President nominates Kalnins as next chief of defense

President Raimonds Vejonis has decided to nominate Leonids Kalnins, Commander of the Joint Headquarters of the Latvian National Armed Forces, as the next chief of defense, reported LETA Thursday.

Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis (Greens/Farmers) previously recommended Kalnins as a candidate to the chief of defense.

According to the law, the chief of defense is nominated by the Latvian president at the recommendation by the defense minister and appointed for a term of four years by the Latvian parliament.

Kalnins was appointed head of the Joint Headquarters on June 28 this year, taking office on August 26. Kalnins has been serving in the Armed Forces since 1997, when he became a member of the Home Guard's 51st Battalion. He was appointed head of the Reconnaissance Training Center in 2003, then served at the Training and Doctrine Command from 2003 to 2005, and as a senior officer at the Home Guard's Operative Planning Department from 2005 to 2011, when he was appointed commander of the Home Guard.

Kalnins is a graduate of the Baltic Defense College in Estonia and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.

Kalnins was the deputy head of the Latvian contingent in Iraq during the U.S.-led operation in 2006.

Kalnins was promoted to the rank of major general in a ceremony in mid-November. According to the law, candidates for the chief of defense have to be younger than sixty years. Kalnins will turn sixty next year.

Latvian Chief of Defense Raimonds Graube recently announced his decision about early retirement. Previously Graube served as the defense chief from 1999 to 2003 and from 2010 to 2014 when he was re-appointed for another four-year term expiring in 2018.

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