Latvian army commander does not support mandatory service

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Only a professional army together with the national guard can provide highly capable protection in the short term, Lieutenant General Leonīds Kalniņš, Commander of the National Armed Forces (NBS), told Latvian Television February 1.

Defence Minister Artis Pabriks had said in mid-January that mandatory military service should not be implemented with existing funds in a short time period, but in general it is on the discussion table. The Minister pointed out a number of aspects that need to be taken into account: how quickly it can be introduced, how much population it will involve and how much it will cost.

Kalniņš said that Latvia is a democratic country, so it is not prohibited to discuss and talk about it, but asked whether he supports the mandatory military service in Latvia, Kalniņš replied he did not.

He drew attention to the fact that only six NATO member states have mandatory services and other countries have high-developed professional services as well as equivalent structures for our National Guard.

Kalniņš also stressed that, according to surveys among Latvian residents, support for the mandatory service is low. In the age group of 17-24, it is only 10%.

“If we have created the Latvian State on a voluntary basis, it should be protected on a voluntary basis,” he pointed out, and stressed that force could call a negative response.

Latvia abolished the mandatory military service in January 2007, fully switching to professional military service.


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