Conscription will be introduced for all Latvian male citizens aged 18 to 27, the country’s defense ministry announced on Monday.
Over the next five years, all male citizens in this age bracket will be required to “choose one of four types of military service: State Defense, National Guard, University Course Section Commander, or Alternative Services in the Department of the Interior, Health or Welfare,” the ministry said in a statement. a press release.
Female citizens in this age group are given “the same opportunities on a voluntary basis,” the ministry said.
Defense Minister Artis Pabriks said the “Latvian population needs to realize that in order to survive, we just need to increase the proportion of the population that has received military training and is ready to participate in combat. This should reduce the risk that Russia attacks Latvia at will.”
Pabriks added that “2014 allowed us to focus more on rearmament and better combat readiness of our armed forces. These goals have been successfully achieved.”
In 2014, Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
“However, the security implications of the war between Russia and Ukraine have presented many new challenges,” Pabriks said. “To overcome them, we need to increase our combat capabilities and develop army reserves.”
The Defense Secretary said: “It has become clear that we have exhausted the volunteering potential of the National Guard and professional service, while further increasing the number of military personnel carries undue risks.”
“Therefore, we must focus on increasing the number of Latvian residents who are able to join the armed forces in the event of a military conflict,” he added.
As part of the first phase of the project, the Latvian Ministry of Defense will offer voluntary military training to Latvian citizens aged 18 to 27 from January 2023.
Registration takes place in two phases, in January and July.
The Ministry estimates that the State Defense will recruit about 1,000 new soldiers (500 in each recruitment phase) in its first year.
They will serve for a year, including a month’s leave.
New recruits will undergo a three-month basic training and a three-month special course, while the remaining months “will be spent on unit integration and collective training,” the ministry said.
“All recruits will be socially protected. According to the plans, each new soldier will receive a monthly salary of up to 400 euros, free food and shelter in barracks,” the ministry said.
The ministry plans to increase the proportion of the combative population in the National Armed Forces to 50,000 over the next five years.
“Of these, 14,000 troops would form active duty units, while 16,000 would join the National Guard and 20,000 would form the reserve force,” the ministry said.