Total defence

“Total defence means that the mental, physical, economic and other potential of government structures, local governments, defence forces and the entire nation must be in a continued state of preparedness to manage a situation of crisis and to act as one in order to prevent and avert danger or attack and to preserve the nation.” [MDSE]. There are five components to total defence: psychological defence, civil defence, economic defence, civil preparedness and military defence.

Psychological defence
The basis of any defence action is the psychological preparedness to defend one’s country and nation. An aggression cannot be resisted, even with the most advanced weapons and equipment, if the society and the army lack the will to do so. The military defence strategy sets out that “the functions of psychological defence, which is generally co-ordinated by the Ministry of Education, are the development of the mentality of citizens of a democratic country, promotion of the citizens’ will to defend their country, and preservation of such will in the event of crisis or war” [MDSE].

Psychological defence is especially emphasised in Estonia’s defence concept. As a result of the surrender to the Soviet Union in 1940, the repression that followed, and the totalitarian foreign regime which lasted for over half a century, the Estonian nation has been psychologically traumatised, which is expressed, among other things, by a weakness in the mentality of citizens of an independent and democratic state, a national inferiority complex, lack of faith in the strength of the country and in the possibility of defending it, and undesirable tendencies in the mental and physical development of the people. The objective of the psychological component of total defence is to improve the mentality and the mental and physical state of the nation.

Civil defence
Civil defence means a set of non-military defensive functions performed in the event of crisis or war, the objectives of which are:

preservation of the functions of the government (maintaining the operation of the Riigikogu, the government and local government agencies and of the legal system, guaranteeing public order), protection of the population and the property of the population and of the state, the provision and guaranteeing of essential services and consumer goods for the population, minimising of the effects of the enemy’s attacks on the society and dealing with emergencies created as a result thereof [MDSE].

The state institution which prepares and co-ordinates civil defence is the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which employs its executive agencies, county governments and local governments for this purpose. The central institution which performs civil defence is the Rescue Board, within the area of government of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Crisis management in Estonia operates at three levels – the level of local governments, regional level and national level, and different issues are settled by the crisis management committee of the Government of the Republic at the national level, crisis management committees of the counties at the regional level and crisis management committees of rural municipalities and cities at the local government level.

Major functions of civil defence at the national level are:

a) functions which ensure minimum security for citizens, state administration and military efforts: maintenance of public order (Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Justice), protection of the population and rescue services (Rescue Board, Ministry of Social Affairs), ensuring the functioning of telecommunications and postal services (Ministry of Transport and Communications), organisation of the transport system (Ministry of Transport and Communications), ensuring the functioning of the energy system (Ministry of Economic Affairs), provision of information to the public.

b) functions relating to the provision of material resources necessary for the population and the defence force to cope physiologically: supply of foodstuffs (Ministry of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture), functioning of medical services (Ministry of Social Affairs), guaranteed provision of a labour force (Ministry of Social Affairs), functioning of the social security system (Ministry of Social Affairs), services for refugees and the evacuated (Ministry of Social Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs).

c) functions relating to ensuring the functioning of the financial system and mobilisation of state resources: functioning of the systems of the State Treasury (Ministry of Finance), efficient response to emergency financial requirements (Ministry of Finance), ensuring the safety of the government’s monetary reserves (Bank of Estonia), taxation and collection of taxes (Tax Board).

Civil defence constitutes an integral part of the total defence system of the country.

Economic defence
Economic defence is the basis of the general defence capability of a country. According to the Military Defence Strategy of Estonia, the objectives of economic defence are “the preservation of the active capacity of the Estonian economy and ensuring the material resources necessary to maintain the defence capability of the society and the armed forces. Within this framework, in co-operation with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs shall prepare national industry, agriculture, energy, housing and construction and the necessary emergency stocks for national defence, and co-ordinate the disposal thereof in the performance of national defence functions and the supply of staple goods for the population” [MDSE]. In many countries, emergency stocks are prepared to an extent which would allow the country to function autonomously for a long time even in conditions of complete isolation. So far, Estonia lacks such long-term emergency stocks. Economic defence also includes the re-direction of the production or activities of the country’s industry, major enterprises, agencies and organisations and use of the country’s infrastructure (buildings, constructions, etc.) in the interests of national defence according to the economy mobilisation plan.

Civil preparedness
Civil preparedness, which is closely related to civil defence and economic defence, ensures the long-term functioning of a society in the event of crisis or war. The objective of civil preparedness is to ensure that all the country’s resources be most efficiently and completely used to successfully execute total defence.

Within the framework of civil preparedness, the following shall be prepared for crisis or war and implemented: the necessary medical and social assistance systems (Ministry of Social Affairs), the transport systems, road network and communications systems of the country (Ministry of Transport and Communications), financial resources necessary to prepare and execute national defence (Ministry of Finance) [MDSE].

Military defence
The system of military defence is the basis of total defence of Estonia. If it proves impossible to prevent war or a conflict and the country is subject to aggression, the armed forces commence military action to restore the inviolability of the territorial integrity of the republic and ensure Estonia’s sovereignty. The state, its economy and the armed forces will transfer from the state of peace to the state of war by way of complete or partial mobilisation, which will be conducted based on the territorial, i.e. regional, principle. In the case of aggression against the Republic of Estonia, the President of the Republic shall declare a state of war (and the end of a state of war) or, during peacetime, the President of the Republic shall make a proposal to the Riigikogu to declare a state of war, to order mobilisation and demobilisation or to declare a state of emergency.

Three of the objectives of military defence should be emphasised. Prevention – military forces support the political measures of the government in order to prevent an aggression, they demonstrate to a possible aggressor that they are prepared to resist and inform the aggressor of the casualties and material damage which the aggressor shall suffer in the case of an attack. Sufficient resistance – the armed forces are structured in a manner allowing them to offer resistance to an aggressor at least until the operation of the international security system is initiated and political, economic and military assistance arrives. Co-operation – Estonia’s Defence Forces are formed as compatible and able to co-operate with Western European defence systems and the military structures of NATO and the European Union [MDSE].

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