Latvia aims to grow defense personnel to 31,000

In view of the geopolitical situation, the personnel involved in the defense of Latvia should be increased to approximately 31,000 people, Major General Imants Ziediņš of the National Armed Forces (NBS) told LETA on July 20.

"We talk about an increase of at least 1.3 times and look at a numerical composition that would be structurally organized and performing tasks in a very short time, namely around 31,000 people. In order to reach such a figure, without the [compulsory] State Defense Service, this task cannot be achieved," Ziediņš said.

In early 2022, the Ministry of Defense reported that there were 6,600 troops in the NBS and, according to the State Defense concept, the number was expected to be increased to at least 8,000. More than 8,000 national guards were present in the National Guard at the time and 10,000 national guards were the goal by 2024 and 12,000 by 2027. The number of trained reserve soldiers had to reach 6,000 during the duration of the concept.

"Our plan is to build active backup units. These would be units that could be involved in the performance of tasks at a specified time of preparedness. The active reserve would be composed of retired VAD (State Defense Service) soldiers and professional soldiers who could be recruited to training every year or every other year to restore their skills."

Liene Liepiņa, head of the Department of Defense Planning and Analysis for the Development of Structural and Military Personnel, also expressed confidence that there was a need to substantially increase the number of people prepared for military purposes.

On July 1, the first draft of the VAD was launched with a total of 254 Latvian citizens, four of whom are foreign residents. There were nearly half more young people applying for the service, but a large part of them had to be removed because of health problems or had withdrawn their applications.

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