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Headquarters

Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces is the working body of the Chief of the Defence Forces. The General Staff is a joint staff engaged with operational leadership, training and development of the Defence Forces. Operational leadership is implemented by the Operational Staff, which plans and controls operations and ensures defence readiness and mobilisation.

  • Is the highest staff of the military defence of the state of Estonia, its operation is based on the legislation of the Republic of Estonia, decisions of the Parliament and the Government and the Statutes of the Government of the Republic of Estonia.
  • Retains the readiness of the Defence Forces at a level necessary for the attainment of the national defence goals.
  • Gathers information necessary for the defence of the state and makes plans and preparations for military national defence.
  • Monitors and analyses the fulfilment of tasks of the troops, staffs and institutions subordinated to it and, if necessary, provides respective assistance.
  • Participates in the leadership of the Defence Forces in wartime and peacetime in order to ensure internal and external security of the state.
  • Organises the staffing of the Defence Forces, the active service and all aspects of training.
  • Co-operates with the Ministries of the Republic of Estonia, state agencies and local authorities in the areas concerning the national defence tasks put on these institutions.

Leadership of the Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces

As of 5 December 2018 the Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces is headed by Brigadier General Veiko-Vello Palm. The Chief of Staff of the Headquarters commands the Headquarters’ staff and the units subordinated to it.

  • General Department
    Organisation of administrative affairs and administration of the Headquarters building.
  • Strategic Communication Department
    Public Affairs, Civil-Military Cooperation and Information Operations activities of the Defence Forces.
  • Personnel Department – J1
    Organisation of human resources work in the Defence Forces.
  • Operations Department – J3
    Defence planning, Military operations planning, Mobilization and Readiness.
  • Logistics Department – J4
    Management of economic activity.
  • Analysis and Planning Department – J5
    Long-term planning, resources projection and development of defence priorities of the Defence Forces.
  • Training Department – J7
    Training and exercise planning of the Defence Forces.
  • Budget and Finance Department – J8
    Accounting and technical preparation of the budget of the Defence Forces.

The house was built in 1925 for a military hospital. The architect was Aleksander Vladovski. As many other Vladovski’s buildings, the house at 58 Juhkentali Street is designed as Neo-Classicist, with some elements of late Jugend style. The planning solution involves three wings.

In the Soviet time the building also housed a military hospital. In the 1990s the plot was transferred to the Defence Forces. The building was restored by AS Merko.

The history of the Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces starts in 1917 when, after the collapse of Czarist Russia, the Staff of the Estonian Division was formed with the permission of the Russian Provisional Government. The staff was established by the experienced officers educated in the Academy of the General Staff Andres Larka and Jaan Soots.

Major General Jaan Soots
Major General Jaan Soots

Premises for the division staff were found in a house on the corner of Nunne and Kloostri streets in Tallinn. After the founding of the division, the formation work of the Estonian military units that had already been established by the time became more purposeful and energetic.

In 1918 after the founding of the Republic of Estonia the name of the division staff was changed into the Staff of Estonian Armies. Nikolai Reek was appointed Chief of Staff.

Major General Nikolai Reek
Major General Nikolai Reek

When the War of Independence started, the Staff of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armies was formed. The General Staff and the Administrative Agency were subordinated to it. Major Generals Larka and Soots headed these structures successfully throughout the War of Independence.

In 1926 the position of the Chief of Staff was abolished and the General Staff and the Administrative Agency were subordinated directly to the Minister of War. In 1929 the Staff of the Defence Forces was created, which assumed the functions of the abolished General Staff and Administrative Agency. In 1938 the staff was called the Staff of the Armies. When Estonia was occupied in 1940, the staff was abolished.

Historical names

  • From 2009 Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces
  • 1991 -2008 General Staff of the Defence Forces
  • 1937-1940 Staff of the Armies
  • 1929-1937 Staff of the Defence Forces
  • 1924-1929 General Staff
  • 1920-1924 Staff of Estonian Armies
  • 1917-1920 Staff of the Estonian Division

Present time

On 31 October 1991 the Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces was set up with the order no. 404-k of the Government of the Republic. The basic documents for the work of the Headquarters were the temporary statutes adopted by the Government of the Republic on 2 December 1991, other national defence legislation, decrees of the Parliament and the Government of the Republic prepared and adopted in 1992-1998.

Since its creation, the Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces has used the names of departments, structures and procedures corresponding to those at the staffs of NATO and these are constantly being developed. In 1995 the Navy Staff and the Air Force Staff were created as independent units on the basis of the Navy and Air Force Department of the General Staff. In 2001 the Army Staff was added to the former.

Last updated: 12. February 2020, 12:45

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