Maryland Air National Guard and Estonia Cyber Command Strengthen Partnership 

Md. Guard cyber warfare operators from the 175th Wing's Cyber Operations Group support Exercise Hedgehog. The Cyber personnel advise and assist Estonian Defense Force and Estonia Defense League members to evaluate internal policy for cyber-related activities. Photo By Maj. Kurt M. Rauschenberg.

July 9, 2021
Press Release

The Maryland Air National Guard and Estonia’s Cyber Command are committed to strengthening their partnership on a cooperative framework to address the challenges posed by cyber threats. The partnership, which began in 1993, includes a focus on cyber force training and education, as well as the development of collaborative cyber activities and joint exercises that test the operational planning, coordination, and synchronization of cyber forces in the United States and Estonia.

In recent years, members of the Maryland Air National Guard have participated in a number of Estonian-led exercises including exercises Hedgehog and Spring Storm, as well as the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence’s Locked Shield exercise in April 2021. These exercises have allowed both Maryland and Estonian cyber forces to share best practices, knowledge, and skills to facilitate communication to protect against cyber threats.

“Defense cooperation is a valuable aspect of the bilateral relationship between Estonia and the United States,” U.S. Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland said during his visit to Estonia this week. “I’m pleased that the successful and enduring partnership between the Maryland National Guard and Estonia has been able to strengthen the military capabilities of both of our nations and promote regional stability.”

“The Maryland Air National Guard has been a key partner in our bilateral cooperation with the US and our combined activities have contributed to the strength of Estonian’s cyber defense,” said Mihkel Tikk, Deputy Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces Cyber Command. “For instance, we have conducted joint training on defending air operations from cyber-attacks and we will continue to seek new cooperation opportunities with the Maryland Air National Guard to enhance our cyber partnership even further, including on weapon systems and operations.”

The Maryland National Guard’s state partnership with Estonia is one example of the multiple military-to-military engagements that take place between United States and Estonian service members each year. The United States’ defense cooperation with Estonia remains one of the most important pieces of our bilateral relationship. It also demonstrates the U.S. security commitment to NATO and sends a clear message to potential adversaries about our shared readiness to meet any global challenge.