Training during compulsory military service
- Duration of compulsory military service
- Basic course for a soldier
- Course for junior non-commissioned officers
- Conscript’s course for a reserve platoon commander
- Subunit course
The purpose of compulsory military service is to train reserve units needed for the defence of Estonia and to lay the groundwork for employment as a professional military serviceman. During compulsory military service, conscripts acquire basic knowledge about national defence and learn to operate as one team.
Upon the conclusion of compulsory military service, they continue to discharge their obligation for national defence as reservists as members of their unit, in the Estonian Defence League or as a professional member of the Defence Forces.
During compulsory military service, conscripts acquire many skills needed in civilian life: first aid measures, topography, communications and information technology, environmental conservation and civil protection, planning one’s time, and maintaining order and cleanliness. Junior non-commissioned officers or reserve unit commanders gain valuable leadership experience. Those completing paramedic courses during their compulsory military service may subsequently take up employment as paramedics; those completing drivers’ courses are issued category CE or DE driving licences.
Completing compulsory military service makes it possible to apply to the Officers’ School, whose graduates go on to serve as officers in the Armed Forces. It is also possible to go on to serve as a professional member of the Defence Forces in the Scouts Battalion or some other flag unit.
Duration of compulsory military service
Often, the duration of compulsory military service is determined by the call under which a person eligible to be drafted is conscripted. As a rule, those entering service under a preliminary call in January or June serve 11 months, whereas those entering service under the main call in April or October serve 8 months.
The eventual duration of service will be defined by the post to which a soldier is assigned. A member of the Defence Forces is assigned to a post after completing the basic course for a soldier or seaman. The training cycle consists of a basic course for a soldier, a specialist course for a soldier, a course for junior non-commissioned officers, a course for a reserve platoon commander and a subunit course.
Basic course for a soldier
During the first months of compulsory military service, conscripts acquire the basic knowledge and skills required of a single combatant and achieve the physical fitness needed to continue service. They become familiar with armaments, learn to find their bearings in off-road areas, operate during field exercises, master first aid measures, learn about conduct becoming to a military serviceman and legislation that governs military service.
The curriculum of the three-month basic course for a soldier is universal for all conscripts. At the end of the course a soldier’s examination consisting of both theoretical and practical components has to be taken, with those passing it awarded a badge. After the course, a conscript goes on to complete a military specialisation in a specialist course or is trained as a subunit sergeant in a course for junior non-commissioned officers.
In the Navy, conscripts complete the basic course for a soldier as a general military constituent module in the basic course for a seaman.
After completing the basic course for a soldier, a conscript will master the knowledge and skills needed by area specialists (machine-gunner, antitank grenadier, driver, medical orderly / paramedic and others) in the Estonian Defence Forces in the specialist course for a soldier. The duration of the course will depend on the specialisation being pursued.
In the Navy, the specialist course for a soldier is replaced by the navy module in the basic course for a seaman, completed by all conscripts serving in the Navy. The purpose of this is to provide conscripts with preliminary knowledge about the sea and the Navy and elementary knowledge about service aboard ships. The basic course for a seaman concludes with a seaman’s examination. Subsequently, the training of a conscript will continue in a specific specialisation within various subunits of the Navy.
Course for junior non-commissioned officers
The course has two components: a six-week basic course and a specialist course of six to nine weeks. In the basic course, future non-commissioned officers master the general knowledge required of a section commander. In the specialist course, a specific specialisation is studied: that of infantry, fire control, logistics or communications and the command and control of a team in that branch.
Knowledge is provided about the command and control and tactics of a section, the work of an engineer, about medicine, subunit weapons and communications. A particular emphasis is placed on practising what is being studied. At the end of the course, examinations are taken, based on which admission to the rank of Third Sergeant is decided. During the course, suitable candidates for the course for a reserve platoon commander are selected.
Conscripts serving in the Navy can complete the basic course for junior non-commissioned officers. Those completing the course successfully are granted the rank of Petty Officer Third Class. Once the course has been completed, specialist knowledge is provided within various subunits of the Navy.
Conscript’s course for a reserve platoon commander
In the course for a reserve platoon commander, conscripts having completed the course for junior non-commissioned officers study platoon tactics in-depth and master the basics of the command and control of a unit in a specific specialisation (engineer, communications or the like).
The courses are organised at the Estonian Defence Forces Võru Battle School.
Graduates from the course are granted the rank of First Sergeant and registered as reserve officer candidates. Reserve officer candidates may be granted the rank of reserve officer (Third Lieutenant) if, while in reserve, they complete refresher training in the post of a platoon commander.
In the subunit course, instruction is provided in how to operate in a section, platoon, company, aboard a ship or in subunits equivalent to them in the main forms of defence and in how to cooperate with other branches and subunits.