According to err.ee, the Defence League is being gradually expanded, also as a result of the Ukrainian crisis. According to the plan, the goal of which is to expand and modernize the Estonian Army within the period between 2013 and 2022 (which has been adopted even before the Ukrainian crisis), the Estonian Defence League was to be quantitatively expanded, from 22,500 up to 30 thousand members.
Currently, the Defence League component consists of 15,500 members, and further 9,000 persons are gathered in other organizations (including Women's Home Defence or the “Young Eagles”). When the numbers are added up, the number of people involved is 24,500 members in total. Err.ee quotes chief of command of the Defence League in Tallinn, claiming that there is a need of acquiring heavier weaponry for the units, making it possible to expand the combat capabilities, referring to e.g. ATGM launchers or MANPADS systems.
Since 2013, Estonia has been allocating at least 2% of the GDP to realize the defence expenditure – this year amount of EUR 412 million was used for that purpose, amount of EUR 449 million is expected to be used next year, constituting 2.07% of GDP. The initiatives related to modernization of the Estonian Army include procurement of equipment and armament, e.g. 44 CV-90 infantry fighting vehicles were procured last year, along with 80 Javelin ATGM systems. It is not enough though, to fully equip all of the armed units (including those mobilized within the structures of the operational forces, or the Defence League) with the state-of-art anti-tank or anti-aircraft weaponry.
Currently, the Defence League is functioning as an all-volunteer territorial defence element, parallel to the army based on general conscription. The league uses ca. 8% of the Estonian defence budget. In the current security context in Mid-Eastern Europe, it would be recommended to support Estonia with armament supplies (including the ATGM systems).
Tallinn, at the moment, meets the criterion of allocating 2% of the GDP to the national defence measures, and even if the defence budget is expanded, it may turn out that the government has not enough assets to equip all (including the mobilized or territorial defence units) of the elements with relevant anti-tank or anti-aircraft weaponry, considering the expenditure required to intensify the training exercises. At the same time, such support would not be too costly, taking into account the defence budgets of the NATO member states or the US. It would also be a measure which would effectively improve the defence capabilities, sending an important political signal to the potential adversaries.