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Estonian, Maryland National Guard cyber exercise begins at ??mari

Posted by [email protected] on August 8, 2017 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (1)

Baltic Jungle, a joint cyber defense exercise of the Estonian Defence Forces and the Maryland Army National Guard, kicked off at Ämari Air Base on Monday.

During their meeting in Estonia on Monday, Commander of the Maryland Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Linda Singh and Minister of Defence Juri Luik discussed the details of the exercise as well as defense cooperation and the training of A-10 Warthog attack aircraft currently taking place in Estonia, spokespeople for the Ministry of Defence said.

According to Luik, cyber defense cooperation between Estonia and the Maryland Army National Guard is well-developed. "The exercise taking place this week at Ämari, in the course of which cyber experts from Estonia and Maryland will practice together how to assure cyber defense in various situations, is a testament to that," the minister added.

In cooperation with Estonian experts, experiences on developing cyber practice fields will also be exchanged in the framework of the exercise, and opportunities for cooperation the fields of education and reearch will be sought.

Ten A-10 Warthog attack aircraft of the Maryland Army National Guard arrived in Estonia last week to practice cooperation with the Estonian Air Force, the volunteer Estonian Defence League and the British-French NATO battle group stationed in Estonia.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS;

Narva, Estonia mayor and deputy mayor visit sister city of Bel Air

Posted by [email protected] on May 26, 2017 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

By David Anderson

The Aegis

May 26, 2017 8:32 a.m. ET

Narva, Estonia, Mayor Tarmo Tammiste, third from left, and Deputy Mayor Vjatseslav "Slava" Konovalov, far right, stand outside the Bel Air Armory Tuesday with Bel Air sister city committee members who are, from left, Julie Siejack, Patti Sterling, Barbara Tower, Annie Kovach and Tina Zimmerman. (David Anderson / Aegis staff /Baltimore)

The mayor and deputy mayor of Narva, Estonia, which has a sister city relationship with Bel Air, took a whirlwind tour of sites throughout the town and Harford County this week as two communities separated by thousands of miles continue to build cultural and economic ties.

The two visitors also dismissed any concerns about a return to dominance over their country by Russia, their next door neighbor, saying the countries have learned to co-exist over centuries.

Mayor Tarmo Tammiste and Deputy Mayor Vjatseslav "Slava" Konovalov arrived Sunday night and left Wednesday, according to Patti Sterling, the Town of Bel Air liaison for the Bel Air-Narva Sister City Partnership Committee.

They spent their short time visiting Annapolis, Washington, D.C., and multiple locations in Bel Air and Harford County, including the Bel Air Armory, the Liriodendron Mansion, Rockfield Manor, Harford Community College, University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, the Bel Air Library, the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, the Harford Artists' Association in Bel Air and downtown Bel Air.

"We thought, overall, it was a very successful trip in that they not only got to see a lot of Bel Air and Harford County, but we had the opportunity to talk about future initiatives and really had the opportunity to cement our sister city relationship with them," Sterling said Thursday.

She stressed the partnership is not just between the two municipal governments but on "multiple levels."

"The partnership isn't just with the town," she said. "It's with everyone in the town."

Narva, which has a population of about 60,000, is the third-largest city in Estonia.

Estonia, along with Latvia and Lithuania, is one of three counties on the Baltic Sea, often referred to as the "Baltic States" that were taken over by the former Soviet Union after World War II broke out in Europe. The three countries remained under control of the USSR until it broke apart in 1991.

Narva sits on the Estonian-Russian border, separated by the Narva River. Tammiste, the mayor, noted the bridge connecting Narva and Russia is called the "bridge of friendship," a name that dates to the Soviet era.

Tammiste and Konovalov gathered with committee members and town officials in the second-floor conference room in the Armory for a lunch break Tuesday afternoon.

Committee member Julie Siejack, a representative of Upper Chesapeake Health, said photos she has seen of the Narva River bridge remind her of local bridges across the Susquehanna River connecting Cecil and Harford counties.

Tammiste said this week's trip was his first visit to the United States.

"I'm really glad, and I've had good contacts with the people and I'm sure that we have a good future together," he said.

