On July 1, the first draft of the VAD will be launched, which will be voluntary and can be applied for by men and women aged 18 to 27. Following the first voluntary draft, as of 2024, the VAD will be compulsory. Recruits will be selected on the basis of random selection, but preference will still be given to volunteers. The first to be subject to recruitment will be men born after January 1, 2004. In general, the law allows for a variety of cases that subject men under the age of 27 to the service.
The law stipulates that men born after January 1, 2004 are subject to the service within one year of reaching the age of 18. The Defense Ministry pointed out that men aged 18 to 19 will be given priority.
"The defense service will consist mainly of citizens aged 18-19. [..] In this age group, the majority of young people are only completing high school and have not yet started professional or family life, which would be more difficult to connect to the national defense service at a later stage. Consequently, the age group has been selected in order not to disrupt the young person's future life as much as possible,” explained the ministry.
On the other hand, a citizen who, after reaching the age of 18, will continue to acquire basic or secondary education, such as the final year of school or vocational education institution, will be subject to conscription within one year of graduating from the educational establishment. If the acquisition of basic or secondary education is not completed before the age of 24, the citizen will be conscripted within a year after reaching the age of 24.
If the young person is not selected within the deadlines, he will be removed from the VAD record and set aside as a reserve member of the National Armed Forces (NBS). Consequently, the person can continue their studies and work without worrying about recruitment to the VAD, noted the ministry.
The Ministry confirmed to LSM that higher education is not a reason to avoid service.
This means that men who study or have already completed higher education studies may also be exposed to service up to the age of 27. The law stipulates that the employer or educational institution must guarantee return at the level they left. There are a few special cases where service can be postponed due to education, such as the receipt of a scholarship. Postponement cases will be assessed individually.
Men and women aged 18 to 27 may also apply for the service voluntarily. The first draft of the VAD will be fully voluntary. May 15 is the last application day. At least 315 Latvian citizens have submitted applications to the first draft.
The number of individuals potentially subject to one draft was not estimated by Defense Ministry, indicating that it would depend on how many citizens would apply for the service on a voluntary basis.