WASHINGTON — Estonia on Tuesday signed a new defense cooperation agreement with the United States, becoming the third and final Baltic nation to reach an agreement with the Pentagon on future defense planning.
The agreement, signed at the Pentagon by Katie Wheelbarger, acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, and Kadi Silde, Estonia’s undersecretary for defense policy, covers defense cooperation between the two nations through 2024 — although the details of the two-page document are, admittedly, still to be fleshed out.
“We have a sort of rough idea of what the pace is that we are moving forward but in terms of actually adopting an implementation plan. We don’t yet have a time frame agreed for that. But we’ve only today signed it, so we have to figure out the exact time frame,” Silde told Defense News the day after the signing.
“The details of the implementation are still to be figured out,” she added. “Our approach would of course be rather quicker than slower.”
The plan to sign defense-cooperation agreements with the three Baltic states stems from the U.S.-Baltic Strategic Dialogue in November 2018. Lithuania signed its version April 2, and Latvia signed its edition May 10.
Per a U.S. Defense Department release, areas of cooperation include “capability development and defense-related aid, training exercises, cyber defense, the Estonian Defense League, training areas and host nation support.” Silde said she views the military aid portion of that as an “accelerator” to help Estonia speed up its procurement of defense articles, with matching funds from the European government built into the planning assumptions.
While the defense agreement does not come with a set dollar figure for assistance, general areas where Estonia seeks investment help include the cyber domain, communications equipment, ammunition, maritime domain awareness and early warning capabilities, per Silde.
She added that the document also allows for support of Estonia’s police and border guard. Those offices play a role in the nation’s national defense. In addition, Silde said, Estonia is looking to host more military exercises on its soil, including cyber-based exercises.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.