MPs voted him into the job by 88 votes to 0 after accepting the resignation of previous defense chief Raimonds Graube.
Kalnins will begin his new duties on January 27.
Kalnins is a former head of the National Guard and currently head of the joint chiefs of staff.
As previously reported by LSM, Kalnins was born in 1957 and began his career in the Latvian military in 1997, though before that he trained at Soviet military academies in Vilnius and Kharkiv.
The armed forces news portal Sargs.lv has a potted biography of the new commander.
The same parliamentary session also extended Latvia's participation in NATO's training program in Afghanistan. Up to 30 troops will be deployed until the end of 2020.