Konovalov called Bel Air "the most beautiful town I've ever seen" and said he has developed "a personal attachment" to the community.

"The people have shown us hospitality, friendship, love," he said. "There is a different kind of attitude to this city ... because of the effort that the committee members have put into the relationship."

Bel Air and Narva have had a sister city relationship since 2014, when the partnership agreement was signed during a Skype session.

The online video communication service was created in Estonia.

"You're looking at two gentlemen who represent the country that invented Skype," Bel Air Town Administrator Jesse Bane said Tuesday at the Armory, indicating the mayor and deputy mayor.

People in both communities have been working during the past three years to build cultural, economic and educational ties.

"We are looking for exchanges back and forth across the great pond and even further than that," said Bane, who chairs the sister city committee.

Barbara Tower, a committee member who represents the Community College of Baltimore County and sits on the Maryland-Estonia Exchange Council, said she has visited Narva during its annual Narva Days celebration of the founding of the city more than 700 years ago.

Tower said she experienced "wonderful hospitality and a warm welcome."

The next visit to Narva will include six HCC nursing students and three advisers — those advisers include Tower, a professor emeritus at CCBC, Siejack, the hospital's clinical nurse manager for community health improvement, and Tina Zimmerman, a professor of nursing at HCC.

The trip is scheduled for late November and early December, according to Sterling.

The students will work with high school students in Narva, using a curriculum the HCC students developed, to educate them about treating and preventing the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Organizers plan to leave the curriculum with the Narva students so they can continue teaching their fellow youths, plus bring lessons learned back to the U.S. to educate youths in Harford County about sexually-transmitted diseases.

"This is not just about nursing," Zimmerman said. "This is about a much more global perspective."

Harford County Councilman Jim McMahan, who represents Bel Air and the surrounding area, discussed the sister city relationship during Tuesday evening's council meeting.

He said officials have "tentatively struck a deal" to bring artworks from Narva to display in the Liriodendron Mansion in the summer of 2018.

"This is something that, a couple of years ago, was unheard of," McMahan said of the exchange.

He said the display could draw people from Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, but "our only stumbling block" is helping the Estonians cover the estimated $15,000 cost to ship the art to Bel Air.

"We will need the help of certain people who can supply us with the capital necessary," McMahan said.

He noted "it will be one of the premier visitations to Harford County, if we can pull this off."

About 75 people attended a panel discussion on Narva at HCC Tuesday evening. Tammiste and Konovalov were on the panel, along with Kristjan Kuurme, secretary of political affairs for the Estonian Embassy, and Karl Altau, of the Joint Baltic American National Committee.

The panelists that participated in the open discussion entitled 'Living on the Russian Border' that took place in Harford Community College (from left): Joint Baltic American National Committee Managing Director Karl Altau, secretary of political affairs for the Estonian Embassy Kristjan Kuurme, representative of the Bel Air History Commission, Narva City Deputy Mayor Vjatseslav Konovalov, and Narva Mayor Tarmo Tammiste. (A photo by Jim Lockard).

Sterling called it "a very open, robust discussion" that lasted about two hours.

The topic was billed as "Living on the Russian Border," but Sterling said Narva's mayor and deputy mayor dismissed the question of potential aggression from Russia "quite handedly."

She said Russia and Estonia have been "neighbors forever," and they have developed strong economic ties.

Two strongholds, Narva Castle and the Russian Ivangorod fortress, face each other across the river, according to the Narva city website.

"They feel very comfortable in their role and being on that border," Sterling said. "Despite having the two castles staring at each other across the river, they don't feel that hostility."

Estonia Leads the Way in NATO's Cyberdefense - Baltic country's response to 2007 cyberattacks has put it at the forefront of NATO's defenses against hacking

Posted by [email protected] on April 30, 2017 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

By Thomas Grove
The Wall Street Journal

April 30, 2017 7:00 a.m. ET

TALLINN, Estonia—A hotel conference room in the Baltic republic of Estonia recently became the front line in a rehearsal for cyberwarfare, in an exercise that tested the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s readiness to repel hackers.

