TALLINN -- More than a thousand members of the Estoniandefense forces and of the paramilitary Defense League will take part in a parade on February 23 designed to show off Estonian military might.
"The 90th anniversary parade of the Republic of Estonia has beenplanned as the biggest and the most dynamic since the restoration ofindependence," said Maj. Peeter Tali, head of the information service ofthe defense forces headquarters. He said Estonian soldiers usuallyexercised on terrain where ordinary people could not see them or served onoperations abroad.
"The small part of our units now being trained, which the defenseforces will show at the parade, should give an idea of the force that is theguarantee of Estonian independence," Maj. Tali said.
The defense forces parade will start at 12 noon on February 23 in Parnu. Theparade will be received by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, with commander ofthe defense forces Maj. Gen. Ants Laaneots in command of the parade and thereligious services conducted by head chaplain of the defense forces Maj. TaaviLaanpere.
There will be twenty flag squads in the parade -- those of the Republic of Estonia,the defense forces, land forces, the Air Force, the Navy, the Defense Leagueand the Reserve Officers' body among others.
Units of the Signals Battalion, the Scouts Battalion, the Guard Battalion,the Kuperjanov Battalion, the West Defense Region, the Interior Battalion, the EstonianNational Defense College, the Navy, the Border Guard, the Viru Battalion, theAA Division and the Artillery Group will be represented in the parade.
The Defense League will be represented by two companies.
There will be a lot of military hardware on display at the parade. Maj. Talihas earlier said that the commander of the defense forces wanted to show asmuch hardware in company or battery size units as possible.
So an infantry company of the Scouts Battalion will take part in the paradeon 13 Pasi armored personnel carriers, the Defense League with a battery of 81and the Kuperjanov Battalion with 120 mm mortars, the anti-tank company of theViru Battalion with Mapats and Milan anti-tank systems, the AA division with abattery of 23 mm anti-aircraft guns and the artillery group with 155 mmhowitzers.
The public can take a closer look at the military hardware after the parade.
Three Robinson helicopters of the Air Force and two F-16 NATO fighters will perform aflyover at the parade.
Major Tali said that with the ice conditions permitting the flagship of the EstonianNavy would land at the Kesklinn Bridge already on February 22. The ship willremain there for three hours for those who would like to visit it.
Last year the defense forces parade, scheduled to take place in VabaduseSquare in Tallinn, was cancelled because the weather was too cold.