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Major General Martin Herem takes over as Estonia's defense chief

TALLINN - Gen. Riho Terras on Tuesday handed over the position of commander of the Estonian defense forces to Maj. Gen. Martin Herem.

Terras handed over the command and flag of the defense forces to Herem at a formal ceremony held in the territory of the headquarters of the defense forces Tuesday afternoon, spokespeople at the headquarters of the defense forces said.

Prime Minister Juri Ratas, taking part in the ceremony, thanked the outgoing defense chief for his contribution to strengthening the defense forces and the security of Estonia as a whole.

"Looking at our own security and the security of the whole world, these were groundbreaking seven years. At the same time, the security of Estonia has been strengthened, and the role of Gen. Terras has been one of the most fundamental in this," the head of government said.

Ratas said that Terras worked consistently and unyieldingly towards increasing the actual fighting capability of the defense forces and the Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps. He said that as an outspoken and courageous defense diplomat, Terras helped our allies understand Estonia's security needs and increase their presence here. He also put improving the service conditions of both the conscripts and active-service personnel in the first place and stood for the veterans.

"I am proud to have had the opportunity to work together with so dignified and professional a commander of the defense forces," Ratas said, wishing the new commander of the defense forces strength, determination, and cooperation-mindedness. 

Herem started service in the defense forces in 1992 and is at present the chief of staff. He has also worked at the National Defense College and in several positions in the defense forces. He has also taken part in a foreign operation in Iraq and was one of the refounders of the Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps.

Terras was appointed to office by the government in October 2011. The government in December 2015 decided to extend the term of office of the commander of the defense forces by two years until Dec. 4, 2018.

The length of the term of office of the commander of the defense forces is five years, but the government is entitled to extend it by two years.

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