Last week, nearly 900 cybersecurity experts from across Europe and the U.S. participated in an event hosted in Tallinn to focus on defending a fictional country against a simulated cyberattack. The defenders faced real-world scenarios: a knocked-out email server, fake news accusing a NATO country of developing drones with chemical weapons, and hackers compromising an air base’s fueling system.

The exercise—dubbed Locked Shields 2017—was unprecedented in complexity, organizers say. And for the Estonian cybersecurity team hosting the event, it marked the 10-year anniversary of cyberattacks that crippled the Baltic nation’s nascent digital infrastructure. The attacks, blamed on Russia, swamped Estonian banking and government websites and threatened to take the country offline.

Since the 2007 cyberattacks, the former Soviet republic of 1.3 million has transformed into one of Europe’s most tech-savvy countries. Its importance to NATO is vast: As well as playing a central role in hosting the alliance’s deterrent force in the Baltic region, Estonia is at the forefront of the alliance’s defenses against hacking.

Following Russia’s alleged hacking of the Democratic National Committee ahead of last year’s U.S. presidential election, the urgency has never been greater.

To establish a stronger line of cyberdefense, Estonia established a volunteer body that can be called on to protect the country’s digital infrastructure. The unit’s volunteers donate their free time to regular training, much like a national guard. And they are responsible for defending everything from online banking to the country’s electronic voting system if an attack occurred. 

Participants work on their tasks during a live-fire cyberdefense exercise in Tallinn. PHOTO: VALDA KALNINA/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

“We have lots of talented people who work in the private sector and we offered them the possibility of working once a week for a more patriotic cause,” said Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the former Estonian president who oversaw the creation of the unit. “You basically think of the most dystopian future imaginable and try to defend against that.”

The Russian government consistently maintains that it doesn’t interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, and denies orchestrating cyberattacks. But NATO officials say they have seen an increase in cyberattacks on their networks.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier this year there were an average of 400 attacks a month on alliance networks, up 60% from the previous year. He didn’t indicate who may have been behind them.

“Our aim is to give [people] the proper mind-set and capabilities to defend against attacks and to protect the lifestyle we are used to,” said Aare Reintam, one of the organizers of the event.

During the exercise—the eighth in an annual series—teams faced not only simulated attacks on computer software, but also on critical infrastructure. Planners introduced another challenge: fake news. Participants in this year’s exercise had to confront questions from a hostile press.

Organizers hope the experience gives other countries a chance to bolster their own defenses against cyberattacks. The Maryland National Guard has consulted with Estonia over its use of a cyber variant of a national guard. Neighboring Latvia, also a NATO member, implemented the cyber national guard model in 2014.

“We’re not gearing up to go and invade anyone, we’re worried about building up our defensive skill set,” said Rain Ottis, a 36-year-old university professor who is a longtime organizer in Locked Shields. “We have much to protect and much to lose in terms of cyberspace and way of life.”

While the event wasn’t an official NATO training exercise, the alliance had an official presence, and its NATO-accredited hosting center has been praised by Mr. Stoltenberg.

For Estonians, the Russian hacking threat is viewed as real and urgent. Earlier this year, Estonian parliamentarian Marko Mihkelson received an email that appeared to be from NATO, offering a link to what claimed to be an official analysis of a North Korean missile launch.

Mr. Mihkelson, who is chairman of the parliamentary foreign-affairs committee, didn’t click the link. Instead, he flagged the email to cyber experts who said it employed the same malware used last year against the DNC by an alleged group of Russian hackers known as Fancy Bear.

“Their activity in cyberspace is more aggressive, and they’re not even hiding it any more,” the lawmaker said, blaming Russia for stepping up hacking attacks.

Some analysts say Fancy Bear’s use of less-sophisticated phishing attacks that use fake links to compromise system networks is meant not to steal data as much as to announce Russia’s growing cyber presence to Western countries.

“Since 2014 we’ve seen a real shift in Russian operations in which they didn’t really care if they got caught,” said Robert M. Lee, founder and chief executive of cybersecurity company Dragos.

