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Zemessargi vienā bataljonā ar NBS karavīriem

Interest in joining National Guard trails off, more urged to join

Interest in joining the National Guard (Zemessardze), Latvia's part-time militia, has waned, following an upsurge in the immediate aftermath of the Rusian invasion of Ukraine, reported LTV February 26.

The National Guardsmen LTV met emphasized that anyone can combine service in the National Guard with work. Among them were also representatives of the creative industries, information technology (IT) specialists and even a former government minister.

"I work in the communication industry, I run an advertising agency, a creative agency, to be more precise. [This is] Quite far from my professional daily life," says senior national guard Ritvars Vulis.

Former Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola is also at this National Guard trainign session together with her daughter. Today, everyone has their own learning task. 

A large number call themselves 'Ukrainian conscripts', because it was after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine that they made the final decision to enlist in the National Guard.

"Every day I am a business consultant, a management trainer. My profession is definitely not related to the military sphere.

I think we all have to do our part to make this country safer. I have something to protect," emphasizes senior national guard Mārtiņš Vecvanags.

National Guardsman Vulis also admits that he thought about serving in the National Guard for a long time before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia. "I am the so-called Ukrainian conscript. I had thought about the National Guard for quite a long time before, but we didn't really have a quorum in the family until that moment. Then the situation changed quite dramatically and the decision was made," he says.

Almost 200 National Guardsmen and more than 50 professional servicemen serve in this particular battalion. Their commitment is to be no worse prepared than professional servicemen. 

"These National Guardsmen are part of the Mechanized Infantry Brigade. Their training is more serious. They study more often, and they must be ready to perform tasks as part of the Mechanized Brigade," explains Lieutenant Colonel Ivars Stivriņš, commander of the 3rd Infantry Battalion.

While this group continues its weapons training, the others return from a night in the forest. There they learned both theoretically and practically about taking [combat] positions. After a six-kilometer march with full three-day backpacks, Krišjānis Antons says it was his best way to combine the desire to be in the armed forces with a professional career. 

Now the National Guardsmen are already preparing for the big "Crystal Arrow" exercise of the armed forces. Although there are already around 200 people in the ranks of this unit, there could be twice as many and urge others to join, too. 

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