Defense Ministry to request 2,000 more troops

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Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Vejonis is going to ask parliament to increase the National Armed Forces (NBS) by 2,000 troops by 2018, the BNS newswire reported Thursday.

"We need professionally well-trained and motivated soldiers. It also means that we need to increase their number," Vejonis said during the parliament's annual foreign affairs debate.

The minister said that this year he will call on lawmakers and the parliamentary defense, interior and corruption prevention committee to take approve the plan to enlist 2,000 more soldiers by 2018 for the sake of national security.

"It would be unwise to postpone this decision under the bureaucratic pretext that civil service should not be increased," the minister said.

In Vejonis' words, in the current security situation soldiers cannot be regarded as just government personnel.

"They are the guarantee of our state's existence. The security of our country is also based on people's conviction that the state can defend itself. We need to build our confidence that Latvia, even though it is a small state, can be defendable," the minister said.

Vejonis pointed out that this was not an announcement of a mechanical increase of the armed forces, but a call for a timely decision, which will have a lasting effect on Latvia’s long-term development.

“Such a decision must not be taken without debate or put off until the last moment,” he said. 

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