Write to Thomas Grove at [email protected]

Former Maryland National Guard head James F. Fretterd dies at 86

Posted by [email protected] on November 30, 2016 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Retired Lt. Gen. James F. Fretterd, who headed the
Maryland National Guard for 16 years, has died.
(© Lisa Egeli (oil, 34x40))

By Carrie Wells

The Baltimore Sun

Lt. Gen. James F. Fretterd, who headed the Maryland National Guard for 16 years and helped increase the number of women and minorities in the officer ranks, died Saturday of kidney failure at his home in Federalsburg on the Eastern Shore. He was 86.


General Fretterd, one of the longest-serving adjutant generals in Maryland's history, oversaw the state's response to natural disasters, civil disturbances and other emergencies from 1987 to 2003.


He fought to secure more Defense Department funding for the Maryland Guard, established a post-Cold War partnership with the Baltic nation of Estonia, and launched a program to encourage high school dropouts to earn GEDs and learn job skills.


"His passion, his love, was the military," said a daughter, Linda Earls of Greensboro. "He had a fondness for knowing everyone's name, their children's names, even their pet's names. He lived and breathed and cared for his soldiers, his airmen. He took pride in that. It wasn't just a job, it was his life."


Gov. Larry Hogan said General Fretterd served with "great honor and distinction."


"He leaves a legacy of achievement that will forever stand as an example of selfless service and commitment for Maryland's Citizen Soldiers and Airmen," Governor Hogan said in a statement. He ordered the Maryland flag lowered to half-staff beginning at sunrise Monday and lasting until sunset Friday.


James F. Fretterd was born in Staten Island, N.Y., in 1930. His parents, James Vincent Fretterd and Mildred Elizabeth Hallengren, were battered by the Depression and soon moved to Federalsburg to start a chicken farm.


He graduated from Caroline High School in Denton in 1947 — he was named most likely to succeed — and worked at a lumber yard.


"He thought the only way he would eventually become successful was to join the military," Mrs. Earls said.


He enlisted in the Maryland National Guard in 1951 and remained with the organization until he retired in 2003.


He rose through the ranks and served as chief of staff and assistant adjutant general for the Maryland Army National Guard before Gov. William Donald Schaefer appointed him adjutant general of Maryland in 1987.


After a major snowstorm on Governor Schaefer's first day in office and an Amtrak train collision in Chase that killed 16 people in January 1987, Gov. Schaefer placed the state's emergency agency, now known as the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, under General Fretterd's control.


General Fretterd secured $15 million in federal funding to create a new headquarters for MEMA at a Guard installation in Reisterstown. The installation is now known as the Camp Fretterd Military Reservation.


He also established a partnership with Estonia in which Estonian troops would spend time training in Maryland, and Maryland Guard members would do the same in Estonia.


He chose the Baltic nation because its capital, Tallinn, had a port similar to Baltimore's. Maryland later designated Tallinn a sister city of Annapolis in 1999.


"I think he saw it was an opportunity for the National Guard to contribute over many years," said Maj. Gen. James Adkins, who served as Maryland's adjutant general from 2008 to 2015.


General Fretterd also helped increase the number of women and minorities in the Guard's officer ranks.


"My staff personally monitored individual career patterns for women and minorities and mentored those who demonstrated potential for key leadership roles," he wrote on his resume.


In 2015, when Maj. Gen. Linda L. Singh became the first African-American and the first woman to take command of the Maryland Guard, General Fretterd called her appointment "a dream come true." He said four women were promoted to general on his watch.


"If it wasn't for the women and minorities, we wouldn't have an Army, we wouldn't have an Air Force," he told The Baltimore Sun.


General Fretterd also started the Freestate ChalleNGe Academy, a program in which at-risk youth spend time at military facilities and are encouraged to earn their GEDs and learn job skills such as nursing and carpentry.


He also persuaded some community college and four-year college presidents to offer free tuition to Maryland Guard members.


Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, adjutant general for Delaware, said he would often call General Fretterd for advice. He called him "Mr. National Guard."


"Jim Fretterd epitomized what it meant to be a citizen soldier," he said. "Jim Fretterd was woven into the very fabric of the state of Maryland and the Maryland National Guard."


