A total of 640 soldiers were recruited in 2018, which is the highest number since 2007 when the National Armed Forces switched from conscription to a fully professional military service.
The second highest number of soldiers recruited in the past 15 years was recorded in 2006 when 628 people, mostly former conscripts who had completed their compulsory service, chose to continue their military careers. The smallest number of soldiers recruited in a year was recorded in 2009 when only 45 people joined the military amid a financial and economic crisis.
Of the recruits admitted to the armed forces in the outgoing year, 126 chose government-paid studies at the Latvian National Defense Academy.
This year, more than 50 retired officers rejoined the active service thanks to the amendments adopted to the Law on Service Pensions for Military Persons. Over 25 Latvians joined the military after returning from countries including Finland, Germany, the UK, Ireland, Denmark and the United States.
A starting salary for new recruits is 850 euros after tax, but from August 2019 it will increase by another 75 euros before tax, and service also includes extensive social guarantees, including state-funded health care and a guaranteed pension.
According to the National Defense Concept, approved by Saeima in 2016, the Latvia is supposed to maintain a 6,500 strong professional military during peace time. At present, there are around 6,000 professional soldiers serving in the National Armed Forces.