U.S. approves 150 million dollars to strengthen Baltic defense

On December 27, United States President Joe Biden signed the US National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022, which includes the allocation of $150 million for the development of the Baltic defense capabilities in 2022, the Latvian Ministry of Defense said in a release.

"We thank our strategic partner, the United States, for this significant support in strengthening Baltic defense, which will allow resources to be invested in the development of critical capabilities in NATO's eastern flank, as well as interoperability with the United States and other Allies, significantly strengthening regional security," said Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks.

The Baltic Security Initiative is planned to support the development of regionally important defense capabilities such as air defense, indirect fire support, maritime surveillance and early warning, intelligence and special operations capabilities.

"In addition, this funding could be channeled to a joint Baltic missile artillery capability development project, in which all three countries are currently communicating with the United States," the release said.

The National Defense Authorization Act , constitutes "significant US support for the Baltic States and a strong signal to deter aggressors," the release added.

Since 2014, the US Armed Forces have been present in the Baltic States on a rotating basis as part of the Atlantic Resolve operation.

In 2018, Latvia and the United States signed an intergovernmental agreement on the purchase of four new UH-60M “Black Hawk” helicopters.

The United States has also provided support to Latvia through various military support programs, supplying ammunition for self-propelled howitzer systems and mortars, as well as essential equipment for the development of the National Armed Forces, such as means of communication, night vision devices and vehicles. 

"Within the framework of the European Initiative for European Defense, the United States has made a significant contribution to the development of Latvia's military infrastructure," the release said.

According to the text of the Act signed by President Biden:

"The United States has cumulatively allocated over $498,965,000 in Department of Defense partner capacity funding for the Baltic countries since fiscal year 2018, including over $219,000,000 for the Baltic security efforts known as the 'Baltic Security Initiative'... including assistance with respect to air defense, maritime situational awareness, ammunition, C4ISR, anti-tank capability, special forces, and other defense capabilities."

"The Secretary of Defense has completed the comprehensive Baltic Defense Assessment required by section 1246 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 and has recommended continued robust, comprehensive investment Baltic security efforts in accordance with that assessment," it said.

"It is the sense of Congress that the security of the Baltic region is crucial to the security of the NATO alliance and these efforts are critical to ensure continued deterrence against Russian aggression and bolster allied security," it adds.

The Act also notes a big funding increase for the Rīga-based NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence (STRATCOMCOE).

"The amount authorized to be appropriated by section 4301 for Operating Forces, Special Operations Command Theatre Forces, line 110, as specified in the corresponding the corresponding funding tables in division D, for the NATO Strategic Communication Center of Excellence is hereby increased by $5,000,000," the Act specifies. 

The money is to be spent on enhancing the capability, cooperation, and information sharing among NATO, NATO member countries, and partners, with respect to strategic communications and information operations and to facilitate education, research and development, lessons learned, and consultation in strategic communications and information operations.

In addition, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, will periodically provide briefings on how the Department of Defense is working with the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence "to improve NATO's ability to counter and mitigate disinformation, active measures, propaganda, and denial and deception activities of Russia and China; and how the Department of Defense is developing ways to improve strategic communications within NATO, including enhancing the capacity of and coordination with the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence."

U.S. National Defense Authorization Act 2021-22

 

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