General Fretterd earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of the State of New York in 1984 and graduated from a senior executives program at Harvard University, the U.S. Army War College and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.


He was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the National Guard Bureau Distinguished Service Cross, an honorary juris doctor degree from the University of Baltimore, and the Speaker's Medallion from the Maryland House of Delegates.


General Fretterd lived nearly his entire life in Federalsburg. In 1952, the year he married his wife, Ellen Ingram Fretterd, she took the couple's savings of $10,000 and bought a 129-acre farm in the town at auction.


General Fretterd was with the Guard that day and couldn't be reached to sign off on the decision, so Mrs. Fretterd surprised him with the news.


"They never looked back," Mrs. Earls said. "It was Dad's paradise away from it all. It was worth it for him to drive to Baltimore. He would take off his uniform and relax back in the woods. He would just walk and enjoy the fresh air and wildlife and just be away."


Mrs. Earls said a neighbor would tend to the farm because General Fretterd was busy with the Guard, and they split the profits.


Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the Fretterd Community Center.


In addition to Mrs. Earls, he is survived by another daughter, Laura Patrick of Harrington, Del.; a brother, Charles R. Fretterd of Brandon, Miss.; and four grandchildren. His wife of 58 years, who was known as the first lady of the Maryland National Guard, died in 2010.

[email protected]


A Tale of Two Marylands - Why Most of Estonia's Sister Cities are in Maryland

Posted by [email protected] on November 29, 2016 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Estonia currently has three sister city partnerships and two county-state partnerships in the U.S. With the exception of Pärnu-Portsmouth, New Hampshire, all sister city partnerships are within the state of Maryland: Harju County with Maryland State, Jõgeva County with Charles County, Tallinn with Annapolis, and Tõrva and Valga with Oakland. To explain why Maryland is so prominent on our Sister Cities map we have to go back in time.

 Annapolis, Maryland Skyline © Pavone

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War in 1989, Estonia regained its independence in 1991 after a period of Soviet occupation. In 1992, the US National Guard assigned a partner National Guard for each Baltic country through the State Partnership Program. In 1993, Estonia was partnered with — you guessed it! — the Maryland National Guard.

Why Maryland? First, Maryland had a considerable Estonian diaspora population which stressed that Maryland should be picked as Estonia’s partner. And second, Estonia is also known as Mary-land, so this can be called a cooperation between two Marylands.

Why is Estonia also known as Maryland? For this answer, we have to go even further back in time. The year was 1193. Pope Celestine III called for a crusade against the pagans in Northern Europe. By 1207, the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea were converted, and in 1216, Pope Innocent III called the new Christian territories Terra Mariana, or, the “Land of Mary”. Since the beginning of the 20th century, Terra Mariana has been used as a poetic name for Estonia.

Hannes Hanso, Minister of Defence of Estonia, visiting Maryland National Guard 175th Wing March 30, 2016

The Maryland National Guard added a civilian component to its work with Estonia early on. This cooperation fell on fertile ground. As exchanges multiplied, the official ties started to form. The first official sister city partnership between Estonian and Maryland towns was signed in 1999 when Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, became the sister city of Annapolis, the capital of Maryland. Since 2003, the Maryland Estonia Exchange Council, a volunteer-based non-profit organization, has coordinated links between Estonia and Maryland. One of the aims of the Exchange Council has been to encourage ties between cities and create favorable conditions for establishing new sister city partnerships. Right now, there are many more Estonian and Maryland towns working on creating ties and hopefully the Estonia-Maryland sister cities will continue to grow.

 Estonian violinist Mari-Liis Uibo performing at Annapolis State House on October 1, 2016

Close cooperation between Maryland and Estonia also means many cultural exchanges. Aside from official visits, it is quite common to host Estonia-related performances, exhibitions, and lectures in Maryland and vice versa. During the past year, two youth choirs, a folk dance group, and many other Estonian artists have visited Maryland. And the cooperation with Maryland National Guard is still running strong and they are a valued partner of the Estonian Defense League.


