The Estonian Defense Forces will reorganize the process of issuing regular uniforms to officers and non-commissioned officers, hoping to save half a million euros a year. Uniform elements are currently stockpiled and issued to EDF members as necessary, while this practice will now be axed.
Defense Forces to stop storing regular uniforms
The change only concerns the khaki regular uniforms of officers and non-commissioned officers. The EDF’s camouflage uniforms issued to all members will remain in stock.
EDF Commander Lt. Gen. Martin Herem said that the reorganization will free up a lot of warehouse space and a few jobs. “The goal is to streamline and render more effective administrative organization. We are currently stockpiling ties, shoes, pants and other uniform elements that are simply taking up warehouse space. We are also storing the uniforms of officers who have left the EDF, which I do not find to be very sensible. The change will see officers keep uniforms and the EDF freed of the obligation to utilize them. It makes no sense to stockpile these things,” Herem said.
To make sure EDF uniforms do not end up being misused, the military police will be given the right to stop people wearing EDF uniforms in the street and make sure they have a legal right.
The EDF commander said that members with dishonest intentions can already set uniforms aside by claiming they need a new one because the previous uniform is too worn.
If camouflage uniforms are issued to all EDF members, regular uniforms are for officers and non-commissioned officers starting from the rank of junior warrant officer. “Junior non-commissioned officers and members of rank are not issued regular uniforms as their rank does not allow them to wear one,” Herem explained.
Women to wear pants
The EDF regular uniform will also lose several elements from next year that can also yield saving. For example, female officers will no longer be issued skirts and will wear pants.
“Why should female officers wear skirts if we are all equal? Should the men have uniform shorts too then?” Herem asked.
EDF press officer Taavi Laasik said that the Defense Investments Center will organize a tender to find a company that will make EDF standard uniforms. The EDF will pay active servicemen and people studying at the Estonian National Defense College a one-off compensation they can use to have a uniform tailor made. The compensation will depend on the price of uniforms. A full regular uniform currently costs around €1,600. EDF members will be paid an annual compensation they can use to replace worn elements in the future.
“The regular uniform is mostly worn at ceremonial events where etiquette mandates its use. It can also be used for everyday staff work and when performing more representative tasks,” Laasik said in terms of what separates the regular uniform from the camouflage uniform.
Presidential guards to wear camouflage uniform
Soldiers of the Guards Battalion keeping watch over the Office of the President switched to camouflage uniforms from June 1 and will be wearing these at all future events and ceremonies.
Herem said that the switch to camouflage is not tied to EDF budget cuts and that the change has been in testing for the better part of a year.
“It is much easier to find a camouflage uniform that fits when it comes to conscripts,” he said.
The EDF commander said that Estonia needs a military above a parade army and that lowering the administrative cost of uniforms will allow more resources to be channeled into training and combat readiness.
“I do not think that a camouflage uniform is unbecoming of the honor guard, nor does the president. Our message is that the military is there to defend the country from actual threats and not for the purpose of brightening up parades,” Herem said.