The Defence Forces are part of an executive national authority under the Ministry of Defence. The Estonian Defence Forces are structured according to the principle of a reserve force which means that the main part of the defence forces of the state are units in the reserve. Voluntary Defence League has also about 13 000 members. The planned size of the operational (wartime) structure is 16 000 personnel.
In peacetime the main tasks of EDF are to monitor and maintain control over airspace, to maintain combat readiness, to train conscripts and develop reserve units, to participate in NATO and UN-led international missions and to provide assistance to civilian authorities in case of national emergency.
In crises the main tasks of EDF are to increase readiness levels of units as required, to prepare for transition to wartime structure and to begin partial or total mobilisation as ordered, to integrate units from other ministries and to prepare for assistance from and reception of friendly forces. In times of crisis the Defence Forces will cooperate with other government agencies.
In wartime the main tasks of EDF are to defend the territorial integrity of the state, to facilitate the arrival and deployment of forces from other countries and co-operate with them, to maintain control over national airspace and facilitate the air defence of strategic assets in co-operation with forces from other countries.