Defence chiefs weigh worst-case scenarios

Mikk Salu
, reporter
Please note that the article is more than five years old and belongs to our archive. We do not update the content of the archives, so it may be necessary to consult newer sources.
Photo: Mihkel Maripuu / Postimees

Since last week-end, documents of people exiting and entering military units undergo more diligent checks.  Defence League members got phone-calls.

To the knowledge of Postimees, Defence Forces of Estonia last Friday weighed various danger scenarios. On the table, there were several situations, numerous options – everything weighed and analysed. In conclusion, Commander of the Defence Forces, Major-General Riho Terras decided that, as Estonia was not endangered, usual routine will continue.

Even so, due to discussions of the danger scenarios, issuance of leaves for servicemen was delayed on Friday, this in turn breeding rumours and nervousness among servicemen-conscripts. By the end of the same day, the usual order of granting leaves to go to town was restored; the week-end was already peaceful.

The announcement that in the Kuperjanov Infantry Battalion based in Võru no leaves were granted on Saturday and Sunday proved false.

«This week-end, about 60 percent of conscripts in Kuperjanov Battalion were in town with leave,» assured Lieutenant-Commander Ingrid Mühling, press department head at headquarters of Defence Forces. According to her, regarding all else the routine and long pre-planned activities were taking place.  

«Planned training was taking place in the following units: anti-aircraft artillery battery battle-shootings, 1st Infantry Brigade support battalion field camp. Since Sunday, Guard Battalion conscripts were in field camp,» she listed.

As also affirmed by sources, to Postimees, on Friday the Defence Forces raised their danger assessment to level Alfa; the level is still upheld today.

In reality, this is the lowest danger assessment, lacking any substantial meaning. Rather, this would mean something like a more diligent check of documents of persons exiting and entering military units.

Alfa is not extraordinary also in the sense that, at least once a year, this is announced just for the sake of training and readiness check. The current foreign political nervousness thus rather served us well: thanks to this, effectiveness of danger assessment could be checked outside the usual routine.

On Saturday, in Defence League also commands were issued to perform presence check on Commanders of Districts, company commanders, and platoon commanders level. 

It was not specified by Major Tanel Rütman, information department head at Defence League, whether the presence check conserved all Defence League districts or just a part of these. He did say, however, that if in some districts the checks were performed more deeply, to the rank-and-file, it was a separate decision by each district: «This is a voluntary organisation; they take their own initiative.»

To the knowledge of Postimees, the Tartu district for instance did have an all-out check – within a couple of days, all members in the district were called by phone. They were inquired if they were present, and how fast they could make it to the district in full gear – if needed.

Defence League districts perform presence checks, of various levels and scope, a couple of times a year. The reasons vary from training exercises to mere routine check.

A larger check, directed from the top, does happen rarely, however. As admitted by a Tartu Defence League district member, the last time this occurred in their district was during the Russia-Georgia war of 2008.