A total of 27 women entered conscript service in 2018. The Defence Resources Board has increased the number of conscript service related introductory events for women and the Defence Forces has provide the opportunity for women to take part in the conscript shadow project.
Within the framework of the Veterans Policy, pre-mission and post-mission trainings, and counselling for family members as well as active servicemen, were carried out in 2018, along with other services prescribed in the Veterans Policy, which help to ensure the well-being of those who have participated in missions.
A blue flower campaign was organised in April of 2018 to educate the public, during which 50,000 blue flowers were sold, blue flower running events were organised in several towns, and a concert, Veteran Rock, was held at Freedom Square, in Tallinn.
Additional information: press[at]kaitseministeerium[dot]ee