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Latvian National Guard - Zemessardze

The National Guard is a component of the National Armed Forces, the objective of which is to involve the citizens of Latvia in the defence of the State territory and society and which participates in the planning and execution of the State defence tasks. After Latvia became a member of the collective defence system, the refinement of the total territorial defence methods and the retention of the optimal proportion of them in the national defence system became topical issues. Also, the activities for developing the structure of the National Guard (NG) commenced in 2001 were determined by the lack of resources required for qualitative provision and training of the NG units.

In spite of these problems, the National Guard has and will have an important role and tasks in the national defence. The structure of the National Guard should certainly be transformed in order to achieve its optimum. This process was commenced in 2002, and its purpose was to reduce the bureaucracy of NG administration and substitute it with an efficient command and control system. Proposals have been made for enhancing the structure of the National Guard, which will ensure the performance of its new tasks. The purpose of these measures is to provide the future to the National Guard, develop its traditions, keep the public motivated to participate in the national defence activities and build the NAF reserve system.

The implementation of the new structure of the National Guard and clarification of its tasks was completed in 2004. The goal of the National Guard is and will remain the involvement of the Latvian citizens in the national defence. One of the directions in development for the National Guard is to enhance its ability to ensure national defence in cooperation with the regular forces up to the arrival of allied armed forces and to provide host nation support to allied forces deploying on Latvian soil. According to the new structure of the National Guard, it will have the following tasks:

  • perform the tasks of the national territorial defence all alone or by supporting the NAF professional units;
  • ensure combat and mobilisation readiness;
  • perform the support tasks of host-nation;
  • guard objects of national importance in the event of war or threat;
  • clear consequences of emergency situations;
  • support the society and the Youth Guard movement.

Achievements of 2003:

The reorganisation of the National Guard was continued:

  • the number of the National Guard Battalions has been reduced from 24 to 20;
  • two National Guard Regions have been established;
  • the specialisation of the battalions has been commenced;
  • the NG Special Task Unit Vanags (Hawk) has been merged with the NAF Special Task Unit.

Plans for 2004:

Continue the reorganisation of the National Guard in order to provide capacity to perform the following tasks:

  • guard the objects of national importance, participate in crisis response and clearance operations, co-ordinate the co-operation with the National Borderguard etc.;
  • provide support to the foreign troops transferring or arriving at the Latvian territory;
  • establish combat support and logistics units in the fields of transportation, civil-military cooperation, logistics, engineer and air defence.

The National Guard consists of the National Guard Staff and two Regions. Each Region has 8 Infantry Battalions and 2 Specialised Battalions, which are specialised in the air defence and the host-nation support.

On 23 August 1991, as one of the first update of the laws of the Republic of Latvia adopted the law "on the National Guard of the Republic of Latvia". It stipulates that Latvian National Guard (HP) is a voluntary paramilitary self-defense militia company. The aim is to involve the citizens of the Republic of Latvia, the country and the protection of society. National Guard is a component of the national armed forces and regular forces in reserve, it is participating in a national protection system in the planning and execution of the tasks in accordance with the national defence plan.

In 1994 the Home Guard, with an estimated 17,000 members, in addition to serving as a national guard, assisted the border guard and the police. In the early 1890s the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia charged Girts Valdis Kristovskis with the task of establishing the National Guard of Latvia and appointed him as the first commander. This experience qualified Mr. Kristovskis for the posts of the Minister of the Interior, a member of Defence and Internal Affairs committees for three parliamentary periods, and as the Prime Minister's advisor on Defence and Security Affairs, which all resulted in Mr. Kristovskis being appointed Minister of Defence of the Republic of Latvia from 1998 to 2004.

The easing of the unofficial weapons embargo on the part of the West against the Baltic states was signalled in the summer of 1996 when BALTBAT received older generation Swedish Carl Gustav anti-tank shoulder rockem and when the USA supplied BALTBAT with M16 rifles in 1997 , together with 10,000 M14 rifles and ammunition to rhe Latvian National Guard. For more efficient and simpler to manage and administer the HP unit, has created three National Guard District (ZSN): 5 battalion and 1. ZSN district headquarters in Liepaja, 7 battalions and the 2nd ZSN headquarters in Rezekne, as well as 6 battalions and 3 ZSN headquarters in Riga. National Guard organization is based on the principle of vienvadib and distributes national guard commander who is the subject of the national armed forces Commander.

After Latvia's accession to NATO, one of the main tasks of the National Guard is to build and train a specialized combat support and combat support battalion of the National Guard infantry battalion base. That way Layvia ensures the professionalism of national guard battalions and a deepening military functions according to the requirements of the NATO countries.

A person acquired the status of a national guardsman after giving of an oath and concluding a contract with the Commander of the National Guard unit regarding the service in the National Guard. The persons status of a national guardsman lapses upon termination of the contract regarding the service in the National Guard. The Minister for Defence shall determine the content of the contract and the procedures by which the contract shall be concluded and extended. A contract regarding the service in the National Guard shall be concluded for five years, observing the maximum age specified for the service in the National Guard.

A national guardsman shall, according to the contract regarding the service in the National Guard, be involved in execution of the National Guard tasks and training up to 30 days per year during free time, outside of regular employment or studies, as well as in cases when, in accordance with the conditions of this Law, a national guardsman is released from the regular employment or studies.




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