Latvian Saeima approves concept of national defense

Saeima has approved a new State Defense Concept, which determines the main directions of the national defense and protection, Latvian Television reported September 24.

This is the main planning document for the defense sector. The aim is to make Latvia's defense strong enough so that any attack would cause an aggressor to lose significantly more than potentially gain and thereby deter any attacks.

The Saeima said that the concept was prepared at a time when society continues to face international security challenges and various types of non-military threats, including cyber security risks, disinformation and propaganda activities, socio-economic challenges posed by the pandemic, natural disasters and other shocks. These have a significant impact not only on public safety, health and well-being, but also on the stability of the state as a whole.

The four main lines of action in national defense in the concept are the National Armed Forces (NBS), comprehensive defense, NATO collective defense and international cooperation.

The concept highlights the need to further strengthen the National Guard and Youth Guard, as these structures offer an opportunity for each citizen to prepare for potential threats without abandoning civilian life.

It is also necessary to further increase the size of the NBS and to reach 8000 professional soldiers. By 2024, there must be 10 thousand guardsmen in the National Guard, 12 thousand by 2027, according to the concept. 

It has also been pointed out that comprehensive State protection is possible only through public engagement, so the civil activity of Latvian citizens is particularly important.

“The national armed forces are ready to protect Latvia in the event of a military attack. At the same time, the Latvian public must have a clear understanding that no one else will be able to protect Latvia if the Latvian public is not prepared to do so,” said Raimonds Bergmanis, former Defense Minister.

The Saeima shall approve the concept at least once in each parliamentary term.

Defense Minister Artis Pabriks said that Latvia's most important military challenge remains neighboring Russia. He also expressed concern about the situation in Belarus: “If Belarus loses its independence, in some form, is integrated into Russia, it poses an even greater military challenge to our security than it was until now.”

The concept states that it is essential to maintain a defense budget of at least 2% of gross domestic product, despite various crises. 

Pabriks also mentioned the introduction of state protection training in schools. “There will also be many more volunteers entering the National Guard, and there will also be many more people who will want to associate their work with the armed forces in a professional way,” said Pabriks, noting the need to increase the number of troops  and the National Guard volunteers in Latvia.

 

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