Estonia's defence policy aims to guarantee:
1) the independence and sovereignty of the state, the integrity of its land area, territorial waters and airspace and its constitutional order;
2) the development of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) in a way that ensures their interoperability with the armed forces of NATO and EU member states and their capacity to participate in the full range of Alliance missions.
According to Article 126 of the Estonian Constitution (1992), the organisation of national defence is defined by the Peacetime National Defence Act and the Wartime National Defence Act. The organisation of the EDF and the national defence organisations are determined by law.
The Supreme Commander of national defence is the President of the Republic.
He is advised on national defence matters by the National Defence Council, composed of the President of the Parliament, the Prime Minister, the Commander of the Defence Forces, the Defence Minister, the Interior Minister, the Foreign Affairs Minister and the Chairman of the Parliamentary National Defence Committee.
Participation in international operations
WEU MAPE (Albania)
UNTSO (Middle East)
OSCE BMOM (Georgia)
Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)
Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq)
Operation Concordia (Macedonia)
The EDF are headed by the Commander of the Defence Forces in peacetime and by the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces in wartime. They are appointed by the Parliament, on proposal by the President of the Republic (Art. 127, Constitution). The Parliament is responsible for declaring, on the proposal of the President of the Republic, a state of war and for ordering mobilisation and de-mobilisation, as well as for deciding on the use of the Defence Forces to fulfil the international obligations of the Estonian nation (Art. 128).
Structure and size of the defence forces
The Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) consist of a regular component (Kaitsevägi) and a voluntary military organisation, the Defence League (Kaitseliit). The Regular Armed Forces are structured on the principle of a reserve force. Their average size in peacetime is about 5 500 troops, roughly half of which are conscripts. The regular component is divided into the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. Military service is compulsory and lasts from nine to twelve months.
The largest service is the Estonian Army, which consists of 9 battalions: Kuperjanov Single Infantry Battalion, Pärnu Single Infantry Battalion, Peace Operations Centre, Scouts Battalion, Artillery Group, Viru Single Infantry Battalion, Air Defence Battalion, Single Signal Battalion, Single Guard Battalion.
The Navy consists of the Naval Staff, the Naval Base and the Mine Warfare Squadron (8 vessels). It is composed essentially of regular personnel.
The Air Force consists of the Air Force Staff, an Air Base, an Air Surveillance Battalion and a small flying element that provides limited non-combat support to the land forces. The Air Force is also composed primarily of regular personnel.
The Defence League (EDL) consists of regular military personnel and volunteer members. It comprises the main staff, 15 regional units and auxiliary organisations for women and youth. The main goal of the EDL is to ensure the necessary rapid reaction capability of the EDF.
Defence expenditure was increased to 2 percent of GDP in the 2002 state budget. According to the 2004 Force Structure Review, that percentage will be maintained at least until 2015.