Armed Forces chief admits limited combat ability

Commander of the Latvian Armed Forces (NBS) Raimonds Graube acknowledged Thursday that the nation’s defense system has some areas of “limited ability”, but that the crisis in Ukraine had spurred the government to “adequate measures” to bolster Latvia’s military readiness.


In an interview with LTV news program Rīta Panorāma, the NBS commander said he was “happy and grateful for this week’s government decision to fund upgrades of our air defense and tactical reconnaissance capabilities.”

"If Ukraine has taught us one thing, it’s that we must more rapidly strengthen our nation’s self-defense abilities,” said Graube.

“Until now we’ve been developing our defense system in a wise and balanced way, developing our training system, grooming instructors, infrastructure, but also buying weapons.” he added.

Now the accent is being put on combat skills as the main concern, he said. The past ten years have been dedicated to integrating tightly with international military operations, which has brought excellent results. “We have an outstandingly well-trained world-class officer corps,” the army leader said.  

Assessing the national defense capability, Graube admitted that air defense and anti-tank systems were lacking, but that “we have a very good land-based element prepared, which of course could be larger numerically speaking.”

Asked if the 8-year €158m funding package approved by the government Wednesday would be enough of a defense budget boost from an international perspective, Graube responded:

“This is the time to really be thinking about our own self-defense. There was a bigger package on the table, yes. But this one at least guarantees the minimum necessary to be able to control our airspace against low-flying craft, to control our national territory and to react appropriately to incursions."

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