Singing for Their Supper - World Artists make themselves at home in Annapolis

Posted by [email protected] on August 10, 2016 at 5:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Bay Weekly
By Robyn Bell

Made up of 30 high school students ages 15 to 19, the world-renowned Estonian Children’s Choir has performed all over Europe and will play two free concerts in Annapolis.

Betty Mcginnis dreamed big. She wanted to bring together not just her community but the whole world. That’s how World Artists Experiences was born as an all-volunteer effort to bring international arts to Annapolis.

That’s a nice way of saying that World Artists Experiences depend on human resources rather than money. Especially as you see and hear all performances for free.

So when World Artists come visiting — as they regularly do under the auspices of World Artists Experiences — volunteers open up their hearts and homes.

As will more than 100 volunteers from Anne Arundel County when the Estonian Children’s Choir comes to Annapolis August 18. Each family will host one or two student singers and show them through historic Annapolis. In turn, they’ll visit the Estonian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

“Hosting an international family is a great way to break down preconceived notions about their culture and to learn the details of both cultures,” says Steve Hays, who has hosted families for 10 years.

Now, when Hays travels, he visits friends from countries that have been a part of the Artists Experiences.

“It’s a great way to immerse yourself into another person’s culture,” says Carrie Quattlander, a volunteer who helps organize the backstage action. For Quattlander, the experience is a different sort of excitement. There’s social media, publicity, field trips, meals and transportation to plan.

Both agree that their visitors teach them to see their world in new ways. Egyptians wonder how we don’t get sick from going outside in extreme heat after being inside in air conditioning. South Africans are amazed at the pristine uniforms of Midshipmen.

They’ve also found that the vast differences in our culture can be reconciled when people get together.

“Food is an international language that demonstrates a welcoming gift,” Hays tells us.

Global artists like the Estonian Children’s Choir visit through World Artists Experiences’ Ambassador Series.

Made up of 30 high school students ages 15 to 19, the world-renowned choir has performed all over Estonia, Germany, Spain, Austria, Cyprus, England, Hungary, Greece and Italy.

The performers’ visits to the United States are sponsored by embassies and ministries of culture and ethnic affairs to increase understanding through the arts.

“Art encourages two countries to become friends with a better understanding of the people and culture,” says Mcginnis.

Volunteers are needed and welcome.

“So far, 95 percent of the visiting groups have asked to return,” she says.

Hear Estonian Children’s Choir on August 18 in two Annapolis performances: noon at the State House ­rotunda; 7pm at the First Presbyterian Church on Duke of Gloucester St: free:


Maryland Sister States Program hosts annual Legislative Reception in Annapolis, MD

Posted by [email protected] on March 24, 2016 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

On March 23, 2016, the Maryland Sister States Program hosted its annual Legislative Reception in conjunction with the Office of the Secretary of State of Maryland. The event was held in the Miller Senate Building in Annapolis and featured showcases of current projects and initiatives from most of the 18 Sister State programs that Maryland shares with other countries, including with Estonia.


Speakers at the event included Maryland Secretary of State John C. Wobensmith, Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford, and Sister Cities International President and CEO Mary D. Kane. Other speakers included a number of Maryland state legislators.


The Maryland-Estonia program was represented by the Maryland Estonia Exchange Council, Inc. (MEEC).


Maryland’s Sister State program with Harju County in Estonia exists officially since 2009, and grew out of the Maryland-Estonia Partnership for Peace Program, which was established in 1993 under the auspices of NATO. That year, the Maryland National Guard was linked to the Estonian Kaitseliit (Home Guard) as part of a State Partnership Program. MEEC has been coordinating non-military links between Estonia and Maryland since 2003. In 2006 and 2009 official agreements were signed formalizing the civilian links. In 2009 MEEC became a member of the Maryland Secretary of State’s Sister State Advisory Board.


Maryland and Estonia also share nearly ten Sister and partner cities. 

