Major General Martin Herem recently made his first official visit as the Chief of Estonian Defence Forces to our nation’s capital and was hosted by the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) think tank for a conversation about his perspectives on defense issues going into the next decade. Topics included security challenges facing Estonia and the region, Estonia’s defense priorities, deterring Russian military action along NATO’s eastern border, and how to strengthen Baltic defense cooperation. Estonian American National Council (EANC) Washington, DC Director, Karin Shuey attended the event and extended EANC greetings to welcome him to Washington. More information and photos of the event are available at www.cepa.org/defending-the-frontline-military-re.
CEPA described Estonia as playing “a critical role in resisting [Kremlin] influence and maintaining the stability of NATO’s frontline.” Estonian forces participate in many NATO operations and exercises, both in the Baltic region and globally, giving them first-hand experience in assessing the threats facing the alliance in the area and on the effectiveness of cooperative missions there. The missions include Operation Atlantic Resolve, which comprises 6,000 soldiers from 17 nations that since 2014 have focused on enhancing deterrence along NATO’s eastern flank; and NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence, which was established in 2016 and consists of multinational battlegroups based in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, also to increase deterrence and reassure member states in eastern Europe of their security. U.S. funding for both missions comes, at least in part, from the European Deterrence Initiative, which was initiated in 2014, and is a program that EANC consistently advocates for in Congress.
While the CEPA discussion was off-the-record, an essay by General Herem was published in December in Defense News as part of the magazine’s 2020 Outlook project. In it, he identifies the Baltic region as “the spot where Russia might be tempted to test the strength of NATO in a global power competition,” adding, “We cannot let that happen.” He outlines reforms underway in NATO, the conditions necessary to maintain a credible deterrent posture, budgetary and procurement concerns, and his thoughts on defense cooperation regionally and beyond. The full article is available at www.defensenews.com/outlook, by scrolling down to the December 2, 2019 article Estonian chief of Defence Forces: Regional cooperation as the main enabler.
Major General Herem became Commander of the Estonian Defence forces in December 2018, taking over from General Riho Terras. His previous assignments include Commander of the North-Eastern Defence District, Commandant of the Estonian National Defence College, and Chief of Staff of the Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces. EANC looks forward to future visits by General Herem to keep current on U.S.-Estonia military cooperation and the evolving defense challenges Estonia faces.