The Estonian War Museum's 11th Annual Baltic Military History Conference "Small but Capable? Quality Against Mass in Military History"

2020's event was organised by the Baltic Defence College, the Estonian War Museum and the Estonian Military Academy. It took place at BALTDEFCOL in Tartu, however speakers who couldn't attend physically were live-streamed. Registered participants could either come to the BALTDEFCOL or take part as an online listener with the possibility to ask questions and comment.  

The theme of the Conference was "Small but Capable? Quality Against Mass in Military History". The idea was to discuss whether quality or numbers is the most important factor deciding the outcome of military standoffs. Our guest speakers presented their views based on analysing various strategies and operations, and considered the implications of lessons learned for present challenges. Those challenges are not hard to identify: the superiority of Russian capabilities in the Baltic region over those of NATO, tensions within NATO and the continuing weakness of the European allies. The present political crisis in Belarus may – in the worst-case scenario – grow into a regional security crisis, exposing the lack of European purposefulness as well as the ebbing of US interest in Europe.

Conference schedule

Summary and photos

Speakers and their topics

Chosen works can be found in the Estonian War Museums's yearbook (linked).

  • Prof Emeritus Martin van Creveld (Hebrew University) – “United We Stand.”
  • LTC Jacek Lasota, Dr. Michal Przybylak (War Studies University) – “Less numerous but victorious – an example of Kircholm 1605 battle”
  • Prof Valdas Rakutis (Klaipėda University) – “Lessons learned in failure: Defence of Lithuania in 1792 Comonwealth of Both Nations – Russia war for protection of Constitution of 3 of May”
  • Dr Pierre O. Juhel (Polish Institute of Advanced Studies) – “Small? But capable indeed! Napoléon’s counter-offensive in February 1814. Power and limits of charismatic leadership”
  • Mr Valdis Kuzmins (The National Defence Academy of Latvia) – “The capture of Rēzekne, January 1920”
  • Dr Eric Allan Sibul (City Colleges of Chicago) – “Marines and Armored Train Troopers: Maneuver Units in the Estonian Armed Forces During the Estonian War of Independence 1918-1920”
  • Mr Jānis Tomaševskis (The War Museum of Latvia) – “The Power of a Minority or the Weakness of a Majority? Latvian National Partisans against the Soviet Military in the Summer of 1941”
  • MAJ Rauno Viitmann (Estonian Defence Forces) – “Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, Angola 1987-88”
  • Dr Danilo Sarenac (Institute for Contemporary History) – “Fighting against the ‘the whole world’ for 78 days. Yugoslavia’s successes in the war against NATO in 1999”
  • Mr Thibaut Vetter (University of Strasbourg) – “Diplomatic Ways and Innovations Race. The Means to Counterbalance Numerical Inferiority in Small Sized States in the Early Modern Period. The Example of the Duchy of Lorraine (1572 – 1634)”
  • Dr Jeppe Plenge Trautner (Baltap Associates) – “Using military history for assessing small-state strategic situations and options”
  • Dr. Petros Savvides – “European small state security challenges and threats in the Eastern Mediterranean”
  • Dr MG Rajendra Singh Thakur (Indian Army) – “Revolt by Queen of Jhansi in 1857 against the British Empire” (online)
  • Mr Shlomi Chetrit (Israel Police Heritage Centre) – “Look on me, and do likewise: What Can We learn from Orde Wingate and the Special Night Squads?"
  • COL Ronald Ti (Australian Department of Defence) – “Carrying on the Fight- Timor: Sparrow Force 1942, and FRETILIN 1975-1999”
  • Prof David Tal (University of Sussex) – “Israel’s Victory in the June 1967 War and the Idea of Occidentalism”
  • Dr Tamir Libel (University of Bamberg) – “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in the Israel Defense Forces: A Precursor to a Military Robotic Revolution?”
  • BG (ret) Michael H. Clemmesen – „The Paths to and Limitations of Quality against Mass“

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