Latvian mandatory military service law advances in government

At a meeting on Tuesday, September 20, the Cabinet approved the draft law drafted by the Ministry of Defense (AM), which provides for the introduction of a mandatory service at the National Armed Forces (NBS). The draft law shall be directed for urgent viewing at the Saeima.

The draft law provides that all Latvian male citizens will be obliged to serve. For female citizens the service will be voluntary. The minimum age for service is 18.

The draft law should enter into force as soon as possible, as the first draft is scheduled for January 1, 2023. The first draft is planned on a fully voluntary basis. By that date, a number of measures should be taken to organize the drafting, for example, calls for voluntary applications should be sent.

As reported, it is planned to develop four types of performance of the national defense service: service in a National Armed Forces unit, service in the National Guard, special military training for university students, and state civil service. Persons subject to service will be able to replace it with civil service in accordance with the Law of the Civil Service, if they cannot perform active military service because their state of health does not correspond to military standards, but corresponds to the civil service of the State.

The following categories of citizens will not be recruited:

  • a citizen whose state of health does not correspond to the requirements of the VAD;
  • a citizen who is still at school or vocational school;
  • a citizen who has been punished for a serious or particularly serious criminal offense regardless of whether the penalty has been removed or suspended;
  • a citizen who is a suspect or an accused person in criminal proceedings;
  • a citizen who has been convicted of a serious or particularly serious criminal offense but not punished;
  • a citizen who has been punished for a crime if the punishment has not been removed;
  • a citizen who is the sole parent of a child;
  • a citizen who has replaced VAD with state civil service;
  • a citizen who has dual citizenship and who has served in another country's military service;
  • a professional soldier who has served no less than three years;
  • graduates of the Pulkveža Oskara Kalpaka vocational school [a military academy].

The Defense Ministry said that a comprehensive recruitment system should be established over a period of five years, including the identification of virtually all men aged 18, the assessment of their compliance with the national defense service, and the recruitment of as many citizens as possible. The newly created service, according to AM, should become a self-evident stage for the involvement of every Latvian citizen in the protection of the country.

It is essential to ensure the greatest possible coverage of the draft in order to exclude a potential occurrence of inequality where only a small percentage of young people are recruited, said the Ministry.

“The Latvian society needs to be aware of the most important prerequisite for survival – the greater the number of people prepared and trained in the military, the less likely that another country will be willing to turn its military aggression towards Latvia,” said AM.

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