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Wednesday 21.08.2019 | Name days: Linda, Janīna

Audit: planning problems impede growth of Latvia’s defensive capabilities

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Problems with planning are the main reason why Latvia’s defensive capabilities are developing slowly, as concluded by State Audit (SA).

Funding for defence will exceed EUR 600 million a year soon. More than EUR 200 million is spent on needs of Latvia’s National Armed Forces. Defence Ministry improve its planning system, improve mutual cooperation among institutions and take notice that expenses do not end at the moment of procurement of equipment, SA stresses.

Military capabilities cannot be developed suddenly – funding needs to be stable

«The funding allocated to develop Latvia’s defensive capabilities is basically only a number,» explains state auditor Elita Krūmiņa.

«Yes, the government, having reached NATO’s set 2% criterion, demonstrates commitment towards enhancing state defence. However, the benefit Latvia’s society experiences from finances invested in defence will be seen only in a time of war. This is why it will be possible to assess accomplished results only based on the quality of work performed by Defence Ministry with implementation of the state defence concept and the ability of our armed forces to react to real military threats,» Krūmiņa said.

SA stresses that accessible funds should be predictable, so that it is possible to implement defence projects successfully and avoid the situation when large investments are lost.

As an example, SA mentioned development of the National Guard, which had basically halted in 2010, when funding dropped by 70%. The situation is similar with anti-air defence development – funding shortage made it impossible to perform maintenance of missile systems worth EUR 4.4 million, making them inoperable.

«Rapid decline of funding has slowed commencement of multiple important measures intended to develop multiple NAF capabilities, such as mechanization of infantry, combat engineers’ capabilities, and artillery, which are now being rapidly developed,» the audit states.

Pillar for Latvia’s defensive capabilities – better planning

SA concluded in its audit that planning of military equipment lacks long-term planning. Without full and long-term planning procurements tend to either fail or end up rushed. This creates the risk of funding not being used efficiently. For example, after looking at the use of funding provided for the development of the National Guard in 2015-2017, it was concluded that there was no individual training equipment for all troops. This is because procurement of equipment was not properly planned.

Problems in planning processes are further outlined by delays with plans for infrastructure development even though funding for this has been available since 2016, SA adds.

Defence Ministry is committed to improve the planning system in accordance with recommendations provided by SA. It is expected NAF will receive its next orders of equipment on time and in the requested amount. Infrastructure is also expected to be ready for next exercises.

Weak spot of Latvia’s defence sector – life cycle planning

SA found out multiple times in previouls audits that the entire life cycle often not assessed properly. This includes maintenance costs, storage, as well as education of maintenance personnel, etc.

So far the biggest NAF development project is aimed for the development of infantry mechanization, which will receive funding of at least EUR 240 million. Aside from that, there are also procurements of arms, munitions, communication equipment. However, the audit performed at Defence Ministry in 2018 shows that discussions regarding creation of a maintenance base for military vehicles have only just commenced even though the base should have been founded as far back as 2017, SA notes.

Meanwhile, procured vehicles are already actively being used in exercises, and maintenance is important to be able to use said vehicles optimally. Defence Ministry needs to fix problems with life cycle planning to make sure procured equipment is compatible with existing equipment, authors of the audit say.

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