Latvia's National Guard numbers increased rapidly this year

The ranks of the National Armed Forces (NBS) filled rapidly this year, with the number of national guards reaching 10,000, said Leonīds Kalniņš, Commander of NBS, in an interview with Latvian Radio on November 11.

The National Guard's website, though, says that there are 9,600 troops and the NBS website states 9,800, however, information for this year has not yet been compiled.

Kalniņš said interest in joining the National Guard increased as a result of the large-scale invasion of Ukraine launched by Russia in February this year.

“We have very actively filled the ranks of the National Guard this year and we can say with full responsibility that we have reached 10,000 guards. It [happened] at such a rapid pace. Of course, it is thanks to the fact that the public, our citizens, responded to the threat that has occurred because of the Ukraine-Russia war,” said Kalniņš.

He said that also the professional service had grown, though it had been tough. “The recruitment process being very difficult, we have still grown positively in numbers. And I hope that Latvian citizens will choose to spend even a short time in the armed forces, applying themselves, and thus giving a certain contribution to protecting our country's sovereignty with their service,” said Kalniņš.

The commander of the NBS said that although a return to compulsory military service has not yet been adopted, the NBS is preparing to accommodate Latvian citizens in the mandatory service. The mandatory service, according to Kalniņš, should be applicable to all Latvian citizens, with the exception of those who have health problems and criminal convictions. In the past, Kalniņš was an advocate of a fully professional volunteer army, but has since conceded that the invasion of Ukraine and a change in domestic political will has made compulsory military service a viable option.

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