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Defence Newsletter 1-15 February 2014

19.02.2014  16:39

The following information is gathered from open sources, mainly from the Baltic News Service (BNS), respective defence ministries press releases and websites as well as various newspapers, etc.

THE BALTICS
Baltic Policy Directors’ meeting was held
On 10 February a Baltic Defence Policy Directors’ meeting was held where joint Baltic States’ defence projects and challenges in developing further cooperation were addressed ahead of the upcoming Baltic Defence Ministers meeting.
At the meeting officials discussed future perspectives of the NATO Air Policing mission in the Baltic States and ideas for potential new projects.
The Defence Policy Directors also discussed an update of the Higher Command Study Course with regard to the trends of regional security issues and the global security environment that has fallen subject to particular changes over the recent year. They also put forward an objective of reorganising the Civil Servants Course on security and defence at the BALTDEFCOL to make it more appealing to the Baltic States and to ensure that it responded to the needs of training civil servants employed in the areas of defence, security and foreign policy.

LTU and LVA Defence Ministers discussed bilateral cooperation
On 5 February Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas met with the recently appointed Latvian Minister of Defence Raimonds Vējonis at the Šiauliai Air Base of the Lithuanian Air Force. The Ministers discussed joint projects of their countries, further development of the Baltic Air Surveillance Network BALTNET, Lithuanian-Latvian cooperation in the NATO Response Force (NRF) and the European Union Battle groups (EU BGs), as well as cooperation between the countries’ navies.

Latvia hosted first Baltic Military Winter Games
February 4-7 more than 150 Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian soldiers competed in several disciplines during the Baltic Military Winter Games which took place in the north-eastern part of Latvia. The Latvian Defence Ministry announced that such cooperation between the Baltic armed forces helps improve the physique and skills of Latvian soldiers.

Representatives of Baltic land forces' staffs held a meeting
On 4 February representatives of the Baltic nations' land force staffs gathered in Vilnius for a work meeting. They discussed the Baltic land forces' trilateral cooperation plan for 2014-2015 as well as preparations for the annual Baltic Land Force Commanders' meeting in March.
In the meeting readiness of the Baltic contingents for the standby in the NATO Response Force (NRF) in 2016 was also discussed.

New directions must be sought for Baltic cooperation
It is necessary to look for new directions of cooperation among the Baltic States, Latvia's Defence Minister Raimonds Vējonis said during a parliamentary debate on foreign affairs January 23. The Baltic States should seek new directions in order to provide a shared contribution to NATO and the EU. This way the Baltic States can be more effective. The minister also noted that although NATO and EU issues are in the focus of Latvia’s security policy, it is necessary to follow global security trends as well, e.g. developments in the Pacific region and global power and influence shifts.

BALTICS AND AFGHANISTAN
9th rotation of LTU Military Police deployed to Afghanistan
On 5 February the 9th rotation of the team of the National Support Element which will be responsible for ensuring the protection of the Head of the Lithuanian Special Mission in Afghanistan was formally deployed to the multinational mission.
The team is formed by 6 military policemen of the Lithuanian Armed Forces.

EXERCISES IN BALTICS
400 soldiers from the Estonian Scout Battalion conduct exercise in winter warfare
In central Estonia the Scout Battalion conducts a nine day drill where they are training operations under winter conditions. Besides the Scout Battalion, helicopters from the Air Force participates as well. The commanding officer of the exercise says that even though the battalion lately has been operating primarily in the warmer conditions of Afghanistan it should be able to operate in all kind of weather conditions.


ESTONIA
Bill authorizing Estonian soldiers to be send to CAR passes first reading in the parliament
On 12 February the bill that authorizes the participation of an Estonian infantry platoon and support unit in a four-month peacekeeping EU-mission in the Central African Republic passed the first reading in the parliament.
Estonia sends mine clearing expert to South Sudan
On 11 February in order to support a humanitarian mine clearing mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Estonia sent a mine clearing expert to South Sudan. The objective of the mission is to destroy undischarged ammunition as well as educating ICRC staff. The mine expert participates as a member of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency team.
Ministry of Defence creates non-military development plan for the handling of crisis or war
On 4 February the Estonian Ministry of Defence has completed a development plan running till 2022 which shall ensure that the civil sector is capable of providing the basic needs during crisis or war. Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Defence pointed out that not only the armed forces should be ready to protect Estonia but all institutions of the state should be able to maintain vital services as electricity supply, communications, stocks of fuel, food and medicine etc. during crisis or war. The plan will soon be submitted to the government.

Estonia offered cyber lab to the use of NATO exercises
Estonian Defence Minister Urmas Reinsalu allowed NATO forces to use Estonian cyber lab. The cyber lab will allow NATO to conduct exercises where different scenarios of cyber-attacks can be trained. Urmas Reinsalu said that he hopes the NATO forces´ defence against cyber warfare can be improved by using the Estonian cyber lab. The cyber lab is from 2012 and is unique among the European NATO allies.

Estonia created new department to deal with cyber threats
On 4 February a new department specializing in dealing with the threats of cyber warfare and cyber terrorism has been created in the Estonian Ministry of Defence. In the department specialists from the other ministries will be gathered. The ambition is that a joint department will be able to handle cyber threats more professionally and efficiently. The new department will follow trends in the cyber threats and recommend improvements of the Estonian cyber defence.

Estonian President Toomas Ilves gives speech about Cyber Warfare
At the opening of the 50th Munich Security Conference the Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves states that the international society needs to adapt to the new possibilities that modern cyber technologies create in the civilian as well as in the military sphere. He points out that the laws and regulations we have to day fail to meet the demands of the new possibilities.


Newsletter was prepared by Aistė Aurelija Azbytė-Slott, Kristian Buch Hvarregaard (intern Tallinn) and Anne Johansen (intern, Riga).