Riho Terras Takes Over as Estonia's Chief of Defence
5 December (BNS)
Brig. Gen. Riho Terras took over the duties of commander of the Estonian Defence Forces from General Ants Laaneots in a change of command ceremony on Monday.
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves thanked Laaneots for two decades of exemplary service in the Estonian Defence Forces. "I am proud to have been able to work together with you," the head of state said, adding that Estonia can take pride in the professional manner in which the general has served his country. He wished the new defence chief "an inexhaustible reserve of strength, a clear objective, the spirit of co-operation, and soldier's luck".
"General Laaneots has steered the Estonian Defence Forces through difficult years. We have suffered painful losses in Afghanistan, faced a cyber attack, the difficulties of economic downturn. But we also are in a considerably better situation than five years ago -- we have increasingly improving defence and operational planning, more professional Defence Forces, clearer understanding of the tasks and organisation of national defence, and an agreement on sustainable financing of national defence," Ilves said.
The president underlined that Estonia's experience, interests and location on the map entail the obligation to continue actively contributing to international security while moving towards strengthening the national Defence Forces.
On 13 October the government decided to release Terras from the office of the Defence Forces' chief of staff and appoint him commander of the Defence Forces effective from 5 December. His five-year term as defence chief runs until 4 December 2016.
Terras joined the Defence Forces in 1991. He has served as company commander and chief of staff at the Kalev Infantry Battalion, as commander of the Guards Battalion, and as chief of staff of the Kaitseliit (Defence League) volunteer corps. In 2001-2004 he served as Estonia's defence attaché in Germany.
He headed the General Staff's analysis and planning department from 2005 onwards and served on the NATO training mission in Iraq in 2007. He was deputy chief of staff in charge of operations from February to November 2008. In 2008-2010 Terras was secretary general of the Defence Ministry. He has studied history at the University of Tartu, obtained a master's degree in political science and social sciences at Bundeswehr University in Germany, and completed the senior staff course at the Baltic Defence College as well as studies at the Royal College of Defence Studies in Britain.
The Estonian parliament appointed Ants Laaneots commander of the Defence Forces for a five-year term on 5 December 2006. Under the Defence Forces Service Act that entered into force this July, the duty of appointment of the Defence Forces commander passed from parliament to the government.
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