Defenders of the state

Defenders of the state

Defenders of the State

Estonia’s defence capability is based on the Estonian people contributing to national defence in the capacity of active servicemembers, reservists or volunteers. The day-to-day work of the defenders of the state covers a wide range of areas – the training of active servicemembers and conscripts, administration, logistics, IT and communications, cyber defence, medical, communications, and much more.

The Number of Active Servicemen

Establishing, maintaining, and developing a national military defence requires active servicemembers who must concentrate on preparing for wartime activities, training conscripts and member of the Defence League district, commanding national defence at various headquarters, participating in international military operations, and maintaining Defence Forces infrastructure.
The role of active servicemembers in their everyday service is to ensure the preparation, maintenance and readiness of units of the Defence Forces (and Defence League).

The number of servicemen in Estonia has grown continuously.

Number of Active Servicemen | as at the end of the year

Number of Individuals Having Completed Conscript Service

Estonia´s independent defence capability is based on reserve army. Taking into consideration Estonia’s security environment, the size of its population, there are no credible alternatives to conscript service.

Voluntary conscript service also became possible for women starting in 2013. And starting in 2018, women who voluntarily enter conscript are free to serve in all units of the Defence Forces.

Number of Individuals Having Completed Conscript Service

Number of Individuals Contributing To National Defence Voluntarily

The readiness of the Estonian population, according to their abilities and skills, to personally participate in national defence is high. The strong defensive will of the people is also the foundation for creating a primary independent defence capability.

Since our Defence Forces are based on a reserve force, it is especially important that Estonia’s residents would be personally ready to participate in the defence effort or to support the military defence of the country in accordance with their abilities and skills.

One can contribute voluntarily to Estonia’s national defence through the Defence League and its various organisations, the teaching of national defence studies and participation in voluntary reservist trainings.

Number of Individuals Contributing To National Defence Voluntarily

Number of Schools Providing National Defence Instruction

National defence instruction is an elective in upper secondary schools and vocational educational institutions, with the goal of national defence instruction being to develop civic awareness within young people and the readiness to defend Estonia when necessary, and to provide an understanding of the principles governing Estonian national defence.

The metric shows the share of educational institutions offering national defence studies as a subject, taking into consideration the circumstance that the number of schools offering a secondary education are in a continual state of decline.

Number of Schools Providing National Defence Instruction

Number of Students Having Completed National Defence Studies

An individual who has completed national defence instruction is able to find information related to national defence, to conduct themselves during crisis situations and to provide first aid, orient themselves within the landscape, and safely handle weapons.

Number of Students Having Completed National Defence Instruction

Number of Individuals Taking Part in Reservist Training

Estonia’s military defence is based on a reserve army. Wartime structural units of the Defence Forces require regular reservist training, in order to be prepared to perform the tasks assigned to them.

Estonia is the only Member of NATO which has, since 2016, organised additional training exercises, i.e. the short notice exercise Okas (Quill), for its reserve forces.

Also taking place within the framework of the reservist trainings are the training exercises Kevadtorm (Spring Storm) and Siil (Hedgehog), along with smaller unit-based exercises.

Number of Participants in Reservist Training

* Prior to 2001 data was not collected across military units. The number of individuals completing reservist training soared in 2015, in connection with the training exercise Siil (Hedgehog) which took place for the first time and covered the whole of Estonia.

Trust of the Estonian Population in the Defence Forces

The foundation for a primary independent national defensive capability is the strong will to defend of the people. Since our Defence Forces are based on a reserve force, it is especially important that our residents would be personally ready to participate in the defence effort or to support the military defence of the country in accordance with their abilities and skills.

Trust of the Estonian Population in the Defence Forces

Number of Individuals Having Entered Conscript Service Upon Request

‘If you know who is standing next to you, it doesn’t matter who is against you’.

The voluntary completion of conscript service is affected more broadly by the reputation of the Defence Forces and conscript service in society, and the image of the Defence Forces as a possible employer. Advocacy and the public’s understanding of the structure of Estonia’s military defence also occupy an important place. Over the past few years, more and more young people have elected to participate in the conscript service together with their classmates.

According to the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, all Estonian citizens have a duty to participate in national defence. We can do this by standing together as a society with our reservists and valuing their service and contribution.

In July 2020, 57% of conscripts started their service voluntarily.

Number of Individuals Having Entered Conscript Service Upon Request