The Maryland Military Department and the Estonian War Museum signed Memorandum of Understanding November 17, 2015

Posted by [email protected] on November 17, 2015 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (2)

Maj. Gen. Linda L. Singh, the adjutant general of Maryland, hosted a ceremony for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Maryland Military Department and the Estonian War Museum at the 5th Regiment Armory’s Reckord Lounge in Baltimore, Md., Nov. 17, 2015.


The signing of this historical document demonstrates the Maryland Military Department’s commitment to their State Partner and furthering the mutual goal of promoting their military history.

The Maryland National Guard has been partnering with Estonia for more than 20 years now. These types of mutual support agreements cements their friendship and mutual interests.


(Photo by Staff Sgt. Michael E. Davis Jr., Maryland National Guard Public Affairs Office)


New U.S. Ambassador to Estonia James Melville meets with JBANC and Estonian-American representatives

Posted by [email protected] on September 29, 2015 at 12:25 PM Comments comments (1)

New U.S. Ambassador to Estonia James Melville meets with 

JBANC and Estonian-American representatives

Sep 21, 2015

By Karl Altau

The new United States ambassador to Estonia, James Melville, met with representatives of JBANC, the Estonian American National Council (EANC), and the Maryland Estonia Exchange Council (MEEC) on September 10 at a State Department meeting arranged by JBANC. Under discussion were Estonian - American connections and the role of the organizations present at the meeting, concerns of Estonian Americans, and the new ambassador's plans during his appointment. Ambassador Melville will move to Estonia later this autumn.

Ambassador Melville was nominated by President Obama on May 06, with a Senate nomination hearing following on July 22. His nomination was confirmed by the Senate on August 05.

Originally from New Jersey, Ambassador Melville most recently served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassy in Berlin, from 2012 to 2015. Prior to that, he was Executive Director of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and the Bureau of International Organization Affairs at the Department of State from 2010 to 2012. He has also served at U.S. embassies in London (2008 – 2010), Moscow (2005 - 2008), Paris (2001 - 2005), and at the U.S. NATO Mission in Brussels (1997 - 2001). Ambassador Melville received a B.A. from Boston University and J.D. from Rutgers University.

Pictured from left are Erik Lazdins, JBANC; Toivo Tagamets, MEEC; Ambassador James Melville; Marju Rink-Abel, EANC; and Karl Altau, JBANC.

(Photo courtesy of Toivo Tagamets).


Maryland Air National Guard in Estonia

Posted by [email protected] on September 29, 2015 at 12:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Maryland Air National Guard in Estonia

By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Schepers

175th Wing Public Affairs

Posted 6/9/2015

6/9/2015 - AMARI AIR BASE, ESTONIA -- Eight A-10C Thunderbolt IIs and 111 Airmen from the 175th Wing, Maryland Air National Guard deployed to Amari Air Base, Estonia over the first week in June 2015 to participate in Saber Strike 15, an exercise that facilitates cooperation between Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, United States and other participating nations.

Maintenance build-up and preparation for the long-standing training exercise, conducted annually since 2010, began more than four months ago. In 2013, the Maryland Air National Guard sent less aircraft and personnel to take part in the multinational exercise.

"This is the first time we have sent eight A-10s to participate in Saber Strike," said Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Morse, maintenance flight chief assigned to the 175th Maintenance Squadron. "The teamwork displayed was flawless and everyone came together to get the job done."

Creating a plan and executing was integral in getting the Airmen and the required equipment to Estonia. The wing sent personnel from operations, aircraft maintenance, security police, logistics and wing staff as well as 31 increments of equipment totaling over 120,000 pounds, said Morse.

"The deployed personnel is smaller than the amount of people they would typically bring to an exercise of this scale," said 1st Lt. Michael Gillis, 175th Maintenance Squadron officer-in-charge.

"The maintenance group is running at two-thirds capacity," said Gillis. "It takes a lot of adaptability because we don't have the same facilities, equipment and personnel to get everything ready for the mission."

The wing's goal is to fly twice a day, sending six A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft on training missions, said Gillis.

"Our goal is to never miss a sortie and never miss a mission," said Morse.

Saber Strike aims to continue to strengthen the U.S. Armed Forces interoperability with ally and partner nations, while increasing their capacity to conduct a full spectrum of military operations.