Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 18

The Estonian parliament approved January 23 President Lennart Meri’s nomination of Colonel Johannes Kert as commander of Estonia’s armed forces. Kert was previously commander of the national paramilitary defense league Kaitseliit. Addressing the parliament, Kert said a system of total defense — including popular mobilization — was best suited for Estonia and called on the parliament to develop the necessary legal framework for such a system. Kert’s nomination gained support in parliament after reservations were overcome concerning his limited training and experience and the authority enjoyed by his predecessor, Estonian-American Lt. General Alexander Einseln. President Lennart Meri removed Einseln as armed forces commander last December following a corruption scandal on the general staff and a political row with the Defense Ministry. Einseln opposed Kert’s appointment. Air force commander Colonel Vello Loemaa has served as acting commander of the armed forces since Einseln’s dismissal.

Johannes Kert was born in 1959 in Pechory district, a region annexed by Russia following the Soviet occupation and currently located in the Russian Federation. Trained as a physical education teacher, Kert rose to company commander during his compulsory Soviet military service and passed a course for Soviet tank officers. He joined the national paramilitary defense league in 1990, became its commander in 1993, and has since completed a course in strategic planning at the U.S. Marshall Center in Garmisch, Germany. (12)

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