TALLINN – Visiting the defense readiness exercise Okas 2022 (Quill 2022) on Monday, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that it's namely in peacetime that Estonia must prepare to defend itself.
"There is currently no immediate military threat to Estonia. However, we must prepare to defend Estonia and practice it in training exercises namely in peacetime. We can all continue going about our daily business calmly, knowing that Estonia is protected by our own defense forces and allies in NATO and the European Union," Kallas said.
"The foundation of Estonia's national defense is our well-trained reservists, and I was delighted to meet these men and women, who came here responding to the unexpected call and know exactly what to do in times of crisis," the premier said.
"Thank you to all the participants -- your preparedness gives us confidence. A big thank you also to the loved ones and employers of all participants -- your understanding and support are necessary for the success of each defense readiness exercise," Kallas added.
Kallas was briefed on the exercise by the chief of staff of the defense forces, Brig. Gen. Enno Mots, the commander of the Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps, Brig. Gen. Riho Uhtegi, and the chief of the Kaitseliit's regional command Northeast, Lt. Col. Jaanus Ainsalu.
The prime minister was briefed on the objectives of the exercise and given a demonstration of tactical activities such as establishing defensive positions and identifying the enemy. In addition, an overview was given of the functioning of comprehensive national defense during the exercise, in which the support of the private sector plays a crucial role. For example, the exercise partly take place on private land and several local companies provided resources necessary for the construction of structures related to the exercise.
The defense readiness exercise began on Sept. 22 with the government's decision to call up 2,861 reservists and Kaitseliit volunteers belonging to wartime units to the additional training event. The exercise ends on Sept. 28. For the first time ever, so many reservists of both the defense forces and the Kaitseliit were called up simultaneously. In addition, volunteers of the Kaitseliit are also participating in the exercise.
Although such exercises are announced at a time that is unexpected for the participants, the defense readiness exercise is a regular exercise planned in advance, where the achievement of combat readiness by units is checked at an accelerated pace. During the exercise, the entire national defense chain of command, from the government to reservists, practice readiness, decision-making and action under rapidly changing conditions.
The government's action plan for 2022-2023 calls for the organization of two defense readiness exercises with the aim of ensuring the combat readiness of the wartime units of the defense forces and the maintenance and check of defense readiness.