Aleksander Einseln

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Aleksander Einseln
Born (1931-10-25)25 October 1931
Tallinn, Estonia
Died 16 March 2017(2017-03-16) (aged 85)
Allegiance  United States (1950-1985)
 Estonia (1993-1995)
Service/branch  United States Army
Estonia Defence Forces
Years of service 1950–1985, 1993–1995
Rank ES-Army-OF9.png General
Commands held Commander of the Defence Forces
Battles/wars Korean War
Vietnam War (1965–1966, 1971-1972)
Awards EST Order of the Cross of the Eagle 2nd Class BAR.png 2nd Class of the Order of the Cross of the Eagle

Aleksander Einseln (25 October 1931 – 16 March 2017) was an Estonian general, the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces from 1993 to 1995 and previously a United States Army colonel. Born in Estonia, his mother and he – barely in his teens – fled from the Red Army that was returning to occupy Estonia. From 1950-1985, he served in the US Army, taking part of the Korean War, and as a Special Forces A-team commander in the Vietnam War. In 1993, at the request of President Lennart Meri, he returned to Estonia to serve as the first Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces following the restoration of Estonia's independence.[1][2]

Biography[edit]

Aleksander Einseln was born in Estonia on 25 October 1931.[3] Einseln's father was deported by the Soviet occupants. His mother and he sought refuge in the West in 1944, becoming displaced persons in postwar Germany. In 1949 they emigrated to United States.[4]

Just before the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, Einseln enlisted in the United States Army, and served as a paratrooper.[4] In 1955, he was commissioned as a lieutenant, and in 1964 completed the US Army Special Forces officer qualification course. He served with Special Forces in Vietnam during 1965-1966. In 1968, he graduated from George Washington University, and the next year from the Army Staff College. Einseln served another tour in Vietnam in 1971-1972. During 1975-1976 he served in staff training positions at Army headquarters. After graduating from the National Defense College senior course, Einseln served from 1977-1982 as head of the European and North Atlantic Treaty Organization office in the Planning and Policy Division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After that, he held post of Deputy Inspector General in the United States Pacific Command until his retirement in 1985. During his career in the US Army, Einseln commanded infantry, paratroop, Special Forces and training units, earning 28 medals and retiring as a colonel.[3]

In 1993, at the request of Estonian President Lennart Meri, Einseln returned to Estonia to take command of its military forces, over the objections of the U.S. State Department.[5] The U.S. threatened to terminate Einseln's military pension and even to revoke his U.S. citizenship. However, after getting support from several U.S. senators, Einseln received official permission from the U.S. authorities to take on his new post.[6]

Einseln's decree ordering immediate resistance in case of foreign aggression

In January of 1995, after the start of the First Chechen War, Einseln issued an order stating that in the event of foreign troops crossing the border, Estonian Defence Forces were to immediately initiate active resistance, and not cease fighting until ordered to do so by the President of Estonia. This was intended as a mechanism to prevent surrender without resistance as had happened in 1939.[7] In 2014, after the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, active Commander-in-Chief General Riho Terras noted that Einseln's decree is still in force.[8]

Earlier, on 4 December 1995, General Einseln handed in his resignation as Commander of the Armed Forces due to a disagreement with the Minister of Defense.[9]

In February 1996, he was awarded the Estonian Order of the Cross of the Eagle.[10]

Einseln died on 16 March 2017, aged 85.[11]

Effective dates of promotion[edit]

Estonian Army[edit]

See Military ranks of Estonia
Promotions
Insignia Rank Date
ES-Army-OF5.png Colonel 1993
ES-Army-OF7.png Major General 17 June 1993[12]
ES-Army-OF8.png Lieutenant General  22 June 1995[13]
ES-Army-OF9.png General  3 December 1995[14]

Awards, decorations, and recognition[edit]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Estonian Awards and decorations
EST Order of the Cross of the Eagle 2nd Class BAR.png 2nd Class of the Order of the Cross of the Eagle 16 February 1996
U.S. Awards and decorations
US Defense Superior Service Medal ribbon.svg Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg Legion of Merit
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Award numeral 6.png Air Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters
GCM 4.jpg Army Good Conduct Medal (several awards)
Army of Occupation ribbon.svg Army of Occupation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
National Defense Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Korean Service Medal with three campaign stars
Bronze star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with two service stars
Army Service Ribbon.svg Army Service Ribbon
Army Overseas Service Ribbon.svg Army Overseas Service Ribbon
Foreign Awards
Bronze star
Bronze star
Gallantry Cross (Vietnam) with 2 stars
Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal Ribbon.png Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal, First Class
Vietnam Staff Service Medal Ribbon.png Republic of Vietnam Staff Service Honor Medal First Class
Korean Presidential Unit Citation.png Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
Gallantry Cross Unit Citation.png Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with palm
United Nations Korea Medal ribbon.svg United Nations Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon with 60- clasp.svg Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960- device
Other Accoutrements
CIB2.png Combat Infantryman Badge with Star
SpecialForcesTabMetal.jpg Special Forces Tab
Ranger Tab.svg Ranger tab
US Army Airborne senior parachutist badge.gif Senior Parachutist Badge
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
United States Army Staff Identification Badge.png Army Staff Identification Badge
ViPaBa.jpg Republic of Vietnam Parachutist Badge

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Suri endine kaitseväe juhataja kindral Aleksander Einseln"
  2. ^ "Estonia Names American as Military Chief, but U.S. Objects". The New York Times. 6 May 1993. 
  3. ^ a b Miljan, Toivo (2015). Historical Dictionary of Estonia. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 136–137. ISBN 9780810875135. 
  4. ^ a b Maegi, Bernard John (2008). Dangerous Persons, Delayed Pilgrims: Baltic Displaced Persons and the Making of Cold War America, 1945--1952. ProQuest. pp. 241–242. ISBN 9780549790655. 
  5. ^ "Our Man in Estonia" People Magazine, August 2, 1993
  6. ^ Toivo Miljan. Historical Dictionary of Estonia. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2004. ISBN 978-0-8108-4904-4; pp. 185–186
  7. ^ Hvostov, Andrei (29 October 2010). "Kuidas kindral Einseln riigikaitsele miini pani" (in Estonian). Eesti Ekspress. Retrieved 2015-12-09. 
  8. ^ Terras, Riho (25 September 2014). "Riho Terras: Nutt ja hala meid ei aita" (in Estonian). Maaleht. Retrieved 2015-12-09. 
  9. ^ WORLD NEWS BRIEFS;Ex-U.S. Colonel Resigns As Estonian Army Chief - New York Times
  10. ^ The President of Estonia 1992-2001 - Official Duties - Decorations of the Republic of Estonia
  11. ^ Krjukov, Aleksander (16 March 2017). "Suri endine kaitseväe juhataja kindral Aleksander Einseln". ERR (in Estonian). Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  12. ^ "13. A. Einselnile sõjaväelise auastme andmine". Office of the President. Retrieved March 7, 2017. 
  13. ^ "52. A. Einselnile sõjaväelise auastme andmine". Office of the President. Retrieved March 7, 2017. 
  14. ^ "59. A. Einselnile sõjaväelise auastme andmine". Office of the President. March 7, 2017. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Jaan Maide
as Commander-in-Chief of the Estonian Military
Commander of the Defence Forces
1993-1995
Succeeded by
Johannes Kert