Estonian president promotes defense chief to general

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Photo: Arno Saar / Õhtuleht

President Kersti Kaljulaid has promoted the commander of the Estonian defense forces, Lt. Gen. Riho Terras, to the rank of general.

The proposal to promote the chief of defense to the rank of general was made by Defense Minister Margus Tsahkna, it appears from the president's website.

Since Estonia regained its independence only two commanders of the defense forces - Aleksander Einseln and Ants Laaneots - have been promoted to the rank of general.

Einseln was made general in December 1995, and in the same month the Riigikogu released him from the office of defense chief.

Laaneots became general in June 2011. He left the position of chief of defense in December the same year.

Born in the northeastern city of Kohtla-Jarve in 1967, Terras graduated from Johvi Secondary School in 1985 and passed compulsory military service in the Soviet Navy in 1985-1988.

After graduating from the basic officer's course in Estonia, Terras served as company commander and as battalion second in command of the Kalev Single Infantry Battalion from 1992 to 1993. Between 1993 and 1994 Terras served as commander of the Pohja Single Infantry Company. After graduating from the Bundeswehr University in Germany, he served as the commander of the Guard Battalion from 1998 to 2000 and was appointed chief of staff of the Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps in 2000. From 2001 to 2004 he served as the Estonian defense attache in Germany and Poland.

Between 2005 and 2008, Terras served as chief of the analysis and planning department and as chief of the planning section of the analysis and planning department at the headquarters of the Estonian defense forces. In 2007, Terras served on the NATO Training Mission in Iraq as deputy chief of staff.

In December 2008, Terras was appointed secretary general of the Estonian Ministry of Defense. Prior to taking up that position he served as deputy chief of staff for operations of the Estonian defense forces. Terras returned to the defense forces to serve as deputy chief of staff for operations in January 2011 and was appointed chief of staff of the defense forces in March that year.

Terras was appointed commander of the defense forces on Dec. 5, 2011.

His military education includes studies in the Royal College of Defense Studies in the United Kingdom, the Joint Command and General Staff Course at the Baltic Defense College, the European Security Policy Course in the Geneva Center of Security Policy, a battalion commander's course in Switzerland, a company commander's course in Germany and a company commander's course in Sweden.

Terras's civilian education includes history studies at the University of Tartu and a master's degree in political science and sociology from the University of Bundeswehr.