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Wednesday 08.04.2020 | Name days: Dana, Dans, Danute, Edgars
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Latvian army’s next year’s budget focused on maintaining defensive capabilities and development

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National Armed Forces Commander Leonīds Kalniņš

Latvian army’s 2020 budget presents a bare minimum that will allow for maintaining and developing ‘on some level’ the armed forces’ capabilities, said Latvian Armed Forces Commander Leonīds Kalniņš at a meeting of Saeima’s Defence, Internal and Corruption Prevention Committee.

Defence Ministry’s budget for 2020 is planned at EUR 663.6 million. Expenses of the 2019 budget were around EUR 636.7 million. Approximately EUR 523 million was intended for development and maintenance of NAF capabilities.

Kalniņš explained that the army focuses on three principles – recruitment, personnel retention, equipment improvement and training.

He explained that the minimal individual equipment level has been reached. There is only one position left – procurement of winter hats and ponchos.

In the past three years the army has managed to secure an appropriate number of recruits. Defence Minister Artis Pabriks explained to the committee that it is planned to increase the number of troops by 256 and the number of National Guard – by 142 people next year. The plan is to increase the number of National Guard members to 9 500 by 2022.

NAF commander said that emigration and private structures fight over personnel attraction continue in Latvia. NAF commander hopes it will be possible to secure an appropriate number of troops for the National Guard. «We are optimists in this,» added Kalniņš.

«This budget is a minimum that will allow us at least maintain and slightly develop our capabilities. I think the next several years will allow us to develop capabilities included in NAF development plan,» said Kalniņš.

Neither the minister nor the NAF commander explained any details for the development plan, as this information is not public.

Members of the Saeima committee plan to organize a closed meeting to discuss this topic in private.

As previously reported, Defence Ministry plan involve forming a comprehensive state defence system in 2020. It is also planned to ensure budget use aimed at development. In accordance with NATO guidelines, no less than 20% of defence budget will be diverted for procurement of equipment and no more than 50% will expenditures associated with personnel.

Defence Ministry will continue providing support to NATO group stationed in Latvia.

Read also: Baltics have to do more to strengthen defence, American think tank says

Defence Ministry will continue ensuring sustainable development of National Armed Forces capabilities in accordance with the NAF development plan. There are also plans to assist with development of reaction and defensive capabilities of the National Guard, assist with recruitment and provision of individual and collective equipment, construction of infrastructure, training for personnel, and develop regional training sites.

Next year, Latvia’s Defence Ministry will continue coordinating participation of Latvian troops in international missions and operations, NATO rapid response forces, EU combat groups and United Reaction Forces.


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