Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces

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Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces
Eesti Kaitseväe peastaap
Insignia of the Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces.svg
Active 1918–1940
Country  Estonia
Part of Estonian Defence Forces
Garrison/HQ Tallinn
Anniversaries 26 November [1]
Engagements Estonian War of Independence

The Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces 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.

In peacetime the Estonian Defence Forces and the national defence organisations, including the Defense League, are led by the Commander of the Defence Forces. In wartime all these components are commanded by the Commander-in-Chief of the Estonian Defence Forces. The Chief of the Defence Forces and the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces are appointed and released from office by the Minister of Defense and the Cabinet (formerly the Riigikogu until the 2011 constitutional amendments which transferred that power to the government) on the proposal of the President of Estonia. Since 5 December 2011, the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces is Lieutenant General Riho Terras.

The General Staff is the headquarters of the military of Estonia and the working body of the Commander of the Defence Forces. The Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces 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.


The first headquarters of the Estonian military was initially formed on December 6, 1917, as the Staff of the Estonian Division. The formation of the headquarters was conducted by Andres Larka and Jaan Soots. The Staff of the Estonian Armies was officially established on 26 November 1918, with Andres Larka becoming the Chief of Staff. In 1926, the Staff of the Estonian Armies was abolished and its functions were transferred to the General Staff, which was subordinate to the Minister of War. In 1929, the General Staff and the Administrative Agency were joined into the Staff of the Defence Forces. On April 1, 1937, it was renamed the Staff of the Armies. The headquarters was abolished in 1940, after the Soviets occupied Estonia.[2]

The headquarters was re-established on 31 October 1991, as the General Staff of the Defence Forces, with Ants Laaneots becoming the Chief of Staff. In 1995, based on the Navy and Air Force Departments of the General Staff, the Navy Staff and the Air Force Staff became independent units. In 2009, the General Staff was renamed the Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces.[3]


The Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces is mainly tasked with counseling and supporting the activities of the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, planning the activities of the Defence Forces, organizing the training of the Defence Forces, planning and coordinating military operations, and preparing and organizing mobilization. It is headed by the Chief of Staff of the Headquarters, who commands the staff and corresponding subordinate units.[4] The headquarters consists of various departments: the General Department, Strategic Communication Department, Personnel Department (J1), Operations Department (J3), Logistics Department (J4), Analysis and Planning Department (J5), Signals Department (J6), Training Department (J7), and Budget and Finance Department (J8).[3]

Chief of Staff

The Chief of Staff is responsible for providing information and analysis to the Commander of the Defence Forces, preparing and executing national defence, developing and managing command structures, administrating the Headquarters of the Defence Forces, managing of the Defence Forces resources and investments, planning military operations, organizing international cooperation and mobilization. The Chief of Staff is supported in his/her activities by the Deputy Chief of Staff, who can also stand in for the Chief of Staff in his/her absence.[4]

List of Chiefs of Staff[3]:


The General Department of the headquarters deals with administrative tasks. The Strategic Communication Department organizes public affairs, civil-military cooperation and information operations. The Personnel Department (J1) organizes human resources. The Operations Department (J3) is tasked with planning national defence, military operations, mobilization and readiness. The Logistics Department (J4) manages the economic activity of the Defence Forces. The Analysis and Planning Department (J5) deals with long-term planning and development of defence capabilities. The Signals Department (J6) is responsible for communication and information systems of the Defence Forces. The Training Department (J7) organizes training and exercises of the Defence Forces. The Budget and Finance Department (J8) is tasked with accounting and preparing the budget of the Defence Forces.[3]

Symbols and flags

The flag of the General Staff was founded on 29 October 2010 by the Ministry of Defence.[5] The flag has a blue background which has a text based upon carrying the silver name "Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces". On the left bottom corner there is a historic date (26 November 1918) of the establishment of the unit and on the right side the re-establishment date (31 October 1991) is situated. A small national coat of arms is situated in the center which is supported by the silver commanders baton and a sword. Above the sword and baton there is a golden north star and around the symbols there are oak leaves and a beneath it a ribbon emblem with the message in Latin: "Viribus Unitis". The commanders baton and sword symbolize a higher level of management of the national defence, the coat of arms and the north star symbolize the state structural unity and the international cooperation. The motto symbolize the unity of the different military commands of the armed forces of Estonia.[6]

Building of the Headquarters

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.


  1. ^ Kaitseminister andis Kaitseväe Peastaabile lipu üle
  2. ^ Nõmm, Aart (2011). Noorits, Tõnu, ed. "Teenistusest Kaitsevägede Staabis aastatel 1926-1934". Kaitseväe aastaraamat 2010 (in Estonian). Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces: 110–115. Retrieved 2018-03-23. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces". mil.ee. Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  4. ^ a b "Kaitseväe põhimäärus". www.riigiteataja.ee (in Estonian). Retrieved 2018-03-22. 
  5. ^ Postimees: "Kaitseminister andis kaitseväe peastaabile lipu"
  6. ^ EDF: "Kaitseminister andis Kaitseväe Peastaabile lipu üle"

External links

  • Kaitseväe Peastaabi põhimäärus (in Estonian)
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