A fabric was supplied for Latvian army uniforms six years ago, which, according to the documents of the negotiating procedure, had been created specifically for the Latvian army. However, in reality, only “MultiLatPat” printing was created for Latvia, while the supplied fabric turned out to be a scrap that could put the health of the soldiers at risk, since it was not fireproof as marketed and also got wet too quickly, and stuck to the skin. Meanwhile, the people who worked on this procurement appear again at events casting a shadow of doubt over the army's procurement.
At about the same time when the fabric incident occurred, another problem came out to the public: during the training of the National Guard, a bunch of purchased spades broke apart. Both events were crucial for the Ministry of Defense to impose an obligation to test the item to be purchased after a certain algorithm.
However, although several years have passed, it is likely that testing at the expected level is still not ongoing. At the moment, the Minister of Defense has commissioned an inspection of the testing: what equipment as been tested appropriately and what has not been done, the Ministry's Secretary of State Jānis Garisons told De Facto.
Quality tests have become daily for individual equipment, including uniforms, the purchase of which has been entrusted to the National Defence Logistics and Procurement Center (VALIC), established two years ago.
The NBS, which conducts other purchases, shall certify that the testing is carried out on locally produced munitions. Other ammunition supplied shall not be given such attention; it is tested by soldiers during service.
“It's not a hundred percent, but as I said, we've tested. But we don't test most of the gunslinger ammunition. [..] We let it in for training. And in training, we will also receive these findings in a short period of time. Where we think these munitions could be [problematic] we are really paying more attention. We have also tested before we launch them in training,” says NBS Joint Chief of Staff Brigadier General Kaspars Zdanovskis.
Several soldiers from both the professional service and the National Guard acknowledged to LTV that there have been problems with training munition.
This is also confirmed by Garisons, who, along with his ministry's colleagues, is part of the National Guard. He experienced that the training munition got regularly stuck. "The NBS experts tried to shift everything to the fact that my weapon has not been cleaned and therefore ammunition does not work. My weapon was taken for two months, tested somewhere, but in the end they had to admit that the ammunition was at fault," Garisons said.
The munitions inspection was carried out by an audit of the Ministry and concluded that it was inappropriate.
The plans to organize procurement and logistics in the defense sector have been in place since 2008, but it was only partially launched a couple of years ago. he VALIC was then established, essentially a civilian body, gradually entrusted with the purchase of equipment and the organization of testing, as well as the storage purchased and the corresponding records.
The resistance to change had been great, said Garisons. Moreover, the NBS does not want to give the procedures of procurement and logistics to VALIC. If VALIC is responsible for purchasing individual equipment, the functionality of such equipment shall be determined by the soldiers.
"Still, if there is a need, we call an expert-examination from the armed forces, and then in the end they test it. They check functionality before procurement closes, often giving testing. For example, the Navy's new uniform [procurement] was just closed. We went through two steps. In the first they said they didn't like it, we returned it. In principle, the process was prolonged by 7 months, but satisfied the customer's needs in procurement," said the chief of VALIC, Brigadier General Ervīns Kopeika.
The total amount of procurement is impressive, around EUR two hundred million per year.