The new Defense Forces Services Act and the new National Defense League Act, both of which entered into force today, make the national defense system more up-to-date and introduce significant reforms, the Estonian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The new Defense Forces Service Act establishes a new set of health requirements for professional Defense Forces members and conscripts. The previous ones were made more flexible and the system for assessing physical condition has also been updated.
For instance, those with food allergies whose special needs can be accommodated by the Defense Forces no longer have to sit out military service. Actual performance aptitude, not just a medical diagnosis, will be taken into consideration in assessing the condition of those subject to military service.
Under the new Defense Forces Service Act, women will have the opportunity to enter the military service. To this point, conscripts were considered to be men, but now women can also voluntarily shoulder defense forces obligations and serve on a similar footing to that of men.
“The existing Defense Forces Service Act was 12 years old, but the Defense Forces has developed a great deal in the meanwhile. We needed a new law to bring the organization of the service in the Defense Forces up to date,” said Minister of Defense Urmas Reinsalu.
“The Defense Forces are a modern organization, which is shown by the fact that more and more women want to join. Now women have a legal access to military service, which is generally the first step to becoming a professional member of the Defense Forces,” said Reinsalu.
On April 1, 2013, the new pay scale entered into force in the Defense Forces, which will significantly simplify the Defence Forces pay system and result in an average 17 percent raise for servicemen. The need for the new pay scale was occasioned by the new Public Service Act and the goal of stemming the tide of departures by active-duty members of the Defense Forces and Defense League.
The new Defense League Act, which entered into force on April 1, sets forth the duties of the Defense League, which stemmed previously from the law and other acts. The functions of the Defense League are the military defense of the country, increasing the will to defend Estonia, increasing the security of the population, providing military training and security for national defense sites.
The Defense League may also be included in rescue operations and cyber defense.
The new Defense League Act also provides social benefits for injured Defense League members. Under the new Act, all active duty members of the Defense League will get up to ten free days for participating in exercises.