Photo: Jim Birt
It started out as a normal Monday morning in the Baltics,but by evening, dozens of military stories hit the wires.
Estonia'sPrime Minister Andrus Ansip spoke up in defense of Estonia'sparticipation in military missions abroad, calling it Estonia'smoral duty to the West.
"It's very important for a small country to take partin foreign missions. By doing it we show our commitment to the principle ofcollective defense," Ansip said in his speech to participants in the 18thsenior courses in national defense.
The prime minister pointed out that in the period since theregaining of independence Estoniahas received a lot of help from its Western partners.
"Now that Estoniais ready to itself give security assistance it is our moral duty to doit," he said.
"A small country has little else to offer save for trust,and the promises that one has given must be fulfilled," he added.
Recalling discussions on foreign missions that took placeduring the NATO summit in Bucharest, the head ofgovernment stressed that Estoniafully supports improving military-civilian cooperation in mission areas.
"It is not possible to achieve a breakthrough in Afghanistanby military means alone, and it's not what one has been trying to do," hesaid, adding that alliance members have also invested in the strengthening ofthe country's civilian structures, and will continue to do so.
The militaries of all three countries are also participatingin training each other as part of the Baltic Battalion Staff Intelligent Wolf inTartu, Estonia this week.
Staff of LithuanianGrand Duke Mechanized Infantry Battalion is expected to head to Estonia tofocus on training battalion staff for improved decision making procedures bymethods of using map in tactical exercise, and organizing general staff-levelas well as separate subdivision-level consultations.
Staff personnel will be introduced to procedures and operationsstandard for battalion-level headquarters.
The exercise, to take place on April 21-25, will be headedby the commander of the Baltic Battalion, Major Remigijus Baltrenas. Estonian and Latvian staff memberswill attend the exercise together with Lithuanians,the Lithuanian Defense Ministrysaid.
This is the second exercise organized for the trilateralbattalion which was formed in May 2007 to complete tasks in composition of NATOresponse forces.
And to top it all off, a five-day theoretical training ofmilitary engineers and reconnoiter unit commanders will take place in LatvianHome Guard's Dobele battalion.
Carried out by six US Michigan National Guard instructors, homeguards and professional servicemen will take part in the training, reported theHome Guard.
The aim of the training is to improve theoretical knowledgeand practical skills in planning and performing military tasks, forparticipation in international operations.
In July Latvian home guards and troops will take part inannual field exercise organized by the Michigan National Guard in the US.