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Latvia - Military Personnel

The National Armed Forces consists of the Regular Forces, the National Guard and the Armed Forces Reserve. During the peacetime, the NAF personnel consists of professional service soldiers, land guards, civilian employees, as well as reserve soldiers called up for regular training. War or a state of NAF is included in the Latvian Bank Security Department and the State Border Guard, the NAF is governed by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) and developed by the Cabinet of MinistersThe mobilization plan approved by the Cabinet of Ministers, which includes the deployment of the NAF for partial or full combat readiness, determines the mobilization management, responsibilities, procedures and material and technical support. The development of the NAF is planned and developed by the Ministry of Defense on the basis of the National Defense Concept and the National Defense Operational Plan. The NAF is managed by the NAF Commander, who reports to the Minister of Defense, and the operational management is implemented by the NAF Joint Staff. Civilian control over the NAF is exercised by the Saeima , the Cabinet of Ministers, the President and the Minister of Defense.

A soldier is a defender of the state and exercises his right to work by performing military service, which is performed voluntarily in accordance with a professional service contract concluded between him and the Ministry of Defense. NAF must continue to increase its personnel size taking into account the constraints of the national labor market. By recruiting additional defence personnel, Latvia significantly increases the costs of potential aggressor’s attack. In the duration period of the Concept, professional army of Latvia must reach the size of 8,000 troops to fill all the vacancies in NAF units and support the expected capability development outcomes. NAF will continue to acquire new capabilities and equipment in the coming years and well-educated, trained, highly motivated professional soldiers with various fields of expertise will become the core asset of NAF.

National Guard is indispensable in defending territorial integrity of Latvia. According to the existing plans, the size of the National Guard must grow to 10,000 troops by 2024 and reach 12,000 troops by 2027. National Guard must continue to recruit young generation of troops to ensure that young people, who have decided to go through full military training and pursue a military career in National Guard, while also leading a civilian life, can contribute to state defence. It is necessary to continue the employer outreach programme to convince them to encourage National Guard troops to participate in military exercises, perform specific military duties and master the necessary skills.

National Guard must develop training modules and provide distance learning possibilities to be able to attract National Guard members of various backgrounds, including vital support staff, by offering them a possibility to gradually complete training modules and continuously develop their skills and competences through flexible learning plans that fit all individual work and private life arrangements.

It is vital to continue raising public awareness about voluntary participation in state defence to make sure this kind of civic engagement receives the wide support and respect that it deserves. It is absolutely pivotal to change people’s scepticism towards National Guard. Politicians and opinion leaders need to become real role-models of active participation in National Guard. They should also support public campaigns that focus on the prestige of being a member of the National Guard to generate a long-lasting public support for National Guard. It is also necessary to continue increasing the size of trained reserve personnel, including retired professional service members, non-active duty National Guard, graduates of Level 4 Cadet Force training who have also completed state defence training camp courses, given the reserve oath of enlistment and completed military training for army reserve volunteers. According to the Concept, this should allow training and recruiting about 6,000 new reserve troops.

It is equally important to set up a full reserve training programme based on unit level framework for reserve force engagement and operational readiness, i.e. create a two-level reserve personnel training system with active reserve (unit-level training) and permanent reserve (centrally managed and coordinated framework). In case of full mobilisation, reserve training is provided by the Cadet Force Centre. Defence sector civilian staff plays an important role in ensuring suitability and constant efficiency of the overall system. Although there is a clear separation between military and civilian service, it is a must for the defence sector civilian personnel to have at least basic military training to be able to deliver vital military functions.

It is also important to identify other critical professions outside defence sector that are vital for continuity of the state and the society in case of military conflict or intervention. These include occupations, service of which during crisis or war is just as important as in peacetime.

There is still a public debate about the need for national defense training (Valsts aizsardzibas maciba - VAM), and many stereotypes have already emerged. One of them is that VAM is a lighter version of compulsory military service. One of the main differences between compulsory military service and VAM is that compulsory military service can only cover about 3-5% of the active population, while from 2024 national defense training will be in every secondary school, covering at least 30,000 people in both technical schools. both in secondary education institutions, which will learn to be loyal, civic active, knowledgeable and powerful.

It is planned to study national defense once a month for eight hours a day, while after the end of the school year there will be a voluntary 10-day VAM camp for both 10th and 11th grade students, where it will be possible to consolidate authorities. These camps are not compulsory, they remain part of interest education and are voluntary. In addition, participation in them is free for young people. Everyone who wants goes to the camps.

From 2024, it is planned to introduce national defense education as a compulsory subject for 10th and 11th grade students, as well as for 1st and 2nd year students in all state secondary education institutions, including vocational orientations.

Schools across Latvia are switching to skills-based learning, which means that greater attention can now be given to young people’s leadership qualities that are essential for development of Cadet Force and the comprehensive defence system. Cadet Force will continue to provide voluntary military training for youth until full introduction of state defence lessons in national school setting. Informal Cadet Force education is available to children and youngsters aged 10 to 21 but the main target group still is Year 5-9 pupils, altogether 8,000 children in different parts of Latvia.

Currently state defence is an elective course available to upper secondary (Year 10-11) pupils. It teaches young people core state defence skills, how to act in tmes of crisis, critical thinking and civic patriotism. State defence training also gives the essential knowledge, skills and mindset to deal with crisis. State defence themes should be integrated in other general education courses and also university curricula, too. Youngsters attending state defence lessons are eligible to apply for voluntary state defence summer camps. At these camps young people can enhance the training they have received in classroom setting throughout the academic year in a real environment and boost their overall physical condition without any risk to their health. State defence lessons will become part of mandatory training in all Latvian secondary schools from 2024/2025 academic year. Every year around 30,000 young people aged 15-17 will be taught.

At least 2,000 young people should participate in voluntary summer camps each year to ensure that Latvia has a growing share of population with military training. This training is a step towards professional army for those who want to join armed forces and should also encourage youngsters to explore opportunities provided by National Guard, army reserve and other public jobs. Even if graduates of summer camps decide not to continue their military career in active service, they will join the army reserve and can be mobilised when necessary because they will have the necessary resilience and know how to respond to a crisis. In case of crisis they will represent the most active, mobile, knowledgeable and skilful part of the society and will be able to defend themselves and others.

Introduction of state defence lessons shall rapidly increase the number of citizens with state defence skills . It is expected that in 10 years’ time almost third of Latvia’s population could be trained this way.

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Page last modified: 06-06-2021 18:20:06 ZULU